Pakatan Harapan –Avoid Strategic Ambiguity in Election Manifesto


September 1, 2017

Pakatan Harapan –Avoid Strategic Ambiguity in Election Manifesto

by Dr. Wong Chin Huat

http://www.eastasiaforum.org

Image result for Ultra Mahathir Mohamad

 Tun Mahathir as Pakatan Harapan Chairman–The Election Changer?

Malaysia’s opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) is busy preparing its manifesto for the 14th General Election (GE14) to be held by August 2018 at the latest. PH cannot afford to repeat past mistakes and publish a strategically ambiguous election manifesto as a simple public relations exercise — it needs to produce a transition pact that clearly spells out what its victory would change and what it would not.

Image result for hishammuddin Umno Racist

UMNO Ketuanan Melayu–BN1.0

Malaysia is a one-party state which has been ruled by the Malay-nationalist United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and its coalition partners since independence from Britain in 1957. Malaysia is also a polarised society where the majority Malay-Muslims and the minority Chinese, Indian and Bornean non-Muslims have largely opposing views on Islamisation and pro Malay-Muslim preferential policies.

This fundamental contradiction has helped UMNO’s party-state to survive previous challenges since the opposition has never been able to win favour with both blocs. In 1990, the opposition won the Chinese vote, but lost the Malays due to their fear of losing political and religious dominance. In 1999, the opposition won the Malay vote, but many Chinese feared an ethnic riot if UMNO performed badly. In 2013, the opposition coalition won 51 per cent of the total vote, but its Malay-Muslim support was only around 40 per cent. Thanks to partisan gerrymandering, the UNMO-led Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition held on to power by a margin of 44 seats.

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Voices of Moderation in Civil Society

Looking toward the coming election PH is aiming to win more Malay votes. The inclusion of Mahathir Mohamad (formerly of UMNO and prime minister between 1981 and 2003) as PH’s new chairman is a game changer. He fills the void left by the Pan-Malaysia Islamic Party (PAS) which now collaborates with UMNO to pursue its agenda to expand Syariah law.

Many now hope for a tsunami of Malay voters to sweep UMNO away. But there is a catch to such optimism: communal incoordination risks foiling the opposition coalition once again.

Given UMNO’s further shift to ultra-nationalism after 2013, Chinese votes appear unlikely to swing back to BN. But with Mahathir evading talk of concrete reforms, many Chinese who fear PH turning into a BN 2.0 may stay home on election day offsetting any potential Malay swing to PH.

Previous opposition coalitions have tried this sort of strategic ambiguity before. Instead of taking clear positions on Islamisation and the pro-Malay New Economic Policy, they seized upon salient issues such as corruption and good governance. But ambiguity is neither strategic nor possible this time around. UMNO will continue — with the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party’s help — to warn Malays that both Islam and Muslims are under threat. If PH responds by leaning towards the Malays, more Chinese votes risk being lost.

Beyond populist and catch-all promises like repealing the Good and Sales Tax, a better strategy for PH would be to enter into a transition pact with citizenry on how it would manage regime change should it win. Such a pact should separate the pro-Malay/Muslim policies which UMNO holds its ethnic constituency at ransom with from the party-state, dismantle those features of the political system which prevent genuine electoral competition and enable corruption, and find better alternatives in inter-communal policies.

In terms of making politics competitive, both the authoritarian and majoritarian features of the party-state need to be eliminated.

To dismantle authoritarianism, three institutional reforms are indispensable. First, civil and political liberties must be reinforced to emphasise the freedoms of expression, assembly and association. PH must also commit to media freedom and to no detention without trial.

Second, there must be judicial and prosecutorial reforms regarding the appointment, promotion and retirement of judges as well as the establishment of an independent prosecution separate from the attorney general.

Third, political impartiality of the state apparatus — bureaucracy, police and the military — must be enforced. State agencies and officials must be checked by independent anti-corruption and ombudsman institutions with real regulatory teeth. Such reforms may produce a majoritarian democracy, but leaves the risk of democratic winner-takes-all politics which will likely further tear at Malaysia’s bipolar social wounds. Hence, two more institutional reforms are needed to dismantle majoritarianism.

First, electoral, parliamentary and cabinet reforms must be enacted — this includes a more proportional electoral system and a term limit on prime ministership. Powers need to be devolved to the states, the senate should be directly elected and local elections restored. These reforms will end a concentration of power at the top of the leadership, the root cause of the 1MDB scandal.

