Perutusan Anwar Ibrahim sempena Hari Merdeka


31hb. Ogos 2009

Perutusan Anwar Ibrahim sempena 31hb Ogos, 2009: Semangat Kemerdekaan Menyanggah Perhambaan dan Membina Keyakinan Baru

52nd Merdeka symbolApabila mendekati tarikh 31hb Ogos, ingatan kita akan mengimbas kembali rentetan peristiwa dan perjuangan rakyat yang berkemuncak dengan Kemerdekaan. Tarikh tersebut terungkap sebagai tarikh keramat, menjanjikan kebebasan daripada cengkaman penjajah dan menyelamatkan martabat hidup rakyat.

Persoalan yang menerjah kita semua ialah : bagaimana kita menghayati makna tarikh tersebut hari ini. Pergulatan ini menjadi penentu kepada persoalan makna diri kita sebagai rakyat Malaysia.Tekad baru untuk memahami makna diri Malaysia sebagai bangsa merdeka juga menuntut kita untuk memahami bagaimana kita menjadi tidak merdeka; bagaimana kita hilang kemerdekaan sebelum kita memperolehinya kembali.

Lebih dua ribu tahun yang lalu, Brutus bertanya warga Kota Rom “siapakah yang begitu hina sehingga mahu hidup sebagai hamba ?” Ceasar mahu memiliki kuasa yang tidak terbatas. Nafsunya sebegitu besar dan mahu memastikan Rom dalam genggamannya.

Pertentangan antara Brutus dengan Ceaser adalah pertentangan antara kebebasan menentang nafsu kekuasan tidak terbatas. Sejak negara kita merdeka kita masih bergelut dengan pertentangan ini. Kebebasan – kebebasan bersuara, kebebasan media, kebebasan institusi kehakiman sentiasa mahu disekat oleh penguasa. Oleh itu kita menginsafi hanya bangsa yang pernah melalui gelita penjajahan akan mengerti makna cahaya kemerdekaan. Bagitu juga, hanya diri yang pernah kebebasannya diragut akan menghargai nilai kebebasan.

anwar_ibrahim

Syarahan Perdana Professor Dr. Syed Muhammad Naguib al-Attas yang berjudul Islam Dalam Sejarah Dan Kebudayaan Melayu juga menghuraikan dengan panjang lebar peranan paksi tauhid sebagai aqidah menambat keyakinan baru yang menolak faham tahyul dan perhambaan, seterusnya menjadi pelantar kepada pemikiran yang berakar dengan tradisi aqliyah dan mencernakan budaya segar dengan bahasa Melayu sebagai pertuturan kepustakaan(lingua franca) rantau ini. Ratusan tahun berlalu yang sewajarnya tambah memperkukuh dan memantapkan semangat dan keyakinan baru tersebut.

Cantik sungguh puteri Palembang,
Sayang bersunting bunga pudak;
Betapa keras dilambung gelombang,
Kucacak tiang, kulayar jua.

Manakala melangkaui separuh abad kemerdekaan, kita rakyat Malaysia sewajarnya mempunyai kesedaran betapa Bahasa Melayu bukan sekadar bahasa pasar, bahasa komunikasi basahan untuk berjual beli. Bahasa Melayu adalah bahasa ilmu, bahasa tamadun dan bahasa untuk mengungkapkan pengalaman kemanusian yang paling mendalam dan luhur. Bahasa Melayu telah menjadi bahasa intelektual dan kerohanian untuk umat Islam, makanya Bahasa Melayu juga seharusnya menjadi bahasa intelektual dan kerohanian umat Buddha, Hindu, Kristian dan lain-lain keyakinan.

Bahasa Melayu yang saya sebutkan di sini bukanlah bahasa milik orang Melayu semata-mata. Bahasa Melayu adalah milik rakyat dan bangsa Malaysia yang berketurunan Melayu, Cina, India, Kadazan, Dayak dan lain-lain. Bahasa Melayu adalah milik semua rakyat Malaysia.

Kemerdekaan mestilah tidak terperangkap dengan bahana dari politik sempit dan kelam sesebuah parti politik tertentu. Kemerdekaan perlu di lihat dari perspektif rakyat keseluruhannya ; perjuangan pelbagai kaum, menggunakan pelbagai wadah, dan melibatkan pelbagai aliran pemikiran. Sejarah ternyata mengajar kita bahawa Perjuangan Menuntut Kemerdekaan menerbitkan kesatuan semangat untuk menentang penjajah dan imperialisme Barat ketika itu.

Generasi terdahulu yang sama-sama berjuang untuk kemerdekaan, dan mereka yang menempuh zaman mudanya di masa awal kemerdekaan menjadi saksi kepada kepelbagaian aliran dan wadah perjuangan rakyat. Tetapi penulisan sejarah kemerdekaan yang disampaikan kepada generasi hari ini masih belum berlaku adil kerana fakta yang bercampur propaganda. Ini merupakan beban dan tanggungjawab kepada ahli-ahli sejarah kerana tanpa pensejarahan yang adil, kita tidak akan dapat melihat dan menemui makna dan rupa diri bangsa kita yang sebenarnya. Nama pejuang kemerdekaan seperti Dato’ Onn Jaafar, Ustaz Abu Bakar Baqir, Dr Burhanuddin al Helmy, Ahmad Boestamam, Mat Salleh, Panglima Rentap dan Rosli Dhobi tidak sewajarnya digelapkan dari sejarah menuntut kemerdekaan.

Kemerdekaan adalah untuk kebebasan dan keadilan. Inilah yang dijanjikan kepada kita pada 31 Ogos 1957. Sekiranya kita mahu berdegil untuk meneruskan saki baki peninggalan feudal, atau mahu memperkokohkan lembaga-lembaga sistem otoritarianisme, sudah pasti kita menjadi bangsa yang terpinggir. Bangsa Malaysia tidak miskin dengan sumber daya manusianya. Dengan paras pembangunan yang telah dicapai dan kekayaan yang kita miliki Malaysia boleh menjadi negara yang besar. Dan kita perlu yakin bahawa Malaysia boleh menjadi bangsa yang besar. Tetapi kita tidak boleh menjadi bangsa yang besar sekiranya rakyatnya tidak bebas dan merdeka.

ANWAR IBRAHIM, Ketua Pembangkang, Parliamen Malaysia

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

As we approach 31st August, our memories are triggered back to a series of events, primarily the people’s struggle for independence. That day is a day of hope, promising freedom from colonial captive and reclaiming the dignity of the people.

A question that we ask ourselves today is; how do we appreciate the meaning of Merdeka? This struggle has become a reason to question our identity as the proud people of Malaysia. A resolution to understand Malaysia as an independent nation also requires us to understand how it feels to be dependent; and how we have lost our independence even before it was returned to us.

More than two thousand years ago, Brutus asked the people of Rome “Who is here so base that would be a bondman?” Ceasar thirsts for unlimited power. His appetite for power was so strong that he wanted the whole of Rome to be within his grasp.

The fight between Brutus and Ceasar was a fight between freedom and the desire for unlimited power. Since gaining independence, our country is still struggling. Struggling for the freedom of expression, the freedom of mass media, the freedom of the judiciary without bending to the whims and fancy of the government. We realise that only a nation that has been through colonisation will understand the meaning of independence and also that only when freedom is taken away, then the true value of independence is understood.

The series of primary lectures by Associate Professor, Dr Syed Muhammad Naguib al-Attas titled “Islam Dalam Sejarah Dan Kebudayaan Melayu”, (Islam in Malay History and Culture), rejects extensively deviant teachings and slavery, following which encourages new age thinking in accordance with the traditions of aqliyah (rational discourse)  and the absorption of the Malay language as the lingua franca of this journey. The hundreds of years passed have also further strengthened and solidify spirits of the said new confidence.

The beautiful Princess Palembang,
with her flowered earrings;
No matter how hard the waves bounce;
I will strive and I will sail.

However, having gone past half a century of independence, we the people of Malaysia have realised how the Malay language is not only a colloquial one or a mere communication tool for trading. The Malay language is a language of understanding, a language of civilisation and a language to express the noble and meaningful human experiences. The Malay language has become an intellectual and spiritual language for the disciples of Islam; and can also be used as the intellectual and spiritual language for the disciples of Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and other beliefs.

The Malay language does not only belong to the Malays. This language belongs to people of Malaysia – the Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Dayaks and all other races. The Malay language belongs to the citizens of our beloved country.

Independence should not be trapped within the political realm or a particular political party. Independence needs to be seen from the people’s perspective as a whole; the fight for all races, and involving all streams of thoughts. History has thought us that the fight for independence invokes unity against colonialism and the western imperialism at that time.

The earlier generation who were there to witness the formation of independence, understood first hand the struggles of our forefathers. Unfortunately, the history of independence in our books today, have been tainted by propaganda. This has become a burden to historians because without a full and transparent documentation of our past, we will not understand the true identity of our nation. Names of fighters of independence such as Dato’ Onn Jaafar, Islamic theologian Abu Bakar Baqir, Dr Burhannudin al Helmy, Ahmad Beostamam, Mat Salleh, Panglima rentap and Rosli Dhobi who valiantly fought for our country, should not have been deleted from our history books.

Independence is for freedom and justice. This was promised to us on 31st August 1957. If we are stubborn to carry on governing with feudalistic ways, or if we do not oppose the authoritarian institutional system, we will surely be a nation that is marginalised. The Malay language is not lacking of human resources. With the level of development that we have achieved and the wealth that we own, Malaysia can be a developed nation. But until we are truly independent and free, that goal will remain a dream.

ANWAR IBRAHIM. Leader of the Opposition, Malaysian Parliament

The Malays of Tomorrow


August 31, 2009

malaysian insider

Malays speaking without fear

MP for Lembah Nurul Izzah Anwar

MP for Lembah Nurul Izzah Anwar

by Nurul Izzah Anwar

I can’t say that I know Datuk Zaid Ibrahim very well. Our past encounters have been limited to a fleeting hello in front of the steps of my alma mater, the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in 2006, another chat during a reception in honour of Datuk Ambiga Sreevanesagan in June and, most recently, at the PKR’s recent EGM. It’s amazing, but perhaps unsurprising that he has in these three years evolved from an ambiguous reformist in UMNO into the conscience of all Malaysians.

