Welcome to Malaysia’s Brave New World


November 5, 2018

Welcome to Malaysia’s Brave New World

by: John Berthelsen

https://www.asiasentinel.com/econ-business/malaysia-brave-new-world/

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“Euphoria is dying off and bodies like Bersih, he continued, have started criticizing the new government. Many from civil society are keeping silent. “I suppose the saving grace is that Najib and his cohorts are gone. But that can’t console people forever.”_- J. Berthelsen

Six months into the rule of Malaysia’s new reform government, the bloom has started to fade as the Pakatan Harapan coalition attracts growing criticism while it seeks to find its feet against the political and economic debris left by the outgoing Barisan Nasional, driven from power on May 9 after six-plus decades in office.

The problems the government faces were starkly outlined on Nov. 1 by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng in a marathon 14,000 word speech outlining the 2019 budget, in which he stated that the previous government, which he characterized as “kleptocratic,” had understated debt and liabilities by nearly 40 percent, rising to a stunning RM1.05 trillion (US$256.8 billion) in an effort to hide corruption, and that debts from the scandal-scarred 1Malaysia Development Bhd development fund could total as much as RM43.9 billion, not including RM7 billion in interest secretly paid on 1MDB debts using taxpayer money illegally.

To Malaysia’s credit, the frighteningly poisonous racial equation, in which ethnic Malays make up about half the population, the Chinese 23 percent and Indians 7 percent, with the rest split between expatriates and bumiputera tribes in East Malaysia, seems to have cooled markedly. The previous government’s attempt to use fundamentalists Islam to pound minorities has largely ceased although UMNO and the fundamentalist Parti Islam se-Malaysia continue to attempt to fan the flames. It remains to be seen what strains there are between the Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party, Mahathir’s Parti Bersatu Pribumi, and Anwar Ibrahim’s moderate, urban Malay Parti Keadilan Rakyat – and what internal strains there are inside PKR.

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The country is faced with a long series of monumental tasks – rebuilding a judiciary that was thoroughly corrupted by the previous government’s 61 years in power. The education system is a shamble, built on Malay privilege instead of academic achievement.  Lim called attention to educational shortcomings with a long series of measures allocating funds to lower-income students, upgrading failing schools and educational infrastructure, training and vocational education programs. Other sources say the government is being hamstrung to a certain extent by a civil service loyal to the previous government.

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A series of murders including that in 2006 of Mongolian translator and party girl Altantuya Shaariibuu, AMBank founder Hussain Najadi and prosecutor Kevin Morais (pic above), all believed to be at the hands of high government officials, remain to be solved or even looked into.

The new government, caught by circumstances, has compounded its problems by campaigning against a deeply unpopular Goods and Services Tax (GST) implemented by the government of former Prime Minister Najib Razak, and then actually repealing it once in office, leaving a gigantic hole in government revenues.

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‘–at the same time it has agreed to go along with Mahahir’s ill-conceived hobby horse, another national car project.

…That is despite 30-odd years of his previous ill-conceived hobby horse, the Proton national car, which cost the treasury billions of ringgit and billions more to consumers in lost opportunity costs from paying through the nose for heavily tariffed competitors. “- J. Berthelsen

It is seeking to fill the hole with a variety of piecemeal taxes – at the same time it has agreed to go along with Mahahir’s ill-conceived hobby horse, another national car project. That is despite 30-odd years of his previous ill-conceived hobby horse, the Proton national car, which cost the treasury billions of ringgit and billions more to consumers in lost opportunity costs from paying through the nose for heavily tariffed competitors.

“There was a lot of euphoria when Pakatan won the elections, but expectations were also very high,” said a prominent business source in Kuala Lumpur. “They have a small window. If they don’t deliver, that window will start closing.  But unfortunately, politicians will be politicians. They are inexperienced, and the euphoria is wearing off. So far, we have had no exciting government programs. New Malaysia is like Old Malaysia, minus Najib Razak and his 40 thieves.”

Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor have both been arrested and are expected to go on trial next year. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been confiscated by Malaysian and US authorities although hundreds of millions more, perhaps billions, remain outside he government grasp.  Jewelry, handbags, watches, cash and other riches belonging to Rosmah that have been confiscated total at least US$273 million, putting her in a league even above Imelda Marcos, the wife of the late Philippine strongman Ferdinand Marcos, who held the public record for corruption. It remains to be seen if the Najibs surpass it.

