In the best interests of the rakyat

Down2Earth Terence Fernandez (The Sun) 

"Don’t be too harsh on Sultan. The situation is too fluid. He must verify the facts and interview the defectors to determine if they voluntarily changed parties.

He can only do this if he is alone with them. He must verify the numbers himself. The executive government is still functioning. There is no immediate threat. He will consult his advisers. He will wait for BN to ask him to form new government, verify the facts and decide on MB request to call elections.

The double jumping frog will aid your argument in the end as that a****** has no morals. My personal opinion is that any s*** who jumps party is not fit to serve and has lied to the people if he promised a party manifesto to them and does a U-turn.

If I were the Sultan, I too would wait as the facts are changing too fast to make a wise decision. He is under a duty to independently verify the facts himself."

THIS SMS was sent by lawyer and Petaling Jaya City Councillor Derek Fernandez on Wednesday to several Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders on the situation in Perak. Derek, whose consult is often sought by the Selangor government and PR leaders, was giving his educated two sen’s worth to panicky assemblymen and parliamentarians who were witnessing one of their hard-worn states slipping from their grasp.

Several of them had opined that the palace may be lopsided towards Barisan Nasional (BN) forgetting that only on Tuesday did the regent emphasise the need for Rulers to be apolitical. Derek was attempting to put the matter into perspective and ask the politicians to put themselves in the shoes of the Sultan whose only concern is the smooth administration of his state and the welfare of his subjects.

At the time of writing this, Sultan Azlan Shah had not consented to the dissolution of the state assembly while Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin’s resignation as mentri besar had been sought. The Sultan had met the four assemblymen individually to ascertain that they are leaving their respective parties on their own free will, without inducements or coercion.

One should give Sultan Azlan Shah some credit for this. He is, after all, a former lord president. And from what we have learnt, His Royal Highness has been going into overdrive consulting his advisers, government officers, as well as leaders from both sides of the political divide.

But of course, His Royal Highness’s final assessment of the situation and his decision not to consent to the dissolution of the state assembly has raised eyebrows from many quarters, especially PR and its supporters.

One gives the palace the benefit of the doubt and concludes that the decision was made in the best interests of the rakyat, from the Sultan’s standpoint.

But the goings-on in the silver state will not end. The BN has launched a coup and its generals who pulled the rug from under PR’s feet, will undoubtedly become the toast at next month’s Umno general assembly.

And what of PR? Well, apart from licking its wounds, unfortunately, it cannot take the moral high ground here in claiming that the opposition has resorted to "dirty tricks". Although it may be true, PR also does not have the right to claim that the defections which now lead to the formation of a new state government, as a breach of the public trust.

This is because PR drew first blood – not only by enticing and accepting Bota rep, Datuk Nasarudin Hashim (who has since returned to Umno) but also by making overtures towards elected BN reps following last year’s general election.

As the saying goes, if you play with fire you get burnt. In the game of political one-upmanship, BN has a larger mandate and the resources to win the match.

So congratulations to BN. But whoever wins, the losers are the people whose ballots are now worthless.

If a dissolution had been consented to, millions of taxpayers’ money, which could be put to better use in these trying economic times, would have been used to conduct fresh elections. But on a wider scale, the happenings in Perak go to show how a handful of individuals can play games with the people’s trust.

As Derek rightly pointed out, they were elected based on their manifesto and by jumping ship, they had lied to the people. Suffice to say, the four who hopped were elected based on their party colours. Nasarudin, Jamaludin Mohd Radzi, Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu and Hee Yit Fong are no Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah or Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad who won their seats on several platforms – the latter as a BN candidate and even as an independent.

It was obvious that the people had voted in the Opposition as a need for more checks and balances to keep an eye on the incumbent. If this was not true, how could Loh Gwo Burne, whose only claim to fame is recording V.K. Lingam’s infamous phone conversation, have trumped MCA powerhouse Datuk Lee Hwa Beng in Kelana Jaya?

Thus, if PR wants to point fingers for losing Perak, it should blame itself. Its lack of quality candidates is apparent now. Some of them do not have principles, nor the backbone to stand by their party and the manifesto on which they had wooed the people. The conduct of these four characters underscore the need for an anti-hopping law.

For the BN, by admitting these individuals into its fold, only demonstrates that it will compromise virtually anything to win the political game.

Two of the "frogs" have a graft charge over their heads; one "frog" jumped twice and another had repeatedly said that she was not going anywhere.

Fortunately for some politicians, people have short memories. So when we go back to the polls in three years, there is a likelihood that this dark episode in Malaysian politics where the people were played with and lied to would be forgotten.

Terence is disappointed that he won’t be covering any elections anytime soon. It’s a lot of fun! He is deputy editor (special reports & investigations) and can be reached at [email protected] .