I had always been impressed by his outspokenness, and his willingness to fearlessly voice out his views on issues of national importance is nothing short of inspirational. Zaid does not mince his words where many hesitate to call a spade a spade, especially where it matters the most.

An articulate Malay speaking out for a multiracial and progressive Malaysia is terribly important in this current political climate. For our own community, Zaid epitomises how the Malays might redefine ourselves, to re-imagine a world where we do not think that we are inferior or threatened but are rather confident in whom we are.

In reading Zaid’s book Saya Pun Melayu, I sense the need for Malays to embrace a new paradigm on what it means to be Malay. Many indeed are doing so and this is a heartening. “Malay” need no longer carry connotations of dependency on the state, insecurity, or the crippling feeling alienation and the lack of self-worth.

The word “Malay” can and must eventually mean a call to embrace a broader Malaysian identity, along with a true, inclusive nationalism that is proud of who we are individually but also in what we have accomplished together. We can be sure of our identities and yet still be a part of something greater than all of us — and this is something all the ethnic groups in Malaysia ought to aspire to.

Zaid’s book highlights that fact that we need to look beyond the stereotypes and take an objective, albeit positive look at our community’s accomplishments. We have made great strides in business, the arts, education and the professions. Our success extends from Lembah Pantai where Malays own vibrant businesses selling products made by Malays to the flourishing nasi lemak stalls in Kota Baru.

We attend leading universities throughout the world, increasingly through our own merit. We can count internationally recognised choreographers, painters, cartoonists, writers, and film directors amongst our numbers.

Beyond these markers, our success can more often that not be seen at home through our everyday acts of compassion and sensitivity to others, which spread to our fellow Malaysians to become a national virtue. The kindness shown towards our children, parents and neighbours is perhaps one of the most important signs of who we Malays are as a community. These are real achievements that no one can or would want to take from us.

I’m not denying that we still have a long way to go in moving our community forward, nor am I unmindful that a lot of our successes would not have been in possible without the NEP and its institutions. However, it has become patently obvious that these structures are now holding the Malays back, and that the world has changed since then.

The Malays and, as a-matter-of-fact, all Malaysians need to change as well if we want to remain relevant in this world. We need to step away from our obsession with all things racial and realise that the project of nation-building is not a zero-sum game. Malaysia can never succeed until and unless its entire people feel like they are truly a part of it.

Why then does the old paradigm of ethnic insecurity persist? Why does suspicion and acrimony towards our fellow Malaysians and they towards us still linger? Why are mainstream newspapers calling for ethnic conflict, accusing minority communities of all sorts of ludicrous plots?

The sad reality is that these myths are being perpetuated by UMNO and Barisan Nasional for their own gain. The fact is that UMNO wants to keep the Malay community under its suzerainty forever. They do this by focusing on what we have supposedly not achieved, rather than acknowledging our gains and potential.

They claim to want to protect and uplift the Malay community, but all they have been doing for the last few years is playing on their fears and prejudices. The same can be said for the Barisan components with the non-Malays. This glass-half-empty mentality is being used by UMNO/BN to protect each other and to ward off challenges to their stranglehold on power.

We’ve seen from the case of Zaid of how UMNO demonises anyone who steps out of the pattern of complete loyalty to the party and who have different ideas on how to improve the livelihoods of Malays and Malaysians. We have also as of late seen their scare tactics in action. They have labeled people as “traitors” for calling for a new path of development for Malaysia. They prefer to protect their interests rather than allow the Malaysian people — especially the Malays — to benefit from reform, less corruption and more inclusion.

UMNO also regrettably perpetuates the myth that the Malay community is perpetually under threat from their non-Malay counterparts, and that UMNO is the only party that can save them from this supposed “servitude”. This, rather than anything else, is why race relations have gotten worse in Malaysia.

You cannot expect harmony in a country where its largest ethnic group is constantly bombarded with the message that the minorities are supposedly out to get them and take away their rights. Yet, they chose to follow this tactic since they believe in the short term this will strengthen UMNO and bring Malays back to the party.

They use these “attacking” tactics because they cannot offer anything else. They have shown that they would prefer to entrench those in power rather than allow new ideas and reforms to increase our chances for greater success. There is a real danger that their short-sightedness may cost future generations of Malaysians dearly.

The fact is that Malays have nothing to fear. We are demographically the largest ethnic group in Malaysia and the birth rate is going to keep it that way. Our position in the constitution is enshrined and this isn’t going to change either.

That is what UMNO and the Malay extremists do not get, and what the community as a whole needs to understand. The non-Malays and Malays who challenge UMNO are not seeking to reduce the position of the Malays in anyway, but to defend and uplift all Malaysians. We have to understand that we are all tied together and that we all have a stake in the land. We cannot survive individually as Malays, Chinese or Indians but as Malaysians.

Our non-Malay fellow citizens are not “challenging” our rights or “insulting” or culture and religion — rather they are calling for our nascent nationhood to be allowed to achieve it’s full potential than for us to remain stuck in our ethnic and mental ghettos. The liberals and moderates amongst the non-Malays also suffer from the depredations of extremists within their own communities — they deserve our support as well. The wave of reactionary politics that is engulfing us can only be turned back if progressive Malaysians stand firm against their threats and untruths.

While it is true that much more needs to be done to address those who have not benefited — for all Malaysians — the focus on what we don’t have rather on what we have accomplished only undermines us. We need to imagine a better future, for Malays and Malaysians — this will incidentally make it easier for all of us to achieve what we might lack.

The Malaysia of tomorrow cannot be one in which we are blinded by fear and negativity. The first step in imagining and defining a better future for all of us is to open our eyes and speak out like Zaid and others like him.

Bakri Musa on Permatang Pasir By-Election(August 25, 2009)


August 31, 2009

Voters Drawing the Line

by Dr.M. Bakri Musa
Morgan-Hill, California

In the heyday of UMNO the joke was that the party could field a dog as an election candidate and it would still win. The party leaders must still harbor that delusion for in the recent Permatang Pasir state by-election (August 25, 2009)  they fielded a disbarred lawyer.  This time however, voters wisely drew the line at the dog.

The surprise was not that Rohaizat Othman successfully hoodwinked UMNO leaders to secure the nomination rather how easily those senior leaders were taken in by this shyster. Now that their candidate has been thrashed, those UMNO leaders were belatedly bemoaning the fact that their chosen man had been less than truthful to them.  That is the quality of UMNO top leadership, folks!

Even after the sordid details of the man’s sleazy professional past and checkered personal life had surfaced, UMNO leaders still vigorously defended their choice.  They had the nerve to suggest that those critics were trying to smear the UMNO candidate.  Those UMNO leaders obviously did not realize that their man was already soiled.

Reflection on Muhyiddin

The "Star" Bungler of Permatang Pasir

The "Star" Bungler of Permatang Pasir

Consider UMNO Deputy President  and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin  Yassin’s comments.  He went to great lengths defending the integrity of his party’s standard bearer.  He likened the Bar Council’s sanctions as nothing more than a traffic violation!  I recognize that traffic in Malaysia is terrible, but really!  I wonder what it would take to be branded a crook and thus be disqualified by Muhyiddin’s reckoning.  I am making a huge assumption here, that is, the man has some standards.

A commentator in the mainstream media reported that Muhyiddin was apparently livid on hearing the details of Rohaizat.  Only his severe poker face belied his anger, so she claimed.  If Muhyiddin was truly angry he sure did not reveal it in his actions; he was ‘gung ho’ right to the end.  That commentary revealed more about the writer – ‘sucking up’ to Muhyiddin so early on.  She should try a better excuse next time.

It is a recent tradition with UMNO that its deputy leader be in charge of by-elections.  This Permatang Pasir election was the first to be under the direct leadership of Muhyiddin.  Hence his comments and actions bear scrutiny.

Muhyiddin’s decision to continue with Rohaizat’s candidacy despite all the revealed blemishes says volumes on the judgment as well as ethical standards of Muhyiddin.  Not to scare readers, this character is also Deputy Prime Minister, and going by our recent history, he could very well be Prime Minister one day.

If a two-bit disbarred country lawyer could easily dupe Muhyiddin, imagine him as Prime Minister negotiating with his counterpart across the causeway on selling our precious fresh water, or his participating in crucial international treaty conferences!  That is a scary thought.

The brief Permatang Pasir election campaign revealed more than we ever wished to know about this crooked lawyer and his equally slimy personal life.  While Rohaizat was disbarred by the Bar Council, he could still practice in the Sharia court.  This is the same court that recently sentenced a young mother to be whipped for drinking beer.  That should tell us something of the ‘Islamic’ (at least the Malaysian variety) standard of ethics.

To me, the Permatang Pasir campaign revealed more about UMNO, specifically its culture and top leaders.  What has been revealed should scare all Malaysians who are concerned with our nation’s future.

Muhyiddin’s ethical blind spot was disturbing enough.  More reprehensible was his performance during the campaign.  He fell into the predictable pattern of past ambitious UMNO leaders-in-waiting.  There he was, freely and irresponsibly playing up the race card, eerily reminding me of Najib’s and Hishammuddin’s brandishing of their kerises.  Aspiring UMNO leaders like Muhyiddin have this primitive urge to display their chauvinistic manhood during tough election campaigns.  That is their culture.

Unfortunately, as the party still garnered over a third of the votes (presumably Malay votes), UMNO leaders will continue with their bigotry.  Now they are blaming non-Malay (specifically Chinese) voters for abandoning Barisan.

UMNO of The Future

To be sure there were a few – very few, in fact only two – UMNO leaders who spoke out against Rohaizat, and did so early.  Mahathir wondered out loud whether a liar could be a people’s representative.  Tengku Razaleigh was much more forceful, “… UMNO is projecting the image that it lives by a different moral code from the rest of Malaysia.”  “Either that, or this is the best we can do,” he continued.  Indeed!

Alas, both Mahathir and the Tengku represent UMNO’s past.  To gauge UMNO’s future, look at the leaders of its Youth and Puteri wings.  They not only endorsed Rohaizat but aggressively campaigned for him.  I would like to ask UMNO Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin specifically whether he feels that a disbarred lawyer and a man who lied about his wife is a worthy representative of UMNO.

