Malaysiakini headlines scream Perak MB - it's Zambry!
Yawnnn, ho hum! Though many people have been disappointed with the courts ruling they weren’t exactly surprised. In fact they had expected it, though keeping a flicker of hope for a miracle to happen. Well, it didn't.
As The Malaysian Insider editorial said in Two things we learned from the Perak fiasco — The Malaysian Insider:
Such is the decaying state of institutions in Malaysia that these days a Federal Court decision is treated as just another decision. It does not have the gravitas of the US Supreme Court, judgments do not have clarity nor authority of the House of Lords, Supreme Court of India or the highest court of Canada.
Such is the cynicism that envelopes institutions that a good many Malaysians spent this week speculating whether the final score would be a 5-0, 4-1 or 3-2 finding in favour of Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir as the mentri besar of Perak.
(Note: 5-0 was a popular choice not because many Malaysians subscribed to the legal arguments put forward by the state but because cynicism courses through their veins)
And that is why while Zambry obtained the result he needed he still cannot have the one thing he craves most – legitimacy.
Oh, incidentally, the second thing that the editorial said was the Perak royal house is now viewed with ever deeper scorn.
It wrote: Has the anger and disappointment with the palace gone away? No. The Merdeka Center survey shows clearly that a significant percentage of the people of Perak are dissatisfied with the role played by the palace in the Perak coup.
I want this post to tell everyone what I consider to be two monumental blunders in Malaysian political strategy, namely:
(1) When Dr Mahathir wanted to outflank PAS and the Islamic Party’s growing influence among the pious in the heartland, he declared Malaysia an Islamic nation. This was made against Tunku Abdul Rahman’s very declaration that Malaysia was a secular state which would uphold Islam as the nation’s official religion.
No doubt Dr Mahathir made his radical pronouncement as part of his political strategy to neutralise PAS growing influence but he opened, what non-Muslims would call, a Pandora’s Box, one which he couldn’t close back again. From thence, he gradually gave in to the genie he released.
(2) Today the Federal Court made a decision based on a ruling that once again opened another Pandora Box, that of a ruler being able to dismiss an elected MB of a State (or, in the federal arena, the elected PM of our nation).
Nizar has been right in reminding us that we can expect absolute monarchy now.
I have been warning against royal activism in politics way way before the March 2008 general election when the chief promoter of royal intervention into Malaysian politics was none other than Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK). Of course today RPK sings a different tune.
On 23 September 2007 I posted Rulers no 'Silver Bullet' where I wrote about my post being published in RPK's Malaysia-Today: I gather from there that my advice against recruiting the Rulers in our struggle against the non-accountable, non-transparent and non-sensical BN, a move that I likened to leaping from the frying pan into the fire, has been thoroughly rejected.
Please read my post to see where RPK had led us.
I also wrote: As I mentioned before, most of the Rulers have been the problem rather than what has been touted, that they'll be the solution to sorting out a democratically elected government but one who fails repetitively to practice good process of governance, transparency and accountability.
The problem confronting us is just that, a democratically elected government but one who fails repetitively to practice good process of governance, transparency and accountability (even one who indulges in gerrymandering naughtiness and questionable creativity in elections), and not a constitutional problem.
On the other hand, enlisting the Rulers into our struggle for democratic reforms would in fact give rise to precisely that, a constitutional crisis. […]
There is no silver bullet to be found in the Rulers, which was why I wrote:
I cannot support any change in constitutional arrangement from our current constitutional monarchy, where those rulers have (correctly so) only a minor role in rule making or ruling.
It shall and must be the rakyat (people) who rule, through the ballot box! Let us not step back into the Middle Ages. I know many are enamoured with Raja Nazrin but let me quote a saying - one swallow doesn't a summer make.
After I wrote this, a sweetie wrote privately to me and asked “Vous êtes un Republicain”?
Non ma chérie, but by promoting the rulers as if they can be our political ‘silver bullets’ we will open a Pandora Box and introduce precisely what had happened in Perak, a constitutional crisis!
I blame RPK for encouraging us (at least initially) to promote royal activism in politics. I had already harboured suspicions when the rulers intervened most prominently in both Perlis and Terengganu.
While many Pakatan supporters were gleeful in seeing the BN embarrassed in those two states I was really worried about royal intrusion into the political arena – I 'saw' (and suspected) a carefully orchestrated campaign to re-exert royal muscles, and where better than in the political domain.
… and there you are, you have your Perak constitutional crisis, momentarily solved by the court with a constitutional backflip that will in years to come be compared to the (original) bad court decision in the Adorna Properties case.
Yup, the judicial judgement was unbelievably such that Nizar Jamaluddin was wont to say expect absolute monarchy now.
(1) The dangers of royal political activism
(2) Bismarck: The king reigns but does not govern
(3) Tainted silver ain't no silver bullet
(4) All that is Silver does not glitter