Malik Imtiaz asked “Crisis in Terengganu? What crisis?”
Supporting his view with a detailed analysis of the Terengganu State Constitution, he asserted that “the Sultan cannot be expected, nor does the Constitution require His Royal Highness, to act as a rubber-stamp.”
He lamented that “[r]egrettably the rhetoric of the Prime Minister and the Attorney General lend to a conclusion that the Regent and the advisory council are expected to rubber stamp the wishes of the majority.”
He claimed that “[t]hough this may have been how appointments were made in the past, this does not bind the Sultan or the Regent in the present, more so where the past practice may not have been Constitutionally thought through.”
Going beyond interpretation the letters of law, he indirectly justified the rejection of Idris Jusoh by questioning the basis of his support: “…… it is glaringly obvious that twenty UMNO assembly-men who have endorsed the appointment of Idris Jusoh may not necessarily be acting in accordance with their own conscience but rather the dictates of the party. There is, in a manner of speaking, a dimension of duress in the saga, made obvious by the threats of disciplinary action that have been leveled against Ahmad Said by UMNO. To this end, it is questionable whether it can be said that Idris Jusoh truly commands the confidence of the majority of the Legislative Assembly.”
I have not studied my copy of Terengganu State Constitution but am nevertheless convinced that the well-respected constitutional lawyer has done his homework.
His insight on Idris Jusoh’s mandate nevertheless also reminds me whether PKR’s 15 lawmakers in Selangor who were “put under house arrest” by the party in a hotel before the formation of the new government was confirmed have had their conscience violated.
However, if his interpretation of the Terengganu State Constitution is right, I have one important question: are we living in a constitutional monarchy?
I have always understood that constitutionalism is more than the existence of constitution, but about the limitation of the government’s power by the constitution.
I have also always understood that in constitutional monarchy, the monarch serves only as a figurehead, the real power is rested with the chief executive who enjoys the confidence of the majority of the parliament, and the monarch is only to play discretionary power in limited circumstances where the popular will is not clear.
It is for this reason that you don’t call countries like Brunei or Saudi Arabia constitutional monarchies even though they have a constitution. They are normally called absolute monarchies.
With regular elections, Terengganu is certainly not an absolute monarchy. However, if the elections cannot determine who should head the state’s administration, is it still a constitutional monarchy?
And how about other states and federation? Are we still live in a constitutional monarchy? Or have I always been living in a fantasy?