Wan Azizah wins Kajang


March 24, 2014

Wan Azizah wins Kajang as Voters reject MCA

COMMENT

by Bridget Welsh@www.malaysiakini.com

As expected, the Opposition PKR won the Kajang by-election. It did so with a smaller majority in number of voters, 5,379, but a larger share of the overall vote, up from 56.8 percent to 59.1 percent.

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This was an important win for the Opposition. Yet, the results did not send the decisive signal of a growing groundswell of support for Pakatan Rakyat nor did it send a signal of gains for the incumbent BN government, which ordinarily in a time of national crisis would have won stronger support.

Rather it points to minor shifts in voting behaviour that suggest both sides need to improve their strategies of engagement with voters.

Disjointed campaign

Kajang is a constituency with a long history of political activism. Close to Kuala Lumpur and one of Malaysia’s national universities, the roots of political activity run deep. In fact one of the striking features of this seat is how few fence-sitters there were, with both sides trying hard to convert the converted.

The campaign evolved from a focus on the ‘Kajang Move’ resulting from tensions over the state leadership in PKR to the sentencing of party’s de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim. It changed from disadvantaging the opposition to placing the government on the defensive.

There was an element of stepping back in time to a period where outrage over a politically motivated conviction moved voters. Based on focus group discussions and interviews, the sentencing of Anwar over a decade ago was the number one issue that influenced voting behaviour.

In this rerun, there was less anger and more resignation. The majority of voters nevertheless sent a clear signal that the methods used by the BN towards the opposition were not acceptable.

Despite the core issue, the two-month campaign was filled the conflicting and confusing messaging. The mantra of ‘Wan Azizah to Putrajaya’ just did not make sense to many voters, who were not sure whether she was running for the state leadership or national power. It was also not clear if they were voting for her or her husband, Anwar.

If confusion clouded the votes for Pakatan, then contradictions were paramount in the BN messaging. BN moved from highlighting division in the Opposition to promoting a racially divisive message calling for the Chinese to vote along ethnic lines.

The messaging was all over the place, as both the BN and Pakatan used every play in the book to win voters with limited results. Neither side evoked the ‘spirit’ as it was not clear who was more tired – the campaigners or the voters.

Indeed, both sides relied on the old playbook in their campaigning. BR1M 3.0, transportation allowances and ‘gifts’ of food were the dominant mode of BN engagement, with efforts focused on maintaining their political base – although comparatively less money was spent on this ‘buy’-election than others.

This vote buying was buttressed by grassroots mobilisation of both the UMNO and MCA political base with appeals along racial lines. MCA was more explicit in its call to vote for a Chinese representative, although race and religion were a major undertone on all sides.

For Pakatan, the ‘Putrajaya’ song was replayed but it seemed out of tune with this by-election. With political infighting within the opposition over the Selangor government and jockeying for positions within PKR for its May party polls close to the surface, the dance steps to the music seemed unclear, with the campaign itself highly decentralised, uneven and disjointed.

In terms of coordination, there was a flashback to the Hulu Selangor by-election, where PKR contenders did not appear to be helping each other. The overall focus seemed on winning power rather than representing people, with a campaign heavily personality based.

The opposition appeared to be replaying Reformasi 2.0 without a clear programme and plan on what the revised reform programme would be.

Lackluster turnout

The end result is that the campaign relied on negative messaging on both sides, alienating those in the middle. The level of inspiration was overall missing. Those aligned came out to vote, with those less connected staying at home.

Beyond the messaging and campaigning, four factors help us understand why fewer voters came to the polls. Foremost is the impact of MH370 which overshadowed the campaign. For many Malaysians this crisis, this period of loss for the families and commitment to finding the plane was far more important that the continued saga of BN-Pakatan political contestation.

Frankly, many voters could not be bothered with what some saw as the persistent petty squabbling of politicians. Elites across the political spectrum do not appreciate that many in the public are tired of the fighting and focus on winning power rather than governance. MH370 brought this home, eclipsing the campaign.

An estimated quarter of voters lived outside of Kajang, disproportionately Chinese and younger voters. With the Ching Ming festival beginning next weekend, many Chinese voters did not return for the polls. The timing of the by-election appeared to be set carefully to make it less viable for more opposition-inclined voters to come back and vote.

Along with timing, the incentive to vote was not as strong. This involved, for some voters, financial incentives, with fewer goodies distributed. But the main deterrent was that this vote was a ‘sure win’ for the Opposition and many voters did not think their vote was needed.

Finally, this election was not seen as making a difference. While the opposition touted the election’s symbolic value, there was little doubt who would win and whether it would matter.

In addition, many voters are losing faith in elections – not helped by yet another ‘blackout’ during counting in this by-election reported in Sungai Chua. Doubts were also centred on what would happen after the elections with regard to the Selangor government.

The impact on political power at the national or state level was not clear. The reasons to come out to vote beyond Anwar did not resonate with voters. It is thus no wonder that 16 percent less turnout was recorded.

Shifts in voting behaviour        

In spite of this, there are important shifts in the voting behaviour. The results were affected by the straight-fight (no independent candidates) dynamic, but not completely so.

There are small changes to the status quo in voting. Already reported are swings among Chinese and Malay voters, ranging from seven to 10 percent.

Let’s take the Chinese voters first. This swing towards BN needs to be treated with caution as it is the Chinese youth primarily who did not return to vote, and if they had, the outcome would have looked very similar to the 2013 results. At best, the MCA held onto its political base, especially older and female voters.

Its focus on local issues kept many of its loyal voters, and its appeal to racial representation reinforced traditional affinities. A closer look shows that the MCA gains were not substantive, although to keep its base in the current context showed some resilience among its voters where they have had decades of grassroots support.

What stands out however is that MCA continues to have very minor level of support among the constituency it claims to represent, reinforcing its persistent legitimacy crisis and weakness within the UMNO-led government.

The Malay swing towards the Opposition is more meaningful. There were fewer Malay voters living outside the constituency, and interviews pointed to some shifts in loyalties. These were concentrated among Malay women and younger Malay voters.

The connection to PKR’s Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and the sympathy she invoked resonated, along with increasing frustration with higher costs of living. For the first time since 1999, a plurality of Malays appeared to have voted for the opposition in this constituency, revealing a decline in support in the Umno base.

Part of this can be explained by the UMNO campaign, less spending and the fact that the PKR candidate was a Malay. The results, however, reveal the main challenge ahead for UMNO lies with the disconnect between its promises and governance in the post-GE13 environment, especially in managing the economy.

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s political legitimacy is dwindling as it appears that he is losing ground among the group his party touts itself to represent.

While race still is the dominant paradigm to interpret the results, the meaningful fault lines in this election were generation and gender divides. PKR did capture the majority of youth, as it did in 2008 and 1999, with the BN relying heavily on older voters. BN on its part continued to win over women, although not to the same extent as before, especially among younger women.

With two women in the campaign, the mobilisation of women was evident,  and this helps us to understand the persistent Chinese base for Malaysian Chinese Association disproportionately female and connected with Chew Mei Fun’s style) and the decline of support for BN among Malays, who are more connected to Wan Azizah.

If there are any implications evident in this by-election from voting behavior, it is that women and youth still hold the future trajectory of electoral victory for either side.

Rocky path ahead    

This by-election is just one of the many battles for Malaysia’s continued polarised political contestation. This ‘sure win’ will be followed by what will likely be a decisive victory for BN in Balingian, Sarawak. What makes Kajang more impactful is its multiethnic composition and the effects on the opposition leadership.

For Najib’s government, the post-GE13 climate is much harder to navigate as the policies of cutting back subsidies and the resultant higher cost of living are hurting its base particularly hard.

The prominent use of racial politics narrows its ability to reach out to the non-Malays. Najib as a leader has been weakened and has less electoral appeal. Infighting within his own party continues to percolate, as the PM continues to face discontent within UMNO. The by-election results, especially the changes in Malay votes, will place additional pressure on Najib.

For the opposition, the battle will be inside Pakatan. The fulcrum will move back to the reasons for the ‘Kajang Move’ in the first place and disagreements over leadership. The struggle for power in Selangor will continue and infighting within the opposition will persist until it is resolved, likely with the PKR May polls.

Voters will have to deal with both sides focusing on internal politicking rather than governance. Kajang may seem sweet for both sides giving it a reduced majority and victory respectively, but the bitterness is coming.

Given the distractions from attention to the problems of ordinary citizens, both sides need to keep in mind that the real bitterness they have to worry about is further alienation from a public who would like less focus on politics and more attention to people.


Bridget-Welsh-2

DR BRIDGET WELSH is Associate Professor of Political Science at Singapore Management University. She can be reached at bwelsh@smu.edu.sg.

The Road to Kajang:PKR’s Torch Bearer soldiers on


March 10, 2014

wan azizah 1

The Road to Kajang:PKR’s Torch Bearer soldiers on

by Nigel Aw@www.malaysiakini.com

PKR today announced party President Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as its new candidate for the Kajang by-election.

Wan Azizah will replace her husband Anwar Ibrahim, the PKR de facto leader, who was initially the party’s candidate for the by-election, but is now disqualified from contesting following his five-year jail sentence for sodomy handed on Friday.

This was announced by Anwar at a press conference in Kajang this afternoon, who temporarily remains a free man after being granted a stay of execution by the Court of Appeal.

AS the Judiciary was manipulated by UMNO to prevent me from contesting, therefore PKR, in consultation with DAP and PAS, would like to announce the candidate (for Kajang) is Wan Azizah Wan Ismail,” said Anwar.

The announcement was preceded by a solemn message for the families of 239 passengers on flight MH370 that went missing over the Vietnamese coast yesterday.

