GE-13: BN Victory with a Smaller Majority?


February 10, 2013

GE-13: BN Victory with a Smaller Majority?

by Neil Khor  (02-09-13)@http://www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT: In the past couple of weeks, Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders have been consistently warning Malaysians that if we go to the polls wanting “change for the sake of change”, we may end up with a Pakatan Rakyat government. Development would grind to a halt and our lifestyle will never be the same again.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad (right) even reassured Malaysians that even if Tun Dr MahathirPakatan were to win, he will not “run away”. He felt certain that Pakatan would systematically go after those friendly to the BN and this will be bad for peace and development.

Dr Mahathir also said that it is up to UMNO to decide the fate of PM Najib Abdul Razak if the latter does not do as well as Abdullah Ahmad Badawi after the 2008 general election.

In all approval ratings, Najib continues to do much better than UMNO and the BN. It is quite clear that the BN wants voters to think very hard or at least approach the ballot box with some level of ambivalence. We may then vote more cautiously.

Najib frowningIn the meantime, all BN service centres have come to life and the government is going into over-drive handing out BR1M, aid to school students and even vouchers for smart phones.

Those of us who are members of PERKESO and are above 40 years old, have received vouchers for free medical check-ups. Perhaps, if we are very lucky, the government will cancel income tax for 2013!

Indian Community given special attention

Special attention has been given to the Indians. Since 2008, the Federal government has spruced up “Little India” in Brickfields, provided aid to Tamil schools, did away with Interlok as a national text-book owing to passages deemed offensive to the Indian community, increased the intake of Indians into the civil service and now looking seriously into the applications for citizenship for stateless Indians.

Selangor has just cancelled a development project near Batu Caves as the project was deemed to be unsuitable so near a sacred Hindu temple.  But perhaps what takes the cake is the legalisation of Hindraf with all parties falling over themselves to create a strategic alliance with the Hindu rights group.  By recognising Hindraf, the government indirectly acknowledges the legitimacy of the movement’s grievances.

The “Allah” Issue

For Muslims, the ‘Allah’ issue is the centrepiece of a very clever public relations exercise. Whilst Dr Mahathir said that UMNO does not share all the views of PERKASA, the Pakatan said that UMNO’s right wing has out-sourced its strident Malay rights agenda to PERKASA.

Whatever the truth is the effect has been brilliant. Christians are suddenly cast as challenging Muslims on their insistence that they be allowed to use the word ‘Allah’ when referring to God. Muslims now have a choice – side with BN, the religious establishment and the rulers to guarantee the status-quo or vote Pakatan and take a risk.

The Sabah RCI, which continues its slow grinding process, will yield all the necessary surprises distracting Malaysians from the unfolding BN election machinery. It will, in the process, taint both Dr Mahathir and Anwar Ibrahim.

Let history do its work

But Dr Mahathir is not leading the Opposition coalition whilst Anwar is and all that BN needs to do is to let history do its work.

DSAIAnwar’s (left) complicity, his history with the BN and his close relationship with Dr Mahathir will be his undoing. Mr Teflon, no sex crimes can stick to the former Deputy Prime Minister, but what about his close relationship with Dr Mahathir?

In the meantime and as expected Sabah’s fractious political opposition is disintegrating.

Sabahans are right on one thing, so long as Peninsular-based political parties do not get the boot, Sabah will never be united.

So, there is really very little hope as both sides of the political divide will never leave Sabah alone. Yes, the ground may be shifting but it will take a miracle for one to one fights to take place. In short, BN has the advantage here and will probably retain the state.

So, if all the stars are aligned, why are BN leaders all warning Malaysians that if we voted based upon sentiment, we will live to regret it.

No matter how bad things are, we have a good life the logic goes. No matter how unfair the government is, the MCA is telling the Chinese that they have their Chinese schools, they can make money and they can eat pork. Do not take these things for granted.

If PAS is in the ruling government, no matter what the Pakatan says, the general tenor of Malaysia will be more conservative. Yes, there are some bits of the government that are corrupt but which government on earth is perfect. Even Singapore, on the happiness index, life is not as good as in Malaysia. We have to tolerate a little bit of corruption for the “freedom” we enjoy.

azlanFor those who are still not convinced, the BN is bringing Psy to Penang, a direct challenge to the DAP’s Ubah Gangnam-style.

Why change when we have never had it so good. In fact, the government will continue to give out BR1M, continue subsidies indefinitely and yes, I repeat again, give us a big ang pow by cancelling income tax for 2013. Heck, why not cancel income tax permanently if it wins two thirds majority!!

So, can the BN really lose? It seems that from the antics of BN leaders, there is a possibility that the ruling government will not perform as well as Najib expects and so far the campaign reeks of desperation.

We should prepare for the worst. A BN win with a smaller majority and with a few more state governments going to the Opposition. It will most likely be a heavily UMNO-dominated government with small coalition partners, the biggest casualties being the MCA, MIC and Gerakan. It will be a ruling coalition that might find it impossible to govern effectively. It will most likely be one more GE before BN is defeated.

In the weeks ahead, expect the situation to be tense as politicians go head-on in Malaysia’s hottest and most contested elections in history.

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.

Respect the Rukunegara


January 21, 2013

A Message to Perkasa’s Ibrahim Ali and Others like him: Respect the Rukunegara

by Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi*@http://www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT: I wish to comment on the irresponsible statement of Ibrahim Ali Dr Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi(purposely NOT using any titles) on the burning of Malay language Bibles with the name Allah. I think such statements, if left unchecked by the Malaysian public, elected representatives and especially the Prime Minister himself, would create a culture of extreme violence and victimize many innocent Malaysians.

I urge peace loving and sensible Malaysian of all religious faiths to come together and denounce such ‘grandstanding statements’ that clearly violate our ‘sacred’ Rukunegara tenet of ‘Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan’.

Our forefathers have worked hard to build this nation of diverse communities, race and Ibrahim Alireligions and derive the principle of ‘Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan’. I am convinced, as a Malaysian, as an academic and as a Muslim, that the May 13 tragedy that saw many innocent lives lost was not due to the ignorance of ordinary Malaysians but by politicians trying to be popular by using such fiery instructions in order to incite racial hatred.

I have read the book ‘A Singapore Story’ and some other critical writings that indicate that the culprits of our racial mistrusts and clashes were in no small part due to self-serving politicians and a media which has no sense of honour whether in the Islamic spirit or in any religious spirit.

Have we Malaysians, and especially Malays, forgotten our own principle in the Rukunegara, crafted in our own Melayu Language. Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan. As good  am I with English I can’t translate properly the word ‘kesusilaan’. The word, and I am not a scholar in Lingusitics, connotes to me such softness, tact and, politeness, concern and humility. Is there a better word than this to reflect such a great culture of the Malays?

Ridhuan Tee AbdullahI dare say that the Prophet Muhammad, if Allah had not intended for him to be born in Arabia, would have been a Malay. Why? Because the Prophet was the softest and most humble, polite and considerate of men.

I have read through over 20,000 hadiths from the compilations of Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Daud, Tirmidhi and Ibn Madjah along with the Muwatta and the Sirah Ibn Ishaq to conjure up a man which a hadith says that the Prophet was so ‘shy’ and gentle that even a small slave girl can lead him.

This characteristic of gentleness is totally unheard off in the boisterous, rowdy and all man’s world of the Arabs. When the Prophet Muhammad stood on the fields of Ta’if with a bloodied and scarred body after being stoned by children and adults of the settlement, he still forbade the Angel Jibrail from taking any retribution and destroy the community. Why? For ‘I am sent as a Mercy to mankind’ said the Prophet.

When Aishah asked him ‘What was your greatest fear, O Rasulullah?’ He replied that he feared of giving in to his feeling of vengeance and destroying the community with a single command. The Prophet did not fear death or bodily harm. He feared giving in to his ego and vengeful feeling that all humanity possess.

Who are we Malays then?

I, therefore ask, who are we Malays then? Are we better than the Prophet? Look at ourHarussani examples. The mufti (right) and other higher authorities have INSTRUCTED, ORDERED and DECREED that non-Muslims MUST NOT use the word Allah. The PAS Syura Council that has all the so-called great Islamic scholars went round and round their wordings until settling on almost the same tone of instruction, order and decree.

