Tay on RPK


April 21, 2011

RPK : A Flawed Cyber-Genius?

by Tay Chee Keong

Local political legend Raja Petra Kamaruddin recently made an abrupt clarification that he no longer believed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor were implicated in the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu. His confession triggered heated debate on the eve of the Sarawak state election.

A much cherished hero in the blogosphere has all of a sudden been reduced to a trashed coward. Netizens had been looking up to a heroic figure who was courageous enough to expose all the filth of the ruling coalition hidden from public knowledge. RPK had indeed met all the requirements for such a hero, including a tragic destiny that is more often than not associated with a heroic martyr.

He ran a news website that unveiled many previously unknown political truths. With a vast network of contacts and a wealth of insider information, he exposed many shady stories and released huge numbers of supposedly classified government documents without taking into consideration possible legal consequences that might befall him.

All heroes have a price to pay. RPK was arrested and charged. He insisted not to go on bail and went into a dramatic exile. He continued to voice out through the Internet and even vowed to go on with his struggle at the expense of his son when the latter was arrested.

However, heroes do not always enjoy freedom of expression. A hero is expected to come up with extreme and biased remarks. No one needs the truth anyway; all that they want are emotionally charged one-sided stories and gossips. If a hero utters anything unpleasing to the ears of his audience, he will find himself instantly censured.

All new media practitioners, RPK included, often find themselves stereotyped by the masses. While they fiercely champion freedom of speech, they are invariably denied the same by public consensus and market. They can only slam but not exalt the ruling coalition, sympathise with but not hammer the opposition. Their support will languish the moment they go against market demands.

The bullying culture on the Internet has given rise to a trend that subscribes only to a unitary voice. Some bloggers have tried to lure public attention and lift their pageview figures by stoking sensational headlines and stories. They would never tread beyond the baseline to show their support for mainstream political entities for fear of retaliation and abandonment.

That said, RPK is a unique case of its own, as he has long been criticising some of Pakatan’s inappropriate policies and internal conflicts, and has hit out straight at its leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. However, Pakatan supporters continued to support him as his objective was explicit and clear, to bring down the BN at any cost in what is known as the ABU (Anything But UMNO) spirit.

Out of everyone’s expectation, he suddenly changed the course of his struggle shortly before Sarawak went to the polls, launching relentless assaults on Anwar and the Pakatan.What a regret to see a rare hero lose his integrity and worth.

mysinchew.com/www.themalaysianinsider.com

Looking Back on Sarawak Elections 2011


April 21, 2011 (Kuala Lumpur)

Looking Back on Sarawak Elections 2011

by Dr. Bridget Welsh

“Keeping Taib in power too long will be a guarantee that the fixed deposit, already no longer secure, could be lost altogether, and Najib’s own tenure might be at risk. This is not an easy decision for the PM.”Bridget Welsh

The Sarawak polls are over and the attention is now on assessing its implications at both the state and national levels. Much attention has focused on predictions for the next general elections, with the range of possible dates moving from a few months to further postponement until 2013.

My own view remains that there needs to be some time before the national election machinery is in place again, given the challenges that have emerged from the Sarawak campaign and that anything held this year would be too risky for the BN.

The political terrain is now more uncertain. In this vein, this article examines the immediate political implications, the “sweet” and “sour” challenges that the BN has to face in the wake of the state polls.

The Sarawak results indicate that the BN has suffered a serious bruising and will have to make hard decisions to improve its performance in the next general election.

Taib the Victor (and Loser)

Arguably, Chief Minister Taib Mahmud emerged as the single strongest beneficiary from the results. The retention of the two-thirds majority without a single loss in his party, the PBB, have bought him time to choose his own successor. The two-thirds majority also allows him to control debate in the state assembly and eventually depart on his own terms.

At the same time, it has been made clear that Taib will face increasing pressure to step down, and will unlikely to able to lead BN into another election. As the main issue in the campaign, he has been severely discredited personally, and will face an extremely challenging task of rebuilding his reputation and salvaging his legacy.

The allegations in the Sarawak Report website have transformed attitudes of Malaysia’s longest serving chief minister in a manner in which there is no going back. Taib has survived, but he faces a more contentious political environment than ever before.

He also faces a difficult decision – on who to appoint as his successor as there are a number of contenders in the ring, with Abang Johari Abang Openg leading the way. Taib will have to manage the growing internal party competition to take over the reins and to limit infighting in his own party, some of whom are concerned with the transition of power.

Issues such as the role of Taib’s family interests, the dynamic between Malays and Melanaus and perceived need for strong leadership within the BN camp are now being openly discussed.

Taib, perhaps arguably one of Malaysia’s most experienced politicians, will be navigating these issues without the benefit of time and will come under even greater scrutiny.

An uncomfortable Federal-State tension

The Sarawak election results also place Prime Minister Najib Razak in a difficult position. It is clear that during the polls campaign, there was tension within the BN over how long Taib should stay on.

With the results matching the number of seats lost in 1987 and showing swings across ethnicities both back and away from BN, Najib faces a difficult choice on how much pressure to put on Taib to turn over power.

Keeping Taib in power too long will be a guarantee that the fixed deposit, already no longer secure, could be lost altogether, and Najib’s own tenure might be at risk. This is not an easy decision for the PM.

Federal-state relations with Sabah and Sarawak are never easy, and arguably the open rift and conflicting interests make for difficult times ahead. The interesting dimension of this is that the rift was public rather than private, and is likely to be even more public given the growing national prominence of Sarawak.

Managing Sarawak’s ‘hot’ issues nationally

If navigating the transition of power in Sarawak was not enough, Najib faces two serious policy headaches. The first is to address the increasing prominence of corruption. After Taib’s tenure, this was perhaps the anchor of the opposition campaign, and it has now reemerged centre stage in the opposition campaign, forging a common agenda among opposition parties.

Najib has a choice to make on whether he will actively address corruption substantively or allow this issue to build further political momentum. Many calls are already been made for him to act on the issues raised by Sarawak Report.

Moreover, the recent tragic death of Customs officer Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed while in Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission‘s custody, which occurred during the Sarawak campaign has only served to bring additional spotlights on the need for more effective tools to improve anti-corruption governance.

If addressing corruption was not difficult enough, Najib is facing an even more challenging politics of religion in Malaysia as he continues to find a balance between the freedom and equality of all religions and the calls for the primacy of Islam over the rights of other communities.

With the issues of the Bible and the use of Malay terms such as ‘Allah’ in religious texts still unresolved and numerous legal cases outstanding, finding the right balance between communities is hard as groups on all sides are not satisfied with how the matters have been handled.

More pressure to assure Electoral Integrity

Even more important for the election process is the Election Commission, which reports to the prime minister. By any standard, its performance was below par and did not match the professionalism that the EC is capable of.

The Sarawak electoral process was tainted – from the black-out in Senadin (right) during vote-counting to the last-minute influx of postal voters and the failure to share legal documentation (Borang 14) with all sides. These reports do not reflect well on the integrity of the electoral process.

The EC is now on the defensive, and will need to work to assure voters that it can operate with greater professionalism. Now with the examples of electoral problems fresh in the media, this issue will serve to mobilise civil society as it did in 2007.

What has permeated even further is the sense that the BN is relying more on vote-buying than on its record for political support. This perception has deepened post-Sarawak 2011 polls given the reports of vote-buying coming even from the BN in the case of Pelagus. This practice does not reflect well on Najib himself.

A mandate that is bought, not earned, is less worthy. Arguably the use of money has increased to nationally unsustainable levels. What is missing here is the appreciation that patronage networks – grassroots connections of parties – are not working as they used to and this makes campaigning for the BN even more challenging. This issue is more serious in Peninsular Malaysia than in Sabah and Sarawak.

There is also the dynamic that given the competitiveness of the election, money is not going down to the ground as some fear that a loss of power is coming and they should protect themselves. Greed within the system is costing the system further. There is increasingly no guarantee when one relies on vote-buying for support.

Erosion of Chinese Support

The loss of all its ‘safe’ seats was driven home to Sarawak’s grand old party, the SUPP. It was the hardest hit party within the BN in this election.

It is now riddled with further internal infighting over leadership and these squabbles over the spoils are preventing the serious issues of regeneration and reevaluation it needs for its own survival politically. Interests are blinding the actors to the broader political picture.

The party has to find a new direction and its leadership continues to remain resistant to change. What was sad to watch was SUPP’s dependence on Peninsular Malaysian leaders for strategy and guidance, as this party has lost its connection to the issues in Sarawak.

From the concern over children having to leave the state to find work to the fact that the business climate is increasingly unfavourable, SUPP has yet to channel the real concerns of its traditional base.

The further erosion of Chinese support from the BN has raised serious questions for the ruling coalition as a whole. Is this the fate which MCA is staring at? Will the 2006 losses that translated into further losses in 2011 be repeated in Peninsular Malaysia?

Signs are not promising for the BN Chinese component parties, as they are faced a two-prong attack – from their traditional supporters who are leaving them and from UMNO comments that further alienate Chinese support.

The fact is that the old style of fear tactics – scaring the Chinese with threats of withdrawing financial contracts – is not working to the same degree. In part, this is because the Chinese are increasingly economically independent.

It is also that the BN has yet to provide concrete reasons for the Chinese to move back, as the Economic Transformation Programme and NEP (New Economic Policy) issues have not been adequately addressed for many non-Malays, Chinese and non-Malay bumiputeras alike.

While there are concerns among some for Chinese representation in the system, the incentives to return to the BN fold are lacking. Many Chinese Malaysians continue to find the opposition message of inclusion and fairer governance more attractive.

BN needs to regain momentum

In the wake of Sarawak polls, the BN momentum at the end of the 16 by-elections has slowed, and arguably has grinded to a halt. Unlike the by-election contests, especially from Hulu Selangor onwards, BN did not set the tone and direction of the Sarawak electoral campaign.

The BN has now moved from the offensive to the defensive. There is now more political uncertainty, and the reality is that when this happened, there is economic uncertainty as well. The task for regaining the momentum for BN is challenging indeed, especially given the increased tensions within the ruling coalition itself and the salience of national policy issues involving Sarawak.

In short, the bruises have left their mark on the BN and it will need time to heal before it steps back into the electoral ring.

DR BRIDGET WELSH is associate professor of political science at Singapore Management University and she can be reached at bwelsh@smu.edu.sg. She was in Sarawak to observe the state election.

Political Dynasties to the Fore


April 20, 2011 (6.50 am, Paris)

Political Dynasties to the fore

by W.Scott Thompson @http://www.nst.com.my

IF you think about it, the wonder is that there are so few dynasties rather than so many, though maybe the idea is coming back into its own.

China hasn’t had any in over a century. But India has been governed since independence almost entirely by Nehru and his heirs, with the young Rahul Gandhi maturing in the wings while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh finishes his reforms and keeps the seat warm for the family.

Saddam Hussein had to bury his own would-be heirs and, by the looks of it, Muammar Gaddafi’s son Seif is about as popular as his father.

