A Plague on both your houses, ex-UMNO man tells Dr M and Anwar

September 22, 2018

A Plague on both your houses, ex-UMNO man tells Dr M and Anwar

A former UMNO MP has urged moderate parliamentarians from the party not to take sides between Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim, but to remain as an independent and progressive bloc.

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“Penerapan nilai-nilai Islam” or Malay Decadence?

Speaking to FMT, Tawfik Ismail said Mahathir and Anwar started Malaysia on the path to ultra-conservative Islamisation in the 1980s, with the then-Prime Minister establishing the powerful JAKIM and Anwar pushing his idea of “Penerapan nilai-nilai Islam” in the government.

Given the seemingly directionless and weakened state of their former party UMNO after the May 9 polls, he added, both Mahathir’s PPBM and Anwar’s PKR were now waiting with bated breath.

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“A plague on both your houses I say,” said the former Sungai Benut MP, taking a line from William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”.

“I’m cynical of UMNO, PPBM and PKR because they’re all fragments of UMNO Baru, which was unrecognisable from the original UMNO.

“People say UMNO is dying, (but) that’s not accurate because UMNO already died in 1987 when it was declared illegal along with its noble ideals.”

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They forgot that they started the rot but I  don’t–Din Merican

Tawfik said because UMNO Baru was now “dead”, he believed many of its leaders wouldn’t hesitate to ditch the party and join either PPBM or PKR to secure their personal interests.

“At the end of the day, if this happens, will we really see a different Malaysia?At least where ultraconservative Islamisation is concerned, I have to say no because neither PPBM nor PKR seems to really want to kill what Mahathir and Anwar created.”

He said the “ex-UMNO Baru” bunch in PKR and PPBM seemed reluctant to appear “unIslamic”, whether in addressing the issue of child marriages, deinstitutionalising religion or pushing for change where religious matters were concerned.

“The religious agenda continues to be driven by the very same people who made it more important than it should have been. It’s both lawmakers and civil servants.”

He said moderates like Mustapa Mohamed and Anifah Aman, who left UMNO earlier this week, would find real change impossible if they had to join either Mahathir or Anwar.

“There’s going to be a lot of uncertainty in Malay politics at this rate but rather than take sides, like warring camps in UMNO did in 1987, why don’t the moderates in Umno form a non-aligned, progressive and moderate bloc on their own?

“If you take sides, it will just be a return to the ways of UMNO Baru. The likes of Mustapa, Anifah and Khairy Jamaluddin don’t have to side with others. If they remain moderate, they can draw moderates not just from UMNO Baru, but from those outside of UMNO Baru, including non-Malays.”

He said there were bound to be moderates in PKR and PPBM, just as there were radicals in the two Pakatan Harapan parties and UMNO Baru.

He added that forming a moderate bloc, aligned to neither PPBM nor PKR, would keep the two parties from going down the path of race and religion while helping them stay true to the spirit and ideology of the original UMNO.

After the Kajang MOVE– Sham Democracy in Port Dickson

September 12, 2018


After the Kajang MOVE– Sham Democracy in Port Dickson

by Dr. Kua Kia Soong


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The Man in a hurry to be like Turkey’s Erdogan to promote his own brand of Fundamentalist Islam which is a blend of Erdoganism and Khomeinism. Voters of Port Dickson Beware

After the frivolous “Kajang Move”, it is a wonder that our thick-skinned politicians in Pakatan Harapan (PH) still want to test the patience of Malaysian voters by forcing another by-election to allow Anwar Ibrahim to become a member of Parliament.

Why should a recently elected MP resign for yet another asinine by-election? One would think that if Anwar is in such a hurry to get into Parliament, the most suitable seat for him to stand in would be that of our 93-year-old Prime Minister who has already said that he has only one mission in “saving Malaysia”: to get rid of the former prime minister Najib Razak. That mission is now accomplished, and surely his seat would be the most suitable to vacate for Anwar. At his age and from what he has done since GE-14, he does not seem to have any new ideas to turn the country around and institute proper reforms.

This does not have to be executed immediately but it can be arranged in the next few months for the transition Prime minister to prepare for the changeover. That way, it will not provoke the irritation of voters who will be more understanding of the elderly politician bowing out from the national stage.

Thinking outside the box

Politicians, when it fits their agenda, do have the capacity to think outside the box. In January this year, PH Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin, who is also a minister, proposed having Mohamed Azmin Ali and Mukhriz Mahathir as candidates for Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, and argued that such a move could introduce a “refreshing” take on the country’s politics, and attract young voters.

