Trump–Najib White House Meet in September, 2017


April 24, 2018

Trump–Najib White House Meet in September, 2017

By Bradley Hope,Rebecca Ballhaus and Tom Wright

http://www.wsj.com

Image result for TRUMP AND NAJIB

Donald J. Trump–The Art of the Deal

Najib Razak, whose administration is at the center of the 1MDB corruption probe, may use the trip to play down the risk of further investigations

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/08/23/statement-press-secretary-visit-prime-minister-najib-abdul-razak

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose administration is at the center of a major corruption probe by the U.S. Department of Justice, will visit President Donald Trump in September in Washington, according to a White House official and several people in Malaysia familiar with plans for the trip.

Mr. Najib has been eager to emphasize his friendship with Mr. Trump at a time of U.S. scrutiny over alleged corruption in the Malaysian administration. People close to Mr. Najib say he would likely use the White House visit to try to play down the possibility of further investigations. A spokesman for Mr. Najib declined to comment.

Image result for White House Statement from the Press Secretary on the Visit of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak of Malaysia

The Justice Department, in lawsuits filed in 2016 and updated in June, alleged that Mr. Najib received $681 million and his stepson, Riza Aziz, received $238 million originating from a state development fund called 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

The fund is the subject of one of the world’s biggest alleged frauds, with a total of more than $4.5 billion allegedly stolen. At least six countries are probing the affair, including Singapore and Switzerland.

The 1MDB issue is one of the most pressing problems for Mr. Razak’s administration in the run-up to elections expected in 2018. Nonetheless, Malaysia and the U.S. have many areas of mutual concern, including China’s expansion of military power in the South China Sea.

Image result for Golf najib with Obama

Golf with Trump next?

Mr. Najib has had warm ties with recent U.S. administrations. He has boasted to a Malaysian newspaper and other media that he partnered with Mr. Trump at golf several years ago. Mr. Najib and Mr. Trump won the game, according to Malaysian media reports, and Mr. Najib said he has a signed picture of them together at the event, with an inscription from Mr. Trump: “To my favorite Prime Minister. Great win!” Mr. Najib also played golf with then-President Barack Obama.

Related imageMalaysia’s rich and powerful First Lady of Malaysia and her soulmate Grace Mugabe (below)
 

 

The U.S. suit in June also alleged that Mr. Najib’s wife received a $27 million diamond necklace paid for by funds embezzled from 1MDB. Much of the money Mr. Najib received was returned to the offshore company that sent it to him, court filings show. Mr. Najib and Mr. Aziz have repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

1MDB itself has denied wrongdoing or that any money is missing. It has pledged to work with any lawful authority. Mr. Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, hasn’t responded to the allegations.

The U.S. allegations are contained in a series of civil asset forfeiture cases, in which the U.S. government is seeking to seize $1.7 billion’s worth of homes, artwork, a mega-yacht and company stakes, among other items it says were bought with embezzled funds. The suits only target assets and don’t allege crimes against individuals.

Earlier in August, the Justice Department filed a motion to stay all those cases while it conducts a criminal investigation.

The civil cases identify Jho Low, a Malaysian financier close to Mr. Najib’s family, as the central orchestrator of the alleged scheme. Mr. Low has denied the charges and pledged to fight them in court.

Mr. Najib and his wife, Ms. Rosmah, aren’t named in the civil suits, but are referred to as Malaysian Official 1 and wife of Malaysian Official 1. A government minister has publicly confirmed Mr. Najib is Malaysian Official 1. Mr. Najib’s stepson is also named in the suits.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly denied 1MDB was defrauded and that any money went missing. He created the fund in 2009 to help drive investment in Malaysia and as finance minister he was the final authority for making decisions.

In 2016, Mr. Najib hired Ashcroft Law Firm LLC, headed by former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, to advise him on the 1MDB case, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Najib and Mr. Aziz, and Mr. Aziz’s film production company, are also represented by Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP.

Amid investigations by several Malaysian authorities into 1MDB in 2015, Mr. Najib replaced his Attorney General over his handling of the case. The new Attorney General (Mr. Apandi Ali) announced his own review of the evidence, found no wrongdoing and closed the case.

Mr. Najib and his supporters have repeatedly said the 1MDB affair is hyped by the political opposition—led by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad—in an effort to oust Mr. Najib and the ruling UMNO party.