There have been three American presidential father-son dynasties, and I doubt another Bush can break the record and add a third family member to their museum of stuffed stags. The Kennedys failed on their second try, and the money and numbers are so much more dispersed that no one fears a Kennedy dynasty.

Right now in the Philippines, the Marcos family is making a genuine comeback, puzzling to rational people. There are three of them in national positions, and they’ve been testing the waters by pushing to have the body of the old man moved from its museum in Ilocano-land to the national cemetery for heroes.

The new Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, is making all the sounds of a presidential run in 2016 to finish redeeming the family honour, and the Aquino palace — and there’s an actually good dynasty — is now beginning its counterattack.

It’s not easy to find presidential qualities in the senator, but there’s unlimited wealth behind him. Estimates of the family’s current boodle are usually put at about US$30 billion (RM90.85 billion). But they have to move it in-country cautiously. After all, they’ve never apologised for what they did, stole, and killed.

The idea of a dynasty isn’t a bad one. In medieval Europe, so much blood was shed among the would-be rulers fighting for primacy that, once the major countries had settled into incipient nationhood, the notion of legitimacy came to predominate.

It was better just to accept the eldest son as the next ruler, taking the bad with the good, than to have Wars of the Roses, 30 years of war, or assassination French-style.

This is why, though, the first night of marriage for the successor or ruler had to be witnessed. The elders had to be certain that whoever was conceived in the royal bed was, so to speak, the true issue. You didn’t want to start those wars all over again.

The late William F. Buckley Jr, who liked royalty, once said that he’d rather be ruled by an arbitrary and random selection of people from the New York phone book than by elected leaders. He just knew too much about what bad ingredients went into the political soup of elections and governance.

It’s natural to want our children’s success. On Wednesday mornings at about 8.40, I get to see my son Nick on CNN translating information technology obscuranta into laymen’s terms. I even try to pay attention to what he’s saying, though that’s secondary. But in politics, succession within families has come to be something quite different from pride or legitimacy. It’s about protecting the money and hiding the skeletons.

Bashir Assad’s father, Hafez al-Assad, who created about the most efficient dictatorship in the world during his 29-year rule of Syria, was so busy ensuring the succession to his son in his last weeks that he missed a sure peace deal with Israel (Camp David 2000) that probably would have worked for both parties.

The reason wealth protection has moved up so high in motive is globalisation. The first thing that began to move around in milliseconds was money. In the 18th century, the Holy Roman Emperor couldn’t send a franc to his sister, Marie Antoinette, Queen of France. He also had sound military reasons for not sending an army from Vienna to save her from the guillotine.

The late Duke of Leuchtenberg, a poor Romanov trying to run a ski slope in Canada, told me that his cousin, the last tsar, had too much faith in Russia and was too generous, to have kept billions, say, in London, in case the mobs took over. Some relatives eventually got a lot of jewellery out, but there’s a book detailing just how little there really was beyond Leninist control.

And look at the later 20th century. Poor Svetlana — Stalin’s daughter — lives on meagre pensions in Wisconsin in her mid-80s. Her father hadn’t a cent outside Russia. Why should he? He owned the Soviet Union and he was interested in power, not money. But had he been able to wire a few billion out quietly in half a second, no doubt he would have done so. She made some money on memoirs in America but got scammed by devious husbands. Incredible ironies there.

In the Philippines, the Marcos moves are scary. Dad was smart and he learned as early as the 1960s how to move money around (and, say some, Japanese World War 2 gold).

They — especially Congresswoman Imelda — are tired of hiding their wealth. She would love to be high on the Forbes billionaire list and she would be but for the revelations such would entail of where all the money came from and where it is hidden.

The Marcos name is still golden in Ilocos Norte, the northernmost Filipino province. Ilocanos everywhere in the Philippines tend to vote for any and all of them. They are known for loyalty to clan, even when they know the clan leader bankrupted his country.

Money talks in the Philippines, more than in most places. That’s why the new president, heir to one of the best dynasties I know of anywhere, is eager to go after his predecessor, Gloria Arroyo, believed to have stolen billions.

President Benigno “Noy” Aquino nosedived in the polls recently because he bought a second-hand Porsche; he’s from a rich family, named Cojuangco, but they are not dot.com or modern-day billionaire tycoons. Once he has succeeded in hitting Arroyo, it’ll be easier to go after the Marcos wealth.

So many Marcos and Arroyo allies were enriched as to sustain factions in and out of government obstructing any search for real justice. But I think “Noy” knows how to set his priorities.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue last week went after Arroyo’s son Mikey for millions in unpaid tax dollars. Of all the world’s ironies, he gave up his congressional seat to his presidential mum, and managed to get a “party list” seat representing security guards, of all people. I’m not sure when the fox has been more menacingly put in the chicken coop, but my confidence in “Noy” is growing. And he’s from a dynasty that has earned its position.

The writer is emeritus professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, the United States

The Curious World of Diplomatic Relations


April 20, 2011 (6.10 am Paris)

The Curious World of Diplomatic Relations

by Paul Behrens — guardian.co.uk, Monday 18 April 2011 17.45 BST

When CIA agent Raymond Davis was arrested in Pakistan in January, an international treaty suddenly found itself in the headlines: the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which, according to the US State Department, gave immunity to its man in Lahore. An unassuming document at first sight (53 articles, couched in technical language), it has over the years become the bible for diplomats around the world. Today, it celebrates a special birthday – it was signed exactly 50 years ago.

But it’s a strange anniversary. Don’t expect street parties; Foreign offices prefer not to mention Vienna. This is a treaty that has everything: rules on the establishment of diplomatic missions, on the diplomatic bag, the protection of the embassy and even the question of whether diplomats have to pay tax. But it also gives almost unlimited immunity to diplomatic agents. It is a bit embarrassing to be reminded of that.

It was the Vienna convention that in 1981 protected a young hotheaded diplomat by the name of Moussa Koussa, who publicly approved the planned assassination of Libyan dissidents. Investigations into this situation were never going to get very far: as head of the Libyan mission, he was immune from prosecution.

And this was certainly not the worst case. It so happens that last Sunday marked another anniversary: 27 years ago, PC Yvonne Fletcher was killed by bullets fired from the Libyan embassy into a crowd of anti-Gaddafi protesters. The perpetrators had diplomatic immunity and were therefore merely expelled from the country (a suspect was arrested by rebel forces last month). In other cases, diplomats were accused of drink-driving, shoplifting and rape.

Davis, the CIA agent for whom the US claimed diplomatic immunity, was charged with the murder of two motorcyclists.

To be sure, it would be unfair to blame the convention for all of that. After all, the treaty makes clear that diplomats have duties too: they must respect the laws of the receiving state; they must not interfere with its internal affairs. The diplomatic bag must only contain articles for official use (not kidnapped opposition politicians), and the collection of information can only be carried out by “lawful means” (not by bugging the State Department).

But these duties are, on the whole, toothless tigers. Diplomats who commit crimes still can’t be arrested. There are very few sanctions the receiving state can use against them, and they all sound a bit wimpy. You can summon the diplomat to the foreign office, warn him, expel him. But expulsions can stand for anything. They may indicate a sniffle in the relations between the two countries. Or they may be punishment for murder. As a sanction, they have pretty much lost their sting.

So why not the full criminal procedure for diplomats who break the law? In the case of consular officers, immunity is not absolute: in matters of “grave crimes”, consular law allows their arrest.

But it’s a dangerous law. What is a “grave crime”? Blasphemy might be an extremely serious offence in the receiving state; other states do not even criminalise it. And there is another problem: diplomats move in the world of politics and negotiation. For some receiving countries, the temptation would be just too great to use threats of arrest as a tool of political bargaining.

Another suggestion is the creation of an international criminal court for diplomats. That would certainly look more impartial than prosecution by the receiving state, and such a court could use independent international standards. It is an intriguing thought. Only it won’t happen. Members of the UN remember too well the ever-increasing budgets of the existing international criminal tribunals, and there is little appetite for establishing yet another one. Especially since diplomatic misdemeanour, for all its gravity, hardly reaches the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The shortcomings of the Vienna convention cannot be denied – absolute diplomatic immunity in particular is difficult to defend from a moral point of view. But the great strength of the convention does not lie in its moral aims.

On the contrary, what makes the Vienna convention an outstanding success is its pragmatism; the fact that it was content to settle for the realities of diplomatic relations. By so doing, it established a basis for diplomacy with which all states, across all ideological divides, can live. Today, no fewer than 187 countries are party to the convention, which has thus become that rarest of all animals: a treaty that has found the agreement of virtually the entire world.

Now is not the time to call for GE-13


April 19, 2011 (6.50 am in Paris)

Now is not the time to call for GE-13

by Dr.Ooi Kee Beng

The results of the Sarawak state elections last weekend were extraordinary in the sense that one cannot strictly say that they were expected. Nor can one claim that they were unexpected.

This in truth reflects how uncertain things seemed during the 10 days of campaigning. Wishful thinking mixed freely with insider information, and strategic statements pretended to be pronouncements of fact. For example, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, after taking over the campaigning, surprisingly stated that the two-thirds majority was under threat after his invitation to Sarawak’s Chief Minister Taib Mahmud to declare that he would soon resign was rejected.

The final results were that the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) has retained power with their two-thirds majority intact; Mr Taib, Chief Minister since 1981, stayed rooted to his seat despite a strong international campaign alleging rampant abuses of power by his government; and rural support for the government remained steady despite the abject poverty in some areas.

At a superficial level, the status quo remains. However, a closer look reveals a strengthening of trends that have become increasingly obvious after the general election three years ago. For starters, where campaigning is concerned, the Opposition retains the initiative, having the oh-so-easy advantage of pointing the finger at bad governance on the part of BN parties. This has made it difficult for BN campaigners to draw or excite crowds. Distributing goodies and goodie bags of various shapes and size became the alternative — and effective — tactic instead.

Second, urban sympathies continue shifting away from the BN. This strongly suggests that the swelling population of young and educated city-dwellers will continue to gain in importance as the constituency of the future. This spells big trouble for dominant parties such as Mr Najib’s UMNO and Mr Taib’s PBB, and making inroads into this area will remain a great challenge for them.

As of now, we have a strange situation where both Kuala Lumpur, the main city in West Malaysia, and Kuching, the main city in East Malaysia, are practically fully represented by the Opposition, with the exception of one seat in Kuala Lumpur. This trend is evident in many other urban centres as well.

Weakening Coalition Model

Third, we are witnessing a steady weakening of the BN Model itself. With the trouncing of the once Chinese-supported SUPP by the DAP on April 16, one must not only draw a comparison with how the latter wiped out the ruling Parti Gerakan Rakyat in Penang in 2008, but also recognise that there is a trend here that stretches further.

Three years ago, the BN suffered weighty retreats through not only the Gerakan’s losses, but also through those suffered by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) and even the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA). These are all parties whose mission within the BN is to secure the non-Malay vote.

This they failed to do, which calls into question the coalition’s ability to represent the country’s diverse population under the dominance of UMNO. Serious efforts at renewal have not been forthcoming either.

The SUPP is the latest BN member to pay for being a subservient party for too long within the BN power structure.

