Muzzling Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad


July 12, 2017

Muzzling Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

by S. Thayaparan@www.malaysiakini.com

“The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.”

– John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton

COMMENT | So now we have proof that UMNO members “cover” for their president. We have proof that the corruption of UMNO Presidents are covered up by UMNO members. We have proof that UMNO members will overlook any kind of malfeasances to keep their leader in power.

Image result for Mahathir and Zahid Hamidi

All UMNO Leaders are filthy rich

We have this proof because UMNO Vice-President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is now acting Deputy President of the party, admitted as much when he told former Prime Minister and de facto opposition leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad to shut up or recite Quranic verses to Allah, whichever comes more easily.

This is what Zahid said: “He unveils the flaws of the present leaders, don’t forget we also used to cover his flaws. Don’t let it be our turn to show his shame and ‘scabs’. There is so much that we can reveal.”

Let us unpack this statement. We can discern three important facts from it.

1) Zahid does not dispute that the current UMNO leader and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has “flaws” and in this case, the only flaws that the current de facto opposition leader Mahathir is unveiling are the numerous corruption scandals that are plaguing this regime. You would note that the UMNO acting Deputy President is not disputing those flaws, indeed he acknowledges them as human “weakness” that every UMNO politician (leader) has.

2) He acknowledges that UMNO members “cover” the flaws of their leaders. So, as an UMNO member, he is admitting that over the years Umno has engaged in acts to cover the possibly criminal or unconstitutional acts of their leaders to safeguard the position of Umno and the position of the President of UMNO and the office of Prime Minister of this country.

3) That by claiming “there is so much we can reveal”, Zahid is admitting that UMNO members have evidence of wrongdoing and have purposely concealed these alleged criminal acts from the state security apparatus, the Judiciary, the Press but more importantly, the public.

So, let me be clear. What Zahid’s statements reveal is that (1) UMNO members know that their leaders are corrupt (flaws); (2) that UMNO members cover for their leaders; and (3) UMNO members have evidence of the wrongdoings of their leaders.

How do UMNO members cover for their leaders? Now, I am just spitballing here, but they would have to ensure that their leaders are insulated from the banalities of accountability. This would mean that independent institutions that are meant to investigate and prosecute the “flaws” of politicians would have to be accountable to members of UMNO, whose primary goal is to cover for their leaders.

This would mean that the security apparatus, the judiciary and the press would have to answer to UMNO because these would be the institutions that the UMNO leader and Prime Minister would need “covering” from.

In other words, UMNO members, like Zahid and every other UMNO member who are covering for their dear leader, are collaborators and/or accomplices to the crimes committed by their President. I am merely clarifying what the acting UMNO Deputy President said.

Image result for Mahathir and Zahid Hamidi

Partners in Power or Rivals for Power?

So, when UMNO members defend the indefensible, when they claim that their leaders have done no wrong, when every state apparatus clears UMNO leaders of wrongdoing, what we are left with is the knowledge, articulated by the UMNO deputy president, that all this was done because UMNO members cover for their leaders.

So, this means that the so-called Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the foreign exchange market (forex) issue of the past is merely an attempt by UMNO members to “reveal” the wrongdoings of Mahathir? This would also mean that this RCI is indeed politically motivated in defence of the current UMNO President and Malaysian Prime Minster because Zahid publicly threatened to “reveal” the “shame” and “scabs” of the former Prime Minister.

And why was Salleh shocked?

So, let’s take this issue of the “appointments as additional judges to the Federal Court”, which has received a fair amount of justified criticism from members of the Bar and former judges. Former Chief Justice (CJ) Abdul Hamid Mohamad had warned that “an extension of a CJ’s tenure beyond the 66 years and six months may compromise the independence of the Judiciary”.

In other words, what the Najib regime is doing may affect the independence of the Judiciary. This brings us to Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak’s shocking revelation that Mahathir, in his interview with The Guardian implied that jailed political prisoner Anwar Ibrahim “was fixed up by a corrupt Judiciary and the Judges were dishonest”.

Here is the problem. If UMNO members cover for their leaders and the only way they can do this is if they control the apparatus of the state, then why is it shocking that a former Prime Minister implies that the state, through the Judiciary, covered up a political problem for an UMNO President?

If UMNO members cover for their leaders, and the only way they can cover for their leaders is by controlling the apparatus of the state and concealing evidence (as articulated by Zahid), then why is it a surprise to the Communications and Multimedia Minister that the former Prime Minister implies a conspiracy by the state (during his tenure) to imprison a political opponent?

If by stacking the Judiciary in favour of UMNO politicians means that it would be easier to “cover” the flaws of UMNO Presidents, then why should we be surprised by the fears and warnings that this would lead to an unnatural relationship between the executive and the Judiciary as articulated by former CJ Abdul Hamid?

With this in mind, how can we not believe that this move by the Registrar of Societies (ROS) to compel the DAP to hold a further round of its central executive committee (CEC) elections is anything but a political gambit by the UMNO state to neutralise a political opponent of a compromised UMNO President before the upcoming general election?

Concerning this crippling of the DAP, this quote from Lim Kit Siang’s blog needs to be addressed.

“In fact, it has led even independent observers to swallow hook, line and sinker to believe in these fake news and false information. For instance, one independent commentator described the whole ROS fiasco as ‘a ticking time bomb of DAP’s own design’ that should have been addressed a long time ago in a transparent manner. How is the ROS fiasco ‘DAP’s own design’?”

