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,–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:

The Mistakes Man Makes

April 5, 2016

The Mistakes Man Makes

by Kassim Ahmad


Revised and expanded on 6th April, 2016

At times I wonder whether man is a tragedy or not. Considering the mistakes, big and small,  that he makes against all odds, one loses faith in the human being. No wonder when God informed the angels that He was going to create man, the angels protested. They averred that he was going to cause destruction and shed blood. Except that God replied to the protestation of the angels that He knew better. God, being All-Knowing, knew the good side of man. (See Quran, 2: 30)

What is so Indecent about this?

One million years of man’s history on earth has vindicated God’s optimism of man. He was not only a warlike and a warring creature; he was also a builder of civilizations. This side of man happens to be the stronger side of him.

I shall now enumerate the mistakes, the big ones first. God informs us in the Quran that most people do not believe in Him; even those who believe in Him do not do so without associating Him with His creatures. Even most Muslims do not believe that God alone is sufficient for them. They need Prophet Muhammad to be a god besides God! Hence the two syahadahs! How they can ignore the clear injuction against the second syahadah in Surah 63: verse 1 is beyond me.

This is a most glaring mistake that essentially has led to their downfall.  Note also that this is the one sin not forgiven by God.

A Symbol of Gender Discrimination/Male Domination, Thanks, Anwar Ibrahim

The wonder is: “Where are their teachers of religion?”  Those that have graduated from universities in the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds. Note also that the Al-Azhar University in Cairo is the oldest university in the world, prior to other famous centres of learning, including Oxford and Cambridge.

All prophet-messengers of God, from Adam to Muhammad, including Abraham, Moses and Jesus, taught the essential Divine message of the acknowledgement  of the One true God for all mankind, otherwise called the religion of submission or Islam. Note that Quran names twenty-five of them. Many others, hundreds of them, are not named. We know that there are many others because God informs us that He sent messengers to all human communities.

That being so, we can now see that what has come to be the religion of Judaism is not the religion taught by Moses, and  the religion of Christianity not the religion taught by Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ was not a Christian; he was a Muslim. [1]  It was Paul, a Christian-persecuting Jew who later turned Christian, who made Christ into a Son of God. [2]

They are different because they serve humanity–I went to kindergarten run by Nuns in Alor Setar. Kedah–Din Merican

For that matter, the completed and perfected religion of Islam brought by the last of the prophets, Prophet Muhammad, with its protected scripture, the Quran, did not escape this corruption.  Three hundred years after him, Islam broke into sects, Sunnism being the majority sect. The master-architect was none other than Shafi’e (767-820), who introduced the doctrine two principal sources, the Quran and the Sunnah/Hadith.

When Prophet Muhammad migrated to Medina, he granted to the community a constitution called the Medina Charter, the first written constitution in the world. It is unfortunate that our present teachers of religion almost never mention this great legal document of Islam (Dato’ Din has kindly published this along with my comments in this blog.) when they endlessly quote the so-called hadiths.

When Prophet Muhammad migrated to Medina, he granted to the community a constitution called the Medina Charter, the first written constitution in the world. It is unfortunate that our present teachers of religion almost never mention this great legal document of Islam (Dato’ Din  Merican has kindly published this along with my comments in his blog.) when they endlessly quote the so-called hadiths.

A Symbol of Hard Work

The so-called Hudud law (fixed punishments) is another great mistake. It is nowhere mentioned in the Medina Charter. It is a misinterpretation of some frases in the Quran. The current fashion of headscarf (the tudung) for Muslim women is another. Thirty five years ago Muslim women in Malaysia wear the selendang, a partial headscarf. The simple proof  that a woman’s hair is not ‘aurat (nakedness) is that when she takes ablution she has to wipe her head.

When the Quran is recited or even quoted in a speech, most speakers tend to sing, in a manner not dissimilar to any singer, even if he or she does not understand the language of the song. This is in contradiction with the clear statement in the Quran that it is not a book of songs and that Muhammad was not singer. What is more, the practice has grown into an art of the highest excellence. In Malaysia, we have been holding international Quran-reading competitions since a long time.

Then there is a mantra repeated by most Muslims whenever they metion the name of Prophet Muhammad. The mantra is: salla’al-Lahu alaihi wasallam, meaning ‘the blessing of God and peace be on him’. This phrase occurs twice in Sural Al-Ahzan (33), firstly in verse 43, referring to believers, and secondly in verse 56, referring Prophet Muhammad. Notice how most Muslims happily ignore the blessings God bestows on believers! The Arabic word ‘salla’ means ‘to bless’.

Less I do not just mention doctrinal matters, let me turn my mind to more mundane matters, the bread-and-butter issues. My friend, Dr. Hassan Hanafi, a Professor of Philosophy at Cairo University, criticized me for ignoring politico-social and economic matters. This is the reason why I have expanded this essay.

It is not that I do not consider these matters important. I do. But these matters have to be the logical outcome of a world outlook, a philosophy. The European social system is the result of a European secular humanist world outlook that came with the Europeans Renaissance of the 14th right through to the 16th centuries.

