Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Courting Trouble Fast, by Appealing for Common Sense

When faced with criticisms both within and beyond, the Malaysian government has always been quick to respond that proof of democracy here is that we hold free elections. When someone from the United States once pointed out that by that yardstick even Hitler had elections, there was a great hue and cry that Malaysia's sovereignty was insulted when the Nazi dictator and this country were uttered "in the same breath".

Even by the government's shallow breadth of democracy, the state of Perak falls rather short, with calls for a new mandate falling on deaf ears. Even Mahathir has mentioned that elections would see BN losing - in essence admitting that while the courts may be in their corner, and perhaps even a legislative vote of no confidence with the aid of self-serving frogs, the confidence of the people of Perak is a different story entirely.

Zambry is of course trying to maximize the decision of the Appellate Court as much as he was trying to minimize (with record breaking judicial speeds from a stay to a hearing to a decision) the judgment of the High Court. Once again, however, he has fallen on his own sword, a victim of sad irony. First, there was his little statement comparing himself to Gandhi - while the Pakatan Rakyat face the police when they try a simple fast. There were the calls from BN leaders asking the PR people to respect and accept the new court decision - contrasted to the previous decision when Najib said he would "solve the problem."

And now, a very large foot in a very large mouth appears for Zambry - as the
Malaysian Insider reports:

"The people should not be fearful or apprehensive in bringing up problems related to illegal settlement and land to the state government, said Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir."

By risking mentioning the obvious, how about the illegal settlement OF the state government?

Or at least, in the next breath, an immoral one?

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Page Turns in Perak and Najib Tries to "Solve the Problem"

It really shouldn't be such a surprise that the system of justice in our country affirmed what the fair-minded already know to be true. But the concept of due process, of checks and balances has been so usurped, so tainted with scandal that many did not have the faith that there would be a fair day in court. The Malaysian Insider reported that even Nizar, who never gave up in the face of adversity, was stunned by the decision. So yes, this is a moment for celebration for the truly democratic. But in the much larger picture, it is a time for us to work towards a day when courting true justice is not a gamble, but a guarantee.

The Barisan's Options

It seems, however, that the Barisan Nasional is not ready to throw in the towel. It has two major options, and it is likely it will travel both paths simultaneously.

One is to challenge the High Court decision, and place a request to stay its execution pending appeal. The Barisan-linked mainstream media has been quick to place this right next to Nizar's victory, with UMNO-connected TV3 unbelievably making the headline news Najib's assertion that the BN has a solid case for appeal, instead of the actual court decision.

The other option comes back to the Perak monarchy, which in the absence of Sultan Azlan Shah away in the United States places Raja Nazrin, the Regent, in the limelight. Early Tuesday morning he will grant an audience to the rightful MB, and if he does not consent to a dissolution of the state assembly he could instead instruct a sitting of the assembly to table a vote of no-confidence against Nizar. On a legally technical level, Zambry would then be legitimized as the new MB.

The Pakatan's Options

The Pakatan Rakyat has several options in its favour as well. At this point, the royal household has a chance to regain some trust of the people, and more importantly restore rule of law in the state. Should the Regent chose to call for a sitting instead of a dissolution, the argument could be put forward that the sitting under the Tree of Democracy is now considered valid. This would also imply that the decision of the state assembly to dissolve was valid, and it is purely awaiting an already much-delayed execution.

Second, is that not only has Nizar defeated Zambry in a court of law - but Sivakumar is the rightful Speaker of the House, not Ganesan. Further, the decision also affirms the rasionale for suspending Zambry and his "Exco", since the judge declared the process of taking over the Perak government undemocratic. Without those barred from the assembly, the Barisan cannot claim a majority.

Even if the Barisan somehow claim a majority supporting a vote of no confidence, it is hard to imagine Zambry gaining the trust of the public after being essentially declared by the High Court as an illegitimate MB.

Quotes of the Day

Najib: “We will solve the problem.”

Ironically, the only way to "solve" the problem is to DISsolve the assembly.

A rather long, but worthwhile read by the young John Lee, including this comparitive account of history:

In the 17th century, England was ruled by King Charles I — a firm believer in the principle that might makes right, and that the executive reigns supreme. Parliament increasingly refused to go along with his oppressive taxes and repressive policies.

