Anwar Ibrahim is my Prime Minister and why


May 25, 2017

Anwar Ibrahim is my Prime Minister and why

by http://www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for anwar ibrahimNo Politician in Malaysia has been challenged, tested, and made to suffer like Anwar Ibrahim. Yet he has remained steadfast to his cause. It takes a lot of willpower and character. Nurul Izzah Anwar told me when I met her recently in Phnom Penh that her father refused asylum in the United Kingdom and a professorial position at the prestigious Georgetown University in the United States because he would not abandon his struggle for freedom, justice and democracy.–Din Merican
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Comment: It is life’s irony that a man who was regarded a “Malay Ultra” by the Late Lee Kuan Yew and a long serving 4th Prime Minister with blemished track record of failed institutions and Malay-centeric policies is the preferred choice to be the Prime Minister should Pakatan Harapan win the GE-14 elections.

It shows to me at least how desperate Malaysians have become to want a 92 year old ex-UMNO President to lead our country. This is good news to the incumbent Najib Razak because he can beat Dr. Mahathir  quite easily. He has enough information about his predecessor twice removed to sway voters against Pakatan Harapan.  It will then be from “Ada Harapan to Tiada Harapan” (Hope to No Hope).

I make no bones about my choice as our country’s next Prime Minister. He is no other than the village boy (he is not a member of the Malay aristocratic class) from Chrok Tok Kun in Penang called Anwar Ibrahim. He is not perfect (neither am I and you) but he is the most experienced Malaysian politician and a charismatic personality cum public intellectual with ideas about democracy, freedom, social justice and good governance. He has been through a lot as a result of being in jail on trumped up charges of sodomy. Yet Anwar is unwavering in his commitment to the people of Malaysia the way Nelson Mandela was to the people of South Africa. Mandela became President after spending 27 years in jail.  Anwar can be Malaysia’s Prime Minister.

I should know about Anwar Ibrahim as I was once working for him in 2007-2009. In 2008, I traveled with him in his car day and night to campaign throughout the length and breadth of our country. We spent countless hours chatting about his vision for Malaysia and empathy for the ordinary man. He united the Opposition including PAS and created a movement that eventually led to the political demise of Abdullah Badawi, our inept and sleepy head 5th Prime Minister. He replaced by Najib Razak, Mahathir’s choice as UMNO President and Prime Minister.

Unfortunately for Anwar and us Malaysians , Najib Razak was able to create Sodomy 2 (I am not sure if Tun Dr. Mahathir and his associates had hand it in this) that landed him in Sungei Buloh for the second time.  Today, he remains our prisoner of conscience, who is strong in will and very committed to the cause of justice, freedom and dignity for Malaysians. Here is to you, Anwar Ibrahim: Salam Reformasi. Lawan Tetap Lawan. –Din Merican

Desperate Malaysians prefer Tun Dr. Mahathir as Prime Minister again

by http://www.malaysiakini.com

An overwhelming majority of Malaysiakini’s readers have endorsed Dr Mahathir Mohamad as Pakatan Harapan’s Prime minister candidate.

According to the 12,777 who voted in the new portal’s poll, 8,926 (69.9 percent) said Mahathir should be made a candidate while 3,276 (25.6 percent) disagreed. A small group answered “Not sure” or “Don’t care” in the poll, which ran for six days since May 19.

As the poll was conducted in three languages, the results showed different voting patterns among the various demographics.

Respondents who took part in the English-language version were the most supportive of naming Mahathir as a candidate for the premiership, compared to Bahasa Malaysia or Chinese-language readers.

Of those who answered the English-language poll, 76.6 percent were in favour of naming Mahathir as prime ministerial candidate while 68.6 percent of those who answered through the Bahasa Malaysia poll voted the same.

However, only 51 percent of those who answered the Chinese-language poll backed Mahathir for the top post, with 43.9 percent disagreeing.

One of the reasons for the Chinese-language poll results could be related to Mahathir’s words and deeds during his tenure as Prime Minister, for example, the Suqiu election appeals issue. In 2000, even DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang, who has since buried the hatchet with Mahathir, lambasted the former Premier over the Suqiu matter.

