Pakatan Harapan–A Question of Trust


December 23, 2015

Pakatan Harapan– A Question of Trust

by Dr. Bridget Welsh

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Harapan

Anwar Ibrahim sorely missed by the Opposition

December 22 marks the three-month anniversary of Pakatan Harapan – the revamped opposition coalition that is having difficulty getting off the ground. It is supposed to bring about hope, to galvanise like-minded Malaysians in the spirit of reform and cooperation to offer an electoral alternative. It is failing badly. As the year end approaches, it is valuable to examine why.

Legacy issues

The fact that Harapan was formed out of disappointment with Pakatan Rakyat has marked the new coalition. Attention still centres on who was responsible for Pakatan Rakyat’s collapse, with the blame game a persistent dynamic. At the same time, there is denial that Pakatan Rakyat is over, with some individuals and parties unwilling to let go of the past.

These legacies of the past are debilitating Harapan. Rather than look forward, opposition parties in Harapan are continually focused on old wounds and battles. Fighting old friends now enemies is the norm, as old wounds are still raw. DAP attacks PAS. PKR) insists that it can work with everyone (while in effect it is working with none as it stymies its supposed partners).

Parti Amanah Negara attacks its old colleagues to show it is not PAS as it focuses on justifying itself. So much negative energy is being spent fighting rather than elsewhere. For now, it appears as if Harapan is divided rather than united. Some even doubt whether there is a working partnership.

This is being compounded by a serious erosion of trust within the opposition itself. When members of a party have to use audio recordings of meetings to keep other members of the same party in check, something is wrong. Inside parties and among different parties, the trust erosion has corroded relationships. Ties are deteriorating further from persistent battling. As long as the opposition focuses on its past, it will not be able to move forward.

Leadership

This new opposition coalition suffers from a lack of viable leadership. Harapan has opted to have jailed Anwar Ibrahim as its leader, rather than offer a new option to the public. While the injustice surrounding the jailing of the former opposition leader is real, and the calls for his release have increased and will continue, the reality is that Anwar is not in a position to lead the opposition or to serve in a capacity as leader in Parliament or in government any time soon.

Leaders matter – they win support and most importantly, they lead through making the hard decisions to bringing a diverse opposition together. Anwar’s absence is being keenly felt, as evident of the infighting and lack of cohesion not only in his party PKR but in the opposition as a whole.

If the opposition wants to be at all viable in the next election and Harapan is to be taken seriously, there needs to be alternative leadership that unifies the coalition, rather than divides it. This leader needs to be viable to the electorate as a whole. Voters need to know who they are voting for and why, as Harapan has to move from a holding pattern to moving ahead.

The highest chances of releasing Anwar from jail lie with the opposition winning over the national government.

A power game

The leadership problem has worsened as individual parties have moved simultaneously into defensive silo mode, assuring that they strengthen their own party’s position for upcoming election. This is most obvious in the announcements of candidates in Sarawak, where rather than compromise or engage in quiet dialogue, the practice has been to demand in public and provoke.

Each individual party wants to assure its fortunes and given the insecurity in the current political climate, the approach means look out for themselves rather than the opposition as a whole.

The contraction of cooperation is tied to an ongoing fight for dominance and relevance in Harapan. Unlike with Pakatan Rakyat, where all three parties brought different strengths to the coalition, the focus now is on what weaknesses they have. DAP is seen as too Chinese, too arrogant. PKR is seen as too fragmented, too selfish. Amanah is seen as lacking a base and clear direction.

All of the parties suffer from a lack of grassroots with the separation from PAS. Connectivity to the Malay grassroots is a particular problem. These shortcoming factors overshadow what they do bring to the partnership and the reality is that they are stronger together, rather than apart.

The opposition parties are spending time in a power game to win dominance in Harapan for the case of PKR and DAP, and for Amanah to make itself relevant and to distance itself from perceptions that it is controlled by other parties in Harapan, notably DAP.

As with the infighting tied to legacy issues, this expense of energy is also diverting the opposition from coalescing. Now, more than ever, as racial tensions and religious differences have heightened, the lack of a viable multi-racial alternative that brings Malaysians together rather than tear them apart is negatively shaping the political climate.

Public credibility gap

The biggest shortcoming of Harapan lies with the connection to voters. Three months on, it is not clear what Harapan stands for. It is just a vehicle for political power, a vehicle without the PAS wheel but essentially the same model without the hudud feature? Or is it something else? Is it a working multi-ethnic alternative?

The only common ground that appears apparent to voters is that it is made of people who want to stay in office and in Penang and Selangor stay in government. What exactly is the common ground of Harapan? It cannot just be about winning an election to get support from voters.

Harapan has yet to develop a clear platform or meaningfully engage with the public to explain what that platform might be. Within Harapan, Amanah in particular has yet to clearly define itself. The issues that voters care about are being ignored. Harapan is banking on the anger toward the incumbent UMNO-led national government and hoping past support for the opposition will transfer to the new coalition.

Both of these assumptions are flawed; Harapan underestimates the rise of apathy and underestimates the important pull of hope that the opposition provided to some Malaysian voters. It underestimates the impact of the delineation exercise, with many of the parties going along with the process and abandoning substantive electoral reform to position their individual party.

It also underestimates the patronage power of an UMNO-PAS relationship and overestimates the potential of these two Malay parties as reaching a level of cooperation that will alienate voters. Rather than work to win over the public, there is a sense of entitlement in Harapan that the public will come to them – a similar sentiment to that of BN that in many ways does little to differentiate Harapan from BN.

More than ever, after a difficult year, Malaysians are searching for hope, for the promise of a different future. Sadly, Harapan has yet to offer this option. The potential of Harapan remains alive. Hard work and hard decisions are needed to make this substantive. Giving Malaysians a meaningful electoral alternative will not happen until Harapan works to fulfil its name, to move beyond the past, to sort out its present and outline a clear future.


BRIDGET WELSH is a Senior Research Associate of the Center for East Asian Democracy at National Taiwan University, an Associate Fellow of The Habibie Center, a University Fellow of Charles Darwin University, and a Professor at Ipek University.


50 thoughts on “Pakatan Harapan–A Question of Trust

  1. Why is it that every time I see a photo of leaders/participants holding their joined hands up in the air I straightaway know that any meeting just ended has achieved nothing and nor will the future bring any positive results.

    The same was true of the old PR… a photo of three smiling leaders seated together after each crisis… while behind their backs the coalition was coming apart.

    “Galvanise like-minded Malaysians… in the spirit of reform and cooperation… blah blah…”. Forget it, man. If PR could not do it this crowd is even less likely to do so.

  2. Pakatan Harapan (PH) has bastardized the word “harapan” to mean “hopelessness”. Without PAS, PH will never be able to gain the support of the Malay/Muslim grassroots in the rural areas which are presently disproportionately over-represented. A two-party system in Malaysia will remain as a dream that will NEVER come true.
    The BN is now merely a decorative & misleading name which effectively means UMNO. And UMNO is now struggling in the quicksand of its own making caused by currently questionable leadership that somehow manages to hang-on on the basis of CASH IS KING for reward purposes and dismissals & other harsh disciplinary actions for punishments. It is highly predicted that under the current leadership UMNO will hit the dirt at the coming GE14. That is why the old enemy PAS is being courted by UMNO. PAS should take note of the Malay proverb “Jangan lepaskan anjing tersepit – nanti kita digigitnya” (do not release a trapped dog – it will bite us).
    PAS should remain on its own and prepare to contest as many State & Federal seats on its own steam at the coming GE14. Never to enter into any pre-election pacts or agreements with any other parties. Those agreements will have to wait till after the GE14 results are known with the view to form coalition governments without UMNO if possible.

