KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 13: Constitutional expert Dr Abdul Aziz Bari, responding to intense discussion about the country's 'First Lady' title, has pointed out that the Federal Constitution clearly named the Raja Permaisuri Agong as the country's rightful ‘First Lady’, and not the wife of the prime minister.
FIRST OR LAST ... Rosmah Mansur's 'first lady' status now a constitutional issue
Quoting Article 32 (2) of the constitution, which states that “The Consort of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (to be called the Raja Permaisuri Agong) shall take precedence next after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong over all other persons in the Federation,” Aziz suggested that the current usage of the term to refer to Rosmah Mansor, wife of Najib Razak, especially in the ongoing First Ladies Summit in Kuala Lumpur, could be constitutionally wrong.
"It seems the issue has been ignored although many parties namely constitutional experts, lawyers and others had conveyed their opinions," said Aziz.
Aziz is not the first to raise the issue, as several commentaries and internet blogs have already been rife with discussions over who the country's First Lady was.
Elaborating further, Aziz said the approval given by the PM's Department's division in charge of protocols for Rosmah to spearhead the First Ladies Summit was "regrettable", saying that the constitution has rendered her disqualified from using the title.
"The protocol division is under the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister's Department, did it not advise Rosmah on the use of the ‘First Lady’ title?
"By right, this division should guard their responsibility and give the guidelines to the wife of Prime Minister regarding this issue," he told Suara Keadilan's online edition.
A total of fifteen first ladies, mostly from African nations, are currently attending a three-day inaugural 'First Ladies Summit' on the themse "A Child Today, a Leader Tomorrow", which ends today.
Rosmah joins other first ladies from Albania, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Jamaica, Kiribati, Laos, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Paraguay, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka and Zambia.
Meanwhile, PKR's senator Dr Syed Husin Ali, on a lighter note, could not help but comment on the summit's poor attendance.
"Only 14 countries came, some of which we have not heard of. Whose name do we want to sell? How much is spent? Who’s footing the bill?” twitted the outgoing PKR deputy president