04/07/2024 09:58 AM
From Erda Khursyiah Basir

Malaysia’s monarchy is a heritage that was established many centuries ago, with its earliest kingdoms such as Langkasuka, Kedah Tua and Gangga Negara emerging in the second to seventh centuries.

For instance, the Kedah Tua Sultanate, established in 1136, is recognised not only as the oldest sultanate in the country but also esteemed as one of the oldest kingdoms in the world.

Its early history laid the foundation for the monarchy system and led to the emergence of the Malacca Sultanate in the 15th century, renowned for the significant role it played in the spread of Islam in the Malay Archipelago and which served as a thriving centre of maritime trade.

However, it experienced a decline in the 16th century, which subsequently led to the rise of other sultanates that were originally connected to Malacca, namely the Johor, Perak and Pahang Sultanates.

These sultanates went on to play significant roles in trade and politics in the Malay Peninsula but suffered a significant blow with the advent of colonial influence in the 19th century.

Before the colonial era, the monarchy system placed the ruler in the highest and most powerful position in governance, assisted by palace dignitaries. However, the status of the rulers evolved due to demands and changes over time.

Nevertheless, what is remarkable is that the monarchy institution remained intact as the primary source of national administration after independence, despite enduring an extended period of colonisation by the Portuguese, Dutch and British, and the Japanese Occupation.

To this day, the royal institution remains firmly rooted within the framework of the Constitutional Monarchy system, which was introduced in 1957 after the country achieved independence.



Constitutional expert Associate Prof Datuk Dr Shamrahayu Ab Aziz said the Constitutional Monarchy system refers to a governance system where the country is ruled by a king according to the provisions in the Federal Constitution.

His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, the 17th King of Malaysia.

In this context, Malaysia practices parliamentary democracy under the administration of a Constitutional Monarchy.

“When we look at the principles of a Constitutional Monarchy, it is quite similar to that of some other countries because a Constitutional Monarchy means the country has a constitution that places specific rights, powers and responsibilities or roles on the monarchy.

“The institution of monarchy has three levels as mentioned in the Federal Constitution, namely state-level monarchy institutions, the institution of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong at the federal level and the Conference of Rulers institution.

“The proclamation of these royal institutions is enshrined in the constitution, which also outlines their powers and roles in accordance with the appropriateness of the proclamation and status,” she told Bernama recently.

Shamrahayu said Malaysia’s monarchy system is considered unique because it consists of state-level monarchies, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as the head of state at the federal level and the Conference of Rulers, adding, “It can be said no other country practising constitutional monarchy has a system (like Malaysia’s) for state rulers to gather and reach consensus within a single institution.”

“The selection of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is made by the Conference of Rulers every five years or in a shorter period if the reigning king cannot fulfill his duties due to health or other reasons,” she said, adding even though it is a Conference of Rulers, the latter also has as members the governors or heads of states that do not have monarchs.



Describing the royal institution as the cornerstone of the country's establishment and development, Shamrahayu said it also serves as the highest source of reference. It has also been the pillar of the sovereignty, dignity and strength of the nation from the past to the present.

Istana Negara.

She said the monarchy also symbolises the heritages and traditions the country continues to uphold, not only in the aspect of customs but also in national legislation.

“Our country practices a monarchy system and, at the same time, a democratic system.

“Therefore, even though we have a leader (prime minister) who is democratically elected, the monarchy plays a role in safeguarding the people's interests and balancing the democratic system so that it can be controlled and guided in terms of maintaining ‘social life’ including the position of religion within our society,” she said.

She also said the monarchy is not merely a symbol but an institution that radiates unity among people from diverse backgrounds.

“In the context of unity, the monarchy serves as the 'fount of justice' for the diversity that exists in our country, whether in terms of religion, culture, origin, ancestry and so on.

“The monarchy acts as an umbrella over all the diverse elements, allowing us to reconcile our differences and stay united under the concept of royal patronage at the state or federal level.

“The monarchy also represents the nation’s sovereignty in terms of Malaysia’s relations with other nations at the international level,” she added.

According to Shamrahayu, although the institution of monarchy is based on constitutional provisions, in certain situations, the monarch’s power and rights are still retained and reserved in accordance with the customs and traditions of the country.

