My letter to Malaysiakini published today.
5:44PM Feb 3, 2014
The ‘Kajang betrayal’ and Princess Diana
It has been a deplorable style which was previously illustrated notoriously by the shameful 916 episode, a lamentable attempted coup d’etat based on political defections after the 2008 general election, and the associated ‘frog’ hunting expedition to Taiwan by a PKR team in pursuit of Barisan Nasional (BN) members of parliament to ‘persuade’ them over to Anwar’s side.
Then there was Anwar’s rather premature jubilation in 2008 over the political defection of Nasarudin Hashim, then an Umno assemblyperson for Bota, Perak over to PKR, and his pompous declaration that the defection reflected “... the sentiments of his voters, namely the Malays in his constituency ... as the beginning of a new wave”.
Nasarudin then showed his amazing political ‘flexibility’ by returning to Umno shortly, together with three other Pakatan assemblypersons, which led to the collapse of the Pakatan Rakyat state government in Perak. It was not a ‘wave’ envisaged by Anwar.
There have also been allegations that he hijacked the Bersih 3 rally, resulting in what we saw as an undesirable civil commotion between some demonstrators and the police. And there were other politically controversial incidents.
But in this Kajang betrayal, we have been informed that it was, variously, a decision to “strengthen” or “save” PKR (we heard both versions), a “tactical” move which soon became a “strategic” one to combat the evils of Mahathirism following the pending disposal of Prime Minister (PM) Najib Abdul Razak, then to showcase Selangor as a shining example of Pakatan rule, also to resist racial and religious incitements, and so on so forth; until we also heard it is to make Selangor as Anwar’s launch pad to take Putrajaya.
As a Malay would say of PKR’s transforming justification(s), semakin tambah semakin lemak, an increasingly richer embellishment with such succeeding attempt to explain Lee Chin Cheh’s abandonment of the people of Kajang who had just voted for him as their state representative a mere nine months ago, in order to facilitate Anwar’s entry into the Selangor state assembly and hopefully, his eventual appointment as the state’s menteri besar (MB).
Give them a few more weeks and I’m confident those embellishments will attain Ben Hur-ish proportions.
Mind you, I was a bit disappointed that PKR didn’t include in its Kajang betrayal the promises that it will also save PM Yingluck Sinawatra of neighbouring Thailand and democracy from that nation’s equivalent of Perkasa plus plus, resolve the China-Japan dispute over some island territories, and to communicate with the spirit of the late Princess Diana, the last of which is guaranteed to be popular with the Chinese voters in Kajang who I heard are like me, enthusiastic punters of ‘Empat Ekor’ lotteries.
Hasty action to deal with party problems?
But I would recommend to PKR the use of “strategic” rather than “tactical” as it may then indicate to the public of PKR’s deeper thinking and far sightedness, and avoid the impression of whatever issue the Kajang betrayal is supposed to solve, had been a hasty action to deal with some PKR party problems, just as a hypothetical example, the acrimonious feud between Azmin Ali and Khalid Ibrahim over power and control.
PKR’s Rafizi Ramli is the self-admitted ‘brains’ behind the PKR action, which is now supported by some leaders in Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) and the Democratic Action Party (DAP), both component parties of Pakatan Rakyat, the loose political coalition which has nominated Anwar as its current head.
Rafizi's explanations have been articulated and well-delivered, even unto incorporating a bit of psychological sulking (merajuk) to elicit sympathies from Kajang voters as in his gentle dare for Kajang voers to reject PKR if they feel the party has manipulated the democratic process, but of course at the same time reminding them of the greater stake in the issue, of Anwar being punished if they don’t vote for the PKR de facto leader.
Admittedly, the warning of escalating Mahathirism is as frightening as the fear-mongering of some Umno leaders and Umno’s mouthpieces. Saying this, I somehow sense I might be omitting something about their similarities - hmmm, I wonder what?
Anyway, the PKR explanations seem to invite agreement and sympathy even from sceptical me, if not for the following observations:
(a) For such an important Pakatan ‘strategy’ it’s puzzling that the secretary-general of DAP did not even know of the sudden PKR-initiated action, let alone being consulted or at the very least, informed. Lim Guan Eng confessed he was completely in the dark about Lee Chin Cheh’s resignation. Should a Pakatan ‘strategy’ be initiated by PKR alone without prior consultation with the leaders of its political allies? I believe PAS was also not informed.
That Lim Guan Eng’s father and DAP chairperson Karpal Singh have now come out in support of Anwar Ibrahim’s ‘strategy’, long after Lee’s resignation was announced, does not mean it was not other than a PKR initiated ‘tactic’. Perhaps the DAP and PAS saw the need to maintain a cohesive Pakatan Rakyat and to quietly swallow PKR’s action as an unavoidable fait accompli.
(b) Lee’s resignation was announced as if the move was prepared in stealth (maybe it was), and probably known among a small coterie in PKR.
