The Unsung Heroes behind Bersih

September 1, 2015

The Unsung Heroes behind Bersih

And after that came Bersih 2 and  Bersih 3, and now, Bersih 4. But the Bersih that came after the 10th November 2007 Bersih march was not what we had in mind. It was not a political movement. It was neither pro-government nor pro-opposition. It was a reform movement, first for electoral reforms and then for political reforms.


by Raja Petra Kamarudin

RPKI did not write anything over the last one week because Malaysia was experiencing Bersih fever and no one really wanted to read anything that had nothing to do with Bersih. But then if you do write about Bersih people would expect you to write something pro-Bersih and in support of Bersih. Any article that does not ask people to come out in support of Bersih would be seen as anti-opposition.

So I thought better I do not write anything and allow Bersih to end first before writing, although a number of people did ask me why I am so quiet after sometimes coming out with three articles a day.

So, yes, people are still talking about Bersih till today. Many are analysing Bersih from this or that angle. So I, too, will write about Bersih, but not from the pro or anti angle. I will just write about…Bersih.

Bersih was first mooted in 2007 after the launch of the anti-Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi movement in 2006. Of course, it was Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who was behind that movement so understandably we did not get the support of the top leadership of PKR and DAP. The PAS leaders, however, did not seem to have much problems working with Dr Mahathir.

Soon after the 2006 ‘Get Badawi’ movement was launched, Dr Mahathir suggested that the pro-government and pro-opposition Bloggers unite. We had our first meeting at the Press Club attended by Bloggers from both sides of the political divide where we formed a committee. They suggested that I become the President but I declined. I suggested instead that Mahathir loyalist Ron should take that post but he, too, declined. So finally another Mahathir loyalist, Rocky, was appointed the President instead.

It was soon after that when PKR held its annual assembly in Penang, which I also attended but only as a ‘reporter’ and not as a delegate or party member. Azmin Ali took the stage and in front of hundreds of PKR delegates he shouted, “All those who are collaborating with Dr Mahathir can fook off!” Anwar Ibrahim was smirking as he looked at me, giving me a very clear message that that meant people like me who were now working with Dr Mahathir.

t was DAP leader Ronnie Liu, one of the ‘founding fathers’ of Bersih, who contacted me to ask me to get involved. They needed someone who could reach the palace because the plan was to march to the Agong’s palace to hand over a petition for electoral reforms. I then contacted the late Tunku Vic and asked him to also participate because I would need his help to talk to Istana Negara.

It was around that time that UMNO Youth organised a blood donation drive at the Kampung Baru mosque and I asked Ronnie to mobilise a group of DAP supporters, of course all Chinese, to go and donate blood at the mosque, which they did. I felt if DAP could bring along a group of Chinese to donate blood at Mukhriz Mahathir’s event in Kampung Baru that would be good for the planned cooperation between us from the opposition and those pro-government supporters.

We had a number of meetings leading to the 10th November 2007 Bersih march, some in a DAP chap’s house, Uncle Lee, and some in Ron’s house. I even brought along some UMNO supporters to the DAP meeting. Clearly Bersih was not an opposition effort but a joint effort between pro-opposition and pro-government people. Ron even arranged for someone to donate Bersih T-shirts and baseball caps.

The key to the whole thing would be to get His Majesty the Agong to agree to receive the petition from Bersih. And this was the work of Tunku Vic and Din Merican who made numerous phone calls to the right people to obtain the consent of Istana Negara. We made it very clear that Bersih was not a political movement but a non-partisan movement that was supported by opposition as well as government supporters, the UMNO supporters in particular. Basically it was a peoples’ movement with no political affiliations and one that was only interested in electoral reforms.

We eventually received consent from Istana Negara and were told that only ten representatives would be allowed to enter the palace. The rest, which we expected to number in the tens of thousands, would have to remain outside the palace gates. And with that the police, which had initially classified the planned march as an illegal gathering, reluctantly had to agree to let us march.

