The wood for the trees

Would all this have happened if Pakatan Rakyat had asked for the Perak State Assembly to be dissolved two weeks before the crossovers? Did one Umno crossover give an impression that Perak was impregnable? Was not this one crossover maybe the legendary and metaphoric Trojan Horse?


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Let’s not forget the two issues that had brought about the chaos and uncertainty: the unethical crossovers and the unfortunate refusal to dissolve the Perak State Assembly. These two issues invalidated the mandate of the Perakians and robbed them of their choice of government.

The only sane and sensible thing to undo the damage and bring calm and stability to Perak is to go back to the people to settle this issue once and for all. Let the people decisively decide who should form the government.

There is no other option.

Aliran President, P Ramakrishnan


It was not supposed to be he who gets appointed as the new Yam Tuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan after Tuanku Abdul Rahman passed on. Yes, Tuanku Abdul Rahman, the man who Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur’s once main and upmarket thoroughfare, was named after but which always gets confused with Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s First Prime Minister and holder of the title Bapak Merdeka.

But can we blame Malaysians of limited educational background? After all, how many countries in the world still possess a Monarchy? And to have the Monarch and Prime Minister sharing the same name would probably be an incident never before recorded in the history of this world. To the more initiated, however, the Tuanku and Tunku would be telling enough. And which was the Constitutional Head of State and which the Political Head of State would not be a matter of confusion.

It is natural, however, for most people to ignore matters of little interest to them, especially if it does not change their lives one bit or helps put more food on the table. Of what concern is it to those whose only concern is where their next meal would be coming from. So we have two Rahmans running this country. And which Rahman has more power over the other would be matters that only those schooled in higher institutions of learning would be able to comprehend.

A British Minister on a visit to this country thought that Malaya was still a British colony. Maybe it was so back in the old days. But Malaya had already been given self-rule one minute pass midnight of 31st August 1957. Should a Minister be allowed to meet the Prime Minister? Yes, if the Prime Minister was a Prime Minister of a British Colony. But Malaya was not. It was already an independent nation. Furthermore, would the British Prime Minister agree to a meeting with a Malayan Minister? Is not proper protocol that a Minister meets a Minister and the Prime Minister a Prime Minister? And, to top it all, it was someone gate-crashing the office of the Prime Minister without a prior appointment.

But such was the arrogance of the British Minister who forgot that Malayans no longer took orders from Caucasians. And when he was denied entry to the Prime Minister’s office he was hopping mad. In his meeting with the Agong, he brought up the issue of the kurang ajar Prime Minister and suggested that His Majesty should sack this most disrespectful Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Tuanku Abdul Rahman was amused at the antics of this most perturbed Orang Puteh. “My dear Sir, in this country, it is not the King who sacks the Prime Minister but the Prime Minster who sacks the King.” Yes, the Agong put into proper perspective whether the dog wags the tail or the tail wags the dog. And with that Malaya probably avoided a re-colonisation or a war with Britain a la the Falklands.

And so passed on this man who can only be described as a Malay gentleman par excellence. And it was time to choose his successor to the Royal Household of Negeri Sembilan. And the son, Tuanku Munawir, was chosen to succeed the throne. But Munawir ruled for only seven years before he too passed on. And since his son was considered too young to succeed the throne, Umno stepped in and decided that Tuanku Munawir’s brother, Jaafar, should instead become the new Yam Tuan while his son, Mukhriz, was bypassed.

Tuanku Jaafar ruled Negeri Sembilan for four decades. He remained on the throne while the Menteris Besar came and went, names we can no longer even remember. But there was one Menteri Besar the Ruler could not get along with. He would never accept an invitation to any function or event if this particular Menteri Besar were also invited. And if the Menteri Besar walked into the room, then Tuanku would leave on the excuse he had to go powder his nose.

But, try as he may, Tuanku Jaafar could not force the Prime Minister to remove Isa Samad as Menteri Besar. And Tuanku had to endure many years of pain with Isa as his Menteri Besar but could hardly do anything about it. And was this not also so for Sultan Idris of Perak who wanted the Menteri Besar, Ghazali Jawi, dismissed? Sultan Ismail of Terengganu, too, suffered the same indignity when he wanted Nik Hassan out but Umno sided with their Menteri Besar over the Sultan. The Sultan of Pahang shared the same predicament when he went into a rage but could not dislodge Rahim Bakar as Menteri Besar.

Yes, Umno, and only Umno, decides who becomes the Menteri Besar. True, the appointment would have to dovetail with the wishes of the Ruler. But once appointed, the Ruler can do very little except hope that his adversary can be dislodged in the next general election. And no Ruler would commit that cardinal sin of going against Umno’s wishes by removing a Menteri Besar if he wants to continue to sit on the throne.