Europe has two wings, the Western  liberal-capitalist wing, and the Eastern Marxist-communist wing.  The latter has collapsed before our eyes at the end of the 20th century; the latter will collapse too in the not-too-distant future.

Unfortunately most European historians conspired to erase the fundamental role of Arab-Islamic phase in world history. A few objective Western historians, including Robert Briffault, bear witness to this fact.

Has any civilization completely erased poverty, waste and corruption? The island city-state of Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew came very near it. What a Lee Kuan Yew has done other Lee Kuan Yews can do. In short, all human beings are endowed by their Maker the ability to rule and change the world, indeed the Universe, to their liking . Therefore, it can be logically deduced that the Good Society with zero corruption, zero poverty, zero ignorance and so on and so forth can come into being, nationally and internationally. Enough number of men and women must decide to do it.

Why all these deviations, when the Quran and the examples of the early republican-democratic caliphates are with us? It is man’s tendency to revert back after the teacher is gone. In our souls, there are two opposite tendencies: one pushing us up, and the other pulling us down.  It is up to us, free spirits that we are, to choose which way to go.


[1] This is not a claim by Muslims. It is a factual information given to us by God Himself when He named Jesus, a Jew, as one of His prophets.
[2] It was the Council of Nicaea in 325 that established Christian theology for the first time into what is known as the “Nicene Creed”. The creed was re-written in 362
KASSIM AHMAD is a Malaysian freelance writer. He dares to be different with reason, and hence he is pain to all politically movitated ulamas in Malaysia. His website is

Malaysia’s Not so Grand Opposition Coalition: A Recipe for Problems

March 13, 2016

Malaysia’s Not so Grand Opposition Coalition:  A Recipe for Problems 

The ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’ concept could be a recipe for problems

by John Berthelsen

This is a coalition that demonstrates, as perhaps no other coalition anywhere has, the dangers of the old adage that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. They have almost nothing in common. But there is one thing, and that is the demonstration of the growing fatigue over the unprecedented scandals that have put Najib and Malaysia on the front pages of papers around the world. That poses the biggest danger for UMNO in the next general election. But also raises the question if it will be possible to put together a credible opposition that can bring the Barisan down.–John Berthelsen

 In the cold light of Malaysia’s day, a Citizen’s Declaration coalition attempt announced on March 4 to bring down Prime Minister Najib Razak may face insurmountable problems beyond just adding to the publicity over allegations of massive corruption.


The coalition has gathered the widest array of civic and political leaders so far in the attempt to bring down the scandal-plagued Prime Minister. But the coalition, led by the 90-year-old former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, appears beset by deep problems even before it gets underway, not the least of which is the fact that with all of its disparate elements put together, it is nowhere near possessing the numbers needed to force a vote of confidence that would bring down Najib.

Everybody in the potential coalition is already an opponent, so there is no net gain in opposition numbers unless a significant number of dissidents defect from Najib’s United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the leading component of the Barisan Rakyat ethnic coalition that leads the country, taking their Malay support bases with them, which doesn’t seem in the cards. So far, nobody seems to have followed former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Mahathir’s son Mukhriz into Mahathir’s arms. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, endlessly named as a strong possible opposition leader, has chosen to deny he is joining.

“We have seen this before, too many times,” said a pessimistic Kuala Lumpur-based lawyer and opposition backer. “Let’s let it go for awhile to see if anything happens. Everybody is waiting for the (US government’s Federal Bureau of Investigation) to finish its investigation.”

In one sense, perhaps the happiest benefactors from the split are the top UMNO cadres that Mahathir and his small band of dissidents left behind. Among those are Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the deputy prime minister; Nazri Abdul Aziz, Kairy Jamaluddin, the Youth and Sports Minister, and others who see the ouster of former Party Deputy President Muhyiddin Yassin as a chance to move up.

According to one school, if Najib eventually is forced out by the growing weight of public opinion, Zahid’s way to the premiership would no longer be blocked, although many in UMNO regard him as an unprincipled politician and loose cannon. However, despite growing concern about the country’s almost-daily darkening international image, the party leaders aren’t ready to give up on Najib just yet despite the danger that the allegations of corruption raise the possibility that UMNO will be destroyed outright in the next election.

Will Johor’s Activist Ruler save UMNO again

Despite an endorsement of the coalition by the imprisoned opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, it is clear from the outset that Mahathir, who once engineered a rigged trial to jail Anwar, is out to freeze Anwar’s faction out of the budding coalition – which it now heads. The former Premier is instead seeking to build the coalition around Dato’ Seri Azmin Ali, the ambitious Chief Minister of the state of Selangor, who as much as anything is a challenger for power within Parti Keadilan Rakyat, the party headed by Anwar.

“Azmin has the potential to be PM,” said a member of the Mahathir faction. “He could appeal to all Malays across the board. Non-Malays don’t know much about him, but he isn’t looked on as a radical.”

It is notable that Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who founded the party in 2003, was absent from the press conference announcing the coalition, as was Lim Guan Eng, the Secretary General of the Democratic Action Party and Chief Minister of the state of Penang.

