PAS President stands in the way of Khalid Ibrahim’s Ouster


July 17, 2014

SELANGOR: PAS President stands in the way of Khalid Ibrahim’s Ouster as Menteri Besar

ANALYSIS by Amin Iskandar and Eileen Ng@www.themalaysianinsider.com

HadiFinding a solution to the issue surrounding Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim’s shaky position as Selangor Menteri Besar may take longer than previously thought because PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang does not see any benefit in making any change at the moment.

Although opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had yesterday proclaimed that the so-called Kajang move will continue and that his party hopes to resolve the matter before Hari Raya Aidilfitri, the PKR defacto leader realises without Hadi’s support, the move to replace embattled Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim will not be successful.

Hadi’s stand remains despite Khalid losing support from both PKR and DAP and is now considered a liability to Pakatan Rakyat, possibly causing them to lose Selangor in the next general election.

Selangor PAS had also unanimously agreed for the second term Menteri Besar to be replaced with a leader they can work with but they will not make any moves without Hadi’s blessing.

From the start, Hadi had opposed the Kajang move, which was aimed at making Anwar the Menteri Besar in Malaysia’s richest state but the plan was scuttled after the Court of Appeal found him guilty of sodomising his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

A Pakatan senior activist told The Malaysian Insider that privately, Hadi disliked the PKR de-facto leader because in their younger years, the duo had competed against each other to capture the Muslim ground in the country.

“If Datuk Fadzil Noor is still PAS president, Anwar’s political moves will be easier because there is no animosity between the two,” said the activist in referring to the former PAS president who grew close with Anwar after the latter was sacked as deputy prime minister in 1998. Fadzil died in 2002.

“Hadi is envious of Anwar because Anwar is recognised as a Malaysian Muslim leader by the international community because of his vast understanding and grasp of international politics. Moreover, Anwar is fluent in English.

“This is why a few PAS leaders met with Ku Li before last year’s general election to offer him the post of prime minister if Pakatan takes over Putrajaya,” said the activist in referring to Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Gua Musang MP.

Anwar and KhalidA Tussle between Anwar and Khalid

Additionally, Hadi wants Khalid to remain because the latter had ensured his interests in Selangor are taken care of. Hadi’s son-in-law, Zaharudin Muhammad is the religious head of state-owned company Kumpulan Perangsang Selangor Berhad (KPSB).

Khalid had also appointed Raja Idris Raja Kamarudin, the brother of popular blogger Raja Petra as the Chairman of a few of the state’s sister companies, such as KPSB, Kumpulan Hartanah Selangor Berhad (KHSB), Central Spectrum (M) Sdn Bhd and CeresTelecom Sdn Bhd. Raja Idris enjoys a close relationship with Hadi, which was formed while the latter was the Terengganu Menteri Besar between 1999 and 2004.

During the time, Hadi appointed Raja Idris to sit in Amanah Saham Gemilang (ASG) and be the Chief Executive Officer of TDM Berhad, which is one of the east coast state’s biggest companies.

However, Dr Ooi Kee Beng, the Deputy Director of Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies believes Anwar will go all the way to replace Khalid.”I think if push comes to shove, Anwar will go ahead with it. It will look silly if Pakatan can’t get rid of one man who is acting not according to the party’s agenda. So I think Anwar will try to push through this… he can’t back down,” he said.

PAS, he said, is trying to “punch above its weight” in this matter but pointed out the Islamist party will have to live with the fact a change will happen and that the next menteri besar is very likely not going to be from their ranks.

As Selangor is the crown jewel of PKR, Dr Ooi does not foresee the party giving up on the coveted Menteri Besar post.PKR cannot risk losing Selangor and I don’t think things will go that far,” he said to a question whether this issue might result in Pakatan losing Selangor. For PKR to lose Selangor, they might as well give up… they can’t do that. They have to retain control of the MB position”.

As for the role of the Sultan, Dr Ooi said his political power should not be overplayed as the monarch’s power is mostly nominal and formal. “I don’t think he can stop the removal of a person. The question is whether he will accept the new candidate. He has to have a very good reason why he does not,” he said.

Hours after Khalid announced that he will stay in power until the end of his term, Anwar reiterated yesterday that the Kajang move will go on, reminding party members that it will benefit everyone. He had said the move’s objective was to spur change and lift Selangor’s capability further.

“The court decision was manipulated to hinder my advances. The Kajang move was meant to push for change. As I have said before, the rationale was that although we appreciate and acknowledge all the efforts being done right now, all the successes and benefits, there is room for improvement, to push the boundaries and convince the people further,” he had said.

Last Monday, PAS Secretary-General Datuk Mustafa Ali said Khalid’s fate will be decided by the Pakatan council, which is expected to meet before the Hari Raya celebrations.

“Maybe we will meet before Raya as we have not convene a meeting for a long time. Issues to be discussed might include the Menteri Besar,” he was quoted as saying.

The Last Days of a Menteri Besar


July 14, 2014

The Last Days of a Menteri Besar

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

ANALYSIS:  PKR’s Ketua Umum Anwar Ibrahim’s latest comments on Saturday have made it clear that Abdul Khalid Ibrahim is walking his last days as Selangor Menteri Besar.

Anwar’s statement can be seen as an admission of sorts, as if seeking Khalid to vacate the seat on request of his party and Pakatan Rakyat.Khalid now appears to be alone in his corner, and can no longer reach out for support from PKR to remain in the post that he has held for six years.

A change of MB’s is not something strange in politics. Indeed in Terengganu, the MBs were changed as per normal procedure at the behest of top party leadership.

Those in PKR agitating for Khalid’s departure, however, say he must do so for the sake of accountability. Is this really the reason for Khalid to leave?

While Anwar has called for the issue to be dealt with properly “behind closed doors”, veiled attacks and psychological warfare via the mainstream and social media continue to prevail. As a result, whether or not Khalid leaves, the polemics and scheming that it has ignited can do no worse for PKR and Pakatan’s image.

‘Move 28′

With the PKR party election still unresolved, shifting in the winds is something slyly dubbed ‘Move 28′ purportedly discussed by the Selangor Backbenchers’ Club (BBC) recently.Sources from the legislative assembly said 28 out of 31 Selangor Pakatan assemblypersons have agreed to move a motion of no confidence against Khalid.

This has led Selangor BBC chairperson Azmin Ali (left) to call a special meeting for the first time in three years in Shah Alam last Tuesday.

It is apparent that most of the DAP and PKR assembly persons have come to the consensus to strongly urge Khalid to resign.

PAS has, however, remained silent on the matter, waiting on ‘higher authority’ for consent. “Only two assembly persons from PAS attended the meeting – Khasim Abdul Aziz (Lembah Jaya) and Saari Sungib (Ulu Klang),” the source told Malaysiakini.

Selangor PAS Commissioner Iskandar Ab Samad, who is also a Selangor Executive Councillor, declined to comment on whether he supports or rejects Khalid.

However, Selangor PAS sources claim that the directive from the top is to accede to PKR’s and DAP’s pressure on the matter.

Azmin, who has long been said to be eyeing the MB post, himself refuses to confirm or deny ‘Move 28’. “Please don’t speculate,” he told reporters who swarmed him after the meeting on Tuesday. PKR sources claim that the vote of no confidence could not be discussed at the said meeting, as PAS representatives had not received clear instructions from their top leaders.

Psychological warfare continues

Meanwhile, war between pro- and anti-Khalid sources heighten in the social and mainstream media with both sides launching broad sides, both veiled and direct. Selangor DAP leaders have been increasingly vocal in attacking Khalid on issues like the water restructuring, water rationing, the Bible Society Malaysia bible seizure and the construction of the Kinrara-Damansara Expressway (Kidex).

Selangor PKR, on the other hand, is believed to be using the long-protracted party polls as an anti-Khalid platform, further widening Azmin’s lead against Khalid in the number two race.

“Khalid will feel even more pressured after he loses in the polls. He will have nothing left,” one source told Malaysiakini.

On Khalid’s side, the NGO Coalition of Selangorians in Support of the MB (Pasmeb) is actively voicing opinions and lodging police reports against PKR leaders believed to be linked to the spreading of false information on Khalid’s resignation last week.

Also believed to be linked to the feud is Khalid’s announcement that an internal audit will be conducted on all state constituency service centres that has received grants from the state. The state is also reviewing the performance of all state GLCs and its directors – a move Khalid says is not political but is seen to place pressure on Selangor PKR leaders sitting on boards of directors.

Will Pakatan lose Selangor?

Worse, both sides are now summoning the bogeyman of defeat the 14th general election if whatever they are pushing for does not materialise. Sources from the MB’s Office have raised concerns that if Khalid is gone, the RM3 billion in reserves that he has helped accumulate will be prioritised for partisan politics instead of the rakyat.

Those who have stuck it out with Khalid since 2008 also caution that the popular ‘Democratising the Selangor Economy’ programmes introduced by the MB will be cancelled or changed.

“What will the rakyat say when PKR or Pakatan are seen using taxpayers’ money at whim?” one source asked.

The source also claimed that Khalid’s departure from the corner office of the state secretariat building will make things easier for BN to wrest back the crown jewel state. The source said that this is as Khalid’s successor will not be able to take drastic measures superseding political interest as ruthlessly as the former Guthrie CEO did.

On the flipside, the opposing side argues if Khalid continues to dig his heels in the airing of dirty linen it will only cause voter distrust in Selangor, which can be further exploited by the BN. “If Khalid does not resign, Pakatan will lose Selangor after this,” one Selangor PKR source said bluntly.

