Daim: What’s wrong in owning bank in Tanzania?


Daim: What’s wrong in owning bank in Tanzania?

by Malaysiakini

April 24, 2014

Former finance minister Daim Zainuddin has asked just what the problem is in owning a bank in Tanzania.

This is in response to Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who recently in the Keadilan Daily, claimed that he has evidence of Daim allegedly swindling money from Malaysia and keeping the money there.

Daim served as Malaysia's finance minister on two occasions, from 1984 to 1991, and from 1999 to 2001.

Daim served as Malaysia’s finance minister on two occasions, from 1984 to 1991, and from 1999 to 2001.

Daim dismissed Anwar as a “kaki goreng” (someone who makes things up), adding that if Anwar has any evidence on his alleged misconduct then he should make a detailed report to the authorities, he was quoted as saying in the Utusan Malaysia today.

“Anwar  when meeting with the Tanzania president in an investment session there asked about my assets. The president replied that I have a bank in Tanzania, so what is the problem?” Daim asked.

Daim Shrugs Off Anwar’s Claims, Says He Was Cleared In Probes.

Daim Shrugs Off Anwar’s Claims, Says He Was Cleared In Probes.

“Anwar, after he was expelled from Umno, everything is described as improper. So what was he doing in the party?” he added.

Anwar has met the president, finance minister and Bank governor of Tanzania

“The governor said Daim has a bank in Tanzania and I asked him where did the money come from. Certainly it is from Malaysia and kept there,” said the opposition leader.

He added there was evidence of Daim had abusing his power, when the person responsible in managing the bank was arrested in London.

“I brought this to the attention of the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission but there has been no action,” the Permatang Pauh MP has said.

Daim revealed that Anwar has lodged various reports against him asking for an investigation.

“The call for investigation is based on letters I sent to him. However, he blanked my name and claimed he obtained the letters on his own.

“Twice the authorities have investigated me on my assets. At that time Anwar was finance minister and also chair for corruption, why did he not take action?

“Only after he was expelled from Umno that he start raising this,” Daim asserted.

He added that Anwar had previously claimed to hold boxes of documents of alleged abuse of power by Malaysian politicians but till today, has not exposed anything.

 

 

Najib Razak: Interview on Al Jazeera


April 28, 2013

Najib Razak meets Veronica Pedrosa on Al Jazeera

Caretaker PM Najib Razak recorded an interview with Al Jazeera a few weeks ago, apparently, and it aired yesterday.

It will probably go down as one more of Najib’s election related blunders to go along with waiting so long to dissolve Parliament and campaign as a Presidential candidate in a Parliamentary election.

Najib_Aljazeera_interview

Few things about the interview. Firstly, Veronica Pedrosa did a great job. Interviewers frequently get intimidated in front of Heads of State or, out of respect, avoid asking the most obvious and difficult questions. Veronica did neither and I respect her for that.

Secondly, Najib’s body language was off for the interview from start to finish. His legs were shaking. He didn’t know what to do with his hands. His face showed, at times a lack of interest, and at other times a real sense of discomfort with the questions.

Thirdly, on content Najib probably scored a low C. At a general sense he did his best to present himself as someone in a position of leadership who has some grasp of the difficult issues facing his country. However, whenever the interviewer asked about specifics Najib gave answers that probably hurt him more than they helped him.

For instance when asked about debating Anwar Ibrahim, Najib said that there are many ways to engage with people in an election and he was focused on other ways. He said a debate “probably won’t happen”. Well, is it a probability or a possibility or impossible? His answer was weak and showed that after 2 years of avoiding facing Anwar head-to-head he still doesn’t have a good answer to the question.

When asked about the Allah issue I think Najib really botched his response. The first part of the answer probably would have been OK a it reflects a sort of flimsy, neither here neither there attitude of let’s just sweep issues under the rug and try to get along. But when Veronica pressed him on the comparison between Malaysia and Lebanon, Najib once again did not have a solid answer and just said in Malaysia we’re different just because and that’s that.

The problem is that Najib may not even believe the position on non-Muslims not using the world Allah in Malaysia is a valid position. He is a Western educated self-proclaimed ‘moderate’ who is hardly a hardliner when it comes to issues of religion. Yet on this one issue he needs to pander shamelessly to the ultra right Malay base. Even PAS has relented on the position and said there is no problem here. So Najib lost big time on this one.

Which brings us to PAS. It is quite “un-statesmenship” like to berate and attack the Islamic Party of Malaysia during an election like Najib did. Basically when asked “What does PAS stand for” Najib poured scorn on PAS as if it was some antique relic party that still used candles and push carts and wrote on papyrus and animal skins.

In actual fact, PAS is a very modern party going through an amazing internal transformation and has come out the other end far more willing and capable to adapt to the time then UMNO has thus far shown any capacity for. My sense is Najib’s distasteful comments about PAS, if they make it to the grassroots, will backfire among middle of the ground Malays who respect the positions that PAS takes but are focused on outcomes for the country.

I suggest you take 20 minutes to watch the interview. It’s telling how the Prime Minister, after four years in office, still lacks the confidence and composure to answer a few difficult questions.

By comparison Anwar Ibrahim gave interviews on  Al Jazeera and CNBC (above) 15 days ago and generally performed much better.–Din Merican

Malaysian Economy: Is the Party Over?


April 26, 2013

Malaysian Economy: Is the Party Over?

By Azeem Ibrahim from the Huffington Post

Dr Azeem IbrahimWith an election in the near future, scheduled for May 5th, Malaysia’s economy is under scrutiny. Is it really as good as the present government says it is in its campaign propaganda? The usual indicators look good — growth is 5 percent this year, inflation is low at around 2.5 percent and unemployment is low and stable at about 3 percent. Malaysia has enjoyed vigorous growth and change in the 50 years since it became independent and it is now the 37th largest economy in the world.

But after more than 50 years of one-party administration, the country is now at a crossroads with the ruling coalition facing formidable opposition. The economy is a major campaign issue as the country has been running considerable budget deficits since 1998, with the government offering subsidies and cash handouts to maintain itself in power. Since 2008 the government’s debt has escalated exponentially and is projected to be RM 779 billion by 2017 — creating a major problem of domestic debt for future governments to face.

Government borrowing, excessive spending on huge infrastructure projects, the flight of capital overseas, and a downturn in gas and palm oil prices are combining to create concern about a potential economic dislocation, prompting warnings from financial analysts in the region.

Malaysia’s rising ratio of household debt to its GDP reached 80.5 last year, as the country’s middle class has taken advantage of easy credit. Now there is the risk of being caught in a credit bubble, similar to the sub-prime crisis in the U.S. in 2008 which forced foreclosures and the collapse of several major financial institutions.

With 30 percent as the acceptable debt service ratio, it is a matter of increasing concern that people are using more than half of their disposable income to pay off household debts. The ratio of household debt to disposable income in Malaysia is 140 percent, one of the highest in the world and above that of the U.S. at 123 percent and Thailand at 52 percent. Unless there is a rise in productivity and household incomes for Malaysia’s five million working population, this trend is not sustainable.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s policies of short term gains andNajib latest generous corporate welfare to maintain popular support contrast with the long term vision of the Pakatan coalition led by Anwar Ibrahim. Noting that “Malaysia’s fiscal space has shrunk considerably since the 2008 global financial crisis”, policies need to be put in place to spare the people the austerity measures being adopted by several of the troubled Eurozone countries.

The need is to curb household debt, to broaden the tax base, repeal subsides gradually, trim certain expenditures and generally bring the fiscal house in order without creating the pain of a sudden adjustment. Instead of raising the debt ceiling again and again, Malaysia needs to grow government revenue and rein in sovereign debt, as Malaysia’s debt to revenue ratio is approaching that of Italy’s.

In all the government’s campaign promises there is nothing to address the growing problem of blatant corruption in high places and the widening income disparities since taxes were lowered for the wealthy. Malaysian taxes are the second lowest in South East Asia, with Singapore lowest with personal income tax capped at 20 percent. Singapore has since instituted a tax on services and consumption, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) at 7 percent, a move currently under discussion in Malaysia.

To ensure that growth is sustained, Malaysia needs to implement numerous reforms which have already been outlined in the Government’s New Economic Model. Unfortunately, many of these proposals remain simply paper promises and Malaysia can no longer afford business as usual. Criticisms are common about the lack of transparency of government statistics which are skewed in favor of the incumbent regime. A retired Malaysian international banker recently described official government reports as “Alice in Wonderland statistics.”

Anwar with Hadi and Kit SiangThis would change with a victory for Pakatan Rakyat. Anwar Ibrahim’s vision of good governance, based on fairness and justice and free of race considerations is reinforced by World Bank studies that compare Malaysia with more successful countries such as China, Indonesia and Vietnam. The latest IMF report card on Malaysia indicates the need for fiscal and structural reforms and an ambitious consolidation plan, with tax reform and expenditure rationalization.

Malaysians want an end to stagnant wages and earning levels and an end to the Malaysia being caught in the Middle Income Trap with little hope of higher productivity and wages. Malaysia’s dream of joining the league of high income developed nations as envisaged in its Vision 2020 will not happen on its current course.

Anwar Ibrahim will bring about the necessary changes based on the needs of the people of Malaysia, not be deferring to the bankers, corporations or profiteering capitalists. He understands that is time for more egalitarian policies to put an end to the stifling of initiative and competition through the old affirmative action policies favoring Malays. Preferential treatment for ethnic Malays and some indigenous groups, collectively known as Bumiputra, have led to inequalities in awarding government jobs and contracts and also the provision of education and cheaper housing.

It is also time to end the practice of using low-cost foreign labor for assembly work and to invest instead in a research and development base for new industries. This would help reverse the much-discussed phenomenon of the migration of talent out of Malaysia, and would turn the brain drain into an economic gain. Productivity and inclusiveness lie at the heart of Malaysia’s transformation programs and according to the latest Malaysia Economic Monitor Report, this is an historical opportunity for change.

It remains to be seen whether Anwar Ibrahim’s message will reverberate sufficiently among the voters next month, to bring about a change in direction and a change in leadership for Malaysia, bringing with it the opportunity for the country and its people to realize their full democratic potential.

Dr. Azeem Ibrahim is the Executive Chairman of the Scotland Institute and a Fellow at the Institute of Social Policy and Understanding

NPC Newsmaker Program: Turning Point in Malaysia: Will the Ruling Coalition Finally Lose Power?