  3. I’ve read from a comment from another website (I’m not naming the poster, sorry), and I’m in agreeance.

    He (she?) mentioned that perhaps it’s time that the opposition champion a focused and comprehensive “philosopy”, rather than just a leader. The reasoning being that leaders come and go, or sometimes being nuetralised, but a ” philosophy” would stay.

    An anology would be the the football club Barcelona. It escew a philosopy in a playing style, in the way they develop their academy, in their recruitments, so much so that, no matter who their club president or coach might be, the direction and ethos of the club would remain undiminished.

    Just my humble 2 cents.

  4. It’s been said that no matter who you vote for the government always gets in. I’m not sure that any govt that gets in will abolish the tolls strewn all over the country, which are blighting the Malaysian landscape and bleeding the poor people dry, or if they will not unashamedly vote for their own excessive pay hike at the expense of the public time and again. It is that kind of world that we’re mired in, but hope springs eternal.

  5. The writer over-estimates on what Harapan needs to do. Fact is that the last two general elections were based less on what Anwar or Pakatan Rakyat did than what UMNO did: Malaysians simply disliked the arrogance, corruption, and gangster behavior of UMNO and therefore their attitude was ABU – Anyone/any party But UMNO. I voted a PAS guy for a parliamentary seat despite the fact that I didn’t know him from Adam. He could’ve been a child molester, a wife beater, or even a mongoose and I still would have voted him instead of UMNO or its associates like MCA or MIC. That attitude still stands, largely, unless UMNO changes its ways. The slight difference now involves only those who’re formerly from PAS. Most of them are contesting in urban areas where the educated Malays and the non-Malays are, so they must resolutely show their constituencies that they don’t accept PAS’s extremism. PKR’s Kajang antics had angered quite a lot of people, but they would still probably hold on to their voters. DAP has no problem: their reps might win even more votes this time, having rejected PAS’ extremism.

  6. “DAP has no problem”

    The DAP probably has the Chinese vote locked down……which is kind of the problem because the Chinese don’t make up the whole country.

    The problem with the Opposition is that they are in reality just a replay of the BN formula and all this ABU nonsense at the end of the day will not be enough to replace an entrenched devious Regime.

  7. Just simple comment.
    Complicated nation. Let just take a look.
    Population.
    Association.
    NGO.
    Political party.
    Religion.
    Culture.
    It’s likes a 10meters pyton trying to swallow an elephant. All this is connected to politic in which ever way. No wonder we are in a mess.

  8. This is the time for a new partner-Harapan to move out from hibernation to galvanise Malaysians by spreading the good tidings of reform and cooperation to offer what will be in store when the opposition “Pakatan Harapan” walks into Putrajaya. The best time is now to show that change is the answer to the problems what we are facing the agony of hardships in many different ways.

  9. Only the leader counts. Once he is discredited the organisation will be measured by him. And then each and every member of the organisation will think that he is better than the leader. The leader did not protect himself and got entangled with the law of the land. Once, yes it is okay but the second time you are out. The process of regaining trust is a difficult road and more often than not you will be virtually running on the spot while other get ahead of you. Sometimes we think that once you are a
    leader no one can touch you and forget that there is something referred to as “default by option”

    The motley group and people who formed PKR have to return to the drawing board and work their way up. The present crop has to give way to the younger leaders of tomorrow.

  10. Malaysia’s public enemy NO 1 is
    the Umno Baru’s deeply entrenched culture of MACCP = Money politics, Abuse of Power, Corruptions, Cronyism and Puppetry.

    It is the cause and effect, starting from the RM2.5Billion BMF Loan Loss( 1982/4 ),the mother of all scandals that follow, … RM 15Billion BNM Forex Loss,.. till this day ,.. the 1 MDB … that had largely brought this country to this dire state of affairs.

    I ask the leaders , what and why is that this is still being allowed to be queried here (by Prof Welsh) that …”Harapan ( or anyone) has yet to develop a clear platform or meaningfully engage with the public to explain what that platform might be” ?

    Deliver to the people the ACGT= Accountability, Competency , Governance and Transparency to replace the MACCP, regardless of any leader/ party’s affiliiation to politics, race or religions.

    This is the clear common platform, except that few are reaching out with it to the people who are distracted by other secondary issues, (mis)leading the people and their own party grassroots to miss the forest for a few trees.

    Stop bickering, start working.

  11. >The problem with the Opposition is that they are in reality just a replay of the BN formula and all this ABU nonsense<

    Actually, this ABU "nonsense" had forced BN to use plainly illegal measures – such as the bribery of Opposition MPs – to snatch back Perak, not to mention the loss of the country's richest state, Selangor. AND it has threatened, until the infighting among Pakatan members, the loss of more states by BN.

    < will not be enough to replace an entrenched devious Regime.<

    True. That day will come not because of any salient action by the DAP, but by enlightened Malays who decide that enough is enough, the country needs to go beyond the present UMNO set-up. DAP, and the rest of Malaysia, must wait for that day. DAP has no problem only within the context of the party staying strong and doing what it CAN do: go on with its present efforts to attract more non-Chinese – especially Malay intellectuals – to the DAP fold. PAS, however, will most likely be kicked back to one or two East Peninsular states, while PKR will find increasing difficulty in the Chinese and Malay areas as the country polarizes under UMNO's racist policies.

  12. Just shared that with my wife. She said the American Pie essay would not work. A lot of people felt they have been getting the short end of the straw for far too long. The Malays for the longest time, Chinese in Malaysia and Chinese in China. The entire Islamic civilization is under seige. We have not even begin to start talking about the Indians. Man, the whole world just felt like they are getting the short end of the straw after in this Golden Rule liberal world.

    We should celebrating for the news about Jesus birthday and Mohammed’s birthday. Yet, the news is entirely quiet. Beijing is on high alert today for fear of wonton attack.

    I don’t know, a universal policy? Come on! Get real.. Pakatan Harapan is a miracle Dream team! Seriously. I am really glad we all like Matt Sabu. No offense, but Cik Matt Sabu not so cool looking. But we all like him.. isn’t that just great?

    .. oh well .🤔

    Hmmm… speaking of which, when am I still not touch by DAP leaders? I mean I do like YB LKS, .. but somehow he is just not that charismatic. We Chinese really need a KJ 😎 But KJ .. err.. he is just so Machiavellian in a bad way 😵🙄

  13. “Actually, this ABU “nonsense” had forced BN to use plainly illegal measures –….”

    Incorrect. UMNO has always used illegal methods to remain in power, from gerrymandering, vote buying, vote rigging, instant citizens (Project M),intimidating/imprisoning Opposition figures, a biased election commission….the list goes on.

    What ABU has done is poison the discourse. It has given the opposition a free pass, pointing the spotlight only on UMNO and not the policies and ideologies that BN and PR/PH share and which are detrimental to this country.

    “True. That day will come not because of any salient action by the DAP, but by enlightened Malays who decide that enough is enough, the country needs to go beyond the present UMNO set-up.”

