Like it or not, it’s Joceline’s Take


November 30, 2012

Najib’s Battle cry moves delegates to tears

ANALYSIS
By Joceline Tan@www.thestar.com.my

Tears flowed among those listening to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s presidential speech when he appealed to the party to defend what the forefathers had put in place.

Najib at Umno GATHIS is UMNO’s 66th general assembly and given that the number 66 means double luck, this should be UMNO’s propitious year.

Everyone needs some luck to succeed but going by the tone of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s presidential address, it looks like he prefers to depend on the loyalty, commitment and discipline of his party members to make it through the next general election.

The UMNO President’s speech at the opening of the party’s annual meeting began and ended on a fierce note. He wanted to rally the troops, to put them in the mood for what he stated quite plainly as the final assembly before the polls.

Presidential addresses are normally quite formal and policy-based but as many noted, his speech this year was less formal and had a political rally style to it. Beyond the battle cry, it was an overwhelming political speech that argued why UMNO deserved to be returned to power.

“His speech was about putting us on track for the general election,” said Wanita UMNO Permanent Chairman Tan Sri Napsiah Omar.

The polls are no longer a secret – everyone seems to think it will be in March – and this was his last great opportunity to address the troops under one roof.He spelt out what the party had accomplished and when it came to the Opposition, the gloves came off.

A large part of his speech was about exposing the contradictions and mistakes of the Pakatan Rakyat parties.He poked fun at the politics of nepotism in DAP and PKR and pointed out their weakness especially in the states currently administered by Pakatan.

Some delegates read it as the President telling them: “These are your political bullets to use when you go out to campaign.”

The hardcore UMNO segment, however, found it rather too general for their liking because they have always preferred a distinctly Malay-Muslim overtone for such speeches.But the President was not only speaking to delegates but also to those beyond the walls of the PWTC.

In fact, midway into his speech, just as he was about to argue about why the Barisan Nasional was a more worthy political choice, he addressed the audience as Rakyat Malaysia yang dikasihi sekalian (to all beloved Malaysians).

Besides, the battle cry this time is: Hidup UMNO! Hidup Barisan! Hidup Malaysia! But Najib’s primary message to the troops was that they must be disciplined and follow instructions if they wanted the party to win. He drew on Islamic history, especially the battles of Badar and Uhud to illustrate his case.

He stressed to his party that the new political landscape includes some 2.9 million new voters, which means that one out of every five voters in the next general election will be a first-time voter.

If UMNO wants to reach out to this group, it must field winnable candidates who appeal to the general voter. He spelled out that the old political culture of sabotage among UMNO warlords had to go.

Kelantan delegate Datuk Alwi Che Ahmad put it with his usual dash of wit: “It’s about choosing the best players, the ones who can score goals. Those who cause trouble for the team, we have to send them out of the stadium.”

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who has not missed a single UMNO Assembly since Najib became Prime Minister, was there, listening to every word.He is on the same page as Najib on winnable candidates and he has also spoken out against internal sabotage.

Dr Mahathir said it again yesterday as he was leaving the venue. Just as he was getting into the car, he told the group sending him off: “Please remember, whomever the President picks, all of you must follow.”

Tun-Abdullah-Ahmad-badawi

Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who could not make it last year, was also present to show his support for Najib. However, as ties between the two Tuns appeared to be still rather icy, the organisers had very tactfully placed eight other VIPs between the pair.

As some delegates noted, the two Tuns may not be with each other but they are both firmly with Najib. The party may not be relying on luck to win, but it is certainly riding on a lot of prayers. Almost everyone who spoke at the assembly took the opportunity to recite a prayer for Muslim unity and for the party to succeed.

Of course, all that praying was also to show its rival PAS that this is the way to pray and that prayers are to seek divine blessing and guidance and not for wishing ill and harm on others.

Observers noted that many of those who took part in the debate had been quite emotional. A number of them, the men included, came close to tears as they pledged to help the party hold onto Putrajaya.

Najib himself brought out the emotions in those listening to his speech when he said: “We were born here where our first cry was heard. Where our families began and where we charted our future. With the grace of God, this is where we will rest eternally.

“Fill this blessed land with people who love peace. Prosper this land with overflowing bounty. Have reverence for good deeds. Defend our sovereignty and Putrajaya because a new dawn will bring new hope for our beloved country.”

It brought everyone in the hall to their feet as the tears flowed.“I don’t mind saying it, I cried too,” said Napsiah.

The Deepak Expose


November 30, 2012

The Deepak Expose : The Scorpene Scandal and the Murder that refuses to fade away

by John Berthelsen @www.asiasentinel.com

A key figure says he helped PM’s wife get a witness out of town

Deepak-The Carpet DealerA key figure involved in the cover-up of the spectacular 2006 murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu appears to have gone off the reservation, giving interviews to opposition media hinting at the involvement of Rosmah Mansor, the wife of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, in the conspiracy.

Deepak Jaikishan (left), a Kuala Lumpur-based carpet dealer who reportedly was Mansor’s business partner in the past, allegedly promised RM5 million to get out of the country to a private detective who charged that Najib had been Altantuya’s former lover, after the detective filed a sworn declaration describing his knowledge of the affair between the two and giving excruciating details of sexual practices, among other specifics.

The detective, Perumal Balasubramaniam, was terrorized after being dragooned into a Kuala Lumpur police station and told his family was in danger. He immediately decamped for Chennai, India after being promised the money to recant his declaration. He has remained outside of Malaysia, issuing periodic statements giving additional details of the affairs as well as alleged attempts by Najib’s forces to cajole him into coming back and blame Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim for the whole thing.

Altantuya, named in French Police documents as a translator, was murdered in October 2006 by two members of an elite police unit operating under Najib’s jurisdiction. The two were later convicted and sentenced to death for the crime. Abdul Razak Baginda, one of Najib’s closest associates and according to French prosecuting magistrates’ documents the alleged conduit for a €114 million bribe to the United Malays National Organization for the purchase of submarines from the French defense contractor DCN and its subsidiaries, was acquitted of the crime.

Razak Baginda had been Altantuya’s lover, supposedly after Najib had given her up, according to Balasubramaniam’s sworn declaration. Immediately on being cleared without having to put on a defense, Razak Baginda fled to the UK with his wife, where he has remained ever since.

Attempts to reach Jaikishan by Asia Sentinel have been unsuccessful. He first contacted Harakan Daily, the Malay-language newspaper operated by Parti Islam se-Malaysia, the Islamic opposition leg of the three-party Pakatan Rakyat headed by Anwar, and later gave an interview to Malaysiakini, the Kuala Lumpur-based independent online news website, describing additional details. Additional interviews have also been carried by the Malaysia Chronicle, another opposition website.

In the interviews, Jaikishan acknowledged that Najib and Rosmah had asked for his help in dealing with Balasubramaniam. In a translated interview, he told Harakan Daily that “Maybe my mistake was helping in the case of Bala, getting involved in Bala’s case to help the family of the Prime Minister. That was when I became famous. I don’t like it. I’d like to be low profile.”

In the Harakan interview, Jaikishan compared his involvement in Balasubramaniam’s case to rescuing a drowning friend. “So I jumped into the pool to help a friend,” he said. I felt at that time, I was the only one (they) sought for help.” He quickly responded: “Najib’s family” when asked whom he meant by ‘theirs.’

Jaikisan’s motives are unclear, sources in Kuala Lumpur told Asia Sentinel. One of the articles made a veiled reference to a belief that he hadn’t been given proper thanks for his efforts. One well-wired businessman in Kuala Lumpur said Jaikishan was known to have become close to Muhyiddin Yassin, the Deputy Prime Minister and a putative rival for the premiership should Najib stumble.

“It’s an UMNO play”, the source said. “Deepak claims he is now very close to Muhyiddin. The timing of his solicited interviews – he called the news portals and offered himself – on the eve of the UMNO assembly suggests he wanted to embarrass Najib and Rosmah.”

Another lawyer close to the Mahathir wing of UMNO said that was nonsense, and that there was no trouble between the two. He pointed to the fact that the interviews had all been given to anti-government media as an indication that he was acting for Anwar’s coalition.

In any case, the repeated interviews, including one in which Jaikishan accused the head of the women’ wing of the party of having been involved in a massive land scam that benefited Najib and his family, are significantly damaging to the Prime Minister, who has been fighting rumors of involvement in the Altantuya affair for the entire six years since the 28-year-old woman was murdered and her body was blown up with C4 military explosives.

French Lawyers

Yesterday in Singapore, Apoline Cagnat, a lawyer with the French human rights law firm headed by William Bourdon, said Najib and Abdul Razak Baginda are “priority witnesses” in the investigation into bribes and kickbacks totaling about €150 million in the sale of Scorpene submarines to the Malaysian Ministry of Defense — the initial €114 million routed through Razak Baginda’s wholly-owned company Perimekar Sdn. Bhd and a second €39 million routed through a Hong Kong-based paper company called Terasasi HK Ltd. which had no known business affairs and which was wholly owned by Razak Baginda and his father .

It is highly unlikely, however, that the French authorities probing the scandal would be able to persuade the head of a sovereign state, especially one who is suspected of helping to facilitate the transfer of kickbacks to UMNO to testify. It is also difficult to imagine what they would be willing to add to the dialogue about the case if indeed they were called to testify.

However, both the French investigation and the Jaikishan comments spell continuing trouble for Najib on the domestic political front, and within his political party. The ruling national coalition has been seeking the appropriate time to hold national elections for more than a year but has continued to put them off for a variety of reasons including a long string of scandals over cost overruns on a big port modernization at Port Klang, west of Kuala Lumpur, as well as the so-called Cattlegate scandal in which the family of the minister for women’s affairs allegedly looted a cattle-slaughtering scheme of tens of millions of ringgit for their personal use.

http://www.asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=5006&Itemid=178

UMNO Presidential Address: “Transformative Leadership towards the National Vision.”


November 29, 2012

UMNO Presidential Address

Bernama

The following is the English translation of the policy speech delivered by Prime Minister and UMNO President Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at the 2012 UMNO General Assembly at the Merdeka Hall of the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, November 29, 2012.

“Transformative Leadership towards the National Vision.”

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Praise be to God. In a great sense of humility, we are gathered once again to discharge our usual responsibility as an organisation in holding the annual general assembly of our beloved party, the United Malays National Organisation or UMNO.

2. Indeed, such a gathering is not merely a ritual in fulfilling the requirement of the organisation’s calendar. Rather, it is a great resolve to implement the process of reflection and rejuvenation by rectifying weaknesses, strengthening the party machinery, enriching the direction of the organisation, and thus ensuring the survival of the fold.

3. As we all know, this is the last general assembly before the 13th General Election. The Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives), if it is not dissolved by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the Prime Minister, will dissolve by itself on 28 April 2013.

4. Therefore, each one of us, regardless of whether they are our brothers and sisters down there, the ladies and gentlemen who have taken up the space above, not to mention the leaders here and, of course, the so many UMNO members wherever they may be, even the anonymous, those without any position or rank, no matter if they have never stepped into this blessed hall, I believe all of us can feel the intensity of the gust in the direction of the battle ground’.

5. Most obviously, we can feel that our party has improved in spirit. We are confident that the party machinery, from the branches to the divisions, liaison and national levels, is also prepared to face the coming general election.

6. Now, the reverberating signals and the resonating drums are gaining momentum. The time has come to take the necessary steps, the time is due to streamline teams, the moment has arrived to buckle up the horses. Carrying our respective roles, let’s go back to the people to renew the mandate.

7. At the same time, brothers and sisters, let’s pray as much as we can that, with God’s blessings, when we meet at this Merdeka Hall next year, we will gather again backed by strong support as the ruling party to manage the nation’s interests and to prosper the economy and the people over the next five years.

8. In fact, even more than that, I hope that with the blessings of the Almighty, we will remain the ruling party that will raise Malaysia to the ranks of a developed nation when 2020 dawns.

9. Nevertheless, while we fan the fire of the fighting spirit, let’s not forget the past. Remember, the 12th General Election in March 2008 was a very bitter experience, most painful, in the political history of UMNO and the Barisan Nasional.

10. In this regard, I believe that the waves, storms and resistance of these years have really instilled awareness in the minds of all.

11. For a political party that has buttressed the Federal Government for more than half a century, the bitter episode should serve as a lesson for us all. In fact, it was a clear signal of the Malaysian people to UMNO and its partners in the Barisan Nasional to change, according to the tastes, aspirations and expectations of the people.

12. What is certain is that we cannot just go on talking and procrastinating. We need to intensify our actions and redouble our efforts. Only in this way will UMNO continue to be noticed, always taken into account and eternally cared for by the people.

13. As such, in the period of less than four years since I and my colleagues were entrusted with the leadership of the party and government, we have tirelessly worked hard to fulfill the needs and wants of the people.

14. Despite facing various difficulties and challenges, we were steadfast in striving to restore the trust, confidence and support of the people in the party and government.

15. Indeed, what could have been done inconsequentially or arbitrarily during this period was allowed to be widely negotiated and heard, in keeping with the principle that the era of the government knows best and having monopoly over wisdom is over.

16. Hence, recounting the journey of this leadership, we have actually chalked up very commendable outcomes. Among others, we succeeded in shielding Malaysia from the global economic crisis, placed it back on the path of sustainable growth and got us out of the middle-income country trap. Furthermore, we mapped out a rigorous and detailed journey for Malaysia to achieve the status of a high-income developed nation.

17. In aspiring for victory and perpetuity as a political organisation, we should glance back for a moment before moving ahead so as to know where our party stands. Is it in a better position than yesterday’s? Have we made enough preparations for the days ahead?

18. Certainly, in overcoming the major obstacles of our struggle, the concrete steps forward must be taken with prudence and wisdom, sincerely putting the people’s interests first, but not with trickery, empty promises, deceit or Fata Morgana (mirage). Only then will all our quests receive the blessings of God.

19. With this realisation and spirit, let us consider the demographic reality of Malaysia that has undergone a radical change. The majority of the 29 million population of today was born after Malaysia Day, with nearly 70 per cent living in the urban areas. Forty per cent are aged 17 to 23 and are pursuing various levels of post-secondary education.

20. Eighty per cent are those under the age of 45 while half of our people are under the age of 25.

21. Another important factor is that the transformation of voters, particularly, and Malaysians, in general, did not occur within a day or two, but had been taking place, little by little, for more than five decades. It was driven by the success of the policies and programmes initiated by the Alliance Government and continued later by the Barisan Nasional Government.

22. In fact, the improved standard of living; urbanisation; access to education and the progress of information technology, communications and transportation have changed the preferences, tastes, value systems and profile of the Malaysian voter. The tastes and expectations, particularly of the young people, have changed drastically. Furthermore, the average voter is now better informed and critical in nature.

23. Besides, it is a fact that since March 2008, there are 2.9 million new voters, regardless of age group.This figure, ladies and gentlemen, is very significant because it represents more than one-fifth of the total number of Malaysian voters, which is 13.1 million. This means that one in every five voters at the 13th General Election will be a new voter or a first-time voter.

24. In facing the current political challenges and tribulations, UMNO and the Barisan Nasional cannot afford to feel relieved and take it easy, hoping for the people’s support based on the nostalgia over past deeds or what the party and government has done so far.

25. Considering these challenges, the 13th General Election poses an option for us, that is whether we, as individuals or collectively, desire victory for the party or otherwise.