At the same time, PH should also promise to avoid sweeping change without national consensus on divisive issues like the pro-Malay ethnic preferential policy, Islamisation as well as language and education. These issues should be deliberated by broad-based consultative bodies to produce new policy alternatives, which may be modified to become party manifestos in the 15th General Election (GE15).

Instead of repeating ‘strategic ambiguity’, PH should make clear that GE14 will only be a ‘transition election’ from the party-state while the ‘founding election’ for a new Malaysia will be GE15, when playing field is level.

With the right balance of change and continuity guided principally by a two-stage roadmap, there is hope that PH may just garner enough Malay and non-Malay voters to end UMNO’s corrupt party-state.

Wong Chin Huat is the Head of Political Studies at Penang Institute.

Coping with one’s fears and concerns


June 18, 2017

Coping with one’s fears and concerns

by Dean Johns@www.malaysiakini.com

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Having tried in recent columns to comprehend why I’ve had so much trouble keeping on writing in my increasingly old age, and thus far postulated that my problem might be either depression or else pressure amounting to panic at approaching my ultimate and literally last deadline, death, I feel a bit dumb to have missed an even more dire and pressing possibility, fear, or even first signs of, dementia.

As I was sadly reminded the other night at dinner with a friend and her beloved 85-year-old husband whose dementia has now progressed so far as to regress him into what’s commonly and all-too-accurately called “second childhood”, this is a terrible situation for families and friends as well as for sufferers.

But thankfully, despite the fact that every memory lapse, “senior moment” or an episode of writer’s block I experience makes me momentarily fear the worst, I’m still capable of convincing myself that I don’t yet have any of the senile varieties of dreaded dementia.

And also still capable of reminding myself of how fortunate I am – and as you apparently are too, considering that you’re sufficiently compus mentis as to subscribe to and read Malaysiakini – to have survived or avoided a good many of the countless juvenile and other dementias that threaten to render every one of us metaphorically if not literally brain-dead at every age and stage of our lives.

Starting from infancy for myself and fellow males with he-mentia, the clearly man-made and culturally if not sexually transmitted delusion that “nature” and even an allegedly omnipotent and of course male “divinity” have privileged our portion of what we presumptuously call “mankind” with some kind superiority over the rest of personkind, especially womankind.

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Stay Positive always

 

The root-cause of he-mentia, of course, is the fact that, as a fridge magnet that’s popular in Australia proclaims, “every male is born with both a brain and a penis, but only enough blood to operate one of these organs at a time.”

In other words, as smart as at least some of us hetero male members of the species we flatter with the name “Homo sapiens” can be, we’re equally capable of acting like total dickheads.

In fact, far too many of us males are total dickheads all the way through and all of the time, seeing he-mentia not as a pathological condition to be suffered or better still, for the benefit of all concerned, overcome, but as a competitive edge to be celebrated.

Thus the poisonous pre-eminence, at least so far in human history, of the patriarchies, phallocracies or whatever else you choose to call dick-headed dictatorships founded on the he-mented fallacy (phallusy?) that male might is right.

Big dick-headed dictatorships today ranging from ruling regimes in countries like the Communist Party’s China and Putin’s Russia, to their countless small dick-headed counterparts all the way from al-Assad’s Syria through UMNO-BN’s Malaysia to the Zanu-PF’s Zimbabwe.

Then, of course, there are the dick-headed ‘religious’ dictatorships running so-called “theocracies like Iran” as well as most of the world’s so-called “faiths”. And, perhaps most pernicious of all, dick-headed domestic or family dictatorships sustained by verbal, psychological, economic and sundry other forms of abuse or outright violence against women and children.

Thank goodness that in my own case, the state of he-mentia into which I was born was curbed if not cured, first by the example of my father, who was far from he-mented in the way he treats my mother and other females, and later in my teens and twenties by the advent of militant feminism.

Traces of he-mentia remained, however, until I finally received a massive dose of the kind of kill-or-cure shock-treatment meted out by the Gender Studies department at Sydney University, an institution that now, thanks to its growing majority of female students and staff, is gradually turning from patriarchal to matriarchal.

Or, as I might have put it before I got my he-mentia under control or at least learned to politically-correctly keep such sexist and/or genderist remarks to myself, is morphing from an ivory to an ovary tower.

