KUALA LUMPUR,. The country’s laws are its supreme foundation that every Malaysian must obey regardless of his or her station in life, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
In his monthly address to civil servants in the Putrajaya administrative capital, the prime minister stressed that the rule of law was an essential element of democracy and said the latter was not only about casting ballots in elections.
“We often speak about the rule of law, but don’t think about its meaning. In any civilised society, there are laws that regulate the actions of all, from kings to governments and the people.
“We must obey them, else there will be chaos,” he said.
Laws must also be fair, however, and be enacted with the express purpose of safeguarding the rights of groups and individuals.
Dr Mahathir also explained that laws were how democracies avoided the tyranny of the majority, by ensuring the rights of the minorities are equally protected.
The prime minister repeatedly stressed the equal application of the law on all sections of society, from the Rulers down to the individual citizen and emphasised that none may claim himself to be above the law.
However, he also said that laws remain enforceable so long as they still exist, even if deemed to now be unfair.
While saying laws must be regularly reviewed to ensure that they have not become iniquitous or open to abuse, the prime minister explained that there were procedures to follow before these are either amended or repealed.
Dr Mahathir highlighted recent appointments to the Judicial Appointments Committee, which he said would allow judges to act impartially when deciding cases as they need not worry about how their rulings will affect their chances for promotion.
The PM explained that observing the rule of law is especially critical now as the Pakatan Harapan coalition was attempting to rebuild the government.
“No one in the country has absolute power. Not even kings, the prime minister, the police, the army, civil servants — all must act according to the law,” he emphasised.