In Conversation with Tukatube’s Hishamuddin Rais

February 13, 2018

In Conversation with Tukatube’s  Hishamuddin Rais

By Rosli Khan

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Hishamuddin Rais–A Civil Society Icon and Malaysian Rebel with  a Cause.

Meeting Hishamuddin Rais is always a refreshing experience and a candid affair, both rolled into one. As a social activist and critic, Hisham is not only knowledgeable and a forward-looking thinker, he is also equally at ease in digging out his past and colourful experiences. Our lunchtime conversation last week, however, centred on politics, another subject matter on which he has strong opinions.

Never a disappointment, Hisham is always full of new ideas. He strongly advocated that a number of well-known Malaysian bloggers, political writers and social critics be given seats to contest in GE14 by Pakatan Harapan component parties.

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He argued that what they have written over the online media and the number of followers that they command are sufficient considerations to determine their acceptance and popularity among voters. Meanwhile politicians, more often than not, tend to toe their party lines and speak up only when their leaders say so, especially on controversial social issues.

Hisham singled out Zaid Ibrahim, an old friend from his student demonstration days, as a good example due to his popular site, He appeared firm and very serious about the three popular electronic media operators that tend to focus only on three bloggers for political news: Dr Mahathir Mohamad (, The Scribe Kadir Jasin ( ) and ZaidGeist (

ZaidGeist, which contains Zaid’s writings on current political and social issues, has proven to be a very popular site and going by the comments, it seems to resonate with the current thinking and political outlook of readers.

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From UMNO to PKR and on to DAP

As a matter of fact, Zaid has been consistently true to his beliefs and principles, according to Hisham. Hisham’s measure of Zaid’s consistency, taken from their student demonstration days in the 1970s when he first met Zaid, the events that led to his resignation as a minister in 2008 and his writings on many topics, views on politics and social development ideas that continue until today, represent a man of zero deviation from the basic principles he has espoused from then until today.

For his consistent beliefs and principles, Hisham argued that DAP should give Zaid a comfortable parliamentary seat in GE14.

Anti-Malay tag

DAP, of which Zaid has been a member since Febeuary 7, 2017, is busy preparing for GE14.

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Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and DAP’s Lim Kit Siang–Strange Thing happens in Politics. A foe yesterday, an ally today. Common purpose –getting rid of corrupt Najib–brought these two giants of Malaysia together.

As a party, DAP has suffered from a mismatch of identity, poor perception and wrong publicity due to adverse propaganda by government parties. A common perception is that DAP is a Chinese-based party, the leaders only look after Chinese voters and their interests, and worst and perhaps most damaging of all, that DAP is anti-Malay and anti-Islam.

Even though DAP has consistently had more Indian MPs than MIC at any given time, no one sees DAP as an Indian party.

The fact that DAP has had a few Malays in the party as state assemblymen in the past does not seem to count. Several Malays who won under DAP tickets in the past include politicians such as:

  • Ibrahim Singgeh, DUN Tapah Road, Perak (1969)
  • Hassan Ahmad, DUN Si Rusa, Negeri Sembilan (1969)
  • Daing Ibrahim, DUN Pasir Puteh, Perak (1974)
  • Mohd Salleh Nakhoda Itam, DUN Guntong, Perak (1974, 1978)
  • Fadzlan Yahaya for Pasir Bedamar, Perak (1982, 1986 and 1990 for Lahat)
  • Mohd Asri Othman DUN Dermawan, Perak (1990)
  • Ahmad Nor, first Malay DAP MP, Bayan Baru, Penang (1990)
  • Mohd Ariff Sabri, second Malay DAP MP, Raub, Pahang (2013)
  • Zairil Khir Johari, third Malay DAP MP, Bukit Bendera, Penang (2013)
  • Tg Zulpuri, Mentakab, Pahang (2013)
Image result for Zairil Khir JohariMP Zairil Khir Johari (DAP)
A tragic truth is that there was a 23-year gap between Ahmad Nor (1990), as the first Malay MP from DAP and the second and third, Ariff Sabri (Raub) and Zairil (Bukit Bendera) respectively, who contested and won in 2013.
Image result for Ariff SabriFrom UMNO to DAP



For many Malay supporters, the fact remains that with the exception of those three, there have not been many prominent Malay leaders joining the party. Many of the state assemblymen in the list above have been seen as a token representation of the Malay community when compared to the number of Indian or Chinese MPs or state assemblymen in DAP since 1969.