—Yantoultra Ngui in Kuala Lumpur contributed to this article.

Write to Bradley Hope at bradley.hope@wsj.com, Rebecca Ballhaus at Rebecca.Ballhaus@wsj.com and Tom Wright at tom.wright@wsj.com

Malaysia’s Education: Shooting ourselves in the Foot with more Sound and Fury


August 23, 2017

Malaysia’s Education: Shooting ourselves in the Foot with more Sound and Fury

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

Image result for malaysia education blueprintWhere is this UMNO Minister of Education now? Well, he got himself fired by Najib Razak. He has since joined the opposition trying to make a comeback

 

The outcry over the disclosure that 402 schools in the country have been classified as “hotspots” with disciplinary and drug issues is yet another distraction from what should be the major priority of our politicians and bureaucrats managing the education system – that is, implementing deep reform of the national primary and secondary school system, especially beginning with the national schools of the Bahasa Malaysia or Malay medium, and predominantly Bumiputra attended, stream (SK and SMK).

Although the furore when set against the larger and more important backdrop of the overall deplorable state of the national schooling system is misplaced, what is revealing is that almost all the problematic schools (396) found in the black list come from the SMK stream as against 6 from the sekolah jenis kebangsaan stream (SMJK).

Image result for Minister of Education Mahathir Khalid

Minister of Education Mahdzir Khalid -As Menteri Besar he messed up Kedah, He is doing the same with our Education System

This is yet another clear indication of the appaling mess left by zealots pushing the racial and religious agenda in our educational system.

The main victim of this mess is a lost generation of Malay and Bumiputra school kids who paradoxically, despite being overwhelmingly favoured in resource allocation in the national system during the past 40 years, have ended up with low attainment levels as well as are generally lacking in the important outcomes that the educational system is supposed to be imparting in knowledge, skills, strong ethics, and the drive to succeed.

Image result for Minister of Education Mahathir Khalid

The Messed Up Commander-in-Chief and his Minister of Education: We can’t go wrong with these guys at the helm.

The critical problems affecting schools in the SK stream have been known for a long time. But they have been ignored or let unresolved by the Barisan government and the Ministry of Education with little attempt made at comprehensive reform until the last few years.

Repeated complaints have been raised of the quality of these schools including their low teaching standard, the obsession with single-race dominance and management, the narrowly nationalistic, rote-learning-oriented and behind-the-times curricula, increasing Islamization, poor leadership, disciplinary issues (which are now the subject of public attention) and a host of other shortcomings but to little avail. The inaction by the authorities has resulted in non-Malay parents shunning these schools and sending their children to the SJK or mother tongue stream, and English language private schools when they can afford it.

Targeting Mother Tongue Education as a Convenient Scapegoat

At the same time – diverting attention away from the failure of the politically favoured SK stream to provide quality and progressive education for all young Malaysians – was a hostile and virulent campaign accusing mother tongue or vernacular schools (SRJK and SMJK stream) of being responsible for dividing the young of the different races and being the cause for the lack of national unity in the country. The campaign, although unable to produce any evidence to support its claims, succeeded all too well in muddying the waters of educational reform discourse in the country during the last two decades.

Today, only a few hardliners are still clamouring for the closure of SRJKs. It is clear that their ill-founded politically driven campaign to close down Chinese and Tamil medium SRJKs has ground to a halt. The final blow to this campaign ironically has come from middle and upper class Malay parents who have enrolled their children in increasing numbers in the Chinese language medium schools because of the perceived higher standard of teaching and discipline in these schools, and the loss of faith in the quality and performance of the Bahasa Malaysia stream.

At last count, the enrollment of non-Chinese students in the SJKCs could be as high as 20% of the total enrolment of over 500,000 students in this stream. It is possible that if SJKCs are not discriminated against and are provided with equitable resources to grow, we may have a majority of Malay and Bumiputra parents preferring to send their children to this stream instead of SK schools.

Why have so many parents – Malays and non-Malays – given up sending their children to SK schools? What are the deeper and more serious problems and shortcomings that afflict these schools, besides that of bullying, gangsterism, smoking, drugs and other behavioural related issues that hog the headlines to divert our minds away from focusing on more critical reform concerns?