From National Press Club

WASHINGTON, April 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — On May 5, Malaysians will vote in their 13(th) general election since gaining independence in 1957 — and for the first time, the outcome of the election is in doubt. Disenchantment with the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, the growing influence of online media and an explosion in the number of young voters (20 percent of the electorate is under 30 and eligible to vote for the first time) could propel the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition to victory.

At a National Press Club Newsmaker news conference on Wednesday, April 24, John Mallott, the former U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia and one of the foremost experts on Malaysian politics, will analyze the forces at play that could make this election an historic turning point for a significant U.S. trading partner and military ally.

While the opposition currently enjoys a slight lead in national polls and a dominant position in online media, the ruling coalition controls the mainstream media and has prevailed in all 12 previous elections. Concerns about electoral fraud are high — international observer delegations have routinely criticized Malaysia’s Election Commission for its handling of previous elections.

The ruling coalition has been plagued by a series of high-profile corruption cases and widespread criticism for poor handling of race relations, including requiring non-Muslims to abide by strict statutes of Muslim law. The opposition coalition controls five of Malaysia’s 14 states and territories and has established a record of building surplus budgets, attracting foreign investment, improving social services and promoting equal citizenship rights for all ethnic groups. But it has also been hampered by internal conflicts over application of Islamic law.

Some observers maintain that a change in government would be destabilizing for Malaysia, while others contend it’s crucial for bringing about the reforms necessary for Malaysia to function effectively as a pluralistic society in a globalized world.

This National Press Club Newsmaker news conference will take place on Wednesday, April 24 at 2 p.m. in the club’s Zenger Room on the 13(th) Floor of the National Press Building, 529 14(th) St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20045.

SOURCE National Press Club

We are Malaysians, not Pendatangs, says my Friend, John Toh


January 24, 2013

We are Malaysians, not Pendatangs, says my Friend, John Toh

Din MericanLast week, and again today I met John Toh, my dear friend (both of us are septuagenarians waiting in the airport lounge, like our notorious octogenarian, for our turn to catch the next flight to eternity) at the Royal Selangor Golf Club.

John and I who are former corporate executives talked about what it was like growing up in the days when Tunku Abdul Rahman was our Prime Minister and how things got to this stage of degeneration in the affairs of state after 55 years of Independence. He and I attribute this collapse of our legislative, judicial and executive branches of government and our societal malaise to one man’s rise to power in 1981 and his 22 year+ administration. Others may disagree with us. It is their right to differ as much as it is our duty to speak up.

Tun Dr.Mahathir who started his administration with the slogan BERSIH, CEKAP danPerkasa's Patron AMANAH must take full responsibility for  our nation in crisis. We admired him very much because he fired our passion for Malaysia, but over the years, John and I have come to realise that he is  a man obsessed with power, who does not know when to let go.

Tun Dr. Mahathir has successfully brought down the Badawi administration in 2009, and is now working towards to the political demise of our present Prime Minister. I get the impression from his words and actions that he thinks he is still indispensable.

You and I know no one is indispensable. Each generation will have its own leaders and it is the duty of our generation–and certainly mine and John’s–to ensure that the present leaders both in the government and the Opposition administer our country properly and not badger them at every opportunity. We must guide, cajole, encourage, and praise them if they do the right things and do them right. Critique them, if we must, but do that constructively.

Recently, Tun Dr. Mahathir went over the top when he tried to divert our attention from his granting of Identity cards to both Filipinos and Indonesian illegals to enable the vote in the 1994 Sabah state elections by blaming Tunku Abdul Rahman. He said that the Tunku gave citizenships to Chinese, Indians and others. The Tun forgets that it was part of our Independence deal with the British colonial government. It is nasty for Tun Dr. Mahathir to accuse a man who is no longer around to defend himself. Lawyer Tommy Thomas has done us a service when he wrote an article on the subject, which I put on this blog.

Let me now post John’s e-mail to me. I promised him that I will share his concerns with all of you. Thank you, John. You and I cannot give up. As I said to you today, we both are heavily invested in Malaysia. Our children are luckier than us because we have given them good education to enable them to compete anywhere in the world. We cannot now abandon our dream of a united Malaysia. Why? We know we can change things around. So,we must speak against the likes of Ibrahim Ali and others like him. Being indifferent is no longer an option. Elegant silence?, well, leave that to Tun Musa Hitam.–Din Merican

_____________________

Kuala Lumpur, January 24, 2013

Dear Dato’ Din,

It was most gratifying to meet up with you after a lapse of over 40 years. A lot has happened to our respective lives  in the intervening period but I am glad to note that the fire in your belly is still burning bright. Although I was unable to meet you until now, I have been following your blog faithfully and have kept up with the issues you saw fit to discuss in the public domain especially for those who lack media support and in the process denied the laws of natural justice.For this I must salute you in your fearless crusade to help those who are oppressed.

Co-incidentally, a very important and current issue which I find disturbing is the remark by Tun Dr. M regarding Tunku’s act of granting Citizenship to over 1 million pendatangs soon after Merdeka. While I myself am a 3rd generation Malaysian born and a humble subject of HRH Sultan of Selangor which I became in 1954 by Operation of Law I still feel alienated by such references to Pendatangs and I reflect on Tunku’s action and ask what is the rationale and the end result of the “gift of Citizenship” by our beloved Tunku.

I must firstly confess that I am not a Member of any political Party or NGO but just one of those who happen to love our Nation and any action that cause dissension among the people naturally saddens me. I am also not an economist or political scientist.

After clearing the air, permit me to give you my layman’s view on what prompted Tunku to do what he did and what are the consequences. By the time we gained Independence, Malaysia had the good fortune to experience a number of “booms”. First was the rubber boom in late 1940′s but development of synthetic rubber caused the rubber industry to lose its bounce in less that 2 decades. Then we had the tin boom followed by the timber boom and in early or mid 1970′s we also experienced the oil and gas boom. With the huge deforestation of timber land, entrepreneurs began to plant oil palm over the logged over land and palm oil became the next boom factor what lasts to this day.

My point is this. Except for the oil and gas sector, all the other booms that occurred required substantial local labor and business resources and also the support of good transport and communication infrastructure,which brings to mind the venerable institutions we had. At that time, Malayan Railways ran efficiently and profitably but not anymore. Telecoms, Central Electricity Board, PWD, Postal Services, Waterworks Department. were managed by many Pendatangs and all were able to render reliable services to the people but not anymore.

These days we can’t even drink water straight from the taps like we used to. So our beloved Tunku, in his wisdom saw that in order to develop the country, we need to have capable and dedicated workers regardless of where they came from and if anybody were to ask me how Malaysia came to be what it is today, I will tell them it is due to Tunku’s foresight.

In comparison, let us look at Sabah. At the point of joining the Federation in 1963, Sabah was one of the richest if not the richest State in Malaysia. Besides oil and gas, Sabah had  huge timber resources plus minerals and its rich volcanic soil will let anything you put into the ground grow. Sadly, today, Sabah is one of the poorest State and most of its resources have been depleted.

I am not competent enough to allude this situation to the influx of illegal immigrants into the State but from a layman’s perspective, I cannot totally dispel this notion but I will leave it to the qualified experts to draw their own conclusion.

Hope you won’t find the above overbearing. Lets meet soon for a meal together. Best wishes to you and Family and May God Bless you in your endeavors.

John.

Tommy Thomas: Putting the Record Straight on Citizenship Issue


January 23, 2012

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Tommy Thomas: Putting the Record Straight on Citizenship Issue

TommyThomas-2COMMENT: The widespread publicity given to the recent statements made by former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad that:

1. Immigrants from the Philippines were given citizenship in Sabah in the 1990s during his administration;

2. they were lawfully done; and

3. former Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman “had done worse” by giving citizenship to “one million unqualified people” in Peninsular Malaysia, lamenting that no one had made it an issue;

The above have to be rebutted and the record put straight. The “sincerity” of his admissions, coming in the wake of evidence at the Royal Commission currently inquiring on the origins and consequences of immigration into Sabah, must be questioned.

Dr MLike disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, Mahathir only came clean after years of denial when he had absolutely no choice because of the overwhelming evidence being publicly uncovered.

When the truth finally emerged, Mahathir made his admissions. And like Armstrong, it was selective, self-serving and without any contrition. But worse than Armstrong, he blamed others. To put it plainly, there is no parallel between these two episodes in the nation’s history.

Malaya in 1957

Under the Federation of Malaya Agreement of 1948, Malays automatically became federal citizens, while non-Malays acquired citizenship by fulfilling residential qualifications. In 1953, out of the total population of Malaya of 5.7 million, some 1.3 million (nearly all of whom were non-Malays) were not citizens. Thus, for the non-Malays, ‘citizenship’ based on the doctrine of jus soli was a critical matter.

Large scale immigration into Malaya first occurred in the Malacca Sultanate in the 15th century. Trade brought Arab, Chinese and Indian immigrants, and they formed distinct settlements in Malacca. Thus, immigration pre-dated the first European colonial conquest, by the Portuguese in 1511.

Major waves of immigration occurred after direct British intervention in Perak under the Pangkor Treaty of 1874. tunku abdul rahman 290809When the British very reluctantly accepted, by about 1955, that independence had to be granted to Malaya, lengthy negotiations began between the British government, the Malay rulers and the Alliance coalition led by Tunku Abdul Rahman (right).

The Reid Commission of eminent jurists was appointed to draft a constitution. Its report, published in February 1957, was the subject of intense debate. Working groups were set up to study the Reid Report. The London Conference of May 1957 followed. The British government issued a White Paper in June 1957.

The final steps were the presentation of the Constitutional Bill in the British Parliament and in the Federal Legislative Council in Kuala Lumpur. Merdeka was proclaimed on August 31, 1957, with Tunku reading the Proclamation of Independence.

The issue of citizenship to non-Malays in 1957 cannot therefore be seen in isolation or in a vacuum. Instead, it was the result of a ‘give-and-take’ bargain among the various communities reached through consensus. The bargain was certainly not through the effort of Tunku alone, although he was the dominant personality. The other founding fathers, Abdul Razak Hussein, Ismail Abdul Rahman, Tan Cheng Lock and VT Sambanthan, also played important roles.

tunku abdul rahman merdeka declaration 261004Subsequent commentators have described the Merdeka bargain as the ‘social contract’. Thus, the social contract reached by the three communities under the watchful eye of the British imperial power prior to Merdeka was, in essence, a bargain whereby in exchange for a place under the Malayan sun with full citizenship, a right to use their language and observe their religion, the non-Malays had to concede special privileges to the Malays to assist the latter to ascend the economic ladder.