Now we have the person of Ibrahim Ali calling on the burning of the Bible or the Injil. Unless I am mistaken, Allah called on all Muslims to honour the Books of Allah in the past and its PEOPLES. Yes… yes…we can argue about what book and which Bible that have been ‘tampered’ with and all that stuff but I have read the Bible in English and I, for one, found many enlightening things that Nabi Isa says that has helped me get closer to Allah The Most High.

I think I am honouring what the Qur’an says in Surah Al-Baqara to believe in the Books. I also read other books of our great religions that have given the first idea of humaneness to human civilisation.

41. And believe in what I have sent down (this Qur’an), confirming that which is with you, [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)], and be not the first to disbelieve therein, and buy not with My Verses [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] a small price (i.e. getting a small gain by selling My Verses), and fear Me and Me Alone. (Tafsir At-Tabari, Vol. I, Page 253).

The whole Allah issue to me was handled as badly as it can be handled. Why? It is simply anNik-Aziz-Nik-Mat instrument of political influence. If the so called scholars and politicians of Islam were sincerely concerned about such confusion on the Malay usage of the word Allah, there should have been a courteous call for discussion with our brothers and sisters of the Christian faith. Not instruct, order and decree first… and… then call for discussion.

What discussion? It seems that the decision has already been chiselled into stone. Where in heavens name is the Rukunegara? Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan?  Ibrahim Ali has called for the burning of the Bible. What next? Let us Malays go burn a church at 4 pm next week? Oh… while we’re at it why don’t we burn a few Christians… if we have time!

What talk is this? What country is this? Have we forgotten the decency to discuss cordially. “This is an Islamic Country and I am a Malay and so you better do as I say!” Is that the line we are taking now as Malays? Perhaps that is a Malay cultural trait… I do not know. But I DO KNOW it is NOT what the Prophet would say or do. It is NOT within the Islamic Spirit as shown by the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him).

I can quote pages and pages of hadith showing the generosity and magnanimity of Muhammad Rasulullah. I can’t seem to find any of the same characteristics in Malay politicians in Malaysia.

Dr MMy wife and I have raised five children and now we have a grandson. I am sure all Christian parents and Muslim parents are concerned about where this country is going and would it be safe to be a place to stay. Just because I am a Malay, with a million-strong mostly Malay civil service, and an equal number of police and military personnel of my race does not give me the right to frighten my brothers and sisters of the Christian faith… or any other faith for that matter.

So, before such volatile statement turn into regrettable actions, I call upon the last strand of decency from the politicians of the ruling party, and especially the Prime Minister, to denounce Ibrahim Ali and his war-mongering words. Or else, we would have to change our Rukunegara from ‘Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan’ to ‘Kekasaran dan Kegila-gilaan’.


*Dr.Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi is Professor at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s School of Architecture. A prolific writer, he has authored over 30 books, including his latest, ‘Why Listen to the Vice-Chancellor?

What change? A reply to Dr M ― Pak Sako


January 4, 2013

What change? A reply to Dr M ― Pak Sako

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

Dr MFormer Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad published a piece called “Change” yesterday in his blog. In it he asked why change governments.He then criticised the socialist ideology. He strangely claimed that “Malaysia has no ideology”.

That is completely untrue.

When Dr Mahathir came into power in 1981, Malaysia was introduced to the neoliberal ideology.This is an ideology that is biased in favour of corporations and capitalists.It is the opposite of socialism, which aspires to put people first.

The neoliberal ideology was aggressively promoted around the world in the early 1980s by influential global networks of business interests and their supporters. Their mantra?Sell off public assets. Remove regulations, so big businesses can run free. Control workers’ wage demands. Cut public expenditure.

Dr Mahathir joined the bandwagon. This is well-documented in books and papers.His economic advisors were businessman and enigmatic lawyer Daim Zainuddin and the well-known neoliberal strategist, Kenichi Ohmae.

