NEP,Meritocracy and Education System


It is clearly obvious to all of us that the NEP is a liability to our country. It was originally designed to empower the economically disadvantaged in the name of national unity. But it led to the creation of UMNOputras and their cronies, and the subsequent bailout of politically connected and family businesses. It has become a burden to the country and its perpetuation is driving much needed foreign direct investment out of our country while preventing new inflows of long term capital.

Listen to the talk by Dr. Azmi, Law Professor from the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. He is one of the most outspoken critics of the New Economic Policy. Great social injustice to the Malays, the Indians and the Chinese has been done by the UMNO-BN regime. NEP created a lot of social problems. Parti KeADILan’s Malaysian Economic Agenda is the answer for us.

RM1m spent in poll ads first 3 days


http://www.malaysiakini.com
February 28, 2008
The ruling Barisan Nasional coalition has spent RM1 million in print media advertising in the first three days of the election campaign, said corruption watchdog Transparency International-Malaysia.“In the first three days of the period under monitor – Feb 25 to 27 – BN was projected to have spent a cumulative total of RM1.049 million,” said TI president Ramon V Navaratnam.

The amount does not include TV advertisements in which TI conceded were where the “lion’s share of election advertising monies are believed to go”.

However, the organisation will begin monitoring political parties’ expenses for TV election advertisements beginning today.

According to Ramon, the TI study was part of a regional project to promote transparency in political financing.

Over the 13-day campaigning period, TI is monitoring election advertisements in six English dailies, five Malay newspapers, four Chinese titles and three Tamil dailies.

Ramon said that TI’s estimated advertisement cost is based on normal advertisement rates quoted by the various publications surveyed.

If the cost of advertisements was to be divided proportionally among BN candidates, TI said that each parliamentary contestant would have spent RM2,220, while each state candidate, RM1,103 on print advertising alone.

Scrutinise candidates expenses, EC told

Ramon argued that this cost should be reflected in the candidates’ expenses where under the law a parliamentary candidate can spend only up to RM200,000 while a state candidate RM100,000, in election campaign expenditure.

This means that BN candidates have only RM197,780 (for parliament seat) and RM98,897 (state) left to spend for the remaining 10 days of the campaign period.

“TI urges all (political) parties to declare all their advertisement expenses and to require their candidates to report their respective share of such expenses,” said Ramon.

“TI also urges the Election Commission to closely scrutinise the candidates’ expenses report and be prepared to lodge police reports for any under-reporting found.”

According to TI, there was no election advertising by opposition parties – PAS, DAP and PKR – over the first three days of the electoral campaign in the 18 monitored newspapers.

“This is the first time that campaign expense monitoring is being monitored,” said Ramon, who is a former top civil servant.

“This is a new addition to election process monitoring and media content monitoring that had started from previous elections and is being performed in this election as well.”

 

The Status Quo (3-Abdul Rule) Poses Huge Risks for Us


The head of the Tiga Abdul (Abdul-LAH, Abdul Najib and Abdul Noh Mohamad) was reported by the ampu bodek UMNO controlled The New Straits Times (February 29, 2008) to have said that “Electing a government is a serious business and the people cannot afford to conduct experiments. It will be disastrous if the experiment fails. There really is so much to lose…”

We, Malaysians, put our faith in the Alliance Party and now UMNO dominated Barisan Nasional for the last 50 years including the nearly 4 years under Abdul-LAH and what did we get? We see our country as a dysfunctional state on the brink of turning into failed one.

We got empty promises with imaginary corridors throughout the length and breadth of our country. There is a breakdown in law and order so that we are no longer safe on our streets and in our homes; our system of public adminstration is crippled by low morale and inept leadership; corruption is rampant; inflation is on the rise; there is blatant abuse of power by senior politicians and their cronies and our economy is not well managed and— as they say in people’s language— all screwed up.