Which is the more plausible proposition?

1) That I have swallowed hook, line and sinker the fake news and false information of this regime and its propagandists.

Or

2) That I was sincerely questioning the strategies (as it were) of an opposition political party that is in the cross hairs of this regime, the state apparatus that they control and the propagandists who serve them.

I will leave rational readers to decide which they think is more plausible. Ultimately, muzzling Mahathir says more of the collective guilt and complicity of UMNO members, rather than the agenda of the former Prime Minister turned de facto opposition leader.

Najib Razak’s BN to retain Putrajaya


June 15, 2017

Najib Razak’s BN to retain Putrajaya, says former Singapore envoy to Malaysia Ong Keng Yong

by FMT Reporters

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

ST Global Forum discussion on next general election concludes 1MDB, billion-dollar deals with China will have no impact on how the majority vote.

PETALING JAYA: Barisan Nasional (BN) will continue its hold on Putrajaya by winning the next general election (GE14), as the status quo in Sabah and Sarawak and support from Malays in Peninsular Malaysia will remain, The Straits Times (ST) reported.

Image result for Ong Keng and Din MericanSingapore’s Ambassador at Large Ong Keng Yong (center)

This was the conclusion drawn from an ST Global Forum panel discussion held in Singapore yesterday. The forum was entitled Malaysia’s Next GE: The Perils And Prospects.

“I don’t think that it will be worse than what Prime Minister Najib Razak or the BN obtained in 2013. For the Malay voters, I think they will stick with what they know,” said Ong Keng Yong, who is Ambassador-at-Large at Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign affairs, Former High Commissioner to Malaysia and Secretary-General of ASEAN.

Another speaker at the forum, Merdeka Center director Ibrahim Suffian concurred, saying that even though Najib’s popularity remains low, BN remains the most trusted brand among Malay voters.

According to the Singapore daily, the rationale proffered by the speakers, which also included OCBC Bank Treasury Research and Strategy head Selena Ling, was that all the billion-dollar scandals and headline-grabbing deals with China would not have an impact on the vast majority of voters.

Describing the issues surrounding 1MDB as “approaching historical status”, Ibrahim said many Malaysians have gone beyond the issue. “1MDB has now been bundled as just being part of what is perceived as leadership weaknesses,” he was quoted as saying.

Image result for Najib RazakThe Likely GE-14 victor

Ambassador Ong believes the cases that have emerged over allegations linked to 1MDB in other countries, including Singapore, the United States and Switzerland, has only affected Kuala Lumpur’s standing from an international standpoint, but it “has not greatly harmed Najib or UMNO” in the homefront.

Meanwhile, Ling told the forum that Malaysia’s economic data was healthy, but that too would be of minimal consequence.“When it comes to elections, people are going to vote on bread-and-butter issues. It is not going to be because growth is 5% or less than 5%,” she said, according to ST.

The panelists all agreed that Najib’s biggest challenge will be overcoming the growing unrest over the cost of living, with the GST and lower value of the ringgit having an impact on the price of goods.

The reality on the ground remains harsh according to Ibrahim who spoke about the struggles of Malaysians, both young and old.“Young people are worried about finding a good job, married couples are concerned about whether they can afford a home and whether they can get a pay rise, while most retirees do not have sufficient savings to tide them over,” he was quoted as saying by ST.

The speculation over when Najib will call for GE14 is mixed with some predicting it will be held in the last quarter of this year, or early next year. However, the Prime Minister has until next June to decide when he wants to dissolve Parliament.

The Federal Constitution states that a general election needs to be called when Parliament is dissolved or it reaches a maximum term of five years. The current Parliament kicked off its term on June 24, 2013, therefore Parliament will automatically be dissolved as of June 24, 2018.

As a general election needs to be called no later than two months after Parliament is dissolved, therefore, the last possible date for the next general election (GE14) will be August 24, 2018.

Infusing Ketuanan Politics into Pakatan Harapan


June 12, 2017

Infusing Ketuanan Politics into Pakatan Harapan —A Colossal Error

by William Leong Jee Keen
Image result for Mahathir's Ketuanan Politics into Pakatan
Now Mahathir embraces DAP–Credible and Winnable ?

The proposal for Tun Mahathir to take over leadership of the opposition and for Bersatu to become the dominant party in Pakatan Harapan to win Malay votes, instead of securing victory will end in disaster.

It is indeed critical for the opposition to win the Malay-majority constituencies, especially the rural Malay areas. There are 114 Malay-majority constituencies in peninsular Malaysia alone. In 2013, BN won 77, PAS 20 and PKR 17. Najib can retain power by winning these 114 parliament constituencies without drawing on his Sabah and Sarawak BN save deposit vote banks. A way must be found for the opposition coalition to win these constituencies but it has to be based on principles, respect for all interests and consensus. The proposal fails in these respects.

The proposal in essence is infusing racial politics into Pakatan Harapan. This will not sell. The proposal to win office, is to attract Malay voters by turning Pakatan Harapan into a BN and the continuation of Umno’s racial policies minus Najib. This proposal has serious flaws, three of which are set out below.

Betrayal of the Reform Agenda

Firstly, the assumption that by adopting a racial supremacy policy, Pakatan can hold on to the 52% who voted for the Reform Agenda in 2013 is false.

