WSJ editors misunderstand Malaysian Politics

May 26, 2012

WSJ Editors misunderstand Malaysian Politics

by Rusman Ahmad–Guest Writer

The Wall Street Journal published an editorial on on May 24, 2012 titled “Malaysian People’s Court“. In it the influential newspaper challenges Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim to admit to committing “civil disobedience” at the April 28 Bersih Rally and accept the consequences of that action.  The paper says rather cynically “If Mr. Anwar wants to practice civil disobedience, he can’t pretend to be innocent at the same time.”

The Wall Street Journal seems to believe that the primary purpose of the gathering on April 28 was to protest the Public Assembly Act, which states in Section 4(2)(c):

“a person commits an offence if he organises or participates in a street protest.”

It’s clear however that the April 28th demonstration has nothing to do with the Public Assembly Act, just like the previous BERSIH rallies in 2011 and 2007 had nothing to do with the predecessor laws to the Peaceful Assembly Act that restricted public assembly in Malaysia and presumably rendered those public gatherings technically illegal under Malaysian laws. The April 28th demonstration had the stated purpose of protesting electoral fraud. Subsumed within that protest are a whole litany of laws that prevent free expression and assembly of Malaysians.

What exactly did Anwar do that is illegal? Currently he has been charged with violating the Public Assembly Act and pleading not guilty. What legal tradition does the WSJ belong to that suggests an accused must prove himself innocent when charged with a crime?

Such an upside down approach to the law is usually the modus operandi of the Malaysian Attorney General, where politically motivated trials place the burden of proof on the defendant and not the prosecution in a true perversion of the justice system.

If indeed Anwar Ibrahim was engaged in an act of civil disobedience by participating in the April 28th BERSIH Rally then so too were the 200,000 other Malaysians gathered in downtown Kuala Lumpur, not to mention the thousands of others who demonstrated throughout the country. Why is Anwar Ibrahim and his two associates the only ones to be charged by the government? And why would the WSJ place the lions share of responsibility on Anwar Ibrahim and not BERSIH chairperson herself Ambiga Srenavasan?

Additionally, if the BERSIH gathering was deemed legal but it was the breaching of the barriers at Dataran Merdeka in particular that are considered the illegal act which Anwar was expressing civil disobedience over, then the WSJ’s point is also fundamentally flawed. Anwar has denied giving any instructions for people to breach the barrier and in fact the extended video of him near the barrier shows he tried to get the people to disperse, rather than cross the barrier.

A legitimate, independent investigation needs to be conducted to figure out what happened. The likely conclusion will be that those near the barrier were dead set on crossing over and prepared to face the consequences. There was no mechanism for Anwar, Ambiga or anyone else to control that sentiment. However, it’s also clear that a truly independent inquiry is virtually impossible in Malaysia and even when inquiries do happen, their results are ignored.

So why then should Anwar plead guilty to an act of civil disobedience when 1) he was not expressing civil disobedience but rather demonstrating in support of electoral reform and 2) when doing so would necessarily land him in jail or with a fine that would disqualify him from contesting in the upcoming general election?

Is now the time for Anwar to willingly banish himself to prison or to the political wilderness just to prove a point that the opposition is willing to adhere to the rule of law in a country where the laws are themselves fundamentally flawed. Is the Wall Street Journal trying to make a point that Malaysia is a reformed nation now and that both government and opposition should be held to the same high standard of adhering to the rule of law?

What laws are we talking about here? Whose laws? The Public Assembly Act was forced through parliament just like all of Najib Razak’s so called reform measures. They are in each case an example of giving some rights out with their right hand and taking away a series of other rights with their left hand. The net effect is pretty much zero. Is the WSJ drinking the Kool-Aid that Najib’s administration is mixing with the help of well paid international media consultants, including some journalists formerly employed by the WSJ?

Instead the WSJ should have read the latest polling results from the Merdeka Center that show 90% (i.e. virtually all) of Malaysians want to see the electoral roll cleaned before the next election and that nearly half of all Malaysians do not have faith in the integrity of the electoral process. There are also a large percentage of Malaysians, Malays in particular, who remain unclear about the stated goals of the BERSIH movement. Presumably, if given the chance to be informed and educated, a large percentage of these people will also question the integrity of the electoral process.

Is this not the real story that the WSJ missed by zeroing in on Anwar’s act of civil disobedience? The fact that an election is likely to take place in Malaysia within the next 11 months in the midst of the revolutions of the Arab Spring and the return to public office of Aung Sun Sii Kyi where 50% of voters do not believe in the integrity of the process and are thus likely to question the integrity of the counting and results?

The Weekend is Here: Featuring Din’s Favorite Crooners

May 25, 2012

The Weekend is Here: Featuring Din’s Favorite Crooners

Thanks, Bean for your suggestion that I should take over as the DJ for this weekend. In keeping with my duty, I have chosen tunes that are Din’s favorites. Since he just turned 37, I have selected tunes that he usually sings to me whenever he is in a musical mood.

As you know, he is an ardent fan of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin (he made special visit to Dean’s final resting place with Semper Fi and I last year in Los Angeles, where he sang at his grave site Dean’s Everybody Loves Somebody),Sammy Davies Jr. and Matt Monroe. So I feature them for you.

On his behalf, I thank you, all his friends and associates on this blog and Facebook, for  your kind wishes. He told me that my love and your friendship sustain him as he takes that slow kerbau ride into the golden sunset. He said me that he has seen it all, yet there is more, infinitely more, to see and understand.

Naturally, he is disappointed to be a witness to the stupid and infantile things our politicians and our religious functionaries and their followers do with politics and religion to make life tense, unpleasant and miserable. But he seems unfazed and, in fact he is amused by their antics and shadow plays. The show must gone, he was quick to point out to me.

So for this weekend, we dedicate the songs I have chosen for your entertainment to this kind soul who has done so much in so short time to enrich my life and yours too, I hope. Here is to you, Din Merican from all of us in blogosphere.–Dr. Kamsiah G. Haider

Frank Sinatra-Tell Her You Love

The Way You Look Tonight

It Happened in Monterey

You make Me feel so Young

Dean Martin-Everybody loves Somebody

Write to Me from Naples

On an Evening in Roma

Buona Sera

Sammy Davies and Paul Anka–In Tribute

I have Got to Be Me

She Believes in Me

Matt Monroe–For All We Know

Born Free

Jomo is eminently qualified to be ILO Director-General

May 25, 2012

Jomo is eminently qualified to be ILO Director-General

by Din Merican@

COMMENT: On May 28, the board of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland will decide on its new director-general.

Among the candidates is Malaysia’s Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram, who is currently UN assistant secretary-general for economic development.

The candidacy of Jomo (right with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon), a Yale and Harvard-trained economist and renowned author and researcher on global economic development issues, will bring a breath of  fresh air to the ILO at a time when we are experiencing global turbulence, which has already affected the lives of  millions of people around the world. The priority today is job creation and that requires strategic partnership between governments, the private sector and the labour movement.

The Guardian (UK), which endorses Jomo, said in its May 17 article, “… a new social compact is required, not just within nations but internationally. For economies across the world to be on viable and sustainable paths of growth, they must be based more on inclusion, which means greater concern for the expansion, stability and conditions of employment and respect for employment rights.

“This obviously requires new thinking. The good news is that to some extent this is already happening, in several areas of the developing world through governments and social movements, and in public responses in the developed world.”

It added that “We are in a time when some international institutions can play a more significant role in creating and forging genuinely viable alternative economic trajectories. In fact, the International Labour Organisation is uniquely positioned among the multilateral organisations to play an extremely important role in forging a global consensus around such viable alternatives.

“Its unusual tripartite structure (with representation on the board from governments, workers’ organisations and employers’ organisations) allows it to become not just a forum for discussions on such matters but a platform for proposing and promoting strategies of economic justice that are both productive and socially acceptable.”

The ILO will need a director-general who understands global financial issues and macroeconomic policies with ideas about how to deal with the concerns of both the developing and advanced nations and the ability to work with strategic partners in government and the private sector and in the labour movement.

The right man for the job

Jomo is the right man for the job. His vision, experience and commitment make him ideally suited to take the ILO forward, adapt it to the rapidly changing times and allow it to fulfil the role that is so badly needed in the world today. He happens to be an Asian but that is not a disadvantage for a job that requires a leader who is equally  familiar with emerging markets and the developed world.

