Anwar steps into the unknown

January 31, 2013

Anwar steps into the unknown

by Joceline Tan (01-29-14) @

The stunning news that the PKR adviser is contesting a forced by-election in Kajang is still reverberating through the state of Selangor.

UNCOMFORTABLE. That is the best word to describe the body language of most of the political top brass at the packed press conference to announce that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will be contesting the Kajang by-election.

Anwar seemed like he was in a hurry to get it over with. It was very awkward for him because what he had denied a day earlier was now unfolding before everyone’s eyes.

dsai14The task of announcing Anwar as the by-election candidate fell to Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim. Khalid was his usual flustered self and his wavy hair looked like he had been standing in front of a fan.

When reporters asked whether he would be stepping down as Mentri Besar, he flashed a brave smile, paused, and said that was an “unrealistic question.” None of the reporters could actually tell what that meant but there was little doubt that this was the beginning of the end for the corporate man-turned-politician. At best, poor Khalid looked like a lame duck Mentri Besar. At worst, it was like a guillotine was inching towards him.

It was clear that the priority of PKR leaders was to first clear the hurdle of winning the by-election. Then they will address the question of Anwar becoming the next Mentri Besar. No one has any doubts by now that he is zooming in on the post. He is certainly not contesting a by-election for the fun of being a state backbencher or executive councillor. Moreover, as the Selangor economic adviser, he has taken the oath before the Mentri Besar which entitles him to attend state executive council meetings.

Pakatan Rakyat politicians, especially those from Selangor, are still in shock over the dramatic turn of events. The decision for Anwar to take over the reins in Selangor was made at such a high and exclusive level that most of them were kept in the dark and only learnt about it in the media.

PKR politics, said a senior Selangor politician, is not very different from UMNO politics, with lots of rivalry, big ambitions and back-stabbing. The question being asked is why is Anwar taking such a big gamble?

Pakatan politicians cannot figure out why he would want to be Mentri Besar when he is supposed to be their candidate for Prime Minister. Has he downsized his aspirations from Prime Minister to Mentri Besar? Has he given up hope of Pakatan getting to Putrajaya? Or is he planning to leverage on the Mentri Besar post to stay relevant and visible until the next general election?

The Selangor Mentri Besar post is a high-profile job. Selangor is the richest state in Malaysia with a sophisticated electorate. If he succeeds he can convince Malaysians that he is indeed Prime Minister material.

Some even imagine he is doing this for his daughter and party Vice-President Nurul Izzah, to divert attention from her on-off divorce and all the gossip surrounding the reason for her marital woes.

The reasons behind Anwar’s action are one thing. The more important concern among the Pakatan leadership is public opinion about the by-election. The by-election move is coming barely nine months after the general election.

Moreover, this is the second forced by-election for him. In 2008, his wife and party president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail resigned as Permatang Pauh MP a few months after the 2008 general election to enable him to rejoin Parliament.

There has been quite a lot of disgruntled and critical chatter especially in cyberspace. The general opinion was that the by-election was unnecessary and a waste of taxpayers’ money. Moreover, it makes Pakatan, which is fond of lecturing the Barisan Nasional government on its spending habits, look contradictory and hypocritical.

Anwar risks being seen as taking the rakyat’s support for granted. To date, no Pakatan leader has been able to explain the need for or justify the by-election.

Khalid IbrahimIf Khalid needs to be replaced, there are other assemblymen who can step in. Two ready-made possibilities are Azmin Ali, who is PKR Deputy Pand Bukit Antarabangsa assemblyman, and Iskandar Samad of PAS, who is a state executive councillor.

PAS in particular is unhappy about the way the by-election decision was rushed through without a proper discussion. The young Turks in PAS feel the party should have a shot at the top job because it won more seats than PKR in the general election. They will have trouble explaining things to their grassroots and there is even talk of a silent boycott when the campaign starts.

Azmin’s supporters are confused and upset. They feel that their man has been played out again and yesterday afternoon, Azmin chaired an emergency Selangor PKR meeting to explain what had happened.

The PKR No. 2 is said to be disappointed. He has been patient and loyal but he keeps missing the boat. The Malays have a phrase for it – tiada rezeki (not meant to be).

When waylaid by the media yesterday, Azmin trotted out the official line: The by-election has been in the planning for sometime, Anwar’s candidature is aimed at strengthening the party and talk of a new Mentri Besar is speculative. It is hard to see how long PKR and its partners can maintain that line of argument.

Are the people of Kajang going to be persuaded that they are voting again because they need to strengthen the party? It is a most unconvincing argument and PKR will have to do better than that if it wants voters to come out for Anwar.

India’s Moral Compass swings violently

January 31, 2014


India’s Moral Compass swings violently

By Samir

In the 66 years of Independence, India has lived with a certain set of moral codes that called for respect of regulation, sacrifice for a greater good, duty towards society and accountability. An accepted definition of what was expected from members of society and from those in power gave the country its navigational apparatus and heroes. That definition allowed heirs to rise from the miasma to take over the reins when those in positions of authority stepped down. It also marked the scales on which people were measured and judgments passed. It is difficult to deny that moral codes were the cornerstone of trust between all parts of society, and the grease that allowed society to function.

There is a need for a new morality in India today, or at least for a call to recognize the new morals we live with compared with those of six decades ago. One may ask why, and the answer is simple, if we don’t recognize new morals and spread them, the result can be unrest. Things are already changing in India – look at who we consider our leaders, look at who we put in jail. We get affronted when our film stars are held up at foreign airports and derive a sense of pride when citizens of other nations though of Indian ancestry achieve recognition in their country.

Our “philosopher kings” are businessmen who equate foreign investment with national prosperity, who see environmental protection and concern for the marginalized as being bad for the country. They decry government expenditure on the economically bereft while seeking tax breaks for themselves. We find solace in the deep voice of a septuagenarian who made his mark in the country’s dream factory. We seek the counsel of the glitterati who tweet from their ivory towers and from TV studios far removed from the humdrum of daily existence. For what we value to change, wouldn’t our moral scales have to change too?

The Fallout

As citizens of a democracy, Indians have become inured with our choice of electoral candidates. They swing between brilliant home-economists whose assets magically increase annually and Houdini like magicians who can’t be confined within the thick walls of a prison cell.

Though most citizens’ views have gone beyond contempt for the politician, there is a burgeoning group who are now involved and committed. This is a class of people who not only have ideas on who should be in power but also do what they can to get these people in power. There is a meeting of minds here; the dreams of the common person and the politician merge. There is also a belief that these chosen ones can make such common dreams come true.

The Triumvirate

Let’s narrow down to three people on whom many pin their hopes in this year’s general election: Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal. The three are very different politicians,their socio-economic backgrounds, political philosophy, manner of functioning and experience all dissimilar. But they have one thing in common as the first surfers riding a new wave of morality.

Narendra ModiNarendra Modi became the prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after stomping all over the patriarch of the party, Lal Krishna Advani. The very same person who stood by Modi after the 2002 religious riots, where many allege Modi played a role in the what can only be called a state-sponsored pogrom. His form of governance is held up as the way ahead.

For a party whose philosophical fountainhead is the desire to bring back Ram Rajya (something everyone is unsure what that connotes) and which speaks about Raj Dharma (rule based on spirituality and positivity), the Machiavellian machinations that went to create Modi were the very antithesis of their foundation. That the patriarch was discarded and shouted at goes against the Hindu dharm (respect for elders) that the party wishes to preserve and promote.

Then there is the whole idea of protecting the weak and the helpless, which is part of Raj Dharma. In the case of Modi, this was tossed out in the 2002 riots and continues to be ignored, with economic policies that has led to increased state debt, child malnourishment and low wages in Gujarat, where he is Chief Minister. Given all this, Modi is still a darling of the many. The very same people who espouse respect for the elderly and speak in glowing terms of India’s past – and even the need to protect the weak – say goodbye to all this when it comes to bringing Modi as the nation’s leader.

Is the new morality that allows support for Modi based on less concern for our elders and the weak? And if so, wouldn’t this go against the many tenets of Hinduism, a religion (or way of life) that the BJP wishes all Indians to convert to?

Then we turn to Rahul Gandhi, the scion of a dynasty. While many of us speak againstrahul_gandhi dynastic politics, we have no qualms in ensuring that wealth and power remain within the confines of our family. Most marriages in business families are fixed on the basis of love – a love of money and finding ways to increase it. Marriage ceremonies are a time to repay or exact debts. The power that congregates in one location during such occasions could create a new industry, light a city, bring down a government or even create a new one.

Given this state of affairs one wonders why many think awry of the “dynastic politics” of the Congress Party. How different is that from Narayan Murthy of Infosys bringing his son into the company as his executive assistant and then promoting him to a vice president? There was hardly a peep from the business community after this action from a man many consider to have sound ethics. Why shouldn’t sauce for the goose be sauce for the gander?

So the second moral dilemma is the support by many for Rahul Gandhi as India’s future Prime Minister. Proponents of that cause choose to ignore that Rahul, whose candidacy has yet to be declared but is widely regarded as a shoe-in, has absolutely no experience in politics or in working in government. The political statecraft that goes with such a position, along with the knowledge of the workings of the government and the country, is not easily acquired. It could be argued that his name and the experience of those working with him would pave the way for a successful stint as premier. One wonders, why is such an opportunity not given to others of the same age and similarly haloed backgrounds but of more experience?

The pertinent question here concerns the differing moral scales used by those opposing the Congress, but silent on other similar issues, and by those within the Congress who promote Rahul on the one hand and on the other do not give Rahul’s party members similar opportunities.

Arvind KejriwalArvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi and the force behind the Aam Admi Party (AAP), is a different kettle of fish. The reasons for his rise to power range from public disaffection with entrenched politics to a collective victimhood that is finally raising its head. During his journey to power he tarred all government institutions with the same brush – everything was dirty – and promised to clean up their mess. Having achieved power, he seems to have gone a step further and is now living by the “heads I win, tails you lose” philosophy.

Kejriwal seems unable to work with the power given to him by the people but undermines it by sitting in protest, a protest which has led to no resolution and instead is converting an inability to channel powers to make change into a form of martyrdom which allows him to continue functioning by attracting people’s sympathy and even admiration.

The AAP leader, whom the party has yet to declare as its prime ministerial candidate, is a dream come true for Indians who in general have no love for authority or social order. Here is a man after their own heart, a man who though in a position of authority does everything to undermine it. The protest warms the cockles of the common person because they see a man with immense power acting as if helpless. So they believe he is still like them – an outsider fighting a firmly dug-in cabal.

No one questions the fallout of such actions – if people in power begin to protest in this way then what will the common person do? Kejriwal is destroying institutions without providing an alternative while also usurping public space used by the truly powerless to make themselves heard.

His code of conduct has not only diminished the office he holds by portraying it as one without power but has also left the common person bereft of means of communicating with higher-ups. Kejriwal has not shared his idea of what a leader should be and for what he should be held accountable, while he is simultaneously laying to waste institutions that have been the bulwark of society. So he has given himself an open canvas to do what he imagines to be right, which may soon inspire the common person to imitate him.

Though Kejriwal calls himself an anarchist he cannot absolve himself of the trust and the mantle of leadership that people have reposed in him through an institutionalized election process that he was part of, and which people believe in. Can an anarchist be a leader? It goes against the very grain of anarchic philosophy. Or is he using the term because he realizes that today most Indians don’t know what it takes to be a leader and are quite happy with someone who can destabilize the establishment?

