UMNO Politicians Play and We pay the Price, says Malek Imtiaz

March 31, 2009

by Malik Imtiaz Sarvar* @ The Malaysian Insider

They Play and We Pay the Price

The UMNO General Assembly has come and gone and, as has been the case for at least the last three assemblies, in its wake many of us have been left uneasy and in a state of disquiet.

Seeing the inner workings of the Leviathan’s mind is never an easy thing, even at the best of times. And these really are the worst of times.

Power lust has put a debilitating strain on our national institutions; they are in the mind of the public nothing more than lifeless marionettes in a caricature of democracy. The accumulation of money and influence has for some time now been the greater social good in the minds of many of those who claim the right to lead us. Governance has been wholly enslaved to the perverse politics required to feed this monstrous craving.

One does not have to go to great lengths any more to demonstrate these conclusions. After this last assembly, it is a matter of public record. Reading the speeches made, I was struck by how for many of those who attended the assembly there is no other way other than the UMNO way that they are familiar with: exclusive privilege through patronage.

While it could be said that these are matters concerning the internal workings of UMNO and, as such, really none of my business, this cannot be the case when UMNO stakes a claim on the premiership of this nation as it does.

The Federal Constitution does not provide that the president of UMNO must be the Prime Minister. That is, however, the understanding within the Barisan Nasional, whose component parties are compelled to leave the choice of that individual to UMNO’s admittedly skewed method of electing its President.

This state of affairs is made more complex by the expectation on the part of UMNO that it is entitled to govern this nation, a viewpoint it gives life to through its control over the wider system of governance.

The experience of the rakyat with matters of state has been a disappointing one and the general belief is that all constitutional bodies and agencies of the state will act to further the interests of UMNO and, where interests overlap, the Barisan Nasional.

Seen in this light, the internal workings of UMNO are a matter of national concern; the national interest underscoring the appointment of a prime minister is ultimately left vulnerable to those who are able to successfully wield influence at the UMNO General Assembly.

As I have written elsewhere, this is not the scheme envisaged by the founders of the Federal Constitution, which instead puts in place an appointment process grounded on His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s judgment as to who commands the confidence of the majority of members of the Dewan Rakyat.

For many in UMNO and the Barisan Nasional, however, political convention must trump constitutionalism. Both the party and the coalition have made this clear in the way in which concerns over the appropriateness of Datuk Seri Najib Razak as Prime Minister are being avoided.

This cannot be right. The unease that the failure to take appropriate steps to clear the air has given rise to is no small matter. It pertains directly to public confidence in the due administration of this nation.

If the positions were reversed, the same rationale would apply: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim would not be an appropriate candidate until the accusation of sodomy by Saiful Bukhari is dealt with.

Public confidence is crucial to our survival. We are a nation in crisis facing external challenges of great magnitude. Part of the reason for this is the sustained maladministration that we have had to endure over a prolonged period of time. Put bluntly, the nation is not firing on all pistons and we are not nearly as prepared or resourced to deal with what we will have to when the full significance of world events hits us.

The choice of Prime Minister at this point is a crucial one. In addition to addressing Malaysia’s response to the global economic crisis and its impact on the rakyat, the next administration must address two objectives that are vital to our continued survival.

The first of these is the serious deficiencies in our current process of general and state elections. These go deeper than the issue of perceived Election Commission and police bias to the more fundamental question of whether democratic purpose is being achieved through a first-past-the-post system and the “weighted” delineation of constituencies. Electoral ethics must also be made a priority with scrutiny of the continued value of racial ideologies that serve no purpose than to divide us. True democratic process is the only way in which this nation can ensures that it remains competitive.

Second, the foundations of governance must be shored up. The doctrine of separation of powers must be re-entrenched to ensure the due application of checks and balances. For this, reforms must be carried out at more than a superficial level.

For this to occur, constitutionalism must be breathed into the organs and agencies of state once more. The Judiciary must be liberated from any and all political influence and be made as capable as it once was, with public confidence in the institution.