The rakyat may soon be able to see for themselves how BN and Pakatan deal with the issue of changing MBs in the states that they hold, and decide which one wins the vote. The fledgling Pakatan’s wisdom in handling this thorny issue will also show if the coalition is simply a pact for individual political gains, or one which heeds the people’s desires.Will PKR face this delicate test?

 

Democracy gets short shrift from Obama in Malaysia


May 3, 2014

American Enterprise Institute (AEI)

Soft power is not the same as doing nothing: Democracy gets short shrift from Obama in Malaysia

by Paul Wolfowitz (05-01-14)

Paul WolfowitzNot mentioned in this fawning account in today’s Washington Post of Obama’s “comfort and personal connections” in Southeast Asia, is the signal failure of his visit to Malaysia, where he refused to meet with the leader of the Malaysian democratic opposition.

President Obama, like all American presidents in recent history, meets routinely with opposition leaders in democratic countries like the UK and Germany and even in some not so democratic ones, such as Burma, where he met with Aung San Suu Kyi, a very important meeting given the key role that she plays in determining that country’s future.

najibobamaGood buddies

Yet the President, using the thin excuse of scheduling difficulties, refused to meet with Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of the Malaysian opposition coalition which managed, despite blatant fraud and vote rigging in last year’s election, to gain 52% of the popular vote (a margin which was reduced by gerrymandering to only 40% of the seats in parliament). That alone would seem to warrant a meeting by the President of the United States with the leader of the opposition.

Moreover, in this case there is the additional consideration that Mr. Anwar is now being persecuted by the government, as he has been for many years, on trumped-up charges of sodomy.

After Anwar was initially acquitted on the most recent charges, the government appealed the acquittal, as it can do in Malaysia. It made an unusual ad hoc appointment of a member of the ruling UMNO party, a Mr. Shafee Abdullah, who has litigated numerous high-profile cases for UMNO, as a lead prosecutor to appeal the acquittal. In addition to that obvious conflict of interest, Mr. Shafee was present at a meeting in 2008 between the Anwar’s accuser and Prime Minister Najib, just a few days before the original charges were brought, a meeting which the government first denied and then later admitted.

Not surprisingly, with this appeal the government succeeded in overturning the acquittal. The resulting conviction, a few months ago, came just in time to prevent Anwar from running for the position of Chief Minister of Malaysia’s most important state. If that conviction is upheld after Anwar’s current appeal, he faces the prospect of many years in jail.

A meeting by Obama with the leader of the Malaysian opposition would have sent a powerful message of US support for the majority of Malaysians – and probably a much larger majority of young Malaysians – who long for peaceful, democratic change in their country, one of the Muslim-majority countries that is perhaps most ready for a transition to real democracy.

Moreover, with such a meeting, President Obama could have supported with his personal prestige the pieties that he uttered, at his joint press conference with Prime Minister Najib, about the need for countries that want “to be successful in the 21st century” to “respect rule of law. . . freedom of speech…the right of opposition to oppose even when it drives you crazy, and freedom of assembly.”

Instead, the President called Prime Minister Najib a “reformer” and stood by silently while Najib claimed falsely that the action against Anwar is not an action by the government but rather “an action taken by an individual . . . and under the eyes of the law, even if you’re a small man or a big man, you have equal justice.” The absurdity of this last claim is evident in the fact that one of the very few people ever to be tried under Malaysia’s sodomy law – in the 77 years since the British colonial rulers introduced it – is the popular leader of the opposition.

anwar_ibrahim_susan_riceAnwar Met National Security Advisor Dr. Susan Rice

Instead, President Obama delegated the meeting with Mr. Anwar to National Security Advisor Susan Rice. According to the official White House report of that private meeting, Rice told Anwar “that the United States has followed his case closely, and that the decision to prosecute him and the trial have raised a number of concerns regarding the rule of law and the independence of the courts.”

Good words, but they would have been much more valuable if they had been uttered in public and by the president himself. And even more powerful would have been the symbolism and substance of a presidential meeting. Instead, by refusing to meet with him, the president appears to be sending a green light to the Malaysian government, whether he means to or not, that it can continue its legal persecution of the opposition leadership without meeting any serious American objection.

One would like to hope that the warm public atmosphere is actually a way to obtain real results in private. President Reagan did that, with conspicuous success, in the case of the Pentecostalist asylum-seekers in Russia and in the case of opposition leader Kim Dae Jung in South Korea.

Perhaps such hope is not vain. Anwar himself is said to be very pleased with the statement issued by the White House after his meeting with Susan Rice and pleased that he had a chance for the first time to make his case directly to a senior White House official. Perhaps the refusal of the president to meet with Anwar was part of some private understanding with the Malaysian government that it would do the right thing. Or perhaps, having finally understood the gravity of the situation, the White House will pressure the Malaysians not to embarrass President Obama on the heels of his visit.

One can hope for that outcome. But if, instead, the railroad of Malaysian “justice” proceeds on track to its unhappy destination, that will be bad not only for Mr. Anwar personally, but also for Malaysian democracy and for America’s reputation in Malaysia, particularly with the future generation of young Malaysians.

If that happens, it will be one more example, and a particularly tragic one, of this American president failing to use the “soft power” of his unusual international popularity to produce important concrete results for human rights and democracy.

US National Security Advisor Dr.Susan Rice tells Najib and Cohorts: Respect The Rule of Law


April 28, 2014

Goodbye, MalaysiaGoodbye, Mr.President and Thank You for coming to our Country. Thank You also for this reminder: “Malaysia won’t succeed if non-Muslims don’t have opportunity.”

US National Security Advisor Dr.Susan Rice tells Najib and Cohorts: Respect The Rule of Law

dr-susan-riceUS National Security Adviser Susan Rice (left) today met Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and expressed concern at a sodomy conviction against him that is widely seen as politically motivated.

Wrapping up a US visit to Malaysia led by President Barack Obama, Rice also called on the government of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to ensure the rule of law in the country.

“Ambassador Rice emphasised to Mr Anwar that the United States has followed his case closely, and that the decision to prosecute him and the trial have raised a number of concerns regarding the rule of law and the independence of the courts,” a White House statement said after their meeting in Kuala Lumpur.

Anwar was convicted and sentenced to five years in jail on March 7 on charges he sodomised former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan. He is free pending an appeal.

Anwar says the charge is false and part of a long-running government campaign to smear his name with charges of sodomy, which is illegal in Malaysia.The opposition has heavily eroded the ruling coalition’s control of parliament in recent elections.

Rice also said during the meeting that it was “critical for Malaysia to apply the rule Anwar-Kajangof law fairly, transparently, and apolitically in order to promote confidence in Malaysia’s democracy and judiciary”.

Obama left Malaysia today morning for the Philippines as part of an Asian tour that also took him to Japan and South Korea.

The President nudged Najib in a joint press briefing yesterday to ensure rights were protected, but also indicated the issue was unlikely to stand in the way of US plans to improve ties with Malaysia. Obama is keen to shore up US engagement with a region in which China’s increasing assertiveness is causing growing alarm.

Anwar released a statement after the Rice meeting, saying he told her that US-Malaysia ties should include not just trade and security and other traditional issues but also “human rights, good governance and democracy”.

The US administration raised eyebrows by leaving Anwar off Obama’s list of appointments. But the President said sending his senior foreign policy official to the meeting signalled the importance he attached to it.

Malaysia’s ruling regime has kept a tight grip on power for decades, often jailing or pressuring opponents with court charges.Critics say it has launched a clampdown on rights and free expression since Anwar’s opposition won the popular vote in elections last year for the first time.

Najib retained power due in part to an electoral system favouring his coalition. – AFP, April 28, 2014.

_____________

Ambiga: We told President Obama what Najib didn’t

by Hafiz Yatim@http://www.malaysiakini.com

Members of the civil society presented Malaysia in its rawest form to US President Barack Obama during their nearly hour-long meeting with him yesterday.

Human rights group Hakam Associate President Ambiga Sreenevasen, who was among those present, shared with Malaysiakini what was discussed during the historic session with President Barack Obama.

“Some of the issues (raised) were the divisive politics, religious and racial extremism, discrimination, authoritarianism of the government by way of repressive legislation, free and fair elections and the rule of  law…,” Ambiga said.

Also highlighted were the charges against Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and the persecution of the opposition by way of sedition charges and charges under the Peaceful Assembly Act.

Obama, she said, was also briefed on how Malaysian authorities stifled the media.

“We made it clear (to the President)  that Malaysia was neither a  moderate Muslim nation nor was it a democracy in the true sense of the word,” the former Bar Council President added.

Ambiga’s views were similarly shared by Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah, who said  Malaysia was neither a democratic nor a moderate country, and that old laws were used against the opposition, as highlighted by Bar Council president Christopher Leong, who were among those who met with Obama.

Earlier today, PKR Vice-President N Surendran also pointed out that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak had mislead the public by saying that the Sodomy II case against Anwar was private action when it was the Attorney-General who initiated the charge.

Obama meets, Najib did not

Ambiga said Obama had put the civil society leaders at ease and that the meeting very informal, throughout.“Obama was concerned about what we raised and agreed with us on the importance of upholding the rule of law and human rights. Interestingly, he had apparently earlier said, at the town hall meeting (at Universiti Malaya) that Malaysia cannot prosper as a nation if there was discrimination against the non-Muslims.

“This is a significant statement by President Obama and needed to be said. Sadly, we decry such discrimination in other countries but do not fully appreciate the effects of such conduct on the future of our nation.”