Which to my mind is a significant improvement, because while females are undeniably prone to prementia and other symptoms of what can justly be termed shementia, this syndrome, as evidenced by spectacular lower rates among its sufferers of everything from crimes of all kinds to suicide, is far less destructive than he-mentia.Not that I’m denying that there are serious mentias that seem to afflict people of both or rather all sexes and genders equally.

As appears to be the case with cementia, for example, a condition in which the contents, attitudes, and aptitudes of sufferers’ minds set like concrete, never, ever to be changed; and the closely-related sedimentia in which “beliefs”, opinions and prejudices all settle to the bottom of minds like so much sludge until something occurs to stir them back up.

Certainly I can feel myself sliding dangerously close to cementia, sedimentia or both from time to time, but fortunately know I can almost always achieve relief, or, if you like, rementia, by resorting to a regimen of such tried-and-true remedies as reading, writing and stimulating conversation.

But when even these fail to cure what’s ailing my mind, as they sometimes have recently, I know I can always resume the university course from which I suspended myself two semesters ago when I overdosed on it to the point of what felt like a case of acute if not terminal academentia, and restore my flagging faculties with some shock treatment in the form of lectures, tutorials, and assignments.

Speaking of “terminal” as I did a couple of lines ago, I see that I’m dangerously close to my word limit. So in closing, I’ll confine myself to discussing just one final example of the many dementias and d’ohmentias with which life confronts every one of us sooner or later if not constantly: doughmentia.

Image result for Najib Razak the crook

He needs to be treated for doughmentia

Love of money may or may not be the root of all evil, and I can’t tell either way from personal experience because most of the money I’ve had and loved I’ve more or less carelessly lost.

Image result for Najib Razak the crook

Malaysia’s First Lady Rosmah Mansor with the concurrence of Prime Minister Najib Razak wants to silence her civil society critics instead of dealing with her narcissism and character flaws

But to judge from my long observations of Malaysia’s UMNO–BN regime and the antics of its money-mad members, supporters and alleged misleader, Najib Abdul Razak, in attempted denial that they’ve sold themselves, the reputations of the race, religion and royalty they so fraudulently claim to support, and the good name and self-respect of the nation at large in return for greater or lesser shares of the countless billions allegedly misappropriated from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) so-called “wealth fund”, doughmentia seems about as dire as evil gets.

And I heartily hope it will prove as politically, financially and personally deadly to them all as dementia that I and far too many of my fast-ageing fellows around the world fear might be our fate.

 

Malaysia’s ‘Men of Always’


June 13, 2017

Malaysia’s ‘Men of Always’

by S. Thayaparan@www.malaysiakini.com

 

“When I say devils, you know who I mean.
These animals in the dark.
Malicious politicians with nefarious schemes.
Charlatans and crooked cops.” – William Elliot Whitmore (Old Devils)

 

COMMENT | In the gripping if romanticised Netflix drama “Nacros”, Pablo Escobar, in a moment of inspired self-serving rhetoric, claims, “the men of always aren’t interested in the children of never”.

The men of always were the established political class of Colombia, but more importantly, they represented the idea of political permanence sustained by populism, corruption and systemic dysfunction. The children of never should be self-evident.

Image result for mahathir's ketuanan politics into pakatan

The Men of Always–God help Malaysia

Wan Saiful Wan Jan, the IDEAS man, recently claimed that Pakatan Harapan needs to move on from the “old batch” and that “fresh blood” is needed. This comes at a time when most opposition supporters have made peace with the man they claimed destroyed Malaysia and laid the tracks of the Najib Kleptrocratic Express.

This writer, agreeing with Zaid Ibrhaim, wrote – “This is the game the opposition has chosen to play and if they want to win, they have to play for keeps. And that is the only way the former Prime Minister knows how to play.” I am, I suppose part of the problem.

The problem I have with Wan Saiful’s rejoinder is that there is no new batch. There is no fresh blood. Malaysia’s men of always have seen to it that their imprimatur is stamped on the new political operatives that are supposedly stepping out from their shadows.

While PAS has an ideology, granted one that any rational person would reject, the rest of the opposition is, in reality, playing the old alliance game of the politics of racial and religious compromise that has not worked.

This is the main idea of Malaysia’s men of always. That we have no choice but to embrace their ideas because it is the pragmatic thing to do. That it is the only thing to do because people will never change and we are all ghettoised in our racial cocoons.

