THE JOURNAL consists of selected, most notable and newsworthy POSTINGS OF THE DAY.

Monday, February 16, 2009

> Pakatan makes no apologies


Subang Jaya state assemblyperson Hannah Yeoh, 30, makes no apologies for Sept 16, the date which Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim had set last year with an eye on history as the deadline for his alliance to seize the reins of power in Putrajaya. 

This is the statement in Yeoh’s Feb 10 email now making the rounds in cyberspace to dispute parallels between Sept 16 and the seizure of the state government in Perak in recent days by Umno.

The ruling party had a lone MCA state assemblyperson and three independents, who earlier had resigned from PKR and DAP, in tow. 

“Those who argue that the political crisis in Perak now is a taste of Pakatan Rakyat’s own medicine – a reference to Sept 16 – fail to see the key differences between the two,” points out Yeoh, a DAP leader, in an honest comparison of the Perak crisis and Sept 16.

“When Anwar claimed to have the numbers to form the federal government, he wrote to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, requesting him to convene an emergency sitting of Parliament. This was rejected by the prime minister.

“The next constitutional option was to press for the dissolution of Parliament to make way for fresh elections. This too was not entertained.

“Anwar exhausted every constitutional means available to him. If Pakatan were to act unconstitutionally and lure defections, then we will be having a new government today. So, you can’t say that Najib’s coup in Perak and the Pakatan plan – Sept 16 – were one and the same.” 

According to Yeoh, the defection of Umno state assemblyperson Nasaruddin Hashim to Pakatan doesn’t contradict her take on Sept 16 and the Perak crisis, since the Bota representative’s entry did not alter the power equation.  

Nasaruddin, she argued, was defecting from the opposition in Perak to the then ruling coalition. Pakatan did not need the seat to remain in power.

Moreover, his seat was not won by Pakatan and therefore the coalition had no moral authority to force him to resign the seat, as demanded by many, to pave the way for a by-election.

Yeoh questions Perak sultan’s decision

Elsewhere in her email, Yeoh confesses that she had great respect for Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak until “of late”.

“I wonder how he could possibly consent to the formation of a new BN state government in Perak when constitutionally a government is still in office?” asks Yeoh.

“He even approved a new menteri besar when there was already one in office. How can any state have two menteris besar at any one time? There can be only one menteri besar of Perak. This is a mockery (of the constitution).” 

“The menteri besar can only be removed by the State Assembly by a vote of no confidence or via the dissolution of the State Assembly. None of these two constitutional means has been requested by BN. How can anyone in all honesty claim that Najib (in Perak) and Anwar (Sept 16) are the same?” 

Yeoh notes that the sultan had referred to the BN ‘state government’ in Perak as a ‘unity government’ - 27 Umno state assemblypersons and one MCA state assemblyperson - and three independents who had earlier been with two of the Pakatan component parties. 

She opined that the independents, even if they still had their seats, were not legally bound to BN or to represent the coalition in any manner unless they officially become members of a BN component party, which they have not done, beyond professions that “we will be friendly to BN”. 

“The three independents, just by appearing at a press conference with Najib in Putrajaya, justifies the change of government? What if these three independents are seen at a press conference with Pakatan next week?” asked Yeoh.

“A real unity government envisioned by the sultan should have been an all-inclusive government of Pakatan, the BN and the independents. Pakatan and the BN both have 28 seats in the State Assembly and the independents, three. Thus, no single party or coalition has a commanding majority.” 

A ‘unity government’ only in name

In any case, added Yeoh, a new unity government in Perak, which is a new coalition of Pakatan, BN and independents, “is impossible (under the circumstances)”. 

“Thus what the sultan has called for in Perak is simply a name without substance,” continues Yeoh.

“What unity if it’s going to consist of only single-minded representatives all friendly to BN. That’s not a unity government, it’s a BN government. This is a mockery of the intelligence of Malaysians.” 

Yeoh concluded with the fervent hope that what has unfolded in Perak in recent days and continues to trouble the nation, “is not the beginning of what is to come from the prime minister-to-be (Najib). 

Yeoh, a petite Australian-trained lawyer, is treasurer for DAP Selangor.

She was one of two Malaysians picked by the US Embassy last month to attend the inauguration of US President Barack Obama in Washington DC on Jan 20.

A first-timer, Yeoh won the Subang Jaya seat last March 8 by a majority of 13, 851 votes when she polled 23,459 against MCA’s Ong Chong Swen, who garnered 9,608 votes - Malaysiakini.