Malaysia's King calls for unity as he opens Parliament session

The Malaysian King, Sultan Muhammad V, opened the first session of the 14th Parliament, marking a significant point in the country's history, on July 17, 2018.
The Malaysian King, Sultan Muhammad V, opened the first session of the 14th Parliament, marking a significant point in the country's history, on July 17, 2018. PHOTO: BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian King, Sultan Muhammad V, on Tuesday (July 17) called for racial unity at the opening of the country's first Parliament session since Pakatan Harapan's (PH) stunning electoral victory on May 9.

"Negative elements and acts, that threatens integrity and harmony should be eradicated. Stop bringing up sensitive issues between races," said the King in a closely-watched speech which traditionally sets out the government's agenda.

Malaysia is now being led by the PH government which defeated Barisan Nasional (BN) on May 9, ending Umno-led BN’s grip on power since independence. 

Breaking the tense mood in the chamber after Monday's dramatic walkout by BN and Parti Islam SeMalaysia lawmakers, the King kicked off his speech by joking: "You may all be seated and don't run away."

He called for order and unity in the country and among the lawmakers.

"The people have made their decision. Hence, all parties should accept with open hearts, not emotional, not clouded by slander and blind sentiments, narrow and closed," he added.

Urging politicians to be united, the King said he hopes all parties would find common goals and work together "for the people's well-being and the country's survival".

The King also said that that economic policies for the needy should not be racially targeted but rather turned into efforts to rid social injustices.

 
 
 

He praised the new government's efforts to boost transparency in governance by reviewing expenditures which exposed the country's true financial standing.

The King said he hopes the scrapping of the goods and services tax (GST), the stablising of oil prices and financial aid for needy groups would alleviate the people's burden.

The King's speech also outlined the possible legislations and motions the new administration may have to put forward.

He called for the drafting of strategies to deal with global economic fluctuations, the fourth industrial revolution and a half-time review of the 11th Malaysia Plan 2016-2020 that would be presented this year.

"The review is meant to evaluate all programmes and projects that have been passed, its (11th Malaysia Plan 2016-2020) direction and progress," the King said, before concluding that development has to be carried out nationwide, benefiting those in Sabah and Sarawak too.

A day after opposition lawmakers staged a walkout in Parliament, around 100 Umno members on Tuesday held a protest several hundred meters away from Parliament.

Rally leader Lokman Adam urged supporters to rise against what he described as the new government's stifling of the King's voice - and Malay rights.

They were protesting against the appointment of several non-Malays as top-ranking officials in the Cabinet and judiciary. However police stopped them from marching towards Parliament.

The current parliamentary sitting will last 20 days and end on Aug 16.

The parliamentary schedule includes a debate on content of King's speech, followed by the tabling of Bills in the first week of August.

Tuesday's session marked the second time that the King has opened a parliamentary session in the same year.

On March 5, the King officially opened the first meeting of the sixth session of the 13th Parliament before the Dewan Rakyat was dissolved in April to pave the way for the 14th general election.