“The constitution includes reserved power that can be exercised at the monarch’s discretion. This means the monarch does not have to act on the advice of players or leaders elected through democratic methods.

“For example, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong can use his position to declare a state of emergency and this power cannot be questioned in any court. Similarly, in appointing the head of government, power is reserved to the monarch to act at his discretion.

“This shows some aspects of political power have changed while others have remained unchanged according to the development of the monarchy institution and (after) considering its status before, during and after colonisation, and post-independence,” she said, adding several provisions in the constitution have been amended to ensure the institution remained relevant within the democratic system.



Touching on the challenges facing the monarchy, Shamrahayu said it depended on the circumstances faced by the institution at any given time, but the priority is to address these challenges with wisdom that should be present in both the people and the institution itself.

Constitutional expert Associate Prof Datuk Dr Shamrahayu Ab Aziz.

She said education is vital to maintain the sovereignty of the royal institution and ensure it remains relevant, and untainted by the inappropriate actions of certain quarters.

“This includes early education at the school level and lifelong learning to understand the history, role, contributions and functions of the monarchy in current situations.

“Informal education or public scholarship, especially with the media, plays a role in educating the public through multi-dimensional reports of the history, roles and contributions as well as the relevance of the monarchy as a reference for solutions to economic, social and political issues in the country,” she said.

She also believed government agencies should organise comprehensive programmes or courses to strengthen the nation's core, adding education with regard to the monarchy should also be imparted to non-governmental agencies, especially transnational companies, to introduce the country's identity to them.

She said the benefits gained from national stability should be reinvested, including in strengthening the institution of monarchy, in line with the second principle of the Rukun Negara, that is, Loyalty to the King and Country.

She added the reinforcement of laws to, among others, stop the public from playing up 3R (race, religion and royal institution) issues has helped protect the institution.

“Although these laws are not a complete solution to preventing insults against the monarchy, we want to see if the laws concerned are effective in punishing those who insult the monarchy and getting them to change their ways.

“These laws have multiple dimensions. One aspect is to punish (wrongdoers), but we also have to think of how to realise laws that control the social behaviour of society. We must ensure there are measures in place to prevent people from doing anything that can have negative implications for the monarchy institution.

 “Apart from laws, there are various methods and practices that society and organisations can adopt to ensure that the sovereignty of the monarchy is understood and appreciated by our society as a whole,” she added.



Shamrahayu, meanwhile, hoped the royal institution would remain strong and steadfast under the reign of His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia, and that it would continue to contribute to the peace, well-being and happiness of the people and the nation.

The monarchy is an institution that radiates unity among people from diverse backgrounds.

“It is the hope of the people that the monarch remains in good health, which will enable His Majesty to make decisions or discuss issues based on wisdom and the Syariah law, constitution and other laws.

“We have a long history and must ensure our existing monarchy is part of the national identity and culture of Malaysia. The monarchy institution, whether at the state or federal level, must continue to be respected and held in high esteem,” she added.

Malaysia is set to mark another historic moment in its Constitutional Monarchy system on July 20 with the coronation of His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim as the 17th King of Malaysia.

The coronation ceremony is scheduled to take place at Balairung Seri, Istana Negara. Every detail of the preparations is being meticulously arranged to ensure that the ceremony, showcasing the uniqueness of Malaysia's Constitutional Monarchy system, proceeds flawlessly. This event will not only capture the attention of Malaysians but also the international community.


Translated by Rema Nambiar


BERNAMA provides up-to-date authentic and comprehensive news and information which are disseminated via BERNAMA Wires; www.bernama.com; BERNAMA TV on Astro 502, unifi TV 631 and MYTV 121 channels and BERNAMA Radio on FM93.9 (Klang Valley), FM107.5 (Johor Bahru), FM107.9 (Kota Kinabalu) and FM100.9 (Kuching) frequencies.

Follow us on social media :
Facebook : @bernamaofficial, @bernamatv, @bernamaradio
Twitter : @bernama.com, @BernamaTV, @bernamaradio
Instagram : @bernamaofficial, @bernamatvofficial, @bernamaradioofficial
TikTok : @bernamaofficial

© 2024 BERNAMA   • Disclaimer   • Privacy Policy   • Security Policy