The Future of Pakatan Harapan Post GE-14–Dr. M and Politics of Betrayal


August 20, 2017

The Future of Pakatan Harapan Post GE-14–Dr. M and Politics of Betrayal

by S. Thayaparan

http://www.malaysiakini.com

“A crazy country, choking air, polluted hearts, treachery. Treachery and treason.”

– Naguib Mahfouz

COMMENT | Amanah Communications Director Khalid Samad is mistaken. If Dr Mahathir Mohamad returns to the UMNO-BN fold for whatever reason after the next general election, it would not be a betrayal to Pakatan Harapan.

Image result for Mahathir and Anwar in Pakatan Rakyat
A Coalition of Political Convenience is not likely to survive after GE-14, if UMNO-BN wins the contest. Whether Tun Dr. Mahathir returns to the party he created (UNMO Baru) or not depends whether Najib Razak and his associates are prepared to bury the hatchet and welcome him. It is hard to see how this can happen at this point of time. PKR and DAP should, therefore, concentrate on retaining Penang and Selangor. Jangan jadi Mat Jenen.–Din Merican

 

The only betrayal would be that which Harapan commits to the opposition voting public. However, there would be neither any sting nor moral condemnation to that betrayal because most Harapan supporters welcome the alliance with the former UMNO President and Prime Minister. While I have argued that this is a Hobson’s choice of the opposition’s making, any attempt to minimise such betrayal is unwarranted and honestly self-aggrandising.

 

Mind you, this is not a jab at Khalid whom I think is an honourable politician – a trait lacking in the current political leadership – but rather a rejoinder that “betrayal” of any kind in the current political climate is meaningless.

So what if Bersatu, Mahathir or any other politician betrays Harapan? This is a single-issue election – the wrong issue in my opinion – which means the current UMNO grand poohbah is vanquished or he is not. The best-case scenario if the opposition fails in that endeavour is that it retains Selangor and Penang.

Image result for Mahathir and Anwar in Pakatan Rakyat

While I have no doubt that opposition political strategists are working that angle (retaining Selangor and Penang at all cost), the real issue is whether Mahathir and Bersatu can deliver. If he cannot, and if the opposition loses support from their base, then the real question is, will Harapan cling on to the former Prime Minister?

But you ask, why are the stakes so low? Well, the stakes are low because even if Najib wins and this kleptocrat prevails, it would not be as if the sky will come tumbling down. We have endured a corrupt kleptocracy for decades and many would argue that we as a people, despite the overt systemic discrimination, have thrived.

I have argued numerous times of the futility of this strategy – “And right here is the problem for the opposition because this is really is what most voters who vote Barisan National think. Through the decades, despite all the corruption scandals, the sustained attacks against independent institutions, the slow process of dismantling our individual rights, Malaysia, in the words of Josh Hong, ‘for all its flaws, Malaysia remains a prosperous, relatively efficient and economically vibrant country.’”

Besides, the history of Harapan is littered with betrayals that most opposition supporters have accepted. Harapan has always managed to find allies – maybe except PSM – that they managed to do business with, who eventually betrayed the opposition alliance.

I would argue that the opposition is extremely comfortable with betrayals. How many political operatives, political entities and the rest of the flotsam and jetsam of establishment politics have betrayed the opposition? Honestly, I have lost count.

And let us be honest. The opposition was not fooled because they were naive. The reality is that the opposition has never met a political outfit or personality that was anti-Najib that they did not have use for, until ultimately, they were betrayed because they were outplayed.

No cohesive platform

I am not making the argument that disparate interests should not attempt to come together but rather, the opposition has never really made an attempt to work together in an honest way. There was never any attempt to form a cohesive ideology or a platform that honestly addressed the agendas that opposing interests brought to the table. There were always these piecemeal efforts to bury the political and/or ideological differences and shoe horn everything into the “save Malaysia” narrative.

Moreover, many opposition supporters were comfortable with this. I would argue that these “betrayal” narratives sustained the opposition when things fell apart because of their own ineptness. “We were betrayed” when it should be “we should never have been in this position in the first place”.