26. At the same time, talking of the system of parliamentary democracy, such as in Malaysia, the Government is formed by a political party or a coalition of political parties that win the majority of seats in the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives). This means, winning a majority of the 222 seats up for contest determines the continuity of the Barisan Nasional government.

27. However, victory in the elections actually depends on many factors, such as voters in a locality, the efficiency of the machinery in every division and the candidates fielded. Additionally, the current reality is that the people’s support for the national and state leadership does not necessarily translate into votes for the party’s candidates in a locality.

28. It is said that things are different before and now. In the past, anyone fielded by the party is a winnable candidate. This no longer holds true. Now, the success of a candidate in contemporary elections depends on their acceptance by those whom they want to represent.

29. The winnable candidates selected by the party should be able to provide value added, not only in terms of acceptability within the party but also in terms of them being accepted by the community in the locality as the voters, and more than that, they should be able to cooperate with voluntary organisations and civil society because they are the actual voters.

30. Another reality is that over 95 per cent of Malaysians were born after the formation of Umno. Therefore, the evaluation of the new generation of voters of today is not based on past experience, what more what was done yesterday, but it is based on the merit of today with the vision for tomorrow.

31. In conclusion, victory in the final analysis is the result of the joint effort of all Malaysians from the various races, religions and ideologies, young and old, male and female, urban and rural folk, blue and white collar workers, the public sector, the private sector and government-linked companies, non-governmental organisations and the community. In short, each of us is responsible and accountable to choose the best for Malaysia.

32. Above all, people today are smart enough to tell the difference between glass and precious stone. Voters are able to assess that empathy to the people by a candidate is true and sustained not only for elections.

33. In this context, I would like to urge that we be party leaders diligent in serving the people, being competent and humble. Like the elders say, a person of standing will not lose his status even in a state of humility.

34. Armed with the brightly lit torch of struggle, we must be courageous in working hard, we must continue to persevere to convince the people that we are the leading choice of leadership, that only we can bring a better future to them and their children and grandchildren.

35. What I can say is that we must be sincere in serving the people. Hold fast to the sayings of scholars, that the good and the bad will eventually show up.

36. On this occasion, take a leaf from the mission of Prophet Muhammad as a cue for the party. We have read of the Battle of Badr in which a deprived Muslim army defeated a better equipped enemy far greater in numbers.

37. Whereas in the Battle of Uhud, the Muslim army was defeated despite being as strong as the enemy. It was written that the defeat in the Battle of Uhud was due to weakness in the chain of control and administration of the forces and the negligence of the archers in obeying orders, compared to the Battle of Badr.

38. The lesson we gain from this Sira literature pertains to the importance of organisational discipline in a party. The implication of non-compliance in the struggle as a flock is failure; we will go down, we will be defeated.

39. This question of organisational discipline must be well understood. It is the cornerstone of factors that will determine the success or failure of an organisation to achieve the desired goals. In the military field, it can determine victory or defeat on the battlefield.

40. In a political organisation, which exists in a system of parliamentary democracy, organisational discipline determines whether the political party wins or loses in an election. In essence, organisational discipline means putting the interests of the organisation above the interests of the individual.

41. Taking into account Verse 83 of Surat an-Nisa’, congregational discipline demands that we must be prepared to accept decisions made by the leadership of the party and, if we do not agree, must use the appropriate organisational channels to deliver such opinion.

42. Most importantly, if a final decision has been made, accept it with an open heart and implement it in the best possible way. Truly, as has been mentioned by great leaders of the past, a rule may be small but will be very difficult to follow; that’s what you call loyalty and compliance to instructions.

43. On the other hand, opinions and conventional political theories which say that change and reform will only succeed if we change the government cannot be applied in Malaysia.

44. For more than 50 years now, the Alliance Party and then the Barisan Nasional have continually led our beloved country and brought about change and renewal, not in bits but through a quantum leap by way of Transformative Continuity.

45.We have seen how Malaysia has been transformed from a colonised country to an independent nation, from a low-income agricultural country into a modern industrial upper middle-income nation.

46. Therefore, with Transformative Continuity, the people can see that even if this leadership comes from the same party, changes and renewal occur in a dynamic, continuous and orderly manner.

47. It means that the ruling party always considers the latest methods or engineering to meet the needs of the time. We ceaselessly make improvements and changes in ideas, policies and programmes which are complete and comprehensive. Basically, we make timely and appropriate changes every time we face a time curve.

48. We have heard the view, why not give a chance to the opposition to win (the election) to assess their capability and ability to manage the country and the people.

49. However, this is a very high risk because the future of our nation, our families and our children is too precious to be gambled with. Changing a government without proper, thorough and critical evaluation will be akin to entrusting a wolf to tend sheep.

50. Indeed, the aspiration of every political party is to obtain a mandate from the people in order to form the government and have its leader become the prime minister. Various promises and commitments are made towards achieving this.

51. For a party helming the government, the evaluation is done by people based on two yardsticks. Firstly, have the promises been implemented? The second benchmark is whether the new promises will be more beneficial.

52. As for parties that have never formed the government, they should be evaluated based on the promises being made now. If they cannot be held to and trusted at the stage of the promises, it is safer for the voters to distance themselves from these parties.

53. In this respect, Malaysia today is an example of a highly successful developing country, gauged in terms of either the efficacy of national institutions or even socio-economic progress.

54. This success is not a fantasy imagined by the Barisan Nasional government but real success that can be seen and enjoyed by every Malaysian. In fact, it is also a success recognised by world institutions and the international community.

55. Evaluated from the global benchmark, Malaysia is today among the world’s largest trading nations, with the value of exports and imports exceeding RM1 trillion. Today, we are recognised by the Institute for Management Development or IMD and the World Economic Forum or WEF as one of the 20 most competitive nations of the world.

56 Today, we are also recognised by the World Bank as the 12th most business-friendly country, while the United Nations Development Programme or UNDP evaluates Malaysia as a country with a high human development index.

57. Nevertheless, the UMNO-led government does not just sit back and rest on its laurels, basking in the success. We want every Malaysian child to continue to optimise their potential; we want every child to realise their dream, so that today is better than yesterday and tomorrow is full of possibilities.

58. To that end, the National Transformation Policy has been formulated and implemented from the time I and my colleagues took over leadership of the party and the government over three years ago. Through this policy, we have carefully mapped the government, economic and political transformation to ensure that Vision 2020 will be achieved.

59. Following the implementation of the Government Transformation Programme, Economic Transformation Programme and the New Economic Model, for example, the GNI per capita income increased 30 per cent between 2009 and 2011, from US$6,700 to US$9,700.

60. The culmination, ladies and gentlemen, is in achieving a per capita income of US$15,000. In fact, if we use the World Bank yardstick for classifying a high-income country, which is US$12,476, then it clearly shows that despite having seven more years to go, we, Malaysia, are already on the right track to advance to that status even earlier.

61. We are aware that the opposition, in their efforts to win the hearts of the people, have issued a manifesto, the Orange Book, on why they should be chosen as the government in place of the Barisan Nasional, on the theme “Change Now”, “Save Malaysia”.

62. This document contains a total of 59 promises to be implemented by the Pakatan Rakyat government, 10 of which are supposed to be fulfilled within the first 100 days of its administration.

63. Instead, all that just seems to be grandiose. In fact, the real story of the adverse effects of executing these unreasonable promises was not communicated to the people.

64. They claim to be able to guarantee every Malaysian household an average monthly income of RM4,000, eliminate toll and the PTPTN (National Higher Education Loan Fund Corporation) debts, provide a monthly RM500 special allowance to teachers and raise petroleum royalties for the states by up to 20 per cent. How can they implement all these as the national economy will be destroyed?

65. If implemented, in the first year the central government budget deficit will soar to nearly 30 per cent. Secondly, by 2015, the ratio of the country’s debt to GDP will rise to 140 per cent.

66. In the third year, we will reach the level of severity and loss of economic sovereignty like Greece. At that time, national economic management will no longer be in the hands of the elected government, but will have been transferred to international institutions. Is that what we want?

67. This is the level of quality and inability of economic planning of the opposition. However, it does not surprise us because, during the Asian financial crisis that also hit Malaysia in 1997-1998, evidently, the Minister of Finance, I repeat, the Minister of Finance then, the individual who is now the Opposition Leader, was not an efficient manager of the economy.

68. He was the one who applied the virtual policy of the International Monetary Fund or IMF to deal with the economic crisis then. Everyone knew that the IMF at that time was headed by a good friend of his. His action to slash development expenditure and raise interest rates at a time of declining market confidence, which prompted injection from the government, caused misery to much of the people, especially the business community.

69. This person qualifies to be appropriately dubbed a political chameleon. When speaking in the United States and to other communities, he speaks in a different tone; when lecturing to the Malays and Muslims, it is another story. While he was with us in Umno, his methods were such and such; now as the leader of the opposition, his stand has changed.

70. Going by an adage, people say he speaks with a forked tongue. Obviously, no one can guess the real character of this person who openly supports efforts to ensure the security of Israel, at a time when the world is condemning the cruel Tel Aviv regime for the genocide of Muslims in Gaza. However, when the government tabled a motion to censure Israel in Parliament … he expressed support as well … it really puzzles me.

71. Also, in the Buku Jingga (Orange Book), the O   pposition promises the repeal of the Internal Security Act 1960 but the reality is that it was the Barisan Nasional government which took the bold step, to abolish not only the ISA but also the Restricted Residence Act and the Banishment Act, revoke three emergency declarations and let the enacted ordinances to lapse.

72. Not only that, we also amended the Universities and University Colleges Act to allow students to join political parties, amended the Printing Presses and Publications Act to eliminate the need for an annual licence, and restored the right of judicial review, in general, to the courts.

73. For these reasons, therefore, Malaysians should assess and decide whether they want the transformative continuity by UMNO and the Barisan Nasional or end up with the ploys and ridiculous games of the opposition.

74. Indeed, UMNO always advocates and defends Islam as enshrined in the party constitution, in line with Islam’s status as the religion of the federation.

75. Therefore, allegations by certain quarters that UMNO is a secular nationalist party is way off the mark. Recently, they went up to the point of praying for the destruction of UMNO when, in fact, we are brothers of the same faith.

76. Isn’t it weird what they did? With our brethren in Gaza suffering misfortune and being in dire need of solidarity of Muslims, they are busy wanting the downfall of others.

77. The question is, does UMNO, a party that manages the affairs of state administration so well, deserve to be accused of being un-Islamic and should be destroyed?

78. When in fact, it is UMNO that has enabled Islam to be practised as a way of life in the country. Do they not see that in the decades since independence, the teachings of Islam are so widespread in the country, and not limited to the field of worship alone, but includes Muslims’ obligations in the fields of social behaviour, financial transactions and refraining from committing crimes.

79. In this position, we actually have done so much in ensuring continuity of Islam. Malaysia, for example, is among the Islamic countries to have a specialised agency for comprehensive management of the Haj pilgrimage.

80. The establishment of the Pilgrims Management and Fund Board has enabled Muslims, who once had to pawn possessions, to not only save but also perform the fifth pillar of Islam in a systematic way.

81. The same too in finance. Malaysia is the only Islamic country that offers Islamic banking and financial services widely. From the pawnshop system to the issuance of ‘sukuk’. Today, we are proud and pleased that a global forum has recognised the success of Malaysia as the world’s leading Islamic financial centre.

82. In reality, Muslims in Malaysia not only can open a savings account at the bank without having to go through the conventional usury method but also can take home, vehicle and education loans, invest in the stock market and perform other financial transactions that are Syariah compliant.

83. Going from there, besides being an example of a Muslim country that is peaceful and progressive, Malaysia is also substantially contributing to peacekeeping around the world. As many know, we have sent peacekeepers, military observers as well as medical teams to Islamic countries in conflict, such as Bosnia, Somalia, Lebanon and Afghanistan.

84. In fact, in the latest development, Malaysia became peacemaker and mediator in resolving the conflict that had persisted over 40 years in the southern Philippines, to successfully open a new chapter for the Bangsamoro people.

85. Malaysia is also committed to seeking justice for the Palestinians. We have and will continue to fight for their legitimate rights for statehood in regional forums and globally. We are calling on the international community to honour this aspiration through the principle of the two-state solution that all have agreed to. God willing, Malaysia will be the first country to open an embassy in the capital of an independent and sovereign Palestine.

86. Malaysia is also concerned about the plight of the Rohingya community in Myanmar. We have called for the violence committed against them to be stopped immediately and for a just solution to be reached.

87. In reference to all these, do not measure contributions for Islam only with rhetoric and slogan shouting, when the real contribution and their contents are so meagre.

88. As a matter of fact, the achievement to fulfill the Islamic way of life successfully was realised even though Malaysia has a multi-ethnic, multi- cultural and multi-religious society.

89. Why and how was this possible? None other than the fact that since independence, centred on the principle of ‘wasatiyyah’ (moderation), UMNO and its partners in the Barisan Nasional with sincerity were able to achieve a high level of consensus to develop the country.

90. Based on all these, I would like to emphasise here, that without a doubt, UMNO is committed to further elevating Islam, for the preservation of religion, life, property, mind, dignity and descent.

91. We are not prepared to disunite Muslims. UMNO will never berate or insult our brothers and sisters in Islam like what the opposition is doing. We will firmly defend the sanctity and purity of the faith.

92. At this gathering, we wish to state unequivocally again that we are against … vehemently opposed to those who support liberalism or pluralism.

93. UMNO’s commitment in this is in accordance with the provisions of Clause 1 and Clause 4 of Article 11 of the Federal Constitution which is the supreme law of the land. Clause 1 of Article 11 guarantees freedom of religion in this country, even though Clause 1 of Article 3 states that Islam is the religion of the federation.

94. Clause 1 of Article 11 states that every person has the right to profess and practise his religion, but subject to Clause 4 which reads “State laws and in respect of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya, federal law may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam”.

95. Therefore, we would like to remind, stop trying to deceive the people. UMNO was once accused of being an infidel party by mandate of a certain ‘Tuan Guru’, whose name I need not mention because the whole of Malaysia knows who he is. UMNO was labelled as an infidel party for working with Malaysian citizens who are not Muslims, and because it purportedly did not support the establishment of an Islamic state and the implementation of hudud.

96. The effect of the mandate issued in 1981 was that it not only broke the unity of Muslims, but also instilled the seeds of hatred among fellow Muslims. Consequently, there was the Memali tragedy, Lubok Merbau incident, incidents of congregational prayers having two imams, husbands and wives divorcing, family feuds and the surfacing of prohibition about eating meat if the animal was slaughtered by UMNO people.

97. The question is, is this person fit to be a leader, to be appointed by citizens to defend their own destinies? In fact, after just one term as Menteri Besar, the people of Terengganu rejected his leadership.

98. Furthermore, we find that, today, the same leader and the same party condemning UMNO are no longer fighting for Malaysia to be an Islamic country but, on the other hand, want to set up a welfare state. Today, they also work with a party that opposes the establishment of an Islamic state and want Malaysia to be a secular state.

99. Why a different goal yesterday and a different goal today? When they involve fundamental matters. Obviously no consensus has been reached between PAS and DAP on PAS’ concept of an Islamic state and they are trying to hide this fact. If the core issue separating them cannot be resolved, how are they going to form a coalition government.

100. Has lust for power overtaken the principle of struggle? Do targets justify the means? Never mind if it does not involve others, but what is tragic is that it has become a festival for slander, evil propaganda and lies directed at UMNO and the rest of Malaysia.

101. Talking about an Islamic state, notwithstanding the imputations made against UMNO, the result of our struggle to uphold Islam on Malaysian soil and all over the world is still shining, still pristine and will remain so.

