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Anwar Ibrahim at Sarawak

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There has to be a by-election for the Sarawak state assembly seat of Batang Ai following the death of assemblyman Datuk Dublin Unting today. Election Commission (EC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said the Sarawak state assembly was only over two years old and, according to the state constitution, the assembly’s term ends in July 2011. Abdul Aziz said this when asked to comment about the death of Dublin, 53, the vice-president of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) at the Normah Medical Centre in Kuching at 1.25am today due to a stroke suffered in May last year that left him in a coma. He was also state minister for sports and agriculture.

In KUCHING, state legislative assembly speaker Abang Othman Abang Fata said the EC would be formally notified of the vacancy of the Batang Ai state seat by today. “We are awaiting the death certificate from the National Registration Department so that we can inform the EC,”. The Sarawak state election was last held on May 20 2006 and the Sarawak BN won 62 seats of the 71 seats contested while nine seats fell to the opposition, six to the DAP and two to Parti Keadilan Rakyat. One seat was won by an independent candidate. Sarawak BN comprises Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP)

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Standing up for family and friends caught in the eye of a storm is easier said than done. The first instinct is usually to take cover until the storm clouds disperse. But playing it safe is not part of Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah's DNA. He left his comfort zone yesterday to defend the actions of the Sultan of Perak and take on those who challenged the validity of the latter's decision asking Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin and the Pakatan Rakyat government to stand down. He was willing to stand up for his brethren, and chastise those who displayed rudeness to Sultan Azlan Shah.

Bravo. Really that was the only high point of his statement released to Bernama. With due respect, the rest of it may not add much clarity to the political crisis in Perak and its fallout. The underlying principle in the statement appeared to be that the actions of the Sultan of Perak (and by extension of all the Rulers) were beyond reproach and the royal household was almost infallible.

But Malaysia is not an absolute monarchy but a constitutional monarchy. If it were an absolute monarchy, then Sultan Azlan Shah or any Malay Ruler would have complete power over all aspects of life in the state. In an absolute monarchy there is no constitution or legal restriction on the monarch's power. But in a constitutional monarchy like Malaysia, the power of the Sultan is restrained by a parliament, by law, or by custom. In short, his decisions can be questioned and challenged. More so after 1993 when the constitution was amended by the Mahathir administration to remove the immunity Malay Rulers enjoyed from legal action. The Sultan of Perak stirred the pot last week when he refused to call fresh polls after three defectors left the Pakatan Rakyat government. He instead installed a new Barisan Nasional government that claimed to have a new majority in the state assembly.

Anwar and Derhaka

A photograph of three bullets, “kidnappings” and CCTV videotapes. These were among the evidence presented or alluded to by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in parliament today to support his claims that the BN government is using bribery and other unethical tactics to entice defections. Anwar also alleged that despite police reports, top government officials were deliberately taking no action.

He claimed that the bribery scheme could be traced to the deputy prime minister and while he did not present the CCTV recordings in parliament, when pressed by reporters afterwards if he had the tapes, he said: “you will know at the right time.” “I am giving the truth and facts, the attempts that were conducted by the Umno leadership, including the Deputy Prime Minister and leaders who threatened, kidnapped, and giving bribery this only continues the record and tradition of bribery which are practiced by the said leaders,” Anwar said in parliament.

He told parliament how Lim Soo Nee, PKR’s state representative for Kulim agreed to be “bait” and worked together with the Anti-Corruption Agency (now called the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission) to secure evidence of alleged bribery attempts made by agents of Datuk Seri Mahadzir Khalid to entice a defection.

Elizabeth Wong has been asked to go on leave and PKR will only make a decision whether to accept her resignation when she returns. The fact that she has not done anything wrong and yet offered to resign her positions in order not to bring problems to her own party is most honourable. The support shown to her has been tremendous, as can be seen from the 400-odd comments (and still counting) in her blog supporting her and urging her not to resign.

I regret that certain politicians from BN have prejudged her based on the photographs alone (fortunately, there are others who have stood up for her) and have compared this to CSL video, which is totally unfair. That video shows someone “caught” in the act of cheating his wife and family whereas the Eli Wong pictures do not show any wrongdoing. Just because she is from another party does not mean that she should be attacked and put down.

In life, and in politics, there must be certain sense of decency and conscience. Sometimes we must not be too caught up in partisanship. You can be a member of a certain political party, but please note that not everything from another party is wrong and must be criticised. Not everything from your own party is right and beyond criticism. Political parties are just tools to achieve certain aims. Just because we are members of Party A do not mean that we must go all out to put down members of Party B. If certain policies of Party B are good for the people, support those policies. If certain policies of Party A are not good, criticise them as hard as you can.

If our children are in the wrong, we must let them know that what they did was wrong; only then can they grow up to be good people. Why must politics be dragged to such low levels? As in boxing,one must not hit below the belt. In life, there are certain acts that are taboo, such as adultery, murder and rape, character assassination, etc. In politics, we are supposed to support what is right and good, and reject what is bad and wrong; it does not matter whether these come from your own party or from the other side. The great Deng Xiao Peng was a communist, but when he realised that not everything about capitalism is bad, he started to adopt certain free market policies and the result is rapid boom in the economy of China, and a rise in the standard of living of millions of people.

While Barisan Nasional may yet pay at the ballot box over its ruthless power grab in Perak, its aggressive foray has put Pakatan Rakyat on the ropes, with its parties mulling an uncertain future and the possibility of a powerful enemy it could do without — the Malay Rulers. Beyond the prospect of dealing with a resurgent BN and Umno, adept at using the advantages that come with being in power, the PR parties of Pas, PKR and DAP will now have to tread very carefully in dealing with the royalty.