Fault finding is easy. As there was no internet then and the mainstream media was government-controlled, DAP succumbed to an onslaught of UMNO’s propaganda. The repeated lies, as rightly pointed out by Nazi strategist Joseph Goebbels, and probably copied by UMNO’s strategists, stuck badly on the party. DAP, which also controlled most of the urban seats including those in Sabah and Sarawak, could not get the chauvinistic Chinese party tag off its back.

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Ahmad Nor, the First Malay MP for DAP, honored by Penang

But now, 28 years after Ahmad Nor became the first Malay MP for DAP, in an age of internet technology, a more educated group of readers and obviously in an era of a failed BN government tainted with corruption and financial scandals, DAP’s struggles and fight against corruption, embezzlement and injustice seem to be seen in a better light.

DAP leaders, therefore, should seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get rid of the monkey on their backs, once and for all. A major publicity campaign to introduce a top Malay leader into the GE14 arena could nullify this racial slur and at the same time correct the racial imbalance in the party leadership.

DAP must not only be seen as trying to rectify this particular issue, it must be seen as taking a big step towards correcting this major flaw in the projection of several intellectually-minded and capable Malay leaders, of whom Zaid is one of them.

Iskandar parliamentary seat

If the news about fielding Zaid in Gelang Patah (to be called Iskandar in GE14) is true, then YB Lim Kit Siang has indeed made a very bold and honourable move to end this anti-Malay tag that has been hanging around DAP’s neck for so long.

This strategy, coming from a top leader in the party, will be seen by many voters as him making a big sacrifice in order to promote a Malay leader within DAP. This form of sacrifice will lead DAP into the hearts and minds of many Malay voters not only in Iskandar, but also throughout Johor and possibly the whole country.

Such a tactical move will reflect positively on the sincerity and trust of the DAP leadership, two formidable qualities that will touch the emotions of many Malays. In one stroke, Lim would turn the Malay doubts in him into trust, and suspicion into sincerity. This would be a major boost to DAP. How could you continue to be branded as anti-Malay or anti-Islam with such a big sacrifice being made to honour a Malay candidate?

This strategy must be fully supported by other DAP leaders, big and small, a reflection of their seriousness in winning the Malay votes and support. At the same time, the party’s publicity machinery must also be geared towards this objective.

Why Zaid?

According to Hisham, for many obvious reasons: Zaid is a successful Malay lawyer albeit an entrepreneur who built the biggest law firm in the country. As a lawyer, he is a person of high repute and high moral character (which is indeed very rare in Malaysian politics). A liberal-minded person, he is clearly endowed with a non-racist disposition and fights for all Malaysians regardless of race or creed. He is a Malaysian first and not part of the old race-based party politics.

In UMNO for instance, it seems that the more racist a leader is, the more support the person can command from the members. DAP is certainly not like that, which means a person of Zaid’s stature could progress further.

In parallel, DAP leaders must demonstrate their true commitment to the Malaysian Malaysia concept by:

  • Fielding more Malay candidates in the GE14
  • Ensuring that a few of the semi-urban seats where Malay voters are in the minority are given to Malay candidates to fight against BN candidates.

This would be similar to the approach adopted by BN where seats which have had Malay majorities were given to MCA or MIC candidates to contest. Examples of such seats are Tapah, Cameron Highlands, Hulu Selangor, Bentong and of course the famous Air Hitam in Johor.

If Malay voters voted for MCA or MIC candidates in the past, why can’t Chinese voters vote for Malay (DAP) candidates? As Hisham put it, Malay voters are no different from others. The significance of sincerity and trust factors play an important part in their psyche and logic, in the same way that they now no longer trust Umno and BN. There is no better time than now for DAP to start the ball rolling.

Rosli Khan is an FMT reader.

Dr. Mahathir leads Pakatan Harapan but his Heart and Soul is with UMNO

February 23, 2018

Dr. Mahathir leads Pakatan Harapan but his Heart and Soul is with UMNO

By Karamjit Gill

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Dr. Mahathir Mohamad– My Heart and soul is with UMNO, but  he leads the Political Opposition. It is paradoxical, Mr. Watson

“Furthermore, Dr Mahathir should be reminded… that he singlehandedly destroyed the independence, impartiality and professionalism not only of the judiciary, but also of other important national institutions like the police, the Election Commission, the anti-corruption agency and the civil service.” -Lim Kit Siang, February 2015

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DAP’s Nelson Mandela–Shall we christen him Madiba Lim? What he wouldn’t do for Politics and Power.