As what had been reiterated by Maria (left), Christian Federation of Malaysia General Secretary Rev. Dr Hermen Shastri and Leong, Ambiga said the US President indicated he would raise these concerns with the Malaysian government when he could. Obama, Ambiga said, asked the NGOs to continue with their engagement on human rights issues.

She pointed out that lawyer Honey Tan, one of the proponents of the Universal Periodic Review and one of the participants, made an interesting observation, that while the Prime Minister Najib has not met with these members of civil society groups despite requests made, the US President has.

“Hence, we are very appreciative of the time the US President spent with us. MoreAmbiga importantly, I believe that this meeting sends out a powerful message that civil society plays a significant role in the advancement of democracy the world over,” Ambiga, a recipient of the  US International Women of Courage Award in 2009, said.

In reference to Obama’s statement at the state dinner that Malaysia should have, in the next generation, a better nation than the one given to us, Ambiga said in Malaysia’s case, the next generation was not being handed over a better Malaysia.

‘A divided nation for the next generation’

“We are handing them a nation divided by religion and race. Ultimately we recognise this is our battle to fight. For us it was important the President knew about Malaysia as it is, and put the human rights on the agenda of cooperation with the Malaysian government.”

Ambiga said while Najib had stated the Peaceful Assembly Act for shoring his reform image, he failed to admit that this law prohibits street protests and that opposition members are facing charges on the matter.

While Najib also declared that the government had nothing to do with Anwar’s sodomy trial, he failed to admit that it was the government that appealed against the High Court’s acquittal of Anwar.

She also described Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s immediate response to Obama by saying that Malaysia does not discriminate as not encouraging and Ambiga wondered whether there would be a change in the Malaysian government’s attitude towards human rights and civil society.

 

In Malaysia Visit, Obama Strikes a Positive Tone


April 27, 2014

In Malaysia Visit, Obama Strikes a Positive Tone

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The last time a top American official visited this Southeast Asian nation was in 1998, when Vice President Al Gore rebuked its leaders for suppressing freedom and embraced “reformasi,” the rallying cry of a student-led protest movement.

najibobamaOn Sunday, President Obama visited Malaysia to underscore how much has changed in the last 16 years — not least in the country’s attitude toward the United States, which has evolved from deep suspicion, verging on contempt, to a cautious desire for cooperation.

Citing negotiations for a trans-Pacific trade accord, a formal agreement to cooperate in halting the spread of nuclear parts, and the desperate search for the missing Malaysian jetliner, Mr. Obama said, “we’re working more closely together than ever before.”

White House officials liken Malaysia to a “swing state” among Southeast Asian nations, falling somewhere between the free-wheeling democracy of the Philippines and the one-party authoritarianism of Laos. Encouraging Malaysia’s evolution into a more pluralistic society, officials said, could make it a model for the rest of the region.

In some ways, though, Malaysia remains the same work in progress it was in 1998, blessed with an industrious, multiethnic population but an often corrupt political system, ruled by an entrenched Malay elite that does not hesitate to deal with its detractors through what the opposition considers trumped-up charges.

Speaking at a news conference with Prime Minister Najib Razak, Mr. Obama treaded politely into these issues. He said he pressed Mr. Najib during their meeting about Malaysia’s civil liberties and human rights record, which has come under fresh scrutiny in recent weeks because of the legal travails of an opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim.

“The Prime Minister is the first to acknowledge that Malaysia has still got some work to do on these issues, just like the United States, by the way, has some work to do,” Mr. Obama said.

“Prime Minister Najib came in as a reformer, and one who is committed to it, and I am going to continue to encourage him as a friend and as a partner to make sure we’re making progress on that front,” he said, as the Malaysian leader looked on gravely.

But Mr. Obama did not meet Mr. Anwar, a former Deputy Prime Minister whose January 2012 acquittal on sodomy charges was thrown out by an appeals court last month, putting his political comeback in jeopardy. Mr. Anwar’s first trial in 1999, which ended in a conviction and six years in jail, was widely condemned as politically motivated.

Mr. Obama did not offer a reason but said his decision was “not indicative of a lack of concern, given the fact that there are a lot of people I don’t meet with, and opposition leaders I don’t meet with, but that doesn’t mean I’m not concerned about them.”

As a consolation prize, Mr. Anwar will get a meeting with the national security adviser, Dr. Susan E. Rice, on Monday. Some human rights activists said that was not enough.

“Anwar, to Malaysia, is almost as important a figure as Aung San Suu Kyi is in Burma,” said Andrew Khoo, a human rights lawyer here, referring to the country also known as Myanmar. “If President Obama took the time to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, it is a little odd that he wouldn’t meet with Anwar.”

 Mr. Obama, however, was keen to keep the spotlight on Malaysia’s future. To showcase its high-tech development, Mr. Obama had a hectic day of diplomacy, dropping in at a science and innovation center, where he was shown an electric go-cart and a wristband for diabetics that transmits a distress signal if it detects a cold sweat.
Obama in KLPresident Barack Obama at Town-Hall Style Meeting at University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur

Later, he presided over a town-hall-style meeting with young people from around Southeast Asia, where he shared stories about his own political development and offered advice on how countries emerging from repression, like Myanmar, should deal with ethnic and religious strife.

As societies open up, Mr. Obama said, these conflicts often bubble to the surface. He cited both the legacy of ethnic strife in Malaysia, with its Muslim majority and Chinese and Indian minorities, and Myanmar, where the Muslim Rohingya minority faces persecution.

“Malaysia won’t succeed if non-Muslims don’t have opportunity,” he said, roaming the stage at the University of Malaya in a relaxed style that recalled some of his early campaign events. “Myanmar won’t succeed if the Muslim population is repressed.”

For all its flaws, administration officials said Malaysia could still develop into a model Muslim-majority country with a diverse population. Mr. Najib is a far less authoritarian figure than Mahathir Mohamad, the Prime Minister who dominated Malaysian politics for a quarter-century and who often railed against the United States.

“President Obama and I are both equally concerned about civil liberties as a principle,” Mr. Najib said at the news conference, citing legal reforms Mr. Najib initiated when he came into office in 2009.

Human rights activists credit Mr. Najib with reformist instincts early in his tenure. More recently, though, they say he has been pulled back from a path of moderation by reactionary elements in his party, which represents the country’s Malay majority.

Mr. Obama, however, has clearly developed a level of trust with him. After their meeting, Mr. Obama went out of his way to express sympathy for the government’s so far fruitless search for the Malaysian plane, which has exposed Mr. Najib to criticism.

“Obviously, we don’t have all the details of what happened,” Mr. Obama said. “But if, in fact, the plane went down in the ocean in this part of the world, that is a big place.”

READ ON:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/obama-says-theres-more-work-to-be-done-on-human-rights-in-malaysia/2014/04/27/6ecb63b0-cde0-11e3-a75e-463587891b57_story.html

APCO in the state of denial


By Rusman

Yesterday’s interview with Anwar Ibrahim on ForeignPolicy [here] by Isaac Stone Fish included an interesting snippet.

[Anwar Ibrahim]: In the United States, APCO and other public relations firms portray me as anti-Semitic. I have taken a large beating through Najib’s hiring of APCO as his consultant. As you know, they have been involved in Nigeria and Kazakhstan in the past, and the highest paid is Malaysia — $20 million in one go!

I don’t have a problem with the government using APCO — but why must they use paid bloggers, journalists, to demonize me in the United States?

[APCO did work for the government of Malaysia until 2010. In an emailed statement, Adam Williams, APCO's global media relations manager wrote that "we have never worked to portray Mr. Anwar as anti-Semitic. We have never taken editorial control over or paid bloggers or journalists to write stories. It is against our code of conduct as a firm."]

Really?

APCO denying they were involved in a scheme to smear Anwar Ibrahim in America? We find that laughable and also very difficult to believe. A year ago we summarized the APCO story here. It’s very clear from the public documents that:

1) Joshua Trevino worked for the Malaysian government via companies like APCO and FBC.

2) He was paid a ton of money

3) He and his network of bloggers published paid-for pieces in blogs and newspaper outlets

4) MANY of those articles were blatantly ad-hominem attacks on Anwar Ibrahim suggesting he is 1) guilty of sodomy 2) a closet islamic terrorist sympathizer 3) anti-semitic

Adam Williams of APCO (@AW_DC on twitter) probably did not get the memo and did not see all of the press exposing this particular UMNO scandal. Maybe he will see this and he will reconsider his position.

For more info see Buzzfeed and WSJ.

Will Obama assist democracy in Malaysia?


April 26, 2014

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/will-obama-assist-democracy-in-malaysia/2014/04/25/360a75b6-cca5-11e3-93eb-6c0037dde2ad_story.html

Will President Obama assist Democracy in Malaysia?

Anwar-KajangBy Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia’s Parliamentary Opposition Leader

Washington Post

For 15 years, the people of Malaysia have been immersed in our own Arab Spring. After enduring a corrupt and authoritarian regime for more than five decades, an era has emerged in which we are standing up for our rights.

For the first time in our history, the voices of reform and democracy represent the majority. In last year’s general election, the popular vote in favor of the opposition would have swept from power the authoritarian regime of Najib Razak and the party that has ruled Malaysia since its independence in 1957. In its place would have been the Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Alliance), poised to push the nation on the path to greater freedom and democracy.

Alas, widespread fraud and devious gerrymandering perpetrated by the ruling party, a situation the White House noted, affected the outcome. A study conducted by Harvard ranked Malaysia as having one of the worst records on electoral integrity in the world.

