Political roguery runs riot in Perak

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Martin Jalleh describes how political roguery has run riot in Perak. Umno’s backroom politics engineered a backdoor takeover of the state from under the rakyat’s noses, providing Najib with the perfect background to lead Bolehland into a political backwater.

The rakyat of Perak are robbed in broad daylight of their political right to determine the state government they want. Their will is ridden roughshod over by a few renegades ready to reap their reward. A day of reckoning will come.

A fraudulent state government rules Perak. It is a farcical government of a fallacious “majority”. The people are frustrated and furious. They believe that a fake legislature forced upon them will eventually face its fatal consequences.

C4s and 4Cs

The Election Commission (EC) plays politics and panders to the political (pay)master. It even portrays itself as a court of law and makes a palpably wrong decision that prevents the people from being the paramount arbitrator to overcome Perak’s political deadlock.

The new EC chairman refuses to recognise the Perak Speaker’s request to call for two by-elections after two assemblymen “prostituted” themselves. He is in fact constitutionally bound to do so – a fact promptly and plainly confirmed by his predecessor.

The EC chairman sets a precedent that will perpetuate party hopping and paves the way for Umno’s power grabbing and pyrrhic victory. He reinforces growing public suspicion that the EC is hand-in-glove with the powers-that-be.

The minority Umno state government has made a mockery of the mandate given to Pakatan Rakyat (PR) by the majority of Perakians. Umno survives on manipulative manoeuvrings, mysterious disappearances and money politics led by Machiavellian characters like Najib Tun Razak who will soon assume the mantle of PM.

Soon after Umno’s defeat in the Kuala Terengganu by-election in January, its elites called for a “revamp”, a “reinstating of the ‘wow’ factor” and “radical reforms”.  As proof of its unwavering resolve – it receives without any reservation two former PKR assembly members who have been charged for corruption!

Dr M slams the Umno leadership for ‘stooping low’ in courting the two crossovers. He should know its implications. He had left behind a Cabinet of soiled reputations and an Umno full of spent characters and self-seeking sycophants. Pak Lah’s new MACC, a supposedly “serious” effort to stem out corruption, turns out to be a silly joke.
The country catches a glimpse of Najib’s “culture of change”. More powerful than C4, he will charge this country up, when he wears the crown, with 4Cs – Corruption, Coercion, Crossovers and Coups. Such is his commitment to compromise our democracy – whatever the cost!

Dr M, who preferred Najib over Pak Lah as PM, correctly captured in his blog (when he predicted that those using bribery will win in the Umno elections in March) the coming catastrophe in this country: “We will get an Umno government that is corrupt and without morals.”

The backroom politics of Umno and its backdoor takeover of the Perak State Government forms the perfect background for Najib to lead Bolehland into a political backwater. Many believe that the bedlam created by Umno in Perak will surely bring about a backlash expressed in the ballot-box in the next General Elections.

Silver state’s shaky stability

Confronted by Umno’s hypocrisy, hopping highhandedness, hideous characters and hoax majority, the Menteri Besar (MB) of Perak and many Perakians turn to and place their hopes high on His Royal Highness (HRH) Sultan Azlan Shah – whom they hold in high regard.

Surely on His Silver Jubilee as Sultan of the Silver State, the exemplary sovereign who was a former Lord President, would shine like a silver lining in the sordid state of affairs. Indeed, he would safeguard the sentiments of his subjects expressed in the last general election.

Sadly, the Sultan’s solution makes very little sense to his subjects. HRH appears swayed by Umno’s political subterfuge and scheming. He summons the MB who sought a dissolution of the State Assembly. There will be no snap elections. The MB is told to step down – and to do so swiftly. The saddle belongs to Umno.  

The popular MB of positive policies proves he is no pushover. All he wants is that the democratic procedures and process be followed properly. The Sultan’s personal discretion and his apparent straying beyond his parameters of power is met with public disbelief and disappointment. Public perception over his impartiality plummets.

Respected retired judge N H Chan suggests that HRH has “sidestepped” provisions of the Perak constitution and made a “fatal error”. Tengku Razaleigh strongly implies that the removal of the MB by HRH was done “without regard for the rule of law”. And as Zaid Ibrahim sees it, “political questions should be resolved in the legislature and not behind closed doors in a palace”.

The Sultan returns Perak to its original stalemate. Nothing changes. Only the roles are reversed. The same razor thin majority remains. The initial political uncertainty is reinforced.  Politicking in Perak – to remain in power or retain control – rages on, with each side trying to lure defectors.

The Sultan wants a “stable” State Government. Umno assures HRH that it has the majority due to the solid backing of three defecting “friendly independents” made up of two former PKR assemblymen charged with corruption and a former DAP assemblywoman who reduces the price of democracy to cash and Camry!

