A Difficult Question for PM Najib: To Convict Anwar Ibrahim or Not ?

October 25, 2014

A Difficult Question for PM Najib: To Convict Anwar Ibrahim or Not ?

by Kim Quek@www.malaysiakini.com


Support AnwarMassive Support for Anwar: A Factor?

Few would doubt that the outcome of the final appeal of Anwar Ibrahim on October 28 and 29 against his sodomy conviction will be decided by politics, not by law. More specifically, the court’s verdict will likely be determined by UMNO’s political considerations on the impact of such final judgment.

Two main factors will decide Anwar’s fate. The first is UMNO’s answer to this question: Will the jailing of Anwar be a net gain for UMNO’s political survival? The second is the outcome of the competitive influence on the Judiciary between Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and the conservative faction led by former Premier Mahathir Mohamad.

Imprisoning Anwar will save UMNO?

Will UMNO be safe after Anwar is put away to prison? It is the popular believe that once Anwar is jailed, the alliance of Pakatan Rakyat will disintegrate. Many in UMNO think that without the cementing factor of Anwar, DAP and PAS will part company due to their ideological differences over mainly religious issues. Such common notion is strengthened by the errant conduct of PAS in the recent Selangor crisis.

However, a closer look into that event will reveal that the trouble created by PAS was mainly caused by PAS President Hadi Awang and the conservative ulama, who seemed bent on going loggerheads with  PKR and DAP in the choice of MB for Selangor, despite being opposed by the party’s progressive and pro-Pakatan faction.

Though Hadi had managed to overrule the progressives in that episode, the latter were clearly in the majority in the central committee which is the party’s highest body for political decision making and implementation.

It is plain to all that Hadi’s (left)) extremist and reactionary stance on religion and politics, which has alienated both PKR and DAP and rejected by all non-Muslims and the moderate Muslims, is sheer political suicide for his party.  Unless Hadi changes his stance or is removed from power, PAS will be heading for obliteration in coming elections.

For this reason, I think even the conservatives will realise this unpalatable reality, given time and persuasion to chew over the fatal consequences of so decisively alienating such large and important sectors of the electorate; and the progressives who fervently believe and support the common cause of good governance and social justice of Pakatan Rakyat will surely prevail in the current power tussle and gain clear power by the next party election the latest.

When that happens, PAS will emerge stronger, so will Pakatan Rakyat, considering the excellent rapport existing between PAS’s progressive leaders and their counterparts in PKR and DAP.

The torch of Reformasi will be passed on

pakatan300Can PR hang together?

Anwar’s departure to prison will not leave a vacuum, as the Reformasi ideals are already firmly implanted into the leadership of all the component parties of Pakatan Rakyat. Neither would Anwar’s PKR party suffer a leadership deficit, as its youthful leaders are already groomed to carry on the torch of reforms without Anwar’s physical presence.

If there is any difference, Anwar in prison will only inspire and strengthen their political conviction that, come what come may, they must save the country from the seemingly unending crutches of an evil regime.

To those UMNO hardliners gleefully looking forward to what they think is the political annihilation of Anwar, I advise them to take a trip down memory lane. The last time Anwar was jailed on such sodomy charge in 1998, it caused such a torrential backlash that UMNO, for the only time in history, lost the support of the majority of Malays.  And Barisan Nasional (BN) would have been defeated in that 1999 elections, if not for the massive and unprecedented swing of Chinese support to BN.

That swing was a result of BN’s campaign of deception through a blitzkrieg on street violence against Chinese in Jakarta in the aftermath of the toppling of dictator Suharto, Mahathir’s constant warning of a May 13 style racial riot and the concocted imminence of an Islamic state under PAS.

Fifteen years on, the political scenario has much changed.  The sound and fury of the Malay masses that greeted the previous sodomy trial of Anwar is no more found in the current trial.  But, equally if not more important, is the virtual permanent alienation of Chinese electoral support for BN.

