Can Malay emancipation take place with the new Government?


January 8, 2019

Can Malay emancipation take place with the new Government?

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

Three years ago when the 1MDB and donation into Prime Minister Najib Razak’s personal account scandals took its toll on UMNO’s standing, one of the country’s more radical Malay bloggers posted a piece on the future of Malays in the country. The post had the provocative title,” Kita ni apa? Burung merpati dalam sangkar?” – see http://deminegara.blogspot.my/

In the reflective article, the blogger, KijangMas who was living abroad, had some advice for his fellow Malays in Malaysia.

He began his post by noting

Image result for umno

Ok, UMNO is history. In its current flavor, state and form . . . UMNO is no more. No point talking about what could have been . . . or the endeavors of many – including yours truly – to make the party see the light, to reform and renew and remain relevant in contemporary politics, to cleanse itself of corrupt criminals asphyxiating it to a gory demise.

Why UMNO became history

Image result for emancipated

And, possibly with the 1MDB scandal as the tipping point of his total disillusionment with UMNO, he admitted:

It was to no avail. We failed . . . and failed spectacularly as the “parti keramat Orang Melayu” got intractably hijacked by criminal lowlifes propped by a flaky collection of self-serving nincompoops and hangers-on wallowing in the muddy road to self-destruction . . . pathetic myopic fools merrily hurtling on a runaway trainwreck-in-the-making that will one day be remembered in the same light as other once invincible political forces that got arrogant and complacent, lost their way, imploded and consigned to the scrapheap of history . . . the Kuomintang, Congress Party, PRI, LDP, Golkar.

It is significant that despite his lack of faith and his disenchantment with what many in his circle regarded as the only political vehicle capable of leading the Malays to a better future, he remained optimistic of the fate of his community.

He reassured his fellow bloggers and friends in the following terms:

The Malays will do just fine . . . once we rid ourselves of the opiate of false security offered by a band of rogues at great socio-economic cost amid an induced sense of perpetual vulnerability to looming threats of imagined pendatang bogeymen lurking in every nook and cranny of the land.

We must realise the ludicrousness of the threat of impending doom of the Orang Melayu on our own Tanah Tumpah Darah IF the current gang of pillaging pirates were to lose power. We must be emancipated from this culture of irrational fear, of crippling institutional dependency, of inability to take charge and be responsible for our own welfare, our own destiny.

Since that post he has not written again.

Was his disillusionment as a nationalistic opinion leader complete as he helplessly watched UMNO’s leaders circle the wagons and find ways to absolve the party and its representatives in authority of wrongdoing or responsibility for the 1MDB controversy, while deflecting the blame to the opposition, and anti-Malay elements working to “kill off the Malays”?

KijangMas had also called for a mental revolution. As he put it;

Kita harus berjuang lah brader. Buang sifat malas. Perkuatkan minda. Tingkatkan ilmu. Jangan manjakan diri sangat. Tak payah terlalu sensitif, terlebih tersinggung, tercepat terkilan, terlajak terkempunan, tercenderung berdengki, tergigih berdendam. Dan buang lah segala macam kepercayaan karut . . . cerita hantu, kena santau, air jampi . . . amok, sawan, histeria, meracau, meroyan.

Was it also his last hurrah when he saw his hopes for a turnaround mental revolution not happening?  

Can Malay emancipation take place with the new Government?

KijangMas did not identify who or what would help free the Malays from their caged prison.

Since then a new Malay dominated coalition has taken power. But what KijangMas described as “this culture of irrational fear, of crippling institutional dependency, of inability to take charge and be responsible for our own welfare, our own destiny” has deepened not lessened with the recent anti-ICERD and anti-Indian imbroglios.

The question is whether the call for the emancipation of Malays can come from other than KijangMas and the small group of Malay liberals who – although at a different point of the ideological spectrum – have voiced the same concern.

Crucially, are there those from the high levels of  Malay society – Malay royalty, political leaders; the top civil servants;  the heads of GLCs and corporate Malaysia; Muslim religious leaders; etc. – who can be more than just opinion leaders?

For what is needed are trail blazers in action and deed that can provide the Malay masses with their own quintessential leaders that are the equivalent perhaps of Ho Chi Minh or Jamāl_al-Dīn_al-Afghānī – revolutionary nationalists but with cosmopolitan outlooks that reject the poisonous brew of narrow religious and racial dogmas, which are an equally or more repressive cage.

If this can happen –  once we have this group of what I would describe as ‘revolutionary moderates’ to be in charge, then that burung merpati dalam sangkar may finally begin to be freed from its caged condition.

One of the country’s most consistent critical social media analyst of the Malay dilemma, Prof. Dr. Tajuddin Rasdi, appears pessimistic that this can happen soon.

