The Conference of Rulers can offer solutions that may break what looks like an impasse in the conflict between Prime Minister Najib Razak and former premier Mahathir Mohamad, according to constitutional law expert Abdul Aziz Bari.
Speaking to FMT, he recalled that the rulers played a similar role in ending the 1983 constitutional crisis. He said they could use their meeting next week to discuss Mahathir’s complaints against Najib and perhaps come up with a resolution.
“They should be allowed, as a group, to express their opinions on the current extraordinary situation,” he said.
Aziz was commenting on Mahathir’s statement that the group that signed the so-called Citizens’ Declaration last March had sent letters to all the Malay rulers urging them to act against Najib for alleged wrongdoings.
The former PM said the letters were necessary because his recent meeting with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was disappointing.
“We are making an appeal to the rulers to consider our appeal to take action against the wrongdoings of Najib,” Mahathir said at a press conference on Wednesday. “We want to know if the rulers have an opinion on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and the US DOJ lawsuits.”
Last July, the DOJ (Department of Justice) filed lawsuits seeking to recover more than US$1 billion in assets it said had been stolen from 1MDB and illegally laundered through American financial institutions.
Aziz noted that during the rulers’ meeting on the 1983 crisis, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong left the room to allow the sultans to deliberate on amendments to the Federal Constitution that took away the King’s power to withhold assent on legislative bills and to declare an emergency.
That meeting was held after Parliament had already passed the amendments.
The rulers’ deliberations resulted in a compromise. The Federal Constitution was amended again, restoring the King’s right to declare an emergency.
Aziz also spoke about the alleged breakdown of Malaysia’s checks-and-balances system.
“The Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat appears to be confused about his role,” he said. “He is on the side of the executive branch of government.”
He alleged that the judiciary and the conventional media were also displaying the same one-sidedness.
“Even the Islamic religious institutions, which are supposed to be under the Conference of Rulers, have become the mouthpieces of the executive,” he said.