YOU sometimes have to give it to Malaysian politicians for being able to conjure some justifications for their decisions which to a lay person may sound so far-fetched, so illogical.
But this was exactly what a former chief minister of Malacca did when explaining the reason for him and three others withdrawing support for Sulaiman Md. Ali, thus causing the Umno-led state government to crumble.
That the dissidents were led by a former CM, and also involving a fellow Umno member and with three of them being state executive councillors, made the plot most unusual and most likely unprecedented in Malaysian history in that it was not a move initiated by a party’s national leadership.
Anyone who tracks the chronology of events cannot be blamed for losing more faith in local politics, for the words of a Malaysian politician under similar circumstances can never be taken at face value and can never be believed.
Here was a case where Umno’s former CM Idris Haron categorically denied he was involved in the move and wondered why people were picking on him.
Yet 24 hours later there was Idris telling all and sundry at a press conference that he and the three were breaking away from Sulaiman’s government, a move which then prompted Yang di-Pertua Negeri Ali Rustam to dissolve the state assembly, forcing a snap election. Ali, by the way, was a politician for many years and once was an Umno CM, which would make him familiar with the shenanigans.
Idris was further widely quoted by the press as blaming a supposedly very powerful person in the state as being the reason for his act of betrayal of the trust heaped upon him by his constituents and party, a person who apparently blocked whatever good Idris and his gang wanted done, a person who would dictate to Sulaiman. A c…k and b…l story. Who can be more powerful in a state than the chief executive himself?
Umno HQ appeared to have done little or nothing to undo the plan by Idris
Rumours of an impending move against Sulaiman were in the news a few days before it happened and that Umno headquarters appeared not to have done anything or enough to try and dissuade Idris’s group to drop the idea does not reflect well on the party’s national leadership.
This contrasts sharply with how Mahathir Mohamad handle the crises during his time as the fourth prime minister and Umno president.
The person he picked to deal with each crisis was Daim Zainuddin, the man who held the money both in Umno and the government. Daim may have told people that he had no bigger political ambitions but those in and out of Umno saw him as being the most powerful Malaysian after Mahathir and hence not many had the courage to go against him.
Daim was the man assigned to handle the Salleh Abas and Judiciary crisis, the one to deal with state assemblymen in Kedah who were on a rebellion against mentri besar Sanusi Junid and again the main guy who handled issues linked to the dismissal of Anwar Ibrahim from Umno and the government in 1998.
Sixth PM Najib Razak was said to have one who did his bidding to deal with the press to the point of even having a room at a television station and the late Jamaluddin Jarjis for some things political but neither came close to Daim’s stature and influence.
Najib’s predecessor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was not known to have any, as is current Umno resident Zahid Hamidi.
The powers of the speaker must be re-examined and clipped before Parliament becomes more farcical
When people talk about the much-needed institutional reforms, they must never forget Parliament, especially relating to the powers of the speaker on the lower but more powerful Dewan Rakyat.
The speaker can reject any motion and the current one is not known to accept from the opposition bench, which his predecessor at least allowed once. Worst is the latitude the speaker has to mute the microphones of the MPs when he hears something unpleasant to the house or more realistically, the government. He can do all this and there is almost nothing the MPs can do, no recourse to an independent third party, especially a decision to reject a motion.
Given this most embarrassing system, where does that leave the Malaysian Parliament, although it must be said that the MPs and members of the Executive too need to take a look inwards to see if they are not entirely blameless for this pathetic situation.
By : Aziz Hassan – THE MOLE