In his latest article, ‘Bolehkak Melayu berfikir kritis?’ he highlights the failure of the Malay educated elite to analyse rationally the information that they receive on developments related to the community and Islam.

In his words, ‘Siapa orang Melayu yang tidak boleh berfikiran waras ini? Adakah mereka orang kampung? Adakah mereka sekolah setakat darjah 6? Adakah mereka ini kaki kedai kopi dan kedai mamak?

Kalau orang berpendidikan rendah berfikir macam tu memang kita boleh agak dan fahami dan maafkan. Tetapi sebaliknya, bukan golongan macam ini saja. Kebanyakan 99% Melayu kenalan saya yang pernah belajar di universiti luar negara, universiti tempatan, dah ada Master dan dah ada PhD..

Saya mempunyai ramai kenalan Melayu dan saya berani katakan yang tidak boleh berfikiran rasional, tidak tahu berfikiran kritis, tidak mahu berfikir panjang-panjang adalah orang-orang yang jawatannya tinggi-tinggi belaka.

Apa jawatan mereka? Guru sekolah menengah, guru besar, profesor madya, profesor VK7-6-5, arkitek, jurutera, pegawai tinggi GLC, pegawai eksekutif dan doktor. Bukan calang-calang pendidikan, tuan-tuan. Semuanya extra hebat belaka. Tapi fikiran? Macam tak sekolah tinggi pun. Percaya bulat-bulat, tunggang langgang dan habis-habis. Sebab? Nak menegak ketuanan Melayu dan keagungan Islam. Dosa fitnah? Tak kisahlah. Dosa mencerca? Sikit saja. Dosa menyampai-nyampai? Tak ada hal punya beb’  (author’s emphasis).

Tajuddin’s conclusion is a warning of the long and hard road ahead for the Malay community’s nation’s well being despite the election tsunami:

Apa nak jadi dengan orang Melayu macam ini saya pun tak tahu. Negara kita ni bakal hancur dengan Melayu yang tak boleh nak urus emosi dan berfikiran rasional.

, the blogger, KijangMas who was living abroad, had some advice for his fellow Malays in Malaysia.

He began his post by noting

Ok, UMNO is history. In its current flavor, state and form . . . UMNO is no more. No point talking about what could have been . . . or the endeavors of many – including yours truly – to make the party see the light, to reform and renew and remain relevant in contemporary politics, to cleanse itself of corrupt criminals asphyxiating it to a gory demise.

Why UMNO became history

And, possibly with the 1MDB scandal as the tipping point of his total disillusionment with UMNO, he admitted:

It was to no avail. We failed . . . and failed spectacularly as the “parti keramat Orang Melayu” got intractably hijacked by criminal lowlifes propped by a flaky collection of self-serving nincompoops and hangers-on wallowing in the muddy road to self-destruction . . . pathetic myopic fools merrily hurtling on a runaway trainwreck-in-the-making that will one day be remembered in the same light as other once invincible political forces that got arrogant and complacent, lost their way, imploded and consigned to the scrapheap of history . . . the Kuomintang, Congress Party, PRI, LDP, Golkar.

It is significant that despite his lack of faith and his disenchantment with what many in his circle regarded as the only political vehicle capable of leading the Malays to a better future, he remained optimistic of the fate of his community.

He reassured his fellow bloggers and friends in the following terms:

The Malays will do just fine . . . once we rid ourselves of the opiate of false security offered by a band of rogues at great socio-economic cost amid an induced sense of perpetual vulnerability to looming threats of imagined pendatang bogeymen lurking in every nook and cranny of the land.

We must realise the ludicrousness of the threat of impending doom of the Orang Melayu on our own Tanah Tumpah Darah IF the current gang of pillaging pirates were to lose power. We must be emancipated from this culture of irrational fear, of crippling institutional dependency, of inability to take charge and be responsible for our own welfare, our own destiny.

Since that post he has not written again.

Was his disillusionment as a nationalistic opinion leader complete as he helplessly watched UMNO’s leaders circle the wagons and find ways to absolve the party and its representatives in authority of wrongdoing or responsibility for the 1MDB controversy, while deflecting the blame to the opposition, and anti-Malay elements working to “kill off the Malays”?

KijangMas had also called for a mental revolution. As he put it

Kita harus berjuang lah brader. Buang sifat malas. Perkuatkan minda. Tingkatkan ilmu. Jangan manjakan diri sangat. Tak payah terlalu sensitif, terlebih tersinggung, tercepat terkilan, terlajak terkempunan, tercenderung berdengki, tergigih berdendam. Dan buang lah segala macam kepercayaan karut . . . cerita hantu, kena santau, air jampi . . . amok, sawan, histeria, meracau, meroyan.

Was it also his last hurrah when he saw his hopes for a turnaround mental revolution not happening?