This was indeed a bold and fresh opinion from a leader in Anwar’s own party. If that were the case, PKR would not even have to put taxpayers through the ordeal of another forced by-election in order to allow Anwar onto the political stage. He could then bide his time until the next election. Doesn’t Anwar have enough on his hands in forging meaningful unity within his own party, given the almost daily mudslinging we witness between the two PKR leadership factions?

Elderly politicians should know when to get off the stage

“If you don’t know when to get off the stage, then you know you have stayed too long…”

This piece of show business advice should be learnt by our elderly politicians. It is almost comical to see our elderly politicians still trying to justify their “right” to stand for election even while they clamour for “change” in the political order. They even cite political conspiracies by their opponents to justify hogging their electoral seats. Some have been in Parliament since the era of the Tunku – half a century ago! During that time, UMNO (surely not the paragon of democracy) has changed party leaders five times!

It is no coincidence that too many political leaders exert tight control over their own parties with prospective candidates in the party beholden to them. Such leaders also hog the federal as well as state seats using the justification that they are indispensable. The late Karpal Singh was a stern opponent of this grabby practice by established party leaders in hogging federal as well as state seats. His famous line when a former DAP stalwart left the party in 1990 was: “No one is indispensable.” That surely applies to everyone in the world, or do some people believe they are exempt from this truism?

In other democratic countries, we see responsible and honourable politicians resigning at the slightest failure of judgment on their part or when their term has reached a convenient point for some other younger leader to take over the party. The democratic justification for this term limit is simply that elected officials can over time obtain too much power or authority, making them less representative of all citizens. The democratic principle behind term limits is that no one person should have too much power or for too long. Thus, the concept of term limits minimises the amount of power any one person can gain over a period of time.

Preventing chances of corruption

As we saw only recently, even within the two-term service, corporate interests including those in property and finance can provide inducements to the incumbent chief minister, especially when they have developed familiar relations over time. There is clearly a correlation between the length of time a politician serves and the degree to which he/she has opportunities to engage in corruption. The principle of term limits has always been applied to the civil service, which is why civil servants and police personnel are transferred every so often to prevent the acquisition of power and inducements to corruption in any one post.

Term limits would make this less likely since there is less time that a politician can be influenced by the power of the office that they hold. Corporate interests cannot become as entrenched when term limits are in place. With term limitations, corporate influence still happens, but not to the extent that it can reach when such interests develop unhealthy relationships with career politicians who are in office for a long time.

Preventing careerism

In a democracy, elected representatives are supposed to represent the interests of the citizens. As most politicians will tell us when they are interviewed, especially before elections, their work is supposed to be a service to society as a whole. Being a member of Parliament or state representative is not a profession even though it has become a career for many people. In fact, elected officials should operate on the understanding that they are only serving the people for a period of time until it is someone else’s turn. Term limits ensure that representatives focus more on representing the public than on hogging the office and power.

Providing leadership opportunities for others

Democracy and organisational development are about providing opportunities to as many people as possible, especially empowering the young, women, indigenous people and the marginalised. In our society, there are so many individuals with untapped potential for leadership, as if that is not clear for all to see. In recent years, we have seen the surge of many young capable leaders in politics, including women from various ethnic origins.

Isn’t it amazing that after 61 years of independence, we still have elderly politicians who have been MPs since the Tunku’s era and refuse to let other young leaders have a go at the electoral merry-go-round?

The ancient sage Laozi could appreciate what true leadership is: “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

Kua Kia Soong is adviser to Suaram.

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

PKR executes ‘PD Move’ to pave way for Anwar’s return

by Zikri Kamarulzaman  |  Published:  | 

The Port Dickson parliamentary seat has been vacated to pave the way for a by-election to be contested by PKR president-elect Anwar Ibrahim.

Incumbent MP Danyal Balagopal Abdullah announced his intention to vacate the seat at a press conference in Petaling Jaya today.

During the May 9 elections, Danyal secured the Port Dickson seat by securing 59 percent of the total votes cast.

“I feel called to contribute to a smooth transition of the office of the seventh prime minister (Dr Mahathir Mohamad) to the eight prime minister (Anwar) in accordance to the agreement between Pakatan Harapan coalition members.

“Last night I was informed by Rafizi Ramli that after having discussed with the party leadership, Anwar had decided on accept my offer and choose Port Dickson as the constituency where he would like to stand as a candidate.