In a recent article entitled ‘Stronger Recovery, More Jobs for All’, Jomo said that “The design of policy measures has to take into account the full consequences of policy actions, including those that are unintended, but foreseeable. In addition, sovereign debt challenges have to be addressed, revenue collection systems enhanced, social protection arrangements put in place, and financial regulation overhauled, among other things.

“But the larger point is that national efforts, while crucial, need to be complemented by international action.”

The next ILO director-general must have the requisite qualities of an integrator, facilitator, and champion of constructive change in the way the world goes about its business. In this regard, Jomo has the ability to rejuvenate the ILO and transform its mission as the world struggles to create jobs and manage social cohesion.

DIN MERICAN is Fellow of the Southeast Asia Centre for E-Media (SEACeM).

Islam Hadhari and Badawi rhyme in Ignominy

May 25, 2012

Islam Hadhari and Badawi rhyme in Ignominy

by K Haridas@

COMMENT; The first post-Mahathir Mohamad elections were held in March 2004. In comes Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, winning an overwhelming majority. The ruling coalition secured nearly 64 percent of the votes and just over 90 percent of the 219 seats in the Dewan Rakyat. The opposition fared badly, securing 36 percent of the vote and under 10 percent of the seats.

islam hadhariWith such an impressive mandate, the Prime Minister and BN had the opportunity to stamp their mark and take the nation forward. Wanting to make a difference and aiming to distinguish his leadership from that of his predecessor, he launched ‘Islam Hadhari’ as his charter endorsed both by UMNO and BN.

The Abdullah feel-good factor played a big role and voters responded to his plea for a big mandate. His relaxed and accessible appeal, coupled with the fact that Opposition icon Anwar Ibrahim was in jail, gave him advantages. The euphoria of this victory gave a blank cheque to the BN, and in particular UMNO.

hishamuddin keris mca assembly 260806However, subsequent UMNO general meetings showed a rise in temperature regarding Malay expectations at the expense of the others. The televised UMNO annual general meetings with the issue of the ‘keris’ and other expletives expressed caused serious concerns among the other communities. The same is also true for the other ethnic parties.

The AGM of every ethnic component party of the BN is always reacting to the power exerted by UMNO and begging for a greater share of the largesse, participation and involvement.

At a time during the late 90s and the dawn of the new millennium with Samuel Huntington’s book ‘ The Clash of Civilisations’ as the backdrop, the idea of ‘Islam Hadhari’ or ‘Civilisational Islam’ was presented because, as Abdullah said, “it emphasises development consistent with the tenets of Islam and focuses on enhancing the quality of life”.

While ‘Islam Hadhari’ is grounded on the teachings of Islam, promoters go on to emphasise that ‘Islam Hadhari’ is meant for the benefit of all in Malaysia regardless of their religion and racial identities. Abdullah outlined the approach and said, “It is not an approach to pacify the West. Neither is it an approach to apologise for the perceived Islamic threat, nor is it an approach to seek approval from the non-Muslims for a more friendly and gentle image of Islam.

“It is an approach that seeks to make Muslims understand that progress is enjoined by Islam. It is an approach that is compatible with modernisation and yet is firmly rooted in the noble values and injunctions of Islam.”

At the same time it must be emphasised that the problem for adherents of other religions in Malaysia did not lie with Islam but with the short-sighted views of Islam projected through ethnic eyes.

Distorting the image of various faith traditions

Those states that call themselves as Islamic republics, Christian nations, Buddhist or Hindu kingdoms do great disservice to the names of the respective faiths. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka or even the Philippines are not great examples of the noble inspirations that underlie these great faiths and traditions. In fact, such identification distorts the image of the various faith traditions.

The 10 Principles of Islam Hadhari as outlined are:

  1. Faith in God and piety
  2. A just and trustworthy government
  3. A free and independent people
  4. A rigorous pursuit and mastery of knowledge
  5. Balanced and comprehensive economic development
  6. A good quality of life
  7. Protection of the rights of minority groups and women
  8. Cultural and moral integrity
  9. Safeguarding the natural resources and the environment
  10. Strong defence capabilities.

Who would want to disagree with the above. The same can be said for the ‘Rukunegara’ and the goals outlined under ‘Vision 2020′.

During the remaining years of his rule, Prime Minister Abdullah took pains to explain the aims and goals of ‘Islam Hadhari’. There were those within the Islamic mindset who were strong proponents as well as those who held other views.

azlanThis charter was then affirmed at the 55th UMNO general assembly and was included in the election manifesto of the Barisan-led government. That he secured the largest election victory in the history of UMNO and the BN shows the all-round endorsement they received. The government then adopted ‘Islam Hadhari’ as a principal policy programme.

For many this symbolised a set of principles that took the interest and concerns of people at heart focussing on accountability, governance, freedom and the quality of life of citizens. To give the benefit of the doubt to Abdullah and his supporters, ‘Islam Hadhari’ had to be defined within the polity of Islam and this required more time.

It started with an emphasis in Malaysia and as chair of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Abdullah hoped the OIC Commission of Eminent Persons would consider adopting ‘Islam Hadhari’ at the international level.

Six months following Badawi’s landslide victory Anwar Ibrahim was acquitted. This brought to life once again the factor of ‘reformasi’ into the Malaysian political equation.

A time of challenge

Over the next four years while confronting criticism within the country and expressing the need for ‘Islam Hadhari’, Abdullah went through a time of challenge. Amongst his fiercest critic was his predecessor Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was known for his cynical and crude remarks about ‘Islam Hadhari’.

He made the tenure of Abdullah difficult in more ways than one. However, true to his conscience, Abdullah never hit back and took things in stride. This acquittal of Anwar was not well-received by Mahathir and the cancellation of his crooked bridge project in Johor added to Mahathir’s displeasure.

Abdullah opened avenues for greater freedom of expression and the online media were never curtailed. Exposes of corruption and mismanagement led to the formation of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). The overall emphasis on Islam also had an impact on non-Muslim segments of the community.

Having to follow Mahathir’s act was difficult and his constant criticisms of Abdullah’s leadership caused consternation within the party. The situation came to a head when Mahathir could not even be a delegate to the UMNO general assembly.

Reformasi’, the Opposition slogan promoted by Anwar’s party, meanwhile was gaining momentum. The opposition alliance was speaking to issues on the ground and at the same time focusing on the glaring failures of the BN on issues related to mismanagement and corruption. ‘Islam Hadhari’ got lost in the din of all these issues.

While Abdullah was the champion, he did not have the dynamism and charisma to defend nor argue his position. While the non-Malay parties within BN gave nodded agreement, they did little to espouse the cause, and like the ‘Rukunegara’ and ‘Vision 2020′ there was a severe lack of overall ownership and commitment.

While the 10-point charter was all embracing it was merely a statement of intent, of beliefs somewhat like a memorandum of understanding (MOU). The subsequent actions of the government in no way reflected the aims of ‘Islam Hadhari’ nor did it inspire an inclusive approach to the ethnic challenges and way of seeing issues in Malaysia.

Polarisation continued and ‘Islam Hadhari’ had very little impact on the behaviour and conduct of the Muslims. Here was a man with Islamic credentials, a man who had the power with his party’s two-thirds majority in Parliament and yet he failed to deal with the real issues on the ground, to draw strength from his charter and to initiate change.

With the powerful mandate that Abdullah enjoyed people expected action and clarity. Several cases of body snatching arising from conversions, family disputes and apostasy all added to a climate of unease and concern.

Leadership on auto-pilot

Further, an increase in crimes like snatch thefts, sex crimes and violence raised serious concerns about public security. Sadly, the perception grew that Abdullah’s leadership was on auto-pilot. He failed to take an ethical stand on issues.

pak lah and interfaithSome of his glaring failures include a lack of clear direction on the Interfaith Commission, issues of jurisdiction relating to S Shamala’s case and the custody of children, the Kamariah Ali case, Nyonya Tahir case, Lina Joy issue and very significant issues relating to Article 11 of the constitution.

The judicial impasse between the syariah courts and the civil courts could only be addressed by Parliament. However when ethnicity overrides justice the status quo remains  and injustice continues.

These jurisdictional issues caused much consternation and people began to lose faith in his leadership. He had the opportunity and the power to arrive at a fair decision through appropriate amendments being passed by Parliament.