Taking the 2013 election as benchmark, where Pakatan’s 52 percent share of the popular votes is estimated to comprise 40 percent of Malays and 75-80 percent Chinese, and there were dozens of seats lost to BN on thin margins, BN can ill afford to lose even a small swath of Malay votes, keeping in mind that the massive swing of Chinese support to Pakatan in the last two general elections in 2013 and 2008 is virtually irreversible.

Is UMNO so sure that the second-time jailing of Anwar on sodomy will not incur a backlash among Malays, though understandably less sweeping than the previous occasion? The rapid advance of the social media has made our people much better informed now. If UMNO couldn’t hide the injustice against Anwar fifteen years ago, it is even less able to do the same this time.

Take it that the majority know what is going on, and it is certainly not to the credit of Najib’s leadership and government to so savagely maul Anwar yet again, with a trial which is manifestly void of merits in fact and in law. Keeping silent does not mean ignorance or approval. Beneath the calm on the surface, hazardous undercurrents could be running that may cause fatal consequences to the perpetrators of such injustice.  UMNO is hence advised to look before it leaps.

Mahathir vs Najib

Mahathir-Vs-NajibThe Games They Play

The other main factor that may impact the court verdict is the current power tussle between Najib and Mahathir. For Mahathir, it is a relatively simple decision.  Eliminate what is to him UMNO’s enemy No1 would safeguard UMNO’s hegemony, as well as dodging the day of reckoning for him personally if Anwar were to become the prime minister.

Besides, with Anwar removed from the scene, Mahathir would feel free to unleash his fury to unseat Najib without the worry of the dreaded Anwar to take advantage of UMNO’s open rift. However, Najib may have quite a different view.  Knowing that Mahathir sees Anwar as his most-feared enemy, the continued presence of Anwar in the political arena may serve as a counterweight to Mahathir’s reactionary influence to restrain him from all-out attacks against Najib’s premiership.

Another important consideration for Najib is his concern for his international image. For years, he has been painstakingly cultivating his image as a moderate leader in the international stage (at great costs to the public of course) and even launched his pet Global Movement of Moderates to buttress such credentials.

Now, what will the world make of Najib, if an internationally respected leader like Anwar is sent to prison in a notorious trial that has already been universally condemned as a great travesty of justice, transgression of human rights and democracy?  Where would Najib and his wife Rosmah (more so the latter) hide their faces at distinguished international gatherings during their frequent overseas trips?

Hence, it is not entirely impossible that Najib would prefer to see Anwar freed, or perhaps, as a compromise to UMNO’s hardliners, penalised with a fine that would bar him from election or appointment to party post for many years to come.

To sum up, Anwar’s fate at his final appeal hinges on the outcome of cross currents of UMNO’s party interests and conflicting personal interests of feuding leaders.

Will the Federal Court rule according to law?

The Federal Court--PutrajayaThe Federal Court-Putrajaya

Perhaps at this point, questions may be asked about our judges, whether they may exercise their judicial judgment strictly according to law and constitution, free of political influences. This is unlikely to happen, as the record of recent years has shown that the Federal Court has ruled in favour of the powers that be in every case where vital interest of  the latter is at stake, irrespective of whether the judgment is in conformity with the constitution and law. Such pattern of judgment was most glaringly demonstrated in the series of Federal Court decisions where the constitution was thrown to the wind to ensure BN succeeded in it’s power grab in Perak.

Having said that, miracles do happen.  Who knows the majority of judges may at the end decide to allow their judicial conscience to overrule their personal political loyalty or political bidding of others.

Malaysia’s Growing Climate of Repression Gets Ignored

October 24, 2014

Malaysia’s Growing Climate of Repression gets Ignored

by Joshua Kurlantzick


malaysia lawyer protest march

Malaysian lawyers march during a protest calling for the repeal of the Sedition Act in Kuala Lumpur on October 16, 2014. The Sedition Act has been used to arrest at least 30 people since last March, local media reported (Olivia Harris/Courtesy: Reuters).