    See its this kind of ABU thinking that is deleterious to Oppositional politics. UMNO could fall if they lose Sarawak/Sabah. UMNO could fall if the cash runs out or the party warlords revolt.

    The very term “enlightened” Malays is patronizing, as if rejecting UMNO makes one “enlightened”. I would argue that an enlightened anybody is someone who rejects the polices of BN and PH since both these cabals support the idea of Malay special rights, in an attempt to appease the Malay vote and grab the keys to Putrajaya.
    _________________
    Conrad,

    Most eloquently put. The tragedy for Malaysia is that both BN and Harapan are afraid to deal with reality that there are no “special rights” for any one human race. Remove Article 153 of the Constitution so that the Malay is born free, not subservient to UMNO or any political party.

    Let the Malays learn to accept the proposition that those who succeed are people who work study hard, pursue life long learning, toil hard, lead a frugal and purposeful life, and operate within the limits of the possible. These politicians on both sides of our political divide have yet to learn humility and how to operate with the realms of the possible. Enough of their political crap.

    I thank you for your contributions to this blog in 2015. I look forward to more of the same from you and also LaMoy, Dr. Phua, CLF, Frank, Veritas, Tok Cik, Orang Malaya. and others who have made this blog interesting. Let us all leave something behind, no matter how small that is legacy is to the next generation. I have always believed that we all can make difference. Happy New Year.–Din Merican

  14. http://www.nurulizzah.com/site/2015/12/perutusan-maulidur-rasul-1437h/
    Nurul ! Sacrificed so much you have for this nation. So little you have asked for in return.
    Is there really no difference between Harapan and BN. Read Nurul’s posting, and one could tell the difference.

    Augustine.. city of God
    “””
    And thus it is that in the same affliction the wicked detest God and blaspheme, while the good pray and praise. So material a difference does it make, not what ills are suffered, but what kind of man suffers them. For, stirred up with the same movement, mud exhales a horrible stench, and ointment emits a fragrant odor.
    “”””

  15. >UMNO has always used illegal methods to remain in power, from gerrymandering, vote buying, vote rigging, instant citizens (Project M)….the list goes on.has given the opposition a free pass, pointing the spotlight only on UMNO
    and not the policies and ideologies that BN and PR/PH share and which are detrimental to this country. ABU thinking that is deleterious to Oppositional politics. UMNO could fall if they lose Sarawak/Sabah. UMNO could fall if the cash runs out or the party warlords revolt.The very term “enlightened” Malays is patronizing, as if rejecting UMNO makes one “enlightened”. I would argue that an enlightened anybody is someone who rejects the polices of BN and PH since both these cabals support the idea of Malay special rights <

    BN certainly supports the "rights" as that's the excuse for money grabs. If by PH we include ALL former Pakatan members, then that's obviously a false statement. Some within the Opposition might offer politically correct platforms, but it's unlikely they would support special rights.

    And I've seen that argument before – the kind that lumps both (or some) in the Opposition and the ruling party together so that the electorate should support neither. The effect, of course, is that UMNO continues to rule.

  16. Don’t know why my posting was cut short. Perhaps I should put it in three parts.

    PART ONE
    >UMNO has always used illegal methods to remain in power, from gerrymandering, vote buying, vote rigging, instant citizens (Project M)….the list goes on.<

    "Gerrymandering" occurred before the word was coined after Elbridge Gerry in early 19th century United States. And so did nearly every one of the sins of commission (and probably omission) pointed out above. But it would be hard to imagine, especially in this country, the level to which UMNO had stooped to in overthrowing the newly elected Perak state government.

    I used the term ABU not necessarily because there was a movement by fine people behind it: like gerrymandering the ABU idea had existed long before it became a talking point. It had been my attitude for decades, as well as that of my family, and many of my friends as well. Having that attitude as a general guideline does not exclude the existence of good people within UMNO – my mention of Saifuddin Abdullah in an earlier post here as one of those commendable Malaysians was just an example. Indeed, there were others who had joined UMNO in order to reform it, only to find the task impossible and thus forced to leave that party.

  17. PART 2

    >has given the opposition a free pass, pointing the spotlight only on UMNO and not the policies and ideologies that BN and PR/PH share and which are detrimental to this country.<

    To talk about "pointing the spotlight only on UMNO" is to be hyperbolic: UMNO had and still has, with the possible exception of the internet, a monopoly of the mass media and no slogan like ABU had been able to dominate the nation's political discourse, though that attitude, as I'd said earlier, was already present long before it became a political slogan.

    "A free pass"??? That surely is a questionable conclusion. A rejection of UMNO cannot be taken to mean, or seen to mean, an Opposition that is blameless or nearly blameless. What ABU is about is nothing less than to admit that no man-made party is sacrosanct, and that any democracy needs at least two credible, functioning parties – one in the government, and the other in the Opposition. It means, in short, that it's time, after more than half a century, that another party, even with some warts and all, takes over the helm of government. If the Opposition fails to deliver, UMNO can always return, which is what democracy is all about.

    Finally, to talk about UMNO is to talk about its policies – what else is there to reject a political party but for its policies? And no, BN and PR/PH might have had some similarities in "policies and ideologies" but the word "share" seems like a 50-50 thing and a bit overstretched. I'll touch on that part of the story another time.

  18. PART 3

    > ABU thinking that is deleterious to Oppositional politics. UMNO could fall if they lose Sarawak/Sabah. UMNO could fall if the cash runs out or the party warlords revolt.The very term “enlightened” Malays is patronizing, as if rejecting UMNO makes one “enlightened”. I would argue that an enlightened anybody is someone who rejects the polices of BN and PH since both these cabals support the idea of Malay special rights <

    BN certainly supports the "rights" as that's the excuse for money grabs. If by PH we include ALL former Pakatan members, then that's obviously a false statement. Some within the Opposition might offer politically correct platforms, but it's unlikely they would support special rights.

    And I've seen that argument before – the kind that lumps both (or some) in the Opposition and the ruling party together so that the electorate should support neither. The effect, of course, is that UMNO continues to rule.

  19. katasayang: The people you should ask are those so-called leaders from PH. What make their coalition different and better than BN? What is their vision for the country? What direction and where they want to lead the people to? What kind of a Malaysia they are trying to build? And how? . . . . Only they can answer you. To date, I see no difference between PH and BN, besides corruption. But all other political, social and economic issues, PH simply has no guts to challenge BN, or should I say UMNO. Take the two cancers I mentioned in this blog — race and religion, economic and corruption. What is the PH’s stance? Does PH have the guts to challenge Article 153? Only the leaders of PH can answer you.

  20. >Take the two cancers I mentioned in this blog — race and religion, economic and corruption. What is the PH’s stance?<

    I touched a bit on that in my 3rd part, LaMoy, but it didn't appear. I understand why.

    Din: I think you're not only a concerned citizen, but also a good man. I was too blunt.
    ____________
    Blunt maybe, that is if you think so. But you are neither impolite nor rude. Keep writing. On this blog we all have big hearts. Happy New Year, bro.–Din Merican

  21. “BN certainly supports the “rights” as that’s the excuse for money grabs. If by PH we include ALL former Pakatan members, then that’s obviously a false statement. Some within the Opposition might offer politically correct platforms, but it’s unlikely they would support special rights. ”

    How is it a false statement ? Please cite official PR or PH policy in favour of abolishing the relevant article. Furthermore what does offering “a politically correct platform ” even mean when added with “unlikely they would support special rights”.

