Wednesday, March 04, 2009

PERAK; Silver lining

Still looking for the silver lining

By : Zainul Ariffin

THERE is a sense of disbelief of what is happening in Perak now. It would be funny if not for the fact that the situation should bring tears to our eyes.

An al fresco State Assembly? This is what our democracy has evolved or degenerated into.

Now all of us have opinions on who are responsible for the mess. Yet we are drawn so tight in our circle of political beliefs, that we are likely to aggregate ourselves within our own sets and denounce those across the aisle, as a matter of fact.

Where are the cooler heads? Consumed by partisanship, perhaps.

I would still like to be positive that despite all these, there must be something to be learned and gained from this experience, such as our improving political maturity and greater democratisation of our political environment.
But it is getting rather difficult by the day, my unbounded optimism notwithstanding, to be looking for the proverbial silver lining.

The language of our discourse has also degenerated and so have our actions. Nothing is sacred anymore, which is both liberating as well as worryingly confusing.

An example, of course, is the decision by DAP chairman Karpal Singh to file suit against the decision by the Sultan of Perak to decline a dissolution of the State Assembly and subsequently to swear in Datuk Dr Zambry Kadir.

When Karpal Singh started his tirade against the decision to appoint Zambry, he also unleashed a tirade against the Perak ruler, and the Malay sultanate in general, especially via the anonymity of the world wide web.

Some of them are rude, distasteful, seditious and even downright anarchist in nature. This sudden torrent of abuse heaped on the Malay rulers suggests there is a sense that there is little appreciation of how the Malays, whom I would hazard to theorise to have greater affinity to the royals than others, feel.

Most Malays understand better than the others that the Constitutional amendments of the 1980s and 1990s meant the curtailing of the powers of the rulers. They agonised over it when the amendments were mooted, but at the end supported them.

They are mainly divided between the need to curtail any royal excesses and abuses, and yet still have the rulers around. Many Malays, I must add, not all, believe that the rulers are rooted in the history of the Malays. Also, the Constitutional amendments notwithstanding, the rulers are to be arbiters of last resort when all else fails.

Perhaps Malays are feudalistic by nature, but many want the institution of Malay rulers to be around. I may be wrong too, but from what I gather some Malays are generally not comfortable with the way the rulers and the institution have been treated arising from the Perak crisis.

Notice the absence of prominent Opposition Malay politicians outwardly supportive of Karpal's move, even if they have reservations about the Perak palace's decision.

The concept of loyalty must surely be rooted in more than just being loyal, but also respect

The constant challenge to the role and decisions of the royal houses is obviously a sign of disrespect, regardless of what the law says.

DAP and many assemblymen from Pakatan Rakyat would have realised that they were voted in partly, or largely, by Malay voters. Some of them voted PR because they subscribed to its ideology, or sympathised with its politics, or in some cases, to punish the incumbent Barisan Nasional.

There is a possibility this constant haranguing of the royals may not endear them to the Malays later.

Regardless, at the rate we are going I do not believe that any decision, either by the court or the palace, will satisfy everyone.

But, I believe, we must decide at some point that enough is enough. Perak needs a Government, one way or the other, BN or PR. A line has to be drawn. At some point a decision must be accepted. The loser will have to leave and fight another day.