Speaking up for women

In her acceptance speech, Wan Azizah said her nomination was fitting of International Women’s Day which was yesterday.

“I am thankful for the trust and responsibility given to me and it is fitting for International Women’s Day.”I call on all the rakyat to join me in sending a strong message that we cannot continue to be oppressed by injustices,” she said.

Wan Azizah denied being a seat warmer for Anwar, stressing that she represented the values of the party as well as women

Prior to the general election, it was speculated that Wan Azizah may contest a state seat in Selangor but this eventually fizzled out.

After the Court of Appeal sentenced Anwar to five years in jail on Friday, he had announced that 12 names were being short listed as his replacement in Kajang.

‘Pakatan endorses Wan Azizah’

Among the front runner was rumoured to be PKR Secretary-General Saifuddin Nasution, who was also present at the press conference.

Asked why Saifuddin was ultimately not nominated, Anwar said: “I was keen to have Saifuddin but he was reluctant and wanted to (continue as PKR) Secretary-General.

“And in light of the current circumstances, Azizah was the suitable candidate – he (Saifuddin) was firm and adamant about that,” he said.

Nomination day for the Kajang polls is fixed on March 11 and polling day will happen on March 23.

PKR Deputy President Azmin Ali was notably absent at the announcement. Also at the press conference were DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang and PAS’ central committee member Dr Hatta Ramli.

The duo endorsed Wan Azizah’s candidacy and expressed hope she can defeat BN’s Chew Mei Fun by a larger majority, and if possible cost the ruling coalition its deposit.

They also expressed condolences to relatives of passengers on flight MH370 and urge the government to provide accurate information to the public.

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.”

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.

Raja Zalim Raja Disanggah


February 23, 2014

Raja Zalim Raja Disanggah

imageby Din Merican

Karpal Singh has been convicted under s.4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948 for saying that “the Sultan of Perak can be sued” for causing the removal of the PAS Menteri Besar Nizar Jamaludin, which  led to the BN seizing control of the state assembly through the back door by bringing in an unelected person to be Speaker,  thus giving majority to BN in the Perak State Assembly to install Zambry Kadir as Menteri Besar.

Sedition is an antiquated and undemocratic offence and most modern states have repealed or put it into disuse. It certainly has no place in a modern and democratic Malaysia that we aspire to be.

Sedition is an antiquated and undemocratic offence and most modern states have repealed or put it into disuse. It certainly has no place in a modern and democratic Malaysia that we aspire to be.

The story of the sneaking in of a new Speaker into the Perak state parliament; the story of how Regent Raja Nazrin waited from morning in the Royal Chambers to deliver his opening speech, only to get to do it in the late evening as if nothing had happened at all are all well documented.

Sivakumar is half pushed, half pulled out of the chambers. He was forcibly removed from the speaker's chair .

Sivakumar was half pushed, half pulled out of the chambers. He was forcibly removed from the speaker’s chair .

The Constitutional Crisis of Perak was unprecedented not only in Malaysian history but also in the history of any country in the world. Even the assassination of Julius Caesar could be justified because Julius Caesar wanted to be Emperor of Rome and Brutus and gang wanted to prevent him from getting that approval from the Roman Senate. Brutus justified the murder by saying “It is not that I love Caesar less but I love Rome more.” So, Julius was disposed in the Senate just before he became Caesar to protect democracy against dictatorship. In Perak, democracy was assassinated  right in the very house of a state parliament.

The Ruler asked Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin to resign together with the executive council members. Sultan Azlan Shah also ominously declared - if they refuse to resign the post (of Menteri Besar and State Executive Councilors) would be considered vacant.

The Ruler asked Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin to resign together with the executive council members.
Sultan Azlan Shah also ominously declared – if they refuse to resign the post (of Menteri Besar and State Executive Councilors) would be considered vacant.

And by whom?

By none other than the constitutional head of the state. This was democracy in modern times being crucified by the very person who is to be the umbrella and protector of democracy and the people’s rights to its elected government. And democracy died.

It is totally unjust and un-democratic for MPs to switch parties and claim that they still represent what the people voted them in for.

It is totally unjust and un-democratic for MPs to switch parties and claim that they still represent what the people voted them in for.

Given that dramatic event, is it beyond the reasonable man’s mind that the people would speak out? Is it beyond expectation that the Rakyat would rise and object? Even if those reposed with trust to advise the rulers on such matters abdicate their duty because of fear as in this proverb “Tohok Raja Tiada Dapat Dielakkan”, the history of mankind has shown that there will always be A Few Good Men who would speak out for the truth. Karpal Singh would not be called the Tiger of Jelutong if he did not roared out his views over something so manifestly wrong. At least Karpal did not throw stones at the royalty of Perak as some people did to express their disgust over what was seen as the palace complicity in the assassination of democracy.

I recall video footages and pictures of the people of Perak throwing stones at the Regent’s car. That was how disgusted the Rakyat felt towards the Perak royalty. As a Malay, I felt very sad to see the consequences when the royalty and monarchy are dragged to descend into the arena of gutter politics. That would be unthinkable in Thailand where the monarch has always remain impartial to party politics. And that impartiality ensures not only the monarchy’s survival in a modern democracy like Queen Elizabeth of England but also remain revered by the people like King Bhumipol Adulyadej of Thailand. The monarchy must learn to read the Rakyat’s pulse and be a unifying force like how Winston Churchill encouraged the stuttering King George VI to deliver that famous speech unfiying Britons as Britain went to war in the  movie The King’s Speech.

A vehicle with a yellow (royal) registration plate, said to be ferrying Perak crown prince Raja Nazrin Shah, was pelted with stones by angry supporters of the PRU12, which has shown PR won the State of Perak.

A vehicle with a yellow (royal) registration plate, said to be ferrying Perak crown prince Raja Nazrin Shah, was pelted with stones by angry supporters of the PRU12, which has shown PR won the State of Perak.

Yet, in Perak the Rakyat’s expressed its utter disgust. Why?

HRH Sultan of Perak is Raja Azlan Shah who before becoming Sultan was the Lord President of Malaysia, the chief judge of the country. There were much hopes when Raja Azlan Shah became Sultan.

HRH Sultan of Perak is Raja Azlan Shah who before becoming Sultan was the Lord President of Malaysia, the chief judge of the country. There were much hopes when Raja Azlan Shah became Sultan.

HRH Sultan of Perak is Raja Azlan Shah who before becoming Sultan was the Lord President of Malaysia, the Chief judge of the country. There was much hope when Raja Azlan Shah became Sultan. There was hope that His Majesty would put some semblance of Rule of Law in the governance of his own state of Perak and in the country when Raja Azlan Shah became Yang DiPertuan Agong of Malaysia. The Perak Royalty was regarded as one of the more educated royalties of this country. So, when Raja Nazrin became regent and espoused all the ideals of good governance, the people became hopeful. The people agreed with everything Raja Nazrin said. He became a symbol of an enlightened royalty of Malaysia like the big white hope of boxing. But all hopes dissipated. That disappointment culminated in the manner that MB Nizar was deposed. And the Perak Royalty lost all credibility. I am saying this because people tell me so and it is my duty to convey this so that our royalty can reflect on their relevance and survival in a new world.

The prosecution and conviction of Karpal Singh who is a parliamentarian and a senior lawyer does nothing to instil respect, love and reverence for our royalty and monarchy. It will do the exact opposite as can be seen in the extinction of other monarchies in the world. If that happens, the Malays will have to blame UMNO, our Malay politicians and our Malay holders of public offices including the Judiciary for being less than wise in managing such issues.

ICJ's International Legal Advisor on Southeast Asia Emerlynne Gil said this conviction sends out a message that lawyers in Malaysia are not free to express their opinions about legal issues.

ICJ’s International Legal Advisor on Southeast Asia Emerlynne Gil said this conviction sends out a message that lawyers in Malaysia are not free to express their opinions about legal issues.

We, Malays, make such a big fuss about protecting kedaulatan Raja-Raja Melayu and, in doing so, we instigate for the prosecution of anyone especially non-Malays like Karpal to teach them a lesson not to memperlekehkan our Raja-Raja. As a result, we bring to the world’s attention the oppressiveness of our archaic laws and the abuses that can arise from such laws. In the end, we will be the losers because we never heed our own peribahasa – “Kasihkan Raja Di Atas Usungan”.

I will not explain the meaning of that proverb so that you, the readers, and hopefully all Malay politicians will research, read and apply that peribahasa in the proper context when dealing with our Malay royalty.

 Same case, same judge, different judgments -- only in the land of endless possibilities! mj


Same case, same judge, different judgments — only in the land of endless possibilities! mj

In prosecuting and convicting Karpal Singh, neither the Malay executive nor the Judiciary gave cogisance to another Malay legal maxim or peribahasa which is so significant in this context. If Karpal Singh can be convicted for sedition just for questioning the powers of a malay monarch, then this maxim must be expunged from the Malay perbendaharaan of peribahasa – “ Raja Adil Raja Disembah Raja Zalim Raja Disanggah“.

The Unnecessary Road to Kajang


February 21, 2014

The Unnecessary Road to Kajang

by Dato Ahmad Mustapha Hassan(02-20-14)

http://www.theantdaily.com/news/2014/02/19/kajang-election-not-beneficial-both-country-and-people

Ahmad Mustapha HassanA lot is being said about the Kajang by-election. The event had taken the people by surprise. There was no necessity for one to be held. It only creates further insecurity among the people and projects a bizarre scenario. Not only will public money be wasted but time, energy and productive work will also have to be sacrificed.

PKR may have a national agenda in doing this but it is most unfair to subject the people and the country to such wastage. PKR, as I had written earlier, is poorly managed and has become a thorn to the stability of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition.

The other leaders in component parties PAS and DAP must have sanctioned what had occurred but it is doubtful whether they had done so out of sincerity. Whether these two component parties like it or not, their standing is also affected. How is it possible for leaders in these two component parties to associate themselves with such waste, especially when it affects the welfare of the people?

From the look of it, these two parties were never involved in great detail about this move. Sanction was given more from after the fact, to keep the semblance of unity in the pack.

Pakatan must show that it practised democracy. It should and mustAzmin-Khalid demonstrate that it believes in true democracy in all its form, structure, content, words and deeds. PKR might act as the leader of the pack but the other component parties must advise PKR as to the suitability and the logic of forcing this by-election.

It may solve the problems faced by PKR but it may hurt the future of the coalition. To the people, this is an act to solve the internal squabbles in the party but causing inconveniences to the people of Kajang.

Critics have been blaming UMNO Baru for being inconsiderate to all its partners but the very same culture seems to permeate Pakatan with PKR doing the unimaginable just to save its future.

In the first place, were there any complaints that PKR’s Lee Chin Cheh had neglected the constituency he was representing? If there was none, it was really “patriotic” of him to resign and pave the way for a by-election. But blind party “patriotism” is not a virtue.

Lee Chin Cheh 02mDid he realise that he had completely let down his constituents by doing so? He could never be trusted by his voters and his political career has come to an end.He sacrificed for the sake of his own party but that sacrifice meant nothing to his voters. To his voters, he had simply sacrificed their trust.

According to Rafizi Ramli, PKR’s strategic director, the move is to thwart any attempt by the UMNO Baru-BN government to snatch Selangor through a declaration of emergency status as in the case of Kelantan in 1977.

The Kelantan government at that time was facing internal party problems and squabbles that had affected the administration of the state. But in the case of Selangor, only PKR was having party problems and the other two partners in the coalition were free from any internal dissension. The reasoning therefore does not hold water.

UMNO at that time was also trying to boot PAS out of BN and the NAJIB_RAZAK_091213_TMINAJJUA_05_540_360_100incidents in Kelantan gave them that opportunity.It is neither opportune now nor easy for the UMNO Baru-BN government to resort to such actions as in the case of Kelantan before. Time does not permit UMNO Baru-BN to act in such manner.

The backlash from this episode will definitely harm Pakatan. Party problems should be resolved through the party machinery and not through the mechanism of a by-election.

The road to Putrajaya is not through Selangor but through enlightening the rural voters about the evils of UMNO Baru-BN government. Pakatan needs to reduce the number of constituencies that had supported UMNO Baru in the last general election. The total number that backed UMNO Baru is 88. These constituencies have been the backbone of UMNO Baru, and Pakatan has to concentrate and act positively in these constituencies.

Pakatan should remember the Malay saying:“Apa yang dikejar tak dapat, apa yang dikendung berciciran” which literally means to lose what one has in hand and not getting what one was chasing.

The northern people had this about the above and that is:“Balik Pulau, Bayan Lepas, sana terperelau, sini terlepas.”

In other words, Pakatan may not be able to capture Putrajaya and instead may even lose Selangor. The electorate will exercise caution and will be wary of voting for PKR candidates.

My diagnosis may be wrong but the symptoms are there.

Ahmad Mustapha Hassan is a former press secretary to second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and the writer of the book, “The Unmaking of Malaysia”.

Road to Kajang: Enter Tun Dr. Mahathir


February 20, 2014

Road to Kajang: Enter Tun Dr. Mahathir, the Prolific Peddler of Poppycock

by Terence Netto (02-19-14)@http://www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT: The Kajang by-election has triggered a crapshoot. With something like three weeks to go to nomination day, the campaign is already awash in the hogwash that tells you the silly season’s here – earlier than usual.

By now we well know that any contest in which the stakes are high and PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim is involved tends to attract mad hatters, like moths to flame.

It’s not that Anwar is a contributor to the crap; it’s just that he’s so unfailing a cause for the emission of the drivel that tells you the madding season has begun.

Presently, the most prolific peddler of poppycock is former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Even at an age that is supposed to bring on a mellow equanimity, the scent of Anwar can be counted on to make the octogenarian Mahathir’s nostrils twitch, like a tapir’s when browsing for food.

TDM LatestProlific Peddler of Poppycock

As gleefully as a hog after truffles, the former Prime Minister the past few weeks has dug up every unthinking cliché about Anwar for regurgitation without aid of the rhetorical contrivances that can render the jaded the gleam of wit.

Anwar, the agent of America; Anwar, the sly dodger of court action; Anwar, the PM-aspirant who’s barely MB material; Anwar, the sexual deviant but pretender to Islamic rectitude; Anwar, the justice exponent but hidden repressor of liberty; Anwar, the apparent meritocrat but latent promoter of nepotism; Anwar, the bogus financial czar and tool of the IMF and World Bank; Anwar, the public Islamist but covert Jew lover, and so on and so forth.

The range of these defamations must want to make Anwar say with the poet Walt Whitman: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I’m large, I contain multitudes.”

But the only multitudes that matter these days are the ones that turn up for his stumps on the election circuit. From Permatang Pauh to Pasir Gudang, from Kajang to Kota Kinabalu, the attendances at the Opposition Leader’s ceramah have not receded. And this is what appears to give his adversaries sleeplessness.

Anwar’s decision to go for a seat in the Selangor legislature has given his ally turned adversary Mahathir the insomnia that can cause memory loss.

Echoing Liow

Liow tiong layLast week, Mahathir, taking the cue from MCA President Liow Tiong Lai, blamed Anwar for Operation Lallang. Operation Lallang, launched in October 1987, involved the detention of over 100 politicians and social activists and the banning of several newspapers in what has come to be regarded as one of the darkest chapters of Malaysian history.

Anwar was Education Minister at the time while Mahathir was both Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister.

Mahathir has previously tried to dodge responsibility for that episode byTDMBaru claiming that it was the Police who had insisted on the repression, conveniently forgetting that the Internal Security Act only allowed for detentions under the signature of the Home Minister.

If Mahathir’s disclaimer of responsibility is taken at face value, then it meant that at the time of ISA arrests, Malaysia was a police state, not a parliamentary democracy.

With regards to Operation Lallang, Anwar’s links extended only to the fact that his ministry was responsible for the placement of non-Mandarin speaking personnel in government-aided Chinese schools.

The decision led to protest demonstrations by Chinese educationists. UMNO Youth responded with a menacing display of chauvinism. Tensions ran high and the government reacted with a spate of detentions and newspaper bans.

Last week, newly-elected MCA chief Liow, in his first foray into Kajang, which seat is likely to be contested by his party, reminded Chinese voters that it was Anwar’s actions that had led to Operation Lallang. Mahathir, 88, promptly seconded Liow’s view until Anwar countered by saying that he was in charge of the Education portfolio and not Home Affairs under whose imprimatur the ISA arrests occurred.

Lim Kit SiangUnder pressure from DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang, who was the Opposition Leader in 1987 and who tartly reminded Mahathir that he had signed the detentions orders as home minister, the ex-PM admitted responsibility, citing advanced age for his memory lapses.

However, a retentive memory for old canards was at work when Mahathir, pressing the attack against Anwar, trotted out all the hoary old charges against his nemesis, from western tool to latent sexual predator.

Mahathir sounded like a stuck record, spinning endlessly in the grooves of a discredited past. This is what gives Mahathir and his ilk goose pimples: while their target, Anwar, is taken up with what to do about the future, they are reflexively fixated on the past.

That is why, for the latter, the Kajang by-election is a crapshoot while for their adversary it is the signpost to a better future – for Selangorians, at least.

People Power can grill BN in ‘Satay Town’


February 19, 2014

People Power can grill BN in ‘Satay Town’

Mariam Mokhtarby Mariam Mokhtar

For the first time in 57 years, the rakyat is aware that the opposition coalition can destroy the BN coalition. Unless drastic measures are taken, UMNO-Baru fears that its rule will come to an end. The “Allah” issue and the bible snatching in Selangor are all about this change of power.

The increasing disintegration of racial and religious harmony in Selangor should have sounded the alarm to tell us that UMNO-Baru is mounting its strongest challenge against the Opposition.

Ironically, the man who has successfully led Selangor may also be its greatest stumbling block. The Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, is a perfect corporate man, who runs a tight ship and has successfully replenished the Selangor coffers; but he lacks the political cunning needed to mount campaigns to thwart the UMNO-Baru attacks against his leadership.

Another major disadvantage is that Khalid is not given coverage in theFather of Corruption mainstream media and TV3. In contrast, Datuk Seri Najib Razak is a failure when it comes to managing the economy and uniting Malaysians, but the media and, it is alleged, foreign public relations firms, are paid to portray a glowing image of Najib to gullible Malaysians.

The seeds of disunity were planted by former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and since then, they have been used by UMNO-Baru to inflict maximum damage on the rakyat. Today, Malay and Muslim extremists goad their non-Malay and Christian peers to retaliate. All UMNO-Baru needs is a spark, to assume control.

The reason for the “Kajang move” is to pre-empt Mahathir’s manoeuvring to remove Najib and cause havoc in Selangor, the crown-jewel of Malaysia. One should reflect on and seize this opportunity for change. The people of Kajang can prove that power is in the hands of the people, and not the politicians.

Anyone who doubts UMNO-Baru’s fear and insecurity needs only look at its actions soon after the Kajang announcement was made.

UMNO-Baru started to praise the Chinese for their commercial success and Malays were criticised for failing to emulate the Chinese work ethic. Contrast this with last year, when the UMNO-Baru publicity machine insulted the Chinese, blamed the Chinese tsunami for the BN loss and told the Chinese to “balik Cina”.

dsai14BN’s anxiety showed when Lee Chong Wei, the badminton champion, was urged to stand against Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in Kajang. This demonstrates BN’s shallow thinking and desperation. They considered fielding a sports personality to capitalise on his popularity.

