Monday, September 13, 2010

Aziz Bari kata..."No problem!!"

Tengku Faris (second right) was today declared the new Sultan of Kelantan. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 13 – Constitutional law expert Professor Aziz Bari said today that Kelantan Regent Tengku Muhammad Faris Petra’s installation as the state ruler today is constitutional.

Aziz dismissed accusations of a power grab in the long-standing Kelantan palace crisis that began after the regent’s father, Sultan Tuanku Ismail Petra Sultan Yahya Petra, suffered a stroke in May last year.

“There is no question of a power grab or that the constitutional monarchy concept has been contravened because what is being done clearly follows the conditions and philosophy underlying that concept,” Aziz told The Malaysian Insider today.

“It should have been done earlier on,” he added.

The academic from the International Islamic University stressed that resignations and terminations were “usual” in the constitutional monarchy system, citing instances in Selangor, Perlis and Terengganu after World War II during British rule, as well as in countries like Brunei and the United Kingdom.

Yesterday, the Sultan’s eldest sister Tengku Merjan Sultan Yahya Petra described the planned installation of the new Sultan, scheduled for 11 am today, was an act of conspiracy in ousting her brother as the legal Ruler of the state.

Tengku Merjan said that this was because the state constitution stated that the Kelantan ruler could only be replaced in three conditions, which was if the Sultan passed away, disappeared from the state without legitimate reason for more than a year, or if the Sultan abdicated the throne.

She pointed out that any move to dethrone Tuanku Ismail Petra outside the conditions mandated by the state constitution was tantamount to rebellion under the Penal Code.

“Tomorrow (today) is a sad day for the constitutional monarchy system in Malaysia if the conspiracy to oust him succeeds,” she said yesterday.

Aziz, however, said the installation of a new Kelantan ruler today was the right move as it would end the uncertainty following the incapacitation of Tuanku Ismail Petra last year.

The constitutional monarchy expert pointed out that the Kelantan royal succession council’s act was crucial to prevent the state government’s administration from being disrupted.

“The Sultan plays an important role in this process,” he said.

Aziz also said that this afternoon’s installation of Regent Tengku Muhammad Faris as the new Kelantan Sultan was constitutional as it was based on a recently gazetted clause of the Kelantan State Constitution.

“To me, this explanation is sufficient. Even without this clause, the Kelantan royal succession council, which has the power and plays an important role in appointing and dismissing the Sultan, can appoint a new Sultan,” said Aziz.

He added that the council, like the Conference of Rulers in the context of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, was the highest authority in the state and had to act quickly during a crisis.

Aziz also noted that the decision of the succession council could not be questioned in court based on past precedents.

“This has been acknowledged by the court in many cases. For example, past cases which involved challenges on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in 1987, the Terengganu Sultan in 1996 and the latest case in Kelantan in 2009 clearly showed the court’s reluctance in interfering with royal disputes,” he said.

Aziz pointed out that the Sultan’s role as the head of Islam should be viewed in the context of the religion.

“The Sultan’s ill health clearly shows that [he] does not fulfil the requirement for him to continue his role as the Sultan, who is the replacement of the caliph. [The] Amirul mukminin (caliph) needs to be healthy and Sultan Ismail (Petra) evidently does not fulfil that criterion,” said Aziz, adding that Tengku Muhammad Faris’s appointment was correct as he was the eldest prince.

Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat proclaimed Tengku Muhammad Faris as the Kelantan Sultan at 12.30pm today using a new law that was gazetted in July, stoking a constitutional crisis that began after his father fell ill last year.

The announcement was made pursuant to Article 23A of the Kelantan State Constitution — gazetted on July 22, 2010 — which covers the removal of a Sultan from the throne due to a major and serious handicap or illness.

Tuanku Ismail Petra has remained incapacitated after suffering a stroke on May 14 last year, paving the way for the council to name the 35-year-old prince as Regent last year.

“The Kelantan Council of Succession will deliberate on the medical reports and also observations from some imams that the Sultan cannot perform his royal duties,” a Kelantan palace source had earlier told The Malaysian Insider, citing use of the new law.

“If the Kelantan Council of Succession decides based on thorough investigations that the Sultan suffers from a major handicap, which prevents him from performing his royal duties as mandated in Islamic religious law, the council needs to appoint a replacement based on the conditions in this clause,” added the source.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the insertion of Article 23A into the Kelantan State Constitution (Second Part) was done based on Article 3(2) of that Constitution.

Article 3(2) touches on the following conditions:

(a) The ascension to the throne and other high-ranking positions within Malay customs.

(b) The appointment and characteristics of successors to the Sultan, royal consort or Regent, as well as members of the state regency council.

(c) The dismissal, withdrawal or abdication of the throne by the Sultan or his successors.

(d) The appointment and characteristics of rulers or high-ranking positions under Malay customs, including members of the state religious council, the royal advisory council, or similar bodies; and

(e) The setting up, arrangement, confirmation and termination of ranks, titles, honours, Malay custom; the characteristics of their holders; and controls for the palace, the audience hall and the palaces; may be amended by His Royal Highness with the agreement of the royal advisory council, but cannot be amended by any other way.

Sources also said that as newly-installed Sultan Tuanku Muhammad Faris loved his parents deeply, he has decided that their positions would be preserved through another clause gazetted into the Kelantan State Constitution.

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