Never mind the fact that the event included a march past by 56 contingents from various state agencies. The police and the military were also asked to attend. But on learning at around 5pm that Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah was not invited, the police and army made the right decision to pull out from the event.
The VVIP for that night was none other than Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. He may be the Opposition Leader but the point is he has no business being there.
He is not a Member of Parliament from Selangor, nor is he a state assemblyman. The only claim he has to the state is that he is an economic adviser.
Surely, the police and army cannot be expected to salute Anwar at the march past. He may want to be the prime minister but he has to exercise some patience. Win the elections first.
The entire protocol was wrong. In fact, it is not wrong to believe that the state government had no intention of informing the Sultan. An invitation, even in verbal form, did not come from the Mentri Besar or his office.
There was no such courtesy extended and this was further compounded by a subsequent suggestion that the Sultan is good enough to be invited only for religious functions.
Can anyone be blamed for thinking that the state leaders wanted to turn the Merdeka eve bash into a political event? Or, to put it bluntly, a big political ceramah?
When the palace expressed its displeasure, the state claimed that Anwar was merely a guest speaker and not the guest of honour.
But the bottom line is the state leadership has shown utter disrespect and contempt towards the Sultan.
Instead of blaming others for purportedly attempting to exploit the incident, the state leadership must deal with it in a more honest manner.
The impression that this writer gets is that the state leadership feels it has done no wrong and there is no need to apologise nor explain to the Sultan.
Then, in an apparent move to disentangle itself from the fiasco, the state leadership tried to get the state secretary Datuk Mohd Khusrin Munawi to carry out damage control. And this is the man the state government tried to block from holding the post!
The state had created a fuss when his name cropped up for the job, claiming that the appointment violated the State Constitution because the Mentri Besar was not consulted, even though the Sultan had already approved the appointment.
In Selangor, the Sultan lays down strict procedures when it comes to state-level functions. For example, the mosques cannot be used for politics and the directive applies to both sides of the divide.
No elected representative from outside Selangor will be awarded the state’s Datukship.
And the state’s MPs and assemblymen must serve a second term before they can be nominated for such a title.
The number of Datukships awarded should be less than 40 each year, and the Tuanku has kept it to less than the number stipulated.
The Tuanku is known to be against any wastage for state functions and state agencies have been reprimanded for blowing their budget.
The palace is clear and precise on such protocol. But it would seem that many in the state leadership are still blur or simply refuse to adhere to the rules and practices.
Such political foolishness would not help to strengthen ties between the state government and the palace.
For a start, the Mentri Besar should keep his speech at the Istana during the Tuanku’s birthday short and precise. Stick to the achievements of the state, and even blow your own trumpet, by all means. But please spare us the ceramah part.