One would have thought that a coalition fashioning itself as a credible alternative to the current Government would bite the bullet and accept that after an extended honeymoon since the 12th General Elections, it was finally outdone in this battle. That Pakatan's figurehead Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim indulged in months of trumpeting September 16th and the toppling of the Federal Government via defections by Barisan Parliamentarians surely made what transpired in Perak all the more painful to swallow.
Instead of pondering about where its missteps have been, Pakatan has cried foul over a legitimate grab – a paradox it may be, but a legitimate government is a government nonetheless. And whilst the Pakatan crowd have been incessantly calling for there to be a special sitting of the State Assembly to unseat the (former) Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaludin, claiming that the Sultan of Perak has no power to decree that Nizar and his EXCO resign, it is useful to note that had Anwar Ibrahim obtained the magic number of 30 defectors in Parliament, he would merely have to seek an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to prove to the latter that he has the confidence of the majority of Parliamentarians – Anwar himself hinted on more than one occasion that that was precisely what he intended to do!
The above, can still of course be described as a necessary political positioning – though it does show Pakatan to be no better than what it accuses Barisan of. What is most troubling and most irresponsible is the Pakatan's hypocrisy with regards to the power and role of the monarchy. If during the BERSIH demonstrations – and the circus that followed it – they were more than willing to fake having the tacit support of the monarchy, it is simply inconsistent for them to now criticise the Sultan for utilising His Highness's 'reserve' political (and constitutional) power. If during the Idris Jusoh – Ahmad Said controversy in Terengganu Pakatan members were championing the right of the Sultan with glee as the Prime Minister was humiliated, how is it that they find it fit to question the right of the Sultan to declare a government fallen? Regardless, Nizar's refusal to yield to the Sultan's decree is plainly an act of trampling upon the the institution of Malay Rulers and with that, very legitimate and understandable Malay sensitivities. It isarguably this extreme posturing that has led even UMNO leaders like Khairy Jamaluddin; some what ill at ease with the manner in which Perak was won, to call for Nizar to be banished. Unorthodox perhaps – when has Khairy been anything otherwise? – but the point to be made is that what ever grievances Pakatan may have with what has transpired, it must never channel it in ways that convey disrespect to the Sultan. Certain things are meant to be beyond the sphere of political gamesmanship.
And at the very least, in Barisan there are the likes of Khairy, Tengku Razaleigh and even Tun Dr. Mahathir – three individuals hardly in love with one another – that make their discomfort with defections quite clear and public. The public will ultimately decide whether what Barisan did was politically wise – democracy always decides, in the end. But until Perak is again put to the vote, Pakatan will have to eat some humble pie and back down from their position of extreme hypocrisy that threatens to drag the monarchy further into the mix of what is already a vicious environment.