Despite this setback, the Malaysian people have remained steadfast. Despite anger and frustration over our government’s continued corruption and abuse of power, we have pursued a peaceful approach to educating and engaging with the masses. Thousands have come to hear our message and embrace our cause.

Barack ObamaPresident Obama’s visit to Malaysia this weekend comes at a pivotal time. It would be an opportune moment to live up to the ideals Obama espoused in his campaign and the early days of his administration. Then, there was hope that U.S. engagement with Muslim countries would be based on mutual respect and mutual interest. Yet as the Arab Spring came and went, hope was eclipsed by disappointment.

It is baffling that the United States can talk about a democratic transition in Egypt today as hundreds of innocent people are sentenced to death while thousands languish in prison.

In Malaysia, there is an opportunity to take a different path.Our agenda for Malaysia is straightforward. We envision a nation that enforces the rule of law; a country where judges are independent of executive influence, the media are free and the election commission conducts its affairs unfettered by the dictates of the ruling party. We would fight corruption by guaranteeing the independence of the Anticorruption Commission and removing the laws that make government procurements opaque.

In our Malaysia, all media would be independent and free to shine sunlight on excesses of power, be they in government or the private sector. Most certainly we would repeal draconian laws, such as the Sedition Act, so they cannot be used to muzzle political opponents. In our pursuit of a robust and dynamic economy, social justice principles would prevail over unfettered accumulation of wealth by the rich and powerful. Rent-seeking projects would no longer be allowed to be masqueraded as infrastructure spending, nor would the misappropriation of state funds be permitted under the guise of subsidy cuts while higher and higher taxes are foisted on the middle and lower classes to pay the bills.

In tending to the needs of all races, the Pakatan Rakyat envisions a pluralistic society in which moderate Islam coexists harmoniously with other faiths whose espousal is a fundamental liberty under the federal constitution. It would be a far cry from the diabolical politics of the ruling party, which purveys to the Western world its facade of moderation in religious and race relations while pursuing a policy of race baiting and incitement to religious hatred — abuses widelydocumented by groups including Suaram and Human Rights Watch. With the print and electronic media under the regime’s full control, rumors are spread about an imminent government takeover by Christians, threats of violence are hurled against non-Muslims, Bibles are seized and bishops get hauled in by the police for interrogation. My address to a congregation in a Catholic church one Sunday was condemned as an act of apostasy.

No doubt Malaysia’s media will shower praises on the regime in the wake of Obama’s visit. Malaysia has descended to 145th place on the Reporters Without Borders index of media freedom, so it takes some effort for Malaysians to get the truth. And the truth is that the U.S. pivot to Asia should not merely be about trade and investment or the creation of alliances of the world’s great powers, important as these goals may be. The values of freedom and democracy must remain paramount, and even if Wilsonian idealism appears to be on the wane, Jeffersonian ideals still resonate with the people in this part of the world.

Anwar Ibrahim leads Malaysia’s Justice Party, known as PKR Parti KeADILan Rakyat. He served as Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister from 1993 to 1998.

Obama and Malaysia


April 16, 2014

Obama and Malaysia

US President must walk a delicate line in a country facing increasing international criticism.

Obama-for-BERSIH2Obama for Clean and Fair Elections in Malaysia?

US President Barack Obama is expected to visit Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Malaysia this month as part of his push to increase US diplomatic, economic and security engagement with countries in the Asia-Pacific region. But despite the relative size and strategic importance of the other countries, it is his April 27 trip to Malaysia that arguably gives the President his biggest problems.

Given the events of the past few months, Obama will visit a country that has earned some of the worst press in Asia, not only for its fumbling response to the loss of its jetliner, MH370, with 239 people aboard, but to revelations of growing racial and religious intolerance, blatant attempts to silence the Opposition through spurious legal action and bizarre charges by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s own newspaper that the Central Intelligence Agency kidnapped the plane to foment trouble with China, 152 of whose citizens were aboard the missing craft.

The same newspaper, Utusan Malaysia, repeated as a real possibility speculation by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad that the CIA brought down the World Trade Towers in 2001 as a plot to blame Muslims for the destruction.

anwar-ibrahim2In recent weeks, an appeals court has reversed a lower court decision against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, declaring him guilty of what were clearly trumped up charges of sodomy. The decision, apparently rushed forward, was designed to deny Anwar an almost certain win in a Kuala Lumpur suburban by-election that would have paved his way to becoming Chief Minister of the country’s most populous and prosperous state and would have given him a potent rhetorical platform to challenge the government.

In an equally dubious decision, Karpal Singh, chairman of the Democratic Party, the biggest in the troika of opposition parties, was declared guilty of sedition for saying a decision by the Sultan of Perak could be questioned in court.  The conviction, which is being appealed, bars him from politics. 

The international press that showed up in Kuala Lumpur after the disappearance of the airliner began asking questions that exposed a regime unaccustomed to facing independent scrutiny – questions that a kept mainstream media, all of which are owned by the political parties in power, have ignored for decades. While a vibrant opposition press exists on the Internet, the government simply ignores it or tries to neutralize its reports. Those questions include crony capitalism, gerrymandering and political repression. CNN, the major US and British newspapers and other media assailed the government as authoritarian, corrupt and befuddled.

The feeling in Washington, however, is that the cost of cancellation to the strategic relationship between the two countries would be too high. Obama reportedly is being urged to visit a Christian church while in the country to show US commitment to human and religious rights. Advocates say the President should make at least some gesture of recognition of the fact that a 50.87 percent majority of Malaysians voted against the ruling coalition in 2013 general elections at 47.38 percent but still hold only 89 of the 222 seats in parliament because of gerrymandering. It’s unsure if he will do so. There is speculation that he may just opt for a “meet and greet” and get out of town as quickly as possible to avoid international criticism for propping up a regime that is starting to assume Zimbabwean characteristics of repression and kleptocracy.

“I don’t have any problem with Obama visiting Malaysia, provided he reaches outmalott1 to Malaysians on both sides of the aisle and all sectors of society, including the Christian community, whose rights are being trampled on by their government,” said John Malott, a former career foreign service officer who served as Ambassador to Malaysia from 1996 to 1998 and who has emerged as Malaysian government’s severest western critic. “But this has to be a visit that is based on the reality of what kind of country Malaysia really is today – and not to believe the talking points that Malaysia is still a tolerant multi-racial, multi-religious, harmonious, moderate Islamic nation, an economic success story, and a role model for others. It no longer is.”

Najib visited the White House in 2011 and was given a wholehearted endorsement by the President, who said Najib has “showed great leadership, I think, not only in continuing to show great leadership not only in Malaysia’s economy but on showing leadership on a wide range of multilateral issues.”

Najib PMThe President is said to like Najib personally despite the fact that a wide range of issues have never been cleared up, going back to allegations of Najib’s personal involvement in the US$1 billion purchase of French submarines that according to French prosecutors was said to have netted US$114 million in bribes and kickbacks to the United Malays National Organization. The case is still making its way through French courts.

There is also the matter of the still controversial 2006 murder by two of Najib’s bodyguards of Mongolian translator and party girl Altantuya Shaariibuu, who according to a now-dead private detective had been Najib’s girlfriend before she was allegedly passed on to his best friend, Abdul Razak Baginda, a key figure in the purchase of the submarines. The bodyguards were acquitted on appeal despite overwhelming evidence of their guilt, raising questions about Malaysia’s legal system as well.

There have been some rude shocks. Six months ago, in the run-up to his previous delayed visit to the region, the US President hailed Malaysia as an “an example of a dynamic economy” and praised its multi-ethnic, moderate Muslim-dominated society only to see just three days later a court decision ordering Christians not to use the word “Allah” when referring to God, making it the only Islamic country in the world to do so.

After that, the government ordered the confiscation of Malay-language Bibles containing the word – but only in Peninsular Malaysia. Christians using Malay-language Bibles in East Malaysia were allowed to keep them. That is because most of the Christians are tribes indigenous to Borneo that are aligned with the ruling party. In Peninsular Malaysia, they form the bulk of the Opposition.

“So the issue is — how can you talk about establishing a ‘strategic partnership’ with such a government?” Malott asked. “Maybe that is what will have to be downplayed or even canned for this visit. To me, the idea of a declaring a strategic partnership with a government whose faults have now been revealed to the world, day after day, seems politically unwise.”

Malott also questioned what strategic benefits the US can obtain from Malaysia.“What strategic value does Malaysia have that it warrants America to hold its nose and ignore the trampling of democracy and political freedom, not to mention the corruption and cronyism that hurt American business interests there?” he asked. “And with Mahathir, the great anti-American, increasingly calling the political shots and Najib’s popularity the lowest of any Prime Minister in polling history, will a ‘strategic partnership’ with the US survive Najib’s departure?”

Utusan’s claims of US role in MH370 disappearance aren’t the paper’s first wild charges


April 9, 2014

Utusan’s claims of US role in MH370 disappearance aren’t the paper’s first wild charges

Written by Our Correspondent, TUE,08 APRIL 2014

http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/govt-backed-malaysian-newspaper-crosses-line-cia-charges/

utusan-online

Utusan Malaysia, the Kuala Lumpur-based Malay-language broadsheet newspaper that Sunday accused the CIA of having a hand in the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, has a long history of heated invective as the attack dog for its owner, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the country’s biggest political party.