Four, the practice of malapportionment in electoral representation had undoubtedly been a useful tool for the BN in retaining power. However, common sense tells us that a weighing scale cannot be continually engineered to BN’s advantage forever. Beyond a certain point, this misrepresentation seeks out a new expression for itself.

In Sarawak, the BN won 77.5 per cent of the contested seats last weekend. However, the popular vote cast in its favour was only 55 per cent. That gives us a mismatch of 50 per cent! Just looking at these figures, we see that a readjustment in representation was long overdue. An immediate effect of the Sarawak election result is to discourage Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak from calling a snap general election — due only in 2013 but widely speculated to take place within a year.

His coalition lost vital ground that he cannot possibly regain anytime soon without first making serious structural changes to the BN model of governance.

Getting a new mandate that he can call his own essentially means winning back the two-third parliamentary majority his coalition lost in 2008. Now, if support for the Opposition in Sarawak is kept at the present level, a general election now would mean a loss of at least three parliamentary seats for the BN.

All else being equal, what Sarawak tells Mr Najib is that calling a general election any time soon would not be worth his trouble.

Today/www.themalaysianinsider.com

On Top of Eiffel Tower, Paris–April 19, 2011

Post Sarawak Elections: What’s Next?


April 18, 2011 (7.00pm, Paris)

Polls results: BN lost ground in Sarawak

by M Jegathesan

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is unlikely to call snap elections after a bruising state poll in which his ruling coalition lost ground to the opposition in a traditional stronghold, analysts said.

The BN coalition held onto its crucial two-thirds majority after Saturday’s vote in Sarawak but the opposition had its best result for nearly a quarter century in the resource-rich state.

The vote was seen as an important gauge of popularity for Najib, who has dished out money for rural development. Some observers said it was the most crucial test for the BN since the 2008 general elections when the opposition seized a third of parliamentary seats and threatened the BN’s half-century grip on power.

In Saturday’s Sarawak election the BN clinched 55 seats while Anwar Ibrahim‘s opposition Pakatan Rakyat alliance won 15. An independent candidate took one seat. Previously the BN had held 63 seats and the opposition eight.

The two-thirds majority effectively allows the BN coalition to pass legislation without any obstruction.But political analyst Khoo Kay Peng said Najib had suffered a “massive” dip in the popular vote compared with BN’s performance at 2006 state polls in Sarawak.

“The popular vote for BN dipped by eight percentage points to 55 percent. This is a massive number for a state which has been a traditional BN fortress,” he told AFP.

Khoo said the results showed that the crucial parliamentary seats in Sarawak and neighbouring Sabah that the BN needs to stay in power could be at risk.

There are 31 parliamentary seats in Sarawak and BN holds 29. In Sabah BN has 24 out of 25 seats. The opposition only has three in both the states.

Both sides found positives in the result. Najib described the victory as a “strong mandate” to rule Sarawak, although he was cagey on whether he would call snap polls.

Anwar told AFP his opposition alliance had performed “extremely well,” as ethnic Chinese, Malays and other indigenous people voted for the grouping across the huge rugged state.”The result has energised the opposition ahead of national polls which may be called in mid-2012,” he said.

It was the opposition’s best performance in 24 years in Sarawak as it rode a rode a wave of discontent against the long reign of 74-year-old chief minister Taib Mahmud and Christian anger over the government’s attempt to restrict Bibles printed in Malay.

Khoo said Najib had emerged bruised from the poll, which is regarded as a key barometer on how voters in peninsular Malaysia and Sabah state, which neighbours Sarawak, may vote in the national election.

The BN’s losses in some rural constituencies was due to displeasure over the state government’s action to seize ancestral land, he said. “There was a big swing of votes in the urban and rural areas to the opposition,” he added.

“Najib will not call national elections this year. I think he will be pushed out by his ruling UMNO if he fails to secure a two-thirds majority (in the national election),” Khoo said.

Monash University Malaysia political scientist James Chin said Anwar galvanised the opposition by focusing on poverty and the alleged corrupt rule of chief minister Taib. Taib has denied allegations of large-scale corruption involving his family and political allies.

Chin  said opposition success in urban seats could indicate that more parliamentary seats will fall into their hands, a key factor in their bid to topple the ruling coalition.

“Najib will probably not call for elections this year as he has to sort out his economic transformation plans to bolster the economy,” he said.

Jeniri Amir, a political analyst at University Malaysia Sarawak, said Najib was in a quandary. “Najib is in a dilemma. He wants an early mandate but the outcome of this poll shows that BN is in a disadvantageous position. I think Najib will delay the polls until mid-2012,” he said

Jeniri said voters’ anger against Taib, who has refused to step aside despite Najib’s cajoling, could mean the BN will lose parliamentary seats in Sarawak.While the BN must tackle corruption and abuse of power in the state to claw back votes, support for the opposition is strong and Anwar remains a “threat to BN’s half-century grip on power,” he said.

National elections do not need to be held until mid-2013.

Sarawak 2011 Elections: No Cause for BN Celebrations


April 18, 2011 (6.40am Paris)

Sarawak 2011 Elections: No Cause for BN Celebration

Comment by Jeswan Kaur, http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Refusing election watchdog Bersih 2.0 chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan’s entry into Sarawak bears evidence that the Barisan Nasional (BN) government had much to hide in the state’s 10th general election which concluded on April 16.

Ambiga was among the “casualties” that Sarawak’s long-time Chief Minister Taib Mahmud had barred from keeping watch on the election proceedings.

The BN once again won the majority in Sarawak and Taib, president of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), was once again sworn in as chief minister, having previously ruled the state for 30 years and that too with an iron fist.

In spite of the “predicted” win, why did Taib and the BN government under Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak resort to such disreputable move, that too after all the talk about bringing the much-needed change to Sarawak?

Far from being concerned about having trampled the fundamental rights bestowed by a democractic nation, Taib especially and Najib had one major worry – to make sure election-observers were kept at arm’s length, disallowing them any clue as to what transpired on the ground.

Often times, there have been complaints of money politics taking place both in the general election and the by-elections. In the recent Sarawak state polls, was money politics the exception?

Had money politics not been a feature, why then did Taib invoke orders that activists and Bersih 2.0 be barred from setting foot in Sarawak on election day?

Prohibiting Ambiga, once the Bar Council president, from setting foot in Sarawak has left little room for BN to deny claims of corrupt practices. If not, what valid reasons did Taib and BN have to justify sending these activists back?

But then, looking at how Najib conveniently dismissed considering Ambiga as one of the panellists to sit on the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Teoh Beng Hock death, Taib then is merely following precedent.

Democracy is slipping by

Contrary to claims by Najib and his deputy Muyhiddin Yassin that democracy is alive and kicking in Malaysia, the moves made by Taib indicate otherwise.

Ambiga was spot on in describing the treatment meted out to activists as “appalling”, questioning why the state government did not see fit to allow them entrance.“We as Malaysians should be allowed entrance to the other states of our own nation. I’m anxious to find out what they are trying to hide by doing this.”

Under the Malaysia Agreement, Sarawak has the power to bar anyone from entering the state, including citizens from Peninsular Malaysia. And just why is this piece of agreement in existence?

On April 3, independent native customary land rights (NCR) activist Steven Ng was prevented from entering Sarawak. Five days later, political activist and academician Wong Chin Huat was deported back to Kuala Lumpur.

And on April 13, Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) president Haris Ibrahim became the third activist barred from entering Sarawak. BN’s misplaced fear that these activists were coming in to campaign for the state election prompted the arm-twisting manoeuvre by Taib.

Democracy abused

Aliran Monthly (English language news medium) president P Ramakrishnan in an e-mail letter to FMT said:

“This undemocratic act of the authorities patently criminalises the right of a Malaysian citizen to conduct legitimate political activities in the country. It frowns upon any citizenry’s attempt to ensure a playing field that is as level as it should be. It demeans the democratic process and vilifies people of good character who mean well for the country.It also suggests to what extent a desperate regime under threat would go to in order to protect its narrow vested interests even if it means having to violate basic democratic and constitutional rights of the citizenry.”

Ramakrishnan urged the Election Commission (EC) to do the needful in investigating the blatant disregard for a free and fair election and also free movement of the people.

However, that urge was made with a pinch of salt as Ramakrishnan was well aware of the EC’s inability in bringing to book those indulging in corrupt practices.

Is preventing certain people from observing election proceedings a modus operandi the BN would adopt come the 13th general election?

So much talk by Najib and “company” that democracy lives on in Malaysia. If they had the slightest respect for what denotes democracy, BN would not dare mess with it.

Change is unavoidable

If Taib thought getting rid of the election watchdog was going to do the trick, he was dead wrong. His deputy chief minister and Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) president, Dr George Chan, failed to defend his Piasau seat and which ended his much-looked-forward chance to once again lord over Sarawak.

Suffering defeat did not come easy for Chan, who had been assemblyman for six terms. He blamed “national issues” for the party’s defeat.

Justifying his defeat, Chan said:“SUPP tried very hard to speak up against these injustices and correct them but apparently, it was too little too late.

“Both the governments (federal and state) must listen carefully to the rakyat’s unhappiness and change because election results showed there is widespread discontent over unjust policies.”

Chan has been Piasau assemblyman for the past six terms before his defeat on April 16, losing to DAP fledgling Ling Sie Kiong by 1,590 votes.

“The rakyat wants a transparent government. I agree with them. The government must change the way they do things and change accordingly in the manner the rakyat wants. One thing is very clear. Barisan Nasional cannot go on like this,” he said.

Can of worms forced open

Chan’s admission of the injustices and practices of wrongdoings is somehow poetic justice. This reveals that Taib’s government was far from being transparent and that Taib and Najib arrogantly refused to address those “unjust policies”.

Chan did not describe those “unjust policies” but what little he did say has confirmed the people’s worse nightmare that in the bigger scheme of things, the people’s welfare has long been neglected by Taib.

Winning the Sarawak state election is no reason for BN to rejoice. Chan’s revelations, albeit a case of sour grapes, and the opposition’s strong presence in Sarawak have thrown BN the much feared challenge of either “shape up” or “ship out”, with time being the deciding fate.

Winning is easy. It is sustaining the victory that matters. And that is the biggest challenge staring Taib and Najib of BN “incorporated”.

At The Louvre, Paris

Inside the Louvre

George Chan: An example for Septuagenerian Politicians


April 18, 2011 (6.00am Paris)

A Message to Taib Mahmud from George Chan: Retire from Politics

Yow Hong Chieh of The Malaysian Insider reports:

Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) president Tan Sri Dr George Chan will quit politics and give up all party and state government duties.

George Chan can now devote more to his family

Dr Chan, who is also Sarawak deputy chief minister, made the decision following his surprise defeat to the DAP for the Piasau seat in the state polls on Saturday, according to a report in The Star today.

“I am quitting active politics. I will meet SUPP party leaders on Tuesday. After I have discussed with them in detail about a leadership transition, I will make my announcement,” he was reported as saying.

