18 April 2019
KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 — The federal government and the Malay rulers could again tangle over another crucial appointment, with a report suggesting that the latter were holding up the replacement for Tan Sri Richard Malanjum who retired as Chief Justice last week.
The appointment of the country’s most senior judge must gain consent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to be effective, which it has not, leaving the judiciary leaderless for the time being.
“They (the royals) have kept mum, passing back the message that they are no rubber stamps,” The Straits Times (ST) reported one source close to Istana Negara as saying.
The situation now is similar to the resistance towards Tommy Thomas’s appointment as attorney general last year, which was believed to have been delayed over the then-Agong’s purported concerns about the former’s ability to defend Malay-Muslim interests.
Sultan Muhammad V eventually relented, however, paving way for Thomas to become the first non-Muslim to fill the role of Malaysia’s AG, but the rumblings did not end there.
Muhammad has since abdicated the throne and was succeeded by Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah of Pahang.
The unprecedented mid-term change has also created factions among the state rulers, sources said, making it even more challenging for Putrajaya to advance its position on choices for key roles that require royal assent.
“There seems to be camps among the royals so it will be more difficult to reach a consensus to fill important roles like (that of the) CJ,” one palace official told ST.
Also since Muhammad’s abdication, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his administration has asserted of a planned coup d’etat that ostensibly involves drawing in the Malay rulers to publicly censure him and possibly force his exit.
Dr Mahathir had also appeared set to clash with Johor’s Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar over the appointment of the state’s mentri besar, but this fizzled out when the PM’s preferred choice was eventually named to the position.
Even Malanjum’s appointment as CJ was not without controversy. The Sabahan replaced Tun Md Raus Sharif, who resigned shortly after the general election, in close proximity to Thomas’ appointment, further fuelling fears the Malay community was losing hold of key institutions.
This time, sources said the Malay rulers will not brook another candidate not from their community.
“There is no way the next CJ is non-Muslim,” one source was quoted as saying.
The CJ’s appointment will be closely watched as it will serve as an indicator of the health of relations between the federal government and the Malay rulers, after public spats over various issues including the abortive bid to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
11 April 2019
SERDANG, April 11 — Alleged plans to topple the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government will fail as the coalition was democratically chosen by Malaysians, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He said the conspirators could carry on with their scheming but these will still not succeed.
“There have been a lot of attempts now to make the rulers unhappy with the government… they single out the Statute of Rome and things like that.
“But it’s not going to succeed, it will fail. They can try as they like,” said Dr Mahathir when met by reporters after the launch of the Malaysia Autoshow 2019 at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS), here today.
Dr Mahathir said that as Malaysia practises democracy, it would not be easy to simply “get rid of the government and substitute” it with another party.
“Unless of course we want to drop democracy and become a kleptocracy, you can become an autocracy,” he quipped.
Last Sunday, Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the Cabinet’s reversal of its ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court was a political move in feat of a coup d’etat attempt, which would be instigated by the “deep state”.
He said it was possible for the issue to be manipulated to the extent that people would go to the street as they were moved by the “deep state”, which refers to a form of secret government or network that operates independently of a country’s political leadership for its own personal agenda.
Last Friday, Dr Mahathir had said critics of the Rome Statute wanted to trigger a row between the country’s monarchy and the new PH government, which had led to Putrajaya withdrawing from ratifying the treaty.
The Langkawi MP said the federal government decided to not recognise the Rome Statute as there were some confusion by the rulers on the signing of the international treaty.
8 April 2019
THE statement by Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah, that Malaysia’s withdrawal from ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court was a political move done out of fear of a coup d’etat spurred by powers behind the scenes, is a serious national security allegation.
It is vital that the government confronts this challenge, or it will continue to be held hostage by the deep state, who would continue to hold the government ransom, especially on political, institutional and economic reforms promised to the electorate, and its credibility as a moral voice in global affairs.
In such a context, it is vital to expose who these deep-state actors are through a white paper in Parliament. Those who are plotting to destabilise a democratically elected government through racial and religious bigotry should be arrested and charged in the court of law.
In fact, by opting out of the Rome Statute, the government has basically put the future of Malaysia in the hands of possible future war criminals, who would be able to act with impunity in a multiethnic, multireligious society.
Therefore, it is time that the Pakatan Harapan government exposes these deep-state actors through lawful actions, or the government will continue to be held hostage by this group of people, who would continue to damage the credibility of the administration in both domestic and international affairs.
* Ronald Benjamin is executive secretary of the Association for Community and Dialogue.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT