UMNO GA 2014 is a challenge for Prime Minister Najib Razak


November 28, 2014

UMNO GA 2014 is a challenge for Prime Minister Najib Razak

http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/malaysia-najib-under-fire-at-agm/

No open rebellion, but Prime Minister faces a rebellion over Malay privilege

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak opened the United Malays National Organization annual general meeting Tuesday under siege, partly from former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and partly from his own Deputy Prime Minister and party Deputy Chief Muhyiddin Yassin, who openly seems to be challenging him.

DPM MalaysiaGiven Malay politics, where frontal opposition is rare, the attacks are opaque. But the messages from both are clear: under the party’s current leadership, the ruling Barisan Nasional will lose the next general election because UMNO, the biggest component of the ruling coalition, is being deserted by ethnic Malays.

The conclave is expected to run through Saturday and will likely feature the usual fire-breathing attacks on other races and religions  from the dais. But a source close to Mahathir say this gathering is also expected to see rank-and-file efforts to pass a resolution telling Najib he can’t do away with the country’s colonial era sedition laws, as the prime minister has promised.

“That is a blow to the PM, who has pledged to abolish it,” the source said. The factions likely won’t raise a growing scandal over the sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Bd., he said, “because it is now a national problem. We don’t expect it to be discussed because most members don’t know what is going on. It’s too complicated.”

1MDB, however, is the elephant in the room to the leadership, a disastrously managed fund that has accumulated debts of RM36 billion, apparently because of a calamitous investment in a Saudi Arabian oil venture in which RM7.2 billion appears to have disappeared altogether. Subsequent attempts to cover the failed investment have driven debt through the roof. Mahathir has assailed the government over the operation of 1MDB, as has former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin and several bloggers who are loyal to Mahathir.

A source close to the Mahathir wing described the 1MDB investment as the biggest scandal the country has ever faced, a tall statement given that billions have been lost through disastrous and crooked loans from the state-owned Bank Bumiputera Bhd, the modernization of the Port Klang seaport, attempts to corner the tin market, a failed steel mill and many others.

The bigger issue now is Malay privilege. Ethnic Malays dominate almost all of the top positions in the civil service, the military and the police. Malay-owned companies are given the lion’s share of government contracts. They are given preferential treatment in the number of positions in government universities, receive 7 percent discounts for new houses, have special reserve land in housing settlements and burial plots. A minimum of 30 percent equity must be given to Malays in all listed companies. Mosques and Islamic places of worship are fully funded.  They receive special share allocations for new applications.

Nonetheless, Najib and the coterie surrounding him are under fire from Mahathir and organizations such as PERKASA, a Malay superiority group headed by Ibrahim Ali, once described by a critic as “Mahathir’s Brown Shirts,” for giving away too much to other ethnic groupings, particularly the Chinese. The Chinese continue to dominate the economy.

Dr.MahathirMahathir and his close associate, Daim, lambasted Najib for attempting to reach out to minorities prior to the 2013 general election, in which a three-party coalition headed by Anwar Ibrahim won a vast majority of the Chinese votes. Anwar’s coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, won a majority of all votes in the election but lost parliamentary seats through gerrymandering and the country’s first-past-the-post electoral system.

Political rumor mills are buzzing over indications that Muhyiddin would make a move for the top job, although change is unlikely during the current meeting. But for  months, Muhyiddin, a Johor-based Malay nationalist, had been telling associates and friends that he would like to retire. He is 67 and has said he is tired. He recently went on the haj to Mecca, however, and came back to say he feels rejuvenated.

Last week, he gave a series of interviews to local papers, saying he is afraid the party will lose the next election, which must be held before May 2017, because of continued infighting and corruption.  He singled out UMNO Youth and the women’s division for criticism, which is interesting because both are headed by Najib allies. The youth wing is headed by Khairy Jamaluddin, a close lieutenant of Najib’s, and the women’s division is headed by Shahrizat Abdul Jamil, whom Najib saved from a massive scandal involving the loss of millions of dollars from a national cattle feeding scheme.