The legislatures of the nation must be allowed to return to previous glory when debates were permitted without fear or favour and the legislative chamber served a purpose higher than rubber-stamping the dictates of majoritarianism.

Above all, the Executive must be made accountable once again. This is what we need if we do not want to see this nation failing.

Momentum, however, threatens to propel us forward in that direction. The brakes need to be applied and our direction changed, impelled forward by the will of the rakyat with the Federal Constitution serving as our roadmap.

The question we must confront is, who it is that will be able to lead us in doing that? If I wonder whether Datuk Seri Najib considers himself capable of doing this, it is because he has said precious little to suggest that he has considered the precarious situation we are in.

I am also wary of the political forces that paved his way to the top that will impede him much in the same way as they did the out-going Prime Minister. There is also the matter of public sentiment concerning various matters that he either has been, or is seen to have been, involved in.

Ironically, the one person in UMNO who holds to a need for serious reform at all levels, Tengku Razaleigh, received only one nomination and could not contest the presidency. This was an error on the part of UMNO in my view. My fear is that the nation will have to pay the price.

* Malik Imtiaz Sarwar is the current president of the National Human Rights Society (Hakam) and a lawyer. He has been at the forefront of efforts aimed at promoting constitutionalism and the Rule of Law. His blog ‘Disquiet’, and weekly column of the same name with the Malay Mail, are widely read.

Musa and Syed Hamid Alblur, go back to school and study the fundamentals of a democratic society

Opposition banned from raising Altantuya and other issues
March 31, 2009

The opposition has been dealt with a severe blow in the run-up to the April 7 by-elections after it was barred from bringing up a number of controversial issues including the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu in their electoral campaign. Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar said that the ban covers all three by-elections – Bukit Gantang (Perak), Bukit Selambau (Kedah) and Batang Ai (Sarawak)

The impact of the home ministry ban was first felt in Bukit Gantang earlier today. A state PKR leader, who had no prior knowledge of the home ministry ban, said that the police have imposed several new conditions when issuing permits for the party’s ceramah in that Parliament constituency.

Among the main restrictions were:

* No instigating the crowd by questioning the Perak sultan’s decision

* No mention of the Altantuya issue must be made

In addition, PKR must ensure that the crowd at its ceramah is confined to a specific area where the event is being held. [see below] The police have warned that action will be taken if the crowd spills beyond the permitted area, said the state leader, Lau Teck Hai, who had applied for the permits on behalf of his party.

Lau, who is political secretary to PKR’s Kuala Sepetang state representative Tai Sing Ng, was told to go to the Taiping district police headquarters yesterday where he was informed of the conditions. Other restrictions included raising racial and religious issues.

PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim is expected to be in Bukit Gantang tomorrow as part of his campaign trail.

Ready to defy

Addressing a press conference on the matter this afternoon in Taiping, Perak PKR deputy chief Chan Lih Kang said the party was ready to defy the police on these restrictions. He also said that it would not appeal against the police decision to impose such restrictions.

“These restrictions are new. They have never been imposed before,” said Chan, who is also the Teja state assemblyperson.”We are not be appealing against these restrictions and will be not be adhering to them as well.” He said PKR is ready to face whatever action the police take against the party for breaching the conditions. “They cannot stop us from exercising our freedom of expression,” he said.

The controversial issues

However, PAS, whose candidate Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin is contesting the by-election, has not be officially told about these new restrictions. It is learnt that PAS was nevertheless told to stop its ceramah by 11pm so that this does not cause any disturbance in village areas. However with the announcement by Syed Hamid about the ban, it is evident that PAS too would be affected.

The Altantuya issue has been used by the opposition, especially the PKR, to implicate incoming premier Najib Abdul Razak in the death of the Mongolian woman, a charge which the UMNO politician has repeatedly denied.

As in previous election campaigns, several posters of Altantuya and Najib have already found their way to Bukit Gantang. Altantuya’s remains were found scattered in a jungle reserve in Shah Alam, Selangor on October 19, 2006.

Two special elite policemen, who were bodyguards to VIPs including Najib, are facing murder charge. The verdict is expected early next month. The opposition has also been highlighting the manner in which Perak UMNO, led by Najib, ‘stole’ the state government from Pakatan.

Mohd Nizar has subsequently refused to step down as menteri besar although the Perak sultan had ordered him to do so. This led to him being accused of committing derhaka (treason) against the sultan. The by-election will see a three-cornered fight involving BN’s Ismail Saffian, Mohd Nizar  and independent candidate Kamarul Ramizu Idris. It is being held following the death of PAS member of parliament Roslan Shaharum on February 9 from a heart attack.

musa hassan pc 021107 reflect

In the last general election on March 8, 2008, Roslan defeated Abdul Azim Mohd Zabidi of BN and independent candidate M Mohganan by 1,566 votes. Meanwhile in Bukit Selambau, it is learnt that one additional restriction imposed on political parties is that all ceramah must be held indoors.

Watch what you say, warns IGP

Meanwhile in a related development, the police chief issued a warning to all political parties not to incite, provoke or utter words that are deemed to be seditious. Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan also said that they must avoid making unfounded and baseless allegations on their opponents or the party they represented.

“Police will be monitoring all political ceramah and will record them. We urge everyone including supporters not to provoke or taunt anyone during their campaigns,” he said in a statement today. Musa also added that the police would beef up security in all three by-election spots to prevent untoward incidents.

Najib’s Mentor lashes out at Badawi, his only mistake!!

Dr Mahathir – from London with spite
March 31, 2009

On Saturday in Kuala Lumpur. Just before the curtain fell on the 59th UMNO general assembly, the party’s 83-year-old former president made a grand entrance with his wife in tow. Looking debonair in a neatly-pressed deep purple stripped shirt and black slacks, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was given a rapturous welcome by the UMNO leaders and delegates alike.

After all, Mahathir and his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Ali are the two pioneer party members bearing the respective membership numbers ‘000001’ and ‘000002’ of  UMNO Baru – the party born out of the 1987 crisis which saw the original UMNO being declared illegal.

It was a night of love, apparently masterminded by newly-minted UMNO president Najib Abdul Razak to bring his mentor and outgoing premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi together. Mahathir, who looked the sharpest of the lot on stage, awkwardly embraced Abdullah whom he had been attacking incessantly since a year after he had handpicked him as his successor in 2003.

It was a scene that surely deserved an Oscar nomination and one that made headlines the next day. The hatchet had purportedly been buried. Overwhelmed with emotion, Najib said he hoped Mahathir and Abdullah would together guide him through his tenure at the helm and offer him ideas for his unenviable task of rebuilding the party.

Mahathir who quit UMNO last May in protest of Abdullah’s leadership also vowed to return to the fold soon. Unfortunately, the dream was short-lived.

najib mahathir pak lah umno 2009 agm final day 280309 02My only mistake’

Fast forward to Monday in London.

The former premier, who is in Britain to attend a Palestinian conference, again let loose his stinging criticisms of his successor-turned-nemesis Abdullah. In a five-minute interview with BBC World’s Mishal Hussein at its London studio, Mahathir slammed his successor for sullying his legacy.

“Everything went rotten when Abdullah took over,” lamented Mahathir, who refused to acknowledge any shortcomings on his part for the problems in UMNO despite being asked several times.

“My mistake was to choose this man (as successor),” said Mahathir, who added that that was the only mistake he made in his two decades in power. Moving on to another one of his favourite targets, Mahathir fired several rounds at Abdullah’s son-in-law and newly-elected UMNO Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin for his influence over the government.

Mahathir’s vexation towards Khairy escalated last week when the latter defeated his son, Mukhriz, in the coveted UMNO Youth chief contest.

In a hard-hitting blog posting later, Mahathir – who during his 22-year tenure was accused of everything in the dictionary related to corruption – slammed the UMNO Youth movement for bringing shame on the party by endorsing a ‘corrupt’ leader.

The former premier also said that in 22 years in office, Barisan Nasional always won two-thirds control in Parliament but the last polls saw the ruling coalition suffering its worst ever setback, by not only losing its two-third majority but also several states.

It is this which increased the pressure on the premier to relinquish the reins although his term does not end until 2013. Ironically four years earlier, Abdullah secured the biggest ever mandate for BN, seizing control of 90 percent of the parliamentary seats. Mahathir appeared to claim some credit for the historic mandate in 2004, noting that the general elections had come just after he stepped down as prime minister.

But observers had pointed out then that it was precisely Mahathir’s exit coupled with his successor’s reform pledges had led to the boost in support.


Dr Mahathir Mohamad was interviewed by BBC World’s Mishal Hussein in London where the 83-year-old former premier was grilled on his legacy. The following is an abstract of the five-minute interview.

Mishal Hussein: One of Mr Badawi’s fiercest critics was his predecessor, Mahathir Mohamad who was in power for 22 years. Dr Mahathir is here in London for a conference on the Palestinians and he is with me now in the studio. Welcome to the programme. I wonder first if I can ask what went wrong as far as Mr Badawi is concerned because this is a man that you groomed to take over from you but then you didn’t like what you saw.

Mahathir: Well, he did all the things that were wrong. In the first place, he brought in his family and involved them not only in party business but also government business. His main advisors are members of his family and the group of young people appointed by his son-in-law.

Mishal Hussein: But family involvement in Malaysian politics – dynastic politics – is nothing new. Your son has contested for a position within UMNO. You’re quite disappointed, weren’t you, when he didn’t actually get elected.

Mahathir: He got into UMNO – in active politics – only after I left, (from) becoming the prime minister. That was the condition. I told my children that they are not to be involved in party politics or politics in general until I have stepped down because I don’t want people to talk about my rising dynasty.

Mishal Hussein: But you would like to see the Mahathir name continue.

Mahathir: Well, if he deserves it, why not?

Mishal Hussein: All right, let’s talk about the man who is going to be the next prime minister, Najib Razak – also someone that you know well. What do you think of him? Would he be a good PM?

Mahathir: Well, his record shows that he is a good administrator but he has certain weaknesses and because of that we cannot really be very sure whether he would be able to handle the problems faced by the party and the government.

Mishal Hussein: It is not very encouraging, is it? I mean, this is the next leader from your party.

Mahathir: Yes, it is true. He is from my party. At least, he was from my party because I’m not a member now. But I want to say what I think is the truth. I don’t care who gets hurt, even my own party if it gets hurt, but if the correction has to be made, I will make the comments.

Mishal Hussein: I raise this because there seems to be a pattern of you grooming people, hand-picking them even. Anwar Ibrahim was one, Abdullah Badawi was another. Najib Razak to some extent is the third. And once they get close to power, or into power, you attack them.

Mahathir: No, I didn’t groom them. I had no choice but to choose one of them to be my deputy and they didn’t prove to be able to handle this, and I have to take action against them.

Mishal Hussein: Well, if you are so critical of the leaders that UMNO has produced, is it time for a change then? Perhaps this isn’t the party that should dominate Malaysia as it has done since independence.

Mahathir: The party essentially is a very good party. It has functioned very well for 50 years and now we find under the leadership of Abdullah, the party has really become rotten, (it) has not been able to win the usual results that we have had in the past elections.

Mishal Hussein: So everything went wrong when you stepped down, is that right?

Mahathir: No, everything went wrong when Abdullah took over.

Mishal Hussein: Which is about the same period of time.

Mahathir: It is not the same because it could have been somebody else. Najib was actually the senior vice-president. He should have been designated the new prime minister after me but I thought he was young and I thought I will give Abdullah to assume, hold, some opportunity to lead the country.

Mishal Hussein: Let’s look at some criticisms of UMNO though. It’s been called corrupt. It’s been called detached from the people. Abdullah Badawi even said it is complacent. It is facing death. I mean these are the kinds of thing that don’t happen to a party overnight. Isn’t there anything that you would take responsibility for? You led the party for 22 years.

Mahathir: I led this party for 22 years. I never failed to get the support of the people in any election. I invariably get two-thirds majority. The first time we did not get two-thirds majority was after five years of Abdullah’s administration.