Can Malay emancipation take place with the new Government?

KijangMas did not identify who or what would help free the Malays from their caged prison.

Since then a new Malay dominated coalition has taken power. But what KijangMas described as “this culture of irrational fear, of crippling institutional dependency, of inability to take charge and be responsible for our own welfare, our own destiny” has deepened not lessened with the recent anti-ICERD and anti-Indian imbroglios.

The question is whether the call for the emancipation of Malays can come from other than KijangMas and the small group of Malay liberals who – although at a different point of the ideological spectrum – have voiced the same concern.

Crucially, are there those from the high levels of  Malay society – Malay royalty, political leaders; the top civil servants;  the heads of GLCs and corporate Malaysia; Muslim religious leaders; etc. – who can be more than just opinion leaders?

For what is needed are trail blazers in action and deed that can provide the Malay masses with their own quintessential leaders that are the equivalent perhaps of Ho Chi Minh or Jamāl_al-Dīn_al-Afghānī – revolutionary nationalists but with cosmopolitan outlooks that reject the poisonous brew of narrow religious and racial dogmas, which are an equally or more repressive cage.

If this can happen –  once we have this group of what I would describe as ‘revolutionary moderates’ to be in charge, then that burung merpati dalam sangkar may finally begin to be freed from its caged condition.

One of the country’s most consistent critical social media analyst of the Malay dilemma, Prof. Dr. Tajuddin Rasdi, appears pessimistic that this can happen soon.

 

Bersatu’s inexorable move to becoming a sanitized, immunized and Bersih UMNO Terbaru 3.0


January 3, 2019

Bersatu’s inexorable move to becoming a sanitized, immunized and Bersih UMNO Terbaru 3.0

Opinion  | By P. Gunasegaram

Published:  |  Modified:

  QUESTION TIME | If anything, Bersatu’s recent annual general assembly starkly shows one thing – that it is merely an extension of the old UMNO (Baru,) and will use the model of Malay supremacy,ty and put back in place corruption via patronage politics.

The only way to check that unfortunate retrograde policy is for the other Pakatan Harapan partners, especially those who have three to four times the number of MPs Bersatu has, to exert their combined muscle to rightfully regain more influence in the coalition and restore the original reform agenda pre-GE14.

At the AGM, Bersatu vice-President Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman, also a former Election Commission (EC) chairperson, termed pushbacks against delegates’ demands to be given government resources to help the party retain power as “stupid”.

Bad enough that you have the former EC chairperson advocating breaking laws but this same person was shockingly appointed in August last year to head a Putrajaya committee that will make recommendations on electoral law reform in two years time.

This same Abdul Rashid had been heavily criticised by both PKR and DAP, the dominant parties in Harapan, over his tenure from 2000 to 2008 as the EC chairperson. This continues a tendency for Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to appoint tainted,controversial and/or discredited people to important positions.

This includes Daim Zainuddin to head the Council of Eminent Persons; former Inspector-General of Police Abdul Rahim Noor (who brutally assaulted Anwar Ibrahim and gave him a black eye while in Police detention) to negotiate security arrangements with Thailand and former discredited aAtorneys-General to important positions.

Abdul Rashid’s comments at the Bersatu assembly are particularly galling and provocative and advocate extra-judicial measures to keep and extend Bersatu’s hold on power. These are clearly against the law but Abdul Rashid (photo) received a misplaced standing ovation from Bersatu delegates.

“Looking at the situation now, we cannot defend our position as the governing party because the division chiefs are being left out. It is lucky that the Prime Minister gave me a job with a big salary so that I can support my division,” said Abdul Rashid, apparently referring to his appointment to the government’s election reform committee.

“But the others, we don’t need to be arrogant by saying we shouldn’t give them jobs, that we would be taking away the jobs of others, that we should not take this or that. That opinion, to me, irresponsible. In the election, we must win by hook or by crook,” he said.

He added that although he did not like the idea of using government resources, it had to be done.

“All division chiefs should be given activities so that they can have the opportunity to defend their divisions,” he said.

Abdul Rashid also urged the government to restore the parallel village chief system practised by the previous BN government. “And our people must occupy these positions,” he said.

Village chiefs are traditionally appointed by the state government but the previous BN government appointed parallel village chiefs in states not under its control. The Harapan administration has abolished this parallel system.

“All development projects should be channeled to these (parallel) committees and the division chiefs must benefit,” he said as the crowd cheered him on.

Blown to smithereens

It is unthinkable that this man, who clearly advocates moves against current elections laws, heads Putrajaya’s committee on electoral reform. If anything, he will probably advocate changes in the law to allow these offences to take place.

Harapan leaders should forthwith put their foot down and demand that Abdul Rashid be removed as the head of the electoral reform committee as he has clearly shown, by his words at a public gathering, that he is not a fit person to come up with electoral reforms which are up to international standards.