Meanwhile, the UMNO regime has its own cries of betrayal. The urban demographic has betrayed them. Former members have betrayed them. With UMNO, it goes further. Betrayals are not just against the political party. Betrayals are against race and religion. This is why I suppose Bersatu is attempting the same strategy.

I mean take a look at what Bersatu Youth chief Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman says while describing the current UMNO grand poohbah as the “Malay race’s number one enemy” – “Pawning the interests of the Malays by giving mega contracts to communist China while we have to shoulder the debts amounting to billions of ringgit.”

I made my stand on this issue of the PRC deals clear here – that pro-opposition rhetoric consists of furthering the narrative that China is taking advantage of the natives and the country is being sold piece by piece to a foreign power to settle Najib’s debts. While my disdain for Najib administration is well-documented (by me, mostly), making the argument that these China deals have no credibility merely because they come from the Najib regime is disingenuous.”

So, sit back and enjoy the show. Nobody is going to betray the opposition because nobody was loyal to the opposition in the first place. PAS will eventually engage in three-concerned fights with its former allies because they have a new sugar daddy. I am sure there will be defections on both sides in the upcoming general elections.

Betrayals will be rife and teeth gnashed, but ultimately the losers will not be the urban demographic but the “lower classes” that many politicians and analysts are banking on to save the opposition.

The only gun pointed at anyone is the one pointed at the marginalised communities here in Malaysia, and they know that that gun will be passed to anyone who claims the throne of Putrajaya.


S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Ugly Feud with Dr. Mahathir Mohamad reflects the shallowness of Malaysian politics


July 19, 2017

Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Ugly Feud with Dr. Mahathir Mohamad reflects  the shallowness of Malaysian Politics

Possibility of snap election looms as ex-leader backs a jailed former foe

by Takashi Nakano, Nikkei staff writer

http://asia.nikkei.com

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (Photo by AP), left, and former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad are sniping over the state of the country’s leadership.

SINGAPORE — An ugly feud is intensifying between Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak and predecessor Mahathir Mohamad, with Mahathir throwing his support behind an old nemesis in hopes of unseating the administration, and Najib sniping back.

Mahathir ruled Malaysia for 22 years through 2003, and the country’s profile on the world stage grew under his hard-charging leadership. He has vocally criticized Najib, who has been in power for over eight years — and is in sight of a yet longer term — but has recently come under fire amid an embezzlement scandal. Rumors have swirled that Najib may dissolve parliament this year, leading to a general election.

The two figures’ mudslinging, if it drags on, may diminish Malaysian politics in the eyes of observers at home and abroad.

The enemy of my enemy

In 1998, Mahathir sacked Anwar Ibrahim, then Deputy Prime Minister, who stood in opposition to him. Anwar was then arrested and imprisoned for six years on charges of sodomy and corruption. In Malaysia’s last general elections in May 2013, Anwar led an opposition coalition against Najib’s ruling one, but in 2015 was convicted of fresh sodomy charges and given another five years behind bars.

Anwar Ibrahim © Reuters

Early this month, Mahathir told The Guardian, the U.K. newspaper, that the popular Anwar had been “unfairly treated.” “The decision of the court was obviously influenced by the government,” he said, “and I think the incoming government would be able to persuade the King to give a full pardon for Anwar.” The statement sent shock waves across the country.

Since the time of Anwar’s first arrest, the independence of the Malaysian Judiciary has been in doubt. Mahathir’s championing of Anwar even at risk of drawing fire for his own past actions shows the intensity of his drive to topple the Najib administration.

In June, at the International Conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo, Mahathir also said that Malaysia’s present administration was doing badly by the country, and that he hoped for the opposition to score an electoral victory and drive Najib out of office.

Najib quickly fired back via his blog. He said it was “ironic that Mahathir now needs Anwar, the man he sacked and jailed,” and that the former prime minister’s “crusade is motivated not by the national interest, but by selfish personal interest.”

No winners

Najib, having built up a stable political base, appears to have the upper hand in this fight. Mahathir cannot hide the shrinking of his political clout. And while Anwar’s popularity may run deep, he cannot run for office from prison. With the term of the lower house of Malaysia’s Parliament set to expire next June, Najib is waiting for the moment to play his trump card: the right to dissolve the legislative body.