Image result for Mahathir and Kit Siang

If Pakatan Harapan trade Ketuanan Rakyat for Ketuanan Melayu-Minus-Najib in exchange for power, it will be a betrayal of principles, a selling-out of core beliefs. Pakatan Harapan cannot argue they are acting as statesmen or being pragmatic. The argument that such a compromise is justified by the higher objective of Pakatan Harapan forming the government cannot hold water. It is disingenuous to say gaining power is better than remaining in the opposition when the deal requires Pakatan Harapan to give up the very core reason to gain power — to institute change through implementation of the Reform Agenda.  It is not a compromise. It is not even a rotten compromise. It is a capitulation. Power without principles is simply greed. Winning office without the power to implement the reform promised is a betrayal of the 20 years of struggle and the cause so many have sacrificed so much for.

Mahathir cannot hope to hold onto Pakatan Harapan supporters with such a proposal. Even though they will not vote BN they will prefer not to vote at all. This will reduce Pakatan Harapan’s vote share.

A recent example of the significance of a reduced vote share is the US elections. Hillary Clinton just could not hold onto the support given to the Obama coalition. This proved to be her fatal undoing. Hillary obtained 88% of African-Americans compared to 93% for Obama, 65% of the Latinos to Obama’s 71%, 54% of the younger voters to Obama’s 60%. Although, Trump’s 58% of the white votes was less than Romney’s 59% in 2012. Distaste for Trump was not sufficient to overcome their apathy for Hillary. Democrats stayed at home and handed victory to Donald Trump. If the proposal is implemented, Pakatan Harapan will suffer a similar fate.

Leadership of the reform movement

Secondly, the assumption that by taking over the leadership of Pakatan Harapan, Mahathir will take over the leadership of the opposition is false.

The opposition is not Pakatan Harapan. Pakatan Harapan is only a vehicle for the real opposition, the masses who arose from the Reform Movement. The opposition are the reformists, activists, civil society, the 62 NGOs that formed BERSIH, the thousands who with their own money, time and energy went to the towns, villages, estates, Felda settlements and long houses to spread the word for change, the hundreds of thousands that came out to the streets, and the millions that voted against BN.

There are no elections in the Reform Movement. Anwar Ibrahim holds no official position in Parti Keadilan Rakyat. He is the de facto leader of the Reform Movement because he inspired commitment, built consensus, mobilised resources, recognised opportunities, devised strategies, framed demands and influenced outcomes. He appealed to the various races, religious groups and diverse interests by being inclusive. More importantly it is his courage of conviction for the Reform Agenda in choosing imprisonment over freedom that the masses accept his leadership.

The Reform Movement is an assertion of popular leadership by the people themselves. Democracy does not come from the government, from high, it comes from people getting together and struggling for freedom and justice. Politicians are elected and selected but mass movements do not elect officials or seek blessings or legitimacy from anyone. Mass movements transform society, they aim to persuade the courts, politicians and other actors to fall behind them, not the other way round. Mass movements accomplish this through appeals to shared sets of deep and widely held convictions among the people they aim to mobilise[1].

Bersatu cannot demand and Pakatan Harapan leaders cannot give to Mahathir the de facto leadership of the opposition movement. Even if Pakatan Harapan yields the leadership to Mahathir the masses will not necessarily accept his authority. The masses by their courage, conviction and commitment for change had withstood tear gas, water cannons, police brutality, beatings, arrests, detention without trial, selective prosecution, imprisonment, repression and ostracism. They will not accept the very policies they have been fighting for so long and so hard to abolish, even if this is proposed by the new de jure leadership of the vehicle. Without the mass support, the vehicle is but an empty shell.

The relationship between the leader and the masses is dialectical, it takes the agreement of both to work together: ”the leader cannot take the people where they do not want to go and he cannot operate outside the possibilities that were already part of the existing social structure and cultural heritage of the original movement.”[2] They will not want go back to a future, substituting Najib for Mahathir without a return to the rule of law, restoration of the institutions and the guaranteed implementation of the Reform Agenda. Weber’s analysis of charismatic authority still holds true: the charismatic leader has to be recognised by his followers in order to achieve the degree of legitimacy required, it cannot be demanded nor given.[3]

Policy-oriented coalition

Thirdly, the assumption that an opposition coalition founded on the removal of Najib from office and not a policy-oriented coalition is sufficient to win the election and sustainable to govern is false.

Coalitions formed for the purpose of securing enough votes or combining a sufficient number of parliamentary seats to govern through power-sharing arrangements without an agreement on the policies and their implementation are referred to as “office-seeking coalitions.” Office-seeking coalitions are coalitions whose main goal is access to power. Cabinet portfolios are the payoffs. Office-seeking coalitions have been accused of being “unprincipled” because their members were ideologically remote and therefore perceived as political opportunists interested in short-term gains rather than long-term policy goals.[4]

Policy-oriented coalitions are party coalitions justified by policy goals. For opposition alliances which sole aim is to defeat the incumbent to form a new government, there is no place for ideological affinity and the common-post election strategy in the case of defeat is to join the winner. Such alliances usually collapse as quickly as they are formed because they are, themselves, essentially an office-seeking strategy used by politicians to position themselves in such a way as to make themselves attractive to the governing party or coalition. The lack of ideology and the absence of a post-election strategy make office-seeking opposition coalitions difficult to sustain. In a study of five African countries, Kenya, Mauritius, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa, it was found that it has been easy for the government of the day to buy off opposition leaders of office-seeking coalitions after their electoral defeat.[5]

