Zaid Ibrahim on the State of Malaysian (or Malay) Politics

August 30, 2016

“As President of UMNO, Najib should tell the ultras in the party to shut up. If he does so and proceeds with genuine reforms, maybe the country can still be saved. He must, of course, apologise to the nation for 1MDB and be sincere about it, and proceed with much-needed reforms, which would include telling us honestly how we can recover the monies parked in Hong Kong, the United States, the Cayman Islands and elsewhere”, says Zaid Ibrahim.

Really? Expect him to tell the ultras in his party to shut up. He is using them to show up his position. Najib is not indispensable. He is a national disgrace and must be removed from public office. Right now, he is using all available statutes to cling to his high office at the expense of our national being.

Image result for Zaid Ibrahim the hypocrite

What political game are you playing? As an experienced lawyer and a former de facto Minister of Law in the Badawi administration,  you ought to know that money laundering, corruption and abuse of power are serious breaches of the law.

Prime Minister Najib must made to face the full brunt of the law. Apologies are not enough, In stead, we should ensure that he is made to pay for his indiscretions and misdemeanors. No body should be above the law. Furthermore, you are naive to believe that Najib is (or can be) a  reformer. A reformer is a man of action, not one big talker. –Din Merican

Zaid Ibrahim on the State of Malaysian (or Malay) Politics–Not Healthy

by Zaid Ibrahim

A Reformer or Deformer?

COMMENT The state of our politics today is not healthy – it’s divisive, sordid and unbefitting a country with fast MRTs and skyscrapers.

We spend a lot of time hurling abuses at one another, and on a daily basis we hear of propaganda, personal attacks, allegations of wrongdoing and the endless lodging of Police reports.

In fact, in our so-called democracy, there is no place for civilised discourse or for constructive ideas that can be useful for the country. All we hear from this bungling and incompetent dictatorship is talk about enemies coming from everywhere to attack us, thus justifying our new emergency laws. Our Prime Minister has entrenched a framework, through which he and his successor will be able to do as they please.

The National Security Council Act 2016 ensures that if the Prime Minister decides to rule by fiat, he will prevail under any circumstances.

Institutional checks and balances exist only on paper – literally in the printed copies of our Federal Constitution – but are not practised. The Police, civil service, Election Commission and Parliament have all become the rubber stamps of governing politicians. It was only last week that the Inspector-General of Police himself admitted that the Police could only investigate matters relating to 1MDB as directed by the Cabinet.

Elections will be held to show the world that we are a democracy, but these elections will be neither free nor fair. Constituencies will be “managed” to ensure victory for the ruling party, either by the use of large amounts of cash, gerrymandering or some other improper means of transferring voters from one voting station to another.

Some look to the Ruling Houses for a solution, but, in Malaysia today, the Council of Rulers seems unwilling to intervene in the affairs of the state, no matter how sordid or flagrant the violations of the Prime Minister and the cabinet are.

The oft-repeated statement that the Rulers should not interfere in politics now seem pointless because things have gone so far beyond the pale that the normal rules of political engagement no longer apply.

‘Islamic’ forces have gained stronger foothold

So-called ‘Islamic’ forces have also gained a stronger foothold in all parts of the administration, and the separation of religion from affairs of state is a thing of the past. When Parliament approves Act 355, as mooted by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, which will effectively do away with the limitation of the Syariah Court’s sentencing powers, the conversion of Malaysia to a religious state will be complete.

Civil liberties, especially for Muslims, will be non-existent. This is why parliamentarians, especially from Sabah and Sarawak, must reject this bill.

The sooner that Sabah and Sarawak understand the perils facing Malaysia, the better chance they will have to guard against the present malaise. Both states can still preserve democracy, the rule of law and the multicultural foundations of Malaysian life if they do not allow UMNO too much leeway in determining their future.

On the economic front, we have a growing disparity between the haves and have-nots. Equal opportunities and access to economic benefits are difficult for the underclass. Those supporting the government will in turn be supported economically, but those who oppose the government will be punished.

In such an environment, the economic well-being of the poor will continue to be neglected. The underclass will mushroom from the present group of Indians to include Malays, Chinese and others. A political party that can successfully champion the cause of workers and the underclass may be the force of the future.

Our young might not have the competitive edge, knowledge or capital to compete in the global environment, much less against foreign workers and global companies in Malaysia. If this happens, they will be marginalised quickly. Government hand-outs will not be enough to quell the resulting ill-feeling and, as in many other places, this can easily explode into violence.