It was a quid pro quo. In this equilibrium, the non-Malays were not to be relegated to second-class citizens: citizenship was not on a two-tier basis and there was going to be no apartheid, partition or repatriation.

What was required from the non-Malays at the time of Merdeka was undivided loyalty to the new nation.

Racial differences were recognised. Diversity was encouraged. There was no pressure to integrate into one Malayan race. Assimilation was out of the question. Thus, a united Malayan nation did not involve the sacrifice by any community of its culture or customs. Malaya was always to remain a plural society.

Sabah in the 1990s

What happened in Sabah when Mahathir was Prime Minister was entirely different. TheThe Politics of Make Belief decision to give Malaysian citizenship liberally and generously to nationals of Philippines and other countries was done secretly, with the sole purpose of securing and maintaining political power in Sabah.

It was naked, partisan politics to give electoral advantage to one party that underpinned the decision. When confronted, denials were made. Only when it became a major electoral issue in Sabah in the forthcoming general and state elections this year, did the present government, much to the unhappiness of Mahathir, appoint a Royal Commission.

And only when the truth emerged during its hearing, did Mahathir admit his role.To compare the Sabah episode with the gaining of nationhood in 1957 is not just historical revision. It is also not merely being economical with the truth. Rather, it is a blatant fabrication of facts.

Tun MNot only does it insult the roles played by our founding fathers in securing Merdeka from the British, it adds injury to millions of Malaysians whose parents or grandparents became citizens through this open, transparent and legal manner.

It must be remembered that no such citizenship issue arose when Sabah (North Borneo) joined Malaysia in 1963. Indeed, the Philippine government opposed the formation of Malaysia.

Their nationals only became Malaysian citizens in the mid-1990s, some 30 years after Sabah’s independence from the British. Finally, citizenship is a federal matter, and very much within the power and discretion of the Home Minister. Accordingly, the two exercises of granting citizenship cannot be treated in a similar fashion.


TOMMY THOMAS specialises in constitutional law. He conducted substantial research in the events leading up to Merdeka in the course of preparing two papers presented at the Malaysian Law Conferences in 2005 and 2007, subsequently published as ‘Is Malaysia an Islamic State?’ and ‘The Social Contract: Malaysia’s Constitutional Covenant’ in [2006] 4 MLJ xv and [2008] 1 MLJ cxxxii.

Pride comes before Destruction


January 22, 2013

Pride comes before Destruction

by Mariam Mokhtar (01-21-13)@http://www.malaysiakini.com

According to one Sabahan, there is so much crime in Sabah that squatter houses, too, have grilles on the doors and windows, and that these cost more than the houses themselves.

For four decades, ordinary Sahabans have been angered by illegal immigration and the social and economic problems associated with it, such as a shortage of housing, a lack of employment and educational opportunities, high levels of crime and massive overcrowding.

Despite the limited terms of reference of the Royal Commission of  Inquiry (RCI) ordered by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, the RCI has revealed disturbing aspects of former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s bid to remain in power. Soon, the RCI will be overshadowed by the side-show that Mahathir may have helped arrange.

NONEThe star-performer is the self-styled motivational guru Sharifah Zohra Jabeen Syed Shah Miskin (right). One wonders if Zohra has replaced the virgin queen, Ummi Hafilda Ali, who used to come to Mahathir’s aid and helped distract the rakyat with golden showers and salacious revelations.

There was once a time when the government would detain reporters and send them to Kamunting, ostensibly for their own safety. Zohra was denied this privilege because Najib has abolished the ISA. Last week, Zohra bowed to overwhelming pressure and heeded Police advice to cancel her seminar on ‘How to Make Your First Million’.

I can give you the gist of the RM200 per person seminar. It is an open secret that the first million is easy to make; join UMNO, then claw your way to the top by backstabbing and badmouthing everyone who stands in your way.

There are tell-tale signs that that you have “made it” and joined the UMNO elite. In the election canvassing that takes place every five years, UMNO delivers bags of rice to the masses, but the UMNO elite receive Birkin bags.

Households that qualify are given a one-off payment of RM500 (and possibly another RM500 if the situation demands it) but the elite get several million ringgit in hard cash, stuffed in suitcases.

The poor may get a discount on their smartphones, but the elite are given the contracts to sell the phones.  The rakyat may be given tins of powdered milk as freebies during canvassing, but elite members are given millions of ringgit to buy a few cows and many luxury condominiums.

Zohra has not much in humility

A video of the shameful conduct of Zohra emerged a month after the incident. Despite the public opprobrium which she received, Zohra showed everyone that she is miskin by name and miskin (poor) by nature.

She lacks the intellect to reflect on her poor behaviour. She did not have much in the way of humility. She displayed an inferior understanding of people’s feelings and she was a poor communicator.

Instead of eating the humble pie, she has become more arrogant and haughty. Instead of acknowledging that she was tactless and rude, Zohra issued a statement from her hiding place, in which she declined to apologise but “forgave” KS Bawani, the student who suffered Zohra’s acid tongue.

This incident should have been a temporary frenzy and yes, we are angry because it is obvious that Zohra’s behaviour is unacceptable. Some UMNO leaders and members of the BN coalition have distanced themselves from her, but it appears that Zohra is determined to prolong this crisis into a full blown affair.

The reason must be to take our attention away from Mahathir’s alleged crimes in the Sabah votes for citizenship fiasco.  Just a few months ago, Najib outlined the terms of reference for the Sabah RCI. Many have criticised the RCI for its limited scope and because its findings will not be revealed before GE13.

NONEIf the RCI proves that UMNO won elections by fraud and cheating, it brings into doubt the legitimacy of this and previous UMNO-BN governments. By cheating, UMNO has disenfranchised the people of Malaysia and forced us to wait until GE13 to gain our choice of ruling party.

Proof of fraud and cheating will confirm that UMNO-BN should not be the current government. Will the RCI be another whitewash or will its members seek to save their own skins, by leaving the sinking UMNO ship?

As the extent of Mahathir’s Project IC is slowly being revealed, the importance of this RCI is increasing.

Mahathir won’t go without a fight

Just as Mahathir thought he had undermined Najib, his hopes were damned. So he tried to deflect some of the rakyat’s abhorrence of Project IC, by tarnishing the name of Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Father of Independence.

Will the RCI bring about the fall of Mahathir? No. He may have cut a pathetic figure recently but he will not go without a fight. Although the rakyat have a strong case against him, Mahathir has too many people in his pockets. They owe their success to him and he will call in his favours.

The rakyat is leading the Opposition fight to topple the Mahathir regime, but their wish will not be fulfilled, just yet.

Both Najib and Mahathir are locked in a deadly battle. Najib cannot bring about Mahathir’s fall, because to do so would bring the fight right to his front door. He, like Mahathir, has a dirty past. The best Najib can do is to hold out for a few more months.

If Najib were to destroy Mahathir now, it would start a media frenzy, which would eclipse the one Zohra is facing today.  Zohra’s gaffe has caused quite a stir. She tried to put on a brave face and refused to apologise, thus avoiding an admission of guilt. Ironically, her intransigence has damaged UMNO by rallying the rakyat to vote for the Opposition.

January 12 People’s Uprising Rally: Scant UMNO Mainstream Press Coverage


January 12, 2013

January 12 People’s Uprising Rally: Scant UMNO Mainstream Press Coverage

by Malaysiakini (01-11-13)

KL112

Although Pakatan Rakyat and NGOs are mobilising their supporters for tomorrow’s People’s Uprising Rally, which could be the biggest such event in recent years, English and Malay mainstream coverage did not reflect it.

Even Sinar Harian, the Malay daily seen as relatively neutral compared with those in the UMNO-linked Media Prima stable, did not give much space to the news today.

NONEThe daily dedicated its frontpage to the controversy over the use of ‘Allah’ word, relegating its news on the rally to page 8 with five reports.

Three reports quoted taxi drivers, university students and UMNO Vice-President Mohd Shafie Apdal respectively objecting to the rally, one report on police’s assurance that it will be controlled peacefully, and another on tomorrow’s commuter service tomorrow operating as usual.

No mention was made about the seven gathering points and rally guidelines issued by the organisers yesterday.

Yesterday Sinar Harian carried a report on its page 10 quoting PAS Deputy President Mohamad Sabu as saying that the organisers will guarantee a rally free of riots and chaos.

NONEThe UMNO-owned Utusan Malaysia has launched an aggressive campaign against the rally, publishing at least 10 news reports and commentaries lambasting the planned event.

In its second page, the Malay daily featured a full-page of photographs highlighting the violent scenes during last April’s BERSIH 3.0 rally, warning readers not to join tomorrow’s rally.

Berita Harian, the Malay newspaper under the Media Prima group, published two reports quoting Shafie and Kuala Lumpur Police Chief Mohmad Salleh.

The latter advised the organisers to shift to Bukit Jalil National Stadium as the venue can accommodate more participants than the Merdeka Stadium, the organisers’ preferred venue.

New Straits Times, the English newspaper belonging to the same group, carried only one story on the issue, which contained Mohmad and Dang Wangi police chief Zainuddin Ahmad’s statements on the rally.

The MCA-owned The Star also has only a single report on the event, including all the views expressed by the police, the organisers and those against it.

Hishamuddin Rais, Pak Samad Said and Haris IbrahimIt quoted rally’s spokesperson Hishamuddin Rais (seen with Poet Samad Said and Activist-lawyer Haris Ibrahim) as saying that the participants would converge from different areas in the capital, and they hoped for a trouble free rally.

Complementing the report is the photograph of the mysterious anti-Jalur Gemilang banner with a caption reading “Down with the old: Banners calling for the Jalur Gemilang to be changed. They have since been taken down”.

In contrast to the Malay and English newspapers, their Chinese counterparts including Sin Chew Daily, Nanyang Siang Pau, China Press and Oriental Daily News have given significant and wide coverage on the event, carrying statements from all quarters and details of the gathering points.

