Constitutional monarchy – the epitome of ethical and moral conduct

There have been talks about certain quarters initiating a move to get the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to pardon Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Najib, the former prime minister, has been convicted of corruption, money laundering, and abuse of power, in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and SRC International scandals.

The Federal Court will, in August, hear Najib’s final bid to overturn his 12-year jail sentence and RM210 million fine after being found guilty of misappropriating RM42 million belonging to SRC International.

News about moves to get Najib pardoned gained momentum when he was invited by Istana Negara to not only attend the Ramadan iftar, but was seated at the main table.

Then, there were images on social media of the Agong and his consort, entertaining Najib and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor – who is also facing corruption charges – during the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration.

To the common man, images of the Agong dining, and celebrating Hari Raya with Najib, will lend to a variety of interpretations.

Some surmised that the Agong is amenable to such initiatives as suggested by the invitation. Others would read it as Najib soliciting the Agong’s help to keep him out of prison, based on the camaraderie that exists between them that goes back to the days when Najib was the Pahang menteri besar.

It could also be surmised that the Agong accorded Najib the privileged invitation based on their personal relationship that had not been tarnished by the fact that Najib is facing charges in court.

On a personal level, it is the Agong’s right of association, and there is no law preventing one from befriending a person who has been found guilty by the court of law.

But on the other hand, when the Agong functions in his official capacity, representing the royal institution, and more so, the nation and its people, his actions and conduct must reflect the superlative norms, values, and ethos embedded in the Rukun Negara, as well as the tenets enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

Unlike a feudal monarchy where the king is the absolute ruler and owns everything in the land and could exercise his prerogative with impunity, a constitutional monarch – whose station and lifestyle are financed by the peoples’ coffers – must conform to the tenets of the Constitution.

While the absolute monarch is the judge, arbiter, and executioner of all matters pertaining to the kingdom, a constitutional monarch is not involved in governance with respect to the Executive, Judiciary, or Legislative matters, except as enjoined in the Constitution.

As the head of the nation, the Agong is regarded as the protector of the people, acting as a check and balance between the government, and the governed, to ensure justice and fairness to all and sundry, and to safeguard the wellbeing of the people and the nation.

In fact, the head that wears the crown, and as the head of Islam, must display conduct beyond reproach, and in line with the teachings of the Quran and Hadis.

Based on these precepts, the question of the Agong granting pardon to a convicted criminal, does not arise.

Of course, it is the prerogative of the government of the day to push for such an initiative based on a strict criterion of determining a pardonable offence. This is then presented to the Agong, who would review it, and ensure that the process has been meticulous, and is in the interest of justice and the nation, before approving it.

Thus, the perception that the Agong would acquiesce to Najib’s pardon is baseless, for the King is fully aware of his role and functions as a constitutional monarch.

We should, therefore, desist from speculating, for the Agong is beyond sectarian schisms.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.