But the Najib government has a major Achilles’ heel in the scandal surrounding state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd, or 1MDB. U.S. authorities are investigating the apparent misappropriation of at least $4.5 billion from the fund, and several people close to the Prime Minister have been implicated.

Najib’s administration has objected, noting that Malaysian authorities conducted extensive inspections and no crime came to light. But overseas authorities have turned a stern eye. The Monetary Authority of Singapore, for instance, has taken steps to punish a number of financial institutions and people whose actions contributed to the 1MDB scandal.

The ties between Mahathir, Najib and Anwar not only show the fierceness of Malaysia’s power struggle, but expose the shallowness of its political benches. Since it won independence in 1957, the country has not undergone a significant change of government, and it has not cultivated a culture in which the politicians that will bear responsibility for the next generation sharpen one another in friendly rivalry.

With its per-capita gross domestic product having reached the $10,000 level, Malaysia is at a crossroads and in need of a new growth model. Its ruling and opposition parties are constantly bickering instead of engaging in more robust economic debate, casting doubt on the nation’s hopes of joining the ranks of the world’s developed countries.

Father of Modern Malaysia backs jailed former Deputy in attempt to oust PM Najib Razak


July 12, 2017

Father of Modern Malaysia backs jailed former Deputy in attempt to oust PM Najib Razak

by Randeep Ramesh

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/06/father-of-modern-malaysia-backs-jailed-former-pm-in-attempt-to-oust-incumbent

Mahathir Mohamad, the former prime minister
Mahathir Mohamad, the former Prime Minister, said his former protege Anwar Ibrahim is the victim of a political vendetta. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian

Mahathir Mohamad says former Deputy Anwar Ibrahim, jailed on charges of sodomy, should be freed to contest election against scandal-ridden Najib.

In a remarkable political U-turn ahead of a general election next year, Mahathir now says that his former protege Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia’s most famous political prisoner and its most charismatic public figure, ought to be released from jail and allowed to contest parliamentary elections.

Human rights groups have long said the allegations against Anwar are politically motivated attempts by his opponents, including Mahathir and the current Prime Minister Najib Razak, to silence him.

Speaking to the Guardian on a visit to London, Mahathir, who in power was accused of being an autocrat, said Anwar is a victim of a political vendetta and that a new administration would seek a royal pardon to allow him to re-enter politics.

Image result for Getting Rid of Najib Razak

Najib Razak will be singing the Blues as the Day of Reckoning is coming soon. He is bad news for Malaysia, says Dr. Mahathir

Anwar’s lawyers are currently seeking to get him released after evidence emerged that suggested an impartial government-appointed prosecutor was paid a sum equivalent to £2m from a bank account controlled by the Prime Minister.

“In the case of Anwar we can make a case that he was unfairly treated. The decision of the court was obviously influenced by the government and I think the incoming government would be able to persuade the King to give a full pardon for Anwar,” Mahathir said. “In which case he would be able to participate in politics and become PM. I can have no objection to that.”

Malaysia’s opposition has gained ground in recent years, and nearly toppled the governing party in 2013, winning the popular vote in the general election.

Since then prosecutors have filed a multitude of cases against government critics, including opposition figures, a professor and a cartoonist. A national security act, widely criticised by rights campaigners, came into force last year which gives the army and police sweeping powers for seizure and arrest, and does away with inquests into the deaths of anyone killed in zones declared under a “state of emergency”

Mahathir stepped down in 2003 after 22 years in office, with no heir apparent. He brooked little dissent during his time in office, and ousted Anwar – seen by many as his natural successor – during a power struggle, ostensibly over an argument over the use of capital controls, in 1998.

A few weeks later Anwar was arrested, beaten by Police, then charged with sodomy and corruption. After a trial widely considered to have been politically rigged, he was given a six-year jail term for abuse of power, sparking widespread protests.

Image result for Anwar Ibrahim

 Time to set Anwar Ibrahim Free

Following his release in 2004 he became a leading opposition figure, before returning to prison in 2015 when a court upheld a five-year sentence on another sodomy charge.

Mahathir now accepts he made a mistake by not allowing Anwar to “succeed him”, and that he held on to power for too long, only to anoint two men who subsequently disappointed him, especially the current PM Najib, who is embroiled in one of the world’s largest kleptocracy cases.