How many of the members of the coalition actually trust Mahathir is questionable. Many see him as seeking to put together a political machine only to wrest power from UMNO instead of investing in a realistic movement to reform the country’s deeply flawed political system, which depends on money politics and rent-seeking – a system perfected by Mahathir during his 22 years in power.

Mahathir is attempting to put together a hybrid of the Azmin faction of Pakatan Amanah, the new name for Pakatan Rakyat, plus whatever UMNO dissidents he can lure away from Najib’s party, plus Harapan Baru, the moderate defectors who fled the Islamist Parti Islam Se-Malaysia last year when the party sought to impose seventh-century hudud, or shariah punishments in Kelantan, the only state PAS controls.

With that shaky coalition, the rebranded opposition would seek to control Selangor,  Malaysia’s largest and most prosperous state, which is controlled by the opposition in any case. Johor, the second-biggest state, could be a possibility because it is Muhyiddin’s home state. Muhyiddin’s ally is the Sultan of Johor.

But that raises questions over whom among the country’s contending factions, many of which distrust all the others, and all of which distrust Mahathir, would go along.  The DAP, whose titular head, Lim Kit Siang, has endorsed the coalition, was also jailed by Mahathir in 1987 in the infamous Operation Lalang crackdown on dissidents and political enemies. It is also questionable if the DAP would settle just for Penang, the state the DAP now controls.  The DAP is also not comfortable with Azmin.

If Anwar and his faction don’t swallow their pride and go along, the refusal of  the country’s most prominent and most martyred dissident would be a devastating blow.

Najib continues to command the bulk of the UMNO cadres, who are comfortable with the monthly payments and rent-seeking contracts Najib and the government spills to them. It is hard to see that change.

This is a coalition that demonstrates, as perhaps no other coalition anywhere has, the dangers of the old adage that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. They have almost nothing in common. But there is one thing, and that is the demonstration of the growing fatigue over the unprecedented scandals that have put Najib and Malaysia on the front pages of papers around the world. That poses the biggest danger for UMNO in the next general election. But also raises the question if it will be possible to put together a credible opposition that can bring the Barisan down.

“After Najib has done smashing Malaysia into bits, the opposition may inherit a broken nation which they are not up to the task to repair,” said a lawyer aligned with Mahathir.

CD (Citizens’Declaration) is not to save Malaysia

March 13, 2016

CD (Citizens’Declaration) is not to save Malaysia

by Tay Tian Yan

Be it “Save Malaysia” alliance or the Citizens’ Declaration, the all-powerful implications of “country” and “citizens” have been applied. But the weird thing is, there are a lot of other things getting messed up inside this grand design in the likes of vendetta, frustration, opportunism, powerplay, interest, …anything but “country” or “citizens.”

The only real thing has come out from the mouth of Wan Azizah: “To free Anwar,” which has now become the primary agenda of the so-called “Save Malaysia” campaign.

I have to be honest with myself that Wan Azizah is indeed a marvellous wife that often deserves a lot of respect for her loyalty and undying spirit. Everything she has done she does it for her husband, from joining politics to running for elections, becoming an elected MP, state assemblywoman, the opposition leader, party president to the endless struggle to get her dear husband released.

All these constitute a hefty load on her shoulders that is slowly eating up her life, but she never calls it quits. Despite all this, her input may not be rewarding, as politics is a whole lot larger than a housewife’s kitchen.

If the campaign has been drawn up to free Anwar, then it shouldn’t have anything to do with “country” or “citizens” in the first place.

While many were compassionate with Anwar’s imprisonment, that was part and parcel of the Malaysian judiciary that proceeded from the initial prosecution to defence, trials, passing of judgment to come to this outcome.

And that case wasn’t even political in nature. It was a lawsuit targeting an individual’s personal behavior which unfortunately was not permitted under the country’s laws.

Wan Azizah’s determination to save her husband should gain the public’s sympathy, but that warrants some better reasons.

The response from a series of actions taken by Wan Azizah or her PKR in the past could best be depicted as “lukewarm,” attesting to the fact that Malaysians generally know how to tell national and family affairs apart.

As such, it would seem inappropriate to once again peg Anwar’s imprisonment to “country” and “citizens,” especially when the other protagonist is Dr Mahathir.

In 1998, Anwar was treated brutally by Mahathir, taken away by force from his shocked family and thrown into a lock-up cell with a bruised eye followed.

The sympathy and support Anwar received when he came out of jail were a powerful backlash on Mahathir, and this gave Anwar one after another opportunity to convert such a force into one that would propel the nation forward but which he unfortunately missed and abused to sell his personal agenda. Almost two decades now, and his family and supporters are now asking the public to save Anwar.

As for Mahathir, his agenda is for himself, his family and the interest group over which he presides. These motives have now been crudely packaged into a national and civic affair but how many will still believe in him?

Are we still going to allow Mahathir’s and Anwar’s agendas to continue dictating the fate of this country? — Sin Chew Daily