The Accidental Atlanticist-Pence vs. Biden@ Munich


February 26,2019

mike pence munich security conference

The Accidental Atlanticist-Pence vs. Biden@ Munich

https://www.project-syndicate.org/columnist/mark-leonard

At this year’s Munich Security Conference, appearances by former US Vice President Joseph Biden and current Vice President Mike Pence offered the trans-atlanticists in attendance a portrait in contrasts. Yet to achieve the bright future promised by Biden, Europeans need to heed Pence’s dark warnings.

The transatlantic partnership will always be Europe’s most important relationship. But it can last only if both sides take responsibility for their own affairs. The alliance would be immeasurably stronger if it were based on an honest assessment of each side’s interests and values, rather than on quaint illusions of fellow feeling”.–

 

MUNICH – Two Americas were represented by two different vice presidents at the Munich Security Conference this year. Between them, former Vice President Joseph Biden certainly received the warmer reception, but Vice President Mike Pence may have unwittingly emerged as the savior of transatlantic relations.

In his address, Pence duly championed his boss, US President Donald Trump, as the “leader of the free world.” But the “free world” he described was scarcely recognizable to the Munich audience. In the world Trump wants to lead, America is not the exceptional power, but merely a normal country putting its own interests first. By that logic, it is only reasonable to break from multilateral institutions that allow weaker countries to free-ride on American largesse.

In keeping with this vision, Pence used his speech to demand that Europeans spend more on defense, and to extol the virtues of the Trump administration’s trade war against China. But the climax came when he enjoined Europe to get in line with the US in suspending the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – and restoring sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

According to Pence, Iran is plotting another Holocaust, for which Europeans will bear partial responsibility unless they stop US sanctions. This warning came on the tail of a US-hosted conference in Warsaw, which was designed to drive a wedge between European Union countries and derail the bloc’s efforts to salvage the JCPOA.

Pence spoke for the America that works to divide and weaken Europe. The other America, represented in Munich by Biden, views the Trump administration’s actions as an “embarrassment.” In his speech, Biden described an America that does not want to turn its back on allies and that values democracy, the rule of law, freedom of the press, and a close partnership with Europe based on shared “human decency.”

Biden ended his remarks to great applause, declaring, “We will be back.” Was he referring to an outward-looking America, or to a future Biden presidency? Many of those present hoped for both.

Image result for biden vs pence

The rapturous applause following Biden’s appearance was markedly at odds with the awkward, stony silence that followed Pence’s address. The contrast was reminiscent of the early 2000s, when disillusioned transatlanticists took refuge in The West Wing, wherein the cerebral character of President Josiah Bartlet (played by Martin Sheen) stood in stark contrast to George W. Bush and his administration’s disingenuous brutality.

But such escapism yields only false hope. Rather than being lulled into complacency by Biden’s reassuring words, Europeans would be better off heeding Pence. Only by growing up, paying its way, and clarifying its goals can Europe repair the transatlantic relationship and ensure a healthy and durable partnership.

The fact is that Europeans and Americans have long lied to themselves and each other about the extent of their common interests and values. European and US strategic interests have been diverging at least since the end of the Cold War. America rescued a hapless Europe in the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. But by the time of the Kosovo War at the end of that decade, Europeans had begun to wake up to their responsibilities. In the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, and in the conflict in Ukraine since 2014, it was Europeans, not Americans, who led the diplomatic response and imposed the strongest sanctions on Russia.

Moreover, Europe is the only party ever to have mobilized in the name of collective defense under Article 5 of the NATO treaty. Following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, Europeans sent forces to distant wars in the Middle East, over which they had little control.

In hindsight, it is clear that those wars destabilized Europe’s neighborhood and, eventually, Europe itself. America’s exclusive focus on counter-terrorism left war-torn Middle Eastern countries with fragile governments, or none at all. And in recent years, Europeans have increasingly borne the costs in the form of terrorism and influxes of refugees.