In other words, the “stability” of the Silver State rests solely on three shady characters interviewed by the Sultan and whose respective status is now even more uncertain since the PR has filed a suit to declare their seats vacant.  

Alas, the future of the people of Perak is determined by three “independents” who act independently of the people’s wishes and an “unstable” Umno assemblyman who says that his hop from Umno to PKR and back to Umno ten days later was for the sake of political stability!

The Sultan hands to the people of Perak a “unity government” which has a dubious majority, achieved by the most divisive means! On top of that it is overwhelmingly dominated by 27 Umno seats. There is only one MCA seat and three independent defectors’ seats. How’s that for an unique representation of multiracial unity?

Pawning the palace

The nascent PR State Government is numbed momentarily by Najib’s nefarious tricks. It eventually bounces back with MB Nizar leading it with nerves of steel. Najib is naive to think that Nizar would wilt in the battle of wills. The MB (who is from Pas) will fight him all the way to the moon and back!

Nizar refuses to resign as MB. He believes he is lawfully the MB until he resigns of his own accord or is removed by a vote of no-confidence in a formal sitting of the State Assembly. For Nizar and his Exco, it is business as usual.

Naiib has made Nizar famous. The DAP backs him fully. The Bar Council praises him for the “many significant steps forward”. The people of all races have faith in him. He may be without an official office, car and house, but Nizar can find a place in the hearts of many Perakians!

Umno goes berserk over Nizar’s boldness. Next to luring defections, Umno is an expert in diversions and distortions of the truth. Behold, the Umno boys are unleashed; protests are held (without police permits); police reports are lodged; and their press is ready and raring to spin.

At their hysterical best, Umno Youth chief Hishammuddin Hussein hits out at the opposition for “betraying the Rulers”, and his deputy Khairy Jamaluddin hollers for Nizar’s banishment. Surely such histrionics will be duly rewarded at the coming Umno elections.

Umno uses the royalty as pawns in their dirty political game. It is all about political expediency and nothing about being pro-royal. Najib makes use of the palace to push and protect his agenda and vested interests. The people are his least concern.

History reveals that Umno shows deference to the royalty only if it serves its political advantage.

As a royal peer and Umno leader, Tengku Razaleigh sees through the hypocrisy of the Umno elite. He hammers them by implicitly suggesting that it is Umno who has harmed the Malay rulers more than anyone else! He recalls the constitutional crisis of 1993.

He describes it as “an ugly confrontation between Umno and the Rulers” during which the Umno-dominated government campaigned to remove the immunity of the rulers. He leaves a haunting question for Umno: “Was greater harm done to the sovereignty of the Rulers in 1993 through Parliament or a week ago on the streets of Perak?”

He strips bare Umno’s attempt to camouflage public opprobrium over its undemocratic takeover of the state government: “Today’s crisis in Perak is about the legitimacy of the process by which a new state government has been formed in Perak. It’s not about the status of the Rulers.”

In March last year, in a clash between Umno and the Sultan of Terengganu (who is also the Agong) over the appointment of the state’s MB, hostile Umno members hurled insults at the royalty and even hoisted banners headlined “Animal King”.  

All in, 22 of BN’s assembly members protested at the appointment and later boycotted the swearing-in ceremony of the new MB. Umno Terengganu even stripped the new MB of his (Umno) membership after he defied the party leadership and accepted the Sultan’s appointment!

Surely this was not treason. They were not traitors. Neither were they tainting the name of the Sultan? They can’t be “rude”. They were just being Umno – “with its inconsistent adherence to the rule of law (and) its inconstant respect for the key institutions of our country” (Tengku Razaleigh).

“It is time for Umno-BN to stop using the Palace. It must now learn how to survive on its own as required by both the constitution and democracy” is the wise advice that law professor Abdul Aziz Bari has to offer to Umno.

Meanwhile Nazir files a suit to declare illegal the government of the new MB. The Perak State  Legislative Assembly Speaker suspends the newly appointed MB and six in the Exco, Pak Lah tells the new MB to ignore the suspension and to lodge a police report against the Speaker. The country heaves a sigh of relief that he would be retiring soon

As for Anwar Ibrahim and the PR, they have a lot of soul searching to do. A democracy dependent on defections is a very defective process waiting to disintegrate. Crossovers are not the answer for a nation at a crossroads. What has happened in Perak is a classic case in point.

Hopping does not bring hope. With money politics so rife, there is no guarantee that the hopper may not one day hop back into his/her original “hole”. The Umno assemblyman who double hopped within the space of 10 days is a perfect example.

The PR is a “people’s party”. The people’s wants, wishes and will must come first. The “tsunami” of March 2008 was a “people’s victory”. The very essence and reason for PR’s existence is – the people. The only way for Perak to move forward is to go back to the people!

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