06 Mac 2009

Nizar seeks audience with Perak Sultan to end unhealthy deadlock

By Wong Choon Mei(SK)

In a bid to end the unhealthy deadlock in Perak state, Pakatan Rakyat Menteri Besar Nizar Jamaluddin has sought an audience with the Sultan to brief him on three motions tabled and passed by the state legislative assembly at an emergency sitting on Tuesday.

“We appeal from the bottom of our hearts, for the sake of the people of Perak, that his Royal Highness grants us an audience as soon as possible,” Pakatan leader Nga Kor Ming told reporters.

“It is the wish of the people that the state assembly be dissolved so that power is returned to them. With greatest respect to the Ruler, we hope we are granted an audience.”

Chaos and political deadlock

Peninsular Malaysia’ ssecond largest state has been plunged into chaos after an unpopular Feb 5 decision by the Perak Ruler to transfer power to an Umno-BN line-up backed by Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Nizar, who was then the incumbent Menteri Besar, had advised that the state assembly be dissolved and the mandate returned to the people of Perak to choose the leadership they wanted.

The Pakatan leader had argued that the majority claimed by Umno-BN was questionable and already being challenged in the courts.

Pakatan and Umno-BN have 28 seats each in the 59-seat assembly, but with the help of three defections, Najib claimed a slim majority. Sultan Azlan Shah had then chosen to go with him, rather than Nizar.

However, that fateful decision sparked an uproar from Perakians. 74 percent of the Perak people surveyed by the well-respected Merdeka Centre said they wanted fresh state-wide polls to break the political impasse. They were also unhappy that the Umno-BN line-up, which had only one non-Malay, did not represent the state’s racial mix.

Yet, Umno-BN has insisted on clinging to power, perhaps knowing that its chances of victory would be slim given the hugely unpopular manner in which it had engineered the power grab.

Non-stop appeals to the Sultan to grant fresh polls

A barrage of legal suits and counter-suits have since followed, leading to Tuesday’s emergency sitting called by Perak Speaker V Sivakumar. Again, Umno-BN boycotted the meet and instigated the police and state secretary to block Pakatan lawmakers from entering the legislative assembly hall.

Undeterred, Sivakumar convened the historic emergency session under a leafy and decades-old raintree nearby to the secretariat building. With all 28 Pakatan lawmakers present, there was sufficient quorum to legitimise the assembly and the motions it endorsed, despite the unusual setting forced upon them by the Umno-BN in concert with the police and the state secretary.

It now remains to be seen if Sultan Azlan will acknowledge the wishes of his subjects and grant Nizar his audience, or stand by Najib.

There has been a non-stop multitude of calls from not just Perakians, but Malaysians nationwide, and hundreds of civil society groups appealing to Sultan Azlan to grant a state-wide election.

“The present crisis in Perak could have been averted if His Royal Highness Sultan Azlan Shah had dissolved the Legislative Assembly on February 5. The present scenario in Perak is seen as a State without a legitimate government,” said Param Cumaraswamy, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers.

“The casualty in such an environment primarily is the rakyat. If the situation is not carefully addressed and arrested quickly the rule of law in Perak will be in jeopardy and anarchy will be the order of the day.”

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, the Kelantan prince and well-respected veteran Umno politician, is the latest to join the chorus of voices.

“It may not be good for Barisan Nasional but we have no choice. We can’t go on with this impasse. I think that constitutional rule in Perak has collapsed and the only way to rectify the situation is to go back to the people. That would be the appropriate thing for the Ruler to do.”