It is heartbreaking to watch whistleblowers being punished while perpetrators walk scot-free. Rafizi Ramli’s jail sentence for revealing dirty secrets is a crushing blow to transparency. However, what can we do?


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Doing something ethically right but lawfully wrong is a punishable offence. Such occurrences happen in developed nations as well. Remember the case of Cyntoia Brown in America? Brown is still serving her life imprisonment sentence for killing a 43-year-old child predator in self-defence, who “bought” her when she was 16 years old to fulfil his lust for sex. Last year, this 2004 case picked up steam again on social media with A-list celebrities calling for her release. Although Brown’s lawyers recently filed for an appeal, she is still sitting behind bars.

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Selangor Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri Azmin Ali hopes Rafizi Ramli will be released from jail for the sake of PKR solidarity

Leaders and supporters from the opposition coalition would call Rafizi’s sentencing a political move, although some within Pakatan itself would be glad. We often hear Pakatan leaders crying foul on the alleged non-independence of the judiciary. The important question is when did this impartiality of the judiciary start?

Such menace in the system was started by none other than their own Prime Minister candidate Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. But they have forgiven him for everything. Hence, they have forgiven him for meddling with the Judiciary as well. So, why cry now when you have forgiven and forgotten everything Mahathir did?

The gibberish excuse Pakatan leaders give today is that they are using Mahathir to win the Malay support, and Mahathir is only there to take down Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Is Mahathir really there to take Najib down and would he be willing to step down thereafter? Although it is proclaimed so by the opposition and apparently agreed upon by Mahathir behind closed doors, do any of Mahathir’s actions speak the same language?

Mahathir intends to recreate another Proton and says Pakatan may do so if it forms the government despite Lim Kit Siang saying numerous times in the past that Malaysia should not be venturing into the automotive industry. Will Lim suddenly change his stand now? Lim’s silence on Mahathir’s plan is deafening.

Most recently, Mahathir said he needs a couple of years to supposedly correct the current government’s wrongdoings. Wait a minute. Two years as Prime Minister and nobody from Pakatan is saying anything? What happened to getting a royal pardon for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and vacating the seat? Are you going to argue and say that the entire process will take at least two years and therefore Mahathir will be Prime Minister till then? Hence, Mahathirism can continue and all the supposed agreements will be thrown out of the window and again you will come and say sorry later?

Two years would be more than enough for Mahathir to ensure that his son moves up the political ladder.

Mahathir quit UMNO citing disgust over Tun Abdullah Badawi. His war was not with UMNO. He was against Badawi. Once Badawi quit, Mahathir and his wife happily rejoined UMNO in 2009. Upon rejoining UMNO, Mahathir said, “Although I was out of UMNO, my heart and soul were in UMNO.” Be assured that Mahathir’s soul is still with UMNO. His war is against Najib.

By the slimmest chance, if Mahathir does become Prime Minister and is pushed to resign, he will take his loyal supporters and rejoin UMNO with his teary wife probably expressing affection for UMNO again. Then what will Pakatan do? Call for another street demonstration and condemn Mahathir in another U-turn?

History tells us that street demonstrations with Mahathir at the helm will never be as peaceful as when Najib is at the top. Water cannons, physical abuse and arrests will be in abundance. Why should we Malaysians be used as political pawns when the opposition keeps messing up and shooting itself in the foot?

Personally, the opposition has already lost the election before it begins. Their defeat commenced the day they foolishly decided to make Mahathir their leader and Prime Minister designate.

An analytical paper was published in the Journal of East Asian Studies in 2015, titled “The 2013 Malaysian Elections”. Data analyses clearly showed that non-Bumiputera votes in rural and semi-urban areas were the key to BN’s victory despite having less than 50% support from Bumiputera voters, even in rural constituencies.

With Mahathir becoming the next Prime Minister, non-Bumiputera votes may increase in favour of BN. As for the Bumiputera votes, PAS being out of the coalition and becoming the third force will definitely split any extra support for the opposition with Mahathir’s inclusion.

Besides “Bangladeshi voters” and a power blackout hypothesis that has never been proven and was said to have never occurred by DAP’s own election strategist Ong Kian Ming, the opposition should start thinking about new fabricated excuses to comfort themselves once the elections are done and dusted. It was an absolute abhorrent idea to work with Mahathir.

Karamjit Gill is an FMT reader.