According to lawsuits filed by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ), at least $4.5bn has been stolen from a state investment fund 1MDB. The purpose of the fund, which was set up by Najib as Prime Minister in 2009, was to promote economic development in a country where the median income stands at approximately £300 per month.

Instead, the DoJ alleged that stolen money from 1MDB found its way to numerous associates of Najib, who subsequently went on a lavish spending spree across the world. It also accused Najib of receiving $681m of cash from 1MDB. Najib has denied that claim, and all other allegations of wrongdoing.

Money from 1MDB, the US also claimed, helped to purchase luxury apartments in Manhattan, mansions in Los Angeles, paintings by Monet, a corporate jet, and even financed the Wolf of Wall St, a major Hollywood movie. Last week Australian model and actress Miranda Kerr handed over $8m of jewelry she received as a gift but which US authorities say was paid for by money linked to a Malaysian money laundering scheme.

“Najib is bad news for Malaysia. For the PM to be accused of stealing huge sums of money, I think that is something we don’t expect of any other PM. Certainly not in Malaysia. The money he is said to have taken is mind boggling,” said Mahathir.

Mahathir remains hugely popular with a broad swath of rural Malay voters who remember the boom years of his rule. He has registered a new party and is in talks to join the opposition coalition led by Anwar’s party. He now accepts that the authoritarian turn Malaysia took under his rule – including the use of the colonial-era Internal Security Act to jail troublesome opponents and tighten laws covering protests and the press – needs to be reversed.

Mahathir said he never foresaw a Prime Minister like Najib who was willing to “implement laws in a much more oppressive way than during my time”.

“Are the checks and balances not good enough? I agree to a certain extent they are not. We in Malaysia live in a multi-racial society and cannot be ever as liberal I think as the USA or Britain. But we should allow free expression in the press. Najib has a new security act that allows him to declare any territory under a state of emergency and detain people without any reason. I inherited and used the law. I did not abolish it and make another one even worse.”

Malaysia: Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is a Statesman and a Patriot


July 11, 2017

COMMENT: As I see it, there are two sides of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. He is a technocrat-manager, and he is also a politician. It is easy to get your wires crossed when you judge him. I experienced this cognitive dissonance every time I commented on him, and painfully too. As a person, the Tun is gentle, kind and considerate. As a politico, he can be as tough and unbending as a nail of reinforced steel.

Image result for tun dr mahathir

Tun Dr. Mahathir –Technocrat-Manager and Politician and Prime Minister

I am familiar with the man as a technocrat-manager because I had the privilege of working for him directly in 1970s.  I also had worked for Tun Ghazalie Shafie (Wisma Putra), Tun Ismail Bin Mohamed Ali (Bank Negara Malaysia and later when he became successor to Tun Tan), and Tun Tan Siew Sin and Tunku Ahmad Yahaya (Sime Darby Group ) in 1960s-1990s.

What do these outstanding personalities have in common? To me, they were thoroughly professional, smart, decisive and demanding bosses who did not suffer fools easily. More importantly, they judged me for my work and fidelity to the institution, not for my loyalty to them, or capacity to flatter them. In fact, I was afraid to even compliment them for fear of being misconstrued. Of course, they all had their strengths and failings, but there was no doubt in my mind that they were patriots who served Malaysia with distinction. They led by example, and had a great impact on my professional career.

Then there is Tun Dr.Mahathir, the politician, the Senator, Member of Parliament (Kubang Pasu) and Prime Minister of Malaysia (for 22 odd years). I knew him when I was growing up in Alor Setar, Kedah too. But I have great difficulty in understanding his decisions and actions, although I understood and accepted his Vision 2020,  Look East Policy and other economic and social policies.

Up to a point, I was even willing to accept his rationale for wanting power. I remember him saying that he needed the power to get things done. Indeed, he got the power he wanted and he certainly got things done. Look around and you can see for yourself his many accomplishments. He has left an indelible mark on our national landscape.

I know that Prime Minister Najib Razak is trying to erase them.  I heard from my friends when my wife Dr. Kamsiah and I visited Langkawi recently that Najib’s cronies were trying to eliminate some landmarks of the Mahathir era in Kuah. How  low and immature one can get.