As for the US, many of its 320 million citizens no longer understand why they should have to protect 500 million Europeans, who live, after all, on a relatively peaceful and prosperous continent. They know that their country is in an escalating competition with China in the Indo-Pacific, and are thus shocked that Europeans would join the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Ultimately, Europeans are left between a rock and a hard place. They, too, want to push China harder on trade and investment issues. But the best way to do that is through the World Trade Organization, which the Trump administration is actively undermining.

The divergence in values is no less pronounced. For their part, Europeans support international institutions, rules-based arrangements, and multilateralism generally. But America has always been ambivalent about treaties and institutions that might constrain its sovereignty or defy its objectives.

While Trump and Pence crudely state what today’s America wants, Biden is selling a vision of America that it no longer obtains. The US government does not have the American people’s consent to act on the world stage as it once did. While Americans still recognize the importance of sustaining US economic and military primacy vis-à-vis China, they appear to have rejected the elite consensus on trade, defense spending, and diplomacy.

The transatlantic partnership will always be Europe’s most important relationship. But it can last only if both sides take responsibility for their own affairs. The alliance would be immeasurably stronger if it were based on an honest assessment of each side’s interests and values, rather than on quaint illusions of fellow feeling.

Pence’s blunt speech in Munich may have been painful to hear; but one hopes that it will bring an end to European complacency and point the way to a renewal of transatlantic relations on realistic terms. If that turns out to be the case, Pence will have won the title of transatlantic hero – whether he wants it or not.

Mark Leonard is Director of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

The Two Faces of Malaysia


February 25, 2019

The Two Faces of Malaysia

by Dr.Lim Teck Ghee

Image result for lim teck ghee

“We are a nation built more on falsehoods, half-truths, lies and silences than on truth, veracity, honesty and candor ”

Anonymous

Image result for rafidah aziz

Recently Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz in a column on “The Toothless Watchdog Syndrome” decried those in authority who regard public funds and assets as their private chattels and the failure of those entrusted to monitor, supervise and report – board members for example – to blow the whistle.

The opinion piece she penned is too little too late in checking the cancer of corruption which has already spread far and wide. Moreover, it is not only board members in charge of public funds that we should direct our attention to.

It is the spectrum of the country’s elite – in politics, business, the civil service, academia, media, cultural institutions and now under the spotlight, our judiciary – who have been engaged – even if not in corrupt activity directly – in actively building the mountain of fabrication and deception (through initiation, collaboration or silent consent) which forms an important – perhaps the most important – part of the topography and environment of Malaysian society today.

Let’s look more closely at this mountain which we have to collectively climb if we are to come close to becoming that progressive and modern society which simplistic indicators such as per capita income, GDP, standard of living, etc do not pay attention to or adequately express.

In the sixty years after Merdeka we have grown by leaps and bounds in the quantitative measurements of progress and development. We have a burgeoning middle class; our upper class is at a level which is world standard; there has been education for the masses; most families have at least a college or university graduate among its members and so on.

But the sorry truth remains.

The mountain exists because we are a nation of people enamoured of titles; easily impressed by positions and status; where switching parties is not only legitimate but is seen as praiseworthy; where jump the queue, angkat and bodek (in the local terminology) and grovelling are common place; where falsified cvs; plagiarized thesis and purchased credentials have become the norm. Where deadly silence, bureaucratic gobbledygook, feigned ignorance, half truths and lies have become second nature in official circles.

This seems to be a paradox given the tremendous growth in temples, churches, mosques and other symbols and institutions of religious piety, and the emphasis by some of our topmost political leaders in stamping out atheism, secularism and godlessness; and their constant moral hectoring and posturing to captive audiences.

Lies and Their Effect

Image result for benjamin disraeli quotes

In a phrase attributed it to the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Others have categorized lies into more elaborate groupings.

According to American radio host Dawson McAllister, there are eight types of lies including white lies; broken promises; plagiarism; the lie of fabrication; the bold faced lie; lying in exaggeration; lies of deception; and compulsive lying.

To this, we may want to add the lie of minimisation which is prevalent here and involves attempts to distort the truth through arguments such as “it was not during my watch or my responsibility” in an attempt to take the spotlight away from them or to minimise the damage of what has been done.

It will be interesting to apply this or any other typology to the political and cultural setting here, where, according to Rafidah, people either are busy “scratching each other’s backs” or “fear to comment, raise the alarm and report, or are too polite to ruffle feathers”.