Pakatan Harapan– The One Platform Party in Disarray

November 29, 2017

To  Anwar Ibrahim from an old Friend–Open Letter

There is reliance on only one policy plank. Label Najib a kleptocrat and attack him non-stop on 1MDB…In strategic terms, it is an instance of what Dr Wong Chin Huat terms “strategic ambiguity” – avoid the thorny issues and focus on safe issues like corruption and living costs. Mahathir’s strategy goes even further – “Topple Najib first, leave everything for later”.

It is easy to see why PH is adopting this strategy. Dr Wong calls it “communal incoordination”. In more simple language, it means if you try to please the Chinese, you lose Malay votes; if you try to please the Malays, you lose Chinese votes. So just concentrate on the issues both sides can agree on i.e. corruption.–Dr. Ronnie Ooi

by Dr. Ronnie Ooi

Dear Anwar,

You may remember me from the time we worked together in Majlis Belia Malaysia (MBM) when I was chair of MBM Penang and worked with your late brother Rani and others.

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Anwar Ibrahim cannot do much since Najib Razak has placed him in Sungei Buloh Prison

I left for the UK in 1990 mainly because of disillusionment with the political situation. I returned in 2008 as Prime Minister Najib Razak was in his liberal phase and things looked quite hopeful.

I feel somewhat guilty that, as a friend, I had not come forward earlier to offer to help, but I wanted a quiet life. I now put pen to paper with some reluctance but unfortunately, I think the warning lights are flashing for Pakatan Harapan (PH).

I feel I cannot in good conscience keep quiet any longer. I point to these warning signs not to discourage people from continuing or joining the fight, but as an indication that PH has weaknesses which must be reviewed.

I am making this letter public as I do not know how else I can be certain of getting my views to you. Besides these proposals will be of interest to the rakyat.

The resignation of three founding members of Bersatu (PPBM) on the grounds that the leadership is unable to accept criticism, is worrying. One bad apple is to be expected, but three all at once?

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UMNO style shadow play (wang kulit)–Advantage Najib Razak

The Merdeka Centre Youth Opinion Survey shows that high dissatisfaction with the government is not translating into support for the opposition. Most telling of all is Zaid Ibrahim, Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s greatest cheerleader, now advises Malays to emigrate if they have the chance.

The weaknesses of Pakatan Harapan

There is reliance on one man, Dr Mahathir, in the belief that his name plus the 1MDB and other financial scandals will be sufficient to trigger a Malay tsunami. I truly admire him for coming out of a comfortable and privileged retirement to lead the opposition. But I do worry whether his age prevents him from understanding the demands and aspirations of today’s voters, especially the youth.

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That’s Fine, Tun Dr. Mahathir when you were the Prime Minister. Today, Najib Razak is in charge of Malaysia and he can shut you up.

There is reliance on only one policy plank. Label Najib a kleptocrat and attack him non-stop on 1MDB.

In strategic terms, it is an instance of what Dr Wong Chin Huat terms “strategic ambiguity” – avoid the thorny issues and focus on safe issues like corruption and living costs. Mahathir’s strategy goes even further – “Topple Najib first, leave everything for later”.

It is easy to see why PH is adopting this strategy. Dr Wong calls it “communal incoordination”. In more simple language, it means if you try to please the Chinese, you lose Malay votes; if you try to please the Malays, you lose Chinese votes. So just concentrate on the issues both sides can agree on i.e. corruption.

Politics of hope vs politics of hate

I do not want to hurt your feelings Anwar, but it is best to be blunt. What PH is offering the voters of GE14 is the politics of hate (hate Najib), and the politics of personality (Mahathir can solve everything).

There is no message of hope, nothing of policy. It looks back to the past (what Najib and Mahathir have done), not how to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Elections are won on the politics of hope, although I admit the politics of hate can be a useful aid.

Trump won the American presidency elections because his message of hope to his right-wing supporters was very clear and powerful i.e. “Build the wall, keep Muslims out, make America great again” and his message of hate was also useful – “Crooked Hilary”.

Hilary lost because, although she had a message of hate (“Trump temperamentally unfit to be President”), her message of hope was muddled and unclear.

Chong Eu won Penang on the politics of hope i.e. “Economic development, Free Trade Zones, Penang bridge”. He had no message of hate.

In the urban areas and amongst the educated elite, hatred of what Najib is doing is very strong and for many of them, probably even a majority, the politics of hate is sufficient. They willingly accept Mahathir’s position of “Topple Najib first, leave everything for later”.

