Mood in Perak continues to sour, Transparency Int’l calls for accountability to the people

Just days ago, incoming Umno president Najib Razak, who masterminded the coup against Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar, was jubilant as he went to the Palace to secure a new government. But last night, he was forced to abandon plans to attend a function as distrust and disgust for him and his Umno-BN grew state-wide amongst Perakians

By Wong Choon Mei, Suara keADILan

Tensions are set to intensify in Perak, with neither coalition Pakatan Rakyat or Barisan Nasional willing to back down from the crisis over who has legitimate control of the state government.

Sparked by the much-criticised decision of the Perak Sultan to go against the advice of Pakatan Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin to call a snap election, the situation is unlikely to improve as Perakians continue to reject the BN leadership forced upon them by their Ruler.

The Pakatan maintains that Nizar, whom they believe was unconstitutionally sacked by the Sultan, is still the legitimate head of the state government, while BN insists his position has now been filled by their candidate Zambry Kadir.

Both men went about their separate ways to govern the state yesterday.

Umno tries to stir up Malay sentiments

Working from his official residence, Nizar held a state exco meeting and approved four key plans, including extending land leases for industrial plots to 99 years from the current 30 or 60 years to make the state more attractive to investors during the current economic slowdown.

He also announced a RM1 million allocation to help the poor with funeral expenses, short-listed 342 people as local councillors and agreed to inject RM2.7 million to transform Ipoh Airport into a low-cost carrier terminal for budget airline Firefly.

“The state agencies have to concede to the government of the day and the question of their not implementing the decisions does not arise,” said Nizar, referring to the fact that the Pakatan-led state assembly has not been dissolved yet, nor has it voted to sack him.

But even as Nizar spoke, police acting in concert with the state secretariat are planning to evict him. BN-controlled media too carried ominous reports quoting unnamed sources that warned Perak civil servants to obey only Zambry.

Umno, coalition leader of BN, is also trying its best to stir up what it hopes will become a groundswell of Malay support by throwing its weight behind the Perak Sultan.

On Monday, Umno Youth plans to hold a yellow-ribbon campaign as part of efforts to suppress criticism against the Sultan.

“Obviously, Umno would do this. Firstly, the Sultan sided them, so to criticise the Sultan is to criticise them,” said a political analyst.

“Secondly, whenever Umno is in trouble and want to cover up its wrongdoing, it will bring out the racial card and try to scare everyone else into submission.”

Sultan’s web page de-activated, Najib hides from Ipoh

Nevertheless, Umno’s fightback has paled against the nation and state-wide fury unfurled by the Sultan’s controversial decision.

The storm of negative comments and feedback registered in a web page on the Ruler’s website, where guests leave their comments, has been so ‘hot’ it was deactivated.

Deputy Premier and incoming Umno president Najib Abdul Razak, who masterminded the coup against Nizar’s government, decided against coming down to a function in Ipoh last night, fully aware of the huge unpopularity he now attracts among Perakians.

Zambry, who was also scheduled to attend the function, too had to give it a miss.

Transparency International is the latest civil society group to join in the national and international condemnation of Sultan Azlan Shah’s decision to not to return the mandate to his subjects – the Perak people – and let them vote in a stable and decisive leadership of their choice.

Said Transparency International Malaysia president Ramon Navaratnam: “There has not been a high enough order of transparency in the entire episode. Hence, the people’s dissatisfaction and unhappiness. This must not be brushed aside, but must be heeded by all, including the Ruler.

Everyone must be accountable, no matter how high or low their position. The only way to satisfy the people of Perak is to return transparency to their system. And the only way to do that is through by-election or snap election.”

A day ago, Malaysia’s Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) had also urged the Ruler to review his order and allow state-wide polls. Suhakam also questioned the legitimacy of the BN state government accepted by the Sultan.

“It appears that the method adopted in forming the new government for the state of Perak is questionable, consequently so is the legitimacy of the new state government,” Suhakam said.

No backing down, two concurrent governments

With the odds still stacked against it, the Pakatan plans to go into full throttle with legal suits, and will sue Zambry first. The coalition has pledged to go all out to regain justice and accountability for the people of Perak.

“We are seeing the issue from the people’s perspective. Legal action will be taken against Zambry as we regard him as an illegitimate Menteri Besar,” said Lim Guan Eng, secretary-general of DAP, which together with KeADILan and PAS form the Pakatan coalition.

“Malaysia has in the past 24 hours become an international laughing stock because of the constitutional crisis in Perak producing two Mentris Besar – the Pakatan Rakyat Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin who has never vacated office, and the usurper Umno Menteri Besar Zambry Abdul Kadir,” said DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang.

Said Nizar: “If they go ahead and swear in the rest of the exco members on Tuesday, we will be the only government in the world with two Menteri Besar. I will still report for work on Tiesday as Tuesday is our meet-the-clients-day.”