The businessman’s assessment could be a bit pessimistic.  The government has abolished with capital punishment and the press appears to remain largely free despite reluctance on the part of the government to abolish a “fake news” bill pushed through at the last minute by the previous administration in an effort to muzzle pre-election critics.

But a sedition act used against the previous government’s foes remains on the books and has been used against critics. Civic organizations including Suaram have called attention to government inactions on a variety of rights issues. There is also concern on the part of the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections, known as Bersih, and others that MPs from the thoroughly disgraced United Malays National Organization are migrating to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, headed by once and current Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, diluting the reformist zeal of the Pakatan Harapan coalition.  Although as many as 40 UMNO MPs are said to be contemplating such a move, Mahathir said they would be vetted individually and known crooks would be kept out.

But, said Kim Quek, a spokesman for opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat in an email, “I foresee mounting tension when UMNO MPs slip into Bersatu, one after another quietly, causing endless suspicion…and mounting public disapproval.”

The headwinds outlined by Finance Minister Lim paint a pessimistic picture for both business and government. With the Trump administration cracking down on trade in Washington, DC, and the global economy beginning to slow, the budget, at a record RM314.6 billion, is forecast to run 3.7 percent of GDP in the red with economic growth expected to slow to 4.8 percent from 5.9 percent in 2017.  The ringgit, Malaysia’s currency, has fallen by 10 percent against the US dollar, in line with troubles across the world as interest rates rise in the United States, causing a flight out of emerging markets.

Lim, in his speech, set out a series of measures designed to help business and vowed to get government out of commerce, saying “clearly, government owned companies have been competing directly with private companies in non-strategic sectors. The outcome was the apparent ‘crowding out’ of private sector investments where private companies are unable to grow and compete.”

The private sector, he said, must lead, and the finance ministry is expected to establish a task force designed to evaluate and reduce duplication of functions,  a ray of hope that the country’s notorious rent-seeking government-linked companies, which funneled millions from inflated contracts to UMNO, could be cut back and its even more notorious cronyism could be reduced.

“Going forward, the government will focus its expenditure and investments only in strategic sectors and areas where the markets are unable to meet the needs of the people,” he said..

Nonetheless, business investment remains lackluster while the sector tries to figure out which way the government is going to go.

“Malaysia will undoubtedly be affected by the US-China trade war given that both these countries are among our top three trading partners,” Lim said in his budget speech. Exports remain a significant driver of the economy, particularly including electronics, oil and gas and palm oil.

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Comeback kids: Like Dr M, other political figures have had second and even third acts during their careers, including (from left) Netanyahu, Abe, Berlusconi and Churchill    

Leadership remains somewhat unsettled, with Mahathir, at 93 the world’s oldest government leader, committed to staying for two years after the formation of the government. Anwar Ibrahim, now 71, has been waiting in the wing for decades, from the time when he was Mahathir’s chosen successor only to be fired and jailed after disagreements in 1998. Although he said he would study abroad and recover from his most recent imprisonment, he forced a by-election to return to parliament a few weeks ago, disconcerting some of his followers, who accused him of acting too quickly.

In the meantime, two of Anwar’s deputies – Mohamad Azmin Ali, the Minister of Economic Affairs, and Rafizi Ramli, the Parti Keadilan general secretary,  are staging their own internecine squabble to become deputy party leader with an eye to succeeding Anwar, raising concerns over party – and coalition – unity.  Pakatan Harapan remains a work in progress. Azmin is said to be aligned with Mahathir, Rafizi with Anwar.

That raises the spectre of Mahathir and Anwar continuing to try to do in each other despite public pledges of amity, including Mahathir campaigning for Anwar in the Port Dickson by-election that brought him back into the parliament.

“The Harapan guys thought that since they couldn’t get worse than Najib, people would continue to support them,” another source said. “They forget that there will always be alternatives; if not in the next five years, then in the next 10 maybe.  Inflation is creeping up; wages have not gone up; new taxes are being introduced and people still struggle to put food on the table. Business is slow; businessmen are not re-investing as they are unsure of this government’s policies.”

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Award winning Journalist John Berthelsen

Euphoria is dying off and bodies like Bersih, he continued, have started criticizing the new government. Many from civil society are keeping silent. “I suppose the saving grace is that Najib and his cohorts are gone. But that can’t console people forever.”

