Who’s afraid of Dr M?

August 18, 2016

Who’s afraid of Dr M?

Cmdr(rtd) S.Thayaparan


My strong suspicion is we get the world we deserve.”

– Ray Velcoro in ‘True Detective’

In my last article, I made three points. The first, that the creation of another Malay power structure was unproductive and what the Najib refuseniks “need to do is work with the opposition without causing any more political fissures”.

The second was that “having the same interests [in removing Najib] and ‘not repeating the mistakes of the past’ are mutually exclusive”. The third, to “radicalise the Malay community by advocating ideas that would make any red shirt-clad Malay nationalist quiver with rage because it comes from former UMNO power brokers.”

I would like to elaborate on these three points because I am an outlier “keling” and sometimes, something more is needed than just “podah”. By registering this new ‘Malay’ political party, former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is attempting to do what political prisoner Anwar Ibrahim failed to do.

Do not get me wrong, Anwar had much success in changing the political landscape of this country but he did not manage to galvanise the Malay vote to the point where PKR alone, up to a point until Anwar landed in Sungei Buloh, was a credible alternative to UMNO.

This is why PKR’s over reliance on PAS has resulted in the neutering of the oppositional front. However, the charges that this is “just another racist party” are disingenuous considering the ethos of the so-called alternative pact. From a purely descriptive stance, there are only multiracial opposition parties in Malaysia. In substance, these parties are either pandering to the Malay vote or outright concerning themselves with furthering the agenda of the ‘Malay’ polity to sustain political survival.

Therefore, what we have in the Peninsular are mainstream Malay power structures like UMNO and PAS, a political party like PKR whose leadership has publicly stated that the Malay vote is paramount to their survival hence political rhetoric and policy decisions are based on the sensitivities and preoccupations of this particular community.

Meanwhile, DAP continues to seek ways to increase its Malay membership in an effort to shed its so-called Chinese chauvinistic image, only to be hampered by operatives suffering from foot-in-mouth disease, an epidemic that the DAP leadership seems reluctant to confront.

The idea that this new Malay political party could galvanise the rural Malay vote is misguided. About the so-called “rural vote”, I said this in a piece on the recently concluded by-elections – “So if UMNO delivers everything it says it will deliver, the cycle of complicity will continue. Disenfranchised people will continue voting for a regime which puts rice in their bowls. I am not talking about the urban class but rather those people who have depended on real power, federal power exercised corruptly for their benefit. That is the culture some people forget that we are dealing with. We nurtured this culture.”

The only way this new party is going to get the rural Malay vote is to outspend UMNO or to destabilise the UMNO state level machinery. The latter is possible considering the Mahathir sympathisers within UMNO but unless this new party is willing to commit massive sums, the idea of outspending the King of Cash is ludicrous.

A shared goal

My second point is where it gets messy. The agenda of removing the current UMNO Prime Minister, which no doubt is a shared goal, and with reforming the system, are unfortunately (in my book) mutually exclusive. Many of my friends have taken exception to this statement arguing that they are not mutually exclusive. I sympathise with their argument and indeed in the past have put forward the same argument.

An Indian opposition supporter sent me an email, questioning how I could advocate the opposition working with Mahathir after he used the “keling” word. The first thing I did was send him links of every racist or bigoted utterings of oppositional political figures and asked how could I sincerely advocate for the opposition?

This is not meant as some sort of apologia on behalf of the former prime minster but rather that nobody in Malaysia get to ride on his or her high horse. Political adversaries working together is unfortunately what democracy is all about and this has nothing to with having a saviour – an unfortunate straw man – but capitalising on political and resources to overcome a political foe who is turning this country into another failed Islamic state.

Concerning ideas that “correct past mistakes”, what new ideas have the opposition actually advocated? The New Economic Policy (NEP) is redefined as class-based with the provision that the ‘Malay’ community as the majority will benefit the most. Supposedly secular parties fund Islamic organisations in an effort to get more ‘Malay’ votes.

Academics that propose equal opportunity laws or advocate ideas that slay communal scared cows are vilified as “idealists” and lectured on the “reality of our political system” or reminded that UMNO is the biggest racist party ever when in substance; their preferred political alliance operates in the same if subtle manner.

In one of my numerous pieces about the racial game here in Malaysia, I wrote, “In addition, this idea that voting across racial lines as some sort of evidence of burgeoning multiracial solidarity is complete bunkum. The real test is when people vote across ethnic and religious lines in support of ideologies that run counter to the interests of their communities and by this I mean egalitarian ideas that run afoul of constitutional sacred cows and social and religious dogma.”

Indeed, opposition parties like to promote the idea that they have dropped their racial and cultural baggage but the reality is that political expediency wins out every single time because people say one thing but do and mean another. I am referring to the voting public and not only politicians.

With regards to PAS and DAP, I wrote this: “The old PAS and the old DAP were offering up ideological alternatives to Barisan National that the voting public rejected for various reasons. I would argue that the DAP and PAS of old were more ideologically pure than they are now but that is a story for another time.”

This brings me to my final point, radicalising the Malay community. I have written how the non-Malay community played a big part in the mess we find ourselves by sustaining Umno all these years. I also concede that the opposition for whatever reasons is chasing the Malay vote at the expense of egalitarian ideas, therefore offering no real alternative for Malaysians to take refuge in, intellectually and spiritually.