Amidst the gushing over the inauguration of new Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the first outsider, non-elite President in Indonesia’s democratic era, there is a significant void of international interest in neighboring Malaysia, where the climate for freedom of expression and assembly has deteriorated badly in the past year. Over the past year, the government of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, which in Najib’s first term had promised to improve the climate for civil liberties and abolish long-hated laws that allowed detention without trial, has shifted course. The government has pursued a sodomy case against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim that, next week, almost surely will end with Anwar being sentenced to jail, though the case was a comedy of ridiculous “evidence” and coached witnesses. (To be clear—I don’t think sodomy should be a crime, but it is in Malaysia; even so, there was no verifiable evidence Anwar actually engaged in this “crime.”)

In addition, over the past year the Malaysian government has investigated and/or charged at least thirty people with sedition, under an archaic law it had promised to eliminate, according to the Malaysian Bar Council. Most of those investigated and charged have been journalists, opposition politicians, and prominent civil society activists. The situation has gotten so dangerous for Malaysian civil society that last week hundreds of Malaysian lawyers, who normally are relatively passive in the political arena, marched through the capital to protest the government’s use of sedition laws to stifle dissent.

Why has this crackdown occurred? Najib has had to satisfy hard-line voices within his ruling coalition, and to fend off increasingly public criticism from former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. To satisfy hard-liners and Mahathir supporters—often the same people within the ruling coalition—Najib apparently has acceded to this harder-line policy against civil society and opposition politicians, whether or not he actually supports the crackdown.

In many ways, Najib seems increasingly divorced from the business of governing at all, taking long overseas trips while the country stagnates economically, state carrier Malaysian Airlines faces severe trouble, and the political environment becomes increasingly partisan and dangerous.

Although the Obama administration made improving relations with Malaysia aanwar-ibrahim-recent policy priority, it has mostly ignored the deteriorating climate for human rights and democracy in the country. When President Obama visited Malaysia earlier this year, he declined to meet with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim (right) and held a brief grip-and-grin with a few Malaysian civil society activists. Other than that, Obama spent most of his time praising the Najib government. The White House has released just a perfunctory statement about Anwar’s trial and likely sentencing next week.

Ignoring the crackdown in Malaysia will eventually have long-term repercussions for the United States. Young Malaysians overwhelmingly support Anwar’s opposition PKR coalition, which won the popular vote in national parliamentary elections in 2013 but did not take control of parliament due to fraud and massive gerrymandering. They also tend to voice support for the civil society activists and journalists who have recently been targeted by the government in Kuala Lumpur.

Many reform-minded young Malaysians have been mystified when the United States, which a decade ago had been so vocal about democracy in Southeast Asia, and which still has significant influence in the region, has said almost nothing about the regression from freedom in Malaysia. In previous eras, American rhetorical support for democracy, American pressure against authoritarian leaders, and American linkage of aid and investment to political change had played a critical role in fostering democratization in East Asia.

In the 1980s, concerted American pressure on the governments of the Philippines and South Korea—after years of American tolerance of Ferdinand Marcos and a series of South Korean dictators—was a major reason why democracy prevailed in Manila and Seoul. A decade after Marcos gave way to the original “People Power” movement, sustained foreign pressure on governments in Cambodia and Indonesia and Thailand, in addition to many other domestic factors within these countries, helped precipitate political reform in these nations. Unfortunately, that type of pressure is absent today.

The Games Anwar Plays

October 14, 2014

The Games Anwar Plays

Azmin AliMy friend Netto has shed some light on recent developments in Parti KeADIlan Rakyat (PKR), especially Anwar’s destructive ways. The incumbent Ketua Umum is clearly not interested in bringing all factions together after years of internal feuding. In stead with the prospect of his return to Sungei Buloh getting brighter by the day, he is more concerned about ensuring that he remains dominant in its affairs.

By appointing his loyal supporters (Rafizi, Saifuddin Nasution, Sivarasa and his daughter Nurul Izzah) to key positions in PKR, he believes he can dictate by remote control what PKR can and cannot do. If he ends up in jail, Anwar wants to be able to revive the Free Anwar Campaign and rekindle the spirit of Reformasi which propelled Pakatan Rakyat into prominence in 2008 and in 2013, when the political opposition received some 50 odd percent of the popular vote.

