Monday, February 9, 2009

Suing the King an Act of Betrayal?

In a democratic country the people decides how the country should be run. The Constitution is the supreme law passed by Members of Parliament elected by the people and the Constitution serves as a guide of how the country should be governed. No one including the King is immune from prosecution and the King could be brought to court to determine the legality of the King’s action and the King can be beheaded for treason. Therefore, there is no doctrine of Divine Right of Kings to rule with power of God. All kings are subjected to earthly authority and they could not act beyond the powers given under the Constitution.

The Court is given by Parliament the legal authority to determine the legality of the King’s exercise of power. In democratic system all powers could not be in the hands of one authority. All powers could also not be in the hands of the King alone. This separation of power was adopted in all democratic countries and Malaysia that practices Parliamentary Democracy is no exception. Therefore, the people are supreme and it is the people that determine how a country is to be run through laws enacted in Parliament by the peoples’ elected representative.

The power of the people to rule the country by democratic system was determined in England where their king, King Charles I was beheaded on 30 January, 1649 after being found guilty of treason against his country by the High Court of Justice appointed by Parliament.

This also happened in France, where King Louis XIV was beheaded in 1793 after being found guilty by the French Court for having conspired against the liberty of his country.

The King Is Not Above the Constitution

Likewise, in Malaysia there is no such thing as Divine Rights of King and the power to prosecute the King is given under Article 33A of the Federal Constitution. It has also been determined as far back as 1977 by a five-man bench of the Federal Court that the decision of the King on detention orders under the Emergency Ordinance 1969 if ultra vires the Federal Constitution was amendable to judicial review. The ruling of the Federal Court has stood the test of time for 33 years. The Federal Constitution also allows the sultans to be sued and this was evidenced in the case of Faridah Begum Bte. Abdullah v. Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah [1996] 1 MLJ 617.

In the present political and legal problems surrounding the government of Perak, there is nothing wrong for Karpal Singh wanting to sue the sultan as this is provided for under our Malaysian Federal Constitution and it is up to the Court later on to determine whether or not the action of Karpal Singh would be correct or otherwise. As a citizen, Karpal Singh has a constitutional and fundamental right to sue the sultan and whoever he wants. The Malaysian public and politicians from both camps should not view the matter by Karpal Singh as seditious or political as what Karpal Singh wanted was to determine the extent and legality of the exercise of power by the sultan.

Karpal Singh’s action should be supported by the Pakatan Rakyat and the Malaysian public. This is because in a country that practises democracy, the people has to right to know whether or not the sultan was exceeding his power or was exercising a power without any legal authority at all. This is important to the survival of democracy in the country.

In Perak, among the issues that need to be determine is can the sultan appoint another Menteri Besar without having the Legislative Assembly being dissolved? Has the sultan the discretion to withhold consent when the Menteri Besar from Pakatan Rakyat, Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin wanted the Legislative Assembly be dissolved? Can the sultan command Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin and his cabinet to resign? These are all legal issues that need to be answered by the Court.

Therefore, to lodge police reports and accusing Karpal Singh for sedition and the call to invoke the Internal Security Act 1960 should be viewed by the authorities as a treat to the safety and liberty of the person of Karpal Singh and also malicious, scandalous and mischievous act against Karpal Singh’s right to sue the sultan. Karpal did not mean any disrespect to the sultan, but, was only questioning the legal power and exercise of authority by the sultan.

If Karpal Singh would ever be arrested and detained by the authorities under the Internal Security Act 1960 for his action against the sultan of Perak, Karpal Singh should take legal action against those who lodge police reports against him and also against whom who fane the fire to cause him to be arrested and be detained. To this, I hope members of the public and politicians from both camps to be advised not to aggravate the matter that would cause unnecessary breach of public security.

To those who aggravate the situation and cause the authorities to invoke the Internal Security Act 1960 could also be placed under the Internal Security Act 1960 itself or be charged under the Sedition Act 1948 for putting oil to the fire and to get the whole situation to unnecessary escalate to uncontrolled level.

Who Had Shown Disrespect to the Rulers?

UMNO members including some of the present leaders should examine their own act before accusing others of disrespect against the malay rulers. The 1983 constitutional crisis was still fresh in the minds of many Malaysians where the UMNO led Barisan Nasional wanted to amend the Federal Constitution to restrict the powers of the King by having all Bills passed by Parliament to automatically become law without a royal assent. This was not a legal issue as there was no law to do that at that time and it was purely a political issue brought upon by Dr. Mahathir and the majority members of UMNO to curtail the power of the King. Dr. Mahathir had to drum up support because not all malays including those in UMNO were supporting Dr. Mahathir at that time. The political issue then led to the amendment of the Federal Constitution. Was this not an act of disrespect against the King? Was the King been consulted by your action? Who betrayed the King? Who diluted the King’s power and why this was done? Why political rallies all over the country at that time allowed but when political gatherings surrounding the recent political crisis by Pakatan Rakyat were condemned?

To UMNO members and supporters, if you turn a legal issue into a political issue, public security can be breached and if the safety of Karpal Singh is threatened or endangered you will definitely face the consequences of the law.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said, YB! That is what we are taught in schools. Separation of powers so that one side can't rule the country with iron fist!

Everyone can make mistake. Even a chief judge can make mistake in their judgement. If you ask any first year law student, they will 100% agree with you that the royalty are not subjected to immunity when it comes to rule of law.

Bobby Low