    “And I’ve seen that argument before – the kind that lumps both (or some) in the Opposition and the ruling party together so that the electorate should support neither. The effect, of course, is that UMNO continues to rule.”

    This is extremely disingenuous. I was specific in my criticism that the ideological basis for BN and PR/PH were the same. While I said reject polices, I never said to abstain from voting. This is the kind of mendacity that Oppo supporters claim do not engage in but….

  22. “Gerrymandering” occurred before the word was coined after Elbridge Gerry in early 19th century United States. And so did nearly every one of the sins of commission (and probably omission) pointed out above. But it would be hard to imagine, especially in this country, the level to which UMNO had stooped to in overthrowing the newly elected Perak state government. ”

    Thanks for the history lesson but my point was that ABU didn’t necessitate UMNO/BN resorting to illegality to retain power, which apparently was your point.

    “Having that attitude as a general guideline does not exclude the existence of good people within UMNO – my mention of Saifuddin Abdullah in an earlier post here as one of those commendable Malaysians was just an example.”

    I have no idea if Saifuddin is a commendable Malaysian, but my point that you choose to ignore, is that ABU detracts and distracts from the extremely socially destructive foundational ideologies of the Establishment and the Opposition.

    ABU as an individual or general philosophy in my opinion is morally and intellectually untenable and falls into the category of propaganda. Even though I have voted Oppo ever since I was eligible to vote it was done with the knowledge that political parties are only interested in power and not in the ordinary citizen and the same goes for the majority of people who support them.

  23. “To talk about “pointing the spotlight only on UMNO” is to be hyperbolic: UMNO had and still has, with the possible exception of the internet, a monopoly of the mass media and no slogan like ABU had been able to dominate the nation’s political discourse, though that attitude, as I’d said earlier, was already present long before it became a political slogan.”

    Exactly how is it hyperbolic ? Put it this way. I claim that ABU detracts from deeper issues by shining a spotlight only on UMNO at the expense of deeper political and social issues and you respond by giving me a litany of UMNO malfeasances. Do you get the problem here or do I need to elaborate ?

    “A free pass”??? That surely is a questionable conclusion. A rejection of UMNO cannot be taken to mean, or seen to mean, an Opposition that is blameless or nearly blameless. ”

    But we are not talking about a rejection of UMNO are we ? We are talking about a propaganda which literally means anything but UMNO. And spare me the revisionist history on the implications of the term. I was there (and most probably everyone here) when this meme first started.

    And since you brought up the biased UMNO media, what would be your opinion on the biased nature of the alternative media ? Do you think that the alternative media is objective ?

    Because if the alternative media is not objective, a blameless opposition is what we got.

    “Finally, to talk about UMNO is to talk about its policies – what else is there to reject a political party but for its policies? And no, BN and PR/PH might have had some similarities in “policies and ideologies” but the word “share” seems like a 50-50 thing and a bit overstretched. I’ll touch on that part of the story another time.”

    Not at all. To talk about UMNO is talk about it’s corruption scandals, its personalities , its bigotry and numerous other lurid issues in lieu of substantive policy issues. We don’t talk about them because PR/PH realize that most of what they offer is the same as UMNO .

    And contrary to what you have people believe, it’s not a 50-50 (sic) thing but rather policies and ideologies grounded in the same soil that served BN all these decades.

  24. Gotcha your point, Din, thanks. The festive season is an opportunity to write more. I’d largely stopped writing at Malaysian blogs for the past dozen or so years – many of my friends/former colleagues had given up even earlier. Many are no longer citizens, but still concerned about their land of birth. Khrushchev once said that frogs tend to be partial to their own puddles – so do most Malaysians.

    Here goes:

    “How is it a false statement ? …. Furthermore what does offering “a politically correct platform ” even mean when added with “unlikely they would support special rights”.

    Precisely what I’d written. When the government can interpret laws in their own way, those who questioned that right could find themselves in deep doodoo. So their stance could be implied, or known only in private conversations. This “toke quin” as they termed it in Cantonese had been unacceptable as long ago as 1957, when demonstrations against it were held in many parts of Ipoh and was partly responsible for the rise of the PPP (and later DAP). However, since there wasn’t much anyone could do, most people decided to bear it, especially when the government, mostly through the MCA and perhaps MIC, assured the non-Malays that certain special rights had a sunset clause.

    “This is extremely disingenuous. I was specific in my criticism that the ideological basis for BN and PR/PH were the same. While I said reject polices, I never said to abstain from voting. ”

    Very disingenuous indeed, to think that when BN and PR/PH are lumped together, people would not be dissuaded from voting. In many cases, a low turnout and hence abstention at polls would be a result. About 15 years ago, I had warned about this tendency in a former DAP blog (Bungaraya, created by that conscientious Malaysian Dinesh Singh), when certain people kept saying that Anwar was a “buaya” and no different from UMNO and even caricatured the then PAS leadership as “Mad Mullahs.”

  25. “Thanks for the history lesson”

    My pleasure.

    “… but my point was that ABU didn’t necessitate UMNO/BN resorting to illegality to retain power, which apparently was your point.”

    And my point was, obviously, that while UMNO did commit many illegal acts in the past, the ABU attitude was a major factor in the electoral tsunamis that resulted in the loss of several major states. This severe loss was mainly the reason for the overthrow of the Perak state government.

    > my point that you choose to ignore, is that ABU detracts and distracts from the extremely socially destructive foundational ideologies of the Establishment and the Opposition.”

    As I mentioned, the ABU attitude preceded the movement, and it was precisely this “Anyone but UMNO” stance that dramatically helped people to realize the “extremely socially destructive foundational ideologies” of the establishment. I do NOT find, however, that DAP’s foundational ideology to be similarly destructive. On the contrary, I find that concepts such as “Malaysian Malaysia’ to be absolutely constructive and, if implemented, to be most beneficial for the country.

    “ABU as an individual or general philosophy”

    ABU is too simplistic to be any kind of philosophy. As a slogan however, it sent a message to the powers-that-be that enough was enough. It probably also fortified the people’s determination to bring change via the ballot box.

    ” falls into the category of propaganda.”

    Certainly it is propaganda. Propaganda is part and parcel of modern life, whether in politics or any other sphere. Readers might like to read that wonderful book by French sociologist Jacques Ellul titled “Propaganda.” If I remember rightly it was used as a text in a Columbia University course by that great – sadly departed – author/professor Herbert Schiller.

    >”political parties are only interested in power. ”

    Not all. E.G., the least effective way to attain power is to form or join parties such as PSM, my personal favorite party.

    >the same goes for the majority of people who support them.<

    The majority of Malaysians that I know of in the American midwest are no longer Malaysians and therefore there's no question of anyone going for any sort of power. And most of them are pro-DAP.

  26. “Exactly how is it hyperbolic ?”

    Read again what I said. A hyperbole is an overstatement. To suggest that a slogan like ABU could point the “spotlight only on UMNO” and even diminish in any way discussions on “deeper political and social issues” is surely hyperbolic. All the more so when the nation’s mass media, with the possible exception of the internet, is largely controlled by UMNO. The slogan can help fortify voter’s resolution to vote for a change in government, but by itself it can’t prevent discussions the way the government can. It is the government that often shifted the focus from political and social issues, partly by threatening arrests with sedition laws, and by offering rewards in the form of cash or even sewing machines, etc.

