50 Years of National Development and Nationhood
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 3 (Bernama) -- The monarchy in Malaysia is an integral part of the country as well as a symbol of identity, continuity, unity and strength and, contrary to some opinion, is not all form and no function, the Raja Muda of Perak Raja Dr Nazrin Shah, said tonight.
It is a symbol of identity because it is a national institution, one that distinguishes this country from all others, and 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, he said.
"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," he said at a public lecture entitled "50 Years of National Development and Nationhood" at the Khazanah Nasional Development Seminar, here.
Raja Nazrin said that over the last five centuries, many monarchies around the world have disappeared because Rulers took their status as a divine right rather than a responsibility.
"They did not bother to re-evaluate and reinvent their roles as guardians of the welfare of their subjects and, not surprisingly, did not retain the public's acceptance and trust," he said.
Raja Nazrin said monarchies came to be closely associated with autocracy, megalomania, tyranny, cruelty and feudalism despite the fact that in the past 100 years, leaders of all kinds, communist, socialist, democratic, republican, militaristic and even religious, have arisen who have displayed these qualities and much more.
He said the monarchies that have survived, including the monarchy in Malaysia, have done so because they have evolved in line with social progress and contribute to public life.
"They have evolved by accepting the reality of, and placing themselves above, partisan politics. They contribute to public life by redefining their role as that of helping to uphold justice, maintain peace and resolve conflicts between contending parties, in much the same way as judges serve society," he said.
He said the monarchies function as the "voice of reason, moderation and good governance," especially if there is extremism or chauvinism.
In this way, the monarchy strengthens the institutions of governance and enhances, rather than detracts from, the democratic process, he said.
Raja Nazrin said that for the monarchy in Malaysia to continue to function effectively as one of the main national axes around which society pivots, it must remain fresh and vital by fulfilling the role expected of it.
"It is an often overlooked or under-appreciated fact that the monarchy in Malaysia is supposed to play a productive role by being a healthy check and balance in the system of governance," he said.
He said the Federal Constitution mandates the monarchy to be the guardian of the just rule of law, an impartial arbiter in the democratic process and an overseer over the pillars of state.
"Some believe that Rulers are supposed to do so in a purely ceremonial sense, but I would argue that this contradicts the true spirit, if not the letter, of the Federal Constitution," he said.
He said that while the monarchy is required to act on the advice of the executive, it must also uphold the principles of good governance and the rule of law, with credibility and impartiality.
"To do otherwise would be to undermine its integrity, as well as that of the Federal Constitution," he said, adding that for the monarchy to effectively discharge its responsibilities, it will need to have avenues for genuine and in-depth consultations with the executive.
Raja Nazrin said this should pose no problem, however, given the common and unswerving aim of advancing the interests of the nation.
"This unity of purpose will also help ensure that the relationship will be cooperative and not marred by open confrontation," he added.-- BERNAMA