NAJIB_RAZAK_091213_TMINAJJUA_05_540_360_100It is a publication that could be simply dismissed because of its often-irresponsible diatribes. But presumably it is the mouthpiece for Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, the Party President. And from his standpoint, the story had to be an utter disaster.  US President Barack Obama is due to visit Malaysia sometime over the next few weeks, a visit that Najib, whose popularity is fading, needs to prop him up.

There has been no public reaction in the United States. However, certainly Washington would be less than amused by the story, which accused the US of engineering the plane’s disappearance in order to disturb the growing relationship between Malaysia and China.  One source close to the government last week told Asia Sentinel the US has been instrumental in helping Malaysia behind the scenes, providing technological and forensic help from the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other organizations in the search for the missing Boeing 777-200, which disappeared on March 8 into the Indian Ocean.

The paper targets a domestic audience and has traditionally felt it could indulge in any necessary rhetoric to help preserve loyalty to the party.  However, over the past three to four years, it has veered into strident invective. In 2011, the company drove senior journalist Hata Wahari, then the president of the National Union of Journalists, out of the paper after he complained about its agenda and urged it to go back to its traditional role of presenting unbiased news to the public. 

Now, it is reaping more unfavorable publicity and runs the danger of once again affecting international relations because of the perception that is has official standing.  But Najib, according to one senior source close to the party, has lost control of the Board of Directors and the editors and has been unable to rein them in despite the fact that his own press secretary sits on the board.

Earlier, the newspaper accused Indonesia of conspiring with the United States to hide the missing airliner after radar communication was lost over the gulf of Thailand.  The Indonesian online news portal Merdeka.com quoted the senior officer for foreign affairs at Indonesia’s Defense Ministry, Sumardi Brotodiningrat, as saying the allegation was “funny” and that his country was already doing its best to assist Kuala Lumpur in the search.

Najib already faces strained relations with the United States over the conviction on Anwar-Kajangappeal of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, a favorite of many US politicians and financier George Soros, among others, on what were obviously trumped up charges of sodomy. According to several sources including the purported victim’s father, the charges were cooked up in the prime minister’s office.  The country is also facing criticism over confiscation of Christian bibles that use the word “Allah” to denote God and other issues.

US officials have had a habit of publicly observing diplomatic niceties in dealing with Kuala Lumpur and it is uncertain what kind of conversation Obama is going to have with the Malaysian premier.  

Najib has repeatedly gone to the US – and the White House – and to the United Nations to characterize Malaysia as a moderate Muslim nation only to take no action against growing religious extremism on the part of Malay nationalists ‑ much to the distress of the country’s other races.

Utusan Malaysia has been at the forefront of racial attacks on ethnic Chinese and Indians. In 2012, a columnist called former Indonesian President B J Habibie a traitor and a “dog of imperialism” for meeting with Anwar. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the comments were unethical and overstepped the bounds of decorum, adding that they had jeopardized relations between the two countries.

However, Utusan’s vitriol is usually reserved for members of the opposition and for Christians. In 2011, for instance, the newspaper printed allegations that Christian pastors were seeking to install a Christian prime minister who would change the country’s official religion from Islam.

The story was ridiculous on its face. Muslims make up at least 60 percent of the population. Some Chinese are Christians, others are Buddhists.  Islam is the country’s official religion, enshrined in the constitution although other religions are guaranteed freedom to exist. Any attempt to change the status of Islam would result in a racial conflagration.

In the current flap, according to a translation by the website Malaysian Insider, assistant editor Ku Seman Ku Hussein said it was time “to think outside the box” about the tragedy to Malaysia and world aviation, repeating baseless allegations that the US had also engineered the 9/11 attacks by Al Qaeda.

“If the CIA could arrange for the attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001, it is not improbable to link MH370 with the intelligence agency,” he wrote, referring to speculation on the involvement of American intelligence in the 9/11 attacks.

“What if the MH370 tragedy had been arranged by certain parties to put Malaysia’s relationship with China in jeopardy?” Ku Seman asked in an opinion piece in the paper’s weekend edition, Mingguan Malaysia.

“The September 11 conspiracy which had been previously treated as nonsense was now a fact, and Putrajaya must look at it from a different point of view.” Ku Seman wrote.

Judges dancing to tune of UMNO


April 3, 2014

Judges dancing to tune of UMNO

It has to take one stupid, perverse and farcical court to agree with another stupid, perverse and farcical court.

 
COMMENT@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Anwar-Ibrahim-2011-mantan-PMBy Anwar Ibrahim

Talking about political winds, it appears that lately, the Malaysian judiciary, particularly the judges of the superior courts, are caught in the whirlwind and are frantically racing against each other to please the powers that be of the day.

In the frenzy to curry favours from their political overlords, these minions have stopped at nothing to ensure that they will be the first to reach the finish line.

Pots of gold await the backscratchers and lackeys. And where financial gratification may appear a tad blatant, there’s always elevation to the higher rungs of office to whet the appetite.

Unlike parliamentarians, judges will never be content to be backbenchers. The preferred place is the front and the top where they can tower over ordinary mortals, even if they be law-makers or members of the Bar.

They fear no one except their political masters because they know on which side their bread is buttered. And they shall not bite the hand that feeds.

Throwing judicial decorum to the wind, they bare their fangs and sharpen their claws in order to cow supplicants in their courts into submission, and in the process, their demeanour and conduct leaves no one in doubt about their bias.

And though they know that an adversarial system dictates that judges must not just act impartially but must be seen to be so, they bend backwards to don the hats of prosecutor and executioner as well.

When this happens, as indeed it is happening now with unprecedented frequency, we know justice has gone to the dogs. It is happening because Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, in flagrant abuse of power, has launched a new campaign of political persecution.

“Even if we can’t defeat them at the polls, all is not lost (remember Altantuya?). We still have our judges to do our bidding. See how they fall over each other at the snap of our fingers!”

This is the alarming trend in our judiciary where judges work hand in glove with the Attorney-General’s Chambers to deny leaders of the federal opposition, duly elected representatives of the people in parliament, their right to justice.

In taking this unconstitutional and nefarious line, they have turned the doctrine of the separation of powers on its head.Hence, apart from me, MPs Karpal Singh, Azmin Ali, Antony Loke, Rafizi Ramli, Tian Chua, Syed Azman and Shamsul Iskandar just to name a few, are marked for the judicial abattoir by the executioners.

It may be sodomy, it may be sedition, or it may be illegal assembly, or whatever. These bootlickers know less of law and the principles of justice than lording over the courts parading proudly as peacocks (and peahens) their colourful judicial plumage overflowing with the arrogance of power.

Life after retirement

As for those judges who used to sit on the throne, there is still life after retirement. The involvement of former Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad in the National Unity Front, closely linked to Perkasa, Malaysia’s icon of racism, while not shocking remains scandalous.

It makes a mockery of the institution of the judiciary which he once headed and contradicts the principles of equality, equity and justice that the judiciary is supposed to stand for.

Is it conceivable for a former chief judge to head an organisation that is adamantly opposed to the National Unity Consultative Council, and to be notoriously engaged in race-baiting and the trumpeting of the superiority of one race over other races in our multi-racial and multi-religious country?

It would appear that it is not only conceivable but that it is lauded with much fanfare by UMNO going by the prominent coverage given to it by the UMNO-controlled media.

Incidentally, this is the same judge who, in his Federal Court judgment, had written that “the court’s decision must only be based on the evidence adduced and nothing else and (hence) it had to acquit because of lack of evidence,” but qualified it with the illogical and manifestly asinine statement that “we find evidence to confirm that the appellants were involved in homosexual activities”.

In other words, “we find him NOT guilty but at the same time guilty”. Anything more stupid, perverse and farcical than that cannot be found in our judicial annals (no pun intended) except for the judgments and pronouncements of Augustine Paul and Ariffin Jaka in respect of Sodomy 1 and the current decisions in respect of the application for expunging and the Sodomy 2 appeal.

As they say, it has to take one stupid, perverse and farcical court to agree with another stupid, perverse and farcical court.

UMNO must fight its own political battles and not be such a coward to use the judiciary to help them fight the opposition. How long more are our judges going to dance to tune of UMNO?

When will they stop becoming stooges and lap dogs of UMNO leaders? How long more must the rakyat endure this sham? Who are the puppeteers in this shadow play?

Are these judges not aware that UMNO will not be there forever to cover their tracks, or their backs, or that not only will history judge them, but that the rakyat are not going to sit idly by – forever – while they continue to pervert the course of justice?

Parliament, as the vox populi, must make its voice heard before we reach the tipping point and the situation gets out of our hands.

There is a tide in our affairs which, unless we seize it, will see our voyage for democracy and rule of law in shallows and in miseries.This is the rising tide of judicial impropriety, arrogance of power and transgression. As one of the three branches of government, parliament must reassert the sanctity of the separation of powers principle.

It is therefore morally incumbent and constitutionally expedient that parliament acts accordingly to break up the illegal and unconstitutional collusion between the Executive and the Judiciary.

Anwar Ibrahim is the federal Opposition Leader.

MH370: Asking the Wrong Government for Straight Answers


March 27, 2014

NAJIB_RAZAK_091213_TMINAJJUA_05_540_360_100

On March 24, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (above) appeared before the press to announce that missing flight MH370 “ended in the Southern Indian Ocean.” Najib’s statement finally gave the families of the passengers an “answer” on the fate of their loved ones. But it comes after weeks of spectacular obfuscation by Malaysian government officials, who repeatedly fudged details, contradicted each other, or used the tragedy to score points against the political opposition.

