“To Each His Own” and “Harbour Lights”: The Platters

Here are the original Platters (with Tony Williams, Miss Zola and the rest) to sing their version of “To Each his Own”. Joni James and Pat Boone, among others, have recorded this as well. With The Platters, it sounds truly special. I like their rendition of “Harbour Lights” too.

Let us, therefore, start this weekend with them. My best wishes for Vincent Chin and Kelly, my Skype friends and DJ Chin and his sweetheart in Penang. Enjoy the weekend.—Dee Jay Din Merican

Okay, Kawan, here it is for you, ONLY YOU, my friend in Big Apple. Crowne Plaza is where the Hilton Hotel was in the 1970s. The Kuala Lumpur Hilton is now located in KL Central. The Tin Mine where Playboy, Tun Musa Hitam, used to hold court does not exist any more. So you see, Kuala Lumpur has changed. We have a huge Ferris Wheel, Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur Tower, etc. Everything is big in Malaysia except our minds which have shrunk because of our past and present policies and lousy leadership. We have been badawied!!

The “Badawied” Malaysian Political Transition

posted by Din Merican
(with the kind permission of the author)

by Dr. Johan Saravanamuttu

June 19, 2008

Hundred days or more after the March 8, 2008 general election have not seen closure to the turbulent terrain of Malaysian politics. Malaysia may have escaped such earthly disasters as cyclones, earthquakes and floods but instead it has been immersed in a seemingly interminable political flux under the troubled leadership of Abdullah Badawi.

The joke making its rounds is that “badawi” may soon be accepted as a neologism by Oxford Dictionary to mean “to start something full of promise but end in disappointment, failure and/or disaster”. So, an example of its usage would be “France badawied their Euro 2008 campaign.”

This notwithstanding, it has been a time of great political opening or “perestroika” in Malaysia as I have opined before. So, let me put a slightly more positive spin to the ‘badawi’ epithet in an alternative submission to Oxford’s, namely, “to begin a process of change without knowing exactly or anticipating its final outcome”.

Politically, this period of Malaysian politics should be seen as the extension of the new idiom of politics created by the Reformasi Movement of 1998, which gave life to the activism of civil society forces in electoral politics. While the ensuing 1999 election results were a disappointment for the Reformasi forces, Malaysia saw the birth of an Alternative Front (Barisan Alternative, BA) and the birth of the multi-ethnic Malaysian Justice Party (PKR). But the BA soon fell to intra-party and inter-party bickering.

Abdullah Badawi’s stellar performance in the 2004 general election could be best explained first, by the BA’s self-destruction without the steadying hand of an Anwar Ibrahim, then languishing in Sungei Buloh prison, and second, by the debunking of Mahathir by his party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). In my view, Mahathir resigned only because he was pressured by his party to do so.

With Anwar back in action in 2008, Malaysia saw him galvanise a newly minted alternative coalition for the 2008 election, and, along with a revitalised civil society, this proved too insurmountable for the leader of the UMNO-led  Barisan Nasional  ruling coalition. Abdullah failed to deliver the all-important two-thirds majority of seats in parliament and lost power in five states. A plethora of scandals, impending rising costs, the spectacular Mongolian murder and trial, and the constant barrage of criticisms from his predecessor augmented Abdullah’s problems.

The post election situation has been equally debilitating for Abdullah. He is still faced with internal criticisms and challenges from within his own party, and now faces the open challenge to his leadership from Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and his own Minister of International Trade and Industry, Muhyiddin Yassin. Abdullah’s hand has been forced to agree to hold party elections by December this year, when these challenges will be formally mounted against him. An unenviable position, if any! In the meanwhile, the opposition coalition, the People’s Alliance (Pakatan Rakyat—PR), has declared through its putative leader Anwar Ibrahim that it will form the new government by Malaysia Day (September 16) from impending crossovers of ruling coalition MPs.

The announcement on June 18 by the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) that it will move or support a vote of no confidence against Abdullah Badawi in Parliament is unprecedented in Malaysia’s political history. It lends credence to the Anwar claim that defections from the BN could be imminent. However, there may be procedural difficulties here as a confidence vote has never been moved and the BN speaker may chose to disallow it on technical grounds. But if the motion were carried, then Abdullah is surely checkmated. With rumours now adrift that even the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) may crossover to the PR, or withdraw its support for Abdullah, a federal takeover by the PR is plausible by September 16, unless Abdullah calls a snap election.