That he had so much support from Bersatu delegates for his views is worrying, with other leaders echoing his sentiments. While Bersatu head Mahathir has said that what Abdul Rashid says is his personal opinion, he should immediately review Abdul Rashid’s position as head of the electoral reform committee.

The original UMNO  was founded in 1946 to champion Malay rights in the lead up to independence. Its founder Onn bin Jaffar left UMNO after the party refused to open membership to non-Malays. Tunku Abdul Rahman took over the helm and became Malaysia’s first Prime Minister.

That UMNO was de-registered in 1987 after the courts declared it illegal. Then prime minister Mahathir formed UMNO Baru or UMNO 2.0 and organised members of UMNO, who supported him to join this UMNO Baru, excluding others who did not. There was a breakaway group called Semangat 46 formed, headed by Mahathir’s then opponent , Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

Mahathir altered the constitution of the original UMNO considerably by making it next to impossible to remove a sitting UMNO Baru President. This resulted in a progressive erosion of government accountability and transparency, eventually leading to 1MDB and its excesses. And UMNOMNO-BN’s first loss in the general election last year.

As droves of MPs start to desert UMNOo Baru, Bersatu may well become Umno 3.0 if it accepts these UMNOo MPs as members. That will irrevocably change the complexion of the coalition and alter the balance of power within Harapan.

Other coalition partners, in particular, PKR and DAP, should clearly resist this and state their irreversible opposition to such moves, simply because all UMNO and BN MPs are tainted because they knew full well of the corruption and theft within 1MDB when they decided to stand for elections.

If all of the UMNO MPs are accepted within the Bersatu fold and become Harapan members effectively and those within Bersatu who call for extrajudicial measures to remain in power are not checked, it is inevitable that Bersatu will become UMNO 3.0 and the strongest party within the Harapan coalition.

With that, the hopes of the majority of Malaysians for a fairer, more equitable country, where everybody is considered Malaysian and where corruption is a thing of the past and accountability and good governance will be practised, will be blown to smithereens.


P GUNASEGARAM says we have to guard our newfound freedom zealously instead of surrendering it back to UMNO goons and gangsters who want a return to the past. E-mail: t.p.guna@gmail.com

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Mariam Mokhtar’s Joke of 2018


December 28, 2018

Mariam Mokhtar’s  Joke of 2018

https://www.malaysiakini.com/columns/457945

Opinion  |by  Mariam Mokhtar

   You will probably disagree; but my nomination, for the “Malaysian of 2018” is the disgraced former Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

My reason is simple; ironically, Najib and his “1Malaysia” sound-bite united us.

I am not promoting Najib’s so-called achievements, but he brought out the best in Malaysians – from their individual acts of kindness during the Bersih rallies, to the spontaneous helping spirit shown on the May 9 polling day.

He united old foes, like Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Lim Kit Siang. The family of Anwar Ibrahim endorsed Mahathir as the leader of Pakatan Harapan (PH). All faced the common enemy, Najib.

Najib’s 1MDB scandal may have put Malaysia on the map for the wrong reasons, but the heavyweight presence of the US Department of Justice, was to our advantage.

The messy banking practices of 1MDB have also forced banks to review their practices.

We also saw that businesses were at Najib’s mercy. Those who had sided with Mahathir, were visited by the Income Tax Department. Under Najib, we cringed as Supermax’s Stanley Thai apologised for supporting Harapan, while AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes praised Najib profusely.

In the world of publishing, the spendthrift ways of his spouse Rosmah Mansor prompted some financial magazines to advise their subscribers, to start saving from their teenage years.

Some children’s publications are toying with the idea of a modern version of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, whilst others are working on a new chapter for Tales of the Arabian Nights – about a RM2.6 billion donation from an Arab prince.

Najib’s tentacles had an international reach. Foreign leaders were prepared to close one eye to the injustices being perpetrated in Malaysia, because trade and economic ties take precedence over human rights abuses and cries of racism.

Najib was also the undoing of his father’s legacy. The Felda scheme, which was once internationally hailed as a successful example of rural poverty eradication in a third-world country, gained a reputation for shady land deals, bad business decisions and leadership tussles.

Felda strayed from its purpose and diversified into activities which were far removed from agricultural. Isa Samad was hand-picked by Najib to helm Felda. It lost millions of ringgits and squandered the money of the settlers and their families.

Under Najib’s watch, planes and pastors disappeared. There were also many unexplained deaths. All of which could have been better managed, as he was the boss then.

When MH370 disappeared, the world saw how we reacted. The erstwhile then-inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar dismissed claims that he rejected help.

With their broken English, some heads of departments were ill-equipped to handle questions from foreign reporters. The role of the radar operator and his sleeping supervisor was exposed, only after an international investigation.

