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.

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?

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.

A Malaysian answers Dr. Mahathir


December 31, 2012

A Malaysian answers Dr. Mahathir

by  Koon Yew Yin@www.malaysia-chronicle.com

Dr MI was reminded of the witticism on politicians that “we hang the petty thieves but elect the great ones to office” when I read Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s claim in his blog that the Chinese (and Indians) are the real masters of the country.

Specifically, he wrote that “[b]ecause they (the Malays) are willing to share their country with other races, the race from the older civilisation of more than 4,000 years and who are more successful, as such today whatever they have now is also being taken away from them”.

As election day approaches, this line of argument is being rehashed. We can expect more of this race baiting by Dr Mahathir and his kind in UMNO and UMNO Youth when they are addressing Malay voters.

Of course, this rehashing will take on new permutations such as “the PKR and PAS are selling out the rights of the Malays” or “the DAP is really the dayang master pulling the strings of the Pakatan coalition”.

What is important is not to get angry or remain silent but to refute it with facts, figures and arguments.

Political idiocy

For Dr Mahathir to accuse the Chinese of being the real masters of the country is really the height of political idiocy. If we want to go by racial perception, it would appear to everyone that Malays dominate in every sphere of life in the country. They form the majority in Parliament, Judiciary, the Army,  the Police, the MACC and all other important agencies. In the socio-economic and educational sphere, they control all the major banks except for Public Bank, the GLCs, PETRONAS, public universities, civil service, etc.

Any Chinese or orang putih wanting to do business has to kowtow to the Malays for licences and permits. Moreover, Malay businesses control some of the monopolies such as water, electricity, toll roads, etc. where it is so easy for them to make more profits by just increasing the price.

Even the richest and most powerful Chinese and Indians such as Robert Kuok, Ananda Krishna, Tony Fernandez, Vincent Tan and others are completely at the mercy of the Malays if they want to do business in Malaysia.

It’s UMNO-BN that has called all the shots

But let’s not go by simplistic perception. The indisputable fact is that the real masters of the country are the UMNO-led Barisan Nasional, which has ruled Malays and Malaysia for over 55 years.

During that period, Dr Mahathir as Prime Minister was the undisputed  numero uno. He changed the country’s constitution and laws; sent his political opponents into prison or oblivion; singlehandedly undermined the judiciary; and put the clock and our time back to ensure that we would all wake up an hour earlier.

He even took on the most sacrosanct of Malay institutions ― the Sultanate ― by reducing the authority of Malay rulers.Dr Mahathir also controlled and manipulated the country’s purse strings. His financial leadership of the country have left an indelible black mark on the country’s economic and financial fortunes.

First, he made the key decisions on economic white elephants and scandals such as Proton, Bakun Dam, Putrajaya, and Perwaja. The last resulted in a loss of RM2.6 billion. Dr Mahathir himself has admitted publicly in 2002 in a dialogue with Malaysians in London that the loss could have been as much as RM10 billion due to possible misappropriation of funds.

Mother of all scandals

The mother of all financial scandals took place during Dr Mahathir’s time. This was the forex losses incurred by Bank Negara’s speculative currency trading which cost us over RM30 billion.

The second outcome was the plague of privatization he inflicted on the country. A devoted fan of Margaret Thatcher, Dr Mahathir pursued privatization of telecommunications, utilities, airlines and other public sector services with a vengeance. But he lacked the British Premier’s caution and acumen and closed both eyes to the leakages and abuses that accompanied the privatization programme.

Dr Mahathir can be considered to be the godfather of the class of capitalist cronies who have cornered much of the country’s wealth and who, together with UMNO-Barisan, are the undisputed masters of the wealth of Malaysia. These big time tycoons comprise many Chinese but they are a multiracial cast and include an increasing number of Malay businessmen.

Today, Dr Mahathir blames the Chinese for working hard and enjoying the fruits of their labour. He is envious of the Chinese middle and upper classes living in high end housing estates and owning the lion’s share of urban property.

He himself lives in a gated community and is reputed to own numerous properties but he laments for the many Malays living in squatter houses.But who has been responsible for this situation?

No escape for you, Dr Mahathir

Dr Mahathir needs to look at himself in the mirror. He has squandered our petro-dollars on his projects of superficial grandeur and his love of cronies, many of whom he has helped with expensive bailouts. He could have solved the plight of hundreds of thousands of squatters by using treasury funds on them instead of his pet projects.

If he had invested the money wisely in skill acquisition for the young Malays and in public housing and urban infrastructure for all Malaysians, especially needy and deserving Malays, the racial economic divide will surely not be so conspicuous.

Dr Mahathir still does not want to go away from the centre stage. He wants to remain in it because he knows that the BN has to maintain power if he is not to be made answerable for the racial, political and economic mess that he was responsible for and left behind as his main legacy.

The extent of his desperation can be seen in his speeches aimed at shoring up Malay support by claiming that the Chinese are the real masters of Malaysia.But as the Malaysian saying goes, his talk has no walk!