102. The latest is that an international group of Islamic scholars began independent efforts to rank countries based on the Syariah Index. We are grateful because their global study found Malaysia to be among the top five in the compliance index.

103. The option before you, ladies and gentlemen, now is the Barisan Nasional, which is a party with a holistic plan about the future direction of the country, or the opposition, which is plagued with problems and confused about their goals whether to make Malaysia a secular, theocratic or welfare state.

104. Like it or not, this question is very basic. Indeed, Malaysians are entitled to know the answer clearly before making the most important decision regarding their future. Elections are not experiments.

105. Five years is a long time in administering a country. Various forms of damage can occur, hence a country that is successful can also fail and fall apart.

106. Thus, throughout the passage of time, Umno has not been a party that practised tactics of deception with its component parties in the Barisan National. Unlike the DAP-PKR-PAS pact, which is not anchored on integrity.

107. For example, in Penang, which is led by the DAP, PAS does not participate in the government, it is the same in PAS-led Kedah where the DAP is not in the administration. We know the cause, because they do not trust each other.

108. Further to this, let us go behind the scenes on the DAP’s thumping of its chest that it is the most democratic party in the country. Is this true? What is the real story inside the DAP?

109. Everyone knows that the DAP is a father, son, in-law party. Although only holding the position of MP despite not being not an elected leader, Lim Kit Siang is evidently quite a powerful individual in the opposition party.

110. His son is the party’s secretary-general and the chief minister of Penang while his daughter-in-law is a Melaka assemblyman and vice-president of the DAP women’s wing.

111. It is the same story with Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), where it involves the husband, wife and daughter. The husband is the de facto leader but unelected. The wife is the party president and eldest child, party vice-president.

112. Coming back to the DAP, if we examine further, the party has a very simple interpretation of democracy. If there is agreement with the leadership, everything is okay. However, if a member has a different view, an example being Tunku (Abdul) Aziz (Tunku Ibrahim), former vice-chairman (of the DAP), who did not agree with BERSIH’s street demonstrations. Because of this, his senatorship was not renewed for a second term.

113. This is what democracy actually means to DAP. Just in wanting to express an opinion, punishment is meted out. We cannot imagine if they come to power; what will happen to the people of Malaysia who do not agree or object to their leadership. What more their political foes.

114. One more thing, today, there is only one Malay left among the 30 people in DAP’s central leadership. Is this called democracy? Is this what you call non-racist? Is this what you call diversity as you have been trumpeting? Malaysians, give this a lot of thought.

115. All said, UMNO will continue to champion the Malay and bumiputera agenda so that we are able to be on par with the other races in this beloved country. The methods that will be used by UMNO to achieve the objectives will vary according to the times.

116. UMNO’s struggle since independence to uphold the dignity of the Malays may be divided into several phases. First, through the setting up of agencies like Mara, Felda and Felcra.

117. It was further strengthened by the creation of the Rida Training Hall which was expanded to the Mara Institute of Technology at the end of the 60s before the institution was upgraded to a university.

118. The second phase saw the formulation of the New Economic Policy and its implementation through the First Outline Perspective Plan that included four Malaysia Plans for a period of 20 years. Continuous efforts were made to eradicate poverty and restructure society.

119. It saw the establishment of organisations such as Risda, the Farmers Organisation Authority, the Malaysian Fisheries Development Authority and provision of micro credit through Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia and Tekun.

120. Efforts were also directed at creating a community of bumiputera businessmen and industrialists. Thus, the UMNO-led government established non-financial public enterprises or state-owned companies to enable Malays to enter the business world.

121. To increase bumiputera equity, we set up Permodalan Nasional Berhad which manages investment schemes like ASN (Amanah Saham Nasional), ASB (Amanah Saham Bumiputera) and others. Indeed, the greatest success of this second phase was the growth of secondary educational institutions like the Mara Junior Science College, full residential science-stream secondary schools as well as admission to public institutions of higher through the matriculation programme.

122. Explicitly, UMNO since independence through the first and second phases achieved monumental success in creating a huge middle class largely made of Malay professionals, besides addressing the problems of poverty among the Malays.

123. Based on the first and second phases, we formulated policies and programmes that were more specific and focused, among them initiatives like the New Economic Model, Teraju, Jejak Jaya Scheme and Pelaburan Hartanah Bumiputera. Thank God, as a result, bumiputera equity ownership has increased from 21.9 per cent in 2008 to 23.9 per cent in 2010.

124. However, in the same breath, true to the calling of Verse 8 of the Al-Maidah chapter in the Quran, we have never been complacent in defending the rights and being fair to all races. This is also protected by the Federal Constitution which was formulated based on national consensus.

125. While UMNO is committed to the struggle of the Malays and bumiputeras, we are also fully committed to ensuring that government aid and assistance reaches and are enjoyed by the poor, low- and medium-income groups of all races in Malaysia. We want the prosperity of Malaysia to be shared together and no Malaysian left behind.

126. In fact, UMNO appreciates and holds in high esteem the contribution of each Malaysian, irrespective of his or her background, towards national success.

127. Thus, we have always recognised that the pluralism we have is a pillar of strength of the nation. As a political organisation, we uphold the responsibility to continue uniting the people through our common points and not by planting the poison of our differences. This is the core philosophy of ‘1Malaysia: People First, Performance Now’.

128. The biggest difference between us and the opposition is that for us, we make promises to be fulfilled. However, the opposition makes false promises to fish for votes and, after becoming the government, all remained empty pledges.

129. Ask the residents of Kampung Buah Pala in Penang, where are the sweet promises made by the PKR de facto leader in the 2008 election?

130. He promised that in two weeks after winning the election, the problem of the people there would be solved. Now it has been four years, the people of Penang are saying …”ilekkk …” (Tamil for none). In the end … it was the Barisan Nasional … which resolved it.

131. Apart from that, as Penangites say, it would be ‘caca marba’ (topsy turvy) … should Pakatan Rakyat form the government. Experts in making promises, whoever is appointed their prime minister, whether it is the PKR de facto leader or PAS President, but … the Penang Chief Minister from the DAP will pretend as if nothing has happened … on the promises. Maybe, that is why the Penang Deputy Chief Minister 1 called his boss “cocky, arrogant and a deity”.

132. Next, ask the people of Kelantan whether the water problem has been resolved? Are they aware that it has been more than 20 years of PAS rule, it is still unresolved.

133. Ask the peopleof Kedah, about PAS promises made in 2008? But till today … much have remained unfulfilled … there was nothing done.

134. Next, we ask low-cost flat and apartment residents using bulk meters in Selangor. Where are the sweet promises of giving free water? Another issue, we ask single mothers in Selangor what happened to the monthly allowance of RM100 promised to them? This is not right.

135. It is different with us, UMNO and the Barisan Nasional government. As proof, since my colleagues and I took over the party leadership and government, through various efforts and initiatives, this party and this government not only made promises and gave hope, we went the extra mile, explored a million ways to fulfill the promises made.

136. For example, under the short-term measures: We have the BR1M (1Malaysia People’s Aid) for low-income people we have the 1Malaysia book vouchers for all undergraduates we have RM100 aid for all school students we have the 1Malaysia tyre scheme for taxi drivers.

137. For the medium term, among others: we establish the Rural Transformation Centres we establish the Urban Transformation Centres we have KR1M (1Malaysia People’s Shops), 1Malaysia Clinics, 1Malaysia Textile Stores, 1Malaysia Book Stores, and

138. For the long-term, we have the Government Transformation Programme and the Economic Transformation Programme initiatives under the National Transformation Policy until we achieve developed nation status. God willing.

139. To some parties, we would like to remind them, if you are not good at dancing, don’t say it’s because the floor is uneven. Today, various national institutions have come under attack from wild allegations, with the evil purpose of confusing and creating suspicion among the people.

140. For example, the Election Commission has been defamed incessantly. To the extent of demonstrations being organised. We know, they were doing it as a pre-emptive measure. Because should they lose in the election, it would not be the factor of not getting the people’s support but it would be the EC which would be blamed for being unfair and incompetent.

141.And that is why without feeling ashamed, they complain to foreign powers to internationalise domestic problems, when they know the action would only humiliate the country and insult the intelligence of Malaysians.

142. Actually, ladies and gentlemen, there is no need to involve foreigners to teach us how to manage the country. Do not be a modern ‘Si Kitul’ to the point of being willing to betray the people and country.

143. It is more than half a century since we became independent … know the ways of our own country. After they won five states in the last election, they started bragging even though they had not done a thing.

144. As I said, is it not PAS that has led the Kelantan state government for 22 years? Was it not PAS that won the first election of the state in 1959? Is it not PAS that is heading the Kedah government? Was it not PAS that ruled Terengganu and Perak?

145. Isn’t it PKR that is now heading the Selangor government while DAP rules Penang?

146. Apart from that, many may still remember that before joining Barisan Nasional, PBS and Gerakan were opposition parties and was it not PBS what won the Sabah election in 1985 and Gerakan which won the Penang election in 1969.

147. Lastly, as recorded in events, is it not the Barisan Nasional that failed to obtain a two-third majority in the 2008 general election?

148. Therefore, if the Election Commission is incompetent and dishonest, all these would not have happened. As it turns out, democracy has been functioning, consistently and effectively in Malaysia. And as it turns out, the electoral process is clean and the people are mature and wise to choose.

The 13th General Election is no ordinary election. It is a determinant of the destiny of the people and country.

This election will shape the Malaysia of tomorrow to be inherited by our children. It will be a toss between a developed Malaysia based on shared values and goals or a backward Malaysia separated by invisible barriers compounded with suspicion and prejudice.

In fact, through the hard work of each generation, we have established a Malaysia admired and respected by our friends. Who would have expected this land teeming with diversities to rise and successfully address the challenges of nationhood.

The choice is also very clear, for us to see our children regardless of race or religion laughing, growing and vacationing together, or being brought up with a burning hatred.

From one aspect, a noble path carved out since independence, bathed in the blood, sweat and tears of the patriots of all time.

We have to always remember how difficult it was for our founding fathers to build what we are enjoying today. Indeed, we are indebted to the late Tunku Abdul Rahman (Putra AlHaj), the late Tun Abdul Razak (Hussein), the late Tun Hussein (Onn), Tun Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) and Tun Abdullah (Ahmad Badawi).

Instead, brothers and sisters, from another aspect, there is this winding road, dim and dark, built on defamation, falsehood and empty promises. If the people are hoodwinked by the whistles luring them to that path, trust me, this lovely country will just disintegrate and collapse.

It is certain that UMNO will not allow all these to happen. We can replace lost property. We can regain a lost position. But, if we go down in this struggle, we do not have anything left. We will be brought down to our knees, and eventually become destitute in our own land.

Where on this earth is there no rain, which sea has no turbulence? Where on this earth are there people, or leaders, or companies or parties that have never stumbled or committed a mistake? As the leadership of the party and government, we put our palms together in apology for any oversight.

Therefore, I, as the President of UMNO, along with the deputy president, and the whole party leadership, in the name of God and His Messenger, pledge and promise to continue to give priority to the well-being of the people, uphold the Malay race, fortify faith and safeguard Islam.

Whatever the obstacles and challenges, UMNO will not retreat even one step, UMNO will not turn back. UMNO will not waver in its duty. UMNO and the Barisan Nasional will march right there in front, and face the enemy from outside and within.

We will use everything within our means to win over the hearts and minds of the people in the democratic arena. We will compete for every vote; we will try to convince every Malaysian. We will also knock on the door of every heart and open every gateway of hope.

We believe Malaysians deserve the best government and we are confident that only UMNO and the Barisan Nasional can offer the best to the people of Malaysia.

It is here … it is here that we were born. It is here … it is here that our first cry emanated. It is here that we built our families and it is here that we charted our future. It is also here, with the permission of God, the Almighty, that we will be laid to rest.

Fill this blessed land with peace-loving people. Prosper this birthplace so that the gains spilleth over.

Come, sons and daughters … come, champions of the race. Render your service quickly. Safeguard … safeguard the only ark of independence … safeguard … safeguard Putrajaya.

It has dawned, bringing hope to the Land of Malaysia … the Land of Malaysia … a jewel.

Long live UMNO…

Long live Barisan…

Frequent Deferment of Electoral Polls costly to the Prime Minister and UMNO-BN


November 29, 2012

Frequent Deferment of Electoral Polls costly to the Prime Minister and UMNO-BN

by Terence Netto@http://www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT: For months the debate in political salons of the country revolved around whether the  Prime Minister’s frequent deferment of the polls invited disaster for UMNO or, conversely, that it afforded him time to save the government’s bacon.

Disaster was thought to stem from the rattle of skeletons in his and UMNO-BN’s closets, their whine expected to reach a crescendo as hitherto appeased functionaries shed their induced stupor to hint at dark deeds behind the facade of a government very much in control despite the threat of scandalous disclosure working its corrosive effects on its credibility.

Conversely, polls deferment, aided and abetted by cash handouts to the have-nots, was seen as affording time for the balm of munificent handouts to offset the fallout from periodic revelations of scandal, past and present.

On the eve of the annual UMNO general assembly and just as the final time-corridor in which to hold polls this year is slipping past, the racket from skeletons whining in the government’s closet has become far too audible to ignore.

The UMNO President is in danger of running afoul of a corollary to his self-set criterion of being a party nominee for the polls: Is the candidate winnable?

Most pundits would rate Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s chances of retaining the Pekan parliamentary constituency as much better than even, a probable challenge from PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang for the seat notwithstanding.

NONE

But with the latest revelations from the Najib family friend, businessman Deepak Jaikishen (above), and the news from lawyers involved in the Scorpene inquest in France that the PM and his onetime aide, Abdul Razak Baginda, are priority witnesses in the inquiry and would be subpoenaed, Najib is firmly in the eye of a maelstrom whose churning waters could upend his party and government.

If that were not perilous enough, the case notes from the murder trial of the Mongolian woman, Altantuya Shaariibuu, would also be admitted at the French inquest into corrupt practices surrounding the sale of submarines to Malaysia early the last decade while Najib was the Defence Minister.

The murder of the Mongolian woman in 2006 has been rattling around in the collective memory of the country like the Watergate burglary did in the early years of the second term of eventually disgraced US President Richard Milhous Nixon.

The raft of new revelations by Deepak and the Scorpene inquiry lawyers is not likely to undermine Najib’s chances of being returned to Parliament from Pekan but it definitely undercuts the electability of the administration he leads, a government widely considered to be in danger of losing its mandate at the oft-deferred general election.

Najib’s decision to defer polls looks, at this remove, to have been a gamble he is in acute danger of losing.

Credibility as a leader of reforms

It has raised issues about his credibility as a leader of reforms that his administration is supposed to have initiated to rescue a wobbling BN from looming defeat at the polls.

His damaged credibility apart, the decision to focus the government’s campaign on the PM, whose personal popularity as distinct from that of the UMNO-BN cabal he leads, is said to be winsome enough to salvage the administration in the eyes of the electorate, now looks like a calculation that is going wrong.

The PM strove to exploit the ‘new broom’ goodwill that usually follows the inauguration of an administration under a newly installed leader, and when he shaped to introduce reforms, he sustained the perception that he is wanting and willing to push change.

But when those reforms were either opposed by right wing critics in his party and, in reaction, he trimmed his reformist sails to appease them, he managed to uphold the image as somebody wanting reform despite the opposition from within.

