Monday, May 05, 2008

MB Nizar Terus Disindir

The Malay Mail

Monday, May 05 2008

Behind the Headlines > Hard lesson for Nizar

Baradan Kuppusamy

IN a dramatic turnaround, the Perak Palace has stolen the thunder by ordering Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin to reinstate Datuk Jamry Sury as director of the Perak Islamic Affairs Department.

Nizar has been given a simple lesson in statecraft – you might be the political boss but it is better to have the palace behind you when sacking a senior officer.

Nizar might have the powers to transfer but it is political suicide to do it the way he had done, as the Regent of Perak Raja Dr Nazrin Shah, acting for Sultan Azlan Shah, had pointed out - without offering alternatives, without weighing the fairness of the action and above all, without consulting the palace, an important stakeholder in the political process.

Under the constitution, the Sultans are head of Islam in their various States and they jealously guard that right.

Nizar never saw eye to eye with Jamry on the best way to administer Islam in Perak.

In fact, the bad blood between them goes back before the March 8 polls when Nizar, as Pas leader in Cenderiang, disagreed with Jamry over the choice of imam and mosque committees.

It was the old Umno–Pas rivalry at the village level that continues unabated.

“Being a Pas leader and MB, Nizar naturally wanted to assert his authority over Islam,” said a senior State officer, who declined to be named.

“But Jamry just sat on every instruction and directive from Nizar’s office.

“This behaviour infuriated Nizar who lost his cool and decided the solution was to remove Jamry. He might have the powers but he should have consulted all the parties involved, especially the palace.” The tussle between the two goes to the very root of power in Malay society - control of village mosques and their imam, who are the key influence in village life, including in the political choices villagers make.

Pas’ performance in the March 8 polls was nothing to shout about but Nizar got the Menteri Besar’s post because the DAP, which outperformed itself, did not have a Malay candidate. PKR, which won six seats, had no suitable Malay candidate either.

Nizar, who speaks fluent English and has wide experience in the private sector, was the natural choice.

He aimed to extend Pas influence in the State by putting Pas members as imam and Jamry resisted the move, sources said.

“Their relationship worsened and eventually they were not on talking terms.” The last straw was when Jamry refused permission for Nizar, whose knowledge of Islam is highly regarded in Pas circles, to lead the sermon at the Ipoh main mosque last Friday. An insulted Nizar transferred Jamry, setting off the crisis.

From the start, Nizar’s relations with the palace were not balmy. The swearingin ceremony got off on the wrong foot with DAP elder Lim Kit Siang announcing a boycott of the palace ceremony.

He later withdrew his statement and apologised.

Later, some names Nizar submitted to the palace for birthday honours last month, which included DAP veterans, were dropped.

The larger picture of it all is that Rulers are enjoying a major revival in status and confi dence and the general public is enthusiastic about it. A new generation of royals are speaking up for human rights, democracy and rule of law.

The Jamry affair, if you can call it that, is a lesson to leaders of Pakatan Rakyat ruled States that the palace is a permanent institution that has survived the rigours of time and cannot be ignored, especially in matters so close to home, like Islam.

Nizar has little choice now but to reinstate Jamry and repair the damage with the palace or his days as Menteri Besar are numbered.


Wartawan akhbar yang cuba bersikap neutral seperti The Malay Mail ini pun mempersoalkan tindakan kontroversi Nizar. Namun, apakah Nizar bertindak tanpa dipengaruhi oleh DAP? Jika ya, malanglah apabila seseorang yang melaungkan tentang Islam, menangani isu ini dengan cara yang tidak berhemah apabila bertindak mengikut emosi. Inilah yang Melayu Perak hairankan apabila mengenangkan penghinaan dalam diam pihak-pihak yang skeptikal terhadap Islam tentang prestasi PAS di Perak. Jika PAS tidak bermuka tebal, nescaya Islam lebih dipandang tinggi dan suara Melayu dihormati. Hari ini, kedengaran suara "Besar sangatkah orang Melayu dalam ini Perak?"

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