Updated on 5 Feb 2009 at 12.45pm
PETALING JAYA, 5 Feb 2009: Angry voters nationwide will reject the Barisan Nasional (BN) even more vehemently in the next general election if snap polls are not held in Perak, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said.
The veteran Umno politician said, if based on “dubious crossovers”, the BN took control of Perak without an election, this would “cement the enmity of the very people we should be trying to win back at the next elections.”
Commenting on his blog this morning about the political crisis in Perak that has emerged from the crossover of one assemblyperson and the resignation of three others from their parties to be independents, he said:
“Elections are the sole source of the government’s authority in a democratic society.”
He stressed that, “Contests in a democracy are not a fight for survival in which anything goes. They are competitions to serve.
“BN should reform to improve its ability to serve with distinction. This is a long term project that requires immediate focus. We do not need the distraction of transient, shaky victories when what we need to do is upgrade ourselves to win elections again, fair and square.”
Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister announced that Bota state assemblyperson Datuk Nasaruddin Hashim had rejoined Umno after defecting to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) on 25 Jan 2009.
Hee Yit FoongThree other assemblypersons — Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi (Behrang), Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu (Changkat Jering) and Hee Yit Foong (Jelapang) — remain as “friendly” independents who will support the BN in any vote in the Perak state assembly.
Jamaluddin and Mohd Osman, both formerly from PKR, are facing corruption charges. Hee was from the DAP.
Tengku Razaleigh said no matter the truth of the matter, people would not believe the crossovers were honest, describing the defections as “complete with mysterious disappearances, sudden reversals, and weak explanations”.
“[The people's] mistrust will taint any government formed on the back of these crossovers.”
Tengku Razaleigh described the celebrations in some camps within the BN as “premature”.
“The defections may or may not topple the government of Perak, but some of us are behaving as if they have instantaneously transferred the government to BN.
“Defections are not the basis for the formation of a government. Elections are. Governments are formed after citizens have expressed their choice through free and fair elections.”
“The assembly is not a meat market, and the government is not up for auction,” he added.
Tengku Razaleigh stressed that the constitution and the role of the Ruler in such crises must be respected.
“The menteri besar (Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin) has sought the Ruler’s consent for the dissolution of the state legislative assembly. The decision now rests with the Ruler.”
If the assembly is not dissolved, Tengku Razaleigh said, Nizar remains the menteri besar until he resigns of his own accord, or is removed by a vote of no-confidence in a formal sitting of the assembly.
“The Constitution makes no provision for his removal by press conferences or newspaper headlines declaring victory,” Tengku Razaleigh said.
Critical for Umno
Tengku Razaleigh said Umno’s biggest challenge was to tackle corruption at every level.
“We are under close public scrutiny in addressing this problem. Unless we implement radical reforms and are seen to be doing so, we are finished politically come next election.”
Instead, he said, Umno was now trying to win Perak back with the allegiance and crossover of two assemblypersons charged for corruption.
At the same time, Tengku Razaleigh said, the Bota assemblyperson’s double-hop, first to PKR and then back to Umno, within eleven days lacked sincerity.
“It is precisely this kind of open abuse of the public’s trust for the sake of personal gain that causes people to hate Umno,” Tengku Razaleigh said.
He said the only way for Umno to win back the public was to face elections.
Disregard for voters
The Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS) also criticised party-hopping, saying it betrayed “a blatant disregard for voters”.
In a strongly-worded press statement yesterday, CPPS chairperson Tan Sri Ramon V Navaratnam condemned elected representatives who switched parties mid-way through their term.
“[These] politicians are displaying contempt for the rakyat’s trust and intelligence. It also makes a mockery of the principles of democracy,” he said.
“Politicians and government are ultimately accountable to the rakyat who voted them into power,” he added.
He cautioned politicians not to betray the trust of the people “who will remember how they were let down at the next elections.”