Bersih was now a movement officially recognised by the government and Istana Negara. We then sat down to prepare our list of electoral reforms that we wanted to hand to His Majesty the Agong.

On 10th November 2007, we marched to the palace but on reaching the palace gate we were told to wait outside and not go in yet. The palace representative came outside to meet us and said that our ten representatives are welcome to enter the palace and we replied that we had been told to wait because some of the party leaders were on the way.

The crowd that had been waiting for almost an hour began to get restless. Some walked up to me to ask what was going on. Is the palace now refusing to allow us in? No, I replied. In fact they came out to invite us in. But we had been told to wait for the party leaders.

Eventually the party leaders arrived and immediately took the petition from us and walked into the palace. After handing over the petition to the palace they came out and started making speeches. We could see that the police were becoming agitated because we had assured them that this was not going to be turned into a political rally.

After the party leaders finished giving their speeches we broke up and went home. The Bersih rally, which had originally been intended as a peoples’ march to the Agong’s palace to hand a petition calling for electoral reforms, had been turned into a political rally. Understandably Tunku Vic was not too pleased because that had more or less violated the trust that the Agong had placed in us when we assured His Majesty that this was not about politics but about electoral reforms.

After that, of course, came the 2008 general election, which could be said to be partly influenced by Bersih and the Hindraf rally that same month. It also cannot be denied that Pakatan Rakyat’s success was also because the pro-government and pro-opposition Bloggers united to send the same message to the voters, which is vote for change.

Never before in history had those from both sides of the political divide united under one cause.

2008 was the year when we came under the banner of Barisan Rakyat and not Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat. We even had our own poster. After the 2008 general election we decided to take the Bersih effort one step further. Bersih was about electoral reforms. However, to be able to see electoral reforms we need to first see political reforms. So we met, yet again, in Tunku Vic’s house together with Umno and DAP supporters to come out with a document that listed down what political reforms were needed.

Basically, electoral reforms would be part of or a component of political reforms. If we can see political reforms then electoral reforms would come as well. It is not enough we just see electoral reforms. We need more than that. We need political reforms first, which would include electoral reforms.

But by then those in Pakatan Rakyat no longer wanted to talk about this. They had already won five states and had denied Barisan Nasional its two-thirds majority in Parliament. They were confident that in the next general election in 2013 they would be able to win the federal government.

Those in Barisan Nasional, such as Dr Mahathir, also no longer needed to fight for reforms. Their only interest was to oust the Prime Minister and that had already been achieved. And that was the only objective they had in mind. Reforms were the excuse they were using just to get rid of the Prime Minister.

So we found that the fight for political reforms was no longer on the agenda of both sides of the political divide. So this meant electoral reforms would also no longer be on the agenda as well. And this meant we would need a third force if we wanted to achieve the reforms we were seeking. And this would have to be something that the civil society pushes for.

Barisan Rakyat-2007Barisan Rakyat not Pakatan Rakyat

And that, of course, was when we came out with the idea of a civil society movement that we called the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement or MCLM. But that is a story I have told many times so no need for me to repeat myself.

And after that came Bersih 2 and  Bersih 3, and now, Bersih 4. But the Bersih that came after the 10th November 2007 Bersih march was not what we had in mind. It was not a political movement. It was neither pro-government nor pro-opposition. It was a reform movement, first for electoral reforms and then for political reforms.

But I suppose that is something that can now never be achieved. Anyway, to me, the unsung heroes who made Bersih back in 2007 a success were Tunku Vic, Ronnie Liu, Din Merican, Ron, Uncle Lee, Jad, and many more from UMNO, DAP, PAS and PKR, Bloggers included, who put aside their political differences for the sake of seeking reforms.