The situation with UMNO Puteri is even more interesting.  I wonder how those pretty young girls in their distinctive pink baju kurong feel about campaigning for a man who took a second wife secretly, and then lied about it publicly.  The Puteris’ stand-by-your-man stance may be praiseworthy in other circumstances but not when your man is a cheat and a crook.  Instead of campaigning for him, Puteri members should be contacting the second wife to see whether her man had been providing for her.

The Permatang Pasir by-election could have been a splendid opportunity for UMNO to shine if only their leaders had been smarter and pursued a radically different tack.  Imagine if upon knowing the sordid details of Rohaizat, UMNO leaders publicly admitted their mistake and demanded their candidate withdraw on pain of being expelled from the party.

Yes that would give PAS a walk-over, but that would not have changed the end results.  Besides, UMNO had done this a few months earlier in the Penanti by-election.  Think, however, the message the party and its senior leaders would have sent to their members and Malaysians generally, and the impact that would have on all.  UMNO would have won a great moral victory.  As it is, UMNO lost the election as well as the moral high ground.  The party had set a new low on what is acceptable.

Judging from the post-election comments by UMNO leaders, from Najib Razak and Muhyiddin on down, UMNO has yet to learn this pertinent lesson from this latest debacle.  The party still harbors the delusion that even its flawed candidates could still win.

The next time around expect UMNO to reach even lower to a new bottom in their search for talent.  I must admit it would be difficult to find someone more unworthy than a disbarred lawyer.  Trust me,however, UMNO will find one.

BN is its own worst enemy


posted by din merican–August 31, 2009

August 30, 2009

mk50Malaysiakini.com

BN’s nemesis is BN itself

by Athi Shankar

Leadership crisis in component parties and other related problems were the main reasons behind Barisan Nasional’s consistent defeats in by-elections over the past year, said an academician.  Social scientist Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said his study showed that the coalition could not break the by-election jinx because its own supporters have deserted it.

This was based on the results and patterns of voting for and against BN in the last seven by-elections in the Peninsular, he said.

“There are serious problems within all BN component parties which the leadership involved should address and rectify. It seems the main enemy for BN now is BN itself,” he said.

Due to this, he said BN’s members and supporters were either boycotting balloting or voting for Pakatan Rakyat to express their anger.

He cited the current crisis in MCA and PPP, previous one in UMNO and Gerakan, and perhaps soon in MIC would surely weaken the coalition.

He said the BN leadership currently seemed weak in handling and resolving such crises. “BN leadership at all levels can’t afford to be in a state of denial any longer. Or else this series of defeats would carry on until the next general election,” he said, adding that the BN leadership should now embark on a strategy to lure back their own disgruntled members and supporters.

Despite the leadership change in UMNO and the Federal Government, Sivamurugan pointed out that the people were still voting against BN. He said the coalition’s leadership should find out the reasons behind this downslide – on why the Malays were not backing BN and why non-Malays were inclined towards voting for Pakatan.

“BN should find out whether its newly hatched policies were understood by the people, whether information has been correctly disseminated to the people etc,” added the USM lecturer.

Communication breakdown

He said there was a feel-good political climate with the appointment of Najib Abdul Razak as the country’s sixth premier but this has yet to translate into votes.

“There could be a communication breakdown between the higher and lower BN leadership levels, which is a crucial link to reach out to the grassroots,” added the academician.

Sivamurugan said the country needed two strong and vibrant political blocks for democracy and civil liberty to prosper.

“But it looks bad currently because the electoral matches have been favouring one side for the past one year,” he added.

Of the seven by-elections held in the Permatang Pauh, Kuala Terengganu and Bukit Gantang parliamentary seats, and Bukit Selambau, Penanti, Manek Urai and Permatang Pasir state constituencies, Pakatan won all.

BN had only won one in Batang Ai, Sarawak, which many critics considered as insignificant.

Conduct In-depth Study

Sivamurugan urged BN to conduct an in-depth nationwide study to accumulate information and grassroots’ feedback on the sentiments, demands and grouses of the people against the federal ruling coalition.

He said firstly BN would have to find out whether the people had voted against it because they were pro-Pakatan or anti-BN.

“If the votes were anti-BN, the coalition leaders have to acknowledge it and address the reasons for it immediately,” he said.

He said defeats in Permatang Pauh and Permatang Pasir were expected since both areas were Pakatan and PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim’s strongholds.

“But what about other areas?” he asked. “Except for Manek Urai, BN suffered massive loss of votes in other constituencies.”

Sivamurugan also slammed PKR for not being able to keep its group of elected representatives together and allowing too much of BN infiltration into the party.

He said the PKR leadership was duty-bound to ensure that these elected representatives don’t hop to another party because the electorates voted for a change in the last general election.

Three PKR state assemblypersons – two in Perak and one in Kedah, have opted out to become independent representatives. “PKR will have to check and stop this to avoid losing public confidence,” said the academician.

On the eve of Merdeka Day: Hot on 1Malaysia?


malaysian insider

August 30, 2009

1Malaysia in Music: A Malaysian Identity or just strategic branding?

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal

There are several ways of appreciating music, appreciating a song. Songs are like stories or Shakespearean 52nd Merdeka symbolquotes; they can be seen and analysed in a multitude of ways, and there is no limit to what a song can mean to somebody.

For me, the first thing I look for in a song is the lyrics. I go ape when a song addresses serious socio-political issues, or talk about life and death, god and religion. Trouble is you’ll never hear songs like these hit the local airwaves, or even make it to television.

Now don’t get me wrong. Sure I don’t mind the occasional Akon’s “I-Wanna-Make-Love-Right-Now-Na-Na” but I find it a little troubling when the same song is repeated on every radio station.

It doesn’t even matter if you don’t particularly like the song; at the end of the day you’ll be singing along to the lyrics because the radio stations have brilliantly pasted the song inside your head via fervent repetition.

shazwan04-aug30So I was coming home from work one day and I happened to tune in to one of the local stations. They were playing this Merdeka-themed song featuring a lot of guest artists, and I think it was called “Satu Malaysia”. It talked about how we were one as a nation even though we are from different races, and how we are united in song and in the end nothing else matters.

That same night, I chanced upon a television advertisement while enjoying the usual teh tarik with my band mates after a jamming session. Apparently, in conjunction with Merdeka, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has organised a 1 Malaysia song competition, aimed at “capturing the diversity of the nation.”

It was initiated by Najib himself who wanted a song which “represented the spirit of Malaysia, written and chosen by the people to voice out what 1 Malaysia meant to them.” Ten finalists have already been chosen, and the winner will be announced on the 31st and walks away with a cash prize as well as a music video.

While I applaud the efforts taken by our Prime Minister, at the same time I cannot help but remain somewhat unmoved by this gesture. True, the best way for creative expression and engagement of the public is through music, but the cynical part of me wonders: what type of songs will be selected? Do they (the songs) touch on the good and the bad of what’s happening in the country, or is it just going to be another “we are united despite being different”.

I, for one, think that the winning song will probably be about how we are “diverse but still together”, strong, bold in facing challenges. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s done in a mixture of languages eg Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mandarin etc.

Most importantly it will push the concept of 1 Malaysia.

I guess every administration needs a slogan, a catchphrase of the day, something to adhere to. It’s like the wrestling entrance music for a wrestler. Back in Tun Dr. Mahathir’s time it was Wawasan 2020.

The thing is, is 1 Malaysia a relatively new concept? I think not. I think that the concept in itself is a more of a strategic branding than a Malaysian identity. I mean, I think we as citizens would have realized by now that after 52 years of living together, we have somehow found some common ground on issues that matter to us:

1. Corrupt politicians are a no-no!

2. We need more sugar, and cheaper petrol (yes please!)

3. The need for the government as well as the opposition to be transparent and fair in every process. There are so many things that have happened in our country that needs clarification, what with the scandals and an on-going inquest. Transparency please!

4. Race attacks in newspapers (have we really come down to this?)

This is my 1 Malaysia Merdeka wish list. I don’t mind listening to patriotic songs which tell me that we are happy together all-the-races-living-in-perfect-harmony, but I would be lying if I said I actually believed it.

No society is perfect. Problems like race and religion are issues that will be part of our daily discourse for a long time, like a scab refusing to budge. It’s just like a band. You cannot force every band member to like a certain type of music. People will always have different tastes and opinions.

But I guess that is what is good about having a functioning democracy. We agree to disagree on some concerns, and talk it out in the open. Having room for dissent is always good, that way we can value varying thoughts and beliefs.

And that is what makes us function as a nation. Not through government-sponsored song competitions, but understanding and realising that we have similar concerns that go way beyond our differences.

1 Malaysia or not, life goes on. We simply have to catch up with it.

Ted Kennedy Jr’s Eulogy


August 30, 2009

A Faithful Son’s Poignant Tribute to his Dad, Senator Edward Moore Kennedy

The Kennedy Brothers

The Kennedy Brothers

Senator Edward Moore Kennedy was laid to rest on August 29, 2009 at Arlington National Cemetery , across the Potomac River from Washington D.C., 100 yards away from the grave  of his brother, Senator Robert Francis Kennedy who was, in turn, buried 100 yards from the final resting place of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and Jackie Kennedy and their son, Patrick Kennedy.

At Arlington National Cemetary

At a mass in Boston’s Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica, his son, Edward  Moore Kennedy Jr, delivered a poignant encomium to his dearly departed father. Thanks to  New Yorker Bean, I have been able to share this youtube video of the young Kennedy’s tribute to his dad .

In his eulogy, President Obama said this of the Late Senator:

The world will long remember their (Joseph and Rose Kennedy) son Edward as the heir to a weighty legacy; a champion for those who had none; the soul of the Democratic Party; and the lion of the U.S. Senate — a man whose name graces nearly one thousand laws, and who penned more than three hundred himself.

But those of us who loved him, and ache with his passing, know Ted Kennedy by the other titles he held: Father. Brother. Husband. Uncle Teddy, or as he was often known to his younger nieces and nephews, “The Grand Fromage,” or “The Big Cheese.” I, like so many others in the city where he worked for nearly half a century, knew him as a colleague, a mentor, and above all, a friend.