    “But we are not talking about a rejection of UMNO are we ?”

    Huh? As Christ would say, the word came from your mouth (or your keyboard), as in “as if REJECTING UMNO makes one enlightened.” I did answer this “enlightened” thing but it did not appear (which was why I wrote to LaMoy that “I touched a bit on that in my 3rd part, LaMoy, but it didn’t appear”). I wrote about enlightened Malays who, when given an important post, would not think they need to pledge to defend agama, bangsa, and negera in the restricted sense that only one religion, one ethnic group, and an exclusive form of nation-state (Tanah – Melayu) ought to be defended. Malays who reject such exclusive definitions are mostly the “educated Malays” that Tun Mahathir talked about. And I’m sure the Tun did not mean to be “patronizing” when he differentiated such Malays from other groups.

    >We are talking about a propaganda which literally means anything but UMNO. And spare me the revisionist history on the implications of the term.”

    See my above comments on propaganda. About “spare(ing)” – hahaha – you can say what you want and I can understand it the way I want. Unless you think “history” belongs to you only.

    “Do you think that the alternative media is objective ?”

    Rather “disingenuous” to compare the alternative media with the hegemonic government media, don’t you think? Especially when the alternative media could be closed down, owners arrested, circulation restricted, etc. With such one-sided oppressive laws it’s not surprising that the alternative media too tend to exaggerate or even, at times, slant their news or opinions (which is another reason there’s no such thing as a blameless opposition).

    “Because if the alternative media is not objective, a blameless opposition is what we got.”

    I think you might want to re-write this sentence.

    “Finally, to talk about UMNO is to talk about its policies – what else is there to reject a political party but for its policies? And no, BN and PR/PH might have had some similarities in “policies and ideologies” but the word “share” seems like a 50-50 thing and a bit overstretched. I’ll touch on that part of the story another time.”

    “To talk about UMNO is talk about it’s corruption scandals, its personalities , its bigotry and numerous other lurid issues in lieu of substantive policy issues.”

    Sigh. Ultimately it’s their policies, including the way they were implemented, that allow corruption, that enable certain types of people to rise to the top, etc.

  27. “Precisely what I’d written. When the government can interpret laws in their own way, those who questioned that right could find themselves in deep doodoo. So their stance could be implied, or known only in private conversations.”

    You are being disingenuous again. I have never seen cowardice used as an excuse for mainstream popularity. You made a claim and when pushed to cite a source, you waffle and engage in rhetorical sleight of hand. People are brave in anonymity. Mr. Merican himself just said on this very thread that political parties should wake up and reject a provision like 153 and you make an excuse for political parties based on the sanctions of the State. It’s no use claiming change when political parties are shovelling the same BS.

    “However, since there wasn’t much anyone could do, most people decided to bear it, especially when the government, mostly through the MCA and perhaps MIC, assured the non-Malays that certain special rights had a sunset clause.”

    And PR /PH and the DAP does not do the same ? Recall the scuffle between the DAP’s Ong Kian Ming and PSM on this issue. In fact I could cite you the relevant sources where PR/PH support the special position of the Malays and place affirmative action in the context of class (sic) but with the comfort that the “Malays” would benefit the most.

    “Very disingenuous indeed, to think that when BN and PR/PH are lumped together, people would not be dissuaded from voting…”

    Hardly disingenuous at all. People vote for the lesser of two evils. People vote in anger over specific issues to punish the incumbent regardless of similar ideologies of the challenger . Citing similarities is not an invitation to abstaining but rather an acknowledgement that the political landscape is stagnant mostly because of the politicians but also because of the electorate.

  28. “And my point was, obviously, that while UMNO did commit many illegal acts in the past, the ABU attitude was a major factor in the electoral tsunamis that resulted in the loss of several major states. This severe loss was mainly the reason for the overthrow of the Perak state government.”

    Not obviously. Your point was an attempt to overstate the relevance of ABU without taking into account the historical and contemporary realities. While the ABU attitude was a factor in the significant gains in the elections it was by no means the major one.

    “As I mentioned, the ABU attitude preceded the movement, and it was precisely this “Anyone but UMNO” stance that dramatically helped people to realize the “extremely socially destructive foundational ideologies” of the establishment. I do NOT find, however, that DAP’s foundational ideology to be similarly destructive. On the contrary, I find that concepts such as “Malaysian Malaysia’ to be absolutely constructive and, if implemented, to be most beneficial for the country.”

    Doubtful. People did not vote against UMNO/BN because they understood the “extremely socially destructive foundational ideologies” , they voted for numerous reasons. The Chinese felt that the MCA were “running dogs”. For the Malays it was a combination of factors, the infighting and sabotage within UMNO was a major factor and for the Indians….well who knows what they were voting for. I certainly don’t. ABU was a great slogan which collided with reality.

    If the DAP’s “Malaysian Malaysia” includes “enlightened Malays”, then I think I’ll pass. But the reality is, that this is just another slogan without real political will with regards to Article 153. It makes people feel better but doesn’t really solve the problem.

    “ABU is too simplistic to be any kind of philosophy. As a slogan however, it sent a message to the powers-that-be that enough was enough. It probably also fortified the people’s determination to bring change via the ballot box. ”

    On this we agree with. Too bad the drones who spout this nonsense believe otherwise.

    “Certainly it is propaganda. Propaganda is part and parcel of modern life, whether in politics or any other sphere. Readers might like to read that wonderful book by French sociologist Jacques Ellul titled “Propaganda.” If I remember rightly it was used as a text in a Columbia University course by that great – sadly departed – author/professor Herbert Schiller.”

    Propaganda should be rejected not celebrated as something beneficial to the community.

    “Not all. E.G., the least effective way to attain power is to form or join parties such as PSM, my personal favorite party.”

    Dr. Jeyakumar is a family friend , PSM a political party that I support even though I disagree with the ideological stance of the party. They are also outliers.

    “The majority of Malaysians that I know of in the American midwest are no longer Malaysians and therefore there’s no question of anyone going for any sort of power. And most of them are pro-DAP.”

    Why am I not surprised . It seems to me that the DAP has the most support from people with no dog in this fight. Curious.

  29. “To suggest that a slogan like ABU could point the “spotlight only on UMNO” and even diminish in any way discussions on “deeper political and social issues” is surely hyperbolic.”

    No it isn’t. The very definition of the slogan precludes any discussion on any topic beyond removing UMNO from power. Hence the “anything but …” part.

    “The slogan can help fortify voter’s resolution to vote for a change in government, but by itself it can’t prevent discussions the way the government can. It is the government that often shifted the focus from political and social issues, partly by threatening arrests with sedition laws, and by offering rewards in the form of cash or even sewing machines, etc.”

    Since you have conceded it is propaganda, why not drop the slogan tag ? ABU does not fortify a voter’s resolution. What it is, is shorthand for like minded individuals . People who have already decided not to vote for UMNO and believe that anything is preferable to UMNO, and not interested in discussing the failings of their preferred political parties. This is natural in partisan conflicts.

    And do you really think that the Opposition didn’t offer any “goodies” in their election manifesto ?