Even worse, in my view, is that public officials who expected to run our country professionally and with integrity are now pandering to petty politicians and their bosses at the highest level of government. Ali Rustam, who hopes to be re-elected and remain the Chief Minister of Malacca, is trying to “force” civil servants to vote for BN on the grounds that it would be considered “unpatriotic” if they voted PKR and its associates.

At no other time in our history is our country is exposed to greater risk than it is now. Petrol prices and toll rates will increase after the UMNO-BN is returned to power; the prices of basic food items will rise in tandem; the fight against corruption has virtually been abandoned; and the same ministers and cronies will be in charge as there is stil be plenty of money for them to make in the next 5 years.

My question is very direct: do you trust the fate and the future of our country in the hands of someone who sleeps on the job.  My Fellow Malaysians, please vote wisely and vote for change. Harapan Baru Untuk Malaysia/A New Dawn for Malaysia.—Din Merican

Umno may lose up to 10 seats


Badawi waving goodbye to Malaysians

Premesh Chandran
February 28, 2008

With 95 parliament seats and 269 state seats in Peninsula Malaysia, Umno is by far the most dominant political party in the country.

In 2004, Umno won 95 out of the 103 (92.2%) parliament seats and 268 out of 304 (88.2%) state seats contested in the peninsular. Umno had a near perfect record in all states except in the Malay heartland of Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah where it lost 32 state seats and seven parliament seats to PAS.

Its biggest prize in 2004 was snatching Terengganu back from PAS, a state it had lost in 1999 in the wake of the reformasi movement. However, this victory was marred by serious allegations of electoral fraud.

For example, the opposition lost a mere 5.2% of its total vote haul in the state – from 180,492 votes in 1999 to 171,136 votes in 2004. On the other hand, Umno secured votes totaling 222,084 – a mammoth jump of 72% as compared to the 128,912 votes it got in 1999.

In total, there were an additional 83,816 votes cast in 2004, a growth of 27% from 1999. For Umno to achieve its feat in almost doubling its popular votes in Terengganu, all these additional and new votes would have gone to the party.

These figures plus the fact that several constituencies had turnouts of above 90% have casts serious doubts on the credibility of the electoral process.

In this general election, Umno has set its sights on capturing Kelantan, a state ruled by PAS since 1990. There is fear among PAS that Kelantan would face similar 90-plus-percent turnouts. If that is the case, Umno would have achieved its 18-year ambition to wrest the state from the clutches of the Islamic Party.

But if all things remain equal and with a 5% swing of voters towards the BN, Umno stands to capture up to 14 state seats and four parliament seats. However, if these voters swing towards the opposition, Umno will lose 10 state seats and six parliament seats.

A swing among Malay voters?

In Terengganu, a 5% swing among Malay voters will see PAS pick up two marginal parliament seats – Kuala Terengganu and Marang, as well as 10 state seats – just a couple of seats from winning back the state. A similar swing in Kedah will see the opposition pick up four parliament and six state seats.

Voter swing is the proportion of those who had voted for a particular party in the last election changing their votes this time.

In other states, Umno will also be watching closely the swing among non-Malays as some of its seats have sizable percentage of such voters.

A 10% swing among non-Malay voters and a 5% swing among Malays, will see Umno losing Parit Buntar in Perak (majority 4,698), Bera, Pahang (majority 4.470), Nibong Tebal, Penang (majority 6,005) and Pokok Sena in Kedah. (majority 7,300).

Umno may also lose seats with a heavy Indian voting base if the swing among Indian voters is larger than expected.

These include Bagan Serai (majority 5,614, Indian voters: 10.4%) and Bagan Datok (majority 12,539, Indian voters: 22.6%) in Perak, Tanjong Karang (majority 9,008: Indian voters: 11.1%), Kuala Selangor (majority 13,662, Indian voters: 23.3%) in Selangor, and Lembah Pantai in Kuala Lumpur (majority 15,288, Indian voters: 18.2%).