Najib and 1MDB

Mahathir, in his blog Che Det, urged the rank and file to criticize party leaders, saying warlords are blocking fresh blood from entering the party ranks and that ethnic Malay voters are losing faith in the party. Implicit in that attack is that Najib has given away too much political and economic power to ethnic Chinese, who make up 22.9 percent of the population against 60.1 percent for ethnic Malays.

PERKASA, which has become quite influential within UMNO, held its own AGM recently to say that if UMNO continues to ”fail Malays,” Malays will teach UMNO a lesson by leaving the party in the next election.

Unfortunately these statements betray ignorance of the fact that Malays are turned off not so much by UMNO’s failure to protect them as by the fact that the party has grown sclerotic and is characterized by rent-seeking and outright corruption on a vast scale, with the party’s leadership enriching themselves while leaving villagers with few benefits except at election time. One of  Muhyiddin’s family, for instance, is rumored to have grown rich enough via government contracts to afford a private executive jet.

Most recently, costs for the construction of a new terminal at Kuala Lumpur International Airport  is believed to have ballooned from RM1.7 billion to RM4 billion because of contract irregularities.

UMNO cannot use the Sedition Act to stay in power, says Tun Abdullah


November 27, 2014

UMNO cannot use the Sedition Act to stay in power, says Tun Abdullah

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

–saya mendengar pendapat dan cadangan daripada Timbalan Presiden, Wanita,Pemuda, Puteri, usul-usul daripada bahagian, keresahan suara-suara akar umbi, serta pandangan-pandangan NGO, maka dengan ini saya sebagai Perdana Menteri memutuskan bahawa Akta Hasutan 1948, akan terus dikekalkan.

Malah, akta ini bukan sahaja akan dipertahan, tetapi akan diperkuat dan diperkukuhkan lagi sekurang-kurangnya dalam 2 perkara. Pertamanya, kita akan masukkan peruntukan khas untuk melindungi kesucian agama Islam, bahkan agama-agama lain juga tidak boleh dihina.

Keduanya, kita akan mengenakan tindakan keras ke atas sesiapa yang cuba menghasut supaya Sabah dan Sarawak keluar dari Malaysia. Ertinya lagi, apa-apa jua perkataan, perbuatan mahupun ucapan yang bersifat menghasut serta menghina Islam, Melayu dan Raja-Raja akan kita halang dan kita tentang habis-habisan.”–Najib Tun Razak on the Sedition Act 1948 at the 2014 UMNO General Assembly

Amid UMNO’s jubilant greeting over the retention of the Sedition Act 1948, former Party President and Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi warned that the law should not be abused to help the party stay in power.

abdullah badawi2UMNO needs People’s Support to stay in Power

Writing in his blog soon after his successor Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced a U-turn on his promise to repeal the act, Abdullah reminded UMNO members that the party could only stay in power with the people’s support.

“In our enthusiasm to retain the Sedition Act, I remind UMNO members that the act is not to be used to keep UMNO in power. UMNO’s power and strength comes from the people’s support. Remember, if the people no longer support us, there is no law on God’s earth that can save Umno from losing power,” Abdullah said.

The former Prime Minister, however, agreed with the decision to retain the colonial-era law. He also noted the enthusiasm with which UMNO delegates had shown when Najib said the act would remain in his policy speech earlier today.

“I support the decision to retain or amend any laws that protect national harmony, that uphold our constitution, that affirm the social contract forged by our forefathers.And that ensures that the federation of Malaysia is not destroyed by irresponsible people. All this, I support,” he said before stating his caution.

At the UMNO General Assembly, Najib had said the Sedition Act would not only be retained, but strengthened with amendments to protect the sanctity of Islam, curb insults against other religions and to punish anyone who called for the secession of Sabah and Sarawak from Malaysia.

