KOTA KINABALU, 4 Feb 2009: After 15 years, it looks like Sabah’s political history is being repeated in Perak.
Both state governments were thrown into political turmoil after winning elections with a thin margin.
The already tumultuous Perak politics was thrown further into confusion yesterday when Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) assemblypersons — Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi (Behrang) and Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu (Changkat Jering) — announced they were quitting the party to become independents.
Jelapang assemblyperson Hee Yit Foong has also quit the DAP to become an independent and Bota assemblyperson Datuk Nasaruddin Hashim has returned to Umno.
The Pakatan Rakyat state government is now left with 28 seats, while the Barisan Nasional (BN) holds another 28.
However, the BN also has the support of the three independents — Jamaluddin, Mohd Osman and Hee have given their undertakings to Bn Deputy Chairperson and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to support the new menteri besar to be appointed by the BN.
Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin today went to seek the consent of the Sultan of Perak for the state legislative assembly to be dissolved, to pave the way for snap elections.
To many people, the Perak political turmoil is Sabah’s 1994 power struggle repeating itself all over again.
In the case of Sabah, the then Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) government, under incumbent Chief Minister Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, notched up a narrow 25-23 victory against the BN during the state election. There were 48 seats at stake at that time.
The euphoria was short-lived when days later, three PBS assemblypersons — Datuk Lajim Ukin, Datuk Rubin Balang and Datuk Zaini Isa — switched over to the BN.
Further defections followed and it was clear that the PBS government could no longer hold on to power.
Cyril Yansalang, a former public relations secretary to Pairin, said there was similarity between the events leading to the downfall of the PBS government in Sabah and what is happening to Pakatan Rakyat in Perak now.
“Both state governments could not hold on to power because of the power struggle arising from the slim majority in their respective state assemblies,” he said.
Sensing that PBS was losing its majority, Pairin announced the dissolution of the state legislative assembly on 14 March 1994.
Cyril said that during the announcement , Pairin showed a declaration purportedly signed by the Yang Dipertua Negeri, consenting to the dissolution.
However, Cyril said, he could still remember vividly that the then Yang Dipertua Negeri, Tun Mohamad Said Keruak, denied having signed any document.
The fourth-term PBS government lasted only two weeks before it was forced out of power.
The snap election it was seeking for did not materialise and the BN, now armed with a comfortable majority, moved in to take over the state’s administration.
“Pairin, after taking into consideration the interests of the state and the people, resigned as chief minister and handed over power to his successor, Tun Sakaran Dandai, in a gentlemanly manner.
“They shook hands and smiled during the handing-over ceremony. I was told by Pairin that he did not want the state to turn into chaos.
“Instead, he asked his supporters to stay calm and allow the smooth transition of power,” he said.
Cyril said Pairin was clearly a shrewd politician in that “he always places the interest of the state above his own or party’s interest”.
“He took up the challenge to become an opposition leader in the state assembly until PBS rejoined BN in 2002, and now he is holding the post of deputy chief minister,” he said. — Bernama