The Sultan Muhammad V has returned to his state of Kelantan after abdicating the throne as the “Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Supreme Ruler, or simply the King)” effective Sunday (Jan 6). What is still unknown and of utmost interest is the actual reason the former King was given an ultimatum by the Council of Rulers to either exit in grace or be sacked
The Palace and the Royal Institution have revealed zero information why the monarch has resigned, renounced, abdicated or whatever one wishes to call it. Without an official explanation, one can only speculate. And the only thing they could relate to the abdication is the sultan’s secretive marriage to the Russian beauty queen – Oksana Voevodina, Miss Moscow 2015.
And people will continue to speculate simply because Malaysia is a democratic country, not a communist nation under the rule of the Kim dynasty. A fundamental characteristic of modern democratic states is the existence of the right to freedom of expression. Besides, Sultan Muhammad V became the first King who had given up the throne before the end of his 5-year term.
Some argued that the monarch should be left alone to live a happy life with his new foreign wife. That’s a valid argument – provided the monarch spends his own hard-earned money or fortune from inheritance, not the taxpayers’ moneyon his wedding in Russia. So, can the Palace disclose the expenses incurred and confirm no taxpayers’ money was used for the lavish wedding in Kremlin?
In June last year, Kadir Jasin, the mouthpiece of PM Mahathir Mohamad revealed that the previous Najib regime had allocated RM256.9 million from January 2017 to April 2018 for the King’s accommodation, residence and palace, personal items, aircraft and transportation, training and escort equipment, clothing and ceremonial items, gifts and souvenirs, overseas visits and salaries of palace staff.
According to the Treasury, the government allocates RM13.5 million annually for the Agong. Obviously the former King had used more than the allocated budget. Although Malaysia has a unique constitutional monarchy, it’s not an absolute monarchy. Hence, Mahathir wrote – “The rule of law applies to everyone, from the rulers to the prime minister and ministers, to civil servants and ordinary citizens.”
Some argued that no negative comments should be expressed against the former King now that he has resigned. To give unfavourable remarks, even if it’s a fact, is tantamount to mocking and insulting the monarchy. The extremists even claim it’s an insult to the Malays and Islam for anyone to speak negatively against the Malay Rulers, regardless of the facts.
These people demand blind support for the monarchies, as if they are God who can do no wrong and must be worshipped because he could easily get offended. Such outdated feudal mentality was partly responsible for the creation of former Prime Minister Najib Razak, who had demanded the same level of respect and whoever dared criticises him would be slapped with seditious charges.
So far, the police have arrested two men and one woman over their social media remarks that were deemed insulting to Sultan Muhammad V after the Kelantan Ruler abdicated as the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong on Sunday. The trio arrested were 46-year-old Eric Liew Chee Ling, 27-year-old Azham Akhtar Abdullah and Nur Alia Astaman, 26.
The use of the Sedition Act 1948 to arrest and investigate the trio have since then been condemned by civil society, as the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition had promised in its election manifesto to repeal the law. Previously, the same Pakatan had condemned the colonial-era law as repressive and oppressive and violate the fundamental right of democracy – freedom of speech.
With the exception of Mahathir, it seems everyone, including PM-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim, plays dumb and no longer fight for such basic right anymore after they have taken over the federal government. Yesterday (Jan 10), the world’s oldest prime minister spoke against the police who appear to not know what is considered insulting to the royalty institution.
The 93-year-old Mahathir said – “At the moment, our enforcement officers do not understand what is considered as an ‘insult’, so we need to spell out what sort of actions or words can be construed as insults. I have said before that Malaysia now practises freedom of speech. With this freedom of speech, if you say something is factual, you cannot be prosecuted.”
Continue his lecture against the clueless police force, the premier said – “On the other hand, if we shut the mouths of everyone until people cannot even speak up against acts of crime, then there will be injustice in the country.” After being denied his right to express freely during his campaign against Najib regime, clearly Mahathir knew how it felt to be at the receiving end.
In 2016, Mahathir’s claim that “the AG Apandi Ali was appointed by the PM Najib Razak through false representation made to the King” was considered seditious and an insult to the Agong (King), as if the King was someone who can be easily deceived by the people. And based on his past criticism against the monarchies, the old man should have been slapped with dozens of seditious charges.
Perhaps offended and insulted by Mahathir’s lecture that the enforcement officers have no idea what they were doing, Deputy Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Noor Rashid Ibrahim sprang into action and defended the arrest of the three individuals under the Sedition Act. The police No. 2 claimed that what was said by the three individuals posed a threat to public order.
Mr. Noor Rashid argued – “If the context and what was said by the three individuals continues to be viral by more people on social media, it would threaten the country’s peace. If we let it go just like that, it will threaten public order. So we had to do our job in accordance with the law to preserve peace in the country.”
Exactly what type of grass the deputy police chief has been smoking lately? The message expressed by the three individuals had gone viral because some people who disagreed with them deliberately spread it using the provocative excuse that the monarch was under attack. It was like saying Kim Kardashian must be charged for promoting rape and murder after she posed naked on Instagram and got viral.
The former King’s abdication fiasco has gotten juicier. Now, Russia’s biggest-selling newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda (KP) has reported that Oksana Voevodina, the Russian wife of Sultan Muhammad V, is pregnant. So, can the public congratulate the Kelantan sultan on this piece of great news? Or would it be an insult since the Malay Ruler appears to be silent on the matter?
There were also talks and rumours that Miss Voevodina, despite her conversion to Islam, can never be made the queen (Raja Perempuan) of the state of Kelantan because she isn’t a Malay. According to the Kelantan constitution, the Sultan can, upon the advice of the Council of Succession, appoint his consort as the Raja Perempuan, provided she is a Malay Muslim.
Sadly, it seems only the 93-year-old Mahathir has the balls to criticise the monarchies and lecture the police while defending the freedom of speech. What happens to PM-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim, the leader who had in the past screamed, whined, cried and bitched about democracy and freedom of speech and his pledge to defend every single citizen of the country against oppression and suppression?