Voters, The Biggest Losers

It should be pointed out that although the duel has thus far produced an apparent winner and loser, down to the very core, a lose-lose situation has been created, as well as a chaotic political scenario that is full of instability factors.

By LIM MUN FAH/Translated by DOMINIC LOH/Sin Chew Daily)

The political stituation in Perak has taken a drastic turn. While some lament about the current commotion in the state, others rejoice in it. But many more are enshrouded in gross bewilderment.

The commotion is like a boxing match in which one of the contenders has been toppled, and the other is technically the victor. But then the loser refuses to concede, claiming that dirty tricks have been employed to bring him down.

It will now leave to the umpire and organisers to make the final verdict.

BN is eventually proclaimed the victor. But then this also gives rise to another question: Is the new administration going to be a steady one?

The current situation is that both BN and Pakatan Rakyat have 28 seats each in the state assembly (including one who has returned to UMNO). Three former Pakatan assemblymen are now "independents friendly to BN."

This is a twist that is full of ironies, a childgame that has invalidated democratic elections.

Although BN has taken merely ten months to recapture the state administration, the new state government is a "minority" government that lacks public support and mandate.

The way ahead for this "minority" government is going to be very, very tough.

The first issue that lies before everyone is that the new state government will be overwhelmingly dominated by the 27-seat UMNO. With that in mind, how is the party going to share the power with the single-seat MCA and unrepresented MIC?

Next, Perak state assembly speaker Sivakumar and senior executive councillor Ngeh Koo Han have filed a petition in the court claiming that Hee Yit Foong, Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi and Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu are no longer state assemblymen for their respective constituencies. Ngeh also claims that it will challenge BN in the court if the latter tries to force out a new state government.

The case could begin from the high court and be extended to the appeals court, even the federal court. We have yet to see whether the lengthy lawsuit will hamper the operation of the new state government.

Three, two former Pakatan state assemblymen have been implicated in corruption charges and their fates are yet to know at this moment. Even if they are eventually acquitted, their images have been severely tarnished.

It is hard to pass a judgement now whether their recruitment into the BN camp is a boon or bane to the ruling party. Warnings by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir and Tengku Razaleigh have not been issued without any reason.

Four, the political twist is the outcome of a dirty power-grabbing race. In the eyes of the public, this is an under-the-table deal inundated with exchange of interests and collusions.

The new state administration may have problems placing the few defecting Pakatan assemblymen, rationalising the legitimacy of its administration, responding to the powerful urges of the voters, and rebuilding the faith and trust of the rakyat towards the government.

But from a more positive perspective, a minority government that lacks sufficient mandate may be forced to go for a more moderate and people-friendly approach at the expense of extremist policies.

Perhaps this is the only hope the helpless public can count on.

Looking back at what have taken place over the past ten days from the time Nasaruddin crossed over to Pakatan to his return to UMNO, the tussles and deceptions have brought on one after another climax.

Noteworthy, in this shocking twist of events, deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has taken on more than just a very critical catalytic role, he has also demonstrated a strongman style which distinguishes this PM-in-waiting from the incumbent Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

In addition, it should be pointed out that although the duel has thus far produced an apparent winner and loser, down to the very core, a lose-lose situation has been created, as well as a chaotic political scenario that is full of instability factors.

BN triumphs because of the defection of its rival members. Such a manner of seizing power is by no means honourable, at least in the eyes of the public. Where integrity and image are concerned, BN has lost a great deal.

Pakatan's defeat could be attributed to its wrongful assessment of the current political situation as well as its unresolvedness.

There are other reasons for its downfall in Perak. Although Pakatan has dished out one after another people-friendly policies during its short 10-month tenure, internal conflicts continue to surface owing to wrestling of power and allocation of interests, blatantly exposing the vast differences and entrenched contradictions in the political ideologies of PKR, DAP and PAS, as well as the major weakness of infighting within the three parties themselves.

As outsiders, we can only say that politics is full of uncertainties. Ten months ago, BN was toppled by public wrath and Pakatan Rakyat was entrusted to take helm of the state government. Ten months later, Pakatan fumbles under the weight of dual internal conflicts, paving the way for BN to recapture the state.

There are no winners in these two episodes of political tsunami, only losers. And the biggest losers are probably the Perak voters who have lost the "People's Power" all of a sudden. (Translated by DOMINIC LOH)