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?

Bawani-Zohra Episode emblematic of Malaysia in an “Amuck-Latah” Mode


January 17, 2013

Bawani-Zohra Episode emblematic of Malaysia in an “Amuck-Latah” Mode

by Dr. Azly Rahman@http://www.malaysiakini.com

Dr Azly RahmanAs a student of Cultural-Philosophical Studies with a passion in radical educational change framed within the context of cybernating-hypermodern societies such as Malaysia, I see the “Bawani-Zohra Affair” as emblematic of a nation gone berserk on the issue of freedom of speech and the culture of dialogue and public discourse.

We are in an ‘amuck-latah’ mood. The nation, at least in cyberspace, is furious (amuck) of what happened, and the protagonist of the propaganda machine fumbled big-time (latah) assuming that the teaching techniques of the “top-down, humiliate-first, no-apologies later” of many a Biro Tata Negara speaker can still be deployed unreservedly onto university students at the time when amateur videos can go viral, when tweets can flow like a tsunami, and when Facebook pages can be created in a fraction of seconds.

That’s the mistaken assumption – that the Frankenstein called “social media technology” will also not run amuck helping those silenced to have their poetic justice, and those humiliated to become an honourable being raised to the level of stardom, overnight.

Listen, ListenIt is said that at times, you do not need to find the revolution – for the revolution will find you. The revolution found both Bawani and Zohra in such an ‘absurd’ way, such as in many of the plots of French surrealist dramas like Eugene Ionesco’s rhinoceros running wild on the city streets, and Kafka’s character moving from desolation to awareness in “Metamorphosis”.

The timing was perfect, like that storm brewing right after the almost-a-million Malaysian march to take over Putrajaya; after the Deepak drama which was over-played, overdosing even the older folks; after the successes of all those BERSIH rallies, and many other watersheds upon watersheds of consciousness-raising events, and ultimately, after the last hurrah circa GE13 – all these ripened the relevance of the fateful “Bawani-Zohra” rendezvous.

Hence, Malaysians saw not only an explosion of anger, but one that fuelled tremendous amounts of creative products, mainly in the realm of multimedia (music videos, Facebook and Internet posters, audio and video materials, and the production of other forms of creative artifacts inspired by the mantra “listen-listen-listen…”).

That is my observation, albeit too, as a ‘participant-observer’ who managed to contribute to the dialogue through my public writings here on Facebook, and in my other column in Malaysia-Today. I have always found examples of the chaos and complexity theory at work in these kinds of phenomena; the “butterfly effect” of Malaysian public discourse, which must be framed in its most kaleidoscopic and multidimensional way.

Mind-controlling machinery?

In this case, a simple few minutes of verbal exchange in a dialogue on a campus situatedAnimals have problems way up in the “boonies” as the Appalachians in Ohio would say, can have far-reaching impacts up till now, leading to even the fall of the Barisan Nasional regime that has, for the last 30 years, been using the universities as a place wherein the human mind – of student, staff, and even faculty – would essentially need to “shut up and listen-listen-listen”.

At the same time, the leaders will be carrying big sticks and speaking not-so-gently, so that the entire mind-controlling machinery can function effectively while being devoid of critical sensibility. For too long, society has allowed such stupefication to happen via the work of government-controlled propaganda-producing agencies trained in Soviet-styled mind-bending, mind-numbing, and mind-emptying strategies so that the dying ideology of one-race dominancy in the self-glorified, ill-intentioned ‘1Malaysian’ sloganism can prevail.

Even when the world outside has mutated multiple times and gone through the process of adaptations as a consequence of globalisation and the continuing relevancy of cosmopolitanism. I don’t know, these are my ramblings for the day, folks… my Joycean stream-of-consciousness mood speaking:

Watching how the Mandelbrott set of Malaysian universities will play out; watching how the butterflies in this absurd drama will flap their wings; and watching how the ancient Malay dialectics of deadly dualism will be spoken.

funny_monkey

The “amuck-latah” syndrome will be transmutated into newer forms in a hypermodern society – in a bipolar Malaysia trying to live in accordance with an ill-constructed ‘1Malaysia’ while society is firmly destroyed by implosive devices akin to the famed ‘C4′ used to end the life of a young Mongolian mother of a very young child some time ago, when truth was still a corpse waiting to come alive.

