Corruption: Now the Joke is on Malaysians


November 20, 2017

Corruption: Now the Joke is on Malaysians

by R.Nadeswaran@www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for Najib Razak-- I am not a Liar

These UMNO Rogues are laughing at us because we are gullible and naive

There was a time when the jokes were on African states, their leaders and how they ran their governments. We despised the apartheid regime in South Africa and laughed at Idi Amin in Uganda and other kleptocrats who stole money and precious metals from their own people. Now, the joke seems to be on us.

Former Kenyan premier Raila Amolo Odinga’s not-so-flattering remarks on corruption in Malaysia made during a 2013 conference at the Wilson Centre in Washington DC, was uploaded to YouTube on 10 days ago.

He spoke as if he was an authority and had full knowledge of Malaysian affairs. Not surprising as a year earlier, he had been conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Leadership in Societal Development by the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology.

How long can Malaysians go on hearing all kinds of hurtful things being said of the country and its leaders? Why aren’t we responding to such insults, instead of pretending that they were never made? The more we play deaf and dumb, the more we become disrespected and slighted.

In 2015, the Wall Street Journal alleged RM2.6 billion had been deposited into the AmBank account of Prime Minister Najib Razak and linked it to 1MDB. Almost immediately, he threatened to sue the newspaper. A year later, nothing materialised but his lawyer, Mohd Hafarizam Harun was quoted as saying that it would be a futile move.

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The more important issue, the lawyer argued, is the Malaysians’ own thoughts regarding 1MDB, noting that reports and statements from local authorities such as the Attorney-General and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) have cleared the prime minister.

“What matters are the Malaysians, whether you believe with all the public accounts committee report, the attorney-general and the MACC, that the PM is not involved. If you say you do not believe because the international media are saying otherwise, nothing much I can do,” he told reporters, adding that it would show a mindset of continued colonisation with the belief that “the Americans, the British, the whites are far superior” than Malaysians.

Well, that was before the US Department of Justice came out with its deposition on the funds it alleges had been stolen from 1MDB. Since then, there have been other disclosures from other monetary authorities.

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MIC thinks Najib Razak is the Father of Indian Development and our Indian brothers think so too

Singapore closed a couple of financial institutions; banned a few bankers and even sent three of them to jail. The line that the money was a donation “from an Arab prince” has been demolished on more than to report the big money transfers to Bank Negara.

‘Tidak apa’

ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott told an Australian parliamentary inquiry in October last year that no ANZ employee was involved in what has happened in the AmBank. (The AmBank Group was slapped with a RM53.7mil fine by Bank Negara in November 2015, but the exact reasons for the fine were not specified.)

If the bank has been penalised, what about the account holder? The Police have continuously prosecuted individuals for having monies which they could not account for. And our leaders have often thumped their chest and screamed: “No one is above the law!”

There has been hardly any reaction to the Australian report. To scream “fake news” and consign 1MDB, its humongous borrowings and losses, its links to the Prime Minister and the government to the dustbin are not going to be easy.

The annals of history will record the massive misinformation campaign and its perpetrators of 1MDB and those attempting the cover-up exercise. With the rakyat are being continually starved of accurate data, the government has created a new strain of disease called the truth deficiency syndrome.

Instead of addressing this issue, the government seems laid back and has adopted a “tidak apa” attitude. Lawmakers who raise the issues are not given proper answers in Parliament.

There seems to be no will and determination in wanting to tell the truth and find closure to an issue that has dragged down the country through slime and mud. Does it not matter to our MPs and ministers? What do they tell their foreign counterparts when attending conferences and meetings? Packs of lies?

It has been said that those who are riding the 1MDB tiger refuse to or cannot dismount for fear of being eaten up. If that is so, let it happen.

What about the roles of our elected representatives? Instead of addressing more important issues, they seem to be more apt or fixated with sex. Why else would they be debating the aphrodisiac qualities of durians instead of 1MDB?

Read more at https://www.malaysiakini.com/columns/402499#fc7WYSjfAyZWKyc3.99

 

Rethinking Southeast Asian civil society


November 7, 2017

Rethinking Southeast Asian civil society

by Kevin Hewison@www.newmandala.org

http://www.newmandala.org/illiberal-civil-society/

In the mid-1990s, there was a lot of enthusiasm for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the expansion of civil society in Southeast Asia. At the time, there was an efflorescence of activism as activists campaigned against trade agreements, foregrounded gender issues, worked to reduce poverty, improve health, protect the environment, advocated for workers and consumers, exposed corruption, bolstered human rights and agitated for democracy.