Himpunan Bangkitan Rakyat2

The sanctity of multicultural education in teaching and learning


January 7, 2013

Jakarta Post

The sanctity of multicultural education in teaching and learning

by Kunto Nurcahyoko, Columbus, Ohio | Opinion | Sat, January 05 2013, 12:55 PM

Jokowi and AhokThe Joko “Jokowi” Widodo-Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama victory in the Jakarta gubernatorial election last year demonstrates that Indonesia’s democracy has progressed to a higher level.

The rigid notion about how a particular group should lead the government has started fading. The tough “ethnicity” wall also appears to be crumbling. But is it true that intolerance has disappeared altogether? Or is the Jokowi-Ahok phenomenon just a superficially attractive delusion for what we call multicultural tolerance?

Probably we should contemplate more on what has been happening. Some examples, like the inter-village clash in Maluku that claimed five lives just before New Year’s Eve and the warning by a particular group against Muslims wishing Christians a merry Christmas, do not follow the same path as our previous euphoria. Indeed, our multicultural tolerance still has a long way to go.

Some aspects might cause intolerance. They might be personal experiences, parental issues, environmental or educational. The latter, especially formal education, plays a significant role in shaping the understanding of multiculturalism. Therefore, we should pay attention to the school element, particularly the teachers. Teachers must be able to prepare students as part of a multicultural society.

Teachers hold a responsibility to create teaching and learning environments that promote a democratic exchange of ideas. By doing this, there will be strong multicultural education in our education system. According to Bannet et al, multicultural education is a democratic approach to teaching and learning that seeks to foster cultural pluralism within culturally diverse societies and an interdependent world. In the US, more than 63 percent of American universities require multicultural diversity in their core course for teachers’ education.

Multicultural education focuses on students’ performance, both academically and socially. Nowadays, often as educators, teachers perceive teaching and learning as processes that solely concern the academic achievement of their students. In Indonesia, for example, most schools employ the results of academic tests as the primary measurement of being a “successful student”. This must change since it focuses more on cognition than preparing students to be responsible citizens of a multicultural world.

Helping students to develop positive attitudes and become responsible individuals is extremely essential in a classroom. Teachers should encourage students to be active learners.

To do this, teachers must lead students to know each other as individuals, regard each other as equals and be able to work together on common interests and goals in a safe and supportive classroom environment. Creating such a classroom climate that promotes the internalization of these shared values through multicultural education will help students actively develop as learners, as people and as citizens.

Multicultural education will prepare students to be responsible members of society. Students must be aware that they are a part of society.  As Pacino eloquently says, teaching and learning in the context of community is truly a moral, spiritual and ethical journey. The concept of ethical and moral values and actions in society should be integrated in their classroom.

Hence, educators should acknowledge and address students’ need to carry on the real experience of being part of a community, not only of individual academic achievement at school.

In addition, in multicultural and democratic countries, teachers should educate students how to actively participate and contribute to their society. By acquiring moral and ethical values from school, students will understand the dos and don’ts within a participatory democratic society. In order to achieve this, teachers should place themselves as the facilitators of information, not as dictators of information. This kind of active classroom setting enables students to experience the feelings of respect and self-autonomy.

There are specific methods that teachers can implement to achieve multicultural education. One example is implementing activities and discussions that focus on the positive aspects of cultural identity, heritage and differences, such as involving students in developing personally relevant multicultural stories, books or even autobiographies. Teachers can ask students to actively present and discuss their own story.

One of the purposes of inviting students to share their stories is to better understand how the students can use their background knowledge to gain access to curricular content. This will also include an understanding of cross-cultural differences and social challenges.

Teachers can reinforce the importance of multicultural education by involving students in community service/learning activities. This gives students the opportunity to be more responsible, knowledgeable and sensitive to their own surroundings.  This sensitivity is essential for the students’ personal moral development, their sense of community and increased tolerance, acceptance and respect for others.

To realize multicultural education, a Herculean effort from all education stakeholders is mandatory. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding. Hence, let’s keep up the spirit of multicultural tolerance in Indonesia once and for all.

The writer is pursuing a PhD degree at the Ohio State University, in the US.

S.Thayaparan responds to his Critic


January 6, 2013

S.Thayaparan responds to his Critic and restates his political stance

http://www.malaysiakini.com (01-05-13)

COMMENT: First off I would like to thank Salas Santino, the writer of ‘Is 2013 crunch time for BN or Pakatan?‘, for taking the time to respond to my piece UMNO’s last tango before its reckoning‘.

However, Santino is operating under a few faulty assumptions that I hope to correct in this response.I apologise in advance for the length of this reply but I wish to be thorough since this is the election season and as someone whose writing is pro-opposition, I wish to state my positions unambiguously.

The writer begins by not “faulting” me for “biasness” every time I write for Malaysiakini but does not explain what this “biasness” is. For my part, it is not that my biasness have been “exposed” in my columns but rather I have declared my support of the oppositional forces in this country and specifically Pakatan Rakyat in numerous pieces that have appeared in Malaysiakini. A cursory reading of any of my articles would have confirmed this.

From what I managed to decipher of the letter, there are four major points of contention that the writer has of my piece (or rather me). The first is my characterisation of this upcoming general election. The second, my “elitist” position as far as politics is concerned.The third, my stance on the two-coalition paradigm and the fourth point, the apparent contradiction in my criticisms of Pakatan and BN and my belief in a two-coalition paradigm.

Apparently, to the writer my “confusion writ large” is my contention that this coming election is a “grudge match” between Pakatan and BN. Santino offers two assumptions of his own (coloured no doubt by his own biasness) as to why this characterisation is wrong.

The first is that this coming election would be Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s last shot at the head job in Putrajaya and the second, that this election is for the “soul of Malaysia” which the writer then goes on to buttress with “well-rehearsed points that have long borne the realities of contemporary and even historical Malaysian politics” in contravention of his own rejoinder to me.

NONEAs for the first, what makes the writer think that this is Anwar’s last shot at the title? Anwar has made many claims and gone back on them.

Going by Anwar’s history, I think it would be safe to assume that this may or may not be his last attempt at the throne in Putrajaya and his protestations of the former may be just political spin.

Furthermore, if many others and I assume it is a grudge match, it is an assumption that has at least some credibility since the guts of Pakatan comprises UMNO outlaws and malcontents who for whatever reasons have joined Pakatan as a possible re-entry point into the corridors of power.

Let us not forget that Anwar himself on various occasions has stated that his “retribution” would be against those power players in UMNO and not the regular members. To be fair to Anwar, he has on many occasions stated that his desired goal is to move Malaysia out of this UMNO quagmire and not any personal vendetta against those who have wronged him in UMNO.

In this context, I do not think it is misleading to characterise this election as a grudge match and this is not taking into account the revenge fantasies of partisans who at any chance they get in the alternative media vomit out their desires for retribution against a regime that has wronged them.

People (who the writer likes to remind us) are the vehicle of change, so I see no problem in lumping them in with political parties of their choice. I see no problem with this description because politics is an endeavour fuelled by various human motivations and as always, it is up to us (the people), to monitor the corridors of power and see to it that our voices are heard above the din of backroom dealing.

Populist policies

As for the whole “soul of Malaysia” showdown, this is arrogant partisan posturing that unfortunately is the rallying cry of both coalitions in this country.It would be a credible proposition if the polices of both were completely different, which of course they are not. However, the real problem with this “soul” assumption from my side of the political divide is that it furthers the narrative that UMNO and BN are without support and the whole of Malaysia is behind Pakatan, thereby reducing BN supporters as “ignoramuses” who would be better off under a Pakatan administration with all the flaws the writer himself acknowledges.

In addition, as far as dangling the worthless “ringgit”, is the writer aware that Pakatan is doing the same thing with all its populist policies of free education, subsidised fuel and (sic) affordable housing?

I have no idea where the writer gets the idea that I am “ever so prone to situate politics at the elite level, almost as if ordinary Malaysians would be untouched by all the politics.”If anything in the comments section of my pieces, I am vilified as being too “idealistic” which I take to mean placing principle over political expediency.

Again, a cursory reading of any of my articles would confirm my vox populi stance. If the writer had bothered to do some research, he would have discovered my support for grassroots level movements like Hindraf, PSM, my criticisms of the UMNO system of patronage, the MCA and slowly (emerging DAP) plutocracy, the crass reactionary politics of urban middle-class voters, the impact of Islam on the average Muslim (my disdain for the separate but equal Pakatan stand with regards to hudud is well documented), not to mention the holiest of holies, my no-holds-barred (some would argue, reckless) criticisms of the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), etc. points to the exact opposite of the writer’s contention.

If anything in most of my articles, I have been raging against the “elitism” in politics and the plight of the disenfranchised that, political elites use as talking points in their political campaigns, a rather unfortunate reality of democracy.

The writer than goes into a long ramble about my preference for a two-coalition paradigm central to which is his dismay of the state of “third world democracies”. He does not define what he means by “functional democracy” and his rejection of so-called “third world” democracies like India and Indonesia, is puzzling since he neither gives reasons why they are dysfunctional nor does he elaborate on how “substantial changes” in South Africa and Fiji, does not accurately reflect the will of the people.

To be honest, I have no idea what point the writer is attempting to convey.There seems to be some confusion on the part of the writer of the concept of a two-party paradigm or rather his conflations of the form of democracies and the post-colonial realities of the countries he cites.

All a two-party paradigm ensures is that conflicting forces through the ballot box influences the way in which the system operates through cyclical elections. Substantial changes are only possible if a discriminate electorate tames the vested interests within these conflicting forces.

Anwar and Pakatan MPs

Anwar Ibrahim and Pakatan’s UMNO-BN Busters

Is this a perfect system? Not by a long shot but the writer does not suggest an alternative.On the other hand, maybe he does. May be he would prefer it Pakatan has a monopoly on “change” for decades? I really cannot tell.

Blind loyalty

The writer has trouble understanding what my “beef” is and goes on to whine that I “can’t have it both ways”. Does anyone else see the problem with this? First, the writer accuses me having “biasness” which he does not define.Then he claims that my criticism of Pakatan and BN is somehow having it both ways. Moreover, how does being critical of both coalitions and subscribing to a two-party paradigm, incompatible?

If anything, by assessing the agendas of the two coalitions and making an informed choice not predicated on blind loyalty, this would ensure that the two-party system works.