“It is time to go. Enough of politics. What I hope for is that SUPP will be in good hands and that the party will continue to play a role in serving the people in Sarawak.”

Dr Chan  also told the English daily he bore no ill-will towards constituents who voted for the DAP after supporting him for 30 years.“I don’t blame anyone and there is no bitterness in my heart,” he said.

He added that he would continue to be in Miri and try to help the city in another capacity.“I love Miri. This election result will not decrease my love for Miri and its people,” Dr Chan said.

SUPP, which claims to represent the state’s Chinese community, suffered an embarrassing defeat on Saturday when it lost to the DAP in 12 mostly Chinese-majority seats.

When the results were announced, SUPP, the oldest party in Sarawak, found it had only won six of the 19 state seats it contested.Only two were Chinese-majority seats while the remaining four were Dayak-majority constituencies.

The outcome for SUPP mirrors that of coalition partner MCA in the Election 2008 “political tsunami”, which saw the peninsula Chinese party’s parliamentary representation cut by half from 31 to 15 seats.

SUPP’s biggest blow on Saturday was dealt when Dr Chan was toppled by political newcomer Ling Sie Kiong from the DAP. The 75-year-old Dr Chan was defeated by 1,590 votes by first-time contender Ling, a lawyer less than half his age.

Spring Time in Paris

Time to focus on the Malaysian Economy


April 17, 2011 (11.00pm Paris)

Prime Minister Najib’s Invest Malaysia Speech (April 14, 2011): Working together is success

I am delighted to be here with you today and to have this opportunity to address so many distinguished captains of industry, fund managers and institutional investors – more than 850 delegates from over 200 corporations and from countries right across the world.

Maybe it’s my background in industrial economics, but thinking about this conference over the last few days I’ve been reminded of the great industrialist Henry Ford. It was Ford who once observed that “coming is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success” – and since Invest Malaysia first came together back in 2005 we have not only stayed together, we have worked together to further our common interests and to make this conference the huge success it is today.

It was also Ford, of course, who invented mass production, but what is perhaps less widely known is that a big part of his success was down to his radical decision to pay his workers more – a move that caused widespread bemusement among his fellow industrialists at the time! It was, as it turned out, a very good call – a bold and far-sighted decision that meant Ford succeeded in creating his own market as manual workers were able for the first time to afford cars of their own.

You might think those days are long gone, and with the advent of the new knowledge economy we are certainly very much in a post-industrial age, but this remains, it seems to me, a pretty good illustration of why the interests of Government and the interests of business go hand in hand – or to put it more bluntly, why improving living standards and increasing profitability are two sides of the same coin.

So what I’m saying is that I want what you want, and the chance to have this conversation with all of you this morning is one I cherish.

In six short years, Invest Malaysia has grown to become our country’s most high-profile showcase of Malaysia PLC, and today it is a force to be reckoned with. I’m told that last year the market moved upwards for several days on the strength of the deliberations and discussions that happened here – so I guess I’d better be careful what I say this morning!

But open, transparent, even-handed economic stewardship has always been our hallmark in Malaysia. That is what matters to business, that is what matters to me, and that is why I have put in place a number of plans to map the nation’s path through the next decade and to build the momentum for growth.

GTO, ETP, NEM

There’s the GTP, the ETP, the NEM. When talking to an international audience like this I sometimes have to remind myself that not all of our acronyms will be familiar! We’ve found that the trick to understanding them all is to start young… in some countries children go to school to learn their ABC; here in Malaysia they go to school to learn their GTP. In case you’re wondering, we do still teach them their ABC as well – better known to some of us as Air Batu Campur! – and thanks to education being made one of our NKRAs, we’ve now achieved literacy rates of 85 per cent amongst primary one students.

NKEAs, EPPs, SRIs

But whilst it’s easy to joke – and I haven’t even mentioned the NKEAs, the EPPs or the SRIs! – I’m completely serious about the work these programmes do and the results that they produce. Malaysia in fact has a long history of using national development plans to great effect, accelerating both our economic growth and the social development of our country.

Back in the 1960s the early plans were focused on the modernisation of traditional sectors like agriculture and mining. In the 70s and 80s poverty alleviation and income distribution became the issues of the day, with emphasis shifting to the development of large scale infrastructure projects like the North South Highway and the Penang Bridge. The 90s were all about boosting industrial and manufacturing capacity and capability, and since 2000 we have been relentless in our focus on knowledge management, human capital development and ICT.

So the introduction of the Government Transformation Programme, the New Economic Model, the 10th Malaysia Plan and the Economic Transformation Programme over the past 2 years has in some ways been a continuation of a winning formula, but in others it has been a radical departure from the past. What is different this time around is the widespread public consultation, the emphasis on transparency and meritocracy, and the clear roadmaps and benchmarks for the outcomes on which we will be judged.

I am determined to drive through these transformations and transitions – to the extent that I’m now referred to by some of my staff as No 1 Transformer, or Optimus Prime [pause] Minister! But each of these plans addresses a different aspect of the work we know we need to do to take our place amongst the world’s high income nations – enhancing the delivery of government services, removing barriers to investment, catalysing change and initiating a series of high-value, high-impact projects.

1Malaysia Policy

Another radical initiative – and one of which I am especially proud – is the introduction of the 1Malaysia policy as a new national banner behind which all Malaysians can unite. Malaysia’s cultural diversity is a striking feature of our country that sits alongside our story of economic liberalisation and reform, and since taking office I have resolved to build an inclusive, open and equitable society in which all of our citizens have an opportunity to flourish. 1Malaysia is about uniting everyone behind our country’s transformation and about putting our people first, but it is also about clear-headed, performance-based management – for I have long believed that history favours leaders who produce results over those who are great orators but who fall short when it comes to delivering on the promises they make.

1Malaysia, National Unity and Social Justice

So 1Malaysia is about furthering national unity and social justice, but I make no apologies for saying that it is also about leveraging our economic strength. For the first time ever Malaysia is now ranked amongst the ten most competitive countries in the world, but if we are to continue to compete in the new global economy we must make the most of the talents of all our people and not just some of them – reaching out to Malays, Chinese, Indians, Ibans, Kadazans, Orang Asli and other minority groups and uniting in the spirit of 1Malaysia to enable each to play their part.

Because there is no doubt that Malaysia draws great strength from our diversity. We are geographically and culturally unique, with links to China, India and the Middle East – and that means we are able to engage with new and emerging centres of economic growth at the same time as dealing with the West. We are also, of course, the gateway to ASEAN: 10 nations, 600 million people and a market growth rate of 6% last year. Invest in Malaysia and you get the whole of Asia, it really is as simple as that!

So we are paving the way not only for a more equitable society but for a Malaysia that is more stable, more transparent and more market friendly, boosting our traditional strengths in planning with the introduction of performance metrics like KPIs, NKEAs and NKRAs to ensure even greater transparency and accountability in implementation. At Invest Malaysia last year I announced a number of initiatives, and I would like at this point to take the opportunity to update you on the progress we have made. I think it is best to let the numbers speak for themselves.

Liberalisation of key services

Two years ago I announced the liberalisation of 27 service sub-sectors, allowing foreign investors unrestricted market access with 100 per cent equity.  It was an enterprising move, undertaken at the height of the financial crisis to send a clear signal to the world that Malaysia – the outward-looking face of South East Asia – was open for business at a time when others were turning inwards and taking refuge in the short-term comforts of protectionism.

Since then we have scrutinised the full range of our domestic regulations to ensure that they do nothing to obstruct the liberalisation measures we have put in place. And we are taking a number of steps to boost the development of Malaysia’s service industries, including drawing up a roadmap of capacity building for our service SMEs. So far it seems to be working: last year saw the total trade in services rise to RM207 billion compared to RM194 billion in 2009, with service exports increasing by 5.6 per cent to RM104 billion over the same period.

Ekuinas

Ekuinas – established in 2009 as a government-linked private equity fund manager promoting sustainable, meaningful and effective Bumiputra economic participation – will receive a total allocation of RM4.5 billion between now and 2015 as part of the 10th Malaysia Plan.

To date Ekuinas has invested RM483 million in four growth companies, facilitating a total capital deployment of more than RM600 million into the Malaysian economy. Under its Outsourced Programme, it has also successfully raised RM513 million for investments in small to mid-sized Malaysian companies with high-growth potential – a testament to what has been an incredibly successful public-private partnership. Ekuinas will be announcing its 2010 financial results by the end of April 2011. For the current financial year, it is planning to invest up to RM600 million, enabling a total economic capital deployment up to RM 1 billion in 2011 into the Malaysian economy.

Disposal of Non-Core Assets

In line with the aspirations set out in the New Economic Model, the Government, Malaysia’s state owned investment fund, Khazanah Nasional Berhad and other GLICs, are gradually divesting their non-core holdings and non-competitive assets, including 26 parcels of Government land. At least ten companies earmarked for divestment are expected to complete the process by the end of this year. In addition, four lots of Government land are being sold, with estimated proceeds in excess of RM1 billion.

Pos Malaysia & GLC performance

As announced last year, the disposal of Pos Malaysia is now in its final stage. Evaluation has been completed and recommendations will shortly be made to the Khazanah board. I am happy to note that the process has been conducted in a transparent and market-friendly manner with a robust bidding process. I am also pleased that Malaysian Government Linked Companies continue to make good progress. In the last financial year, our 20 largest GLCs posted strong performance with aggregate earnings of RM17.3 billion, growth of almost 50% compared to 2009. These top performing 20 companies continue to show strong performance, registering annual Total Shareholder Returns of 16.4% over the period of the GLC Transformation Program from 2004 to 2010, significantly outpacing the Bursa Malaysia average.

Listing of PETRONAS subsidiaries

Last year at Invest Malaysia I announced that PEIRONAS had identified two sizable subsidiaries for listing. Since I spoke to you, Malaysia Marine and Heavy Engineering Sdn. Bhd (MHB) and PETRONAS Chemicals Group (PCG) have gone on to be listed. This transaction makes PCG the world’s largest chemical company IPO and the largest IPO offering out of South East Asia.

Every listing is good for the Malaysian market. Every big listing is even better, attracting interest from domestic and foreign investors alike, as the huge oversubscription rates for MHB and PCG – 28 times and 17 respectively – attest. Today, the PETRONAS Group accounts for over 10 per cent of BURSA Malaysia’s total market capitalisation, standing as a proud example of our commitment to reducing the Government’s presence in business activities that are best left to the people who do them best.

Listing of Felda Sugar

I can also officially announce today that, in line with its corporate vision to become an integrated and diversified multinational, Felda Global Ventures Holdings is undertaking a listing exercise of its sugar business, the first ever within the Felda Group. This listing will enhance Felda’s leading position in the sugar industry, providing the Group with an opportunity to gain recognition in the capital markets and allowing it to realise its investment whilst retaining control of its asset. This means investors will be able to participate in a key industry, and it is a very positive development for the Government’s objective of promoting Malaysia’s capital markets.  The listing of Felda sugar on the Main Market of Bursa KL is expected to take place by July this year.