The answers are not difficult to arrive at. But throwing more money into these schools is not the solution. According to one estimate, SK schools during the 6th to 9th Malaysia Plans (1991-2010) received from 5 to 10 times more public finding on a per capita basis compared with SJK schools. Per capita expenditure allocations during the four Malaysia Plans amounted to RM 614, 483, 2,131 and 2,000 for SK primary schools compared with RM 176, 44, 217 and 274 for the Chinese medium primary schools with Tamil medium schools slightly less disadvantaged than their Chinese counterparts.

Logically, we should expect that this skewed expenditure over the prolonged period of the NEP (and until today) should have produced a higher quality of educational performance across the board in the SK stream, in its principals, teachers and other school leaders, and in the performance outcomes of its student population. This has not happened.

In October 2011, the Ministry of Education embarked on a comprehensive review of the education system to develop a new National Education Blueprint. In the Blueprint report which emerged in 2013, it was pointed out that Malaysia may not be getting the highest return on educational investment. The report also noted that the best available data on unity suggest that student and teacher diversity in SKs is decreasing and called for a renewed commitment to ensuring that the nation’s funds are efficiently used.

It also concluded that “it is important to understand what drives these outcomes so that the Malaysian educational system can scale up its successes, and reduce, if not eliminate, its areas of shortfall.” (Chapter3-28). Unfortunately the Blueprint, in attempting to be politically correct, failed to provide a blunt, indepth and critical analysis of why SK schools have failed.

Why have SKs failed to perform and what policy changes are needed to bring about real – and not cosmetic- improvements needs to be put on the national agenda priority, and not the ones put out that are generating “sound and fury” and likely to signify little or nothing.

Malaysian parents and their children especially those enrolled in the SK stream, as well as the country as a whole deserve better than the present Ministry-initiated hullabaloo over schools with disciplinary issues.

NY Times Frank Bruni: The Week Trump “Quit” for lacking in moral leadership


August 22, 2017

NY Times Frank Bruni: The Week Trump “Quit”for lacking in moral leadership

http://www.nytimes.com

As the worst week in a cursed presidency wound down, I spotted more and more forecasts that Donald Trump would resign, including from Tony Schwartz, who wrote “The Art of the Deal” for Trump and presumably understands his tortured psyche.

They struck me not as wishful or fantastical. They struck me as late.

Trump resigned the Presidency already — if we regard the job as one of moral stewardship, if we assume that an iota of civic concern must joust with self-regard, if we expect a president’s interest in legislation to rise above vacuous theatrics, if we consider a certain baseline of diplomatic etiquette to be part of the equation.

By those measures, it’s arguable that Trump’s Presidency never really began. By those measures, it’s indisputable that his presidency ended in the lobby of Trump Tower on Tuesday afternoon, when he chose — yes, chose — to litigate rather than lead, to attend to his wounded pride instead of his wounded nation and to debate the supposed fine points of white supremacy.

He abdicated his responsibilities so thoroughly and recklessly that it amounted to a letter of resignation. Then he whored for his Virginia winery on the way out the door.

Image result for Mike Pence-- President in WaitingThe sober and Presidential Mike Pence

Trump knew full well what he should have done, because he’d done it — grudgingly and badly — only a day earlier. But it left him feeling countermanded, corrected, submissive and weak, and those emotions just won’t do for an ego as needy and skin as thin as his. So he put id before country and lashed out, in a manner so patently wrong and transcendently ruinous that TV news shows had to go begging for Republican lawmakers to defend or even try to explain what he’d said.

Those lawmakers wanted no part of him. The same went for the corporate chieftains he considers his peers. And for the generals he genuinely reveres. The heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines all went out of their way to issue statements condemning the hatred that Trump wouldn’t take on. A soft coup against a cuckoo: It confirmed how impotent Trump had become.

On Tuesday he “relinquished what presidents from Roosevelt to Reagan have regarded as a cardinal duty of their job: set a moral course to unify the nation,” wrote The Times’s Mark Landler, in what was correctly labeled a news analysis and not an opinion column. Landler’s assessment, echoed by countless others, was as unassailable as it was haunting, and it was prompted in part by Trump’s perverse response to a question that it’s hard to imagine another president being asked: Did he place the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Va., on the same “moral plane” as those who showed up to push back at them?

“I’m not putting anybody on a moral plane,” Trump answered.

Indeed he wasn’t. And if you can’t put anybody on a moral plane, you can’t put yourself on Air Force One.

On Friday Trump finally dismissed his polarizing chief strategist, Steve Bannon. That’s excellent. And irrelevant. A president’s team doesn’t matter when he himself is this lost.

