Friday, September 19, 2008

The King, you, and I

Feeling disappointed? Frustrated? Are you annoyed by how the regime seems to be in denial about its decay? As Badawi’s inner-circle hunkers down in a state of siege, it would be foolish for anyone to underestimate its tenacity and will to cling on to power. As we’ve seen from the events of recent days, the regime has several tools at its disposal to ensure its survival. In this latest episode, the prime minister has rejected any attempt to convene an emergency session of the parliament. This, of course, pre-empts any chance of a no-confidence vote against the prime minister or any chance of the alleged BN defectors to formally cross-over to the opposition.

This scenario does lend credence to Abdul Aziz Bari’s assertion that: ‘As a matter of protocol…the king should send for him [Anwar] in order to furnish him with the list of MPs he has been claiming.’

Short of the King (or the Conference of Rulers) intervening and on constitutional grounds to affirm whether Badawi still has the support of the majority of parliamentarians or if Anwar has established sufficient backing to form a government, we may not know the truth, let alone know if the current government is still legitimate. As citizens, what exactly are we to make of the possibility that 31 or more Barisan Nasional MPs may have signed a pledge or commitment to support the current opposition? If a sufficient number of MPs have in fact expressed such a position, does this not pose a legitimacy problem for the current regime? And as we’re now seeing, while Badawi may be in denial, he’s able to exploit parliamentary procedures to continue acting as if nothing has changed.

It would of course help clear the confusion and help the impasse if those MPs who have allegedly expressed their desire to defect simply be courageous enough to face the music and go public with their declaration. This would obviously blow open the matter and allow the country – one way or another – to move forward. We would, then, either continue as we are or will have to face the public reality that he and the BN no longer enjoys the support of the majority in parliament. There is something to this argument. As the saying goes, there is strength in numbers. And if the MPs who are supposedly planning to defect can agree to go public, they would be a force to reckon. These MPs would be – so to speak – a significant voice of the people, of you and I. This would be nothing short of a devastating blow for the regime and would bring the issue of regime change to a head. But alas, if only these parliamentarians could see past their narrow self-interests.

Which brings us back to the King and the Conference of Rulers. It seems reasonable and constitutional, as argued by Abdul Aziz Bari, that the King – in the interest of the nation – ask Anwar and the opposition to provide him with evidence of his claim. Being the sovereign who commands the power to ensure the country is being governed by a legitimate government.

If the MPs will not go public and speak out about their intentions, you and I are then left with only one option: to have the King exercise his authority and, one way or another, bring this issue to a resolution so the nation can go on with the business of the people.

G. Krishnan