Disallowing any form of criticism against the royalty is akin to making them a god, says former Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin.

“If royalty cannot be disputed, this means the rakyat has deified them; this is because only God cannot be disputed by the people,” he says in his Malay language column on Malaysiakini today.

However, Asri said the comments, which he also posted on Twitter, were made in general and were not aimed at the personal affairs of the royalty, such as the purchase of the WWW1 number plate at RM520,000 by the Johor royal family.

azlanFormer Perak menteri besar Nizar Jamaluddin is being investigated by police for sedition for saying that the money could have been better spent to help the poor.

The personal affairs of the royalty, Asri said, were not above criticism but must be done in a constructive manner with “appropriate and effective” use of language.

“As long as a member of the rakyat uses proper language and arguments, it is unreasonable for him or her to be punished for the criticism.

‘Even a prophet could be questioned’

“Any party that prevents the people from criticising the nobility, even though it is done with appropriate language, is a feudalistic group that should not hold political power in today’s age,” he said.

Drawing an example, Asri said that the famed Rashidun Caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab was questioned for his clothing but did not punish those who had questioned him.

Even Prophet Muhammad’s actions were questioned when he signed the Hudaybiyyah Treaty, but he did not punish his critics.

“This was despite him being a prophet. Who thinks that they are nobler than him?” Asri said.

He said the people would be more respectful and love the royalty if they followed the development and feelings of the rakyat.

“Good character, good examples and an honest life will bring the (royal) institution closer to the people’s heart,” he added.