Happy Birthday Singapore, Happy Birthday Rosli Dahlan

August 19, 2015

Happy Birthday Singapore, Happy Birthday Rosli Dahlan

by Din Merican in Kuala Lumpur

RD 198I just came back from Cambodia for a short visit two days ago. As I landed in KLIA after a very nice and comfortable MAS Flight 755, I felt a sense of longing (rindu) for my home country. For all my criticisms of the kleptocratic UMNO government led by a dishonest and lying Prime Minister,  I love Malaysia. As I look around, I see only beautiful Malaysian faces, which adds to my sense of longing.

Then I got into a taxi with my wife, Dr. Kamsiah and almost immediately the taxi driver talked about a topic that he must have spoken about to every passenger who sits in his taxi. He talked about 1MDB. He spoke of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s RM2.6 billion bank account. He was agitated by the Prime Minister’s family displaying opulent wealth during their daughter’s wedding. He mentioned the Prime Minister’s stepson, Riza Aziz, living the high life in New York and bankrolling Hollywood films of greed, sex and debauchery (he must be referring to Wolves of Wall Street) that could not even be screened in Malaysia.

Then he told us about about how difficult life has ‎been for him and other ordinary struggling Malaysians since the implementation of the GST and the con job of BR1M in making the people feel grateful to Prime Minister Najib whereas the Najib government that declared itself as a government that cared for the people in its slogan “Rakyat Didahulukan” (People First) is actually a betrayer of the people when all its actions are actually “Rakyat Dimangsakan”  (People Oppressed)and “Negara Dikorbankan” (Nation Plundered).

He spoke about how the  Deputy Prime Minister and the Attorney-General were sacked, the MACC officers and Deputy Public Prosecutor arrested, the Public Accounts Committee of our Parliament disbanded, and the Task Force outlawed. He spoke about all these matters with such detailed knowledge and then finally said “Kita rakyat awam malu, Malaysia malu. Apa dah jadi dengan negara kita?” (We the general public are ashamed, Shame Malaysia, What has happened to our country)  with such great despair that I felt sorry for him. I felt sorry for myself as a Malaysian. Indeed, what has happened? Or do I just cry for my beloved country?

DM and KAM LaksaI asked the taxi driver to stop by a roadside laksa and cendol stall and invited him to join me. As we ate our Kedah laksa and cendol (local delicacies), the same topic was discussed by every one eating at the stall.

Then one lady said “Nasib baik ada juga pegawai berani macam Governor Zeti Bank Negara dan‎ Pengarah SPRM Bahri”.( Luckily we have brave officers such as The Governor of BNM and MACC Director Bahri ) And another quipped ” Ada juga orang awam berani macam loyar tu….apa nama?”. (and there also brave layman like that lawyer… what’s his name ?)

My wife immediately added “Lawyer Rosli?” and they all answered “Haah, betul! Loyar Rosli Dahlan!” (That’s right, that lawyer Rosli Dahlan) and they spoke loudly about some of the things he did and said and then hurled insults against IGP Khalid Abu Bakar as a running dog. What extreme comparisons.

Hearing all these reminded me that just last week I wrote out of Phnom Penh about my young friend Lawyer Rosli Dahlan offering to help the MACC officers and all other government officers who have been victimised as a result of the 1MDB investigations. About Rosli saying it’s about principles not personalities.

I wrote about how MACC Bahri vowed to seek justice against his oppressors Till Kingdom Come!‎–Read HERE

I wrote about Rosli’s plea and warning in his letter of 2010 to MACC Chief Commissioner Abu Kassim‎ that the MACC will one day be destroyed for the things they did to him, and today the MACC is in ruins and tatters. Rosli prophetic words were:

 “I implore you not to allow this sacred institution (Institusi Keramat ini) to be used as a tool of oppression and persecution in the guise of false prosecution against innocent citizens. Otherwise, you will one day see your own hands in the destruction of t‎his institution.”