It was Ohmae’s rejected mega-project to create a “Multimedia Supercity” in Tokyo that got malaysia-modernity-multimedia-super-corridor-tim-bunnell-hardcover-cover-artrecycled in Malaysia as the “Multimedia Super Corridor”. Read Dr Tim Bunnell’s book, “Malaysia, Modernity and the Multimedia Super Corridor” (2004) (right).

Ohmae’s ideological influence was “extremely significant”. And what other ideology is that if not neoliberalism? After becoming Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir quickly announced a privatisation policy in 1983 — in line with the standard neoliberal programme.

Publicly-held assets were sold off to private business interests, entrepreneurs and corporate “captains” to supposedly make the economy more ‘efficient’.  But efficient for whom?

The “massive privatisation strategy” carried out during Dr Mahathir’s tenure is said to be linked to “increased competition for resources within the ruling Malay party [Umno]”; it redistributed resources “in favour of emerging factions centred on key political leaders”.

That is what political economist Jeff Tan found out and wrote in his book, “Privatization in Malaysia: Regulation, Rent-Seeking and Policy Failure” (2008).Indeed, many privatisations are improperly justified handouts for the capitalist elite from the public coffers.

Selling off the public’s holdings remains a favoured economic policy of the Malaysian government until today. Witness the recent sale of Penang’s port and other public-owned assets to well-connected tycoons.

The neoliberal ideology calls for weaker worker unions so that big businesses can have theKS Jomo “economic freedom” to exploit workers to maximise profits.Again, the Malaysian government’s development agenda subordinated labour in favour of private business interests in the 1980s under Mahathir’s watch, according to economist KS Jomo (right) and Patricia Todd in their book “Trade Unions and the state in Peninsular Malaysia” (1994).

Labour organisations in Malaysia are weak relative to business power. They have no bite to negotiate for better working hours, conditions and pay.The neoliberalism ideology wants ‘free markets’ in labour, so that the ‘price’ of an employee (his wage) can be competed down if necessary. Fixing minimum wages is bad.

Dr Mahathir forcefully argued against minimum wages in Malaysia, claiming it might bankrupt Malaysia, without providing sufficient evidence (“Dr M: Minimum wage may bankrupt Malaysia”, The Malaysian Insider, March 2, 2012). Dr Mahathir did not bother at all to consider the positive aspects of minimum wages.

The neoliberal ideology is opposed to strong states that directly ensure the people’s welfare, but it supports a strong state to enable businesses and capitalists to flourish freely, to ensure corporate welfare.

This involves all kinds of hidden subsidies and supports for businesses, including overlooking environmental regulation and standards.And so we have today Lynas and the threat of radiation. Our rivers are polluted by business activities, and yet the people must pay businesses to buy water filters for their homes and mineral water.

Dr Mahathir does not like the welfare state approach, which says “if we properly meet basic social needs and securities first, economic prosperity will come”. Dr Mahathir prefers the opposite, neoliberal approach, which says “support the corporate class, and enough wealth will ‘trickle down’ to the people”. Now Malaysia has one of the higher income inequalities amongst the Asean countries. The super-rich are sucking hundreds of billions of dollars out of the country in illegal outflows.

johan-saravanamuttuDr Mahathir complains about an unjust neoliberal world order, but Dr Mahathir hypocritically follows the neoliberal ideology, says political science Professor Johan Saravanamuttu (left) in his book Malaysia’s Foreign Policy, The First Fifty Years (2010).

Even the Nobel economist whom Dr Mahathir is fond of quoting, Joseph Stiglitz, has rubbished this neoliberal ideology, calling it a “grab-bag of ideas” about markets supposedly serving the public interest by “privatisation, liberalization”, when, in fact, it is simply “a political doctrine serving certain interests”. Read Stiglitz’s article called, “The end of neo-liberalism?” (2008).

On debt, Dr Mahathir says Greece borrowed a lot of money and is bankrupt.But Europe fears Italy has also borrowed too much and is going bankrupt Malaysia has been given a financial warning: a top debt ratings agency says our public finances are weak, and are at the same level as debt-struck Italy (“Fitch warns Malaysia of possible downgrade due to ‘deteriorating’ public debt ratios’, The Edge, 1 August 2012).