I believe he is sadly mistaken. Times have changed. His credibility as leader of  Pakatan Rakyat has been called to question. His poor handling of the Selangor Menteri Besar crisis was actually his political Waterloo. It showed us that he can no longer command the support of PAS and keep the coalition intact. Even Lim Kit Siang doubts that Pakatan Rakyat can hold together for GE-14.

The Azmin Ali factor in PKR cannot be discounted. The new Menteri Besar of Selangor is a very astute politician who knows Anwar’s strengths and weaknesses well, but he has yet to show us what he can do to frustrate Anwar’s moves to control the party. At this point in time, Azmin is busy with the Budget 2015 for Selangor and rebuilding relations with PAS and DAP.

Obviously, Azmin has to consolidate his position in Selangor with a clear agenda for the benefit of Selangorians in terms of good governance and socio-conomic development. So far, he has been able to garner competent PKR advisers and strategists, some of whom are already working with him  as members of his State Ex-Co. He also has the resources at his disposal and the political stamina to wage a successful campaign against forces within his party who are bent on unseating him.

The fact that Azmin has maintained his silence while Anwar reorganises PKR is a sign that he is  neither helpless nor hopeless. I believe that he can count on PAS and DAP to back him when it came to a crunch. This is because he did not antagonize them during the Selangor Menteri Besar crisis where he showed himself be very loyal to his party and Pakatan Rakyat.

As a realist and a seasoned political infighter, Azmin is well aware that his strength in the final analysis is heavily dependent on his ability to  strengthen his party and bring the contending factions together.Only a strong, united and credible PKR can gain the respect of its coalition partners and voters. 

At some point, he must emerge from the shadow of Anwar Ibrahim, his former political mentor who, like Brutus, is now stabbing him in the back with his latest political plays.–Din Merican

Rise of a new “Ketua Umum” in PKR

by Terence Netto@www.malaysiakini.com

 COMMENT: PKR declined the opportunity to bridge the gulf between its factions ahead of a possible jailing of party supremo Anwar Ibrahim, whose Sodomy II appeal is set for hearing at the apex court on October 28.

anwar-ibrahim-recentInstead of choosing to unite the party after an embarrassingly disheveled and long drawn-out internal election process, PKR on Sunday opted to deepen the cleavages within by appointing partisan leaders to key positions. This myopia would be the more debilitating should Anwar lose his appeal in the Federal Court against his conviction for sodomy at the Court of Appeal last March.

PKR has to be a unified and solidified force in the event that Anwar winds up in jail, the better it can parlay his incarceration into support for the party and the cause of comprehensive political reform of the country. By appointing partisans rather than neutrals to key posts, the party chose navel gazing rather than scanning the horizon as preparation for challenges it must face en route to the next general election.

The myopia behind this choice is in stark contrast to the inclusive nature of the decisions made by the candidate it declined to propose but was ultimately appointed to the post of Selangor Menteri Besar.

Menteri Besar Azmin Ali , the party’s No 2 by an emphatic margin in the internal polls in which much was done to prevent his victory, had moved in the initial weeks of his appointment as MB to bring together not only contending forces within PKR but also within the Pakatan Rakyat coalition that dominates the state legislature.

That collaborative spirit is unrequited within PKR, judging from who the party chose to appoint to key positions after meetings of its political bureau and its central leadership council two days ago.

In naming Rafizi Ramli to the Secretary-General’s post, PKR has preferred a lighting rod to aRafizi neutral in a position that is possibly the most sensitive in an overall scheme, if that be the intention, to unite the party after a prolonged bout of internecine feuding that preceded the party polls, wore it down as it proceeded apace and dogged the simultaneous struggle to replace Khalid Ibrahim as Selangor MB.

After an experience that tumultuous, one would think the last person to appoint, after the dust has begun to settle, to the position of party secretary-general would be Rafizi, who had been the stormiest petrel in the entire boondoggle.