    “I wrote about enlightened Malays who, when given an important post, would not think they need to pledge to defend agama, bangsa, and negera in the restricted sense that only one religion, one ethnic group, and an exclusive form of nation-state (Tanah – Melayu) ought to be defended. Malays who reject such exclusive definitions are mostly the “educated Malays” that Tun Mahathir talked about. And I’m sure the Tun did not mean to be “patronizing” when he differentiated such Malays from other groups.”

    Mahathir was a patronizing, manipulative scoundrel would say and do anything to shape the Malay polity to his liking. So yeah, not only was he patronizing he was also insulting. So now that we have got that out of the way.

    This was what you said in your original reply :

    “…but by enlightened Malays who decide that enough is enough, the country needs to go beyond the present UMNO set-up”

    Which considering the context, implies a shift of thinking in the Malay community and not the fancy new definition you attempt here.

    Your next attempt to define this enlightened Malay is even more insulting. Firstly the Malay polity is not made up of Malay(s) who are suddenly given important post thereby being in a position to reject UMNO dogma which results in enlightenment . And for the record I work with many Malays who reject UMNO and have been doing it for years, but do not even have a secondary school education much less qualify for yours and Mahathir’s “educated” label.

    “See my above comments on propaganda. About “spare(ing)” – hahaha – you can say what you want and I can understand it the way I want. Unless you think “history” belongs to you only.”

    No I take exception to someone who attempts to distort it for propagandist purposes.

    “Rather “disingenuous” to compare the alternative media with the hegemonic government media, don’t you think?

    No. When any news media claim to be objective, fearless and independent, they should exhibit such traits and consumers should hold them to it.

    “Especially when the alternative media could be closed down, owners arrested, circulation restricted, etc. With such one-sided oppressive laws it’s not surprising that the alternative media too tend to exaggerate or even, at times, slant their news or opinions (which is another reason there’s no such thing as a blameless opposition).”

    Unbelievable. You actually condone the spin/distortion by alternative media because of the oppressive laws of the UMNO slate. So much for keeping the public informed with factual content.

    Hey, do you let the corruption of the Opposition slide because of the greater corruption of UMNO ?

    “Sigh. Ultimately it’s their policies, including the way they were implemented, that allow corruption, that enable certain types of people to rise to the top, etc.”

    Sigh. You think this happened in a vacuum ? Or do you really believe that ABU would fix this ?

  30. > I have never seen cowardice used as an excuse for mainstream popularity. You made a claim and when pushed to cite a source, you waffle and engage in rhetorical sleight of hand.<

    Wow. "Waffle", "rhetorical sleight of hand", and even "brave", hahaha – thought I'd seen the last of these sophomoric cliches since retirement from teaching 15 years ago. At any rate, I've no time to entertain ad hominem attacks – a sure sign of infantile mentality. Suffice to say, when referring to political parties, that it's easy to talk about "cowardice" when one does not have to face Kamunting and other places for much less "transgressions" of the law according to UMNO (somewhere – Art. 10? – in the Constitution makes even TALK about repealing Art 153 a seditious offense). Many Malaysians know what Karpal Singh, LKS, Guan Eng, and others have gone thru for having committed much less "offenses."

    So it's understandable that the Opposition has been approaching Art 153 in a different way, such as insisting on the correct interpretation of that article, and protesting against discriminatory acts under it. And not only the Opposition, even Malays like Art Harun and RPK had written articles differentiating between "rights" and "privileges" and so on. As I said, that's about as much as could be done, for the present at least.
    …………………………………………………..
    “Very disingenuous indeed, to think that when BN and PR/PH are lumped together, people would not be dissuaded from voting…”

    Hardly disingenuous at all. People vote for the lesser of two evils.
    ……………………………………………………………

    No. SOME people do vote for the lesser evil. But there would also be those who would be dissuaded from voting at all. Simple logic. And in tight elections, that could be decisive in winning or losing seats.

  31. “…. While the ABU attitude was a factor in the significant gains in the elections it was by no means the major one.”

    Indeed. To me, the ABU attitude, which as I said preceded even before the acronym existed, was THE major factor – people were simply fed up with BN and wanted to say enough is enough. It was at least as much gut expression as rational decision-making. Hence the tsunamis.

    > People did not vote against UMNO/BN because they understood the “extremely socially destructive foundational ideologies” ”

    The expression was yours but yes, people did vote against the destructive ideologies that enabled the government to justify discriminatory practices felt in their daily lives.

    >they voted for numerous reasons. The Chinese felt that the MCA were “running dogs”. For the Malays it was a combination of factors, the infighting and sabotage within UMNO was a major factor and for the Indians….”

    The Chinese called the MCA “running dogs” because that party did not oppose those destructive policies. For the Malays, the “educated” ones as labeled by Tun Mahathir, voted against those ideologies because they were detrimental to the country’s welfare. Other Malays voted for the same ideologies for the advantages held for them – or so they believed. Regarding the Indians, when we recognize the extent they have been marginalized, we would understand better their sense of helplessness. They, of all the communities, have been the most unfairly treated.

    Those “foundational ideologies” give cover to the discriminations we’ve seen in all our social, economic, and political life. They serve to excuse the withholding of Bibles from Christians, the denial of places in colleges from non-Malays, the calling of non-Malays “pendatang”, etc., etc.

    “Propaganda should be rejected not celebrated as something beneficial to the community.”

    It just exists. And overwhelming in the modern, technological society. It includes linguistics, semiotics – everything that formed our beliefs. The medium itself, as McLuhan notes, is the message.

    “Dr. Jeyakumar is a family friend , PSM a political party that I support even though I disagree with the ideological stance of the party.”

    Good for you. I went to Ipoh – that’s near Sungai Siput – to get to know his party better but family affairs took up all my time before I returned to the US.

    >Why am I not surprised . It seems to me that the DAP has the most support from people with no dog in this fight. <

    I think they do: this special privileges thing affects everyone, especially the non-Malays, including the Chinese. But I personally can't spend my time on this: today neoliberalism harms more people than Ketuanan Melayu. And I'm sad that DAP does not recognize that the British Labor party to which they find comradeship with is no longer pro-people in any sense of the word. Perhaps Jeremy Corbyn can take Labor back to its roots.

  32. “Wow. “Waffle”, “rhetorical sleight of hand”, and even “brave”, hahaha – thought I’d seen the last of these sophomoric cliches since retirement from teaching 15 years ago.”

    Retired teachers often resort to this particular type of rejoinder as an evasion tactic.

    “At any rate, I’ve no time to entertain ad hominem attacks – a sure sign of infantile mentality.”

    I was being descriptive not insulting.

    Suffice to say, when referring to political parties, that it’s easy to talk about “cowardice” when one does not have to face Kamunting and other places for much less “transgressions” of the law according to UMNO (somewhere – Art. 10? – in the Constitution makes even TALK about repealing Art 153 a seditious offense). Many Malaysians know what Karpal Singh, LKS, Guan Eng, and others have gone thru for having committed much less “offenses.”

    Has it ever crossed your mind that the reason why Opposition politicians do not talk about this issue is not because they fear the consequences of transgression but because they want to ensure that they can attain political power within the present paradigm ?

