Wednesday, January 28, 2009

PERAK BLOW - Malaysiakini

The Pakatan state government has little choice but to put into effect the resignations of two KeADILan assemblymen, who have been 'missing' for five days, with deputy premier Najib Razak accused of enticing them to defect.Umno has also begun pumping up financial incentives - including digging into the nation's RM7 billion economic stimulus package - to stop its unhappy state reps from leaving ….Adds latest announcement from Nizar, comments from information chief Tian ChuaBy Wong Choon MeiIn a dramatic turn of events, Mentri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin said this evening the speaker of the state assembly has accepted the resignations of KeADILan assemblymen Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi and Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu.The 52-year old Jamaluddin is the state representative for Behrang, while the 57-year old Mohd Osman is the assemblyman for Changkat Jering.V Sivakumar, the speaker of the state assembly, has confirmed receiving their letters. Both men had in accordance with KeADILan policy pre-signed and deposited their resignation letters with Nizar for use in events of emergency.The decision means that both state seats will become vacant, and barring any undue influence from the federal government, the Election Commission is expected to call for by-elections and return the mandate to the people.In the meantime, it is business as usual for the Pakatan coalition, which would still have a majority of 30 to 27 in the Perak state assembly, versus 32 to 27 perviously."It is important to go back to the people because right now, nobody knows where the two are and what has happened to them," said KeADILan information chief Tian Chua."This is completely different from Bota, where the assemblyman, Nasarudin Hashim, openly declared his intentions and then went to his constituents to seek their support. The reception Nasarudin got at the Bota stadium on Friday clearly shows his constituents supported his decision to join KeADILan."Political skullduggeryThe Pakatan state government had earlier planned to lodge a police report over the mysterious disappearance of the pair, who have been un contactable by even their own families for the past five days.Nizar had urged them to come out of hiding, even if they had decided to defect to another political party.It has been widely speculated that incoming Umno president Najib Abdul Razak was in the last lap of negotiations with both men to get them to defect, in a bid to make up for the recent loss of Bota assemblyman Nasarudin Hashim to KeADILan.Even Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has admitted that Umno was in talks with several Pakatan assemblymen. Najib, his deputy, took over from former chief minister Tajol Rosli as Perak chief on Friday.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."Digging into the nation's economic stimulus packageUmno has also begun pumping up financial incentives to keep its disgruntled state reps from leaving the Barisan Nasional coalition. 26 of the BN assemblymen in Perak are from Umno, and one from the MCA.Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Ahmad Zahid Hamidi Zahid has promised all 27 that they will soon get development funds of RM300,000 each from the BN federal government.Additionally, each constituency would also receive RM1 million in public amenity projects from the RM7 billion economic stimulus package announced in November by Najib, who is also Finance Minister and Deputy Premier."The allocation has been approved and will be distributed to the 27 assemblymen," said Zahid.However, his comments have drawn fire from both the public and civil groups.Malaysians have become more watchful after Najib promised Kuala Terengganu voters hundreds of million of ringgit in election goodies during a recent by election.Transparency International Malaysia too has urged the federal government to breakdown in detail how it plans to spend the RM7 billion package, rather than provide broad outlines.It also asked why only 70 percent of the package has been disbursed, and why the balance 30 percent is delayed."The public need to be assured that the due processes of good governance are being observed to raise confidence and credibility in the governance especially at this time of economic and financial strain and stress," said TIM president Ramon Navaratnam.Umno has grown too corrupt and elitistMeanwhile, Bota assemblyment Nasarudin Hashim has urged his former colleagues at Umno to join Pakatan, saying that the once mighty Umno was too corrupt and could no longer command the respect of the Malays."I believe they are matured enough to think for themselves," said the 58 year old former Felcra chairman, who shocked Umno by resigning to join KeADILan a week ago.Eight Umno branches in the Bota constituency have shut down, with the members resigning to follow Nasarudin into KeADILan.They handed over their application forms to Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim at the Bota stadium on Friday night, where a huge crowd turned up to hear him speak."I have never seen such a large crowd not even for my ceramah during the general election last year. It is clear that the people support me and they are happy," said Nasarudin.Hijacked amid looming corruption trialThe Bota assemblyman's switch to KeADILan has thrown Perak politics into disarray.Accusations and counter accusations have rained down thick and heavy from both sides of the political divide, with Najib accused of 'hijacking' the Behrang and Changkat Jering assemblymen in an all out bid to get them to defect to Umno.Both men 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."We believe their disappearance is closely linked to the corruption charges they are facing. Since the beginning, we have been confident that the allegations against them are false and cooked up by Umno and Barisan Nasional as political blackmail," said Perak KeADILan chief Osman Abdul Rahman.Snap election still unlikelyKeADILan's Tian said with the resignation of Jamaluddin and Mohd Osman, the situation in Perak had stabilised. He does not see the need for the Pakatan state government to call for a snap election."Let's get through the by-elections first. The BN might appeal to the EC and try to force a court case against the Pakatan. That could suspend everything for months or even years," Tian said.Nizar too dismissed claims by the BN that several Pakatan MPs would soon hop over to their side.Said Tian: "We are confident of being able to continue ruling Perak well, even with a one seat majority. This is what happened in Kelantan in 2004, so it is not a problem even if Jamaluddin and Mohd Osman had defected. We are also confident a few more BN assemblymen will be joining us soon."

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