Najib said he decided this after considering feedback from UMNO Deputy President Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Wanita UMNO, Pemuda UMNO,Puteri UMNO, the grassroots, as well as non-governmental organisations.

“Hence I, as the Prime Minister, decided that the Sedition Act 1948 will remain,” he said, amid roars of approval from the delegates gathered at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

He said this was UMNO’s wish, adding that he believed their friends in Barisan Nasional (BN) would be with them. Gerakan President Datuk Mah Siew Keong, however, issued a nuanced protest in a statement this afternoon, noting public dissatisfaction over the abuse of the act against academics and public intellectuals.

“Gerakan’s fervent hope is that the Sedition Act will eventually be replaced with a comprehensive National Harmony Act. The new framework must include a set of punitive and positive measures to ensure societal stability but at the same time promotes national unity and harmony,” he said.

Noting the “long struggle” of 20 years to repeal the Internal Security Act, Mah said he believed a repeal of the Sedition Act would be done “when all parties are ready and open minded”.

“In line with the growing tide of democratisation, I believe this will eventually happen. In the meantime, I urge the authorities to act without fear and favour and do not abuse the Sedition Act to silence legitimate political dissent.”

Mah noted that the failure to charge PERKASA President Datuk Ibrahim Ali over the call to burn the Malay language Bibles had fuelled perceptions that the act has not been used in a fair and just manner.

Political Will and Drastic Action against Warlordism in UMNO


November 27, 2014

COMMENT: Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has said what should have been Din Merican lastestsaid a long a time ago. UMNO must change, not in small doses (as Azmi seems to suggest) but drastically if it is to regain the confidence of Malaysian voters, not just the Malays.

I can say with confidence that none of us question UMNO’s mission to defend the special position of the Malays, Islam as the official religion of our country and our system of constitutional monarchy. These matters are embodied in our constitution. At issue is the means of accomplishing its mission and the quality of its leadership.

In recent years, under Najib as Prime Minister we see that Malayness has been taken to extremes and our country is divided along race and religious lines. It has become Us (Malays) Versus Them (The Pendatangs and Kafirs). The Prime Minister has allowed PERKASA and ISMA to dictate the Malay agenda and run amuck with Islam. It is time for him to show that he is Prime Minister for all Malaysians.

While claiming to be a Moderate, he has allowed extremism to fester, necessitating the tabling of a White Paper on ISIS in our Parliament just a few days ago. Even JAKIM and JAIS have been permitted to persecute those who disagree with them on religious matters.

Patronage politics and endemic corruption continue unabated. Helping the Malays has been used to justify national policies when in reality these policies benefit  only cronies and a select few, usually members of the UMNO elite. There is a lot for UMNO to do, if it is to remain relevant.

Now we must hear what our Prime Minister has in mind when he delivers his Amanat Presiden to the UMNO General Assembly. Will he contradict his Deputy Prime Minister who has set a conciliatory tone for UMNO delegates? Embrace Malaysia with its rich diversity and face the challenges of intense globalisation with strong faith in our own people.–Din Merican

Political Will and Drastic Action against Warlordism in UMNO

by Azmi Anshar@www.nst.com.my

DPM MalaysiaDeputy Prime Minister sets the Tone for UMNO GA

UMNO Deputy President Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin delivered a humdinger of a speech on Tuesday night that startled critics because of its “confessional” nature — part plea, part reconciliation, part therapeutic and part self-criticism — as he earnestly examined the party’s prowess of rights and litany of wrongs.

He was unapologetic in defending the rights that UMNO has fought and struggled for, notably, the special Malay position, Islam as the official religion and continued constitutional monarchy, blended within Malaysia’s unique form of political stability and socio-economic equality, buttressed by well-meaning, long-standing affirmative action.

He stood aghast at the lagging Bumiputera disparity in property ownership, income and employment, and, despite a 44-year run, the New Economic Policy designed to level the odds for the Bumiputera lot is still sputtering, unable to fly on cruising speed as idealised.

