Tuesday February 10, 2009
Troubled by debacle in Perak
By KARIM RASLAN
The move by Barisan Nasional to wrest power in Perak has raised many questions about the role of the monarchy in Malaysia’s democratic system.
ON March 8, 2008 in Perak, a loose Opposition coalition that eventually became the Pakatan Rakyat eased past the Barisan Nasional to win the state with a handful of majority seats in the State Assembly and a popular majority of 43,095 votes.
Whilst there was quite a lot of uncertainty then, a new Mentri Besar and administration (with a very strong DAP component) was decided upon with the guidance of the Sultan himself and on March 17, Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, PAS’ deputy commissioner and an engineer by profession was sworn in.
On Feb 6 this year, some 11 months later and following a series of high-profile defections from Pakatan Rakyat, a Barisan Nasional leader Datuk Dr Zambry Kadir was appointed as the new Mentri Besar.
As the son of a Perakian (my father’s family is from Kuala Kangsar), it is not easy for me to write about the ongoing saga and my discomfort over these events will be true for most Malays.
There is a deep-rooted, almost primordial attachment to the Sultan even if one has nothing to do with the Palace.
I’ve always felt if one allows this link to be cut, then the sense of “Malayness” would begin to wither away and a specifically Muslim identity would assume greater importance.
I’m also hemmed in by my past and friendships in that both the new Mentri Besar ‘Doc’ Zambry and the Raja Muda are my personal friends – men I’ve long enjoyed talking with over the years.
Indeed both are smart and intelligent, far superior than most of their peers.
Having said this, I remain very troubled by the series of events and the underlying feelings of injustice that have prompted the unforgettable phrase ‘patik mohon derhaka’.
While most non-Malays will feel appalled by the transition, there is, however, a less clear-cut mood amongst the Malays, especially the older Malays.
To them, the entire episode can be under-scored by anxieties that the mainstream Malay media have played up – issues of special rights, race and religion.
In contrast, many PAS supporters are outraged by what has transpired and images of tear gas in Kuala Kangsar in particular will only serve to increase party recruitment amongst the young.
It’s important to note that the change in power in Perak does not constitute a BN “victory”.
As we know, exuberance in Umno circles is hardly a good indication of the sentiment on the ground.
We have witnessed a debacle, a series of events that has created mountains of ill-will, resentment and anger which will simmer for many years to come.
Now, for a coalition like BN, whose reputation is already in tatters, what has happened in Perak serves to confirm our worst suspicions of a lack of principles in their political manoeuvrings even though many argue that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim started it all.
As far as I can see, neither the BN nor Umno had attempted to reform themselves.
Instead, introspection and reflection have been replaced by backroom deal-makings of the past.
For those who want to know what will happen next, the answer is quite simple.
Just look at Sabah’s experience in the mid 90s when the opposition PBS government was toppled.
Having secured control of the state through defections, there will be a consolidation of power (via further crossovers), followed by a sizeable economic stimulus package as money is poured into the state under the BN’s aegis.
It is ironical that back in 1995, Anwar was the principal architect of the Sabah initiative and whilst we think that he’s reformed his ways, the switching of Datuk Nasarudin Hashim, the Bota Assemblyman, to Pakatan confirms our worst suspicions of his modus operandi.
His ill-judged cross-over precipitated the fall of a prized Pakatan state government just as the team was getting into its stride.
Karpal Singh is right to challenge Anwar’s judgment and good sense.
Nonetheless, the three former Pakatan ADUNs are guilty of a terrible betrayal of trust and deserve to be vilified and ostracized for letting down the voters.
Many of us will also want to see what would transpire with the corruption charges currently levelled against the two gentlemen from PKR.
Events in Perak have also raised important questions about the monarchy and its role in our democracy.
There’s clearly a lot of anger directed against the Perak Royal House and the implications are troubling.
Had the Sultan decided to dissolve the State Legislature and call for an election he would have passed the challenge of forming the state government to the people.
The responsibility for success or failure would have remained with the people of Perak.
Finally, Umno has secured power without reform.
This is the kind of victory Umno likes – the kind of victory that requires no sacrifice or changes in its practices.
The party of Merdeka has inadvertently unleashed powerful forces that will further undermine the Malay ethos it seeks to champion as PAS’ supporters and the young become ever more suspicious and distrustful of all mainstream institutions.(The Star Online, 10 February 2009)
I would not agree more. The opinion of this writer is what the general believe of the prople, especially in Perak. What really matters is UMNO is still clinging to the believe that the Malays will not "derhaka" to their leaders. And they still go about doing "business as usual" and that the grass-roots are 100 percent behind them.
So generally the UMNO leaders will still go about and bragging along as if they are still the "Dato' Penghulu" or the "Ketua Kampung" of the sultanate era of centuries past when rulers have absolute powers. Some live in villas and mansions alongside the urban poor. some go about in their expensive big cars and some even swagger about, walking like "cowboys" in Midwest America in the past centururies of the American wild, wild West.
Such behaviours are uncalled for in this time of change needed by the general Malays of their leaders. It is "menjengkelkan" and "bodoh-bodoh sombong" just to borrow two Indonesian adjectives.
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