“I am confident Anwar will win the seat hands down and proceed to become the next Port Dickson MP and InsyaAllah, eventually become our nation’s eighth prime minister,” Danyal (below, right) said at the PKR headquarters.

The outgoing Port Dickson MP also said he would still serve the constituency as Anwar’s “eyes and ears”.

He also said that with Anwar as MP, he could do more for the people of Port Dickson who were “elated that the prime minister-in-waiting was coming to their area.”



PKR Secretary-General Saifuddin Nasution said there was no inducement for Danyal to vacate the seat.

Rafizi, who was also present at the press conference, denied that engineering a by-election was a betrayal of voters. This is because having Anwar in Parliament only further strengthened the people’s mandate by helping to enact national-level reforms, he said.

PKR stronghold

Saifuddin reiterated Anwar’s stance that he (Anwar) would not be seeking any government posts and would fully support the Mahathir administration.

No timeline has also been put in place for the transfer of power from Mahathir to Anwar. Saifuddin also said that DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin and Amanah President Mohamad Sabu had been informed of PKR’s plans and have pledged to help campaign for Anwar.

Meanwhile, on a question whether those aligned with incumbent PKR Deputy President Azmin Ali was left out of the seat talks, Saifuddin said there is only “team Anwar”.

“When people offer up their seats we don’t ask which camp you’re from,” he said.

Incumbent PKR Vice-President Dr Xavier Jeyakumar, who is aligned to Azmin, was present at the press conference

PKR has had a hold on Port Dickson, or Teluk Kemang as it was known prior to GE14, since 2008.


Azmin Ali’s New Malay or A Remake of the 1965 Malay

September 8, 2018

Azmin Ali’s New Malay or A Remake of the 1965 Malay: It’s All Politics

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The Confused Dysfunctional Malay
“In closing, I would like to urge all thinking Malays to come together in forums and hold discourses about the New Malay beyond the congress’ simplistic resolutions. Let us debate and concretise the real values that will make this race a special contribution to civilisation.”Tajuddin Rasdi

If someone were to ask me what I thought about the recent Congress on the Future of the Bumiputeras and Nation 2018, I would have shot back a question: who was it meant for?

If it was meant for Pakatan Harapan (PH) to assure the Malays and fend off UMNO and PAS who are rallying the Malays under their “Malays are being threatened” mantra, I think UMNOno and PAS will be losing more members pretty soon, particularly those who are contractors and “kaki bodek” (sycophants).

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The New “Money Men”: Block Anwar Ibrahim-Rafizi Ramli Partnership

The message of the congress was loud and clear: PH will still support affirmative action in the economy to “help” the Malays achieve what was started in the New Economic Policy (NEP). This time, however, there will be no hanky-panky “Ali Baba Bujang Lapuk” stories about the implementation.

If the congress was a clarion call to position Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Economic Affairs Minister Mohamed Azmin Ali as the new “money men” who would ward off an Anwar Ibrahim-Rafizi Ramli gamble for power, it was a powerful statement of whose hands to kiss.

But if the congress was to paint a picture of a “New Malay”, as Azmin said, the whole thing was pathetic at best and embarrassing at worst. Why do I not share the euphoria of heralding the “Melayu Baru”? Simple. The “Melayu Baru” is soon to be “Melayu Lama”. Same old, same old.

My first salvo against the congress is the question on every non-Malay’s mind and that of the few thinking Malays. Didn’t the NEP of the previous government under our present leader Mahathir have any checks and double checks against the Ali Baba scenario? Were there not enough checks to ascertain whether the computer labs or stadiums could stand structurally? Is Mahathir admitting to his own carelessness or indifference?

Is the congress now trying to convince taxpayers that Malays are, again, to be given the trust to carry out projects with new measures of checks and double checks?

I may not be an administrator or a contractor but I know enough to say that there are, even now, procedures upon procedures for purchasing materials and awarding contracts. What happened then was that greedy, opportunistic Malays – including civil servants, elected officials and even professionals – took cuts and everybody became happy, even though the roofs of stadiums and laboratories collapsed.

As a taxpayer, I am not buying the assurances of Azmin or Mahathir regarding affirmative action for the “Melayu Baru”. To me, the only difference between the Melayu now in government and the Melayu then in power is the colour of their party symbols. My crystal ball says that the Melayu PH will be no different from the Melayu BN. Dua kali lima saja (the same).