Although we may disagree on the different types of lies and where they may be most practiced, there is general agreement of the effect of repeated lying. Social scientists have established that repeated lying especially by officials or those regarded as reliable sources results in what is known as the validity effect, illusory truth effect or the reiteration effect.

The illusory truth effect has been found to play a significant role in fields as disparate as business and advertising, political propaganda and religious instruction.

In countries with authoritarian or semi-authoritarian systems, the main perpetrators of lies or illusory truths are the government and its supporters. In his classic dystopian work, 1984, George Orwell coined terms such as Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, newspeak and 2+2 =5 to describe the effects of omnipresent government deception, surveillance and propaganda.

We should ponder on how appropriate these phenomena are in our setting. We should also be concerned about the memory hole in which not only mechanisms proliferate for the alteration and disappearance of inconvenient or embarrassing documents, transcripts or other records as part of the attempt to give the impression that something never happened but also individuals such as Pastor Raymond Koh, Amri Che Mat, Joshua and Ruth Hilmy who can mysteriously disappear.


In Orwell’s 1984, Winston Smith, the book’s protagonist, who is finally broken by his fear of rats and psychological fear agrees that “two plus two equals five”.

In Malaysia it is not only Big Brother, torture or fear of rats that accounts for the Winston Smith that is found in us but the cult of self-promotion and self-serving denial or rejection of truth independent of ideology and personal reward that has brought us to this dismal point in our history.

 

A Tribute to Dato’ Mohd Redzuan Kushairi


A Tribute to  Dato’ Mohd Redzuan Kushairi

February 25, 2010

by  Dato’ Ambassador Emeritus to South Korea, Santhanaban

Image result for santhanaban

Orang Kaya Kaya Shahbandar Paduka Indera, Perak Darul RidzuanGoverning Council of the United Nations Association of Malaysia and and Active member of G25.

Last Friday, February 22 was a deeply troubling day for me, and I trust, for many others.After a short spell of hospitalisation at the National Heart Institute Redzuan Kushairi, a lifelong friend, colleague and collaborator passed away some seven months short of his 70th birthday.

We both had our had our early education at the King Edward VII School and later enrolled for a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts at the University of Malaya.

Upon graduating he joined the Malaysian Foreign Service in April 1972 and served with acclaim in various capacities at Wismaputra and at Malaysian diplomatic missions in Moscow, Washington DC, Addis Ababa, London, New York and finally as Malaysia’s first Ambassador to Uzbekistan.

These postings at some of the highest profile posts enabled Redzuan to get to know and interact with the Merdeka and pioneer generation of diplomatic luminaries including Tun Ghazali Shafie, Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen, Tan Sri Zakaria Hj Mohd Ali, Tan Sri Zainal Abidin Sulong, Tan Sri Zain Azraai and the effervescent Tan Sri Razali Ismail, Chairman of SUHAKAM.

As a Russian language speaker he always enjoyed any opportunity to meet with other Russian speakers and his ambassadorial posting in Uzbekistan with concurrent accreditation to other Central Asian countries was a deeply satisfying assignment for him. Redzuan was however an universalist and a high achiever and a staid ambassadorship held little novelty for him after two and half decades of diplomacy. He had always felt fervently about issues of public interest and respect for the rule of law.

He opted to go into the corporate and nongovernmental world in the mid1990s and despite the rough terrain that he faced initially he dedicated himself to promoting different sets of networks involving think tanks, youth, academia, CSOs, media and press and cultural organisations especially in the ASEAN region.

Between 2010 and 2014 Redzuan and I, together with Razali Ismail and Mokhtar Selat ran the Foreign Policy Study Group, an NGO dedicated to building people-to -people relations in the ASEAN region.

As a result of the work of this group we were able to establish a framework for close ties with retired senior diplomats in all the ASEAN countries and and through these contacts established links with universities in Thailand and Indonesia. We were also able to attract youth and media representatives of ASEAN to participate in seminars aimed at fostering better mutual understanding in the region.