Society becomes redundant and dysfunctional in two instances – when it has no morals or when society’s thoughts and actions far outpace its moral strictures. With Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal we seem to have arrived at the latter. Their presence and their impact indicate that subliminally moral codes in India have changed. Isn’t it time therefore that we shout it out from the roof tops and get everybody on the same page?

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing. Articles submitted for this section allow our readers to express their opinions and do not necessarily meet the same editorial standards of Asia Times Online’s regular contributors.

Samir Nazareth is a commentator based in India. He can be contacted at

(Copyright 2014 Samir Nazareth)

Anwar Ibrahim for Selangor: Let the people of Kajang decide.

January 31, 2013

NOTE: My close friend, who calls himself Horse when commenting on this blogDin MericanX and whose political insights I value, told me that Anwar Ibrahim’s decision to contest in Kajang and then with the consent of his Pakatan partners he becomes the Menteri Besar, Selangor upon his electoral victory was a stroke of political brilliance with serious implications for  Selangor under Pakatan Rakyat.

As Menteri Besar, Anwar will be able to participate all policy discussions at the national level. As Leader of the Opposition, he is denied that opportunity since unlike in the UK and the US, the Leader of Opposition and the US Senate Majority Leader and Speaker of the House, he is shut out of policy deliberations and issues of national importance. Here is his vast experience as a legislator, former Cabinet Minister, and Deputy Prime Minister cum Minister of Finance, will prove invaluable in his role as Menteri Besar, Selangor.

It is true that Khalid Ibrahim has  done a good job as Menteri Besar and we must acknowledge and thank him for that. But given the present difficult circumstances for PKR, he has agreed to step down as Menteri Besar, once the people of Kajang have spoken. It would save PKR from further agony if the tussle between Azmin Ali and him were to drag on. Anwar knows both Azmin and Khalid well and recognises their respective contributions to the party and their deliberations in Parliament and Dewan Negeri.

I for one suspend my judgement on this issue. I look forward in the ensuing days to hear what Anwar Ibrahim and his Pakatan colleagues have to say on the state of Selangor politics, and his decision to contest in Kajang. But looking back the Permatang Pauh situation in 2008 when Dato Seri Wan Azizah made way for him to contest for her seat, I can say that it was a very strategic move for PKR and Pakatan Rakyat. Without discounting Wan Azizah’s contributions as Member of Parliament, Anwar’s role as Leader of the Opposition since that time was effective and constructive. His speeches, which are now part of the Hansard, provide ample evidence of the quality of his thinking and policy and legislative proposals. –Din Merican

Anwar Ibrahim for Selangor: Let the people of Kajang decide.

by M. Manogaran@

OPINION: There is a lot of talk and debate on this issue. There are many views opposing Anwar Ibrahim as the next Menteri Besar of Selangor. And, many are reluctant to even try and understand the reason behind such a strategy.

One must understand that any political party is entitled to strategise. In fact, it must, for its survival and for the betterment of the party and the coalition it represents. What is so wrong in Anwar becoming the next Menteri Besar of Selangor? This must be looked into from several angles.

Besides the fact that any party having its right to strategise, several other problems can also be resolved by Anwar (left) becoming the Menteri Besar, with the immediate settlement of the Abdul Khalid Ibrahim-Azmin Ali being one.

Selangor will also have the advantage of getting the PKR supremo as its head of government.Furthermore, Anwar is already the Economic Adviser to Selangor. This shift in political position will only help him steer Selangor to greater heights and Selangorians will enjoy being led by the top leader of Pakatan Rakyat.

What could be a better opportunity to showcase to the people of Malaysia how a state should be run? The people of Malaysia can look to Selangor as a model of how the country can be governed in future.

As to the view that the Sultan of Selangor may not agree, I think this is presumptuous. His Royal Highness will surely know that ours is a constitutional monarchy, where the leader of the party which commands the majority support in the legislative assembly will have the right to lead and form his cabinet, or executive council, as the case may be.