After accepting Suqiu’s election appeal, which included a review of the National Economic Policy, Mahathir, following the 1999 polls, had likened the movement to the communists. Another reason for the lack of support among Chinese-language readers is perhaps because they prefer jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to helm the nation.

Harapan has been under pressure of late over their nominee for Prime Minister, with BN claiming that this proves that the opposition coalition was not united.

Afraid of May 13?


May 21, 2017

Afraid of May 13?

by S. Thayaparan@www.malaysiakini.com

“When our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign entity, it ignores the fact that, in our democracy, government is us.”

– Barack Obama

Image result for May 13, 1969

They say we are afraid of what we do not understand and if this is true, we should be afraid of May 13 because we do not really understand what happened that day. Each side has a narrative, the official narrative and narratives such as author Kua Kia Soong’s which I happen to subscribe to.

They also say that ignorance breeds fear, which again points to why we should be afraid of May 13 because many people are ignorant of what happened on that day and are fed a steady diet of fearing the other, of losing power but most importantly, of their religion in danger of becoming irrelevant.

I have often referenced May 13 not because I wanted to be provocative but because especially in the alternative media, the issue of May 13 is not provocative enough. In ‘Ghost of elections past’, I wrote – “So the reality is that all these ‘ghost’ from our past don’t really scare us any more, not because we have not learnt from them but because there are more than enough monsters in our present to give us pause.

“If we discount the bravado of those who would make light of these threats of violence and those who would propagate such threats, what we are left with is the certainty that the only option we have is to vote with our conscience and let the chips fall where they may.”

However, because threats of racial violence have been normalised in this country, because people in power have Janus-faced agendas towards Malaysians of different ethnic origins, what we have become is numb to threats of racial violence. We are also cavalier to the very real threats of Islamic violence that lurk around the corner, hatched in the hearts of zealots raised on a diet of religious and racial supremacy and stamped with the imprimatur of foreign devils.

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What really is terrifying of May 13 is the way how the state uses it to demonise Malaysians based on ethnicity. The people making the threats, the aggressors become the victims and heroes of their own narratives, and Malaysians who do not subscribe to orthodoxy become the villains and scapegoats for all that the system has wrought.

A really interesting complex example of this can be found in Lim Kit Siang’s blog post – “Ex-top cop Yuen Yuet Leng confirmed that the May 13, 1969 ‘urination’ incident at the Selangor MB’s residence was totally fictional as he never heard of it although he was based in KL during the riots.”

Readers are encouraged to read it because Lim references an email by former top cop, the late Yuen Yuet Leng (to The Sun daily) in a discussion about a very specific lie against the DAP leader. I’ll quote the opening because I think it summarises what most people forget about that day –

“While I appreciate your article in general summarised well what I wanted to be known to the nation on what were greater truths, I have to make clarifications. Information I imparted are in deliberate interest of objective nation and so that nation gets the right tutoring message and feel strongly why May 13 incidents should not ever be allowed to happen again either because of too much insensitivities or too much sensitivities on any side.

“The major redeeming factor in 1969 was the courage of non-racial Malaysians who were still there to put to shame the worse of their respective communities who rampaged, hurt or killed. This best of Malaysians dared to risk their lives in saving or sheltering fellow Malaysians of another ethnic community.”

Official narratives

Readers may not really be interested but one of the reasons I began writing about the state of our nation was because of a public disagreement I had with Yuen about the Bersih 2 rally. In a response to his piece, I wrote by first establishing my credentials – “… having worked with his predecessor, the late Tan Sri ‘Jimmy’ Khoo Chong Kong, who was assassinated by communists in Ipoh. I worked with Khoo in Kuching where I was the resident naval officer and a member of the State Executive Security Committee.”

Readers interested in such subjects should track down my piece, ‘Abandon immature rhetoric of our past’. Here is the ending which I think sums up the piece – “Lastly, I end with this rather telling quote from Tan Sri. ‘The timing is such that there appears to be a united front against the government, and this frightens them.’

