Friday 3 June 2011

Perak coup: ‘A play of brute and refined force’

A leaked WikiLeads cable reveals that US diplomats visited Perak after the BN coup and concluded that only the BN has the clout to muscle its way to power.
The US diplomats had visited Perak one year after the BN takeover, and just after a February 2010 Federal Court ruling which affirmed BN’s Zambry Abd Kadir as the righful menteri besar.
K Kabilan, Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: The Barisan Nasional (BN) takeover of Perak indicated clearly the ruling coalition’s clout and ability to manipulate and muscle its way to power, noted US diplomats.

The BN victory in Perak was a “successful political power play both in terms of brute and refined power”.
“(This) reminds us that of the two coalitions, only the BN has the clout, money, and ability to manipulate the government system (election commission, courts) to muscle its way to power,” added the US diplomats.

The diplomats also felt that while Pakatan Rakyat leaders have been critical of the manner in which the state was taken away from their control, there were also cracks appearing in the Pakatan coalition.
“They (Pakatan) remain somewhat fragmented both within their coalition, and within their component parties,” added the diplomats, referring specifically to the internal fight for influence in the Perak DAP.
These comments were made by the US diplomats based in the US embassy here to their State Department in Washington in a confidential cable dated Feb 19, 2010.

Details of the cable were leaked by WikiLeaks to popular blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin who had published the leaked cable in his Malaysia Today website today.

The US diplomats had visited Perak one year after the BN takeover, and just after a February 2010 Federal Court ruling which affirmed BN’s Zambry Abd Kadir as the righful menteri besar.

“The BN now has firm control of Perak and is working to regain some of its lost influence among voters, having allocated resources into projects to win back support of the people,” added the diplomats in the cable.

“With the Chinese vote firmly supporting the opposition, the deciding votes in any future election rest with the ethnic Malays,” they added.

They also noted that the Malay support was split between the ruling coalition and the opposition.

Zambry vs Nizar

The diplomats had also met up with politicians from both BN and Pakatan during the visit to Perak, including meetings with Zambry and Pakatan’s menteri besar Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin.

Both sets of politicians had claimed that the people of Perak supported them, and had slammed the state administration of the other.

While Nizar had said that his short administration was “successful and people-friendly”, Zambry had said that he had the will of the people to rule and had pointed out his “people-friendly policies”.

Zambry had also informed the US diplomats that he was confident of winning snap polls if it had been held then – in 2010 – saying that BN would win 34 out of 59 state seats.

He, however, ruled out calling for a snap election, saying that “the Perak BN state government does not operate based on the dictates of the opposition”.

Nizar, meanwhile, had informed the US diplomats that he had the support of 80% of the Chinese and Indian vote, and at least 50% of the ethnic Malay vote.

However, he admitted that even with fresh elections, there was no guarantee that the Pakatan would win a majority of seats to form a government.

“Nizar stated that the BN has managed to ‘poison the minds of the rural Malays’ by convincing them that he was ‘a lackey of the DAP’ and ‘had committed treason by defying the Sultan’ after the defections,” noted the diplomats in the cable.

Non-Malay support

The cable also spoke about the meetings between the US diplomats and non-Malay BN leaders on the support of the Chinese and Indian communities for BN.

Gerakan deputy president and state chief Chang Ko Youn openly blamed Umno’s racist policies as the reason for the Chinese voters to “desert the BN by droves” in the last general election.

He also added that the Chinese media were “unfriendly” towards BN, stating the Chinese newspapers were more independent and at times favoured the opposition rather than BN parties.

He had also said that it would be difficult for BN to win over the Chinese voters in the next general election.

However, this view was not shared by MCA’s Mah Hang Soon, who said that BN was “now more aware of the Chinese problem” and was “working on overcoming it”. Mah is the state MCA Youth chief and the sole non-Umno state rep.

He said the state BN had given land titles to Chinese farmers and had funded nine independent Chinese schools in the state, admitting that in the past, the BN state government had completely ignored the plight of independent Chinese schools.

As for the Indian community, the BN state assembly speaker and state MIC secretary, R Ganesan, was of the opinion that the BN government “has enacted numerous polices for the benefit of non-Malays”.

“Ganesan proudly stated that for the first time the state government has allocated funding for Hindu temples,” added the cable.

The cable also noted that the previous Pakatan government started the policy of allocating funds to non-Islamic religious institutions, but it is the BN which was seeing this through.

The cable also quoted Ganesan as saying that he could see the Indians returning to the BN based on the number of people attending BN-sponsored meetings and political rallies.

DAP infighting

The US diplomats also said that they were informed of infighting within the Perak DAP, with senior leaders blaming state chief Ngeh Khoo Ham and his cousin, the state DAP secretary, Nga Kor Ming, for calling the shots.

The cable said DAP leader M Kulasegaran admitted that all was not well with the DAP in Perak by claiming that the “Ngeh-Nga clan” was running the show in Perak.

“The veteran DAP leader claimed that the top party leadership is unable to control the two, as they have managed to bring the state DAP machinery completely under their control.

“Kula claimed that due to their dominance, the DAP may face some problems in the future because they are not popular among all the Chinese in the state.

“For example, the cousins tried to force out popular DAP MP Fong Po Kuan from running in the 2008 general election in order to replace her with their own crony, but her constituency fiercely resisted this move against the three-term MP, forcing the cousins to back down,” the cable quoted Kula as saying.
However the diplomats stated when they raised this topic while meeting Fong for lunch, she refused to be drawn into a conversation on this issue.

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