Cry no more, my beloved country, Malaysia


September 26, 2018

Cry no more, my beloved country, Malaysia

Opinion

by Bob Teoh@www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT | Saddened by the state of our country, I wrote a piece titled “Cry, my beloved country” six years ago.

But the unexplainable happened on 9 May. The old regime was swept out of power through an unprecedented electoral revolt. Hope has finally arrived on our shores.

However, the frantic rush by party warlords to install the next Prime Minister after the current one steps down mid-term is worrying. Still my hope is anchored on nothing less than a New Malaysia. Cry no more, my beloved country.

Two former Star colleagues of mine, both retired, one in Penang and the other in New York were trying to catch up with the distance that separates them just the other day in Petaling Jaya. Very soon they came to the same conclusion. They don’t trust Anwar Ibrahim, the Prime minister-in-waiting.

“And it is too much of a coincidence that every time Anwar’s name crops up in conversation, others say they don’t trust him too,” one of them said.

Indeed so, I agree with both of them but for different reasons, as I wrote earlier in my piece, “The Prime minister-in-waiting must not jump the queue”.

Losing the plot

I was a life member of PKR since 2008, but not anymore.  Anwar seems to have lost his Reformasi plot. He sticks to old regime politics not much different from what UMNO used to do. In the New Malaysia, we need statespeople, not apparatchiks.

His party, PKR, which is now the biggest component in the new ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition in terms of parliamentary seats, is hopelessly split with Vice-President Rafizi Ramli running against current Deputy President Azmin Ali to be deputy to Anwar, the President-designate.

This is not only Azmin’s second term in this party position, but he is also the new Economic Affairs Minister and former  Menteri Besar of Selangor. He was one of the better performing chief ministers the state ever had.

Azmin (photo) has his critics, who have accused him of putting his own people in the state government when he was Menteri Besar, as well as in the current federal cabinet. He is also accused of insisting on keeping PAS in his cabinet against party wishes.

Rafizi’s reason for running against Azmin is to make sure Anwar becomes the Prime Minister. The incumbent Vice-President accuses Azmin of coveting the premiership for himself and that the latter is in league with former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin and colluding with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Azmin is also accused of disloyalty to Anwar simply because he has not offered to give up his Gombak parliamentary seat for Anwar to be elected into the lower house in order to assume the premiership.

By this token, there now seems to be two prime ministers-in-waiting, not just one. Either way, the pretender to the throne is in a hurry to seize the moment now. But Azmin has been quick to punch back by saying Rafizi was still a “toddler” when the Reformasi movement started in 1998. Azmin said he had stood by Anwar and has stayed loyal to his struggle from the day the latter was sacked from the government.

Reformasi veterans like Tian Chua are aligned to Azmin. Among those  in Rafizi’s camp is Anwar’s daughter and Permatang Puah MP Nurul Izzah who was the “Puteri Reformasi” (Reformasi princess) and still in school when Anwar went to jail back then.

Nurul has come a long way since. She commanded the most votes in the Vice-presidency contest in Penang over the weekend, garnering 4,039 votes, far outnumbering her opponents.

Meanwhile, Anwar himself has confirmed things are not going well. He said unnamed leaders in PKR are allegedly offering projects for support in the party’s internal election. Is UMNO-style money politics making in-roads into PKR?

Anwar also acknowledged weaknesses in the party’s ongoing election processes, after voting was variously suspended in several states owing to alleged irregularities as well as violent disagreements.

A betrayal

This is plain betrayal to those who elected Danyal four months ago. By accepting this, Anwar is similarly tainted. This scandalises the whole notion of a democratic election, where the sanctity of democracy is now sacrificed on the altar of political ambition.

An ethical question mark hangs over Anwar’s Port Dickson Move. The incumbent MP there is PKR’s Danyal Balagopal Abdullah (centre in photo). He vacated his seat on Sept 12 to make way for a by-election for Anwar to contest to enable him to become prime minister.

In the 14th general election, Danyal won the Port Dickson seat in athree-corner fight, garnering 36,225 votes, with a large majority of 17,710 votes. He has now handed over the seat on a platter to Anwar.

The Prime Minister-in-waiting should have been more circumspect. There are other options for him.

Anwar’s electoral base has always been Permatang Pauh. When he was in prison, his wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, now Deputy Prime Minister, stood in for him in this parliamentary seat until the last general election where she switched to Pandan, the parliamentary seat previously held by Rafizi Ramli, and won. He did not contest due to a court conviction for exposing a page of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) audit report. He was later bound over.