“Firstly, there seems to be a united front against the Barisan Nasional. I think this difference is very important. For far too long, this refrain of being ‘anti-government’ has been labelled against the ‘opposition’. The opposition is not anti-government. It may be anti-BN, but this is par for the course in any mature democracy, and I think we are indeed a maturing democracy and that we should abandon the immature rhetoric of our past.”

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The consequences of May 13 have had far reaching implications. I have argued that it heralded the birth of the Malay middle class and the social engineering that came after it changed the racial landscape of this country.

It also meant that the opposition had to fight all its political battles with one hand (sometimes even two) tied behind its back. Actually, if you have seen the brilliant David Mamet film ‘Redbelt’, the idea of fighting with one hand tied behind your back has deeper intellectual and moral implications but again I digress.

The only reason why there has been a slow change in this lopsided way of fighting is because the hegemon is failing, mired in infighting and stumbling because of the corrosive effects of unchecked corruption. The alternative media and the anonymity of the internet mean that the market place of ideas has destabilised the official narratives of the state.

I think most young people today are not, and should not, be afraid of May 13. What they should be concerned about is the threat of religious extremism that is invading our public and private spaces. Combatting this is difficult because race and religion are not mutually exclusive in this country.

I would argue that the official narratives of the state about May 13 is the earliest example of “fake news” but no matter, apparently we are living in a “post-truth” world and ultimately people will be afraid of what they do not understand or because of their ignorance.


Malaysia: Social Media Administrators under Pressure


May 19, 2017

Malaysia: Social Media Administrators under Pressure

by Asiasentinel Correspondent

http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/malaysia-social-media/

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When you cannot face up to the truth (message) you screw up, censor and threaten the messenger (s). Trump should learn from the Malaysian Prime Minister. Remember George Orwell’s 1984. People like Raja Petra and his lot can be consultants to The Trump White House.–Din Merican

With national elections looming, perhaps as early as August or September, the Malaysian government is warning its legions of myriad social media critics to knock off tweeting or posting content the government deems “inappropriate.”

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission has promulgated a new “advisory for group admins” that critics say is designed to coerce social media platforms such as Facebook and others in the country to censor postings by opponents of the government.

The Barisan Nasional, the national ruling coalition, has cause for concern. According to Steven Gan, editor of the independent news website Malaysiakini, the next election, which must be held before August of 2018 but is likely to be earlier, is likely to be fought out in social media, with as many as 70 percent of Malaysians online.

With the mainstream media – English, Malay and Chinese language newspapers, radio and television – in the hands of political parties aligned with the government, an increasing number of citizens are turning to the Internet to seek independent voices.

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As Asia Sentinel reported on April 22, opposition websites and independent news publications have been warned to mute their criticism or face being shut down. The Chinese-language newspaper Nanyang Siang Pau was warned over a cartoon satirizing the Speaker of Parliament as a monkey and told to suspend the staff involved.

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The government is running scared for a variety of reasons, the biggest being a massive scandal involving the misuse or theft of as much as US$11 billion from the state-backed 1Malaysia Development Bhd., with at least US$1 billion and as much as US$2 billion having ended up in Prime Minister Najib Razak’s own pockets, according to an ongoing investigation by US authorities looking into the purchase by nominees of houses, apartments, art works and a wide variety of other US assets, and the funding of the 2013 movie Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

The Barisan Nasional actually lost the popular vote in the 2013 general election but prevailed because the parliament was so thoroughly gerrymandered that the coalition ended up with 133 seats to 89 for the opposition, then headed by Anwar Ibrahim, who was later jailed on sexual perversion charges that human rights critics have characterized as trumped up.

Subsequently rising antipathy on the part of minority races, particularly the Chinese, has cut deeply into the Barisan’s support, leaving it largely supported only by ethnic Malays, who make up at least 63 percent of the population of 30 million. Given rising antipathy on the part of urban Malays, strategists for the Barisan believe the United Malays National Organization, the leader of the government coalition, must win every ethnic Malay vote possible in the countryside – where the mainstream media rule along with UMNO.