The families of the victims were often the last to be informed and Raja Bomoh’s antics added to our shame.

In 2009, the year Najib became Prime minister, baby Prasana Diksa was kidnapped by her convert father Ridhuan Abdullah. Prasana was snatched from Ridhuan’s Hindu wife, Indira Gandhi.

Over two years ago, Pastor Raymond Koh, Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his Indonesian wife Ruth, and Perlis social activist Amri Che Mat were abducted. None of these people have been found. The religious link to these abductions is compelling. Remember that Najib’s power base is with the Muslim/Malays.

During the Bersih 4.0 rally, people camped overnight on the streets in a show of defiance against Najib. It was reported that some police officers were giving the protestors the “thumbs-up”.

Just before GE-14, strangers who flew to Malaysia to vote volunteered to carry the postal ballots of Malaysians who were unable to return home.

In some communities, people ferried their neighbours to their polling stations to vote. Some families claimed that older members, who have never before voted, changed their minds, and decided to vote.

The navy chief, in a Facebook post, openly said that those who voted could rest assured that their votes were secret. Who would have thought this possible in previous decades?

Like most others, Malaysians were fearful of change, but they were also fed-up with the leaders of government departments, who swore their allegiance to Najib as well as institutions like the judiciary, the MACC and the Police. Najib made us do the impossible. We voted him out of office.

 

The Malays finally saw through Najib’s sham of “defending the Malays and protecting Islam”. They knew about Felda and Mara but Rafizi Ramli’s allegations about Tabung Haji (TH), finally energised them. Many poor Malays placed their hard-earned cash in the TH pilgrimage fund.

In the end, it was not the DAP, the Chinese, the Christians, or even George Soros, who deceived the Malays. It was a Bugis-Malay, Najib, and his side-kick; a man called Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, who betrayed the Malays.

When Najib was in power, silence was his forte. When confronted with bad news, his supporters, like  Salleh Syed Keruak, would spring to his defence.

Today, many of his henchmen have left, or have to worry about their own futures, and so Najib is forced to make his own presence felt on the social and political scene.

He is still a formidable force who refuses to sit in the dock and does not wear the MACC orange lock-up outfit when he appears in court. This double standards can only mean that Najib still holds some people in his evil grasp.

Najib is certainly the Malaysian of 2018 – for his ability to unite us.


MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO). Blog, Twitter.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini

A new direction for the ‘new Malays’ in new Malaysia


December 27, 2018

A new direction for the ‘new Malays’ in new Malaysia

by  Dr .Rais Hussin

 

COMMENT | A paradigm, according to science philosopher Thomas Kuhn, is based on consensus. He showed that science was not a mere accumulation of facts through trial and error, but what scientists agreed to be correct.

But Kuhn also argued that all paradigms can be disrupted. And, when they are, the previous paradigm collapses. Sociologist Daniel Bell called this the “end of ideology.” This means when an old paradigm has lost its explanatory and prescriptive value, a new one will naturally supplant and displace it.

In a way, policy makers here have been attempting the same since the country came into being, by revising and challenge each five-year plan. Of late, this can be seen in the midterm review of the 11th Malaysia Plan. One can also include the Bumiputera Empowerment Congress in September.

Since the National Economic Policy formed the backbone of economic planning, the review of any plans or vision documents tends to echo its gold standard. However, this has been corroded by Umno; all that glittered turned out not to be gold, so how can the NEP be trudged out to create a new paradigm?

Under the rule of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, all GLICs were allowed to improve their balance sheets by going abroad. Once there, however, instead of harnessing FDI into the country, these GLICs tried to find greener pastures for themselves.

Felda Global Ventures and Mara went on a buying spree of hotels in the UK and Australia. Even fugitive financier Low Taek Jho did the same in the US until the kleptocratic ruse was uncovered by Sarawak Report and the Wall Street Journal.

When Najib Abdul Razak took over from Abdullah in 2009, he created 1MDB to borrow heavily  with the financial guarantees of the government to make a success out of Bandar Malaysia. By building it in an already congested section of the city, Najib was crowding out other good investments and making them more costly.

To the degree 1MDB was affected by controversy its debt and liabilities were absorbed by the Finance Ministry. When it could no longer handle the toxic assets and balance sheets, Tabung Haji and other GLICs, even Bank Negara, were brought in to bail it out. Even the National Audit Department was said to have altered its report on the investment firm.

The Umno paradigm

Regardless of what was done and how, and by whom, Umno’s larger justification has always been the self-serving agenda to protect the party elite, rather than the Malays. By focusing on themselves, Umno lost touch with its roots, and failed to protect the provisions of Article 153.

Then Umno resorted to importing cheap labour into Malaysia to keep wages down. Malays were the first to be affected. But Umno couldn’t have cared less, and allowed more and cheaper labour to swarm in, depriving Malays of the right to enjoy liveable wages.