The reality is that the Malay community has changed. This change was deliberate. The Chinese and Indian communities have changed. This change was reactionary. Change is not alien in Malaysia, just misunderstood.

Back in the old days, opposition to the Establishment meant something, those were the days when UMNO’s political operatives feared the opposition because their ideas of dissent were not diluted by establishment ideas that come with power. The opposition tsunami that brought UMNO to its knees was supposed to herald a change in the way how business was run, but not as a refinement of old ideas.

There is no “new batch” – only a political operatives cast from the same old mould but mimicking the rhetoric of progressive politics. There is no fresh blood, only blood infused with the DNA of old policies meant to divide us along racial and religious lines. This does not mean that there are no Malaysians who want real change, only that their voices are drowned out on social media and the endless new cycles of establishment malfeasances.

Image result for Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman

 

Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (photo), in his comment piece about the possible lessons learned from the recent United Kingdom election, attempts to draw similarities with our own disparate opposition. This is problematic for a variety of reasons. I think there are some things we could learn from the recent UK election fiasco, but I do not think we should be so eager to see similarities when the our political landscape is very different.

Here are few takeaways from the recent election that may be helpful, if you wish to draw analogies.

(1) Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, although a polarising figure in the Labour establishment, won his seat at the head of the table legitimately and had an underlying ideology which, although not in the Labour mainstream, resonated with a diverse voting demographic that despised the May regime for a variety of reasons.

(2) Labour’s election manifesto was widely disseminated and struck a nerve with a diverse voting demographic because of its supposedly egalitarian values, not to mention an anti-austerity agenda that rightly pointed out that the Tories (Conservatives) were sacrificing the many in the name of the few.

(3) Although there has been no official data, young people came out and voted in large numbers because they rejected the politics of business as usual, which was the mainstream of the Labour and Conservative regimes.

(4) Theresa May ran one of the worst campaigns in recent memory and the rejection of the conservative party was seen mainly as a rejection of Theresa May, who had trust issues not only with Labour voters but with her own base as well.

Youth vote is extremely important

What I think could be of great use for those looking for regime change here in Malaysia, is point (3). The youth vote is extremely important and, as demonstrated in many countries where the ruling establishment has suffered shock defeats (or barely maintaining power), the youths have come out to vote strongly against the ruling establishment.

In my advice to the young political operative when he was setting up his Youth wing, I made two points: (1) “The younger generation of Malay voters are a promising demographic but they are currently embroiled in a culture war that consumes most of their energy and effort. Young Malay oppositional types not only have to contend with the UMNO regime but they also have to contend with the Islamic forces in this country, with no help whatsoever from mainstream Malay political parties or non-Malay political parties, which do not view them as part of a new deal but merely as a specific racial demographic needed to win the throne of Putrajaya.”

(2) “There are literally hundreds of fringe Malay groups of young people who form the complex structure of alternate Malay politics, and instead of carrying on ghettoising them and appealing to them when needed, they should form the mainstream of Malay politics or, at the very least, the mainstream of Bersatu Youth politics.”

So what is the real lesson we can learn from this? That the opposition needs a leader who, although dismissed by his own mainstream, resonates with a diverse, fractured voting demographic. That an election manifesto that takes into account the needs of the many, instead of the few, is a flashpoint for change. That the ruling establishment coasting on previous victories and running a poorly managed campaign is a soft target but more importantly, young people, if inspired, can wreck havoc on traditional political wisdom.

Image result for Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj

Dr. Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj– A Model Malaysian Politician

My own fantasy is that PSM’s Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj becomes a Jeremy Corbyn-like figure in Harapan and manages to bring the existing regime to its knees. I know that this will never happen of course and that is really a shame, for this country.

The only way this can be done – is if oppositional politicans give people something other than what their bases think is important or pragmatic. The only way this could be achieved, if the opposition is so overtly different from the establishment, is when people who want change, but who do not necessarily support the opposition, think that their votes will make a difference. Especially young people.

Most importantly, you cannot serve the men of always and expect to free the children of never.

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

Mariam Mokhtar: Between Hannah and Kamarul


May 30, 2017

Mariam Mokhtar:  Between Hannah and Kamarul

 http://www.malaysiakini.com

Who would have thought it possible? Three years after it was published, a single police report against Selangor State Assembly Speaker Hannah Yeoh’s short political autobiography would cause her book to become a political bestseller.