My second salvo is my extreme disappointment that the congress did not outline the new values of the “Melayu Baru”. The speeches of Mahathir and Azmin and the question and answer session with Mahathir were one big fat near-zero on the values that would make the Malays a more civilised, enlightened and caring citizenry – a citizenry that others can look up to as well as have deep respect for.

Only in Anwar’s speech was there some inkling of this, but I will deal with that in my last point. I was hoping the congress might talk about the “Melayu Baru” having values of “keterbukaan” or openness. The Malays should be more open to new ideas of work culture, new interpretations of religious texts other than those of ignorant ustazs and officials, and new values of other cultures that can be adopted.

The opposite of this value is “kejumudan” which means the closing of the mind to new ideas and thoughts.

I would also have liked it if the congress had touched on the values of “kesederhanaan” or humility in which the Malays must get away from their superiority mindset. The opposite of this value is “ketakburan” or “kebongkakan” which signifies arrogance where one feels superior in every way to others. If a race feels like that, it will never learn anything from others.

Mahathir himself urged the Malays to learn from the Japanese work culture and the industrious nature of the Chinese. One weak point about Mahathir is that he is quick to isolate the traits he wants of a culture but does not recognise the underlying values stemming from that religion and that culture’s belief system.

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Malays, for instance, always look to their version of Islam as their guide and shun other thoughts and principles such as those in the Tao Te Ching or the Bhagavad Gita or Shintoism. But this is where the values of those cultures come from.

A good trait in a culture or community cannot be seen in isolation from its value system. This is also one reason why the NEP failed to distribute in a more meaningful manner the wealth cultivated by the few BN warlords.

I would also like to see the value of “keihsanan” or compassion towards all life becoming part of the everyday life of the “Melayu Baru”.

Do Azmin and company view projects and efficient management as the only key to the success of the economy of the New Malays? Any economic guru would point out that “keterbukaan”, “kesederhanaan” and “keihsanan” play a major role in how the economy is managed.

Mahathir himself alluded to the problem of education when he said our children were being taught to memorise information but possessed no real values to turn the information into meaningful products because religion was taught in a manner that had little value. The value of “keberusahawanan” as opposed to “ke-Ali-Babaan” has been touched on many times by Mahathir, who is genuinely disappointed with the Malays who cannot follow his own personal work-hard ethos.

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How will the Malays react to being part of a multiracial nation after the congress? Only Anwar alluded to it but he was given the least attention and time. Anwar is the author of the book “The Asian Renaissance”. I read it cover to cover 20 years ago when PKR was formed. I previously asked leaders of the party why they did not use the book as their “bible”. The answer is obvious after 20 years. The Malays are not ready for the new idea of a global civilisational construct based on the spiritual values of Eastern faiths.

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Make No Mistake: For Politics they are Malay First to remain in Power

Ninety nine percent of Malays want to be like Muhyiddin Yassin who once declared “I am Malay first, Malaysian second”. I think Anwar has the solution to the New Malays and it is in the book “The Asian Renaissance”. The first person who should read the book is Rafizi, followed by his lieutenants.

We Malays now have the wealth, intelligence and raw materials but we lack a wholesome value system which will make us a formidable global player. Alas, the Malays in PH, UMNO and PAS want to be “jaguh kampung” (village champions) and stay safe and snug under their own “tempurungs” (shells).

In closing, I would like to urge all thinking Malays to come together in forums and hold discourses about the New Malay beyond the congress’ simplistic resolutions. Let us debate and concretise the real values that will make this race a special contribution to civilisation.

Tajuddin Rasdi is a professor of Islamic architecture at UCSI University.

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

Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s China Visit is a Diplomatic Success

August 28, 2018

Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s China Visit is a Diplomatic Success

Mahathir believes, as most sane Malaysians do, that good relations must be premised on shared interests and mutual benefit, and has taken an important step in putting our relations with our most important neighbour and economic partner back on firm footing.–Dennis Ignatius

by Ambassador (rtd) Dennis Ignatius


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Far from being a ‘diplomatic disaster’, Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s visit to China has laid the groundwork for Malaysia to move forward in its relationship with Beijing.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad has just returned from a five-day official visit to China, his first since assuming the reins of power in Putrajaya for the second time. Before his plane could even touch down in Malaysia, reports that the visit was a “diplomatic disaster” began circulating and have since gone viral.

The report, written by an anonymous writer using the pseudonym “concerned Malaysia-China observer” and carried by Malaysiakini, implied that the lack of major bilateral agreements signed during the visit and the failure to hold a joint press conference with President Xi Jinping were indications that the visit didn’t go well. And it warned of serious economic and political consequences.