Yesterday, Selangor's Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah made it quite clear in a public statement that he was unhappy with what he perceived to be the rudeness shown against his uncle Sultan Azlan Shah over the latter's role in the Perak political impasse. The Selangor Ruler, in his remarks, appeared to suggest that the institution of the Malay Rulers should not be challenged or threatened in any way. "That is why it was important we did not name the Sultan in our suit," a senior Pakatan Rakyat leader told The Malaysian Insider. "Tactically that would have been disastrous." That was also why PR leaders have been trying to rein in Karpal Singh, the Jelutong MP and one of the country's most feisty lawyers, who has argued for taking Sultan Azlan Shah to court.

Karpal has become the focal point of pro-royalty protests organised by Umno in an attempt to whip up support for a party which had been rudderless and directionless since last year's poor electoral performance. Just weeks before officially taking power as party president and prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak is hoping to unite Umno in a common cause against a common enemy. Now, with two by-elections to be contested, the results of which will be significant in determining Malaysia's future political direction, BN and Umno leaders will be glad that PR leaders have the added burden of trying not to further aggravate its ties with the royalty.

If the Barisan Nasional and the Perak royal household had any lingering doubts about negative public sentiment towards the change of the state government, here is a message: doubt no more. A survey of registered voters in Perak on Feb 8 showed that:

• 74 per cent of the respondents feel that the state assembly should have been dissolved after the defection of the three Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers

• 76 per cent of the respondents felt that the "people, through elections, should decide on who forms the government"

• 62 per cent of the respondents felt that the "role of the palace in this decision" means it does not recognise the will of the people

• 66 per cent of the respondents do not accept state governments formed through the defection of state assemblymen

• 59 per cent of the respondents feel that the political crisis in Perak would decrease support for Barisan Nasional.

Taken together, the poll by the Merdeka Centre suggests that Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and the BN may occupy the seat of government but a significant number of Perakians may not accept their legitimacy to hold power. The political crisis unfolded in Perak when three Pakatan Rakyat legislators became independents and said that they would back the BN. This wiped away the three-seat majority which enabled Pakatan Rakyat to rule the state since March last year.

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IPOH, Feb 9 - Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin will travel the length and breadth of Perak to hold a series of ceramah to convince the people he is still the legitimate menteri besar. The Pakatan Rakyat (PR) alliance has also decided against naming Sultan Azlan Shah in a legal suit it is planning, as it attempts to deflect attacks from Barisan Nasional (BN) over the question of loyalty to the state’s ruler. The plan was announced before 8,000 Pakatan Rakyat (PR) supporters at the official MB’s residence late Sunday night, where it is making its last stand against BN’s claim to power in the state.

While PR delays what must certainly be the inevitable handover of government to BN, the two coalitions are fighting a larger battle for the hearts and minds of the public. BN has tried to assert that PR are committing treason by refusing to comply with Sultan Azlan Shah’s wishes. But with its continued insistence that the mainstream media is under the control of BN, the series of public speeches by Nizar will see PR trying to make added gains in the court of public opinion which already appears to be leaning heavily in its favour.

If the night’s speeches by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, DAP vice president Tan Seng Giaw and Nizar are anything to go by, the roadshow will likely centre around the legitimacy of Nizar’s claim and the assertion that Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had robbed the rights of the people by masterminding a “coup d’etat.” Speaking to the multiracial, but largely Pas-supporting crowd, Nizar said the undemocratic manner in which Najib had forced the overthrow of his administration had turned Malaysia into a laughing stock.

“We will take back the right stolen by Najib Altantuya,” Nizar said of a snap poll which PR is pushing for, referring to Najib’s continued links to the murder of the Mongolian model Altantuya Shariibuu. Cries of “Allahuakbar” and “Reformasi” went up on numerous occasions as the speakers stood on a balcony with a banner hung below them. “Daulat Tuanku, Rakyat Pohon Tuanku Bubarkan Dun Perak,” it said, reflecting the wishes of those gathered to have the state assembly dissolved.


Himpunan Rakyat Di Kediaman Rasmi MB Perak

Crowd gathers at Mentri Besar Mohd Nizar's residence to show support for Pakatan Rakyat (PKR, DAP and PAS). This is the early crowd. According to the news, the crowd grew significantly an hour later onwards. Awaiting PR leaders to give their speeches.

Mohd Nizar 'booted out' of MB's office

Perak Menteri Besar Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin today clocked in to work as usual at 10 am, along with his exco members, but 45 minutes later they were forced out of the state secretariat building. In that 45 minutes, Mohd Nizar's press conference was rudely interrupted twice by state secretary Abdul Rahman Hashim and Ipoh police chief Azisman Alias. Mohd Nizar refused to hold a meeting with Abdul Rahman and left with his convoy to his official residence where he is expected to hold a press conference later.

Kenyataan Anwar Ibrahim

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, who also attended the press conference, appealed for calm, even as the opposition plans a major protest at the chief minister's residence later Thursday. "I would like to thank the Perak sultan for addressing this issue and I hope that this situation will not dissolve into violence and that the whole democratic process should be allowed to take its course," he said.

Perak turmoil: Battle moves to courtroom

Pakatan Rakyat will file a legal suit to challenge the appointment of Peraks new menteri besar Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir.Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim said that a team of lawyers would be looking into the laws pertaining to the appointment. "We are challenging his appointment today as we think it's invalid," he told a press conference at PKR headquarters in Tropicana Damansara this afternoon. In a strongly-worded statement issued later, the leaders of the opposition alliance also condemned Barisan Nasional's 'uncouth' manner in seizing control of the state. They also criticised the manner in which Pakatan Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin was treated, including the confiscation of his belongings from the menteri besar's office.










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