HIGH STAKES GAME FOR NAJIB: WHO WILL BE APPOINTED AS MALAYSIA’S NEXT KING – THE SULTAN OF PAHANG?
The 242nd Council of Rulers meeting will likely be on the radar of political observers as Malay rulers vote to pick the next Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
The pre-council meeting of the Council of Rulers will be held today, followed by the formal three-day meeting that concludes on Oct 14.
The decision could have an impact on the political scene, especially with the Save Malaysia group continuing to urge the rulers to intervene against Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
Already, the Citizens’ Declaration, which the group says contains the signatures of 1.2 million Malaysians who want Najib out of office, has been sent to the council, urging for further action from the royalty.
The group’s main driver, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, also had an audience with Yang Di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah last month, at which he made the same call.
Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah, whose second term as Agong will end this year, reportedly told Mahathir that he cannot intervene as this would breach the Federal Constitution.
This is according to a statement issued by Najib.
However, some, including Mahathir’s lawyer Haniff Khatri Abdulla, see the constitution differently and Haniff believes the Agong has the power to kick out the PM out.
Therein lies the rub. If Sultan Abdul Halim of Kedah is not willing to intervene in the matter, would his successor share the same view?
Malay rulers from nine states take turns to take the throne and the succession order dictates that Kelantan is next in line, but Kelantan’s Sultan Muhammad V is not guaranteed the throne.
A ruler is disqualified from taking the seat in Istana Negara if he is not yet of age or if he has informed the Keeper of the Royal Seal that he does not want the position. He is also disqualified if the council does not elect him.
The rulers can vote against someone they feel is unfit – “due to being mentally or physically unfit, or any other reason,” the Keeper of the Royal Seal’s website states – in a secret ballot, after which the ballot papers are burned.
If the Kelantan sultan abdicates, or is passed over, the next in line is Sultan Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’inbillah (photo) of Najib’s home state of Pahang.
Najib, who holds the Pekan constituency since he first won it uncontested in 1976, has maintained close relations with the Pahang palace.
In August last year, the Pahang sultan called on the rakyat to support Najib.
“Najib is a leader who works hard and I am very proud of him. Let us all pray that he remains in the leadership position. The rakyat should support him, don’t criticise him unnecessarily on things he has no knowledge of,” Sultan Ahmad Shah decreed.
Two months later, the Council of Rulers in a decree called for the investigations into 1MDB to be completed as soon as possible and the wrongdoers, if any, be punished.
A year on, the police rebooted 1MDB investigation has yet to see an end, while no one has been charged for offences related to 1MDB, at least not on Malaysian shores.
‘Acknowledge Citizen’s Declaration’
PAS’ Pokok Sena MP Mahfuz Omar said in a statement yesterday that he understands it is difficult for the rulers to call for Najib’s resignation.
However, Mahfuz said, the least the rulers can do is to acknowledge the Citizen’s Declaration and say they have lost faith in Najib.
After all, the rulers cannot exist without the rakyat and vice versa, he explained.
“This Council of Rulers meeting is very important, to show what it the concept of ‘Raja dan rakyat berpisah tiada’ (The king and the rakyat are never apart). Without the rakyat there are no rulers,” Mahfuz added.
The outcome of the Council of Rulers meeting on Oct 14 may provide an inkling of whether this wish of Mahfuz wish may come true.