Ted Kennedy was the baby of the family who became its patriarch; the restless dreamer who became its rock. He was the sunny, joyful child, who bore the brunt of his brothers’ teasing, but learned quickly how to brush it off. When they tossed him off a boat because he didn’t know what a jib was, six-year-old Teddy got back in and learned to sail. When a photographer asked the newly elected Bobby to step back at a press conference because he was casting a shadow on his younger brother, Teddy quipped, “It’ll be the same in Washington.”

This spirit of resilience and good humor would see Ted Kennedy through more pain and tragedy than most of us will ever know. He lost two siblings by the age of sixteen. He saw two more taken violently from the country that loved them. He said goodbye to his beloved sister, Eunice, in the final days of his own life. He narrowly survived a plane crash, watched two children struggle with cancer, buried three nephews, and experienced personal failings and setbacks in the most public way possible.

It is a string of events that would have broken a lesser man. And it would have been easy for Teddy to let himself become bitter and hardened; to surrender to self-pity and regret; to retreat from public life and live out his years in peaceful quiet. No one would have blamed him for that.

But that was not Ted Kennedy. As he told us, “(I)ndividual faults and frailties are no excuse to give in — and no exemption from the common obligation to give of ourselves.” Indeed, Ted was the “Happy Warrior” that the poet William Wordsworth spoke of when he wrote:

As tempted more; more able to endure,

As more exposed to suffering and distress;

Thence, also, more alive to tenderness.

Ted Kennedy’s life’s work was not to champion those with wealth or power or special connections. It was to give a voice to those who were not heard; to add a rung to the ladder of opportunity; to make real the dream of our founding. He was given the gift of time that his brothers were not, and he used that gift to touch as many lives and right as many wrongs as the years would allow.

…While he was seen by his fiercest critics as a partisan lightning rod, that is not the prism through which Ted Kennedy saw the world, nor was it the prism through which his colleagues saw him. He was a product of an age when the joy and nobility of politics prevented differences of party and philosophy from becoming barriers to cooperation and mutual respect — a time when adversaries still saw each other as patriots.

And that’s how Ted Kennedy became the greatest legislator of our time. He did it by hewing to principle, but also by seeking compromise and common cause — not through dealmaking and horse-trading alone, but through friendship, and kindness, and humor.

… Of course, luck had little to do with Ted Kennedy’s legislative success, and he knew that. A few years ago, his father-in-law told him that he and Daniel Webster just might be the two greatest senators of all time. Without missing a beat, Teddy replied, “What did Webster do?”

…And we can strive at all costs to make a better world, so that someday, if we are blessed with the chance to look back on our time here, we can know that we spent it well; that we made a difference; that our fleeting presence had a lasting impact on the lives of other human beings.

This is how Ted Kennedy lived. This is his legacy. He once said of his brother Bobby that he need not be idealized or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, and I imagine he would say the same about himself. The greatest expectations were placed upon Ted Kennedy’s shoulders because of who he was, but he surpassed them all because of who he became.

We do not weep for him today because of the prestige attached to his name or his office. We weep because we loved this kind and tender hero who persevered through pain and tragedy — not for the sake of ambition or vanity; not for wealth or power; but only for the people and the country he loved.

But though it is Ted Kennedy’s historic body of achievements we will remember, it is his giving heart that we will miss. It was the friend and colleague who was always the first to pick up the phone and say, “I’m sorry for your loss,” or “I hope you feel better,” or “What can I do to help?” It was the boss who was so adored by his staff that over five hundred spanning five decades showed up for his 75th birthday party.

Ted Kennedy has gone home now, guided by his faith and by the light of those he has loved and lost. At last he is with them once more, leaving those of us who grieve his passing with the memories he gave, the good he did, the dream he kept alive, and a single, enduring image — the image of a man on a boat; white mane tousled; smiling broadly as he sails into the wind, ready for what storms may come, carrying on toward some new and wondrous place just beyond the horizon“.

Fare Thee well, Senator Kennedy. May you serve as an example to all our Legislators in our august Malaysian Parliament so that they too can serve “not for the sake of ambition or vanity; not for wealth or power; but only for the people and the country…

Let us also listen to the US President ‘seulogy to a mentor, friend and former legislative colleague. — Din Merican

President Barack H. Obama’s Eulogy-Part 1

Part 2

Merdeka?


August 29, 2009

MERDEKA?

by Art Harun  (http://art-harun.blogspot.com/)

Amidst all the flags, the procession, the RM100 million celebration, the shouts and screams of “Merdeka, Merdeka, Merdeka”, perhaps we should just look back  at what our Father of Independence, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj said in his speech preceding the reading of the Merdeka Proclamation. Among others, he said :

474009908_154167ab5bI am indeed proud that on this, the greatest day in Malaya’s history it falls to my lot to proclaim the formal independence of this country. Today as new page is turned, and Malaya steps forward to take her rightful place as a free and independent partner in the great community of Nations – a new nation is born and though we fully realise that difficulties and problems lie ahead, we are confident that, with the blessing of God, these difficulties will be overcome and that today’s events, down the avenues of history, will be our inspiration and our guide…

But while we think of the past, we look forward in faith and hope to the future; from henceforth we are masters of our destiny, and the welfare of this beloved land is our own responsibility: Let no one think we have reached the end of the road: Independence is indeed a milestone, but it is only the threshold to high endeavour-the creation of a new and sovereign State. At this solemn moment therefore I call upon you all to dedicate yourselves to the service of the new Malaya: to work and strive with hand and brain to create a new nation, inspired by the ideals of justice and liberty – a beacon of light in a disturbed and distracted world.

High confidence has been reposed in us; let us unitedly face the challenge of the years. And so with remembrance for the past, and with confidence in the future, under the providence of God, we shall succeed.”

Later, when he recited the Merdeka Proclamation, he said, among others:

I, TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN PUTRA IBNI AL-MARHUM SULTAN ABDUL HAMID HALIMSHAH, PRIME MINISTER OF THE PERSEKUTUAN T ANAH MELAYU, with the concurrence and approval of Their Highnesses the Rulers of the Malay States do hereby proclaim and declare on behalf of the people of the Persekutuan Tanah Melayu that as from the thirty first day of August, nineteen hundred and fifty seven, the Persekutuan Tanah Melayu comprising the States of lohore, Pahang, Negri Sembilan, Selangor, Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, Trengganu, Perak, Malacca and Penang is and with God’s blessing shall be for ever a sovereign democratic and independent State founded upon the principles of liberty and justice and ever seeking the welfare and happiness of its people and the maintenance of a just peace among all nations.

Perhaps we should all reflect whether these lofty ideals set out by the Tunku has been achieved, 52 years after he proclaimed it. Or whether we have ever worked towards achieving the same.

A nation founded upon the principles of liberty and justice. A nation which is ever seeking the welfare and happiness of its people. A nation inspired by the ideals of justice and liberty. A nation which is to be a beacon of light in a disturbed and a distracted world.

That was the Tunku’s aspirations. And the aspirations of all Malaysians on 31st of August 1957.

Have we all, as a nation, achieved those? Have we worked to achieve those? If we have, have we worked hard enough to achieve those?

Would the Tunku, had he been still alive, looked at all of us, his children and grandchildren, with a big smile on his face, thinking to himself, “I am happy with what all of you have achieved, and I will go to face my creator a happy and fulfilled man”?

Or would he, had he been still alive, grimace in pain and displeasure, at what we have all become, at what this nation of ours have become?

I am asking this because I remember the day he died. And the day his body was rested. And I remember the days before he died. I remember his columns in the Star newspaper, “As I See It” and “Looking Back”. His love for this nation and his undying commitment towards democracy, social justice and fairness would see him rise on occasions, even when he was in his old age to fight what he saw as injustice, unfairness and dictatorial behaviours.

He was  critical of Dr Mahathir, the then Prime Minister. That man of course had, in 1987, banned the Star newspaper, which was substantially owned by the Tunku.

And when UMNO (the original UMNO) was declared illegal by the High Court (at the insistance of Counsel appearing for the Mahathir faction), the Tunku, out of sheer love for UMNO and the nation, quickly teamed up with Tun Hussein Onn (another former PM) to form a party known as UMNO Malaysia. UMNO Malaysia registration was blocked by non other than Mahathir Mohammad. Mahathir later registered UMNO Baru and changed the law to allow UMNO Baru to be renamed UMNO as if nothing had ever happened in between.

I then remember him supporting Tunku Razaleigh’s Semangat 46. The Tunku, despite his old age, even went out to campaign in the 1990 general election.

On 6th December 1990, the Tunku, our Father of Independence, died. He died as an opposition. He died opposing a derivative of the very party he once led and gained independence with. He died opposing what he thought and perceived as a totalitarian government bent on destroying social justice and equality.

Today, almost 52 years after he stood and proudly recited the Merdeka Proclamation, I wonder whether he is smiling at all of us in heaven. Or whether he is turning his back against us. Knowing how much he loved this nation and how hard he fought for justice, fairness, liberty and freedom, he could be hurting.

Al fatihah to the Tunku.

UMNO Mongrels at work


August 29, 2009

malaysian insider

UMNO reaps what it sowed

by Muaz Omar*

muazomarJust days before the nation celebrates its 52nd Independence Day, the action by some mongrels who stamped and spat on a severed head of a cow in front of the Selangor State Secretariat building to protest against the planned relocation of a Hindu temple to their residential area has posed serious questions about the state of race relations in the country.

The planned relocation of the temple from Shah Alam’s Section 19 to Section 23 has drawn loud protest from a section of the local residents.

According to the protestors, the area is populated by 90% Muslims and the presence of the temple will affect their lives as Muslims. The surprising thing is that the police stood by in full view of these acts. Their newly found restraint, unlike their heavy-handed clampdown on HINDRAF, BERSIH and recent anti-ISA demonstrations, is most unusual.

In keeping with his call for 1 Malaysia, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak called on the police to take swift action on the “outrageous action” by the protestors to put a lid on the provocative acts and stop communal tensions from blowing up.

