No way for Pakatan to hang on


SULTAN Azlan Shah has decisively refused to dissolve the state assembly and has asked Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin and his exco to resign to allow for a new Barisan Nasional-led administration to take shape.

However, Nizar is refusing to resign and his exco is taking the cue and staying put, setting the stage for a new twist in the high-octane drama that started on Sunday with the defection of one DAP and two PKR representatives.

Pakatan Rakyat supremo Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, with all the top Pakatan leaders behind him, wants an audience with the Sultan to convince him to call for a fresh election, hoping they can get a new mandate and save their administration.

But the Ruler has clearly spelt out that he is convinced the Barisan has a majority of three assemblymen – Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi (Behrang), Mohd Osman Jailu (Changkat Jering) and Hee Yit Fong (Jelapang) – who have resigned from their parties.

So the numbers are equal: 28 Pakatan and 28 Barisan in the 59-seat assembly.

Now that the Barisan has his blessing, it is going ahead to swear in the new Mentri Besar and executive councillors at 3pm today before the Ruler at the palace in Kuala Kangsar.

The irony is that while Pakatan exco members and assemblymen are still holding on to a sinking ship, they and their spouses received official letters inviting them to the swearing-in ceremony of Pangkor assemblyman Datuk Zambry Kadir as the new mentri besar, indicating how meticulously the defections and takeover had been planned.

Immediately after the Palace issued a formal statement rejecting any dissolution of the State Assembly, a notice went up at the State Secretariat building requesting Pakatan exco members and their aides to clean up their office, take their personal stuff away and hand over the keys, and surrender their official cars.

They were also reminded to leave behind all official files.

With these developments, the political crisis has ebbed and what’s left is whether the Ruler will grant an audience to Pakatan leaders again, which is unlikely.

Nizar has refused to vacate his official residence but eventually, after Zambri has been sworn in, he has to leave like the other executive members, at least to avoid embarrassment. He may even be evicted.

Several exco members who feel that the writing is on the wall are already packing up and preparing to go back to their old jobs – practising law, businesses, farming and family – things they had neglected in the euphoria of the March 8 general election victory.

If Nizar stays and insists he is the rightful Mentri Besar and if he goes to court asking for such a declaration, it would be a repeat of the “two Chief Ministers” case in Sabah in 1986.

Then, Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who had a simple majority, and the late Tun Datu Mustapha Harun, who had the minority, had a dispute over who has control of the state assembly.

They went to court and in a case that became famous, Kitingan won after three years of court hearing.

The Pakatan has filed for an order of mandamus to declare the three crucial seats vacant and is hoping for the court to order by-elections to be held.

More suits and counter suits are likely to be filed in the weeks ahead but they are likely to have little political effect.

In the battle of wits for control of Perak, the Barisan has won hands down but in the court of public opinion, it has probably lost because the general sentiment is for holding a fresh election to let the people decide the outcome.