However, when you have ‘Islam Hadhari’ viewed through UMNO’s eyes the grandeur of Islam is lost. He missed the opportunity to do what is right and hence this cost him greatly in the eyes of many Malaysians. Just as it was said in ‘Yes Minister’ it was the case of the Law of Inverse Relevance where the less you intend to do about something the more you have to keep talking about it, ending thus with all talk and no action.

The issue of the nine ministers and their memorandum calling for a review of laws affecting the rights of non-Muslims was taken as an affront by UMNO. Sadly, these nine ministers shamelessly withdrew their joint memo though they were standing up for serious concerns raised by their constituents.

Justice was the ultimate casualty and when seen through ethnic eyes it only perpetuated greater injustice. This was to eventually cost Abdullah dearly at the next elections. This also revealed that the BN did not have an internal working mechanism to deal with such issues and highlighted the sorry state of the coalition.

Ultimately the selfish interests of all the nine ministers prevailed at the cost of justice to Malaysians. This again showed that when the chips are down ‘Islam Hadhari’ was just a facade and ethnic Islam prevailed.

azlanWe then saw the report of the Royal Commission to enhance the operation and management of the Royal Malaysian Police.

There were significant recommendations which included the setting up of an oversight body to investigate abuse by the Police; amendment to remand procedures; a code relating to the arrest and detention of persons; confessions; inquiries into death under custody; freedom of assembly; ISA; and a repeal of acts like the Restricted Residence Act and Emergency Ordinance 1969.

Had these recommendations been implemented it would have given a boost to the administration of justice  and enhanced the law enforcement capabilities in keeping with the notion of ‘Rule of Law’ as enshrined in the ‘Rukunegara’ or a ‘Just and Trustworthy Government’ as highlighted in ‘Islam Hadhari’.

Again the failure was absolute and the executive went about ignoring the serious work that had been done by several NGOs and Suhakam, the Human Rights Commission. These recommendations never made it to Parliament for serious discussions.

An impossible agenda?

BN has to get its first principles correct. Race-based parties  cannot create a just society based on race. We have had 55 years of independence and have gone through 12 elections under the BN. Do we still need  to be convinced that theirs is an impossible agenda?

To vote them in again at the 13th general election is to hope for an impossible miracle. All the semantics about ‘transformation’ and ‘entry points’ are ideas of management that can only work provided you have an inclusive agenda.

Look at the end results that we face today with greater ethnic polarisation; violence and insecurity; corruption on a scale that we would not have dreamed about and a fat and rent-seeking civil service.

azlanSerious lack of transparency and accountability as exhibited by the Auditor-General’s Report year after year with little  disciplinary action shows that the government is not serious about dealing with gross mismanagement.

Our hope with ‘Islam Hadhari’ were also dashed, and like the earlier charters this has been consumed by ‘ethnic Islam’ promoted by BN in the form of ‘Ketuanan Melayu’.

We seem to be going further and further away from even meeting the agenda of national unity. The bankruptcy of the current prime minister can be equated to his saying, “I give you and you give me; I trust you and you trust me”.

Where have we landed when we have senior leaders of the BN who have told the non-Malays to leave; that the Indian vote does not count and that they are ‘pendatang’. Where were the words of censure from the PM or other senior UMNO leaders? Where is their sense of sincerity? Now that elections are near they go around begging and buying votes.

In the end, the people gave their verdict through the 2008 elections. The BN led by Abdullah won 140 seats out of 222 seats in the Dewan Rakyat (63 percent). The remaining 82 seats went to the Opposition. BN lost its two-thirds majority.

If one were to only consider peninsular Malaysia, then out of the 165 seats BN won 85 with 48.7 percent of the popular vote while the opposition took 80 seats with a better popular vote of 51.30 percent. In effect, BN lost the popular vote in peninsular Malaysia.

Gerrymandering obviously gives the tilt to BN especially when you have a seat like Putrajaya with 6,600 voters and the opposition seat of Kapar having 117,000 voters. This is the way the ‘dacing’ is tilted by the BN despite all the talk of Rukunegara, Vision 2020 and Islam Hadhari.

With over 3 percent more of the popular vote, the opposition got five fewer seats. It is this sort of injustice that we need to stand up against as to ensure a level-playing field. ‘Islam Hadhari’ did not address such blatant injustice.

Voting on the basis of conscience

The need of the hour is to vote on the basis of conscience. Let your vote again be a vote for a difference. Why continue with BN when the results will be what we have experienced so far with worse to come. Let us in a democratic spirit give the alternative a chance.

They have shown in the states they govern and exhibited a greater sense of accountability and transparency with laws like the Freedom of Information Act, declaration of assets and other measures. There may be a lack of perfection but the option provides an alternative after 55 years of BN rule.

Do this also because BN may then evolve to be what it is meant to be and that this nation will see a two-party system where ethnicity will not be the key issue.

Dr Jomo speaks: Stronger Recovery, more Jobs for All

May 25, 2012

Stronger Recovery, more Jobs for All

by Jomo Kwame Sundaram*

Greater international cooperation and coordination is urgently needed for a more robust and sustained recovery with benefits far more widely shared. In its mid-year World Economic Situation and Prospects forecast, the United Nations argues that only a sustained commitment to prioritizing economic recovery can overcome the short termism of recent policy changes dictated by financial markets.

Recovery priorities should emphasise job creation as well as enhancing national productive capacities – through public investment in infrastructure, for example, which induces complementary private investments and creates the conditions for sustained growth over the longer term. This necessarily requires ensuring greater coherence of macroeconomic policies with structural transformation goals than seen so far.

Unemployment unabated

Globally, a staggering 200 million people – almost half of them youth – are officially deemed unemployed. The number of jobless has increased by at least 27 million since the start of the crisis.

Thanks to rapid and coordinated responses by leaders of the major economies, including bold stimulus packages, the Great Recession seemed short-lived. An estimated 21 million jobs were created or saved by stimulus packages in the G20 countries alone in 2009 and 2010.

Unfortunately, however, the collective resolve of global leaders has waned since 2009 as they find themselves increasingly battered by financial markets. Premature withdrawal of the stimuli, ostensibly to consolidate fiscal positions, has stifled the nascent recovery. Growth is almost dead in many economies of the European Union, and several countries are already technically in recession.

The economic, social and political costs of the prolonged economic slowdown have been enormous and continue to mount. Except in Austria and Germany, unemployment rates in European countries and in the US remained higher at the end of 2011 than in 2007.

The share of the long-term unemployed continues to increase in many developed countries, reaching 40 per cent of the unemployed in half these countries, notably in the US, the UK, and debt-distressed countries of the euro area. Youth unemployment has also increased staggeringly.

In Spain, more than half of young adults seeking jobs cannot find one. More than 400 million additional jobs will be needed over the next decade to avoid a further increase in unemployment. With a backlog of 200 million jobless, the world must create 600 million productive jobs over the next decade to reach full employment.

Although most developing countries have weathered the crisis better than most developed countries, they are showing more signs of strain as the crisis persists. For three decades prior to the crisis, developing countries were told to liberalize and to pursue export-oriented policies.

The rapid recovery and sustained expansion of world trade that followed its sharp decline at the onset of the crisis are rapidly losing steam. World commodity prices have become even more volatile; meanwhile, a significant decline in commodity prices, which appears increasingly likely in the near- to medium term, will impose great costs on the many developing countries that still depend heavily on commodity export earnings to sustain national incomes, growth and imports. It will not be easy for most developing countries to re-orient production to the domestic economy once again, especially as aid and investment flows fall.

International cooperation needed

This crisis is a global challenge which calls for a global solution – with governments, businesses and workers all contributing, and benefitting. The currently favoured approach – characterized by an obsessive focus on financial system stability, fiscal “discipline” and policy-driven erosion of working conditions in the name of labour market flexibility – has only made things worse.

These policy preferences all presume that investment, growth, and job creation will inevitably follow. The problem is that this approach gets the causal chain backwards; restoring investment, growth and employment is necessary for financial institutions, fiscal accounts, and markets to heal in earnest.

Since national fiscal space is severely limited in many economies, and expansionary monetary policies have been exhausted with little gain, international coordination provides the last major opportunity to enhance policy effectiveness. International policy coordination is also crucial to tame volatile commodity prices and stabilize exchange rates.