In a parallel move, Anwar’s daughter, Nurul, moved from her Lembah Pantai constituency to contest in Permatang Pauh and won.

We are not told of the reason behind this family musical chairs. No one would complain if either of them vacated her seat to make way for Anwar to return to Parliament via a by-election. This would have been better than the Port Dickson Move, which was very much outsourced to Rafizi.

It was Rafizi (photo) who had conjured the Kajang Move that morphed into a full-blown political crisis in Selangor in 2014.

The idea was to topple Khalid Ibrahim as PKR’s Menteri Besar of Selangor, and install Anwar Ibrahim as his replacement. The attempt resulted in a nine-month political crisis within the state of Selangor and the Pakatan Rakyat coalition, that also involved the Palace of Selangor. The irony is that the crisis concluded with the appointment of PKR’s Deputy President, Azmin, as the next Menteri Besar of Selangor.

The Kajang Move backfired. It can backfire again. As pundits would have it, Anwar would have succeeded in his Kajang Move. What if nobody turns out on polling day on Oct 13? Already the BN opposition has said it would not contest, and PAS may also not field a candidate. Anwar may suffer the embarrassment of facing an unknown independent. It may be a hollow victory after all. This does not augur well for a Prime Minister-in-waiting.

After May 9, we now have a two-party electoral system, the first in six decades. In the recent general election, the opposition did not expect to win and the ruling coalition did not expect to lose.

In the words of former UMNO leader and minister Rafidah Aziz, God heard our collective prayer. The people won. The eyes of the Almighty is on our nation. Man may propose this move or that move, but it is God who may dispose. I am at ease. Cry no more, my beloved country.


BOB TEOH is a faith-based writer.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

For Anwar Ibrahim : It’s Political Power First, Malaysia Baru Second


September 10, 2018

For Anwar Ibrahim : It’s Political Power First, Malaysia Baru  Second

by Mariam Mokhtar@www.malaysiakini.com

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COMMENT | At a time when integrity amongst politicians and civil servants is at an all-time low, why is PKR President-elect, Anwar Ibrahim unashamedly abusing his power?

Anwar recently announced that a parliamentary seat would be vacated to trigger a by-election in which he hoped to contest and be made an MP.

If Anwar is as credible as he portrays himself, he should reject this fast-track method of becoming an MP. Vacating a parliamentary seat reminds us of another of UMNO-Baru’s backdoor trick. Failed politicians who lost elections were sworn in as senators, then elevated to important positions in government.

Anwar admitted that two, possibly three seats, would be made available. He claimed that he did not know which constituencies were involved and told us to wait for the announcement.

First: He should reject the proposal and censure the people who cooked up this suggestion.

Second: If he is a man of integrity, he should put the electorate first. They voted for change. They voted for the man or woman in their constituency. They placed their trust in this person. They did not elect him, only for their votes to be manipulated.

Third: Agreeing to this by-election proposal only projects Anwar as a greedy, power-hungry, self-serving and impatient man. The electorate would feel that they have been cheated of their votes, if Anwar were to become an MP, via this backdoor route.

Fourth: The rakyat is tired of elections and by-elections. The low voter turnout at the last two by-elections reflects this. The process of canvassing, and getting ready for voting, is time-consuming and expensive. The parties need to focus on ridding the nation of corruption and its other ills. Why distract politicians from their duties? Why waste money unnecessarily?

Fifth: What if Anwar loses?

The opposition, pre-GE-14, could not shift the Malay electorate without Dr Mahathir Mohamad (photo) being part of Pakatan Harapan.

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We are aware of Mahathir’s past and we want him to fix the nation, as he was responsible for many things which affect us today. He knows what should be done and how to crush UMNO-Baru.

Anwar should allow Mahathir to deal with the mess created by UMNO-Baru and not have to deal with the potential mess which Anwar might create.

In the new reformed Malaysia (Malaysia Baru) the best Anwar can do is to assist the government from the sidelines. He should not undermine the reform, by going around paying homage to various people as he did, immediately after his release from Sungai Buloh. Nor should he make remarks, as he did in Ipoh, that GLCs should not be criticised.

Prison may have stopped Anwar from knowing what goes on in the outside world, but the GLCs are part of our problem. The CEOs of GLCs, their mismanagement, and their inflated salaries and perks, have been detrimental to the efficient running of our GLCs.