The fact is this though: neither the administrations of Badawi, with his “fourth-floor boys”, or Najib, with his “kitchen cabinet”, knew how to protect the Malays. If they did, several oddities would not have pervaded in the system from top to bottom.

First, a select few controlled most of the financial liquidity of Permodalan Nasional Berhad. These were fair-weather investors, who would bail at the slightest smell of trouble. This is how Malays betray Malays, when plutocrats look after their own material interests, and not that of the Malay laity.

Indeed, if PNB did not offer yields at above market rate, the elites of Umno would have parked their cash elsewhere, even if such a move would destroy the fund’s financial liquidity. The modus operandi of these investors was “me first”, and the rest of Malays last.

Secondly, there are 94 bumiputera development agencies, which spawned 1,137 companies. Yet to date, aside from Mara, there is no telling of these agencies’ annual returns. These agencies clearly have become dishevelled, disorganised and disrupted.

Third, research seems to suggest that since the introduction of the NEP in 1970s, Malays only own 18 percent of corporate entities. Remove the equity participation of institutional investors, and this falls to an abysmally low five percent.

Nor is the goal of 30 percent going to be reached, since Malays tend to want to sell their shares and equities as and when they have made a profit. This is the proverbial moving of goalposts – a weak measure of what Malays can achieve or truly own in perpetuity.

And when the goal cannot be reached, Malays assume others are sticking a knife in their corporate portfolios, when in fact it is Umno cheating them, bringing to mind the Malay saying, “Harapkan pagar, pagar makan padi”. Umno embodied the worst form of this, which is why Malaysia devolved into a kleptocracy, before Pakatan Harapan managed to stop the rot.

Fourth, an NEP-centric document that is numerically tagged to 30 percent may not be a good thing – especially with Umno’s manipulations, which includes keeping the wealth among the elite. By creating a false positive balance sheet economy, Umno was pulling the wool over the people’s eyes, at least until May 9.

Globalisation a must

The fact of the matter is, Malays and Malaysia must globalise. And the economic conditions must become more varied and complex, and not driven by how Umno pads the accounts.

For example, the World Economic Forum listed the top ten risks of doing business in the current international economic system. The United State has its lowest unemployment in 49 years, the European Union in 43 years and Japan in 25 years. But the midterm review of the 11th Malaysian plan seems oblivious to the external situations abroad.

Malaysia has come a long way form 1957 with its US$314 billion GDP, and it can go further. But this is premised on good governance and nimble, effective and strong economic statecraft–not just within the country, but in consonance with the world.

The US Federal Reserve Bank, for instance, has approved eight interest hikes in the last two years alone. The era of cheap money can and will disappear in the next one to two years, if interest rates in Washington continue to rise.

The global economy is also going through more revolutions in apps, algorithm, analytics and automation, which will lead to more Sino-US trade rivalry as both compete to become dominant in these fields.

None of these is apparent in the NEP, the 11th Malaysia Plan nor its midterm review. Yet, Malaysia is right in the thick of these disruptive technologies, as it is the 17th largest trading state in the world, as well as China’s One Belt One Road initiative.

New Malays in a new Malaysia must take these disruptions into account instead of insisting on perpetual protection from the state. In a honeycomb economy, any app can theoretically disrupt old supply chains – Airbnb allowing tourists to circumvent the front desks of hotels, BMW’s DriveNow dismantling notions of ownership, and EdX allowing students to bypass enrolment in formal universities.

A new country

If Malaysia does not try to think of new ways to become a new country, one that can adapt to the latest digital disruptions, a mere fetish with NEP – which has become a vehicle for rent-seeking and corruption to enrich the Umno elite – will only cause resentment among the other 99.5 percent of Malays.

If anything, May 9 was an indication of how mad the rakyat can get when wealth does not trickle down.

As things stand, there are 113,000 Felda settlers, of which 32,000 have been receiving cost of living aid. While they wait, the prices of palm oil will not go up anytime soon, since China has agreed to buy US soybean in order to prevent the collapse of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Little wonder palm oil is doing badly. Workers from Felda have to think of new ways to make a breakthrough. It is also important to diversify new markets for palm oil, including, but not limited to, Russia, Eastern Europe, and South Asia.

New Malays must have the strategic mentality to go where returns are highest, even before GLCs have found the first breakthrough. There are four ways Malays can change. As rudimentary as it may sound, they have to assess strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Strength can be derived from the willingness to defend their honour, after years of being spoiled by Najib. Nothing is more powerful than the will and tenacity to change or turn over a new leaf.

But just as some are committed to turning over a new leaf, weaknesses lie in certain quarters like Umno and PAS luring people back to the racial and kleptocratic ways of old in time for the 15th general election.