This explained the decision to personalise the UMNO-BN campaign around the image of the PM as someone the electorate could trust despite the undercurrent of antagonism to his vaunted reformist agenda and his truckling to it.

Now, in the wake of latest revelations issuing from sanctuaries that were always suspected to be brittle and awaiting the disinfectant of sunlight, the personal popularity of the PM will be disclosed for what it is: a vapour from the new broom he embodied but could not enforce.

A Life without Ideals and Principles isn’t worthy of contemplation


November 29, 2012

A Life without Ideals and Principles isn’t worthy of contemplation

by Azmi Sharom (11-28-12)@http://www.thestar.com.my

Declarations look good at first glance, but read between the lines and one will find escape routes to shirk the very responsibilities spelt out for those in power.

IN the last couple of weeks I have been told that I am really quite a pathetic fellow; out of touch, overly idealistic and generally quite sad.

This is quite a common accusation, one that has been thrown at me in the past, and added to the fact that I work in a university, that old chestnut of making my living quarters in an ivory tower often comes into play as well.

My comments on university rankings not being the be all and end all when selecting where to study was dismissed as wishful thinking.

I was told in no uncertain terms that parents will look at rankings to choose a university for their children.Oh, incidentally, for the sake of accuracy, in my last column, I should not have said Leeds was higher ranked than Nottingham. They are not. I should have said Sheffield, or Manchester or Durham instead.

And at a talk where I said “meaningful public participation should occur in developmental and environmental issues”, again I was painted as some trippy hippy freak who really should just sit quietly in a VW van listening to Hendrix and burning incense. Frankly, this sounds like a very enticing idea.

However, all these barbs (admittedly they were thrown at me in a gentle and humorous manner) got me thinking. Why do I bother with these ideals? No one seems to care any way. The world is a hard, calculative and oft times, a cruel place. Pragmatism, not idealism, will ensure survival, both literally and metaphorically.

I guess this is true, if mere survival is what one aspires for. I can’t buy into this thinking though. Yes, when one is floating in the clouds of principles and ideals, one may lose track of the realities of the world and one’s ideas become no more substantive and useful as “insignificant fluff”. But pragmatism without the overarching and necessary restraints of idealism is dangerous, too.

If we live our lives without aspirations, then what is to prevent the strong and the crass to rule? Without a higher ideal, then so many things become utterly pointless.

A case in point is the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. Personally, I view this document as something positive. It has its problems, and I shall deal with them later, but within the context of ASEAN.

It is important because for decades the issue of human rights was not really part of the ASEAN agenda. It was only in the ASEAN Charter of 2007 did the countries of ASEAN formally recognise human rights as an essential value. And now, we have this declaration which spells out the human rights that in principle Asean agrees has to be protected.

I say “in principle” because the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration is, in international law parlance, a “soft law”. By this, it is meant that it is merely a statement of principle, it is not a binding law as say a treaty is. Therefore, legally it would be rather difficult to insist that the ASEAN governments comply with this declaration.

This does not mean that they do not have a moral responsibility and it is up to the people of ASEAN to keep pressing their governments to respect the Declaration and to make the necessary domestic legislation to give legal weight to these “soft law” principles and make them hard.

Surely our erstwhile leaders did not sign the declaration for fun.They agreed to these principles, so let’s make sure they live up to them. Aside from the lack of legal obligation, another criticism of the Declaration is that it appears to provide loopholes for its signatories.

For example, Article 7 begins with the emphatic statement that “all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated”.

So far so good, but it closes with “the realisation of human rights must be considered in the regional and national context bearing in mind different political, economic, legal, social, cultural, historical and religious backgrounds”.

The following article continues in this vein and states “the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition for the human rights and fundamental freedom of others, and to meet the just requirements of national security, public order, public health, public safety, public morality, as well as the general welfare of the peoples in a democratic society”.

Suspicious, is it not? Signatories of this document have left themselves a method of avoiding their responsibilities.All they have to say is: “Oh, we are restricting your rights for the reason of national security/public morality/general public welfare … take your pick.”

Now, only an idiot would think that human rights mean the rights to do anything at all. I may have freedom of speech but I do not have the right to defame someone; my freedom of assembly does not mean I can trespass on another’s property.

So, naturally there will be restrictions on rights, but the issue here is that there must be restrictions on the restrictions.

And that is the crux of the matter. What prevents those in power from using the excuse of morality or security or whatever else to place so many restrictions on our rights that they become utterly meaningless?

The answer I submit is aspirations, idealism and principle. Only when we have people in power, and by this I mean the legislature, executive and judiciary, can we aspire to protect the rights of others as far as possible.

Who believes that human rights are an ideal, not an imposition on governments. And, who has the conviction to live and make decisions according to these principles; only then can the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration have any meaning.

Maybe I am not being pragmatic; perhaps the thin air in my ivory tower has made me light headed and foolish; but I don’t care, because the alternative to living without aspirations, ideals and principles is not worth contemplating.

Book Review: Ike’s Bluff, by Evan Thomas


November 29, 2012

NY Times Sunday Book Review: Ike’s Bluff

Subtle and Brutal
Ike’s Bluff, by Evan Thomas

By Daniel Larison (11-21-12)

Evan Thomas’s “Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Battle to Save the World” is an examination of Dwight David Eisenhower’s record that seeks to understand how he successfully kept the United States out of a major war during the eight years of his Presidency.

It is in keeping with the recent trend in complimentary revisionist histories of the administration, like “Eisenhower in War and Peace,” by Jean Edward Smith, and “Eisenhower: The White House Years,” by Jim Newton. Thomas tells us that once Eisenhower “extricated America from the Korean War in 1953,” his mission was to “avoid any war.” For that reason, Thomas, who teaches writing and journalism at Princeton and is the author of several books, concentrates on Eisenhower’s foreign policy and national security decisions to the exclusion of almost everything else. The President’s civil rights record, for example, is mentioned only briefly, and as a demonstration of his leadership talents.

Eisenhower’s ambiguity is a recurring theme in this account. His style was to avoid telling anyone his definite views on a subject. At the time of the Chinese shelling of the small islands of Quemoy and Matsu in 1958, Thomas writes, “as he so often did, Eisenhower chose studied ambiguity.” In that case, Ike’s bluffing proved successful, but at other times his ambiguity could create needless confusion and misunderstanding.

As John F. Kennedy was about to take office in 1961, Eisenhower offered him advice on Laos, which was then falling into civil war. Eisenhower counseled the new President, in Thomas’s words, to “take a hard line — and bluff,” or so it seemed to Kennedy and his advisers. The problem was that Eisenhower was “cryptic and opaque.” Kennedy’s advisers “later claimed Ike had urged J.F.K. to send in the troops,” but this was almost certainly not what he had meant.

The Hungarian uprising of 1956 stands out as one of Eisenhower’s best and worst moments for his policy of “take a hard line — and bluff.” Though he successfully avoided a major war with the Soviet Union over Hungary, choosing containment over confrontation, his administration’s rhetoric about “rolling back” Communism unfortunately encouraged Hungarians to expect American support that didn’t come.

The Soviet crackdown in Hungary also exposed the limitations of the C.I.A. under Eisenhower. The agency was surprised by the Soviet reaction to the uprising, but as Thomas says, “C.I.A.-backed clandestine radio stations” had been encouraging Hungarians to fight.

Despite the sometimes excessive rhetoric emanating from his administration, most notably from his Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, Eisenhower was “remarkably willing, on occasion, to let himself appear disengaged, even weak,” Thomas writes. This reflected his caution about overreacting or responding hastily to new developments. It was one of his most admirable traits. His seeming weakness often exposed him to politically motivated charges of dithering or incompetence, yet Eisenhower had enough confidence in his own judgments not to be pressured into policies he knew to be mistaken.

Dulles, Churchill, Eisenhower and Eden

Eisenhower’s handling of the Suez crisis in the same year as the Hungarian uprising was an impressive example of this quality. Britain, France and Israel had invaded Egypt with the intention of toppling the dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser after he had seized the Suez Canal, but Eisenhower did not confuse backing allies with reflexive support for their mistakes, especially when thoughtless solidarity could draw the United States and the Soviet Union into open conflict.

The crisis over the Suez was successfully resolved in part by Eisenhower’s refusal to provide assistance to America’s friends, which forced them to bear the costs and consequences of their blunder without any hope of being bailed out by Washington. Meanwhile, Eisenhower made sure that the Kremlin knew he strongly opposed any Soviet attempt to exploit the crisis.

Thomas refers frequently to the President’s skills at card games to help explain his capacity for concealment, deception and secrecy, which found expression in the repeated use of covert operations to depose foreign governments and the U-2 program for spying on the Soviet Union. Journalists and political enemies in Congress raised the issue of a “missile gap” between the United States and the Soviet Union in the late 1950s. Because of the U-2 flights, Eisenhower knew just how unfounded the charge was, but the secrecy of the program meant he was unable to disclose what he knew. Nonetheless, continued worries about the progress of the Soviet ICBM program prompted him to approve one last mission.

However, the downing of a U-2 over the Soviet Union in 1960 and the capture of its pilot exposed the covert flights, and represented one of the bigger setbacks of the Eisenhower administration, helping to derail the president’s initiative for détente with Moscow.

As Thomas explains, Eisenhower felt “a personal sense of defeat and at times despair” over the collapse of a summit in Paris that year because of the U-2 episode. Significant achievements in arms control would have to wait for future Republican presidents.

Despite the thoroughness of “Ike’s Bluff,” there are occasional gaps. Thomas doesn’t discuss the consequences of American-supported coups in Iran and Guatemala, perhaps because that would have taken him well beyond the end of Eisenhower’s tenure, but it is an unfortunate and noticeable omission. Similarly, Thomas seems unfazed by the expansion of the national security state on Eisenhower’s watch. Eisenhower’s farewell address is justly famous for its warnings of the dangers posed by the “military-­industrial complex.” Even so, it is hard not to conclude that the warning was too little and too late after Eisenhower had spent eight years presiding over the growth of that complex.

Generally, however, Thomas doesn’t neglect his subject’s flaws, and his detailed, engaging picture of Eisenhower’s personality brings him vividly to life. Most important, by the end of the book Thomas has made his case that Dwight Eisenhower’s “greatest victories were the wars he did not fight.”

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative.

A version of this review appeared in print on November 25, 2012, on page BR9 of the Sunday Book Review with the headline: Subtle and Brutal.

Comments of Shahrizat “May 13″ Speech at UMNO GA


November 28, 2012

Shahrizat plays the politics of fear to unite the Malays

by Koh Jun Lin@http://www.malaysiakini.com

Wanita UMNO Head Shahrizat Abdul Jalil played the race card in her address to the wing’s general assembly, warning that Malays are in danger of becoming “refugees in our own land” if they do not unite to retain political power.

NONEAmong the challenges UMNO faces in the next general election is the  safeguarding of Malay power, which is in a perilous position (bagai telur di hujung tanduk), Shahrizat told the delegates.

“We must address this now if we don’t want to be refugees in our own land. A split in the Malay vote would dull the political power of the Malays,” she said.

“As it is, economic power lies in the hands of non-Malays. Are we willing to lose political power too? If UMNO is weak, the risks will be felt by all other ethnic groups.If Malays unite and form a strong backbone for the elected government, especially with a two-thirds parliamentary majority, then, God willing, all races and all layers of society will gain from the political stability.”

Lack of time

Shahrizat skipped most of her speech and asked the 979 delegates present to read its text, citing lack of time. In a copy distributed to the media, she expressed concerns that a racial riot could occur if UMNO became weak and could not overcome its challenges.

“If we are no longer in power, we would lose political stability. Certainly, the Malays, the majority in this country, would be unsettled.I am concerned and worried that this would bring racial tensions that could lead to a repeat of the May 13, 1969 tragedy,” she said, urging delegates to overcome the challenges.

The other challenges include facing eroding non-Malay support for UMNO, religious issues raised by PAS, increase support from young voters, and maintain UMNO’s relevance as a Malay party.

On the lack of non-Malay support, she said this had caused problems in mixed constituencies. “To face the next general election, we need to overcome this problem and I ask Wanita UMNO to close ties and work on our inter-racial relations.Can promise or not? We must because they are Malaysian citizens too,” she said.

In her speech, Shahrizat pledged that as long as she is Wanita chief, she would ensure that the women’s wing would field more candidates at the general election.

“Don’t you dare think that Wanita is only eligible to be part of the party machinery and not as candidates,” she said.

She concluded her speech by urging all delegates to stand up and pledge loyalty to UMNO President Najib Abdul Razak, as she drummed up the delegate’s spirits with a poem in Malay.

_______________

November 28, 2012

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

Jahabar Sadiq on Shahrizat’s “May 13″ Speech at UMNO GA

Wanita UMNO chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil spoke today about the possibility of a “May 13” incident if UMNO is weak and performs poorly in the next polls. Does she think she can whip her party colleagues into working harder or cow the voters into supporting Barisan Nasional (BN) with such talk?

And is she implying UMNO would provoke the violence? Her top two party leaders are preaching moderation but she is talking about violence, further embarrassing the party still reeling from her family’s National Feedlot Centre (NFC) scandal. Shahrizat should inspire her members to win, not scare them or Malaysians at the ballot box. She’s an example of politicians that Datuk Seri Najib Razak should ditch for their lack of ideas to ensure a BN victory.

My Comment: Shahrizat Abdul Jalil has shamelessly used the UMNO General Assembly to raise the spectre of the May 13 incident to create a climate of fear among the Malays. It is unnecessary for the leader of Wanita UMNO to even mention this unfortunate incident which occurred when she is a little school girl in Penang (I was 30 years old when it happened, but I was in the United States to pursue my postgraduate studies). Looking back at it now, I realise it was an isolated incident as it happened  only in Kuala Lumpur, not nation wide.

Times have changed. Malaysians have grown up, are better educated and more exposed to global developments and democracy (thanks to the Internet and the world wide web), and will not be provoked. We all have plenty to lose if we fall prey to racist provocations. 2012 is not 1969. We are too astute to be misled by desperate politicians like Shahrizat.

With the introduction of the New Economic Policy in 1970 and its vigorous pursuit under Tun Dr. Mahathir, Malays now control the banks, and businesses big time via the GLCs and Permodalan Nasional Berhad. At the same time, NEP resulted in crony capitalism, the bane of UMNO today. Kleptocrats are having a field day, amassing massive fortunes for themselves, families and cronies.

The socio-economic landscape has been transformed (or deformed?). The development of Malay intellectual capital is a NEP success story. There are now many Malay professionals in all fields from science, medicine and dentistry, engineering and research. So Malay fears are imagined, not real.

The rural sector has benefited from the NEP. Plantation and tin mining companies were acquired from the British during the premiership of the late Tun Abdul Razak. FELDA and other agencies were created to uplift the economic status of the rural Malays. Our problem today, however, is the increasing income gap between the rich and poor Malays.

Social inequity and corruption pose serious threat to UMNO and our country.Other races too have been marginalised. If UMNO is weak, it is of its own making.

The way for UMNO to regain its credibility is to end corruption and abuses of power, and adopt sound good governance practices. Be a responsible government and listen to the rakyat. UMNO has yet to offer a glimmer of hope that it can change its ways. Rhetoric is not enough.