In the legal world, the judgement in Datuk Seri Khir Toyo’s final appeal, and the corruption case against Datuk Suhaimi Ibrahim, the former political secretary to the former Minister for Women Affairs, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, were postponed indefinitely. The publicity from the court case might highlight the fact that UMNO-Baru is mired in corruption.

Conversely, Anwar’s sodomy appeal will be heard in early February. Presumably, UMNO-Baru hopes the Opposition will be affected by the publicity. The case will waste Anwar’s time and resources, whilst attempting to tarnish Anwar’s good name.

Former cabinet minister Tan Sri Zainuddin Maidin said that Kajang was a “golden opportunity” to “regain the trust of the Malays” to “repay the Malays” after the “Chinese tsunami” of GE13. This is typical UMNO-Baru arrogance.

Najib deferred toll hikes this year, giving the impression that UMNO-BaruAh Jib Gor is listening to the rakyat; however, the rakyat may not know that the toll operators were given a golden Chinese New Year angpow of RM400 million in concessions.

Former PM Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi claimed that the by-election was a waste of public funds and a challenge to the country’s democracy. Billions of ringgit of taxpayers’ money have been wasted on grand projects but Badawi ignored the extravagance of UMNO-Baru ministers and their spouses. He also forgot the undemocratic Perak coup in 2009 and the cheating in GE13, and earlier elections.

Najib announced that recipients of the BRIM 3.0 would receive their money on February 22, 2014. This is Najib’s modus operandi, to pay his way into people’s affections. We saw his largesse in GE13, and then we suffered as our cost of living increased.

We have come a long way since the days of the master-slave relationship between the leaders and the rakyat; when UMNO-Baru dictates, the rakyat must obey. The rakyat is fed up with broken promises, price hikes and acts of injustice. Ordinary people are denied their basic human rights, if they are not well connected or belong to the wrong religion or race.

Proof that the people are not afraid of change was shown when Lim Kit Siang, who was parachuted into Gelang Patah, an UMNO-Baru stronghold, won with a huge majority. Anwar can do the same in Kajang. He can thwart UMNO-Baru’s attempts to divide the nation and deal more effectively with royalty.

No one in Selangor wants to return to the bad old days of UMNO-Baru, when there was excessive corruption, cronyism, nepotism and lack of transparency, amongst other things.

The by-election on March 23 is perhaps the rakyat’s only chance to vote for a better future for themselves, but more importantly for their children and their children’s children. Think ahead. Think change. Look at the bigger picture.

Road to Kajang: Anwar reaches out to Kajangites


February 17, 2014

Anwar sends a message of peace and harmony to Kajangites

by The Malaysian Insider.

Malaysians learnt a few things over a rather hot weekend, from Opposition leaders who reached out to all, to ordinary Malaysians preaching harmony and the few troublemakers who appear to incite trouble.

dsai14Anwar spreads a message of peace and harmony

Some might still think Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is a political chameleon but his visit to a Kajang church yesterday proved one thing – he was willing to take the bull by the horns and reach out to all Malaysians irrespective of their faith.

Perhaps he was just there for their votes, those less charitable of him would say. But the PKR de facto leader did something that no Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders has done in a long time – meet Malaysians outside their community and be the leader of all Malaysians, not just their own race or co-religionists.

Have we seen any BN leader face a crowd of ordinary Malaysians, not from their party or race or religion, and answer their blunt questions? In most cases, it is stage-managed events filled with either a pliant media or those paid to tweet photographs of these leaders.

Anwar is not alone, of course. PAS leaders such as Khalid Abdul Samad and Mujahid Yusof Rawa have also gone to meet and reach out to people from different faiths over the years. These men have kept their faith, and have no fear of being seen in a church with a crucifix in the background or speaking to Christians warmly and openly.

But for BN leaders, most prefer the company of their own community, whose cause they champion to the detriment of the larger Malaysian dream. One would expect Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak (seen with a religious bigot below) to do the same, reach out to all. After all, he spoke of his 1Malaysia, echoing the words of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Bangsa Malaysia that was first mentioned in 1991.

mullah-harussani-and-najibNajib panders to the Ulamak and Extremists

But the Prime Minister has been silent. Instead, his UMNO-owned daily, Utusan Malaysia, has taken the cudgels to fight for race and religion, with one editor warning non-Malays not to overstep limits and to know who is the country’s master race.

Add to that potent statement is the curious incidents that only happen in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) states – provocative acts that could set off a religious clash.

Which Malaysian is stupid enough to distribute Bibles outside national schools or throw a slab of pork into a mosque? And why does it only happen in Penang and not anywhere else?

This comes on the heels of provocative buntings and a Molotov cocktail attack on a church in the island state. So, who in their right frame of mind would do this in Malaysia?

DR MThese incidents only lend credence to a theory that there are groups of people out there who want to foment trouble in Malaysia, especially in PR-ruled states. Why? There are endless possibilities to that question.

Police have yet to make any headway in any of these cases but any further acts of a similar nature will only stoke the religious tension in the country for the benefit of the few.

The good news is that there are Malaysians out there who know better, such as the group that has gone from the Klang Valley to Penang over the weekend to promote peace and harmony.

It proves one thing – that there are Malaysians who ignore provocations, threats and blinkered politicians to do what they do best, give each other the warm hand of friendship and smile that has made Malaysians among the most gentle people on the planet.

Politicians should know better, that the people want a better country for all, not one divided by race, religion and class. There will be many more weekends that will bring us joy or fill us with fear that Malaysia is tearing apart at the seams.

But the opposition have shown that they can handle hot issues of the day with the people that matter. Can BN do the same or just make motherhood statements that mean nothing to the people in the streets?

Yet, one lesson from the weekend is clear. There are more Malaysians out there who want peace and harmony than there are the few lurking around trying to provoke a fight. –The Malaysian Insider, February 17, 2014.

Road to Kajang: Zaid Ibrahim enters the race


February 16, 2014

Road to Kajang: Zaid Ibrahim enters the race

Listen to Zaid Ibrahim’s explanation for entering the race. Zaid said, “Jika saya menang, Anwar kalah dan Pakatan Rakyat akan selamat di Selangor”. I welcome your comments.–Din Merican

Zaid out to stymie PKR’s Kajang gambit

by http://www.malaysiakini.com

Former de facto Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim has announced that he will contest in the upcoming Kajang by-election in a bid to stymie PKR’s “Kajang move”.At a press conference in Kajang today, Zaid said that if he were to win, it would ensure that Abdul Khalid Ibrahim will continue to be the Selangor Menteri Besar.

Zaid said the by-election, forced by the sudden resignation of incumbent Lee Chin Cheh to make way for PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim entry to the state legislative assembly, was a “wholly inappropriate political act”.

He claimed that if Anwar becomes a state assemblyperson and tries to oust Khalid as Menteri Besar, a political crisis will break out if the latter refuses to resign voluntarily.

He added that even if Anwar wins, he might not be able to convince the Selangor Sultan or allies in PAS to accept him as the new Menteri Besar. “There is a real risk that a misuse of his political position by Anwar to take power from Khalid will tear Pakatan Rakyat apart,” said Zaid.

Responsible leadership

Zaid said Khalid and members of his government has the public mandate to rule and the trust that they have earned cannot be erased by PKR’s “political machinations”.

If Khalid and any of his team are to be removed, let it be done through the democratic process where any weaknesses or failings can be openly discussed and due process followed.

“And let it be done with the consent of His Majesty the Sultan. Such transparency is central to the responsible leadership that the people expect in the 21st century,” he said.

In view of this, and in order to respect the principles of a healthy democracy and ensure political stability, Zaid said voters in Selangor must ensure that PKR’s plans to make Anwar the new menteri besar does not work.

He said that responsible leadership meant that political leaders must be responsible to the state as a whole and not just one party.

“I hope the voters of Kajang will make wise choices in the face of the current crisis between Khalid, Anwar and Azmin Ali. I believe this can happen if I win this seat,” he said.Zaid, 63, is born in Kelantan and currently resides in Petaling Jaya. He said he has stayed in Selangor for more than 35 years.

When asked for an immediate reaction to Zaid’s announcement, Anwar offered the following curt reply: “It is a free world”.

A Gramscian Take on Thai Politics


February 15, 2014

A Gramscian Take on Thai Politics

by Daniel Mattes (02-14-14)

http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/newmandala/2014/02/14/gramscian-take-on-thai-politics/

At a dinner table in a common Isaan household, a spirit appears, asking, “What’s wrong with my eyes? They are open, but I can’t see a thing.”  The spirit’s appearance initially renders it a menacing threat, but it soon becomes clear that the spirit is the family’s guardian.  This scene takes place in Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s 2010 film, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, alongside many other images of superstition and banal rural life in Thailand’s Northeast.

The film was produced at a moment of immense change in Thailand, as the military continually interfered in civilian political processes between 2006 and 2010, sometimes causing violence in the suppression of street protests.  The film, aware of its context, notes the country’s history of military interventions when the eponymous protagonist laments his past murder of communists under the false and exaggerated premise of nationalism.

The more recent military action that removed elected Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra from power in 2006 occurred along a polarized divide between the urban and the rural, between business and agriculture, and between the bourgeoisie and the poor.  The film’s threatening spirit guardian represents this rural working poor, who simultaneously form a foundation of Thai identity but stoke fear among urban elites through their electoral power.  Although 2006 saw the successful removal of Thaksin, the resumption of new street protests in recent months demonstrates the anxieties over rural power that still exist in Thailand.

