Press Statement (2) by Charles Santiago in Klang on Monday, 9th March 2009:
Fresh polls only solution to Perak political impasse
I strongly support the call by former Finance Minister and Barisan Nasional lawmaker Tengku Razaleigh, demanding fresh elections in the state of Perak to effectively end the political impasse.
The choice, once again, must be given to the people to decide their Menteri Besar and elected representatives. Or the political bickering in the silver state would continue with protracted legal battles and repeated demands for the Perak ruler to make the right decision.
The leadership in Perak has been in a chaos since early February, when Prime Minister in Waiting Najib Tun Razak orchestrated a coup to overthrow Menteri Besar Chief Minister Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin and his team.
The democratically elected Pakatan Rakyat government has since created history by calling for a state assembly sitting under a tree, when the secretariat building was locked by the police, to pass several motions including holding new elections.
Since the beginning of the political manoeuvring by Barisan Nasional, Perakians had shown total support for the opposition leaders, braving riot police to show their anger in public.
Their wrath was specifically directed at the Perak Sultan for failing to dissolve the state assembly and paving the way for fresh elections. His decision to allow the ruling Barisan Nasional to form a new government as opposed to conceding for a dissolution of the state assembly shows total disrespect to the will of the people who had clearly elected a Pakatan Rakyat government.
But the political high drama in Perak must end. I, therefore, call upon the learned Ruler to call for a fresh mandate.
There is an urgency in resolving the impasse because the state government needs to re-organise itself in order to effectively respond to the problems coming out of the global economic crisis.
Simply put, ruling politicians are preoccupied with power while Malaysians are frustrated with the growing possibility of the country hitting recession by the end of the year.
Malaysia's economy is in the doldrums.
The country is not just struggling with a sinking economy but also with political paralysis. The scramble for power is not just between the ruling and opposition camps but also within ruling UMNO as the party gears up for its internal elections, late March.
While Prime Minister Abullah Ahmad Badawi has agreed to a smooth transition of power to his deputy, Najib, there are widespread rumours that the premier might be buying more time.
Therefore Najib, who is also the finance minister, is spending precious political energy to ensure he takes over the leadership of the nation, without a hitch.
UMNO leaders, meanwhile, would stay focused in its internal elections and try to sort out political infighting within its ranks that is threatening to fragment the party.
Therefore, whether or not the economy would be given any priority remains a question, I urge the government to work together to come up with effective measures to protect livelihoods and quality of life of all Malaysians.
* Charles Santiago, MP for Klang