In a piece praising PKR operative Wan Ji Wan Hussin, I wrote, “I have always been sceptical of the opposition and downright scornful of the UMNO establishment. While UMNO during elections season attempts to bribe non-Muslims with goodies – and it is open season on non-Muslims when votes need not be counted – the religious politics of the opposition has been a mess of political opportunism and homages to political correctness. Neither approach is suitable for the long-term social and political stability of Malaysia.”

We have had many Malaysians who champion egalitarian ideas. PSM for instance is one such political organisation that states their ideas and goals clearly but observe how they are treated by the average opposition supporter and intelligentsia.

Therefore, I know where I stand politically and hopefully some readers do too. In one of my earlier pieces, I wrote about how the Indian community should slay some of their scared cows. I also wrote of the DAP and the Chinese community, which was met with howls of racist indignation.

I will not be held responsible for whatever problems facing the ‘Malay’ community using the “we are all Malaysians” argument. Malays should speak up for themselves, demand leadership from their own community much like how minorities everywhere in the world demand it. Do not blame the existential crisis of the Malay community on the non-Malays and use the idea of a Malaysian identity as short hand to circumvent hard questions about one’s own community.

I would argue that every minority community in this country has done its share of soul searching and even though we may find fault in what they have discovered or are discovering, this idea – actually, I would use the term propaganda that being “Malaysian” means ignoring race and culture in favour of bromides – is the kool aid Malaysia does not need.

Time to replace Wan Azizah as Opposition Leader

New York

June 25, 2016

Time  to replace Wan Azizah as Opposition Leader

by Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman


Progress can only come when we put aside our ideological biases and acknowledge the truth despite its inconvenience. The opposition is fractured, weak, disorganised and perceptually unfit to take on UMNO-Barisan Nasional (BN). The results of the two by-elections prove this.

In Sungai Besar, UMNO-BN won with a 9,191-vote majority. In Kuala Kangsar, Barisan Nasional (BN) won with a majority of 6,969 votes. The majority BN obtained increased by almost tenfold. This despite the scandal-ridden Prime Minister leading the government. Even Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s showing couldn’t close the obvious cracks in the opposition movement.

The prospect of a snap election is real. We see UMNO veterans like Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin and Musa Hitam urging this. The Malaysian Prime Minister himself released a statement stating that he will examine this option thoroughly. While the 14th general election is knocking on our doors, the Leader of the Opposition, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, is incapable of leading  the coalition  to Putrajaya.

This was evident when she was first thrust into the limelight as the Leader of Opposition in 2015, inheriting the spot from her husband, Anwar Ibrahim. She was immediately tasked to be the uniting force between the splintering opposition parties, namely DAP and PAS.

When Anwar was the Leader of the Opposition, he successfully united the opposition parties despite almost insurmountable obstacles placed in his way. No one would imagine that PAS and DAP could work side-by-side during GE-13, yet Dato’Seri Anwar made that possible. Despite numerous ‘hudud enticements’ thrown at PAS, Anwar was still able to glue the opposition parties together.

“Wan Azizah couldn’t fill the shoes of her husband”–Syed Saddiq.

This is in stark contrast to Wan Azizah whose allegedly weak leadership formented the disunity among the opposition parties. During the ‘Kajang Move’, PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang came out in the open and said that PAS opposed Azizah as Menteri Besar simply because she is a weak leader.

One of the primary reasons why PAS left was because of the prospect of DAP’s dominance of Malaysia. Anwar was able to prove to PAS that as a Malay-Muslim who once led the successful Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM), he was capable of offsetting  possible power imbalances in the opposition pact.

Unfortunately, Wan Azizah couldn’t fill the shoes of her husband. I do acknowledge that it’s not purely her fault, however, as the Leader of Opposition and quite possibly the future Prime Minister of Malaysia, she should be held to higher standard. A strong replacement was needed, but the rakyat didn’t get one.

YB Wan Azizah also doesn’t inject the much-needed ‘wow’ factor which Anwar commands. Just observe any of her political speeches and you’ll know what I mean. The fact that she rarely gives any political speeches is indicative of this.

An Opposition Leader must inspire to lead

She didn’t make much of an appearance during the BERSIH rallies and the two by-elections. You’ll see her doing walkabouts, but that’s as far as it gets. She won’t speak at big rallies and even if she does, she lacks the charisma which other prominent politicians command. An opposition leader must inspire to lead. We see Azmin Ali, Rafizi Ramli and Nurul Izzah Anwar injecting the much-needed ‘wow’ factor, but seldom do we see Azizah doing the same.

Political science lecturers Dr Arnold Puyok from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak and Prof. Dr Samsul Adabi Mamat of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia gave scathing reviews of Dr Wan Azizah. Puyok pointed out that Dr Wan Azizah remains in Anwar’s shadow while Samsul noted that she has none of his charisma that had helped bridge the gap among the three parties, especially between ideological opposites PAS and DAP in 2008 and 2013.

Even as the President of PKR, she has failed to unite the party. Party insiders talk of the rift between Rafizi and Azmin which culminated in what could possibly be another ‘Kajang Move’ to replace Azmin as the Menteri Besar. These divisions didn’t just exist recently. Instead it has been there since Azmin was appointed as Menteri Besar of Selangor. After more than one year, the party still remains  divided.