Redzuan always kept a good and well appointed home which made Malaysia proud as he was a charming and generous host , not unlike his two well respected G25 members who predeceased him, Dato Mokhtar Selat and Dato Latifah Merican Cheong.

It is sad that the enlightened and gallant G-25 has lost three of its distinguished members, three notable technocrats who served the country with distinction under the Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Prime Ministers.

Golf was a lifelong passion for tech savvy Redzuan who was constantly making investments in IT-related gadgetry.

He was everyone’s friend with his trademark conviviality and as one of the country’s brightest diplomats he could often punch above his weight.

The country has lost a great soul, a friend to all and a mentor to our younger generation of diplomats and civil servants.He is survived by his Wife, Datin Vera and two daughters.

M SANTHANANABAN was a colleague of the late Dato Redzuan in Wisma Putra

New networks in Thai Royal Politics


February 24, 2019

New networks in Thai Royal politics

Thailand has everything,” a royalist friend once told me, at the height of the 2006 Thai political crisis. “Everything is so good—nature, culture, art, our King [Bhumibol at the time]. But we have the world’s worst politicians”. It is a refrain that many studying Thai politics have heard often in the past few years, and it is a sentiment that led the military to allow, in the 2017 constitution, for an unelected prime minister—a “good person” (khon dii) untainted by the supposed stain of electoral democracy.

Image result for Princess Ubolratana Mahidol

Princess Ubolratana Mahidol

In the 2006 “good coup”, this idea of khon dii was a way to install royalists in power who did not have to enjoy popular support. Meanwhile in 2017, cynics (rightfully) pointed to the fact that this opening was a convenient one for junta leader and current Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to remain in power.

So the irony of this clause, and the desire for a candidate outside of the constitution being used to bring a former princess to the political stage to challenge Prayuth, should not be lost. On 8 February, the Thai Raksa Chart (“Thais Love the Nation”, a party aligned with the Pheu Thai party, itself a successor to the Thai Rak Thai party of Thaksin Shinawatra) nominated former Princess Ubolratana Mahidol—a sister of the current King, although stripped of her royal titles upon marrying a foreigner—as its sole candidate for prime minister in elections scheduled for 24 March.

What caught observers off-guard was that the party nominating the (formerly) royal Ubolratana was not the military-allied Phalang Pracharat or the royalist Democrat party—but a party allied with the man ousted from power in the name of Ubolratana’s father. Clearly something had shifted in the configurations of power (although some speculated that there was a long game afoot to discredit all Thaksin-associated parties).

But even that was hardly the most striking development in the story. Despite the fact that Ubolratana had officially lost her royal status years before due to her marriage to a foreigner, her own brother, King Vajiralongkorn, contested Ubolratana’s eligibility to act as Thai Raksa Chart’s candidate. On 11 February, the Election Commission concurred, and Ubolratana was officially denied permission to run on the grounds of her royal status (interestingly enough thus clarifying that Ubolratana was indeed a royal, and that all of her status was not stripped from her upon her marriage).

Image result for the king never smiles

Such a public split within Thailand’s royal family would have been unheard of ten years ago. The public image of the monarchy peaked in the late 20th century in a kind of model divine family (although, see Paul Handley’s 2006 The King Never Smiles). In the late Bhumibol-era propaganda, each royal child had his or her own role—a kind of pantheon of patron saints (or, as each royal’s power complemented the other, perhaps more akin to the Avengers). Vajiralongkorn (the only son) was to be the soldier, Sirindhorn the patron of the arts and humanities, Chulabhorn the scientist and Ubolratana the fashionista.

But what was to happen when this unity collapsed, as it had to eventually when the barami (authoritative charisma) of Bhumibol was not enough to keep the family together? What was a party like Thai Raksa Chart, widely considered to be in opposition to an assumed monarchy–military alliance, doing with a royal at its head, however briefly? What do we make of the public split between brother and sister playing out in the political sphere?

It is my case that these developments point to a clear end of a Thai politics divided between “red” Thaksinites and “yellow” royalists. It also points to a split between the presumed alliance of military and monarchy, and a challenge to the notion of a unitary “network monarchy” hiding behind Thai politics. The events of 8 February and their aftermath are a part of a slow succession crisis, reflecting a struggle over the creation of new patronage networks and new workings of the “power outside of the constitution”.