The case of the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) of Kenya is illustrative of the pitfalls of an office-seeking coalition. Daniel Arap Moi of the Kenyan African National Union (“KANU”) won Kenya’s 1992 and 1997 presidential election with 36.8% and 40.51% of the vote respectively. Combined the opposition garnered far more votes than the eventual winner. However, by splitting the votes, they failed to secure the presidency and gain a majority in parliament. In 2002, 14 opposition parties formed a coalition, the National Alliance Party of Kenya (NAK) with the Liberal Democratic Party (“LDP”). LDP consisted of a splinter group of disgruntled KANU leaders following Moi’s choice of Uhuru Kenyatta as presidential candidate. The coalition of NAK and LDP was called the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC). NARC put up Mwai Kibaki to contest the presidency against Uhuru Kenyatta of KANU. NARC won a landslide victory. NARC began to face problems within days after winning the election when Kibaki did not honour the agreement on cabinet posts to the coalition partners. In 2005, President Kibaki dissolved the cabinet, dismissed all the LDP ministers, allocating ministries to KANU, the party NARC had united against. In the 2007 elections Raila Odinga, formerly of the LDP ran against President Kibaki, formerly of NAK. Absence of a common ideology for political reform is one of the main reasons for the rapid disintegration of NARC.

South Korea has shown the sustainability of coalitions bonded by the common goal to implement democratic reforms. In 1987, the formation of a pro-democracy coalition and an unprecedented level of mass mobilisation pressured the authoritarian regime to accommodate democratic reform. However, neither of the two civilian candidates, Kim Dae Jung nor Kim Young Sam was willing to yield in their quests to become president causing civil society to be divided in supporting them, clearing the way for the regime candidate Roh Tae Woo to win the election with only 36% of the vote. In the 1997 elections, for the first time in South Korean history, an opposition candidate, Kim Dae Jung was elected president. Civil society and its mobilisation were crucial in the democratic transition and consolidation. It was the resurrection and remobilization of various civil society groups and their grand-democracy coalition with the opposition party that ultimately induced the authoritarian ruling coalition to agree on a set of democratic reforms.[6]

By focusing efforts on making South Korea’s democracy deeper and more substantive they provided the foundation for the empowerment of civil society that has allowed South Korea’s Constitutional Court to rule unanimously on March 10 2017 to remove President Park Geun-Hye from office backing the National Assembly’s impeachment of the president. This was a historic incident for the reaffirmation of South Korean democracy and confirmation of the rule of law.[7] The first candle was lit at a protest in Seoul’s downtown plaza on October 29, 2016, about 20,000 people joined to protest Park’s inadequate apology. The next Saturday, the protest had grown tenfold; a week later, on November 12, the protest drew a turnout of one million. The series of peaceful Saturday protests pushed a segment of the ruling-party members of parliament to break ranks to vote for impeachment of the president.

Civil society and the mass movement in Malaysia will not buy into an office-seeking coalition. Bersatu and the component parties in Pakatan Harapan have to weave the policies for winning the Malay votes into the Reform Agenda while maintaining and extending support from all races, religious groups and diverse interests in Malaysia. Umno’s racial politics have spawned corruption, cronyism, patronage and rent-seeking activities. Malaysians want policies that will liberate the Malay mind, induce empowerment and self-reliance, not continuation of policies that chained the Malays economically and socially to Umno, enslaving them politically. The proposal is only providing a change of political master not social-economic and political freedom.

Coalition building and consensus

Elections in Malaysia are not democratic, not free and not fair. Opposition leaders and government critics suffer harassment, arrest, detention, imprisonment and abuse of state resources skewed the playing field heavily in favour of the incumbents. Coercive and unfair means are used to disadvantage the opposition. Civil liberty violations, patronage, gerrymandering, malapportionment, media bias, manipulation, co-optation and repression are relied upon to guarantee incumbent re-election. The application of a divide and rule policy has caused deep cleavages in the society according to ethnicity, religion, rural and urban divide.

Many opposition movements have been challenging authoritarian governments but only a few have succeeded. The opposition forces in South Africa voted out an apartheid regime, people power in the Philippines ousted a dictator, popular unrest in Indonesia forced President Suharto to resign, a broad coalition in Chile won a plebiscite that led to the removal of Augusto Pinochet and Solidarity defeated the Polish communist. Bersatu and Pakatan Harapan can learn, draw strength and inspiration on how these opposition ended repressive regimes[8]:

·       They were able to achieve their goals through broad support, coherence and legitimacy;

·       They were able to bridge deep disagreements about aims, strategies and leadership among the opposition and convince diverse opposition groups to work out their major differences;

·       They were able to encourage convergence, forge consensus and built coalitions among the opposition;

·       They were able to connect the opposition to social movements, workers, students, women, human rights and religious groups;

·       They were able to connect with the wider public to provide a sense that the movements were democratic, truly inclusive and not vehicles for particular individuals or groups;

·       They focused sharply on what united the people rather than on what divided them;

·       But they also made the difficult decisions to exclude groups that refused to renounce violence or insisted on uncompromising demands for regional, ethnic or sectarian autonomy;

Bersatu and Pakatan Harapan leaders can apply these lessons by adopting the 4 C’s of coalition building — communications, consultations, consensus and compromise to forge the broad coalition amongst the parties, civil society, the different ethnic and religious groups and the Malaysian public on an inclusive basis. There are no simple solutions, the Gordian knot of cleavages in Malaysian society cannot be solved by one stroke of the sword. It requires patience, tolerance, mutual respect and goodwill. The proposal has to be sent back to the drawing board.