What infuriates the public is the fact that the opposition led by Azizah cannot get its own party sorted out despite the scandals which overshadow the BN-run government. While BN is weak and vulnerable, the opposition still can’t execute the death blow due to its own incompetency and disunity.

I can’t imagine what she has to go through as a wife to a jailed husband and a matriarch to one of the most influential political dynasties in Malaysia. I do sympathise. But sympathy won’t give her the key to Putrajaya. Over-reliance on her husband’s legacy will also not give her the key to Putrajaya.

Pakatan Harapan needs to find a suitable candidate before it is too late. If they don’t, they won’t not only fail to capture Putrajaya, but also they might even lose Selangor and Penang to Barisan Nasional.


The Plot thickens in PKR sans Anwar Ibrahim

May 31, 2016

The Plot thickens in PKR sans Anwar Ibrahim

by Raja Petra Kamaruddin

Mahathir’s plans are wider than just ousting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and making his son, Mukhriz, the Prime Minister. It also includes helping Azmin Ali to take over as the PKR President, helping Lim Guan Eng escape jail, plus making sure that his man takes over as the new Kelantan Menteri Besar

AAA or triple stands for the ‘Attack Azmin Ali’ campaign. After ousting previous Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, it is now time to bring down the current Selangor Menteri Besar Dato Seri Azmin Ali.

When Malaysia Today first revealed Azmin’s February 22, 2015 meeting with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in London, not many batted an eyelid. That was because Anwar Ibrahim and those in his inner circle — such as his team of political strategists (see the photograph below) — already knew about the meeting. In fact, it was Anwar who had asked Azmin to fly to London to meet Mahathir.

PKR Strategists

But Azmin was supposed to meet Mahathir to talk about a deal of mutual benefit. Basically it was supposed to be a win-win deal. Pakatan would support Mahathir’s ANC (Anti-Najib Campaign) while Mahathir, in turn, would support Anwar’s FAC (Free Anwar Campaign).

However, Azmin never once raised the issue of Anwar. They just discussed how the opposition can support Mahathir’s bid to oust Najib with no discussion at all on Mahathir also supporting the bid to appeal for a pardon for Anwar so that he not only can be freed from jail but would also qualify to re-enter politics without first having to go through a five-year ban.

In short, the deal was to make it possible for Anwar to be able to contest the 2018 general election in two years’ time instead of having to wait till 2028 when he would be 81 years old before legally being allowed to contest the general election. Azmin was supposed to discuss with Mahathir how they could ‘buy’ Anwar the ten years he needed so that he could re-enter politics when he is still 71 instead of having to wait till he is 81.

Azmin, however, did not do this. He discussed everything and all sorts of things with Mahathir except for that one very important thing that Anwar wanted them to discuss. And that one very important thing was Anwar’s freedom so that he could came back as the de facto Opposition Leader and also contest the next general election in 2018, both which are now pies in the sky.

But then this was what Malaysia Today wrote more than a year ago. And Malaysia Today always lies. It never tells the truth. So no one, either Anwar or those four ‘political strategists’ in the photograph above, took any notice of what Malaysia Today wrote.

And then, as time went on, they started to realise that Malaysia Today was not ‘talking kok’ as they first thought after all. Malaysia Today was implying (or maybe even alleging) that Azmin had sold out Anwar and was attempting to replace Anwar with Mahathir as the new de facto Opposition Leader. But that would never happen because Azmin would bend over backwards for Anwar if need be (figure of speech of course and not literally) — or so they thought.

Today, that assumption has changed. And it changed not because Malaysia Today revealed 15 months ago about what Azmin discussed with Mahathir in London. It changed because Azmin himself has proven that Mahathir and not Anwar is his boss.

But then Azmin cannot help himself. That was the promise Azmin made to be able to become the Selangor Menteri Besar — that he would dump Anwar and not serve Anwar any longer. But whom did Azmin make this promise to? To who did Azmin promise that if he were appointed the Selangor Menteri Besar he would no longer serve Anwar or pledge loyalty to Anwar but would dump Anwar?

Yes, a most interesting question, don’t you think so? And I am sure some of you already suspect who that person is. Nevertheless, I am not going to mention his name just yet although I cannot promise you that some time in the future I will reveal who that person is. Suffice to say that Azmin got the job as Selangor Menteri Besar on the agreement that he must turn his back on Anwar.

And Azmin delivered his promise, although only 18 months later, by ousting Anwar as the de facto Opposition Leader and by not getting Mahathir to agree to a pardon for Anwar and by supporting Mahathir as the new de facto Opposition Leader to replace Anwar.

Anwar plus his four political strategists in the photograph above now know that Azmin has sold them out. At first they also excitedly supported Mahathir’s ‘Save Malaysia’ campaign and the Citizens’ Declaration. But when they realised that the ‘Save Malaysia’ campaign was really about making Mukhriz Mahathir the next Prime Minister and that it did not include allowing Anwar to walk out of the Sungai Buloh Prison, they launched the AAA or ‘Attack Azmin Ali’ campaign.

Azmin has his own ambition. And his ambition is to no longer walk in Anwar’s shadow and to continue to be called ‘Anwar’s boy’. Azmin wants to be the new PKR party president. But to win the party presidency he needs to abandon Anwar and his family. He needs to show he is his own man and not ‘Anwar’s boy’.

