Zaid to seek an audience with king

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By Stephanie Sta Maria

PETALING JAYA: Zaid Ibrahim is prepared to seek an audience with the king to clarify the contents of his recent blog posting which has sparked outrage among certain quarters.

Earlier this week, Zaid stated that the Sultan of Selangor’s order for mosques to not be used as political venues was merely a personal opinion that carried no legal weight.

This resulted in Perkasa filing a police report against him and demanding that he apologise to the sultan. Perkasa and a group of NGOs also burned an effigy of Zaid outside the PKR office in protest.

In a press conference held at his Tropicana residence this morning, Zaid emphasised that he had no intention of ridiculing or belittling the sultan.

“But this is an issue of public interest and as a politician, it is my duty to give my views,” he explained. “So I will be writing a letter to the palace to seek an audience with the king if that would help clarify this matter.”

According to the Pakatan Rakyat coordinator, he had received a letter from the Majlis Agama Islam Selangor (MAIS) earlier this week which expressed disappointment over his apparent ignorance of state laws.

The letter also informed him that under Section 12 of the Selangor Enactment, the sultan has the power to issue directives and orders that can be enforced with immediate effect.

“Malay rulers as heads of Islam do not have the authority to issue orders, directives and decrees without first going through the state assembly and gazetting those decrees,” Zaid said. “We are a constitutional monarchy and rulers must abide by the rules of the constitution at both the state and federal level. So I believe that Section 12 is not valid.”

“Orders and decrees must be gazetted so that people understand their scope and exactly what is prohibited. It doesn’t make sense that laws debated in Parliament and the state assembly have to be gazetted but those issued by rulers are excused. The law is applicable to them as well because it has an impact on the public.”

He added that in a democracy, questioning legal interpretations should be encouraged instead of ridiculed.

“In our system of governance, we select members of parliament and state assemblymen to enact laws. If we allow anyone else to do the same, then there is no democracy in this country because the people will not have a say.”

‘I will not apologise’

Zaid also said that he would not be apologising for expressing his personal opinion, especially since the demand for an apology came from Perkasa and not the king.

“Perkasa is a strange creature but this is what you get from an organisation sponsored by Dr Mahathir (Mohamad). And I will not entertain Perkasa because it is a fascist organisation that doesn’t deserve to be entertained.”

He slammed the burning of his effigy and the “irresponsible attacks” by politicians on “someone who is giving his legal opinion”, stressing that such acts cannot be condoned.

“These are gangster politics,” he said. “These are tactics that were once used by Hitler and Mussolini and are now outdated except in Umno and Perkasa.” – FMT