Feb 2, 2009
Pakatan says both ‘missing’ assemblymen are entitled to air their grouses, but views them as having resigned as state reps and their seats vacated. Speaker V Sivakumar has already notified the EC and asked for by-election dates.
The pair was also answerable to the public, and the public has the right to know why? What were they trying to do, were they trying to hold out for anything?
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By Wong Choon Mei
Pakatan Rakyat leaders said the Perak state government was in good hands and stable condition following the resignations of two ‘missing’ KeADILan assemblymen, and not in a state of chaos as reported by the Barisan Nasional-controlled media.
“How can we be in chaos when we are still holding a majority of 30 to 27 after taking away the two seats,” said KeADILan information chief Tian Chua.
“This is deliberate propaganda put out by the BN. They are trying to destabilise us and it is dangerous and irresponsible because it might panic the ordinary rakyat.
“We stress that it is business as usual. We have enough majority to run Perak well and effectively. Again, we warn the BN, don’t mis-inform the public. Just because they need to find an excuse, don’t use scare tactics.
“The episode has backfired badly on them. This is another huge embarassment for Najib.”
Another blow for Najib
Tian was referring to deputy premier and incoming Umno president Najib Abdul Razak.
Najib took over as Perak Umno chief from Mohd Tajol Rosli Ghazali last week, in a bid to stem defections following the loss of the Bota assemblyman, Nasarudin Hashim, to KeADILan.
The DPM has also gone all out to retaliate by trying to woo over Pakatan state representatives. In particular, Najib was said to be finalising negotiations with Behrang’s Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi and Changkat Jering’s Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu.
But his plan fell through, when Pakatan decided to finally put into effect the resignations of Jamaluddin and Mohd Osman, after failing to contact both men for the past five days. The pair had gone ‘missing’ and were un-contactable by even their families.
Said a political analyst: “This is the difference in style between Najib and Tajol Rosli. Tajol wouldn’t push like this, but Najib is quite ruthless. For him, the end justifies the means.
“It is just like the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder case, when the private eye P Balasubramaniam suddenly went missing after implicating him and his wife.”
The fiasco also boomeranged back against BN component, the Chinese-based MCA.
Despite hot news that Pakatan and DAP leader Hee Yit Fong would meet their president Ong Tee Keat last night before crossing over, the defection did not materilaise.
Hee has denied the rumours, pledging her loyalty to the Pakatan. Tee Keat too has come out to deny the speculation.
“The people are exaggerating. It is a mere speculation and rumour,” Tee Keat told Bernama this afternoon.
Speaker meets EC, MB sees Sultan, ex-reps did not show up
It is KeADILan policy that elected representatives pre-sign and deposit undated letters of resignation with the party.
Their resignation letters as state representatives were put through yesterday, and have since been accepted by the Speaker of the state assembly, V Sivakumar.
Sivakumar, who has declared both Behrang and Changkat Jering seats vacant, officially informed the Election Commission at 8am today, requesting for by-elections in the two constituencies.
Perak EC director Ahmad Adli Abdullah said a decision would be made by his chairman: “Today is a public holiday in Putrajaya. I think we can expect a decision tomorrow.”
Former EC chairman Rashid Rahman told the Malaysian Insider that under current rules, the commission has no choice but to call for by-elections in the next 60 days.
“That is the requirement under the federal constitution. The Election Commission is in no position to question why,” he told the news portal.
Meanwhile, Menteri Besar Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin met with the Perak Sultan.
“I briefed his Majesty on what happened to the two assemblymen. The Sultan has been informed and I confirm the Pakatan Rakyat government in Perak is valid and stable,” he said.
Both the former assemblymen, who were due to hold a press conference at 4 pm today, failed to show up. Their aides read separate statements that reiterated they had not resigned and wanted to continue to serve their constituencies.
Jamaluddin admits signing undated letters, but challenges validity
News that their resignations had been effected finally flushed out Jamaluddin last night. He admitted to the press that all KeADILan elected reps, including himself and Mohd Osman, had signed the undated letters last March.
However, Jamaluddin challenged the validity of the resignation letter, and gave conflicting versions to different press.
He told the Star that he would resign from KeADILan to be an Independent, but told Bernama that he had not intention to join Umno and would stay on with KeADILan.
“I am still the state assemblyman for Behrang. I have not resigned. I will challenge the validity of the letter as it was signed under duress. My problems are with PKR leaders, not with the people of Behrang,” Jamaluddin told the Star.
“I and Mohd Osman are still state assemblymen under PKR and have never announced that we were leaving the party or going to join Umno,” Jamaluddin told Bernama.
Both Jamaluddin and Mohd Osman are due to stand trial on Feb 10 on corruption charges over a RM180 million housing project in Sri Iskandar. If convicted, they face a maximum 20 years’ jail, and a fine of not less than five times the amount of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher.
Najib has been accused of offering to ‘drop’ the charges against them if they joined Umno.
Perak Speaker has the right to accept the quit letters
According to Tian, both Jamaluddin and Mohd Osman were entitled to air their grouses. Tian welcomed a public meeting with them in the presence of the Perak Speaker.
“If they say the resignation letters were signed under duress and they want to challenge, then let them go to the courts if they want to. We won’t block them, it is their right.
“But this case is very different from the Joseph Pairin case. In this instance, the letters were received by the Speaker, whose duty it is to receive such letters. His right cannot be questioned. In Pairin’s case, the letters of resignation were held by him and never given to the Sabah speaker because the assembly had not been formed yet.”
Tian also expressed the hope that the EC would return the mandate to the people promptly.
“That should be the next logical step. We gave both Jamaluddin and Mohd Osman ample time, but they did not bother to respond until after the resignations. The public musty ask them why? What were they trying to do, were they holding out for anything?
“But until we hear from them, as far as we are concerned, they have resigned. It doesn’t make a difference to us because we can still govern effectively. We still have a majority of 30 to 27, although it was 32 to 27 before the resignations. But we are okay with that.
“Frankly, even if we have just a one-vote majority, we can still function effectively in Perak. Our only problem is the BN keeps trying to destabilise us. They have tried to block us in every way, the most obvious is in the conversion of leasehold titles to freehold. That is a key programme involving the low-income and the poor. We won’t let that go,” said Tian.
Pundits say if the matter goes to court, then by-elections could be withheld for months, if not years.
“This is actually positive for Pakatan. By putting through the resignations, they are taking the pain upfront by discounting the two seats from their tally. It frees them from the hassle of all the politicking and allows them to get back to work with the administration of the state. Of course, it would be better for them if there were by-elections.
“For Umno and the MCA, either way, it is major pie in the face. It is also another failure for Najib. He was not able to control things and chose the worst way to regain power. The episode has exposed his character to the public, and blown up in his face.”