    “So it’s understandable that the Opposition has been approaching Art 153 in a different way, such as insisting on the correct interpretation of that article, and protesting against discriminatory acts under it. ”

    This is not really the case. If it was there would be more legal system would be inundated with specific actions, where the UMNO state has strayed .

    “And not only the Opposition, even Malays like Art Harun and RPK had written articles differentiating between “rights” and “privileges” and so on. As I said, that’s about as much as could be done, for the present at least.”

    Perhaps this kind of thinking is evidence that we are not living in some sort of “semi-apartheid” State. If it were true do you really think that “as much as could be done” is sufficient ?

    “No. SOME people do vote for the lesser evil. But there would also be those who would be dissuaded from voting at all. Simple logic. And in tight elections, that could be decisive in winning or losing seats.”

    It’s not really simple logic. Apathetic people don’t vote. They are not persuaded not to vote because of similarities of parties. They don’t vote because they don’t care or don’t think it would make a difference. To negate the latter, Opposition politicians should provide real change instead of bromides.

  33. >Since you have conceded it is propaganda, why not drop the slogan tag ”

    Not a “concession” in the way you mean. I’m saying in effect that propaganda is in everything we think and do. Ellul’s book is not too difficult to read for those interested in propaganda and what it really is.

    You wrote:
    “1) People who have already decided not to vote for UMNO and believe that anything is preferable to UMNO, and 2) not interested in discussing the failings of their preferred political parties.”

    The 2) does not naturally follow the 1). People can do the first and still examine their preferred parties’ strengths and weaknesses.

    >do you really think that the Opposition didn’t offer any “goodies” in their election manifesto ?”

    Compared with what BN could offer, whatever the Opposition could offer pales in comparison.

    > not only was he patronizing he was also insulting. I take exception to someone who attempts to distort it for propagandist purposes.”

    Indeed. I’m afraid I might now sound patronizing, hahaha: psst! you don’t understand what is meant by “propaganda.”

    >You actually condone the spin/distortion by alternative media because of the oppressive laws of the UMNO slate.”

    Understanding is not condoning. And yes, recognizing a lesser evil is not necessarily wrong.

    > do you let the corruption of the Opposition slide because of the greater corruption of UMNO ?do you really believe that ABU would fix this ?”

    It would certainly help if the ABU attitude manages, in the end, to finally kick out the government and for the first time in history Malaysia has a functional two-party democracy.

  34. Icrenoir and Conrad: Very, very intereting exchanges between two high intellectuals. I have learned a lot. But somehow I feel the two of you see things more in common than having differences. The differences you have are only of degree in things you see in common. And somehow I sense there is a generation gap here. If my guess is right Icrenoir, like me, is in his golden year close to 70 but Conrad much younger. Sorry for my interruption.

  35. “Indeed. To me, the ABU attitude, which as I said preceded even before the acronym existed, was THE major factor – people were simply fed up with BN and wanted to say enough is enough. It was at least as much gut expression as rational decision-making. Hence the tsunamis.”

    I disagree. I think proponents of ABU conflate various communal preoccupations in an attempt to advance the narrative that there is a significant section of the Malaysian polity in favour of the dogma promulgated by the Opposition which is in reality extremely similar to BN but clocked in feel goodism of inclusivity .

    “The expression was yours but yes, people did vote against the destructive ideologies that enabled the government to justify discriminatory practices felt in their daily lives. ”

    Not really. People voted out of dissatisfaction mostly on issues of corruption but nary a mention of the destructive ideologies which are embedded in BN and PR.

    “The Chinese called the MCA “running dogs” because that party did not oppose those destructive policies. For the Malays, the “educated” ones as labeled by Tun Mahathir, voted against those ideologies because they were detrimental to the country’s welfare….”

    Some major revisionism going on here. If the DAP were really opposed to destructive ideologies they would be against art 153 and the privileges (sic) it affords. The DAP would not be holding debates with the MCA as to who represents the Chinese community better.

    The Chinese voted along communal lines (including supporting DAP allies). The Malays are perhaps the only community who have been exposed to ideological differences via PAS and UMNO and the various mutations of UMNO.

    And the Indians are not the most marginalized community in Malaysia. That honour belongs to the Orang Asli.

    “Those “foundational ideologies” give cover to the discriminations we’ve seen in all our social, economic, and political life. They serve to excuse the withholding of Bibles from Christians, the denial of places in colleges from non-Malays, the calling of non-Malays “pendatang”, etc., etc.”

    No those are not the foundational ideologies. Foundational ideologies are race based parties, provisions within the Constitution and nebulous propaganda like the so called social contract.

    “It just exists. And overwhelming in the modern, technological society. It includes linguistics, semiotics – everything that formed our beliefs. The medium itself, as McLuhan notes, is the message.”

    Of course it exists. The question is does one accept or reject it. Or does one accept it merely because it suits their purpose.

    “…today neoliberalism harms more people than Ketuanan Melayu.”

    Interesting point.

  36. “Not a “concession” in the way you mean. I’m saying in effect that propaganda is in everything we think and do. Ellul’s book is not too difficult to read for those interested in propaganda and what it really is. ”

    What do you think I mean ?

    “The 2) does not naturally follow the 1). People can do the first and still examine their preferred parties’ strengths and weaknesses.”

    In this very response you have argued that whatever failings of the opposition it pales in comparison to UMNO/BN. Hence you demonstrate that partisans don’t examine or they justify the failings of their preferred political parties.

    Furthermore with regards to the spin/distortion of the alternative media, you say :

    “Understanding is not condoning. And yes, recognizing a lesser evil is not necessarily wrong.”

    Tell me again how I don’t understand your single definition of propaganda.

    “It would certainly help if the ABU attitude manages, in the end, to finally kick out the government and for the first time in history Malaysia has a functional two-party democracy.’

    I find it amusing that the Opposition goes on about zero tolerance towards everything from corruption to racism and the alternative media goes on about presenting factual news and opinions but on this very thread you have made the argument that the shortcomings of the Opposition and Alternative media should be tolerated because they pale in comparison to UMNO.

    I guess that’s ABU for you.

  37. “But somehow I feel the two of you see things more in common than having differences.”

    LaMoy, I think lcrenoir and I despise UMNO.

    However with regards to the Opposition, the devil is in the details.

    And I think I’m the youngest person here😀

  38. Dear LaMoy, you’re quite perceptive! Yeah, I’m in my 70s – married late so my children/grandchildren still pretty young. I don’t know about things in common, but I do feel Conrad has the interest of Malaysians at heart. That’s why I write in a way that, as Din kindly implies, generally polite, etc. I’ll comment briefly the latest stuff and go offline for a day or two.

    “Retired teachers often resort to this particular type of rejoinder as an evasion tactic.”

    Indeed.:) I didn’t retire as a teacher, however. Left the country in my 30s for further studies and no, ad hominem attacks are generally forbidden in College English. I usually gave warnings before handing down an F.

    “I was being descriptive not insulting.”

    Perhaps you don’t mean it. Do read over carefully what you’ve written just to be sure?

    > why Opposition politicians do not talk about this issue is not because they fear the consequences of transgression but because they want to ensure that they can attain political power within the present paradigm ?This is not really the case. If it was there would be more legal system would be inundated with specific actions, where the UMNO state has strayed .”

    Vague: got to adjust your sentence a bit.

    >Perhaps this kind of thinking is evidence that we are not living in some sort of “semi-apartheid” State. If it were true do you really think that “as much as could be done” is sufficient ?”