Soon after his release, Anwar’s behaviour was reminiscent of another infamous spouse, the former First Lady of Malaysia (FLOM), Rosmah Mansor, who upstaged her husband, the former disgraced PM, Najib Abdul Razak.

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“Why can’t some Malaysian spouses of key politicians, be less visible? One couldn’t accuse Margaret Thatcher’s husband of projecting himself.”–Mariam Mokhtar

 

Why can’t some Malaysian spouses of key politicians, be less visible? One couldn’t accuse Margaret Thatcher’s husband of projecting himself.

The rakyat is also not amused by Anwar’s name dropping (just listen to his speeches). Many moderate Muslims wonder if he will resume the Islamisation of the nation if he becomes PM.

In the early 1980s, Mahathir enlisted Anwar’s help to project a more Muslim image for UMNO, to counter the rise in the popularity of PAS, which was energised by the Iranian revolution and the global rise of Islam.

Anwar introduced the tudung to our educational institutions and today, the emphasis on rituals in Islam, has overshadowed many of the good aspects of Islam.

A few days ago, Anwar warned PKR leaders and members not to abuse their power. Wouldn’t he be abusing his power, if a seat were to be vacated especially for him?

If we worked hard to achieve a particular position in a company, why should we give way to someone else, just because he feels he deserves the post? The sense of entitlement and lust for self-aggrandisement are two of the negative traits that are destroying the work ethic and social structure of the Malays.

UMNO Baru’s tactic of using race, religion, the royals and the rural people, was a trick which they used to maximum effect to divide the people. Anwar’s party is divided, between the Azmin Ali and Rafizi Ramli camps.

Anwar was once a staunch UMNO-Baru man. Is he using this tactic of divide and rule, to strengthen his grip on power?

To regain the rakyat’s trust, Anwar could unite his party and force these two camps to see eye-to-eye. The nation is angry with the distractions they create. Moreover, they undermine Harapan.

The people have tasted change and found it easy to vote for an alternative government. The rakyat, which is fed-up with an impatient Anwar, may vote Harapan out of office in GE15.


MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO). Blog, Twitter.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

The Long and Winding Uncertain Journey for Pakatan Harapan (Hope Coalition)


August 20, 2018

The Long and Winding Uncertain Journey for Pakatan Harapan (Hope Coalition)

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

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The new government’s 100 days is now up. What was put out as 10 key reforms by Pakatan in a manifesto aimed at enticing voters is dominating the headlines. However these are still very early days to assess the progress made with the promises of

● easing the burden of the public

● reforming the nation’s administrative institutions and politics

● reshaping the nation’s economy in a fair and just manner

● reinstating the rights and status in Sabah and Sarawak

● building an inclusive and moderate Malaysia in the international arena.

By way of contrast it is useful to recall that Barisan Nasional with its theme of “With BN for a Greater Malaysia” had a 220 page manifesto with 364 pledges covering almost every single community and group – Felda settlers, women, youth, orang asli, the people of Sabah and Sarawak, the bottom 40% households, Chinese community and other non-Muslims. Possibly the only group that was not covered was that of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) currently in the public limelight and under fire.

The Challenge That Pakatan Faces

In evaluating the performance of the present government, it needs to be remembered too that Pakatan’s victory was against the odds. Most analysts – as well as Pakatan’s leaders – saw little hope of ending the continuation of Barisan rule in GE-14.

Since the first election in 1955, the Alliance and its BN successor have gradually tightened their power through a combination of constitutional and extra-constitutional measures, the deployment of an enormous patronage machine and the cooptation of the nation’s civil service in suppressing whatever opposition exists in the country. The ruling coalition has also effectively exploited racial and religious faultlines to maintain its hold on the Malay majority voting population.

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They are back as a tag team. Will they do it again with the politics of Race and Religion in the name of Ketuanan Melayu?

Lest we under-estimate the magnitude of the reform challenge, let it not be forgotten that most of the present crop of Pakatan’s current leadership have been among the active supporters of the indoctrination movement in its diverse manifestations. They have been responsible for the Malay psyche, which needs transformation if the new Malaysia is not to remain a mirage.–Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

Not only was there little hope of an election upset but there was also a big question mark as to whether there could be a peaceful transition of government and power. Now that we have had both extraordinary outcomes – to paraphrase what Dr. Mahathir, the Prime Minister, recently described in Japan as the nation’s unique and lucky peaceful transition of power – we need to be realistic about the challenge that Pakatan faces.

