By SHAMSUL AKMAR / Pic by BERNAMA
A Daulat Tuanku, the Malay equivalent of Long Live the King, is in order following the ascension of the Sultan of Pahang as the 16th Yang diPertuan Agong.
It should put to rest earlier concerns that there would be political interference in the succession following the abdication of the previous King.
Interestingly, though many have equated the Daulat Tuanku to that of the English proclamation, the Malay phrase actually underscores the mystical power that Malay Rulers inherit, which defines and grants them the right to rule over fellow humans.
Or put it the other way – the daulat, the power that they inherit requires common folks to bow before them.
It is this daulat, or daulah, that ensured those who committed treason to suffer the tulah, or being accursed, going crazy or suffer other painful afflictions.
It is the fear of this that had, in the days of yore, common folks allow themselves to be the subjects of the monarch.
Of course, in these modern times, beliefs of the existence of such powers have diminished, if not totally absent, and the power that the Rulers have are constitutionally defined or in some parts, accorded by convention.
But that does not make them less royal. In fact, Malaysia’s nine Rulers, despite being questioned on occasions about their relevancy, have remained an integral part of the nation’s political and social ecosystem.
It had been repeatedly said that if any of the Rulers have acted beyond the constitutional provisions or committed a crime, it is not the institution that is being questioned but rather the individual.
Such is how the Monarchy have been intricately woven into the system, that it would be very difficult to attempt to affect the institution even if any member of the Royalty had gone astray.
And there are enough defenders of the Rulers institution, though their understanding of the importance of the institution may differ from one another.
The succession of the Sultan of Pahang as the King has yet again restored the sanctity of the throne, though there were attempts earlier to suggest that there would be political interference in the process following the abdication of the previous Agong.
Here, the suggestion of interference, though subtly crafted, was directed at Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on grounds that he would not want the Sultan of Johor to succeed the throne because their relations were perceived to be pugnacious.
There was even an attempt to organise a demonstration to demand that there is no political interference in the succession process, obviously to amplify the suggestions which was turning into accusations and hoping that it would tap into the Malay psyche of feeling somewhat defensive when their Ruler, or Rulers, are short-changed or under siege.
Even though these suggestions and accusations came from someone that was declared to have an IQ of a carrot and another from a politician who had attempted to enthrone a new Ruler over an existing Sultan, which in the past would be deemed treasonous and he would have suffered the tulah, it did not make the whole issue less serious.
It added to the narrative that the new Pakatan Harapan Government is anti-Malay and the justification is that they have no regards for the Malay Rulers, widely accepted as the last bastion of Malay interest.
However, the accusations began to fizzle out when the then Sultan of Pahang, who was not in the pink of health, abdicated to give way to the Regent who would then qualify to be the Agong as according to the succession process, Pahang was next after Kelantan.
Johor came into the picture because the health condition of the previous Sultan of Pahang made him unable to assume the Agong’s throne.
With the new Sultan of Pahang ready to assume the throne if his brother Rulers decided to keep to the convention, the issue of Dr Mahathir interfering in wanting to stop the Sultan of Johor becomes a moot point.
Further to that, given former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s position as a hereditary Pahang aristocrat, it is popularly accepted that he would be happy to see the Sultan of Pahang become the Agong.
His supporters were quick to latch on it and started promoting the idea that Najib will receive the pardon from the King after he is found guilty for the corruption cases that have yet to even start.
By now, the Sultan of Johor, whom they were rooting for, with the hope that his ascension will put Dr Mahathir in his place, seems to have become a moot point too.
With a new found fervour, and the issue of political interference a distant past, they started to root for the Sultan of Pahang, believing he will interfere in the political process to favour Najib, or be his saviour.
Of course these are crafted in their minds, baffling as it may on how they could reach to such conclusions, or what is said about idle minds.
Or maybe, the tulah finally worked and had got to them early.
- Shamsul Akmar is the editor at The Malaysian Reserve.