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Democracy undermined

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Forces are at work to subvert the voters’ choice in the last general election while others are playing up emotive issues of race and religion for political ends, warns P Ramakrishnan


Pakatan doesn’t need an enemy to destroy it. It can self-destruct quite easily – thanks to certain renegades within coalition partner Parti Keadilan Rakyat!

The undercurrent that has been simmering for some time has finally surfaced with the Bayan Baru MP, Datuk Zahrain Mohamed Hashim, lashing out at the Penang Chief Minister publicly, accusing him of being “dictatorial, chauvinistic and communist-minded”.

From the public’s perspective, there are several MPs in PKR who have taken public positions contrary to the stated aims of the party thus undermining its credibility as a viable component of the Pakatan Rakyat.

Word has it that some of them are deliberately daring the party to take action against them so that they can justify their joining the Barisan Nasional. In fact, they are provoking the party to discipline them – which would make it easier for them to leave the party.

There is talk that Umno is trying to entice them to cross over. Overtures are believed to have been made to encourage this but it has not been revealed what the price would be. To be sure, it must be hefty!

Hidden objectives

Having successfully subverted the Pakatan government in Perak, the BN – especially Umno – is now hard at work to achieve two other objectives.

Objective number one is to topple the Pakatan Selangor state government and take over the richest state. All it takes is for seven state assembly members to be bought over and Umno will have the Selangor state government in its pocket!

Objective number two is for the BN to regain its traditional two-third-majority in parliament. Again, all it takes is for nine MPs to jump ship.

These objectives are achievable if the greed of certain elected reps can be fed with with millions of ringgit to entice them to switch parties. This is how they will turn certain people into traitors and force them to commit treachery.

Let’s remember that the treachery when it is committed is not against the political party they desert but in fact it against the Malaysian voters and against democracy.

If ever elected representatives turn into renegades and turncoats, through enticement and bribery, we must not only punish these traitors in the next round of elections but we must severely punish the party that encourages such treachery.

When we give a simple majority to the Opposition, it is possible for our will to be subverted through corruption, as has happened in Perak. It is easy to buy a few representatives. But when we give the Opposition a bigger majority, it will be very difficult to frustrate the peoples’ mandate.

Let’s do a better job when the 13th General Election takes place. Let’s not only give the Opposition a bigger majority; it would be even better to reverse the roles and give the Opposition a chance to rule Malaysia.

This was what I wrote on 1 February 2010 on Aliran’s ‘Thinking Allowed Online’. The events unfolding since then confirm that this possibility is on course. Forces are hard at work to realise this.

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It seems that certain PKR elected MPs, representatives and members who have been very vocal and critical of their party were only playing for time to make their move at the right time. What would be the right time, you may wonder. Well, as long as Anwar is mobile and able to travel around the country, that would be the wrong time to make a move. He would have turned the turncoats into villains and vile characters who deserve to be roundly condemned. He would have turned the tide against them.

Is that the reason Anwar’s Sodomy II was scheduled to take place around at this time – so that he would be tied down in court proceedings to do any effective damage control? Apparently, it seems so! But of course, you would be told that this is a mere coincidence! You would be assured that the Barisan Nasional doesn’t interfere with the judiciary and that the law was only taking its course.

Whatever the explanation, the ground work had thus been laid, as it were, to allow for betrayals and treachery to run riot.

Zahrain makes his move

Malaysians had expected Zahrain to blaze the trail in paving the way for parting company with PKR. They were spot on. Zahrain did not disappoint anyone. He quit PKR in a huff and announced his decision at a press conference accompanied by the former PKR secretary-general, Datuk Salehuddin Hashim, who had already stepped down from his position in January.

At the press conference, Zahrain gave his constituents in Bayan Baru the assurance that he would not betray the people who had elected him as their representative and advised Malaysians not to place high hopes on the PKR-DAP-PAS pact.

Does Zahrain know what he is speaking about? What does he mean by claiming “that he would not betray the people”? Isn’t that exactly what he had done when he resigned from PKR?

His advice to “Malaysians not to place high hopes on the PKR-DAP-PAS pact” is another example of speaking nonsense. YB Zahrain, please tell Malaysians, especially the Bayan Baru voters, where should they place their hopes. On you? On the BN?

Does he take pride in the fact that he was elected for what he was? If it wasn’t for the combined effort of PKR-DAP-PAS behind him, he wouldn’t be a YB today. If he had stood on the BN ticket he would have been a has-been on March 8, 2008.