This is because the missteps, wrong doings, abuses and transgressions engaged in by the BN government – some going back to the time of Dr. Mahathir’s first stint as Prime Minister – are so rampant and the ensuing damage to the country’s socio-economy and governance structures and race and religious relations so egregious that it will require more than a few years – perhaps a decade – of sweeping and far-reaching policy changes and reform to undo them.

High level corruption and economic excesses and crimes are currently a major preoccupation of the new government. However, it is perhaps among the easiest of the improprieties and legacy of the BN regime that the Pakatan government has to deal with and correct.

More resistant to remedying are the policies, programmes and mindsets which the country’s state apparatus and most institutions of government (educational, media, professional and socio-cultural organisations, religious bodies, etc.) have propagated to a largely captive audience.

As explained in a recent article by Fathol Zaman Bukhari, editor of Ipoh Echo

“The Malay psyche is not something difficult to fathom. It is the result of years of indoctrination (brainwashing) by a political party that is long on hopes but short on ideas. Fear mongering is UMNO’s forte because the party believes that Malays are under threat. That their religion and their sultans are being assailed and belittled by imaginary goblins and make-believe enemies …. Anyone other than a Malay and a Muslim is considered unworthy to assume any sensitive appointments, which are only reserved for Malays. But on hindsight it is the Malays who have let the nation and their own kind down. Najib Razak, Rosmah Mansor, Apandi Ali, Rahman Dahlan, Tajuddin Rahman, Khalid Abu Bakar, Jamal (Jamban) and all the obscenely-paid heads of government-linked companies are Malays. But this is of no consequence to a race that makes up over 60 percent of the nation’s population. They continue to feel threatened.”

It is this less easily definable, less financially quantifiable, but more ubiquitous, and ultimately more destructive and ruinous feature of nation-building directed and manipulated by the previous leadership for the last 60 years, that needs to be contended with and purged of its toxic ethno-religious content if the new Malaysia is to have any chance of succeeding.

Lest we under-estimate the magnitude of the reform challenge, let it not be forgotten that most of the present crop of Pakatan’s current leadership have been among the active supporters of the indoctrination movement in its diverse manifestations. They have been responsible for the Malay psyche, which needs transformation if the new Malaysia is not to remain a mirage.

 

Anwar Ibrahim, stop the PKR Contest


August 18, 2018

Anwar Ibrahim, stop the PKR Contest and get down to the serious business of promised reforms

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The pre-election scuffles within PKR are threatening to tear apart the party as well as the hopes of all who see it as the way forward for the new Malaysia.

COMMENT

 

By Watson Peters

Most Malaysians would agree that while Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the catalyst that caused the change of the Barisan Nasional (BN) government, that result was not the fortuitous consequence of some fortuitous social process. It did not appear out of thin air. It was the natural and inevitable consequence of a government that could not continue to base itself on arbitrary applications of power that sought to eliminate all forms of dissent and non-conformity.

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Azmin Ali –The Man who stood with Anwar Ibrahim and PKR through the years

The sole unwavering sentinel at the PKR guardhouse from day one has been Azmin. His loyalty to the Reform Malaysia cause cannot and should not be doubted.–Watson Peters

The process of change began with the cruel, baseless and repeated incarcerations of Anwar Ibrahim and was sustained by the momentum of the Reformasi movement and PKR which has continued carrying the “Reform Malaysia” torch since 1998. People who were not particularly fond of Anwar became Anwar supporters overnight.

The Anwar family became the best-loved family in the hearts of most Malaysians. While PKR may have fewer than one million members, it has millions more supporters and sympathisers across the whole spectrum of our nation

The current PKR election has denigrated into an internecine warfare that threatens to tear apart not only the fabric of PKR, but also the hopes of millions who see PKR as the hope and way forward for the new Malaysia.

The public utterances by some PKR leaders are rather discouraging and indeed disheartening. This looks like a classic case of talking the party and the government into trouble.

Given that the new government has not properly warmed its seat yet, the issue really is whether it is necessary to have the contests at this time.

Could not the many good leaders in PKR work together for the common good rather than for well-disguised personal objectives?Could not the contending forces lay down their armoury and allow the Pakatan Harapan government settle down in its business of running our country and leading us to a better future?

It is a tragedy to see how the contest for the post of Deputy President between Rafizi Ramli and Mohamed Azmin Ali is turning out. To compound matters, the contest has filtered down to the other echelons of leadership.