Power outside the constitution

When the military intervenes in Thai politics, it often cites a legitimacy outside the constitution. Indeed, the phrase “power outside the constitution” has been shorthand in Thai politics for those figures (i.e. royals) that are protected by lèse-majesté laws. For royalists, monarchical and military action was framed as protection of “Thai” values, framed as of anti-corruption, anti-communism, or simply a love for the barami (authoritative charisma) of the monarch. In this model of a kingly virtue at the centre of a timeless “Thainess”, epitomised by the thought of conservative intellectuals such as Kukrit Pramoj, Anand Panyarachun, and Surin Maisrikrod, the mess of politics and electoral democracy serves as challenge to be overcome, not as a source of legitimation in itself.

For Royalists of the later 20th century, coups then—especially “bloodless” or “good” coups such as 2006 or 2014—are a feature of Thai democracy, not a bug. Rhetoric of a righteous rule by moral “good people” furthered this sense of a wise, royal elite carefully guiding a populace too susceptible to manipulation by outside forces to be permitted free reign. In later years, this latter ethos was epitomised by Thailand’s Democrat party, a group of royalists who supported democracy only when it did not conflict with the wishes of the “good people”.

Thus, for much of recent Thai history, the military and monarchy existed in a kind of symbiosis, although who the puppet and who the puppeteer was always an open question. Depending on the time period, the military could be thought of as either manipulating the public image of the monarchy as a source of legitimacy for its actions, or on the other hand acting as the tool through which the desires of the monarchy would be made manifest, untainted by the stain of “politics”. Indeed, this latter sort of intervention-by-proxy maps well onto Thai cosmological models of power, wherein power is divided: both passive and holy (barami) as well as able to work its will (amnaj).

But this moment may be over. Prayuth’s implicit rejection of Ubolratana’s candidacy reveals a military coming out against one of the very pillars of its own legitimacy. Further, by aligning herself with the Shinawatras, Ubolratana not only complicated her relationship with the military, but also with the “good people” and their skepticism of a corrupting “politics”. Ubolratana, by setting herself up as a candidate for prime minister, seems to be pulling the barami of royalty into, and not outside of, the constitution.

This mght be the very thing that troubles Prayuth. If monarchical authority can function in the same way as political authority, there may be no room for power outside the constitution. The military, then, would be set adrift without a source of legitimacy for its actions. Such a situation might mean a world where the military is accountable to Thai civilians for its actions.

The end of the rainbow

Since the mid-2000s, Thai politics has been widely characterised as a clash between “red” and “yellow”, colours referencing the shirts of protest moments supporting Thaksin Shinawatra and royalist conservatives, respectively, from 2005–14. The Reds were cast, by their enemies, as naïve shills for a power-hungry immoral plutocrat or, by their advocates, as campaigners for a truly democratic Thailand. The Yellows were, similarly, cast either as moral bulwarks against corruption or the foot soldiers of an obsolete, parasitic oligarchy.

But there were complications to this narrative even as it developed. In my own fieldwork, I was told at a red-shirt rally that Thaksin was simply a tool—a highly problematic means to an ultimately democratic end. An hour later, another person told me that Thaksin should hold onto power for as long as was possible in order to give the economy the boost it needed, even were that to mean resorting to undemocratic means. Similarly, yellow organisations encompassed a variety of outlooks, from advocates for environmental causes and civil society, to anti-capitalist crusaders, to unabashed authoritarians claiming that the 2010 massacre of red shirts was not enough. Elsewhere, many of the core “yellow” NGOs, journalists and academics—initially alienated by Thaksin’s repression of critical voices—suddenly found themselves facing a far worse situation under the military regime.

Ubolratana’s announcement made these fissures within “red” and “yellow” apparent, at least in the flurry of discussion on social media since 8 February. Many former yellow shirts who saw Thaksin as the source of all Thai corruption bemoaned the association between such a despised figure and a royal. Some of those seeking a democratic Thailand found themselves cheering for a royal to enter politics, citing the difficult position in which the announcement placed Thailand’s military rulers. Observers on both sides wondered what it meant to have a candidate who might be protected from criticism by Thailand’s strictly-enforced lèse-majesté laws.