Today, Rosli’s prophecy is fulfilled. Gani Patail who had fixed Rosli and Dato Ramli Yusuff has been removed in the most humiliating manner and the MACC is as good as destroyed. What goes around comes around- the law of Karma. God’s retribution to Gani Patail and the MACC, especially Abu Kassim for not standing up for the truth by feigning illness. Abu Kassim has totally lost my respect, a general abandoning his army when they needed him most. Shameless man!

DM and Kamsiah at Spore ReceptionHappy Birthday, Singapore

Last evening I attended Singapore’s 50th National Day reception at The ShangriLa Hotel hosted by HE Ambassador Venu Gopala Menon, Singapore High Commissioner to Malaysia. The topic of discussion among guests at the reception was the same as what I have described above.

50 years on after Separation and Singapore has grown into a strong and dynamic city state proud of its nation building achievements. 50 years on and Malaysia is sliding down the slope to becoming a failed state. What a sharp contrast considering that Malaysia has oil and gas and other resources but Singapore has none. But Singapore has brain power and a hard working and united people, and a government that practises good governance.Today Malaysia is lagging behind, only marginally ahead of Robert and Grace Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, while Singapore forges ahead in the big league of advanced nations.

Rosli ans Sing Friend2Then I remembered that Rosli has strong roots in Singapore. He schooled in Singapore and trained with the current Chief Justice of Singapore, Sundaresh Menon, who is an outstanding lawyer and was also the former A-G of Singapore. I begin to understand Rosli from researching about and now knowing his background. Then I remembered that Rosli’s birthday is 10 days from Singapore’s National Day. That his birthday is today, August 19, 2015

So, in a hurried manner I penned this as a tribute to my outstanding friend whom I had known and become close under very strange and unlikely circumstances. I will say this to Rosli, I am proud to be your friend and I hope you will continue to be a role model and a beacon for truth and justice.

Happy Birthday, Singapore, Happy Birthday, Rosli Dahlan.

Malaysia: The Case for Regional Coalitions?

August 17, 2015

COMMENT: There is no democratic (political) future for Malaysia without  clean, open, transparent and accountabledin merican government working in partnership with Malaysians for justice and fairness. What we will likely have instead is a kleptocracy and  secular economic decline with serious income disparity between the rich and the poor.

All coalitions in Malaysia including the new coalition of PKR, DAP and the renegade PAS alternative will fail if they do not observe the tenets of good governance.

Our national culture treats corruption as a way of life and cash as king with a system that allows our Prime Minister to put his hands in the national coffers. We cannot have such a coalition government if we have a dysfunctional and incompetent civil service, a compromised Judiciary and a rubber stamp Parliament with a biased Speaker. Can we create a culture where corruption is viewed as a disgrace ( like in the Scandinavian countries).

There is no case for regional coalitions unless and until our institutions are thoroughly revamped. MP Zairil Khir Johari is jumping the gun. He is attempting to put the cart before the horse. I would advise him to go back to basics, get our politics right, and stop dreaming.–Din Merican

A post-Barisan, post Pakatan Rakyat future for Malaysia?

The Case for Regional Coalitions

by Zairil Khir Johari (received by e-mail)

Zairil Khir Johari, CEO, Penang Institute

Many Malaysians are understandably dismayed by the recent break-up of the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR), the seven-year-old coalition made up of the Democratic Action Party (DAP), Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS).

At its peak, the PR’s control of five of 13 states had raised hope it would congeal into a permanent alternative to the long-ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition. But in truth, the fundamental differences within the coalition had always put its sustainability in doubt.

With the next general election due only in 2017, there is time to reconfigure the Malaysian political landscape by introducing a more progressive form of coalition politics — one that recognises the vastly divergent regional and cultural interests of Malaysia and does not seek to bind them together in a uniform, permanent and centripetal manner, BN-style.

The old rigid model, in place since Merdeka in 1957, has run its course.In the case of the BN, it is held together only by the practicalities of power and the fact that it is dominated by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), a party that holds two-thirds of the coalition’s parliamentary seats. Smaller parties have steadily lost relevance and today, their loyalty in the coalition is assured only by the promise of positions and largesse.