But then, I cannot expect Shahrizat to talk about these issues, since she herself is deeply caught up in the NFC scandal. It is time for her to step down and hand over the leadership of Wanita UMNO to someone else who has a clean record. Wanita UMNO is not short on leadership talent to make her indispensable. –Din Merican

Make Public aware that the Opposition is in crisis, says Deputy Prime Minister


November 28, 2012

Make Public aware that the Opposition is in crisis, says Deputy Prime Minister

by Bernama@http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

The opening speech by UMNO Deputy President Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin when officiating the simultaneous meeting of the three UMNO wings, namely the Wanita, Youth and Puteri movements is hoped to create awareness among the people on the crisis faced by the Opposition.

UMNO Vice -President Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the speech could be perceived as calling on the party members as well as the public to be aware of the problems faced by the pact.

He said the speech was based on the problems faced by the pact in administering Selangor, Penang and Kedah which should be understood by the grassroots of the three UMNO wings to face the looming general election.

Wanita UMNO head Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said Muhyiddin’s speech recognised the contribution of Wanita UMNO in maintaining party stability. She said Wanita UMNO was more interested in politics that championed the welfare of the people instead of politics that hurled slanders that could lead to chaos and riots in the country.

Meanwhile, UMNO Youth head Khairy Jamaluddin said Muhyiddin’s speech was clearly a call to UMNO and the Barisan Nasional (BN) to harness their energy to realise the trust to defend Putrajaya.

“UMNO Youth is responding to the challenge to become party warriors, we will redouble efforts to go down to the ground and ensure that our machinery is strong and our explanation is clear, and with this tireless efforts, we are confident of attracting more young voters to be with UMNO,” he said.

Puteri UMNO head Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin, meanwhile, said the message and prayers recited during Muhyiddin’s opening speech would always be an inspiration to every member of Puteri in discharging their duty to strengthen UMNO.

“As Puteri head, I will ensure that the Puteri machinery is always ready for any eventuality although each of the three wings carry differing challenges,” she said.

Mohd Shafie said despite having more parliamentary seats than the other coalition partners, UMNO still shared Cabinet posts with other component parties. “But we do not rule by taking care the interest of UMNO alone, instead we translate the partnership by giving opportunities to all races,” he said.

Mohd Shafie said this was different with the opposition who purportedly worked as a cohesive alliance, but obviously it was just an empty promise that could not even be translated in the opposition-led states.

On a prayer calling for all Muslims, including PAS members, to open their hearts and return to the path of Islam, UMNO Vice-President Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said it was a common prayer done according to the Prophet Muhammad’s clarion call, and not a call for the destruction of others.

“We take the approach of wisdom by not emulating the prayer of Muslims who called for our destruction, instead we prayed for their well being as well for the sake of Islam, by not sidelining other religion,” he said.

Meanwhile, BN component party leaders also described Muhyiddin’s speech as a story that tells the actual scenario in the opposition pact in its bid to get the people’s support.

Gerakan Wanita chief Datuk Tan Lian Hoe, who is also deputy domestic trade, cooperative and consumerism minister, said it was hoped that the people could identify the political party that had actually helped them.

“We all know that the Opposition have made a lot of promises, but failed to fulfil them and they also spread lies.The Deputy Prime Minister has clearly reminded the people to choose the party that will ensure their future and the future of their children,” she said.

People’s Progressive Party Youth chief Harridz Mohan, on the other hand, said that the speech had also invited the people to think rationally and make a wise decision to form a government that could bring the country to greater heights, while MIC Youth chief T. Mohan described the speech as a morale booster for BN Youth and Puteri in facing the 13th general election. —Bernama

(Tun) Dr. Mahathir refuses to understand digital democracy


November 28, 2012

(Tun) Dr. Mahathir refuses to understand digital democracy

by Terence Netto (11-27-12)@http://www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT An anticipated relief from having the 13th General Election sooner rather than later is that the country would be saved the gibberish that gushes these days from its supposedly retired fourth Prime Minister.

Its profusion has arrived at the point where those staggered by the drivel would be inclined to harbour the wish that the polls would be held soon and would yield results that would shut him up for good.

On second thought, that would be wishful thinking – not the real possibility that the election results would give him the hiccups; it’s the notion that there could be any eventuality that would leave Dr Mahathir Mohamad tongue tied for long.

He is the sort of man who, even if the imminent polls produce results that would have him plastered, will find ways to secrete his offal which, if not given due diligence by the media, would prompt a round of whining from him that his freedom to disport has been denied.People who will say anything are often the victims of diminished self-esteem.

But Mahathir teems too much with ego to be suffering from anything like a want of self-esteem, though one is tempted to suspect something like what psychologists call projection theory is in play when he recently suggested that the Arabs are not capable of planning 9/11; theorising that only the CIA and Mossad have that capability.

True, the looming possibility of a defeat to BN may have rendered Mahathir distinctly unnerved. And so UMNO’s one-time doctor and prescription writer can perhaps be excused for sounding less than coherent lately.

We will shoot them’

But his most recent outburst, at an international forum on conflict and conciliation yesterday, sounds like he is close to being unhinged by the prospect that BN may lose the election.

Judging from the convolution that emerged from the press conference Mahathir held after he had delivered his speech at the forum, the man displays facets of the voluble excitability that marked the reign of (the recently deceased) Cambodian King-Father Norodom Sihanouk and the juvenile truculence of one-time Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

Both references in the comparisons reveled in causing surprise in their deportment before the international media besides being theatrical when declaiming from podiums. Khrushchev once banged his shoe on the rostrum of the UN general assembly.

Mahathir isn’t as crude as Khrushchev but he shares with Sihanouk and the communist leader their penchant for making statements that lend themselves easily to succinct and high voltage headlines that the press thrives on. Recall his “We will shoot them” remark to the international press with regard to Malaysian policy towards the rickety boats laden with human cargo that were landing off the Terengganu coast in the late 1970s.

NONE

Khrushchev’s 1959 threat to the West after Soviet engineers had beaten their Western counterparts by sending Sputnik into space that “We will bury you” and Sihanouk’s (above) charge that the US engaged in “feminine seduction” when Jackie Kennedy visited Cambodia in the late 1960s, a cultural tour to which the once sybaritic monarch played the gracious host, were examples of both leaders’ bent for bellicose posturing on the diplomatic stage.

Digital democracy

Understandably, the immediate prelude to a closely fought general election is a charged time, propitious for hyperbolic statement and exaggerated comment. What makes Mahathir’s musings on the current position of UMNO vis-à-vis the nation remarkable in his evident surprise at his failure to understand the new workings of powers in an Internet-liberated country.

The locus of power in this country has come unglued from its previous moorings in UMNO: it does no longer reside in one party or in a power elite, or in one institution, economic interest, media outlet, or popular movement, but in shifting imbalances among them.

Mahathir must have thought that in the course of his 22-year tenure as PM he had fixed the locus of power in UMNO and the plutocrats that are empowered to lead it.

najib mahathir pak lah umno 2009 agm final day 280309 12

He had managed to do that by destroying the hindering mechanisms to power centralisation that had resided in the federal constitution. Now those mechanisms, in the digital democracy that has flourished in the last decade or so, are gradually kicking back into life.

Mahathir thinks that this revival can be beguiled away from ejecting UMNO from the locus of power by the party president dispensing goodies to clamorous interest groups.

Hence the public is witness to Mahathir’s ire that this strategy is not working and his frustrated denunciations of the phenomena. But amidst his drivel, there is a morsel that is sensible in his observation that only UMNO President Naijb Tun Abdul Razak seems to be campaigning.

Mahathir’s speculation as to the inertia of much of the rest of the party is that they want to see whether their favoured nominee is preferred before they elect to be active. In other words, there are interest groups at the divisional level of the party that have to be bought off too.

In sum, in an anatomised nation of interest groups you can’t placate all of them, even part of the time.

Beware of Kleptocracy


November 27, 2012

Beware of Kleptocracy ala Malaysia: Systemic Rot if Graft goes unchecked

by Pauline Wong (11-26-12)@www.thesundaily.com

Malaysia may descend into a “kleptocracy” if corruption is not addressed effectively and comprehensively, academicians warned today.

They warned that the country would be ruled by the corrupt if graft is not tackled in a far-reaching manner which can be felt by the people. Kleptocracy”, derived from the words “kleptomania” and “-cracy” or “rule” refers to a government filled with those who seek status and personal gain at the expense of the governed.

At a forum on “Eradicating Corruption: How successful have we been?” organised by the Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) today, National University of Singapore Associate Professor Dr Syed Farid Alatas (left) voiced the danger of kleptocracy taking root as corruption is not a random or occasional occurence but tends to be systemic.

He said “kleptocrats” are usually not mid-level officials who extort money as a means to make a living, but high-ranking officials who see it as a way to accumulate wealth.

Despite positive outcome from anti-corruption initiatives rolled out by the government through the Government Transformation Programme and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Syed Farid said the effects were still not felt by the people.

“The people are still pessimistic about the way authorities are tackling corruption,” said Syed Farid, a Malaysian who was formerly a Universiti Malaya lecturer.

Commenting on Malaysia’s deteriorating position in the Corruption Perception Index, from 37 out of 80 countries in 2003, to 60 in 2011, Syed Farid urged the government to work towards the formation of a truly independent anti-corruption body.

“The MACC, for example has no power to initiate prosecution. The power to prosecute lies with the Attorney-General’s Chambers (A-GC) – which is as such free to practise selective prosecution,” he claimed.

Meanwhile, another panelist, Universiti Malaya Faculty of Economics and Administration Professor Dr Edmund Terence Gomez (right) said grand corruption must be tackled from the top.

“We must first talk about devolution of power, where important institutions like the MACC and the A-GC, and even the Judiciary must be independent.We have to do this soon, because degenerative corruption is becoming pervasive. Money is being channeled into the political system and we see this in permeation of money politics,” he said.

He also called for a fair and just implementation of good and noble policies to eradicate corruption.

The forum was attended by former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi under whose tenure the MACC was formed. “When we talk of corruption, we must talk about the integrity of our judiciary. It must be a respected and respectable institution, able to prove that they are able to demonstrate that they are the highest institution of correctness and integrity,” Abdullah said in his closing speech.

Calling for the strengthening of the judiciary to fight corruption, he said the judiciary itself must be above doubt.”There must be good governance, or corruption will run rampant in the nation,” he said.

Ideas also released yesterday its interim report “Combating Corruption: Understanding Anti-Corruption Initiatives in Malaysia’. The report concluded that there is a disconnect between public perception and actual data on corruption, and that corruption cannot be measured by perception alone.

“Public perception as measured by the Corruption Perception Index implies that corruption is rampant and the situation is bleak. But data suggests that the problem is not as bleak as the CPI score has painted,” the report stated.

The 55-page interim report which analysed the causes, cost and implications of corruption in Malaysia, also reviewed initiatives taken by the MACC under the National Key Result Areas (NKRAs) for combating corruption.

The report is funded by the MACC-NKRA Division and other local and foreign sponsors.

 

Soul-Searching on Capitalism


November 27, 2012

Global economic woes prompt soul-searching on capitalism

by , economics editor,Sunday 25 November 2012 13.57 GMT The Guardian

Hope springs eternal: China’s manufacturing sector has perked up a bit; there are encouraging noises coming out of Washington about avoiding the fiscal cliff; the euro is still in one piece – could it be that recovery is coming at last?

After all the false dawns, this could be the point at which capitalism shows its resilience and regenerative powers. Since the birth of the modern industrial age more than 250 years ago, there have been only brief deviations in the upward trend of production. The Great Depression looks like a mere blip on the upward sloping graph of UK or US GDP.

Even so, the depth and length of the crisis has led to a degree of soul searching. While policymakers insist publicly that vigorous recovery will eventually arrive, there is private concern that deep structural problems are blunting the effectiveness of a stimulus unprecedented in its scale, scope and duration. These concerns are well founded.

To understand why, it is necessary to look at the basic ingredients that historically have made capitalism tick in all its many guises, be it America’s free-market approach, Sweden’s welfarist model, or China’s state-run variant.

The first requirement is stability, without which entrepreneurs will not take risks. In the early stages of development, this means adherence to the rule of law and a system of property rights that guard against expropriation. As economies grow more sophisticated, it comes to mean additionally a degree of economic and financial stability. Those taking long-term investment decisions need to feel confident that there will be a steady stream of returns and that the banking system is robust and well-managed.

The second prerequisite is legitimacy, which is not the same as fairness or equality. Capitalism is neither fair nor equal, and never will be, but large quantities of fairness have been injected to ensure it has retained political legitimacy.

Quite early on, in the first half of the 19th century, it became clear to the more far-sighted capitalists that a method had to be found of ensuring that a rising tide lifted all boats. The observations of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels on the immiseration of working people in Britain’s industrial revolution were accurate but, even then, steps were being taken to improve living standards.

Some of these were self-help measures by workers (trade unions, friendly societies); others were the result of pressure from social reformers and politicians (better sanitation, expansion of education).

Later, starting with Bismarck in Germany, there was the development of a system of old-age pensions, stage one in the creation of welfare states. By the middle of the 20th century, an array of checks and balances were in place to ensure the fruits of growth were shared – from progressive taxation to the US’s 1944 GI bill, paying extra benefits to more than 2 million returning soldiers.

Sustainability is the third ingredient needed for capitalism to work. Companies that deplete their capital, either physical or human, can thrive for a while but eventually run into problems. Consumers who finance their spending by borrowing against rising property values eventually find the debt burden too much to sustain. It is not sustainable, either, for one group of countries to run permanent balance of payments deficits while another group racks up big surpluses year after year.

In recent years, fears over climate change has added another dimension to the problem of sustainability: the dangers of using up capital quicker than it is being replenished apply not just to companies but to the planet.

Fourthly, there’s creativity. The west won the Cold War because industrial capitalism was quicker on its feet than the Soviet brand of Marxist-Leninism. Capitalism was good at giving consumers what they wanted, even though some might argue that some of those wants were generated by clever marketing and aggressive advertising.

Old industries declined and new industries took their place. Companies that failed to make profits went out of business, with resources – eventually, and often after a tough period of re-adjustment – reallocated to growth sectors of the economy.

Finally, there’s profitability. Before new and more efficient production methods for agriculture and industry were developed in the 18th century, per capita incomes in the west had risen at a glacial pace for more than 1,000 years. Modern industrial capitalism generated surpluses and it was this that differentiated it from the subsistence model.

The story of capitalism in the postwar world, before the current crisis, falls into two phases. In the first, there was a great deal of macroeconomic and financial stability. Recessions were rare, banking failures virtually unknown. The system was legitimate because living standards were rising across the piece, and the gap between rich and poor narrowed. Consumers funded their spending out of rising incomes rather than through debt, while the Bretton Woods system ironed out balance-of-payments problems. With climate change not yet on the agenda, the system looked sustainable.

Whether the Golden Age met the other two criteria – creativity and profitability – is a controversial question. Economists such as Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman argued that attempts to make western economies more stable and more equitable had, in reality, sapped their strength. Companies were feather-bedded, workers paid more than they were worth, creativity was stifled.

As a result, the second postwar phase saw a greater emphasis on creativity and profitability. Life was made tougher for workers, easier for entrepreneurs. Trickle-down economics, it was argued, would lead to everybody being better off; the magic of the market would guarantee that economies were sustainable; control of inflation and self-regulation would ensure stability.

The crisis exposed the weaknesses of this approach. In 2008-09, capitalism was in serious trouble because the system was unstable, illegitimate, unsustainable and unprofitable. Banks were on the brink of going bust, there was public disgust at the antics of the financiers, many years of weak income growth had left consumers hooked on debt, and global industrial production and trade were collapsing.

