Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Checkmate - And This Time, Please Beware of Fish Head Curry

The grand chess game being played by power-greedy politicians apparently continues unabated. One thing we can be assured of: there’s always more to things than meets the eye. Suddenly, like a wildfire in the lush jungle, stories about missing state assemblymen, apparent or impending defections from one party or another, resignation of assemblymen, denials of resignations, police reports and statutory declarations are all part of this political blaze. And where this blaze appears headed and how it shall be contained seems as unpredictable as a typical fire in the wild.

From above ground level, a wildfire only show us, albeit graphically, the destruction in the path of the blaze. We are left to imagine – if we can – the magnitude of the actual destruction such wildfires tend to cause on ground zero. It’s never easy to ultimately come to terms both with the scale and implications of such forces of destruction.

Perhaps we’ll also never fully come to know about all the intricacies of the political wildfire spreading related to these stories about assemblymen going missing, apparently resigning (or not), defecting (or not), and such. But the destruction underway is nevertheless not difficult to imagine. Maybe, like a natural wildfire, we’ll never comprehend the true extent of the destruction. But it’s hard not to realise that there won’t be serious damage and fallout to our national political culture from such episodes.

I did note in a previous column that a more competitive political landscape can only be a healthy scenario for us. Less of one-party domination is indeed in many ways a refreshing change. But the obsession with power for its own sake – at the expense of the nation’s ability to move forward can never be a healthy development.

The political drama in Perak, while by no means the only case in point, is certainly at the centre of the current crisis. And
despite claims by Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi and Osman Jailu that they have not resigned their posts as assemblymen, they seem cornered by their own undated resignation letters, which attest otherwise.

It seems highly plausible that anticipating something fishy by these two vulnerable assemblymen, Pakatan Rakyat may well have foiled such an eventuality by checkmating Barisan’s manoeuvre to coax these two into defecting. Looking at this wildfire from a bird’s eye view, it sure seems as if PR – smelling something fishy was cooking – has taken the step to move rather swiftly to distance themselves from the aforementioned assemblymen; hence, speaker Sivakumar’s announcement of having received the letters of resignation. This is coupled with equally fast-breaking developments to lay the groundwork for by-elections in these constituencies.

And of course the predicament for BN has become somewhat complicated by the
PKR’s Fauzi Muda’s statutory declaration essentially claiming that Najib had engineered to entice defections in Perak as early as days after the March 2008 general election. Now putting two-and-two together, you see the dilemma for the BN, don’t you? If nothing else, it further undermines Najib’s credibility. Among the wider public, this will only further tarnish his rather bruised image. Why, there's a recent poll showing even Badawi is more popular than Najib. Now, that's got to be hard for Najib to swallow. But might it also raise some concerns among his UMNOputeras that yet again, on top of the defeats in Permatang Pauh and KT, he’s also bungled at a supposedly clandestine plan to wrestle back control of the state of Perak – just as UMNO tried to do in Selangor?

And like an unexpected wind suddenly whipping up the wildfires to shift in uncontrollable ways, Fauzi’s statutory declaration has arguably kicked up a new firestorm around the DPM.

Perhaps Fauzi may be well-advised
not to accept any invitations to go out for fish head curry.

G. Krishnan