Now even UMNO itself is split, after Prime Minister Najib Razak’s sacking last month of his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin and others critical of his handling of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad financial scandal.

The PR coalition did not share the dynamic of a single dominant partner, and the friction between the leadership core in the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and the periphery regions proved to be its undoing.

Outside the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, the PR concept itself was a nebulous one. For example, while Penang, Selangor, Perak and, to a lesser extent, Kedah, could rightly be described as PR states, the same label was always dubious in reference to Kelantan. How was Kelantan a PR government when DAP does not contest in the state and PKR only has one single representative? For all intents and purposes, it was and still is, simply a PAS government.

The hudud issue — the straw that broke the camel’s back — was a manifestation of this conundrum. The Kelantan state government felt it was merely exercising its democratic rights in pursuing its legislative aspirations — the constitutionality of it notwithstanding.

However, because hudud was not part of the PR Common Policy Framework that all three parties signed off on, PAS Kelantan’s attempt to implement it constitutes a clear breach of agreement. Therein lies a bigger question — should the PAS state government have been bound by the PR contract, when it was in actuality not really a PR government? The problem, therefore, was a structural one.

Central vs Regional

That some interests and aspirations of the various regions of our country differ and, at times, even seem at odds with one another, should not come as a surprise. After all, every region is different, culturally, socio-economically and demographically.

Hence, instead of trying to impose the unwieldy structure of a permanent coalition for all, a better option is to encourage decentralised coalition-building through non-permanent, contractual coalitions. This means that different regions or states could have their own local coalitions, which may be very different from their own party’s coalition at the federal level.

Such a concept is widely practised elsewhere. In Germany, for example, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) forms a coalition government with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) at the federal level, while the opposition bloc is made up of the Green Party and Die Linke.

However, the configuration is vastly different at the state level. In the state of Brandenburg, the SPD governs in partnership with Die Linke, while in North Rhine-Westphalia, the SPD shares government with the Green Party.

These flexible configurations make a lot of sense, as they reflect the needs and aspirations of the different regions and levels of politics. Each coalition is bound by contractual agreements for a set duration — a single electoral cycle — and these agreements are made public so the people know exactly what to expect.

This also allows minor parties to play an important role without permanently binding themselves to any particular coalition. The smaller Free Democratic Party, for example, by playing the role of junior coalition partner in both CDU and SPD governments at separate times, has been in power longer than any other party in Germany.

Decentralised coalitions are also less polarising. Two-party or two-coalition dichotomies often manifest itself in very antagonistic terms, such as is the case in Malaysia, leaving very little room for compromise and cooperation. However, when parties are aware that their opponent today may become their partner tomorrow, there would be an instant, moderating effect.

This would also mean that coalition-building in Malaysia could be flexible and pragmatic. For example, DAP could form government with PKR in Penang in a coalition that excludes the Penang chapter of PAS, while a different arrangement could take place in Selangor — on the condition that a clear coalition contract is agreed to by all parties involved.

In the same vein, PAS could choose to be coalition partners with Umno in Kelantan if it so wished, while choosing to oppose UMNO at the federal level. Meanwhile, various possible configurations could be conjured in Sabah and Sarawak.

If arrangements could be non-permanent and contractual, we would also be likely to see the emergence of smaller local parties and even “third force” parties at the national level.

A natural question is whether the Malaysian electorate is mature and sophisticated enough to grasp this idea, given that they are so used to the existing framework.

I am also often advised that I should not compare Malaysia with Germany, as the latter is an advanced, democratic country. But lest we forget, the whole of Germany has been democratic for only the past 25 years following the collapse of the Iron Curtain and German reunification in 1990. Even the former West Germany had been democratic only since 1949. Before that, Germany was the most infamous fascist dictatorship in the modern world.

