Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Perak Oh Perak

Hardly a week passes by without a politically explosive news hitting the headlines.

The previous week was about the death of A.Kugan in police custody. Last week it was about the Bota assemblyman Datuk Nasaruddin Hashim jumping ship from BN to Pakatan.

This week is all about Changkat Jering assemblyman Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu and Behrang Assemblyman Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi.

They were both declared to have vacated their seats by the Perak Speaker V. Sivakumar, only to be denied by the two involved. They have both now declared themselves as independents. The Election Commission has declined to declare both seats as vacant. No by-elections. In the meantime DAP has given the EC 48 hours to rescind its decision.

The drama is still unfolding as I am writing this. We do not know what is going to happen today or in the next few days. Rumours are going around that there will be more defection, that Pakatan will ask for a dissolution of the Perak state assembly, that BN will form a new state government with more 'defectors' joining its fold etc, etc.

What have we descended into? I still remember clearly the day George W. Bush was declared the winner of the 2000 Presidential Election by the narrowest of margin. Although Al Gore received the majority of popular votes, he abided by the wishes of the people as translated by the system. George W. Bush's authority as President nor his right to rule were never once challenged by the margin of his victory (of course the fact that he was one of the worst US President in living memory is another matter).

Recently, when John McCain, a decorated war hero lost to a ' newcomer' Barrack Hussein Obama, he called all Americans to come together to work with the new President. He said "he is President of the United Sates, he is my President". That is the integrity of those that uphold the system and respect the wishes of the people.

Unfortunately, we in Malaysia have succumbed to the low level of politics seen in the less developed third world countries where party-hopping is the norm and the will of the people is twisted through back-door negotiations.

I am strongly against party-hopping and believe that every elected representative must stand in the ticket he was voted in. Alternatively, he should vacate his seat and seek a fresh mandate if he is unable to see eye to eye with his party. The will of the people expressed through the ballot must be respected by all, regardless of the margin of victory. That is the system. And everyone should abide by it, not only when it is convenient. In the long run, it benefits everyone.

However, the present state of confusion and uncertainty in Perak has been brought upon itself by PKR. Anwar started the ball rolling (and much to the excitement of his supporters who saw him as the 'saviour' of democracy in Malaysia) by declaring that he would form a new Federal government through defection of BN MPs by 16th September, 2008. Nothing came out of it except that Pakatan lost its moral high ground.

Last week Pakatan shot shot itself in the foot when it gleefully accepted Datuk Nasaruddin's defection to Pakatan. No questions asked about whether the voters voted for him or the party he represented. No calls for a fresh mandate.

What goes around comes around. Now Pakatan's Perak government is hanging by a thread. It can't object based on principles as it had none to begin with.

At least PAS and DAP had the sense of fair play when they decided not to be too carried away with Anwar's promise of a new government through defection. BN had the good sense not to 'entice' PAS assemblymen in Kelantan to defect when PAS held that state by a single majority between 2004-2008. That's fair play.

Anyway, the global economic meltdown has begun to wash on our shores. Some have just received their notice of termination. Many more will get theirs as factories close and companies cut back on their operations.

Many families will lose their home due to foreclosures and banks will collapse. Some banks and companies inevitably will be rescued with tax-payers money.

We need a steady captain in the form of a strong government to weather this storm. And everyone must do their part to see through the difficult times ahead. This needs concentrated and concerted effort. We can't do it if we are too busy politicking and pulling the rug under each other's feet.

Lets focus as a nation on how best to overcome the current economic turmoil. Lets play by the rules and let politics work itself out. Thank you.

Murugesan Sinnandavar