Mishal Hussein: Did you make any mistakes in those 22 years?

Mahathir:The mistake that I made was to choose this man.

Mishal Hussein:That was the only mistake that you made in those 22 years in power?

Mahathir:Yes, because immediately after I stepped down, the party won with an overwhelming majority. If I had left a party which is bad, they would never have won in 2004 with such a huge majority.

It can happen in Malaysia, if we allow reckless and uncontrolled public spending

Dear Fellow Malaysians in Bukit Selambau (Kedah), Bukit Gantang (Perak), Batang Ai (Sarawak) and elsewhere,

This is in Zimbabwe (below) , fortunately not in Malaysia, at least not yet. But we can suffer the same fate as this young Zimbabwean boy if we are not careful and when we allow reckless spending by the present government as it seeks to stimulate the economy over the next 2 years, running into hundreds of billions of ringgit. Members of the Opposition including Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who, as a former Malaysian Minister of Finance, is the voice of prudence, tried to caution the government about its scatter-gun approach to public spending.

Visiting the neighborhood grocer!
...Join Keralites, Have fun & be Informed.

What we need is a government that is competent, accountable and transparent. Inflation follows when we recklessly reflate the economy with public expenditure, which will only benefit cronies, party supporters, and favored companies. The UMNO-BN government is inclined to this when Najib Tun Razak recently presented his rm60 billion package.

It is reported just a few days ago in the mainstream media that the new Prime Minister is likely to spend another rm200 billion in 2010. Where is the money coming from? From our savings, or tax revenues or disposal of key government assets or external borrowings or even from the IMF. IMF? God forbid.

Please vote carefully. Make sure that you vote the party which has the best programmes to resuscitate our sagging economy. Based on its record of economic management since Badawi came to power in 2004, the UMNO-Barisan Nasional will not do the job for us. It does not have a proper economic recovery plan to help our country emerge from the worst economic crisis the world has witnessed. Even the 1929 Great Depression pales in comparision to the one we all will be facing in the coming months. —Din Merican

Barisan Rakyat SMS Campaign starts now

Breaking News (Melalui sms) : Ceramah Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim di Bukit Selambau, 31hb. Mac, 2009, jam 10 malam, JDM Bukit Rusa; hubungi Saiful 0123211162. Bersatu mempertahankan kemenangan rakyat! Sebarkan.

From Haris Ibrahim (of Barisan Rakyat Bloggers)
Taiping, Perak and Din Merican in Kuala Lumpur

Barisan Rakyat SMS Campaign starts today: Let us Win in Bukit Gantang (Perak), Bukit Selambau (Kedah) and Batang Ai (Sarawak). It’s People Power for Freedom, Democracy and Justice. So, Vote for Parti KeADILan Rakyat (PKR) in Bukit Selambau (Kedah) and Batang Ai (Sarawak) and PAS in Bukit Gantang (Perak ). We can make a big difference.

Reject UMNO-Barisan Nasional and Bring Positive Change to our Beloved country and free our people from corruption and abuse of power of the present regime which will soon see Najib Tun Razak as Prime Minister and Muhyiddin Yassin as Deputy Prime Minister. God save us from these plutocrats and Mahathirism.–Din Merican

March 31, 2009

Haris Ibrahim reports:

Don’t imagine even for one moment that SPR’s decision to fix all three by-elections simultaneously was an independent decision, without any consideration of the best interests of their political masters. It’s to stretch the resources of the Pakatan Rakyat to breaking point. But there’s one resource that Pakatan has that BN cannot break. You and I. We are beyond the reach of BN. And Pakatan need us now, more than ever.

I’ll be in Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau for the better part of the campaign period as well as on polling day. You can help, too, from wherever you are. We start our Barisan Rakyat sms campaign today.

First we want to alert the people of Batang Ai, Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau that we, the rakyat have rejected the race-based politics of UMNO- Barisan Nasional. We want them to know that we, a nation of a single people, anak Bangsa Malaysia, have rejected UMNO-Barisan Nasional and its race-based divide and rule politics and have embraced the ‘Ketuanan Rakyat’ slogan of Pakatan Rakyat (PKR, PAS and DAP).