The alarm bells were first triggered when Azmin started talking about his ‘relationship’ with Mahathir and how blood is thicker than water and how the past is the past and we should let bygones be bygones and forgive and forget, and so on. This was a far cry to the Mahathir is penghianat negara and the most corrupt Prime Minister in history, and should be hounded until lubang cacing, and so on, during the Reformasi days.

So now the AAA campaign is on. First Anwar wrote that very damaging letter from prison which appeared to be attacking Mahathir but was actually attacking Azmin. And then Rafizi leaked the allegation of corruption, that involved ‘supplying women’ as well, committed by a certain unnamed person in the Selangor government.

Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has asked Rafizi to go lodge a report with the MACC, which he is going to do next week. We can only assume that Rafizi has enough evidence or else he would not have made that expose and would not be going to meet the MACC next week.

By the way, Rafizi and the other three in the photograph above were the same ‘political strategists’ who were behind the earlier Kajang Move to bring down Khalid Ibrahim. And they are also the same four behind the AAA campaign to bring down Azmin Ali. Just when I thought 2015 was the most interesting year in a long time, 2016 may yet prove to be more exciting.

Oh, and this is not all. While all this is going on, the Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng, is also making his deal with Mahathir, just like Azmin is. Guan Eng knows he cannot escape the corruption charge involving his house so he is getting Mahathir to help get the MACC to back off.

Mahathir is able to tell the MACC what to do so Guan Eng needs Mahathir’s help to escape jail. That is why DAP is 100% behind Mahathir’s ‘Save Malaysia’ campaign and Mahathir’s Citizens’ Declaration — plus also supports the move to make Mukhriz the next Prime Minister if they can first of all oust Najib somehow.

And what about Kelantan? Yes, of course Mahathir has his fingers in the Kelantan pie as well. Mahathir is behind a certain PAS leader who might soon join Amanah and then become Mahathir’s candidate for the Menteri Besar of Kelantan. So Amanah had better get used to the idea that if Amanah or Pakatan Harapan manages to grab Kelantan from PAS, the man who is going to become the Kelantan Menteri Besar will be the man whom Mahathir says shall be Menteri Besar and not the man who Amanah wants as Menteri Besar.

Malaysia’s Opposition that Couldn’t Shoot Straight

May 21, 2016


Malaysia’s Opposition: The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot StraightAsia Sentinel | Asia Sentinel

by John Berthelsen

Malaysia’s opposition parties, disorganized, squabbling among themselves and fighting over power, have driven reformers to despair, with some who decline to be named saying they simply no longer want to bother working with them.

One top lawyer flatly called them a “bunch of idiots” and vowed to cease any relationship with them. “They just can’t help themselves,” said a businessman who asked to remain nameless. “They are all using each other to get where they want. Their egos are so big, they keep screwing each other up. The Sarawak episode [in which the opposition was drubbed in a state election] has made even the most optimistic guys pessimistic about the opposition’s chances in the next polls.”

The latest fiasco occurred this week when Rafizi Ramli, the Secretary-General of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, the party founded by now-imprisoned leader Anwar Ibrahim, apparently sent a WhatsApp message to a chat group alleging that members of the Selangor state government, which the opposition controls, had demanded sex and money during contract negotiations.

Azmin Ali doing Najib Razak a great favour

Azmin Ali, the Chief Minister of the Selangor government, for several months has been at odds with Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Anwar’s wife and the current party leader. Azmin is regarded by Wan Azizah’s forces as unduly ambitious and attempting to take over the party, which leads the coalition.

Whether the allegations of corruption are true or not, they are an indication of the fractured nature of not only PKR but the entire opposition, cobbled together by Anwar prior to the 2009 general election despite drastically differing aims. They included Anwar’s PKR, made up largely of urban Malays and refugees from the United Malays National Organization; the Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party; and the rural-based, fundamentalist Islamic Parti Islam se-Malaysia( PAS).

With no common goals – indeed conflicting ones — the three parties share only a wish for power.  That has been a recipe for political disaster.

Anwar, a gifted politician, managed to keep the three together until he was imprisoned last year for the second time on trumped-up charges of sexual misconduct with a male aide.  The coalition’s high water mark was the 2013 general election, when it won 50.87 percent of the vote to 47.38 for the government coalition. However, gerrymandering preserved the government’s majority in Parliament.  It has been downhill ever since.

Malaysia is currently embroiled in one of the world’s biggest scandals, with the possibility that US$11.4 billion has gone missing from the government-backed 1Malaysia Development Bhd fund –whose economic advisory chairman is the Prime Minister, Najib Razak and who by statute had final say on investment decisions.

On top of that, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which leads the government, since Independence in 1957 has been little more than a vehicle to loot the state coffers for its leaders, many of whom have been bribed to keep Najib at the head of the party. His own family appears to be the target of a major investigation for money-laundering by the US Justice Department. At least five foreign governments are investigating money laundering charges surrounding 1MDB, Timothy Leissner, the former Southeast Asia chief for Goldman Sachs, has been named in newspapers as being investigated for complicity.

Thus if there were ever a time for the country’s long-suffering opposition to scent a chance to overthrow the old order, this ought to be it. Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has played a role in bringing down three previous Prime Ministers, is leading the van in what he calls a Citizens’ Declaration to gather enough signatures to drive Najib from power. However, Anwar this week handwrote a letter from prison telling his followers not to trust Mahathir – the man who first orchestrated his imprisonment in 1998 on trumped-up charges of sexual misconduct.