After benefitting from a sizable swing among Malay voters to the government in 2004, Umno’s electoral fortunes in the upcoming election will heavily depend on these voters sticking with BN.

However, after four years of ineffectual leadership by Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, we expect a slight swing against the government among Malay voters in 2008, which could result in Umno losing some seven parliament seats, and perhaps as many as 10 seats.

Dari Eddieputra, Club Anwar Ibrahim, Kawasan Parliamen Subang:

kembalikan hak rakyat,

kembalikan keADILan,

tegakkan demokrasi

tegakkan keADILan

kembalikan Anwar ke parlimen,

kembalikan suara rakyat

HARAPAN BARU UNTUK MALAYSIA
MENJANA PERUBAHAN

Manifesto KeADILan 2008


Manifesto KeADILan 2008 – Harapan Baru Untuk Malaysia PDF   Emel
26 Februari 2008
Manifesto KeADILan 2008
Harapan Baru Untuk Malaysia

 

 kem08-manifesto_bm-thumbnail.jpg

 

Tekad Pertama: Negara Madani Untuk Semua
Mempertahankan Perpaduan, Hak Asasi dan Integriti

Tekad Kedua: Ekonomi Maju untuk Semua
Pengagihan Sama Rata Menjana Dayasaing yang Tinggi

Tekad Ketiga: Malaysia Yang Selamat Untuk Semua
Pasukan Polis Yang Bersih Untuk Perlindungan Rakyat

Tekad Keempat: Harga Rendah Untuk Semua
Kawalan Harga Petrol dan Barangan

Tekad Kelima: Pendidikan Terbaik Untuk Semua
Kualiti Pendidikan Tertinggi Yang Percuma

 

Najwan Halimi and Friends of Asian Renaissance


Najwan, Chin Wee Loon, Charlene, Anna, Amin Ahmad and others,

We in KeADILan care about Malaysians. Read our 2008 Election Manifesto. It contains ideas and proposals which will enable our country to regain its rightful place in the community of nations in East Asia. We were once in the top league, but now we are playing in the Division 111 EPL group.

What will it take to get back into the Premier League? First, we want a leader with vision, integrity and capacity for hard work who can build our nation “that reflects the true potential, talent and calibre of the Malaysian people”and craft, articulate and boldly implement a Malaysian Economic Agenda with transparent competitive economic policies founded on justice for all.

Second, we must have an efficient and clean civil service that can jive with the leader. Third, we need a people centered Police Force which can protect us against criminals, not treat us as the “enemy”.

Fourth, we need to eliminate economic mismanagement and massive corruption which are the root causes of the rise in the cost of living and the loss in national competitiveness. Critically, fifth, Malaysians deserve better education for their kids. With KeADILan, a new dawn awaits Malaysia.

Michael Jackson’s “They don’t care about us” is a message for the UMNO-BN regime. Listen to it. Din Merican

All I wanna say is that they don’t really care about us
All I wanna say is that They don’t really care about us
Skin head,Dead head
Everybody Gone bad
Situation, Aggravation
Everybody Allegation
In the suite,on the news
everybody Dog food
bang bang shot dead
Everybody’s Gone mad
All I wanna say is that they don’t really care about us
all I wanna say is that they don’t really care about us
Beat me, Hate me
You can never Break me
Will me, Thrill me
You can never Kill me
Jew me, Sue me
Everybody Do me
Kick me, Kike me
Don’t you Black or white me
All I wanna say is that they don’t really care about us
All I wanna say is that they don’t really care about usTell me what has become of my life
I have a wife and two children who love me
I’m a victim of police brutality, now
I’m tired of being’ the victim of hate,
Your raping’ me of my pride
Oh for God’s sake
I look to heaven to fulfill its prophecy… Set me free

Skin head, Dead head
Everybody Gone bad
Trepidation, Speculation
Everybody Allegation
In the suite, On the news
Everybody Dog food
Black man, Black mail
Throw your brother In jail

All I wanna say is that they don’t really care about us
All I wanna say is that they don’t really care about us

Tell me what has become of my rights
Am I invisible ’cause you ignore me?
Your proclamation promised me free liberty, now.
I’m tired of being’ the victim of shame
They’re throwing’ me in a class with a bad name
I can’t believe this is the land from which I came

You know I really do hate to say it
The government don’t wanna see
But it Roosevelt was living’,
he wouldn’t let this be, no no.