ETP and GTP Updates

Last October we launched the Economic Transformation Programme, a long-term project designed to turn Malaysia into a high-income, fully developed nation by 2020. We have identified 12 key areas that can drive economic growth in Malaysia, and have developed 131 Entry Point Projects, or EPPs, to kick-start development across those sectors.

From building a home appliance manufacturing hub to accelerating the replanting of oil palms, and from ensuring broadband for all to positioning Malaysia as a centre for duty-free shopping, we are investing billions and billions of ringgits in our country’s economic future. It is less than six months since we started this process, but already we have launched 60 projects and initiatives across 46 separate EPPs. 30 of these are work-in-progress, 4 are already complete and 26 are underway.

The total investment commitment so far stands at RM95 billion, which will create almost 225,000 jobs over the next ten years. But it’s not just the government investing in Malaysia, ordinary Malaysians are investing too. Everywhere you look, domestic spending figures are rising: retail sales up 8.0 per cent, sales of motor vehicles up 13 per cent, and property transactions up a staggering 33 per cent to almost RM100 billion.

Internationally, the picture is even better. Foreign direct investment rose by more than 400 per cent from USD1.7 billion to USD7 billion last year, whilst trade again broke through the one trillion ringgit mark. And as an illustration of rising investor confidence in one of our National Key Economic Areas, the healthcare sector, Khazanah last week announced a RM3.3bn investment by Mitsui and Co. for a 30 per cent stake in Integrated Healthcare Holdings Sdn Bhd. This investment is an enormous deal for us – the largest foreign acquisition of a stake in a Malaysian company so far this year – and the decision of a major international investor like Mitsui to buy into a Malaysian-led multinational corporation is a clear reflection of their belief in our good governance. The proceeds raised through this transaction will drive the implementation of more than RM1bn worth of healthcare projects right across Malaysia.

Of course, there is more to being a developed nation than simply economics. That is why, in accordance with the “people first, performance now” principles of 1Malaysia, we launched the Government Transformation Programme, which will radically change the way we deliver services and support citizens.

The GTP is already producing big results. The My Procurement website gives details of successful bidders for 3,500 government contracts, making it easier to identify and to prevent corruption. The Kelana Jaya LRT line, which runs through the heart of Kuala Lumpur, has had its capacity greatly increased, with almost 2.5 million more passengers travelling last year as a result. And more than two million Malaysians living in rural areas now have access to roads, water and electricity, many for the first time ever.

We are also working hard to deliver on the 51 cross-cutting policy measures announced at the end of last year under the concluding part of the New Economic Model report produced by the National Economic Advisory Council. Over the last six weeks we have been conducting a range of labs, attended by more than 300 participants from across the public and private sector. These labs will gauge the full range of opinion and to translate the policy measures set out in the NEM into concrete, tangible, deliverable programmes. The conclusions of the lab report will be presented and deliberated by the Cabinet shortly.

MIDA corporatisation

At last year’s Invest Malaysia I announced that MIDA was to get a name change from “Industrial Development Authority” to “Investment Development Authority” – a small difference in name, but a giant leap in MIDA’s scope and responsibilities! As Malaysia’s economic transformation continues, we need to grow our service sector whilst maintaining our high value manufacturing capabilities. So, in order to avoid duplication and confusion, MIDA will be given full empowerment to make decision expeditiously and to co-ordinate all other investment promotion agencies for Malaysia’s manufacturing and service sectors.

But MIDA will not just transform and grow the economy, it will itself be transformed, changing and growing in terms of its capabilities – and I am pleased to announce this morning that the Bill to enable MIDA’s corporatisation has been tabled before the Dewan Rakyat is expected to come into force in July.

Talent Corp
We can deliver the policies, we can deliver the frameworks, but all of our efforts to attract investors will come to nothing unless we can also deliver the highly skilled, expert workforces they need to flourish. In today’s knowledge-intense, innovation-led economy we are going to need world-beating, top-flight talent – and as much of it as we can get!

That is why I set up the Talent Corporation Malaysia Berhad at the start of this year – and already, it is starting to deliver. Back in December I announced the introduction of the Residence Pass to help attract and retain top foreign talent, and we have been open for applications since the start of April. The Residence Pass is an enhancement of the employment pass, providing expatriates with a longer tenure of 10 years as well as with greater flexibility. In addition, and again with effect from 1 April 2011, the Ministry of Home Affairs is implementing a number of improvements to the terms of the employment pass, including allowing for a tenure of up to 5 years.

Equally importantly, to promote the return of Malaysian professionals working abroad, Talent Corp will now take the lead on our Returning Experts Programme, the programme parameters and qualifying criteria of which have been revised to better meet the needs of the Economic Transformation Programme. I would like to announce today that the incentive package has also been revised with immediate effect, and I know that Talent Corp will be providing more details later.

In brief, however, the existing fiscal incentive under the REP of two cars tax free will now be limited to locally assembled cars. A new transitional income tax incentive will also be introduced, under which returning Malaysian professionals will be eligible for a flat rate of 15 per cent income tax for 5 years. I certainly hope these changes will encourage more Malaysians working abroad, with their varied experience and expertise, to return and play an active part in our country’s economic transformation.

Achievements of CMP1

You know better than anyone that the international capital market is the engine of economic growth. We share that belief, which is why, 10 years ago, Malaysia launched the Capital Market Master Plan, or CMP. Containing more than 150 recommendations, it ensured Malaysia’s capital market was well-placed to support our national economic growth and to meet the challenges of increasing regional and global competition.

The promise that we identified back then has been borne out with time. Despite starting from the narrowest of bases, Malaysia’s capital market is now worth RM2 trillion. Our stock market is home to more PLCs than any other inside ASEAN, our bond market is the third-largest in the whole of Asia when benchmarked against GDP, and our Islamic capital market leads the world.

It was CMP1 that laid the framework for this extraordinary growth, but the successes of the past ten years would not have been possible without you. Since 2005, you have been coming to Invest Malaysia and have recognized the unique benefits of doing business in this country. But we all know that the economic challenges facing Malaysia in 2011 are very different to those we faced in 2001.

Launch of CMP2

New problems demand new solutions, which is why I am pleased to announce today the launch of a successor programme, innovatively called CMP2! The next ten years holds a huge amount of promise for Malaysia’s capital markets, and CMP2 is our strategy to unlock it. On current forecasts our capital market size will more than double to RM4.5 trillion by 2020, and with greater internationalisation this figure could increase to as much as RM5.8 trillion over the same period.

Promoting capital formation

One of the key priorities for CMP2 is to strengthen the role of the capital markets in promoting capital formation from the start-up stage to the financing of innovative ventures, big new projects and cutting-edge green technology. To achieve this, we will allocate more funds to the venture capital and private equity industries through formalising regulatory oversight and providing targeted incentives and support.

And to boost large-scale transactions, access to the bond market will also be widened, strengthening investor appetite for a wide range of debt products and credit risks, expanding the participation of the investment management industry and retail investors in fixed income investments, and enhancing the market infrastructure.

Increasing Intermediation efficiency and Liquidity

Malaysia is fortunate in being well-positioned to finance its investment needs through its large pool of accumulated domestic savings. In fact, Malaysia’s high savings are expected to drive the rapid growth of the investment management industry, with assets under management projected to rise from RM377.4 billion in 2010 to a very substantial RM1.6 trillion in 2020.

Strong growth within the asset management industry is a key feature of any country in transition to becoming a fully developed nation. As a reflection of the widespread confidence in Malaysia’s investment management industry, the penetration rate of the unit trust industry is expected to almost double from 18% in 2010 to 34% in 2020 – levels more commonly associated with developed markets. This will, in turn, substantially increase the creation of income-generating assets to meet the needs of domestic institutional investors.

So to enhance intermediation efficiency in recycling domestic savings into financing the development of a diverse and vibrant economy, I can tell you this morning that there will be a review of the system-wide effects of institutional investment strategies, particularly to ensure the optimal deployment of GLIC funds. More efficient intermediation of national savings will have far-reaching effects on accelerating capital formation, private sector participation, secondary market liquidity, risk-taking and expanding product and service diversity.

A new private pension fund framework enabling the  setting up of private retirement schemes  approved by the Securities Commission  will also be in place by the end of the year. This will promote greater diversity in the management of long-term savings. Alongside this, the ability of fund managers to invest directly will be facilitated through expanding the range of legal structures for the pooling of investments. Efforts will also be made to attract specialist fund managers and to promote greater diversity in investment strategies, strengthening the links between national savings and economic growth.

But to take full advantage of the new opportunities being created under CMP2 and to meet the challenges of the evolving intermediation landscape, we are going to need to build capacity and to foster a spirit of competitiveness, risk-taking and innovation. Intermediaries and individuals, including remisiers, unit trust agents and financial planners, have over the years demonstrated their considerable strengths in providing personalised customer services. We now need to build on these traditional strengths in order to capitalise on the new growth opportunities in a highly electronic intermediation environment.

Expanding the number of products on the derivatives market is another development that will be crucial to deepening market liquidity, improving the ability to trade across markets and to hedge risks. The re-positioning of Malaysia’s derivatives market is already underway, with last year’s strategic alliance between Bursa Derivatives and the US-based CME Group already widening the distribution of Malaysian derivative products across the world. And annual notional trading value on the derivatives market is expected to grow rapidly from the RM512 billion recorded in 2010 to RM4.2 trillion in 2020, with positive spill over effects for stock market liquidity.

So the development of Malaysia’s core intermediation industries is already well advanced. Our challenge going forward will be to shift our focus to nurturing future growth segments, particularly in the ancillary layers supporting intermediation activities – and the Securities Commission will identify and nurture potential hub opportunities across a broad range of middle and back office functions.

Internationalisation

From the days of the Malacca Sultanate Malaysia has been a trading nation, a tradition that will be continued through further internationalisation of Malaysia’s capital market. Creating new business opportunities for domestic players to intermediate foreign products will be critical to accelerating their learning curve and increasing their competitiveness. Internationalisation is also important for facilitating business models aimed at capturing scale-driven efficiencies or high value-add in niche areas.

Thanks to the foresight of past leaders, Malaysia has had a head start in Islamic finance and today offers comprehensive coverage of Islamic financial services across banking, takaful and the capital market. Our task now is to shift the focus of Islamic finance from serving domestic needs towards tapping the tremendous growth opportunities from intermediating international investments and corporate transactions.

The internationalization of the capital market is a necessary pre-requisite to strengthening Malaysia’s Islamic Capital Market hub – set to increase almost threefold from RM1.1 trillion in 2010 to RM2.9 trillion in 2020. CMP2 outlines strategies to enhance the distinctive value propositions offered by Malaysia for a broad range of Islamic intermediation activities, including increasing our capacity to structure cross-border transactions to make further inroads into the international sukuk market.

In addition, the Securities Commission will collaborate with key industry players to expand the range of Shariah-compliant stock broking products and services and build greater critical mass for the development of onshore portfolio management. A seeding strategy will be developed to increase the diversification of Islamic investment strategies, particularly in nurturing high value-add Islamic fund management services such as the Shariah-compliant venture capital and private equity industries that invest based on the Islamic principles of active partnership and socially-responsible investing. The Securities Commission will also work to encourage the wider shift from a Shariah-compliant approach to a Shariah-based approach, promoting higher levels of innovation and international marketability.

