BN moves to clear Perak mess

(The Malaysian Insider) KUALA LUMPUR, May 11 — Call it a softening of the Barisan Nasional position in Perak but Datuk Seri Najib Razak and other senior ruling coalition politicians appear to be coming around to an unmistakable conclusion: that the present situation in the state is untenable.

The prime minister knows that though Barisan Nasional is in control of the state legislative assembly, the fallout from the power grab could have a negative impact on beyond Perak, rocking even his 1Malaysia platform and puncturing his position that a leader of the country must rise above politics.

That is why Najib put forward the possibility of BN and Pakatan Rakyat working together to resolve the Perak question. He cannot be seen to be giving up the state.

So the PM will approach the Opposition and ask them to put forward their proposals on how to move forward in Perak. There will not be a coalition government but the BN may offer certain positions in the state to Opposition politicians.

If as expected Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin and his comrades in Pakatan Rakyat insist on the state assembly being dissolved and fresh elections called, expect the BN to walk away and turn the signpost to the royal town of Kuala Kangsar.

The Malaysian Insider has learnt that senior BN officials are taking the approach that it is for Sultan Azlan Shah to decide if the state assembly should be dissolved, and fresh state elections called.

“The Sultan used his discretion in February to install BN as the government after accepting that we had the majority in the House. The BN did not force the Sultan to make that choice but yet BN and the PM have been blamed for the outcome.

“What the BN did was to approach and inform the Sultan that we had the majority in the House. Similarly having all the information before him and after studying the present circumstances, the Sultan can dissolve the House if he believes that it is in the best interest of the people of Perak. Our point is that it is not for Datuk Seri Najib or BN to talk about dissolving the assembly. This is solely up to the Sultan, ‘’ said a government official familiar with the thinking in the administration.

He noted that BN leaders resent talk that they masterminded a power grab, noting that all the ruling coalition did was encourage three Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers who wanted to cross over. Defections are not illegal, he pointed out.

Clearly, there has been a slight shift in BN approach since the fracas in the state assembly on May 7.

The ruling coalition wants to put some daylight between its decision to accept the defectors and the Sultan’s decision to refuse to dissolve the state assembly.

The overwhelming view in Umno/BN is that Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir and BN should not budge one inch in Perak and that by the time general elections are held in three or four years, the anger among Perakians against BN would have dissipated.

Perhaps so but Najib and senior BN officials do not want to take a chance.

That is why the PM softened his position yesterday and offered an olive branch to Pakatan Rakyat. A day earlier he strenuously defended BN’s legitimacy in the state and the actions of BN lawmakers on May 7. He knows that a PM who says he represents all Malaysians cannot afford to ignore that thing called public opinion, regardless of what his party thinks.

This new approach also gives the Sultan of Perak a way out of an episode which has damaged the standing of his household in the eyes of many Malaysians.