The problem here in Malaysia, is that we have never attempted to allow another coalition (for various reasons) the opportunity to lead this country but more importantly, UMNO cannot rely on its track record or at least this is my thinking as an opposition supporter.

However, the punch line is the writer then goes on listing his own criticisms of Pakatan and BN regurgitating the same examples I have used in my various comment pieces.The Perak fiasco, the Kedah shenanigans, “UMNO’s bribery”, the Selangor quagmire, Pakatan “turncoats”, PAS and its “coy Islamic agenda”, Anwar’s September 16, 2008 debacle… nearly every issue on his list with regard to BN and Pakatan, is something that I have written about before and a couple in the very article the writer finds so problematic. So, dear reader, who is the one “re-boiling” boiled eggs, now?

The writer says it is crunch time for Pakatan and BN. This was explicit in my comment piece. He singles me (and by the way, it is “the old commander” not commodore) out for rehashing old issues, which is ironic because rehashing “old issues” sometimes happens in the echo chamber that is the alternative press, not to mention what BN and Pakatan often do.

It would have been beneficial to me, if the writer elaborated on those policy issues of BN and Pakatan that he thinks should be dated and that I may have missed, but what I got was a confusing polemic in which the writer could not even follow his own advice.

PTPTN dataran sit in by studentsAs far as me not dwelling on critical policy issues, perhaps if the writer had done some research, he would realise that policy issues be it the demands of Hindraf, losing the secular battle, the nature of press reforms, affirmative action policies, Pakatan and BN reactionary educational polices (with regards to the PTPTN debate, for example), the Armed Forces, are front and centre of my pieces.

The writer obviously disagrees with the piece but the question is, is it something I wrote or is it something he is projecting on the piece? Santino’s makes many assumptions about my political leanings and my writings in Malaysiakini but offers no evidence to substantiate his claims.

For someone who takes a shot at columnists’ inability to recognise the “truth”, I was hoping the writer would provide some enlightenment as to where most of us writers go wrong. The truth is, I get more honesty from the commenters of my regular pieces than this particular writer.

Santini ends his letter with a quote from my piece he finds confusing. What can I say? It seems perfectly clear to me and to many others who read the piece. Go figure.

Business-Politics Nexus: DAP reaffirms its stand against the Foochow Cousins in Perak


January 3, 2013

Business-Politics Nexus: DAP reaffirms its stand against the Foochow cousins in Perak

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

COMMENT: It’s been bruited about on the grapevine that the DAP has drawn a line against its elected legislators getting involved in business.

The issue came up when it was revealed in the Perak State Assembly last month that the party’s state chief, Ngeh Koo Ham, and his cousin, Nga Kar Ming, have landed interests in Kelantan.

Word has it that the duo would shortly announce a move that should see them divested of their holdings in Kelantan which had qualified them to be members of the landed gentry, a dubious distinction for politicos from a party of social democratic aspirations.

NONEThe business-politics nexus is the widely acknowledged cause of UMNO-BN’s decline as a political power. The corruption and nepotism that this nexus has engendered has left the once powerful coalition too enfeebled to implement the reforms deemed necessary to regain its popularity among voters.

Once this nexus is forged, it’s fiendishly difficult to eradicate. Unchecked, its tendrils penetrate to every corner of the polity and soon enough the conglomerate that holds power is in a freefall to disaster.

The DAP, poised with the rest of the Opposition Pakatan Rakyat to take federal power in the country at the coming polls, would be loath to see this canker in the ruling coalition replicated by some among the party’s Perak power brokers.

The question now arises whether the move by Ngeh and Nga in being involved in the business of plantation agriculture was due to a lapse of judgement or was the result of a mindset in which the acquisition of political power is prelude to the accumulation of wealth.

Fong Po Kuan troubled

For some years now, the DAP has been at a loss as to how to deal with the Foochow cousins who rule the roost in a state where the party has almost 200 branches and 17 state assembly representatives, figures that provide the contingent with formidable clout at both internal party elections and in state coalition politics.

Word of their overbearing nature started to spread from the time DAP’s MP for Batu Gajah, Fong Po Kuan, intimated that she was not willing to re-contest her seat at the 12th general election in 2008.

Though she was publicly discreet about the reasons for her reluctance, speculation arose that it was due to her dismay at the machinations of Ngeh and Nga, who combine like a tag team to wrestle away any threat from quarters they view as rivals to their grip on party affairs in Perak.

fong po kuan and chong chien jen walkout suspended from parliament 061108 03The feisty Fong (left)reconsidered her reluctance and chose to stand again but elected to remain distant from the state party affairs.

She retained her Batu Gajah seat in the 2008 general election and went on to become the DAP’s most regular attendee whenever Parliament is in session.

This is a feature of no mean worth given that at one time, when the DAP-backed Pakatan Rakyat held state government reins in Perak, the party had up to nine legislators serving in state executive council positions while being federal reps which compelled a juggling of responsibilities regarded as almost impossible to bring off.

Assiduity in the execution of a single role was Fong’s response to the schemes of the territorial barons in Perak. Because Fong chose not to publicly bleat about her discontent with Ngeh and Nga, observers could only speculate about the way the cousins operate.

When the DAP state assemblyperson for Jelapang crossed the aisle in February 2009, a desertion that brought the 11-month Pakatan government of Perak to an end, she muttered about the conduct of the cousins as having prompted her to leave.

However, the word of a quisling is seldom credible and so what blame there was to be apportioned for her desertion could not be fixed on the cousins.

One candidate one seat’ policy

But matters were different when a short while later the party’s MP for Ipoh Barat and national vice-chairperson M Kulasegaran verged on a decision to quit his posts when tensions from rivalry between state factions got to him.

dap convention shah alam 080112 nga kulasegaranIt took a late night trip to Ipoh by the party’s national leaders to persuade Kulasegaran (far right) to stay put.

The latter’s grouse: party branches with his supporters were being deregistered while new ones, stacked with the cousins’ proxies, were being opened.

The party’s principal Indian leader who have worked hard to build up Indian support for a Chinese-dominated party seeking to widen its support base could not help but cry foul, particularly when the cousins enticed Indian leaders Kulasegaran had groomed to ditch him.

Against this backdrop the call sounded from national chairperson Karpal Singh for a ‘one candidate one seat’ policy that he said the party should adopt to widen opportunities for DAP members to be elected to state and federal legislatures. The Perak cousins were both state assembly representatives and MPs.

Soon anti-DAP blogs began to circulate stories of the business interests of the cousins, one item being Nga wife’s interest in a tailoring concern that was said to have had a contract to suit Ipoh City councillors when Pakatan was in charge of the state government.

But nothing more damaging to DAP’s image as a party set against corruption and cronyism emerged than when news broke last month that Ngeh and Nga had proprietary interests in a huge estate, slated for palm oil cultivation, in Gua Musang, Kelantan.

Casual observers of parliamentary proceedings in the month of October recalled that both Ngeh and Nga held forth on the oil palm industry in Budget debates, without declaring that they had a pecuniary interest in the matter.

This gave retrospective justification to all the earlier murmurings against the cousins in Perak. The national leadership of the party knew they must act: they have chosen to give the thumbs down to any attempt by their elected representatives to mix politics with business.

In the next days, DAP’s Perak cousins will have to tell of how they have trimmed their business sails to accord with the party’s directive.

Happy New Year 2013


January 1, 2013

Happy New Year 2013: “A House divided against itself cannot stand.”      

Dr Kamsiah and I wish you all a great 2013. This is an Election Year in Malaysia and we think by April or May we will have elected a new government. After that Dr. Kamsiah and I hope that we can focus on moving our country forward, each of us doing our part in nation building.

Happy New Year3

Between now and polling day, we will be served with all kinds of stories, exposes, and disclosures. Temperatures will rise as each side in the political contest  tries to outdo the other with promises and goodies. It is in the nature of adversarial politics because politicians are interested in winning elections. Power is very seductive.

As citizens, we need to put things in perspective.  We must keep our cool, vote wisely, making sure each vote irrespective of our station in life counts, and ensure that there will always be unity, peace and stability in our country. To quote American President Abraham, “A house divided against itself cannot stand”. May God Bless you and your families.–Dr Kamsiah and Din Merican

Respecting the Dignity of Difference

Satisfied Ku Li stays in UMNO


March 28, 2012

Satisfied Ku Li stays in UMNO

by http://www.malaysiakini.com(03-27-12)

Despite the differences of views with UMNO leadership, UMNO veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah says he will not follow the steps of his colleague Kadir Sheikh Fadzir to quit the party.

tengku razaleigh ku li interview 190309 04In an exclusive interview with Chinese Oriental Daily News published today, the Gua Musang MP (right) maintained his loyalty to UMMO and expressed satisfaction with his current status in the party.

“I’m still free to do things and say things I want in UMNO. Although some of my statements will make some people in UMNO unhappy, that does not mean I should leave UMNO,” he was quoted as saying.

He likened the situation to the relationship of two brothers in a family who sometimes quarreled with each other but that does not mean they must disown each other.

The former Finance Minister is currently the President of Amanah Merdeka, a NGO founded by him together with other current and former BN leaders.

Last week Kadir Sheikh, one of Amanah Deputy Presidents and also a former UMNO minister, resigned from the party that he had joined for 56 years. This followed attacks by UMNO leaders and mainstream media over his allegations that UMNO leaders were involved in vote-buying.

On the role of Amanah, Razaleigh said the public perception that it will serve as a third force in the Malaysian political landscape was a misunderstanding because he has no intention to fight BN or UMNO through Amanah.

He said the NGO was initiated by Kadir Sheikh (right) and others, and he reluctantly accepted the Presidency after they aggressively lobbied him. Describing his presidency as a figure head, Razaleigh said he is ready to vacate the post at any time if there was a more suitable candidate. The group, however, is not as active as presumed by some quarters, he said.

“I attended the launching but after that we did not do much. The major reason is we are too busy.”

Although most of the members want Amanah to be registered as a political party and play a significant role in the next general election, Razaleigh held a contrary stand: “I’m one of the minority who opposed it because I”m already a UMNO member. I can’t be a member of two political parties.”

“Some people think I should quit UMNO but I have been active in UMNO for almost 50 years,” he continued, reiterating that he has no intention at all to leave the ruling party.