A house divided

In short, while it has long been time to stop characterising Thai politics as divided between a royalist military-monarchy alliance and a (crony)-capitalist-democratic one, Ubolratana’s announcement puts a final rest to the debate. In the new terrain of Thai politics, one can be a Thaskin-supporting royalist, an anti-Shinawatra democrat, a fan of military rule who seeks to limit the powers of the monarchy, and any other number of different configurations and networks of power that would not have been thinkable five years ago. Thai politics already had difficulty fitting into traditional notions of “left” and “right”—now it deserves another re-thinking.

Royal successions in Southeast Asian history have a tendency to be messy, as the inheritor of a deceased monarch’s barami—the morally legitimate successor to rule—might not be the one which palace law places upon the throne. And for all of Bhumibol’s long reign and successful public image, Thai royalists feared the division that might come of his death, as evinced by the spike in lèse-majesté convictions as Bhumibol’s health failed. The possibility for chaos following Bhumibol’s death was one that, rumours went, provoked the military into seizing and keeping power in anticipation of the late king’s death, through his funeral and through Vajiralongkorn’s coronation.

But Prayuth’s power is not Field Marshal Sarit Thanarat’s, and Thailand in the 21st century is a different place. Duncan McCargo described the Thai monarchy as a “network monarchy”, meaning a situation where the palace remained symbolically powerful but increasingly reliant upon coopting other actors to shore up its power base. But with a fragmented royal family comes a weakened network. And it has fragmented in ways that surprised many Thai political observers and confounded the mess of rumours that have long surrounded the palace.

Rumours of Thaksin’s efforts to win over the current King seem not to have panned out. Whispers of a challenge to royal authority from Crown Princess Sirindhorn likewise do not seem to have manifested—this is not owing to a lack of popular support or power; the Siam Piwat group, in which Sirindhorn is a major shareholder, has just opened the new “Icon Siam” mega-mall, dramatically altering Bangkok’s riverscape and adding another palace to consumption to the city. 8 February was the chance for Ubolratana to make her presence known, mobilising her already impressive social media presence into something new.

Who exactly is co-opting who in regards to Ubolratana’s alliance with Thai Raksa Chart is unclear. But what is clear is that the “network monarchy” has become, or at least has the potential to fragment into, multiple, competing networks: Vajiralongkorn, some wings of the military and the Privy Council; Sirindhorn, “good people” and Siam Piwat; Ubolratana, Thaksin and Thai Raksa Chart; and others. With Vajiralongkorn’s coronation on the horizon (4–6 May) shortly after the elections we can expect to see these and others networks form, collapse, and clash.

The process will not be easy or pleasant, like any family fight.

 

Anwar: I won’t interrupt Dr M, don’t disrupt me when it’s my turn


February 24, 2019

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/465368

Anwar: I won’t interrupt Dr M, don’t disrupt me when it’s my turn

by Wong Kai Hui

Image result for daim on anwar

SDR Anwar’s self confidence is admirable, but…

SEMENYIH POLLS | PKR President Anwar Ibrahim reiterated that he supports Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s leadership and he will not disrupt his work.

Speaking at a ceramah in Taman Sri Jenaris last night, Anwar stressed that he will not interrupt Mahathir’s affairs and he hoped that he will not be interrupted when he becomes the next prime minister.

“We give our full support (to Tun M), let him do his work. I won’t interrupt because I don’t want to disrupt his work.”

“When it is my turn, let me do my work and don’t disrupt me too. This is our mutual understanding,” added Anwar.

He also rubbished PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang’s claims about the motion of no-confidence against Mahathir in Parliament.

“If I want to fight against someone, I will shout loudly.”

Then, he shouted the slogans of “Lawan tetap lawan” and said that doing things secretly at the back is not his style. A large crowd of about 600 people clapped their hands to show their support.

On Feb 17, PAS Secretary-General Takiyuddin Hassan said the Islamist party has pledged to support Mahathir in the event of a “betrayal” within Harapan.