Now that Malaysia has ditched the kleptocracy and kakistocracy, new opportunities are opening up for the likes of Bersatu to field more qualified and capable candidates in GLCs, GLICs and even thinktanks. The party must not lose this once in a lifetime chance. Appointing qualified and capable candidates, rather than mere politicians, is key towards recalibrating Malay minds.

The threats come in the form of the pseudo-Islam peddled by some in PAS, and increasingly, Umno – evident in the PAS Youth Chief’s dictate against the celebration of Christmas.

When Malays can engage, and work with those from any race across the aisle, there is no stopping Malaysia from becoming a major strategic power in Asean.


RAIS HUSSIN is a supreme council member of Bersatu. He also heads its policy and strategy bureau.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

 

 

As 2018 comes to an end


December 23, 2018

As 2018 comes to an end

 

QUESTION TIME | While 2018 draws to a close, bringing with it a time for reflection, some serious questions are being asked as to the state of the country and what it means when Malaysia’s oldest party, UMNO, faces collapse from within as elected representatives desert it in droves for what they think are greener pastures.This will cause problems in Pakatan Harapan, for it threatens to significantly alter the delicate power balance within the coalition, which may see a sudden burgeoning of power for Bersatu with all its attendant implications. And then there are the power shifts within PKR itself. All of these spell uncertainty ahead.

But even so, things are much better right now than a year ago, despite the many problems that need to be resolved. If the challenge of removing BN after 61 years has been successfully overcome, surely the ones facing the nation right now can be more easily settled.

One year ago, the nation was already in the throes of election fever. There was desperation, despair, denial, and fear on both sides – fear that they might lose the elections with all implications for both sides. And the rakyat worried like never before about whether the unbridled kleptocracy would end or not.

In the end, they took the right and brave decision to throw out a corrupt and thieving government, paving the way for a former prime minister of 22 years to return to the helm for the interim and de facto Harapan leader Anwar Ibrahim to take over the reins later.

That unprecedented overthrow of UMNO-BN was, without doubt, the highlight of the year with all the drama of a 92-year-old waiting at the palace to be installed as the next prime minister as agreed by the Harapan coalition.

Along with that drama, there was another one unfolding which saw Anwar finally getting an unconditional pardon and released from jail. There was much jubilation and elation at Harapan’s victory, and everyone admired Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s energy and persistence throughout the process, something remarkable for a man his age.

Inevitable problems

But the inevitable problems began to surface. First, it was the cabinet composition and then the formation of the Jedi-like so-called Council of Eminent Persons headed by the controversial Daim Zainuddin (photo).

It was clear that this council, with a declared lifetime of 100 days was more powerful than the cabinet itself and was making many decisions which should rightly have been decided at the ministerial level.

Daim’s reports to Mahathir still remain confidential, with the public in the dark about the measures recommended by the council. Despite the council no longer sitting, Daim still continues to exert considerable influence in government, leading to discomfort among some members of Harapan.

After subsiding for a while, the problem of “frogging” – leaping from one party to another – has resurfaced with a vengeance with some 17 UMNO MPs having resigned and a handful joining component Harapan parties, mostly Bersatu.

There is considerable discord over this party hopping, with PKR and DAP clearly against it while Bersatu is as clearly for it because of the small number of MPs it has and the potential for such moves to increase its numbers and influence. Bersatu has even set up a vetting process to consider who should be admitted.

Far-reaching consequences

This is going to be a serious problem for Harapan going forward, because it has the potential to cause far-reaching changes within the ruling coalition which will alter its balance of power and may even set off a race among coalition members, except DAP, to get some of the defectors into their fold.

As much as there is uncertainty now over what will happen to Harapan and the reforms and changes it promised, it is still far better than the situation a year ago, with ominous consequences for the country if BN-UMNO was yet again re-elected.

In the end, faith prevailed and collectively we turned away from the abyss that faced us by voting out an allegedly kleptocratic government and averted near-certain disaster.

Subsequent events have shown that we were right about the magnitude of the problems facing the country, and that steps are necessary to ensure we, as a nation, don’t face a similar problem in future.

If everybody involved in the reform movement remembers the past and how near we were to a colossal breakdown of epic proportions in government due to extensive and ingrained corruption, outright pilferage of borrowed money, and the constant raising of race and religion as issues to mask deficiencies, then they will realise the need for reform to stop corruption and theft.

That would mean not allowing into government anyone who is even remotely connected with the previous government’s unprecedented kleptocracy, no matter how small the role they played in that. That means no hopping MPs.

And that means standing up for these reforms and facing up to those who now want to forget them. Only that will ensure a better Malaysia going forward, even if there is some initial cost to this vital long-term benefit that we need in order to sustain this country of ours as a viable nation.