Dual-party membership disallowed

He clarified that he and his colleagues in UMNO did not quit the party in 1987, instead they had no choice but to form Semangat 46 because they were not allowed by the then Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to join the ‘new UMNO’ founded by Mahathir when the original UMNO was declared illegal by the court.

After the 1995 general election, Mahathir requested that they return to Umno, hence they dissolved Semangat 46, he said. Asked why Semangat 46 was dissolved, Razaleigh simply answered that it was because a person is not allowed to have dual-party membership. There was neither any promise by Mahathir nor any request by him when both factions reunited.

NONEOn the allegations that Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim (left) approached him and other BN parliamentarians to join Pakatan Rakyat to topple the federal government on Sept 16, 2008, Razaleigh denied it.

He said Anwar did engage him to form a new government but did not lobby him to join Pakatan.

“At that time I told him I will not follow him. I will continue to stay in UMNO and I wished him good luck. I also advised him not to be over confident because these people (BN MPs) will change their mind anytime and he may be disappointed. But Anwar replied that he will continue to push for it. Looking back now, I was right. The plan was indeed hard to be realised,” Razaleight revealed.

On Anwar’s ability, Razaleigh said he is an outstanding politician who can unite all the three opposition parties but his governing capacity has yet to be tested.

Contrary to the popular perception, Razaleigh commented that the Achilles’ heel of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s administration is the concept of 1Malaysia.“Many people will ask if you really believe in 1Malaysia, why there are still so many racial issues?”

Although Najib (left) is a hardworking politician, Razaleigh noted, one of his biggest challenges is to address the problems inherited from the previous administration, including discriminatory policies, corruption and substandard public delivery system.

“Take the political party as an example. Some people may ask, how can you promote 1Malaysia when the party you lead, that is UMNO, is still a racial party?”

Anwar’s Credibility Gap widening or a J-Spin?


March 13, 2011

Anwar goes on the defence

Insight

By Joceline Tan@http://www.thestar.com.my

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is at his lowest ebb since March 2008 and he is turning to the ceramah circuit to defend himself against multi-pronged attacks. 

ONE of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s oldest and most loyal friends ended his days as a widower on Thursday night.Tumpat MP Datuk Kamaruddin Jaffar, better known as Datuk KJ, remarried a year after his first wife died of cancer and the guests of honour were Anwar and Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.

But the honour of making the speech was given to PAS politician Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad of Terengganu. Dr Syed Azman was the matchmaker for Kamaruddin and his Malacca-born wife and he almost brought the house down when he teased the newly-weds: “Last week, we failed to capture the Merlimau seat but, never mind, Datuk Kamaruddin has successfully conquered Malacca.”

On attack mode: Anwar, seen here in Penang, has hit the ceramah circuit again. He is training his guns at his long-time nemesis Dr Mahathir, whose memoirs touch on Anwar’s sex life.

It was a relaxing affair for many of the Pakatan Rakyat politicians that evening, and particularly for Anwar who has been increasingly under siege.

The PKR de facto leader is at his lowest point since his post-2008 political comeback. For a couple of years after the March 8 “tsunami”, it seemed like Anwar could walk on water. But very little has gone right for him in recent months, be it his party affairs or the sodomy trial.

PKR people still insist he is Pakatan’s Prime Minister-in-waiting. But most PAS and DAP leaders have stopped talking about the road to Putrajaya. They are more concerned about whether they can hold on to their seats now it is clear they are unable to hold on to the Malay vote.

Anwar has just climbed back from the precipice in the sodomy trial. The trial had been inching towards revealing the identity of Lelaki Y (Male Y), the term investigators used for the mystery man whose DNA was allegedly found in Saiful.

On Tuesday, the courts ruled that several items with the DNA of Lelaki Y could not be tendered as evidence. It was a big win for Anwar’s legal team because the evidence would have tied him to Lelaki Y.

He must have felt great relief because his detractors had begun taunting him as Lelaki Y when he campaigned in Kerdau. He was greeted with banners that said, “Mr Y, selamat datang ke Kerdau” – and that was one of the more polite banners.

UMNO's Matahari

On top of that, he had to endure a “joint ceramah” with his female nemesis Ummi Hafilda Ali who was speaking just a stone’s throw away from him. People on his side of the ceramah could hear quite clearly what she was saying about him, and it was not pleasant stuff.

PKR secretary-general and Machang MP Saifuddin Nasution denied that Ummi rattled his boss that night.“Anwar has been through a lot. It takes more than that to upset him,” said Saifuddin.

But PKR politicians are rather wary of her given the crowds she pulled in Kerdau and Merlimau. Besides, who else apart from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has spoken so explicitly and daringly about Anwar?

Anwar’s detractors would like to think that his downward slide began after he failed to deliver on his September 16, 2008 claim.But the real slide started after PKR’s trouble-ridden elections last year and the defections from his party. It gave the impression that he could not control PKR and that his priorities were too wrapped up in his court case.

” A Doctor in the House” revives 1998 Sodomy Story

Timely Released to Inflict Maximum Damage to Anwar's Reputation

Some think that Anwar is in the midst of one of those perfect storms. Apart from the trial, the publication of Dr Mahathir’s memoirs has sort of switched things up. It could not have been worse timing for Anwar. Dr Mahathir has repeated his accusations about Anwar’s sexual exploits, this time in print.

At the book launch, a mischievous Dr Mahathir said he was “trembling” at the thought of being sued. Of course, he was telling Anwar to “bring it on, man, bring it on”. The people around Anwar are furious about the book.“I’m not buying the book. It’s a story we have heard before,” said Muaz Omar, an aide of Azmin’s.

Target Mahathir

At the PKR political bureau meeting two nights after the book launch, several party leaders felt that Anwar should not let Dr Mahathir get away with what he has written. “Anwar’s stand is that he had long ago decided to move on where Dr Mahathir was concerned. He said he’s not interested in challenging an old script and he doesn’t want to be stuck in another court case,” said Saifuddin.

Anwar prefers the court of public opinion rather than the court of law. He has been on a ceramah blitz ostensibly to promote the Pakatan manifesto, the Buku Jingga, but also to counter the renewed attacks against him.

Dr Mahathir has become a central target of his attacks the last few days. He does not rebut what Dr Mahathir is saying about his sexuality but he has hit out at the former premier’s cronies and his children’s businesses and wealth. He seems to be steering clear of Ummi, though.

A Clinton Snub

Anwar also suffered a setback when a hoped-for meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not materialise. Shortly before Clinton’s visit, a news portal reported that a meeting was being lined up. It was a rather strange report because the meeting was apparently never on the cards.

There has been a cooling on the part of the US administration towards Anwar’s cause and Clinton’s stance during her recent visit was in sharp contrast to that of Vice-President Al Gore at the height of Sodomy 1.

Moreover, Clinton’s visit follows improved ties between the United States and Malaysia. The Obama administration sees Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as a Muslim leader with whom they can sit down and have a dialogue.

In that sense, Anwar’s crusade against APCO may have more to do with APCO’s role in presenting Anwar’s sodomy case to US lawmakers than APCO’s so-called Jewish connections.

The lobby group has explained the trial in a way that Americans can relate to, that it is an alleged sexual harassment involving an employer and a subordinate and the trial is a result of a report lodged by a complainant, unlike the first trial where the Government was the main initiator.

But the most damaging strike has been the Wikileaks report quoting Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew as saying that Anwar knowingly walked into a trap. Singapore has played down the report but has not denied its contents.

Najib’s Moderate Islamic Brother: Turkey’s Recep Tayyib Erdogan

The success of Najib’s visit to Turkey was another blow to Anwar who counts Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a friend and supporter.

Erdogan had welcomed Najib in Ankara, saying, “this is my brother Najib and I am happy to have him here.”

Their scheduled 10-minute four-eyed meeting over-ran into 45 minutes and Erdogan insisted on a joint press conference. The Turkish Premier also eschewed protocol and insisted that Najib ride in the same car as him. It was a political coup of sorts for Najib.

All these events add up to a challenging time ahead for Anwar and his party.“I can’t blame Anwar if he feels he is all alone. He has been consumed by successive crises and there are now less people whom he can count on to defend him and do the attacking. To him, the trial is to stop his political ambitions and his goal of power, and it is taking a lot out of him,” said Merdeka Centre director Ibrahim Suffian.

Reporters covering his trial said he seems to be holding up well and is still able to see the lighter side of things. For instance, when a witness was asked to identify him, Anwar, who was sitting in the dock, playfully dodged as though trying to hide.

He is reportedly upset that PKR members have not been turning up in court to show him their support. Recently, party members received the following SMS from PKR Tanjung Karang chief Yahya Sahri: “Salam, sokongan DSAI di mahkamah amat merosot hampir tiada. Saya ingin mencadangkan agar kita atur kawan-kawan kita drp cabang turun beri sokongan moral, klu kita bergilir pun ok, satu cabang klu hantar 20 org pun dah ok. Jadual mahkamah akan saya sms.” [Greetings, support for DSAI in court has dwindled significantly, nearly none. I wish to suggest that we arrange for our friends from the (PKR) divisions and branches to give moral support  even in batches of 2o people in turn would be fine. I will sms court times.]

Yahya was urging PKR divisions to send members whether in rotation or groups of 20 to show moral support for Anwar because the number of supporters in court had dwindled to almost nil.

PKR de facto Leader in a “Distraction Mode”

Anwar is the ultimate political animal. A lesser person would have cracked under the pressure. He told Saifuddin that when he goes on the ground and sees a big crowd, he feels motivated. The crowds at his ceramah have indeed been growing and a lot of it has to do with his trial approaching a critical stage and the sensational evidence coming out.

Anwar, said academic Prof James Chin, is in “distraction mode”.“He cannot devote his full time to Pakatan or PKR. The trial is taking away his attention and focus. But everything hinges on the next general election. If Najib does not get his two-thirds majority, he is in trouble. If Pakatan does badly then they are in trouble,” said Chin of Monash University Sunway Campus.

The attacks by Dr Mahathir, said Chin, has impact among rural Malays but less so among the urban crowd.

Anwar: A liability for Pakatan?

Anwar’s supporters also bristle at the suggestion that he has become a liability for Pakatan. But privately, PAS and DAP leaders are frustrated that Anwar has overwhelmed their political agenda.

Anwar, said blogger Syed Azizi Syed Aziz who is better known as Kickdafella, has image problems in the rural Malays areas and that becomes a problem for PAS. Outwardly, DAP and PAS still stand by him but, privately, they are riddled with doubts about the trial and his ability to hold things together.