Unfortunately, the Tun had too much power. With unchecked powers, he systematically brought all institutions of governance under the control of a powerful Executive Branch, a legacy he left to the present Prime Minister Najib Razak to fully exploit.  Now, it is next to impossible to replace the incumbent Prime Minister for corruption and abuses of power. Even national elections can be rigged.

Image result for Tom Plate's Conversations with Mahathir

 I can change my mind too. When Tun Dr. Mahathir put his Deputy Prime Minister Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim in jail on trumped up charges of sodomy in 1998, I had a change of heart and  became critical of his political leadership.  I even wrote what I thought of Tun Dr. Mahathir the Politician in Tom Plate’s book’s Conversations with Mahathir Mohamad. I have remained steadfast to my views on the Political Mahathir.

But I will never stoop so low as to condemn our Fourth Prime Minister and deny him his place in our national history. He is a truly outstanding statesmen and role model for Malaysians of my generation, especially those from Kedah.  He belongs with Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, a fellow Kedahan, in my pantheon of heroes. –Din Merican

Malaysia: Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is a Statesman and a Patriot

by Rais Hussin@www.malaysiakini.com

It was John Maynard Keynes who said: “When the facts change, I change my view”. The philosophy served him well.

Image result for john maynard keynes the economic consequences of the peace

Keynes could see ahead of time. When France and its allies punished Germany with reparations after World War I, Keynes knew that Germany would rise again to seek its revenge. He even wrote The Economic Consequences of the Peace [The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919) is a book written and published by John Maynard Keynes.[1] Keynes attended the Paris Peace Conference, 1919 as a delegate of the British Treasury and argued for a much more generous peace. It was a best-seller throughout the world and was critical in establishing a general opinion that the Versailles Treaty was a “Carthaginian peace“. It helped to consolidate American public opinion against the treaty and involvement in the League of Nations. The perception by much of the British public that Germany had been treated unfairly in turn was a crucial factor in public support for appeasement. The success of the book established Keynes’ reputation as a leading economist especially on the left. When Keynes was a key player in establishing the Bretton Woods system in 1944, he remembered the lessons from Versailles as well as the Great Depression. The Marshall Plan, after the Second World War, was a similar system to that proposed by Keynes in The Economic Consequences of the Peace.–wikipedia]

True enough, within a short generation of 20 years after the conclusion of the Versailles Treaty in 1919, Nazi was led by Hitler, wrecking damage on the whole of Europe. Did Keynes insist on more revenge against Germany? No. True to form when the facts change, he changed his opinion.

After Second World War, Keynes was among the few to insist that Germany has to be integrated into Europe to keep the whole region safe.

Statesmanship is about peering into the future. Under Dr Mahathir Mohamad, well before Malaysia knew what was Vision 2020, he had spoken at the Malaysian Business Council in 1990 on the importance of creating a country that was morally and economically strong.

In contrast, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has run the ship aground with allegedly the brazen RM44 billion mismanagement, of which the likes of Khairul Azwan, the Umno Youth vice-chief, is still in denial. It is as if 1MDB is “Pi Mai Pi Mai Tang Tu” (Come and go, come and go, and it’s OK too).

Well, too bad for Najib. Mahathir did not earn his “Tunship” by sheer ingratiation. If he did, the award would have been withdrawn given the government’s accusations that he has sold the country down the river with a wave and a bye.

Between 1981 and 2002, a full 22 years, Malaysia was the only one to have grown by leaps and bounds. Even at the height of the Asian financial crisis in 1999, Malaysia never so much as ask for a single dollar from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Yet, had IMF come into the picture, the bumiputera economic program, right down to how the government payroll would be spent, would come under the scrutiny of IMF.

Almost overnight, the sovereignty and independence of Malaysia were saved, which is more than any Malaysians can ask for from their leader.

In contrast, at the height of the Global Economic Recession in 2009, what Najib did was well-nigh irresponsible. Instead of building our country’s human capital, allegedly some RM44 billion or more, were borrowed and squandered, saddling Malaysia with even more debt.

Khairul Azwan–The Super Ampu Najib character

Khairul Azwan (photo), being a junior politician, some believe juvenile too, can only claim that Mahathir is not worthy of the title of being called a statesman. If not Mahathir, then who?