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The optimism of the decade was driven by a feeling of confidence that democracy was taking root in the region, growing on a foundation of thriving capitalist economies. The resonance of 1960s modernisation theory was palpable—the “Third Wave” of democratisation was said to be washing over the region. This was emphasised by the triumphs of popular uprisings in the Philippines (1986), South Korea (1987), Thailand (1992) and Indonesia (1998). These events were associated in the theory with the rise of the middle class and an expansion of civil society.

Two decades later, this optimism has faded. There is now more pessimism about civil society and democratisation. To understand these changing perspectives, it is necessary to give attention to recent political events, and rethink how we conceptualise civil society and its role in Southeast Asian politics today.

Civil society and democratisation

The notion of “civil society” has meanings embedded in the development of capitalism and the end of absolutism in Europe, and the consequent reduction of the weight of the state. The idea of a space relatively autonomous of the state developed quite late in colonial and postcolonial Southeast Asia. While anticolonial, socialist and communist movements, religious and educational organisations, trade unions and the like were established from the late 19th century, they were usually repressed.

When writing of civil society in late 20th century Southeast Asia, analysts tended to emphasise the non-state nature of civil society organisations (CSOs). Many have agreed with David Steinberg, who defined civil society as:

composed of those non-ephemeral organizations of individuals banded together for a common purpose or purposes to pursue those interests through group activities and by peaceful means. These are generally non-profit organizations, and may be local or national, advocacy or supportive, religious, cultural, social, professional, educational, or even organizations that, while not for profit, support the business sector, such as chambers of commerce, trade associations, etc.

The organisations mentioned can be formal or informal, may be charitable, developmental or political. Yet when considering democratisation, authors usually associate civil society with efforts to expand political space. Some authors identify a “political civil society,” where “non-violent … organisations and movements … seek to promote human rights and democratisation…”. Their efforts mean that the political space of civil society becomes a site of intense competition and struggle—including for the organisations that occupy this space.

Civil society and political conflict

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But this conceptualisation of civil society—one which views the groups making up civil society as only being non-violent and peaceful—is too limiting. Civil society and its political space is open to many groups, not just those considered “democratic” and “progressive”. That space can also be occupied by state-sponsored, right-wing, anti-immigrant and anti-democracy activists, and many others considered nasty, fascist, and reactionary. That the groups occupying civil society’s political space will sometimes be violent, and will oppose other groups, should be no surprise when we consider that all societies are riven and driven by conflict over all manner of resources.

Thinking this way of political space and civil society is not uncontroversial. Much of conventional political science, heavily imbued with modernisation theory, has romanticised civil society as the natural domain of individual and group freedoms, and sometimes conceived of NGOs and CSOs as representative interest groups. Such a perspective treats conflict and division as pathological, and misses the fact that political space is created through contestation with the state and with other groups in society. It is a view that fails to give sufficient attention to how civil society groups have actually behaved.

Contestation within civil society

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Bersih Movement in Malaysia

When we think of civil society as a site of struggle, it becomes clear that it is not always a ballast for democratisation. Islamic militias in Indonesia, racist Buddhist gangs in Myanmar and right-wing ultranationalists in the Philippines and Thailand are not forces for a democratic society—yet each undoubtedly occupies the space of civil society.

Islamic militias have re-emerged at various times during Indonesia’s reformasi era and engaged in mobilisation and violence. While the use of violence might exclude such groups from the romanticised approaches to civil society, militias have occupied a space created by democratisation, even if their activities are meant to mobilise anti-democratic groups and against some freedoms. A recent example of such anti-democratic opposition was seen in the defeat of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) in the 2017 Jakarta governor’s election. The Islamic Defenders Front (Front Pembela Islam, or FPI) joined with several political parties to oppose Ahok in an acrimonious contest that involved the mobilisation of Islamic identity in huge demonstrations that targeted Ahok as a Chinese Christian portrayed as “threatening” Islam. Eventually, Ahok’s opponents gained the support of elements of the state to jail him on charges of blasphemy and inciting violence.