Skin head, Dead head
Everybody Gone bad
Situation Speculation
Everybody Litigation
Beat me, Bash me
You can never Trash me

Hit me,Kick me
You can never Get me

All I wanna say is that they don’t really care about us
All I wanna say is that they don’t really care about us

Some things in life they just don’t wanna see
But if Martin Luther was living’
He wouldn’t let this be, no no.

Skin head, Dead head
Everybody’s Gone bad
Situation, Segregation
Everybody Allegation
In the suite, On the news
Everybody Dog food
Kick me, Kike me
Don’t you Wrong or right me

All I wanna say is that they don’t really care about us
All I wanna say is that they don’t really care about us
All I wanna say is that they don’t really care about us

Sivarasa: In politics, the dice is always rolling


 
Terence Netto

February 27, 2008

The expression of thought in language clear as a window pane is not a quality that’s in terribly abundant supply in Malaysian politics. An hour’s conversation with Sivarasa Rasiah, the PKR parliamentary candidate for Subang, may entice one to conclude that clear convictions and lucid articulation are, after all, not that rare to find.bersih ec constitutional putrajaya 181207 sivarasa

Tangled syntax, hemming, hawing pauses, the pumping of pompous sound and fury into otherwise bland statements of the obvious – all signs of a lack of inner clarity – are conspicuous by their absence in this Rhodes scholar’s discourse.

Not even steady interruptions to take mobile phone calls can skew the pellucid flow of his conversation. A mere, “Where were we?” suffices to recover the lost thread and for the chat to resume its crystalline trails.

If a gift for vividness is a compelling virtue in politics, then Sivarasa ought to be home and dry in his third quest for parliamentary representation. His maiden attempt in 1999 in Ampang Jaya leveraged on the reformasi surge but fell valiantly short of success; his second attempt in Petaling Jaya Selatan in 2004 was snuffed out by the Ahmad Abdullah Badawi typhoon.

For the March 8 general election, the 52-year-old lawyer is fairly sure the electoral pendulum is swinging in favour of greater representation for the opposition though he is not sure of its magnitude.

“The dice is always rolling in politics,” remarked Sivarasa, in an interview with Malaysiakini during a pause for lunch in his campaign for the Subang parliament seat in Selangor.

pkr lodge aca report on lingam tape 200907 sivarasa pcHe hastened to add that unlike the numbers that come up on a roll of dice, political shifts don’t occur at random.

“In the last few years, there has been a confluence of concerns among the people,” said Sivarasa.

“The rise in the crime rate, the consumer price spiral, the decay in the judiciary, the perception that corruption is pervasive, inefficiency in the police force and civil service, have all combined to induce in people a feeling that things are slipping out of control.

“It has not helped that Prime Minister Abdullah appears to be a captive of indecision. When people begin to say things like, ‘At least Dr Mahathir would go ahead and take a decision and stick by it even if it was an unpopular one,’ you are in trouble because at the last election Abdullah benefitted from a wave that was not so much approval of him as rejection of Dr Mahathir,” opined Sivarasa.

We’re more a movement for change

Obviously, electoral waves have nuances that are only evident after they have crested and ebbed. Would Sivarasa care to divine the nuances in the wave that he sees as favouring greater representation for the opposition?