Furthermore, it is not only advanced countries such as Germany that practise decentralised coalitions, but also our neighbours such as Indonesia and the Philippines. Therefore, there is nothing to suggest why Malaysians would not be able to comprehend the concept.

Given the demographically diverse make-up of our federation and the clear differences among the various geographical regions, decentralised coalitions may actually be the most practical and efficient political configuration for our country. Not only would it encourage the formation of regional coalitions that better reflect local aspirations and needs, it would also set the tone for a more progressive and inclusive political landscape.

Hence, in the midst of the ongoing political crisis in our country, with the PR dissolved and the BN heading towards implosion, there is much hope and opportunity that a brighter and more democratic future for Malaysia can be forged. — TODAY

Tengku Razaleigh’s De Gaullean Moment to “Rescue Malaysia”

August 11, 2015

Malaysia: Tengku Razaleigh’s De Gaullean Moment to “Rescue Malaysia”

by Terence Netto (by e-mail)

Ku Li and Kamsiah with DinWith analysts predicting that the ringgit will be trading at four to the greenback by the end of the week and with reports that business sentiment is eroding and capital flight escalating, topped off by the expectation that Bank Negara may opt to draw down our reserves by defending the currency, the clouds that shroud our economic horizon are without silver linings.

Not much compensatory heart (Nazri Aziz among them) can be gained from the news that a weakening ringgit means more tourism inflows and increased interest by foreigners in property purchases and the like.

These are not exactly silver linings to the clouds that overhang the economy because ordinary Malaysians, prior to the latest phase of economic stresses, were already struggling to buy their own homes and so will not welcome foreigner interest in property purchases for that will render their quest even more out of reach.

This is all besides the fact that the exactions of the Good and Services Tax (GST) have seen the average Malaysian cut back on spending and do without some of the indulgences that they hitherto took for granted.

bersih-4.0Suffice the economic situation is bad. That it is closely linked to the political one is undeniable which brings us to the question of what will it take to pull the country out of the economic doldrums and a clearly worsening political situation.

The idea that a government of national unity be put in place to lever the country out of its twin headaches of a sputtering economy and a stalemated politics has been bandied about but with no real push behind it.

Kul +Zhou+En+LaiPartly because this idea’s most eligible executor, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, is considered to be someone who is unable to bring more than a fistful of MPs to the table of consensus that will propel the idea and that at 78 he is seen to be beyond it, age-wise.

This former Finance Minister has the economic smarts and political standing to deal with the current situation and he can draw support from virtually all sectors of society.

This is what is needed in a point man of a unity government, someone who is seen as above the partisan fray and able to discern the national interest amid the plethora of competing interests.

Mahathir and Najib in the same UMNO podGua Tolong Lu, Lu Tolong Gua-Sekarang Gua Hentam Lu

As for his age, which incidentally is the same as when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad relinquished office in 2003, well, the very fact that the former premier is himself active at the age of 90 is indication that advances in diagnostic medicine and knowledge of a healthy lifestyle are not confined to an elitist few and, thus, have rendered elastic past notions of when physical and mental decline are regarded as irreversible.

The indications are that Tengku Razaleigh, popuarly referred to as Ku Li, is healthy and wanting, willing and waiting to serve.


Assuming that he can lead a government of national unity, how are a sufficient number of MPs to be assembled to endorse a move to that effect? This will simply have to materialise from the perception that UMNO’s President and Malaysia’s  Prime Minister is well past his sell-by date.

Is that realisation going to take hold when most of UMNO appears solidly behind the incumbent? When most of the economic indices are pointing to deep distress and the stability of the blocs in favor of the incumbent staying on in office is daily under duress, it is only a matter of time before UMNO and the rest of Barisan Nasional’s MPs realise that they are stuck with a lame duck.

Themselves slavish creatures of self-interest, they can be depended upon, though, not to construe that interest to be self-destructively tied to a sinker; they will opt for survival by jettisoning a loser.