Nor does the economic situation favour the embattled Abdullah. If it were a game of golf, he seemed to have bogeyed on all holes so far while a double bogey is awaiting him in the final hole. The hiking the oil price by 42% on June 4, held back during the election period, was a decision which has baffled analysts. His nemesis Anwar swore that were he prime minister, oil prices would be reduced not increased because of the state oil company, PETRONAS’ copious profits (up to RM100 billion per annum) and Malaysia’s status as a net-exporting oil state. Abdullah’s action has led to more street protests and a planned mammoth rally on July 5, to be held by the opposition parties.

Abdullah’s woes do not end here. The scandal of judicial impropriety (admittedly not of Abdullah’s doing but that of his predecessor, the authoritarian Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad) is more palpable after the V.K. Lingam expose and the Royal Commission recommendations of legal action against various protagonists. A Sabah judge’s revelation about a judicial “boot camp” has added grist to the mill.

The appointment of Zaid Ibrahim as de facto Law Minister to assuage the legal fraternity and to apparently reconstitute an independent judiciary may still be a tall order, and at best, a long way from fulfilment. The loss of Pulau Batu Puteh /Pedra Branca to Singapore makes another dent on Abdullah’s political image among Malays.

Malaysia’s political transition will clearly be stalled as long as the symbol of its impasse, Abdullah Badawi, remains at the helm. The more sanguine have argued that the badawied political process is salutary as it allows for many belated and necessary reforms to the Malaysian political system. In truth, Abdullah’s stymied political hand only allows for tinkering rather than an overhauling of all that is wrong. For example, an Abdullah government could hardly debunk the deeply embedded racial politics and Malay supremacy (Ketuanan Melayu) as a concept.

It is the unfortunate truism for the current prime minister that unless he relinquishes power, the movement to the next stage of Malaysian politics will not happen.

* Dr.Johan Saravanamuttu is Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), Singapore and was the former Dean (Research) at the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang, Malaysia. He is also a respected expert on Malaysian Foreign Policy.

Think Malaysian, Uphold and Live By Rukun Negara


We have the Rakyat. We have Ourselves

A Fellow Rakyat | June 18, 2008

It is time to wake up, and change our ways. There is a lot to be done. Our beautiful country is being destroyed because we have all chosen to be silent. We need to dig deep into our souls and question our morals and beliefs. If this silence continues, then the cries of our soul will not be heard.

We the citizens of Malaysia, all have a right and duty towards her – Malaysia. We should stand tall and defend our beautiful country. While she weeps, we cannot leave her to wallow in her own tears.

All Malaysians, we took vows, very early on in life, on a daily basis at school assemblies. Yet how many of us can say we fulfilled those vows? How many more of us can even remember the lines and words in those vows? Just in case you are wondering what I am talking about, it is called the ‘Rukun Negara’ and here are the lines we all promised to uphold:

Maka kami, rakyat Malaysia, berikrar akan menumpukan seluruh tenaga dan usaha kami untuk mencapai cita-cita tersebut berdasarkan atas prinsip-prinsip yang berikut:

· Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan

· Kesetiaan kepada Raja dan Negara

· Keluhuran Perlembagaan

· Kedaulatan Undang-undang

· Kesopanan dan kesusilaan

Dear Rakyat, I am sure, we all have fond memories of reciting these vows of allegiance to our country and remember how proud we were to recite them. But can we be proud enough with ourselves, to say we have observed these principles? Sadly the answer is no. We don’t have to look far as many of our leaders/ MPs don’t even uphold them.

Here’s what I am suggesting Dear Rakyat. We have a duty and promise to fulfil. And we are all going to put our best effort into keeping our promises. Well, most of you reading this might question, ‘what we can do’ to uphold these promises. The answer is simple – everyone of us just has to believe in these principles and live our lives according to these principles and .

First: Trust in God. It does not matter what religion you practise, every religion only preaches good teachings. So Malaysians, should stop fighting about race/ religion and enjoy our good peace and harmony with each another. Do not allow any political party to belittle any race/ religion or to tear our country apart for their silly personal gains (politicians who work for any particular race/ religion should be brought to court for being racist.)