I don’t know, but there are now minds in those Malaysian universities that are refusing to just “listen-listen-listen” …until the truth explodes and destroys the creators of falsehood. Please share your thoughts… humbly of course. But where do we go from here?

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.

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

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

Prime Minister Najib defends Bersih 2.0 clampdown


July 15, 2011

Najib defends clampdown on Bersih2.0 march

Dato’ Seri Najib Razak was forced to defend the clampdown on Saturday’s BERSIH2.0 rally when faced with reporters in London, saying that allowing the march to proceed would have resulted in protracted chaos in the country.

The New York Times reported that the Prime Minister told a small group of international reporters on Wednesday that “if we allow for street demonstrations, there’s no end to it, there will be another group that wants to demonstrate.”

“Public order is very important in Malaysia,” Najib (picture above with Her Majesty The Queen) said, adding that if protests are not controlled, “you will get a situation in which more and more of these street demonstrations will take place in Malaysia.”

The government has faced widespread criticism from the media, human rights groups and even the United States government following its outlawing of the July 9 march demanding free and fair elections.

Police fired tear gas and water cannons at tens of thousands of demonstrators who poured into the city last weekend and arrested nearly 1,700 as scores were injured and the husband of a PKR division leader died in the ensuing chaos.

The Najib administration has embarked on a damage control exercise, sending UMNO secretary-general Dato’ Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor to Indonesia to explain its actions to the regional giant and also sent a letter in response to the Wall Street Journal’s stinging tone against Putrajaya’s reaction to BERSIH.

The electoral reform group had gone ahead with Saturday’s march despite the government ban and the lack of a police permit, insisting it had a constitutional right to voice its demands.

BERSIH had initially accepted Najib’s offer to move its street rally to a stadium but negotiations broke down when the coalition of 62 NGOs insisted on the historic Stadium Merdeka despite being told by authorities to move its gathering outside of the capital.

“I was saddened by the fact that they didn’t accept the government’s offer. They still insisted on marching through the streets, because I think they wanted to get maximum publicity and secondly challenge authority in the hope that they can make this an issue,” the prime minister said in London.

He also defended the police, stating that they had used “minimum force, and there was no physical contact at all with the demonstrators,” saying that a maximum of 15,000 had turned up, contradicting both police and BERSIH estimates of 6,000 and 50,000 respectively.

Najib’s defence came after the Bar Council released a report on Tuesday claiming that police used tear gas and water cannons “arbitrarily, indiscriminately and excessively” while the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia has announced that it will hold an inquiry into police conduct during the rally.

The prime minister also said on Wednesday (July 13)  that the government would clean up the electoral roll by implementing a biometric register of voter and “clarify” the postal ballot system.

However, despite stating that the government is committed to clean and fair elections, he passed the buck to the Election Commission on extending the period for election campaigning.

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.

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.

The Najib Factor in Merlimau and Kerdau


March 7, 2011

The Najib Factor in Merlimau and Kerdau By-Elections

By Jahabar Sadiq
Editor, The Malaysian Insider

ANALYSIS — In just three years, Datuk Seri Najib Razak has promoted himself and his agenda to revive Barisan Nasional’s (BN) fortunes for another string of by-election wins yesterday while Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has floundered due to a cohesive strategy and policy.

BN won both the Merlimau and Kerdau state seats with significantly higher majorities than in Election 2008, where it had lost 82 Parliament seats and four state governments to a loose political pact led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The pact later coalesced as PR but remains as loose as it was on March 8, 2008 when it shattered the veneer of popularity for then-Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his UMNO, the dominant partner in the BN.