Anwar has much more experience

Comparatively, Anwar comes with much more experience than Khalid. No doubt that KhalidAzmin-Khalid has performed remarkably well, for Selangor has grown to be a prosperous state under his leadership. Good governance and integrity were instilled rightly and the overhaul in governance has resulted in doubling revenue collections. No doubt about this.

But if the party wishes to change leadership, democratically there is nothing to stop it. It does not mean a candidate vying to be the Prime Minister of the country cannot be the Chief Minister of a state as well.

Instead of taking the narrow view, this issue should be seen from a wider perspective. Just look at examples around the world. In India, for instance, the Chief Minister of Gujarat state, Narendra Modi, has already been announced by his party to be the presidential candidate.

India is the largest democracy in the world and Indians accept that the BJP party in India has got the right to nominate a state Chief Minister to be their presidential candidate. Drawing an analogy, the effective leader of DAP, Lim Guan Eng, is the Chief Minister of Penang. So what’s wrong with Anwar, the de facto leader of PKR, becoming the Menteri Besar of Selangor?

On the political point of view, and this is I think is the most important, Anwar becoming the Menteri Besar  of Selangor will have serious implications on the BN. Rest assured that Selangor will be under Pakatan for a long, long time to come if Anwar becomes the next Menteri Besar. Selangor will be forever lost to BN, and this is what BN is afraid of. Isn’t that wonderful?

We must not forget the bigger picture. Do not zoom in on the trivial issues like how it is being done but rather why and how are we going to benefit from it. Let us not lose sight of our common enemy. Let us educate ourselves to be a little more visionary.

*M MANOGARAN is the former Member of Parliament for Teluk Intan.

Gong Xi Fai Cai and Welcome Year of the Horse

January 30, 2014

Gong Xi Fa Cai and Welcome Year of the Horse

Year of the Horse

As we write this message to welcome the Year of the Horse, our Chinese friends around the world are enjoying their traditional Yee Sang dinner with their family members. Dr. Kamsiah and I wish them Gong Xi Fai Cai and hope the Year of the Horse will bring good fortune and health to them and their families.

Chinese New Year picFor those in Malaysia, we wish to assure them that our country will be safe and secure, despite provocations by politicians and their supporters, if we continue to live in harmony and respect each other. We have lived side by side for generations and can continue to do so if we do not allow our emotions and prejudices to get the better of us. Let us play our part to ensure a happy and prosperous Malaysia.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

No Democracy and Good Governance in PKR

January 30, 2014

No Democracy and Good Governance in PKR, only Cloak and Dagger Stuff

by Nathaniel Tan@

COMMENT For years I defended Anwar Ibrahim. For years I defended PKR. I defended and I defended, until the day came where it became impossible to defend the indefensible. People always like to speculate whether people change their positions due to money. In all honesty, I think that’s a healthy speculation.

After yesterday’s article, more than one person asked about the profits I made working for the Selangor government. I had a good run, and earned a similar amount as the people I went to school with, for the three years I was with Selangor.

In the middle of last year, I was informed my services would no longer be required. They did not explain why at length (except perhaps to hint that I was costing too much), and I did not really ask or pursue the matter. My last day of work was around November 2013, and I have not had any professional engagement with them since.

Given the abrupt dismissal, perhaps people would have been less surprised if I had turned on Abdul Khalid Ibrahim instead of Anwar Ibrahim.

In any case, let’s get to it. Many people are throwing about words like ‘tactics’, ‘strategy’, ‘Mahathirism’, ‘racial and religious incitement’, ‘strengthening Pakatan Rakyat’, etc, etc.

I’ll spend a few words on all those later, but for my money, they have nothing to do with the most important implication of what is going on.

The murky game of cloaks and daggers

To me, the real problem pivots on how Anwar and his associates are running PKR in a manner that is completely bereft of transparency, accountability and democratic principles.

Let’s carry out a simple thought exercise: How did the decision to carry out the Kajang plan come about? I don’t know, do you?Many have speculated (myself included), many claim it happened one way or another, but the truth is: nobody outside the nebulous ‘inner circle’ has any idea.