Secondly: Supremacy of the Constitution. We should all practise democracy. It doesn’t matter how small or big. We fought really hard for our freedom and independence only to have it taken away by the very own people we elect to represent us. Hence we should all find ways to make Malaysia more democratic. It might be small baby steps, but every little bit eventually adds up just as the recent political tsunami has proven. We the people of Malaysia, should demand for more elections, from kampung heads to state assembly persons, to local councillors. Every single position that could be voted for, should be voted for. Hence the Rakyat would have more say over any issue. We will have our independence once again.

Thirdly: Justice/Gloriousness of Law. Laws are there to protect us, the Rakyat. They are not meant to be used at the whim and fancy of our politicians. However, as many Malaysians never want to uphold the laws anyway, it allows the corrupt and unscrupulous politicians to get away with many other bigger sins. We must uphold our own laws. We can start by lodging police reports and by filling petitions and handing them in to the police. The police work for the Rakyat, and they are supposed to be the champions of our laws and justice. We should be allowed to lodge reports without fear or doubts. We can start by lodging a report against every single politician who has on national media promised something, then backtracked. Every public suspicion should be taken seriously. If the accused person has nothing to hide and has done nothing wrong, then he/she should come forward and speak the truth.

Lastly but not least – Manners and Good Behaviour. This has to be the least upheld pledge ever. We don’t have to look far for examples. We have had our famous MPs and words like bocor, babi, kerbau, monyet, and probably a full list of other vocabulary that should never be heard.

All of us are guilty for not upholding the last pledge. Do something about it. How about say, popping over next door to the neighbours to offer them a plate of food and to catch up with them? Why not say hello to the newspaperman/postman/ roti man? How hard can it be to open doors, pull out chairs, stand in line, throw litter into bins and just to be generally nice to everyone around? Won’t Malaysia be a much nicer place to call home then? Why not plant some trees and lots of plants and hope Malaysia heals. Take some time out, take a stroll at any of our beaches and pick up litter.

We all have things we can do to save Malaysia. We don’t have to wait for our MPs or ministers.

We have the Rakyat. We have ourselves. Every single one of us can make a big difference. If only we put our heart and souls into being good citizens.

And while we are at it, we should not allow the elected ministers/MPs to take the easy way out. We should question them on policies. We should test them on knowledge. We should make sure they work hard for the people. We should want to see every written piece of legislation or policy. We should look into the accounts/expenditures of our country. After all, Malaysia is our home.

Tengku Razaleigh: “UMNO Leadership lost all credibility”— and I agree–Din Merican

June 19, 2008

A push from within ruling coalition Barisan Nasional for an unprecedented no-confidence vote against the premier shows the leadership has lost all credibility, a senior ruling party figure said.

The Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) yesterday in a serious blow to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who has faced calls to quit since disastrous March general election.

Analysts said the move for a vote of no-confidence vote when Parliament opens on Monday could trigger a ripple effect of dissent within the 14-party BN coalition.

tengku razaleigh forum 260408 ku li speakingTengku Razaleigh Hamzah, a 71-year-old former finance minister who made a failed challenge against Abdullah in 2004, said the Sabah party’s move showed the extent of the crisis in the ruling party UMNO.

“The top leadership of BN and of UMNO has lost all credibility, and our component parties are rethinking their relationship with us. This should come as no surprise except to those who have been living in complete denial,” he said in a statement late Wednesday.

“In its management of the economy this leadership has lacked vision and shown a disturbing inability to plan and execute,” he said, criticising a recent fuel price hike that has triggered public protests.

Razaleigh said that instead of listening, the leadership was silencing calls for reform and suppressing democratic processes within the ruling party.

“If our leaders refuse to face reality, I fear the worst for the party and this government,” said the political veteran, a member of Malaysia’s royalty who has again offered himself as an alternative leader.

Anwar Making His Move

The Sabah Progressive Party, which has two members in Parliament, said it would decide on Friday whether to quit the coalition. It left open the prospect of joining the opposition alliance led by former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim.

Anwar has ambitions of forming a new administration with the help of defecting government lawmakers. After the March polls that gave the opposition a third of parliamentary seats, just 30 lawmakers are needed to switch sides.

anwar ibrahim pc 120508 01Anwar congratulated SAPP’s “bravery” and backed a call from its president Yong Teck Lee for 20 percent of the oil revenues from resource-rich Sabah to be retained by the impoverished state.

