Agong’s role to safeguard nation, says Aziz Bari

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Source: FMT News

Constitutional law expert says Prime Minister's Office cannot speak on Agong's behalf over the meeting with Dr Mahathir on Citizens' Declaration. Pic taken from FMT News

Constitutional law expert says Prime Minister’s Office cannot speak on Agong’s behalf over the meeting with Dr Mahathir on Citizens’ Declaration. Pic taken from FMT News

SHAH ALAM: The Yang diPertuan Agong should rise above the politics of the country and play his role to safeguard the interest of the nation, said constitutional law expert Abdul Aziz Bari.

Referring to a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on the matter of Dr Mahathir Mohamad presenting the Citizens’ Declaration with 1.4 million signatures to the Agong on Sept 15, Aziz said there was a definite conflict of interest.

“As the father of the nation, the Agong should not be dragged into this. Ideally, the Agong should rise above politics and play his role, because I think the nation is in a chaotic situation.

“What is the attitude, or the stance of the Agong in particular, and the Conference of Rulers as a whole, as this is a matter involving the prime minister?

“So I don’t think he (Prime Minister Najib Razak) is the right person to speak on the Agong’s behalf,” Aziz said at a forum on The Federal Constitution and the Powers of the Royal Institution here last night.

With the current state of the nation under Najib, Aziz said, the need was more for the Agong to respond to this directly.

“In most countries with a constitutional monarchy, the palace has its own spokesperson to speak on the palace’s behalf, not the prime minister,” Aziz said, adding that regardless of the viability of the memorandum, the palace should accept it instead of “outrightly saying no”.

The PMO statement had claimed that the Agong had told Mahathir that there was nothing to be done (against the prime minister) as the declaration “was not in accordance with the Constitution”.

“But we do not know if that is actually what the palace has to say about it,” Aziz said.

The Citizens’ Declaration campaign was launched by Mahathir and 40 others back in March this year, urging Malaysians to join in the quest to remove Najib via peaceful means.

The document, which was made available online and on hard copy, also sought institutional reforms and the repeal of laws that “violated fundamental human rights”.

It has largely been dismissed by Barisan Nasional leaders as a “futile effort” to topple a democratically-elected government.