In The Atlantic, under the headline “Donald Trump Is a Lame-Duck President,” David Graham wrote: “For most presidents, that comes in the last few months of a term. For Trump, it appears to have arrived early, just a few months into his term. The president did always brag that he was a fast learner.”

In Axios, Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei noted that the President had “systematically damaged or destroyed his relationship with — well, almost every group or individual essential to success.” They then listed these “methodically alienated” constituencies: “the public,” “CEOs,” “the intelligence community,” “every Democrat who could help him do a deal,” “world leaders,” “Europe,” “his own staff.”

In The Times, Michael Shear, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush reported that several of his top advisers couldn’t see how his presidency would recover. “Others expressed doubts about his capacity to do the job,” they added.

Striking a similar note, Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, who has not been among Trump’s frequent Republican critics, told reporters, “The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate.”

This is a question of more than competence. It’s a question of basic interest, and when I look back through the lens of the present wreckage at all that’s happened since Trump descended that escalator in Trump Tower in June 2015, I see clearly that he never in fact wanted or set out to be president, not as the position is conventionally or correctly defined.

He revealed that repeatedly as he rejected the traditional rules and usual etiquette, refusing to release his tax returns, bragging about his penis size, feuding with the Muslim father of a fallen American soldier and electing puerility over poetry at nearly every meaningful moment.

Because of his victories in the Republican primary and then the general election, his campaign was hailed for its tactical genius. But it was driven by, and tailored to, his emotional cravings. All that time on Twitter wasn’t principally about a direct connection to voters. It was a way to stare at an odometer of approval and monitor, in real time, how broadly his sentiments were being liked and shared.

Applause. Greater brand exposure. A new layer of perks atop an existence already lavish with them. Utter saturation of Americans’ consciousness. These were his foremost goals. Governing wasn’t, and that was obvious in his haziness and dishonesty before Election Day and in his laziness and defiance after.

He made clear that conflicts of interest didn’t trouble him, drawing constant attention to Trump properties and incessantly pointing out that nothing in the law of the land compelled him to divest his business interests.

He opened the White House door wide to unmoored and unserious people, most recently Anthony Scaramucci, who, during his nanosecond as communications director, disparaged Bannon as someone engaged primarily in a limber act of self-gratification. That was on the record. Then Bannon disparaged his administration adversaries as being so threatened by him that they were “wetting themselves.” That was on the record, too.

A President is supposed to fill important posts. Trump dallied. A president is supposed to be involved in lawmaking, but members of Congress who met with Trump about the repeal-and-replace of Obamacare were aghast at his ignorance of the legislation and of the legislative process itself.

A president is supposed to safeguard the most sacred American institutions, repairing them if need be. Trump doesn’t respect them. He has sought to discredit and disempower the judiciary, the free press, the F.B.I., the Congressional Budget Office. He even managed to inject politics into, and pollute, the Boy Scouts. This is the course of a tyrant.

I haven’t mentioned Russia. How astonishing that it can be left out and there’s still a surfeit to rue. Trump hasn’t been exercising the duties of his office. He’s been excising them, one by one. The moral forfeiture of the past week was the capper.

And as I watched the Bushes and the generals and Trump’s former rivals for the Republican presidential nomination step into the public square to enunciate their own principles about murderous bigots and domestic terrorists, I realized that they weren’t going through any typical this-is-what-makes-us-Americans motions. They weren’t preening.

They were, in the words of The Washington Post’s James Hohmann, “filling the void.” If Trump wasn’t going to do his job, others had to.

I kept coming across variations on the verdict that he had “failed to lead,” and that phraseology is off. “Fail” and “failure” imply that there was an effort, albeit unsuccessful.

Trump made none. He consciously decided that he didn’t care about comforting or inspiring those Americans — a majority of them — who weren’t quick and generous enough with their clapping. He was more interested in justifying himself.

So he picked division over unity, war over peace. And make no mistake: He didn’t merely shortchange the presidency. He left it vacant.

T K Chua’s Merdeka 2017 Musings


August 21, 2017

T K Chua’s Merdeka 2017 Musings

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Image result for Merdeka 2017

Sehati Sejiwa (One heart, One Spirit)–are we serious, Mr. Prime Minister?

