KUALA LUMPUR, 26 Nov 2008: The immunity of the Malay rulers should be returned to them if the nation wants to see them play a more crucial and assertive role in this 21st Century, the Regent of Negeri Sembilan, Tunku Naquiyuddin Tuanku Jaafar, said today.
He said that if the rulers were to exercise their duties in a fair, just and impartial manner in protecting the constitution, their sovereignty needed to be protected too.
“Thus, full immunity from civil and criminal proceedings should be reconsidered so that the monarchy in Malaysia is on par with other constitutional monarchs around the world,” he said at a royal luncheon talk entitled, The Role of the Constitutional Monarchy in 21st Century, here.
He said royal immunity had been lost for 15 years and it needed to be reclaimed and reinstated for the constitutional monarchy to be restored its full sovereignty to play a more fitting and effective role in the 21st century as the guardian of the Federal Constitution.
“If political parties see themselves as representatives of the people, then the rulers see themselves as guardians of the constitution,” he said.
“With the immunity, the endeavour to safeguard the interests of all communities, to promote peace, prosperity, economic security and good governance can be fulfilled.”
He said that with regard to the 1993 amendment, the removal of the immunity was a serious matter as Malaysia was probably the only country whose monarchy was without such immunity.
“Sovereignty and immunity have always been symbiotic and it becomes nonsensical that a sovereign ruler can be taken to court for trying to protect the best interest of the nation and the people,” he said.
He said the rulers must also be protected at all costs from pecuniary embarrassment so that the sovereignty was not tarnished and undermined.
“As the highest authority in the land, it is incumbent upon the administration to protect the rulers’ integrity and dignity so that the throne is respected without question.
“The overall effect of the abolition of the immunity and the setting up of the special court is indeed quite revolutionary. With no more immunity, rulers can be sued by ordinary citizens and by the state.
“If convicted, they could be imprisoned and if they are imprisoned for more than one day, they automatically lose their throne,” he said.
He said that previously, the Malay rulers relied on Article 71 of the constitution which guarantees the right of the rulers to hold, enjoy and exercise the constitutional rights and privileges as a ruler of that state.
It appeared that the guarantee was flawed, for without the immunity the guarantee could not be affected.
He said that as the head of the Islamic religion, rulers were duly consulted on most occasions but on a recent fatwa against tomboyism and yoga he was not certain if any member of the royalty had been consulted.
If they had not, he encouraged the council to do so.
More than 50 people attended the luncheon organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute. — Bernama