“I would have to be clairvoyant to do that,” he quipped. “All I’m prepared to say is that there is a shift in favour of a greater presence for us in Parliament. As for the nuances we would have to wait and see.”

subang parliamentary seat 270208Sivarasa, who has alternated between central and peripheral roles in the billowing legal work that occurred at the interface between the reformasi movement and the government since the late 1990s, is unfazed by the waiting and the questing.

“You must remember we belong not so much to a political party as a movement for change. A movement takes a long time to build and to coalesce into a consensus approved by the masses. There will be currents in our favour that may wax and wane. That’s the dynamics of politics. But so long as our values do not change, we can hope eventually to come up on top,” elaborated Sivarasa.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with myriad single steps,” he concluded.

Sivarasa is contesting against MIC first-timer S Murugesan, 40, in a constituency which has 84,414 voters, out of which 50% are Malay, 35.9% Chinese and 13.5% Indian.

In the 2004 general elections, MIC’s KS Nijhar romped home in Subang with a majority of 15,460 against PKR’s Mohd Nasir Hashim.

Dedicated to All Men and Women of Parti KeADILan: We can make it happen


 

To my brothers and sisters who are all over our beautiful land to spread the message of change. May through our tireless efforts the winds of change sweep across our land.We can make it happen for Malaysia by working hard and reaching out with extended hands to the voting public .

Please tell them that we have the right leaders to move our country forward. We must reject corruption and abuse of power, create a constitutional state; educate, protect and care for all Malaysians, promote strong economic growth with redistributive justice, and be proud once again that we are Malaysians. We were once among the best in the region, and will be there again.

Our cause of freedom, justice and democracy is a just one. We are challenging a corrupt and incompetent UMNO-BN regime and a hostile media. Together we can make a difference. A new dawn for Malaysia awaits us. May this video inspire all of us. Good luck for March 8, 2008.—Din Merican

Kenyataan Media Parti KeADILan Rakyat


27 Februari 2008

NEGARA HAMPIR BANKRAP KERANA KORUPSI DAN PEMBAZIRAN

Pemimpin-pemimpin UMNO-BN bukan main takut lagi dengan Manifesto KeADILan, PAS dan DAP. Mereka menggunakan TV, radio dan akhbar untuk menyelewengkan dan menyerang manifesto-manifesto tersebut. Sebaiknya TV sama sekali tidak memberikan liputan kepada pelancaran manifesto KeADILan. Liputan akhbar cuba memperlekeh.

Walaupun manifesto KeADILan, PAS dan DAP berlainan, terdapat banyak perkara penting yang sama. Yang utama sekali ialah semuanya berikrar menggunakan kekayaan negara untuk faedah rakyat ramai, terutama yang miskin serta berpendapatan rendah, bukan untuk mengkayakan lagi segelintir yang berkeluarga atau berkaitan rapat dengan pemimpin-pemimpin utama UMNO-BN, yang merompak kekayaan negara itu.

KeADILan antara lain menjanjikan harga minyak turun, tol lebuhraya terkawal serta tidak naik lagi dan gaji minimum untuk para pekerja pada paras RM1500 sebulan dilaksanakan.

Harga minyak boleh diturunkan sesuai dengan kenaikan harga pasaran dunia untuknya, sebab Malaysia selaku pengeksport bersih minyak mendapat utung yang bertambah besar dari penjualannya. Sebahagain dari untung boleh diguna untuk menurunkan harga.

Tol lebuhraya boleh dikawal sekiranya kerajaan tidak menurut saja kehendak dan kepentingan syarikat serta tokoh-tokoh korporat yang rakus, kebanyakannya berkait rapat dengan pemimpin-pemimpin utama UMNO.

Gaji minimum boleh dilaksanakan sekiranya kerajaan benar-benar mahu menolong para pekerja dan sanggup bertindak tegas supaya pihak majikan atau pemodal yang memiliki syarikat-syarikat besar sanggup berkongsi keuntungan yang mereka kaut untuk digunakan bagi menaikkan taraf hidup para pekerja.