What has happened since? There has been an improvement in corporate profitability, especially in the US, as jobs have been shed and wages held down. Austerity for the many and booty for the few is not doing much on the legitimacy front. Measures to make capitalism more sustainable – a bigger share of the cake for labour, the running down of surpluses by Germany and China – would help give it greater legitimacy. Little progress has, however, been made when it comes to redistribution of the spoils or global rebalancing: none at all when it comes to ensuring the sustainability of the planet.

Thanks to the efforts of central banks and finance ministries, a degree of stability has been restored. There is no longer the risk, as there was in October 2008, that cash machines will run out of money. On the other hand, emergency measures to rescue capitalism have become permanent fixtures, with the result that rock-bottom interest rates and quantitative easing are hampering rebalancing and readjustment.

Dr.UMNO speaks


November 26, 2012

Dr. UMNO speaks

http://www.nst.com.my

PARTY ABOVE SELF: There are no other options for UMNO leaders other than going down to the ground and be with the people. They must also be ready to let go off their position when the time comes. Former UMNO president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad tells Sajahan Abdul Waheed, Lavanya Lingan and Rahmat Khairulrijal his concerns as party leaders and members finalise their preparations for the next general election.

Question:  This year’s UMNO General Assembly is very important as it is the last gathering before the general election. Your views, Tun?

Answer: This General Assembly is the time for UMNO leaders to strenghten party unity and to return to the roots of the party’s formation. Many have forgotten about UMNO’s initial struggles and have used the party as a tool to get something for themselves. If party members return to the original path, I am confident that this general assembly will contribute much to Barisan Nasional’s victory in the coming general election.

Question: What is the role party leaders should play in ensuring that Barisan Nasional (BN) wins big this time around?

Answer: I am not sure because I am not the leader any more. But a leader should realise weaknesses in the party and focus on recovering UMNO in order to unite and work together for the upcoming general election as a team and not as individuals.

Question: To what extent have UMNO leaders gone down to the ground to engage the people?

Answer: Datuk Seri Najib (Razak) seems to be proactive but we don’t see many leaders as active (as he is).They may be working together with Najib, but we do not see them giving talks in places. All these are supposed to take place before the general election.

Question: So, what should UMNO leaders do to attract the voters?

Answer: Simple, they must know that it is their duty to go down and meet the people. They must not wait until they are named as candidates before doing that. They must go now and explain issues to the people.

But there are some who are afraid they cannot answer people’s questions or criticisms and opt to keep quiet. And they claim that this is elegant silence. This is not elegant silence, it is pure stupidity.

Who becomes the candidate is actually not important but winning the elections for the party is important. Of course, to win the elections, the candidate must win. The choice is between winning and losing, not between the candidates. It is about setting up the government.

Question: However, some party leaders are overly concerned about not being named as candidates. What say you, Tun?

Answer: Well, the result will be they will lose the elections. If they think about candidacy, they will lose the elections but if they think about the party, they will win.

Some may think that they are the best choice as candidates but others may not think so. That is why I emphasise supporting any chosen candidate. We assume that they are the party’s candidate who have to win.There is no candidate so good that no one else cannot take his or her place.

Question: How far, do you think, the UMNO leadership should go in making unpopular decisions when it comes to choosing candidates?

Answer: We have to hold on to our principles. If the leaders feel a candidate is good although he is not liked by others, we have to accept that person. If we can accept (Datuk Seri) Idris Jala as a minister, if we can accept those outside the party to hold important posts in the government, then why can’t we accept non-UMNO candidates?

Actually, UMNO’s victory is not only because of the support of party members but also others who support our candidates.If there is no support from non-UMNO people, the party will not succeed. We do not have enough UMNO supporters to win any constituency.

If you do research, you will find that UMNO members are a minority if compared with the total number of voters.

Question: The general perception is that the younger generation is not overly concerned about UMNO’s struggles to achieve independence and they are not supportive of the party. What must we do to wake them up, to tell them that this is the party that does everything for the country?

Answer: We have to get closer to the younger generation. I was told that the young professionals are not supportive of BN but when I meet them, I find them to be rational.

They support BN but there are some things they are unhappy about, such as corruption, leaders who are not sincere and who give importance to self-interest.If we do not meet them and explain to them, it would be difficult to get their support.

It is not that they are totally against UMNO. I believe they will support us just like the Malay saying “tak kenal maka tak cinta” (you have to know someone to like them).

Question: Some veteran leaders are still keen on contesting the general election. How do you see this? Is it not time for them to make way for others?

Answer: I feel sad as many leaders do not adhere to this. I let go off my posts as Prime Minister and UMNO President) to show that when the time comes, we must go. One should voluntarily step down and give way to new faces.

I stepped down not because anyone forced me to do so. I stepped down because I had been there for 21 years. So, it was time for someone else to hold the positions.

But there are some who want to remain there forever. One cannot decide to stay on by himself or herself. If the party wants to retain him or her, that is all right. But there are some who are adamant, and their supporters say they will sabotage the other candidate and ensure that he will lose if their leader is not re-nominated.

Is this the attitude of orang parti  (party members)? What kind of struggle is this? It is for Mat or Saad and not for UMNO? This is not UMNO’s struggle.

Question: Pas conducted prayers for the destruction of Umno and BN during its recent muktamar. Does this show that Pas has lost its direction as an Islamic party?

Answer: It is evident that the party is not holding on to the Islamic teachings and principles.

If we look at its history, the party was not formed for the religion. UMNO has been fighting for a religious cause and the fight has been fruitful because it is the ruling party.

Pas left us because they were not chosen as elected representatives. Now, they talk about holding the prime ministership.

So, when the objective departs from the root, which is to struggle for Islam, thus Islam is sidelined. They talk about implementing hudud. I want to ask, is it fair for a Muslim who is caught for theft to have his hands cut off while a non-Muslim is sent to prison for two months?

If they say it is fair, then I think the person is not in his right mind. Even in the Quran it is mentioned that punishments must be fair and just.

 

Prime Minister Najib’s Pre-UMNO GA Interview


November 26, 2012

Prime Minister Najib’s Pre-UMNO General Assembly Interview

by Bernama/www.nst.com.my

 Question:  What is the message and hope you intend to deliver to  the delegates at the 2012 Umno general assembly, considering that this is the last assembly before the next general election?

Answer: It is no longer a secret that this assembly is the last before the 13th general election. Therefore, it should reflect a party that is ready to face the elections in the real sense of the word,  in terms of our party’s image, its direction, the unity within  and organisation, right up to  the grassroots. It should project a party that is strong and steadfast and has a high level of fighting spirit and motivation to secure a tremendous victory for Umno and the BN.

Question:  How would you rate UMNO’s achievements over the past year in terms of strengths and weaknesses?

Answer: UMNO has been able to raise the level of its  preparedness to face the election. The work entrusted to the party has been accomplished, regardless of whether they are preparations up to the level of the polling districts or whether they are other tasks which we should undertake as a party, including courses, increasing the number of voters, ensuring that our service to the people is continually upgraded and avoiding internal problems that can undermine the party’s image.

I admit that not everything can be said to be ideal. However,  it is much better today than a year ago and far better than what we see happening today in Pakatan Rakyat, whose parties are incompatible, the pact fragile  and much of what they have tried to conceal all along has been exposed, and things have come to a boil. What are seen as internal problems, whether in terms of underlying matters such as who should become the Prime Minister, or in terms of party practices, such as views on religious freedom and views on practices inconsistent with Islam and so on.

So, when we make a comparison, UMNO and BN are seen to have gained confidence while the opposition parties have raised more questions which the voters can find fault with.

Question:  Is this development motivating for BN and UMNO?

Answer: Whether it’s beneficial to us depends on the extent to which we are able to deliver our message. Our communication with the people is what is necessary. It is not just the conventional means but also via the alternative media and so on. It has to be done so that the people really know that   BN is the best choice.

Question:  Can you state five reasons why UMNO-BN should be given a bigger mandate in the next general election?

Answer: UMNO and  BN have clear visions and directions, unlike the obscure plans of the opposition. UMNO and the BN are a pact bound by policies which are jointly supported, unlike  the opposition which often expresses differing opinions  on fundamental matters.

We have a proven track record of managing our country.   The people have confidence in our capability to implement the national agenda, i.e. the major transformation that we want to bring about.

We have moral strength, which is based on our principle of “Janji Ditepati” (promises fulfilled) because, as a government, there is no pledge that we have not fulfilled.  The opposition parties, on the other hand, intend to deceive the voters so long as their objective of making it to Putrajaya is achieved. They cannot even agree on who should become the Prime Minister.

Who can promise a better and brighter future compared to the opposition whose level of credibility and confidence can be disputed? Our future, and the future of our children are too precious to be gambled with and to be put at too great a risk. With   BN, the level of confidence is higher. This, we can see from the market performance and the response of domestic and foreign investors.

Question:  Datuk Seri, surely you will use the (UMNO) President’s policy speech to provide a thorough explanation to the party machinery and the people. Can you elaborate?

Answer: Yes, usually the policy speech can be assumed as the determinant of the debate in the assembly because the speakers will take the cue from the president’s speech. So, the content and emphasis of my speech should place our party, through the debate, in a position where Umno’s positive points are portrayed. Besides, we can also respond to the allegations hurled by the opposition at the UMNO and BN leadership.

Question: At the recent Pas Muktamar (assembly), a prayer was conducted for the destruction of   BN and UMNO. Perhaps, at the  assembly, you may want to advise UMNO members how to react to this attitude of Pas?

Answer: Pas should attempt to portray itself as an Islamic party. Regardless  whether its action (prayer) was in keeping with Islamic principles and law, or otherwise, it is a political party hiding behind the image of Islam. If we can put forward forceful arguments, we can emerge as the main party of the Malays.

Question:  Do you still believe that the Malays can be united? In what way can you do this, given the global environment where the thinking of the people is ever more open?

Answer:  We have a choice. One is the integration of the political parties which represent the Malays, or we can project UMNO as the choice of the majority of the Malays. This is because in our system, victory lies with those who secure the bigger voice. How do you garner the bigger voice? Simply, through the people’s confidence in our capability to champion the agenda closest to the hearts of the Malays. And, I  believe that the first choice of the Malays is UMNO.

Question:  Other people use race and religion as the basis for integration. But the Malays do not. Why?

Answer: The Malays have been confused by seditious and slanderous allegations hurled at UMNO leaders and UMNO.They have even been deceived by the external facade such as labels of being an Islamic party and the appearance of leaders whom they assume to be more Islamic. We should evaluate in terms of the content and agenda that can elevate the Islamic struggle and propagation, and UMNO has proven that the party can champion the demands of Islam based on the Islamic syariah.

Question:  The outcome of the 2008 general election  was shocking, and many quarters predicted the beginning of UMNO’s downfall. However, under your leadership, there was an improvement in the first year, then more improvement in the second year and again up to now. There seems to be a revival. Can you share with us how this revival has come about?

Answer: I hold to the principle that if we fall, we must rise again, and if we are successful, we must maintain the success. When I took over the leadership of the party and government, I was determined  to do anything within my means to launch the process of revival in UMNO and   BN.

One  was to start with the 1Malaysia Concept: People First, Performance Now. It is the main philosophy that I put into practice in all government policies. Therefore, you will see that our policies are more inclusive, uphold the principles of social justice, and enable us to put forward new ideas and become more creative.

I understand that in this 21st century, excellence can be garnered by anyone who can win a competition of ideas. The Europeans call this contestation of ideas. That is why many of the programmes we implement today have never crossed our minds before, such as the 1Malaysia People’s Shop, 1Malaysia Clinic, Urban Transformation Centre (UTC), Rural Transformation Centre (RTC), 1Malaysia People’s Taxi, 1Malaysia People’s Aid, and so on. Other than that, the underlying factor in national administration is that we must be competent. Meaning, our national economic management must lead to a stronger economy and stimulate growth.

Despite Europe being in a recession and there being uncertainty in the economic recovery of the United States, we have been able to ensure strong growth — more than 5.2 per cent in the third quarter of this year. And, we were able to provide more than 300,000 jobs. Foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2009 amounted to almost RM5 billion; in 2010, RM29.3 billion; and in 2011, it rose to RM36.6 billion. We have recorded all these achievements which people say run contrary to the world economic trend.

Pakatan Rakyat attempted to present what it called a “Buku Jingga” (Orange Book) and a (shadow) 2013 Budget  and so on, but it looks like the economists do not rate highly their alternative policies and programmes. This means that as economic experts they see only   BN as a viable government.

We have to ensure that the country’s economic success reaches the people. Our programmes at the macro level are successful. We also want to ensure that those in need are taken care of.

Question:  From the party aspect, in the beginning people just shook their heads, wondering “whether Najib can revive the BN”. Now, it has been proven that   BN and UMNO have gained strength and are  likely to remain in power. What’s the secret?

Answer: I have taken this as a challenge, meaning a challenge in terms of my position, and as a personal one. In a crisis situation …  we must use all our strengths and capabilities and face the situation by increasing our efforts, our thinking power, our capability, and our physical ability. I told myself, I promised to do my best.

Question:  Datuk Seri, without denying the success achieved thus far, there are analysts who believe that the government still faces a challenge to garner the support of the people, particularly the Chinese. Is this a reality or a perception?

Answer: We live in a system of open democracy, in a situation where the environment of today is a changed one, and the change is based on several factors. One of it is the ever-widening access to education.

The standard of education is ever rising, and people in the urban areas are not in need of basic facilities. So, the politics of development is no longer in their reckoning.

Third is the emergence of the highly influential social media, which we never faced in the past. In 2008, the social media had just emerged as an alternative media, but today it has become the norm for many to use it to garner information and news. This changed environment is referred to as the new politics. If we do not make this paradigm shift, the government will be seen as rigid, which can only be successful in the old environment. But we have made the change so that in the current situation, we can be a government that has the support of the people, including the younger generation.

The proof is that in the recent campus elections, we won in 18 of the 20 institutions of higher learning. This is a major victory. If the young people had not supported the government, we may not have won.

Although I admit that we have problems relating to the Chinese voters, let’s not feel that we should ignore them. Instead, we have to increase our engagement to find out their needs and demands and how we can respond to them. I see that they also realise that although they may not have much need for the government because they live in the urban areas, their success as individuals and as a community is due to our policies that have created a favou-rable environment for them to seek opportunities for business and self-development.

Even in the future, they will also need a well-managed, well-administered country.   BN can provide this, besides making adjustments to our policies that they are not happy with and the shortcomings which they say we have to rectify. For example, if they are worried about crime in cities, we respond with the measures that we have taken and will introduce more. I am receptive if the people feel they are not satisfied. We have to intensify our efforts to eliminate their concerns and fears.

Question:  There have been a lot of remarks from the Chinese, that they like Najib but not the party, as though the changes taking place in the party have yet to meet their demands, for example, of voices not in sync when you try to get UMNO to face the new politics.

Answer: In the existing system, if they like me as the Prime Minister, like it or not they have to support the party. Otherwise, someone else will become the PM, not I. This means, someone whom they do not want to be the PM, will become the PM. And the pillar in our system is whoever the PM is. If they want me to be the PM, who can bring transformation to our country as they have been convinced of all this while, they have to support me.

A strong PM is one who has the overall support of the people and can bring much success to this country, rather than a PM who is weak or does not have the full mandate. This is because the changes will have to put up with many challenges.

Leadership without political support is a leadership without moral strength. Without moral strength, it is difficult to face challenges to bring major changes to our country.

So, if they do not like UMNO or BN, at least we are cohesive, aligned and speak with one voice.