The UN has been calling for a more pro-active role of the public sector aimed at sustaining aggregate demand through investment in social and physical infrastructure. Appropriate policies would include incentives to induce private sector investment, especially in new, environmentally-friendly technologies and labour-intensive economic activities. Collaborative industrial – or investment and technology – policy should strengthen the economic diversification of developing countries and midwife the emergence of new industries in the advanced countries.

UN analysis of the likely impact of such policies finds that a globally coordinated economic recovery agenda is likely to result in global output growing at an average of 4.0 per cent and the jobs deficit closing by 2016 – a very significant improvement over the business as usual scenario (see the charts). Over the medium term, higher output and employment growth will also stabilize public debt-to-GDP ratios, which will start to fall from 2016.

To be sure, there is much else to be done, both in the short and medium-term. The design of policy measures has to take into account the full consequences of policy actions, including those that are unintended, but foreseeable. In addition, sovereign debt challenges have to be addressed, revenue collection systems enhanced, social protection arrangements put in place, and financial regulation overhauled, among other things. But the larger point is that national efforts, while crucial, need to be complemented by international action.

Inclusive multilateral organizations, led by the United Nations, especially the IMF and the ILO, must lead by example, underscoring the gains for all from international cooperation, and offering needed technical support.

*Dr. Jomo Kwame Sundaram is UN Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development and G-24 Research Coordinator. Dr Jomo is a candidate for the post of Director-General, International Labour Organisation. He is a Malaysian with strong academic credentials and wide international experience in economic policy and advisory work and will be the first D-G from Asia if he chosen by ILO’s Board on May 28, 2012.

Champions of Free and Fair Elections sued by Najib’s Government

May 24, 2012

Champions of Free and Fair Elections sued by Najib’s Government: What crap is this, Mr. Attorney-General

by Nigel Aw (05-23-12)@

Damage is done mainly by the Police and the FRU

The government has initiated a civil suit against BERSIH co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan and nine other steering committee members for damages allegedly caused during the BERSIH 3.0 protest on April 28. The suit was filed on May 15.

Divide and Rule Game

Strangely, national laureate and co-chairperson A Samad Said and prominent Bersih steering committee member Hishammuddin Rais were not among the 10.

“Today, at about 3.25pm I was served with a writ and statement of claim whereby the government of Malaysia is claiming damages against me and members of the steering committee for losses purportedly suffered by them in connection with Bersih,” she said when contacted.

NONEThe claim, Ambiga added, is likely to be under the new Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.

According to the writ of summons, the BERSIH steering committee members are accused of bringing “too many” protesters to the rally and failed to appoint sufficient personnel to ensure the protest was peaceful.

The civil suit is seeking RM122,000 in special damages for 15 Police vehicles damaged during the protest, including two water cannon trucks.“There are also general damages which could be any amount,” said Ambiga.

The writ of summon reads: “The plaintiff states that under section 6(2)(g) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (Act 736), the defendants have a responsibility among others to ensure that the held rally will not cause damage to property.”

It went on to list in detail nine incidents on that day between 3.30pm to 5.30pm in which those vehicles were damaged.

The mention of the case is fixed for June 13 at 9am before High Court judge Dr Prasad Sandosham Abraham.

Asked if the group will be appearing together in court, Ambiga replied: “We will meet tomorrow to discuss and decide the way forward.”

“We may have a few lawyers but the other members deserve to decide whether they want the same lawyers or not,” she said.

The other nine named in the suit are Maria Chin Abdullah, Zaid Kamaruddin, Haris Fathillah Mohamed, K. Arumugam, S. Arul Prakkash, Wong Chin Huat, Dr. Ahmad Farouk Musa, Toh Kin Woon and Andrew Khoo.

The April 28 protest for clean and fair elections, which organisers claimed attracted some 250,000 participants, had been peaceful and carnival-like but clashes with Police began after some protesters breached the barricades at Dataran Merdeka.

The United State to Najib: Ensure “Due Process”

May 23, 2012

The United States to Najib: Ensure “Due Process”

The United States urged Malaysia to ensure “due process” after Malaysian Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim was hit with criminal charges for his part in an election reform rally.“We encourage the authorities in Malaysia to ensure that due process is protected and that any trial is conducted in a fair and transparent manner,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said on Tuesday.

NONE“And we will continue to monitor the case,” she added.

Anwar and two party colleagues were charged with violating a controversial new law governing public gatherings and a court order that banned the April 28 rally from the centre of the capital Kuala Lumpur.

The charge comes just four months after Anwar was acquitted of sodomy in a long-running trial that the charismatic leader has said was engineered by the government of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to remove him as a political threat.

Asked if Washington had concerns that due process may not be followed and a trial may not be fair, Nuland noted that “we have had concerns in the past”.

- AFP/

A new Role for the ILO in the World Economy

May 23, 2012

A new role for the ILO in the world economy

Poised to elect a new director general, the International Labor Organization needs to challenge the pro-austerity consensus, Tuesday 22 May 2012 21.58 BST

The Troika – the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Commission, and the IMF – is dragging Europe into its second recession in three years. The ECB by itself has the ability to end this crisis, by guaranteeing low interest rates on the sovereign bonds of countries such as Spain and Italy. Member governments would then be able to restore normal economic growth and employment.

But the ECB refuses to do this – partly because the Troika is using the crisis as an opportunity to force changes, especially in the weaker eurozone economies, changes that the people residing there would never vote for. These reforms include shrinking government, privatization, “labor flexibility”, and reduced public pensions.

Since, however, Europe has by far the largest banking system in the world, the eurozone crisis is also a significant drag on growth and employment throughout most of the world. This could easily do more damage if it is not resolved.

It is in this context that a struggle is taking place both within and between governments and international institutions over the economically and socially destructive policies in the eurozone. At the latest G8 summit in Camp David on Saturday, there were noticeable differences between Presidents Obama of the US and François Hollande of France, on the one hand, and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, on the other, over the wisdom of continuing to push Europe deeper into recession through fiscal tightening (as the Troika is currently doing).

While there are signs that many IMF economists and even the leadership of the IMF are not happy with the Troika’s policies, the fund is not going to break with the Europeans on its board of directors. But there is one international institution that, because its governance structure includes labor unions, is sometimes able to take a more progressive stance on these vital issues.

That is the International Labor Organization (ILO), affiliated with the United Nations. The ILO is thus differentiated from such organizations as the IMF, the World Bank, or the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) – all of which have an enormous influence which tends to reinforce the status quo, or worse.

The ILO estimates that the world has lost 50million jobs since the world economic crisis and Great Recession began – and the Troika is adding to the toll. In 2009, the ILO proposed a “global jobs pact”, which picked up support from the UN and the G20, but with little result. Last year, it proposed a “social protection floor”, which also won international support, but again, not much effect.

On May 28, the ILO will choose a new director general. The frontrunner is Guy Ryder, a former general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). Last November, he secured the support of the workers’ group, comprising a quarter of the ILO electoral college, before his rivals were even known. There are also other candidates with regional support, such as Colombian Vice-President Angelino Garzón.

But there is one candidate who is most likely to try to harness the ILO’s potential to challenge the devastating economic policies that have caused so much unnecessary unemployment and suffering in the past four years. That is Jomo Kwame Sundaram of Malaysia (picture above), the only Asian candidate.

He is the Harvard-trained chief economist at the United Nations, also responsible for its technical cooperation programs. Reputedly behind the 2009 Stiglitz Commission report (pdf) on the crisis, Jomo has shown clear understanding not only of the causes of the current economic crisis, but also of the failure of the relevant government and international institutions to bring us out of it. He would also expose the fallacies of the labor market liberalization policies currently being touted as the solution. His track record indicates that he would provide the necessary leadership at the ILO.

Although the ILO’s efforts to establish international conventions to promote a “rights-based” agenda for labor can be helpful, they are ineffectual in the face of high unemployment. They are also far from sufficient to advance the cause of the billions of workers who are unemployed or facing increasing insecurity due to precarious employment, stagnating wages, and declining benefits. The prospects for increasing employment, and even wages, in the near future will depend, in large part, on the macroeconomic policies pursued by governments – especially those of the largest economies.

Until now, these have been going in the wrong direction – and the ILO needs to confront these policy failures head-on.

No More Hang Tuah, only Hang Samsengs!

