The Royal Institution : A Mechanism Of Check And Balance To Enhance A Democratic Culture.
Thank you to the chairperson. A very good afternoon to the honourable judges, esteemed timekeepers, beloved teachers, dearest fellow speakers and members of the floor. Assalamualaikum wbt.
"The monarchy in Malaysia has discretionary powers set out in the Constitution, but also responsibilities that go beyond what is written to what is intended. The Rulers are not, nor can they be, deaf, blind and dumb to the critical issues on which the nation is hinged. Theirs are the voices of impartiality, fairness and reason when such are necessary, and they must speak with clarity and firmness especially for those who cannot. As the nation experiences political, economic and social change, the institution of the monarchy will have to adapt to the new realities if it is to remain fresh and vibrant."
From His Royal Highness, Raja Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah’s Address at the Oxford and Cambridge Society Dinner, on 27th June 2008. This beauty of a quote is an apt introduction to the topic that I am going to discuss today; The Royal Institution : a mechanism of check and balance to enhance a democratic culture. Before we go in depth into the topic, let me lay out the four key points of our discussion today: First; Royal Institution Above All. Secondly; Maintaining Unity Amidst Diversity. Thirdly; The Ruler of People, for the People, and last but not least; The Protector of the Constitution.
Teachers and friends,
Let me begin to elaborate on the first key-point; Royal Institution Above All, by highlighting another quote from our beloved royal highness:
"For until and unless Rulers are placed above everyday politics – and the controversies that will inevitably follow – they will be unable to carry out their constitutional functions properly. These functions are necessary for the operation of democracy in this country."
It is very clearly stated here, that it is of the utmost importance for the royal institution to be upheld in the highest order, especially above politics. This is in order to ensure that the Royal Institutions can perform as the check and balance instrument for the democracy culture within this country. The democracy system in Malaysia is far too young to be considered solid and without weaknesses, thus it is imperative that we have the Royal Institution as the guardian, making sure that no party is trying to abuse the democracy culture or doing something that is harmful for the nation and its people in the name of democracy.
Members of the floor,
Let us move on to the second key-point; Maintaining Unity Amidst Diversity. Democracy is all about the voice of the people and as we all know, Malaysians are colourful and diverse. Unfortunately, looking at the political scenario within Malaysia itself, it has become a paradox. Our democracy culture seems to promote disunity and separation. This is where, once again, our royal highness has highlighted the role of the Royal institution in counter-balancing this problem. Allow me to quote:
It is true that being Malay sultanates, they are primarily bastions of Malay and Muslim culture. But it is not exclusive. The monarchy is extended to Malaysians of all ethnic and religious identities. Therefore, the monarchy is more than just a symbol of unity. It is a vital instrument of unity in diversity and an anchor institution. In this way, the monarchy functions as the voice of reason and good governance. By its very nature, it is a force for moderation over extremism. Increasingly, the Rulers have made their voices heard on important issues, most notably against fanaticism and chauvinism. Because of the special position they hold in society, the Rulers have the ability to persuade in a way that few others can.
5th August 2009
In this lengthy quote, our royal highness has aptly entailed how the Royal Institution plays its role as the voice of reason and good governance in maintaining unity amidst the diversity. The ruler posses the ability beyond the others, and in times where democracy might fail us, and it will happen, the Royal Institution would be our savior.
Teachers and friends,
This brings me to my third key-point; ; The Protector of the Constitution. In order to enlighten everyone on this point, I would like to once again quote the wise words of our royal highness, Raja Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah who has stated that:
Contrary to some opinion, the monarchy is not all form and no function. But the monarchy has a far more overarching influence. One of which is to ensure the functioning of a sound and healthy democracy. Our constitution places the monarchy above the political fray and extends to it the role as the guardian of justice, the arbiter in times of conflict, and an overseer of the pillars of state.
He further used the term, constitutionally provided stabilizer, to symbolize the roles of the Royal Institution within the countrys democratic climate. One of the example is the fact that our constitution, even though based on democracy, has laid out not only what our rights are but also what the limits to those rights are. These limits safeguard us by ensuring that decisions are not made by those who wield the most power, shout the loudest or behave in the crudest manner. This is just one example of the elements within our constitution that is guarded by our Royal Institution, making it a perfect mechanism for check and balance.
Members of the floor,
Last but not least, let me end the discussion today with the final key-point; The Ruler of People, for the People. As aforementioned previously, the Royal Institution is the true ruler who can unite people amidst diversity. True Ruler of the people will always put his people first. This is where the Royal Institution plays its role as the check and balance mechanism. Even though democracy, in its whole idealistic glory has always proclaims that they are the representative of the people, the sad reality is the fact that it is often not the case. Therefore when such catastrophy takes place, we can always be certain that we can rely on the Royal Institution to take charge and make right of what has been made wrong.
Judges, teachers and friends,
As a parting gift, let me share with you, another gem of a quote from our royal highness, pertaining to the beauty of Malaysian Royal Institution:
Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy which operates on the basis of parliamentary democracy. The monarchy in Malaysia is an integral part of the country, a symbol of identity, continuity, unity and strength. It is a symbol of identity because it is a national institution, one that distinguishes this country from all others. It is a symbol of continuity because the monarchy in Malaysia is an old institution and provides a sense of historical significance to the people. It is a symbol of unity because it is a focal point for citizens of all races, religions and political persuasions to rally around. And it is a symbol of strength because it exemplifies the virtues of justice, mercy and honour. Contrary to some opinion, the Malaysian monarchy is not all form and no function.