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2017–The Way Backward

That means trying to keep out as much chaff from the social media as possible, including people who retweet or post Chedet, the blog of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Najib’s most implacable opponent, which gets thousands of readers every day, or the Sarawak Report, which despite being blocked by the communications ministry (along with Asia Sentinel) can draw more than 100,000 readers on a single story.

Mahathir is said to be making inroads among the rural Malays supported by the Federal Land Development Authority, or Felda, which was founded to handle the resettlement of the rural poor, most of them ethnic Malays. The government listed Felda on the Malaysian stock exchange in 2012 and induced the thousands of settlers – whose territory covers 54 of UMNO’s 86 seats in parliament – to invest in the shares. Because of a variety of missteps, the shares have fallen in value steeply, impoverishing the settlers who bought into them. Felda Global Ventures as the public vehicle is now known, may be forced to delist.

Mahathir and PPBM, which he calls Parti Bersatu against the wishes of the government, have capitalized on the discontent to the point where political analysts believe he will pull away a number of those UMNO seats, perhaps 10 or 11 – two of which are held by Najib’s lieutenants.

Thus the Communications Ministry targets “administrators” of group pages hosted on communication platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Wechat, Viber and Telegram, or on similar services, advising them to take a proactive role in monitoring and removing content posted by others to their pages.

“While not a legally enforceable regulation in itself, a warning on the ministry’s Facebook page accompanying the advisory stated that Internet users should ‘be wise in using social media for their own protection,’” according to Article 19, a global rights watchdog with representatives in Malaysia. “This implies that failure to comply with the advisory may make group admins liable for the posts of others, even though this type of liability for third-party content is not currently provided for in Malaysian law.”

As Article 19 points out, a growing number of individuals are being arrested, investigated and charged in Malaysia for online criticism or questioning of the government under the sedition law, a toughened communications and multimedia act and a security act passed last year.

“Article 19 therefore considers that the MCMC advisory is seeking to deliver an implicit threat to social media users, that even if they are not the author of offending content, they can still be prosecuted by association,” according to Kuala Lumpur-based spokeswoman Nalini Elumalai. “This is likely to have the effect of co-opting private internet users into the role of enforcing draconian content restrictions in the online sphere, with victims of this censorship not having any recourse to challenge or seek redress for such removals. This is a concerning direction of travel, in particular if attempts are made to give legal force to the vague ‘advice’ of the MCMC. “

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The advisory by the Communications Ministry appears to violate an agreement promulgated by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media, the Organization of American States (OAS) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information that individuals cannot be held liable for content they have not authored unless they disobey court orders to remove such content.

The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression also warned that private actors should not be pressured by legal or extra-legal means to take steps that unnecessarily or disproportionately interfere with freedom of expression, including by removing content.

“The MCMC advisory is clearly intended to pressure social media users, against international freedom of expression standards, and against the spirit of the freedom of expression guarantees in Article 10(a) of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia,” Article 19 said. The rights organization urged the communications ministry to “retract the advisory without delay and make clear to social media users that they cannot be held responsible for content created by third parties. We also call on the Malaysian government to engage in comprehensive reforms to legislation that violates the right to freedom of expression, including online, in particular the CMA, the Sedition Act, and the Penal Code.”

Malaysia always in the News for Wrong Reasons


May 18, 2017

Malaysia always in the News for Wrong Reasons

by Dato Dennis Ignatius

Image result for Najib and Erdogan

Malaysia’s disgraceful disregard for human rights

 

The  UMNO-led BN government seems to have a penchant for putting Malaysia in the international spotlight for all the wrong reasons. This time Malaysia is being widely criticised for the way it colluded with Turkey to detain and deport suspected opponents of the Erodogan regime.

Last week, three long-time Turkish residents of Malaysia – school principal Turgay Karaman, businessman Ihsan Aslan and academic Ismet Ozcelik – were surreptitiously detained and hastily bundled out of the country before their families could even mount a legal challenge.

The whole manner in which the Malaysian authorities handled the matter – the secretive way they were detained, the constantly changing reasons for their detention, the speed at which they were deported, the presence of Turkish agents – was deeply troubling.