As long as the so-called “sensitive subjects” of race and religion remain taboo, it will be easier for powers-that-be to retain hegemony, divide and rule the community to their liking.

These extremists, whether they parade themselves under the banner of some supposedly noble NGOs like Pembela, Perkasa, HINDRAF, Dong Jiao Zhong or the like, live on the philosophy of radicalism, bordering on racism.

While these fringe groups are getting louder and louder, they actually have minute numbers in representation. Their mindless actions calling for parochialism and supremacy of one race is based on short-term and narrow minded political agenda.

This scenario is exactly what right-wing nationalist organisations like UMNO have been hoping for and harping on.

The embarrassing performance by UMNO and Barisan Nasional in the 2008 general election is being said to result in the dilution of Malay power.

When UMNO and BN won almost 90 per cent of the parliamentary seats in the 2004 general election, they became big-headed and disregarded the minority voices, especially those from outside the Malay community.

UMNO leaders marginalised them to the extent of discriminating against the impoverished and poor, especially those among the Indian community.They also acted with disrespect to the Chinese community and accused them of taking advantage of the divided Malay community.

At the same time, UMNO leaders became too engrossed with power and abused the New Economic Policy to enrich themselves as well as their cronies, which have turned off the Malays themselves.

Fast forward a couple of years from the humiliating 2008 general election and the UMNO extremists have now crawled back into their shells and accentuate their hardline stance with a more extreme brand and rhetoric of Malay supremacy.

They are increasingly disassociating themselves from a significant 40 per cent of the nation’s population (non-Malays and non-Muslims) and, at the same time, splitting the Malays right down the middle.

The paradox between Najib’s 1 Malaysia and UMNO’s raison d’etre is becoming even more evident and prominent by the day.

Led by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, UMNO is shifting even further to the right to the extent of dismissing his fellow cabinet members in defending some extreme pro-Malay stances adopted by UMNO leaders and their mouthpieces.

Utusan Malaysia has been at the forefront of disseminating extreme pro-Malay and pro-UMNO propaganda which is meant to sway the minds of the general Malays.

Articles, opinion pieces and news reports have been skewed to incite hatred towards Pakatan’s Malay leaders with Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Pas’s Spiritual Leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat being the prime targets, accused of selling out the Malays.

While Anwar and Nik Aziz are being denigrated using the worst kind of terminologies available, the Malays are being fed with the illusion that the downfall of UMNO will result in the downfall of the Malays.

The outcome of these charades and “wayang kulit” spiced up with venomous and spiteful antics as well as idiotic actions by UMNO bigots are hallmark of desperation as well as fear of losing the accustomed power to rule the nation. For them, power is everything even if it means destruction of the very fragile fabric of the society.

* Muaz Omar is a civil servant doing everything he can to design and implement beneficial activities for youths.

Cow Head Protestors, who are they?


August 29, 2009

malaysian insider

Who are these Cow Head Protestors?

The police inaction and the possibility that some of the cow-head protesters are not from near the disputed Hindu temple site in Shah Alam has Selangor buzzing about the real motives of the racially-provocative demonstration.

Pakatan Rakyat politicians claimed that most of the protesters are not from Section 23 where the temple is to be relocated while HINDRAF claimed it was “absurd and nonsensical” for the police to need a report to investigate the incident.

Others claim it could be a plot to undermine and topple the Pakatan Rakyat government that has been beset with allegations of corruption and divisions over the sale of beer in convenience outlets.

“It looks like conspiracy to show Pakatan’s incompetence in handling race relations,” a Pakatan Rakyat politician told The Malaysian Insider.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has ordered the police to quickly nip the situation in the bud to prevent it blooming into a full-scale racial conflict as criticism mounted over their inaction in the face of the fiery protest.

Dozens of riot police stood by and watched as protesters brought the severed cow-head to the Selangor state secretariat and stomped on it.

The act, which is offensive to Hindus who regard the cow as sacred, was carried out by a group of 50 protesters who oppose the relocation of the Sri Mahamariamman Temple to Section 23 to Section 19, claiming the area is mainly occupied by Malay-Muslims.

The 150-year-old temple was built on a plantation which over the years was developed into housing estates by the Selangor Development Corporation (PKNS). No provisions were made to relocate the temple, which is now in the middle of a Muslim majority area.

The previous Barisan Nasional administration had planned to relocate the temple to an industrial site in Section 22 but the location was deemed too far away.

After their win in Election 2008, the Pakatan state government decided to move the temple to Section 23 which they felt was more suitable as 40 per cent of its residents are Hindus.

Residents there who are opposed to the temple relocation initially said it should not be built there because it has a 60 per cent Malay majority, a figure which subsequently became 70 per cent and, today, it’s 90 per cent.

The outlawed Hindraf movement, however, has claimed that Najib’s Umno is stirring the racial pot with the protest.

“Hindraf believes UMNO and their cohorts in the Royal Police Force (PDRM) organised this act that is inflammatory with an intention to incite and create racial hatred and  feelings between the Muslims and Hindus,” exiled Hindraf president P. Waytha Moorthy said in a statement.

He railed against the police, particularly Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar’s statement that action would be taken “if a report is lodged”.

“Here we are talking about an outright and outrageous act in fanning racial hatred that could threaten the public security and he claims he needs a police report before an action can be taken.

“The police had on many previous occasions brutally arrested  and questioned peaceful protesters without any reasons … but now they would need a report before they can take any action against those inciting violence and  parading in the public with a severed cow’s head to hurt the sensitivity of the Hindus. This is absurd and nonsensical,” he said.

Waytha Moorty said UMNO and its “stooges” were practising double standards, adding Hindraf believed it was the work of the UMNO government to create unrest in Selangor.

“Instead of promoting harmony amongst Malaysians, UMNO is fast becoming the public threat by protecting such devious and extremist acts,” the lawyer said.

He also said if the Attorney-General’s Chambers failed to charge these perpetrators, HINDRAF would proceed to formally lodge complaints with the UN Human Rights Council, European Parliament, UK Foreign affairs select committee and the Global Human Rights Defence based in The Hague.

He also called for a peaceful candlelight vigil at the Dataran Merdeka on September 5 to protest the incident.

From the PEOPLE for this weekend


posted by din merican–August 29, 2009

Malaysiakini.com

August 28, 2009

mk50Another decision I think many Malaysians find hard to comprehend. A minister reporting to another minister. Really Malaysia Boleh!”

Mas CEO made 2nd KPI minister

TP Wan: Idris Jala’s promotion to a Minister position is a classic case of promoting upstairs to a “useless job”. There is more to this than meets the eye. MAS has more or less now gone leaner and hungrier and is more competitive now which poses a threat to AirAsia.

Krishnan Sahay: Idris Jala as a Minister should not be made to report to another Minister who is a lousy performer to boot. This is really ridiculous! What has he done to deserve this miserable fate? After all, he didn’t ask for the miserable Minister’s job where he will be reduced to counting paper clips to pass his time.

If the government doesn’t want him to run MAS, they should allow him to go back to his old job with Sarawak SHELL. In fact, Idris Jala didn’t want his second contract with MAS but the Government insisted on it and now even before he’s halfway through it, they have decided to kick him out.

Jeremy Tankh: Idris Jala, de facto minister of KPI. Top bred, high performer. No doubt the best man for the job. But remember Zaid Ibrahim, the former de facto minister of Law? No better man than him as Law Minister, ever in BN. But how did his fellow UMNO ministers receive him?

Malaysians Are Not Stupid: Another decision I think many Malaysians find hard to comprehend. A minister reporting to another minister. Really Malaysia Boleh! If the PM finds Koh Tsu Koon is not up to mark, sack him. Don’t waste taxpayer’s hard-earned money to pay a good for nothing minister.

Group to oust Ong in tit-for-tat move

Ice Cream Man: Ong has never received the support of anyone from the Government, in fact the deputy prime minister has openly asked him not to take his fight with Tiong public, Muhyiddin had said this should be done behind closed doors – so much for transparency and BN.

Malaysian Chinese: I would not say Ong is wrong either. No, not yet. Tiong seems to have a hidden agenda. Is the MCA now becoming the puppet for very high level and powerful political manoeuvring? It sure looks like it.

Daniel Liang: MCA has indeed lost the direction for its political struggle. The sacking of Chua makes MCA look so bad. The sex scandal is just an obvious excuse to oust Ong’s political rival. Ong will definitely pay a hefty price for his action, and he will forever be remembered as a villain in MCA history.

Soo Too Hing: Theng Bok should not have called EGM to sack Ong during such a difficult period for MCA. It’s better for Chua to relinquish all the post voluntarily to fulfil what he had promised earlier. MCA needs a clean image after the heavy defeat of the last general election. It’s quite certain that the majority of the grassroots won’t support a motion to sack Ong.

Chua’s sacking in defiance of Najib

Chee Hoh Siew: I think Ong Tee Keat sucks as a politician. Ong, learn to grab alliance instead of alienation. As for Chua, its better for you to join Pakatan, they will appreciate you more than Ong.

Suhaimi bin Said
: If there was any truth that the PM was not agreeable to the sacking of Chua, it simply means that even the MCA does not now listen to the PM.

Ong: Ong taking the moral ground is a joke especially after his use of private jets for a ‘fee’. Najib can say what he wants but damage is done. Ong and Chua can’t co-exist after this. Even if they do, it is with both holding ‘knives’ in their hands. and getting rid of both of them is also not the solution. Whatever the deal is, MCA will still hard to find support among the rakyat.

Jacob George
: Ong Tee Keat should have looked at the bigger picture! This was not the time for such narrow minded senseless action an action that belittles MCA’s own delegates who voted Dr Chua Soi Lek in! To make matters worse Ong Tee Keat did not have the decency to seek the advice of Prime Minister Najib on this matter and its implication on Barisan Nasional as well!

Talking about a country with good judgment


posted by din merican–August 29, 2009

Singapore: A Model of Judgment for the United States?