May 23,2012

No more Hang Tuah, but only Hang Samsengs in UMNO and the Police

by Nigel Aw@

During the glorious days of the Malacca sultanate, the legendary warrior Hang Tuah, leading his four other ‘Hang’ companions, stood out as a symbol of pride for the Malay kingdom.

NONEBut in modern Malacca,  ‘Hang Samseng’ (gangster) have emerged, lamented BERSIH co-chairperson A Samad Said, in reference to the violence targeting his colleague Ambiga Sreenevasan in Merlimau, Malacca, last Saturday.

“When Ambiga was going to Merlimau… There were around 200 gangsters waiting there. Ambiga was invited by PAS to explain BERSIH’s struggle. This is democracy.

“But before she could arrive, our friends there called and asked her not to come because there already were gangsters in the land of Hang Tuah. Think about it, in the land of Hang Tuah, there is ‘Hang Samseng’,” added the national laureate, fondly known as Pak Samad.

While Hang Tuah is highly regarded in Malay culture, Pak Samad, 77, described the ‘Hang Samseng’ as an “embarrassment”.

“I feel ashamed. This is not the way we strengthen our democracy, more than 50 years after we achieved independence… (they should) choose a better way” he said in an interview yesterday.

Last Saturday, a hi-tea event which was supposed to feature Ambiga was blocked by protesters and two DAP state assemblypersons, Khoo Poay Tiong and Tey Kok Kiew, were pelted with eggs and stones as they were leaving.

The incident damaged several vehicles, including Tey’s, which was left with severe denting, a punctured tyre and a broken side mirror. PERKASA and UMNO have admitted to being part of the protest but have both denied that they were responsible for the subsequent violence.

‘Is shaking butts our culture?’

The Merlimau violence was preceded by a series of bizarre protests outside Ambiga’s house in Kuala Lumpur, including a ‘butt exercise’ which made the international news headlines.

NONEThis, Pak Samad sarcastically said, appears to have become a new culture.

“We have achieved independence for more than 50 years, and our culture and manners appear to be butts. And then they hired gangsters to paint outside people’s house. Is this our culture?” he asked.

Last Tuesday, a group of army veterans shook their posterior in front of Ambiga’s house in protest against what they said was the smearing of the country’s name by Ambiga, who they described as an “enemy of the nation”.

Five days before that, a group of traders set up stalls and served free burgers, including beef burgers, outside the house of Ambiga, who is a Hindu and vegetarian.

NONEOn Monday, a group of traders painted yellow lots for trading along the road outside Ambiga’s house in preparation of a ‘mini market’ they plan to set up tomorrow and Friday.

The bustle outside her house comes as a series of counter-protests by traders claiming they had suffered losses during the BERSIH 3.0 protest in Kuala Lumpur last month.

DAP’s Malay Support remains strong

May 23, 2012

DAP’s Malay Support remains strong

by Dato Sabri Aziz@

UMNO’s hope that Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim’s exit from DAP would serve as the catalyst prompting other Malays in DAP to do likewise has crumbled. Indeed, Tunku Aziz’s action has reinforced the determination of Malays who joined DAP to stay put despite his U-turn.

It has perhaps only now dawned on UMNO that people adopt a certain political stand not because of loyalty to a figure. Such loyalty is ephemeral. You will see that soon – as soon as UMNO president Najib Tun Razak performs worse than his predecessor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

But the real issue in my mind, is not about Tunku Aziz’s departure from DAP at all. It’s all about UMNO seeing this as a chance to revive its own diminishing legitimacy. How many times have I said that UMNO cannot claim it is representing the Malays. In 2008, UMNO candidates got only two million of the 5.7 million votes.

That’s a clearer sign that UMNO is no longer relevant to Malays than Tunku Aziz’s exit from DAP as suggesting that DAP is not compatible with Malays .Like UMNO’s favorite line when interpreting Tunku Aziz’s exit, the exodus of Malays from the UMNO mothership can only mean that Malays are no longer compatible with UMNO.

If you are eager to arrive at such a conclusion from Tunku Aziz’s exit, then you must apply the same line of reasoning and accordingly, the conclusion regarding UMNO.

UMNO’s new media darling

If you can’t, then see Tunku Aziz’s departure as it really is – the departure of one man who realises now that changing something cannot happen within a self-imposed time frame.Just like Tunku Aziz’s sudden eureka moment that (Prime Minister) Najib Tun Razak’s transformation takes time, that same logic must be applied to whatever Tunku Aziz wishes to happen to DAP.

Except the problem with Tunku Aziz is that the changes that he wants in DAP must take place NOW, but the changes that Najib is touting MUST be given a chance to take place.

Why not the same treatment? Since leaving DAP, Tunku Aziz has become UMNO media’s darling. He has been described as the Malay face that DAP can use to attract more Malays. What rubbish. Malays who joined DAP did not even include Tunku Aziz in their equation.

With due respect to Tunku Aziz, he was an unknown political entity. It’s absolutely not true that DAP wanted to use Tunku Aziz as the face that would entice Malays into joining DAP. I find that offensive. The Malays who joined DAP find some resonance with the values and struggles which DAP espouses.

‘UMNO survives on others’ misfortune’

Why is UMNO worried about a handful of Malays being in DAP? It should encourage more Malays to join DAP to restructure DAP as a multiracial party. It should not stand in the way if Malays choose to join DAP unless of course, its very survival depends on it being able to keep alive the racist slants of Malaysian politics.

But then that’s how UMNO is. It can only survive on the misfortunes of others. It has never grounded its survival on the strength of its own principles and values.UMNO is a sinking ship and if Malays don’t want to join DAP, they are better off joining PAS – the real Malay party founded on values and principles.UMNO has neither principles nor integrity.

The writer is a former UMNO state assemblyman but joined DAP earlier this year. He is a FMT columnist.

Well Done, Mr. Mayor:Just Uphold the Law

May 23, 2012

Well Done, Mr. Mayor: Just Uphold the Law

City Hall rejects permits but traders to go ahead

by Zulaikha Zulkifli(05-22-12)@

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has denied permits to 60 petty traders to set up stalls on the road in front of the house of Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan on Thursday and Friday.

NONEHowever, Kuala Lumpur Petty Traders Action Council chairperson Jamal Md Yunus (centre in photo) will go ahead with the protest.

Kuala Lumpur Mayor Ahmad Fuad Ismail has urged the traders to use the “appropriate channel” to make their claims.

“If this goes on, we will never hear the end of it. To gather in a peaceful assembly in front of her (Ambiga’s) house, it’s all right…,” he said today after meeting Jamal, who was seeking DBKL’s approval.

“But to erect stalls, DBKL will not allow it in accordance with the Streets, Drainage and Buildings Act 1974.This is because Ambiga’s house is not the only house there. So my advice is that if they want to continue, (they) should look for a more suitable spot, one that is approved.”

Ahmad Fuad said the protest would reflect badly on the country internationally and set a precedent for the future generation. He advised the traders to opt for legal recourse to make up for their losses and not to let the matter drag on.

The trading zones that were painted in yellow would be covered using black paint by City Hall workers.

NONE“Painting the lots is not allowed. Since they have done it we will re-paint it in black. And if they continue to do business (on Thursday and Friday), we will send enforcement there. The law must be respected. We will also ask for Police cooperation,” Ahmad Fuad said.

However, Jamal insisted that the petty traders would trade there because they are performing their duties to earn a living. “We respect DBKL’s decision. We will do our work and DBKL will do theirs,” he said.

“We will go on (with the market) until someone takes on the responsibility for our losses,” said Jamal.

Prime lot bid went for RM5,000

Jamal also said the prime trading zones opposite Ambiga’s house went to highest bidder Ahmad Diah Ali, who bought it for RM5,000 for both the days.

NONEThe lot was put up for bidding by the council in front of the City Hall building today, after a meeting with the Mayor.

Ahmad, who plans to sell drinks and food at the stall, said he does not mind paying RM5,000 for the lot because he is very unhappy with Ambiga.

“I’m willing to pay RM5,000 because I’m not satisfied with (what) Ambiga (has done). Because of her, the business of traders has been disrupted,” he told reporters.

“I want to express my dissatisfaction by trading right opposite Ambiga’s house,” said Ahmad, 51, who had paid in cash for the lot. The other lots were sold at RM100 each.

Jamal said the petty traders were expecting at least 10,000 people to visit the 60 stalls to stay open from 3.30pm to 8pm, even though they have been denied trading permits by City Hall.