He was also unapologetic in critically judging the wrongs plaguing UMNO, notably the unfavourable perception of the young against the party and its infamously unruly warlordism, whose depravity for power and wealth threatens the party’s cherished values.

Muhyiddin didn’t air his thoughts in a fit of frustration, although frustration was the heft in his lengthy tome: he offered hardened statistics, rock-solid studies and unassailable research on the maladies afflicting Bumiputeras, not just lamenting on their deprivation, but also their unconscionable inability to get out of the rut.

His list of Bumiputera listlessness was jarring: unemployment is highest among ethnic groups, as high as 70.3 per cent; unfair treatment of Malay graduates vying for private sector jobs despite equal qualifications; lowest paid among the races as much as 20 to 40 per cent less; and, comparatively lowest in property ownership.

Muhyiddin’s dirge is inescapably true yet, there is a simple explanation: to wit, a newly-minted director-general of a statutory body dealing in the arts was recently making his familiarity rounds, inspecting his communications unit, whose key task was meeting and dealing with foreign clients.

When a group of Americans came by seeking details of facilities and services, the communications people unfathomably “disappeared”, leaving nobody to assist the visitors.

When the Director-General investigated the fiasco, what he discovered infuriated and saddened him: the communications people “vanished” for no other reason than none were able to speak fluent English, fearful of embarrassing themselves with their malfunctioning grasp of the international language of doing business.

Ironically, when it comes to business trips to English-speaking countries, everyone in communications is able and willing to travel, never mind their linguistic lethargy.

Yes, unfairness, prejudice and preferential treatment is the dirty cost of doing business in the real world, but even then, many firms desperately wish they could recruit the dream Bumiputera candidate — if only he or she could speak and write decent English, a crucial non-negotiable prerequisite.It is an alarming blotch in the whole Bumiputera debacle that education — education in English, to be precise — has jacked up the statistics of the unemployable.

Why this stubborn resistance to learning English? The education system, for one, which has relegated English to a bottomless pit that only urbanites dare to dive into gladly in their ease of accepting Western culture of books, music, TV and movies, something which the “village” Bumiputera are loath to embrace.

It also does not help that certain politicians and activists campaigned ruthlessly against teaching Maths and Science in English while decrying such “yellow culture” in case it “infected” impressionable youngsters. As Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, Muhyiddin holds the magic wand to reverse this English proficiency malaise. He knows what needs to be done.

In reaffirming the spectre of UMNO warlordism, Muhyiddin needs committed help to defang the warlords who, while enriching themselves silly, are also subconsciously killing the goose that lays the golden egg.

UMNO could start small: impose term limits in party elections and in key government posts, just to neutralise the warlords’ dominance while protecting their “dynastic heirlooms”, to be succeeded by only by their kin or crony.

True, it will take a gutsy manoeuvre to outwit these warlords, especially the entrenched ones, but there is a working precedent: the government’s direct 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) to youngsters, circumventing these warlords effectively, denying them power, control and commissions.

The warlords will undoubtedly retaliate with threats and thuggery but that’s chicken feed compared with the long-term damage to the party, if not the nation.

Muhyiddin is right about young prospects not being wrong in perceiving UMNO’s hierarchical peculiarities, having laid out the problem head-on.

All that needs coaxing is for strong political will to adopt the adage that UMNO has to be ruthless in order to be kind in defeating all that is bad in the party. It could be that simple but the reality is something else.

Do not challenge our ‘special rights’, Khairy tells non-Malays


November 26, 2013

Do not challenge our ‘special rights’, Khairy tells non-Malays

najib-dan-khairy-Non-Malays should never again dispute the special rights of the Malays and the position of the rulers, Khairy Jamaluddin said today, adding that Malays themselves never questioned vernacular schools and the citizenship of non-Malays.