Tom Davenport*
Harvard Business
Friday, August 21, 2009

mica_changiairport
We often talk about judgment with regard to individuals, but organizations and countries can have good and bad judgment as well. I was recently in Singapore for a SAS customer event. Every time I visit, it has struck me as a country with good judgment. Singapore just celebrated its forth-fourth birthday as an independent country, and it deserves to congratulate itself (although it rarely engages in self-congratulation — another aspect of good judgment). In fact, I’d argue that in many ways Singapore is a great example for the United States. Why? Here are a few reasons:

1. Singapore is a hardworking, disciplined country. It decides what it needs to do, and then does it. Every year for National Day, for example, the government publishes a list of challenges it needs to overcome. This year’s list included such bracing issues as “How to maintain high economic growth and improve living standard?” and “How to stamp out new diseases and keep health-care costs down?” There is also the lighter, but sociologically problematic challenge of “How to get younger Singaporeans to marry and have children?” The list of challenges is enormously appealing in its clarity and directness.

2. Singapore is obsessed with education — not just for children, but throughout life. Another of its declared challenges is, “How to design job-training programmes and wage supplement schemes for low-income older workers?” The country tops the ranks of educational achievement regularly. While it was once justifiably criticized for emphasizing rote learning, it has introduced programs that encourage creativity.

3. Singapore is a highly capitalist society, but its government plays a strong guiding role. Some of the country’s smartest citizens go into government. The government creates industrial policy and actively facilitates growth and capability-building in those areas. It did a masterful job emphasizing IT and building up that industry, and now it’s actively pushing biotech and services. For example, in services the government wanted to build on organizations with great service like Singapore Airlines and Raffles Hotel. So it encouraged Singapore Management University (a private university that was established by the government) to start an Institute for Service Excellence, and stimulated the development of a Singapore Customer Satisfaction Index that would be applied to all service industries.

4. Like the US, Singapore is a highly diverse society , with lots of citizens with Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Arab backgrounds. Yet they all seem to get along pretty well, and the country’s culture is greatly enriched by the diversity. Public housing is ethnically and religiously integrated. Other countries could probably use a version of its “Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act,” which prohibits religious rabble-rousing.

5. Singapore invests heavily in infrastructure — housing, roads, IT, airport (only one, but Changi is a very impressive facility). 83% of its citizens live in public housing, but it’s clean and well-maintained. The country is rolling out a new high-bandwidth fiber optic network. Buses and subways are clean and run on time.

6. Singapore’s economy is doing pretty well. It does anticipate a decline in GDP of about 5% this year, but there are signs of a strong recovery. Its stock market is booming. Its banks didn’t go crazy with subprime lending or bizarre derivatives. One economist told me that the Asian financial crisis of 1997 was worse than the current recession for Singapore.

Okay, it’s not a Utopian society. The government is a bit authoritarian for my tastes, but not as much as in the Lee Kuan Yew (its first prime minister from 1959 to 1990) days. The prohibitions against spitting and selling chewing gum are a little much — though I really like the clean streets. Yes, you may be caned if you misbehave, but it might be better than locking up the world’s highest proportion of citizens in jails. I feel that Singapore destroyed much of its interesting architecture in the headlong rush to modernize. And it seems to me that too many of its citizens are obsessed with luxury brands and conspicuous consumption. These are relatively minor concerns, however, compared to the country’s strengths. And many of the seemingly autocratic regulations might be justified by the ethnic diversity and high population density of the country.

Singapore is tiny compared to the United States (and most other countries, for that matter), but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a model. Barack Obama keeps saying that we need to buckle down and work hard to build an economy based on real production, not hollow financial chicanery. We need a little more social order, and a little less individualism. Singapore has already pulled off both objectives, and continues to provide a good example of good judgment for the United States and the rest of the world.

http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/davenport/2009/08/singapore_a_model_of_judgment.html

*Tom Davenport holds the President’s Chair in Information Technology and Management at Babson College, where he also leads the Process Management and Working Knowledge Research Centers. His books and articles on business process reengineering, knowledge management, attention management, knowledge worker productivity, and analytical competition helped to establish each of those business ideas. His website is tomdavenport.com

Idris Jala as Minister for KPIs


malaysian insider

August 27, 2009

Idris Jala becomes a Senator and Minister in Prime Minister’s Department

jalaDatuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has named Malaysian Airlines chief executive officer Datuk Seri Idris Jala as a minister to implement his administration’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), an indication that the prime minister is impatient and unimpressed with those tasked to do so previously.

Gerakan president Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon was made minister and, together with Khazanah Nasional Berhad’s managing director Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar, were tasked last April to craft and monitor the KPIs by November but they have only issued an alphabet soup of acronyms and vague targets.

With six straight losses and just one win against rival coalition Pakatan Rakyat in by-elections since Election 2008, Najib knows he cannot afford laggards as the KPIs are a cornerstone of his administration which began on April 3 with him preaching “1 Malaysia. People First. Performance Now.”

While the national economy is linked to global trade recovering from a recession, Najib’s government has not been able to cut the crime index and has badly handled the policy U-turn in the teaching of mathematics and science in English.

He had also had to shoot down a proposal to filter the Internet while grappling with the country’s dual track legal system where a Muslim woman faces caning for drinking beer.

With Idris’s appointment as minister without portfolio in the Prime Minister’s Department, Najib’s 28-member Cabinet will expand to 29, just 3 short of predecessor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s much-criticised jumbo-sized cabinet.

In a statement today, Najib said King Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin has consented to the appointment and Idris will be sworn in as a senator to take up the post. adding Malaysia Airlines will announce the replacement CEO and managing director later.

As CEO of the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu), Idris will complement, support and report to Koh, who is minister in the Prime Minister’s Department  in charge of National Unity and Performance Management.

He sad Koh will formulate and execute the overall policy and strategy with special focus on the National Key Results Areas (N-KRA) apart from being chairman of the Pemandu board which includes the chief secretary to the government and other senior officers.

“Idris, on the other hand, will focus on sharing his expertise and experience in Shell and Malaysia Airlines and driving implementation of performance management in the federal government,” Najib said, adding Idris will be Pemandu deputy chairman responsible for specific N-KRAs and national KPIs apart from advising the relevant ministers.

He added Idris will report to Koh on issues relating to KPIs and directly to the prime minister on other duties assigned to him as minister without portfolio in the Prime Minister’s Department.

The Sarawakian was made managing director and CEO of Malaysia Airlines in December 2005 after the flag carrier’s biggest financial loss in its corporate history. he has turned around the ailing airline into a profitable concern by aggressively cutting down its assets and routes, focusing on profitable destinations and cost-cutting measures.

He previously spent 23 years in Shell and between 2002 and 2005, Idris was managing director of Shell MDS (Malaysia) and vice-president Shell Malaysia Gas & Power (Malaysia).

Idris has also assumed other positions in the energy giant in its London headquarters and also its unit in Sri Lanka. Idris holds a Bachelor’s degree from the Universiti Sains Malaysia and a Masters degree from Warwick University, the United Kingdom.

The Passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy


August 27, 2009

Remembering Senator Edward Moore Kennedy (1932-2009)

Senator Edward M  Kennedy PictureThe last survivor of John F. Kennedy’s Camelot and long serving Senator in the US Congress, Edward  M. Kennedy died on August 25, 2009. He succumbed to brain cancer at his home in Hyannis  Port, Massachusetts.

My condolences– and yours too– go the immediate family members of the late Senator, and those of the  extended Kennedy family. This video is a tribute to the iconic Ted Kennedy, as he is popularly known, whose senatorial accomplishments as a liberal democrat  is unmatched in the annals of modern day American legislative history. He pursued health care reform to the end of his days.

This message is not lost on most of us

I was fortunate to have met the handsome  Senator  Kennedy briefly at the grave site of his two brothers, President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy in Arlington National Cemetery, Washington DC, on  May 29, 1969. It was on the occasion of President Kennedy’s birthday. At that time, the dynamic Senator was preoccupied with the War in Vietnam, as he was a torch bearer of  the legacy of his late brother Robert Kennedy who challenged President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s pursuit of that unpopular war. I arrived in Washington DC to begin my graduate studies in business, as a Bank Negara scholar, at The George Washington University in the first week of August, 1968. —Din Merican

A Tribute to Senator Edward Moore Kennedy (1932-2009)

In Permatang Pasir, UMNO’s racialised rhetoric failed


August 26, 2009

mk50

Pakatan’s Decisive Victory in Permatang Pasir

by Bridget Welsh*

Yesterday’s decisive opposition by-election victory in Permatang Pasir is among the most important markers of national sentiment since March 2008. In this semi-rural constituency in a Malay-majority area, Pakatan worked together to secure a victory that they knew they badly needed.

The stakes were high for all of Pakatan’s component parties and the ability to secure essentially the same share of the vote that they received in 2008, 65%, shows that when push comes to shove, Pakatan can deliver electorally.

UMNO will claim that this loss was expected, in the heart of the opposition leader’s constituency, but this campaign revealed serious cracks within Malaysia’s dominant party and points to the limits of negative racially-biased campaigning.

The opposition was able to reign in the ghosts that haunted their campaign after a lackluster performance in Manek Urai – failure of effective cooperation, loss of Malay ground, threats of cutting into the non-Malay ground and the challenge to the unity to the opposition as a whole – while UMNO remains haunted by the legacy of factionalism promoted under Dr Mahathir Mohamad and, more fundamentally, its inability to reform and transform itself into a party that moves beyond the racial one note that is out of tune with the majority of voters nationally.

Racial campaign

Like the Permatang Pauh parliamentary by-election almost a year ago, this election coincided with the month of the hungry ghosts and like that campaign, it was a nasty, personal campaign. The news of the UMNO candidate, his professional and personal scandals, made the campaign a non-starter for UMNO from the beginning, but it also forced the BN to dig further into the box of attacks. From traitor to puppet labels were placed on all the major leaders in Pakatan, often with different logics.

While the opposition highlighted the issue of qualifications, on the ground it joined the mud wrestling for votes. For example, the leader of the UMNO campaign, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was questioned for his meeting with a representative of Israel. Character and mystery haunted the BN, as “zalim” or cruelty took center stage for the opposition.

Attention this time round moved from Altantuya, featured in last year’s Permatang Pauh parliamentary by-election and the process of Perak takeover in Bukit Gantang to the death of Teoh Beng Hock. The parties appealed to emotive issues that reflect the current tenor of Malaysian politics, a move to the personal and a discourse dominated by race.