PKR has a large supreme council that is mostly democratically elected, and a smaller political bureau. Can we say with confidence that members of both were given an opportunity to voice their opinions, much less be made fully aware of what was going on? Are there official minutes perhaps, that we might refer to?

Beyond PKR, there are the leaders of PAS and DAP, and there are the representatives of the Selangor State Assembly – all democratically elected as representatives by party members, and by the rakyat. How many of them had a say in the decision that would so heavily influence who would be the number one person in the Selangor state government? Were there broad consultations among party leaders, elected representatives, and (God forbid) the rakyat? Or was it presented to the world as a fait accompli?

The day Lee Chin Cheh (left) resigned his seat in Kajang, someone theoretically in the top 10 ranking of PKR leaders messaged me, saying: “I guess I’m always the last to know. Sigh” If he or she is the last to know, what more the rest of us?

This is the latest – and by my reckoning the last straw – in a culture of cloak and dagger politics within PKR that for too long now has circumvented transparency and democracy in favour of whispered deals made in backrooms that no one is privy to.

I suppose it was stupid of us to expect democracy from a party whose ‘de facto leader’ has no democratic mandate whatsoever. These issues have not been the focus of public attention, but in my mind, the implications of this style of politics continuing to spiral out of control is the most significant factor in the entire crisis.

‘The bigger picture’

All these years, I felt that despite these problems, it was important to maintain unity in order to fight the bigger enemy: UMNO. It’s a sad day when you turn around and realise that the people you’ve been fighting for have come to live and breathe so deeply the culture you thought you were fighting against.

Over the years, I have spent countless words trying to fight cynicism against politics, and speaking out against armchair critics who seem fueled mostly by self-righteous anger, and who never seem to get their hands dirty.

I did this because, like so many others, I wanted to concentrate on the big picture. I desperately wanted a Malaysia free of UMNO. On Tuesday, I realised how far some politicians would go in abusing and manipulating this desperation.

For too long now, I think Anwar, PKR and Pakatan have become convinced that they can get away with murder, because they believe those of us who hunger for change simply have no other options.

They assume we truly, truly will vote for Pakatan (and Anwar) no matter what, as long as no alternative (like another party, or say, Khalid) exists.I had always thought there was a limit as to how far they would go. It would appear not.

Talking cock

Alarm bells should start ringing when politicians say things that don’t make sense, and expect you to believe it.

At some point in ‘The Life Of Pi’, a pair of Japanese gentleman are presented with two different stories, and are asked: which story do you prefer? The question was not which do you think is true, the question was: which do you prefer?

Too often we believe what we want to, not what the facts suggest. It is a struggle to be objective, but it is a struggle well worth undertaking.

The first story

Let me try to present, as objectively as I possibly can, two stories that might explain what is going on.

The first has been articulated most popularly by Rafizi Ramli – a man whose sharp intelligence is reflected crystal clear in the politically savvy tone he used to make his argument.

This story suggests that we are on the edge of a crisis; that forces linked to former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad are looking to dethrone Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, and instigate an era of unprecedented racial and religious strife.

This story has it that in order to take Putrajaya, it is imperative that Anwar be a state assemblyman of Selangor. That is all that Rafizi claims at this point, but I think it is not too much of a stretch to assume that he means that Anwar must become the Selangor Menteri Besar in order to effectively use Selangor as a “launchpad” to take over Putrajaya.

It is nothing short of comical to think that Anwar has some other role to play as a state assemblyman alone.

This story also has it that “option is key” – that somehow the ability to chose between Khalid, Anwar and someone else does not represent potential instability, but is rather some kind of ace up PKR’s sleeve against the UMNO leviathan.

Given the process that needs to be carried out in order to change the Menteri Besar, the Palace dynamics and the uncertain position that PAS will take, it seems to me that this move will actually create great instability all around, where once the only instability existed was those perpetrated incessantly by party leaders.