Colluding with the Erdogan regime

It is now clear that their arrest and deportation was in response to pressure from the Turkish government.

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Since the unsuccessful coup in Turkey last year, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has been on a witch hunt against anyone remotely connected with his political nemesis, the US-based cleric Fethullah Gueln. Thousands of military personnel, teachers, civil servants, judges, reporters and others have been summarily detained or dismissed. Turkish agents have also targeted Turkish nationals living abroad, many on spurious grounds.

While many countries have expressed alarm at Turkey’s slide towards authoritarianism, Malaysia apparently has no compunction collaborating with the regime.

The Home Ministry’s insistence that it acted on its own to deport the aforementioned Turks because they were “members of an organization deemed illegal in their country” is disingenuous to say the least.

 

Long history of dubious extraditions

This is, of course, not the first time that Malaysia has engaged in dubious extraditions.

In 2004, Libyan national Abu Abdullah al-Sadiq and his then pregnant wife, Fatima Bouchar, were arrested in Kuala Lumpur, detained for 13 days and then transferred to CIA facilities in Thailand under the now infamous rendition programme. In Thailand Abu Abdullah was tortured before being sent back to Libya where he spent years in prison.

Cynically, while Malaysia was publicly critical of the US war on terrorism, it was quietly cooperating with the CIA in extrajudicial renditions.

In 2012, a Saudi journalist, Hamza Kashgari, accused of insulting the Prophet, was detained while on transit to New Zealand. Despite not having a formal extradition treaty with Saudi Arabia and notwithstanding a high court injunction against his extradition, he was sent back to Saudi Arabia.

Since 2011, Malaysian Police have also been quietly working with Chinese authorities to round up and deport Muslim Uighur refugees fleeing the on-going crackdown in Xinjiang province. Many of these refugees had registered with UNCHR and were awaiting for their claims to be reviewed when they were deported.

It is more than likely that many others may have also been clandestinely detained and dispatched to uncertain fates in unknown destinations.

Transparent rather than secretive

Image result for Malaysia's Human Rights AbusesMalaysia’s  IGP Khalid Ashburn and his henchmen of the Royal Malaysian Police in Service of UMNO

No one is, of course, suggesting that suspected terrorists should not be deported or extradited. Malaysia has an obligation to cooperate with other countries in the apprehension of terrorists and criminals. What is important, however, is for the process to be open and transparent rather than secretive and ad hoc. And, of course, the decisions of the government should always be subject to judicial review.

In April this year, for example, an Iranian national accused of involvement in the 2012 bombing in Thailand was extradited after his case was heard by the Federal Court. Surely that is the way a civilized country does things.

A dumping ground for terrorists

Interestingly, while we oblige Turkey by doing their dirty work for them, they repay the favour by quietly facilitating the passage to Malaysia of known terrorists, as was reported recently. We have apparently become the dumping ground for terrorists that Turkey apprehends. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

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The Three Stooges of Islamic Extremism

In the meantime, while the government deports Turks whose only crime may be their dislike of Erdogan, it opens its arms wide to people like Zakir Naik, an extremist preacher blacklisted by several countries for spreading hatred, funding terrorism and money laundering. India has now requested for an Interpol red corner notice against Zakir, which, if granted, would make him an international fugitive in the fullest sense of the word. Let’s see how quickly the authorities will act to deport him and even strip him of his undeserved PR status, if he is still in the country.

 

Najib Razak has no interest in Electoral Reform


April 16, 2017

Najib Razak has no interest in Electoral Reform–Should he?

by Teck Chi Wong

http://www.newmandala.org

Mr. Teck Chi Wong, a former journalist and editor with Malaysiakini.com, is currently pursuing a Master of Public Policy at the Australian National University’s Crawford School of Public Policy.

Malaysia’s enthusiasm for electoral reform is arguably at its lowest point, after being high on the tide in the past 10 years as reflected by successive Bersih gatherings from 2007 to 2016.

But electoral reform is now more important than ever, particularly after the 1MDB scandal. If the authoritarian and corrupt political system is not overhauled, it will seriously impede the country’s ability to achieve high-income status in the long run.