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Few of us knew that Yeoh had written the book, “Becoming Hannah: A personal journey”, until it became the focus of the Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Institute for Malaysian Political Analysis (Mapan) director, Kamarul Zaman Yusoff.

As Kamarul Zaman stated in his Facebook posting, reading the book had made him “admire” Yeoh’s God, although he disagreed with the stories and quotations from the Bible.

Image result for kamarul yusof vs, hannah

We can take him out of the Kampong but not his Kampong mindset

Admittedly, some people have a strange way of expressing their admirations, because Kamarul Zaman (photo) then posted osetn his Facebook page that Yeoh had a Christian agenda, was out to preach and could influence others with her Christian beliefs. So convinced was Kamarul Zaman that Muslims would be in danger, he made a police report that Yeoh was out to proselytise others.

The book is all the more unusual in that Yeoh is a DAP politician and in the political climate in which we live, many Malays have been told to be wary of DAP and their policies. Yet, Kamarul Zaman felt compelled to read her book.

In a nation where the common joke is that 97 percent of the population reads around two-and-a-half pages a year, clearly Kamarul Zaman is in the three percent category, and this makes him all the more interesting. As Yeoh’s book was written in English, it makes his fears, that Yeoh can proselytise, even more fanciful.

“Becoming Hannah” is a book about Yeoh’s faith, trust, communication and hope. Faith in herself, trust in her friends and family members, and in the communication that is vital for relationships to succeed. As she is a devoted Christian, naturally it is also a story about her prayers, the signs from Him, her faith in God and trust in Him. The underlying message is also of hope. Hope for Malaysia’s future and younger generation.

Main thrust of the book

The main thrust of her book is the story of becoming an accidental politician. Of being in the right time and place. It is also about adversity and her ability to transcend all the obstacles put in her way. When she stood for her first election, a new bride of one month, with only RM700 in her and her husband’s bank account, she had to pit herself against the BN machinery, which has unlimited resources and money. It was the goodwill of the people in her constituency who came to the rescue. Her core of friends and other nameless strangers volunteered their time to get her campaign off the ground.

Clearly, Yeoh’s book is worth a read, because in her first term she won with a 13,851 majority and in the second election, won an even bigger majority of 28,069.

The book is in two parts and the first part addresses her faith. In herself. To do the things required of her as a dutiful daughter, a newly-graduated lawyer, a young wife and mother, and churchgoer. She surmounts all the challenges with references to the Bible, and, if she had been a Muslim, would probably have used references in Prophet Muhammad’s life to guide her daily life.

She describes how, in her youth, there were millions of other young Malaysians who saw former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad as someone who put Malaysia on the map: Petronas Twin Towers, KLIA, Suria KLCC, the Sepang International Circuit…

After her return from Tasmania, having graduated, Yeoh felt a little depressed and possibly unsure of what to do with her life. Her cousin’s influence and her adopting a new Christian name, Hannah, for her “rebirth”, helped her to get back on her feet. Meeting her future husband, was an unusual event as it was not the normal love-at-first-sight romance.

In the second half of the book, with her newly found self-confidence, she talks about sacrifice, and wondered if other women politicians felt as she did. She also describes the electorate who treated assemblypersons and MPs as problem solvers, and not as policy makers. An incorrect counting of her votes made her realise the importance of polling agents.

Yeoh fondly describes senior DAP people who gave her sound advice. Teresa Kok, who, like a “big-sister” told her how to dress as a people’s representative, and to prepare a portfolio of photos to show her interacting with the rakyat. Lim Kit Siang, who was keen to hear the views of young people like her, and encouraged the party to absorb the views of the younger generation. She was mesmerised, when she saw Anwar Ibrahim enthral an audience.

Yeoh pays tribute to her friends, close aides and especially her family, in particular her mother, her father and her cousin, Shelly. Special praise goes to her husband Ram, for without him, she would not have been able to prosper.

“Becoming Hannah” was written with much frankness and it could so easily have been a book about the majority of us, who have no political inclinations, who moan about the country, rather than about a woman who became an accidental politician.

The second best aspect of reading Yeoh’s book was that after reading it, my Muslim faith remained intact; but those of us whose faith is wavering, might see others as wanting to proselytise.

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.

Image result for May 13, 1969

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.