Malaysia’s debt is now more than half of the income Malaysia as a whole earns in a year.Malaysia's Debt This debt is RM470  billion. This debt nearly doubled since 2007, or in just four years.This is to say every Malaysian now owes about RM16,000. If you earn RM4,000 a month, then you need to give up four month’s pay to settle the debt.

Dr Mahathir says: “Look at [Barisan’s] record… compare it even with the developed West. They are in deep financial trouble…”

Dr Mahathir says: “Five years to give a trial as government is dangerous. Many things can be destroyed in five years.” But which government doubled Malaysia’s debt in less than five years? Barisan Nasional, right? ― english.cpiasia.net

Winds of Change knocks at Lee Kuan Yew’s Door


November 23, 2012

Winds of Change knocks at Lee Kuan Yew’s Door

by The Malaysia-Chronicle (11-22-12)

UPDATE3: Comparison and analysis about the styles and qualities of two notorious Southeast Asian autocrats – Lee Kuan Yew and Mahathir Mohamad – are bound to be reignited with the release of two books published this year to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Singapore’s infamous Operation Spectrum that saw 22 social activists, lawyers, journalists and church workers detained without trial in May 1987.

One of the books ‘Prelude to the Post-Lee Kuan Yew era‘  written by political exile Tan Wah Piow, who was thrown into jail for allegedly “masterminding a Marxist plot”, will be launched on Saturday November 24 at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in Kuala Lumpur.

According to Wah Piow, “Many Malaysians do not see “the other side of the moon”, and, especially the Chinese Malaysians such as those in the DAP thinks Lee Kuan Yew is the alternative”.

The former student leader, who was forced to flee to the United States, was referring to the Democratic Action Party – one of the three parties that form Malaysia’s main Opposition coalition, the Pakatan Rakyat, and which is often accused by Prime Minister Najib Razak’ UMNO party of being a tool of Singapore’s PAP.

While PR leaders have often lambasted UMNO’s “mischievous” claims, Wah Piow is right in that many Malaysian Chinese do admire Kuan Yew for transforming Singapore from a tiny, backward tropical island with few natural resources into a regional economic powerhouse, known for its ‘squeaky-clean’ administration and meritocratic education policies.

“UMNO will tag any rival a Jew or US or Singapore lover. That is the extent of its political maturity. I haven’t read the Singapore books yet but I would certainly agree that while Kuan Yew has achieved much and will on the balance be respected by history, there is a very dark side to his political hegemony,” PKR Vice President Chua Jui Meng, told Malaysia Chronicle.

“In this aspect, he does not differ much from our Dr M.  Both are leaders who demand complete control and obedience from their people. They are ruthless and will scheme to get their way. This is something that Malaysian Chinese must be aware of and reject outright. No amount of super efficiency or great governance can compensate for the loss of basic human rights or the freedom to choose particularly over who should lead a nation.”

The Other Side of the Moon: Forum on Saturday

Till today, many Singaporeans do not believe in the PAP government’s claim of a Marxist plot, and despite the lapse of time, the issue continues to haunt the political credibility of the regime, and a lingering embarrassment to the more liberal elements within the ruling PAP.

Coincidence or not, across the Causeway in Malaysia the same year, former leader Mahathir Mohamad also carried out a crackdown against dissidents that saw the arrest of 106 persons under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the revoking of the publishing licenses of two dailies, The Star and the Sin Chew Jit Poh and two weeklies, The Sunday Star and Watan.

Operation Lalang (Weeding Operation; also referred to as Ops Lalang) was carried out on October 27, 1987 by the Malaysian Police to prevent the occurrence of racial riots due to the provocation from DAP leaders and press. DAP leaders including adviser Lim Kit Siang have accused Mahathir of using the crackdown to mask corruption issues including the controversy over the high price of building the North-South expressway.

Wah Piow will also participate in a panel discussion to be moderated by social activist Maria Chin Abdullah at 2pm to 4pm. The other speakers are political analyst Wong Chin Huat and Dr G Raman, a Singapore laywer and former legal adviser to the University of Singapore Students’ Union in 1969.