‘Upset Mahathir can support Anwar again’

Khairul Azwan is upset that Mahathir can support Anwar Ibrahim again. Well, when the facts change, Mahathir’s opinion too. And the facts that have changed are these: Najib has allegedly mismanaged the funds that were leveraged on the name of 1MDB, and avoided coming head to head with Mahathir for a public debate. If there is nothing to hide, Najib must debate with Mahathir.

In avoiding the need to face Mahathir head on, the likes of Khairul Azwan have had to step to the fore to defend the Prime Minister. But how can Khairul Azwan even suit the role granted that most Malaysian had never heard of his name until today?

Is he crying out to attract attention? Like he did when he lodged a police report against three impeccable “Tan Sris” that include Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Abdul Gani Patail and Abu Kassim Mohamed for attention. And attention he got when he was instantaneously rewarded with a senatorship by Najib.

Is he now crying for attention so that he will be given a parliamentary or state seats to contest? Is he eyeing a ministerial position or who knows, the coveted Menteri Besar post of Perak? Khairul Azwan knows loyalty to Najib has instant rewards or remuneration.

He had experienced it first-hand. Time to accentuate his loyalty to Najib for instant rewards while negating the interest of the people or the nation?


RAIS HUSSIN is a supreme council member of Parti Peribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu). He also heads the Policy and Strategy Bureau of Bersatu.

Mahathir Mohamad’s return shows the sorry state of Malaysian politics


July 3, 2017

Banyan

Mahathir Mohamad’s return shows the sorry state of Malaysian politics

https://www.economist.com/news/asia/21724432-former-prime-minister-reinventing-himself-leader-opposition-mahathir-mohamads

The former Prime Minister is reinventing himself as a leader of the Opposition

Image result for doctor in the house mahathir

The Doctor seeks a Return to the House

WHEN Mahathir Mohamad spent a week in hospital last year, at the age of 91, talk naturally turned to his legacy as Malaysia’s longest-serving former Prime Minister. How naive. Dr Mahathir may have stepped down in 2003 after 22 years in office, but he has hardly been retiring in retirement. His constant sniping helped topple his immediate successor, Abdullah Badawi, who lasted until 2009.

Now the old warhorse is picking a fight with Najib Razak, the Prime Minister since then and now leader of Dr Mahathir’s former party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which has run Malaysia for the past 60 years. Dr Mahathir has registered a new political party and persuaded Pakatan Harapan, the fractious coalition that forms Malaysia’s main opposition, to admit it as a member. Now Pakatan is debating whether to make Dr Mahathir the chairman of their coalition—and, perhaps, their candidate for Prime Minister at elections which must be held within 13 months. Having long said that he would not be returning to Parliament, Dr Mahathir has lately been hinting that he would consider another stint in the top job.

Image result for anwar ibrahim and mahathir mohamad

In Politics there are no permanent friends, only permanent interests

It is difficult to imagine a more unlikely turn of events. The original incarnation of the coalition Dr Mahathir might soon be running was formed in the late 1990s to oppose his own interminable rule. Its founder, Anwar Ibrahim, was Dr Mahathir’s deputy until the latter sacked him during a power struggle; he was later jailed on sham charges of corruption and sodomy. The current government’s methods are copied directly from Dr Mahathir’s playbook. Since 2015 Mr Anwar has been back in prison following a second sodomy conviction, this one just as dubious as the first. The reversal of the authoritarian turn Malaysia took under Dr Mahathir is one of Pakatan’s main objectives.

What makes all this even tougher to stomach is that Dr Mahathir’s conversion to the Opposition’s cause looks disturbingly incomplete. Though he is hobnobbing with former enemies, the old codger still finds it difficult to apologise for the excesses of his tenure. Many of his views remain wacky: in May he told the Financial Times that he still thinks the American or Israeli governments might have arranged the attacks of September 11th 2001. Can Malaysia’s opposition really find no more palatable leader?