How have we come to this? The main reason is that the Malay leadership has failed us. This is in contrast to the success of the dominant Chinese leadership in Singapore. As a proud Malay, I am saddened by this. We could have brought this country forward and made it a symbol of real Malay power, to the envy of our neighbours.

Instead, we have allowed corruption to get out of control. We have abandoned meritocracy to such an extent that we have allowed feeble leaders at all levels to rise while the capable ones retire or leave the services. We have reduced noble religious principles to instruments of control.

Religious bureaucrats have too much power and authority, and we have allowed this to happen without ensuring that they are men (and they are all men) of conscience and ability. If they were truly righteous in their conduct and unafraid to defend what is right from the excesses of those in power, we would not be where we are now.

New type of government

We do not encourage transparency in government affairs because we want to protect the corrupt and the interests of the few. Singapore may not be tolerant of dissent or appear very democratic, but at least they have a no-nonsense attitude to corruption and good governance. Their leaders have built an economy far superior than ours by being efficient and by employing those with ability and the right kind of knowledge.

It is therefore necessary for Malaysia to have a new type of government, as well as a new set of political leaders who will not allow race-based policies to degenerate into racist ones. We need leaders who will allow for the complete reform of our politics; the administration of our government, commerce, industry and religious affairs; as well as the thinking of Malaysians about the world.

We do not need groups with coloured shirts or those whose skills are apparently limited to the lodging of police reports. We need more people who can contribute to the development of the country.

How can such a change be possible? I wish I knew the answer. But I have a dream I would like to share. One scenario is for Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to suddenly wake up and become a new person altogether. Gone would be his Jekyll and Hyde personality and in its place we would have a true and dedicated reformer. He would be willing to abandon the stupid idea of making DAP the enemy of Malays and Islam, and fight the real enemy, which is ignorance.

When Najib did not get support from the Chinese and urban voters in the 13th general election (GE13) in 2013, his not-so-clever advisers probably told him to end his earlier commitment to reforms. They must have told him there was “no need for reforms” because the Chinese would not vote for him anyway.

He should have engaged DAP in national development and political reforms; instead, he chose PAS, the party for which the main concern is, and always will, be the tightness of women’s dresses and longer prison sentences for khalwat offenders.

I think Najib allowed the disappointment of GE-13 (especially since he had spent a lot of money) to cloud his judgment. He is too deferential to his party’s right wing. He must expect that his own party would need time to understand the value of reforms. He must expect the electorate who are opposed to UMNO to need time to digest the effects of such new policies.

Apologise to the nation for 1MDB

As President of UMNO, Najib should tell the ultras in the party to shut up. If he does so and proceeds with genuine reforms, maybe the country can still be saved. He must, of course, apologise to the nation for 1MDB and be sincere about it, and proceed with much-needed reforms, which would include telling us honestly how we can recover the monies parked in Hong Kong, the United States, the Cayman Islands and elsewhere.

I am saying this not because I condone what he did with 1MDB. I just think that, despite 1MDB, Najib will continue to stay in power for many years to come because the Opposition will not be strong enough to unseat him in the short term.

So, why not try to make the best of his term in office? If he is willing to undertake fundamental reforms, maybe the people will accept him – albeit reluctantly, at least in the beginning. If these changes are good for the country the people might one day judge him differently. So, will Najib ever wake up and be a different person altogether? Miracles do happen.

The second scenario is preferred but equally implausible. The political grouping initiated by Anwar Ibrahim under Pakatan Rakyat, now known as Pakatan Harapan, suddenly becomes a single, cohesive force. For this to happen PAS needs to rejoin the Opposition pact and become a reformist party. If PAS decides to be part of a reformist and united Opposition, it must ditch Hadi and pick Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man as its leader.

But will PAS members change their leader? This has as much chance of happening as Najib turning over a new leaf. Then PKR will need to wake up and decide on Anwar’s successor, whether it’s one of his family members or Azmin Ali. For now, it looks like there will be no end to the party’s internal bickering, and therefore, no coherence and unity in its policies.

The new party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), also has to decide if it wants to be a Johor and Kedah-based party to save the fates of Muhyiddin Yassin and Mukhriz Mahathir. They must also decide if they are willing to be part of the national Opposition, in which case they need to tie up with other groups.

It’s possible for Bersatu to want to team up with PAS, although I doubt if the PAS prefers Muhyiddin to Najib, for obvious reasons. Pakatan Harapan has already made it clear that it’s not Muhyiddin they want as opposition leader. DAP, of course, remains a strong political party, and Parti Amanah has tremendous potential, but they will not have enough to form the government in the next election.