More than any by-election since he assumed the premiership, Najib took center stage. The reason is that the campaign was national, not local. The campaign was devoid of local issues, in part due to the fact that the state seat fell within the constituency of the opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s 1Malaysia campaign was featured prominently, with few locals understanding the campaign beyond the symbolism of inclusion. The racial messages on the ground conflicted with BN’s national label or multiethnic inclusion.

Many voters highlighted the conflicting messages they were receiving, and most went with who ultimately they found the most credible or were more comfortable with. As an opposition stronghold since 1999, this gave the opposition in Permatang Pasir the advantage.

UMNO’s strategy followed the pattern that has become entrenched post-March 2008, an effort to win back the Malay votes through an appeal to Malay unity and call that the Malay community is under threat. The message is appealing to traditional UMNO core supporters, but in this semi-urban constituency with cordial ethnic relations, voters were not buying it. Negative campaigning is not working.

High stakes for Pakatan

For the opposition parties, the ability to address the increasingly racialised rhetoric posed a major challenge, particularly in light of the frequent spats among opposition parties over racially-linked issues such as beer and pig farming. The opposition turned to the core of its 2008 campaign, highlighting multi-ethnic inclusion and featured the working cooperation among the coalition parties in Penang. Permatang Pasir was an electoral litmus test for the coalition beyond the effectiveness of its multi-ethnic message.

For PKR, the contest reflected the strength of its leader. A loss of ground for Anwar among Malays would have added traction to the message that he was “betraying” the Malays and called into question his leadership nationally. For PAS, this state seat is their only stronghold in the state, and a loss would have devastated the party in Penang. For DAP, who will rely heavily on the performance in this state for the electoral future, the contest was a referendum on their state leadership.

All of the component parties of Pakatan had a lot to lose and the intensity of the campaigning reflected the high stakes.

A loss of support would have had devastating implications for the opposition. The spirits of division in the opposition were roaming in the shadows. The issue of Malay unity was haunting PAS internally – as the question of whether the party should stay with Pakatan, go it alone or join Umno remained on the table. It was particularly acute after Manek Urai cut into PAS support among Malays through the use of a racially oriented campaign.

For now, Permatang Pasir has served to strengthen leaders within PAS that articulate a strong tie to Pakatan and shows that if PAS wants to extend its support outside of its traditional Malay heartland Pakatan remains the most viable avenue.

The spirit of division extended to DAP, as pressure over religious principles and cultural practices had floated to the surface in the form of pig farming in Kedah and beer drinking in Selangor.

The non-Malay BN parties jumped on these issues to drive home a point that PAS was challenging non-Malay rights through restrictions and intolerance. The announcements of Hassan Ali on polling day only reinforced the alienation of non-Malays and liberal Malays that this route will take. For now, these issues that have the potential to deeply divide the opposition have been put aside as the opposition attempts to showcase that while differences will exist in their broad umbrella, they will be discussed and “managed”. The path of compromise will not be easy when these issues are seen as black and white questions of rights and religious missions.

The declaration of the scandal-ridden Kedah Lunas assemblymen as a pro-BN “independent” had minimal impact on Permatang Pasir voters. Its timing was intended to send the message that PKR representatives are not reliable and foster uncertainty and suspicion within the ranks of the opposition, as the trauma of Perak was apparently foreshadowed in Kedah. For voters, tired of the politicking and fed up with the tactics of cat and mouse games that bypass their mandates, the actions of one man had little impact on their lives. Yet, they know that sadly the defection games will continue in what clearly is a strategy to destabilise opposition state governments.

The sad fact is that BN fails to understand that any short term gain in a defection only strengthens the opposition long-term as it selects stronger, more loyal candidates, and works together as a unit more effectively. The strong Pakatan cooperation in Perak is illustrative of the long-term impact of the BN strategy of state government destabilisation. In Permatang Pasir the threat of another state government “falling” only served to strengthen the cooperative campaigning by opposition component parties.

Repeated electoral patterns

The results in this by-election reflect continued solidification of broader voting patterns over the past few years. First, the opposition is performing more effectively in semi-urban seats, particularly compared with rural seats. Part of this has to do with the fact that the opposition’s appeal among lower and middle income semi-urban voters has been growing, as the machinery of patronage that BN relies on to distribute “goodies” has weakened and the sheer number of voters has taxed the capacity of BN to deliver.

The other fact is the alternative sources of information are permeating these areas like never before. While Permatang Pasir is not yet “wired” as the Penang state government has promised will happen, it has access to the internet and these messages extended to the villages of Tanah Liat and Kampung Pelet, usually in the form of a printed article. Alternative media continues to shape the political terrain.

Since March 2008 the opposition is winning in mixed areas. While Permatang Pasir was a 75% Malay-majority seat, the share of non-Malay vote was substantial. Indian voters, numbering 246, did not affect the final outcome in this constituency. It was the Chinese who mattered.

The opposition continues to win the overwhelming majority of Chinese votes and in this case picked up votes slightly. In the Chinese area of Cross Street, for example, the share of Chinese support increased 5.6% when compared to March 2008, while in other Chinese areas the gain was only 1%.

The BN campaign that focused on 1Malaysia and “giving Najib a chance” did not have traction in the context of Teoh Beng Hock’s death, unease with Utusan Malaysia‘s reporting and shrill of the UMNO Malay rights campaign on the ground. In mixed areas, especially semi urban areas where people know each other well like Permatang Pasir; it is a mistake to believe that you can segment your campaigning to specific communities.

The opposition campaign had greater consistency comparatively across races, although it would be a mistake to say that they did not have their own “ethnically” focused messaging.

Part of the reason the BN failed to win back votes stemmed from the weakness of its non-Malay component parties. Najib Abdul Razak’s government, unlike Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s and Mahathir’s, has done little to support these parties, choosing to by-pass these parties in its engagement with non-Malays. The MCA and Gerakan were given different areas to cultivate and neither yielded a sprout of increased support.

Gerakan worked all out in the campaign, hosting popular “free” dinners galore, while MCA similarly tapped into their local machinery through its grassroots networks and gave out tasty packages of biscuits and useful bags of fertilizer.

Permatang Pasir voters took the “gifts” and continued to support the opposition despite real concerns about their cultural rights to drink and eat as they have done for generations. Deep internal factionalism in both parties in Penang limited MCA and Gerakan effectiveness, but it was the failure of the BN nationally to work as a coalition where non-Malay component parties have a voice that was the most damning for these parties. They were seen by voters as fighting themselves and thus providing little genuine representation.

The question of Malay voting has dominated coverage of this campaign, understandably since the issue of Malay rights has been so prominent under Najib’s government. When the dust settled in the emotive campaigning, the Malay vote stayed the same. PAS and UMNO won their core supporters, with the Malay vote essentially split down the middle. UMNO made small gains in some areas where the goodies were more effective, poorer areas, while PAS won some areas where the candidate was unpopular and there was dissatisfaction with how UMNO selected the candidate.

These minor movements do not point to a major shift. The reality is that Malays are divided, and UMNO has lost Malay ground from its base pre-2008. Given that this was Anwar’s parliamentary constituency, it is important to note that the high share of Malay support towards the opposition in this by-election is likely inflated from national trends. Irrespective, UMNO continues to lose traction among its traditional share of Malays.

The reason has to do with the third macro national trend that persisted in this by-election, the defection of younger voters to the opposition. UMNO used its tried technique of bringing young Puteri members into the village for home stays, a personal touch that connects, yet it did not yield the support among younger voters that UMNO needed.

Most Permatang Pasir voters were cool in this relatively quiet campaign, unfazed by the “outsider invasion”, but it was the younger voters that were the most worked up on issues. There was noticeable anger towards UMNO among younger Malay voters, who highlighted corruption and the failure of the party to provide opportunities for advancement within the party.

They also raised the serious issue of lack of jobs, especially for Malay males. The issue of livelihood was the fourth major trend in the campaign. When voters were asked what mattered – they responded with the same issues that have persisted – the economy, notably jobs, equal opportunity, education and crime. While racial issues were more important and prominent, they co-existed with real life concerns that affected the non-politicised majority of voters. Many voters found both the opposition and BN campaign largely devoid of issues that “mattered.” Addressing fear or insecurity was prioritised over delivering the goods. There was palpable political fatigue among voters who are fed up with political games and want their leaders to govern and solve “real” problems.

UMNO’s Pandora box

While the results mattered most to the opposition in what was termed as “do or die” situation by some despite the low key public expectations that were touted publicly, the results will haunt UMNO longer. The campaign results showcased some of the serious challenges the party faces.

The choice of candidate highlights that there is a lack of leadership in Penang UMNO. This was the result of Mahathir’s leadership, in that he did not allow a younger generation to rise from within. The candidate selection process – carried out from outside Penang and led by influences with little ties on the ground – is illustrative of the obstacles the party faces in regenerating. The failure to connect with the young and attract untainted talent is a long term problem that has repercussions for the caliber of future national leadership.

While UMNO has tried to improve its machinery – and this was evident in Permatang Pasir – a major challenge for Umno is credibility among voters. Its hardcore supporters will stay with them, especially the older generation, but the younger voters are questioning everything. They resent the patronising tone of some of the UMNO leaders and expect more from their government. On the ground there were real concerns about the management of the campaign by Ahmad Zahid who has yet to prove himself nationally as a leader who can be trusted. Many of the campaign messages were too incredulous to accept.

While UMNO is not alone in facing the issue of credibility, as this is also an opposition challenge especially for Anwar, it is particularly acute for the dominant national party.

In opening up a Pandora box by relying on racially-based campaigning tied to fear and insecurity, UMNO is creating an even greater challenge for itself. In its fight to win back the Malays it has lost the national picture of itself as a national party governing the entire country. Traditionally UMNO has based its legitimacy on maintaining stability, but the current campaigning thrust lacks this core. 1Malaysia aims to provide a rubric for a national picture, but it lacks substance, and in the context of racially based campaigning any traction.

