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Nazri Aziz rejects call for Malay rulers’ immunity

KUALA LUMPUR, 27 NOV 2008: The Regent of Negeri Sembilan’s call for the immunity of Malay Rulers to be reinstated should not be taken seriously as the royal’s father, the state’s Yang Di-Pertuan Besar, was embroiled in a lawsuit.

The Regent, Tunku Naquiyuddin Tuanku Jaafar, thus has a conflict of interest, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said today.

He was responding to Tunku Naquiyuddin, who on 26 Nov, said that full sovereignty and immunity should be returned to the Malay Rulers for them to be effective guardians of the Federal Constitution, and the people’s interests.

Tunku Naquiyuddin was delivering a speech on the role of the constitutional monarchy in the 21st century, and had touched on the 1993 amendment to the constitution which stripped the Rulers of immunity, making them challengeable in court.

Nazri, the de-facto law minister, said the Regent’s statement had little to do with the amendment 15 years ago.

“The Yang Di-Pertuan Besar is found to have owed a sum of US$1 million by the special panel of judges recently, so he (the Regent) has an interest in this.

“It has nothing to do with reclaiming immunity in order to enable Rulers to preserve justice and all that, nothing to do with that.

“I can’t take seriously what he said, because there’s a conflict of interest,” Nazri told reporters in Parliament today.

The Ruler of Negeri Sembilan, Tuanku Jaafar Tuanku Abdul Rahman, on 15 Oct was ordered by a special court formed to hear cases against royalty, to pay nearly US$1 million to Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia Bhd over a letter of credit for a business deal.

Asked if the Cabinet would discuss the possibility of undoing the 1993 amendment, Nazri said the matter was not urgent.

“The call must come not just from one regent only. If we are to take it seriously, it must be a request or a paper from the Rulers’ Conference,” he said.

However, Tunku Naquiyuddin in his speech had also said that “immunity” for the Rulers could be modified and not applied to instances where harm was caused to other people.

He said immunity was necessary in cases such as a “hung” Parliament whereby the Rulers could exercise their powers to appoint a prime minister without the fear of a suit by parties on the other side of the political divide.

“As we proceed towards a more contentious and polemical political world, there will have to be increasingly more royal interferences,” he said. TNG

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