Students the light end of tunnel

The light at the end of the tunnel is the courage shown by our students, who dare to take to the streets and demand the arrest of the infamous Malaysian Official Number 1. These young Malaysians can make all the difference if they have the numbers. But I don’t think the majority of our young are like Anis Syafiqah Md Yusof (photo above).

Many are scared and some don’t even care what’s happening to the country. Apathy and indifference to political developments are common traits among the young, although that might change in the future.

To sum things up: I am not convinced that our country will be put on the right path anytime soon. There are too many unresolved issues among the Opposition grouping and the ruling Barisan Nasional. This maelstrom of confusion is engulfing us and we have to sort it out.

The people want a solution. I don’t have the answers. All I know is that we need to be a developed country, a peaceful and united country, with an economy that is vibrant and sustainable. For that we need change. We need to be one Bangsa Malaysia, and not Bangsa Johor, Sarawak or Sabah. We can, of course, continue to enjoy Laksa Johor, Laksa Kelantan or Laksa Sarawak.

I do not see anyone in Umno today who even believes in democracy and good governance as the best and most legitimate system of government and political engagement. Najib can change that thinking if he wants to. He can be a “benevolent” dictator if he wants to. But I doubt he will. Some Umno politicians complain about the “lack of democracy” or “abuse of power” only after they have been kicked out of the party and have joined the Opposition.

We desperately need a new leadership that wants the right path for the country. Reformists outside the BN must be willing to take the long road to success. They must not worry too much about the election outcome in the short term. They first must do what’s right.

Reformists within the BN, if there are any, must be willing to persuade Najib to change his ways. They must be genuine reformists and believe in the ideas of a modern state where institution and laws are supreme. They must want to share the wealth fairly.

But enough about my dream. I am pessimistic about the country’s future. Being pessimistic does not mean that I don’t want to do anything to reverse the process. It’s a reminder that while we must fight corruption, religious orthodoxy and the undemocratic forces ruling our country today, we must also be realistic about the difficulties and the dangers that are inherent in that task.

Malaysians who want change must be prepared to make sacrifices. Nowhere in the world have freedom, peace and the rule of law come easily. Maybe when we have more poor people and the size of the underclass gets bigger, there will be impetus for change.

People living in relative comfort dare not make the sacrifices needed for real change to happen. It’s not going to be a walk in the park. Street protests here and there are not enough. Malaysians must not be afraid to defend what they believe in. That is the price we must pay to make things better.

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10 thoughts on “Zaid Ibrahim on the State of Malaysian (or Malay) Politics

  1. DDM.
    I agree with your sentiment.. He is trapped between a rock and a hard place and he desperately needs the ultras and whatever worm that crawl under BUMNO’s woodwork for his political survival. He had taken a leaf off Marcos handbook. That’s why he needs all the billions siphoned off to keep the gravy train going in order to buy up the loyalty and support.
    Like I have said before, they are incorrigible and need to be sent off to the pastures for rehabilitation, the KMT way.

    Here’s a clip of EP’s Suspicious Mind, which I thought sums up the mood in the other camp which you may want to share it 🙂

  2. Whatever you may say about Zaid Ibrahim, he pushes the issues and debate in generally right direction for the Malays and the country. You may debate his methodology., practicallity, failures, flaws etc but the goals he points to is generally where the country and his people need and should go to. You cannot argue against his general principles.
    I am not against him, but I will take whatever he says or writes with more than a grain of salt.I am partial towards men of action than political wannabes who are good with words. I am also aware that Zaid has his own following and assume that you, TL Man, are one of them.–Din Merican

  3. The problems with the leaders, particularly those(ex or present members) from Umno Baru, who Shouted THIEVING are themselves Bigger THIEVES.

    That doesn’t excuse the leaders, whenever, wherever or presently whoever they are the rights to STEAL with the power abused. The laws would catch up with them.

    It is a matter of excessive greed, selfishness and insincerity.

    These thieving political leaders, cronies/captains of corporates and institutions, should first come forward, How and Where they had acquired such Huge UNEXPLAINED Wealth. If not, the people will Demand from them.

    On many occasions I had consistently and repeatedly stressed whenever given the opportunity(thanks Din for giving the space) that:

    “The EMNITY of the people and the country is, the Entrenched Culture of Umno Baru/ Leaders MACCP (Mahathirism) that had been largely DISENABLING the Delivery System. This had brought the country to this Dire state of Scandalous Affairs, Not Najib or 1MDM, (not condoning) as per se.”

    Moving forward, the price for a better and sustainable brighter future for Malaysia is to eradicate the rogue culture of MACCP or brought it down to a tolerable near-zero level,.

    MPs and leaders, from across nation , regardless of their race, religion,personal beliefs and affiliations, …
    Actions Will Speak Louder Than han Words !