The former Deputy Chief Minister of Penang and current MP for Nibong Tebal, Mansor Othman (right), was widely touted as the likeliest to replace the incumbent Sec-Gen Saifuddin Nasution, an out-and-out Anwar flunkey. Colourless and self-effacing, Mansor is the sort of operative more suited to the tasks of the backroom rather than the frontal positions that his past as Deputy Chief Minister and Penang PKR chief had thrust upon him. Mansor is also known to enjoy good ties to all the factions in the party.

Polarising figure

This is unlike Rafizi who has become a polarising figure in the party. He was previously not so, or chose not to be divisive until shortly after last year’s general election.

This was a smart choice because Rafizi, having had no past in UMNO from which several of the key PKR players had emerged and are thereby tainted, found it wise to stay above the partisan fray within the party, keeping his sights on the financial and economic issues that plague the country, a field of concern at which he is adept.

But after observing the seeming indifference of Azmin at a post-mortem of PKR’s performance in the 2013 general election held in Penang in August last year, Rafizi shed his customary cool and plunged into the partisan fray.

A few months later, when suspicion within the party mounted over Khalid Ibrahim’s deals withKhalid Ibrahim3 the federal government over ownership and management of Selangor’s water assets and related questions over new tolled highways and seized Bibles, Rafizi went full throttle in his assumed role as saviour of the party.

He saw Khalid and Azmin as leaders to be got rid off and proceeded to hurl himself into the task. A more nuanced survey of the situation – the personalities involved and their track records – would have yielded the view that Khalid was the more insidious threat to PKR’s vision and ideals.

Instead Rafizi opted to tar both with the same brush and strategised in the party polls to get Saifuddin elected in a three-cornered fight – the other contestants were incumbent Azmin and Khalid – for the Deputy President’s post. This caused the election exercise to degenerate into block voting, a recipe for mediocre selection.

Rafizi nearly became a casualty of the process; in the final rounds of the staggered vote, he homed in on one of the four elected vice-presidential slots. Had he stood alone, untethered to any camp, he may have nailed one of the four veep positions with ease and another of the ‘stand alone’ candidates, N Surendran, may have come thorough had there been no block voting.

Inherited aura

In the event, Azmin retained his No 2 post with ease, to the distress of his opponents in the party whose devotion to democratic ideals is limited by whether it conforms with their preferences.

Nurul IzzahBesides the post of Secretary-General, PKR has opted to appoint individuals opposed to Azmin to other critical positions: the new election directors are Dato’ Saifuddin Nasution Ismail and Nurul Izzah Anwar, who owes her lofty position in the party hierarchy to nothing more substantive than the aura she inherits from his father.

In the selection of co-directors of a position that will impact the selection of candidates for the next general election, the party did not see fit to appoint at least one person from among the Azmin faction. Latheefa Koya , the lawyer who virtually built up the party’s legal and human rights bureau and who topped the vote for the central leadership council, has been replaced by R Sivarasa.

Latheefa has had her run-ins with Rafizi who in the event that Anwar winds up in Sungai Buloh will be the new de facto ‘Ketua Umum’ of  the party.

A political party saddled with improvisatory titles will find ways to retool them for its rising parvenus. As for its stauncher adherents, like the new MB of Selangor, they will have to rely on the cunning of history, or if you may, the cunning of reason to see them through, as it has in Selangor where the Palace was constitutionally wrong but politically right in appointing Azmin as the MB.

PKR’s ‘Ketua Umum’, Anwar Ibrahim, is fond of quoting Mahatma Gandhi to the effect that what is morally right cannot be politically wrong and what is politically right must also be morally right. The problem is he’s rather better at preaching than he is at practice. The pity of it is that that’s being found out about him just when he is at the receiving end of a load of ghastly practices.