Semua langkah ini akan menolong rakyat ramai dan boleh memurah serta memudahkan lagi penghidupan mereka. Akan tetapi pemimpin-pemimpin besar UMNO-BN tidak mahu melaksanakannya kerana lebih memikirkan kepentingan hanya segelintir saja yang memang sudah berkuasa dalam bidang ekonomi dan politik.

Janji-janji KeADILan tidak akan menimbulkan masalah kewangan kepada negara. Sekarang ini masalah kewangan yang menuju kepada keadaan negara hampir bangkrap timbul dari korupsi dan pembaziran yang dilaku dan dibiarkan oleh pemimpin-pemimpin besar UMNO-BN. Mereka berbohong besar konon hendak menghapuskan penyakit ini.

Dr Syed Husin Ali
Timbalan Presiden KeADILan

Petronas turns into an election issue


http://www.malaysiakini.com

February 26, 2008

Questions pertaining to the usage of Petronas’ coffers to placate the ruling government’s mega projects came into the limelight during campaigning in the country’s 12th general election.

PKR deputy president Dr Syed Husin Ali queried the continuing use of the national oil producer’s profits to finance Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s mega projects. He also urged the government to stop abusing Petronas’ profits.

“Beginning from the previous prime minister (Dr Mahathir Mohamad) unnecessary projects which do not benefit the nation have been funded by Petronas’ profits,” he said in a statement.

He said Abdullah, who promised to end the practice of using Petronas money for mega projects, had also reneged on his promise.

For the financial year ended March 31, 2007, Petronas posted a net profit of RM46.4 billion, up 7.7 percent. Revenue was up 10 percent (RM184.1 billion) while shareholders’ fund rose 16.3 percent to RM170.9 billion.

In terms of payment to the government, Petronas contributed RM52.3 billion or 66.2 percent of its profit as tax, dividends, royalties and export duties. Over the past 33 years, a total of RM336 billion was contributed to the government.

Net importer

Petronas president and CEO Mohd Hassan Merican, however, warned that Malaysia would become a net importer of oil by 2010 if consumption growth continued at four percent per annum.

The company itself was also concerned over the subsidy it was handing out. For the year 2007, it forked out a total of RM15.6 billion. Total subsidy since gas prices were fixed in 1997 now stood at RM58.2 billion.

Some of the “national” projects Petronas had undertaken since 1997 include funding the Formula One races and the Sauber racing team, Twin Towers, and Putrajaya.

Petronas funds were also used to bail out Bank Bumiputera in the 1980s and the buying of debt-laden Konsortium Perkapalan Bhd Malaysian during the Asian financial crisis in 1998.

Incidentally, Mahathir’s son Mirzan owned KPB (which had debts of RM1.7 billion) at the time.

KeADILan Manifesto 2008: A New Dawn For Malaysia


Petaling Jaya
February 26, 2008

Datin Seri Dr. Wan Azizah, President, Parti KeADILan Rakyat announced the party’s Manifesto entitled”A New Dawn for Malaysia” at a press conference in Petaling Jaya this afternoon (February 26, 2008). Also present were Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim,de facto Party leader, and Dr. Syed Hussin Ali, Deputy President.

She said that the Manifesto”encapsulates KeADILan’s vision for putting Malaysia back on track. It describes how we will build a nation that reflects the true potential, talent and calibre of the Malaysian people. It centres on five central positions that the Party believes are key to start the healing process in the country”.

These are:

1. KeADILan believes that the spirit of the Constitution and the Rule of Law must be honoured in deed, and not just in words. This will ensure the Rule of Law and an independent judiciary, as well as guarantee that basic human rights and dignity of all are protected and upheld under a constitutional state which rejects all forms of racially divisive politics to create a society that is founded on unity, justice and mutual respect.