Someone narrated to me the Merdeka wishes he had read in a news portal recently – a nation staying together, united against corruption, people showing patriotism and leaders ever willing to sacrifice for the nation.

In a way, he told me a few things for me to ponder over. And yet, upon reflection, I felt that he had told me nothing.

Malaysia will be 60 years old in a few days and like most countries, we will probably be celebrating the occasion with pomp and grandeur. There will be slogans, speeches, recitals, pledges, banquets, march pasts, parades and processions. But it will last only for a day, at the most.

What about the rest of the 364 days?

First, do we look like a nation staying together right now? What do we hear more often nowadays – programmes and encouragement for us to come together, or instigation and indoctrination that make us drift apart?

If we are constantly being reminded that we Malaysians are different for 364 days, how would one single Merdeka Day urging us to stay together make a difference? Food for thought, isn’t it?

Second, are we really united against corruption? Maybe the common folks are. But I am not too sure of the well-connected, the groups with vested interests, the bureaucrats, the numerous NGOs, the business people, and the rich and powerful.

Sometimes I feel that those who are against corruption are the least able to do anything about it. Maybe during our Merdeka celebration, we will have another pledge against corruption but seriously I don’t think it is going to make any difference.

Image result for Malaysian Flag at half mast

Malaysia Mourning on Merdeka Day?

Third, we want the people to show their patriotism during the Merdeka Day celebration. But again, I don’t think we can conjure up patriotism, neither can we fake it. When no flags are raised, that means the people are “tired”. It is useless to coerce or threaten the people with punishment if they have not flown the Jalur Gemilang.

Patriotism comes from our hearts. When there are occasions for celebration, the people will be willing and spontaneous without promptings, coercion or threats. We ought to know better whether the people are in the mood.

Fourth, I think it is time to rethink the notion of leaders sacrificing for the nation. For too long history books and national television stations tell us this.

What really is sacrificing for the nation? It would be working tirelessly for the nation even at the expense of one’s own well being, making the nation prosper not oneself, and refraining from benefiting from privileges or preferential treatment for oneself.

Image result for Malaysians celebrating Merdeka?

Requiem for Malaysia?

Now, which leader here or elsewhere is doing just that? It is time we stop talking about leaders sacrificing for the nation. There are none. On the contrary, I think we should start asking our leaders to stop indulging in corruption, abusing their power and amassing wealth for themselves, as well as lavishing privileges and preferential treatment on themselves and their families.

I may sound naive to many. None of us has ever begged any of our so-called leaders to be ministers, heads of GLCs or prime ministers. All of them fight like dogs and cats for those positions. Why then must we pamper them with luxuries, holiday packages, and other privileges if they themselves are so desperate for the job?

Utter nonsense really.

 

Singapore Thinks Ahead


August 20, 2017

Singapore Thinks Ahead–Former Prime Minister Goh calls Stronger and More Inclusive G4 Leadership

by channelnewsasia.com

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/esm-goh-calls-for-stronger-more-inclusive-leadership-team-9138468

Image result for singapore skyline panorama hd

 

With Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stating that he will step down by 70, the new generation of leaders will have to quickly establish themselves as a cohesive team, the Emeritus Senior Minister says.

 Singapore’s new generation of leaders will have to build a “stronger and more inclusive millennial generation team”, said Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong on Saturday (Aug 19).

Speaking at a National Day Dinner for his constituency, Marine Parade, Mr Goh said the robustness of the country’s leadership pipeline is one of the determinants of how a “small boat like Singapore” will fare in a turbulent climate of internal and external challenges. Other factors, he said, include the resilience of its politics as well as the cohesiveness of its multi-racialism and social equity.

Mr Goh noted that 65-year-old Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said he will step down by the age of 70.

Image result for Singapore Cabinet 2017

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Cabinet Colleagues

“The fourth generation (4G) leaders will have to quickly establish themselves as a cohesive team and identify the captain amongst them,” he said in the speech.

“They must try their utmost to bring in potential office-holders from outside the Singapore Armed Forces and public sector to avoid group-think. Highly competent Singaporeans outside the Government must also be prepared to step up and serve,” he said.

Beyond technical competence, Mr Goh also said Singaporeans will want to know what “the leaders stand for, what kind of Singapore they want to build and what they will pass on to the fifth generation later”.

Singapore Politics must be “Bold, Resilient, Forward Looking and Inclusive”

At the dinner, Mr Goh also said Singapore politics must be “bold, forward looking and inclusive of all races and different political opinions”. It also has to be resilient, he added.