The UMNO Youth Chief said in his policy speech at the party’s general assembly that the Malays had “accepted and they had never questioned” the social contract they agreed upon during the formation of Malaysia.

“If the Malays can accept it by not raising the matter of citizenship and acknowledging that we cannot shut down vernacular schools, why are there those among non-Malays who refuse to honour what they have previously agreed upon? Why are there those who ask for the Malay special privileges to be stopped, those who dispute the position of the Malay rulers and even those who cannot speak a word of the national language? If the Malay people are steadfast in their principles of upholding the agreement, we want to demand that they uphold their end of the bargain. Never again dispute what has been agreed upon,” said Khairy.

imageKhairy said it was a huge sacrifice for the Malays to allow other races to be a part of the country, so non-Malays must keep their end of the bargain and not question Malay rights.

“The demography of the nation changed drastically when the Malays opened the doors of the land to other races to build the nation together. We cannot imagine how big a sacrifice this is.So great were the sacrifices of the Malay people, and all that we ask in return is for the non-Malays to accept several of those matters which I just brought up as the other end of the bargain”, he added.

Khairy also defended the existence of vernacular schools, saying that they were allowed as part of the “status quo” which had “existed pre-Independence, and which will continue to exist”.

Despite Khairy’s statement, some UMNO grassroots leaders have in the past few months demanded that Chinese and Indian schools be shut down for the sake of national unity.

Last Sunday, a coalition of 58 Malay-rights groups repeated the call, and even urged Putrajaya to silence “radical” education organisations like Dong Zhong with the threat of de-registration.

Khairy conceded today that there were “fringe voices” questioning the existence of vernacular schools, but stressed that the UMNO leadership has long accepted the current education system.

“It is already forged in the laws of the land and not even the Minister of Education can change the fate of the vernacular schools.If we do not want to bring up these matters of the things that have been given, do not question the special rights and privileges of the natives,” he said. – November 26, 2014.

A Message to Khairy and his Cohorts from Tariq Ismail

Read this: http://myrepositori.pnm.gov.my/xmlui/bitstream/handle/123456789/2420/MewujudkanRakyatMalaysiaProgresifBersatuHati.pdf?sequence=1

Tariq Ismail is the grandson of the late former Deputy Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Ismail Abdul Rahman. He is from Aura Merdeka – Ikatan Sejagat (AMIS) group on Facebook.  Tariq was brought up by the grandfather and his late wife, Toh Puan Norashikin, and is related to PM Najib and Home Affairs Minister, Hishamuddin Hussein. He has something to say about UMNO-Baru (below). 

And I wonder why this diversion from Khairy Jamaluddin, the UMNO Youth Leader. The real issue is endemic corruption and UMNO Baru’s politics of patronage, race and religion, which Khairy chose not to mention. The Special Position of the Malays and Sovereignty of our Malay Rulers was never an issue. UMNO  Baru played this card because it is under seige.Unless there is a serious attempt at reform, it will be a rough road ahead for the party.–Din Merican

Here is why from Tariq Ismail.

Malaysia for Malaysians without bigotry or intolerance.

“MY FAMILY is all UMNO and I was raised in the UMNO mould. However, myTariq Ismail family had instilled into me a sense of Bushido, which included passion and fair play. Always uphold your religion as it is a personal matter and treat others with equality.

I had tried to join UMNO in 2002 with my grandmother pulling my ears after she found the application form and her words were – I raised you and over my dead body will you join the very party that will eat you inside. Moreover, in 15 years time you will be part of a machine that your very soul will diminish.

In 2008, I did try to join UMNO because I thought the wind of change that were apparently blowing then would lead the party to progress. However, no cawangan in Johor or KL would accept me. I scouted around from one UMNO division to another with no result. The Special Branch spooks that looked after Southern Johor told me UMNO will never accept a true blue blood like me.

