By Abdul Rahmat Omar
Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah Alhaj of Selangor, from my observation is a calm and very private person. He rarely makes any statement or gives interviews to the media except during his birthday celebrations and one or two other occasions. Only once in a blue moon would Sultan Sharafuddin voice out his concern, like during the Kajang Move because it was affecting the efficiency of his state government. The Sultan had also expressed his concern over the rudeness of the Opposition and its supporters towards the late Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak during the Perak constitutional crisis of 2009.
The latest episode involves the adverse reaction by DAP’s Datuk Zaid Ibrahim to the Sultan’s statement on Tun Dr. Mahahir Mohamad’s remark on the Bugis community. The statement was made during an interview with The Star for this year’s birthday celebration. In his Twitter postings, Zaid said that when some Rulers play politics, they must know the consequences. “Do not think there is no price for partisanship.”
What earned Zaid the wrath of many was when he also tweeted a warning to Sultan Sharafuddin, saying the Sultan should be careful with his words (as) no one is immune when (the) country burns.
That is typical of Zaid, when he displays the usual non compos mentis character. Often displaying his republican attitude, Zaid suits well with the DAP – a party known historically for its rash behaviour when it comes to respecting the monarchy. It is also well that he is a Malay, from Kelantan, as it would appeal to the fence-sitting Malays in Kelantan who are politically torn after the departure of PAS from Pakatan Rakyat effectively ending the coalition.
The late Karpal Singh once petitioned to sue Sultan Sharafuddin’s late father, Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Alhaj, in 1987 over a speech by the Ruler to the Selangor branch of the Ex-Servicemen’s Association, saying that he would not pardon drug traffickers in Selangor. The petition was rejected on the grounds that there was no lis.
In 2009, Karpal Singh had intended to sue Sultan Azlan Shah for appointing Datuk Dr. Zambry Abdul Kadir as the mentri besar to replace Datuk Nizar Jamaluddin. Karpal was found guilty of sedition in 2014.
Since gaining some grounds after the 2008 general elections, the DAP has time and again displayed its disrespect to the Rulers by not abiding by the dress code at state assembly openings. One good example is of Gwee Tong Hiang who was the DAP Johor assemblyman for Bentayan who did not wear a songkok at the state assembly opening. The late Sultan of Johor, Almarhum Sultan Iskandar Ismail, was understandably not amused.
“Two days ago someone here tried to be a hero by refusing to dress accordingly. If he wants (to differ), then get out of here now!” the late Sultan chastised. Tong Hiang unfortunately was not present then.
The DAP has wised up since then. Seen as a Chinese chauvinist party, such rude behaviour turned them into a punching bag for the Malays, especially those from Umno who had a feast turning the DAP into cheap meals. The DAP quickly recruited liberal Malays into its fold, including Zaid, to do their dirty job for them. This keeps the heat off the Chinese in DAP, but pit Malays against Malays.
What the authorities should realise is that such behaviour displayed most recently by Zaid sends the wrong signal that it is alright to reject Malay traditions, including respect for elders and the Rulers, to the younger Malaysian who, at their age, would be mostly anti-establishment by nature. If this goes unchecked, it would certainly give birth to more Zaid Ibrahims.
The authorities should take the cue from Sultan Sharafuddin.
“I am aware that Zaid had long been making false and incorrect accusations against me. He is a politician and a former minister whom I understand is against the royal institution. My advice to Zaid is simple…. do not forget where you come from,” the Sultan said.