[1] Bruce Dixon, “It’s Time to Build a Mass Movement”.

[2] Raby, Democracy and Revolution: Latin America and Socialism Today 253.

[3] Max Weber, Max Weber on Charisma and Institution Building-Selected Papers (1968), 49-50.

[4] Wolfgang C. Muller, Kaare Strom, “Policy, Office or Votes? How Political Parties in Western Europe Make Hard Decisions”.

[5] Denis Kadima, “The Politics of Party Coalitions in Africa” EISA and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

[6] Sunhyuk Kim “Civil society and democratization in South Korea”.

[7] Sook Jong Lee, “A Democratic Breakthrough in South Korea?” Carnegie Endowment For International Peace”.

[8] Abraham F. Lownthal and Sergio Bilar “From authoritarian rule toward democratic governance: Learning from political leaders” International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance 2015.

After Anwar, PKR and Pakatan have failed Malaysian Voters


December 16, 2016

After Anwar, PKR and Pakatan have failed Malaysian Voters

by Cmdr (rtd) S. Thayaparan

http://www.malaysiakini.com

“For if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them.”– Thomas More, ‘Utopia’

PAS friends of mine have been writing to me and saying that I am being unfair to PAS. They claim that calling their party a religious cult and branding their style of politics as UMNO collusion is extremely partisan. Amanah is a DAP creation and while in Pakatan Rakyat, PAS was a team player until it was “bullied” and vilified by DAP after the passing of Tok Guru Nik Aziz.

While I dispute this narrative, I think it is pointless hammering on PAS for deciding to go their own way. Instead, I will hammer on PKR for maintaining this charade that there is value for Pakatan Harapan to continue working with PAS.

Image result for Anwar Ibrahim

Sorely missed by the Fractured Opposition

Mind you, this has nothing to do with PAS. For whatever reasons, they have chosen to recalibrate their politics and while I disagree with it, this is still a free country and political parties are free to choose whom they align with. However, the problem here is not PAS, it is PKR. When I questioned why Harapan was still working with PAS, I acknowledged two salient points:

1) “Harapan should have learnt this lesson a long time ago. PAS construes the alliance as weak. They were always a virulent anti-Anwar strain within PAS which looked at the coming together of the supposed liberal reformer and convicted ‘sodomist’ – to their minds one and the same – as anathema to their zealotry.”

2) “People talk about the UMNO DNA within PKR but they forget that the only reason why the opposition was able to get itself off life support after the brutal beating they took during the short-lived Abdullah Ahmad Badawi glory days was because of the support of PAS.”

Image result for Wan Azizah

Wan Azizah leads a fractious PKR

PKR’s Batu MP Tian Chua claim that there is nothing to be alarmed about PKR attending PAS’ mega rally points to the dysfunctionality of the opposition. There is enough evidence that the opposition only makes gains in elections when UMNO is weak and the opposition is united.

While I understand that PKR is in a difficult situation when it comes to PAS, the reality is that PAS is preying on the weakness of the opposition front and will happily turn the tables when the time is right for them, and most definitely, link up with UMNO.

Also attending that rally was Parti Ikatan Bangsa Malaysia (Ikatan), which in my opinion is the political wing of the outsourced thugs of Umno. Take the “simple” issue of PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang’s “not hudud” amendment recently adopted by the Najib regime.

Image result for kadir sheikh fadzir

The Kedah Mamak and The Hadi–Strange Bedfellows

The public stand of Ikatan’s President Kadir Sheikh Fadzir (who was absent at the rally) on this issue was: “Justeru, semua pihak jangan cuba nak main ‘game upmanship’ (tunjuk siapa lebih hebat) dengan DAP, selain membuktikan siapa paling anti-Islam dan Melayu semata-mata untuk meraih populariti.

“PAS adalah parti besar dan antara yang menunjangi politik negara selain UMNO, justeru sudah tiba masanya PAS tunjukkan taring mereka.”

How does it look? We just had the MCA issuing a stern reprimand (or whatever that was) to the representative who “walked out” at the Perlis state assembly vote. And now we have PKR attending a rally that ultimately descended into a DAP and Amanah bashing rally.

In other words, PKR thinks there is nothing to be alarmed about when it attends a rally that supports policies that they are supposed to be against and attacks their political allies.

Image result for Mahathir and Pribumi Bersatu

Meanwhile, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s attempt to play bridge builder has achieved nothing beyond giving PAS the opportunity to vent at their former ally and recalcitrant children. Which of course is fair enough, since Amanah has declared open season on PAS and DAP has made its disdain publicly apparent.

Straight fights

Furthermore, we have to remember that when it comes to PAS, straight fights are not the top priority.  PAS Information Chief Nasrudin Hassan said, “A straight fight or multi-cornered fights (in the general election) can only be derived from the (correct) political attitude. It (straight fights) is not the main issue here.”

I have no idea what the “correct political attitude” is, but the PAS I remember was more interested in bringing down UMNO, rather than advocating the fine points of political theory or nursing hurt feelings on the political battlefield.

