Sultans in Wonderland
PRECIOUS IN A GLASS HOUSES
It is easy and indeed very rich of the Sultan of Johor to preach the virtues of competence and the avoidance of ‘racist’ references in politics to politicians from the relative safety of his lofty, highly protected and dictatorial perch.
His Highness’s Sultanate, the beneficiary of the largess of many a rich Chinese businessman from the sugar king to the operators of the Desaru island project comes to this debate on equity and racism with ‘unclean hands’.
There is not a solitary Sultan (the position and the person) or other traditional ruler of the Federation of Malaysia that has not been tainted by the receipt of ‘gifts’ from rich Chinese (and other) businessmen and organizations.
The Chinese especially then claim hard work and a higher level of intelligence over the Malays as their formula for economic success.Perhaps this is the real reason the Chinese in south east Asia especially in Malaysia have become so successful at the expense of the Malays.
These financial inducements and ‘gifts’ to the rulers, which turn out to be ‘dog collars’ on the Sultans and their dignity has a well documented and rich dark history in Malaysia.
ABSOLUTE FREEDOMS AND TYRANTS THE HEART OF ALL OUR PROBLEMS
In the early 1990’s the firm of Turnbull & Partners (an investment bank and law firm of the current Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull) ran a case against the late Sultan of Johor’s (father of the current Sultan) combined interests with Kumagai Gumi, on behalf of a developer.
That case involved the misappropriation of prime land on Desaru island by interests associated with the Sultan of Johor, acquired by a third party for development into a resort.
The right to that development was lawfully owned by a certain Thangadurai, a former Malaysian of Indian extraction, then living in the US.
The then Sultan of Johor was approached by the Japanese construction giant Kumai Gumi to secure the Desaru project for itself. The Sultan acted unlawfully and arbitrarily, with haste, using threats of violence and without regard for the law benefiting himself and his friends in Kumagai Gumi immensely from what he did.
The Desaru land grab is but one of many documented (though later settled on confidential terms) instances of dishonorable thuggish conduct by the Johor Royal Household.
A HISTORY OF TAKE (HADIAH TANGAN)
The Sultan of Brunei is yet another example of the problem of a ruler mixing his official duties with those of ‘bearers of large gifts’. Brunei is an independent Malay state not quite unlike Johor but whose independence and whose ruler’s powers are absolute unlike Johor’s.
Sultan Hassnal Bolkiah’s lessons on indulging his nations wealth with ‘bearer’s of large gifts’ came in the form of the late banker (Malayan Banking) Khoo Teck Phuat and his son David.
Khoo and his son David, conspired in the creation of the National Bank of Brunei with the Sultan’s money. The Khoo’s like most Chinese bankers in south east Asia then turned the National Bank of Brunei into their personal ‘piggy bank’ to plunder at will.
The pair swindled the Sultan in the 1980’s to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars before the Sultan of Brunei cottoned on to their deceit and their pilfering of his wealth, jailing David.
A decade or so on, the same lesson was repeated on the Sultan, when Chinese ‘advisors’, business partners and ‘friends’ preyed on his brother Prince Jeffrey swindling his estate for over US$8 billion. It did not end there.As a go between there was the former wife of one of the heads of the Malaysian Chinese Association a young lawyer who seduced the prince opening the way to Aladdin’s cave for her mates to plunder.
There are many more examples in this regard not just with Brunei but with each of the Malay states in the Federation of Malaysia.The losses to the Malay states by their rulers in sum total is far greater than that which Sultan Hassnal Bolkiah lost in Brunei.
JUSTIFYING ANY EXCESS IN THE NAME OF GOD
In comes Syriah law in Brunei (with full western approval by their silence) to prevent any public inquiry or questioning of the Sultan and his family’s excesses and indulgences in plundering the public purse whilst in high office.
It was after all the people’s money in the billions of dollars that the Sultan of Brunei indulged Chinese and English businessmen with. It has not stopped with the Khoo banking family or with the Penny Wong seduction.
The renegade Prince Andrew of the House of Windsor of the UK has been a beneficiary of the Sultan’s largess. Perhaps this is because it is Prince Andrew’s family that ultimately protects the Sultan of Brunei, underwrites his security and tenure of office on the throne and insulates him from justice and the rule of law.
The Sultan of Johor like all other Sultans ought to stay out of politics, lest their comments like his invite inquiry and unravel the history of illicit transactions and the names of people and the Sultans from whom the Sultans have received money from, demanded and obtained a share of their enterprises where they ought not to have.
It is ugly, it is disgraceful it is unlawful, but it is out there. These disclosures are nothing seminal, new or novel.
ALLOWING INSULTS TO GO UNNOTICED UNPUNISHED
If the Sultan of Johor was indeed being genuine and honourable in his stated beliefs on the subjects of justice and compassion (give the PM another chance), the Sultan of Johor would have spoken out much more forcefully and earlier when Bersih marchers insulted the Malays.
