Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Umno's pro-royalty stance in question

Feb 21, 2009

It's seen as issue of political expediency as party had taken opposite side in '93
By Elizabeth Looi
KUALA LUMPUR: Umno has rushed to the defence of the monarchy that is being blamed for the Perak political turmoil, but the concept of blind loyalty to the rulers is not washing well on the ground.

In the name of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, Umno organised a rally on Thursday night to demonstrate the 'people's anger'.

But cynicism abounds as it was the Malay political party that had, in the 1993 constitutional crisis, campaigned against the rulers' alleged excesses and wrongdoings, analysts say.

'The monarchy is the backbone of the nation, and we will defend it through and through. If we let things continue as they are, innocent people will suffer and it will be chaos,' Umno Youth chief Hishammuddin Hussein said at the rally.

He was cheered by about 3,000 people, most of them dressed in yellow - the colour of royalty - and wearing headbands with the words Daulat Tuanku (Long live the King).

The political turmoil in Perak started when opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lost the support of four lawmakers to BN.

But PR refused to admit defeat when Perak ruler, Sultan Azlan Shah, did not call for fresh state polls, and instead gave his consent to BN to form the state government.

The fight for Perak is continuing with state assembly Speaker V. Sivakumar, who belongs to the opposition, suspending the BN-appointed Menteri Besar and his six new state Cabinet members.

Emotions ran so high that opposition party chief Karpal Singh received bullets in the mail yesterday. An accompanying letter warned him not to challenge the Malays and the royalty. He had said the Sultan could be taken to court for not acting in accordance with the Perak Constitution.

But there seems to be many who also think that Umno's current pro-royalty stance is a matter of political expediency.

'Everything has been politicised but to the people of Perak, there is nothing wrong actually. We, of course, would like to have fresh polls but since the Sultan has made his decision, we have to abide by it whether we like it or not,' said contract worker Mohd Aswani Arshad, 41.

Independent pollster Merdeka Centre revealed that 74 per cent of those surveyed in Perak wanted fresh polls.

Many Malaysians have not forgotten that in 1993, Umno took the exact opposite position regarding the monarchy.

Among the changes Umno pushed for then were to lift Malay rulers' immunity from being tried in a special court, and to withdraw unscheduled and unbudgeted allocations and perks to the nine royal houses.

The Mahathir administration had revealed in Parliament a long list of alleged criminal acts by the Sultan of Johor between March 1972 and November 1992.

This has coloured public perception of the monarchy.

Fast forward to today, and there are some Malaysians who have pushed the limits in their anger against the Perak ruler over the political turmoil, but most take a temperate line. They merely want their democratic rights.

Mr Haris Ibrahim, who runs The People's Parliament blog, wrote: 'Had His Royal Highness decreed the current (Perak) assembly be dissolved, paving the way for fresh elections, he would have...left it to the only authority there is to resolve the question of who should administer the state - the people.'

But Datuk Seri Hishammuddin has vowed to continue attacking the opposition for 'betraying the rulers'. Meanwhile, opposition leaders have written to the Perak ruler to seek an audience.

The turmoil is set to continue.


[Malaysian politics have shown itself to be a politics of expedience. They blow with the wind and all alliances are temporary and subject to expedience and convenience. They show that they have neither principles nor values. Or rather their principles can be valued... at prevailing market rates. Even the opposition so-called "alliance" is a farce with the fundamentalist PAS in the same bed as the DAP? It is temporary at best and expedient at worse.]

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