If the correct political attitude means working with UMNO when it comes to Muslim issues, then I would suggest that anyone working with UMNO on Muslim issues is anathema to the oppositional voices in this country, but sadly not anathema to Harapan, which has demonstrated that when it comes to Muslim issues, it is quick to fold under pressure. But I digress.

It is really no point in reminding PAS that it lost whenever it went at it alone against BN, because all indications point to the fact that, when it comes to UMNO, PAS does not need to win elections to pose a threat to UMNO. All they have to do is hamper the efforts of the Harapan and Bersatu and they would be more useful to Umno than any of the other BN members.

With this in mind, the electoral pact between Harapan and Bersatu means very little with PAS out of the picture, unless by some miracle – and at the moment I do not see how – the “other” electoral pact between Bersatu and PAS provides an opportunity for straight fights with the UMNO hegemon.

Ultimately, all these attempts at bridge building are pointless. What the opposition should be doing is concentrating on formulating policies and spreading the message of how a Harapan government differs from the present kelptocratic regime. What the opposition should be doing is building a foundation to work from, and not repeating the mistakes that led to its fracture.

This whole idea of straight fights with UMNO is merely a pipe dream now. The “compulsory” precondition of PAS will never be met, and it really does not matter how much time is given to disparate groups’ intent on preserving power instead of removing UMNO. The reality is that unless there is a tsunami in Sabah and Sarawak, there will be no change of government in the next elections.

It will be cold comfort if PAS does not do well in the coming general election but Harapan is in tatters.  Moreover, while opposition supporters think that the opposition has a chance of winning in the coming election, the reality is that the dream of changing government in this political terrain it is still a dream deferred.

The Conspiracy to save Najib


December 8, 2016

The Conspiracy to Save Najib

by John Berthelsen@www.asiasentinel.com

The Conspiracy to Save Najib

In an extraordinary twist, a new Malaysian website has conflated George Soros, Tony Blair, former US Vice President Al Gore, the “Clinton team,” the aristocratic Rothschild family,  Federal Bureau of Investigation deputy chief Andrew McCabe, former golfing buddy and US President Barack Obama, UK critic Clare Rewcastle Brown and her husband, unnamed individuals from the Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan investment banks, and a flock of locals into elements of a conspiracy “to restructure the East Asian economy and political landscape,” but particularly arrayed against Malaysia and its Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The website, “Malaysia Outlook,” written by the pseudonymous “Third Force,” has printed four exhaustive articles detailing the conspiracy, “a nexus of associations linking key individuals, establishments, institutions and agencies, complicit with global elites to effect regime changes in Malaysia and Indonesia.”

In fact, however, the website appears to be the latest attempt to protect Najib from public scrutiny of overwhelming international evidence of his complicity in the biggest scandal in Malaysian history, the theft of at least US$2.5 billion and perhaps as much as US$4 billion from 1Malaysia Development Bhd., the state-backed investment firm that was so disastrously overseen that it is believed to have lost as much as RM50 billion (US$11.316 billion) through theft and mismanagement. An unknown amount of that money allegedly went to finance Red Granite Pictures, the Hollywood entity that produced the blockbuster movie “Wolf of Wall Street. “

The lead investigation is in the hands of the US Justice Department, which in July issued a 136-page document alleging that “over the course of an approximately four-year period, between approximately 2009 and at least 2013, multiple individuals, including public officials and their associates, conspired to fraudulently divert billions of dollars from 1MDB through various means, including by defrauding foreign banks and by sending foreign wire communications in furtherance of the scheme, and thereafter, to launder the proceeds of that criminal conduct, including and through U.S financial institutions.

“The funds diverted from 1MDB were used for the personal benefit of the co-conspirators and their relatives and associates, including to purchase luxury real estate in the United States, pay gambling expenses in Las Vegas casinos, acquire more than US$100 million in artwork, invest in a major New York development project, and fund the production of major Hollywood films. 1MDB maintained no interest in these assets and saw no returns on these investments.”

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For months, Najib and his cronies in the United Malays National Organization, the country’s biggest political party, have been attempting to wriggle free from domestic and international charges over the theft of the money.  According to multiple sources in Kuala Lumpur, he has survived as Prime Minister primarily by bribing the 190-odd cadres who determine the leadership of UMNO to keep him in power. UMNO leadership confers automatic status as Prime Minister.

Against devastating articles in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Sarawak Report, Asia Sentinel and other publications, Najib, who is alleged to have diverted at least US$681 million and perhaps as much as US$1 billion into his own accounts, is believed to have mounted a flurry of online fake new outlets, the best-funded of which appears to be Malaysia Outlook.

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Malaysia Outlook is said to be the brainchild of Habibur Rahman Kadir Shah, an accountant and a long-time associate of Najib Razak.  Habibur was previously an UMNO Youth head in the Kuala Lumpur suburb of Petaling Jaya when Najib was national youth head.  The two became close friends.

“Najib has given control of running the media hounds to Habibur, who has been at it since Najib became Prime Minister,” said a well-connected political source in Kuala Lumpur. Habibur, in addition to serving as the informal media dictator to the Star, the New Straits Times Press and TV3 – the three most prominent English-language media outlets – is reportedly the controller and paymaster, with Najib’s money, for the bloggers who write for Malaysia Outlook, including Raja Petra Kamarudin, who formerly was a major opposition blogger but who has since joined Najib’s crew.