These are desperate times, retort Dr Mahathir’s supporters. Since 2015 news about the looting of 1MDB, a government-owned investment firm from which at least $4.5bn has disappeared, has dragged Malaysia’s reputation through the muck. American government investigators say that 1MDB’s money was spent on jewellery, mansions, precious artworks and a yacht, and that nearly $700m of it went to the prime minister. Mr Najib says he has not received any money from 1MDB, and that $681m deposited into his personal accounts was a gift from a Saudi Royal (now returned). He has kept his job, but only after replacing the Deputy Prime Minister and the Attorney-General.

Image result for The Politically unassailable Najib Razak

The Prognosis is that Najib Razak is likely to win GE-14

One might expect this scandal to propel Pakatan into power at the coming election, but instead the opposition looks likely to lose ground, perhaps even handing back to UMNO and its allies the two-thirds majority required to amend the constitution. This bizarre reversal has much to do with Malaysia’s regrettable racial politics: the Malay-Muslim majority largely favours the government and the big ethnic-Chinese and -Indian minorities tend to vote against it. Mr Najib has baited an Islamist party into renewing calls for more flogging for moral lapses, forcing them to leave Pakatan. The split in the opposition will lead to lots of three-candidate races, in which UMNO will romp home.

Put in this context, Dr Mahathir’s reappearance is a godsend. It stands to transform Pakatan’s chances by granting access to a broad swathe of rural constituencies that they had previously thought unwinnable. Many Malays have fond memories of the booming economy of Dr Mahathir’s era (they overlook its crony capitalism and his intolerance for dissent); in their eyes, he put Malaysia on the map. As coalition chairman, Dr Mahathir might also bring some order to Pakatan’s noisy council meetings. His backing could be invaluable after a narrow victory or in a hung parliament, when UMNO’s creatures in the bureaucracy might be expected to put up a fight.

All these benefits could probably be obtained without offering to make Dr Mahathir the Prime Minister. But he may be the only front man upon whom most of the coalition can agree. That role had previously fallen to Mr Anwar, but it has become clear to all but a few holdouts that he cannot continue to manage the quarrelsome coalition from his cell. Voters are not sure whether to believe Pakatan when it says that, should it win, it will find some way to catapult Mr Anwar out of his chains and into the country’s top job. Nor are they much inspired by the notion of accepting a seat-warmer to run the country while this tricky manoeuvre takes place.

It could be worse

This is a depressing mess, even by Malaysia’s dismal standards. The opposition bears no blame for the dirty tricks which, over several shameful decades, the government has used to hobble Mr Anwar and many others. But by failing to nurture—or even to agree upon—the next generation of leaders, they have played straight into UMNO’s hands.

It is possible that the thought of hoisting Dr Mahathir into the top job will at last force the coalition to thrust a younger leader to the fore (some suspect that this is the outcome that Dr Mahathir, a shrewd strategist, has always had in mind). But it is also possible that, facing only uncomfortable options, they will end up making no decision at all. Some in Pakatan seem happy to barrel into the next election without telling voters who will lead Malaysia should they win. That might seem like pragmatism, but it is really just defeatism.

This article appeared in the Asia section of the print edition under the headline “Doctor on call”

Pakatan Harapan: Get Going or You will be Trounced in GE-14


June 29, 2017

Pakatan Harapan: Get Going or You will be Trounced in GE-14

by Wan Saiful Wan Jan

http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/thinking-liberally/2017/06/20/this-pakatan-drama-is-getting-tiring-the-opposition-coalition-has-to-make-some-important-decisions-a/

Image result for Mahathir and Anwar

Mahathir and Anwar–The Harapans for Pakatan Harapan

The Opposition coalition has to make some important decisions about leadership, especially in the run-up to the general election.

PAKATAN Harapan is amazingly creative in creating job titles. Chairman, President and Ketua Umum have been floated as potential titles for their top posts, all aimed at ensuring one person is above everybody else without putting any of their big shots below the president.

The person is Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Despite being in prison, his letters and whispers still dictate how PKR decides. I cannot imagine how they will run a country. Every time a difficult question comes up in a Cabinet meeting, would they call for a coffee break while waiting for the postman to arrive?

They don’t seem to realise that, being in prison, Anwar’s own thought process would be easily influenced by what is conveyed to him and how the person visiting him explains it to him. The letters that he writes cannot possibly be based on a holistic consideration of all options and consequences.