Question:  Compared to 2008, do you see a  “wind of change” in terms of the positive response of the non-Malays?

Answer: Yes, they are happy with our direction. However, any change will take time because it involves changing human attitudes.  Even (former Prime Minister Tun) Dr Mahathir (Mohamad), after 22 years (of administration), admitted that one thing he was unable to fully achieve was changing the attitudes of people. Barack Obama also sought another term as President of the United States because he said it was impossible to rectify what was done during the administration of George W. Bush in four years.

What we plan to do, in terms of transforming the country into a progressive, high-income nation, cannot be achieved in a matter of three or four years. It will take much longer.

Question: Do you feel that the track record of UMNO and   BN is an important asset, besides the transformation, for the people to give a bigger mandate?

Answer: Yes, our track record is evident. We have done a lot for the benefit of the people and it has reached the people directly.  The opposition has no track record. When we came up with the theme “Janji Ditepati” (Promises Fulfilled), they disputed it as though they were sore. Maybe they feel that many of their promises have remained as such.

Question:  In the matter of the new politics, on the one hand, you have to manage and address the demands of the non-Malays and, on the other, UMNO as a Malay party has also to consider the demands and agenda of the Malays. How are you able to handle this in the present situation?

Answer: I hold to Islamic principles. God says we must be fair as a leader. And, God did not say that this has to be in the case of Muslims only. God said it in general. So, if we are fair, non-Muslims will be impressed with the leadership of Malay Muslims. That is where I see the magnificence of Islam. And, that is why Islam spread from Medina to the rest of the world.

When an Islamic leadership is fair, many people will be impressed with Islam as a wonderful and noble religion. It is for this reason that we cannot grab everything, because other people also contribute to our nation. The Indians with the estates and roads they built, the Chinese with their entrepreneurship and business. And, they pay taxes, too. We must understand this. We will help the Malays in whatever way we can, and we will help the Chinese and Indians. We help in a fair and just manner. For example, we are continuing with the Bumiputera agenda because, even if the country is developed but the majority of the people are marginalised, this will not contribute to the prosperity and stability of our nation.

Secondly, if we are not fair to the others, this will also not ensure that the country will continue to be peaceful and stable. We have to accept the fact and reality. We have to consider the non-Muslim Bumiputeras in Sabah and Sarawak and also the Orang Asli; they also have their rights. As the core leadership, we are a government which champions all the races, communities, big or small, fairly and equitably.

Question:  Affirmative action is something which has to be done but it is rejected by the opposition which does not use the terminology. Thus, they became more popular at one time. However, if they were to come to power, they will also have to do what   BN has done so far.

Answer: We do not know what policies the opposition will implement. There are surely some in the Pakatan Rakyat who want to change the basis of our Constitution. DAP, with its Malaysian Malaysia ideology, does not seem to accept the principle and spirit of the Constitution.

We have Pas which wants to establish an Islamic state. This is also uncertain because the definition of an Islamic state remains vague.

Thirdly, there is Parti Keadilan Rakyat which is pursuing a stand that is doubtful, which incorporates an ideology that is too liberal and pluralism which can spark controversies. Whatever they establish, the direction of Pakatan Rakyat remains vague and uncertain.

As for   BN, we can guarantee that our policies are consistent. Whatever happens, we can guarantee that we will continue with the direction and policies we put forward to the people.

Question:  There have been increasing developments wanting to portray elections in Malaysia as unfair and not transparent … there are already attempts to seek foreign intervention. How can this be managed so that the outcome of elections is well accepted and we can move forward?

Answer: We also want victory based on fair elections, and we do not want to win through fraudulent means. Having won five states, they (the opposition) were in a state of delight; they did not dispute the results of the EC (Election Commission). (Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim (the opposition leader) had not questioned the EC when he was in Umno and   BN. Now, they seem to want to prepare the minds of the people to accept it that a BN victory would be only through fraud. This denies our practice of democracy.

This time, we are also prepared to have several observers from Asean to monitor the general election so that they can see that it is held in accordance with the Constitution and the country’s laws, and the validity of the people’s decision cannot be disputed.

Question:  Is the opposition not convinced of a victory?

Answer: That’s why I said they are preparing the minds of the people. Pre-emptive. There are people who say that if they do not win, they want to hold protest demonstrations, to show that our elections are unfair and not transparent. Anything can happen because they are too obsessed and desperate to take Putrajaya. Even Australia has dismissed (a request from Anwar to monitor and observe the 13th general election).

Question:  Some critics feel that  BN and UMNO are not aggressive enough even when they are about to face the mother of all elections, and particularly in fighting the opposition.

Answer: We are in the government. There are limitations as to what we can do. It is different in the case of the opposition. They are not bound by any limitation, even in hurling slander, providing wrong facts and so on. As the opposition, they can do this. But, we in the government have to be responsible. This may make it look like we are not aggressive.

Question:  What do you want the UMNO and BN members to do between now and the general election? What should they do to ensure a satisfactory victory?

Answer: Firstly, there must be organisational discipline. When we want to wage war, our forces must be organised in a strong and disciplined chain of command. We have to know what are orders, compliance to directives, doing work, and so on.  The lessons of the Muslim victory in the Badar War, for example, the defeat in the Uhud War, all these lessons of history should be in our minds.

If we have organisational discipline, I believe it will give us  tremendous strength. We have the numbers, but we must buttress this with organisational discipline which, I want to stress, is of most importance.If we are not disciplined, we will not accept decisions of the party.

Question:  There is a view that UMNO has difficulty in managing some of its divisional chiefs because they are assumed to be warlords. How can this be addressed?

Answer: This also comes under organisational discipline. It also includes all of us. If we do not accept orders through the chain of command, it means that we have violated discipline, and losing the battle can be a consequence. History has proof of this in many cases. I mentioned the Badar War, the Uhud War and other wars just now, and also past electoral incidents. There were constituencies where  we lost when there was no organisational discipline.

Question:  How far has discipline improved since you took over the helm of UMNO and   BN?

Answer: They (the members) gave their pledge. Tun Dr Mahathir also helped; he met them, they gave their pledge under oath. They also gave their pledge at the general assembly. I cannot do anything more. I have done what I can. It is now left to the individuals. If they do not go back on their pledge … I do not know. It’s between them and God.

Question:  Can the setting up of the disciplinary committee be of any help?

Answer: The fact is it is not necessary for us to discipline anyone. What I want to emphasise is self-discipline. For example, we do not need the AES (Automated Enforcement System). When we know that there is a speed limit on a certain stretch of road, we do not need the AES actually. But we are forced to install the system in some places because we want to educate our people. If we are disciplined, we can save lives.

In this case, it means that if we have self-discipline, our party will definitely achieve success. This is what we must give priority to because it will be futile to win seats but fail to form the government. It means, we will become the opposition. What’s the use of being the opposition? The important thing about the elections is that we want to form the government.

Question:  Malay and Islamic unity will be closely linked to the elections and UMNO. In recent years, the Malay Rulers have expressed concern over disunity among the Malays and Muslims. Do you share this apprehension?

Answer: Indeed, we are all worried about the disunity among the Muslims and the Malays. We hope that the Malays will give their support to UMNO, as the main party, in the elections. If we can portray UMNO as the key choice, UMNO will emerge as the strongest party. Malay Muslim unity means solidarity under the umbrella of UMNO as the main party. But, it is beyond us to pray for the destruction of Pas.

Question:   Are you offended?

Answer: No, why must I be offended? We have anticipated all kinds of things. Previously, they branded Dr Mahathir a pharaoh. All this is normal. I sleep soundly at night.

Question:You touched on the question of discipline. The disciplinary board acts against sabotage. Would it be possible to overcome this by naming the electoral candidates early? What are the pros and cons of UMNO naming the candidates early?

Answer: I feel we cannot do it too early; neither can we do it too late.We will find a time that we feel is most appropriate. Even if we make an early announcement, there is no guarantee there will be no sabotage.

 All these are possibilities in our elections, and even so, it will not be for the first time. These things have happened in the past but they were not so discernible when we were strong. After we were hit by the (political) tsunami, our recovery and efforts to recapture the lost states have become more difficult. It means we have to focus our minds on victory as the only objective without being distracted by any other consideration. Only then can we guarantee our victory.

Question: What is the most appropriate penalty for these betrayers?

Answer: Whatever form the penalty takes, even if we sack them from the party, they just switch over to another party. We have experienced this in the case of several people. Even without our having to sack them, there are the disloyal ones who jump ship.

Question:  Malay unity is always equated to a threat to the other communities. Can you explain  that UMNO does not intend to be united to confront the other communities?

Answer: Malay unity does not mean that we want to confront the other communities. As I said, we must bring the other communities to be with us. This is the spirit we have been carrying way back from the past, from the time of (former prime ministers) Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak. Why must we set aside what has been established by our founding leaders? If we had not wanted to cooperate with the other communities, Tunku would not have formed the Alliance (Party), Tun Razak would not have forged the BN. But, they did so because we know that our country draws its strength from racial cooperation. We have to hold on to that.

Question:  The opposition claims that UMNO is racist when it comes to Malay unity.

Answer: That is their allegation. We have never been racist. There could have been incidents which raised such a perception. We should rectify this, and we will do so. I find that when we introduced the 1Malaysia concept, people better understand that ours is a country where all the races must benefit from the nation’s leadership.

Question:  Pas, in its campaigns and ‘ceramah’ (talks) of late, has called for “the election of Pas as an alternative to UMNO”.

Answer: That’s their politics. It is not a question of religion. They are only concerned with coming to power. Instead, we find that their political game has to do much more than religion. That is why they are working with the DAP, for example.

Question: Can the support of the youth be seen in their participation in UMNO through the Youth and Puteri wings?

Answer: We portray ours as a party ready to bring a transformation to the country. It is not a party that is too rigid or conservative because young people yearn for change and like renewal.

 It is for this reason that the young people of today do not think that they should reject Umno and   BN despite we having been in power all this while. At least they see us as a party that can bring change and development in the country. Most importantly, their future is more secure under the leadership of UMNO and  BN.

 We know that as a party we cannot depend on our successes thus far. Many of the young people were born after independence. They do not know the past; they only read about it in history books. No matter how great our successes of the past, it does not matter for the young people. What they are concerned about is the present and the future.

Question:  What other ways are there to draw young people to join or engage with UMNO because there are still complaints about bureaucracy in the party?

Answer: We have introduced many programmes and agendas that can entice the Malays and young people to support UMNO and   BN. If young people are anti-establishment, how is it that we can win the campus elections in 18 of the 20 universities. We also held the Youth Day gathering on a large scale in Putrajaya, and we are also doing many other things, including communicating through the social media.

I am very active in the social media, and the number of my Twitter followers has exceeded one million. In Facebook, I have more than 1.3 million fans.

Question:  Your plans for the future?

Answer: We know what we have done so far. We should look at our achievements over the past four years. If, with the blessings of God, we secure a strong mandate, we will do much more and with greater intensity, God willing. We have the strength of moral leadership. If we examine the theoretical principles of leadership, they stem from two things – the formal, which are our positions, and the other, moral strength. If we combine the two, surely our leadership will be more effective.

Question:  On the general election, do you want to hold it next year, or do you want to let Parliament dissolve by itself?

Answer: If the election is not held in December, then it will be next year.  Unless, of course, we call the election in December. If it rains or there are floods, we can use boats.

Question: On the evening of Saturday, UMNO delegates will begin to return to their respective areas after having gathered at the PWTC. What advice do you want to give them?

Answer: I hope they will be able to appreciate the message to be delivered at the assembly and translate it into action and approach.We want to ensure our party’s victory. The primary objective is to form the government. And, the government is our buttress, now and in the future. – Bernama

Rory McIlroy wins in Dubai


November 26, 2012

Rory McIlroy wins DP World Tour Championship in Dubai

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/golf/20485805

DP World Tour Championship final leaderboard:

  • -23: R McIlroy (NI)
  • -21: J Rose (Eng)
  • -18: L Donald (Eng), C Schwartzel (SA)
  • Selected others -14: J Donaldson (Wal), P Harrington (Ire), S Garcia (Spa)
  • -13: S Jamieson (Sco)
  • -12: S Gallacher (Sco)
  • -11: R Rock (Eng)
  • -10: I Poulter (Eng), D Willett (Eng), C Wood (Eng), M Warren (Sco), R Ramsay (Sco)
  • -4: L Westwood (Eng), P Lawrie (Sco), D Drysdale (Sco)

World number one Rory McIlroy (left with Caroline) capped a sensational 2012 by birdieing the last five holes to win the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

The Northern Irishman won his fifth title of the year after a 66 took him to 23 under, two clear of Justin Rose.

Rose holed eight birdies and an eagle in a course record 10-under-par 62.Fellow Englishman Luke Donald, who led overnight with McIlroy, shared third with Charl Schwartzel on 18 under after closing with a one-under 71.

“I couldn’t have wished for the season to end any better,” said 23-year-old McIlroy who won his second major at the US PGA Championship in 2012 and emulated Donald’s feat from last year of winning the European and American money lists.

“Coming here with the [European Tour's] Race to Dubai wrapped up, I wanted to win the tournament trophy too and that’s what I’ve done.It’s a great way to finish a great season.”

What had been expected to be a two-way shoot-out for the title between McIlroy and Donald was quickly turned into a three-way battle when Rose hit four birdies on the front nine to jump to 15 under.

McIlroy, who began on 17 under, bogeyed his opening hole, while Donald three-putted the third to record his first bogey of the tournament – and first in 103 holes on the Jumeirah Golf Estates course.

Rose meanwhile was holing a sixth birdie on the 13th before knocking in a five-foot eagle putt on the 14th to move one head of McIlroy on 19 under and two clear of Donald, both of who missed birdie chances on the 10th.

McIlroy levelled with a birdie on 11 but Rose inched ahead by matching that on the 15th and the world number seven unwittingly doubled his advantage by parring the 16th and 17th while McIlroy was bogeying the 13th.

Donald’s challenge had already faltered with a bogey on the 12th and although birdies on the 14th and 16th gave him hope of making a late surge, he found the greenside stream with his second to the par-five 18th.

Rose, needing a par on the the last hole to break the course record, went one better, expertly judging a tricky 100-foot putt down the slope from the back of the green to leave himself a six-inch tap-in birdie to set the clubhouse lead on 21 under.

On his putt, Rose said: “I was one roll away from looking like an idiot.As soon as the ball got to the top of the hill and started to roll down I started to get goosebumps because I thought it was going in.”

However, Rose’s lead was short-lived as McIlroy holed birdie putts from three and 20 feet on the 15th and 16th to draw level, before hitting a five iron to six feet on the par-three 17th to set up his fourth successive birdie.

He wrapped up the victory with a curling 10-foot putt on the last, and quickly set his sights on more success in 2013 when asked about his next target.

“To be focused on the majors, try to win more of those,” he said. “I’ve won one in ’11 and one in ’12. It would be nice to keep that run going next year, to keep improving as a player.I can feel like I can improve in different areas of the game still. “

Himpunan Hijau at Dataran Merdeka for the Night


November 26, 2012

Himpunan Hijau at Dataran Merdeka for the Night

by Lu Wei Hoong and Lee Long Hui(11-25-12)-http://www.malaysiakini.com

Himpunan Hijau leaders will spend the night in open air near Dataran Merdeka in hopes that their act of protest would elicit a response from Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Speaking to reporters after Himpunan Hijau’s 300km protest march, chairperson Wong Tack said he hoped that Najib could meet them to listen “the voice of the people”.Asked what would happen if the Premier does not show up, he said that Najib and his administration will then lose their credibility.