Key elements within a “deep state” of military, royal and business elites have unsuccessfully offset the interests of rural peasants, even as they have utilized and managed support from civil society movements opposed to government corruption.  To shift the polarization in Thai society and politics, greater understanding of the historical experiences of the Thai subaltern – the rural and working poor – can bridge the divide.

TakshinAlthough the Shinawatra-associated parties of Pheu Thai [PTP] and previously Thai Rak Thai [TRT] won four elections between 2001 and 2011, the deeper powers of the Thai state have not necessarily shifted with the changes in government.  Rather, as McCargo has suggested in his work on the Thai network monarchy, the entrenched military, royalist and business elements have continued to operate the state at a deeper level than any superficial electoral shift.  Yet in the face of PTP’s continued electoral mandates for programs of healthcare provision and rural development loans, this deep state may no longer feel so empowered.

Through studies of bourgeois hegemony in his Prison Notebooks, the Italian communist leader, Antonio Gramsci, noted society’s role when a state lost control over politics.  As he noted, “When the State trembled a sturdy structure of civil society was at once revealed…[as] a powerful system of fortresses and earthenworks.”  Thaksin’s mutation into a populist force outside the Bangkok establishment encouraged support among those that the leading Democrat Party had long ignored, including the geographically marginalized North and Northeast as well as the socioeconomically marginalized rural poor and migrant workers.  It was assumed Thaksin held ulterior motives, but corruption and cronyism were not new features of Thai democracy; what unnerved the urban elite to a greater extent was his ability to consolidate such wide support from the voting public, for this had the capacity to threaten future policymaking and their deeper interests.  This elite struggle resulted in and revealed the real forces within civil society taking part in street movements and fighting over sociopolitical hegemony: the urban bourgeoisie and the rural poor.  As the dominant bloc of political elites lost control over the government, bourgeois elites now fear losing hegemony over the rural and working poor.

Recent events in Bangkok have amplified the anti-rural noise, referring to potential PTP voters as either ignorant or susceptible to bribes.  Thongchai Winichakul has noted the discrepancy in criticizing vote-buying among rural populations but ignoring similar strategies of localized spending within the urban context.  The cynical discourse surrounding development in rural areas does not exist concerning commonly used tax breaks or transit improvements in Bangkok.

Andrew Walker has also argued that urban elites wrongly presume that money dispensed during elections will directly determine voting outcomes, an assumption that indicates not only urban bias but also urban ignorance of the realities and rational choices of rural populations.

Herein lies the paradox at the crux of the divide: the deep state of military, royalist and urban business interests view populist efforts as a threat to their wider support, but what truly threatens their grasp on power is their own mischaracterization of that wider public as threatening.  Instead, these elements should view the rural populations as a foundational spirit of their power.  The king once achieved his prominence and earned his wide appeal through years of concerted public engagement with rural farmers, for example.  However, the monarchy and its networks have presently come to fear the rural population’s intractable power and related support for the Shinawatras.

There is a distinct possibility — even probability — that Thaksin capitalized on the subaltern of rural farmers and urban poor in a clever attempt to assuage populist sentiment without true action.  Recent protests among Northern farmers still awaiting their promised subsidies reinforce this notion.  However, the opposition’s emphasis of this claim only aims to manipulate the subaltern for purposes of its own.  As such, Thai political and civil society regularly engage in debates that reinforce the status quo and protect the hegemony of the dominant bloc of the ruling class and the state.

The selective removal of Thaksin Shinawatra as a singular example of corrupt politics denotes not only the level of unease among elites in response to his continued support among the rural population and the working poor, but also the continued entrenchment of an elite class on either side of the political divide.  The monarchy’s Privy Council, the military and the courts – the structural tools of the deep state – only began to pursue Thaksin’s removal from office after his resounding 2005 re-election, after ignoring his and others’ corruption as a banal normalcy within Thai politics.

yingluck-shinawatra_4Thongchai Winichakul labels the events of 2006 “a royalist coup,” with the military and the courts as accomplices and with the support of an electoral minority but crucial element called “the people’s sector,” made up of activists, intellectuals, media outlets, and the business elite.  This sector, weighted towards the attitudes and interests of the urban bourgeoisie, has failed to appreciate those of rural citizens.  The lengthy movements of 2006 and 2008, the violence of 2010 and the renewal of action in recent months indicate the deep intractability of the divide that continues to separate the country.

The invention of “the people’s sector” has resurfaced in the past few months, as protestors have rallied against elections and called for the instatement of a “people’s council.”  The current protest leader, Suthep Thaugsuban, speaks of moral opposition to Thaksin’s corruption and his sister Yingluck’s leadership failings, even as he minimizes his own alleged involvement as the deputy Prime Minister who ordered the deadly military crackdown that killed 93 red-shirt supporters of Thaksin in 2010.  Such a selective memory extrapolates beyond Suthep’s personal evasion: his circle of elite and urban-based support has consistently justified the previous acts of violence perpetrated on the social movements that first caused the state to tremble (to use Gramsci’s phrasing).

What truly needs to change in Thailand is a shift in civil society; street protests evoke the vestiges of civil action, but they merely actualise the political gamesmanship on both sides of a purely political debate.  Understood as such, a Gramscian framework is more illuminating with regards to ongoing events in Thailand than the conventional analysis of democratization, which focuses too much on political power and policy.  The opposition is correct that Thailand needs more than new elections, but Suthep and other yellow-shirt elites have ideologically manipulated the discontent of their supporters for their own political entrenchment.  The series of trembles to the Thai state over the past eight years have revealed the cracked earthenworks of division and misunderstanding that lay between the key interests of society.

A Gramscian framework provides greater agency to the subaltern: “If yesterday it [the subaltern element] was not responsible, because ‘resisting’ a will external to itself, now it feels itself to be responsible because it is no longer resisting but an agent, necessarily active and taking the initiative.”

For subaltern elements to entrench their own sense of agency, they must resist the hegemony within their own ranks – red or yellow.  The alternative Gramscian framework has suggested they can accomplish this through direct emphasis on their own cultural strengths, ideological dominance, and incumbent moral superiority.  Modern Thailand faces the task of reconciling an increasingly polarized populace, divided by political ideology as much as geographic and industrial background.  Yet the battle is taking place and must continue to take place not within political society but within civil society.  Until urban elites interpret the incentives and interests of the rural poor not as a threat but instead as a foundational spirit, the hegemonic Thai system will continue to move forward blindly, as with open eyes that cannot see.

Daniel Mattes is a graduate student at the London School of Economics and Political Science

Kajang Move: A Game Changer or An Unnecessary By-Election?


February 12, 2014

Kajang Move: A Game Changer or An Unnecessary By-Election?

by Natesan Visnu@http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

MB Selangor KhalidThe ‘Kajang Move’ as part of PKR’s holistic strategy has invited criticism from all walks of life. Opposition supporters have voiced their dissatisfaction, PKR loyalists are backing it as a strategy to capture Putrajaya, the public is in a dilemma if the explanation by the party’s leaders is the whole truth. Only time will reveal the real motive.

Politics is a game of deception. It is organised in such a way that subjects are often confused. In chess, a good player wants an opponent to ‘move’ exactly the way he wants. A weak player will make the ‘move’ as desired by the stronger player. In our case, the ‘Kajang Move’ is for us to ‘believe’ that it is part of a bigger strategy to capture Putrajaya and aligning a ‘move’ for UMNO’s internal crisis.

The ‘Kajang Move’ has been hailed as the game changer in Malaysian politics. PKR has explained to the public on the necessity for the by-election via forums, blogs, etc. The public’s intelligence is at stake. We can choose to believe or not to believe PKR’s leadership. What is the actual reason for the ‘Kajang Move’? On that note, the writer chooses not to believe the PKR leadership.

“Men are so simple of mind, and so much dominated by their immediate needs, that a deceitful man will always find plenty who are ready to be deceived.” – Niccolo Machiavelli.

The by-election increases public expenditure. The official and non-official cost will go into hundreds of millions. PKR and BN are aware of it. The Pakatan Rakyat leadership condemns BN’s governance cost. PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli has been vocal in the past on BN’s cost management. Despite being aware of the unnecessary spending, PKR has initiated a strategy that will cost the tax payers. The ‘Kajang Move’ is not a cost-effective strategy.

The election campaign team has used the ‘heroism’ campaign strategy. PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim has been branded as Anwar-Kajangrisking his political career by contesting in the by-election. The public has sacrificed more than the PKR leadership since 1998 to challenge the status quo of Malaysian politics. The ‘Kajang Move’ is definitely an insult to the public’s intelligence. The PKR leaders have not been honest with their key agenda. Politicking based on Anwar’s image as a reformation hero has lost its essence. We need a statesman, not a politician in Selangor. The strategy does not benefit the people of Selangor.

The by-election is a designed strategy to serve the political masters. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that Abdul Khalid Ibrahim will be removed as Menteri Besar to make way for Anwar. It is a tragic truth that the PKR leadership has failed to explain to the public. Rafizi manoeuvred the public with a sympathy strategy to obtain support from the voters. The public did not buy his story and he paid the price for lying to the public. As a political strategist, Rafizi has failed to design a strategy that would produce results for them.

PKR’s survival is purely because of the public’s intelligence to balance the power between Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat. The public realises that having a strong opposition means the ‘check and balance’ of the ruling party is managed prudently. Malaysian politicians functions on character assassination strategy.

That kindergarten level of mentality among Malaysian politicians is a winning formula for the public to keep the politicians continuously working and serving them. Politicians always thought that they are smarter than the public, who is smarter now? PKR should always align their strategy in favour of the people.

