Malay anxiety, exclusion, and national unity


September 21,2018

Malay anxiety, exclusion, and national unity

A fragmented Malay society is making ‘Malay unity’ more urgent for those defeated by GE-14.

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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

Image result for Anwar Ibrahim and PKR

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.

Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s New Dilemma: Pakatan’s Manifesto


August 18, 2018

Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s New Dilemma: Pakatan’s Manifesto

by William Case, Nottingham University Malaysian Campus

http://www.eastasiaforum.org

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Malaysia’s new Pakatan Harapan government rode to power on a pledge to clean up Malaysia’s foul politics. It was wise to focus on the UMNO-led Barisan Nasional’s transgressions: Pakatan’s appeal lay less in its own glowing imagery and manifesto than in the electorate’s widespread contempt for the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which leads the now opposition Barisan Nasional coalition.

 

Pakatan’s manifesto, while helping bring it to power, now poses a dilemma. To firm its support, Pakatan must make good on its promise to cleanse political life, pressing down hard on the reformist pedal. It must show that the arrest of former Prime Minister Najib Razak was not sordid revenge but was instead the start of a renewal. As Pakatan does this, its purges and policy changes will affect the fortunes of those who, over a half-century of operation, have grown deeply entrenched. How likely now are these forces to make trouble?

Part of the answer lies in the nature of the democratic transition that Malaysia is undergoing. Analysts will debate at length how to characterise this process. But for now, in its abrupt and mass-based dynamic, it can be treated as a case of bottom-up transition (where citizens overthrow an authoritarian regime to install democracy), even if conducted peacefully within the electoral parameters of a competitive authoritarian regime.

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In such conditions, while the once-dominant party remains stunned, the new government will grow tempted to drive swift and far-reaching reforms. Against this, the interests of the bourgeoisie and the military are ‘inviolable’ if stability is to be preserved, and hence restraint is needed. In ‘founding elections’ typically held at the end of a transition, the parties representing these the military and bourgeoisie must be ‘helped to do well’, lest the old elites regroup, reactivate their constituencies and through military force mount an ‘authoritarian backlash’.

In Malaysia, ‘founding elections’ coincided with the transition, yielding a process that some analysts are already depicting as a spontaneous ‘democratisation-by-election’. In this situation, there was hardly time on Pakatan’s part — let alone the political wisdom and will — to ponder any need to cushion the blow dealt to UMNO. Nor in the flush of victory did Pakatan contemplate restraint in its pursuit of reforms. Rather, as headlines blared that ‘heads will roll’, the new government moved to flush out UMNO’s allies.

To this end, the new Pakatan government targeted top officials in the Attorney-General’s Chamber and the courts, in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, in the civil service and diplomatic corps, and perhaps most signally, in the sinecures that encrust the boards and management of Malaysia’s hulking government-linked corporations. At the same time, the new government has struck at the mass level, at least in the civil service, by terminating thousands of contract workers who were deployed under UMNO’s old spoils system.

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UMNO’s Man from Pornogo

As UMNO endures rivalries and ruckuses in the wake of defeat, it may be regrouping. In recent internal elections, the party rejected the more reform-minded and tolerant leadership of Khairy Jamaluddin. It has instead installed a ‘right-wing’ president, Zahid Hamidi, recalling the old order with its high-level privileging and ethnoreligious prioritising.

In making full use of Malaysia’s expanded political space, UMNO is working in concert with the Islamic Party of Malaysia to stir the nativist grievances of dispossessed party elites and the anxieties of the wider Malay-Muslim community by criticising Pakatan’s new appointments. And at the same time, UMNO’s print media mouthpiece, Utusan Malaysia, is growing ever more shrill, insisting indignantly on Malay dominance while condemning what it casts as the Democratic Action Party’s ‘racist’ hold over Pakatan.

The resonance of these appeals among ordinary Malays is demonstrated by the vigorous emotive support that the fallen Najib now attracts. These supporters contribute to a legal defence fund on his behalf even as the shrink-wrapped fashion accessories and cash seized from his Kuala Lumpur properties are paraded publicly by police in order to discredit him.

This is bolstering Najib’s position. He has been welcomed back to UMNO’s delegation in the Parliament. He sits alongside Zahid in the opposition’s front rank, and on the parliamentary session’s first day he wore all black as he helped to orchestrate a walk-out. At this point, if not yet a violent authoritarian backlash, we are likely to see a groundswell of Malay-Muslim grievance to the point that Najib’s transgressions will be forgotten. Meanwhile, Najib’s expert legal team will run circles around the government’s newly instituted and untested prosecutors.

Malaysia’s new Pakatan government confronts an excruciating dilemma. To maintain support, it must rapidly undertake far-reaching reforms. But as Pakatan proceeds, old elites, with their prerogatives at risk, will reenergise nativist grievances that may cumulate in backlash. A cruel irony is unfolding. As Pakatan now checks the pace of reforms, UMNO leaders taunt it over broken campaign promises.

