So who’s the boss in Perak?

By Shannon Teoh (The Malaysian Insider)

IPOH, May 13 — One says he is still the rightful mentri besar but vacates the office. The other says he will resume his duties as mentri besar but will not say when he will move back into the office.

So who's really the mentri besar of Perak now? Neither side wants to appear desperate to cling on to power now and are instead talking about respecting the rule of law.

Pakatan Rakyat's (PR) Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin left the state secretariat here yesterday along with his executive council while telling reporters that he was doing it "out of respect to the Court of Appeal's decision."

Yet later he insisted he was still the mentri besar and the High Court ruling two days ago meant that he has been the uninterrupted chief executive of Perak since he was sworn in.

"We do not want to wait until they send a notice asking us to move out," he said in a press conference later, adding that they were not power crazy but simply wanted the power to be returned to the people.

But this was exactly the same move adopted by Barisan Nasional's Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir when the High Court made its ruling on Monday. His staff and executive council immediately packed their belongings and moved out.

While Zambry said yesterday he would resume his duties according to "the status quo" and declared decisions by Nizar including the suspensions of the state secretary and legal adviser invalid, he shied away from questions of when or whether he would move back into the state secretariat.

The government building seems to have developed a symbolic quality of its own, an icon of power that has in the past three months seen unprecedented scenes in Malaysian political history.

For PR at least, it is adopting a consistent stance of asking for fresh elections, something it has been wanting since being muscled out of government on Feb 5, claiming that the right to choose the government belongs to the people.

BN, on the other hand, is finally catching up to the idea that legitimacy lies in public perception and is not willing to jump the gun again and appear the aggressors as it did during the Feb 5 putsch and the May 7 state assembly where V. Sivakumar was wrestled out of the speaker's seat.

The result? Today, Perak might have two men claiming to be MB but neither actually executing the job.