“He who becomes a Prince through the favour of the people should always keep on good terms with them; which it is easy for him to do, since all they ask is not to be oppressed.” – Niccolo Machiavelli, ‘The Prince’.

A Political Suicide

dsai14Echoing the above quote, PKR should not insult the public’s intelligence with lies and deception. The ‘Kajang Move’ is political suicide. Anwar will win because of Selangor folks’ sympathy vote to keep Pakatan Rakyat in power. In the long term, it will create doubt among fence sitting voters in other states because of the deception formulated to remove Khalid. It will reduce the popularity of PKR in the next general election.

It is still not too late for PKR to control the damage. Come clean with the public on the real agenda for the ‘Kajang Move’. The public will forgive the PKR leadership if they come forward and apologise. Truth is the only strategy that PKR has in this situation. Truth alone will prevail. Khalid might not be a good politician but he is a good statesman. PKR needs to decide if it is in favour of having a politician or statesman.

“Wayang Kulit” Politics delivers very little change


February 11, 2014

“Wayang Kulit” Politics delivers very little change

by Dr. KJ John@http://www.malaysiakini.com

NAJIB_RAZAK_091213_TMINAJJUA_05_540_360_100‘Wayang kulit’ politics in Malaysia creates a lot of noise about the wrong issues but delivers very little change, in real terms. Let me give some good examples. Take the kangkong issue. Lots of noise and even some bigoted statements about Malays being ridiculed, but at the end of the day, price of food and ingredients still go up without fail. Are we addressing the real issues?

Or, take for example the Approved Permits (AP) Policy under the the National Automative Policy or NAP. It does not take brilliance for any ordinary first year business student to figure out that while the AP was introduced to “control flow of imported and built up units,” it does not do so any more, despite the same policy purpose and agenda being still in place.

Instead, the goal has been displaced but further justified, to make some selected crony individuals rich at the expense of the public interest. In the meantime, ordinary citizens pay more in terms of costs of goods and services and even ordinary cars.  

 
Proton
We are among the only nations in the world which makes cars but have to pay even more for cars. I suspect even if we compare car prices between Singapore and Malaysia, we can understand these issues and know the failed nature of our National Automotive Policy. Why do we even have this policy if it means paying more for all brands of cars? Is the policy relevant; if so, whom does it serve?

Globally, politicians are finding out that their attempt to control circumstances by power and authority to resolve policy issues and problems are finding no way ahead. The false assumption they make is that power can be used to control circumstances beyond their control. There is a false premise of a universal worldview of life and for life.  

Just take the ‘Allah’ issue and we can understand this problem. Instead of competing with each other to worship God in more meaningful ways, we stop others from worship because we have this holier than thou worldview. How can one group ever dictate how the other worships. Just try it with your own children and you understand why; not while they are below 12 but after then and before they turn 21.

The world of politics needs to understand that universal appeal of political parties and issues is no more. All issues and problems today have multiple perspectives, and unless one learns to hear and understand all the different ones, one will not really comprehend the core issue at hand.

Lack of Political Will

In the context of the above, I am rather amused that it is obvious that PKR Anwar-Kajanginstructed its party representative in the Kajang state seat to resign so that a by-election can be held. After the fact, we hear that they are asking their non-formal leader to stand for this vacancy in the state assembly in the Kajang seat. I still fail to understand the real reasons.

This is within the context of the issues on the ground related to cost and price increases as subsidies are being dropped and incompetent governance continues in most states and ministries.  One only needs a simple review of the Auditor-General’s Report to affirm the real reasons for cost increases. Do we really need the chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee to instruct the secretaries-general to discipline their errant officers?  

For that matter, it is my view that the Secretaries-General are the controlling officers and the Auditor-General’s Report must take a more strategic approach and demand that they be more accountable. Simply demote one secretary-general based on the Auditor-General’s Report and we can see the full effects then.

Even far worse is the game-playing with the public interest that we see through this by-election.  In the past, the Federal government used the ‘buy-election strategy to win’. Now, it appears PKR is opting the ‘buy this election strategy’, taking the people of Kajang for granted, because they can change their representative at their whim or fancies.

Really? And the people of Kajang do not mind? My caution to PKR is, please do not take the people of Kajang for granted. Address their real issues and concerns, even if you know them.  

I must admit that I cannot buy the published version of the so-called PKR strategic agenda. First, I am not sure or convinced that it is a Pakatan strategy, because if it was, it was only one forced or foisted upon their partners, as DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng did not know about the strategy the very next day, and was reported to have said so.  

Therefore, if the PKR informal leader cannot rein in his party membership to resolve internal party issues, I do not agree with why they need to take the issue to a by-election to resolve their internal issues. On the other hand if there is a serious and earth-shattering reason as to why the people of Kajang need to help resolve issues, please make that straightforward and explain the core issue of the artificially created by-election.  

Otherwise, please do not take people for granted. Consequently, I find the PKR sudden decision irrational for the following reasons:

  • MB Khalid Ibrahim is already doing an excellent job and does not need another stronger personality in Selangor to muddy waters at the state level;
  • There are serious and significant areas of improvement still to be done in Selangor, but that is not something any personality driven leadership model can change.  What is needed is a Selangor state government with real political will to make changes happen, in order to make Selangor an exemplar state;
  • It appears that the rest of Pakatan partners were taken by surprise with this sudden action of PKR and its representatives. Pakatan needs a united and sincere but transparent stand if you want to convince the people of Kajang, that they are not pawns in some larger chess game;
  • Within the context of rising costs and obviously wasteful ministries; it is unwise to create a state level by-election simply to mediate some internal party problem or issue;
  • This by-election will raise another round of fervent politicking and lead to another round of wasteful and meaningless spending by the government which the nation-state can ill afford; and
  • It is in bad faith to treat ordinary citizens in Kajang as if they are simply going to be taken for granted because parties cannot rein in their rogue leaders.


KJ JOHN was in public service for 29 years. The views expressed here are his personal views and not those of any institution he is involved with. Write to him at  kjjohn@ohmsi.net with any feedback or views.


SARAWAK: End of Pehin Sri’s Political Odyssey?


February 8, 2014

SARAWAK: End of Pehin Sri’s Political Odyssey?

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

Sararwak's CMTo Stay or Not to Stay, that is Taib’s Decision

COMMENT It must be the most closely guarded secret since when only a few people knew of the leukaemia that ultimately killed Abdul Razak Hussein, Malaysia’s second Prime Minister, in January 1976.

Practically, none other than the principal himself can tell with certainty what Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud will reveal to the supreme council of his party, PBB, when it meets this morning at its headquarters in Semariang, several kilometers outside Kuching.

The fact that the Sarawak BN meets tomorrow at the same venue has triggered intense speculation that Taib, who will complete 33 years in office as CM on March 26 – a span characteristic of the tenures of dictators in one-party states, not of leaders of polities subject to periodic elections – has finally decided to call it a day.

It is a measure of the mystique Taib has diffused around him that even as the frenzy of speculation about what he intends revolves around his quitting the CM’s post and elevation to the governorship of the state, there are those in his slipstream who feel that the CM is not leaving because much remains to be done and, more importantly, there is no successor who can accomplish what he has been able to: keep UMNO out of Sarawak and prevent non-Muslim use of the term ‘Allah’ from being the divisive issue it is on the peninsula.

It’s telling of the derangement of values our polity has suffered that the abovementioned accomplishments count for very much these days so that the corruption allegations in which Taib is immersed are not just now seen as disabling disqualifiers.

Three years ago, besieged with corruption allegations, Taib was propositioned about quitting before the upcoming Sarawak state election by no less than the Prime Minister and his Deputy.

Three years on, he’s still saddled with the same allegations but no one within the ruling coalition, Sarawak BN, is pushing for him to go and the demands from the opposition that he be gone pronto are sobered by the realisation that his guile at keeping UMNO at bay and the Islamic genie safely corked are not achievements to be sniffed at.

“Nobody seems to know what’s in store tomorrow,” said one of several political aides the CM has in his retinue who spoke yesterday on the phone from Kuching on condition of anonymity. This aide, who cannot quite believe that Taib will quit at this stage, was once vehemently opposed to the CM but has since come to feel that the man is indispensable.

The undesirable and the intolerable

“Don’t I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” United States Civil War President Abraham Lincoln countered usefully when criticised for being amenable to adversaries.

In the case of Taib’s aide, past enmity towards the CM has not only dissipated; it’s transmuted into support for extension of tenure. This aide is sold on Edmund Burke’s wisdom that the political arena does not confront its decision makers with the choice between good and better; more often than not, the 18th century Irish parliamentarian-cum-philosopher said the choice was between the undesirable and the intolerable.

“Look what you chaps are faced with in Semenanjung!” said the aide, using the Malay term for the peninsula.

“You have three races over there and the place is a mess. We have 26 ethnicities here and he has managed them reasonably well,” continued the aide, in the face of mild demurrals from the other end of the mobile line that while race relations are important, clean governance is not to be scanted.

“He knows the natives here very well and rendered them the best protection which is keeping UMNO at bay,” the aide said in elaboration.

The aide said Taib’s industrialisation drive in Sarawak would be complete when the Baram and Baleh dams are built, after Bakun and Murun have now been completed.

“Then our people would not have to go to your place for jobs; there’d be enough jobs in manufacturing here to keep them at home,” added the aide in furtherance of his argument that Taib had more reasons to stay than withdraw.

Adenan Satem likely successor?

If Taib withdraws, and if he moves up to governor of the state, who would replace him as Chief Minister? “I can’t quite imagine that he would withdraw but if he does, I think the likeliest bet would be Adenan,” said the aide.

Adenan Satem (left in photo), PBB assemblyperson for Tanjung Datu, is the Special Functions Minister who was once Taib’s Brother-in-Law.