There is also a warning about Selangor becoming Kedah, despite the fact that while Pakatan lost Kedah in the last elections, Selangor increased its seat count by eight times more than any other state government that gained more seats in GE13. Other people allude to reasons that they “can’t talk about” things behind the scenes that we “wouldn’t understand”.

If we were really privy to all the discussions and the real reasons, I personally don’t think we wouldn’t understand; it’s more like we wouldn’t approve. That’s why we haven’t been made privy to them, and are served in their place steaming piles of horse manure.

The second story

Now let’s try another story. In this story, Khalid runs the state in a way that makes the people happy, but makes politicians unhappy. The last thing I want to do is make things up out of thin air. To elaborate on the previous statistic – in GE13, Negeri Sembilan increased its state assembly seats by one; Penang did the same. Selangor increased its seats by eight.

People love to yell until they’re blue in the face, saying that this or that is what the public really thinks, but this hard statistic is nevertheless incontrovertible. It does not prove conclusively that the public is happy with Khalid, but there are more statistics that provide statistics that suggest the opposite (which is quite remarkable, considering Khalid’s complete deprioritisation of public relations work).

Recently, in a poll by The Star, Khalid was top choice for Menteri Besar, obtaining nearly the same number of votes as the next two candidates put together (Anwar and Rafizi).

I could be wrong, but was there a Merdeka Center poll some years back where Khalid was shown to be a more popular leader than Anwar? If so, I can’t imagine it made Anwar feel too good.

The part where Khalid makes politicians unhappy I think goes without saying – sometimes for perfectly valid reasons, reasons I myself have experienced and been frustrated by. Are they reasons enough to remove him? For my money, not by a long shot.

In any case, Khalid probably thinks it is beneath him to defend his record (can you imagine anyone else in his position maintaining the relative silence that he has?), so I won’t presume to do it for him.

In this story, the most important thing about Khalid is that he does not easily accede to party wishes. If you ask his detractors, this applies to questions of policy (though I cannot think of many such policies). If you ask his supporters, this applies to how the party wants the state to be a bigger “resource” for party activities.

If you ask a cynic, he or she would say, all the PKR people want is their fingers in the jar that Khalid has kept so tightly closed. Is it all just about the money? To say so would probably be a disservice to the varied members of the ‘Anwar for Menteri Besar’ team.  Or, is it mostly about the money?

I suppose you will have to look as objectively as you can at the things they are saying. If they make sense to you, then the answer is ‘no’. If they do not make sense to you, then the answer is ‘yes’.

Feudal Politics and UMNO DNA

People like to say that PKR is like UMNO but they seldom go into specifics. In what way does it or does it not resemble UMNO? I think PKR is most like UMNO in that it is an extremely feudal party.

The most efficient and traditional feudal boss is Azmin Ali (a man who perhaps stands to gain the most from a debacle in Kajang), while Anwar’s feudal style leans more towards playing people off on one another, thus making himself as indispensable as possible.

Feudal politics cannot exist unless there exists money, resources and power to dole it out. The Selangor Menteri Besar can dole out a lot. Opposition Leader? Not so much. ln fact, little.

In the latter story, perhaps this latest ploy is also consciously or subconsciously motivated by a desire to stay relevant – to inspire followers who are losing faith, energy or both, and to do so at any cost.


It appears thAT PAS is divided. Its newly-minted Youth Chief has taken a hard stance, which I can appreciate, while the rest of the leaders may once again be bullied (for the “bigger picture”) to go along for the ride. Why they keep letting PKR do this to them? I do not quite understand.

Meanwhile, motivating some quarters in DAP is the belief that someone like Anwar can relieve some of the pressure they are feeling due to the Allah issue. If they think Anwar has the magic bullet that will bring us closer to actual solutions on this issue, I fear they will be sorely disappointed. However, this is merely an opinion of mine, for which insufficient space for elaboration exists.

The grass is always greener on the other side, and I think it will be too late by the time the delusions clear, and people realise exactly what they threw away when they replaced Khalid.

