Treason and the Federal Constitution

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THAT Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy in a parliamentary democracy is a fact. But there are days when Malaysians will have to reinforce that fact about Malaysia.

That fact about Malaysia cropped up yesterday when the Selangor palace used the word "derhaka", or treason, to describe the actions of PKR and DAP in only nominating Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail to replace the incumbent Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.

The Selangor ruler had requested for more than two names and only PAS complied. Not PKR or DAP, which together with PAS, form Pakatan Rakyat.

The two parties received a royal reprimand and "derhaka" was used.

But constitutional experts are clear that unlike Thailand, Malaysia does not have lese majeste laws, which criminalises offences against the monarch.

Because the Federal Constitution is clear that we are a constitutional monarchy and treason is not an offence in the law books. And no one has ever been charged with such a crime because it does not exist.

Lawyer and criminal law lecturer Datuk Baljit Singh put it succinctly that under the law, one can only be charged with waging war against the King and Rulers under Section 121 of the Penal Code.

Not submitting more than two names is not treason or any offence committed, he said.

Constitutional expert Dr Abdul Aziz Bari said the same thing last night.

"To my knowledge there is no law in Malaysia that criminalises treason. Treason is not an offence.

"Unlike in Thailand where it is an offence. Anyone who is considered rude to the king be punished and so on. That's their law, but that does not exist here," he added.

Yet, there are times when we forget what the Federal Constitution defines what is right and what is wrong in our country. It is the supreme law of the land and we must ensure it is respected by all.

That we are all equal before the law. That we are a constitutional monarchy in a parliamentary democracy. Any other notion is false and does not exist in the Federal Constitution. Let's remember that.