OCT 31 – Of the many words that Malaysian politicians and leaders have uttered since that historic day on March 8, few have been hit a chord more than these: “We cannot morally turn our backs on the fundamental responsibility of ensuring that all the stakeholders in our society, no matter how small or insignificant, have a place under the sun.”
These words by Raja Nazrin Shah hit home because here we are more than six months after the so-called groundbreaking general election still mired in a quagmire of race, chauvinism and seemingly endless debate over the place Malays, Chinese and Indians have in this land.
These words resonate because a dark cloud hovers over Malaysia, a cloud that may signal a return to the days when institutions were sidelined; the rule of law was viewed as an inconvenience and public discourse not encouraged.
Perhaps they are a reminder that the individual most qualified to lead this country does not belong to Umno, MCA, MIC, DAP, PKR, Pas or any political party – and will never be eligible for the top job office in the country. Sigh.
Raja Nazrin is the Regent of Perak, the next leader of the northern state. Time and again, he has shown an ability to rise above parochialism and narrow interests and speak the truth. Time and again, he has rushed to state and restate the principles which should underpin the country, especially at times when politicians from both sides of the divide seemed more interested in cleaving Malaysians with racism and bigotry.
Below is a sprinkling of statements which he has made in recent years:
• ”It is also very important we have leaders who are earnest in maintaining unity, never resorting to religious or ethnic posturing to further their political careers at the expense of peace and security. If they fail, they must be held accountable and made answerable before the law.”
• “Malaysia needs a future generation of leaders with unquestionable integrity. Only those who are capable, responsible and scrupulously honest should be allowed to serve in positions of leadership. Those who are inefficient, incompetent and, most importantly, corrupt, should be held in absolute contempt.”
• “Unless judicial power is reinvested in the judiciary – in much the same way that executive power is invested in the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Cabinet and the legislative power in Parliament – it will difficult to convince anyone, not our citizens and the world community that we are a nation governed by the rule of law.”
Without a doubt, this is a man with strong spine and a clear vision of what is good for Malaysia and the people who call this place home. He respects the Federal Constitution; the country’s institutions and special position of the Malays. The respect he commands cuts across racial, religious and political lines.
But the question which he must ask himself is this: Is it sufficient only for him to make speeches and statements which provide balm to the rest of the country? Or should he and other members of the monarchy go beyond words and play a stronger role as a force of check and balance in Malaysia?
Yes, the monarchy is required to act on the advice of the Executive, But the Federal Constitution states that the monarchy is the guardian of the just rule of law, an impartial arbiter in the democratic process and an overseer of the pillars of state.
So while Raja Nazrin will never become the PM of Malaysia, there is nothing stopping him and other enlightened members of the country’s monarchy from ensuring that the government of the day stay on the straight and narrow, and not return to the days when all the institutions, even the Malay Rulers, were sidelined.