He said the “draft letter,” signed during a recent meeting between the premier and PAS top leadership in Kuala Lumpur, was a declaration of the party’s support for Mahathir.

Apart from Takiyuddin, other PAS leaders present at the meeting with Mahathir were Hadi and Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar.

Harapan leaders from Bersatu, PKR, DAP and Amanah, however, have dismissed the no-confidence motion.

When asked, Mahathir said that he will wait and see whether PAS will honour its pledge to support him in the event of a no-confidence vote to oust him.

SEMENYIH POLLS | PKR president Anwar Ibrahim reiterated that he supports Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s leadership and he will not disrupt his work.

Speaking at a ceramah in Taman Sri Jenaris last night, Anwar stressed that he will not interrupt Mahathir’s affairs and he hoped that he will not be interrupted when he becomes the next prime minister.

“We give our full support (to Tun M), let him do his work. I won’t interrupt because I don’t want to disrupt his work.”

“When it is my turn, let me do my work and don’t disrupt me too. This is our mutual understanding,” added Anwar.

He also rubbished PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang’s claims about the motion of no-confidence against Mahathir in Parliament.

“If I want to fight against someone, I will shout loudly.”

Then, he shouted the slogans of “Lawan tetap lawan” and said that doing things secretly at the back is not his style. A large crowd of about 600 people clapped their hands to show their support.

On Feb 17, PAS Secretary-General Takiyuddin Hassan said the Islamist party has pledged to support Mahathir in the event of a “betrayal” within Harapan.

He said the “draft letter,” signed during a recent meeting between the premier and PAS top leadership in Kuala Lumpur, was a declaration of the party’s support for Mahathir.

Apart from Takiyuddin, other PAS leaders present at the meeting with Mahathir were Hadi and Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar.

Harapan leaders from Bersatu, PKR, DAP and Amaneh, however, have dismissed the no-confidence motion.

When asked, Mahathir said that he will wait and see whether PAS will honour its pledge to support him in the event of a no-confidence vote to oust him.

SEMENYIH POLLS | PKR President Anwar Ibrahim reiterated that he supports Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s leadership and he will not disrupt his work.

Speaking at a ceramah in Taman Sri Jenaris last night, Anwar stressed that he will not interrupt Mahathir’s affairs and he hoped that he will not be interrupted when he becomes the next prime minister.

“We give our full support (to Tun M), let him do his work. I won’t interrupt because I don’t want to disrupt his work.”

“When it is my turn, let me do my work and don’t disrupt me too. This is our mutual understanding,” added Anwar.

He also rubbished PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s claims about the motion of no-confidence against Mahathir in Parliament.

“If I want to fight against someone, I will shout loudly.”

Then, he shouted the slogans of “Lawan tetap lawan” and said that doing things secretly at the back is not his style. A large crowd of about 600 people clapped their hands to show their support.

On Feb 17, PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan said the Islamist party has pledged to support Mahathir in the event of a “betrayal” within Harapan.

He said the “draft letter,” signed during a recent meeting between the premier and PAS top leadership in Kuala Lumpur, was a declaration of the party’s support for Mahathir.

Apart from Takiyuddin, other PAS leaders present at the meeting with Mahathir were Hadi and Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar.

Harapan leaders from Bersatu, PKR, DAP and Amaneh, however, have dismissed the no-confidence motion.

When asked, Mahathir said that he will wait and see whether PAS will honour its pledge to support him in the event of a no-confidence vote to oust him.

The Left is bubbling with ideas. They’re just the wrong ones.


February 23, 2019

The Left is bubbling with ideas. They’re just the wrong ones.

By Dr. Fareed Zakaria

https://fareedzakaria.com/columns/2019/2/21/the-left-is-bubbling-with-ideas-theyre-just-the-wrong-ones

Image result for fareed zakaria

IT is refreshing to see the Democratic Party bubbling with new ideas. But this new thinking seems starkly different from the party’s reform efforts of the past three decades. The wonky proposals of the Clinton-Obama era were pragmatic and incremental, and they mixed market incentives with government action. Today, we have big, stirring ideas — and that could be the problem.