The other core technique is patronage – and yes, the goodies poured in Permatang Pasir. Money and promises of becoming the Anak Emas (Golden Child) flowed with estimated running as high as RM100 million. The reality is that no where near that was spent and most of this was unmet promises, but the inability of the traditional vehicle to woo voters in a by-election only serves to re-emphasise the need for UMNO to move beyond its old paradigms of political engagement.

The by-election will soon fade into oblivion as a new one takes its place. This is the year of by-elections. The opposition has the benefit of putting to rest some ghosts promoting internal division which will weaken it nationally, while the BN – particularly UMNO – remains having to face the monster it has failed to battle effectively – the need to reform from within. Politics is full of individuals hungry to hold onto or win power. It remains to be seen that whether after this month, attention will focus less on appeasing the spirits and more on addressing the problems that voters really care about.

*Bridget Welsh is Associate Professor of Political Science at Singapore Management University and observed the by-election in Permatang Pasir. She can be contacted at bwelsh@smu.edu.sg.

A Return to PBS (?) with conditions


mk50Malaysiakini.com

August 25, 2009

Jeffrey Gapari Kitingan is re-thinking to return Parti Bersatu Sabah with conditions

fenandez joe

by Joe Fernandez

jeffery k

Sabah PKR strongman Jeffrey Gapari Kitingan is re-thinking his earlier outright rejection, hardly days ago, of his elder brother Joseph Pairin Kitingan’s indirect overtures to him to rejoin PBS (Parti Bersatu Sabah). This is a party they both founded together in 1985 to seize the reins of power from the ruling BN (Barisan Nasional) in Kota Kinabalu within 45 days of its registration.

The apparent re-think follows accusations by PBS leaders that he might have been a little too hasty in sniggering at the invite, which was extended twice in recent days by PBS vice president Herbert Timbon Lagadan on behalf of Pairin and the Supreme Council. Expressing no regrets at his earlier rejection of Pairin’s overtures, he’s now willing to seriously consider joining his old party to continue with his political struggles albeit with certain conditions.

“If they (PBS) can get a better deal for the people of Sabah, I am willing to consider joining them once again,” said Jeffrey seriously. “It will be like old times again.”

“But if, as part of the Government they cannot do this (get a better deal), then they should seriously consider abandoning the BN (Barisan Nasional) and joining me, instead, in Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

The PKR vice-president is giving PBS leaders one year, until Malaysia Day on September 16 next year, to achieve a “better deal for Sabah”. Success would mean he’s wholeheartedly embracing PBS once again. He has already been a member of PBS twice with a third bid in 2005 being rejected by the Supreme Council. Failure to get “the better deal” should force the party leaders to re-think their current role in BN and accept the hand of friendship offered by PKR, reiterated Jeffrey.

Basically, wresting a better deal for the people of Sabah calls for the reversal of “the dependency syndrome” which has impoverished the state, according to Jeffrey. “It must be remembered that the continuing influx, under UMNO, of illegal immigrants into the state has worsened the poverty picture. Neighbouring countries are simply transferring their problems to us.”

Specifically, Jeffrey wants PBS to “remain true to itself” and re-adopt the Tambunan Declaration which was the party’s initial raison d’être. The Declaration was quietly abandoned when former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad re-accepted PBS back into the BN fold after earlier thundering that “the doors are closed forever”. The re-adoption has been suggested as the first step towards securing a better deal for Sabah. The Declaration has since become PKR’s main political framework in Sabah and attracted Jeffrey to its politics. PKR, at the national level, subscribes to the Permatang Pauh Declaration, which was adopted ten years ago.

Briefly, the resurrected Tambunan Declaration is “a guarantee to the people of Sabah by a Federal Government led by PKR in alliance with its other partners in the Pakatan Rakyat (PR)”.

Seven-point Declaration

The seven-point Declaration calls for due respect and full implementation of the 20 Points Formula under which Sabah helped bring Malaysia together with neighbouring Sarawak, Singapore and Malaya after protracted discussions which also included Brunei until the 11th hour, with the United Kingdom and the United Nations.

Elsewhere, it calls for the appointment of a Deputy Prime Minister from either Sabah or Sarawak; a rise in the oil royalty from 5 per cent to 20 per cent; a greater role for Sabah in the Federal Cabinet, in Parliament and in the diplomatic service “according to an agreed and fair formula to ensure a better balance”; the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry to probe into the issue of MyKads to illegal immigrants under the infamous Projek IC or IC Mahathir, the issue of illegal immigration, and ways to ensure that the sovereignty of the nation is assured as envisaged under the Rukun Negara (National Philosophy); respect for all communities and their culture; and finally, the seventh point, allows Sabah to decide its own economic and development agenda in line with the National Agenda.

Jeffrey warned that PBS is at its a critical juncture after nearly 25 years and it must decide wisely if it is to continue remaining relevant to the hopes and aspirations of the people of Sabah. “I have my principles. I am fighting for the rakyat (citizens), not for myself,” said Jeffrey on his grave reservations about PBS. “He (Pairin) knows that UMNO grabbed power from PBS and is perpetuating the problem of illegal immigration. Let them do something for the people within the next one year.” PBS has seen declining support ever since it re-joined the BN and won many of its seats by small margins in the general elections last year. Only the absence of a one-to-one opposition electoral pact saved the PBS from certain defeat at the ballot box.

“The prognosis is not good for the PBS,” noted Jeffrey who seems pessimistic that the party can meet the one year deadline set by him. “The PBS is in its death throes and it will be totally rejected by the people. Pairin will probably get his 1994 wish to remain the last man left standing in the PBS.”

Factors ‘pulling’ PBS out of political reckoning

Jeffrey lists the penetration of the internet among 20 per cent of the youths in Sabah, the influence of 300,000 workers from the state in Peninsular Malaysia and the emergence of PR as a viable alternative as the factors that will usher PBS out of the political reckoning. The perception that there’s no alternative to the BN no longer exists, added Jeffrey. “That’s a perception carefully cultivated by the BN for so long now and kept in place by ignorance, poverty and the dependency syndrome.”

Jeffrey explains further why he’s pessimistic about the future of the PBS as presently constituted. The checks and balances, promised by the doctrine of the separation of powers, has been eroded over the years by the executive branch which has made Parliament, the Judiciary and the 4th Estate all subservient to it, he alleged.

Jeffrey further alleged that abuses of powers are taking place daily as Umno exercises absolute power. He cited the recent rulings by the Court of Appeal in the case of the Pensiangan parliamentary seat, the aborted Mazu Goddess of the Sea statue in Kudat and the Perak constitutional crisis as all “shameful episodes on the part of the Judiciary”.

Jeffrey’s 360 degree turn on the invite from PBS has fuelled public suspicions that the two Kitingan brothers have hatched some of political sandiwara (drama) between them. The others, across both sides of the political divide, seem to be mere helpless bystanders. Jeffrey’s pooh-poohs the conspiracy theories. Still, PKR may yet inadvertently emerge in the process as some sort of strong pressure lobby on BN to save PBS from itself.

Pakatan Rakyat defeats UMNO-BN in Permatang Pasir


August 25, 2009

Pakatan Rakyat wins Permatang Pasir: Was there any doubt?

BREAKING News:

739887pas_salleh_win_aug25PAS-PR  won the Permatang Pasir state seat by-election in Penang  with a majority of 4,551 votes. The majority however had decreased by more than 800 votes since the last general election which saw the party winning by 5,433 votes.

The Election Commission announced that PAS candidate 52-year-old candidate Mohd Salleh polled 9,618 votes while BN’s Mohd Rohaizat Othman, 38, garnered 5,067.

Anwar-Najib Meeting


August 25, 2009

malaysian insider

Anwar-Najib Meeting excites the country

A secret meeting between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his political nemesis, opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, is likely to send shock waves through UMNO and the opposition alliance.

The meeting some time last month has put Najib in an awkward spot, as he will be under pressure from his party to explain why its president bothered to meet the man UMNO despises as a traitor to the politically dominant Malay community.

But analysts say that there is also a downside for Anwar because it will raise questions among his political allies in the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition about his commitment to their opposition alliance.

“There are so many permutations to this meeting. But on paper, this meeting does benefit Anwar because there is recognition that he is the opposition leader and someone the government needs to deal with,” said a senior UMNO leader, who asked not to be named.

The hush-hush meeting has attracted a lot of attention in Malaysia because, while Najib is the current premier, PR has made it clear that it wants to take over the federal government by the next election and install Anwar as PM.

Political sources from the Najib and Anwar camps have confirmed that the two politicians met at the prime minister’s residence in the administrative capital of Putrajaya. The sources remain vague about what transpired at the session, which lasted just over an hour. The meeting, they said, was initiated by Najib.

Opposition MP Jeff Ooi “tweeted” on online networking tool Twitter about the meeting, after reading a news report about it, wondering if the meeting was meant to “foster BN-Opposition cooperation”.

If so, he said “hawks within UMNO didn’t show it. Racism-stoking UMNO mouthpieces didn’t report it”, though Ooi did not rule out such an outcome to the pow-wow.

The Internet was abuzz over the meeting, with arguments over whether Najib or Anwar came out as the weaker-looking party by meeting his rival face to face.

Sources within the Najib camp said the meeting was simply to deliver a message that the government and opposition need to work together to deal with the economy. They said the incessant politicking that has dragged on since last year’s general election has severely damaged Malaysia’s image as a destination for foreign capital.

Anwar is head of the three-party PR alliance and also the appointed Parliamentary Opposition Leader. The sources close to the Premier said Najib gave Anwar the assurance that he would not discriminate against the four states currently controlled by the opposition.

Close aides to Anwar generally agree with this account of the meeting, but they note that Najib was reluctant to give assurances that he would accept a two-party system taking root.

Anwar also sought a commitment that the UMNO-led Barisan Nasional coalition would halt its campaign of destabilising opposition-led states.

He also sought assurances against a repeat of the political fiasco in Perak last March when the defection of three PR state representatives led to the downfall of the opposition alliance. But Najib was non-committal, one political aide close to Anwar said.

The sources also said that both leaders touched on two other sensitive topics: Najib’s alleged links to a former Mongolian interpreter who was murdered, and the sodomy charges Anwar is facing.

A senior politician close to the premier said “it would be understandable that these two issues would have been discussed”. But he declined to elaborate. — The Straits Times