The Petty Trader Millionaire and the Bersih 4.0 Group

May 22, 2012

The Petty Trader Millionaire and the Bersih 4.0 Group

The Man behind the BERSIH4.0 group that harassed Dato Ambiga at her home is a Petty Trader millionaire. He does not even have a SPM, but has become rich through his  entrepreneurship, and positive encouragement by UMNO. There is no need to get a good education, just have the right connections.

He is the role model for young Malays, and those of you who want to get on in life without slogging. Only in Malaysia we can boast of such a person.

Bill Gates, George Soros, and Warren Buffet can learn a thing or two from this guy. Let us recognise him (picture below), our Anak Melayu Berjaya, when we meet him on the street.–Din Merican

Anak Melayu Berjaya: Dato’ Jamal Md Yunos – Photograph: Utusan Malaysia

Hillary Clinton’s Asian Adventure

May 22, 2012

Hillary Clinton’s Asian Adventure

by Jeswant Singh@Project Syndicate

Jaswant Singh is the only person to have served as India’s finance minister (1996, 2002-2004), foreign minister (1998-2004), and defense minister (2000-2001). While in office, he launched the first free-trade agreement (with Sri Lanka) in South Asia’s history, initiated India’s most daring diplomatic opening to Pakistan, revitalized relations with the US, and reoriented the Indian military, abandoning its Soviet-inspired doctrines and weaponry for close ties with the West. His most recent book is Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence.


New Delhi (05-16-12) -On her recent trip to China, Bangladesh, and India, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was eager to trumpet America’s “New Silk Road” strategy, which she unveiled last September. But the Silk Road was a trade route, whereas knife-edge diplomacy dominated Clinton’s Asian tour.

Nothing about Clinton’s trip was as path-breaking as her visit earlier this spring to Myanmar, where she met with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Thein Sein to lend her support to their delicate political dance, which may yet bring the country into the global democratic fold.

Her trip opened with the always-tense annual US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which was threatened at the start by the plight of the blind human-rights activist Chen Guangcheng, who had taken refuge in the United States’ embassy in Beijing.  [Read On]…

From Prosecuter to Defender: Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden

May 22, 2012

BERSIH3.0: Former S0licitor-General is Legal Council to Anwar Ibrahim

Former solicitor-general II Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden has raised eyebrows by representing Anwar Ibrahim on a Bersih 3.0-related charge, after having led the prosecution team against him in the Sodomy II trial.

NONEYusof (right), met after the court proceedings today, was asked if this would be seen as a personal battle between attorney-general (AG) Abdul Gani Patail and himself.

He responded that he has nothing personal against either Gani or the government in taking up the case.

“I am a professional. They called me last night and I am available and I have no hesitation. I do not have any political affiliation,” he said.

Asked if representing Anwar now would be seen as violating the oath of secrecy – which he had signed while in public service – he said he was still bound by the oath.

Yusof ranked third in seniority in the A-G’s Chambers – where he was the long-time head of prosecution – when he opted for retirement from February 1.

NONESenior defence lawyer Karpal Singh likened Yusof’s entry into Anwar’s defence team as “certainly a blow to the government”.

“We got to know late that he was willing to participate in the team and we welcome him. It could be a sign…,” Karpal said.

Sankara Nair, who is also in the defence team, pointed out that whatever Yusof was involved in previously, is in the past.

During the brief hearing in court earlier today, Yusof got things going with Karpal when he objected to the bail application. DPP Abdul Wahab Mohamad had sought RM10,000 for the alleged offence under the Peaceful Assembly Act.

However, Yusof told the court that, since 1998, Anwar has never missed attending a hearing. “He may be late sometimes, but he never misses the trial,” said Yusof.

‘Clear perception’

Anwar welcomed Yusof’s participation in the defence team, disclosing that he had checked whether he was available and then contacted him.

NONE“As you can see, (Yusof played) a role in the preliminary stage with Karpal, and is not here to make up the numbers.

“Yusof’s participation shows that he does not condone this … politically-motivated charge.

“There are many who are in the AG’s Chambers who hold the same view and are waiting for the right time to be with me.”

His willingness to join the defence team “is a clear perception that not all in the government condone” such action.

Anwar added that some have been of the view that Yusof should have been appointed the AG.

 Optional retirement

Yusof, a former magistrate and Sessions Court judge was the lead prosecutor in Anwar’s sodomy II trial. He took optional retirement in February after two earlier requests were rejected.

It was reported that in recent years, he and his charges were sidelined and this prompted many to leave the Attorney General Chambers.

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi meets the king to resign as PMYusof himself had requested for optional retirement twice in 2007 and in 2009 but without success.

On both occasions his application was rejected, the last believed to be after an intervention from then-Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (left), who wanted Yusof to lead the prosecution team in the sodomy trial.

When Premier Najib Abdul Razak assumed power he asked Yusof to continue to lead the prosecution team in the trial.

Yusof inherited the Solicitor-general II post after his predecessor Zaleha Mohd Yusof was elevated to the Judiciary.

GE-13 to be survival of the fittest

May 22, 2012

GE-13 to be survival of the fittest

by Karim

It’s all a matter of endurance. Given the stakes, tensions have also heightened. Both sides have a great deal to lose.

WE are entering the final straight. Whether the date of the actual polling day is in June, July, September or even next year, the finishing line is fast approaching.

It’s all a matter of endurance. Who can best manage their own resources and minimise their weaknesses? Whose “messaging” is the most focused and sustained?

Given the stakes, tensions have also heightened. Both sides have a great deal to lose. As Tun Daim Zainuddin said a few months ago, the contest between Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan Nasional is much like an extended game of tennis – with victory going to the side that commits the least unforced errors.

In this respect Barisan would appear to be gaining the lead. Pakatan’s lack of access to the mainstream media further undermines the challenger’s chances.

Last week’s resignation of DAP Senator and Vice-Cresident Tunku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim and PAS’ continued call for the introduction of the syariah have raised doubts about Pakatan’s ability to hold the middle-ground.

But there are also real dangers in trying to “read” the election outcome from the mainstream media. Official controls will always tend to magnify Pakatan’s mistakes whilst minimising Barisan’s missteps and only a fool would ignore the Internet’s ubiquitous presence.

At the same time, the vast numbers of new voters have injected an enormous degree of uncertainty into the game. It is as if Tun Daim’s tennis game had been crossed with a Sony Wii as well as a Pentagon battle-ground simulator: permutations are the new “norm”.

No one knows for certain where these young people will cast their ballots. As Ben Suffian of Merdeka Centre explains: “They lack the loyalty of their parents. They are better informed and more sceptical: arbitraging on news and events.”

But when all is said and done, the voters are faced with four fundamental decisions when they’re dealing with Barisan, which are as follows:

  •  Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak: Should the Malaysians reward or punish him? Have his reforms satisfied the voting public? Conversely, has he been too weak in the face of non-Malay demands? Does BERSIH3.0 accurately reflect popular sentiment? Does he deserve to better Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s 2008 result? Will we reward him with the constitutional majority? Can his personal popularity (much like Abdullah’s at the same stage of the 2008 scenario) strengthen his hold on power?
  • UMNO: For over five decades – the United Malays National Organisation has been the parti kerajaan – the party of Government with its supreme council meetings surpassing Cabinet in terms of “real” authority? Is the automatic identification of party and government (along with all the attendant patronage) coming to an end? Or is it merely a case of the parti kerajaan becoming a parti politik no different from PAS and PKR? Is UMNO’s supremacy finished?
  • Barisan Nasional: Can the alliance remain intact if the country’s second largest community, the Chinese, remove their support? Is an UMNO-dominated coalition sustainable? Are we witnessing the end of the so-called unwritten consensus that has brought us thus far? What will be the substitute?
  • Malaysia: Will the 13th General Election see the firming up of the two-coalition system or its demise? Are we Malaysians comfortable with the level of checks and balances that have entered our political lexicon since 2008 or do we wish to return to the past – entrusting the Barisan, unreservedly with our future?

March 8, 2008 was a surprise result. It upset our (and especially my) lazy assumptions.

Will the upcoming polls see this becoming the new normal or will we return to the status quo ante? I will try my best to cover these dilemmas. But then again, if we refer to Tun Daim’s tennis analogy and the doubts raised by BERSIH, another major question surrounds the “rules of the game” – who determines the players, especially the millions of new voters?