“If Prime Minister doesn’t come down to meet us by tomorrow, then (it means that) the government (has) abandoned the people… the choice (of who to vote for) is ours in next general election.”

The 13-day day 300 km walk from Kuantan to Kuala Lumpur arrived to its final destination – the iconic Dataran Merdeka – at about 5pm today. Beginning with just 70 people, the number of participants gradually grew before snowballing to about 20,000 people by the time they reach their destination.

Himpunan Hijau’s leaders plan to spend the night in Dataran Merdeka – which is cordoned off by the Police – until tomorrow morning where they expect several lawmakers to come meet them.

Originally, the intention was to set camp within Dataran Merdeka, but city hall has closed it off.Wong has made it clear that they are not rallying the public to join the camp out, but will not stop the public from doing so.

Logistical arrangements

The Police has thus far made no attempts to impede Himpunan Hijau’s march, other than to cordon off Dataran Merdeka.Himpunan Hijau coordinator Lee Chin Chen told Malaysiakini that some of the movement’s committee members, with cooperation from PAS’ unit Amal, will be looking after those in the area.

“We don’t know whether the Police will allow us to set up tents,” he said, adding that he was unsure how many people will be joining them, since it is entirely voluntary.

He urge those who will be joining them to bring sleeping bags and tents as Himpunan Hijau will be giving priority, in terms of equipment, to the original group who has been marching from Kuantan.

He added that Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng had pledged to provide some manpower for security. As for sanitary arrangements, Lee said those who are staying over have been instructed to use public toilets and toilets in nearby restaurants.

“There are also some participant from Kuala Lumpur, and we will bath at their houses as well,” he added.Meanwhile, Wong said that he would be returning to Kuantan tomorrow afternoon in order to organise activities to stop Lynas’ shipments.

Massive Public Support for Himpunan Hijau Activists


November 25, 2012

Massive Public Support for Himpunan Hijau Activists

by Lee Long Hui@http://www.malaysiakini.com

Himpunan Hijau activists have completed their 300km journey on foot from Kuantan to Kuala Lumpur as a sign of protest against the Lynas rare earth refinery in Gebeng, Pahang.

From 70 participants, there gradually gained momentum and by the time the group reached Dataran Merdeka, an estimated 20,000 people had joined in. By about 5.20pm, Himpunan Hijau chairperson Wong Tack announced to the crowd that the march was a massive success because Malaysians from all walks of life participated.

“You have come forward… Malaysia has come forward… ,” he said. Wong and a few of his comrades will be spending the night near Police barricades. He said Himpunan Hijau would leave it to the public to decide whether to follow suit.

The final leg of the journey involved a 22km trek from PAS’ former headquarters in Gombak, where some 2,000 participants spent the night, to Dataran Merdeka.
Live reports of today’s march follow:himpunan hijau green walk crowd at duke highway 251112 611.15amGombak- Some 2,000 people, including several families, are marching from PAS’ former headquarters in Gombak towards the city centre.PAS’ unit amal members are controlling the traffic flow while a handful of Police personnel nearby are keeping watch.It is a sunny Sunday morning and the marchers are in high spirits.

11.30amGombak – The crowd sized is growing and they are marching along the DUKE Highway towards Kampung Railway, Sentul for a short break.

Many participants are holding the national flag and Himpunan Hijau’s flag. They are repeatedly chanting “Stop Lynas”. They are also receiving a morale boost from many motorist who are honking in support.

himpunan hijau green walk crowd at duke highway 251112 411.57amSentul – The group is now approaching Sentul and are pressing on under the sweltering heat. Many are armed with umbrellas and straw hats.

12.22amSentul - Now approaching Jalan Sentul Pasar where many participants are buying water from petrol stations to stay cool. They are hoping to arrive at Kampung Railway – their final rest stop – on schedule before heading off again at 2pm.

himpunan hijau green walk crowd at duke highway 251112 312.49pmSentul – March participants were given a warm welcome at Kampung Railway at a PKR Deepavali event, organised by the Batu PKR division. This particular stop was not part of the group’s itinerary.

The group were ushered towards the buffet lines by Batu MP Tian Chua. They are taking a short group before heading off to the Sentul KTM station, a rendevous point. It is estimated that the crowd is now 3,000 strong.

himpunan hijau green walk crowd at duke highway 251112 21.24pmSentul - The group finally reaches Kampung Railway, Sentul which is final stop before entering the city centre.

Himpunan Hijau chairperson Wong Tack addresses the crowd and reminds them to show discipline. “We will be at Dataran in few hours later, when we arrive, that’s not the final destination, that’s only our place to rest our foot, and than we will move forward,” he said.

Wong insist that the group will stay spend a night at Dataran Merdeka tonight and urge the public to visit them so they can have a dialogue session.

“We will spend a night there and wait for the sunrise tomorrow,” he added.

himpunan hijau green walk crowd at duke highway 2511122:15pm- Sentul - PKR Vice President Nurul Izzah Anwar was spotted at the Batu PKR division open house event and is seen mingling with the march participants.

2.20pmSentul - Participants are on the move again, this time heading towards the Sentul KTM Komuter station and the Titiwangsa Monorail station which are designated rendevous points with other groups.

Joining the march is Nurul Izzah and Batu PAS division chief Ishak Surin.

himpunan hijau green walk crowd2.27pmSentul - A man identified only as Ahmad, 44, from Kuantan, tells Malaysiakini that his decision to participate in the gruelling trek was obvious.

“Of course (I need to be here). This is my homeland. Don’t you think that thing (rare earth refinery) is dangerous? You do not need to ask (such a question),” said the miffed activist.

2.47pmSentul – About 500 people are marching from the Sentul Monorail. They are trying to meet up with the main group.

3.01pm Sentul - March participants are slowly making their way along Jalan Sentul towards Jalan Tun Razak while steadily growing in numbers.

The latest estimate is 5,000. The weather appears to be holding up. They are expected to arrive at Dataran Merdeka at 4pm.

himpunan hijau dataran merdeka 2511123.04pmJalan Tun Razak – Some participants are waiting at the Titiwangsa Monorail station for the main group to arrive.

Among them is Tan Mei Yin (left), 23, who took a 3-hour bus from Segamat, Johor, to join the rally. She says that she has prepared for police action.

“I prepared salt, towel, water… this is for the future of my children,” said Tan, who is dressed in green and also prepared a yellow scarf.

3.22pm - Sentul - Rohaidah Mohammad from Bandar Tun Razak, is joining the march this afternoon with her husband and three kids in tow.

himpunan hijau dataran merdeka 251112 rohaidahThe took the KTM Komuterto reach the Sentul station and almost immediately was able to join the main group.

The mother of three said that the reason they support the walk is they don’t want their children to stay in a unhealthy environment.

“When they grow up, I want them to know that we’ve done something for them, and whether we can achieve our target or not is second,” said the 36-year-old.

3.25pmJalan Ipoh – Adam Adli is spotted leading a group of students chanting slogans.

Another participant, BC Tan, 30, from Penang told Malaysiakini that he appreciated the warm hospitality that he received at PAS’ former headquarters where he and many others spent the night.

himpunan hijau dataran merdeka 251112 hula“That place was nice. It had all the facilities we need. We were treated well,” said Tan.

Another participant that is turning many heads is one man who said he has been spinning a hula-hoop around his waist since he joined the march at Kampung Awa, Pahang.

The man, who declined to be named, said he only stops spinning during breaks.

3.45pm - Chow Kit – The participants are now in the Chow Kit area and are inching their way closer towards Dataran Merdeka.

3.50pmChow Kit – Chong Mee Chin from Pontian Johor says she has been marching for the past three days, with her dog Fei Fei.

But for the final leg of the march, the 38-year-old lady said Fei Fei is going to piggyback all the way to Dataran Merdeka.“He has been walking for the past two days, he’s very tired now, so I’ve decided not to let him walk,” she told Malaysiakini.

Chong said that she didn’t stay overnight at PAS former headquarters at Gombak last night because she had to care for her dog. “I am carrying a dog, so I slept somewhere else. I don’t even enter their building, to show respect to Muslim,” she said.

himpunan hijau dataran merdeka 2511124.00pmJalan TAR – Participants are now taking two lanes of the busy Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and are about 2km away from Dataran Merdeka.

4.15pmJalan TAR – The main group has finally made it to Maju Junction Mall, where they are greeted by a few hundred green-shirts waiting to join in. They are now just a short walk away from Dataran Merdeka.

There are reports of heavy police presence behind the Sultan Abdul Samad building.

himpunan hijau dataran merdeka 2511124.20pmJalan TAR – There is a bit of rain here but the crowd is growing exponentially. Latest estimate: 10,000.

4.23pmJalan TAR - March participants now occupy the entire width of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman as the police and PAS unit amal volunteers prevent vehicles from entering the road after Maju Junction Mall.

As the rain is beginning to fall, many participants are putting on rain coats and opening up their umbrellas while marching with high spirit.

4.30pmJalan TAR – The march is now going pass Sogo shopping complex. Dataran Merdeka is just a few minutes ahead. BERSIH 2.0 co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan is spotted among the crowd.

4:53pm- Dataran Merdeka - The crowd is swelled to well over 15,000 now and they are currently grouped up near the northern most tip of Dataran Merdeka.

himpunan hijau dataran merdeka 251112It appears that Jalan Parlimen and Jalan Tun Perak, which is perpendicular to Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, has been blocked off to motorists.

This has allowed march participants and tourists to flood the streets at the very location that BERSIH 3.0 was dispersed back in April 28. The rain has ceased but the weather may not hold.

himpunan hijau dataran merdeka 2511125.00pmDataran Merdeka - The police are manning two layers of barricades at the northern most point of the Sultan Abdul Samad building.

Himpunan Hijau activists are creating their own human barricade in order to create a substantial buffer between march participants and the Police.

5:05pm- Dataran Merdeka – Human Rights Commission member James Nayagam said the police had asked him to become the intermediary to talk to Himpunan Hijau supporters.

green march reaching dataran 251112 crowd 01He said that the Police had promised not to take action unless the barricade was breached.

5.20pm - Dataran Merdeka - March participants appear to be just idling while waiting for march leaders to decide on the next course of action.

Many were sitting on the Jalan Parlimen-Jalan Tun Perak-Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman junction which would be normally be choking with traffic.

green march reaching dataran 251112 wong tack speech 035.25pm - Dataran Merdeka - Himpunan Hijau chairperson Wong Tack is triumphantly hoisted on top of a parked car to address the crowd. He thanked Malaysians for showing support for the movement.”You have come forward… Malaysia has come forward… ,” he said.

5.37pm - Dataran Merdeka – Dang Wangi district Police chief Zainuddin Ahmad announces through the loudhailer that rally organisers will be investigated under the Peaceful Assembly Act for failing to seek permission for the event.

green march reaching dataran 251112 crowd 02Zainuddin warned that investigations will be conducted under Section 9 (1) of the law and action can be taken under Section 9 (5) of the same law.There is tension in the air as the authorities finally react.

Wong Tack responds by addressing Himpunan Hijau supporters again.He said that throughout the 300km journey, doors were opened to march participants. But at Dataran Merdeka, the field is closed to them.

green march reaching dataran 251112 crowd 035.45pm - Dataran Merdeka - Tensions have cooled after Wong Tack’s speech and rows of police personnel sat down. Many participants are finding places to sit as the rain begins to pour.Wong is addressing reporters now.

6.00pm - Dataran Merdeka - Wong Tack says he and a few of his followers will be sitting in front of the barricade until 9am the next morning.

“This (March) is not organised by any organisation. I am here as an individual. You are all here as individuals.I am responsible for myself and I will sit here. And you can all choose to sit here, or not,” he announced.

[More to follow]

Reporting by Lee Long Hui, Zulaikha Zulkifli and Lu Wei Hoong.

Najib: Why Regime Change if it is not broken


November 24, 2012

Why Regime Change if it is not broken

by Aidila Razak@http://www.malaysiakini.com

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak today urged against a change of government in Malaysia as the present administration has turned the nation into the “envy” of others.

elderly woman at barisan 1malaysia gatheringReferring to the Arab Spring, he said that Malaysians cannot allow such an uprising to take place here.

“Why fix it (the government) if it’s not broken? It’s not broken, far from it. Our country is the envy of many other nations,” he said.

“If we are a failed state then how is it that even the Moros (Muslims in southern Philippines) look to us for peace after 40 years of bloodshed?”

He was addressing about 2,000 people at the state-sponsored NGO gathering ‘Himpunan Barisan 1Malaysia’ at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) today.

The PM said that the situation in the nations which underwent regime change during the Arab Spring is far different from Malaysia, where the youth are “full of hope of a future that is far better than today”.

He said that the government has also provided all sorts of incentives to the people, and can give more if the nation is well governed.

barisan 1malaysia gathering pwtc makciks“Lately we have raised salaries, allowances and pensions, given the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) 1, BR1M 2, which also available to singles and even given free car tyres.

“What else do you want? More can be given, and we will give more in the future on the condition that the nation is governed well,” he said.

And this, he said, cannot be done through “empty promises” like those mentioned in the opposition’s manifesto document the Buku Jingga – or “Buku Jing-gay, as others say” quipped the PM.

Political rally in thin disguise

In what sounded like a speech meant for a political rally, Najib said that the opposition makes a lot of claims about irregularities during polls, but said even the United States presidential elections had problems.

“But do they cry fraud and and denounce Obama’s victory? When they (Pakatan) won five states, they kept quiet, but now they have started again by claiming there are 12-year-olds on the roll.

“Show proof and we’ll fix it. Don’t go crying to other countries, embarrassing our country by going to Australia for help. It’s good that the Australians are smart and said ‘No way’,” he said.

Referring to PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim’s reported appeal to Australia to intervene in the upcoming polls that the latter claims is being rigged, Najib accused Anwar of liking to instigate others against Malaysia.

To drive his point, the BN chief cracked an off-colour joke playing on sodomy allegations against Anwar, without mentioning names. “He goes here and there, and ‘pokes’ people (against the Malaysian government).He’s not done with his poking… so maybe that’s why they built this rostrum like a cage – to protect me,” he said to laughter.

According to organising secretariat chief Ahmad Maslan,  the event costs “less than RM500,000″ and was sponsored by the government and other organisations.

While earlier insisting that it is a non-partisan event for nation-building and had nothing to do with BN’s election campaign, Ahmad, who is also UMNO information chief, in his speech today revealed that the event was organised by the “information secretariat and the UMNO Overseas Club alumni”.

The goodie bags handed out to the members of the 1,500-odd NGOs participating also included a notebook by the UMNO Overseas Club alumni organisation, plus leaflets on the 1Malaysia concept.

Among the individuals on stage, believed to be guests of honour, were anti-Pakatan Rakyat grassroots speaker Umi Hafilda Ali, former PKR member S Nallakarupan dan Mohd Ali Baharom, who led a butt exercise in front of Bersih co-chairperson S Ambiga’s home earlier this year.

Nallakarupan and Umi Hafilda were seated in the front row, along with the PM’s wife Rosmah Mansor.

Also spotted among the attendees was PERKASA chief Ibrahim Ali, while BN leaders on stage included UMNO Wanita chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and PPP head M Kayveas.

Meanwhile, the UMNO Overseas Club organisation also announced that it collected more than RM10,000 from the audience today to be donated to the Gaza humanitarian effort.