Infuriated, Charles led a band of armed men to Parliament to arrest his opponents, violently entering the House of Commons.

Finding that the MPs had fled, the King displaced Speaker William Lenthall from his chair, and demanded to know where they had gone.

Lenthall’s words, much like former Perak MB Nizar Jamaluddin’s “Patik mohon derhaka,” have gone down in history as a brave defence of the right of elected legislatures to deliberate in peace, without heed for the executive’s wishes: “May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here.”

But first prize goes to the Star Online, for - probably inadvertantly - letting a snide side remark getting posted on one of the sub-headings:

Somehow it brings to mind the ancient Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times."

That we do, indeed.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Perak Aftermath: In Some Circles They Would Call This Talking Out of Your...

...well, I'll leave that to your imagination. Let's just say Christina Aguilera would have an inkling.

If you thought that it was something to see the gall in trying to legitimize a BN-run Perak government, all you had to to was wait a day to hear the pathetic excuses for their actions.

The Malaysian Insider noted Zambry's comments:
Zambry agreed the police were not supposed to be in the chambers but added the BN-elected speaker Datuk R Ganesan had the power under the standing orders to call in the police.

“Ganesan had no choice but to ask the police to help control the dewan. Let the people decide on the actions of the Pakatan assemblymen today,” said Zambry.

Whoever works as Zambry's PR guy could best advise the purported Mentri Besar to leave out the words "let the people decide" out of his speeches. For that is exactly what he is preventing.

The next case of foot-in-mouth came from Hee Yit Foong, who said of her former DAP colleagues: "Hati mereka ada hantu." Never mind that every kid in every school who hears this will laugh their heads off. And add it to their toilet grafitti.

And then the PM decides to open up another can of worms in today's Malaysian Insider:

Speaking to reporters today, Najib, who is also Umno president, brushed aside PR claims that the takeover in Perak was unconstitutional.

He cited Winston Churchill, the former British prime minister, as an example of a politician who had changed parties.

Churchill you say? The words of Churchill himself are the best rebuttal of our Prime Minister:

"He is one of those orators of whom it was well said, 'Before they get up, they do not know what they are are going to say; when they are speaking, they do not know what they are saying; and when they have sat down, they do not know what they have said.'" ~ Winston Churchill.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Fashion Police

When it comes whatever extent of a democracy Malaysia has, one thing is certain - we like to keep things literal. When it came to throwing the book, Karpal Singh famously took it one step further in Parliament by throwing his shoe. When it came to branches of government, the legitimate Perak government took it one step further by turning to the Tree of Democracy. And now police have arrested Wong Chin Huat for sedition for suggesting that people wear black today in protest of the Barisan Nasional's hostile takeover of the Perak government - bringing a special new stench to the words "fashion police." Plus, the undemocratic nature of Barisan Nasional's "power-grab" is certified with the physical removal of Perak Speaker Sivakumar from his seat.

Photo sourced from Lim Kit Siang, showing the forced removal of Sivakumar

Ultimately, people will remember the words of people like Najib and Muhiyiddin falsely accusing the Pakatan Rakyat of forcing unnecessary by-elections (which in itself makes no sense), when in Perak these very politicians are doing their best to avoid what is a necessary state-wide election.

All this while Dr Mahathir maintains his classic independent streak (despite all the show of solidarity at the UMNO General Assembly) by commenting again on the validity of the removal of Perak Mentri Besar Nizar:

As far as I know, the federal constitution states very clearly that a monarch cannot remove a prime minister. He can refuse to appoint a prime minister, but once appointed you cannot remove him until there's a vote of no-confidence made against him. - Dr Mahathir, as reported by mysinchew
Once upon a time, Malaysia received a black eye in international standing when more literally Anwar Ibrahim received a black eye while in police custody, hit - while handcuffed - by none other than the top man in the police force. Today, the police have decided to give themselves a black eye, going against not the power of black shirts, but the strength of ideals and ideas of conscience, due process and the true quality of one's democracy.

Perhaps even more importantly, they have failed to protect the people of Perak - including their democratically elected Speaker - from those who would usurp their right to decide.