Monday, 11 May 2009

The Silver State loses its shine

Monday, 11 May 2009 07:10pm
Perak is a vibrant state. The towns in that state have unique characters, unique features and sometimes, unique names. The unique lime stone hills; The unique and rustic Keelie’s Castle & the unique name “Taiping” based on a Chinese name which basically means peaceful town.  

But last Thursday on 7th May 2009, Perak was anything but peaceful. Many followed the updates via Malaysia Kini, the Malaysian Insider and also twitters from people around the Perak State Assembly that day. News flash – Speaker asks suspended State Assemblymen (ADUN) to leave, both parties exchanging words, and worst of all, the State Speaker physically removed from his chair. Major drama!!  
That Thursday saw the culmination of tension between Barisan Nasional and the Pakatan Rakyat front. Both sides have been exchanging barb comments since the hostile takeover by BN in February, of the Perak State Government, when 3 Pakatan ADUNs resigned and decided to stay Independent, but pledged their support for BN.  

I felt extremely sad when the State Assembly Hall turned into a circus. Both sides trying to out-talk, out-do and in some instances out-intimidate each other.  

But I will say this, and I say this as a person who has lived in Perak for the first 17 years of my life and still consider Perak my home state; that the manner of BN’s takeover and the actions of the supposed-to-be neutral police force on May 7th has left me very sad for my beloved home state.  

BN has long been poking fun at Anwar Ibrahim who wanted to form a Federal State Government by inviting Members of Parliament from BN to join Pakatan, in short -  to party hop. BN has used that to justify their action in BN. ‘Since you started this (party hop), I will also do it too’; seems to be BN’s battle cry.  

But I recall, Anwar had called for a special session at Parliament for a Vote of No-confidence against our former Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi. Clearly, if the vote of no confidence succeeds, it would mean MPs from BN were in support of Pakatan’s motion to remove Pak Lah. Logic will then dictate; that should the motion succeeded then; a fresh election would have to be called; and I suppose at that time; we would see some BN MP’s crossing over to Pakatan at the fresh election. 

In the end, on Thursday, May 7th 2009; all hell broke loose. Perak State Assembly was chaotic, people were arrested here and there & 5 lawyers were also arrested when they wanted to see their clients etc. 

Now, I am not a Pakatan member, and so I am not a mouthpiece for Pakatan. My views are formed after reading the newspapers, blogs and also talking to MPs from both side of the fence. So, as a Rakyat, a Voter, and an Anak Malaysia; this is my personal opinion:-

   1. Karpal Singh was surrounded by UMNO Youth members in Parliament a few months ago. These UMNO youth chaps acted aggressively and threateningly. Yet when this issue was raised in Parliament, the Speaker had concluded that Parliament was quasi-autonomous and therefore Police could not get involved in UMNO Youth’s siege of Karpal in Parliament House.


      But on Thursday, 7th May 2009, the Police had stormed into Perak State Assembly to remove Speaker Sivakumar out of the Hall. Police actually pulled and dragged Sivakumar out of his seat. No autonomy at Perak State Assembly, I guess.


   2. BN mocks Anwar about Party Hopping to justify what it did in Perak, but yet Pakatan did not carry out the party-hop plan, and instead BN not only planned (and carried out) the party hop but also used brute force tactics to take over the Assembly Hall on the 7th May.


      BN has shown Malaysia that it seems capable of doing anything, including using force to seize power. That message is clear to all Malaysians, particularly those who have seen the videos of Sivakumar’s eviction from his seat. It will remain etched in the minds of the people. 

   3. The Police Force has lost its aura of independence a long of time ago. People now mock the police for its corrupt practice and unfair treatment of people, and what happened on Thursday night at Brickfields Police Station with the arrest of 5 lawyers from the Kuala Lumpur Legal Aid Centre (who merely wanted to see 14 people arrested for a candle vigil) illustrates that.


      When Police arrests lawyers during the performance of their duties, you know something is not right. The right of an arrested person to see their lawyer is fundamental in a civilised society and could it be that last Thursday’s incidents is an indication that our country has become a jungle where the rule of law doesn’t apply. I hope not. 

My conclusion -  BN clearly had taken over Perak. BN won. But will they win in the next election? They would have to go a long way to win the hearts of many Perakians, like me, who are upset and unhappy.

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