Growth with Governance

The theme for CMP2 is growth with governance, capturing the essence of Malaysia’s journey towards becoming a developed nation – because we must do everything we can to ensure that Malaysia’s capital market doesn’t just grow, it grows with minimal risks in a well-regulated environment.

To this end, under CMP2 the Securities Commission will begin the process of regulatory reform – streamlining the existing regulatory framework to achieve higher levels of operational efficiency, enhance the standards for fair and ethical business practices, and strengthen internal controls around business conduct and the management of risk.

CMP2 Implementation

So we know where we are going and we know how we will get there. And I say this once again: these are not mere plans to languish unread on a dusty shelf. Implementation of CMP2, which will be operationalised under the Securities Commission’s annual business plan, will get underway immediately in 2011 with a range of new initiatives including:
- changes to the regulatory framework for fundraising and product regulation to slash unnecessary red tape and lead to faster turn-around of approvals;
-the introduction of a new dual licensing scheme that will make it easier for dealers in the equity market to become licensed to trade in the derivatives market as well;

-and plans to increase the number of Proprietary Day Traders by almost threefold to enable more dealer representatives to become specialised traders.

These are just three of the CMP2 programmes, and they will come into force from the third quarter this year – no distractions, no delays, just swift, effective action.

Concluding Remarks

I’ve talked a lot about my plans for the future, but as the old proverb goes, “talk does not cook rice”. It’s very easy to make announcements, to publish strategies and to issue grand-sounding statements, but if you actually want to change things you have to take action. You have to deliver.

That’s why here in Malaysia we don’t just talk about creating an environment that is good for business, we go out there and make it happen. When you leave today, take a look around you at Kuala Lumpur and you will see in bricks and mortar and steel and glass how our programmes and policies are transforming our country day by day.

So when I say that what matters to business is what matters to me, you know it’s more than empty words. When I say I’m putting in place fresh plans to step up our economic progress, you know it means serious investment that is driving real improvements right across the board.

As finance and industry emerge from the global economic crisis and look towards the opportunities and the investments of the future, I assure you I am working 24/7 to keep this country on the path towards developed nation status. The world is changing, and Malaysia is no different, but some things do remain the same. I have always been determined to make our country an even better place to invest and to do business – and I promise you, that isn’t going to change.

Barisan Nasional retains 2/3rd majority but DAP…


April 16, 2011

KLIA, Sepang

Barisan Nasional retains Two-Thirds Majority, but DAP makes a strong showing with 12 seats in DUN Sarawak 2011 Elections

The Barisan Nasional (BN) has managed to keep its two-thirds legislative majority in Sarawak but today’s results have shattered the coalition’s invincibility and the notion of a fixed deposit in future elections.

The DAP doubled its presence to 12 and PKR tripled its representation although the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lynchpin had contested in 49 seats. PAS lost in all five seats it contested while Independent George Lagong gained one seat.

The number of state seats to the Opposition pact will spell danger for BN as it could help them win more parliamentary seats when the general election is called by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. PR now has 75 MPs but the Sarawak win could translate into more in the future.

At 10.10pm, BN had already won 54, or 75 per cent, of the 71 seats in the Sarawak legislature. The biggest upset was SUPP president and Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri George Chan Hong Nam losing the Piasau state seat to DAP’s Ling Sie Kiong.

GoodBye George and Happy Honeymoon

The six-term incumbent’s defeat could spell the end of the SUPP, which won only six of the 19 seats it contested.

BN had expected to lose up to 20 seats in this state election as the Opposition had centred its campaign on long-serving Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, whose reluctance to step down has even apparently infuriated national BN leaders.

Najib had pledged that this would be Taib’s last election and he would leave soon after but the veteran leader has said openly in front of the BN chairman that he will stick around for a few more years.

His presence could help move more support to PR, which won its seats despite limited money, logistics and media presence.

Najib himself had to spend six days canvassing for votes across Malaysia’s largest state and state BN officials estimate that the coalition has spent nearly RM500 million to secure today’s victory.

Opposition leaders had concurred before today’s polling, saying BN officials had openly offered cash for support.

Sources within the Election Commission (EC) said BN won most of the seats as more from the older generation turned up to cast their ballots early compared to the younger generation who are known to support the Opposition.

“The trend was always for BN from early on in the day,” a source told The Malaysian Insider.He pointed out that Taib’s PBB won all 35 seats that were contested reflecting the leader’s popularity among the Melanau community.

Today’s results will come as a relief to the ruling coalition which scrambled at the tail-end of the campaign to counter the massive crowds that thronged Opposition rallies in major towns.

But PR leaders were upbeat that they scored well in the state election.“The future is bright for Pakatan in Sarawak. I don’t think BN leadership will dare to call for GE in next few months,” DAP national chairman Karpal Singh told reporters here.However, PKR leaders were not around or too despondent to comment on the results.

by Jahabar Sadiq–The Malaysian Insider

Sarawak Elections 2011: History in the Making?


April 16, 2011

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Sarawak 10th Election: Polling Day, April 16, 2011


COMMENT from Terence Netto in Kuching:

Dr M’s Soft-Shoe shuffle on Taib ominous

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s precipitate change from admonishing Abdul Taib Mahmud on the lessons of history to expressing confidence in the Sarawak chief minister’s ability to do what needs to be done must be ominous for Prime Minister Najib Razak.

It’s no secret that Taib is fighting to stay on as chief minister no matter if the results of today’s polls have it emblazoned on its entrails that he should go – and soon too, because Najib wants to call nationwide elections in which Taib could continue to be an albatross around the Sarawak wing of BN that he has been in current state polls.

Even seasoned observers of Sarawak politics were surprised at the speed with which Taib became the personification of all that was perceived to be wrong in the state in the opposition’s campaign rhetoric in this election.

That was because when people become aware that things are generally wrong, they cotton to some shorthand of what those wrongs are. The aura Taib has diffused around him in the last few years lent itself readily to this symbolic representation.

The presence of his young, exotic wife and of shadowy, vaguely sinister persons in his retinue, have conjured the image of the 75-year-old Taib as oriental potentate in dotage.

Taib’s recently minted assurance that he has been grooming a successor for the past 20 years sounded about as credible as Mahathir’s assurances when he was premier that his several deputies were going to succeed him. It helps to remember that, in the end, the fourth deputy that actually succeeded Mahathir was soon cut down – albeit, not entirely, involuntarily – for good measure.

Albatross around Sarawak BN’s neck

Taib has not so much been grooming a successor as he has been tantalising a slew of them with bait to keep them interested and subservient, the better he could prolong his tenure as CM.

Now he finds he has become an albatross around Sarawak BN’s neck and soon, when Najib calls nationwide elections, a liability to the federal coalition, led by a reform-minded Prime Minister.

Taib would want to stay way past the time of the national polls, but this would be damaging to the federal BN if the Sarawak wing fares badly in today’s polls.

Even if, improbably, it does well, a 30-year tenancy as CM is unjustifiably long. A democracy, even the defective one that is Malaysia’s, needs refreshment and replenishment of its leadership ranks at a rate that makes a three-decade tenancy at the top by a leader anomalous.

That is why Mahathir’s weighing in with a soft-shoe shuffle in favour of Taib is ominous for a skipper wanting to shed excess baggage as he attempts to bring his gale-battered ship into port. The conclusion is plausible: Not just Pakatan Rakyat is determined to see that a Najib-led BN does not do well in the 13th general election; others, supposedly rooting for him, are also not keen.


Polling Day for Sarawak: It’s all about Taib Mahmud


April 16, 2011

Just a matter of Taib Mahmud for Sarawak Polls

by Shannon Teoh@http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

ANALYSIS: Up to a million Sarawakians go to the polls today in what has become a referendum on Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud’s 30 years as chief minister of Malaysia’s largest state.

As the country’s longest-serving head of government, the 74-year-old has been accused of being a corrupt nepotist and lauded for developing a state once covered with the world’s oldest rainforest.

Results from what Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has called the stiffest contest in Sarawak’s history will tell us which narrative the Sarawak public really believes.

Seemingly, every issue — whether land grabs or corruption — that has been played up by the opposition over the 10-day campaign finds its final source in the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) president.

Even the seizure of Malay-language bibles is seen through the frame of an increasing racial divide between the Malay-Melanau Muslims that Taib’s administration is accused of favouring and the mostly Christian Dayak and Chinese population.

It has forced the man Sarawakians call “Pek Moh (white hair)” to label the federal government’s move to mark Malay-language bibles as “stupid”.

This is not the only clash between the federal and Sarawak BN. BN chairman Najib, sensing the growing disaffection towards Taib, pleaded with Sarawakians to “believe him” that the chief minister would step down after the polls.

But Taib said almost immediately he would only step down in a few years and refused to set a timeline for his long-awaited retirement.

This was not lost on veteran politician Lim Kit Siang, whose DAP is the oldest Pakatan Rakyat (PR) party in Sarawak.

“It is not that the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is not aware of Sarawak Barisan Nasional’s Achilles heel but even he is impotent as far as getting Taib to step down as chief minister,” the DAP parliamentary leader said.

Najib clearly sees Taib as a liability in this election. Ironically, while he is expected to use today’s vote as a barometer for when to call federal polls, he has been forced to shelve his duties as prime minister to beef up BN’s campaign in Sarawak.

Camping out in the state, he has twice postponed new announcements for his much-hyped Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) that aims to double Malaysia’s per capita income by 2020, a key pillar of his strategy to hold onto Putrajaya.

In effect, the UMNO president has put his own credibility and his 1 Malaysia concept on the line.He has himself gone to meet church leaders to smooth out the Alkitab row, promising in his capacity as prime minister that no bibles would ever be seized by his administration.

As P. Ramakrishnan, president of civil rights group Aliran said yesterday, the federal government itself is campaigning in Sarawak.

Najib’s approval rating at the end of last year was still riding high at 69 per cent. The question is whether this can gloss over the anti-Taib sentiment on the ground.

If Taib falls — or even fails to retain two-thirds majority — then so too does Najib’s 1 Malaysia.

Any PR gains will likely see the Chinese backing the opposition while the Malay-Melanaus stick with BN.

Such a result would bring to the surface the kind of racial politics that already consumes the peninsula, a clear backward step for 1 Malaysia that Najib has promoted since taking office in 2009.

Final Countdown to April 16, 2011


April 15, 2011

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Final Countdown to Sarawak 2011 Elections

by Bridget Welsh*

COMMENT: The last day of the campaign has started and for the past few days, it has been ratcheted up to fever pitch on both sides.

Larger crowds in the towns for the opposition have coincided with extensive, almost frenzied, visits by BN cabinet ministers far and wide throughout the state.’

Make no mistake about this – the stakes are high. This is a campaign that has national implications as BN’s hold on power is at stake. A loss of the two-thirds majority in Sarawak was unthinkable less than 10 days ago, and now the focus centres around this important marker.

