The Perak Debacle

By Stephen Doss

Since that day of infamy in Perak, many have duly analyzed and commented on the sad state of affairs in Perak as well as in this great country of ours. I would like to look at this sad episode by reflecting and basing my comments through the objectives of Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia. This would enable us in the party to start an honest dialogue with regards to our response to the whole affair.

The following is our stated mission, To build a united, democratic, just, egalitarian, liberal and progressive nation for all Malaysians, transcending the barriers of race and religion.

So let us look at the words as put forward in our mission and see if it corresponds to what we would like to have seen happen in Perak and which continues to unfold till today.

The Barisan Nasional argument is this, that since the three Pakatan chaps have decided to be BN friendly therefore the BN now has the majority in the state legislative assembly, therefore it is in the position to dictate terms, including choosing the Speaker of their CHOICE in a manner of their CHOICE and putting motions they deem as legitimate.

Now for a party like Gerakan that professes PRINCIPLES and VALUES above all else, how do we reconcile the fact that in the last General Elections the MAJORITY of the people in Perak as evidenced by the Pakatan having a majority in the state legislative, is this not eidence enough that the majority had chosen their government? How do we then accept the current majority enjoyed by the BN as legitimate? Is this trulyDEMOCRATIC and JUST.

Let me recap what some of the leadership within the BN had to say when Anwar Ibrahim was attempting to take over the federal government through party hopping.

Gerakan, a Barisan Nasional (BN) component party, wants the Parliament to enact a law preventing elected representatives from switching party. Party vice-president Datuk Dr S. Vijayaratnam said it was high time that parliament debated and passed a law preventing party-hopping by elected representatives. “This is in the interest of the electorate that voted them in, and based on the political party that they represented at the time of election,” Vijayratnam said the argument that people voted for the candidate rather than the party did not hold water as many voters did not even know who the candidate was.  
“Switching camps amounts to betrayal of the people’s confidence. If they do so, a by-election must be held,” he said.

Penang Gerakan Youth chief Oh Tong Keong has challenged Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to state whether he supports “party-hopping” as a means of forming a government. Oh said that Penang Gerakan Youth would remain loyal to the Barisan Nasional coalition but was against party-hopping.

Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon said the party, as a matter of principle, welcomed the law. (on party hopping), Koh added that Gerakan had first-hand experience in elected representatives hoping to another party. In 1999, two Gerakan state assemblymen in Penang quit the party three days after winning in the 10th general election. Lim Boo Chang and Lim Chien Aun, who contested under Gerakan’s banner, quit the party and declared themselves as “independent Barisan Nasional assemblymen”. The duo eventually joined MCA.

To be fair, it wasn’t only the Gerakan leadership that condemned Anwar at that time, many in BN including the Prime Minister had also condemned party hopping.

So at the end of the day it would seem that it was NOT OK for Anwar to have wanted to take over government through party hopping, but it is OK for the BN to take over Perak through party hopping. The fact is that the three renegade Assemblymen have not decided to formally join the BN is purely semantics, as the result of them being BN friendly is tantamount to switching loyalties, especially without a referendum in their constituencies.

Now after all that has been said and done, can we truly say that as a party we have been CONSISTENT in our stand. 

Stephen Doss