Source : Sin Chew Daily & Malaysia Today
Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar of Johor shared his views on a number of major issues in a recent media interview.
The Sultan has in recent years expressed his personal views on a number of issues in the country, and these have drawn widespread attention among Malaysians.
We need to understand that our Malay Rulers are only symbolic rulers who nevertheless enjoy some unique status and roles under the country’s constitutional monarchy system.
Generally speaking, these rulers do not hold actual power of administration under the constitutional monarchy system, save for their symbolic significance. That said, constitutional monarchy system varies from country to country. In Malaysia, we have not only inherited the British system, but have also incorporated the Malay social traditions that accord the Rulers a very noble position, including their roles as the religious heads of their respective states.
While the Malay Rulers are not supposed to directly interfere or intervene in politics, they can nevertheless play their roles and exert their influences in other ways.
In other words, if the Rulers posses specific qualities, abilities, wisdom and morality, they should be able to exert positive influences to ensure that the country will not be steered off course.
Malaysia has seen dramatic changes in the domestic politics in recent years with intensified rivalry and competition among the opposing camps. Such political squabbles, coupled with the public’s dwindling faith in our government leaders, have remarkably stalled the country’s economic progress.
In the midst of the chaos we now see, the Malay Rulers should assume the role of checks and balances to generate a positive force to prevent certain issues from getting out of hand.
Take the ban of vaporisers for example, some politicians have given in to populism in order to fish the much needed electoral ballots. But thanks to the order from the Johor Sultan, the state has become first in the country to ban e-cigs.
When racial issues have become increasingly heated up and our politicians are so busy with fanning the flames, that even a “Merry Christmas” greeting could become something controversial. The Johor Sultan was quick to extend his Christmas wishes to the Christians in the state through his Facebook account, and this has helped improve the tense interracial relationship in this country.
All these are instances whereby our Rulers can exert their positive influences. Sure enough the Johor Sultan’s remarks have been able to win widespread applause and recognition because they are reasonable and accommodating.
While continuing to be concerned about the development of the country, these Malay Rulers are also well aware of the confines of their powers.
Just as the Johor Sultan has said, he is above politics and is willing to give the embattled prime minister another opportunity. Anyway, it is inappropriate for the Malay Rulers to pose a direct challenge to a democratically elected head of government.
A foreseeable trend is that while the government is slowly losing its credibility, these Malay Rulers should emerge as a reckoned force in putting things right in this country.