But the rural Malays have received benefits from the government, and although they may be disturbed by allegations of systemic corruption, they will not have the hatred of Najib that the urban voters have.

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The registration of Pakatan Harapan is held up by the Registrar of Societies–Checkmate?

To say to the rural Malays “Topple Najib first, leave everything for later” is like saying, “Your house is in bad condition. We will tear it down for you. When you are homeless by the road side, only then we will think how we can build a new house for you.” No sane normal person will allow his house to be torn down until he is certain he will get a better replacement.

Four steps to bring about the politics of hope:

1. Mahathir’s position of “Topple Najib first, leave everything for later” has to be discarded

This position prevents PH from telling the people how life under PH will be better and it prevents PH from hearing what the people want to say.

The Merdeka Centre Youth Opinion Survey found that 40% of respondents were not registered as voters, 70% were not interested in politics and 71% felt politicians do not listen to them.

If PH says to these youths “Mahathir knows best”, they will turn their backs on PH. If PH is willing to listen to them, to discuss how best to meet their hopes and aspirations, PH will win their support and votes and by doing so, win GE14.

2. Saving Malaysia requires a two-election process

Those who think that toppling Najib will solve all problems mistake the PM to be the cause of the country’s problems, whereas he is only the symptom. The real cause is the growing distrust and antagonism between the Malay and non-Malay communities, which sustains and protects leaders like Najib.

Removing Najib will not prevent a Najib clone from emerging a few years later if this inter-communal antagonism is not tackled.

There is a deep fault line in PH. Bersatu (PPBM) is constructed to be like UMNO to attract discontented UMNO members. But, as a result, their core political ideology of discriminating in favour of Bumiputeras conflicts with PKR’s and DAP’s core ideology of economic policies based on need and not race.

This means that whilst Bersatu and PKR/DAP/Amanah are completely united that Najib must be toppled to save Malaysia, there is no agreement over what Dr Wong terms inter-communal bargains on issues like economic redistribution and social inclusion, religion and lifestyle, language and education.

The way to resolve this contradiction in objectives is simple: use GE14 to defeat the BN government to bring about institutional change and use GE15 to resolve the breakdown in the inter-communal bargains concerning economics, education, etc.

GE14 is about whether voters want an honest government, GE15 is for voters to decide how best to resolve inter-communal antagonism.

In GE14, Bersatu (PPBM) and PKR/DAP/Amanah work together to fight Najib’s BN. In GE15 Bersatu (PPBM), possibly in combination with a BN without Najib, may be contesting against PKR/DAP.

If we try to solve everything in one election, a voter who would like to vote for an honest candidate may instead vote for a dishonest candidate of his own race if he fears domination by another race.

If we do not separate out an election for an honest government from an election over communal anxieties and inter-communal bargains, we may have a dishonest government for a very long time.

I am excited to see Dr Wong Chin Huat recently come up with roughly the same idea, which he terms a two-step transition pact.

3. PH must show its commitment to institutional reform

PH must set up a readily available central reference of all its proposals for institutional reform.

Some of the questions PH must answer are:

  • What oppressive laws are they going to repeal or amend? We must remember that when Najib proposed repealing the Sedition Act, Mahathir was in the forefront of UMNO criticism of the move. Mukhriz is on record expressing “his disappointment at the abolition of the ISA”.
  • How should the Universities and University Colleges Act be amended to enable the brightest of our youth to play their proper role in our society?
  • How does PH intend to prevent a recurrence of the 1MDB scandal?
  • The Prime Minister has too much power. How does PH intend to reduce the power of the PM?

Proposals for institutional reform require only mental effort, unlike physical projects which require time-consuming study and planning. It is too late now for PH to promise the rakyat it will build 100,000 low-cost homes but there is still plenty of time before the election for PH to say whether it will or will not repeal the Sedition Act. Besides, there are many social activists who can help PH draft and finalise details of proposals for institutional reform.

To prove the truth of what I am saying, Anwar, in the second part of my letter to you, I will set out my ideas on how the powers of the Prime minister should be reduced.

4. Announce a limited-time fixed programme election manifesto

Because institutional reforms require only changes in laws and legal procedures, they can be implemented in a short time, say a year, especially if a lot of work has been done before the election.

PH should therefore announce that, if they win GE14, they will govern for only one year, to implement a limited, specific and publicly-agreed programme of eradicating corruption in government, carrying out institutional reform, repealing oppressive laws, and undertaking any such other programmes as PH component parties can agree on, such as abolishing the GST.