Just to add insult to injury, Malaysian Airlines informed the families of the sad news by sending them a text message. Small wonder that some of the relatives are now accusing Malaysian officialdom of orchestrating a “cover-up,” and demanding to see concrete evidence such as the plane’s black box.

The rest of the world has reacted to the half-truths of the Malaysian authorities with bewilderment. But to us Malaysians it’s nothing new: We’ve been putting up with this sort of crap our entire lives. Our officials are incapable of communicating because they’ve never felt the need to. Our corrupt and incompetent bureaucracy regards its own citizens with such top-down contempt that its dialogue muscles have simply atrophied.

So it’s no wonder that Malaysians have spent the past few weeks coping the way we’re accustomed to: by indulging in conspiracy theories, the last pathetic refuge of people who know that they can never expect the truth from their own leaders. So we’ve seen some Malaysians blaming the loss of the plane on everyone from our own government to the United States, China, North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, and — why not? — aliens. Yes, it’s sad. And yes, it’s more than a little crazy. But in the final analysis you can’t really blame us. Where else are we supposed to find any answers?

The Malaysian government’s response has been dismal almost from the moment MH370 went missing. In most countries, the prime minister would step forward and take the lead during a catastrophe of this magnitude. In Malaysia, however, our Prime Minister decided to spend his time boasting about his skill at buying cheap chicken, analyzing the economy’s health based on the price of kangkung (water spinach), or strolling around shopping malls. He’s left the bulk of the mundane task of disaster management to the acting Transport Minister cum Minister of Defense, Hishammuddin Hussein, who has figured as the official government spokesman at a number of press conferences following the disappearance of MH370. (Hishammuddin, it’s worth noting, is a cousin of Prime Minister Najib — a coincidence quite widespread in a country where politicians are often linked by clan ties.)

Hishamuddin HusseinJudging by the reactions from passengers’ families and the international media, Hishammuddin (left) hasn’t exactly been doing a stellar job. In the early days of the investigation, the minister and his team event offered a conspiracy theory of their own.

In this case, Malaysian officials speculated — without offering any particular evidence to back up their claim — that the plane’s pilot, a “fanatical supporter” of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and a relative of Anwar’s son-in-law, might have been motivated to hijack his own plane for political reasons.

The day before, a Malaysian court sentenced Anwar to five years in prison on sodomy charges, a decision that bars him for running for office in upcoming elections. Again, none of this comes as a particular surprise. In recent years, government officials have developed the habit of blaming everything and anything on the Opposition, and especially on Anwar.

One side effect of the government’s inept response to the MH370 catastrophe, according to some, is that it has prompted some unwelcome analysis of the country’s political system, which has been dominated by the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition for the past 57 years. So is Malaysia’s paternalistic political culture really being challenged now that MH370 incident has exposed its leaders to the withering judgments of international critics? I’m inclined to doubt it. As soon as the MH370 issue cools down, Malaysia’s government will return to business as usual. Nothing will change.

Just consider the scandal surrounding Abdul Taib Mahmud, the Chief Minister ofSararwak's CM the Malaysian state of Sarawak. According to the Bruno Manser Fund, a Swiss environmental group, and local critics in Sarawak, Abdul Taib, who’s held office since 1981, has amassed enormous wealth (and caused vast environmental damage) through his unchallenged control of the state’s forests. These critics allege that Taib has used his power to enrich his own family and well-connected cronies, who have harvested billions of dollars’ worth of tropical timber.

Early last year, the international corruption watchdog group Global Witness released extensive video footage from a covert investigation that showed Taib’s cousins explaining how they had circumvented state laws to acquired vast tracts of forest land. In January 2013, 20 Swiss members of parliament filed a motion calling for an immediate freeze of assets held by Swiss banks on behalf of the Malaysian Taib family.

In a normal, democratic political system, all this would have prompted official investigations, parliamentary inquiries, demands for accountability. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission did organize a probe to investigate Taib — but the minister simply declared, with apparent impunity, that he would not cooperate with the “naughty” and “dishonest” commission. As a result, Malaysian officials have yet to open a domestic investigation into the case. One year later, in February 2014, the probe made the improbable claim that it could not find any evidence that Taib had abused his power. On March 1 of this year, Abdul Taib was sworn in for a term as Sarawak’s Governor — a position even more powerful than the one he held before.

Taib can get away with this sort of thing precisely because of his cozy relationship with the ruling BN coalition and the party that dominates it (the United Malays National Organization, or UMNO). The ruling coalition sees Sarawak as a vital cache of votes for the party, and within this system, Taib is untouchable.

In our general election last year, the main opposition coalition, led by Anwar Ibrahim, won just over 50 percent of the vote — yet BN still ended up with 60 percent of the seats in the national parliament. That’s because the government uses gerrymandering and elaborate dirty tricks to divide up the election system in ways that ensure continued BN rule, regardless of the way Malaysians actually vote. It’s not surprising, then, that there is zero sense of accountability in our country — and that the government officials who have risen to the top of the system feel little pressure to respond to those pesky demands for information from ordinary people.

The Malaysian government has a long history of ignoring its citizens’ right to know. Just take one of the most notorious cases. Back in 2002, an international human rights group filed an international court challenge alleging that the Malaysian government had accepted millions of dollars in bribes from a French shipbuilding company in the $1.25 billion purchase of two Scorpene submarines. Though the French investigation produced enough evidence to implicate top Malaysian officials, the government summarily denied the claims, and no one was ever punished. Over a decade later, the scandal is still unresolved.

Or take the murder of Mongolian model and translator Altantuya Shaariibuu (which has also been linked to the submarine case). Witnesses linked Altantuya romantically to one of Najib’s best friends and close policy advisors, a man named Abdul Razak Baginda. Sources claimed that she was trying to blackmail Razak with her knowledge of the shady submarine deal before she was killed by two of Najib’s bodyguards.

Rosmah and NajibThough the case implicated both the Malaysian Prime Minister and his wife, the government never initiated any official investigation. The case has remained in limbo ever since.

A private investigator, P Balasubramaniam (known as “Bala”), made a convincing statutory declaration for the prosecution in the Altantuya case — but soon retracted the statement, and subsequently dropped out of sight, along with his entire family.

Bala turned up again a few years later, claiming that he’d been offered $1.5 million by a businessman close to Najib’s family if he’d take back his original declaration. Bala died of a heart attack on March 15, 2013, in the midst of campaigning for the opposition in the upcoming election. Then Olivier Metzner, a French lawyer involved the submarine court case, was found dead in “an apparent suicide” two days after Bala’s death.

Not long after that the Malaysian Court of Appeals decided to acquit the two policemen who had been sentenced to death for Altantuya’s murder. The court’s decision provoked an angry response from Altantuya’s father and the Mongolian government.

But, as we’ve pointed out, foreigners apparently have just as little right to satisfactory information from the Malaysian government as Malaysian citizens do.We Malaysians, in short, have been putting up with this culture of official impunity for decades. Without having much choice in the matter, we’ve become accustomed to living under an authoritarian bureaucracy that mocks our requests for honest dialogue, and revels in its own contempt for basic rules of transparency and accountability. Now the international community is getting its own taste of what dealing with this system is really like.

What’s more, MH370 proves that Malaysia’s political immaturity is not merely a domestic issue, but threatens the citizens of other nations as well. As Malaysian citizens, we offer our sincerest condolences to the families of the passengers and the  international community — and we hope that you’ll join us in the fight against our government’s blatant corruption.

Mahathir Behind Rush to Justice in Anwar’s Case?


Mahathir Behind Rush to Justice in Anwar’s Case?

Charge Against Malaysia’s Opposition Leader is Flawed and politically motivated


 

Sodomy charge Against Malaysia’s Opposition Leader is flawed And politically motivated

by John Berthelsen

 

http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/malaysia-sodomy-case-flawed-day-one/

The charges against Anwar seemed cooked up and malicious, but government prosecutors pressed ahead anyway.  

najibm1Anwar Ibrahim’s Sodomy II trial, which ran almost two years before ending in 2012, was built on flawed evidence, procedural mistakes, tainted witnesses and reports of political collusion with Najib Tun Razak,  the current Prime Minister, and was condemned internationally by legal scholars and human rights activists.  

He was eventually acquitted for lack of evidence only to have an appeals court reverse that decision, ruling in favor of a government appeal on Friday. He was sentenced to five years in prison but is free on bail pending appeal. Homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia. The sudden reversal on Friday shocked political observers and the general public.

Sordid and Unbelievable

The story began on June 28, 2008 when a then-24-year-old aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhairy Azlan, made the sodomy accusation against Anwar, who had led the three-party Pakatan Rakyat coalition to a historic sweep of five Malaysian states, winning 82 parliamentary seats in general elections and breaking the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition’s two-thirds majority hold on parliament.

Despite an offer to appear voluntarily at the police station to deal with the charges, the opposition leader was arrested at his home on July 16 of that year by a contingent of 10 carloads of police commandos and was locked up overnight in a Kuala Lumpur jail.

The trial, which began in February 2010, was marred by the introduction of a mountain of questionable evidence, egregious prosecutorial errors and a long series of prejudicial rulings by High Court Judge Mohamad Zabidin Mohamad Diah.

From the very beginning, doubts began to surface. To start with, Saiful belatedly sought to get doctors to certify that he had been sodomized 48 hours after the alleged encounter. Records showed he first went to a private hospital where a doctor found no evidence of penetration and told him to go to a government hospital. At the first government hospital, doctors also told him they had found no evidence of tearing or scarring that would have indicated his anus had been penetrated. He was forced to go to a third government hospital where he finally found a physician willing to say the act had taken place.