Enough Politics of Fear

We believe what we want to. Sometimes this leads to idolatry. Inside so many of us lives a burning yearning for change, and a pining for shining heroes to make that change real. These are completely understandable yearnings; but if we let them compromise our objectivity and our judgment, then we shall be forever lost.

I was saddened to see Lim Kit Siang use May 13 as some sort of bogeyman after so many years of berating MCA for doing exactly the same thing.

If you read Rafizi’s admittedly eloquent, beautifully crafted defence with greater care, you will see significant strains of the same politics of fear: we must do this because of the UMNO threat; we must do this because without Anwar, Selangor will crumble like Kedah; we must do this because only Anwar is a light strong enough to fight the oncoming dark.

Scary words, but the facts quite simply do not seem to bear them out. Every one of us will have to choose in this free marketplace of ideas which stories make the most sense, and every one of us will have to live with the consequences of our choices. At the end of the day, as always, we will get the government we deserve.

It’s been a difficult time, but there is no point in living unless we truly believe that for every closed door, a window opens. All we have to do is to find it.

Najib’s Reconciliation Plan: What Animal is that?

January 30, 2014

MY COMMENT: We do not need a Plan for this. What we badly need is a strong andFacebook-K and D enlightened leader with the political will to stop the extremists, especially in UMNO, from destroying whatever that is left of goodwill and harmony that exist in our nation. Unfortunately, Najib cannot provide it. He is only good with words and I sometimes wonder he ever understands what he is saying to us since taking over the premiership from Badawi in 2009. There is 1Malaysia, Malaysia: Land of Endless Possibilities, New Economic Model, name it, and now he talks about Social Unity Model.

I am trying hard to believe that he is serious about this so-called Plan, which he hopes can “make Malaysia a stronger, more united and cohesive nation.” He once told me at the 2010 Maybank Malaysian Open Golf Tournament that he wanted to make Malaysia great again. Nearly half a decade has gone and he has yet to begin. Stop playing politics with us and get down to the serious business of government.–Din Merican

Najib’s Reconciliation Plan: What Animal is that?

by Bernama (01-29-14)

The government’s national reconciliation plan will be based on four key thrusts, namely social, political, government and international relations, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak said.

Najib said in a statement that the cabinet members at their meeting today examined a plan to develop and promote an environment that was conducive to and would help promote national reconciliation through unity and consensus in the country.

He said the government’s plan was based on democratic principles.However, Najib said, the plan did not include the formation of any sort of unity government.“We were given a strong mandate by the people to govern at the last general election and we intend to do so. However, we must look at becoming more inclusive in our activities and events.

“We are open to talking to all parties and we can use Parliament, including the setting up of bi-partisan committees to discuss issues affecting national unity,” he said.

Najib said he mooted the idea of national reconciliation after the the last general election, but various parties were not responsive to his appeals to come together.

“The legitimacy of the elections were even questioned by them and it was proven to be baseless. I am now heartened to see that the Opposition is calling for a consensus and I am sure they will welcome this new development,” he said.

“Unlike vague ideas about a consensus, the government’s national reconciliation plan will be based on four key thrusts, namely, social, political, government and international relations and going forward.

“I will lead the implementation of changes that we hope will bring all Malaysians closer together,” he added.Freedom to voice views will be defended. Najib said the freedom to voice one’s views would continue to be defended, but this must also be tempered with responsibility.

“In order for all this to succeed, we must all commit to avoid spreading lies and slander, finally putting to rest the politics of hate,” he said.

Najib said there was also a need to go back to the grassroots and re-engage with the people to build their commitment to the common vision of a peaceful, successful and harmonious Malaysia.

“We must also get our youths involved in these initiatives to unite the people. We must work towards a Social Unity Model that can help to ensure that unity remains a common objective in the activities of the next generation. Over the next few months, you will see changes that will help make Malaysia a stronger, more united and cohesive nation. I invite all Malaysians to join me on this journey,” he said.

– Bernama