In Malaysia, growth is never purely about the market. The state has been, and still is, playing important roles in steering and managing the economy. In fact, Malaysia was regarded in the 1990s as one of the successful models of the ‘development state’ in East Asia, which through learning and transferring resources to productive sectors had successfully industrialised the country and lifted many of its citizens out of poverty.

These East Asian developmental states, including Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea, shared some common characteristics. Many of them (except Japan) were authoritarian regimes in the 1970s and 1980s. But all of them were strong in facilitating policies and learning from others for growth.

On top of that, being authoritarian also helped these countries to stabilise their political landscape and therefore create a business environment which encouraged foreign investment to flow in. However, in Malaysia, it came at a tremendous and bloody price: the racial riots of 1969.

Key to this development model is the quality of the state. But it is difficult for these authoritarian regimes to maintain or improve their quality in the long run. Authoritarian order means that a lack of appropriate checks and balances for those in power leaves the system susceptible to corruption. At the same time, social and economic development gives rise to new needs and demands of accountability and integrity from the publics. As a result, political and social tensions emerge.

The East Asian developmental states approached this problem differently. Both South Korea and Taiwan had since democratised in 1980s and 1990s. Intense political competitions subjected those in power to greater checks and balances, and therefore reduced the most blatant forms of corruption.

Singapore, meanwhile, is an outlier. Despite not much progress in terms of democratisation, the city state has been outstanding in eliminating corruption. Many would point to the tough law and the high salaries of politicians and civil servants for the reason behind low corruption in the country. But exactly how Singaporean leaders could be disciplined despite no strong institutional checks and balances is still subject to debate, although this could possibly relate to their strong desire to guarantee Singapore’s survival in the international market and the region.

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Zahid Hamidi, Keruak and Najib Razak–Patronage and Corruption is rampant in Malaysia today

Malaysia is stuck in the middle. Not only is it in the middle-income trap, but it is also wrestling between authoritarianism and democracy. The quality of its institutions, including its cabinet system, parliament and judiciary, has been on the decline and they cannot mount any effective checks and balances against UMNO, the dominant ruling party. Resultantly, corruption and patronage are widespread in the government.

This has serious implications for the economy, particularly when the country is seeking to leave the middle-income trap. To entrepreneurs, rent-seeking is simply more profitable, as reflected by the fact that most of the wealth of Malaysian billionaires is created in rent-heavy industries, like banking, construction, housing development and resources.

All of these forces are embodied in the recent 1MDB scandal. Although Prime Minister Najib Razak is accused of embezzling billions of public funds and the scandal has rocked investor confidence, no institutions can hold him accountable and no amount of public pressure can force him to step down. As long as Najib is controlling UMNO, his position is solid, as opponents are eliminated from the government and the party. Zahid Hamidi knows this well since Hishamuddin Tun Hussein has been appointed as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department to hold him in check.

If there is one lesson we can learn from South Korea and Taiwan, that would be democratisation can help to change the underlying political structure and strengthen the quality of the state. Through intensified political competition and appropriate checks and balances, the public can put more pressure on those in power to be more accountable and focus on economic development.

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In fact, the difference between South Korea and Malaysia is particularly stark now that Park Guen-hye, the former President of South Korea, was impeached. This happened just within months after the corruption scandal involving Park’s best friend erupted in October last year.

In Malaysia, the overhaul in political structure over the long run must be achieved through electoral reform, which includes making the Election Commission independent and reducing gerrymandering and malapportionment. As long as the electoral system is not changed, UMNO can remain in power by holding onto its support bases in rural areas. The recent controversies surrounding redelineation process just again highlight the need for reform.

To many, for Malaysia to regain its shine after the 1MDB scandal, Najib must go. But that would be just a tiny first step on a long journey to reform and democratise its political and administrative institutions.

 

Malaysia: Racist Roots of UMNO-sponsored Redshirt Movement


April 11, 2017

Malaysia: Racist Roots of UMNO-sponsored Redshirt Movement

By: Paul Millar