Why a letter from someone who does not even have the courage to use his own name should be given so much credence is baffling.

Similarly, MCA Deputy Ppresident Wee Ka Siong insisted that the cancellation of projects “would not augur well for Malaysia’s relationship with Beijing”.

A difficult visit

Mahathir went to China with one principal goal: to seek China’s understanding to cancel the ECRL and other projects that the new Pakatan Harapan government concluded made absolutely no economic sense. It was never going to be an easy sell, particularly as it came to be viewed as one of the centrepieces of bilateral cooperation under the previous government.

Mahathir did the right thing by travelling to Beijing for face to face discussions with the Chinese leadership. It was also an opportunity to reassure them that despite the unfortunate cancellation of projects, Malaysia remained deeply committed to developing close and mutually beneficial relations with China.

Following bilateral discussions, President Xi appears to have accepted Putrajaya’s decision to cancel the projects because of Malaysia’s current fiscal position. A Chinese foreign ministry statement subsequently noted that “however the situation may evolve, the two countries will always hold friendly policies towards each other”. It added that the cancellation of projects “will not hinder future bilateral trade and economic relations”.

It is the clearest indication yet that China has agreed to put this unfortunate episode behind us and move on. As the South China Morning Post concluded, “The fallout from Malaysia’s cancellation [of projects] appears to have been contained….”

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Far from being a “diplomatic disaster”, the visit, in fact, achieved its objective: the projects have been cancelled with Beijing’s understanding and the groundwork has been laid to move forward again. It is a huge diplomatic breakthrough.

Of course, negotiations will now continue on the question of compensation and other outstanding issues. It won’t be easy or cheap. The country will invariably lose billions; that is the price we all must pay for UMNO-BN’s recklessness, dishonesty and stupidity. And no amount of mindless posturing by MCA is going to alter that fact.

Big deal

The absence of any major agreements or contracts signed during Mahathir’s visit is not surprising given that Mahathir has been in office for a little more than 100 days. As he himself has repeatedly emphasised, his main priority is setting things right after years of kleptocracy and mis-governance.

Besides, it’s easy to announce the kind of glitzy deals that Najib was fond of doing on his overseas trips that involved buying things we didn’t need or signing contracts for projects we couldn’t afford. He was good at making other countries great again at the expense of his own.

Mahathir, on the other hand, is not so desperate to play to the gallery or polish his own ego with dubious deals.

Joint press conference

Much is also being made of the fact that Mahathir and President Xi did not hold a joint press conference. What is not mentioned is that it is, in fact, not the norm. Joint press conferences are usually held between counterparts. In Mahathir’s case, his counterpart is Prime Minister Li Keqiang not President Xi. Both Prime Ministers did indeed hold an amicable joint press conference.

In any case, I don’t recall Najib ever holding a joint press conference with President Xi during his many visits to China in spite of all his bragging about how close he was to the leadership in Beijing.

More significantly, President Xi himself very graciously hosted a banquet for Mahathir, something that is usually handled by the Chinese premier for visiting prime ministers. Mahathir was also personally received at the airport in Beijing by State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, an honour that is rarely accorded visiting Prime Ministers (who are usually received by a vice-minister as per the usual Chinese protocol).

All this suggests that despite the difficulties, China is determined not to allow anything to derail what has otherwise been an outstanding relationship. And that augurs well for the future of our relations despite MCA’s alarmist rhetoric.

Good relations but not at any price

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MCA leaders like Wee talk about the good relations that Malaysia enjoyed with China during Najib’s term of office and grumble about how it is now being jeopardised. There is no doubt that good relations with China are critical for our prosperity and security, but if good relations are based on agreements that sell us short, of what value is it?

Mahathir believes, as most sane Malaysians do, that good relations must be premised on shared interests and mutual benefit, and has taken an important step in putting our relations with our most important neighbour and economic partner back on firm footing.

In diplomacy, that is always considered a success no matter what those with vested interests or hidden agendas might say.

Dennis Ignatius is a former ambassador and an FMT columnist.

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

When we will ever learn to do things on our own,nothing is gained from giveaways

August 23, 2018

When we will ever learn to do things on our own, not depend on others for help. Face it, nothing is gained from giveaways

By T K Chua


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“If the new government is to be any better than the old, we must find reasons and justifications before making decisions, not make decisions first and then find reasons and justifications to support them.”–T K Chua

As a nation, why do we always expect that others will help us?

