Press Statement by Karpal Singh in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, 27th November 2008:

Everyone, including royalty must be equal before the law 

The call by the Regent of Negri Sembilan, Tunku Naquiyuddin Tuanku Jaafar, that the immunity of rulers be restored does not have basis and ought not to be entertained.

It is wrong to say that after the March 8th General Elections, with the Barisan Nasional losing its two-third majority, the constitutional structure of the country has changed. The King, as was the position before March 8th, still largely acts on Executive advice. The position is, likewise in the states which have rulers. I cannot see, how after the amendments to the Federal Constitution in 1993 allowing legal redress against the rulers with the establishment of the Special Court, the rulers cannot play the same significant role which was earlier their right in the constitutional structure of the country.

In fact, subjecting the rulers to the law, just like any other citizen, places Malaysia in a unique position which, perhaps, should be emulated by other countries which have royalty. Everyone, including royalty must be equal before the law.

Dr Mahathir Mohamed, as Prime Minister, took a bold, and the right, step in bringing about the amendments in 1993 for which he must be commended.

In fact, the royalty should set the example by complying with the law. I cannot see how restoration of immunity can in any way enhance the role of the rulers. Calling for immunity only presupposes eventuality of possible infringement of the law. The passage of the amendments to the Federal Constitution in 1993 has, in fact, been a check on perpetration of crime against citizens on the part of the royalty. The situation before the amendments is a thing of the past. The amendments have achieved the desired result. Rulers have been sued in the Special Court. A good example is the Yang Di-Pertua Negri of Negri Sembilan who was recently held by the Special Court to be liable to a bank.

Restoration of immunity of the rulers will only put the clock back for the country. This is a situation which should be averted at all costs.

* Karpal Singh, DAP National Chairman & MP for Bukit Gelugor