It has been made clear that Sarawakians have the power to set the political direction for the country.

Three decisive groups

The situation on the ground remains very fluid with an unprecedented undecided voters, especially among the state’s largest group, the Dayak.

The range of possible outcomes moves from a minimum of 10 seats for the opposition to a maximum of 32, on the heels of a change in government. The reason for this wide range lies with the high degree of unknowns and the small swing needed to change results in tight seats.

The most important unknown is the impact of financial rewards, anger over land grabbing and religious freedom. The fate of Sarawak’s polls lies with all the communities, but especially the Dayaks.

The Orang Ulu, Bidayuh and Iban have more political power in this contest than they had had since the days of Stephen Kalong Ningkan and Tawi Sli Tini in the 1960s. And given the number of seats that have a large share of Dayak voters, over 30, they will determine the final outcome.

Ethnically, the other groups that will shape the margin of results is the Malay community, where fear and the racial card of possible displacement have played out in this campaign. The parallel has been made to Perak, where the BN has suggested that a vote for the opposition will be a vote for a non-Malay and DAP leadership.

Yet at the same time, they are asking the Malays to vote for a minority bumiputera chief minister, who it is claimed will not be able to hold Sarawak’s diverse groups together. Political displacement and instability have been touted in a not-so-subtle manner and conflicting manners as issues of corruption and livelihoods have received less priority.

It would seem that these messages of fear have been successful, but there is another unknown, the impact of the messenger. The campaign has been led by Najib Razak from peninsular Malaysia, and unlike the collaboration with locals that has been the pattern in the opposition, there is more unease.

Semenanjung leaders have sat in front of state leaders at meetings, and been portrayed more favourably in the campaign posters, causing the local Malays and Melanau to lose face. Many Malay Sarawakians feel a sense of displacement from UMNO and Najib’s leadership, and with the call by Najib for Taib Mahmud to step down, even feel betrayed.

The tensions in the media between Najib and Taib has openly revealed differences in the BN leadership, which are not likely to be resolved easily, making for considerable uncertainty. Logistically, entertaining ministers from peninsular Malaysia has caused many a headache and distraction, allowing less concerted efforts in the campaign. This BN divide is affecting the campaign.

The third group that will shape the outcome is the young. While the change in loyalty among older voters is important, especially Chinese voters who were previously loyal to SUPP, the young will have a voice this time.

In 2006 and 2008, young voters voted more for the opposition than they did at any other times. Exposure to contrasting development models, lack of local job opportunities, and discontent with the older incumbents in the BN have had led to greater opposition allegiance.

The contrast in the choice of candidates is clear – the opposition candidates are much younger. Most are professionals who bring with them new ideas. In BN, there are only a handful of candidates less than 50 years old and even the impressive effort by SUPP to transform lacks a youthful face.

Younger voters have engaged with alternative media sources as well, especially Sarawak Report through blogs and Facebook. What is unknown is how many of them will vote. Many of the youth at the rallies are unregistered voters, but those who are there are experiencing a political awakening.

The young will play a crucial role this time round since they are less susceptible to vote buying and intimidation.

Conflicting campaign styles and messages

From the onset, the opposition has set the campaign and the BN has followed and responded, which is very different compare to the last few by-elections.

As the campaign has drawn to a close, it has become clear that Malaysia continues to embrace modern campaigning, even in Sarawak. Yet, they have done it in contrasting ways.

For the opposition, there has been the focus on alleged abuses of power, especially corruption and land grabbing. The campaign has centred around Taib Mahmud, with open calls for him to step down after 30 years in office. It has focused on “ubah” or change, with successful sales of tens of thousands the ‘Ubah’ toy bird, which is now only available on Ebay.

Despite early challenges with the seat allocations, the cooperation among Pakatan parties has been relatively smooth, which is not a surprise after 16 by-elections. The opposition has pointed to their governance records in peninsular Malaysia, especially Penang, to win support and illustrate that change is possible.

The criticisms against Taib and SUPP have been hard-hitting and personal as the opposition worked hard to draw attention to the problems of his lengthy tenure, with parallels to Egypt and the Middle East.

Sarawakian voters have been reminded that they can make a difference; and the feeling of empowerment has raised expectations. For the opposition to gain seats, they have to instill a sense of positive change and hope, not just aiming to discredit the current leadership.

The positive focus in the last few days of the opposition campaign has aimed to win the middle ground, to move the bar from 10 seats to 24.

For BN, the messages have also been both negative and positive. The use of fear and ethnic cards has been tried and tested. The BN has also gone after the opposition. They were attacked for violating Sarawak political culture through its hard-hitting messages, and there had been an appeal to the perceived conservative and reserved nature of Sarawakians to reject what has been called lies and intimidation.

The crowds have been linked to instability and provocation. They have argued that the opposition criticisms have lacked substantive evidence and crossed the line of civility. On some points, such as the comparison of the SUPP to orangutans, they may have a point.

Yet, there is a double standard as they themselves have engaged in campaigning that goes beyond fair play. Yesterday, there were widespread series of inaccurate SMSes on the opposition, such as the closure of the Batu Kawah service centers.

These inaccuracies do not go down with the local communities and look rather foolish. The main focus of the negative attacks remains on Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, from the sex video to RPK (blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin).

There is an obsession with discrediting the Pakatan leader. So far, it has had limited impact in Sarawak, given the disengagement with this style of Peninsular Malaysian politics. This effort misses the point – what many Sarawakians are concerned with are economic concerns and their families.

Rather than sex, the moral issue that has had the most salience is the issue of religious freedom. And while Najib and Taib should be credited for their efforts to reach out to the Christians, it remains to be seen whether the discussions will address the damage that has been done.

The movement in the BN campaign has been from more positive messages of development outlined in their manifesto and through more understanding statements on religion, to negative attacks and greater use of fear.

The contest for the middle ground is at stake, with the opposition focusing on the positive and the BN highlighting the negative. With the large degree of undecided voters, these strategies are indeed risky for both sides.

Integrity of the election process

Crucial however will be the actual conduct of the election. The signs of the integrity of the process being undermined are on the horizon and extremely worrying.

Postal voting was extended beyond the time allocated and polling agents were asked to be over 50 metres away, unable to do their jobs properly. This violated the whole spirit of fair play. Some polling agents are apparently being refused for polling day on spurious grounds of not coming from that community, again violating practices that suggest that the process is not professional and open.

There are concerns with the relocation of voters, with reports of up to 50,000 voters “moved” or potentially “missing”. There are questions about additional voters being “found”. With the blatant denial of Bersih 2.0 leaders entry into Sarawak, who are involved in assuring and protecting a fair conduct of the polls, the international reputation of Malaysia has already been dented.

If the process lacks integrity, this will cause even more anger as was shown in Egypt recently and historically in neighbouring countries such as the Philippines in 1986. Any possible “fixing” of the fixed deposit state may have short-term benefits, but will have long-term costs.

Sarawakians have power in their hands. Whoever Sarawakians support, it is important that they come out and vote. Their voice will be heard now more than ever. Whatever the outcome in the final results, this campaign has shown that the Malaysian elections are increasingly competitive, even in the areas where they are seen to be “secured”.

Irrespective of the final numbers, change has already come to Sarawak. How much of that is in the hands of the voters.

DR BRIDGET WELSH is associate professor of political science at Singapore Management University. She is in Sarawak to observe the state election. Welsh can be reached at bwelsh@smu.edu.sg.

Tomorrow(April 16, 2011):Give Yourself a Chance


April 15, 2011

SakAK47: Sarawakians do yourself a favour

For once, the people of Sarawak must do themselves a favour. Give yourselves a chance. Not give others a chance. They have had 30 years. You only need this one chance. This is your hour. Let your progeny say in future, this was your finest hour.

This is your chance to regain your dignity and pride as a decent human being. Give yourselves the chance to determine your own destiny. Or, at the very least, show to those in power that you matter. There is nothing to fear except fear itself.

Show those in power they can’t scare you with the presence of coercive instruments of power. The police and the army guarding your longhouses are there protecting you. Those Rela people out there are only there for a brief time. What’s left is how you determined your life.

Throw out corruption. Throw out incompetence. Throw out a lifetime of neglect. Reject the bullies.

Give your children and grandchildren the chance. Say it’s enough. You gave Taib Mahmud 30 years of chance. He has taken everything. He has taken the most precious thing from you — your sense of self-worth. Will the Dayaks continue to be complicit in the charade of showing they are only good at performing the ngajat dance and, in that process, be regarded as nothing more than objects of cultural curiosity?

Will that treatment give you decent housing, clean water, electricity? Has it given you that? Remember the misery of walking miles down the road to get a can of kerosene. Don’t forget the humiliation of being given portable computers where electricity is non-existent. Remember forests and the trees that are gone forever.

Can the heads with the same set thinking usher in a better future? The answer must be an emphatic NO. How can the SAME thinking coming out from the SAME heads, accustomed to keeping entire peoples in callous disregard, unchallenged incompetence and open arrogance, be capable of turning over a new leaf? Agreeing to this proposition is self-deceit of the highest order. It’s a crime against humanity itself.

In a previous lifetime of glory and pride, the only solution that Sarawakians are renowned for is to cut off their enemy’s head. Those in power are no longer your benefactors. They stand on the side of the enemy of the people.

If you give Taib and his government another chance, it means you are willing to allow him to perpetuate years of neglect, corruption incompetence and arrogance. It’s not going to be enough. It will be 30 years of the SAME neglect, incompetence and arrogance and corruption.

For 30 years, the chance to give yourself a decent living and the chance to give yourself dignity has been forcibly taken away. It has been taken away by 30 years of neglect, negligence and arrogance. The neglect exemplified most horribly by the waste laid bare on your land which forms the very spring and essence of your life.

What has the majority of the Sarawak people achieved? The fruits of development enjoyed by the elite while the majority languished in a world that time seem to forget? After 30 years, 6,000 longhouses are still without electricity and water in a state which boasts the biggest hydro dam?

This Sunday, dubbed Super Sunday will be judgment day for Taib Mahmud and his ruling PBB and his partner parties. These past weeks are the trial that leads to that judgment day. What is the purpose of the judgment day?

The purpose of that judgment day is for the court of the people to call up those who manage the state to account for what they have done.That in essence is what accountability means. You are called up to account for the things you have done.

What has Taib and his party done to Sarawak for the last 30 years? Taib and his cabal of leaders have brought much development to Sarawak. To free Sarawakians from a primitive state of affairs — underdevelopment, stunted growth, primitive lifestyles, civilising the natives, bringing them into the 20th century and beyond.

All that, said the wise people, is spectacular development. Sterling! Screamed some people with lard-laden brains. The people of Sarawak have only one response to give to Taib and his cabal of leaders — continue giving us the lies, we shall not stop uncovering the truths.

Right now, you have only one historic mission. Get Taib to step down as chief minister. Showing him the exit is the single most potent weapon and burning issue against the Barisan Nasional in the state election. Whoever sides with Taib stands for corruption and against the people.