In Myanmar, religious groups have also engaged in racist and xenophobic activism. Radical Buddhists such as the ultra-nationalist 969 Movement and Ma Ba Tha (Myanmar Patriotic Association) have been able to mobilise mass demonstrations against Muslims and have fuelled extreme communal violence since 2012. Such groups have also been supported by elements of the state and by elected politicians, all the while taking advantage of the expanded political space created by Myanmar’s political transition to mobilise and propagandise.

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Buddhist monks walk during a prayer ceremony for the victims of the recent unrest between Buddhists and Muslims in Mandalay, at Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar’s capital Yangon on Friday, July 4, 2014. (Reuters)

 

Indonesia and Myanmar demonstrate how extremists use the political space of civil society, and elements of electoral democracy, to oppose and challenge the freedoms that have come with democratisation. These groups are connected with some of the most regressive elements that continue to populate some state agencies. So far, they have not managed to destroy the political basis of these new democracies. But to see how the political space of civil society was used to re-establish authoritarianism in a Southeast Asian “democratic success story” of years past, we only need to turn our eyes to Thailand’s decade of high-octane political contestation.

Thailand: civil society for military dictatorship

 

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The Yellow and Red Shirts of Thailand

Thailand’s recent political mobilisations have been designated by the colours that define their motivations. Their massive street demonstrations mobilised many, including NGOs and CSOs. The broad Red Shirt movement and the official United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship bring together supporters of electoral politics, those opposed to military interventions, and supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra. The Red Shirts, of course, developed to oppose the anti-Thaksin Yellow Shirt movement. The latter initially coagulated as the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), wearing yellow to announce their royalism. Yellow Shirts tend to support the status quo, are anti-democratic, ultranationalist, and supported the 2006 and 2014 military coups.

In the 1990s, Thailand’s civil society, dominated by middle class interests, gained a reputation for opposing the military’s domination. NGOs and CSOs also tended to support the liberalising ideas that permeated the so-called People’s Constitution of 1997. When Thaksin was elected under the rules of this constitution in 2001, his government gained the support of many NGOs and CSOs. This support was forthcoming because of Thaksin’s initial nationalism, and his attention to grassroots issues and poverty eradication. That early support quickly drained away, with Thaksin coming to be viewed as authoritarian and corrupt.

The PAD, which was formed to oppose and bring down the popularly elected Thaksin, came to include many CSOs and NGOs which, at the time, would have been bundled into the broad category of “progressive civil society”. As the anti-Thaksin campaign expanded, the middle class, including spokespersons for civil society groups, began to denigrate the grassroots. The latter appreciated Thaksin’s “populist” policies and, especially in the north, northeast and central regions, voted for his parties in large numbers. Mobilised Yellow Shirts vilified this grassroots support for Thaksin, labelling those who voted for his party as ignorant, duped or bought.

As pro-Thaksin parties won every election from 2001 to 2011, the Yellow Shirts began an inevitable shift towards the denigration of the electoral processes itself, while declaring themselves the protectors of “true democracy”. The Yellow Shirts—the PAD and its clone, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC)—emphatically rejected electoral politics, arguing that electoral victories amounted to a dictatorship of the majority. In the 2013–14, PDRC protesters opposed an election called by then prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Yellow Shirts blocked candidate registration, prevented the distribution of ballot papers, and tried to prevent voting on polling day. The PDRC argued that no election could be “free and fair” until the “Thaksin regime” had been destroyed. Their ultimatum was that the Yingluck government had to be thrown out, replaced by an appointed government and an appointed “reform” committee to purge those associated with Thaksin’s rule.

Backed by Bangkok’s middle class, including CSOs and NGOs, PAD and the PDRC campaigned for a “democracy” that rejected voting and elections. They wanted a greater reliance on selected and appointed “representatives”, usually opting for a royally- appointed government of “good” people. This paternalism was taken up by protesters, who claimed to champion transparency and anti-corruption while begging the military for a coup. Such Orwellian doublespeak was also in evidence when the military responded and seized power in 2014. The junta defined a coup and military dictatorship as a form of “democracy”. One pronouncement called on:

all Thai citizens [to] uphold and have faith in the democratic system with His Majesty the King as Head of State. [The] NCPO [junta] fully realizes that the military intervention may be perceived by the West as a threat to democracy and a violation of the people’s liberty. However, this military intervention was inevitable, in order to uphold national security and to strengthen democracy (emphasis added).