    Well, I didn’t use that description, but “semi-apartheid” does suggest it’s not really so bad as former South Africa.

    “Apathetic people don’t vote. They are not persuaded not to vote because of similarities of parties. They don’t vote because they don’t care or don’t think it would make a difference. ”

    You assume too much.

    1. Apathetic people don’t vote – so non-voting people are all apathetic?

    2. They don’t vote because they don’t care or don’t think it would make a difference.

    Why don’t they think “it would make a difference”? Perhaps because, at least partly, they were told of the “similarities” between parties? That could never happen?

  39. “Indeed.:) I didn’t retire as a teacher, however. Left the country in my 30s for further studies and no, ad hominem attacks are generally forbidden in College English. I usually gave warnings before handing down an F.”

    Being patronizing and condescending is also bad form.

    “Perhaps you don’t mean it. Do read over carefully what you’ve written just to be sure?”

    Very carefully. I always mean what I say and say what I mean. Perhaps you are unaccustomed to your views being challenged ?

    “Vague: got to adjust your sentence a bit. ”

    Evasive and immature. This is what I wrote:

    “Has it ever crossed your mind that the reason why Opposition politicians do not talk about this issue is not because they fear the consequences of transgression but because they want to ensure that they can attain political power within the present paradigm ? ”

    I understand the question makes you uncomfortable but I think on a thread discussing the Opposition, at the very least an honest answer should be forthcoming or at the very least an adroit evasion.

    “Well, I didn’t use that description, but “semi-apartheid” does suggest it’s not really so bad as former South Africa.”

    I never claimed you did. What it does suggest is that Oppositional types don’t know the implications of the words they use or don’t care. It’s like some idiot suggesting a semi holocaust.

    “You assume too much.

    1. Apathetic people don’t vote – so non-voting people are all apathetic?”

    No. People who are eligible to vote who don’t vote are apathetic. Please quibble and bring up exceptions.

    “Why don’t they think “it would make a difference”? Perhaps because, at least partly, they were told of the “similarities” between parties? That could never happen?”

    No because experience tells them so. They see how politicians who promise change don’t deliver, make excuses or worse, don’t even bother trying once they win an election.

  40. Icrenoir & Conrad: Yes, the sacred cows in UMNO should be poked, kicked, or painted purple — anything but treated with reverence or deference. You two have done a good job to help the readers to better understand the problems in Malaysia. We all face the problem of defining sacred cows; when we think we have found them, we find they are really only semisacred cows. They, in fact, get laced into by someone. The true sacred cows are those honored by the mass media — the kind of people and organizations no one dare challenge. Sorry, Conrad, we older generation have failed to give you a happy, prosperous, fair and harmonious nation. After reading many of your posts I find you a man of great intelligence and passion. If Azmi Sharom is the Conscience of the nation, you are the Hope. Malaysia is not hopeless after all. Icrenoir is going to take a couple of days off, I am going to take two weeks — driving south with my friends to Mexico to play some golf along the way. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  41. Hi, LaMoy, didn’t know you’re at the Pacific side – and playing golf! I’ve students who, with their classmates, formed a golf company in Malaysia that often sponsored PGA tours. Yeah … took a couple of days off but after this Christmas season would be too busy to write much.

    Interesting thoughts, katasayang. Mao Zedong was Hakka too, and so was Lee Teng-hui, I think. After fleeing south, Hakka males often emphasized on learning in order to recover their kingdom in North China, while their females did physical work to support the family (one reason why Hakka women are prized among many Chinese families). That – exodus from the North – happened ages ago.

    As I said earlier, the electoral tsunamis were largely due to UMNO behavior and not what the Opposition did. UMNO didn’t learn from the first tsunami and continued to allow extremists to intimidate the minorities. And the corruption – from the palace of Zakaria Deros to the Bali-style palace of Toyo to the present billions in the PM’s accounts – was so blatant that the people just couldn’t take it anymore (and to top it all government-controlled papers tried to divert the massive corruption with alleged Opposition illegalities that supposedly involved a few thousand dollars, including the case that led, I think, to the death of Teoh Beng Hock). Anyway, despite flaws, Pakatan did show that they could do better at Selangor and Penang and I think the coming general elections, if held, would result in another tsunami.

    Not long ago, someone told me that one of my comments on Pakatan was reposted at KTmoc at http://ktemoc.blogspot.com/2013/04/professionalism-missing-in-malaysias.html

    Any comments, anyone? Previously, I used to write to blogs as LChuah or Renoir.

  42. katasayang: Interesting thoughts. I suggest you get your thoughts more organized when you write — they are a little mumbo-jumbo. Poor Google translation, indeed. I almost throw-up when I read the translation to Mozi’s passage. Seven “patients”?

  43. Dear LaMoy,

    Thank you for the kind words but I am undeserving of them. I found your comments interesting for a variety of reasons but this particular point caused some self reflection :

    “Sorry, Conrad, we older generation have failed to give you a happy, prosperous, fair and harmonious nation”

    If anything I think my generation failed yours.

    Think of it like this.

    Your generation built this nice house . Sure it needed some improvements but your generation toiled thanklessly and at the end of the day had to put down your tools. Instead of picking up those tools or bringing in some fancy new devices to make the renovations or improvements easier when the time came, we just decided to throw a party and be content with living in the house while it fell to pieces around us.

    The single defining characteristic of my generation is hubris.

    Thank you all for an interesting discussion and have a productive New Year.

  44. Icrenoir: I live in the Bay Area. I have been living around here eversince I left Malaysia in 1969, after having witnessed the soldiers butchered two good friends. Yes, I am an avid golfer, learning the game from Eddie Merrins, a legendary coach. I try to prolong my adolescence as long as possible, still hoping to repeat a round of 63 in my prime. But deep inside me I know that is what have been and never will be. Today, at 68, I am satisfied with my average of high 70’s for a round in a course of 130 in slope of difficulty. Not bad for an old man, isn’t it? A group of six of us usually travelling together cross-country or go overseas to play golf. This time we decided to drive to Mexico. We shall start our journey after our New Year count-down party.

  45. @LaMoy, you are right about Mumbo-Jumbo. Let me see if I could work on it again. Luckily, I am no wakil rakyat to mumbo-jumbo rakyat away😛

    I am reading this. I think we Malaysians really need to know this, especially after 1MDB, especially all the Keadilan folks, who is into Islamic banking. The amount of sukuk bond issued by Malaysia is scary.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/22/books/review/heavens-bankers-by-harris-irfan.html?_r=0

    @Conrad, the generation after us gets nothing. Some of them is really better off to ‘balik Tongsan’, since Singapore is encouraging some of their University students to do so already.

  46. LaMoy: it was also 1969 that prompted me to leave. However, as the youngest son of aging parents I had to make arrangements first, and that was prolonged by obligations to build up a certain sport (an effort appreciated by the community I was in but noticed by national sports authorities only decades later). Because I tend to love sports that involved big muscles and cardio-vascular efficiency I’d often ignored activities that involved more fine motor skills like golf. Yet, nearly all my former athletes who joined me in the states for their tertiary education eventually took up golf, mostly because they became businesspeople. Eisenhower would never know how great his influence was! Maybe one day I could hop over to your place and get some tips from you…right now am busy at the Atlantic seaboard.

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