Getting him out has united Sarawakians . This shared thinking is possible because 30 years of his kleptocratic rule as chief minister has bred and entrenched the habits of non-accountability, lack of transparency and absence decency of good governance. Remember kleptocracy is associated with the meaning of thief and theft.

That is none better illustrated by the mountain of allegations on abuses of power and rampant corruption under his rule which he has not been able to rebut. Datuk Seri Najib Razak is not unaware of what is happening to Sarawak with Taib at the helm, but Najib appears to have been immobilised by the phalanx of bomohs and witches surrounding Taib.

It is obvious Najib is even powerless to have Taib committed to an early date to step down . The PM has repeatedly been rebuffed by the chief minister and there is nothing the prime minister can do about it.

Taib is not an UMNO member and his reaction to the PM’s announcement that Taib will leave office is like telling the PM  “get off” from his turf. Taib is saying: who are you to tell me what to do with my office, in my state? Sarawak is Taib’s country. The PM can’t do anything, but the people of Sarawak can.

Give yourselves that chance. Don’t turn to others for succour. —sakmongkol.blogspot.com


Sarawak Politics, Economics and Philosophy


April 14, 2011

http://epolicy.blogspot.com/(april 12,2011)

Sarawak Politics, Economics and Philosophy

Politics is about power.

The current political fight in Sarawak  is about the struggle for power. Whether it is the Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat, both are now trying to convince the voters why they should vote for them and not the other group. So, what is the difference between the politics in Sarawak, and the politics elsewhere?

Ethnic Politics

Between the politics in Sarawak and those in the Peninsular, the current arrangements on both sides of the water are similar – racial political parties conveniently come together to form groups, each with a multi-racial front. In Sarawak, on the BN national front, there is PBB which is supposed to represent the Bumiputra which is odd because you also get in it other Dayak groups such as PRS and SPDP which are Bumiputra as well, in addition to SUPP which is generally taken to be predominantly Chinese. On the other Pakatan front, Keadilan is supposed to be a front runner but in reality DAP is the stronger and both are Peninsular-based parties. Appended to them is SNAP which is taken to have a Dayak dominance.

What you are now witnessing in Sarawak today, as well as in Peninsular, is racial politics at its best. You have grievances even among the Bumiputra where, in the Peninsular, the gripe is UNMO-putra, whereas in Sarawak the culprit is the one and only and his cohorts. Both probably come straight out of a leaf of the NEP. The Chinese and everybody else then see themselves as orphans in an unloved disorganised family with a greedy and roving-eyed father.

In Sarawak, the opposition talks of the dilemma of ungrateful urban Chinese juxtaposed against the poverty-stricken rural natives or indigenous people, when the reality may simply be the everyday fight for survival, against poverty or fear of not having enough. There is poverty in the urban areas as well as in the rural. Remember that when the rural people come to town, they become the urban poor. In towns, when the parents did well, the NEP makes sure that they do not have new opportunities.

It is a terrible thing when an affirmative policy such as the NEP has become a racist policy that is used to deprive the majority for the benefit of a few. It is equally unacceptable for the alternative to champion the interests of the now-deprived Bumiputra or non-Bumiputra to the exclusion of Bumiputra. It is this racism in Malaysian politics as well as in Sarawak that is objectionable to rational-minded citizens of this country. For this reason, thereby, the contention is that the current battlelines are drawn at the wrong points by the opposition; it could be the result of the early stages of political development in Malaysia as well as Sarawak.

A World going Plasma/Pixels

In all countries everywhere and for all people in all countries, the greatest concern is economic survival with eyes being opened wide as a result of the internet where the whole world is collapsed into a picture frame made of plasma or pixels. We know of everything we want to know, and while we marvel at technology, we fear for ourselves and our children.

Massive Budget Deficits and Inflation

In such a world of great anxiety, there is a demand for reassurances and governments around the world guarantee it by printing money and getting into massive budget deficits. With massive budget deficits come inflation, now on a global scale, which means that it hits also the poor little indigenous people or the non-indigenous people on the wrong or better side of Borneo. Their home-grown output, be it the processing of local foods or the processing of local materials into tourist items called handicraft, however much they produce and sell is inadequate for them to enjoy a piece of the advances of modern technology as the terms of trade is wrack-smacked against them, thanks no doubt to the multi-award multi-year winning central bank that we have in keeping this country economically competitive while the people deprived.

Need for a More Level Playing Field

Under trying localised circumstances, there is nothing but humanity for all citizens of Malaysia, and some say Sarawak, to argue for a level playing field economically at the very least for everybody, be that somebody a Muslim or non-Muslim, Bumiputra or non-Bumiputra. It is time we do away with racism of any guise.

In Sarawak, the two oldest multi-racial parties are the SUPP and SNAP, and their full names say so: the Sarawak United Peoples’ Party and the Sarawak National Party. Fill these two parties with well-educated, well-intentioned young and energetic people of all races – if they can work well in other countries and survived, they can do likewise in Sarawak. Let them fight on the economic ground: between big businesses and the welfare of the people.

A New Self-Sustaining and Wholesome Sarawakian Economy

There is much can has to be done to re-position Sarawak which for now, in economic policy terms, is nothing but an adjunct to Peninsular-centric economic (and political) policies. There is a need to refocus on Sarawak as an wholesome and self-sustaining unit rather than merely a supplier of energy to the Peninsular either in the form of oil and gas or hydroelectric power. There must be a way to retain these natural resources for use locally.

We find the current political fight in Sarawak on fundamental issues, though not for want of theatrics by masters in their defined fields. But the outcome on 16 April could be devastation of one kind or another.

From The Star re RPK TV3 Interview


April 14, 2011

Thanks, CLF for this tribute to Jonathan Livingstone Deagull

From The Star: Din is not in cahoots with Raja Petra

PETALING JAYA: Blogger Din Merican, who was named by fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin as one of the individuals implicating the Prime Minister’s wife in the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu, has denied that he was involved.

In expressing his shock over being named by RPK in the TV3 interview, he said he had no idea that RPK had planned to sign a statutory declaration implicating Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who was the Deputy Prime Minister then, and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor in the murder.

Din said he was never part of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s inner circle planning such strategies.

“I was part of Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim’s team, not Anwar’s. And at that time, people were fed up with Pak Lah (former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi). It had nothing to do with trying to stop Najib from succeeding Pak Lah. Also, I have never implicated Najib. In my blog, I focus on issues, not baseless allegations,” he said.

Meanwhile, Anwar posted a two-word Twitter reply to queries raised by the online community on RPK’s revelation.

“Sarawak election,” said Anwar in his tweet yesterday, after a person called sivamsubang tweeted that RPK’s revelation was another slander against the Opposition Leader.

John Pang, another person named by RPK in the interview, could not be reached for comment.

Statement from Din Merican on RPK TV3 Interview


April 13, 2011

My friends, both in government and the private sector, smsed and telephoned  this evening to inform me of the Raja Petra’s exclusive interview with TV3(as reported below by The Malaysian Insider). I also received a call from Ms. Sira, a journalist from The Star, who had the courtesy to call me  a few minutes ago.

I was surprised to learn that I have been linked to attempts to discredit Prime Minister Najib and his wife Rosmah with regard to the Altantuya case. There is no basis whatsoever in fact. I am personally disappointed that Raja Petra Kamaruddin should see it fit to get me involved in a matter where I have zero knowledge.

Like many bloggers, I was unhappy with the Badawi Administration. After Badawi’s resignation in 2009 and Prime Minister Najib succeed him, I quietly left Parti KeADILan Rakyat. I know PKR Leaders personally. I also know UMNO-BN Leaders. My links with both sides of the political divide allow me to deal with issues in a dispassionate manner.

I have no disagreements with Prime Minister Najib. Let me state that I am not anti-Najib; in fact, a number of commentators in my blog have severely criticised me for being “soft” on our Prime Minister and his policies.

BUT it is a fact that Raja Petra called me to seek confirmation from Anwar Ibrahim regarding the reliability of a certain military intelligence officer. When I received confirmation from the PKR de facto leader, I relayed it to Raja Petra. That was all to the whole matter.–Din Merican

http://www.themalaysianinisder.com

RPK on TV3 , explains his Altantuya Stories

KUALA LUMPUR, April 13 – The pro-government TV3 station aired an exclusive interview with blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin tonight, where he claimed that he was merely writing accusations made by others against Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife over the Altantuya murder case.

“I never accused the Prime Minister or his wife of being involved in the murder of Altantuya Sharibuu,” Raja Petrawas quoted as saying in a transcript made available at the private television station’s website.

The interview in Perth recently was conducted by a senior editor, Ashraf Abdullah, and aired over the prime-time Buletin Utama news programme at 8pm.

The transcript said the Malaysia Today news portal editor said he was pressured and influenced to carry the news by individuals who did not want Najib to take over as the country’s prime minister. Najib succeeded Tun Abdullah Badawi as prime minister in April 2009.

It reported Raja Petra as saying his statutory declaration dated June 18, 2008 was based on information from these individuals, adding that a lot of people accused him of slander without actually reading his sworn statement.

In the statutory declaration (SD), Raja Petra said he received information from several individuals that the prime minister’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor was at the site when Altantuya was killed.

Altantuya was killed in late 2007 when Najib was then deputy prime minister.“In the SD, I related the tale that these people told me the story and they should relate it. And that the authorities should investigate and call these people in. That’s what I wrote in the SD. I personally did not make an accusation. I did not say I knew that the wife of the then deputy prime minister was at the crime scene. I didn’t say that. I didn’t make such an accusation. What I said was that people told the story and it was up to the authorities to investigate it further and for these people to come forward. And I named these people. I revealed this during the police investigations,” he was quoted as saying in the transcript in Bahasa Malaysia.

According to the transcript, Raja Petra said he received the information from individuals linked to several politicians including opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. TV3 named them as Nik Azmi Nik Daud, John Pang and blogger Din Merican.

Raja Petra also mentioned that a military intelligence officer identified as Leftenan Kolonel Azmi Zainal Abidin also gave the same information.

“I didn’t accept the story. Because I thought it was impossible. No way that the Prime Minister’s wife can go to the scene as it is in the jungle and I didn’t think she would climb a hill, enter a jungle in the middle of night, at 12 midnight. I thought that was impossible,” he was quoted as saying in the transcript.

Raja Petra was quoted as saying that their task was to ensure Najib did not take over as PM when Abdullah stepped down.He said when he met Nik Azmi, he had asked the reasons for making the statutory declaration.

“What do you hope to achieve? He said Pak Lah will resign, if we don’t block Najib, Najib will be the prime minister, replacing Pak Lah,” he added.

According Raja Petra, he then asked Din Merican to get confirmation from Anwar.“Din Merican contacted me back and said he spoke to Anwar and Anwar had given the green light. He said OK, this man is no problem, what he says we can trust. Anwar knows him well and he usually meets with Anwar.. this leftenan kolonel. And he has told many stories to Anwar about this issue. He said to proceed, I then proceeded,” he was quoted as saying.

Raja Petra also said all the individuals had promised to be witnesses if he was charged in court. TV3 said it will carry the second part of the interview at the same news bulletin tomorrow.