The result has been more than three years of military dictatorship that has narrowed political space and heavily restricted much civil society activism. Red Shirts had championed electoral politics, arguing that winning elections should count for something and reckoned that electoral democracy was the appropriate platform for political reform. Under the military junta, they have been demobilised, jailed, and repressed.

Interestingly, most of the PAD and PDRC-affiliated NGOS and CSOs have either supported, or at least not opposed, the junta. Some have continued to receive state funds. However, the relationship with the junta remains tense, not least because the junta sees some of these groups as contingent supporters, worrying about their capacity for mobilising supporters and considering them more anti-Thaksin than pro-junta. Few high-profile leaders of these groups have expressed regrets about having supported the 2006 and 2014 coups.

Complicating “civil society”

The travails of electoral democracy in Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand are not unique in Southeast Asia. Certainly, any notion that increased national wealth results in a civil society that becomes a “natural” ballast of democratisation should be rejected. Democratisation does increase the space identified as civil society. However, this space is not always a stronghold of progressives. As a site of struggle, civil society can be occupied by groups that are anti-democratic, ultra-nationalist, and sectarian. As the experience of Thailand and other countries has made clear, much abstract talk of “civil society” runs the risk of crediting its constituent parts with a uniformly pro-democratic outlook that they manifestly do not hold.

This post appears as part of the Regional Learning Hub, a New Mandala series on the challenges facing civil society in Southeast Asia, supported by the TIFA Foundation.

Cambodia: Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen adopts strong people-centeric leadership instead of liberal democracy


November 3, 2015

Cambodia: Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen adopts strong people-centeric leadership  stead of liberal democracy

by Carlyle A Thayer

http://www.eastasiaforum.org

Image result for hun sen at wef, may, 2017 in phnom penh

Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia seen with Philippine President President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. 

Since 2016, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has set about deliberately dismantling his country’s democratic system. Month by month, the country’s political opposition has been eviscerated through a combination of coercion and judicial means, known as ‘lawfare’.

 

Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge commander, is one of the world’s longest serving leaders and has now been in charge in Cambodia for 32 years.

Degradation of the democratic process dramatically accelerated during 2017. If this continues, the national elections scheduled for July 2018 will effectively be a one-party affair. Cambodia today is an illiberal democracy rapidly descending into autocratic rule.

In 1991, after Cambodia had spent three years under the murderous rule of the Khmer Rouge and ten years under Vietnamese military occupation, the United Nations was mandated to carry out peace-building. It was the largest such mission of its time. Liberal multi-party democracy was enshrined in the constitution. In May 1993, Cambodia held national elections for a Constituent Assembly. Four months later it promulgated a constitution that restored the monarch, Norodom Sihanouk, and re-established the Kingdom of Cambodia. His successor, Norodom Sihamoni, had for many years spent much of his time abroad.

Cambodia’s current constitution was amended in 2004. Five references to liberal multi-party democracy are enshrined within it, including the assertion in the preamble that Cambodia will ‘become once again an “Oasis of Peace” based on the system of a liberal multi-party democracy’.

Article 1 states that ‘the King shall fulfil His functions according to the Constitution and the principles of liberal multi-party democracy’, while Article 50 declares ‘Khmer citizens of both sexes shall respect the principles of national sovereignty and liberal multi-party democracy’.

Article 51 specifies that ‘the Kingdom of Cambodia adopts a policy of liberal multi-party democracy’ and Article 153 affirms that ‘the revision or the amendment of the Constitution cannot be done, if affecting the liberal multi-party democracy system and the constitutional monarchy regime’.

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Cambodian Minister of Public Works, Sun Chanthol and Transport, Sun Chanthol and Dr. Kao Kim Hourn, Minister in Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Office.

National elections have been held at regular five-yearly intervals in Cambodia since 1993. In 1998, Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) gained majority control and it has won every election since then. In 2012, two opposition parties, the Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party, merged to form the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP). In the national elections the following year, the CPP suffered a major setback when it lost 22 parliamentary seats, although it still retained control. The opposition charged that the election was rigged and Cambodia experienced a period of domestic turmoil as mass protests erupted.

