Anwar: We’ll meet PM, We’ll also keep our word to Perak!

By Wong Choon Mei, Suara Keadilan

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim said he was willing to meet Prime Minister Najib Razak to discuss a way out of the Perak crisis but promised that his Pakatan Rakyat coalition would not renege on its word to the people to hold fresh election.

“We are ready to meet him. We will give him our views and we will listen to what he has to say,” Anwar told a press conference on Thursday.

The Pakatan top leadership met earlier in the day to confirm their joint stand on the northwestern state, which was plunged into a crisis after Najib launched a coup d’etat against their administration led by Menteri Besar Nizar Jamaluddin in February.

So far, the PM has refused to consider a snap election – the opposite to the Pakatan, which has promised to fight for the peoples’ right to a fresh mandate given the hung state legislative assembly, where each side holds 28 seats.

Anwar slammed Najib for shutting the door on the Perak people, just so that that he could further his political ambitions and to prevent his Umno-BN from losing any assembly seats, even though it was to the detriment of the state and hit at the credibility of the nation as a whole.

Even Najib’s mentor, Mahathir Mohamad, expects him to suffer a stinging loss in the even of a fresh election.

The coalition has made itself grossly unpopular – not just in Perak but throughout the nation – with controversial and lawless behaviour, especially during the notorious May 7 sitting, where they were caught on film resorting to brute force to eject Pakatan Speaker V Sivakumar from the hallowed House.

“What is the point of having the discussion if there’s no mutual agreement because Najib has ruled out of having snap elections while Pakatan wants otherwise,” said Anwar.

Najib refuses to take responsibility, passes buck to Sultan

Malaysia’s newly-appointed sixth prime minister, Najib Razak, is the man at the centre of the Perak storm. He has been at the receiving end of a hail of criticism and deservedly so.

Just six weeks into office, the debacle has shown up his weakness as a leader for the multi-racial country. Even his coalition is split over what to do next in Perak.

To preserve his political life, Najib has clung onto power to please the hardliners in his Umno party, such as Mahathir – the nation’s fourth PM, who was regarded as a dictator by Malaysians during his 22-year rule from 1981 to 2003.

Said Mahathir at a separate press conference: “I think that Pakatan is going to win. So why have an election? We already had an election. If BN really has a majority they can move a motion of no confidence and set up another government.”

The elder statesman was referring to the 59-seat Perak legislative assembly, where Najib claims to have 31 seats versus Pakatan’s 28. However, he did not take into account the seven Umno-BN assemblymen and three BN-friendly independents who have been suspended for between 12 to 18 months. If he did, the math would show 28 to 21 in favour of the Pakatan.

The eligibility of the 10 to vote is highly questionable despite Najib having used his clout to obtain two Federal Court rulings to lift their suspensions. Nevertheless, both rulings have come under intense fire from the legal fraternity itself, which slammed the decisions as flimsy, vague and non-binding.

Najib today denied he was afraid to face the people in Perak.

“BN is not afraid. If we have to face the rakyat and we will face the rakyat. We have faced the rakyat many times,” he said.

However, in the very next breath, the scandal-hit 55-year old passed the buck over to the Perak Sultan, whom he has been accused of co-plotting the coup d’etat with.

“That is one of the options but under the Constitution, it is something that does not have to happen. It depends on the Sultan to consider,” Najib said.

Umno the bully

This is the third time in the span of one week that the PM has pushed the responsibility over to the Sultan.

Said PKR strategic affairs director Tian Chua: “Umno-BN should not pass the responsiblity to the Sultan, that is disrespectful. BN should have the courage to admit mistake when mistake has been made. It must accept the basic principle of democracy. Dissolution of the state assembly is the only right thing to do.”

Within Najib’s own coalition, the Chinese-based MCA and multi-racial Gerakan have been forced to speak up on behalf of the communities they represent.

Three-quarters of the people in Perak, which has a large Chinese population, want a fresh election. They have made it clear they do want the state government foisted on them by Najib.

Said Penang Gerakan chief Teng Hock Nan: “Prime Minister Najib Razak said yesterday that it was up to Zambry to decide the next course of action. I strongly feel that Perakians must have the final say in this matter because every government needs legitimacy, and the doubts can only be cleared via a re-election.

“The political situation in Perak has come to a point – murky and uncertain – that it is only right to let the people choose the government they want.”

Said MCA deputy president Chua Soi Lek: “Personally, I feel that a fresh state election will be the best way to resolve this stalemate, Let the rakyat decide and once and for all, we resolve this problem, which is not doing anybody any good.”

Both men were sharply criticised by Umno for speaking up. Umno, which holds the most number of seats in the BN coalition, has long regarded itself as the ‘big brother’ of the other components.

Its aggressive and egotistical approach has often been condemned, and at one point in 2008, its high-handedness got so bad that its own former president Abdullah Badawi described it as a ‘bully’.