Today HRH Sultan Azlan Shah passed away. He was by far the only Sultan who was a lawyer, a judge and a Ruler of his state.
Not one of his loyal subject, i do not have the privilege to talk of his characteristics as a Ruler of his home state.
As a lawyer however, i do have the privilege of talking of his contribution to the legal profession. His judgments was a mandatory read for our Constitutional Law classes.
I can no longer recall exactly the name of cases in which his judgments were in nor can i recall what the judgments were about but i believe it was in the realm of consitutional law and administrative law. Man, those were the days i struggled to read cases.
There are judgments which are thick with legalese which would make a first semester law student cry out in exasperation and there are judgment which are clear, concise and made for an enjoyable read. His was in the latter catergory. Only after i have left law school i am able to appreciate the genius of his judgments.
After some digging up i came up with a case with familiar name, Pengarah Tanah & Galian v Sri Lempah in which he held the following:
"Unfettered discretion is a contradiction in terms.....Every legal power must have legal limits,otherwise there is a dictatorship.... "
However, there was the issue of the 2009 Constitutional Crisis.
Depending on which side of the political divide you subscribe to, his decision as the Sultan of Perak regarding the 2009 constitutional crisis was either a) an ill advised decision ultra-vires the state constitution b) in line with democratic practice and allowed by the state constitution.
Proff Shad Saleem Faruqi i read somewhere yesterday said that the Sultan acted in accordance to his discretionary powers and within the ambit of democracy which is to to invite the party with the majority in the house to form a new government. His (Proff Shad's) original position was that the Sultan was ill-advised in calling the BN to form a new state government.
Regardless of your interpretation of the 2009 Constitutional Crisis, a man, be it a commoner or of royal blood is the sum of all his parts. His Royal Highness was in my view, remains an example of an enlightened Monarch and should and must be the model to all Malay Rulers.