Anwar himself stumbled in 2013 by driving out the previous Selangor Chief minister, Khalid Ibrahim, and forcing a by-election to make himself chief minister and give him a platform to attack the government.  Instead, he was charged with sexual misconduct and had to drop the plan. He then sought to use Wan Azizah as his surrogate, only to have that blocked by the Selangor Sultan, possibly at Azmin’s behest. Azmin followed by keeping PAS in the government despite the split over shariah after the party split in two. On top of that, the DAP has grimly fought PAS at every turn over the shariah and other issues.

The mess was never more starkly outlined than in recent state elections in the Borneo state of Sarawak, where the opposition was drubbed by state parties aligned with the government in Putrajaya. The Democratic Action Party and Parti Keadilan Rakyat contested each other in six state constituencies, splitting the vote and handing easy victories to an already-powerful Barisan headed by Adenan Satem, the Sarawak chief minister. The opposition came away with just 10 of 82 seats.

Tellingly, the Pakatan Rakyat coalition cobbled together by Anwar is now known as Pakatan Harapan (Hope Alliance) after PAS more than a year ago sundered into two parts, with conservatives driving out moderates over the issue of implementation of Sharia law in the eastern state of Kelantan.

Pakatan Harapan has a slight chance to redeem itself in two by-elections scheduled for next month to replace two lawmakers who were killed in a helicopter crash while campaigning in Sarawak. However, that appears to be another mess, with PAS, which is still flirting with the opposition, demanding to field the sole opposition candidate in one of the elections, in Selangor state, or it would leave the government. Azmin Ali, the chief minister who is the apparent target of Rafizi’s charges of sexual misconduct, has in turn threatened to boot both PAS and Pakatan Harapan out of the state government. If that happens, it would in turn open the way for the government to take the state back from the opposition.

“The opposition coalition touted themselves as the Great Big Hope and many Malaysians wholeheartedly believed and supported them only to see them turn into the Great Big Disappointment,” said Imran Imtiaz Shah Yacob, a political observer who lives in Selangor state.

So despite all attempts to unite, with civil groups backing their efforts, the contesting political forces continue to tear themselves apart. The next national elections – the chance to take on the Barisan and seriously contest for an electorate largely fed up with the coalition’s scandals – are in 2018. It seems almost impossible to think that the opposition could get untracked.

“It is not too wrong or fictitious to suggest that for as long as the opposition political parties collaborate out of convenience that is in reality fueled by that hope of riding on each other’s backs to gain power, voters will only keep dropping you like a hot potato,” said J D Loverencear, an opposition figure, in a letter to Asia Sentinel. “So, to DAP, Amanah, PAS, and PKR, the Barisan toasts a thank you for helping them. And at this rate Malaysians are far, far away from the post of a two party system like in the rest of the developed world democracies.”

Cmdr (rtd) Thayaparan on Anwar Ibrahim Letter from Prison

May 20, 2016

Cmdr (rtd) Thayaparan on Anwar Ibrahim Letter from Prison


“This was my first real lesson in politics… If you are cast on a desert island with only a screwdriver, hatchet, and the chisel to make a boat with, why, go and make the best one you can. It would be better if you had a saw, but you haven’t, so with men.”

COMMENT by S. Thayaparan @www,malaysiakini.com–I have never had a problem defending political prisoner, Anwar Ibrahim.

Isn’t it always the case? You believe in the system until the system comes after you. Those of us, who were part of the system, find ourselves having to justify or defend our histories with the system. Anwar is the reason why there is a viable opposition after the long UMNO watch. Anwar is also the reason why the opposition sometimes finds itself in a quandary.

Tun Dr. Mahathir claims to be under House Arrest–Believe him?

Personality politics is treacherous. I have often described former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the de facto opposition leader of this country. Meanwhile imprisoned, vilified – sometimes even by opposition supporters as a has-been, chameleon or charlatan – Anwar has been forced to send scribbled missives through paper or brief exchanges in court, all the while attempting to maintain control of a fractured opposition, by proxy or goodwill. To my mind, he is still the de jure opposition leader of this country.

I cringe whenever I read some opposition supporter refer to the former Prime Minster as “evil”. What does it say about the masses who legitimately voted his party in all those years knowing he was at the helm? What does it say about the people who coalesce around him in the belief that it would damage a corrupt regime?

More importantly, what does it say about the evil that created concentration camps, perpetrated chemical attacks, perpetrated genocides or believe that collateral damage is an appropriate way to spread democracy?

In the same vein, painting Anwar as some sort of saviour who is the magic bullet to the UMNO cancer is self-defeating, indulgent propaganda of the worse kind. It promises everything but delivers nothing. A shrill clarion call to inaction of putting our collective destiny in another’s hand, while doing no hard work but voting. Change by proxy instead of being the change you want.

Which is why his letter to members of his cadre is timely and a little bit ironic. Timely because it puts the focus back on Anwar as a political leader when in recent times, the spotlight has shone on his nemesis, Mahathir, and ironic because of late, the Citizens’ Declaration has lost momentum buried beneath the Sarawak state elections and continuing scandals of current Prime Minster Najib Razak.

While there is merit in the claims that the letter is part of an ongoing power struggle between potentates within PKR, this does not detract from the reality that the letter is also a powerful reminder of the realpolitik that fuels oppositional politics.