Moreover, Generation Y, the youth cohort born between the mid 1970s and 2000, is not rallying around Anwar the way Generation X took to the streets to support him during his first trial. Generation Y is neither loyal to Anwar’s politics nor affiliated with the ruling coalition. They are as critical of Pakatan politicians as they are of those in Barisan.

As such, Pakatan’s claim that young voters are with them is not exactly true. The young voters are still out there and their vote will go to the party that can offer them a better future – and that means education, jobs, homes and a lifestyle of their choice.

Anwar is in a difficult political situation and he will be fighting many fronts in the months ahead.

Mahathir’s Memoirs isn’t the last word on His Era


March 11, 2011

Mahathir’s Memoirs isn’t the Last Word on His Era(1981-2003)

by Terence Netto

The self-description of a life in an autobiography or its stepchild, memoirs, is an uneasy task to anyone who has lived in the maw of febrile political events.

Practitioners find it difficult to tread the line between their involvement and the detachment that is necessary if their narratives are to be considered as contributions to the historical record.

Inability to steer by that fine thread usually results in the genre falling between two stools: the self-serving tract or the evasive testimonial.

But what about the mendacious account, the one that’s deceitful about the facts and gives such a patently one-sided version that the stones cry out for reproof?

Those versions can only be gainsaid by the accounts of other participants in the same dramas, personae not necessarily more capable of the detachment that helps build up the historical record, but whose accounts could serve the purpose of dispatching drivel to where it ought: the trash bin.

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad‘s much-awaited memoirs, ‘A Doctor in the House’, reportedly went through 17 drafts before it was launched earlier this week, something like seven years and four months after his retirement.

The wait appeared to take as long as his premiership, which was 22 years and three-and-a-half months – too long a span, as even Mahathir admits, but the fault for that, typically, was not his.

The blame lay in Anwar Ibrahim‘s alleged sexual misdeeds which caused a storm whose swells Mahathir had to navigate safely before actually handing over to another successor. As ever, with Mahathir, the fault is with the others.

A season of memoir-publication

Whether that was always true can somewhat be deduced from the accounts of Mahathir’s sometime coadjutors, former deputy prime minister Musa Hitam and former finance minister Daim Zainuddin.

Both were about to come out with their memoirs but held back to allow their former boss to bat first in Malaysia’s hitherto unprecedented season of memoir-publication.  Musa and Daim are expected to rewrite parts of their books in response to Mahathir’s patently self-serving account of affrays in which Musa and Daim were part.

Daim’s account would be the more eagerly awaited as Mahathir has implied he had to be jettisoned because of the miasma of corruption that clung to the former economic czar. Mahathir also says in his memoirs that Daim was covertly against the capital controls he introduced in 1998 in the face of the currency and stock market crisis that laid siege to East Asian economies.

Certainly, Daim would have something to say about all this. It has been bruited about on the grapevine that he felt he did a lot for Mahathir and that the latter was ungrateful for what Daim did to rescue the economy twice, in the recession of 1985-87 and the crisis of 1997-98.

In retrospect, a career such as Daim’s – covertly powerful, beneficent and sinister in equal parts – could only have been possible under an authoritarian leader like Mahathir. Their alliance was a potent one of convenience. Both were men of high and scheming intelligence. Both had their share of arrogance, greed and ambition; both wore it with one another the way two temporarily allied conspirators could, probably sublimating the inherent tensions in a stream of acerbic commentary on the menagerie of knaves and inferiors around them.

Musa to return salvo?

With Musa, Mahathir’s relation would have been different. He was a genuine democrat where Mahathir was an authoritarian to the manner born.

Mahathir claims he told home minister Musa that he did not want the ISA to be used during his term of office.Well, Mahathir has been on record as saying many things, such as that Musa, Ghafar Baba and Anwar would succeed him when he left the office of PM.

In the event, only his fourth deputy, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, succeeded to the office – and Mahathir promptly helped yank him off the stage; so much for the assurances of Mahathir.

Musa used to say that after his exit from active politics, whenever he met Mahathir on a social basis, his former boss would banter with him, reminding him, only half in jest, of how Musa had stabbed him in the back.

From Musa’s forthcoming memoirs, presumably, we can get to know what he felt about Mahathir’s barb and its justification or lack thereof. His account, like Daim’s, is bound to be grist for the chattering classes.

‘May you live in interesting times’ goes the Chinese saying that has particular resonance for Malaysian politics.

In fact, there’s doubt about its Chinese provenance, like the doubt Mahathir conjures about his ancestry, because the saying appears naturally crafted for the byzantine ways of Malaysian politics.

The upcoming memoirs of Daim and Musa should help us around the twists and turns. But there’s no certainty that Mahathir would not, subsequently, add another round of convolution to the whole morass.

Mahathir on Mahathir


March 8, 2011

In posting this article, I must extend my apologies to Frank, Mongkut Bean, Tok Cik, Tean Rean, Danildaud and  all my good friends who feel that I have given Tun Mahathir too much exposure on this blog. Also to my most severe in-house critic, Dr. Kamsiah. I have always attempted to be fair to and yet critical of my hometown hero. This is hard  for  me  to do, although he destroyed the judiciary and other institutions of governance in order to  execute his Vision and plans for Malaysia. He did what he had to do, I would rationalise.

That said, my comments in Tom Plate‘s book, Conversations with Mahathir, stand because they were written after some agonising reflections on my part of the man I knew growing up in Alor Setar,Kedah Darul Aman in the 1950s .I also served him for  a few years when he was Chairman, Kumpulan FIMA Berhad before I joined Sime Darby in 1978. He was different then, for he was a very good boss and an excellent motivator.–Din Merican

Mahathir on Mahathir: A Doctor in the House

by M Krishnamoorthy (March7, 2011) @http://www.malaysiakini.com

Dr Mahathir Mohamad dedicated 20 pages of his memoirs into detailing how he came to know about Anwar Ibrahim‘s alleged sexual liaisons with men and women, leading to the latter’s sacking in 1998.

In the chapter ‘Anwar’s Challenge’, Mahathir states: “Four years after IGP Tun Hanif first told me about allegations linking Anwar to homosexual activities, someone sent me the book ’50 Dalil Kenapa Anwar Ibrahim Tidak Boleh Jadi Perdana Menteri‘ (’50 Reasons Why Anwar Ibrahim Cannot Become Prime Minister’).

“The book was clearly a sensationalist attempt to make money so I did not read it, but the rumours about Anwar refused to go away.”

He then cites, “Then in 1997, I received a letter from a woman named Ummi Hafilda Ali. Its contents disturbed me as there were more specific allegations of sodomy against Anwar.”

Meanwhile, Mahathir says: “The police had continued their observations of the deputy minister’s activities, as was their usual practice. Even if I had asked them to stop, I doubt they would have. This time they had evidence, including pictures and confessions of people involved.

Relating events that led to firing of Anwar, Mahathir narrates how he interviewed four girls who told him about how they were persuaded to see a very influential person by an Indian man they knew by the name of Nalla.

“He had taken each girl separately to a house in Kenny Hills. There they met a person they recognised as the deputy prime minister. They were asked to undress with the purpose of having sex.

“Two of them said they refused but the other two consented. They were willing to talk to the police and to me but were adamant that they should not appear in court to give evidence.”

Mahathir said he then called the UMNO menteris besar, chief ministers and state heads to Sri Perdana for a meeting and asked the police to make the witnesses he had interviewed available.

“I then briefed party leaders about what I had learnt about Anwar and showed them pictures of the witnesses.”

Tell-all book

This was among the many chapters in the 800 page memoirs, which also details his earliest memories of childhood; through Malaya’s struggle through the sunset of British colonialism, World War II, and Independence; and to his life as a doctor.

In a tell-all book, Mahathir states categorically that he is a Malay.  “Some claim that my father was Malayalee and was fluent in both Tamil and Malayalam. Some have even written that he was a Hindu who converted to Islam to marry my mother. Others say they have seen documents clearly stating my ethnicity. I admit that some Indian, or more accurately South Asian blood flows in my veins, but from which part of the Indian subcontinent my ancestors came I do not know,” he says in the beginning of Chapter three of the 62 chapter memoirs, which is 843 pages long.

On Singapore’s leader Lee Kuan Yew (left) he says: “I had clashed with Lee many times when we were MPs in the 1964 and 1965 parliamentary sessions. I did not like his endless preaching of about what Malaysia should do or should be like.

“Bitter over the painful separation, he called Malays ‘the jungle Arabs’, likening them to the desert Arabs of who he seemed to have a low opinion. I doubt he would disparage the Arabs today as Singapore is now far more active than Malaysia in wooing investors from the Middle East, and being the model as well as their advisers for development.”

On the bright side, he says, “Despite our past clashes, I was determined to have friendly relations with Singapore when I became Prime Minister.”

Operations Lalang

In addition to a lot of personal, if controversial anecdotes, Mahathir narrates his constant struggles as a politician to improve the lot of his fellow citizens; his single-minded pursuit of his country’s goals; his greatest fears; and his most cherished hopes.

In a 20-page chapter on Operasi Lalang, he says: ” I told Musa Hitam, my then deputy prime minister and minister of Home Affairs, to tell the IGP very early in my premiership that I did not intend to use the ISA.

“How then could I have allowed Ops Lalang, biggest of such police operation in Malaysian history, to happen just six years later?”

In 1987, with the Chinese language issue, university rallies, UMNO’s accusation of mass conversions of Malays into Christians and a Malay soldier running amok and firing M-16 in Jalan Chow Kit, he says: “The police felt that a repeat of the May 13 riots of 1969 was more than likely. The IGP advised me that pre-emptive arrests under the ISA had to be made quickly if public order was to be maintained.

“Agreeing to follow the IGP’s recommendations meant having to overcome my own conscience.”

On former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin (right), he says: “He was repeatedly accused of lining his pockets and taking kickbacks from contracts. No clear evidence was ever produced, but once again the whispering grew louder and more spiteful. People came to see me to complain about him, and when I demanded evidence, they could not produce.”

Daim, as usual, ignored all the talk about him. “He must have learnt the rumours but he chose not to reply. When the talk got to be too much and I could not bear it any more, I arranged for him to resign.