We want others to give us technology without quid pro quo. We want others to give us favourable terms in trade and investment. We want others to concede and suffer with us because of our follies. We want others to teach us how to govern and manage our country.

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This man is the very antithesis of the rugged individual. He ended up selling Malaysia on the cheap.

Unless we are a war-torn nation in utter poverty and destitution, I don’t think we’re going to get any meaningful help from others. Let’s ditch the idea that a foreign nation would help another be strong and competitive. To compete and prosper, each nation must do it on its own.

We can see the success and failures of many nations around us. We can’t complain that others are not teaching us. They can’t and won’t. We have to learn from them on our own.

Learning from other countries means doing what they do, not just talking. We can’t keep condemning the subsidy mentality and “free lunches” but keep doing the same as we have for the last half a century.

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A Miracle is Discipline, Innovation, Entrepreneurship

We can’t keep saying meritocracy is good but keep doing the opposite.We can’t keep saying it’s good to be hardworking, conscientious and thrifty but reward incompetency and irresponsibility with easy money.

We can’t keep saying corruption and cronyism is bad if our fight against these comes only in dribs and drabs depending on the “convenience” of the day.

Malaysia has always had great ambitions – the “Malaysia Boleh” attitude, so to speak. We started Proton around the same time that Korea embarked on its auto industry. We started the multimedia super corridor much earlier than many others. We have InventQjaya, Biovalley and numerous other development corridors littering the whole country.

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Proton Saga–Malaysia’s Success Story. And so another of the same in Pro-3

But what did we get in the end? Sadly, we are now talking about starting another national car project. We are talking about learning basic things like online marketing from Alibaba. We are talking about revolutionising agriculture when at one time we were the world champion in rubber and palm oil research.

We should not carry our “handicapped” mentality to the international level. When we trade, invest and conduct business dealings with others, we mustn’t expect favours or help from others. We should extract what we can from others and defend and protect our interests based on our faculties and abilities.

At the international level, no one is going to feel sorry for us and our follies. We must have people with faculties holding strategic and important positions in the country.

If the new government is to be any better than the old, we must find reasons and justifications before making decisions, not make decisions first and then find reasons and justifications to support them.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

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


Malaysian Civil Service Reform requires Political Will

August 20, 2018

Malaysian Civil Service Reform requires Political Will

Change must come from the political leadership. There must be an insistence on greater diversity at the intake level. There must be an insistence on promotion and posting based on fairness, meritocracy and competency… Soon, you will find top civil servants praising Dr Mahathir Mohamad sky high, just like they did with other Prime Ministers.–T K Chua

by T K Chua@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

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I refer to the letter, “Is there hope for the civil service?” by Dr Amar-Singh HSS.

As a former government servant, I too can relate to what he was saying although I have tried to avoid writing about it directly.

The environment in the civil service is more than stifling. It is also where favouritism, parochialism and bigotry are allowed to thrive. Discrimination in terms of recruitment, promotion and posting is routine and done with impunity. Tokenism has evolved into a fine art. If you are assertive and smart, be prepared to be sidelined and marginalised.

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A Bloated, Mediocre, Unproductive Malay dominated civil service

The civil service values mediocrity – this is absurd but true. The top echelon of the civil service is not populated by the smartest, but they know how to play politics to the hilt. To survive and keep the goodies to themselves, all they need to do is to quickly align themselves with the new regime. Soon, you will find top civil servants praising Dr Mahathir Mohamad sky high, just like they did with other Prime Ministers.

As a body, the civil service has its own inertia. It is not known for efficiency and progressiveness. On the contrary, the service is often associated with wastage, lack of initiative and poor service orientation.

The civil service is essentially an input-driven organisation, i.e. it will not move an inch without additional manpower and resources. Redeployment, revamp and reorganisation are hardly part of its consideration. That is why the civil service is ever expanding, often not in tandem with the size of the economy.

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Reports like the above which was written by two top civil servants of the Mahathir 1.0 Era, Tun Ahmad Sarji and Tan Sri Mahmud bin Taib are useless when there is no political will to undertake serious reforms.

Left on its own, I don’t think the civil service will ever change. It will remain insular, discriminatory and even racist.

Change must come from the political leadership. There must be an insistence on greater diversity at the intake level. There must be an insistence on promotion and posting based on fairness, meritocracy and competency.

We must temper the rights and privileges of communities with the need for competition, efficiency and performance. Otherwise, we shouldn’t be talking so much about greater dynamism and competitiveness for this country.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.