Since shortly after the last state election in April 2011, Adenan has been sitting in an office in the chief minister’s complex of offices, providing another option in Taib’s range of replacements for him.

Compared to the other probable choices – Abang Johari Openg, Awang Tengah Hassan and Effendi Nawawi – Adenan comes up the least short on the three requisites for the office of CM: ability to control a fissiparous state BN, adequate ministerial ability, and acceptability to Sarawak’s ethnic mélange.

“He’s got the brains but whether he’s got the heart for it it’s hard to say,” offered the aide. The aide was not being literal about the “heart” although Adenan, 69 this year, has had a pacemaker installed.

By “heart” he meant that Adenan is a bit of a laid-back person in a role where a candidate has to work hard, additional cause for the aide to contend that Taib, still healthy at 78 come May, has a finishing canter to his now 33-year run as CM.

Road to Kajang: Malaysia’s Anwar Takes a New Dare


February 8, 2014

Road to Kajang: Malaysia’s Anwar Takes a New Dare

Ousting a popular Chief Minister in his own party risks trouble but repositions him nationally

The surprise decision last month by Malaysian Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to push aside KhalidAnwar-Kajang Ibrahim, the respected chief minister of Selangor, one of the country’s two biggest states, and try to take the post himself is a complex gamble.

Among other things, it is designed to preserve or enhance Anwar’s standing as a national figure, according to political analysts in Kuala Lumpur, by giving him a state to run. Should he lose the March 23 state by-election that would give him the job – considered unlikely – it would consign him to political oblivion and make his Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) appear riven with factionalism.

Former state Assemblyman Lee Chin Cheh raised the curtain on the drama last month by resigning his seat in a Kuala Lumpur suburban district that would allow Anwar to stand for the state seat. That has upset many within the party who view it as an opportunistic move by Anwar and who have applauded Khalid’s stewardship of the state.

One think tank head joked that watching the opposition crack heads also gives Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak a respite from the barrage of personal attacks he has been under from the ruling Barisan Nasional’s right wing.

Helpful move

Whatever issues Anwar’s decision raises, strategically it settles the problem of a nagging internal party dispute, repositions him politically and resolves the issue of a popular but tight-fisted chief minister who has come under fire for refusing to spend money on infrastructure projects.

“Anwar will tackle national issues using a state platform,” said a longtime United Malays National Organization political operative. “I think he is going to give UMNO real trouble. It is a good move for the Oopposition, but it has put UMNO on the back foot. I think as Selangor Chief Minister he will give Najib a tougher fight.”

Although the decision was a surprise, it has been percolating since before last May’s general election, when some elements of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition were already pushing to replace Khalid, who has clashed with PKR party chief, Azman Ali, over a number of issues, including state contracting.

Khalid responded to the brewing challenge by leading the opposition coalition to a smashing victory based on his corruption-free stewardship of the state; the Pakatan Rakyat took 77 percent of the vote while the BN got just 23 percent.

Anwar, despite his leadership of the PR coalition, is said to have been frustrated because he lacks a platform to influence national politics and leading the coalition in parliament was not a sufficiently commanding arena. As chief minister, he would attend the Malaysia Conference of Rulers, where he can interact with the country’s nine sultans, who play a role in amending the constitution.

It would also give him a forum at the National Land Council, Finance Ministry and other key meetings with the federal government chaired by the prime minister. In the past, Anwar has shined in such gatherings, in contrast to Najib’s performance in front of key civil servants and ministers.

How do we spell G-O-D?

MB Selangor KhalidIn any case, the decision to push Khalid aside was triggered in early January when religious authorities in Selangor seized hundreds of Malay-language bibles using the word “Allah” in reference to the Christian God. The issue has been boiling for months if not years, and appears to have been manufactured entirely by UMNO strategists, since Christians in the east Malaysia states of Sabah and Sarawak have been using the word to denote God for more than a century, as have Christians across the Middle East and Indonesia.

The states of Selangor and Penang in particular have become the focal point for a push by UMNO over the primacy of religious law, according to political observers, who say that despite Khalid’s reputation for running a clean and efficient state government, he didn’t push back sufficiently against the decision to seize the bibles.

“This religious police issue is exactly where Anwar should speak out,” the UMNO source said. A Malay political analyst agreed, saying Khalid has found it difficult to control religious officials who are constantly on the backs of Christians, Hindus and other minorities.

The opposition has grown concerned that it could lose ground in the next general elections in 2018 over the religion issue. Anwar figures he is the best person to resolve this. While that may not be true, he is certainly more decisive than Khalid.

“Make no mistake, the Allah and seizure of bible issues is not end of the story,” wrote Kim Quek, a PR kimquekstrategist. “It is the beginning of a determined conspiracy built on race and religion to restore the hegemony of UMNO. It will go on and on until UMNO feels that its political supremacy is secured. Selangor government’s impotence to deal with what could have been a minor incident if promptly nipped in bud, has already caused widespread dismay among non-Malays for failing to protect minority rights. Imagine the consequence of similar incidents of greater magnitude and frequency hereafter.”

Wild card scenario

Khalid’s careful stewardship of the state’s contracts apparently also caused friction in the coalition because it meant that companies linked to the opposition Democratic Action Party as well as Anwar’s PKR were frozen out, whether the contracts were above-board or not.

“Khalid is a good administrator but he doesn’t believe in spending money,” said another political analyst. “So he has a healthy cash surplus in the state coffers but in the outer areas, there is little infrastructure spending. That has been a source of frustration for the DAP and PKR who want contracts where they can, all UMNO-style, make some money for their politics. The DAP are also frustrated that the Chinese find it difficult to start sin businesses like massage parlors, karaoke and betting joints.”

kajang-signpostOne senior Malaysian political observer added a wild card, saying the Selangor post could also be linked to a complex game being played out over so-called unity talks that have been going on for several months between the opposition and the government. One of many stumbling blocks to forming a unity government would be the likely demand that Anwar, as leader of the opposition in parliament, be given a senior cabinet post or even some kind of co-prime minister’s job by Najib, which is thought to be out of the question from the Prime Minister’s side.

“If Anwar is in the Selangor post that problem is out of the way,” said the observer. “This move seems linked to the unity talks as a way to help the process along.” As chief minister he would no longer be in parliament and would not be part of a possible unity government cabinet.

That is a questionable scenario, others say, pointing out that Anwar has pledged to retain his Penang area seat in the national Parliament, which presumably would keep him in the leadership there as well.

The Malaysiakini Anwar Interview: Road to Kajang


February 6, 2014

The Malaysiakini Anwar Interview: Road to Kajang

by Aidila Razak (02-04-13)@http://www.malaysiakini.com

 

INTERVIEW The first person that visitors to the PKR headquarters will meet is mustachioed security guard Balu, who usually stands at the entrance to the building in the high-end neighbourhood of Tropicana in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Although he has a seat in the information booth, Balu could not help but crack a joke when asked why PKR has not provided him with a chair: “In this party, the biggest problem is seats.”

In the latest episode, the seat in question is the post of Selangor Menteri Besar, with the ‘Kajang Move’ being seen as a way to unseat Abdul Khalid Ibrahim and replace him with PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim.

A consummate politician, Anwar, who is contesting the Kajang by-election in a bid to enter the state legislative assembly, insisted on prefacing his plans with the word ‘If’.

“If I become MB,” he said, raising his voice on ‘if’, “it will be until I become Prime Minister.” He smiled.

Anwar’s meeting with Malaysiakini yesterday was sandwiched between a long list of media interviews, and even his cheery pink candy-striped shirt did not mask the shadow of fatigue on his face.

Still, fatigue cannot push a seasoned player like Anwar to say what he should not – that the MB’s post is merely a stepping stone and Khalid another pawn to be toppled on the longer route to the premiership.

Instead, Anwar painted a gentler picture of friendship and politics. Khalid, he said, is a good friend but Selangor needs “political clout”.

“It is sad how… he has to leave. It is sad. The circumstances and the dictate of the time requires that Selangor be driven,” Anwar said, clenching his fist at the end to prove this point.

“I cannot accept Selangor being held every time to ransom. Every other week you have this problem, these attacks.We seem to be quite helpless, either they (the BN) use state apparatus or some NGO and not much can be done … we will not allow this to happen. This requires political leadership.”

‘It’s not about the money’

Enter Anwar – former Finance Minister and someone so deft in political manouevring that he managed to oust Ghafar Baba for the UMNO Deputy President’s post in a heartbeat despite Ghafar’s four-decade long career in the party.

But Khalid (right), too, has solid credentials. Under his stewardship, Selangor reserves now stand at an astounding RM3 billion, a mountain of cash that he jealously guards.

Khalid has refused to play politics with the funds, either through politically-expedient projects camouflaged as state initiatives or through feeding the party.

Critics of the ‘Kajang Move’ claim that this is actually the main reason behind the manoeuvre. They say it is just a bid by PKR to break into the coffers. Anwar shrugged, as if this is nothing new, and without missing a beat lamented how “unfair” such accusations are.

“How can I, at this stage of my political career, compromise on good governance? It is sheer insanity if I do that! … On that score, I am not going to change.”

What he will change, however, is how the reserves are used. He argued that there is no point talking about reserves with issues like poverty and public housing still a problem in the state.

“The mantle of economic management is not good reserves but good management of the economy. If you spend money, say the reserves, for public housing and free education for Universiti Selangor students, then is it wasting public money?”

Solution to Bible seizure

Anwar took the long and winding route in responding to a question as to why he chose to finally intervene in Selangor. At the end of this, it was not difficult to conclude that one of his grouses was the way the state has handled the Bible seizure issue.