Following this, an early GE15 will then be called, at which the parties will be able to fight each other over their different political ideologies.

Advantages of a limited-time fixed programme election manifesto:

  1. Policy differences in economic re-distribution, education, etc cannot be postponed for the normal government term of five years. But they can be postponed for a period of one year.
  2. Many people have doubts about a PH government. They are more likely to give PH a chance if they can throw out a bad PH government after one year.
  3. With a fixed programme, Malays who fear that PH will be dominated by the DAP, can see exactly what they will get under a PH government.

Go where no one else has gone before

Confronted with difficult questions, Malaysians, both politicians and the general public, have a habit of sweeping them under the carpet and pretending to themselves that there are no problems.

They insist on remaining within their comfort zones, rejecting the mental discomfort of thinking new thoughts. They bury their heads in the sand, dreaming of a PH victory in GE14.

They get very angry when disturbed from their dreams, demanding why their side’s weaknesses are being advertised to the enemy.

But exposing weaknesses before the election campaign starts allows time for them to be corrected. Burying heads in the sand prevents solutions to problems being found. If solutions are missed, we suffer defeat when it could so easily have been a victory.

My voice is not loud enough to be heard by the people. But if you, Anwar, speak, people will listen. If you think my ideas are good, let us work together to implement them. If you think them bad, do not hesitate to say so, in order that better solutions can be found.

To members of the public reading this, I say: we best serve the party we support not by keeping quiet but by giving them feedback and ideas. Those who have feedback and ideas to give are invited to contact me at so that by banding together, we have a stronger voice.

To solve Malaysia’s problems, we need to go where no one else has gone before. Remember: he who dares, wins.

Your old friend,
Dr Ronnie Ooi

Dr Ronnie Ooi is a former politician and medical practitioner based in Penang.

Dr Mahathir and Kit Siang deflected Tough Questions at Youth Forum in Petaling Jaya

November 23, 2017

Dr Mahathir and Kit Siang deflected Tough Questions at Youth Forum in Petaling Jaya

byMuzliza Mustafa

Many youth unhappy over Dr Mahathir and Kit Siang’s replies at forum

THOSE who attended a youth forum in Petaling Jaya last night were unhappy with how Dr Mahathir Mohamad and former nemesis Lim Kit Siang answered their questions.

They said the Pakatan Harapan chairman and DAP parliamentary leader evaded some questions, while their answers to some were wishy-washy.

“I think Lim (Kit Siang) answered my question, although he was being diplomatic about it. He did say that if a crime happened, it should be investigated,” said Tharmelinggem Pillai, 24, when met at the What Say Youth forum in the Petaling Jaya Community Library last night.

Tharmelinggem had asked Kit Siang if Pakatan Harapan would set up a royal commission of inquiry to investigate Dr Mahathir’s actions when he was Prime Minister for 22 years.

Image result for Mahathir and Kit Siang at PJ Youth Forum

He, however, was not satisfied with Dr Mahathir’s answer on the use of the Internal Security Act during the Ops Lalang crackdown.

“His reply that Police had advised him to use the act… I don’t think he was being very clear on that,” he said. Tharmelinggem said he had yet to decide on which party to vote for in the next general election. He will be voting for the first time.

He said Dr Mahathir now in the opposition had forced him to rethink his choice. “That is why I am here tonight, to speak to Dr Mahathir because I do not like him.”

Jason Wong, 31, said he thought Dr Mahathir did not explain how Pakatan Harapan could change the current system to limit the power of the Prime Minister.

“He only said there should be minor changes to the system, but how are we going to stop someone from using cash to get what he wants?” said Wong.

Wong said he was frustrated that Dr Mahathir did not explain what he had done to the system that had given ultimate power to the Prime Minister.

Wong, however, said he still supported PH and believed it could change to Malaysia. He said Dr Mahathir should reject the Malay supremacy ideology that UMNO and Barisan Nasional was used to manipulate low-income Malays.

He said the answers that Dr Mahathir and Lim gave tonight had been repeated to PH supporters lately. “I am happy with the tough questions thrown tonight, but not the replies.”

He and Dr Mahathir left the venue at 10pm after answering more than a dozen questions from the crowd. – November 22, 2017.


Deal Between Anwar and Najib Razak? :The Worst Possible News for Malaysia

November 21, 2017

Deal Between Anwar and Najib Razak?: The Worst Possible News for Malaysia

by P.

