Further Amendments to the Power of The Rulers

  1. In December 1992, an alleged assault of the hockey coach – Douglas Gomez of Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar by the Sultan of Johor (King of Johor State) at Istana Bukit Serene (Serene Hill Palace) was reported.
  2. This assault resulted from the forced withdrawal of the Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar hockey team from the semi-finals of the Malaysian Hockey Federation-Milo Champion Schools tournament a few hours before the match began at Stadium Tun Razak in Kuala Lumpur on November 25
  3. The main reason underlying the team’s pullout from the competition was that the Sultan of Johor (King of Johor State) was annoyed that his son, Tengku Abdul Majid Idris (the Tengku Bendahara of Johor), was suspended from participating in all Malaysian Hockey Federation tournaments for five years. The suspension was made as the Sultan of Johor’s (King of Johor State) son assaulted the Perak hockey goalkeeper – Mohamed Jaafar Selvaraja Vello during the Perak and Johor hockey finals of the Malaysia Sport’s Games on July 10, 1992 in Johor Bahru (Rajendran 24). Thus, the Johor Palace commanded the director of Johor’s Education Department, Abdul Rahim Busu to withdraw the Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar’s hockey team from the schools tournament.
  4. Following this, the coach Gomez criticized the Johor Hockey Association principal office-bearers for “destroying hockey in the State” (Rajendran 24) and further requested their resignations. But upon his return to Johor Baru, he was summoned to the Johor palace and held for a few hours before he was able to sought treatment for the bruises on his face and stomach.
  5. These events caused widespread shock among the Malaysian public. As a result of this event, Mahathir eventually removed the immunity of the Sultans (kings) for criminal offences. In that same year, the Sultans (kings) interference in state administration, political matters and business were minimized as well.
  6. The Gomez incident was followed by several days of news coverage in which outrage was expressed at the Gomez incident. Reports in the following weeks contained allegations of otherabuses by the Sultan of Johor and the Johor Royal family. There were also allegations of abuses of privilege by other Rulers. For instance, the Pahang Royalty was alleged to be putting pressure on the Pahang Government and its forestry officials for more timber concessions in spite of substantial concessions that had been made over the previous four years.There were other general allegations of excessive timber and land concessions being demanded by Royal families.
  7. There were complaints that some Rulers refused to pay debts and otherwise refused to comply with contractualobligations relying on their immunity from civil actions.There were allegations that the privilege of allowing Rulers to import luxury cars free of duty had been abused by obtaining import approval permits for cars for other members of the royal families and for friends of the royal families. Concerns were also expressed with respect to alleged interference by Rulers in government affairs.
  8. These proposed amendments dealt with the immunity of the Rulers, changes with respect to the Rulers’ powers to grant pardons and changes with respect to sedition in the context of Parliamentary proceedings concerning the Rulers. The provisions of the Constitution providing for the immunity of the Rulers were to be amended to replace the general immunity with an immunity limited to their actions in an official capacity.
  9. The proposed amended version of Article 181(2) read: No proceeding whatsoever shall be brought in any court against the Ruler of a State in respect only of anything done or omitted to be done by him in the exercise or purported exercise of his functions under any written law (words to be add ed in italics).
  10. the proposed amendments provided that no proceedings could be taken against a Ruler in his personal capacity for anything done or omitted to be done by the Ruler before the amendments came into effect.
  11. Meetings of the Rulers with government representatives led to some last minute changes in the proposed amendments before they were presented in Parliament.The changes provided for the creation of a sp ecial court to deal with cases invo lving the Rulers. If civil or criminal actions were brought against a Ruler or the King these would, under the revised version of the proposed amendments, be dealt with by a special court.
  12. There were two changes to the amendments tabled in the House o n January One was that a Ruler charged with an offence in the Special Court should cease to exercise his functions asa Ruler.1Pending the decision of the Special Court a Regent would be appointed to exercise thefunctions of the Ruler. A Ruler convicted of an offence by the Special Court and sentenced toimprisonment for more than one day would cease to be the Ruler of the State unless he received apardon.A similar provision was added with respect to the King.
  13. The other change was that no action, civil or criminal, could be instituted against the King or a Ruler of a State with respect to an ything done or omitted to be d one in his personal capacity without the consent of the Attorney General.170 Overall the modifications appeared to be relatively minor. The revised amendments w ere submitted to Parliamen t and were passed by both Houses on March 9, 1993