Just before my grandmother passed away in 2010, she made me promise her to never join the party. I never understood why until I received a call from Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim (DSAI) to lead the Johor siege in 2013. I refused DSAI ‘s request for me to join as I knew I would be a scapegoat if PR had lost.

I still have an affinity with UMNO, but the pragmatic and secular UMNO of old, in which they worked together with all races to ensure this nation was prosperous and united in spirit via tolerance, compassion and recognising and accepting each other’s diversity.

Today’s UMNO is a cesspool of bigoted nouveau riche that has split the Malays and encourage the Malay siege mentality. Mahathir gave the Malays a cosmetic makeover but over looked the Malay inner soul. The Malay soul is lost. Will it be recovered? Yes. Will it be from UMNO…No!

Would I support Anwar Ibrahim to be Prime Minister? No, as he was part of that UMNO Baru sheananigans. However, if DSAI were to retire and promise the public that he will not fight for “justice” and the PM seat, and if Azmin were to take the lead, I may consider joining PKR.

My strategy is such that I shall follow the winds, and forecast the tide. The ship will be steered in one direction – a Malaysia for Malaysians without bigotry or intolerance. A first step is AMIS. Show that a united Malaysian movement of social moderates can steer the nation without playing into anyone’s cards.”–Tariq Ismail

Justice is seen to be done : The case of Rosli Dahlan


November 24, 2014

Justice is seen to be done: The Case of Rosli Dahlan

by Din  Merican

‎My young friend Rosli Dahlan has been in the news a lot lately. He defends cases which most Muslim lawyers won’t want to even touch with a 10 foot pole. He was the Borders lawyer who successfully declared that s.13 of the FT Syariah Criminal Offences Act was ultra vires the Federal Constitution.

Then Rosli got embroiled in the Kassim Ahmad case and made a forceful argument exposing that JAWI acted illegally in arresting Kassim in Kedah and abducting him to KL.‎

What was more alarming to most Muslims was that he exposed that the Syariah Court is just an inferior court and even inferior to the magistrates court! But unknown to many, Rosli faces his personal tribulations alone.

Today, his own case came before the Court of Appeal. Some of you may recall that Rosli had sued the AG‎ Tan Sri Gani Patail, MACC Chief commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim, former IGP Tan Sri Musa Hassan and various officers of the MACC and AG Chambers including Dato Nordin Hassan and Dato Razak Musa (of Teoh Beng Hock fame). Rosli had faced many obstacles when the AG filed all kinds of application to prevent the case from coming to trial.

Readers will remember that A-G Gani Patail claimed that he had absolute immunity to do what he wants including fixing innocent citizens like Rosli. In that case, the High Court Judge Wazeer Alam Mydin Meera ruled that ” the claim of absolute immunity is anathema to modern notions of accountability”. A-G Gani was not happy and appealed to the Court of‎ Appeal. So, today was the A-G’s appeal.

before being made a judge, said he agreed that deliberate abuse of power by those holding a public office was misfeasance in public office.

As if it was not enough that Rosli had to face 3 Tan Sris, ‎A-G Gani Patail then engaged senior counsel Tan Sri Cecil Abraham to act for him. Many will recall that Tan Sri Cecil Abraham is implicated in the PI Bala case. That makes 4 Tan Sris against Rosli.

RD vs 4 Tan Sris

RD vs 4 Tan Sris

It seems that Tan Sri Cecil Abraham filed a last minute Written Submissions only yesterday at 3.45pm to throw Rosli’s counsel off guard. The appeal came on this morning.

‎In an apparent show of impartiality, Judges Dato Alizatul and Dato Nalini recused themselves when it was pointed out that Justice Alizatul had dismissed Rosli’s Judicial Review Leave application which challenged the very MACC notice for which he was charged and which the Trial Judge later held to be void notices.

At the same time, Judge Nalini recused herself after saying this is a high profile case involving A-G Gani Patail and she had sat in the panel that dismissed NST’s appeal when the High Court Judge Siti Khadijah Badjenid found NST and MACC liable for defamation and for breaching s.21(4) MACCA and ordered damages of RM300k to be paid by NST and MACC to Rosli.