“In the end what worried me were not only the rumours of cronyism but also tales of his supposed disloyalty. He was supportive during the financial crisis, at least in front of me.”

Mahathir said he was later informed by Abdul Ghani Othman that Daim had called a number of menteris besar, telling them not to support his idea of currency controls.”Since nobody else came with similar complaints I just discounted the story. But when it had all become too much, I didn’t accuse him of anything but sent word through a mutual friend that I wanted him to resign.”

On succeeding as prime minister from Hussein Onn, he says: “As deputy prime minister, I was a man chosen by a leader who did not have strong support in the party. I was obviously not going to have an easy time and Hussein could not provide much protection for me.

“Hussein had depended on Razak for support when he was chosen as deputy prime minister. When Razak died, Hussein had no great grassroots base to speak of. “The arrests and detention of the so-called communists’ sympathisers high in the party seemed to suggest that his office was influenced by communists.”

The book will be launched tomorrow at 3pm in the East Atrium Concourse (in front of MPH Bookstores), Mid Valley Megamall.It will retail at RM100 and is published by MPH Group Publishing.

March 8, 2011

The Malaysian Insider says: Mahathir’s Memoirs is a great work of fiction

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s autobiography “A Doctor in the House” should be read by all Malaysians because it is an enjoyable book. It is after all a great work of fiction.

Reading the book, one will have to come to only one conclusion — he was not guilty of any wrongdoing in his time as Malaysia’s longest serving prime minister.Take Ops Lalang for example.

Dr Mahathir says that he disliked the Internal Security Act (ISA) because he was once a potential detainee as well, or so he claims.In his autobiography, Dr Mahathir puts forward the argument that he never wanted anyone arrested during one of his administration’s biggest crisis in 1987.

But he was convinced by the police that some arrests would have to be made to prevent another May 13. Dr Mahathir writes that he thought only a few people would be detained, but was flabbergasted by the final number, which was 554.We are sure many Malaysians were also flabbergasted.

He also claimed he was not told that newspapers such as The Star, Sin Chew Daily and Watan would be banned. That’s a good one Doc.

As for the sacking of Tun Salleh Abas as Lord President in 1988, Dr Mahathir makes a fantastic revelation.He claims that Salleh was actually removed because the latter had complained about the noise coming from the renovation works of the King’s private home.

Dr Mahathir says he does not have a copy of the letter and acknowledges the fact that the Attorney-General did not use it during Salleh’s tribunal hearing. He wrote that it would be the A-G who would be in the best position to verify his claim.

That’s convenient. These are just two examples of Dr Mahathir’s amazing stories.He has been an amazing story-teller after all for most of his life. And his book is certainly ‘unputdownable.’ So go ahead. Buy the book. It is a must-read.


Dr Dzul on Kerdau and Merlimau


March 7, 2011

After Kerdau and Merlimau–Reform or Face a National Revolt!

by Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad  (March 6, 2011)

I’m fully conscious of how the BN’s mainstream media (MSM) would demonise and ostracise me for what I’m about to say. I’m nonetheless going to say it in simple and unequivocal term. Simply put, if I were to call the shot in N28 Kerdau by-election, I would want my party to boycott the election. Period.

The BN’s MSM would then have a field day in making PAS their punching bag and would go to town for weeks on end on this huge political meal. They would be apparently vindicated for all their claims that the opposition is bankrupt of ideas and issues to fight them on any further political contestation.

On the back of the looming 13th General Election (GE) coming ever closer, the decision to boycott would arguably be a political suicide for PAS and the Pakatan. Political analysts might argue that the opposition has finally succumbed to the psychological war of the BN’s ‘propagandist firepower’. It doesn’t take a pundit to tell you that.

That’s the usual ‘in-the-box-kind-of-thinking’ that invariably ends up in political parties quite unwilling to brace drastic unconventional ideas and maneuvers. That’s the thinking that underpins the predictable decision of most political parties of whatever ideological persuasions in the face of challenging situation.

What’s my rationale for proposing this drastic action? Am I already conceding defeat on the 11th hours? Am I now perceived as mitigating the adverse impact of another PAS’ defeat? Say what you like.

I’ve been part of the strategic teams of many a by-election especially after the 12th GE. Some we have won and others we lost. The sweetest victory was of course Kuala Terengganu and the more bitter defeat was Galas. On both occasions power changed hands.

Quite contrary to the idea of running from defeat, I have a strange feeling that Kerdau is fast making me upbeat especially towards its finishing line. I’m not commenting on Merlimau as I’m not aware of the realities on ‘ground-zero’ in that BN’s state of Melaka.

Let me say it again. I’m not looking for an upset in Kerdau but is seriously hoping for a reduction of the majority the BN’s candidate secured in the last GE.

I’m not being wishful but given our campaign ‘blitz’ which put the Pahang’s MB defenceless to the finishing line, this writer is hardly surprised if the voters so decide to protest against UMNO-BN’s decades of malaise and negligence.

No one in his right frame of mind would miss noticing that Kerdau is a ‘cowboy’ town. After 53 years Kerdau has never got on to be in the radar of development. It’s the PM’s home state mind you. So simply said again, I’m not running from defeat.

However, this piece is at best purely academic as far as a boycott is concerned, as polling is well underway for both Merlimau and Kerdau, before this writer could publish or upload this piece.

But I felt the compelling need to say and share it with the entire nation, before the results are announced this evening. I’m dead serious. If anything this piece and the likes of this writing, if widely enough read and disseminated, could very well be the genesis of a pending ‘national revolt’, not quite like the middle-eastern turmoil now on world stage that Najib dreaded.

But strangely quite alike though, as it will also represent the utter disdain and hatred of the rakyat or the citizens, for what is here now dubbed in “Political Science” as an ‘Electoral Authoritarianism’ (EA). Malaysia is now listed as one by the author of ‘The Logics of Electoral Authoritarianism”, Professor Andres Schedler (2006).

Simply defined, EA is how government abuses power as to distort and contain a true electoral competition and denies equal access to the media of competing parties and subverts a free and fair election.

In the eyes of an enlarging enlightened sections of the Malaysian electorates and citizenry, Malaysia is indeed guilty of perpetuating ‘electoral authoritarianism’ with impunity. For that, Najib and his cohorts please take note!

If PM Najib wants to put the “Ben-Ali-Mubaarak-Gaddafi-type Revolt” at bay in our beloved land of Malaysia, act urgently to redress and reform the many excesses and sins on ‘electoral authoritarianism’ that has continued unabated for far too long in this country!

My arguments, with respect to a boycott call on Kerdau by-election and now urging immediate reform, are essentially premised on, but not limited to the following basis and evidences.

  1. Najib now infamous saying, “We don’t buy votes, but if you support us we can increase your allocation tomorrow or later. But show support for Barisan Nasional first”. Now that could only equal to his atrocious words of “You help me, I help you” in Sibu i.e his promise of delivering RM5 million on Monday if Robert Lau wins on Sunday now is iconised as the ultimate of ‘vote-buying’ in the lexicology of our local EA. If that is not vote-buying, what is?
  2. Najib began as early as on the second day of the campaign period to blitz Kerdau with ‘goodies’ and handouts as follows: RM400,000 for a hall in Kampong Seri Kerdau, RM150,000 for a Balai Bomba, RM100,000 for Hindu Temple and RM9.25millions on a water treatment plant in Batu Sawar. That’s a hefty RM10.4million, well exceeding the constituency budget allocation. Where are funds coming from? UMNO’s coffers or cronies’ or tax-payers’?
  3. Abuse of usage of public premises for party political campaign listed below:
    1. Public Field in Teluk Sentang,
    2. Mosques and Schools in Batu Sawar,
    3. Community Hall in Jengka 23 Felda,
    4. Broadband Centre for Jengka 25
    5. Community Hall in Kuala Tekal
    6. Kerdau’s Felda’s office.
  4. Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Ahmad Maslan’s announcement that the federal government will settle the CESS payment of RM13,000 for each settler in Jengka 22 next Monday is a surely a covert inducement for settlers to vote for BN come polling day for the Kerdau by-election on Sunday. (Cess payments are monies deducted from the sale of rubber for the purpose of replanting rubber plantations with oil palm. However, when settlers made the decision to switch from rubber to oil palm in 2004, cess payments worth RM12,000 that each settler had accumulated over the course of more than 20 years were not paid by Felda. Felda had paid the settlers RM5,000 each but the Land Development Authority still owes the settlers RM13,000 each, including interest). The bone of contention is why only pay those in the Jengka 22 in the N28 Kerdau constituency, while all Felda settlers Pahang have long been waiting for what are rightly theirs!
  5. The vicious and baseless attack on Dato’ Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, the Director for PAS’ Strategic Centre for the N28 Kerdau by-election by the MSM. The footage was widely covered and repeated by the BN’s TV channels including the ‘independent’  TV3.  This should be the last straw of it all. Seen and peceived by many as failing to respond to all the allegations of a failing Pahang state, as concertedly attacked by PAS’ election machinery, as depicted by Auditor General’s report, UMNO took the final hours of campaign to level a smear campaign on him, accusing him of abusing and capitalizing on a Felda settler’s financial hardship to his advantage. All these heinous hate campaign were fortunately clarified by those involved but wasn’t at all featured in the BN’s MSM. Abuse of MSM and denial of opposition’s right to MSM has become more rampant of late.

Based on a snap-shot of the abuses and excesses of a regime that practices “Electoral Authoritarianism”, I for one would not have hesitated to give the Election Commission and now Najib an ultimatum –Respond or face a National Revolt!

For the information of all well-wishers of democracy and in all fairness to us in PAS/Pakatan, we had submitted on 2 occasions, memorandum to the EC, MACC and the PDRM in protest of all these abuses and subversion of democracy.

It does not take a lawyer to be telling you that Najib and his cohorts are abusing the provision of the Election Offences Act of 1954 aimed at curbing abuses and corrupt practices of contending parties in an electoral process.

It is the conviction of this writer that Malaysia may not well see the equivalent of the Middle Eastern upheaval soonest. But if this regime persists and perpetuates “Electoral Authoritarianism” with little or no regards for the demands of electoral reform by both civil society and opposition political parties, Najib is indeed courting the like of another and bigger peaceful assembly of 500,000 protestors @well-wishers of democracy prior the 13th GE.

Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Member, PAS Central Working Committee and Malaysia MP for Kuala Selangor.