Thursday, February 12, 2009


The takeover of the Perak State Government by the Barisan Nasional has
exposed many things: the value of stealth in politics, the political
operator in Prime Minister-to-be Dato' Seri Najib Tun Razak, but most
of all, the hypocrisy within the Pakatan Rakyat ranks.

One would have thought that a coalition fashioning itself as a
credible alternative to the current Government would bite the bullet
and accept that after an extended honeymoon since the 12th General
Elections, it was finally outdone in this battle. That Pakatan's
figurehead Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim indulged in months of trumpeting
September 16th and the toppling of the Federal Government via
defections by Barisan Parliamentarians surely made what transpired in
Perak all the more painful to swallow.

Instead of pondering about where its missteps have been, Pakatan has
cried foul over a legitimate grab – a paradox it may be, but a
legitimate government is a government nonetheless. And whilst the
Pakatan crowd have been incessantly calling for there to be a special
sitting of the State Assembly to unseat the (former) Mentri Besar
Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaludin, claiming that the Sultan of Perak has no
power to decree that Nizar and his EXCO resign, it is useful to note
that had Anwar Ibrahim obtained the magic number of 30 defectors in
Parliament, he would merely have to seek an audience with the Yang
di-Pertuan Agong to prove to the latter that he has the confidence of
the majority of Parliamentarians – Anwar himself hinted on more than
one occasion that that was precisely what he intended to do!

The above, can still of course be described as a necessary political
positioning – though it does show Pakatan to be no better than what it
accuses Barisan of. What is most troubling and most irresponsible is
the Pakatan's hypocrisy with regards to the power and role of the
monarchy. If during the BERSIH demonstrations – and the circus that
followed it – they were more than willing to fake having the tacit
support of the monarchy, it is simply inconsistent for them to now
criticise the Sultan for utilising His Highness's 'reserve' political
(and constitutional) power. If during the Idris Jusoh – Ahmad Said
controversy in Terengganu Pakatan members were championing the right
of the Sultan with glee as the Prime Minister was humiliated, how is
it that they find it fit to question the right of the Sultan to
declare a government fallen?

Regardless, Nizar's refusal to yield to the Sultan's decree is plainly
an act of trampling upon the the institution of Malay Rulers and with
that, very legitimate and understandable Malay sensitivities. It is
arguably this extreme posturing that has led even UMNO leaders like
Khairy Jamaluddin; somewhat ill at ease with the manner in which Perak
was won, to call for Nizar to be banished. Unorthodox perhaps – when
has Khairy been anything otherwise? – but the point to be made is that
whatever grievances Pakatan may have with what has transpired, it must
never channel it in ways that convey disrespect to the Sultan. Certain
things are meant to be beyond the sphere of political gamesmanship.

And at the very least, in Barisan there are the likes of Khairy,
Tengku Razaleigh and even Tun Dr. Mahathir – three individuals hardly
in love with one another – that make their discomfort with defections
quite clear and public. The public will ultimately decide whether what
Barisan did was politically wise – democracy always decides, in the
end. But until Perak is again put to the vote, Pakatan will have to
eat some humble pie and back down from their position of extreme
hypocrisy that threatens to drag the monarchy further into the mix of
what is already a vicious environment.