Kuan Yew’s infamous Operation Spectrum

Smokescreens & Mirrors is not only a powerful rebuttal of the Singapore government’s allegations against him in 1987 as the “Mastermind of a Marxist Plot” to overthrow the PAP, it is, in the words of one Singaporean reviewer:

Smokescreens, however, is not simply a historical analysis of the political machinations that took place in 1987. It closes in the present with a call to action: Tan pushes for a re-examination of Operation Spectrum as “an initial education process to mobilise public opinion to Restart, Rejuvenate and Reclaim the Constitution” (p.72, capitals his). He establishes the foundation of his arguments upon the Singapore Constitution, which he avers “has to be the first point of reference in any political debate where liberties are at stake” (p.30). G. Raman states in his foreword that “the book contains Wah Piow’s agenda for a true democratic society in Singapore”. Smokescreens is thus polemical – and openly so.

In ‘Escape from the Lion’s Paw‘ edited by Teo Soh Lung and Low Yit Leng, Wah Piow published his long awaited account of his escapade from Singapore in 1976. The chapter “The Making of an Outlaw” is a mini-autobiography of this former student leader who was thrown into prison in 1975 following a fabricated charge. Immediately following his release, he had to devise his escape routes to avoid being inducted into the military. It became an enormous blow to the authorities when he managed to escape from the the Lion’s Paw, and and sought political asylum in the United Kingdom where he now resides and has his own legal practice. His citizenship was revoked in 1987.

This book also carries stories of escapade published for the first time of other dissidents who had to flee from LKY’s iron-fist rule, among them, the late Francis Khoo and Wah Piow’s colleagues during the University days, Tsui Hon Kwong from Hong Kong and ex-detainee, Ms Tang Fong Har.

PAP in trouble if it ignores the Winds of Change

In the Forward to Smokescreens & Mirrors, G Raman wrote: “Twenty-five years later (from 1987), Wah Piow’s dreams may not have been realised. But the dreams are taking shape and it is a matter of time before the ideals that Wah Piow espoused become a reality… It will be an opportunity missed and a road to their downfall if the PAP does not take note of the winds of change that are blowing so strongly amongst Singaporeans, especially the young”.

The call for the revamp of the way politics are managed in Singapore is inevitable, and this is becoming morepressing especially after the 2010 general elections and the 2011 Presidential Elections when the ruling PAP, though still safely in power, nevertheless suffered strategic defeats in public perception as a party which could do no wrong.”

The 3  speakers including Tan Wah Piow will address these issues in Prelude to the Post-Lee Kuan Yew Era.

Dr G Raman has been a practising lawyer in Singapore since 1969. His doctorate thesis is titled “Law as an Instrument of Social Change in Singapore”. It deals with how the PAP used law to perpetuate its hegemony in Singapore.

Raman was the legal adviser to the University of Singapore Students’ Union in 1969 and later in 1974. He represented one of the two workers charged with its student leader, Tan Wah Piow on the trumped-up charge of rioting in 1974. He was detained for more than a year in February 1977 for alleged subversive activities under the Internal Security Act.

Author of a book on probate practice in Singapore and Malaysia, Raman has contributed articles to the Journal of Contemporary Asia and other local publications.”

Dr Wong Chin Huat is a Malaysian political scientist, an university lecturer, a political activist and a columnist. He is also a committee member of Malaysia’s famous BERSIH movement, which champions free and fair elections.

Obtaining his undergraduate degree from Universiti Malaya, he completed his Master’s degree at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and in 2012 was awarded his PhD on electoral system and party politics in West Malaysia between 1982 and 2004 at the University of Essex. He is currently attached to Penang Institute, a think tank linked to the Penang State Government, currently led by the DAP.