Political connections

Saiful acknowledged in court that he had met with then-Deputy Prime Minister220px-Anwar_Ibrahim-edited Najib Tun Razak and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, on June 24, 2008, two days before the alleged sodomy took place and on other occasions with Rosmah’s close confidant, the former track star Mumtaz Jaafar. Neither the Prime Minister nor his wife nor Mumtaz was called to the stands to explain why they met with Saiful.

There were many questions about the DNA, which was allegedly taken from Saiful’s rectum 90 hours after the reported act took place. He claimed not to have eaten, drunk nor gone to the bathroom for that entire period.

The evidence was not refrigerated and was stored in an unguarded police office. Government laboratory technicians testified that as many as 11 different DNA traces had been found in Saiful’s rectum. At one point Zabidin ruled that the DNA was too doubtful to be admitted, only to have the prosecution appeal, at which point the judge reversed himself, leading to charges he had been coerced.

There were even questions whether Saiful had actually met with Anwar on the date he allegedly was sodomized. Although cameras showed him in the lift of the building where the offence allegedly took place, Anwar said he was meeting with a group of economists in the condo at the time and that Saiful had not appeared in the room.

Saiful also acknowledged meeting secretly twice with Rodwan Mohd Yusof, a senior assistant Police Commissioner, before the alleged offense took place. Rodwan became famous, or infamous, in Anwar’s 1998 Sodomy I trial when he was found to have illegally removed Anwar’s DNA samples from forensic custody and planted them on a mattress allegedly used by Anwar for a homosexual dalliance. To protect the integrity of the prosecution’s case, the presiding Judge, the Late Augustine Paul, expunged the entire DNA evidence at the time.

Saiful testified that on the day he allegedly met with Anwar, he had taken lubricant with him to Anwar’s condominium – hardly the act of an innocent aide who had no idea that the then 63-year-old Anwar was about to jump him for unnatural sex.

It also became known during that Saiful was having a sexual liaison with Farah Azlina Latif, a female member of the prosecution team, which might have further disqualified him as a complaining witness.

The family apologizes

Saiful’s father, Azlan Mohd Lazim in March 2013, apologized to Anwar at a press conference and said the plot to have Anwar arrested was cooked up in Najib’s office. He said his son had been used by “irresponsible quarters” and that statements that both he and his son gave to the press during and after the trial were written by his lawyer and a special officer in Najib’s office.

“Anwar is innocent and a victim of this slander… as such I apologize to Anwar and his family,” Azlan said in a printed statement.” He and his family have suffered a lot as a result of this slander. I deeply regret all the slander hurled against Anwar, which involved my son Saiful Bukhairi.”

Rosmah and NajibThe case “was planned in great detail by a special officer in the PM’s Department,” Azlan said. “Even the script I read during the press conference after Anwar’s sodomy acquittal last year was prepared by this officer.”

His son, he said, “has never explained the sodomy incident and the accusation to me. I was never called as a witness in the case. I was never called by any party to offer my statement as the father from the start to the end of the trial.”

Although he was always seen accompanying his son during the trial, Azlan TDMexplained that he did so simply as a father who was giving moral support. Azlan said he decided to make his statement after collecting information obtained during the trial, as well as that sent to him by the public.

“As a Malay and a Muslim, I started to realize the evil of this plan. I don’t want to RGESs’ continue to conspire with this malicious slander. I want the people who love this country to know their malicious intention,” he said. “If this malicious intention continues, not only the Malays and Muslims would be destroyed, but the nation would be destroyed as well. I do not want to see this happen.”

Anwar Ibrahim’s Conviction: State Department’s Reaction is mild and muted


March 8, 2014

Anwar Ibrahim’s Conviction: State Department’s Reaction is mild and muted

by http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

220px-Anwar_Ibrahim-edited

The United States yesterday voiced concern over what it says are politically motivated charges brought against Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, urging Malaysia to ensure fairness and transparency.

In a long-running case which stretches back to the late 1990s, the Malaysian Court of Appeals yesterday overturned Anwar’s acquittal on sodomy laws and sentenced him to five years in jail. He was freed pending appeal.

“The decision to prosecute Mr Anwar, and his trial, have raised a number of concerns regarding the rule of law and the independence of the court,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

“In this high-profile case, it is critical for Malaysia to apply the rule of law fairly, transparently and apolitically in order to promote confidence in Malaysia’s democracy and judiciary.”

She also raised the case of the conviction of opposition figure Karpal Singh, who was found guilty of sedition even though Kuala Lumpur had vowed to abolish the law.

The outspoken, wheelchair-bound 73-year-old parliamentarian faces up to three years in prison.

Yesterday’s ruling against Anwar, 66, overturns his 2012 acquittal onpresident-barack-obama-calls-atlantis-sts-125 charges he sodomised a male former aide – in a case which has dragged on since 1998 and cut short his promising career during a bitter power struggle with his rival then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Anwar’s case was loudly condemned at the time as politically motivated, and when asked whether this was still the US stand, Psaki replied “It is.”

Sodomy remains illegal in Muslim-majority Malaysia and punishable by up to 20 years in jail. – AFP, March 8, 2014.

Stand Up for Democracy And Stand By Anwar Against Kelptocracy


March 7, 2014

Stand Up for Democracy,Freedom, Justice And Stand By Anwar Against Kleptocracy 

Stand Up for each other, Pakatan Rakyat.  Fight for freedom, democracy and justice. We have no option. Today’s Court of A Appeal decision makes Anwar the driving force for change in our country.  Let us not feel dejected. Our fight goes on against the dark forces of repression, arrogance, oppression; and like Badwawi’s supression, Najib will fall on the count of three.–Din Merican

by Josh Hong@wwww.malaysiakini.com

TDMBaruFor nearly 16 years now, Malaysian politics has been stuck in skullduggery just because one influential and popular individual by the name of Anwar Ibrahim was – and is – determined to challenge UMNO’s hegemony embodied by Mahathir Mohamad’s autocracy.

The sodomy issue is like a sword of Damocles that hangs forever over Anwar’s head. When he was acquitted for the first time over Sodomy II back in January 2012, some were quick to attribute the verdict to a restoration of judicial integrity. How premature the conclusion was, I would say.

Although there have been cases where justice was seen to be done, including a series of decisions against UMNO mouthpieces such as Utusan Malaysia and TV3, it would seem that the Judiciary remains very much beholden to the powers-that-be whenever the latter’s ultimate authority is severely challenged.

In other words, as long as the opposition adhered to the rules of the game laid down by UMNO and played its role within the permitted boundaries, it was allowed to survive but not to thrive.

Until, of course, the power of reformasi was unleashed by Anwar and turned the UMNO game upside down. Since then, the party that claims to represent the Malays has been fighting tooth and nail to stay relevant.

Still, neither Mahathir nor Najib Abdul Razak ever doubts the sodomy trump card that they have, alongside the advantages that UMNO holds as the ruling party. While Najib grudgingly accepted the not-so-splendid outcome of the 13th general election, he was privately relieved that more than sufficient time had been secured for him to say in power.

But Najib’s fortunes started to dwindle in no time as the costs of living were rising as a result of his hastily implemented economic measures.

At the same time, Mahathir and his cohorts cashed in on the increasingly discontents at the grassroots level by attacking Najib’s lacklustre performance, although the ex-dictator is never under the illusion that every act of defiance on his part is meant to soothe his immense grievances over his son’s failure to make it to UMNO’s top leadership.

So Najib was on the verge of repeating what Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had gone through – an ignominious exit that was.

Anwar-KajangAt this juncture, Anwar pre-empted Najib with the Kajang Offensive, seeking to regain the momentum that was clearly lost post-GE13.

All at a sudden, the public’s zeal for a regime change was aroused, posing a serious threat to UMNO’s legitimacy once again.

Should Anwar win big in Kajang, it would deal further blow to Najib’s diminishing authority within the party and nationwide.

Talk of reconciliation

Prior to this, there had been talk of reconciliation, with both sides of the political divides seemingly warming up to the idea.

I had chastised Anwar in no uncertain terms over the overtures that he had been making towards UMNO for the simple reason that the party that has ruined each and every public institution over the last 30 years and trampled on our national dignity time and again can never be trusted as a partner.

Then Anwar appeared to have changed his mind and decided to go on the offensive. But his Kajang strategy was interpreted by Najib as a betrayal on the consensus between them, which explains the rush to move the Sodomy II appeal forward to stop Anwar from getting closer to assuming a greater role in politics.

A calculative politician, Najib most probably decided to finish Anwar off by sending him to jail so that he gets to keep Putrajaya, while simultaneously appeasing Mahathir.

Yes, the Kajang Move has clearly backfired and one can go on arguing whether it was ethnical or justifiable from the very beginning. However, the very cruel reality remains that Umno is so arrogant and powerful that judges must disregard all the evidence and convict its opponents on the shakiest grounds.

Mahathir is the happiest man for now, but the country and the people will eventually pay for his and Umno’s perfidy unless a new generation of Malaysians are prepared to rise up against all the injustices.

Khalid disrupting Anwar’s plan ?


Khalid disrupting Anwar’s plan?

by Lim Sue Goan
MARCH 04, 2014

Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim will contest the PKR deputy president post, challenging Azmin Ali in the party election. It seems like he is not willing to just let go of his menteri besar post and thus, is going all out to give it a try.

