By Isabelle Leong | Malaysiakini

The next Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar’s suggestion for MACC and Petronas to report directly to the throne have been met with mixed reaction from legal experts.

Those who disagreed with the proposal cited the Federal Constitution — which stipulates that the Agong shall act on the advice of the Prime Minister as a constitutional monarch.

Commenting on the specific scenarios brought up by the Agong-in-waiting regarding the MACC and Petronas, lawyer Azira Aziz said such agencies and other government-linked agencies should only be accountable to the Parliament.

Azira pointed out that many special select committees play an important oversight role and provide a check and balance, as well as table reports during Parliament sittings for the government to take action.

She explained that citizens can write to the chairpersons of the said committees and suggest areas of concern to be probed.

Azira Aziz

“One example is the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which previously released its report on 1MDB when there were severe concerns about the conduct of persons involved in it.

“The form of action taken by the government of the day is, of course, dependent on the consensus of the 222 MPs elected by the citizens.

“That is the constitutional law. There is no need for a reigning monarch to play an additional role beyond what is already agreed via our social contract,” she told Malaysiakini.

Since 2018, the PAC has been headed by the opposition to strengthen the committee’s role in holding the government accountable.

In a recent interview with Singapore’s The Straits Times, Sultan Ibrahim (above) said royal authority over the MACC would ensure its independence.

He said this oversight should also extend to Petronas.

Lawyer New Sin Yew echoed Azira’s sentiments, saying the Agong must not play an active role in the government and be “dragged through the mud of politics”.

While the Agong is entitled to much information concerning the government as stipulated in Article 40(1) of the Federal Constitution, New opined that it was quite different to say that the government agencies must report directly to the Agong.

New Sin Yew

“The monarchy is dignified, the executive is efficient.

“If for example, a scandal breaks out in MACC or Petronas, we wouldn’t want the monarchy to be dragged into it or questioned.

“As per democratic norms, we have elected representatives and governments to do this. If anything goes wrong, the people can effect change through the ballot box,” he said when contacted by Malaysiakini.