MAILBAG

BOOK LAUNCH & FORUM

Prelude to the Post-Lee Kuan Yew Era

Date: Saturday 24 Nov 2012  time: 2-4pm

Venue: Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall

1 Jalan Maharajalela, Kampung Attap, Kuala Lumpur,  Transit: Maharajalela

BOOKS

Smokescreens & Mirrors by Tan Wah Piow

Escape from the Lion’s Paw edited by Teo Soh Lung & Low Yit Leng

These two books on Singapore will be launched by

Mr Tan Yew Sing & Dr Kua Kia Soong

Followed by a panel discussion:

Prelude to the Post-Lee Kuan Yew Era

Moderator : Maria Chin Abdullah

 

Kedah Politics: UMNO-BN needs a new Leader


March 31, 2012

Kedah Politics: UMNO-BN needs a new Leader

by Rashid Ahmad (03-30-12)@http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Kedah Barisan Nasional (BN) has lost a chance to shake the PAS-led Pakatan Rakyat state government when it did not “exploit” the recent crisis in the state administration. Political observers said the internal conflict in Kedah PAS had split the party and made it “vulnerable” to outside attacks but BN did not seize the opportunity, thus making it difficult for BN to retake the state.

Kedah PAS, say some political observers, is being manipulated by two main players keen to helm the state administration and also by “outside forces”.They said Menteri Besar Azizan Abdul Razak, who is from the old school of thoughts, is aligned to party president Abdul Hadi Awang. He is seen as the leader of the “fundamentalists” and is fighting hard against attempts from the liberals to take over the state administration.

Azizan’s “foes from within” – Kedah PAS Deputy Commissioner (I) Phahrolrazi Zawawi and Kedah PAS Deputy Commissioner (II) Ismail Salleh – are aligned to the liberals and they striving to push Azizan out. Words have it that the main reason for the attempted “mutiny” against Azizan is to find a place for Party Deputy President Mohamed Sabu to contest in the upcoming general election.

Mohamed Sabu or Mat Sabu, as he is popularly known, is said to be seeking for a seat in Kedah as he is not wanted in Kelantan, where he once stood as MP and won. The crisis, though resolved, is still a pain in the neck for PAS as Azizan is said to be still sticking to his decision not to entertain or recognise Phahrolrazi and Ismail as followers in the state administration.

Credible leader

So the split in PAS still exists but BN has failed to exploit it to enhance its chances of diluting PAS influence among the fence-sitters in the state.A political analyst, Ramli Mohd Yunus, said another BN weakness in the state was its failure to appoint a credible leader to lead Kedah as Menteri Besar if it comes back to power.

“Apologising [to the people for BN's mistakes in the past] is one thing but the main thrust is to win back the hearts and minds of the voters, particularly Malays. This can be achieved if BN has picked a credible, MB-material leader who will helm the state if the coalition wins.

“Kedah Malays, including the Chinese who have blended well with the Malay culture, know past and present BN and UMNO leaders in the state very well.They want to hear and see from the Prime Minister himself who he picks to lead the state. The way I see it, if Najib picks the wrong man, the votes will go to the other side.If Najib picks the man they respect and know, then the votes will go to BN. So it’s the man who will lead the state as menteri besar that matters now, not issues,” he said.

Even BN leaders in Kuala Lumpur share the same views. Observers believe that Mukhriz Mahathir is the man who could gain the voters’ confidence.

Matter of personality

Ramli said that he too has heard from the grassroots members in the state and also from some Chinese voters that Mukhriz (left) is the man best suited to take over should PAS fall.

“Kedah Malays and even some Chinese still hold Dr Mahathir Mohamad in high regard and obviously they also respect his son Muhkriz.What they told me is that Muhkriz is a new man and even though he is naïve in politics, he has the charisma to lead the state. Moreover, he is clean. But BN must also not ignore Dr Mahathir in its campaign because from what I gathered from the grassroots members, his presence may bring Kedah back to BN,” Ramli said.

However, there are some local leaders in Kedah who would not take too kindly to Mukhriz’s elevation if Najib decides to tap his shoulder. But Ramli believes the resentment was normal and would fade in time.

“The important point here is that Kedah BN needs a charismatic leader, a new man who has no record whatsoever. In this case, if it’s Mukhriz, it will be easier to win the hearts and minds of the voters because they still respect his father,” Ramli said. “So in my opinion half the battle will be won if Najib picks Mukhriz,” he added.

Thus, the battle for BN in Kedah is a matter of personality – the man who will lead the state after the general election. It all depends on Najib who he wants in the driver’s seat. After all, BN Kedah needs just four more seats to win the state. BN now has 16 out of the 36 state seats (UMNO has 14, MCA one and Gerakan one).

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.