14 March, 2008

Malaysian accord aims to avert split

The Malays are prepared to accept a Chinese Menteri Besar. The Malays are prepared to accept a Chinese Menteri Besar even if that Chinese is from DAP. And the Malays left it entirely to Tuanku to decide if Tuanku wants a Malay or Chinese Menteri Besar, never mind from which political party he may be from.

DAP says, this is people's power. DAP says, the people are the boss. This has been DAP's rallying call and battle-cry from one election to another. The 2008 general election was about people's power. The people demonstrated who is the boss in the 2008 general election. But DAP does not respect people's power nor regard the people as the boss in its decision to defy Tuanku by boycotting the swearing in of the Perak state government.

- Raja Petra Kamarudin

Malaysia's three-party opposition alliance signed an accord Friday to stop squabbling over the leadership of a state government, averting a split in their newfound friendship.

The three parties signed and submitted a letter to the titular ruler of Perak state just after midnight Thursday, confirming that a lawmaker from the Islamic party in the coalition will become the chief minister.

The disagreement over the leadership -- played out in public since Wednesday -- prompted predictions that the opposition alliance may not be able to stick together for long despite its spectacular victory in Saturday's general elections, which posed the first credible challenge to the ruling National Front coalition since the country's independence in 1957.

A compromise was reached when the DAP and PAS agreed that Mohammad Nizar would remain the chief minister but his 10-member executive council, or Cabinet, would have eight DAP members.

This made PKR unhappy, which said if a Malay has to be the chief minister it should be a PKR member because it won more seats than PAS. Also, it objected to getting only one Cabinet post.

An exasperated sultan canceled the swearing-in ceremony for Mohammad Nizar at the last minute on Thursday and told the parties to settle their differences and give him a written statement.

Dzulkifly said there is no dispute now over the chief ministership, and the make up of the Cabinet would be decided later.

The coalition is already showing the early signs of internal fracturing.

The DAP is suspicious of the Islamic PAS which is fighting for an introduction of Sharia law for Muslim citizens.

In Perak state, members of the Democratic action party will boycott the swearing in of the new chief minister, chosen by the local sultan from the rank and file of the PAS.

Anwar Ibrahim, the man credited with radically changing the political landscape of Malaysia, could not contest the Mar. 8 general elections that saw the ruling coalition lose five state governments and its long-held two-thirds majority in parliament.

During an interview with IPS, Ibrahim pledged to defend and promote free-market economy, foreign investment and continue the development process. But he emphasised that progress and wealth will now benefit the poor of all races, not the rich and ruling elite.

"We are confident that under our leadership and working closely with our partners (in the opposition) we will begin to implement policies to ensure a stronger and more vibrant economy in Malaysia," he said.

"We will ensure that investor confidence remains strong during the transition period and also to identify areas of concern that our new governments (state governments) will address in enhancing and improving their operations and performance in Malaysia," he said.

Religion, Islamic theocracy or parochial and racial issues did not figure in the opposition campaign this time, giving no ammunition to the government to exploit. Ibrahim’s message of change resonated with ordinary Malaysians irrespective of their race or religion.

So near, yet so far !!

Meanwhile, Mukhriz Mahathir, The son of former Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad on Friday asked Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to step down from office following the ruling coalition's election debacle at the weekend.

"If you do not resign in the near future, I fear the situation will become untenable and Malay support for UMNO and the coalition will be a thing of the past,"

Mukhriz Mahathir is the first figure from the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) to demand that Abdullah quit, although his father has also urged him to resign over the party's worst election setback in its 50-year rule.

Dato' Seri,

Let me take this opportunity to thank you and the party's leadership for the faith in me and the chance to contest in Jerlun as a Barisan Nasional candidate. With the blessing and hard work of the party's leadership and machinery as well as the people of Jerlun, I have won the elections and am now a new Member of Parliament.

However, sadly enough, my victory is rendered meaningless in view of the defeat that Umno and the Kedah BN suffered in the hands of the opposition. Apart form Kedah, four other states as well as the Federal Territories also received similar humiliation in defeat.

In fact your own state of Penang was wrested by the DAP from the BN. Kelantan is again under Pas rules. In other states, the BN also suffered a similar humiliation when the level of BN support by the people has tremendously reduced. This, Datuk Seri, has never happened in the history of BN rule.

The sole intention of my letter to you is meant to save UMNO and BN from being rejected further by the people and from being no longer relevant to our religion, race and nation.

Dato' Seri, the people are unhappy and the message from them is very clear, and that is they have rejected you as the nation's chief executive.

Contrary to your claim that you still have the support of Umno and other component parties, the reality is that even our own party members had reneged in their voting pattern by supporting the Opposition and inflicting the BN its defeat.

Dato' Seri, when the people held street demonstrations you openly dared them to resort to the ballot boxes to demonstrate.

They took your challenge by coming out, especially tho people in the Peninsular, and they demonstrated their feelings by voting us out at the BN at State and Parliament levels.

It is therefore clear that your leadership and your handling of the issues faced by the people and the nation are no longer accepted. Let's not deny the truth just for the sake of keeping your seat as Prime Minister.

For the love of this country and the people, I beg that you take responsibility for the defeat. We can save UMNO, the BN and the nation only if you relinquish your positions as Prime Minister and the President of UMNO.

Dato' Seri, I hope you will understand that I make this plea with the intention of salvaging a very dire situation. A move has been made to woo the BN representatives to join the Opposition. The enemy needs just 35 seats more to topple the government of your leadership.

If you do not resign in the near future, I fear that the situation will become untenable and that the Malay support for Umno and BN will be a thing of the past.

This plea I make without malice, and I am aware that your reaction and that of other UMNO members could very well be hostile.

But come what may, I am prepared, for the sake of the Malays and UMNO, to face the consequences of my action. With all humility, I leave my fate to Allah SWT.

Dato' Seri, I am sure that you will do the right thing for the sake of the people and the nation. May Allah SWT bless you for the sacrifice you make by stepping down.


Yours Sincerely

Mukhriz Mahathir
Jerlun Member Parlament

Mahathir, who led the ruling Umno which helms the Barisan Nasional coalition for 22 years before stepping down in 2003, lashed out after its worst performance in history.

“My view is he has destroyed Umno, destroyed the BN and he has been responsible for this,”

Abdullah was punished over rising crime and inflation in an election also tinged by rising racial tensions between majority Muslim Malays and minority ethnic Chinese and Indians.

“I think the people must have been very angry, all the races, Chinese, Malays and Indians,” Mahathir said. “The problem is we (the government) have become so arrogant. We suppress any opinion that we do not like and they begin to believe in their own reports which are not actually consistent with what is happening in the country.

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