Since the setback to his control in 2013, Hun Sen has set about systematically destabilising the opposition. His efforts intensified as commune elections scheduled for 4 June 2017 approached. These elections were widely viewed as a bellwether for national elections scheduled for July 2018.

The leader of the CNRP at the time, Sam Rainsy, was forced to flee abroad and in December 2016 he was convicted of ‘falsifying public documents, using fake public documents [and] incitement causing unrest to national security’ in absentia. His successor, Kem Sokha, was forced to step down as party leader while other CNRP members were jailed for ‘inciting social instability’.

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A Member of ASEAN since 1999, Cambodia has been making friends around the world on the basis of mutual respect and win-win partnerships.

In January 2017, Hun Sen cancelled military exercises with the United States for a period of two years, on the grounds that the Cambodian military needed to provide security for the elections and to assist in an anti-drug campaign. Later he abruptly ordered a US Navy unit engaged in humanitarian construction of school toilets and maternity wards to leave the country.

International organisations have also been expelled. In February 2017, Hun Sen countered the opposition by amending the Law on Political Parties so that the CNRP could be dissolved for ‘jeopardising the security of the state’ and ‘provoking incitement’. A Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations was also passed in July 2015. It required the 5000 domestic and foreign NGOs working in Cambodia to register with the government and provide detailed reports on their activities and finances. If they failed to comply, they risked fines, criminal prosecutions or deregistration.

On 11 April 2017, the Cambodian government released an eleven-page report, ‘To Tell the Truth’. It accused Western governments, UN agencies and NGOs of conducting a deliberate campaign of disinformation to denigrate the CPP. The report also accused the United States and the opposition CNRP of colluding to overthrow the Cambodian government.

Yet the Cambodian people continue to support the opposition at the ballot box. Despite efforts by Hun Sen and his CPP to hound and destabilise the opposition, the opposition performed well in the June 2017 commune elections. Even though the CPP received 51 per cent of the vote to the CNRP’s 44 per cent, the CPP lost 436 commune chief seats while the CNRP gained 449 out of a total of 1646 commune chief seats. And the CPP lost 1779 commune councillor seats while the CNRP gained 2052 out of a total of 11,572 councillor seats.

After the commune elections, Hun Sen and the CPP blamed their poor showing on outside interference by the US National Democratic Institution (NDI) and Khmer language broadcasts by Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA). The NDI was ordered to leave Cambodia and the 53 local radio stations that rebroadcast news from VOA and RFA were shut down. The Cambodian Daily was closed on allegations of tax fraud. In September, former leader of the opposition Kem Sokha, the founder and former leader of the Human Rights Party, was charged with treason.

Hun Sen is an autocrat who is clinging to power. To ensure that he remains at the helm he has resorted to subversion of the national constitution. In the process, he is transforming Cambodia’s liberal multi-party democracy into a dictatorship, a democracy in name only.

Carlyle A Thayer is an Emeritus Professor at the University of New South Wales, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra.

This article was originally posted here on Asian Currents.

 

GE-14: Whither Pakatan Harapan


October 25, 2017

GE-14: Whither Pakatan Harapan–In Disarray

by S. Thayaparan

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for pakatan harapan leadership

After GE-14, No Harapan–Masuk Angin, Keluar Asap

Government was rarely more than a choice between the disastrous and the unpalatable.” ― Barbara W. Tuchman, The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam

 

PKR Vice-President Nurul Izzah Anwar said that Pakatan Harapan needs a clear narrative but I would argue that the problems of Harapan go far beyond needing a clear narrative, which it does by the way. The months of internal squabbling within the party and the collateral damage of dealing and negotiating with PAS have diminished the credibility of the party. Meanwhile, DAP as the Harapan anchor has had to fend off numerous controversies of its own.

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How can Pakatan Harapan win GE-14–Leadership in Disarray

To claim that the opposition is in disarray is an understatement and to most people, it seems that this close to the election – whenever it is – the opposition looks to be a coalition of petty fiefdoms existing in an alternate universe where merely belonging in the opposition washes away the sins of the past.