William Case is Professor and Head of the School of Politics, History and International Relations at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus.

Judge Pakatan Harapan in 5 years, Dr. Rais Hussin


August 17, 2018

Judge Pakatan Harapan in 100 days, maybe too soon, but in 5 years definitely too late, Dr. Rais Hussin

Shocking  Admission

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The Pakatan Harapan Manifesto was launched in March 2018. It is now more than 100 days. How much more time do our new  Yang Berhormat Menteris and Timbalan Menteris need to read and understand their own pledges? What a shame.–Din Merican

Pakatan Harapan ministers and deputy ministers must take the time to read the coalition’s election manifesto, said Bersatu policy and strategy bureau chief Rais Hussin, who was part of the Harapan manifesto committee.

–www.malaysiakini.com

Interview with Dr. Rais Hussin, Pakatan Harapan’s Top  Spinner

by http://www.malaysiakini.com

100 DAYS | Pakatan Harapan ministers and deputy ministers must take the time to read the coalition’s election manifesto, said Bersatu policy and strategy bureau chief Rais Hussin, who was part of the Harapan manifesto committee.

“It is an observation but even ministers and deputy ministers have not read the manifesto.

“So, my first request is that the people, who are supposed to chaperone and deliver the promises, must read the manifesto,” he told Malaysiakini in an interview conducted in conjunction with Harapan’s 100 days in government.

Rais said this should also be expanded to chief secretaries and top civil servants.

“All those implementers, they also need to read this manifesto. It is important for them to read because this is the policy and main points of the Harapan administration – therefore they should be in the know,” he said.

Harapan had made 10 pledges for its first 100 days, but moving on, its longer-term promises will comprise 60 items.

However, Harapan was only able to fully fulfil two of the 10 promises within the first 100 days, namely the abolition of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), and the review of mega projects.

Rais stressed that this was not a case of promises being broken, pointing out that the ministers were hard at work to try to fulfil them, albeit with a delayed timeline.

He reiterated that Harapan’s manifesto was drafted based on public information and without details that have now become available after the coalition became the government, particularly on the debt level.

“But we believe that given some time and recalibration of our plans, all these promises can be fulfilled,” Rais said.

Instead of finding excuses to justify failing to deliver on promises, he added, he believed in looking for solutions.

Post-GE attention on manifesto ‘unprecedented’

He added that the fact that Harapan’s manifesto is being talked about on a daily basis after the 14th general election was an achievement in itself.

“In the last 13 general elections, manifestos were only discussed before a general election but not afterwards.But after the 14th general election, everyone is talking about the manifesto every day. There is a new intensity in participatory democracy… people have become more sensitive,” he said.

Rais was also asked about Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad downplaying the manifesto, such as his statement that it was “not a Bible” or that it was too “thick“.

“If someone comes and say that it is not a ‘kitab suci’ (holy scripture) and all that, I leave it up to that person. Maybe it is to build a narrative to soften the blow or pressure on the ministers.

“In managing the country, you can’t write a thin manifesto. You need a thick manifesto, especially when it covers all walks of society.

 

“What is important is that what is contained, regardless if the manifesto is thin or thick, is the deliverables. We should not focus on excuses but on how to deliver,” he said.

Rais, who had previously said on May 14 that a manifesto monitoring committee would be formed, said he did raise the subject with the government.

‘Judge us in five years’

However, he said the government decided to have the committee within the cabinet and that the committee is chaired by Mahathir himself.

“If I was the Prime Minister, I would have an external person to audit (the manifest) because there’ll be an independent perspective – you can’t audit your own work.

“But it is his wisdom to have it at the cabinet level – to show its significance,” he said.

He stressed the promises in the manifesto were not arbitrarily drafted, and had gone through a rigorous process.

He said the pledges were derived from public consultation, research firms and party consultation before being approved by the leadership of the respective parties as well as the Harapan presidential council.

“I think with the capable ministers that we have now, under the very capable stewardship of Mahathir and his Deputy Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, I think this is doable.

“If we set our mind and focus towards fulfilling the promises rather than being defensive, I think it’ll be better for us.“At the end of the day, end of the fifth year, assess us then. We should be able to fulfil most of it,” he said.

This interview was jointly conducted by NIGEL AW, NORMAN GOH and ZIKRI KAMARULZAMAN.

RELATED REPORTS

What’s the progress of Harapan’s 100-day pledges?

New M’sia, 100 days later: A look back at Harapan’s first 100 days in power

100 days under Harapan – whither the national economy?

10 promises in 100 days – monitoring Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto pledges

KJ: After 100 days, time for BN to stop harping on the manifesto

Mustafa defends Harapan ‘failure’ in fulfilling 100-day promises