Just when Muhyiddin thought the coast was clear…

File photo: Kledang Perak land clearing

Ah, the thrills of power, wealth and worldly glory are all too fleeting, as the Perak menteri besar has just found out. Who will be next? Anil Netto writes.

Don’t you think it is poetic justice? The defectors, at least in Perak, are now getting a taste of their own medicine.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin thought he had sewn up “the numbers” in Parliament with Budget 2021 and thwarted a de facto no-confidence vote. But out of the blue, in the distance, a volley has been fired across the bow by the Perak chapter of Umno, Perikatan Nasional’s supposed ally at the federal level, bringing down the state’s menteri besar, who was caught blindsided.

Analysts also read this as an Umno signal of dissatisfaction towards the Bersatu leadership at the federal level. Interestingly enough, Umno and Pakatan Harapan voted on the same side against the menteri besar. This raises the possibility of future collaboration between the two or at least between Umno and certain PH parties. Will PH parties, if not PH as a whole, now work with Umno to cobble together a new state government? If so, wouldn’t that also be a betrayal of the people’s mandate in 2018?

How will this affect Bersatu’s relations with Umno at the federal level? Who can Muhyiddin trust now? The tables have been turned and the defectors in Bersatu and the ex-PKR faction are now in the uncomfortable position of having to look over their shoulders.

Umno appears to be neither here nor there, apparently trying to secure the best deal for itself. But what does the party stand for anyway?

READ MORE:  Perak MB loses confidence vote

Maybe we should have a new Murphy’s Law in our increasingly fragmented land: the more political parties, coalitions and defectors we have, the fewer principles in politics we can see. Or is it the other way around? That is, the fewer principles in politics, the more parties, coalitions, defectors and selfish politicians we see crawling out of the woodwork.

This is the latest state of play in the Perak State Assembly for what it is worth:



25 – Umno

1 – Gerakan

5 – Bersatu (includes three Umno defectors and one Amanah defector)

3 – Pas (not supporting change of government in Perak)

1 – Independent

Pakatan Harapan

16 – DAP
5 – PKR
3 – Amanah
—-
24
—-

59 seats in Perak State Assembly

It is OK for parties to cooperate with one another, but such cooperation should be based on principles not political expediency, positions or personal interests, which could be at the expense of the people.

Anyway, whoever takes over as Perak menteri besar and the state government should be mindful of at least six things:

  • The need to be more multi-ethnic and inclusive in our diverse nation
  • The need to protect Orang Asli land
  • The need to protect the ecology – especially the forests and the hills
  • The provision of enough low-income housing
  • Proper land titles for farmers and livestock rearers to promote food security
  • The need to protect the coast off Perak from sand mining that would hurt the livelihoods of fishing communities (The three-island reclamation project in Penang – a PH mega-project – is targeting massive sand mining off the northen coast of Perak)
READ MORE:  Just words at the moment

For now, there is a whole new ball-game at the federal level. The situation is fluid, and it is still too early to write off Anwar Ibrahim or others from popping up. Over in Johor, the situation is finely posed with a budget vote looming.

But whoever seizes control of Parliament and the state assemblies, what does it mean for the people? Will elite politicians protect vested political, corporate and special interests or will they really look into the needs of the low-income group, whose situation is now worse after the pandemic broke out?

Over at the coalition of defectors and others, sleepless nights are in store, and they wll find it hard to distinguish between friend and foe. It all reminds me of the Roman emperors of the glory years who were invariably brought down not by “formidable” (remember that word?) armies but by their inner court and outer circle of power-hungry scheming rivals, family members and relatives, senators and even trusted aides. Often, the emperors never knew who they could really trust.

Ah, the thrills of power, wealth and worldly glory are all too fleeting, as the Perak menteri besar has just found out. Who will be next?

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