JULY 31 —The installation of our nation’s new King, our 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, was laudable both for the glittering splendour and solemnity of the occasion and the highlights of the speeches of both the new King and the Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. It was emphasised that we should value peace, harmony, justice, the supremacy of the Constitution and the unity of our people over all else.
The main thrust of their messages was the importance of enhancing loyalty to the nation, fostering national unity and eradicating economic hardship so that Malaysians would be more united and prosperity would be shared by all. The import of this message of loyalty, inclusivity or the elimination of marginalisation and the full participation of all Malaysians in the growing prosperity is especially pertinent as there is some acknowledgment that some segments of the population have been neglected. The Agong stated that it was important to respect our older people as much as it is to honour our young.
The Agong’s explicit reference to the place of the constitutional monarch at the apex of our parliamentary democracy was noteworthy. That institution has its pride of place in Article 32 of our Constitution where the Agong is indisputably the Supreme Head of the Federation. That position, the Agong stated in his speech is neither just emblematic nor symbolic but is a meaningful, sovereign and highly significant one. While our country has evolved over the years to create a prime minister- centric system it is important that in our governance system the Agong as the country’s paramount ruler is fully apprised of the actual situation of the country. That is one of the major responsibilities of the prime minister, a duty that has to be fulfilled before every cabinet meeting. Needless to say the cabinet, as the highest policy making institution in the country, has to be informed and its endorsement obtained before any major policy or project is initiated. The Agong logically enjoys a real and relatively significant role in the governance of the country and not a simple, symbolic role.
It would follow that the Agong cannot be kept in the dark about what the cabinet is doing.
Adherence to these practices had contributed to creating a united and prosperous country that embarked on visionary strategies including Vision 2030 that is premised on a more just, equitable and prosperous society
The prime minister’s emphasis on the role of the people in supporting government policies and initiatives is integral to the success of the nation. He also apportioned much importance to the task of upholding integrity in respect of the governance of the country, the supremacy of the Constitution and assertion that no one is above the law. These commitments are most reassuring.
We have taken certain issues such as loyalty and the role of the constitutional monarch for granted and as a result the country has had to pay a high price with onerous debt obligations etc.
It is uplifting to us all that the highest leadership is dedicated to safeguarding the peace, harmony, unity and prosperity of the country while not neglecting the issue of disparities that exist.
In congratulating the Agong on the formal accession to the throne, I trust that with his flair for meeting with and mingling with people from all walks of life and his interest in good governance, we can look forward to an era of enlightened rule and prosperity.
* Datuk M. Santhananaban is a retired Ambassador of the Malaysian Foreign Service with 45 years of public sector experience.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.