IPOH, 21 July 2009: So long as any government or authority administers in accordance with the law in an open and transparent manner, no court can find fault with that government or authority, the sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, said today.
However, he said, this would not be the case if there were judges who had no integrity, or who chose to be political, or sympathised with any group or political thought.
The heaviest and most major test for a judge is in remaining impartial, especially in terms of emotion and inclination, he said when opening a special seminar on the federal constitution organised by the Perak state secretariat here.
As such, he added, it is necessary to safeguard the role of the judiciary as a professional and independent body of integrity.
Sultan Azlan Shah “Judges hold great responsibility in upholding the rule of law and integrity of the courts, and their failure to do so will result in an imbalance. The loyalty of judges is to justice in accordance with the law.
“In fulfilling this responsibility, judges are exposed to public evaluation because there is in place a higher mechanism in the courts, with a panel of more judges, to review judgments,” he said.
Sultan Azlan Shah said the perpetuation of the institution of monarchy is not only to the extent of fulfilling historical values and sentimental values of the people. The ruler has a role to ensure the effectiveness of the check-and-balance mechanism, which can help strengthen the institution of democracy, he said.
“As the head of state, the ruler serves as the pillar of stability, source of justice, core of solidarity and umbrella of unity. Implicitly, the perpetuation of the institution of monarchy is the continued retention of the identity of a government buttressed by the Malays.
“The role, duties and responsibilities of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as well as those of the Malay rulers are based on the concept of the constitutional monarchy.”
This meant that the rulers have sovereign power and responsibility in accordance with the law, and that a ruler is a ruler, whether in absolute or constitutional terms, he said.
Sultan Azlan Shah said the difference between rulers and judges is that one has unlimited power while the other’s power lies in accordance with the constitution, but it would be a mistake to assume that the power of a ruler is similar to that of a president, who is bound by the constitution.
“The role of a ruler far exceeds that expressed in the constitution,” he said.
The sultan said the implied spirit behind the formulation of the federal constitution was to develop a stable, peaceful, united and prosperous independent nation, which would be achieved through the solidarity and unity of a people of various religions, ethnic groups and cultures, and speaking different languages.
“The constitution has been so formulated so as to ensure that justice prevails, and that it equally protects the strong and the weak, the majority and the minority, the administrators and the administered, the rulers and the people,” he said.
The sultan said there was consensus that every Malaysian citizen is guaranteed protection in a fair and just manner, while acknowledging the fact that the indigenous people lag far behind in terms of socioeconomic progress, wealth, ownership of property and skills.
As such, the Malays and other bumiputera are given an assurance through special allocations that give them privileges, he said.
“At the same time, non-Malays who had immigrated to this country, who consider it as their home and pledge their loyalty to the king and country, have been accepted as Malaysian citizens,” he added.
Sultan Azlan Shah said the federal constitution was drawn up in the spirit of negotiation, understanding, the desire to unite the people, and the objective of shaping an independent and a sovereign nation-state.
For the sake of peace and prosperity, a culture of living based on the spirit of the constitution should be inculcated in the people — a spirit that accorded respect to the law and respected law-enforcement institutions, he said.
“If this basic principle is not adhered to any longer and is to be set aside due to attempts to assimilate foreign cultural influences, it is feared that the country will degenerate into anarchy. In the end, the history of the nation, peace and prosperity will remain just that — history,” he said. — Bernama