Anwar’s camp in PKR says that if they win, they would ensure Anwar gets a royal pardon so that he becomes Prime Minister.

This is an extraordinary suggestion because the power to pardon belongs to our Rulers. No politicians in their rightful mind would ever assume that they could muscle over our Rulers, giving instructions just like that.

Luckily, over the weekend, Anwar declared he is not offering himself to be the prime minister candidate any more. This is a welcome deve­lopment because even those who do not support Pakatan are growing tired of their drama.

The stumbling block in Pakatan is PKR, because they are severely divided about Anwar’s future role, and Anwar’s camp in PKR feels insecure. However, Anwar’s latest announcement should allow PKR to move on.

Anwar’s camp in PKR must take the announcement as a call to stop naming him as the potential Prime Minister. Although Anwar was vague when saying he is “not offering” himself, they should not persuade him to change his mind, or plan for an interim Prime Minister who will pass the seat to Anwar later.

This should be made a definitive closure. Otherwise, that statement was nothing but a deception. I also urge Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to follow suit. But he should do more than Anwar. He should declare that he, too, is not interested in becoming Prime Minister again, and he will also not contest in GE14.

That would assuage Anwar’s camp and other critics in Pakatan. Pakatan must actively consider na­ming someone from their younger generation as prime minister. Wan Azizah has said she does not feel she is the best person for the post.

She is right. She is not. There are others who could do the job better. She should recuse herself too, and this will prevent allegations that Anwar is Prime Minister candidate by proxy.

Instead, Pakatan should name someone younger. This could be a game changer because others will immediately be under pressure to consider a different new line-up too. But the person should be from PKR, because Anwar’s camp will never accept PKR losing the Pime Minister candidacy.

Image result for Azmin Ali

It is time for Azmin Ali to take PKR and revitalise its political organization. Wan Azizah should retire from being Anwar Ibrahim’s proxy.

I have never had the chance to talk to Datuk Seri Mohamad Azmin Ali (above) personally, so my judgment may well be wrong here. But from afar, he seems to be the most obvious candidate from PKR. Despite all the ruckus between PAS and all the Pakatan parties, he has proven that he can hold the coalition together in Selangor.

Considering all the odds, this is no easy feat. Even Dr Mahathir and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin could not persuade PAS to remain in Pakatan. And he is also one of the very few with administrative experience.

Adding names likes Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, Nurul Izzah Anwar and Salahuddin Ayob to the top line-up would make the election even more exciting.

Anwar, however, did not name a successor. This will likely encourage Anwar’s camp in PKR to work harder to block Azmin, because they have never fully trusted him. Anwar himself is partly to blame here. He should have endorsed a credible successor. Otherwise, Anwar and his camp in PKR remain the biggest stumbling block for Pakatan’s stability.

Pakatan should treat the issue of coalition leadership as separate from the Prime Minister candidate. I cannot imagine Wan Azizah being an effective chairman in a meeting attended by Dr Mahathir and Muh­yid­din.

These two figures are far more experienced than she. Yes, she has sacrificed a lot for Pakatan’s struggle. But now is the time for her and her family to make the most meaningful sacrifice for the cause, which is to give PKR and Pakatan the freedom to flourish.

Pakatan needs a chairman who can facilitate decision-making without having to wait for notes from Sungai Buloh prison. Dr Mahathir is the best person for that. After two decades of chairing Barisan Nasional, is there anyone more experienced than Dr Mahathir in chairing a coalition of political parties?

But if Dr Mahathir becomes chair­­man, it is only logical that Muhyiddin could not become president because that would be domination by one party. Muhyiddin’s expertise is in strategising for elections. He has led UMNO and Barisan Nasional to victory in so many successful general elections and by-elections. He is more valuable to Pakatan if he leads their electioneering machinery, regard­less of the title given to him.

Since their target is to defeat UMNO, there really is no one in Pakatan more knowledgeable than Muhyiddin about UMNO’s strategies, dirty tricks, and tactics.

It does not matter which party you or I support. It is tiring to watch the indecision of Anwar’s camp in PKR. It has become too much and has continued for too long.Since Anwar has opened the door, for goodness sake, PKR, please move on.

Wan Saiful Wan Jan is chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (www.ideas.org.my). The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.