KUALA LUMPUR, May 21 â€” The ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition has been hurt in the Perak saga only because it has not been as good at explaining its case, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Though he conceded that the saga had further damaged BN’s already bruised reputation, he put it down to bad public relations on BN’s part.
“I’m worried because the opposition have spun the story around. Our problem is, we’re not as good at telling our side of the story. That’s all,” he said.
Najib, who was measured in his responses during an interview with The Straits Times, became fired up when talking about Perak.
Widely seen as the man who engineered the takeover, he maintains that BN did nothing wrong in claiming control of the Perak state government from the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) opposition coalition on Feb 4.
Three PR assemblymen defected on that day and became BN-friendly independents, allowing BN to claim a majority in the state assembly. The move precipitated a series of suits and counter-suits between BN and PR, paralysing the state government.
Several politicians have suggested breaking the impasse through fresh elections. But Najib dismissed the rumours that began circulating after the BN supreme council meeting on Monday that BN might consider dissolving the state assembly. He repeated the coalition’s stand: that it would let the law take its course, as both sides battle it out in the courts.
He also rejected the idea that fresh polls would be better for BN. “No, why should it be better? We’re ruling with a three-seat majority. The PAS state government of Kelantan, for 2Â½ years was ruling Kelantan with a one-seat majority, and that particular seat was won by two votes,” he said.
“But they hung on for 2Â½ years because we respected the process. We respected the majority. In this case, there’s one side that’s refusing to acknowledge this.
“Can I ask a question: if Anwar had succeeded on Sept 16 last year, you think he would have called for fresh elections?”
That was the date opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had touted as the day PR would take over the federal government, with the defection of 31 BN parliamentarians. He failed to muster any defections.
Najib maintained there was nothing unconstitutional or illegal about switching parties, pointing out that politicians in the United States and Britain had done it before.
“Sept 16 was a massive attempt to win 31 of our MPs. Failed. But this time around, three people wanted to switch sides (to BN). What did you expect us to do? Say no, don’t switch sides?… Obviously you say, okay, if you want to support us, welcome, support us,” he said.
Source : The Straits Times