P . GUNASEGARAM wishes all Malaysiakini readers and subscribers a merry Christmas and happy new year. His column will resume next year. E-mail: t.p.guna@gmail.com

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Fighting Corruption


December 13, 2018

Fighting Corruption

https://www.asiasentinel.com/econ-business/curbing-asia-corrupt-governments/

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Representatives of civil society organizations from nine ASEAN nations have been meeting for the past two days in Bangkok, seeking ways to fast-track implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in what has to seem like an uphill struggle.

All nine countries have completed the first cycle of the convention against corruption, implementation review, covering criminalization and law enforcement and international cooperation, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, which is hosting the event. Indonesia and Malaysia have completed the second cycle and Thailand, Vietnam and Laos are at work doing the same.

Unfortunately, the CSOs as the organizations are known are fighting against deeply entrenched corruption. The countries sending reformers to Bangkok are Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam. Except for Singapore, which has its own problems with authoritarianism, the record might make observers into skeptics.

Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index for 2017 finds little encouragement. “…Our analysis reveals little progress across the region,” according to the report. “In the past six years, only a few countries experienced small, incremental changes indicating signs of improvement.”

Unfortunately, according to Transparency International, “the 2017 index also shows that corruption in many countries is still strong. Often, when individuals dare to challenge the status quo, they suffer the consequences. In some countries across the region, journalists, activists, opposition leaders and even staff of law enforcement or watchdog agencies are threatened, and in the worst cases, even murdered.” The Philippines is among the worse regional offenders, the report says.

“While freedom of expression is under attack across much of the region, civic space is also shrinking severely. Civil society organizations in countries like Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and China are permanently under threat from authorities. In Cambodia, the government recently cracked down on civil society with the introduction of a restrictive law against NGOs. Cambodia is one of the worst-ranked countries in the region according to the CPI.”

Singapore is the highest-ranked East Asian country in the TI index, at 6th despite its propensity towards authoritarian government. (New Zealand and the Nordic countries rank highest as usual.)

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From there, it is a long drop, to 62nd place and Malaysia, which is coming off the biggest scandal in the country’s history, with the loss of untold billions of dollars in the 1Malaysia Development fiasco and the arrest of its Prime Minister, Najib Razak, and his wife, Rosicmah Mansor(pic above). Malaysia’s Pakatan Harapan coalition, which took power in May, 2018  is now trying to deal with the vestiges of 60 years of cronyism and rent-seeking.

The 1MDB matter has become a veritable textbook case of global money laundering, with US authorities pursuing missing assets across the globe and the current prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, trying to reclaim vast sums for his country.

The net drop is another 29 places to Timor-Leste, ranked 91st. Indonesia and Thailand are tied at 96th, which seems optimistic, since both of them hopelessly corrupt.  Vietnam is ranked 107th, followed by the Philippines at 111th. Myanmar is at 130th, followed by Papua New Guinea and Laos, tied at 135th. Cambodia brings up the rear for the region at 161st of 180 countries.

The gloomy part about those rankings is that not a single country has moved up significantly from rankings in 2012, five years ago.

Thus it is jarring that the representatives of 27 civil society organizations are gathered in Bangkok, “working to support government accountability and transparency in various sectors, such as transparency of the judiciary, access to information, whistle-blowing systems, open data, innovative tools, wildlife and timber trafficking, access to justice, women’s rights or business integrity.”

The event, according to the UN office, “is an opportunity to equip CSOs to be ready to review the ongoing UNCAC Implementation Review Mechanisms in ASEAN countries, support their work on anti-corruption in Southeast-Asia, hold thematic sessions of particular interest to civil society, and mark the International Anti-Corruption Day 2018,” said Mirella Dummar-Frahi, UNODC Civil Society Team. In addition, the discussions of the roundtable aim to inform future activities for civil society work in the region.

According to the World Economic Forum, as part of the ‘Global Competitiveness Report,’ most countries in Asia are ranking in the bottom-half with regards to corruption, according to Julien Garsany, deputy regional representative for the UNODC Regional Office for Southeast-Asia and the Pacific.

This year, Garsany said, “we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), this is the occasion to measure progress in its implementation at the national level, and a lot remains to be done. In the ASEAN region, the only existing regional framework is the UNCAC, which makes it of critical importance to tackle corruption at both national and regional levels.”

Critical areas identified as regional trends in the preliminary findings include conflict of interests, asset declaration systems, public procurement, revolving doors, access to information and beneficial ownership.

“CSOs have an important role to play through investigative journalism, sharing of information, transparency and accountability initiatives,” he said, noting progress made towards the inclusion of liability of legal persons in domestic laws in ASEAN countries, which is a positive trend, and the role civil society can play: “If the civil society pushes civil action against companies known to bribe, that could be very powerful.”