Anwar created the by-election with a dual purpose: to appease the power conflicts within Selangor PKR by blocking Azmin Ali's access to the MB's office to mess things up for Selangor; and to provide a political platform for Anwar to extend his Putrajaya dream.

Anwar created the by-election with a dual purpose: to appease the power conflicts within Selangor PKR by blocking Azmin Ali’s access to the MB’s office to mess things up for Selangor; and to provide a political platform for Anwar to extend his Putrajaya dream.

Judging from the evolution of events, Khalid’s attitude has indeed changed.

Anwar told Sin Chew Daily in an exclusive interview that Khalid had in principle agreed to pass on the Selangor MB post to him, but Khalid has said nothing about it.

In mid-February, it was said that Khalid refused to resign. He had originally been arranged to sign a post-dated letter of resignation but he refused to sign.

When being asked to comment on a poll showing 59% of Kajang voters supported Anwar to take over the Selangor menteri besar post, Khalid responded casually and said that it was just a poll.

In fact, making the Kajang state seat vacant to pave the way for Anwar to become the Selangor menteri besar was not the original intention of Khalid. It was reported that there was an agreement among Anwar, Azmin and Khalid before the resignation of Lee Chin Cheh.

The trio agreed that Azmin should first resign as the Bukit Antarabangsa state assembly member to create a by-election, so that Anwar could contest for the vacant post and become the Selangor menteri besar after winning the by-election. However, Lee was the one who resigned eventually and the agreement collapsed.

It showed that Khalid has been pressed and if he has no intention to step down, he is expected to fight back fiercely. His wishful thinking is to win the party election and thereby, continue his political life.

He chose to declare his challenge against Azmin before the by-election to convey the message that he is not yielding his position in the “power struggle”.

Now, it seems that Khalid is determined to get rid of the party’s control as he has inked the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Federal government over the water supply issue without notifying in advance the party’s leaders.

It has, however, triggered a doubt among Pakatan Rakyat component parties. As the content of the MoU has been kept in secret, it raised a question of lack of transparency. Would the Langat 2 Project be contracted to cronies and would the cost for water restructuring be increased?

Khalid said that the reason to keep the MoU confidential was to avoid the intervention of some PKR leaders. If his allegations are true, these leaders have violated the commitment of defending the people’s interests as increasing the RM9.65 billion purchase price will benefit the water supply company.

Before GE13, Selangor MB Khalid Ibrahim was bold enough to say that his water deal did not necessarily need Langat 2. He envisaged diverting run-off rain water using new technology to increase the supply of water to Selangor and the Federal Territory without the need for a new plant.

Before GE13, Selangor MB Khalid Ibrahim was bold enough to say that his water deal did not necessarily need Langat 2. He envisaged diverting run-off rain water using new technology to increase the supply of water to Selangor and the Federal Territory without the need for a new plant.

In fact, Anwar and Azmin cannot blame Khalid for acting on his own as when they planned for the Kajang by-election, they did not discuss with the DAP and PAS either. Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had admitted that he received no prior notice about it.

The script written by Anwar is to settle the Selangor PKR in-fighting and march towards Putrajaya. The subsequent development, however, has gone out of the script. Khalid, who is gentle and does not know politics, might become the biggest obstacle.

It is believed that Anwar could win the by-election. But if Khalid refuses to step down, Pakatan Rakyat would have to decide who should be the menteri besar through an internal poll. Does PAS have another plan? Would PKR state assembly members supporting Khalid change their direction?

The PKR party election has been postponed to May 11. If the party election is going to decide Khalid’s fate, the issue will continue to haunt the party for over a month after the Kajang by-election and it is not conducive to the operation of the state government.

Anwar’s wife Datin Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and daughter Nurul Izzah are seen to tend to support Khalid while Anwar has been relying too much on Azmin. If the party election leads to a split, it would be devastating to the Selangor state government.

Although Khalid claimed that his track record gives him advantage over Azmin, party election depends on grassroots forces, something in which he is relatively weak compared with Azmin.

Tan Sri Khalid should accept the criticism with an open heart and fix his weaknesses as the Mentri Besar's leadership appeared to be getting weaker.

Tan Sri Khalid should accept the criticism with an open heart and fix his weaknesses as the Mentri Besar’s leadership appeared to be getting weaker.

Meanwhile, the Selangor water supply agreement might also detonate an internal conflict. After all, politics has no way to get rid of partisan interests.

After the 2013 general election, despite the weaker cohesion, the overall situation has remained favourable for Pakatan Rakyat, particularly since Barisan Nasional (BN) has failed to effectively manage the national debt and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been facing internal pressure.

However, the chaos in Selangor might give BN an opportunity to divert attention.

Pakatan Rakyat could keep Kajang, but it must ensure that it causes no damage to public confidence.

As DAP Parliament leader Lim Kit Siang said, “A House divided cannot stand.”

Pakatan Rakyat must overcome the big trouble or everything that looks good might turn out to be only an illusion. – mysinchew.com, March 4, 2014.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

CT Ali: Could We be backing the wrong Political Horse?


February 24, 2013

Could we be backing the Wrong Political Horse?

Cronyism and nepotism are rife in DAP and PKR to the point that even UMNO must take a back seat when it comes to family dynasties.

COMMENT by CT Ali@http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Anwar-KajangMy sleeps are deeply troubled by my thoughts on what the future holds for those of us that had put our hopes and aspirations for our future in the hands of Pakatan Rakyat.

We have done much for Pakatan. Was it not our votes that gave them Selangor, Kedah, Penang, Perak and Kelantan in the 12th general elections? And again was it not our votes that gave Pakatan the popular mandate in the 13th general election? These votes were given by the rakyat to Pakatan, and not won by Pakatan from Barisan Nasional.

These votes were our way of telling BN that ultimately it is the rakyat that decide who should govern them. And I use the word ‘ultimately’ with the hope that these politicians will ultimately come to their senses and understand that what they do today, tomorrow and in the time they have before the next general election will determine their political future.

What is now clear is that in the flush of electoral victory, reason and common sense have escaped many of the Pakatan leaders since the last general election.

You would have thought that securing the popular mandate at the last general election would have given Pakatan a secure path towards federal government by the next general election.

Nothing can be further from the truth. The way things are today for Pakatan, they have as much chance of winning federal government as a Malay would have a chance of being Penang Chief Minister for as long as DAP is the state government.

We are agreed that Selangor has been managed prudently by KhalidLIMGuanEng.htm Ibrahim. PAS has ruled Kelantan and will continue to rule Kelantan for they understand the aspirations of its people well. Lim Guan Eng has financially restructured Penang by reviving industrial investments.

These are all individual achievements in each state by components within Pakatan.

Factionalism within Pakatan had already resulted in electoral blunders that had resulted in Pakatan losing Perak and then Kedah. Blunders by Pakatan’s first tier leadership in the 13th general election meant that Perak, Terengganu and Negeri Sembilan are still firmly in BN’s hand.

Sabah and Sarawak delivered the federal government to BN. Pakatan was sadly deficient in understanding the political dynamics of these two states.

After the 13th GE it would seems that BN is more entrenched in Sabah and Sarawak than before, and whatever inroads made by DAP would by now have dissipated as BN consolidate their hold there. And Pakatan is the antithesis of what it preaches about open, responsible and decent government.

Cronyism and nepotism are rife in DAP and PKR to the point that even UMNO must take a back seat when it comes to family dynasties.

Losing the support

Religion that has been used so effectively by UMNO to galvanise its strength among the Malays after the 13th GE has only created problems within Pakatan.

PAS’ insistence to focus on hudud embarrasses DAP and PKR, and all three within the Pakatan coalition have agreed to disagree of this issue.

mat-sabu-hadi-awangAnd we cannot ignore the reality that within PAS the perpetual struggle between the ulama and the professional technocrats will always advantage UMNO rather than Pakatan.

PAS, DAP and PKR prefer to preach to the converted when in Malaysia it is the fence-sitters who will decide who will govern at state and federal levels. This UMNO knows and is already working on increasing their standing amongst the Malays.

Race and religious centric deeds and actions – and nobody can do this asNAJIB_RAZAK_091213_TMINAJJUA_05_540_360_100 effectively as UMNO – do matter in the rural hinterlands as this is where the next federal government will be decided.

Today whatever goodwill, trust and confidence the people had for Pakatan to win election at the national level – as reflected in the popular mandate they gave to Pakatan at the last general election – is being lost at a fast rate.

Islam that gives strength to PAS in Kelantan cannot be ‘sold’ to the non-Muslims and thus cannot give PAS a national profile.

DAP that has done well in Penang unfortunately also projects what the Malay abhors – the Chinese as a political and economic force – and thus again cannot gain a national platform acceptable to all Malaysians.

PKR is a mass of contradictions, opportunism and political immaturity that is played out in the public domain – from its party elections, defections, nepotism, factionalism and avarice – all a mirror image of what has happened and is still happening in UMNO today.

All these have only reinforced public perceptions that PKR is not yet ready to do government at the federal level – maybe even at state level as evident in Selangor.

We perceived that nobody in Pakatan has the credibility to lead at national level. Whether real or imagined this is what the public perceives and in politics, perception translates into electoral support or not.

Too often Pakatan’s first-tier leadership has put self before party and national interests. Too often Anwar Ibrahim has failed to honor what he said he would do.

Too often DAP has talked itself up as a Malaysian party that is open and responsible – and yet what the party leadership is doing within DAP indicates otherwise.

PAS is torn between religion and politics, and you and I know that it cannot do both well.But I can only speak for myself.