10 February, 2009

Khairy Jamaluddin said:"As deputy chief, I give permission for members to do whatever is necessary to protect the sovereignty of the Sultan,”

Umno Youth members will do “whatever is necessary” to prevent former Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin from reporting to work today at the State Secretariat.

“If things cannot be controlled, I have no guarantee how Umno Youth members will react as they are already at their limits.

“As deputy chief, I give permission for members to do whatever is necessary to protect the sovereignty of the Sultan,” he said at a rally of youth and movement leaders here yesterday as a show of loyalty for Sultan Azlan Shah.

Thanks for the timely reminder, Khairy

No doubt that what he uttered at a rally in Ipoh in support of the constitutional monarch yesterday was provocative, unhelpful and unproductive – a rant by an Umno politician with one eye on party elections next month and another eye on reminding his storm troopers that, despite his Oxford education, he has what it takes to lead them in the trenches.

But it was also a timely reminder to Malaysians that when Umno/Barisan Nasional has the upper hand, they tend to trade in humility, grace and wisdom for arrogance.

The most important takeaway from Khairy’s performance was this: despite public pronouncements and best intentions, change and reform does not come easy, if at all, for Umno politicians. They eventually get sucked back into playing the role expected of them by their party; they eventually have to adopt the shrill tone and tenor expected of them by the party; they eventually have to play ball if they want to climb up the political ladder.

He emerged from Election 2008 bruised and battered. Yes, he was a winner in Rembau but he also found himself saddled with much of the blame for Barisan Nasional’s poor performance.

His stark rhetoric coupled with his defence of the practice of raising the keris at the Umno general assembly marked him out among Chinese and Indians as a Malay chauvinist.

Yes, if there is one message from Khairy’s performance yesterday, it is that when push comes to shove, the party comes before ideals. Nothing personal, you understand, it’s just the way it is.

Nothing said at the rally yesterday would have helped broker a resolution of the political crisis. It was a show of power and language which was:

• Provocative: Since when did Umno/Barisan Nasional politicians decide who should be banished from a state? Who gave Umno Youth politicians auxiliary police powers to provide a ring of security around the state government’s building?

• Unhelpful: The Sultan of Perak is caught right smack in the eye of the storm. Some people feel that he should have acted with more wisdom while others believe he should have allowed the state assembly to decide if the Pakatan Rakyat government had the confidence of the majority of the House.

The last thing the royal household needs is public and raucous endorsement from the “winners’’. This is akin to a plaintiff standing on the pedestal and singing the praises of a judge after a controversial verdict.

• Unproductive: Even the most myopic Barisan Nasional supporter would have to agree that the ruling coalition’s manner of taking control of Perak has not gone down well with many Perakians.

But instead of showing humility and some circumspection at having come to power through the defection of three Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers, Umno/BN politicians seem content to strut around the state, tossing threats and thumping chests.

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