Political Jet Lag can make you want to see a Shrink

May 22, 2012

Political Jet Lag can make you want to  see a Shrink

By Datuk Syed Nadzri Syed Harun  |

POLITICAL JET LAG: Everything is on hold as we speculate on the 13th general election

NOW that they’ve come up with the very amusing expression “social jet lag” to describe modern-day fatigue resulting from work stress and busy schedules, we might as well, at least in Malaysia’s case, extend it to “political jet lag”, since everything around us is revolving around nothing else but breakneck politics.

According to news reports from Germany late last week, researchers from LMU University in Munich said social jet lag was the result of a clash between a person’s biological rhythms, including sleep patterns, and his hectic schedules, strict work demands, and a busy social life.

The consequence? Chronic fatigue, reliance on caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes, and wider waistlines. Having to be at the office early, working long hours indoors, social engagements after work and running around to keep up with a modern life is wreaking havoc on 80 per cent of people in Western countries, says chronobiologist Prof Till Roenneberg, who coined the term social jet lag.

I don’t know about being hooked on caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes and cigars, or wider waistlines. But there is definitely a strong case that Malaysia, or at least many Malaysians, are afflicted with political jet lag — the breakdown of the body clock following continuous exposure, night and day, to political panorama and consummate power-plays never quite seen before in this country.

And this has affected everyone’s “time zones” as it has been going on for more than a year now, ever since the guessing game started for the date of the 13th general election.

Jet lag is a lousy feeling. Besides fatigue and insomnia, experts say a jet lag sufferer may experience a number of physical and emotional symptoms, including anxiety, constipation, diarrhoea, confusion, dehydration, headache, irritability, nausea, sweating, coordination problems, dizziness and even memory loss. Some individuals report additional symptoms, such as heartbeat irregularities and increased susceptibility to illness.

Come to think of it, some of the above signs sound too familiar when related to Malaysian political jet lag:

ANXIETY: This restlessness and disquiet has developed for many months now, intensifying last year when it was rumoured that the Prime Minister would call for snap elections. The guessing game for the date of the 13th general election is now flavour of the day every day.

CONSTIPATION: A side-effect of too much pent-up anger (geram) in many people who are too partisan in politics and who always believe that the other side should be subjugated at all costs. The strain of this kind of zeal affects one’s bowel movements.

DIARRHOEA: Seems to be the opposite of the above but refers exclusively to diarrhoea of the verbal kind, which we find in cocky personalities who think they are a godsend and that they and only they could save Malaysia.

CONFUSION: The blurring of lines about what’s right and wrong. The partiality is sometimes so sickening that judgment gets clouded in the process, as some people choose to see only what they want to see. For instance, they might describe a certain person as a towering Malay one day and a traitor the next.

HEADACHE AND DIZZINESS: The syndrome affects politicians contemplating what’s to come should their party win or should it lose in the elections. Who’s going to be menteri besar? Or home minister?

IRRITABILITY: Many ordinary people sink into this state when they think about the sheer arrogance and lack of tolerance displayed by some politicians who belong to a “different kettle of fish”, especially those who talk so much about democracy and openness but don’t take too kindly to dissent. They also sue at the drop of a hat.

NAUSEA: Irritability (as above) turns to this when we are faced with crude and distasteful antics in the name of politics. A clear example was the puerile “exercises” and burger stalls we read about last week which has beckoned counter-demos. Silly and no class.

SWEATING: This occurs when political wannabes or vain personalities think about who will make it to the candidates list for the elections. “I am a winnable candidate” seems to be the syok sendiri chorus of many.

COORDINATION PROBLEMS: Some parties are learning the hard way in finding a common platform to face the tested Barisan Nasional. Seems like the hudud issue is up in the air again.

MEMORY LOSS: Also known as selective amnesia. Whatever happened to all the pledges made to secure Selangor? Uncollected rubbish, water problems, etc. And look at the condition of the roads in the state.

HEARTBEAT IRREGULARITIES: The uncertainties that cause some people to blow hot and cold as a result of so many guessing games.

DEPRESSION: Knowing that the general election could actually be delayed.

It is all straddling across the political time zones.

Cry Freedom and Fight ‘Pilitikverdrossenheit’(Political Apathy)

Politik Pembohongan ala Malaysia

May 22, 2012

Politik Pembohongan ala Malaysia

Oleh Sdr. Hishamuddin Rais (05-14-12)@

Dua minggu sesudah ibu segala demo berlangsung – pelbagai bentuk pembohongan ditaburkan. Semua ini dilakukan secara terancang untuk mengalihkan dan memadamkan ingatan orang ramai terhadap isu yang fundamental. Berita, kisah dan kenyataan yang remeh lagi temeh dipanjang lebar dan dibesar-besarkan. Semua ini dirancang agar umum terlupa agenda fundamental.

Agenda yang fundamental pada ketika ini ialah rakyat menuntut pilihan raya dijalankan dengan adil dan bersih. Ini adalah induk tuntutan. Ini adalah ibu dari segala tuntutan. Agenda inilah yang menjemput 300,000 warga turun ke jalan raya pada 28 April yang lalu. Jumlah 300,000 anak semua bangsa ini adalah bukti bahawa rakyat Malaysia tidak lagi yakin kepada proses pilihan raya di Malaysia ini akan dijalankan dengan adil dan bersih.

Rakyat Malaysia – anak semua bangsa – yakin bahawa Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya ( SPR) sedang merancang untuk menipu di PRU13 nanti. Tiga ratus ribu keluar berdemo adalah tanda mereka telah hilang keyakinan terhadap sistem pilihan raya di Malaysia. Mereka – 300,000 – turun berdemo kerana tidak mahu ditipu. Inilah persoalan yang fundamental.

Untuk pencerahan kita bersama dalam tulisan ini saya akan menelanjangi satu demi satu pembohongan yang sedang ditabur. Pencerahan ini adalah persediaan untuk kita semua turun sekali lagi jika kita ditipu dalam pilihan raya yang akan diadakan tidak lama lagi.

Awal wahid – apa yang wajib saya telanjangi ialah konsep: hak menumbangkan kerajaan. Orang ramai terutama orang Melayu selalu ditakut-takutkan dengan perkataan ‘menumbangkan kerajaan’. Perkataan dan konsep ini dikuduskan sehingga orang ramai tidak berani bersuara. Orang Melayu pula ditakut-takutkan dari bergerak menyusun saf untuk menumbangkan kerajaan.

Para pembaca yang budiman, kita tidak harus takut. Jangan merasa gentar untuk terlibat beramai-ramai dalam gerakkan menumbangkan kerajaan. Menumbangkan kerajaan adalah peRkara biasa. Kerajaan Suharto tumbang pada tahun 1998. Kerajaan Marcos tumbang pada tahun 1986. Kerajaan Shah Reza Pahlevi di Iran tumbang pada tahun 1980. Kerajaan Mubarak di Mesir tumbang tahun lalu.

Justeru rakyat bangun menumbangkan kerajaan dan sebuah kerajaan tumbang adalah perkara biasa. Bukan satu perkara yang pelik. Bukan satu yang ganjil atau unik.

Dari zaman berzaman kerajaan telah ditumbangkan oleh rakyat. Kerajaan Melayu Melaka tumbang. Kerajaan Majapahit tumbang. Kerajaan Pasai tumbang. Kerajaan Aceh tumbang. Kerajaan Turki tumbang. Kerajaan Czar Rusia tumbang. Kerajaan Hitler tumbang. Justeru – kita semua tidak perlu takut – menumbangkan kerajaan ini bukan satu jenayah. Bukan satu kerja yang salah.

Mahathir Muhamad menakut-nakutkan orang ramai dari bergerak untuk menumbangkan kerajaan Najib. Mahathir ada sebab. Kerana apabila kerajaan United Malays National Organsiation tumbang maka Mahathir sendiri akan di dakwa di mahkamah dengan pelbagai dakwaan rasuah. Sebab inilah Mahathir bermati-matian mempertahankan Najib Razak dari ditumbangkan oleh rakyat.

Tiga orang bekas pemimpin kanan polis aka polis pencen – telah cuba menakut-nakut orang ramai dari bergerak menyusun saf untuk menumbangkan kerajaan. Para pembaca jangan risau. Sila ketawa kerana mereka ini adalah ‘Three Stooges’ – Tukang Karut macam watak Wok Dogol, Wok Long dan Wok Seman dalam naratif klasik wayang kulit.