In their zeal to match the sweeping rhetoric of right-wing populism, Democrats are spinning out dramatic proposals in which facts are sometimes misrepresented, the numbers occasionally don’t add up, and emotional appeal tends to trump actual policy analysis.

Image result for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)

When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was confronted recently by Anderson Cooper on CBS’s “60 Minutes” about an egregious misstatement concerning Pentagon spending, she responded, “I think that there’s a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right.”

Perhaps this casual attitude toward facts explains the way that she and many others on the left have misrepresented the deal that New York offered Amazon to bring a new headquarters there. She claimed New York was going to give away $3 billion to Amazon that could have been used to pay for schoolteachers and subways. But as Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) explained, “This was a deal that was going to bring $27 billion in revenue to the state and city for things like public education, mass transit, affordable housing. And that $3 billion that [Amazon would receive in] incentives was only after we were getting the jobs and getting the revenue.” Moreover, $2.5 billion of those incentives were not specially crafted for Amazon, but rather were preexisting tax credits that it would have qualified for. In return, Amazon would have directly created at least 25,000 high-quality jobs, upgraded infrastructure in Long Island City and offered new educational opportunities. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos also owns The Post.)

The merits of any such incentive programs can be debated but the idea that, if New York unilaterally disarms, other cities and states will stop offering their own incentives is beyond naive. This was a chance for New York to gain leadership in the technology industry, further diversify its economy away from real estate and finance, and add new dynamism to the sometimes-forgotten borough of Queens. For all those who worried about Amazon crowding out low-income housing, a community activist smartly predicted to me what will happen to that part of Long Island City. Come the next recession, he explained, real estate developers will snap up the land, turn it into luxury condos, and take a 25-year tax break in return for reserving a smattering of apartments for the “middle class” (meaning people earning $125,000). But the thrill of denouncing “the world’s richest man” is apparently worth all this wreckage.

Or consider the race by prominent Democrats to embrace Medicare-for-all. A variety of expert studies have estimated the total increased government spending for such a program at between $2.5 trillion and $3 trillion a year. Few of the many proposals being floated would likely raise anything close to that revenue. The Medicare-for-all plan by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has zero out-of-pocket costs for patients, which would make it even more generous than plans in Europe and Canada. And if a herculean effort were made to raise revenue for Medicare-for-all, there would be few easy avenues left to fund any of the other ambitious proposals on the new Democratic wish list.

Universal health care is an important moral and political goal. But the U.S. system is insanely complex, and getting from here to single-payer would probably be so disruptive and expensive that it’s not going to happen. There is a path to universal coverage that is simpler: Switzerland has one of the best health-care systems in the world, and it’s essentially Obamacare with a real mandate. No one on the left is talking about such a model, likely because it feels too much like those incremental policies of the past.

Or consider the tax proposals being tossed around on the left, including a wealth tax championed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). I understand the appeal of tapping into those vast accumulations of billionaire loot. But there is a reason nine of the 12 European countries that instituted similar taxes have repealed them in the last 25 years. They massively distort economic activity, often incentivizing people to hide assets, devalue them and create dummy corporations. Faced with a wealth tax, most rich people would likely value and transfer assets the questionable way that Fred Trump did in passing his fortune on to his children.

There are smarter, better ways to address inequality — raise the capital gains tax to the same level as income taxes; increase the estate tax; and get rid of the massive loopholes that make the U.S. tax code one of the most complex and corrupt in the world. But again, this is less stirring stuff than burning the billionaires.

Ocasio-Cortez’s comments on “60 Minutes” reminded me of a July 2016 exchange between former House speaker Newt Gingrich and CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. Camerota explained that, contrary to Gingrich’s insistence, FBI data showed that violent crime in the United States was way down. Gingrich responded that it doesn’t “feel” that way to people. “As a political candidate, I’ll go with how people feel, and I’ll let you go with the theoreticians,” he said.We already have one major party that now routinely twists facts, disregards evidence, ignores serious policy analysis and makes stuff up to appeal to people’s emotions and prejudices. If the Democrats start moving along this path as well, American politics will truly descend into a new dark age.

 

(c) 2019, Washington Post Writers Group

Washington Post