The key members of the team are said to be Raja Petra Kamarudin, universally known as RPK, as well as Rahmat Haniff, the son of a former Inspector General of Police Haniff Omar , who calls himself seademon, and Sheik Muzzaffar, who writes a blog called bigdogdotcom.  They are said to be paid well to produce what appears to be the very definition of fake news.

In recent weeks, the Malaysian government has raised the ante against opposition figures, briefly jailing Maria Chin Abdullah, the head of the electoral reform organization BERSIH 2.0 (“clean”) and attacking the editor and publisher of Malaysiakini, the country’s most popular independent news website, on allegations they are in the pay of Soros, who is accused of attempting to destabilize the country.

But a close look at the US Justice Department document paints a picture not of an international conspiracy against Malaysia but of a breathtaking campaign to divert billions of dollars out of 1MDB and into the hands of the Prime Minister, known in the document as “Malaysian Official 1” and his family, beginning in 2009 with the diversion of funds into a corporate entity called “Good Star” under the pretense of investing in a middle-eastern oil exploration company called Petro Saudi.

As much as US$1 billon was allegedly diverted into Swiss bank account held by Good Star Ltd., whose beneficial owner was Jho Taek Low, better known as Jho Low, the youthful, rotund Penang-born financial whiz who convinced Najib to set up 1MDB in the first place.

As has been widely reported, billions more were diverted through an entity called Aabar-BVI, which “was created and named to give the impression that it was associated with Aabar Investments PJS,” a legitimate subsidiary of the International Petroleum Investment Company, a state-owned Abu Dhabi investment concern.

And where did the money go? It poured into a stunning assortment of US real estate and other properties. That includes, but was not limited to:

THE L’ERMITAGE PROPERTY, 9291 Burton Way, Beverly Hills, California 90210 – better known as L’Ermitage Hotel.

HILLCREST PROPERTY 1, a mansion  at 912 North Hillcrest Road Beverly Hills, owned by a shell company.

PARK LAUREL CONDOMINIUM, real property located in New York, New York owned by Park Laurel Acquisition LLC, a shell company

BOMBARDIER JET: Global 5000 aircraft bearing manufacturer serial number 9265, registration number N689WM.

TIME WARNER PENTHOUSE:  located in New York, New York owned by 80 Columbus Circle (NYC) LLC, a shell company.

ORIOLE MANSION:  real property located in Los Angeles, California, owned by Oriole Drive (LA) LLC, a shell company.

GREENE CONDOMINIUM:  real property located in New York, New York owned by the 118 Greene Street, a shell company.

EMI ASSETS:  including copyright and intellectual property rights, as well as the right to collect and receive any profits, royalties, and proceeds of distribution owned by or owed to JW Nile (BVI), Ltd.; JCL Media, a shell company.

SYMPHONY CP (PARK LANE) LLC ASSETS:  a Delaware limited liability company, owned, held or acquired, directly or indirectly, by Symphony CP Investments LLC and Symphony CP Investments Holdings LLC, shell companies that own the Park Lane Hotel at 36 Central Park South, New York, New York, 10019.

WALKER TOWER PENTHOUSE:  located in New York, New York owned by 212 West 18th Street LLC, a shell company,

LAUREL BEVERLY HILLS MANSION:  located in Beverly Hills, California, owned by Laurel Beverly Hills Holdings, LLC, a shell company.

HILLCREST PROPERTY 2: located in Beverly Hills, California owned by 1169 Hillcrest Road LLC, a shell company.

THE QENTAS TOWNHOUSE:  located in London, United Kingdom, owned by Qentas Holdings Ltd., a shell company.

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Those transactions are reported in exhaustive detail in the US Justice Department’s filing, which is worth reading for its entertainment value if not its educational value for the citizens of Malaysia. If it is fiction constructed to destabilize the country and bring down Najib, it is a far more sophisticated job than The Malaysia Outlook. Then again, the chances are better that it is real.

UMNO state seeks DAP’s demise for political reasons


Washington DC

July 2, 2016

UMNO state seeks DAP’s demise for political reasons.

by  Cmdr (rtd) S. Thayaparan

http://www.malaysiakini.com

If you give me six sentences written by the most innocent of men, I will find something in them with which to hang them.”– Armand Jean du Plessis Richelieu

COMMENT:  At first, I was pretty pissed. I am generally in an ornery mood when I began writing but more so now at the sight of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng being carted off by the establishment, another in a long line of opposition personalities harassed by the UMNO state.

Then I read an email, an impassioned one – you could tell it was impassioned because the whole mail was in capital letters – by a DAP supporter who ended the mail with a question –” Even Though you are a critic of  LGE do you think that LGE should take leave of absence?”

I was a bit surprised at that particular ending since I assumed all understood that my vitriol against the Umno establishment that I see as the clear and present danger, did not preclude criticism against the opposition establishment. Furthermore, as someone who is on record as saying that I think Guan Eng is someone who should be given a shot at being a prime minister  even though he and his followers eschew the idea for so-called pragmatic reasons, I would be the last person who could be considered hostile to the man. That is partisan politics for you.

UMNO State’s Winning Captain

I remember the online opprobrium Ambiga Sreenavesan received when she advocated this option and Cynthia Gabriel of C4 who advocated the same and included “the Youth and Sports Ministry senior officer under investigation for alleged misappropriation of funds amounting to RM100 million should similarly be ordered to go on leave”.

