Umno swings for sultan in Perak’s dire straits

(The Malaysian Insider) The mercury is set to rise further in Perak tomorrow with plans for Umno Youth to hold a rally supporting the constitutional monarchy, in particular Sultan Azlan Shah, much criticised for his role in the transfer of power in the state.

The rally is the first move by Umno to frame this constitutional crisis as a belligerent show of disrespect by Pakatan Rakyat to an institution respected by the Malays.

In this way, they hope to persuade fence-sitters and the apolitical in the community that only Umno-led Barisan Nasional can be counted on to protect Malay interests and what is dear to the community.

The coverage in the main Malay language newspapers today suggest that the approach of driving a wedge between the monarchy and the Opposition led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will intensify.

Several top Umno officials are expected to speak at the gathering in Ipoh tomorrow, the first such event since the palace decided that Pakatan Rakyat’s Datuk Nizar Jamaluddin no longer had the majority support of the House and should step down in favour of Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir and Barisan Nasional.

Since then, Sultan Azlan Shah and his son, Raja Nazrin Shah, have been on the receiving end of some stinging criticism, with some legal experts saying that the political stalemate should have been resolved by a show of hands in the state assembly rather than by a dictate from the palace.

Nizar has refused to accept the decision of the Malay Ruler and on Friday, Pakatan Rakyat supporters clashed with the Federal Reserve Unit outside a mosque in Kuala Kangsar, the royal town.

Pakatan Rakyat have said that they will seek legal action to overturn the Sultan’s decision, a move which has been criticized as being disrespectful to the Malay Rulers by Umno and its supporters.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, long-time critic of the royalty and the Malaysian leader who curtailed the powers of the Sultans, cautioned the Opposition against taking the Sultan to court.

Several Umno leaders also stoked the fire accusing Nizar of treason.

Mingguan Malaysia said in an editorial today that never in the history of the country had any Malay so openly defied and humiliated a Malay ruler like Nizar.

“If this was Thailand or any Arab country, anyone who humiliated the royalty would have faced immediate punishment including from the public, ‘‘ said the newspaper, which is owned by Umno.

Any campaign to paint Pas and Pakatan Rakyat as anti-royalty and anti-Malay could break the back of Nizar’s holdout.

It could also inject an element of race into an already polarised political climate.