While I have been sceptical of the Declaration, I have attempted with interviews with the personalities behind it, including Mahathir, to provide a platform for these diverse political personalities and let the rakyat decide if this is a good strategic move.

Anwar’s letter, therefore, addresses certain issues that has been allowed to simmer in the background, while the main agenda of removing Najib, comes to a boil.

Bridge needs to be built

Kudos to Malaysiakini for highlighting the main points of Anwar’s letter. As for Mahathir’s continued attacks on his former protégé, that is to be expected. Mahathir has never attempted to camouflage this Declaration as anything beyond removing the current President of UMNO. His continued attack on Anwar is merely a continuation of his war with a political rival.

While Anwar has been magnanimous is his overtures to form consensus with political adversaries for a greater good, the unrepentent former Prime Minster continues to demonstrate that he needs no consensus, only force his will and agenda to sustain the fight against his current nemesis. Whether this will prove his undoing remains to be seen.

Seed of PKR’s self destruction: “…the idealism which once fired PKR appears to have been doused by the lustre of power and funds”–Anwar Ibrahim

However, of greater concern is when Anwar says, “…the idealism which once fired PKR appears to have been doused by the lustre of power and funds”. Anyone who knows anything about the political funding of the opposition would know that the opposition has diverse streams of funding from the unlikeliest of sources.

Actually, it is incestuous. Rich men with money are always hedging their bets. The average opposition supporter would be shocked by who funds whom. Plutocrats who are routinely mocked on in the comment sections of Malaysiakini and the other “alternative” news (sic) sources, have always been amenable to funding potentially powerful power structures. Money politics isn’t just an UMNO thing.

However, the inclusion of Mahathir in the opposition mix has also granted the opposition with a new source of funding with the aim of toppling Najib. Now, not everyone avails themselves to this new funding source but there are many, who find that it is easier getting down to the work of removing Najib when they don’t have to worry about funding to sustain their position. Mind you, this is not solely a PKR problem.

Ambiga Sreenevasan made a well-reasoned argument that the Declaration was bridge which connected UMNO and Harapan supporters. Anwar’s letter is a reminder that the bridge needs to be built on a solid foundation.

Even if you do not buy that and believe that, the letter is part of a strategy to discredit certain factions within PKR using the polarising figure of Mahathir as a weapon of mass distraction, the words in the letter, the issues raised should be of concern to opposition supporters.

Here is what Mahathir said when questioned on his trust deficit amongst opposition supporters.

“It is not a question of trusting me. It is a question of getting together to do something that we hold common views. Both the opposition and myself think that Najib is a problem for Malaysia. If Najib is there, the opposition will suffer. If Najib is there, even UMNO will suffer, the whole country will suffer. I think the opposition is not supporting me, they are interested in removing Najib. I have the same interest. It is okay to work together – only on that issue, not on other issues.” (Dr. Mahathir)

Everyone should heed Anwar’s words but ultimately another Hamlet quote comes to mind:“Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.”


Anwar Ibrahim’s Letter from Prison

May 18, 2016

Anwar Ibrahim’s Letter from Prison

by Malaysiakini

Jailed former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has purportedly penned a letter to PKR leaders in which he describes the Citizens’ Declaration as flawed and inconsistent with reform perspectives. In other words, the letter states that the declaration, which seeks to remove Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, remains, in principle, Mahathir’s document.


The Target –Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak

The letter also warned PKR leaders about the pitfalls and dangers of working with the former Prime Minister (Dr Mahathir Mohamad) and former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin, and expressed concern that PKR leaders and party apparatuses might be used to serve their agenda.

Below is the English translation of the eight-page handwritten bi-lingual letter:

‘Anwar’s letter’

Friends, President, Deputy President and fellow beloved leaders –

Assalamualaikum warahmatullah hiwabarakatuh and salam sejahtera

The issue that I am bringing up here must be reviewed calmly. The content of it does not stray from the core of our struggle and is consistent with what was sketched out before. But my concern is that you will only listen to me out of respect but not take it to heart.

Throughout our struggles, we have gone through challenging episodes which required thought and enlightenment. Our latest issue is with the Citizens’ Declaration which has dragged our leaders and apparatuses to be in cahoots with Tun M and Daim.

My view might be in contradiction with the stand of the majority of leaders. I am apprehensive, assuming that this strategy is a little overboard and threatens our struggle.

We must steer clear of the danger of falling into the games of the power elites and their skilful trickery to maintain an outdated system.Even so, many of our friends believe the new strategy is more rewarding and is the best way to go. They say it can give us a new boost, as we will be combining our strengths to topple Najib Abdul Razak as Prime Minister, and bring about change.

They are certain that they can keep things in control and avoid any divergence in the mission.This clash of ideas between us is a tangle we must unravel, but it is not something which should lead to personal conflicts or disputes.

My stand is the same as when there was the initiative by (Gua Musang MP) Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah to collect signed statutory declarations (of retraction of support for Najib). This initiative is now buried. The other leaders and I had then agreed with this, but I had urged that we remain close to our policies and the aims of our struggles.

In looking at this current conundrum, we must not question the wisdom of those who have decided to take part and sign the Citizens’ Declaration. In my previous letters, I urged leaders to act cautiously when dealing with the ruling elite and to defend the principles of our struggle. The question now is, what next?