In the meantime, Tuanku Jaafar was getting old and no longer in the best of health and no one gave him more than a couple of years more to live. To ensure that the throne would not swing back to the Munawir clan, Tuanku Jaafar appointed his son as the Regent, basically sending a message that this was his choice of successor, his son. But when Tuanku Jaafar died, the throne went back to the son of Munawir who had been bypassed and not to his own son who he had installed as the implied successor.

But is this so weird? Did not Selangor too suffer a break in the line of succession when the political masters decided that one should be bypassed in favour of another to ensure that he who sits on the throne remains friendly to the political masters of the day? And Selangor is not the only one. Terengganu, Johor, Kedah, and many other states, also saw interference in deciding the line of succession so that the new Ruler will serve those who walk in the corridors of power in Seri Perdana.

Each state has its own system. And each state is unique. When Idris was the Sultan of Perak, it was not his son who was installed as the Regent. The Raja Muda was older than Sultan Idris that we called him Raja Muda Tua. Then the Raja Muda died before Sultan Idris did. That’s what happens when the Raja Muda is Raja Tua and so much older in age compared to the Sultan.

And that’s when Azlan’s fortunes changed overnight. From a retired Chief Justice he was now the Raja Muda. And, as fate would have it, Idris died not long after that and Azlan ascended the throne. But Azlan did something that none of the others before him did. He appointed his son, Nazrin, as the Raja Muda.

Does this mean Nazrin would now inherit the throne when Azlan dies, as he surely would one day and as all of us will as well? It was not so for Negeri Sembilan. It was also not so for Selangor. And it was not so for some of the other states as well. The Raja Muda who goes on to inherit the throne from the recently deceased Sultan is not an automatic and guaranteed tradition. History has proven that. And whether Nazrin succeeds his father is not for the Sultan to decide but depends on the grace and goodwill of Umno.

Yes, it is not the King who sacks the Prime Minister but the Prime Minister who sacks the King, said our very wise First Agong soon after Merdeka. And that has not changed one bit since. And the Prime Minister has many times in the past decided who should inherit the throne once it becomes vacant. This is how it has always been. This is how it will always be. And any Ruler worth his salt would know that your continuity lies in the hands of he who rules in Seri Perdana.

The frustration about what is happening in Perak is understandable and no one can say is unreasonable. There is talk about justice and about respect for the Constitution. But is it not the Chinese who scream over and over again that it is all about self-preservation?

This Chinese are smart. The Chinese are clever. The Chinese are shrewd. The Chinese may support the opposition but will never show it because they need to protect their rice bowl. How can we risk jeopardising our comfort and wealth by openly opposing the all-powerful Umno?

Fair statement. Reasonable conclusion. This is the Chinese ‘rules of engagement’. In fact, not only the Chinese, but also the Malays think this way as well; and the Indians even more so until quite recently when HINDRAF hit the scene.

Yes, we need to protect our personal interest. We need to make sure that what we do will not jeopardise our position. We will sacrifice for the rakyat to a certain extent as long as we do not personally suffer. But we expect others to put sacrifice for the rakyat above self-interest and that of their family.

This is called double standards. We want others to suffer for us. But we refuse to be inconvenienced for whatever reason whatsoever. When it was rumoured that 30 Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament would be crossing over there was celebration and rejoicing in the streets. But when Pakatan Rakyat Assemblypersons crossed over instead there was outrage and condemnation.

When the court rules in favour of Nizar, God has spoken, the courts are fair, finally the judiciary is independent, the judge is a great man, and all other songs of praise. When the court rules in favour of Zambry, the court is under Umno’s control, the judges are corrupted, the judiciary has no balls, and much more. The only condemnation I have not heard yet is screw God although shouts of God is Great (Allah Akhbar) was heard when things work out the way we want it to.

Yes, we rejoice and praise when events favour us or are to our liking. We curse and condemn when it is the other way around. But we will never spend even one minute of our time to analyse the issues or even read the court judgement first before expressing our emotions, which is normally extreme beyond comprehension.

Would all this have happened if Pakatan Rakyat had asked for the Perak State Assembly to be dissolved two weeks before the crossovers? Did one Umno crossover give an impression that Perak was impregnable? Was not this one crossover maybe the legendary and metaphoric Trojan Horse?

Everyone is an expert on hindsight. But we are not talking about hindsight here. We are talking about two weeks before the fact. And even when information that Vincent Tan paid RM25 million to buy out a Pakatan Rakyat State Assemblyperson was revealed, and even when Hee absented herself from Pakatan Rakyat functions on the lame excuse that she is not well, the alarm bells still did not trigger.

Sure, blame the Sultan. Blame the Sultan who also had his self-preservation to worry about just like any other Chinese, Malay and Indian who puts their rice bowl above all else yet tries to sound self-righteous when others also do the same. Blame the courts. Blame Vincent Tan whose money made all this possible. But let’s not blame Pakatan Rakyat who was complacent, refused to act even when given two weeks prior warning, had started the crossovers in the first place, and now blame everyone else except themselves.