When Nurul says that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak does not talk about his scandals, what this really means is that the UMNO Grand Poobah is not playing defence. UMNO is on the offence when it comes to the corruption scandals that plague this administration. He does not need to talk about them because he understands that these scandals are complicated and that the opposition’s rhetoric that he is an international outcast does not jive with the photo ops that “world leaders” provide for future services rendered.

 

With loads of money and lots of goodies from 2018 Budget UMNO Grand Poobah is expected to retain Putrajaya

When this issue of holding this anti-kleptocracy was gaining momentum, I said it was a bad idea – “As it is, this rally will only benefit the UMNO regime because it affords them numerous opportunities to point to the dysfunction of the opposition, which means very little in echo chambers online, but is of great influence for people who are sitting on the fence or disillusioned with the opposition and finally, supporters who may not even turn up to vote, much less march on the streets.”

Sure enough, what this rally demonstrated to fence-sitters was that the opposition, even with their “Big Guns”, was in disarray and UMNO had a field day, shooting fish in a barrel when it came to the rhetoric emanating from this rally.

Furthermore, when you talk about the opposition being oppressed and the need for people to sympathise with the opposition, and the path to this “empathy” is a clear narrative, you are on the wrong path.  Here’s the thing. People want to believe that politicians empathise with them even if politicians clearly demonstrate that they do not. Therefore, when the people see all the infighting that goes on in the opposition, they translate that to the opposition only being concerned about themselves and political power.

Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia central committee member Tariq Ismail Mustafa said that rural folks needed to be convinced that “change” can happen, but what exactly does change mean? What are they changing to? Whenever I talk to PSM people, I know exactly what message they are sending to people. A grassroots message that involves how the system oppresses the average citizen, which is linked to the local affairs of the community they are contesting in.

This is why I have always said that Harapan is stupid not to involve a grassroots movements like PSM in their strategy, even if it means giving up seats to them and supporting them because imagine what could be achieved if PSM’s DNA was injected into the opposition body politics. Maybe some people do not want that, which again points to why convincing people that they need to change merely with rhetoric and not action is problematic.

Take this talk of election rigging. Our system has some very serious issues. There is enough literature out there to support the proposition that our election system is compromised. However, when the average citizen sees that the opposition has denied UMNO its two third’s majority and won the popular vote, they believe the system works. If the flawed system works, then the opposition must be doing something wrong which is what most people would think when they hear opposition types talking about a rigged game.

As someone who believes that the opposition winning the next general election – even this opposition – would be a turning point for Malaysian politics because average citizens would come to understand they have a choice, even if it means not exactly appealing choices at this time, in the people they want to lead this country. In other words, Umno does not have to rule in perpetuity.

But how do we get there? DAP election strategist Ong Kian Ming says that people have to be given two clear choices, the status quo or change. The problem with this is thinking is what happens if people think that the status quo is acceptable?

You know what one UMNO strategist is doing. When he talks to rural constituents, he says (and I am paraphrasing here);

“Yes, there is corruption, and UMNO is working on it like they are doing with all the arrests the MACC is making. We are addressing the problem but more importantly, when former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was in power, there was corruption too, and the country did not become a failed state like what the opposition claims now, and the opposition is trying to damage the economy and your livelihood.”

When it comes to the Malay demographic, perhaps it is time to seriously consider what someone like Rafizi Ramli flirted with, in the beginning of the year – Indeed, when Rafizi says that “We (the opposition) must honestly accept failings and offer solutions that may be controversial”, it becomes clear that for some Malay politicians, mainstream Malay political dogma is failing the opposition but not UMNO. What does putting forth controversial solutions mean?”

When opposition people talk to me, the discussion usually involves, in one form or another, the ways and means to propagate a clear message. I always refer to the opposition winning big when they won the popular vote as the perfect storm of political personalities, issues, and plain luck.

People wanted to change and they voted opposition because they were fed up with the establishment. Therefore, I keep telling people that it is possible but sometimes people need to see radical departures from the “business as usual” politics. Anyway, it is much too late for that now.

I tell people it is a numbers game. Get more people to vote and overwhelm the establishment with numbers. It would take a smarter man than me to come up with a clear narrative for the opposition.

Continue reading

Only Malaysians can save Malaysia


October 9, 2017

Only Malaysians can save Malaysia

by Mariam Mokhtar@www.malaysiakini.com

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Two Respected Malaysian Activists–Farouk A. Peru and Mariam Mokhtar

COMMENT | The Malaysian Special Branch is one of the most effective in the world. Its main role is intelligence gathering and the analysis of the information, for use by other government departments.

