Sunday 2 September 2012

Selangor denies snubbing Sultan, says norm not to invite for N-Day do

September 02, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 2 — The Selangor government today denied it had intentionally shut out Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah from its official National Day celebration last week, and pointed out that the state ruler did not traditionally attend the event and this had been the practice since the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration.

The state leadership — now under Pakatan Rakyat (PR) control — was put on the backfoot today after the Selangor Ruler reportedly questioned its decision to invite Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to grace the event despite holding no official position in the government, pointing to a widening rift with the palace.

Faekah Husin, who is political secretary to Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim (picture), defended the state's decision as the norm for the past four years.

“It has been the tradition for the last four years, His Royal Highness the Sultan is not invited and (does not) attend the Merdeka day celebrations programme.

“His Royal Highness is only invited to the yasin and tahlil ceremony event function at the state mosque, Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque,” she told The Malaysian Insider when contacted.

She said it had always been the case even when the state was under the BN administration.

She was responding to Malay daily, Sinar Harian’s front page news report today, that the Selangor Sultan had questioned the state’s decision to invite Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to grace the official National Day celebration last Thursday night.

“The convention is that if His Royal Highness is unable to attend the state government’s official programmes, the Mentri Besar replaces the Sultan to give speeches and so on. But, why was Anwar invited and gave a speech, when this was an official programme, not a political programme?” Datuk Mohamad Munir Bani, who is private secretary to the Selangor Sultan told Sinar.

The Sultan’s private secretary was also previously reported as saying that the Selangor Sultan was not invited or informed of the state-level celebrations.

Faekah said she was confident that the committee organising the event, led by State Secretary Datuk Khusrin Munawi, had conducted checks on protocol when deciding on the invitation list.

“We believe Datuk Khusrin has seen the protocol list for invitations of previous years including celebrations during the time of BN’s rule (in Selangor).

“But if this year, His Royal Highness had intentions to attend the Merdeka eve celebrations, His Royal Highness’ private secretary Datuk Mohamad Munir Bani has to advise us, but there was no advice regarding that matter from him,” she said.

She also expressed regret at Munir’s statement to the media that appeared to have been played up by certain parties to suggest the Selangor PR government was attempting to diminish the Sultan’s role.

“Datuk Khusrin himself has guaranteed that Datuk Munir will explain, but I don’t understand why his (Munir’s) statement in the media is very different.”

“When it’s related to the Sultan and the palace, the state government is very careful,” she said.

A text message the state secretary had sent Faekah — made available to The Malaysian Insider — appeared to corroborate her remarks.

In the message, Khusrin had purportedly referred to the issue as an attempt by Umno-owned Malay paper Utusan Malaysia to stir up public sentiment against the state government. He had also purportedly said he would clarify the matter with the Sultan’s private secretary.

The text message stated: “Saya maklum . Utusan sengaja nak buat isu. Selama ini memang Tuanku tak pernah dijemput dalam program  malam kemerdekaan kecuali majlis baca yasin . Saya minta Dato munir untuk beri penjelasan semula (I note that. Utusan purposely wants to create an issue. All this while, His Royal Highness has never been invited for the Merdeka eve night programmes except the yasin reading ceremony. I will ask Datuk Munir to explain again)”.

Faekah also said the state government is confident that the Sultan of Selangor will view the matter with a wider perspective despite allegations from certain parties criticising the state for its alleged disrespect to the royal institution.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had yesterday castigated the PR-led Selangor government for shutting out the state Ruler from its official National Day celebrations at Dataran Shah Alam last Thursday, suggesting that it placed greater importance on Anwar who was only an economic adviser than the monarch.

“The question of disrespecting the Selangor Sultan does not surprise us... they show more respect to their economic adviser who has no locus standi,” he told reporters at the Selangor Umno Adilfitri celebration in Sungai Buloh yesterday as he scoffed at his political nemesis’ specially-created position within the state government.

“I believe His Royal Highness is wise enough to view this matter in a broader way.”

“No one wants to ignore the Sultan, what more if His Royal Highness himself has intentions to attend the Merdeka eve night (celebrations),” she said, adding that “but if that is true, the intention did not reach us.”

“If it was informed (to us), I am confident that the Merdeka celebrations will be more joyous with the presence of His Royal Highness the Sultan,” Faekah said.

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