KUALA LUMPUR – Aug 25, 2016: Former prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has created a stir in cyberspace when he apologised for amending the federal Constitution to restrict the role of the king in relation to the country’s laws.
Mahathir, now a harsh critic of current Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, had expressed his regret as the amendment eventually allows the National Security Council Act (NSC) to be enforced without royal consent.
The remarks by Mahathir has received mixed reactions from netizens.
In his latest blog post, Mahathir extended his apology for the amendment passed in 1994 which allows any Bill approved by parliament to automatically become law even without royal assent after 30 days.
He wrote that it was regrettable the amendment had been misinterpreted. Mahathir disagrees with the NSC.
“It would seem that because of the amendment, the National Security Act has become operational even though the YDPA (king) has not signed it.
“However, I would like to point out that the amendment is not for all laws. Some laws passed by parliament will still need the consent and signature of the YDPA.
“I sincerely apologise for making the amendment as it is open to misinterpretation.”
Mahathir also wrote that royal consent and signature is still needed if an act impinges on the authority and position of the country’s ruler and that the NSC had therefore impinged the ruler’s authority.
Many Facebook users expressed scepticism over his “apology” and suspect that this is merely another of Mahathir’s political trickery.
Franz Hairil Von Hipper wrote: “Apology to the king now? Why don’t you just step down, Tun? At the moment, all that comes to my mind is that this is another political move by you.
“This is just to get the support from the Malay Rulers after the failure of his Save Malaysia and Citizens’ Declaration. By the way, where are the signatories of the declaration now?” asked Von Hipper.
Loo Gee Hong had this to say: “At times, an ‘apology’ is misused by politicians for their hidden agendas. This had caused the government to crumple at the moment. Same goes to him (Dr Mahathir). Next general election is fast approaching; this is akin to any other political tactic.”
Gaspar Dilip thinks that the apology does not resonate with the things he had done in the past. He further chided: “You are the very same person who took out the power from the Rulers, and got rid of a number of honest men from the government.”
But as usual there were also many who defended Mahathir.
Salmi Mohd Noor wrote: “Many people wouldn’t be able to see how detailed his explanation is. The lawyers will know how to take it from here. He is detailing the changes he made and how that has been misinterpreted and abused. Thank you, Tun.”
Kenny Chung commented: “Whether you hate him (Dr Mahathir) or like him, the state of the nation now is due to Najib’s governance. Najib had abused the amended system. This is a humble apology of regrets to the mistakes he made; that he never expected the country would be in such doldrums,” Kenny added.
The National Security Bill was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on December 1 last year and passed by the lower house two days later and the senate on December 22.
It came into force earlier this month.