By TUN DR MAHATHIR MOHAMAD
A concerned Malaysian has expressed his worry over the role being played by Sultans in the appointment of the Mentri Besar.
His Royal Highnesses have clearly refused to take the advice of the chief minister, that is the Prime Minister. Instead, they have chosen on their own a member of the state legislature to head the Government.
We hear a lot of opinions on the propriety of the action by the Sultan. Some say he has the right to do this while others point out that as a constitutional ruler he could not do this.
The Constitution says that the Ruler or Head of State must choose the elected member who enjoys the support of the majority of members in the legislative body to be the Prime Minister or the Mentri Besar. Subject to this provision, it is the Ruler who chooses and appoints the Prime Minister or Mentri Besar.
The Prime Minister, as Prime Minister has no role in the choice of the State Mentri Besar or Ketua Mentri. His naming of a candidate who should be the Mentri Besar is purely a party matter. Obviously if the state is captured by the Opposition party he cannot name the candidate.
However, if the Ruler chooses someone who does not enjoy majority support that person could be deposed at a sitting of the legislative body through a vote of "no confidence".
After that another member can be appointed by the Ruler to take his place. But if for some reason there is no other candidate or the candidate with majority support is considered unsuitable by the Ruler, a new Government cannot be formed. The Ruler may then dissolve the legislative body and a new election may be held.
This new election may lead to the same impasse. The Ruler may not like the member with majority support.
However, it should be noted that this kind of thing never happened during the premiership of the four previous Prime Ministers. Concerned Malaysians should wonder why.
Is it just that the particular Ruler is being difficult, unwilling to accept the principles of democracy, wanting to return to feudalism and the absolute authority of the monarch?
I do not think so. There must be a reason why the Ruler refuses to accept the candidate named by the party. But the Ruler chooses not to reveal the reasons and indulge in public debates. He merely expresses his displeasure by refusing to do what normally the Rulers would do.
Concerned Malaysians must ask what has the particular candidate done which is so wrong that it incurs the displeasure of the Ruler.
There is a lot of talk in the town. Terengganu is blessed with petroleum deposits. It should get 5% of the total earnings from oil production. The Federal Government, fearing the previous PAS Government might use this money wrongly, had withheld payment.
But when the Barisan Nasional regained Terengganu, the money, now called "Wang Ehsan", was lavishly spent by the Federal Government on Terengganu. It is not a small sum. Over these years "Wang Ehsan" totalled several billions.
We know that since the Barisan Nasional regained Terengganu in 2004 all kinds of projects have been developed in Terengganu. This includes The Monsoon Cup, luxury housing for sale to foreigners, Crystal Mosque and theme park, university etc. Some of these projects are very good but many are totally unnecessary and wasteful.
But what the Terengganu people are saying is that all these mega projects costing billions of Ringgit have been contracted out to people outside Terengganu. Terengganu contractors got practically nothing.
But additionally they say the contracts all went to one person and they are suspicious that behind this person are members of the first family. The rumours also say that the previous Mentris Besar were responsible for these things happening and of course they think that he might have benefited financially. The rumours went on to say that the Prime Minister might have influenced the Mentri Besar into doing wrong things.
These are all rumours. It will be quite impossible to prove anything as the perpetrators are skilled in hiding themselves.
This is not good for a Government keen to abolish corruption and be transparent. To clear its name an investigation should be made.
But the public is leery of investigations by government agencies and departments. Even Royal Commissions are not highly regarded. The people believe, not true of course, that the Government has been interfering with the work of the Anti-Corruption Agency, the Police and the Attorney-General's Chambers. The say this is borne out by the results of investigations by these agencies.
When a Deputy Minister was accused of accepting money for the release of a detainee, the Attorney-General said there was no case because the detainee said he did not give any money to the Deputy Minister. It is so easy. If you have a case involving someone, all the enforcement agencies need to do is to ask him whether he was involved. If he says "no" then there is no case.
For some reason judges are finding that people accused of murder are not guilty because of insufficient evidence by the police. Yet people who are totally not involved in a case, who were not accused of any misdeeds and who did not appear in court at all and been given a hearing, are found guilty and publicly condemned.
The public cannot be blamed for not having faith in government agencies conducting investigations. The public cannot be blamed for suspecting cover-ups by the Government or, worse still, that the Government may be using these enforcement agencies to threaten people.
To clear its good name, the Government should get credible foreign agencies to conduct the investigations. Of course they must be given full access to the documents etc.
Now my detractors are going to say I did worse things when I was Prime Minister. Well if that is so let us have the foreign agencies investigate me also. I am aware that people are looking into possible misdeeds by me during my 22 years so as to threaten me and ask me to shut up. So far they have not found anything.
Not only have I not taken anything that was not due to me while I was Prime Minister but I have given back to the Government and the people everything that I had received as gifts during my tenure. The Government had offered me land in Kedah and Langkawi and I had refused to accept. I have a five-acre piece of land in Putrajaya which I paid for even though the Government was offering it to me free.
Unless there is a frame-up I think there should be nothing to pin on me. Even other accusations against me including the dismissal of judges were not my doing and I do not feel obliged to apologise. Ask the Tribunal to apologise.
The person asking that the Government should apologise for what happened to Tun Salleh Abbas may have forgotten that as President of the Muslim Lawyers Association, he fully supported the action that was taken. He castigated the Bar Council for condemning Tun Hamid Omar over the dismissal of judges. Now he wants to be more correct than correct. I wonder why.