Admittedly, both Rafizi and Azmin are great leaders to have within the ranks. They may have different modus operandi but that need not be at cross-purposes.

It is particularly painful to hear accusations of disloyalty aimed at Azmin. Malaysians remember how, in the aftermath of Anwar’s incarceration and while Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, or Kak Wan, as the figure head of the Reformasi movement and PKR had to deal not only with an absent husband but also a young family, it was “Anwar’s boys” (as they were popularly known) who were on the ground – marshalling supporters, organising branches and giving flesh to the bare bones of PKR.

Sadly though, over the years most of “Anwar’s boys” have either “run for the hills” or “crossed over to the other side”.

The sole unwavering sentinel at the PKR guardhouse from day one has been Azmin. His loyalty to the Reform Malaysia cause cannot and should not be doubted.

As Selangor menteri besar, he had shown remarkable leadership, maturity and fortitude in the face of numerous challenges, especially in the early days. The scurrilous attacks on Azmin’s loyalty and integrity must be viewed with the contempt they deserve while his elegant non-confrontational reaction must be applauded.

That said, Rafizi is also an irreplaceable component of the PKR engine. His sacrifices for the Malaysian people have not been forgotten. His frequent exposes at great personal risk are still fresh in our hearts and minds.

Given this scenario, it lies upon the shoulders of Anwar as President of PKR and the Bapak Reformasi to intervene immediately and impose peace upon the party.

Democratic rights aside, Anwar can and must convince the contestants to allow the new government to settle down and dig us out of the quagmire we are in. Anwar is the only one who can impose an acceptable modus vivendi and he should not abdicate this responsibility.

It may be good for all the contestants to remind themselves that there is always the next party election, in a couple of years’ time, to re-ignite this contest.

Stop the implosion of PKR and the explosion of the hopes of millions of Malaysians.

Watson Peters has been a practising lawyer for more than 30 years.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

War Games in Pakatan Harapan?


August 14, 2018

War Games in Pakatan Harapan?  There’s a campaign to stop Anwar, says PKR man

by Soo Wern Jun

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Image result for Anwar Ibrahim

Kapar MP Abdullah Sani who recently accused Putrajaya’s Chief Adviser of being behind a campaign to stop Anwar Ibrahim from becoming the Prime Minister today said he would provide proof of his claims.

“Once I am done visiting the respective states, I will be able to show proof that there are such people, outside forces, who have been trying to stall the smooth transition of Anwar assuming his position as Prime Minister.

“But you don’t need much proof, as I said in my debates during last week’s Parliament sitting,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby, adding that there were “hands from the skies interfering with the country’s governance”.

On Saturday, Abdullah named Council of Eminent Persons head Daim Zainuddin as among those whom he said were out to stop Anwar from becoming prime minister as agreed by Pakatan Harapan (PH).

Image result for Tun Daim

Daim, a former Finance Minister who was recalled to duty months before Anwar’s dramatic sacking in 1998 during Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s first tenure as Prime Minister, had actively campaigned for PH candidates, including those from PKR.

Abdullah said Daim had claimed that Anwar Ibrahim should wait until Mahathir fulfils his commitments to the government.

“In these statements, there are signals pointing towards elements of preventing and hindering the process of Anwar taking over as Prime minister.”

Abdullah also said this was why he had decided to openly support Rafizi Ramli who is running against Economic Affairs Minister Mohamad Azmin Ali for the post of PKR deputy President.

“I decided to do so as an effort to strengthen Anwar’s position. Rafizi is seen as championing the reform agenda in the party, and this is supported by party leaders as well as the people.”

It was reported that Abdullah had earlier claimed Anwar would face problems taking over control from Mahathir if Rafizi was unsuccessful in unseating Azmin as PKR deputy president in the coming party polls.

He was quoted as saying several parties who had previously wronged Anwar were again conspiring to deny him the position.

Image result for kapar mp abdullah sani

Kapar MP Abdullah Sani

“I will not back down from what I have said, and I will continue to bring this up because when I retire, I will not allow myself to be accused of not championing the original struggles of the party,” he said.

Prior to the 14th general election, PH leaders agreed that after two years, Mahathir would hand over the prime ministership to Anwar, who recently won the PKR presidency unopposed. Mahathir reportedly said he might stay for two years or longer, depending on the people’s wishes.