SAME circus, different act. The dramatic highlight of the Perak legislative assembly sitting on 7 May 2009 was the violent removal of Speaker V Sivakumar by police officers. The highlight of Wednesday’s 28 Oct sitting was the simultaneous running of two separate assemblies under the same roof.
Was anything achieved? Sure, Barisan Nasional (BN) passed its state budget for 2010. This was done without any debate or vote from the 28 Pakatan Rakyat (PR) assemblypersons who didn’t want to legitimise Speaker Datuk R Ganesan‘s position. Pakatan Rakyat also passed three motions in its “own” sitting. Though realistically, these motions are hardly going to be entertained.
So far, BN shows no signs of bowing to the public’s desire for fresh state elections
From the perspective of the larger picture, which is the BN government’s legitimacy and public desire for fresh state elections, little was achieved. BN shows no signs of bowing to a snap poll. In fact, its 2010 budget suggests that BN will likely adopt populist measures for the remainder of the term to buy voters’ hearts and minds before the next general election.
PR’s lost cause?
PR assemblypersons are caught in a bind. They don’t want to endorse the BN government, its Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir, nor Speaker Ganesan. But they could not boycott the 28 Oct sitting. Doing so would have put their seats at risk, according to PR’s embattled Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin.
So the PR tactic was to be physically present at the assembly, but to stage their own sitting to snub the BN and Ganesan.
“We have to keep up the heat on BN. We have already asked for a dissolution of the assembly so people must see that it is BN who is clinging on to power,” Perak DAP chief and Sitiawan assemblyperson Datuk Ngeh Khoo Ham tells The Nut Graph by phone.
PR endeavours to show it can operate as a normal assemblyHe says the separate sitting showed that PR could “operate as a normal assembly”. The motion it passed to recognise the Auditor-General’s 2008 Report on Perak was to highlight to the public PR’s prudent financial management, he adds.
“We want people to know that the Auditor-General gave our state government excellent marks for financial administration, and noted improvements in various departments, in the state economic development council and the religious council under our tenure,” Ngeh adds.
But as far as BN is concerned, all this is mere theatrics. “They just want to dramatise everything, to create a big show, otherwise their efforts would have all been wasted,” Zambry told reporters at a press conference after the assembly on Wednesday.
The BN tactic was to counter the rival sitting with silence and let PR representatives take centre stage with their antics. It gave Zambry the opportunity to brag about the BN‘s discipline and contrast it with PR‘s rowdiness.
PR’s Teja assemblyperson Chang Lih Kang maintains that they did not disrupt the assembly and that they were orderly. “We did not disrupt their sitting which we consider illegal. We held our own sitting to make our point — that we will not legitimise them,” he tells The Nut Graph.
Many performances have been held in Perak since February 2009
It’s a point PR has made repeatedly — in the holding of an assembly under a tree, at the Heritage Hotel in Ipoh, and in Sivakumar’s decisions as Speaker to suspend Zambry and other BN assemblypersons.
In reality, it’s all symbolic. It’s clear that BN doesn’t give a hoot about PR’s actions.
So is it worth it? Is it working? Ngeh insists there’s no other way to keep up the fight.
Since PR’s ouster in February 2009, the executive councillors under Nizar have continued to hold regular meetings, though not weekly, with state leaders of PR’s component parties. Ngeh says they meet to plan policies that they will implement if they come back to power. These policies are brought to the people in ceramah that PR continues to hold.
“Our assemblypersons also continue to channel requests for help and queries from their constituents to the civil service. We’re still functioning as elected representatives,” he says.
From peers to enemies
ZambryOn this score, BN could do better to accord the respect due to assemblypersons. While PR’s attempts to “rule” a state it no longer controls may be futile, the fact remains that the 28 are still the people‘s elected representatives who continue to serve voters.
But for these 28 lawmakers, the BN government locked down the assembly building with police blockades. What has happened is the complete breakdown of trust and respect between members of the same legislative assembly who no longer regard each other as peers in the serious duty of law-making.
Extremely heavy police presence was reported outside the assembly building, with more than 400 cops present. Inside, the corridors of the House were crawling with non-uniformed personnel. PR assemblyperson arriving outside the building and attempting to enter were stalled by police blockades so as to enforce Ganesan’s emergency rules. The rules were announced the day before to only let the PR lawmakers enter the House after their BN counterparts had taken their seats.
The actions of both sides in this circus are not making anything better. And yet, what else to do if fresh elections will not be held?
Ngeh says two cases pending in court could potentially resolve the impasse, although no one is placing bets that the courts would rule in favour of PR.
Nizar (pic courtesy of theSun)
Next Thursday on 5 Nov, the Federal Court is to hear Nizar‘s appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision to recognise Zambry as the rightful menteri besar.
Separately, the High Court has allowed Sivakumar and six others to challenge the Election Commission‘s (EC) decision not to hold by-elections for the Jelapang, Changkat Jering and Behrang state seats. These were PR seats which turned independent but supportive of the BN, hence leading to the fall of the PR government.
Ngeh says that if the Federal Court deems Zambry as the lawful menteri besar, PR will continue to challenge Ganesan’s appointment as Speaker. As for Sivakumar’s suit against the EC, the lengthy court process including appeals could render the possibility of by-elections in those seats academic.
It appears that Malaysians will just have to live with the embarrassing spectacle of an august House turned circus every assembly sitting. PR sees it as the only way to keep alive awareness about the BN coup, while BN believes PR is only making a fool of itself.
What do the people think? Unfortunately, the BN is not giving Perakians a chance to vote on that.
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Tony Wong says
It is widely known how BN took the stage, it’s just that more than half of the people just do not care what happens.
