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Political upheaval in Perak: A bolt from the blue!

File photo: Perak State Assembly building

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As long as there are politicians who are unscrupulous and self-serving, the country will never have a peaceful political landscape, Jem writes.

What happened in Perak recently was a ‘shot’ that nobody anticipated nor bargained for, least of all for the Perak menteri besar! A bolt from the blue, indeed!

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin would have been ‘crowing’ after the passing of Budget 2021 and having side-stepped a no-confidence vote himself. It would have been a time of euphoria.

But then came Perak’s ouster of the menteri besar – spearheaded by an ally of the PM’s Perikatan Nasional coalition. Even though the people of Perak were surprised, there were stirrings of discontent ever since Ahmad Faizul Azumu took over as Menteri Besar under the Pakatan Harapan government.

What must the PM and his PN coalition be thinking now? It must be quite unsettling when one is ‘cohabitating’ with such fickle partners. You never know when someone is going to turn on you.

What was also quite interesting – or amusing, depending on which way one views the scenario – is the fact that Umno and Pakatan Harapan were on the same page. So will these two parties now work together towards a common goal to form a new government? It will definitely fly against the people’s mandate of 2018, but adversity makes for strange bedfellows!

Will the discontent in Perak spread, like the pandemic, and more frogs (political defectors) begin to jump into other ponds again? It is frustrating that we, the people, are seeing over and over again the extent of the disarray in our politics.

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There’s no respite for the people, with the country’s politics in a constant state of flux. Hardly any party can be trusted, and the same applies to the politicians.

Umno, Pas, PN and Barisan Nasional had all come together, more for expediency than for the good of the people and the country. ‘Sleeping with the enemy’ must be tough, tiring and treacherous, to say the least. There is always going to be something or somebody dissatisfied enough to stir the pot of discontent.

There are no principles left and as long as there are politicians who are unscrupulous, self-serving and willing to sell their souls for just about anything, the country will never have a peaceful political landscape.

A couple of days ago, Muhyiddin turned up in Johor to attend the final day of the debate in the state assembly on the state budget before a vote is held. He also held a half-hour meeting with his party’s state assembly members during which he explained what happened in Perak and asked them to “remain calm” Are there some stirrings of discontent in Johor? Kedah, too, maybe?

These last few days have seen a flurry of comments from many politicians about what will happen in the coming days in Perak. According to the Pas secretary-general, the party will not be part of the new state government.

But what caught my attention was Umno information chief Shahril Hamdan’s observation that integrity and principles were the two most important aspects of politics.

Integrity and principles? Hilarious coming from a party with former leaders being charged with corruption or awaiting trial! An oxymoron of sorts, don’t you think?

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What then of Sabah? Can the same scenario happen there? Political pundits seem to think the position of the Sabah chief minister is stable. But one can never be too certain in Malaysian politics.

Are we jumping the gun?

As for the upcoming by-elections, the Batu Sapi parliamentary by-election in Sabah will now be held after the emergency period ends. (The seat was previously held by Warisan.)

Meanwhile, the Bugaya state by-election in Sabah and the Gerik parliamentary by-election will be held simultaneously on 12 January 2021. (But Covid will still be around in January 2021!)

Sabah Umno chief Bung Moktar Radin said his party would be sitting out the Bugaya poll – a seat which Warisan had won. Why?

The Sabah chief minister from Bersatu and his Gabungan Rakyat Sabah partners should not be resting on their laurels, especially with the Bugaya by-election coming up, even if Umno is not taking part. There are other parties in the Sabah government too. They should be looking into stemming the rise of Covid cases.

Having these by-elections may spark another surge in Covid infections – something Sabahans in Batu Sapi and Bugaya would surely not want. The people of Gerik in Perak would probably share the same sentiment.

All the standard operating procedures that the Election Commission and the Ministry of Heatlh will undoubtedly put into place might not be able to prevent a rise in Covid cases, especially with the movement of people. When will politicians put the needs of the people first?

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What is also quite worrying is the conditional movement control order being lifted in Sabah and Penang. Yes, we are all having the Covid blues and yes, it will be fantastic for the tourism and travel industries – but will the standard procedures be adhered to? Many will want to travel during this holiday season, especially those tired of being cooped up at home with no place to go to.

People can now travel by road and fly, so it will be pretty much open season in Sabah and Penang. I hate to be a wet blanket but I hope the country is not jumping the gun, because maybe a vaccine is on the horizon!

Jem, an Aliran reader, still cares deeply about Sabah, despite having lived in the peninsula for some time

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