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.

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