  4. Thanks for the link to the interview video with Clare Rewcastle-Brown in this

    Blog viewers should publicise this video widely.

  5. The governing system is a failure. All this while the failures was compromised and dissolved amicably as there was enough revenue generated to top up. Unfortunately this time around the revenue is diminishing if not for GST. UMNO is strong as long as BN component parties stay put. Backbone of UMNO are the non-malays from mca, mic, ppp, gerakan and those from sabah and sarawak. It is similar to playing football with a handicap goalkeeper.

  6. Quote:- “He must, of course, apologise to the nation for 1MDB and be sincere about it”


    I think someone should burgle Zaid’s house, steal all his favorite….(whatever favorite stuff he has), sell them, spent the proceeds on a big holiday and then sincerely apologize to Zaid for his, the thief”s, “indiscretions and misdemeanors”

    No, Zaid is not that magnanimous. Could he by any chance be making an opening gambit for a “negotiated exit” for Najib by delivering this big hint as instructed by the oldman?

  7. “Really? Expect him to tell the ultras in his party to shut up. He is using them to show up his position. Najib is not indispensable. He is a national disgrace and must be removed from public office. Right now, he is using all available statutes to cling to his high office at the expense of our national being.” DDM

    Absolutely. But looks like Jibros is about to asphyxiate with the MO1 FUBAR slowly causing torsion and strangulated gangrene of their nether bits. Ouch!

    UMNOb cannot afford to have them around for GE 14, yet will not throttle him until they’ve squeeze out the last drop of Dedak from him. Manifest destiny is like that.

    This Zaid froggy is getting repetitively boring – croaking until the cows come home. He should instead take up the cudgel and join like minded folks like the 3 Ms’ (Octo-MY-Mukhriz) in the boondocks, yammering at the useful idiots in the kampongs! Writing tomes online ain’t gonna cut it, unless it is about listening to his own voice. Frankly, me peepers glaze over after reading the first para. He offers opinions that are self-conflicting and his Machiavellian abilities are terribly insipid, uninspiring and unimaginative. It’s a wonder that some folk find him ‘touching’. Mayhaps, it’s outta sheer desperation.

  8. I share much of Zaid’s sentiment in this article: pessimistic about near term prospect of Malaysia politics and would aspire for only longer term revival.

    Our sordid state of government was not created yesterday, but was willfully planted 26 year ago. Likewise our sordid state of government, including propensity to commit massive corruptions such as that of 1MDB, will not be halted tomorrow, regardless if Najib would be removed from office tomorrow. (冰冻三尺非一日之寒 — Forming 3-feet of ice was not the result of one cold day)

    Malaysia governing history has a phenomenon parallel to that of Brazil, but in reverse direction. Today, Brazil’s Senate suspended their president, a typical socialist who always wants to do good but always has higher chances than average to end up in compromised position. Brazil’s judiciary has the credibility to charge one-third of parliamentarians with corruptions. Despite as a third world developing nation with typical corruption problems, Brazil has a credible judiciary to provide check-and-balance, putting a limit on the power of the president and parliamentarians without a need for bloody revolution. Brazil’s having a credible judiciary is not the result of moral exaltation as in Islamic call to “enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong” or Chinese judge Pao‘s mystic justice, but as a result of making supreme judge appointment as life-long appointment in 1989, 26 year ago. Since then, Brazil’s judiciary evolves to what it is today.

    In 1988, 27 year ago, our judiciary was also so credible and independent that it dared to cast unfavorable judgement on the ruling UMNO resulting in UMNO dissolution as a party. However, the seed of destruction on judiciary was planted when Dr. Mahathir fought back by putting supreme court judges under trial in 1989 and appointment of supreme judges is no longer implied as life-long.

    Today, 26 year later, we reap what we sowed. Our judiciary is no longer credible nor independent, neither it can provide check-and-balance, regardless how often we shout Islamic call to “enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong” or invoke the ghost of Chinese judge Pao‘s for the mystic justice.

    What will make a difference 26 year from now is making supreme court judges appointment a life-long appointment NOW. We then have no choice but to wait the result for 26 year, during which current judges will die out, the next generation judges with stains still inherited from previous generation will mostly die out, and the third generation judges will start emerging. Modern state requires institutional strength of judiciary, not a feel-good moral exaltation.

  9. Other matters aside, the present PM got the balls to introduce GST…… popular seeking PM will do this!

    As the survival of the ruling party and their career and self-serving politicians are a priority and being concern with the real and destructive threat of Malay/Muslim extremism and terrorism, nothing much will change in the near future.

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