It has been an interesting week indeed. The long awaited dissolution of the Parliament has happened. The announcement by the Elections Commission that the polling day will fall on a Wednesday has gotten people excited over nothing. This would be the sixth general elections that is held on a work day since Independence. That is six out of 14. And half of that were done during Mahathir’s time.
Many cry foul saying that it would be almost impossible for them to make the trip back to wherever they came from just to vote, and then go back to where they actually reside. Justice, they say, without even thinking about the injustice they do to their kampung folks who have to endure five excruciating years of having a representative who may be worse than the last guy.
If you don’t want the hassle of having to travel back to vote, register as a voter where you actually live.
Having said that, what was more interesting was the recent Facebook post by His Royal Highness The Tengku Mahkota of Johor that called upon the people of Johor NOT to vote for a party or coalition that would allow Mahathir to win. That got people riled up. Prior to this, when the Tengku Mahkota Johor, or TMJ as he is fondly known as, speak out against the ruling government, even those who do not believe in the Rulers Institution would comment “Daulat Tuanku” in a reply. The very same people now attack HRH.
I am not fond of the royalty speaking out in such manner because I believe that even though their Highnesses may be opinionated, they should remain to be seen neutral. However, the famously-written lines by Walter Bagehot comes to mind:
“…that the monarch has three rights: the right to be consulted, to encourage, and to warn”.
This is noted by Mark R Gillen of the Faculty of Law, University of Victoria (Gillen 1994:7). In the words of the late Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, former Lord President, it is:
“a mistake to think that the role of a King, like that of a President, is confined to what is laid down by the Constitution, His role far exceeds those constitutional provisions” (Azlan Shah 1986:89)
Therefore, it is within the rights of the TMJ to warn the people of Johor on what he thinks could be dangerous to them, and to the unity of the people of the state.
If Barisan wishes to capitalise on this matter, I would say that the timing is a bit off as it was done far too early in the game. You now see posts being shared on WhatsApp attacking not just the present Sultan, but also his late father, grandfather of the TMJ. Mahathir, too, was quick to comment saying that the posting by the TMJ would only work in Pakatan’s favour.
Or so he thinks.
Mahathir’s tiff with the Johor Istana predates even Syed Saddiq’s existence. Two years after becoming the Prime Minister, Mahathir sought the agreement of the late Sultan of Perak for the latter to become the Yang DiPertuan Agong, replacing the Sultan of Pahang whose tenure was ending the following year. Running simultaneously was a campaign to put the late Sultan of Johor in a bad light, in order to gain the support of the masses for the Prime Minister’s effort.
The relationship between Mahathir and the late Sultan of Johor was so bad that it prompted some ranks within the military to plan a coup in August 1983. The Chief of Army, General Tan Sri Dato’ Zain Hashim, an illustrious officer, retired at the young age of 52 in January 1984, and was replaced for just over a year by General Tan Sri Dato’ Mohd Ghazali bin Haji Che Mat, who was in turn replaced when he was made the Chief of the Armed Forces, by Mahathir’s brother-in-law, General Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Mohamed Hashim bin Mohd Ali. By then, the army was firmly under someone loyal to Mahathir. Hashim later became the Chief of Armed Forces.
I know of some details of the planned coup, but was asked to keep them confidential.
No, this does not show that the Armed Forces should only be loyal to the Rulers; on the contrary it shows that the Armed Forces should also be loyal to the government of the Yang DiPertuan Agong simply because Cabinet Ministers, according to Article 39 of the Federal Constitution, represent the Yang DiPertuan Agong and are given executive powers to administer the country on His Majesty’s behalf. Therefore, loyalty shall be given by the Armed Forces to the Prime Minister and his Cabinet.
The rest of what Mahathir did or tried to do to the Johor Royal Family are as posted by the TMJ. His glaring lack of love for any royal family goes back to as early as the Second World War period where he began his fight against Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s first premier and a member of the Kedah royal family. In recent episodes, Mahathir attacked Johor’s Forest City project by creating fear amongst the masses saying that there will be an influx of Chinese immigrants once the project is completed, and then attacked people of Bugis descendants that include not only Najib Razak, but also the Sultans of Johor and Selangor saying that “Bugis pirates should go back to their land“.
The Sultan of Johor criticised Mahathir for playing the race card, while the Sultan of Selangor rebuked Mahathir for the comments made about the Bugis people.
Mahathir remained unapologetic on both occasions.
“He is an angry man and will burn the whole country with his anger,” said the Sultan of Selangor in a statement and said his sentiment was shared by all members of the Rulers institution.
When asked about the Sultan’s statement by members of the press, Mahathir replied, “Yes, I am a very angry man, you can see how angry I am. I will burn you, I am always burning things.”
Yes, Mahathir would burn anything down, as long as he gets his way. He does not care if the country is razed to the ground. All this is because Mahathir is a man who is running out of time.
Before stepping down 15 years ago, he wanted a Prime Minister who would do his bidding, and protect him and his family from any probe or investigation, even after he is gone. When Abdullah Ahmad Badawi refused, he dislodged the latter from the premiership. In came Najib Razak who has his own ideas on how this country should be run, and made better. Mahathir, not accustomed with partnering with dissenters, tried to remove Najib. It was a multi-pronged attack, reinforcing the attacks that were already being done by the Opposition.
He then made a pact with Muhyiddin and Shafie. He knew that he could not rely on Zahid Hamidi as he was the one who arrested Zahid under the ISA. Hishammuddin’s loyalty to his cousin is unquestionable. He undermined the UMNO leadership hoping that Najib would be ousted, and he would plant Muhyiddin on the throne, and his family would be safe again.
Unfortunately, that plan failed miserably. Najib regained his footing and charged back. Both Muhyiddin and Shafie lost their jobs and subsequently left UMNO. Mahathir and his family were now vulnerable to probes and investigations.
And that is why he is adamant on becoming the next Prime Minister – so that he could guarantee a successor who would continue to protect his family.
Why else would a “principled man” break all his principles and work hand-in-hand with his enemies whom, in his knowledge, are bent on destroying the culture and tradition of the Malay people, perhaps the Rulers institution too?
Certain former top brass would remember a particular golf game where the late Sultan Iskandar said to them that we should not have a Presidential system (in Malaysia) and (must) do away with the “political baggage”.
We wonder what the late Sultan meant, but I don’t think I have problems identifying whom he meant by that.
But one thing for sure, Mahathir would rather apologise to Ambiga for using the K-word than to apologise to their Majesties.
See where he puts the Malay Rulers compared to Ambiga.