2. A Malaysian Economic Agenda will be based on a policy that ensures assistance to all poor Malaysians regardless of race and that promotes vibrant internal growth and global competitiveness. For Malaysia to stand again among regional giants like South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, it must play by the rules of the global game as well as eliminate corruption and wastage.

3. Endemic mismanagement of the Police Force for political ends, internal division and tolerance of a culture of corruption have crippled the ability of the police to protect ordinary Malaysians. KeADILan seeks to create a police force that is professional, neutral, better deployed, better trained and better equipped to keep Malaysians safe.

4. Malaysia must be made affordable for all. KeADILan promises to lower the price of petrol in line with higher PETRONAS profits as well as manage the prices of basic goods to ensure a consistent and steady supply.Toll rates and tariffs will also no longer be raised unreasonably to satisfy conglomerates and corporate interests.

5. We must seriously re-evaluate government policies to increase the standards of Malaysian education for all. KeADILan “will allow institutions of learning the freedom to engage the best practices that raise the standard of education, pay educators the salaries their profession deserves and enable universal access to scholarships and higher quality education for all... to brighten the future of Malaysia and her children”.

The Manifesto states in no uncertain terms that “[I]t is time for us to stand together as Malaysians and replace inept, failed leaders with leaders of calibre, vision and integrity. It is time to make Malaysia all it can be and bring about a New Dawn for Malaysia”.

My Fellow Malaysians, it is also time for us to reflect on this Manifesto and what it seeks to achieve.You will note that KeADILan has the political will to implement its 5 commitments to the nation. We take our pledges and promises seriously because governing Malaysia is a major undertaking. But we do not underestimate the difficult tasks that lie ahead. After nearly four years of the Badawi led UMNO-BN government, we have regressed so much that the process of change will demand the commitment, effort and sacrifice on the part of all Malaysians.

Support our Manifesto and vote in favour of change so that with a new dawn that awaits us, we can rebuild the foundations of our constitutional state; when our mission is done, we can truly be proud Malaysians again.—Din Merican

For full text of our Manifesto in various languages, please click below:

Bahasa Malaysia

English

Chinese

Tamil

WSJA: Malaysia’s Choice


WSJ Malaysia Choice

Malaysia’s Choice
WALL STREET JOURNAL ASIA
February 26, 2008

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi launched his election manifesto yesterday, while his ruling coalition ran advertisements that read “Only One Choice: National Front.” The irony wasn’t lost on opposition parties, which don’t enjoy the electoral advantages afforded to Mr. Abdullah’s supporters. Even so, next month’s parliamentary ballot will be an important referendum on the Prime Minister and his government.

Political change comes slowly in Malaysia, still a young democracy with an evolving middle class. The National Front has a virtual choke hold on state-run media, and full coffers for pre-election campaign spending. Of the 222 parliamentary constituencies and 505 state legislature seats up for grabs on March 8, opposition parties are expected to seriously contest only one state: Kelantan, currently ruled by the Parti Islam Se-Malaysia, or PAS.

But even Mr. Abdullah admits that his coalition will likely lose some ground, if not the two-thirds parliamentary majority it currently enjoys on a national level. That’s partly because the last time voters went to the polls, in 2004, Malaysia’s economy was on an upswing, thanks to the U.S. Federal Reserve-stimulated flood of capital that flowed to Asia. Not so now: While inflation remains relatively contained, growth is slowing and food and energy prices are rising. Although that isn’t entirely Mr. Abdullah’s fault, faster economic liberalization earlier in his first term would have helped.

Mr. Abdullah also has backtracked from the timid political reforms he tried when first elected, such as allowing more public dissent in the streets and in Malaysia’s media. That has rankled the country’s ethnic minorities, who have protested in force in recent months to demand more attention to official corruption and a rethinking of affirmative-action policies that benefit the Malay majority. Mr. Abdullah didn’t boost his popularity by cracking down hard on the public protests and imprisoning a clutch of protest leaders under the country’s Internal Security Act, a colonial-era law that allows for detention without trial.

