Explain Conference of Rulers (Majlis Raja Raja) Malaysia. (Key Points)

(1) Introduction

Constitutional monarchy is a system of governance that acknowledges the position, dignity and reputation of monarch and makes monarch’s actions bound to the constitution of state. The Constitution of Malaysia also establishes constitutional reflected through the office of supreme head of federation monarchy in Malaysia. The Malaysian constitutional monarchy is (Malaysian King) and constitutional body (Conference of Rulers).

(2) Conference of Rulers (Majlis Raja Raja)

Article 38 of Constitution of Malaysia provides for Conference of Rulers:

  • (i) Constitution
  • (ii) Powers & functions

(i) Constitution

Fifth Schedule of the Malaysian Constitution describes the constitution of the Conference of Rulers; it consists of the nine rulers of the Malay states and the governors of the other four States.

(i) Powers & Functions

Followings are the powers and functions of the Conference of Rulers:

  • (a) Election of King & his Deputy
  • (b) Extension of religious acts & ceremonies
  • (c) Laws or amendments Appointment
  • (d) Appointment Special Court members
  • (e) Granting of pardon
  • (f) Remitting, suspending or commuting sentences
  • (g) Matters of national policy & other matter
  • (h) Privileges, position, honors or dignities
  • (i) Consultation
  • (j) Discretion

(a) Election Of King & His Deputy

It is to elect the King and his Deputy.

(b) Extension Of Religious Acts & Ceremonies

It has power to agree or disagree to the extension of any religious acts and ceremonies to the Federation as a whole.

(c) Laws Or Amendments

It possesses power to consent or withhold consent to laws or amendments which require its approval.

(d) Appointment

It possesses power to make or give advice on any appointment, which requires its approval.

(e) Appointment Special Court Members

It appoints the members of the Special Court.

(f) Granting Of Pardon

It grants pardons, and it can reprieve too.

(g) Remitting, Suspending Or Commuting Sentences

It remits, suspends or commutes sentences.

(h) Matters Of National Policy & Other Matter

It deliberates on matters of national policy and any other matter that it thinks fit.

(j) Privileges, Position, Honors Or Dignities

No law, which directly affects the privileges, position, honors or dignities of the Rulers, must be passed without it consent.

(k) Consultation

It must be consulted before any change in policy, which affects administrative action under Article 153, is made.

(l) Discretion

Its members can act in their discretion in the following proceedings:

  • (l-i) Election or removal of Malaysian King
  • (l-ii) Election of Deputy of Malaysian King
  • (l-iii) Appointment
  • (l-iv) Law altering boundaries of state
  • (l-v) Law affecting privileges, position, honours or dignities
  • (l-vi) Extension of religious acts & ceremonies
  • (l-vii) Appointment Special Court members
  • (l-viii) Granting of pardon
  • (l-ix) Remitting, suspending or commuting sentences

(l-i) Election Or Removal Of Malaysian King

They can act in their discretion in the election of the King or in the removal of the King from the office.

(ii) Election Of Deputy Of Malaysian King

They can act in their discretion in the election of the Deputy of the King.

(l-iii) Appointment

They can act in their discretion to advise on any appointment.

(iv) Law Altering Boundaries Of State

They can act in their discretion to give or withhold consentto any law that alters the boundaries of a state.

(lv) Law Affecting Privileges, Position, Honours Or Dignities

They can act in their discretion to give or withhold consent to any law tha affects the privileges, position, honours or dignities of the Rulers.

(I-vi) Extension Of Religious Acts, & Ceremonies

They can act in their discretion to agree or disagree to the extension of any religious acts and ceremonies to the Federation a a whole.

(I-vii) Appointment Special Court Members

They can act in their discretion in the appointment of members of the Special Court.

(l-viii) Granting Of Pardon

They can act in their discretion in the granting of pardon and in reprieving.

(l-ix) Remitting, Suspending Or Commuting Sentences

They can act in their discretion in the granting of remitting, suspending or commuting sentences.

(3) Analysis

The Conference of Rulers can be analyzed in the following words:

  • (i) Nominal role
  • (ii) Dominant role

(i) Nominal Role

Some critics believe that the Conference of Rulers is playing a nominal role:

  • (a) Reason for nominal role
  • (b) Example

(a) Reason For Nominal Role

The main reason behind this belief is that powers, privileges, consultative role and advisory functions of the Conference of Rulers are not being respected.

(b) Example

Malaysia experienced a constitutional crisis in 1983 wherein powers and role of the Conference of Rulers were not respected; some significant amendments were made to the provisions of the Constitution, but consent of the Conference of Rulers was not requested. It was argued that the consent of the Conference of Rulers was not required to pass the amending laws because the subject-matter of the relevant provisions did not fall within the scope of the laws that affect the privileges, position, honor or dignities of the Rulers.

(ii) Dominant Rule

Other critics believe that the Conference of Rulers is playing dominant role. Some Articles of the Constitution and creation of National Council of Islamic Religious Affairs favor this belief:

  • (a) Article 2
  • (b) Article 38
  • (c) National Council of Islamic Religious Affairs

(a) Article 2

Article 2 states that a law, which alters the boundaries of a state, shall not be passed without the consent of that state’s legislature and the consent of the Conference of Rulers. This article reveals the dominant role of the Conference of Rulers.

(b) Article 38

Article 38 also describes the influential role of the Conference of Rulers:

  • (b-i) Matters of national policy.
  • (b-ii) Policy affecting administrative action

(b-i) Matters Of National Policy

Its function to deliberate on matters of national policy reveals its dominant role.

(b-ii) Policy Affecting Administrative Action

It plays an influential role as its consultation is essential before any change in policy, which affects administrative action under Article 153, is made.

(c) National Council Of Islamic Religious Affairs

The Conference of Rulers has played an important role in strengthening administrative bodies of Islamic Law in Malaysia. For instance, it was through its order that National Council of Islamic Religious Affairs was created.

(4) Conclusion

It can be finally stated that the Malaysian Constitution has established the Conference of Rulers for better working of Malaysian constitutional monarchy. For this purpose, the Constitution has not only given it constitutional powers, but has also given it an obligatory involvement in key government functions.

 

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