I started naming this blog "'Dallas' in the Silver State", especially with the amount of drama in the last few days worthy of a popular soap opera. Then thought better of it. Perhaps "Too many cooks spoil the broth" is more apt. Then again, "The clowns are in Town" has a nice ring to it. Though this is no clowning matter, the whole fiasco is fast turning into a huge joke. After all, I'd rather laugh than cry in frustration.
But I finally settled for "A Three-Ring Circus in Perak". For the uninitiated, a three-ring circus is an idiom that means "a lot of noisy or confused activity".
Really! That's what this is all about.
Frankly, after reading through several blogs today, I can only conclude that the Perak fiasco should not be solely laid upon DAP/Uncle Lim's shoulders. PAS and PKR too should share some responsibility.
Consider the summary of events below - parts of which are taken from RPK's blog "Yellow card for the opposition" and the remainder from the Malaysiakini article, "PKR threatens to pull out of Perak state admin":-
1. As the DAP-PKR-PAS coalition could not come to an agreement as to who should be the new MB of Perak, three names (representing each party) were submitted to the Sultan of Perak. The three parties agreed to abide by the decision of the Sultan of Perak.
2. But before the Sultan could decide, PAS jumped the gun and announced that the MB will be from PAS in the hope that the 'early announcement' would leave DAP and PKR no more room for negotiations.
3. Then DAP decided to oppose the new Perak MB by boycotting the swearing-in of the new MB.
4. After much censure from both the public and the bloggers alike (although my cousin, Chris, believed the entire boycott was a political ploy - more on this in another blog), DAP decided to lift the boycott.
5. However, before the rakyat could heave a sigh of relief, PKR threatened to pull out from the Perak state administration on hearing that eight of the 10 executive council posts will go to DAP while the remaining two will go to other parties. PKR claimed that this agreement was made between PAS and DAP.
Now if this is not a three-ring circus, what would you call it?
Getting their act together
No wonder the Regent of Perak refused to swear-in the new MB today and had asked the three parties to go back to the drawing board to find a workable solution. Meanwhile, you can bet your bottom dollar (or Ringgit in this case) that BN is happily sitting back and giving enough rope to the coalition to hang themselves. And that's what will happen if DAP, PKR and PAS do not get their act together.
However, before things go any further, I believe DAP have to decide internally to what extent the individual state branch/representative is at liberty to make decisions on behalf of the party during negotiations. Case in point is the agreement made by DAP State Chairman, Ngeh, with his counterparts in PAS and PKR to present the three names to the Sultan and to accept the Sultan's decision; whilst DAP CEC claimed that they were only in agreement to hand in the two names from DAP and PKR.
I have no idea what transpired in these close door meetings between DAP, PKR and PAS, but could only speculate based on my experience in negotiations in the corporate world. It is necessary for the person involved in these high powered negotiations to be empowered to make final decisions in the event that the original proposal hit a snag/ stalemate. This is especially crucial when time is of the essence. Perhaps Ngeh faced such a situation and had to renegotiate. If the DAP CEC could not decentralised the decision making, then they should send someone from the CEC who is empowered to negotiate.
At PAS end, due to its party structure of decentralised decision making, some ground rules need to be set by PAS central leadership. Too much leeway given to the state branch leadership could cause PAS its credibility in the eyes of the rakyat and its coalition partners. Case in point the above "early announcement" made by the Perak rep and the statement made by the PAS central leadership to give a Kedah exco seat to DAP but none was given by PAS Kedah branch when it came to the crunch.
A little faith goes a long way but obviously DAP, PKR and PAS have not reached that stage in their alliance. Case in point of PKR's threat to pull out of the Perak state administration upon hearing the decision on the division of seats of the state exco. Instead of talking to the press, engagement and talks should have been made between the three parties to clear the air. Airing dirty laundry in public is not going to endear the coalition to the rakyat. In fact, it provides BN with new ammunition to attack the coalition!
Preventing BN its two thirds majority is the easy part and is only the beginning. The drama in the last few days are minor skirmishes at best. The war has yet to be fought. Does the coalition possess enough faith, passion and staying power to last the entire war? Or do they want to be relegated back to the position of backbenchers?
I confess my hopes have started to wan. Please prove me wrong!