With the opposition in disarray from the obscurantism of PAS and factionalism in Parti KeAdilan Rakyat, conditions are propitious for the formation of a government of national unity. The DAP, the strongest of the opposition parties, are likely to be supportive if their core interests are not thereby endangered.

Both competitors for federal power — BN and the Opposition — know that the days when one or the other could aspire to govern alone are gone; they need each other to turn things around in this complex and complicated country.

Propelled by alarm over the falling ringgit, rising costs of doing business, and the ordinary rakyat’s pain at the exactions of the GST, a sufficient quorum of MPs can be brought to see the need for a goverment of national unity. The notion that UMNO-BN are ostriches with their heads buried in the sand is a caricature.

Even a Machiavellian schemer like Mahathir, adept at achieving his singular purpose within arenas fraught and complicated by the desires of others, can see the need for this unity government, even if that means a leadership of it by one who nearly beat him to UMNO presidency in 1987.

As for Tengku Razaleigh, he resembles the French statesman Charles de Gaulle, symbol of the country’s resistance to the Nazis during the Second World War.

De Gaulle was supremely confident that he embodied France’s dignity and republican values, just as Tengku Razaleigh is possessed of the serene confidence that he embodies Malay aristocracy and the principle that underlies rule by the well-born: honor.

De Gaulle returned in triumph after the Allied eviction of the Nazis from France in 1944 but he was not immediately called upon to lead the nation in victory’s aftermath though he craved the summons.

He proudly waited out the time until 1958 when France, under duress from failures in its imperial outreach in Indochina and Algeria, finally called upon him to rescue the nation.

De GaulleDe Gaulle then assumed office as President and proceeded to lift his country from being the sick man of Europe to equal partners with Germany in a nascent European Union.

All the while, he carried himself like it was his manifest destiny to lead France. Razaleigh has exuded a similar confidence that UMNO and Malaysia would call upon him to lead, even when it was hard to see how this was going to be possible.

The French have a term for it – sangfroid – which has been borrowed into the English Language. It means a kind of preternatural certainty and self-assurance that things will turn out the way its possessor feels it would.

Things in Malaysia have turned out the way Tengku Razaleigh must have envisioned when he lost in the pivotal battle for the UMNO presidency in April 1987. Some of the critical votes that won the battle for Mahathir then, were swung from Razaleigh’s camp to Mahathir’s in the final stages of the contest by none other than the current PM, Najib Razak. It is no small irony that the genesis of the mess in the country is traced to the eleventh-hour decision by Najib in the 1987 UMNO presidential contest to switch camps.

Now Razaleigh is seen as the likeliest cleaner-up of the mess should a sufficient number of MPs, from both sides of the political divide, decide that enough is enough and switch their support to the Keantanese prince.

With the country under duress from looming economic failure and corrosive political deadlock, Malaysia’s legislators, like their French counterparts nearly six decades ago, may well decide that someone whom adverse political currents extruded to the margins must be brought back to the center where things have been falling apart over a long time.

Charles de Gaulle is seen as restorer of French pre-eminence in the comity of European nations. Tengku Razaleigh, if given the chance, may well turn out to be the resuscitaor of aristocracy’s principle of honor and repairer of the damaged sinews of democratic Malaysia, legacy of another aristocrat who understood its underlying principle but, alas, was unable to cope with the populist pressures that democracies unleash.

This was Tunku Abdul Rahman, the country’s founding Prime Minister, and possible transmitter of the summons to Ku Li  from the deeps – ‘Rescue Malaysia’

Well done, Dato’Seri Nazir Razak

July 9, 2015

CIMB starts internal inquiry into Banker’s wrong WSJ analysis

by Elizabeth Zachariah

Malaysia’s CIMB Bank is to investigate its Islamic Bank Chief Executive Officer Badlisyah Abdul Ghani, who had made a wrong analysis in disputing the Wall Street Journal’s (WSJ) documents over the alleged trail of funds which landed in Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s bank accounts.

