Deja vu of political crisis

Deja vu of political crisis
Venting anger: Umno members from Ajil displaying their views during a protest.

PETALING JAYA - The political crisis playing out now in Terengganu is not unique. There have been similar situations where defections and backroom negotiations had caused sitting governments with a narrow majority to topple.

In 1959, in the first general election after independence, the Pan Malayan Islamic Party (better known now as PAS) won 13 of 24 state seats in Terengganu.

It was a brief tenure as, in October 1961, two party members and three others from Parti Negara defected to Umno.

Following a no-confidence motion against the ruling party, the tripartite Alliance of Umno, MCA and MIC took over the reins.

In the 1999 elections (when the Alliance had evolved as the Barisan Nasional), PAS regained power in Terengganu but only for a single term.

In Sarawak, a crisis broke out in 1966 when 21 of 42 assemblymen declared they no longer had confidence in then chief minister Tan Sri Stephen Kalong Ningkan.

Governor Tun Abang Haji Openg called for his resignation and Datuk Penghulu Tawi Sli Tini Tawi Sli was appointed chief minister on June 17, 1966.

Ningkan took his case to the courts and three months later, he was reinstated.

Tawi Sli requested Openg to reconvene a state legislative assembly, which again moved a vote of no-confidence against Ningkan.

In the impasse that followed, the Federal Government intervened, with Parliament passing the Emergency (Federal Constitution and Constitution of Sarawak) Act 1966.

In 1977, when PAS had become a component of the Barisan and party president Tan Sri Asri Muda was in the Federal Cabinet, there was a fallout between him and Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Mohammed Nasir.

Their factions locked horns and a vote of no confidence was moved against Mohammed, who refused to step down.

He called for the dissolution of the assembly, leading to a legal impasse and a three-month long state of emergency.

A new party led by Mohammed, Berjasa, rose from the ashes of the emergency and in the state polls held in March 1978, PAS lost to the new party and the Barisan.

PAS, however, regained power in Kelantan in 1990 after teaming up with the now defunct Parti Melayu Semangat 46.

In the February 1994 Sabah elections, Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) retained power with just a narrow majority of two seats over the Barisan.

PBS president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan was sworn in as chief minister but his tenure ended on March 17, 1994, when several PBS members defected to Barisan parties or formed their own Barisan-friendly parties.

The term katak (frog) was supposedly used for political defectors after this episode.

In 2008, the alliance of DAP, PKR and PAS took control of Perak, with a combined number of 31 state seats against the Barisan's 28. Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin of PAS became mentri besar despite his party being the minority partner in the coalition. In February 2009, however, three assemblymen quit to become Barisan-friendly independents.

The Sultan rejected Nizar's request to dissolve the state assembly and after a long court battle, the Federal Court ruled the Barisan as the legitimate state government.

More about

Purchase this article for republication.



Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.