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Date [ 2016-01-28, 07:13 ]

(Kuala Lumpur =Koreanpress) Liew Lai Keen = Malaysia has nine sultans who take turns to hold the position of the Agong every five years. It must be understood the sultans have no formal power, their proclamations are not binding and so it is understandable that they rarely involve themselves in politics.

But the sultans, recorded since the era of Praameswara, when Malacca was at its height,  hold great respect as symbols of Malaysia's heritage and more important, as  guardians of  Islam in the country.

Last October, just a day or two before the annual Conference of Rulers, when all the sultans meet, they issued a rare joint statement expressing concern over the corruption scandals swirling around Prime Minister Najib Razak. Read that as the controversy of 1MDB, donations of USD 26 billion made by a Middle Eastern donor, plus more millions deposited into the personal account of the Prime Minister. He has of course denied any wrong doing and so far has been able to side steps calling for his resignation.

So the joint statement advocating a swift and transparent investigation has put pressure on Najib Razak. The sultans have called for the “…appropriate stern action" to be taken.

The royal statement went on to say, "The findings of the investigation must be reported comprehensively and in a transparent manner so that the people will be convinced of the sincerity of the government, which shall not at all conceal facts and the truth."

There was an uproar when investigations into the case were virtually shut down since August 2015. This was after Najib had the attorney general replaced citing the attorney=general had health problems. Some officials were removed from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and given posts in the government instead and a reshuffling of his cabinet had his deputy removed into the political wildness.

But there was no rest for the PM. For probes into alleged money flows across the globe, has monetary authorities launch their own investigations in the United States, Singapore, Switzerland, France and elsewhere.

"The failure to give convincing clarifications and answers is feared to have resulted in a crisis of confidence," the sultans' statement continued, referring to the ringgit hitting a 14-year all time low and capital taking flight out of Malaysia. The introduction of GST, contrary to what the government had claimed, has pushed the cost of living way above the heads of low income families. Handing out cash doles of 1BRIM at RM1, 000 a year was not much help.

In the midst of all these problems, the Malay Rulers act as checks and balances and so prevent certain issues from escalating out of control. The government has lost muchcredibility. These Malay Rulers, of whom the Sultan of Johor is a good example, are very well emerging as spheres of influence with the ability of steering the country in the right direction.


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