Predictions of the Special Branch about voting patterns and trends are highly respected. However, recently it was unable to tell Najib Abdul Razak and his cabinet the lie of the land, and how the rakyat will vote in the 14th general election (GE14). That does not augur well for the prime minister, who must call GE14 soon.

We are a divided nation, with Malays pitted against non-Malays, Muslims against non-Muslims, and East Malaysians against peninsular Malaysians. Fracture lines also exist within the communities, for example among the Malays.

The saying “Divide and conquer” has been used by successive Malaysian governments. Despite Najib’s boasts that the economy is doing well, and that everything is under control, he has delayed calling GE14? Why?

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Is Prime Minister Najib unable to contain UMNO extremists and Zakir Naik or is he fermenting unrest  by using race and religion so that he can declare Emergency Rule? 

The recent steep rise in religious and racial intolerance, which has resulted in events like the Oktoberfest being cancelled and deemed a national security risk, is indicative of Najib’s increasing loss of control over the overall situation in Malaysia.

The bigots in the various government departments need to control the masses. Religion is their answer and Najib has provided them the means. Enter Abdul Hadi Awang, the leader of PAS. They are like a tag-team. Hadi has provided Najib the legitimacy to act in the name of Islam. Take one away, and their grip on the Malays is rendered useless.

Rallying call to reject the opposition

On a daily basis, we find the Malays being fed an unwholesome diet of the lies that the non-Malays would conquer them, if the Opposition, in particular the DAP, were to triumph in GE14. The rallying call to reject the Opposition is that the Malays will be driven back to the kampung, Islam will cease to be the official religion, mosques will be removed and Malay will soon be a forgotten language.

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Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Zahid Hamdi  who refuses to be outdone by his boss also embraces Indian Fugitive Zakir Naik

You may laugh and wonder why anyone should believe this rubbish, but when you tell this to many so-called “educated” Malays, you will discover that they actually believe this inflammatory rhetoric.

So, why should the Malays feel threatened? They hold top jobs in the civil service. They have no problems obtaining government grants, government contracts and government licences. Education is tailored to their needs, especially after one former  UMNO education minister decided that the pass mark be lowered for Malays who sit for public examinations.

The Malays are  admitted into the civil service and the armed forces. The royal households are all Malays. You are correct to point out that only those with “cable” (connections) to the top will prosper. But then, who are these people? Are they not mostly Malays? In other countries, this knowledge would be seized upon, questions asked in Parliament and protests demanding swift action, but not in Malaysia. Are we that cowed?

More fearful of Jakim’s officials, than of God

The Department of Islamic Development in Malaysia, Jakim, with its RM1 billion budget, spends much of its time policing our morals and telling us how to live our lives. Many of the Malays who do as Jakim tells them, are more fearful of this department’s officials, than of God. The irony is that we ignore the Quran because we are too lazy to learn.

Malaysians who can afford the fees send their children to study in international schools. Malaysians buy properties overseas so that they can send their children to schools in that country. This shows that they have no faith in the Malaysian education. Instead of demanding that the government improves the situation, they simply allow the system to get worse.

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Mat Rempit and Minah Rempit in Action and then this (below)

Image result for Mat Rempit killed in accident.

 

Why are many local graduates unable to get jobs? Why do many Malay teenagers drop out and end up being Mat Rempit in stead of finishing school?

Many Malaysians are rant and grumble about with the state of economy, the education system and the simmering tensions in the country, but they are too scared to do anything about it. Why do they leave it to a few activists  when they can take part in the movement for change?

You, too, have the power to change Malaysia. You can contribute your best. It may be in the form of one article, one poster, one talk, one interview, or one vote. It takes  a flutter of a butterfly to create a tsunami to  remove UMNO-Baru from the seat of government in Kuala Lumpur/Putrajaya, which it has held since Independence.

Why Malaysia needs credible international election observers?


October 7, 2017

Why Malaysia needs credible international election observers?

by Geraldine Tong and Andrew Ong

INTERVIEW | For many developing countries, inviting credible international groups to scrutinise their elections is a norm because it encourages transparency and lends legitimacy to the electoral process.