These moves have breathed new light into Malaysia’s loosely organized opposition, informally led by former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim of the National Justice Party. It’s an unlikely resurrection on both counts. Mr. Anwar isn’t eligible to run for office again until April, and the opposition parties don’t have much in common. The secular Democratic Action Party, for instance, rubs uneasily with the Islamist PAS, even though the PAS is reinventing itself as a more moderate, Shariah-lite party to woo moderate Malays.

Yet as in 1999, when Mr. Anwar led the reformasi, or reform movement, all opposition parties seem to sniff the National Front’s weakness and are banding together for pragmatic ends. In an improvement from that earlier era, they are now running on ideas, not slogans. Today, Mr. Anwar is expected to release an election manifesto detailing, among other things, a pledge for capital-account liberalization, friendlier foreign investment regimes, cleaner and more predictable governance and an end to price controls and racial quotas.dsc_4323.jpg

That’s an appealing message to Malaysia’s entrepreneurs, who grow in number with every passing year. It’s also a message that will appeal to ethnic minorities, who want equality of opportunity in schools and in business. As globalization moves on, Mr. Abdullah’s message of handouts and affirmative action will start to look tired — and perhaps it already has. We’ll know, come March.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120396610081191079.html?mod=opinion_main_europe_asia

Datin Seri Dr.Wan Azizah Ismail: In Permatang Puah


Datin Seri Dr. Wan Azizah, President, Parti KeADILan Rakyat and a medical doctor by profession, will be challenged by the one time Imam Masjid Negara turned UMNO crony businessman, Dato Pridaus Ismail, in the Permatang Puah Parliamentary constituency on March 8, 2008. It may be recalled that she beat him in 2004, despite last minute attempts to turn the outcome in his favour.

Billed as the big fight in 2008 by one major daily newspaper, the challenge will likely fizzle out because the PKR President has been a model Parliamentarian with an outstanding record of public duty since 1999 when she became the reluctant politician after her beloved husband, Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim, was gaoled on trumphed up charges. She became a symbol of a national reform movement to bring about democratic change and social reform in our country. Since then, the PKR President has been a tower of strength to Parti KeADILan Rakyat. Her quiet resolve and mature handling of party leaders and members won her many admirers and supporters.

The UMNO-BN regime with Hishamuddin Keris in charge is focusing its efforts on Permatang Pauh, including pumping in loads of money and deploying manpower in their attempt to unseat her. Unfortunately, the chosen BN candidate, Dato Pirdaus carries the stigma of having been a loser. Even his credentials as a former Imam have been discredited due to his support for Islam Hadhari .In Permatang Pauh, Islam Hadhari is seen as redundant.

Wan Azizah’s strength has been her devoted service to her constituents who see her as a loyal wife, a devoted mother and grandmother to a lovely grandaughter, and a caring and modern leader with compassion for the poor and disadvantaged. Her social and humanitarian work in the field of education and welfare through Yayasan Aman bonds her to the people of Permatang Puah. A few months ago, I visited her constituency and was able to personally assess public sentiment toward the demure PKR President and observe her operational set-up. In my opinion, people of Permatang Puah appreciates her work and her grassroots organization is very effective in responding to their needs.

Having said that, her campaign staff are active on the ground spreading PKR’s message of change,highlighting and articulating issues of concern. It would be naive for the UMNO-BN machine to think that the voters in Permatang Puah can be persuaded by money and promises of better times ahead. At the same time, my colleagues in Permatang Puah are not taking chances.

To voters in Permatang Puah, I urge you to vote Dato Seri Dr. Wan Azizah because she has done a lot for you. Now is the time for you to show her that you want her to be your parliamentary representative for the next 5 years. In serving you, she will use her varied experience to voice your concerns in Parliament.—-Din Merican