Palace, Political Party and Power: A Story of the Socio-Political Development of Malay Kingship

By Milner, Anthony | Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, June 2012 | Go to article overview

Palace, Political Party and Power: A Story of the Socio-Political Development of Malay Kingship


Milner, Anthony, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies


Malaysia

Palace, political party and power: A story of the socio-political development of

Malay kingship

By KOBKUA SUWANNATHAT-PIAN

Singapore: NUS Press, 2011. Pp. xxiv + 447. Appendices, Illustrations, Index.

doi: 10.1017/S0022463412000227

In this new and stimulating survey of monarchy in Malaysia, Kobkua Suwannathat-Pian--the author of a fine study of Thai-Malay relations in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (1988) and a widely-cited book on the Thai monarchy (2003)--writes of a current 'socio-political revival' of 'Malay kingship' (p. xxii). The 'proactive and participating constitutional rulers' of today, she says, are a 'new phase in the history of Malay kingship' (p. 391). Since Prime Minister Mahathir left office in 2003, the Rulers have claimed 'a royal discretionary power' that is a 'total rejection of the Westminster-style constitutional monarch'. According to Kobkua, the Rulers are seeking 'another type of constitutional monarchy'--one that is 'akin to the concept and practice ... perfected in Thailand' (p. 408).

These observations will come as a surprise to many around the world who have taken an interest in Malaysian matters. Academics have buried the Malaysian monarchy time and again over the years. When the Federal Parliament 'abolished the royal immunity from suit' in 1993, for instance, the legal scholar Andrew Harding judged that 'the veil of mystique which has always surrounded royalty in Malaysia' was 'drawn aside', and that the 'forces of populism' had 'demonstrated amply their superiority to the forces of feudalism'. He then proceeded to proclaim 'the declining position of the Rulers in the Malaysian polity'.

Kobkua's work is an ambitious survey, reaching back briefly to precolonial times. In discussing the British period, it makes useful comparisons between the Federated and Unfederated Malay States and criticises Simon Smith's impressive British relations with the Malay rulers from decentralization to Malayan independence: 1930-1957 (1995) for not giving enough stress to the damage caused by the Japanese Occupation. In the Occupation, Kokbua argues, the Japanese 'reduced the Rulers' royal status to that of commoners, no different from their erstwhile subjects ...'. She conjectures that it would have been 'a cultural and political shocking experience' for the 'average Malay' to witness 'his Ruler performing self-demeaning exercises such as bowing in the direction of the Imperial palace as a mark of homage to the Emperor' (p. 109).

Her account of the Malayan Union period and the lead-up to Independence contains a good deal of interesting material on the Rulers' role, and will supplement the writings of Sopiee, Stockwell, Smith, Fernando, Lau and others. The account of recent royal developments, however, is likely to attract most interest--and contains particularly useful detail on the views of the Rulers of Perak and Selangor, and the Raja Muda of Perak.

The main weakness of the book arises from poor editing--which is unexpected, given the generally high standard of NUS Press. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Palace, Political Party and Power: A Story of the Socio-Political Development of Malay Kingship
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.