Biar saya terangkan bahawa ketiga-tiga Datuk, Tan Sri dan Tun ini ada ‘memiliki’ kes jenayah yang amat besar. Seorang tauke judi pasti takut kasinonya akan ditutup. Seorang ahli tinju – masih ada kes yang belum selesai. Dan seorang ‘tauke lendir’ pasti tahu apabila kerajaan United Malays National Organisation tumbang bergantang-gantang lendir akan dihempap ke mukanya. Justeru cakap-cakap ‘tiga ekor lanun’ ini wajib didengar dengan mulut ternganga dan dua tangan menutup lubang telinga.

Untuk memahami konsep menumbangkan kerajaan mari kita membuka mata untuk melihat ke luar tingkap negara kita. Kerajaan Jimmy Carter telah di tumbangkan oleh Ronald Reagan pada tahun 1980. Kerajaan George Bush telah ditumbangkan oleh Barak Obama pada tahun 2005. Kerajaan Parti Buruh Gordon Brown telah ditumbang oleh David Cameron pada tahun 2010. Paling baru – beberapa hari dahulu – di Perancis, kerajaan Sarkozy telah ditumbangkan oleh Francois Hollande.

Bila saya menuliskan sejarah kerajaan yang ditumbangkan ini maka pasti ada pembaca akan melompat bersuara. Akan menjerit-jerit mengatakan bahawa Ronald Reagan, Barak Obama, Francois Hollande dan David Cameron semuanya menumbangkan kerajaan melalui proses pilihan raya dan bukan berdemo di jalan raya.

Syukur! Saya cukup senang hati apabila ada pembaca yang akan berhujah sedemikian. Saya amat bangga jika ada pembaca yang akan bertegang leher untuk melaungkan ke telinga saya bahawa pilihan rayalah yang telah menumbangkan kerajaan si Ani dan Si Anu. Ini hujah tepat dan sahih. Saya terima hujah ini.

Tetapi, sila dengar pula apa yang ingin sampaikan d isini. Kita semua wajib menyedari bahawa pilihan raya di Amerika, di United Kingdom dan di Perancis tidak menipu. Rakyat di negara-negara ini bebas untuk memilih sesiapa sahaja yang mereka suka. Lembaga Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya Perancis tidak merancang untuk menipu para pengundi. SPR Perancis tidak merancang untuk memastikan Sarkozy menang dan calon Parti Sosialis Francois Hollande kalah.

Di negara-negara ini pilihan raya ialah pesta kebebasan untuk memilih kerajaan baru atau mengundi kembali kerajaan lama. Tidak wujud penipuan. SPR di United Kingdom kerjanya ialah mengatur dan penyusun pilihan raya bukan menipu pengundi.

Penipuanlah yang membezakan antara pilihan raya di United Kingdom atau di Perancis dengan pilihan raya di Malaysia. Penipuan ini adalah kunci dan besi berani yang memanggil 300,000 anak semua bangsa – tua dan muda – turun ke jalan raya pada 28 April yang lalu. Pengundi di Malaysia tidak mahu lagi ditipu.

Pilihan raya yang menumbangkan kerajaan di United Kingdom atau di Perancis adalah pengundian sahih dari warga negara. Bukan seperti di Malaysia di mana SPR dengan kerjasama United Malays National Organisation didakwa telah memberi Mat Bangla dan Mat Indon kad pengenalan. Dengan kad pengenalan segera ini ‘warga asing’ akan dipaksa untuk mengundi United Malays National Organisation.

Kerajaan Sarkozy ditumbangkan bukan dengan menggunakan pengundi hantu. Kerajaan Gordon Brown ditumbangkan bukan kerana undi pos. Ronald Regan menumbangkan Jimmy Carter bukan dengan membuat persempadanan semula atau menghilangkan nama pengundi.

Maka jelas kerajaan-kerajaan yang ditumbangkan ini adalah melalui proses pilihan raya yang bersih dan adil. Bukan dengan penipuan.

Jika para pembaca telah memahami apa yang saya tulis di atas maka mari kita melihat pula bagaimana Suharto, Marcos dan Mubarak menjalankan pilihan raya. Suharto juga mengadakan pilihan raya. Tetapi majoriti dari 445 ahli parlimen adalah yang dilantik. Ini samalah seperti yang sedang berlaku di Burma sekarang. Parti Ang Suu Ki memenangi 45 dari 46 kerusi yang dipertandingkan. Tetapi parlimen Myamar ada 664 Yang Berhormat. Selain dari 45 YB yang dipilih – semuanya dilantik oleh tentera.

Marcos menjadi Presiden Filipina selama 20 tahun. Kempen pertama Marcos pada tahun 1965 hingga ke hari ini masih menjadi buah mulut. Ferdinand Marcos menjadi presiden melalui penipuan, melalui beli undi dan melalui paksaan.

Kisah Hosni Mubarak dari Mesir lebih indah dan menarik. Mubarak menjadi presiden selama 30 tahun semenjak tahu 1975. Pada tahun 1987, 1993 dan 1999 dengan licik Mubarak telah mengadakan pungutan suara – bukan pilihan raya – untuk memastikan dia terus berkuasa. Pada tahun 2005 Mubarak telah dicadangkan sekali lagi oleh Parlimen Mesir untuk menjadi Presiden. Lalu dilakukan pemungutan suara. Sayangnya hanya Mubarak seorang saja calon yang ada untuk dipilih.

Rakyat Mesir semakin marah. Tuntutan pilihan raya bersih dan adil mula kedengaran. Maka pada bulan September tahun 2005 diadakan pilihan raya dengan pelbagai parti bertanding. Sebelum pilihan raya dijalankan Parlimen telah meluluskan undang-uandang dan akta untuk memastikan semua kuasa mutlak masih lagi di tangan Presiden Mubarak.

Kes Suharto, Marcos dan Mubarak ini adalah kes klasik dalam Dunia Ketiga. Kita tidak perlu lagi melihat kes Mobutu Seseko dari Congo atau Mugabe dari Zimbabwe. Semua mereka ini adalah contoh pemimpin negara Dunia Ketiga yang menang dalam pilihan raya.

Biar saya tuliskan apakah dia ciri-ciri negara Dunia Ketiga agar pencerahan ini akan membantu kita semua untuk memahami apa yang sedang berlaku sekarang. Ciri utama ialah ruang demokrasi amat sempit dalam negara Dunia Ketiga. Sistem kapitalis yang digunakan pakai ialah kapitalisme kroni. Elit politik dan elit ekonomi hidup dengan kaya raya. Rasuah menjadi budaya. Media dikongkong. Polis, sistem kehakiman, badan agama dan tentera digunakan untuk mengancam orang ramai.

Semua ciri dan watak-watak ini terdapat di Malaysia. Hakikatnya Malaysia walau pun memiliki bangunan tinggi Petronas tetapi masih lagi berwatakkan negara Dunia Ketiga.

Parti United Malays National Organisation telah berkuasa selama 54 tahun. Ini satu jangka masa yang amat panjang. Perlembagaan telah diubah berkali-kali. Pelbagai akta telah ditambah. Pelbagai lembaga telah ditubuh. Semua ini untuk memastikan United Malays National Organisation terus berkuasa.

Suharto, Marcos dan Mubarak menipu dalam pilihan raya untuk terus berkuasa. Rejim Najib Razak dan United Malays National Organisation juga sedang merancang untuk menipu dalam PRU13. Suharto, Marcos dan Mubarak menang dalam pilihan raya tetapi dihambat keluar oleh rakyat.

Jangan silap faham – saya tidak menolak pilihan raya. Apa yang ditolak oleh rakyat ialah penipuan dalam pilihan raya. Justeru, jika kali ini United Malaya National Organsiation melalui SPR menjalankan penipuan dalam PRU13 – maka rakyat Malaysia tidak ada pilihan melainkan turun ke jalan raya.

Sama seperti yang berlaku di Indonesia, Filipina dan Mesir – sesudah rejim lama dihumbankan maka satu SPR baru ditubuhkan. SPR yang baru inilah yang akan mengendalikan satu pilihan raya yang adil dan bersih. Ini bukan satu angan-angan. Ini satu janji.