When asked recently, former Bar President Ambiga Sreenevasan was reported as saying, “In view of this being an unusual case, she said the usual conventions cannot necessarily be applied.” I can understand this position. I can empathise with this position but ultimately because the democratic process has been undermined, what we can do is act by individual principle.

Then, of course, there’s DAP’s Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng’s questions to those asking for Guan Eng to take leave which are not really good questions since Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, even if he takes a leave of absence, would still be able to influence the legal and security apparatus beholden to him. There are many reasons why a politician accused of corruption should take a leave of absence until vindicated, but the fact that so far the DAP has not rung that bell, except when it involves BN politicians is predictable.

Of course as DAP’s Seri Delima assemblyperson RSN Rayer, directed at the activists and lawyers at the time, warned “the Malaysian Bar to be ‘cautious’ when commenting on the issue as some quarters may ‘take advantage’ of it”. Nobody, certainly not someone like me, would want to be on the same boat as most BN politicians and certainly not someone like Tunku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim who I have written about before, but yes, I think the Penang CM should take a leave of absence until these charges have been settled.

 

Now of course supporters are going to take offence at my stand. This is to be expected. Ambiga is right when she talks of the stratagem to force opposition leaders to take leave.  However as long as Guan Eng does not take leave, it just provides further propaganda for the Umno state to attack the Penang administration with this issue and further stoke racial and political fires.

It’s much better for the opposition to demonstrate that even if their leaders are removed from the political chessboard, other personalities could step in the interim and run the state and the opposition machinery.

The problem with the opposition has always been that there has been too much investment in personality politics, which is why the Umno regime has been very effective in neutralising their political foes. This is the perfect opportunity for DAP leaders and the opposition to demonstrate that their – our – cause is more than just about one man. It is also the perfect opportunity for others to demonstrate their leadership capabilities.

While there are murmurs amongst certain opposition supporters that Guan Eng should be above reproach, that since his party and him have set the bar so high and knowing that his political adversaries watch his every move, that any hint of impropriety should be avoided. The majority, of course, shouts down these people.

Ahirudin Attan, (aka Rocky’s Bru), in wishing Guan Eng good luck – since he had a personal relationship with the man – said this while advancing the narrative of the similarities between this particular case and that of former Selangor menteri besar Mohamad Khir Toyo’s – “I believed this country of ours had a working justice system that must be allowed to proceed with as little hindrance as possible in order to let the truth prevail.”

I know Rocky and even though we are playing for different sides, I believe he is sincere when he wishes the best of luck to Guan Eng even if just in remembrance of past comradeship.

However, I do not have the same faith in our justice system as him. I believe that these charges are politically motivated. Ever since the by-elections, the hatred against the DAP has been ratcheted up by propaganda organs of the Umno state. This is why the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has been spinning for the Pahang mufti who advocated genocide against the DAP and non-Muslims. Apparently he has been misquoted but when his own clarifications make his intent clear, why bother arguing the point is beyond me.

Najib’s biggest blunder

The men hunting Lim Guan Eng are not interested in the truth. The men hunting him have a very specific agenda. From talking to some of my UMNO friends – and there are people in UMNO who think this is Najib’s biggest blunder since the 1MDB fiasco – certain themes emerge. The agenda of these men are as follows:

1. Tarnish the reputation of the chief minister of the state that has received accolades from the UMNO state’s own governmental agency thereby damaging the credibility of the government and collecting propaganda material to be used domestically and internationally against a politician who was once detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA).

2. Capitalising on what UMNO believes is a shift in Chinese voting patterns by damaging the “alternative” Chinese power structure. This is why the head honcho of the MCA is dispensing dollops of schadenfreude since the majority of the Chinese community have stood by in the past when DAP leaders were vilified and targeted by the UMNO state.

3. Furthering the narrative that we have an independent security and legal apparatus by linking the corruption scandal and subsequent legal consequences of Khir Toyo and the allegations against Guan Eng. This is why the rush to paint this as part of a larger unbiased crackdown on corruption in this country.

There is also a racial subtext here. That a Chinese politician is equally as corrupt as a Malay (?) politician. This is fodder for Malay language pro-establishment news outlets and the continuing sabotage of the Malay polity. Remember what veteran journalist A Kadir Jasin said?

4. That the DAP is hypocritical and racists in its reaction against allegations of corruption. Already propaganda organs have been disseminating the numerous public rhetorical blunders by DAP operatives and linking to DAP-friendly online sites where the most vile speech is used in defence of Guan Eng.

5. The outcome is inevitable. Former Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim was right when he implied that the fix is in. Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali is the man who cleared Najib of any wrongdoing but in the process inadvertently raised more questions on the scandal. Perhaps he is the wrong person to run this case for the UMNO state.

His confidence that he can win the state’s case is not a question of legal ingenuity but rather establishment manipulation, plain and simple.

Someone reminded me that where there is smoke there is fire but I am not interested in anything like that. Some would find fault in my thinking but this is of no concern to me. When I say that this is a politically motivated prosecution, this does not mean that I think Guan Eng is innocent or guilty. In a functional system, that would be for the courts to determine. What I mean is that UMNO wants to destroy Guan Eng and the DAP for political reasons.

What I do know is that when the system turns a blind eye against the biggest corruption scandal this country has witnessed, then I say that every single other case of corruption – no matter how small or big or the personalities involved – is irrelevant. There are no laws that demand fidelity. There is only pantomime.

Four months ago, Rayer warned some folks they “should not fall into BN’s trap”.This should have been directed at the opposition.


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