I feel sorry for Rosli that he had to go through all these obstacles just to see his day in court to redeem himself. The incident happened in 2007. Today is 2014. It’s been 7 years and yet the case is not even anywhere near a trial date because A-G Gani Patail just does not want to face Rosli in court. That is what guilty people do, they do not want to face their Day of Judgement.

I also feel sorry for Rosli because his case is being treated like a joke when the Court of Appeal has now fixed the next hearing date on 1st April 2015 which is April Fool’s Day.

I say to Rosli- don’t be daunted.‎ God will protect you and will give you the last laugh. That’s how it has been for the last few cases where Rosli has won all the cases and the AG has been soundly beaten like in the Judgement by Judge Wazeer Alam. To the Justices‎ in our courts, I say to you – give the man the justice he deserves and don’t throw technical obstacles to protect these rogues in government. The higher titled they are, the harder you must come down on them. Let Justice be seen to be done!

Read this and don’t forget to help defend freedom:-

http://dinmerican.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/fund-for-kassim-ahmad-and-other-persecuted-activists/

President Jokowi Gets on with His Job


November 24, 2014

President Jokowi Gets on with His Job: No Talk, Just Action

tansri-sherif

by Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff bin Mohd Kassim

Jokowi has barely stepped into office as the new President of Indonesia and he is already making waves.

He is coming into world prominence not by grabbing the microphone to makeGovernor of Jakarta thunderous speeches about race and religion or picking on the ethnic Chinese businessmen, foreigners and  western imperialists  as scapegoats for his country’s endemic corruption, inefficiencies and economic backwardness. Instead, he is getting admiration at home and abroad  by simply doing what his people expect from him –just be his humble self  and get on with the job he was elected for.

His bold move to cut down on  subsidies and make the people pay more for fuel  will not endear him to millions of  poor Indonesians but it is precisely the kind of action that is needed to show he means business in his promise to strengthen the economy and find the money to build roads, schools and hospitals for the masses. It is also a warning sign that he is not afraid to take the unpopular measures to stop the wastages and  abuses that have plagued this resource rich country for decades . A few years down the road, when the man on the street sees signs of progress all around him, he will thank his President for being  politically honest in doing what needs to be done.

The Muslim world can also look up to him to lead in the path of moderation and pragmatism.His brave statements condemning Islamic terrorism and extremism during the election campaign shows  that he is one who is unafraid to speak his mind for fear of losing  votes. Nor was he deterred when Islamic groups tried to stop him from appointing an ethnic Chinese to be Governor of Jakarta (above right). The silent majority will be cheering him for standing up to the racists and religious bigots and simply doing what is right.

I will not be surprised that in the near future, he will act on the blasphemy laws , which Amnesty International  has higlighted for the several cases of injustice inflicted on  non-Sunni religious minorities. Being a former businessman himself, Jokowi knows that Indonesia cannot let religious extremism and unfair Islamic  laws to fester because it will have a negative impact on the country’s investment climate. Without large doses of local and foreign investment, Indonesia cannot progress at the rate Jokowi has in mind.

Jokowi Widodo

Jokowi and his wife travelled to Singapore recently on economy class ticket to attend his son’s graduation from the Anglo-Chinese International University . By this simple act of self-discipline in not abusing his position to use his presidential plane for a private visit, he has sent volumes of signal to his countrymen that he is going  to be an honest and clean president. Cynics may dismiss this simple act of humility  as political showmanship but , to the ordinary millions of poor people who still remember the luxurious grandeur of their past presidents and their first ladies , they thank God that Indonesia is now changing for the better.

All the best to Indonesian President Jokowi as he leads the country with the largest Muslim population in the world towards economic progress and social stability and by so doing, make himself as an example for other Muslim leaders  to follow.