Bersih by their insulting actions of ‘sweeping Malays back to the kampungs’ (13 May 1969) symbolically using brooms to press this point at their Bersih 4 rally earlier this year, showed a contempt for Malays and Muslims not seen in 4 decades.
It was that same insult the Chinese inflicted on the Malays in 13 May 1969 that precipitate that race driven tragedy in which many died.
That Bersih event should have been more significant, sensitive, important and worthy of the Sultan’s immediate attention and intervention if he truly cared about his constitutional and moral duties to his people and the state.
The Sultan and his brother Sultans said nothing of the Bersih insult. They did nothing about it.
The Sultan should have also spoken out earlier and more forcefully when the Chinese tsunami roared away from a harmonious coalition of races in the Barisan to a chauvinistic gathering of Chinese political parties.
That Chinese tsunami was in vain. It was race driven in the vain and mistaken belief that the Chinese would dominate government after the 2013 elections which thankfully did not happen.
What of the Sultans then if the Chinese did indeed succeed in winning the elections in 2013?
Instead of engaging in his constitutional duties more responsibly in this regard, the Sultan of Johor patronises the G 25, The Malaysian Insider, a Chinese owned NED funded initiative, ready to condemn a democratically elected government and to smear anyone not of its ranks.
The same Malaysian Insider refuses to publish and instead censors by deleting those comment from its readers who do not subscribe to the oppositions one eyed anti Malay ant Islamic view of the world.
The Sultan is not a democrat.
SULTANS AS PROTECTORS OF MALAY CULTURE, RIGHTS AND ISLAM?
The Sultan as protector of the Malays, their culture and their religion of Islam (under the constitution) failed to speak out when the Catholic Church began its campaign to publicize (constitutionally prohibited) conversions of Malaysians from Islam to Christianity with the Lina Joy affair.
The Sultan should have spoken (but did not) out when the Catholics and coalition of other Christian denominations chose to provoke his subjects and threaten the stability of Malaysia with the inappropriate, provocative and unnecessary use of the word Allah for no apparent or good reason.
CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY, WHAT CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY?
The irony here is this. Malaysia’s traditional rulers (the Sultans) have a moral and constitutional duty to protect the Malays, their religion and their culture which is Islam and the adat Melayu.
The Sultan of Johor did nothing about the Christian provocation. Was he siding with Christianity against Islam?
The duty of the Sultans in Malaysia, Johor included is not to lord over the Malays, to subjugate them or to keep them in the dark and in poverty. Nor is it their duty or function to engage in public spats in furtherance of foreign ideologies where foreign money is is the sponsor.
The Sultan of Johor with his comments undermines the credibility of the Sultanate and the throne in the process.
These ideologies and attempts at destabilizing government of which the Sultan of Johor (and his consort) are now inextricably a part of, screams ‘anti corruption’ and ‘anti racist’ pious rhetoric out of mealy mouths. These are clearly sentiments manufactured by outsiders now billowing out from the mouths of ‘racists’ and the most ‘corrupt’ and corruptible in our midst.
ITS ALL OUT THERE WAITING TO BE DISCOVERED (SULTANS INCLUDED)
Lowell Bergman (PBS), Joe Studwell (formerly of the south China Morning Post), the archives of Canberra, Whitehall, Camp Langley and many others like them have compiled extensive and detailed lists of politicians and rulers in places like Malaysia who have benefited vastly over the years from ‘contributions’ and ‘favours’ from Chinese and foreign ‘businessmen’ and foreign government agencies. Singapore not to be left out is one of them.
These contributions and favours range from the procurement of young women, very young women, the wives of other people (rife from the days of the Tengku Abdul Rahman and the new Sultans at independence), to cash payments (these days through trusts, foundations and nominee accounts) shareholdings, licenses and other financial inducements to the Sultans.
The vices do not stop there. It goes further to the more sinister receipt of foreign money paid directly to rulers to betray their own, in a modern day repeat of the treacherous conduct of the Johor Sultanate in selling Singapore to the British 2 centuries ago.
In a functioning democracy amongst fair minded, free and responsible people, a concept the Sultan appears to subscribe to, we hope he would not mind our criticisms to what he has to say about ‘racism’ and ‘politics’ in this context;
And hopefully he will not resort to ‘hockey sticks’ ‘golf clubs’ guns and mace sprays as his response to disagreements in much the same way his father, his relatives and ancestors used violence as a response to anything they disagreed with. His Raja Muda’s conduct against a Negri Sembilan prince of late is also noted here. Let the Sultan’s virtues and beliefs prevail by example.
May the Malays and people like them always have a protector under the constitution, if not by the constitution then under God.
May we live in interesting times.