I am more inclined not to be seen to be uniting with the Citizens’ Declaration group, and to start to set a distance. Instead, we must strengthen and advance our campaign for change, to defend the people who are oppressed due to economic mismanagement, in keeping with the principles that we have carried with us all this while.

The Citizens’ Declaration group, including Mahathir, can be part of our struggle, but our agenda must be for change, not to advance the Citizens’ Declaration. Allow me to explain.

I did ask incredulously – during our brief exchanges in court as to the reason for an enthusiastic campaign to endorse a Declaration bereft of a moral imperative of reform towards democratic accountability? Thanks for the prompt response and explanatory notes. The unveiling of the Citizens’ Declaration was almost as fait accompli. Only at the insistence of civil society leaders at the last hours, some of our concerns were incorporated, clearly as embellishments.


Essentially it remains Tun M’s document, defective and incoherent viewed in the context of reform. Its only focus is the removal of Najib as PM due to the 1MDB fiasco. This is obviously a departure from the raison d’etre of our struggle: for freedom and justice, rule of law, combating abuse of power and corruption and distributive justice!

Leaders seem impressed and satisfied with the assurances that all concerns will be addressed once we cross the bridge, i.e. dismissal of Najib. This is reminiscent of the machinations of ‘establishment elites’ that I had alluded to previously. It is effectively the concern of the rich and powerful and the masses will continue to be marginalized. We had only recently experienced the ‘Statutory Declaration – SD fiasco’. Similar guarantees were made in confidence.

And in our eagerness or desperation to affect leadership change, we gave our commitment. It has now become a mockery and an embarrassment, particularly when Ku Li himself denied being ever involved and deemed it farcical. He mischievously exploited it to place him as the compromise candidate in the event of a stalemate between Zahid and Hisham. I’m baffled why some of us in Pakatan Harapan continue to harbor hopes of ‘change’ through such trickery.

And now, continuing the saga, led by the same establishment/ruling clique, we eagerly lent our support to this new arrangement, euphemistically referred to as the inclusive strategy – rakyat. The only plausible explanation is nomological desperation. We are desperate for numbers – which is incidentally expedient in politics without scruples.

Let us be clear. We did endorse both initiatives and agreed that Johari Abdul represent us in the SD initiative whilst (PKR deputy president) Azmin Ali, (PKR vice president) Tian (Chua) and (PKR secretary-general) Rafizi (Ramli) participate in the Citizens’ Declaration initiative.

But I’ve always refrained from using the terms ‘support’ and ‘commitment’. It’s disconcerting to observe our leaders immersed in one organic team with the most ruthless leader and the most corrupt ex-finance minister! A senior counsel observed the awe and timidity of leaders in the presence of the ex-autocrat in public functions as remnant of a feudalism culture. Notwithstanding the formidable and persuasive eloquence of Azmin, (activist) Ambiga (Sreenevasan) and (Amanah President) Mohamad Sabu, the articulation on the reform agenda remains a side issue.

Do not be deluded into thinking that the disparaging remarks regarding the gross injustices during Tun M’s reign will endear him to systemic change. He is known for his indomitable spirit, very focused on his agenda and not easily distracted. The lingering fear of all dictators and autocrats is the unraveling of crimes committed and billions of dollars squandered.

My kind and generous disposition towards Tun M was not reciprocated. Far from being remorseful he displayed the contemptible aspect of his character by repeating the scurrilous attacks. The humiliation, sadly did not elicit any response from my trusted colleagues. Presumably you may consider it critical to protect this cohabitation. Unfortunately this will only embolden him to justify his past excesses. The trend seems to move from past repudiation to redemption! Azizah and I felt compelled to rebut as a matter of principle and to protect our honour.

The statement referred to autocratic rule, the need for vibrant discourse unlike his dictatorial methods. To us the declaration failed to articulate the concerns of the masses, particularly economic hardship and institutional reform. For those who consider such a declaration almost sacrosanct, the criticism is uncalled for. I beg to differ and have offered an explanation in that regard. Subsequently civil society leaders did make strong representation to Tun M; albeit in private as opposed to his public outburst. A clarification was then made on a matter which is inconsequential; that the majority of MPs will determine the candidate as a new PM.

In my previous letter to the political bureau, I expressed my reservations – that the declaration and the new arrangement is antithetical to meaningful change or reform. I implored leaders not to underestimate their machinations. Do not be over confident in assuming that you can outmaneuver them. Do not throw caution to the wind:

The best lack of all conviction,

whilst the worse

Are full of passionate intensity’ [William Butler Yeats]

Be wary of the Machiavellians in finally arrogating power to their clique.We pride ourselves being perceived as magnanimous, motivated purely by national interest. What is erased in our subconscious mind is the stark reality that the institutions of governance were effectively destroyed and subjugated to the whims and fancies of an ex-autocrat.

What is disturbing is the absence of remorse and no unequivocal support for reform. Both Tun M and Daim were the architect and aggressive exponent of crony capitalism. Through a flawed and corrupt process independent power producers were awarded; highway projects privatized; monopoly of essential goods to cronies. It’s clearly exploitative and burdensome to the rakyat. It did not end with their rule and the ramifications continue to be felt.

You naturally sense my hardened position after being magnanimous and conciliatory approach earlier. Like most of you, I mainly anticipated Tun M to be more accommodative to change. The series of exchanges with Pakatan Harapan and civil society leaders did not manage to sway or deter him from the obsession and vendetta against Najib personally but not the corrupt and decadent system.