Abdullah never recovered from the blow of Election 2008, just four years after he brought BN to its biggest victory ever in the 2004 elections where the ruling coalition won 91 per cent of the parliamentary seats and all states except Kelantan which PAS has kept since 1990.

Najib took over in April 2009, weighed down by scurrilous gossip that linked him to the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder and an UMNO that could no longer command the majority of Malay support, its raison d’etre since the party was first founded in 1946.

Instead of pushing a damaged UMNO and a hurt BN, Najib has pushed himself to the fore with economic policies and a moderate tone to win over Malaysians, including the Indian community that deserted the ruling coalition in the aftermath of the HINDRAF march in November 2007.

He started with 1 Malaysia, proceeding to unveil his New Economic Model (NEM) with the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and later the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) which covers nearly 200 projects and business opportunities.

The jury is out on the programmes and the funding but Najib has enjoyed a comfortable level of personal popularity since succeeding Abdullah, although UMNO itself has yet to recover from the bruising Election 2008.

A measure of his success is the young candidates UMNO has put up in the last three by-elections, or whom Najib has dubbed “winnable candidates” in his quest to renew and reform the party revived by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad after it was declared illegal in 1988.

“Basically, even if you don’t trust UMNO, you can trust Najib. That’s the message,” an analyst told The Malaysian Insider last night. The analyst also said facing Najib in the past two years has been an increasingly rudderless PR where de facto chief Anwar has been distracted by yet another sodomy trial, the first which pushed him out of contention as prime minister in 1998.

Anwar has thus far kept quiet over this past week’s brewing spat between allies PAS and DAP over Kelantan’s anti-gambling laws. All three parties had ironically promised last year not to allow football pools which was initially licensed to a Berjaya Group unit but has since been rescinded.

“PR is far from united as Anwar is the glue for PR but the trial is taking its toll and has reduced him to a figurehead,” said a PR leader who declined to be named.

In many ways, he added, the past three years have seen a reversal in fortunes for both Najib and Anwar.“Anwar led us to a string of victories from Election 2008 to some of the by-elections but that seems so far away now. Najib is on the rise,” warned the leader.

“We have to get our act straight, work on our strengths and ensure the momentum of 2008 is not lost,” he added.

For the record, PR has won eight out of the 15 by-elections held since Election 2008.Political analyst Datuk Dr Zainal Kling said the double win last night could be used as a benchmark of public support although the political tsunami that swept during the 2008 general election has not subsided.

“This is because we are yet to be sure of support by urban voters but there are signs that public support has returned to BN,” he told state news agency Bernama.Zainal said this was due to hard work by Najib who created policies like the GTP, ETP and National Key Result Areas (NKRA).

“The BN government has to double its efforts to maintain the existing momentum, because the opposition always come out with plans and agenda to attract interest of the people,” he said.

INTI International University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Ibrahim Ahmad Bajunid said BN cannot be too comfortable with the wins as history has showed that small errors can lead to a political tsunami like in 2008.

“However, Barisan Nasional is now on the right track to face the next general election,” he told Bernama.Najib has not indicated when the general election is but last night’s victories and the impending Sarawak state polls appear to suggest that it could be as soon as this year, as he said in an interview with the Reuters news agency during last week’s official visit to Australia.

UMNO officials have cautioned Najib against calling for snap polls soon as the party has yet to recover its popularity, an UMNO warlord told The Malaysian Insider recently.

“We briefed him about the preparations on the ground but told him he might be popular but the party isn’t as popular as him,” the warlord said, attributing most of the wins to Najib’s policies.

In yesterday’s polling, BN retained the Merlimau state seat when UMNO’s Roslan Ahmad defeated PAS candidate Yuhaizad Abdullah with a majority of 3,643 votes. Roslan obtained 5,962 votes compared with Yuhaizad’s 2,319.

In Kerdau, BN candidate Syed Ibrahim Syed Ahmad defeated PAS candidate Hasanuddin Salim by a majority of 2,724 votes. Syed Ibrahim obtained 5,060 votes to Hasanuddin’s 2,336 votes.–http://www.themalaysianinsider.com