Here is the first sms.

Rakyat menolak politik perkauman UMNO– BN. Politik perkauman UMNO– BN hancurkan perpaduan rakyat. Jangan diperdayakan dengan politik kaum UMNO– BN. Politik Pakatan Rakyat menyatukan rakyat. Rakyat sehati sejiwa menyelamatkan negara yang dicintai. Undilah PAS- PKR pada 7/4/2009. Hidup rakyat. Sebar kpd kwn2 di Btg Ai / Bkt Gantang / Bkt Selambau.

Next, we are going to wage war with the lying mainstream media (MSM)which will be telling all sorts of lies in the next week. Whilst those of us who will be out on the campaign trail will try to do what we can to neutralise this spin-doctoring by the MSM, again our outreach will not be able to match a full-blown sms campaign to alert the people to the lies that will be spread through the MSM.

Here is the ‘boycott the MSM’ sms.

Media massa arus perdana akan m’perdayakan rkyt & m’cari helah utk gagalkan PAS di Bkt Gantang dan PKR di Btg Ai / Bkt Selambau dgn berita palsu – utk menanam rasa syak wasangka terhadap PAS & PKR. Jom boikot! Jgn beli s/kabar. Jgn p’caya berita radio/TV. Sebarkan kpd kwn2 di Bkt Gantang / Btg Ai / Bkt Selambau .

Could anyone please translate these 2 sms’s into Chinese and Tamil and send it in to me as a comment so that I can then put it up my blog [], please?

Send these sms’s out to everyone you know in Sarawak , Perak, Kedah. Even if you do not know anyone in these three states or the constituencies in question, send them out to those whom you know with a request that they forward it to those whom they know. That way, there’s every likelihood that it will ultimately get to the good folk of in these three constituencies in due course. And keep sending the sms’s out again and again in the run-up to polling day on April 7, 2009.

Posted by Haris Ibrahim ( on www. and Din Merican (on

Anwar Ibrahim hits the Campaign Trial

Anwar to hit by-election campaign trail on March 31, 2009

Hafiz Yatim @
March 30, 2009

PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim will officially hit the election campaign trail on March 31, picking up where he left off with abortive
anwar bukit selambau pkr candidate manikumar 200309 10 rallies in Bukit Selambau a week ago.

He is currently in Bangkok, delivering a keynote lecture entitled ‘Global Economic Crisis and the Future of ASEAN’ at the prestigious Chulalongkorn University.

Anwar was a notable absentee at the nominations process yesterday for the Bukit Gantang parliamentary seat in Perak, and the state seats of Bukit Selambau (Kedah) and Batang Ai (Sarawak).

His aide, who did not want to be named  when contacted said that Anwar’s participation in the Bangkok conference had been arranged before the Election Commission announced the nomination day for the by-elections to be held on April 7.

Anwar was earlier in Manama, Bahrain, for the annual Al-Barakah banking group’s ‘Islamic Banking Conference’ and then stopped in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, for discussions on global economic problems. “He will hit the campaign trail by going to Bukit Selambau tomorrow. He will spend at least two days (of the campaign period) in each of the three constituencies to ensure the opposition’s victory,” said the aide.

Campaign schedule

Anwar is scheduled to be in Batang Ai (on Wednesday) and Bukit Gantang (Thursday), before returning to Bukit Selambau on Friday. He will again cover Batang Ai (Saturday), Bukit Gantang (Sunday) and Bukit Selambau (next Monday).

There is a 15-way battle for Bukit Selambau, which V Arumugam won in the general election last year as an Independent. He then joined
PKR but abruptly vacated the seat and his Kedah exco post. The current candidates are S Ganesan (MIC), S Manikumar (PKR) and 13 Independents.

In Bukit Gantang, Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin from PAS will fight it out with BN’s Ismail Saffian and Independent Kamarul Ramizu Idris. Batang Ai will see a straight fight between Malcolm Mussen Lamoh (PRS) and Jawah Gerang (PKR).