Image result for Anwar and Najib

Is there something brewing here which is suggestive of some kind of a deal materializing between these two once staunch allies? Like they say, there are no permanent enemies in politics and politics is the game of the possible, or is it the impossible? Never mind, you get the drift.–P. Gunasegaram

QUESTION TIME | In Malaysia where conspiracy theories arise at the drop of a 10-sen coin, the visit by Prime Minister Najib Razak to jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is in hospital following a shoulder operation, has started tongues a-wagging. And how they are wagging!

Is there something brewing here which is suggestive of some kind of a deal materialising between these two once staunch allies? Like they say, there are no permanent enemies in politics and politics is the game of the possible, or is it the impossible? Never mind, you get the drift.

After all, who would have thought that former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, widely held responsible for Sodomy 1 which put Anwar in jail for six years until 2004, would now be working with him to topple BN and Najib? If that can happen, why not a reconciliation, or even a deal, between Najib and Anwar for mutual benefit?


Even the burying of past differences between Mahathir and Anwar is difficult to understand. How does a person who spent years in prison, was beaten after he was arrested, had his life ruined and political future now in tatters, forgive the person who was held to be most responsible for this?

And was it not what Mahathir did in terms of consolidating his power within UMNO – technically UMNO Baru as the old UMNO was dissolved as part of plans implemented by Mahathir – that now makes it near impossible to remove a sitting UMNO President and Prime Minister because of all that such a person has at his disposal in terms of power?

Now this, Najib visits Anwar in the hospital with his wife Rosmah Mansor and with Anwar’s wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail present and the gossip bandwagon goes berserk, although it is more likely to topple than to sustain over the next few days.

Here was the man who pushed Sodomy 2 against Anwar with Anwar’s accuser having seen him – Najib – before making his police report. And Anwar is in jail again for a further five years from 2015, more or less putting paid to his political career unless Pakatan Harapan wins the next election. The chances of that are pretty low right now.

How could Anwar countenance a visit from this man who was responsible for his prison sentence in the first place with a lot of people believing that Anwar’s sentence was terribly unfair with admission of evidence that could have been tampered with? If Anwar’s trial was fixed, as he himself claimed, then only one person could have been responsible.

How could he even consent to see this person? As difficult as this is to understand for people like me, those who understand Malay culture say that nothing should be read into the meeting. The PM went to see a former friend and ally who was ailing – nothing more, nothing less.

But talk is not so easily stopped because Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, at one time one of Anwar’s closest friends and allies, visited him as well. Perhaps there is nothing but those visits perhaps indicate to Mahathir that two can play the game – if Mahathir can reconcile with Anwar, Najib can reconcile with him too, with all that it implies for Mahathir.


What about the stolen money?–1MDB 

But is it as simple as all that really? No. Because if somehow Najib and Anwar ally, who becomes the enemy then? Surely not Mahathir now. And what about 1MDB? What does it mean for all that the opposition has been saying about billions stolen and still unaccounted for?

And what about the allegations, with some evidence, that UMNO and BN are tainted with 1MDB money and that they support Najib only because of that? Will all this be conveniently swept under the carpet forever more and everybody lives together happily ever after?

There can be only one deal that will allow this – in that permutation or combination of both, Anwar has to become Prime Minister, no less. That will entail Najib continuing for a while and then making way for Anwar – which means that Anwar has to be within BN or some larger conglomerate.

Anwar Ibrahim– A political chameleon or a publicity seeking politician?

How that may form boggles the mind but remember that after the May 13, 1969, riots and emergency rule, Najib’s father Abdul Razak Hussein persuaded (coerced?) the substantial opposition then into a coalition in 1973 forming Barisan Nasional, with the only significant party out in the bitter cold – that being DAP. If Anwar and Najib make a deal whereby Anwar is rehabilitated and Najib carries on, for a while at least, that is the worst possible news for Malaysia because all sections of the political divide – both ruling and opposition parties – will implicitly sanction the greatest theft this country has ever known and multiple events of gross mismanagement and lack of governance.

I don’t believe this will happen but I would have been far more comfortable if Anwar had not consented to meet Najib – and yes, if he had not done a deal with Mahathir too. But then who am I but just another insignificant citizen of Malaysia?