Anwar Ibrahim’s Response to Najib’s 2015 Budget Proposals

October 13, 2014

Anwar Ibrahim’s Response to Najib’s 2015 Budget Proposals

Anwar Ibrahim Ops Leader

When I said I had great difficulty in understanding our Finance Minister’s 2015 Budget Speech which he delivered to our august Parliament last Friday, I could not have been more serious. PM Najib’s slogans and acronyms left me puzzled, in particular his National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS).

This concept was borrowed from Blue Ocean Strategy, a book published in 2005 and written by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, Professors at INSEAD and Co-Directors of the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute. Based on a study of 150 strategic moves spanning more than a hundred years and thirty industries, Kim & Mauborgne argue that companies can succeed not by battling competitors, but rather by creating ″blue oceans″ of uncontested market space. They assert that these strategic moves create a leap in value for the company, its buyers, and its employees, while unlocking new demand and making the competition irrelevant. The book presents analytical frameworks and tools to foster organization’s ability to systematically create and capture blue oceans. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Ocean_Strategy)

That was why I sought the help of my friends, associates and readers of this blog to explain Najib’s 2015 Budget proposals in simple layman’s terms. But judging from the number of responses I received by way of comment, the 2015 Budget was not taken seriously.

Here is a speech (below) in Parliament by Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Opposition Leader and former Minister of Finance. His response to Najib’s 2015 Budget  proposals makes a lot of sense to me. Despite my occasional disagreements with the politics and antics of the Opposition leader, I acknowledge that in debating the 2015 Budget, the Opposition leader presented an excellent critique in Parliament. Please judge it for yourself and then make your comments.–Din Merican

Is Pakatan Rakyat still relevant, asks DAP’s Lim Kit Siang

October 6, 2014

Is Pakatan Rakyat still relevant, asks DAP’s Lim Kit Siang


Anwar-UbahThe 2008 Coalition of Convenience

DAP strongman Lim Kit Siang has called for an “urgent meeting” of the Pakatan Rakyat Leadership Council to find out whether the alliance “is still relevant to the hopes and expectations of Malaysians”.

In his latest blog posting, he suggested that the members of the council take the opportunity to meet during breaks in the Parliament session that begins tomorrow.

He said there was no denying that the Selangor Menteri Besar controversy had caused the alliance to suffer its worst crisis and most serious loss of public confidence since its formation six years ago.

“The jury is still out whether PR can recover” before the 14th General Election, he added. He said PR was lucky that Selangor Barisan Nasional was too weak to exploit the situation. “But the next time,” he warned, “PR is not going to be so lucky.”

He said DAP, PKR and PAS must address the “critical” question of whether PR “is capable of closing ranks or is at the stage of its end game.” He said the PR leadership council was “virtually crippled” during the MB crisis by the breakdown of its consensus principle.

He said the proposed meeting should reaffirm the component parties’ “commitment and adherence to the PR’s two founding principles – upholding the PR common policy framework and abiding by the PR operational principle of consensus.”

“A working committee with three or four representatives from each PR component party should be entrusted with the urgent responsibility to formulate recommendations as to how PR could learn from the recent crisis,” he said. Kit Siang added, “A repeat of such a crisis would spell the end and demise of the PR coalition.”


Selangor in Crisis, nation in extremis

August 27, 2014

Selangor in Crisis, nation in extremis

“But when the leaders choose to make themselves bidders at an auction of popularity, their talents, in the construction of the state, will be of no service. They will become flatterers instead of legislators; the instruments, not the guides, of the people. If any of them should happen to propose a scheme of liberty, soberly limited, and defined with proper qualifications, he will be immediately outbid by his competitors, who will produce something more splendidly popular. Suspicions will be raised of his fidelity to his cause. Moderation will be stigmatized as the virtue of cowards; and compromise as the prudence of traitors; until, in hopes of preserving the credit which may enable him to temper, and moderate, on some occasions, the popular leader is obliged to become active in propagating doctrines, and establishing powers, that will afterwards defeat any sober purpose at which he ultimately might have aimed.”

Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France

by Terence Netto@www.malaysiakini.com

For Pakatan Rakyat the Khalid Ibrahim saga has become a rent garment – the more they fuss with it the worse the tear becomes. The issue begs closure; regnant confusion in the Attorney-General’s Chambers over the distinction between legitimate criticism and seditious speech has now become the most ominous threat to fundamental liberties.

Pakatan Rakyat ought to be concerned with the latter menace. Unchecked, it will wipe out the gains theGani Patail federal opposition has made since the seminal general election of March 2008. The country is drifting without a rudder because it has a leader at the helm who mistakes decidedly inelegant silence for moderation, in tandem with an Attorney-General who misconstrues the irreverent for the inflammatory.

Because Pakatan views itself as a government-in-waiting, it cannot allow continued neurosis over who is to be Selangor MB to be as disabling as Najib Abdul Razak’s catatonia and Gani Patail’s confusion are for the country.

Fatal to Pakatan would be the impression, now fast gaining ground, that it is a coalition where problems within one component incapacitate the whole, or worse, exposes its unity as a thing of expedience more than principle. Hence the question of who is to replace Khalid Ibrahim as Menteri Besar of Selangor must now be resolved with all deliberate speed. The matter has preoccupied Pakatan for eight exasperating months during which public confidence in the ability of presumptive occupants to Putrajaya has been gravely undermined.

wan azizah 1The crisis is headed for further protraction, judging from the initial reaction of PKR and DAP to soundings yesterday from the Selangor Palace that each component of Pakatan should recommend three candidates for the position of MB. It appears that PKR and DAP are insistent on wanting only Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail for the post. Their insistence on nominating one candidate will keep the matter of Khalid’s replacement simmering.

After withering on the vine for eight months, the issue demands resolution, if only because it has been overtaken by other – weightier – concerns, of national rather than merely provincial import. Further delay in resolving it will redound to Pakatan’s disadvantage more than it would to any other entity, now that Khalid has tendered his resignation and has been requested by the Sultan to hold it in abeyance until his replacement is appointed.

PKR and DAP, in insisting on one candidate for the MB position, will appear to be unduly captious just when they should be – especially now when greater dangers impend – more concerned to get things over and done with.

Horizon-scanners, not navel-gazers  

Their insistence will open them to the charge of being navel-gazers, to the point of myopia and hallucination, just when they must be horizon-scanners – for the good of the overall polity, given the clear and present danger posed it by a rudderless national leadership and confused law enforcement.

The DAP, in particular, should put itself within sight of a Deputy MB-ship in Selangor, something that can be contemplated within the dynamics of political developments in the state. Should a PKR candidate other than Wan Azizah be appointed, the DAP’s support for that candidate would be critical and, therefore, a quid pro quo is within the ambit of the possible. (Isn’t politics the art of the possible?)

This is not to say that the DAP should put position before principle. There is the matter of the room that democratic politics allows its players wherein they can test the parameters of the allowable. They should look at what is happening in a neighboring country which has elected as President someone who is from well outside the usual strata of Indonesian political society from which candidates for that position usually emerge.

The DAP ought to be encouraged that, by the elevation of Joko Widodo to the Indonesian Presidency and Jokowithe avenue this has opened for Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese and – what is more – a Christian, to become governor of Jakarta, the proof is clear that democratic politics rotates on an axis that is ultimately subversive of unjust barriers posed by race and religion.

Therefore the DAP should not feel itself unduly tied to the logic of what is essentially internecine feuding within PKR, especially if that wrangling has more to do with of individuals who have the destructive serum in the veins from their party of origin (UMNO).

khalid-ibrahimThe Khalid Ibrahim of the last several months is not an aberrant incarnation but a continuum with his party of origin. Nothing much can be done about this phenomenon unless, of course, the pestilence of UMNO rule is finally removed from the body politic.

More delay in resolving the Selangor crisis means more deferrals to the day of our release from our primary ailment. With the spate of sedition charges filed against an assortment of Pakatan stalwarts, that ailment is at its most febrile. Pakatan must not be seen to fiddle in Selangor while the country seethes in an UMNO-induced stupor.