Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The alternate alphabetical guide to Perak

Who said Perak was boring?

It manages to catapult itself onto the political scene with gusto, with as much preparation, excitement and anticipation as a good tennis or badminton match.

However, it would be better if it does not emulate wrestling matches where the wrestlers are acting out some predetermined script and where the outcome is a foregone conclusion because of deals done behind the scenes.

It would also be good if it does not progress to some football matches in the west which have descended into chaos with rival fans having a go at each other.

But then who said Perak politics was a case of being fair or just? It is more a case of who can twist the other person’s arm most. If it was fair, then the illegal punters would be making money hand over fist. But then others, it seems, are.

As the political drama unfolds and I hurry away to the pasar to get my provisions before this or that road is blocked off, I reel off my alphabetical guide to amuse myself. Oh yes, I had better check what colour clothes I am wearing ...

Azlan Shah, the allegedly beleaguered Sultan of Perak who misjudged the mood of the nation either because he was misinformed or misadvised and whose actions have reduced Perak to a pariah state.

Black is the “in” colour and a means of making a political statement. To be clothed in black however risks arrest. Baking cakes was once an offensive act, and can lead to time behind bars.

C is the crisis of confidence that plagues Perak. The reputation of our constitutional monarchy is at its lowest ebb and our government is crippled. The High Court declared Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin as the rightful mentri besar, a decision which was swiftly overturned by the Court of Appeal, leading to the public’s contempt and condemnation of the judiciary.

Democracy, currently on trial in Perak, although many are convinced that it has already died. Despondency and despair best reflects the mood of Perak folk. Those at the top are denying the people their rights; they do not sense the depth of anger felt by the masses.

Economic growth in Perak is seriously affected, with foreign investment and productivity at an all-time low. Perak folk feel they are being punished for daring to break old taboos. The longer this “debacle” continues, the more severe the backlash. Many are repeating the mantra “Elephants never forget and cannot forgive” in the run-up to the general election.

Frog is the derogatory and damning term used to describe the greedy, despicable and self-serving politicians who swopped party affiliations and started this horrid chain of events.

Ganesan is the current Speaker of the Perak assembly whose official stationery has been hijacked and used by the ex-Speaker and who we are told is going to enter the assembly early so that he can “bag” his chair and lay claim to it before the other pretender does so.

Hee Yit Foong, the Jelapang assemblywoman, allegedly the most despised of the “three traitors” and who mistook pepper spray for a perfume canister, or something like that. It gets curiouser and curiouser…

Ipoh, the capital of Perak, where this circus portrayal of people denied the chance to exercise their democratic rights is being played out on the stage of real life. With apologies to Nero, Perak’s own also reads “While …. fiddled, Ipoh burned.” (Fill in the blanks with what or who you wish.)

Judiciary comes out perfumed like the pong of Rafflesia, or so some people claim. Its questionable reputation makes it just as tarred as the allegedly illegal developments in the governance of Perak.

Key figures to solve this crisis are certainly not the people of Perak.

Leadership, or rather lack of it or possibly even the so-called existence of two “leaders” (depending on which camp you speak to), is confusing the electorate.

Malaysians the world over are following the Perak dilemma with much interest and sadness, that after 52 years, we have regressed rather than acted with maturity.

Nizar Jamaluddin, the ousted mentri besar of Perak who has stood his ground with the backing of the nation and has seen a meteoric rise of popularity with his sincerity, integrity and steadfast dedication to duty.

One Malaysia, a slogan with little relevance in Perak as we have 2 mentri besars, 2 speakers, 2 state governments jostling for power and 3 villified defectors.

Police force is needed, NOT brute force. People are arrested for wearing black, for holding candle-lit vigils, for holding peaceful protests and for being lawyers. The police are much the problem as they are the solution. They have undergone a metamorphosis into a political force rather than a body which enforces the law.

Questionable moves by the judiciary in Kuala Lumpur have only increased people’s scorn and contempt for them. The ordinary Perak folk have no wish to quarrel but are queasy about how the authorities have reacted to quash the rumours and quell the dissenters.

Respect is a rare commodity. It is something the authorities demand and conveniently choose to forget that it is earned, and cannot be forced at will. Protestations will never endear the people to those who doggedly demand respect, even if it is for their speeches. Respect functions much like trust. Once people lose respect for us or lose their trust in us, it is akin to losing your virginity. Once it is lost, it can never be regained.

Speaker V. Sivakumar, shamefully bundled out of the state secretariat by thugs. If nor for the social networking sites like Twitter and media-sharing facilities such as YouTube, the whole world would have been blissfully ignorant off the sickening and shocking scenes of Sivakumar’s eviction. His latest crime is to be accused of stealing some official notepaper of the office he once held, or still holds. Confusing this!

Tree of Democracy where on March 3 Speaker Sivakumar convened Perak’s first open-air and extraordinary emergency sitting of the assembly under the rainforest tree outside the state secretariat. Sadly, Tourism Perak may not be able to take advantage of the people flocking to this place, by charging them a small fee, or selling them tree souvenirs — it may help with the depleted coffers of Tourism Malaysia as a whole.

Unity is mirrored in the voice of over 91 per cent of Perak folk wanting free and fair elections to decide whom they wish to govern them and who should be at its helm.

Verdict of the court of public opinion states that the victims of this debacle are the citizens of Perak and democracy.

Wong Chin Huat, political activist and lecturer who was jailed for initiating the One Black Malaysia movement. Like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, armed police then arrested his students who were merely protesting against their lecturer’s arrest. In the years ahead, will this Perak debacle be whitewashed from the history books?

“X”-traordinary scenes eclipsing this dilemma have ranged from women and children being tear-gassed outside the Ubudiah mosque in Kuala Kangsar to the assembly session under the Tree of Democracy, the dismantling of plaques under this tree by city council workers, the coachloads of people from other states wanting to savour the historical significance of this tree, the shambolic treatment of the speaker, the euphoria of Nizar being declared the mentri besar followed by the shock sudden announcement of the one-man Court of Appeal in overturning this decision.

YouTube. Brilliant for capturing and broadcasting the scenes that many would not want us to see.

Zambry Abdul Kadir, the current mentri besar who in his own words compares himself with the world’s “greats” like Gandhi, Mandela and Martin Luther King. He has his work cut out for him as the clock is ticking. The countdown to zero hour on Nov 7 has begun.

[By Mariam Mokhtar]

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