Nazir RazakDato’ Seri Nazir Razak

In an Instagram post last night, CIMB Group Chairman Dato’ Seri Nazir Razak apologised over the matter, saying that Badlisyah should not have made comments on the documents as it was a “technical matter”.

Nazir’s post was accompanied with a picture of CIMB Group Chief  Executive officer Tengku Datuk Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz and CIMB Islamic Bank Chairman Datuk Dr Syed Muhamad Syed Abdul Kadir showing Badlisyah’s comments made on Facebook to a “surprised” Tan Sri Md Nor Yusof, who is a former CIMB chairman.

“Zafrul and Syed showing a surprised Md Nor the Facebook post by Badli (CEO CIMB Islamic) on WSJ article,” said Nazir, who is also brother to Prime Minister Najib.

“Posts have been removed as it is a technical matter on which he should not be commenting. Our apologies, we will conduct an internal inquiry.”

In his original comment on his Facebook page, Badlisyah accused the global business daily of using false documents in its report alleging that US$700 million (RM2.67 billion) worth of 1MDB-linked funds were pumped into the Prime Minister’s personal accounts.

Badlisyah said there was a discrepancy in the “Swift” code mentioned in the documents uploaded online on Tuesday. He said the documents released by WSJ stated that the Swift code for Wells Fargo Bank was “PNBUS3NANYC”, but it should actually be”PNBPUS3NNYC”.

“The Swift Code PNBPUS3NANYC belongs to Alfa-Bank Moscow. This is not just a tell-tale sign the document is an absolute hoax but a very firm confirmation that the document is a hoax or a fraud.

“How could WSJ miss this factual error?” he said in the Facebook post circulated on pro-Umno blogs.But the Malaysiakini news portal later disputed the banker’s assertion, saying that it examined Badlisyah’s claim and found that the Swift code for Alfa-Bank Moscow was ALFARUMM.

“Badlisyah correctly pointed out that the particular Wells Fargo bank branch should have a Swift code of ‘PNBPUS3NNYC’ instead of ‘PNBUS3NANYC’ as listed on the documents released by WSJ,” reported Malaysiakini.

“A check showed that the ‘PNBUS3NANYC’ Swift code belonged to its predecessor, Wachovia Bank, which was subsequently taken over by Wells Fargo Bank in 2008.

“It is unclear why the transaction used a Swift code belonging to the predecessor of Wells Fargo Bank or how long the transition to a new Swift code would take.”

Badlisyah also said the document erroneously listed the bank’s address as “375 Park Avenue, NY 4080, New York, NY”.

The “real address” of the particular Wells Fargo bank branch is “375 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10152”, he said.

However, Malaysiakini said here was no discrepancy in the address, as both “4080” and “10152” are part of the Bank’s address, which is: “375 Park Avenue NY 4080. New York, NY 10152”.

Following that, Badlisyah admitted he made an error in his analysis and said that he has since corrected it.

“I would like to make clear that all the views published on my Facebook account are strictly my PERSONAL views and not the views of any other individual or organisation. They were meant for private consumption among a group of friends.

“I would also like to acknowledge that I had made an error in my post with regards to my analysis of the various SWIFT codes.

“The mistakes were correctly pointed out by a report in Malaysiakini on the matter, and I have also made the correction on my Facebook page,” said Badlisyah in a statement issued last night.

Understanding British History through its Monarchy

June 14, 2015

Understanding British History through its Monarchy

Listen to Dr. David Strarkey on the subject of Monarchy. May we reflect on our own Monarchy and history. More than the biographies of the kings and queens of England, this lecture is an in depth examination of what the English monarchy has meant, in terms of the expression of the individual, the Mother of Parliaments, Magna Carta, the laws of England and the land of England. The importance of the rich heritage of the Anglo Saxon kings is featured but it does not stop there. This is the history of ideas and ideals.–Din Merican