It’s baffling to note that after working with Pakatan Harapan civil society and my trusted colleagues, he continued to pour scorn and venom against me! The outburst preclude any possibility of any meeting with my family members. The kindest remark by a colleague is not to expect a man at the ripe age of 92 (sic) to change. This will only give credence to my believe (sic) that the establishment clique will endeavor to resuscitate Umno and ensure the reemergence of the Old Order:

The serpent that did sting…

Now wears the crown.’ [Shakespeare]

Masses remain steadfast, as a true voice of conscience, the rakyat’s hope for a principled stance. We must not be perceived as stalling or equivocating the reform agenda; or callous indifference towards the rakyat’s predicament. We demand freedom, economic justice, reduce inequality, combat corruption and corporate hijacking. Trust is in the wisdom of the masses; and reign in activists, reformists and reenergize the party machinery.

Let me now comment to your other responses. My apologies – but I can’t help feeling flabbergasted by the simplistic assertions that with Najib’s removal we will be able to usher change towards democratic accountability. I’ve asserted to the contrary and no evidence is adduced to suggest otherwise. I’ve also been urged to show clarity and not ambivalence in regard to the declaration; and I’ve done precisely that.

But I resent the insensitivity in pressuring the president and in particular Nurul Izzah to pay respects to Tun M or attend his functions. You may want to appease him, but to demand such a sacrifice from my family, particularly after the recent scorn is the unkindest cut of all!

And please do not entertain the so-called ‘trusted, reliable source’ that Najib did send an emissary to meet me and there was a meeting with Zahid at HKL last week. It’s frivolous and unmistakenly with the intent of sowing distrust and discord. The trust have somewhat dissipated.

I would have safely assumed that even had the so-called meeting taken place, my credibility remains unimpaired. On the other hand, I would have confronted colleagues if I find must in any such deals or allegations against them. It is mortifying to have to point this out; but we must rebuild the trust and show compassion.

Before I end – I am now dejected. I don’t mean to burden you with the sufferings of loneliness in prison. Such a test, although hard for me, Azizah and my family to bear, is not as complicated as handling the party’s recent developments.

After Reformasi 1998, I feel that the idealism with regard to fighting for a cause started to erode, tested by the lustre of power and funds. My strength is spurring the awareness towards change. And so we struggled for nearly two decades facing life’s cruelty. We destroyed the walls of fear, communalism; rigid religious definition to rahmatan lil alamin (blessings for the whole world).

But my concern is due to the latest developments that place us at the crossroads. The question of pure ambition. Idealism is no longer the fundamental question but (merely) political talk to come into power. Or otherwise, am I afflicted with ill fortune because I find it hard to accept the reality?

It is sufficient for me to conclude that my weakness is that I cannot handle the new understanding in the form of the Citizens’ Declaration. I have no qualms if our ceramah sessions are continued by stressing on PKR’s agenda; rejecting the greed for power and exploitation of the rakyat. Other groups may come (to the ceramah), just to explain the declaration; but do not shift from our approach

Obviously, the veteran leader who does not support the concept of the rakyat should not come into prominence because it will confuse the rakyat; obscure the reform agenda and even betray the trust for reform. In the discourse about the matter, that is the only limit that I can admit. If the majority chooses to support the declaration fully, I will abide by it but I will retreat and only repeat the desire for an intact form of change.

My subsequent disappointment will be due to the weakness and failure to assemble a solid line of leadership. The ability and role as the glue to the leadership will further erode. And so there will be lamentations with the elements of accusations that I too was involved with several crises before this. I tried to do my best but alas I have limits.

Rivalry has gone beyond the boundaries of ethics that it seems to be better to deal with political enemies rather than comrades. All my pleas no longer have an effect. The views and comments of friends are full of prejudice. The question of values and morals, as well as the danger of slander, must be avoided. Therefore, my abilities are stunted here.

I sincerely hope that this letter will not be spun and interpreted according to the different palates. This letter is a will and a form of trust for all friends in the line of leadership. Use it as well as you can. I ask for forgiveness if it offends.

In my loneliness and depression, I had gone through poems which include the ‘Best Poems of the English language: from Chaucer to Proust’ by Harold Bloom. Before this I was entertained by Pablo Neruda; Anna Akhmatova (Tsarina of Poetry); WS Rendra and A Samad Said. My friend, the poet Tawfiq Ismail, once bloomed in his youth – a poem which I memorised and once recited in Bandung around the year 2005. The title: ‘Memang Selalu Demikian, Hadi (1966) during the time when varsity students went against PKI and Sukarno. I ask for permission that Hadi be changed to Saudaraku: Memang Selalu Demikian Saudaraku’.

Setiap perjuangan selalu melahirkan

Sejumlah pengkhianat dan para penjilat

Jangan kau gusar, saudaraku.

Setiap perjuangan selalu menghadapkan kita

Pada kaum yang bimbang menghadapi gelombang

Jangan kau kecewa, saudaraku.

Setiap perjuangan yang akan menang

Selalu mendatangkan pahlawan jadi-jadian

Dan para jagoan kesiangan.

Memang demikianlah halnya, saudaraku

Anwar Ibrahim


Read more: https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/341735#ixzz48x5Bgojw