Friday, May 8, 2009
INTO THE PERAK IMBROGLIO AND AFTER
THE PERAK IMBROGLIO -
SWINGING FROM THE CEILING FOR PEOPLE POWER
As soon as one democratic history was made in Ipoh with the unprecedented disorder at the opening of the new session of the Perak State Assembly on 7 May, another history was being readied to repeat itself from outside the august building that’s become september.
If there had been chandeliers in the state assembly hall, assemblymen, fully dressed in the splendorous outfits of the state’s lawmakers, could have been seen swinging from the ceiling in the attempt to disrupt the proceedings the Pakatan Rakyat conceived as illegal.
The Pakatan Rakyat (Pakatan) literally means People’s Pact. It was contesting in court the legitimacy of the Barisan Nasional (BN) government the state ruler appointed in February. The judgment shall be read on Monday 11 May.
But in the wake of the failed attempt to disrupt the May sitting is to be seen the seeding of a failed state many observers have decided is staring at us eye-ball to eye-ball.
The turn of events in Perak from February, when the Sultan decided to appoint a new Menteri Besar, has now reached the point when the Pakatan will probably gain much politically by returning to People’s Power.
The court will decide who the legitimate Perak Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) is this Monday.
Whether it will be Nizar of Pakatan or Zambry of BN, it is the people who must be finally the kingmaker and the people are not sure that the monarch was vested with the power to dismiss Nizar.
That makes for a crack in the wall large enough for People’s Power to slip through and to continue aggressing for change.
This time the change is spelled into a simple compound of ending the BN (and Alliance) rule of more than 50 years in the 13th general elections which the new PM, Najib Tun Razak, will have to decide as early as he possibly can for a mandate.
It is now about the force of popular perceptions in a circumstance of a weakened government abruptly underscored by massive corruption and a ruling-elite of contractors, businessmen and professionals that’s popularly assumed as unreservedly arrogant.
It is also about a Prime Minister with a luggage heavy enough for him to be evenly distracted, isolated and demonized, which is what the game has become since Najib Tun Razak took over from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Pak Lah) about a month before.
The doubt about the monarch’s power-reach is one thing and the problem of the PM and the power-elite is another. The third disturbing factor is about the police political over-reactions.
The BN, having lost enough popular support to be denied the two-third majority in parliament on 8 March 2008, turned under Pak Lah to using the police to stem the tide of popular demand for change and for basic democratic liberties.
On 7 May in Ipoh the police force apparently recoiled like a disturbed cobra and struck, arresting 69 in the ripples of the protests advanced by the Pakatan lawmakers in the State Assembly.
Some were arrested for wearing black T-shirts to mark 1Black Malaysia, a lithe marker of the 7 May opening of the “illegal” Perak State Assembly.
Others were arrested for standing around the State Assembly building and some for drinking tea at coffee-shops within a given radius from the building.
It was as though the State Secretariat building was conceived as a nuclear bomb test-ground.
When lawmakers, both federal and state, were among those arrested and were handcuffed and taken to the Balai, what was messaged in our heads was a repeat of the arrest and subsequent injury vested on the then Deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, who was taken from his house in 1998 by a troop of police personnel wearing balaclavas and armed with automatic weapons.
The reactions were plain: If that could be done on the deputy prime minister and the lawmakers it can be done to any of us without a squeak being heard. It is feudal and it is tyranny.
It’s the kind of action designed to drive the people into a sense of impotence and that failed before, leading instead to the popular rejection of the BN and which has stayed for more than a year since 8 March 2009.
The pictograph issued to our brains from the day of Anwar’s arrest and subsequent abuse in police custody was of a Police State.
It was this pictograph of the Police State that has been the most tangible evidence of power misuse in a nation popularly conceived as ruled by a self-seeking and corrupt elite, now intervened by three monarchs for good measure.
This same hyperactive police force, we are often told, is faction-wracked.
When one senior officer is transferred to another location, it was said the group of his subordinates would follow him, leaving his successor having to begin anew in the arts and sciences of crime-busting in the given locale.
In the circumstances of rising prices, flips-flops or fumbles of policy decisions and which have even led to royal interventions in at least three states, increasing crime rate, unemployment, falling morale and growing malaise, the accumulated distresses must lend something familiar to the critical mind – i.e. failing statecraft.
Hence, more and more want a recall of People’s Power to furnish the gloom with a bright yonder. Allahu Akbar! Workers Unite! Ahem, it’s a naked backside of a China doll!
And yet the Pakatan is poised to win bigger in a Perak state re-election and in the 13th general elections. The People have had enough. --- a. ghani ismail, 9 May, 2009