Azizi Khan says
This is what I have observed :
1. Pakatan seems to be running around without a plan and it is very obvious.
2. There are “little Napoleons” who refuse to listen to the party leaders and are working on their own agenda.
3. The coalition is infused with BN spies and agents looking to overthrow and sabotage any grounds gained by the party. This is very obvious. Every time the coalition makes some gains, some frog jumps ship, or some member says something that brings down months of effort.
4. The coalition is seen as not listening to people anymore. Instead it seems to be going off on a tangent of telling the people what *it* thinks is right for the people. Bad idea. This was the archaic BN mentality; it is outdated and we no longer tolerate it.
5. Party leaders are seen as playing into the BN’s hands by not acting on precious opportunities that present itself, and by instead sticking to the old “blame BN” tactic. Kampung Buah Pala was a fine example. It will always be a black track record for the coalition. Yes, it was the BN’s corrupt practices that caused the problem, but it was a golden opportunity for the coalition to come together with a solution.
5. Working together seems to be a *huge* problem for the coalition. There are ideological differences that are ripping the party apart. Remember, the BN stands united as a front in plundering this nation, and they pull out all the stops towards achieving that. Especially when it comes to Islamic extremism: there seems to be a competition to be “more Islamic”. Has anyone in the coalition stopped to ask, whats wrong with the existing Commonwealth-based law ?
The coalition needs to be sincere about representing the people. We voted you in, we can vote you out. We taught the BN that lesson in the last general election. We will proceed to teach you that.
Finally I leave you with this link from the Sydney Morning Herald. Ask yourself — is this how you want Malaysia to be portrayed ?
In Malaysian politics, there is no such thing as fair-play and ethics. That is as far as BN is concerned. Hence, they will continue to hang on to power in Perak until GE13 at any cost. Meanwhile, PR must get their act together and stop bickering in the states where they are still able to rule. They still have time to polish up before the final showdown.
Pakatan Rakyat should continue with the struggle. We all know [the BN] is the illegal government in Perak. Come next election we will teach the BN a lesson!
I think we’re living in the most stupid and illogical democracy in the world. At least with socialist politics in China, their economy is booming. We’re the other way around. What is the use of democracy if [we cannot] choose our own assembly[persons]? What is the use of democracy if our security [personnel] behave like the people are the enemy? What the use of independence if we’re still being controlled?
Malaysians are lame compared with the Indonesians, Filipinos and the Thais; in their country, [a government like ours] like would not have survived a decade. In Malaysia, it can. Yes, Malaysia boleh. 1Malaysia and 2Perak!
Just dissolve the assembly/circus and let us, the rakyat of Perak, do the needful.There should not be any fear by any group. After all, it is the peoples’ right to choose their reps.
Nicholas Aw says
The Greatest Show on Earth will continue until the next general election watched by the world. One thing is for sure, the BN/Umno will never give up the coup because that would mean “losing face”. Neither will it call for a snap election as the probability of losing hangs in the air.
There is no way the BN/Umno are willing to stick out their necks as they know very well that if they were to be defeated in Perak, there is a likelihood of the domino principle taking effect. A tsunami of some sort will happen, which may mean that in the next general election, the BN/Umno may be heading for a disastrous end.
What Najib is doing (since he was the one responsible for the takeover in the first place) is dangle not one but a string of carrots in the hope that Perakians (and all Malaysians) will forget the issues at hand and have a change of heart come the next general election.
The PR should continue to protest. We cannot have rogues running a state. The assembly is illegal, no matter what the court says. Without the police, judiciary and palace interference, this would not have happened.
I think what Pakatan is doing in Perak is fine. They need to do this to keep reminding Perakians and Malaysians about the brutality of the illegal Umno regime and its lack of respect for the peoples’ wishes.
BN should allow for fresh elections. If the legitimacy of the government is not certain, what is the legality of the actions of all government servants there, including the police? For everyone’s sake, do the right thing and give Perakians back the rightful choice to decide on their state government.
Claris Foo says
Why do we have to look at the Perak issue as a PR vs BN fight every time it is highlighted? In actual fact, it is more of BN vs THE PEOPLE because the PR sate assemblymen and women were voted in by the people and for the police and the current illegal government to treat them as such should be seen as oppression of the people’s voices. If there any Perakians out there who thinks your elected representative should give it up and wait till the next GE, then you don’t deserve to live in a democracy!
Actually the whole of Malaysia is a circus […]. The government is full of hot air and empty headedness. They are all well-known only for personal pursuits and nothing else. Look at the component parties, each with its own problems of their own making. Malaysia is a laughing stock for the world BUT hey who cares? Not the ministers, not the ruling politicians for they are all too busy in their own pursuits.
I urge the PR ADUNS to continue to fight on though they are at disadvantaged in view that the BN has the government machinery to help them hold on to power. Sadly the police are also involved to help them cling on to power. But PR has the people’s power who will decide which government they want. BN should have the guts to dissolve the assembly if they claim they have the support of Perakians. Let the people decide which government is legitimate.
Correction, this is not a circus but the struggle representing the rakyat to fight for justice. What Umno/BN did was rob ‘people’s power’ from Pakatan. We should not ‘kow tow’ to BN’s call for the DUN sitting. The hapenning during the DUN sitting is within the parameters of behavior from Pakatan Aduns. They are only expressing opposition to an illegally formed government and in a civil manner.
Uncivilised manner was from the BN’s abuse of police force blocking Pakatan Aduns from entering the assembly building. The camera recording speaks for itself.
Deborah’s reporting sentences are very biased towards Umno! That was very wrong! How could the public show support to this website’s woes?