Being that Perak, the longest state in Peninsular Malaysia, is the center of attention right now, Walski can't help but have several disjointed thoughts about the current political situation in the state.
Disjointed, because that about sums up what Perak is right now. BN has proven that it's okay to do a froggy as long as it's to BN's advantage. Not okay if the other guys do it. Some might call it political savvy. Walski chooses to call it for what it is - hypocrisy.
For those of you who aren't Bahasa Malaysia speakers, the word "perak" means 'silver'. Perak, once upon a time, was perhaps the world's largest producer of tin. Being that tin is silvery in color, hence the name of the state. Confused? You haven't heard the half of it...
In normal circumstances, one would never expect the words "rock" and "Kuala Kangsar" to appear in the same sentence. Walski remembers that in November 2006, a rock concert was banned in the very same royal town (via Ricecooker). So we're not talking about a very hip town here. But circumstances in Perak are anything but normal.
If you've been following the Perak Political Comedy Show from the beginning - Walski, unfortunately hasn't because of his recent travels - you'll know that the balance of power held by the 3-seat Pakatan Rakyat (PR) majority was finally tipped by the Jelapang State Rep, Hee Yit Foong, who decided to leave PR component party DAP to become independent. Prior to that, 2 other PKR assemblymen defected to BN, and the re-defection of Nasarudin Hashim, who'd defected from BN to PKR earlier, back to BN, caused the slim PR majority of three to now become a BN majority of 2.
Confusing, yes? Even more confusing is the fact that Hee is a she.
Adding to all this, the Perak palace stepped in and gave Perak back to BN.
On a silver platter.
(slivers of silver that actually is tin, and more, in the full post)
You see, according to the Perak state constitution, the Chief Minister can only be ousted by a no-confidence vote in the State Assembly, which currently is in recess. The Perak Sultan, on the other hand, insisted that he give the Chief Minister the boot. Which, to Walski, is unconstitutional. Requests for dissolution of the State Assembly, and fresh elections, were refused by the sultan. The latter course of action would have been kosher constitutionally, but would have spelled disaster for BN.
So, why is Sultan Azlan Shah seemingly playing political favoritism, abandoning the people's democratic voice, and more importantly, due process? Many people have come up with numerous theories, including coercion by potential future ex-Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, commercial family interest (via The People's Parliament comments), and what not.
Or was the Sultan simply caught between BN and a hard place?
Many are very disappointed with the recent actions of the state's ruler, being that he was once Lord President of the Federal Court of Malaysia. But looking at the Sultan Azlan Shah's unexpected ascension to the throne, it could very well be that the current situation the ruler has found himself in is not his choice. Politics work in mysterious ways. In the case of BN, deceit is also sometimes one of those mysterious ways.
Oh, well... Walski's merely speculating here. But the reality is that Sultan Azlan Shah is now being seen as not acting in the best interest of the people of Perak. Whose interest is a matter of speculation that Walski will not delve into further.
Faster than you could have said "Constitutional Crisis in Perak", BN's shoe-in for Chief Minister was sworn in yesterday. But wait, what about Datuk Seri Dr. Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, the Chief Minister before the BN coup?
Well, it appears that now, Perak has not one, but two Chief Ministers.
Perak Darul Confused, indeed.
Nizar has refused to resign, as "advised" by the Palace, which swiftly swore in BN's Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir. And the people of Perak, that Poor Metal State of Confusion, are not at all pleased.
Due process would have had the state assembly sit, issue a vote of no-confidence against Nizar (who'd then gladly resign, since he's a due-process kinda guy), and the Sultan would then appoint an individual that the assembly holds in high confidence, not one that BN tells him to.
But like "democracy", "due process" is probably another concept that's only practiced when it's convenient to BN, who now have the dubious honor of paving the way for its own demise in the next General Elections, going by how people feel about the coalition.
If BN thought that March 2008 was a bad month, wait till we get to March 2009, when presumably Najib will take over the reigns as Prime Minister. Having sold the people's mandate one sliver of silver at a time, he'll be taking up office as perhaps the most unpopular Prime Minister in our nation's history.
Meanwhile, Najib has assured that Dr. Zambry will be a Chief Minister for all Perakians, regardless of what race. But here's an interesting thing, as reported by The Star (hat-tip: Gord's Bizarre Rants):
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has given his word that non-Malays in Perak will not be side-lined under the new Barisan Nasional-led government.
“I guarantee that the non-Malays will not be neglected (under the new government),” he told a press conference after attending the 44th South East Asia Central Banks Governor’s Conference at Bank Negara Malaysia.
“I have already told the new Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abd Kadir that the Barisan government is for all races. The party will fight for everybody’s interests,” Najib said.
(source: The Star - with an alternate version here)
So, the new Chief Minister had to be told that BN is for all races. Bad choice of words, or freudian slip? The more interesting question is: what did Dr. Zambry initially have in mind? Before he was told otherwise, that is. Gee... poor Dr. Zambry.... what a disappointment, eh?
Now, it's left to the courts to decide whether or not Nizar's royal removal is legal or constitutional, or not. There are some differing opinions on this. Lawyer/Blogger Art Harun thinks that the Sultan acted beyond the provisions of the law (do read his' full post), with all due respect to Sultan Azlan Shah.
Well, Walski hopes the Poor Metal State enjoys the rest of the weekend, because the resolution to these messy slivers of Silver will probably only be known in the coming week, when Nizar will take his case to the courts.