The decision from Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah to deny Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s call for an emergency came as a relief to Malaysians who had doubted the reasoning behind the move right from the start.
According to Articles 40 and 150 of the Federal Constitution, a power exists to stabilize the administration of the government in its battle against the Covid-19 pandemic; the King’s intervention in these crisis, both health and political, proved that the office of the King is anything but symbolic in terms of ruling the country.
Democracy during Covid-19
Malaysia practices a parliamentary democracy with the Agong as the paramount ruler above all, this not only gives saying rights to the King but also ruling rights whenever deemed needed.
For the King to not intervene, he must be confident that the government is in line with his expectations of ruling a country.
According to Constitutional law expert Associate Prof Dr Shamrahayu Abdul Aziz, the significance of the King’s role has now been forced out of the curtains as the ongoing political and health crisis granted the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to exercise his role of a much-needed mediator.
“Certain difficulties have surfaced during this political crisis, especially when dealing with some sensitive matters and legal questions not clearly stated in the Constitution.
“However, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has demonstrated his wisdom and the people are now more confident than ever that the political crisis will be resolved smoothly.” Shamrahayu told Bernama in an interview.
Agong during a public health crisis
When rumors of a state of emergency loomed, it was clear that the King had a decision to make as he solely holds the power to implement an emergency.
The decision by the Agong to deny PM Muhyiddin’s proposal for emergency were music to the public’s ears as most agree that an emergency would do little to no good to the current situation that the country is in right now.
According to Opposition Leader and PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, this decision has further strengthen the country’s democratic system.
“The Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s historic decision in rejecting the prime minister and Cabinet’s motion for the declaration of emergency clearly strengthens the Constitutional Monarchy and parliamentary democracy system,” he said in a statement tonight, referring to the system of governance practised in Malaysia.
Agong during a political crisis
The Agong too has the power to dissolve or prorogue (discontinue a session of Parliament without dissolving it) Parliament; the decision to not do so may be a turning point in what is today’s political crisis and also when the PM’s majority coming into question by Anwar’s claim of majority.
In a bid to establish a conventional and constitutional practice for the country, the Agong is merely seeking one thing – for political leaders including MPs to not engage in excessive politicking. According to opposition leader Anwar, this proves that the decision conforms with the need to lessen the public’s anxiety and to let their voice be known by political leaders , civil society, academic figures and the media