“I am happy with these early actions and call upon other friends to act quickly in order to guarantee stable politics and efficient economic management,” he said in a statement.

Abdullah made a brief response to SAPP’s move, saying Yong was motivated by personal gain.

“I have not been able to satisfy his personal greed,” he said, according to the official Bernama news agency. His aides said he would elaborate at a later date.

UMNO figures said a vote against the prime minister would not “see the light of day” because of parliamentary rules that make it easy for the ruling party to block the motion.



Think Malaysian with Pakatan Rakyat

  • Think Malaysian, do the right thing.
    – from conviction to action
  • Sapp MPs to move no-confidence vote
    June 18, 2008
  • abdullah ahmad badawi pak lah concerned worriedBREAKING NEWS! updated 8.22pm Sabah Progressive Party will back a no-confidence motion against PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when Parliament resumes on Monday. [Full statements inside]MORE
  • 4 reasons for the decision
    We’ve lost confidence in PM
    PM: I can’t satisfy Yong’s greed


SAPP MPs to move No-Confidence Vote

June 18, 2008

Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) today announced that it would move a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when Parliament resumes on Monday.

It is the first time in the history of the nation that a vote of no-confidence is to be moved against a prime minister.

“In the coming sitting of the Parliament session starting Monday, June 23, our MPs will support a vote of no confidence on the PM.

“Whether the motion will be tabled by our party MP or another MP will be decided in due course,” said a press statement released today.

SAPP has two parliamentarians – Dr Chua Soon Bui (Tawau) and Eric Enchin Majimbun (Sepanggar) – and four state assemblypersons.

Majimbun, who is currently overseas, has expressed his support for the party’s decision by signing the press statement.

sapp dr chua soon bui

Four reasons

Chua (right), who was present a party’s 40-minute press conference in Kota Kinabalu, gave four reasons for backing the no-confidence vote.

They are:

  • No concrete actions have been taken on the issue of illegal immigrants in Sabah. “Our sovereignty is threatened,” said Chua.
  • Sabah, being the poorest state, is greatly burdened by the sharp hike in petrol prices. The government has failed to provide “holistic economic solutions”.
  • SAPP MPs would fail in their role as elected representatives as issues raised such as poor delivery systems, corruption, wastage of resources, lack of transparency and no sense of accountability are ignored.
  • People have lost confidence in the leadership of Abdullah. SAPP is of the opinion that if the top leadership cannot perform, then Abdullah should make way for other able leaders to take over.

yong teck lee oldParty president Yong Teck Lee said SAPP would not immediately quit the coalition led by Abdullah, but that its status would be reviewed at the end of the week.

He attacked BN’s record in the impoverished state, saying that it had been subjected to unfair laws and excessive taxes.

“That is why we need an immediate declaration of no confidence in the PM and the government, to tell the BN government that we can no longer tolerate their insensitive attitude towards the Sabah issues that are real and serious,” he said in the press conference held at the party headquarters at 2pm.

Today’s annoncement appeared to be the opening move by the BN component member which may see the Sabah-based party eventually leaving the coalition.

“Today is just the first step. There might not be any defections for now,” said a source.

A poll placed in SAPP’s blog also indicated the general feelings on the ground at the moment. The poll asked members of the public whether the party should stay on in BN, leave the coalition but remain independent, or join Pakatan.

At press time, there were 2,052 votes tallied, with 85 percent (1,749 votes) asking SAPP to join Pakatan. Another 242 (11 percent) want the party to leave BN and remain independent. Only 2 percent (61 votes) urged it to stay on with BN.

Anwar needs 30 MPs

In recent weeks SAPP has been identified as the most likely party to leave BN and join forces with Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Rakyat.

sapp mps and state assembly reps sabah 160608SAPP is led by outspoken former chief minister Yong, who in recent months has questioned Abdullah’s policies towards Sabah and the federal government’s inability to solve the illegal migrants’ problem in the state.

The party has two members of parliament and four representatives in the state assembly.

Political commentators point out that even if the party pulled out of BN to join Pakatan, the defection of the two MPs would not be sufficient for threaten Abdullah’s BN.

Anwar needs 30 MPs to derail Abdullah and BN from power.

However, Sabah sources claim that other BN coalition partners would follow Sapp out of BN if the party sparks the exodus.