Home and away, Najib has a China dilemma

September 22, 2017

Home and away, Najib has a China dilemma

While the Malaysian leader relies on Beijing for economic succor, he’s still viewed skeptically by his country’s ethnic Chinese voting bloc with tight polls on the horizon

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Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak looks on duringIndependence Day celebrations in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia August 31, 2017. Photo: Reuters/Lai Seng Sin


Prime Minister Najib Razak addressed Malaysia’s Chinese community at a well-attended gathering last week to urge support for his Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition government ahead of new national polls.

The leader called for stronger Chinese representation in his United Malays National Organization-led (UMNO) government and doubled down on promises of delivering prosperity and quality education across all of the country’s ethnic groups.

“If the Chinese voice is stronger in BN, then you are able to shape the policies and possibilities of this government even better and even stronger,” Najib said. “Without peace in the country, the Chinese will be the first to be targeted and that is why we are a moderate government committed to peace and mutual harmony.”

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While Najib placed emphasis on Malaysia as a multiracial nation and struck an overall moderate tone, others interpreted his remark as a fear-mongering veiled threat. Opposition parliamentarian Liew Chin Tong accused the premier of trying to win votes by “singling out the ethnic Chinese,” a move he said would actually undermine support for his government.

Malaysia’s next election is due by August 2018, though there is speculation that early polls could soon be announced. Najib’s outreach to the Chinese community signals an attempt to re-engage the minority voter bloc following general elections in 2013 where the BN coalition delivered its worst-ever election performance.

At the time, Najib acknowledged how ethnic Chinese voters had supported the opposition in droves, controversially characterizing their voting behavior as a “Chinese tsunami.” Najib initially vowed to undertake national reconciliation following the electoral upset, but instead has moved to burnish his Islamic credentials in a bid to consolidate support from conservative and rural ethnic Malay voters.

Ethnic Chinese communities make up around 23% of Malaysia’s population and are seen to be largely in opposition to Najib’s continued rule. His term has been defined by the international multi-billion dollar money laundering controversies related to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state development fund he created and until recently oversaw.

Lesser noticed, however, have been perennial allegations of money politics, elite corruption, stark political polarization and a widening cultural divide between Malaysia’s ethnic and religious groups that some fear could tip towards instability if not effectively reconciled.

Image result for Najib and HadiThis strange alliance with Hadi Awang may prove costly to Najib Razak in East Malaysia where Islamisation is viewed with anxiety and suspicion.

Recent studies show nearly half the country’s ethnic Chinese population have a strong desire to leave Malaysia due to perceived discrimination, political disenfranchisement and fears of Islamization. Nearly 88% of the 56,576 Malaysians who renounced their citizenship in the decade spanning 2006 to 2016 were ethnic Chinese.

Shortly after assuming office in 2009, Najib introduced the 1Malaysia national concept, a governing philosophy which placed emphasis on ethnic harmony, national unity and efficient governance. Following the 2013 election, the Prime Minister has placed less pretense on the talking points of the scheme, opting to posture as a defender of Islam and Malay unity.

“Political parties from both sides of the divide are centered around the Malay agenda, winning votes in Malay majority constituencies. Meanwhile, government efforts like 1Malaysia and its subsequent rebranding has neither substance nor strategy,” political analyst Khoo Kay Peng recently wrote. “The concept of unity is not even at the forefront of societal discussion.”

An important aspect of Najib’s domestic agenda in recent years has been the formation of a loose alliance with the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), which has an electoral stronghold in Malaysia’s rural and conservative north and advocates a hardline sharia punishment code known as hudud.

Abdul Hadi Awang, PAS’ influential President, was given tacit government approval to table a controversial hudud bill in parliament in 2015, which sought to ease some of the constitutional restrictions imposed on sharia courts in order to implement more severe punishments, subjecting offenders to longer prison sentences and corporal punishment.

Though observers were initially dismissive of Najib’s support for hudud, his government attempted to take over Hadi’s bill last year. The prime minister reversed course in March due to strong opposition from other BN coalition partners – notably from the Malaysian Chinese Association and other ethnic minority parties – and concerns it would dampen foreign investor sentiment.

Against a backdrop of political controversies and a deepening cultural divide, Malaysia’s upcoming general election is expected to be one of the tightest in decades. The political opposition, once a fractured grouping of disparate parties, appears more cohesive under the leadership of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who defected from UMNO and embraced opposition parties to form the Pakatan Harapan coalition.

Comeback kid: Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, 92, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Putrajaya, Malaysia, March 30, 2017. Photo: Reuters/Lai Seng Sin