While the Bible Society of Malaysia continues to await the return of the copies seized, Anwar sees this as a cut-and-dried “administrative” matter. This, he said, will be his first stop as menteri besar.

“I would say: ‘Guarantee that they won’t be distributed to Muslims, don’t send them to schools and only use them for Christians. I want it in writing.’ And then I (would) send them back,” he said.

Comparing himself to Anwar, Khalid last week had said that, unlike him, Anwar can face impossible demands (he uses Hindraf’s demands as an example) but at the end of the meeting, those making the demands will be part of Anwar’s fan club. It is this trait that Anwar seems to be banking on to deal with rising religious tensions over the use of ‘Allah’ by non-Muslims.

If he heads the Selangor government, Anwar said, he could use state resources to build the confidence of Muslims so they would not feel threatened by purported threats to their faith. He said he has met Muslims who are “virtually fearful” of mass Christianisation and this means the issue is “beyond political”.

“No, I don’t believe Islam is threatened or (that) we (would) allow it to happen. I would say you have all the resources at your disposal to strengthen the position of Islam, to use the mosque to educate, to launch your dakwah (preaching) programmes.But you should never allow people to be held to ransom, to instil this sort of fear among the non-Muslims. This is something that is just pathetic after half a century of independence.”

If Anwar becomes Selangor Menteri Besar, would he then support a change in the state enactment to bar non-Muslims from using ‘Allah’? In answer, he related the anecdote of a Permatang Pauh Muslim scholar who had questioned him as to why non-Muslims want to change the enactment.

“I told him, Tuan Guru, if you have a non-Muslim living on Jalan Masjid, then technically he cannot use the term ‘Jalan Masjid’.(The scholar) said, ‘He can.’ I said, ‘But this is the law.’ Then he was shocked and his immediate reaction was (that) you have to correct the law, not knowing the implications.

“So I think we have to explain. People say, no, we change the law. But I think give it time, we have to explain. Don’t underestimate or overestimate your influence or power without engaging with the people.”

Deference to Palace

Outside Khalid’s reverence for his “political animal” instincts, Anwar, too, prides himself as being in tune with sentiments on the ground.

Reading this while planning the ‘Kajang Move’, Anwar has known that, even if the Palace cannot legally reject his nomination as Menteri Besar, it would be unwise to arrogantly brush off the influence of the Palace.

“I know the (state) constitution, I understand it. But as deference to the Ruler, I always said that in a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, it’s not just the legal constitution.

“If you accept the institution of royalty, then there is the paraphernalia, the facade of office that you need to recognise, and that means deference.”

Royal assent, protest votes and consensus within Pakatan Rakyat are hurdles he has to clear to become Menteri Besar, but these are all things that Anwar and his team of advisers have accounted for.

This is why his candidacy was announced less than 24 hours of Kajang incumbent Lee Chin Cheh’s resignation from the state seat and why he is “taking the soft line” in explaining why it was done.

It also means admitting to “mistakes” – like leaving DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng in the dark over the ‘Kajang Move’, blaming “pressure” to get things going and miscommunication (perhaps he thought DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang would tell his son).

Simply put, he said, Kajang was chosen among several seats because its demographics reflect that of the state and doing it now means there will still be time for Anwar and Pakatan to prove their chops in Selangor before the next general election.

“I cannot go on with this (and the feud within PKR Selangor and attacks by BN) on a protracted basis. I have to decide. It was a very difficult decision, not very popular in this instance and Malaysiakini is partly responsible. But the decision has to be made for the larger interest and I think, at least for a start, we have caught BN off guard. Nobody anticipated it…”

Neither did the people, some of whom are incensed that PKR is forcing yet another by-election.For now, though, Anwar almost appears proud. “It’s not bad (the responses). It means we had read the sentiments, which to me is a positive trait in political leadership.”

THE ANWAR INTERVIEW

Part 1: ‘There was never an Azmin-Khalid deal’

Part 2: Anwar: What I would do as Selangor MB

Part 3: ‘Smut and sodomy, what have I not seen?’

Part 4: ‘Pakatan’s national reconciliation not about unity gov’t’

Interview by Steven Gan, RK Anand and Aidila Razak.

SakAK47 endorses Anwar Ibrahim for Kajang


February 5, 2014

SakAK47 endorses Anwar Ibrahim for Kajang

Anwar-KajangCongratulations to Anwar. For exposing the dark side of UMNO. The idea of universal democracy- rests on 2 pillars. The right to platform and the right to recall. Both are at play in the coming Kajang by-election. The kajang people are in a historic position in our democratic history. Never before have we been conscious of a game changing process.

The right of platform means the people have the right to know what the winners of an election will do after they have been elected. This right of platform belongs to the people as well as the political parties. Right of platform to political parties means they are free to present policies, ideas and specific programs for the betterment of the people.

That right to political parties is unrestrained subject only to the disapproval of voters at the end. This means UMNO and BN can present whatever policies, ideas, specific programmes and contents of a special manifesto they want for the Kajang by-election. They can offer racist, nationalist, programs or whatever- they can offer smut to people as the big idea which they can muster instead of defending the various elements in their manifesto so grandiosely launched by Kim Il Najib before GE13.

This is the beauty about right of platforms. Political parties are free to present and market their regressive policies to the people. This means, the right of platforms provide a medium of expression of the dark forces in our society. It is therefore cathartic in nature in that it allows UMNO for instance to market and offer its racists programs, holier than thou policies, its bullying and corrupting practices and even sordid sex details to the public. In the coming Kajang election, the freedom to offer platforms has exposed that UMNO is nothing, but a pedlar of pornography. That’s how UMNO runs the country. That’s how they roll.

Now, the regressive programs of UMNO measure the moral health of UMNO and put everyone on notice about UMNO’s racial, religious and national sentiments. What can we say about that? UMNO and its president are morally bankrupt.

Exposing UMNO’s hypocrisy is worth the spending by SPR. The worthiness is already apparent by the incoherent responses from BN leaders and their media minions. The utterances expose them for what they truly are.

So technically, the Chairman of SPR is right in saying, SPR has no supervisory role to play in political parties drawing up its election platform. It has a supervisory role on the conduct of election proper.

The right to platform introduces the idea of contractarian politics. The right to offer platforms raises the responsibility to implement them. To avoid parties using platforms to offer empty rhetoric, we the people, treat them as contracts whereby, having offered us the platforms and accepting them by voting them in, we have something like a contract. Hence contractarian politics, whereby winning parties are obligated to carry out their programs.

The people of Kajang have the opportunity to strip UMNO naked and expose its regressive programmes. The people of Kajang will have the opportunity to combat and destroy UMNO’s regressive platforms through dialogue and rebuttal. We engage the people in dialogues instead of using the mentally-challenged method of making police reports or invoking the fear of another May 13. And the best form of rebuttal is by voting against UMNO and BN in a great way by making them lose their deposit. Let them eat Kangkung.

UMNO fears Anwar Ibrahim.That’s the truth which explains the morbidity and maniacal responses from UMNO and its underlings. With Anwar leading Selangor in whatever position the PKR coalition eventually agrees, we will see a stronger political leadership with matching political skills to combat the evil machinations of UMNO.

Let’s face it; Khalid Ibrahim is a sound manager for Selangor. The results speak forKhalid Ibrahim themselves- good budgetary management, surplus reserves, good all round management, etc. what he lacks are political skills- the skills needed to consolidate power in Selangor. A weak political leadership can lead to a BN takeover and whatever reserves that Selangor has accumulated can be frittered away in an instance.

Consolidation of political power is the key for Selangor. The issue of whether Anwar can become MB or not, should not distract us from the bigger picture- Selangor is the lynchpin state pointing to Putrajaya’s heart. Let’s give them a heart attack.

SPR is going to spend some RM2 million for the by-election. UMNO is going to spend whatever it takes to stop Anwar. Maybe billions. I hope the Kajang people take whatever money BN gives them and consider them as atonement money for the evil BN has done. People are not obligated to reciprocate by voting in BN.

The RM2 million- budget for the by-election is only equivalent to one year’s utility bills for the PM’s official residence. The expenditure can never equal the wastage committed by the PM and his government. The amount of money spent on operating and maintaining the various executive jets is much bigger.

So the people can reject the pious and sanctimonious pleadings by UMNO and its BN underlings that this by-election is a waste of money. Right thinking people should not fall for the pretentious pleadings of BN leaders who are staring right in the face of exposure of their hypocrisy.

It shall be money worth spending to allow the people to exercise the right to recall. Right to recall is the modern equivalent to the Malays’ right to repudiate the Original Covenant between Demang Lebar Daun and Seri Teri Buana. It’s the modern equivalent to the withdrawal of the mandate of heaven. It provides voters the opportunity to re-evaluate the platform which BN promised at the onset of GE13.

DATUK SERI NAJIB TUN RAZAKThe Kajang people can use this by-election to reaffirm their vigorous objection to what BN has done after GE13- which is reneged on almost all its platform. Punish them severely by sending a strong message that, eventually the rakyat has the right to recall, i.e. the right to censure the ruling government, without waiting for the periodic 5 years. That message can serve to educate the whole of the country.

The opportunity to censure and reaffirm the rakyat’s displeasure is worth the RM2 million that SPR is going to spend. UMNO and BN are going to spend much more. Just wait for the torrential rainfall of money in Kajang.

So, in this respect I congratulate Anwar Ibrahim and PKR for enhancing the meaning of universal democracy. This is a great opportunity for the people of Kajang to also teach Najib and UMNO the meaning of the entirety rule. According to this principle, once having won the right to govern, the legal winner governs the nation not just the section of that nation that voted for them.

Let is pray and work for Anwar’s victory  for his victory is ours too.