People wanted change; so they voted for candidates standing on opposition tickets. Look at some of the characters who were elected. They didn’t deserve to be elected. Voters wanted to punish the BN for its arrogance and uncaring attitude and they simply voted for whoever stood against the BN. It was as simple as that.

Zahrain said he resigned from the party because he did not want to be blamed by history and future generations for not having done anything to check irregularities and for being part of a group which destroyed the people, religion and nation.

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If he had wanted to check irregularities, why did he want a RM2 private company to be awarded the Bukit Jambul Country Club contract running into millions of ringgit? After all, this company was believed to have been set up only two months before the tender was opened for the contract.

Tee Beng takes the cue

The latest to bolt from the PKR stable was Tan Tee Beng, the Nibong Tebal MP. At the press conference announcing his resignation from PKR, Salehuddin, the former PKR secretary-general, was again present. Malaysians are wondering what role Salehuddin is playing in all this drama. Is he brokering the departure of PKR elected representatives? As if to confirm their suspicion, Salehuddin has predicted that there would be an exodus from PKR.

The disgruntled Tan Tee Beng, for his part, was believed to be upset when he wasn’t appointed as a director of PBA, the Penang water authority, after having been nominated by PKR. Many believe his unhappiness was rooted in this issue of appointment – a personal matter. Previously he had also stated that he was unhappy over the lack of allocations for PKR MPs in Penang.

He became a very vocal critic of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, accusing him of “no class and standard” and being arrogant.

But the MP told the press conference, “This is not about me. This is to stop people from being hoodwinked by politicians with personal agenda.” I hope that he would be able to convince his voters in Nibong Tebal of his noble intentions. But rest assured, voters are not that stupid these days!

Salehuddin, who resigned from PKR, seemed confident that there were others waiting to leave the party and they would do so over a period of time. Presumably, they would want to stagger their resignations leisurely and inflict as much damage as possible. But Malaysians will remember this betrayal and they will punish all traitors when the next election comes. Have no doubt about it!

The cancelled procession that wasn’t

Of the three parties in the PR coalition, PKR seems to be the weakest. It is not surprising, knowing that many of its members are either from Umno or from the BN component parties. We all know their superficial commitment to social justice and their farcical respect for the injunctions of their respective religions. But by playing their cards at this juncture, they will hopefully weed themselves out of PKR, which will come out of this crisis a better party for the future.

Apart from the problems within PKR in Penang, other forces are also at work, undermining democracy and trying to unsettle the elected government in Penang. The attempt is to portray the PR government as one run by the Chinese at the expense of the Malays. This is a dangerous game to play.

Whether or not it was true that there was a possibility that the traditional procession to mark the holy Prophet’s birthday might not take place, the topic became a hot issue in the name of race and religion. If it was true, then the Muslims had a right to be indignant. But when it was clarified that the traditional procession would indeed take place, what was the need then to agitate, protest and demonstrate? It was clearly an attempt to arouse passions and disturb our harmony.

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While we have a right to assemble, we also have a right to behave responsibly. According to the police, the demonstration was allowed in the car park next to the mosque. That was the condition for granting the licence but the organisers defied this condition and marched to the Komtar concourse and created an unwarranted disturbance. Fiery speeches were made that only set the clock back for Najib’s 1Malaysia.

The police, who are supposed to keep law and order, did nothing to stop this march. On the other hand, if it had been the opposition that had violated the conditions of the police licence, the march would have been broken up violently with many arrested and charged. Well, Malaysians are taking note of this and other double standards employed by the police. No doubt, the ballot box must be used effectively to correct this unfairness.

Vocal fringe groups

What is disturbing is the fact that the minority fringe groups are being projected as a majority voice when they articulate their so-called grievances. In the name of race and religion, these groups are rallying support for their racist and bigoted cause, caring little for the majority of Malaysians who don’t relish this kind of agitation.

But by allowing these groups to make statements that don’t augur well for our unity, the Prime Minster is seen to approve of all this. He has the authority to smack down the activities of these groups as dangerous for our national unity and a threat to his 1Malaysia policy. Unfortunately, he has not acted. His inaction is being interpreted as tacit approval for these groups to function as they please. This strategy is going to backfire and explode in the face of BN simply because the majority of rational and thinking Malays are feeling uneasy with these groups.

If no action is taken to put a stop to this soon, we are going to regret our indifference. When this situation boils over, it is the nation that will suffer. It will be too late to remedy the situation.

Or are we laying the ground work for a state of Emergency so that constitutional rule will be suspended and Penang and Selangor will no longer be ruled by the Opposition?

P Ramakrishnan is president of Aliran

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AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
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