Nathaniel Tan, an erstwhile ardent supporter of Anwar Ibrahim and once his personal assistant, wrote of being informed by a top PKR leader messaging him, saying: “I guess I’m always the last to know. Sigh.” He also reminded us in his Malaysiakini article ‘The dearth of transparency and democracy in PKR’ of the following pithy but rather succinct check list:
“Let’s carry out a simple thought exercise: How did the decision to carry out the Kajang plan come about?”
“I don’t know, do you?”
“Many have speculated (myself included), many claim it happened one way or another, but the truth is: nobody outside the nebulous ‘inner circle’ has any idea.”
And that was probably why even Anwar Ibrahim himself, when pressed for comments immediately following Lee Chin Cheh’s resignation had to take several days before he could or was prepared to answer, leaving the press then to Azmin Ali and subsequently Rafizi Ramli.
Wasn’t it supposed to a Pakatan strategic move, but obviously one in which Lim Guan Eng, the secretary-general of DAP and PAS leaders and even some PKR leaders knew nothing about, and which Anwar couldn’t provide an explanation straightaway?
So strategic and secretive?
Perhaps it was so strategic and secretive that only four people know about it, namely, Lee Chin Cheh who had to resign his state assemblyperson post, Rafizi Ramli, the self-acknowledged brains behind Lee’s resignation, Azmin Ali and (I truly hope) Anwar Ibrahim.
NGO Bersih has criticised the Kajang Betrayal, and so has its former chairperson, Ambiga Sreenevasan. Human Rights lawyer Edward Bon has been incensed by it. PAS Youth was livid with rage and earlier on vowed not to support Anwar’s candidacy in Kajang, while Selangor PAS has started to stake out their claims on the MB post.
The list of unhappiness over the Kajang Betrayal goes on, while constitutional lawyers have their days discussing, dissecting and displaying their knowledge on the federal and Selangor state constitutions.
Now consider an alternative scene which would have avoided all the brouhaha: PKR consulted PAS and DAP. The resignation was announced at a Pakatan (and not PKR) press conference immediately following a PKR assemblyperson’s resignation.
The PKR assemblyperson who had volunteered to resign was Azmin Ali of the Bukit Antarabangsa state seat. Azmin Ali explained his noble self-sacrificing decision as only giving up a state seat while still remaining a federal member of Parliament (MP) for Gombak and where he would continue serving the people of Bukit Antarabangsa in his capacity of MP. Lee Chin Cheh would not have been required to abandon the people of Kajang!
Alas, that was not to be. I wonder why? [admittedly writing this with a smile].
But it does tell us, nay, remind us of the way PKR acts unilaterally and then would label those actions as being of Pakatan Rakyat provenance, presenting both DAP and PAS with fait accompli they dare not reject for fear of a disunited coalition.
Today the ‘Kajang betrayal’ is only about a state constituency and probably the MB position of Selangor. What happens tomorrow when Pakatan Rakyat does eventually rule in Putrajaya?
In the meanwhile I do hope, on behalf of Kajang-ites, that Princess Diana will in her eventual visitation provide us with the means to secure financial compensation for expenses in the coming by-election.
Addendum 04 February 2014:
fz.com - Analyst: Will Rafizi quit if Selangor isnot toppled?
PETALING JAYA (Feb 4): PKR director of strategy Rafizi Ramli is taking a big gamble on de facto Pakatan Rakyat leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who will contest the recently vacated Kajang state seat, according to political analyst Khoo Kay Peng.
Khoo questioned the basis for Rafizi's reasoning that Pakatan must strengthen its base in Selangor in anticipation of Barisan Nasional's (BN) attempts to take the state "by hook or by crook", asking whether Rafizi was willing to step down if his predictions about BN's machinations were unfounded or untrue.
Speaking to fz.com, Khoo found the political picture painted by Rafizi - that a faction aligned to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was moving to "remove" Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak – to be quite far-fetched.
"If there already is a power struggle (in Umno) to bring down Najib Razak, then all of this will make sense. He also said that this (move to field Anwar in Kajang) will strengthen Selangor as the state is in a dangerous position of losing power to BN via dirty tactics.
"But how can they lose Selangor when they hold more than two-thirds majority here? And even if Anwar is incorporated into the state government, what can he do if people want to leave the party? If they are truly concerned over the scenario, then call for a state-wide election and let the people choose again.
"My question now is: Would Rafizi be required to step down if he failed in his assessment and drags Malaysia into very dangerous waters where they utilise the democratic process to resolve an internal problem?
"Since he painted this picture and if his predictions are untrue, will he take responsibility and resign?" Khoo asked.
"We can't have a precedent like this."
Khoo also believed that Rafizi's statement was just "an immediate reaction" because no one in PKR, Anwar included, could give a properly justified reason for the so-called "Kajang move"