In His Majesty we trust
By Tunku Abdul Aziz, CRT Coordinator for Southeast Asia
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MARCH 20, 2009 — Zaid Ibrahim is one person I greatly admire because he, no matter what the subject is under discussion, is ready to take it on with courage and candour.
Zaid is his own man, beholden to no one as far as I know, and is not out there in the public domain to please his political masters because clearly he has none.
In my conversations with him over the last few months on a range of political issues, I have noticed, much to my surprise and delight, that he is apparently incapable of harbouring any malice, not even towards people who have acted malevolently against him.
Such is the measure of Zaid the man who now finds himself maliciously attacked on all sides by the besieged UMNO/BN cabal because he had the moral and intellectual courage to suggest to His Majesty the Agong that a person such as Najib whose personal reputation is in complete tatters should be told in the nicest possible way where to get off the gravy train.
Significant numbers of Malaysians are of the opinion that he poses too great a risk to the country and he is the most unlikely person to be able to play a positive role in the rebranding of Malaysia.
This candidate for the highest political office in the land is not even prepared, so it seems, to subject himself to public scrutiny by suing all those who have maligned him and put his personal integrity into question. That would not only teach them a lesson of sorts, but also clear his name, once and for all, of all allegations of impropriety.
There are those among the UMNO top brass who say that the Agong should not break with tradition. He should appoint the president of the dominant party in the coalition as the prime minister.
There is nothing wrong with being tradition-bound, but there is everything reprehensible about clinging to a practice that, on this occasion at any rate, could divide our people even more and degrade our country’s international standing. We — whether we like it or not — are not entirely on our own on this planet.
The Agong must fully take into account the sentiments on the ground because so much is at stake should he make an ill-informed decision. The Perak tragedy should be an example to all members of the ruling elite the consequence of arriving at a decision without heeding and ascertaining the true wishes of the people who are often dismissed as the “chattering masses” or even less flattering, “the great unwashed.”
I do, of course, realise that His Majesty would be hard pressed to select his next prime minister because the UMNO pool of talent is all but empty, but as many agree, compared with Najib, anyone else would be a brilliant choice.
UMNO should consider bringing back Tengku Razaleigh, whom they have put out to pasture, to restore public confidence in the next government. We expect Ku Li will be happy to help out as a duty to the country, as prime minister, ad interim, to give UMNO the breathing space (even a lifeline perhaps) it needs badly to rehabilitate its crumbling image.
The nation at a time such as this could not be better served than by a man of his prestige, reputation and experience. In this, Malaysia’s hour of need, Ku Li will be just the tonic for a jaded, disenchanted and divided people.
It is a remedy worth trying. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by breaking with tradition. UMNO should support Zaid Ibrahim’s idea because it provides a way out of its seemingly intractable problem of fast receding public confidence to govern honourably.
You cannot govern by abusing the law to compel and exact acquiescence from citizens who have woken up to the fact that they have rights to justice and truth.
His Majesty the Agong is being presented with a rare opportunity to show his subjects that the noble institution of the king is more than a mere decorative fixture in the elaborate scheme of ancient rituals and symbolisms at the disposal of the ruling party; the power of the king in our Constitutional arrangement is real and truly awesome if used wisely.
The power we have entrusted to our king must be exercised for the absolute good of the country and the people. The Agong understands the wishes of his people and will want to do the right thing by them. Daulat Tuanku.
Tunku Abdul Aziz believes that the only way forward for Malaysia is for all to work towards a return to transparency and accountability in national life. BN will not in a million years be in a position to lead the country to principled governance if it does not start to put ethical public and personal behaviour in the driving seat.
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