Najib defends himself and the Sultan over Perak debacle

 Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — After more than four months, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak attempted today to put together a cogent case on why the power grab in Perak was justified.

He also moved to absolve the Sultan of Perak and himself from any blame for the defections from Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and the installation of a Barisan Nasional (BN) mentri besar.

The Umno president was quoted by Bernama as saying the Sultan of Perak had adopted the principles and spirit of democracy when appointing the mentri besar from PR last year and also BN this year, and should not be blamed for the political crisis in Perak currently.

The prime minister said he too should not be blamed for purportedly causing the crisis which had dragged on for more than four months.

“In practicing our democracy, the people will choose their elected representatives and the Sultan will appoint the candidate from the party that has gained the majority as the mentri besar,” he said at a media conference with Malaysian journalists at the end of his two-day working visit to Manado, North Sulawesi in Indonesia to attend the Summit Meeting of the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI).

Najib’s comments come as public sentiments seem to be against BN as the Perak crisis drags on.

This week, the Kuala Lumpur high court declared PR’s Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin as the rightful MB, but the ruling was stayed following an appeal by BN’s Datuk Zambry Abd Kadir.

In recent days, Najib has been distancing himself from the problem in Perak. His ally Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also pointed out this week that he thinks it is a foregone conclusion that PR will win the state if fresh polls are called.

The coverage of the Perak crisis in local newspapers, especially those with close links to Umno, had also suggested BN was now distancing itself from the Perak palace.

Speaking today in Indonesia, Najib said the Sultan of Perak had adopted the same procedure when appointing Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir from the BN as the mentri besar just like he did when appointing Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin from PAS after the 2008 general election, Bernama reported.

According to the report, Najib said Sultan Azlan Shah had appointed Mohammad Nizar after obtaining the agreement of the majority of the State Assemblymen who had nominated him as mentri besar.

Najib said that after the opposition parties had lost the majority, the Sultan of Perak then appointed the candidate nominated by the BN after three opposition assemblymen had declared themselves as Independents and gave their support to Zambry as mentri besar.

“Don’t forget… don’t blame Tuanku. In the 2008 general election, the BN was the only party that had the majority in the State Assembly with 28 seats… the opposition pact is not registered and remains as three separate parties.

“At that time, if Tuanku had wanted to appoint Tan Sri Tajol Rosli Ghazali (the former mentri besar), he would have had the right because the BN was the only party that had the biggest majority.

“The Tuanku, in the spirit of democracy based on the resolution made by the elected representatives from the three opposition parties… (After) the Tuanku had received their written pledges, the Tuanku then appointed Nizar as the mentri besar,” Najib explained.

But now, the opposition had lost the majority in the state assembly and Sultan Azlan Shah had appointed Dr Zambry who was nominated by the BN using the same approach and based on legitimate principles without breaching the democratic system and constitution.

“This transpired according to procedures in line with the Perak State Constitution and parliamentary democracy.

“This must be explained and that’s why I say that the election is an option and discretion… not a must. The problem is that they (the opposition) do not accept this and hinder this (democratic) process as was done in the state assembly.

“Who asked for the suspension of the MB and BN Executive Councillors. This is against the spirit of parliamentary democracy. If that’s the case, we (BN) have the majority in Parliament…we can suspend 20 Opposition members of parliament if we want to. Using the same principles (as in the Perak State Assembly), we have the power…discretion, we can do what we like,” said the prime minister.

“(But) the Opposition disputed the appointment of Dr Zambry and challenged it in court. We too challenged in court when they suspended the state assemblymen. Is it reasonable that in a democratic system, when there is a majority, the Speaker suspends six assemblymen? If that’s the case, we too can suspend six assemblymen,” he said.

Commenting on party-hopping, Najib said this was allowed by law and had happened in other countries such as a former British prime minister Sir Winston Churchill who had switched parties several times, and the latest was a senator in the United States who defected.

Najib pointed out that the BN did not seize power in Perak because the change in government was made according to regulations and the law, which, if accepted by everyone, would clearly show that the present BN government could administer Perak as it had received a sufficient majority.

“Don’t forget that on Sept 16 last year, who had wanted to steal 21 of our members of parliament. But when he failed, and we succeeded in Perak, we were then said to be undemocratic. We have been accused of seizing power.

“It was the opposition who first tried to seize power but without success… we (the BN) did not start it,” Najib stressed.