Notable international monitoring groups which operate in Asia include the European Parliament, the National Democratic Institute and the Asian Network for Free and Fair Elections (Anfrel).

Such groups would normally publish their list of observers, address the press, engage stakeholders and publish a final report which would include their assessment and recommendations. The objective will normally entail examining if the elections process was up to international standards, and if not, how things could be improved.

Unlike most countries in the ASEAN region, Malaysia has never had any such bodies monitoring its elections. The closest the Election Commission (EC) has come was to invite 18 individuals from the region for a monitoring mission during the General Elections in 2013.

The group comprised  six individuals each from Indonesia and Thailand, two each from Myanmar and Cambodia, and the ASEAN Secretariat. However, they had no access to the media and their recommendations were never made public.

Scratching each other’s backs

For Anfrel chairperson Damaso Magbual, a respected veteran polls observer, the observation mission in 2013 was less about ensuring electoral integrity but more on lending each other legitimacy.

“The Malaysian EC invited commissioners from other ASEAN countries. Among others, they invited people from Cambodia and Myanmar.The problem here is this: When Myanmar held their elections in 2010, they also invited people from Malaysia and Cambodia. They are scratching each other’s back. They will say each other’s elections is free and fair, in line with international norms,” said Magbual during a recent interview in Kuala Lumpur.

 

This lack of transparency and accountability is a missed opportunity for the Malaysian elections commission to shore up its credibility, he stressed, echoing what election reform group Bersih has been urging the EC on since its inception.

Magbual, who has observed at least 30 elections across the globe including conflict zones such as Afghanistan, believes that international election observation missions, when done correctly, can greatly benefit the host country. For instance, it would encourage those running the elections to undertake efforts to ensure the election process is credible, which in turn helps to reduce complaints by those who lose an election, he explained.

Election observation missions can also help instill public trust in the electoral process, which is important in restive regions.

Transparency is key

Magbual said that election monitoring missions which he has been involved in would undertake efforts to ensure its own transparency by inviting scrutiny from stakeholders. This, in turn, would instill public trust in the electoral process.

He recalled how a parallel count by the Philippines National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) had led to the downfall of dictator Ferdinand Marcos during the 1986 Presidential Elections.

The parallel count mechanism gained public acceptance after Namfrel had allowed the election commission and other stakeholders to test it out a few days before polling.

“So three days before the elections, the parties and the election commission were asked to try the system… So they had confidence in it.So in that election, the public believed our count and not the election commission’s. The election commission proclaimed Ferdinand Marcos the winner while our count said Cory (Corazon Aquino) was the winner. So people celebrated on the streets and this led to the downfall of Marcos,” said Magbual.

Image result for malaysian elections

Any prediction that indicates Najib Razak will lose GE-14 is grossly exaggerated.  Why must he hold elections if he knows that he will lose? Something does not compute here. He will let Jamal Ikan Bakar and his Red Shirts loose and allow Special Branch agent provocateurs to create havoc and then declare emergency rule. Alternatively, there will be massive vote rigging under the ever watchful eye of our now infamous Elections Commission–Din Merican

If a credible international election observation mission were to be held in Malaysia, one of the most obvious problems of Malaysian elections to be talked about would likely be malapportionment.

Magbual (photo) believed that presently, Malaysia has the worst case of malapportionment – a situation where one constituency has significantly more voters than another – in the whole of Asia.

Recall that Article 166 (4) of the Federal Constitution once stated that the difference between each constituency should not be more than 15 percent, according to state averages.

Following a constitutional amendment in 1962, this was adjusted to effectively change the quantifiable cap of deviation from the national average to one-third. Again, the relevant constitutional stipulations were removed altogether in 1973.

In comparison, Magbual said that countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia and the Philippines maintain and respect mathematical integrity when drawing their electoral borders.

“Suffrage means one person, one vote, equal value,” he said. “When you have 145,000 people voting in Kapar and 16,000 voters in Putrajaya, then you violate this principle.”

 

Last week, Election Commission chairperson Mohd Hashim Abdullah said Malaysia has no plans to invite international election observers. He said invitations will only be extended to the EC’s counterparts who have invited them to witness their elections in the past.

When asked if this would lead to a conflict of interest, Hashim replied: “No. This is how it should be.”