Mr Goh credited the country’s stability to Singaporeans having successively elected a strong government. “This enables the government to plan for the long term and prepare for contingencies … a strength which most other elected governments lack,” he said.

Elaborating on how Singapore has adapted the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy to local conditions, he said that Singapore’s provision of Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMPs) and Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs) prevents a dominant party from shutting down opposition as at least one in five Members of Parliament (MPs) is not a member of the ruling People’s Action Party.

Furthermore, the Group Representation Constituency system “guarantees” a fair number of minority MPs in Parliament, he said, adding that this “prevents the ‘tyranny of the majority’ in free elections and gives every community a stake in our shared destiny”.

The Elected Presidency is likewise “a check against a populist and profligate government”, Mr Goh said. He called the recent decision to set aside reserved presidential elections for minorities a “stabiliser to ensure our multi-racial society stays afloat”.

“If these stabilisers are not introduced to our political system, our democratic state risks being capsized when buffeted by internal differences and divisions, let alone external storms,” he added.

Meritocracy safeguards Singapore against Nepotism and Cronyism

Image result for Goh Chok Tong

Mr Goh Chok Tong and his political mentor the Late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew

Mr Goh stressed that meritocracy must remain a key pillar of Singapore’s “fair and equal society”, as it protects the country from the “greater dangers of nepotism and cronyism”.

Underlining the importance of maintaining social equity, Mr Goh said: “For a new country, the first round of meritocracy has produced the desired results. The brightest, ablest and most hard working have risen to the top. But for subsequent rounds, meritocracy entrenches the successful, widens the income gap and creates a sense of social inequity,” he said.

The Emeritus Senior Minister said children of well-to-do families inherit the gift of good family backgrounds and networks from the day they are born. The state, however, must intervene to ensure the meritocratic process serves it purpose, he argued, so that every citizen has equal opportunities at the starting line and a fair chance to succeed throughout life.

“We must guard against social inequity as a new fault line in our society,” he said.

Some Government policies that have gone some way to narrow the income divide are subsidies in housing, healthcare and education, as well as recent measures which soften the focus on academic grades and re-skill Singaporeans to take on higher value jobs, he said.

“The 4G leaders must find their own robust language, political values and programmes to lift the lives of lower-income Singaporeans,” he added.

These new leaders will have their “work cut out for them” – they will have to build their own social compact with the people and must be able to grow the economy, create jobs, resolve everyday livelihood issues, check divisive trends in society, give hope and improve the lives of all Singaporeans, Mr Goh said.

“But they will inherit a political system in good working order. In time, they will have to bequeath a fair and multi-racial society to the generation after them.”

The Future of Pakatan Harapan Post GE-14–Dr. M and Politics of Betrayal


August 20, 2017

The Future of Pakatan Harapan Post GE-14–Dr. M and Politics of Betrayal

by S. Thayaparan

http://www.malaysiakini.com

“A crazy country, choking air, polluted hearts, treachery. Treachery and treason.”

– Naguib Mahfouz

COMMENT | Amanah Communications Director Khalid Samad is mistaken. If Dr Mahathir Mohamad returns to the UMNO-BN fold for whatever reason after the next general election, it would not be a betrayal to Pakatan Harapan.

Image result for Mahathir and Anwar in Pakatan Rakyat
A Coalition of Political Convenience is not likely to survive after GE-14, if UMNO-BN wins the contest. Whether Tun Dr. Mahathir returns to the party he created (UNMO Baru) or not depends whether Najib Razak and his associates are prepared to bury the hatchet and welcome him. It is hard to see how this can happen at this point of time. PKR and DAP should, therefore, concentrate on retaining Penang and Selangor. Jangan jadi Mat Jenen.–Din Merican

 

The only betrayal would be that which Harapan commits to the opposition voting public. However, there would be neither any sting nor moral condemnation to that betrayal because most Harapan supporters welcome the alliance with the former UMNO President and Prime Minister. While I have argued that this is a Hobson’s choice of the opposition’s making, any attempt to minimise such betrayal is unwarranted and honestly self-aggrandising.

 

Mind you, this is not a jab at Khalid whom I think is an honourable politician – a trait lacking in the current political leadership – but rather a rejoinder that “betrayal” of any kind in the current political climate is meaningless.

So what if Bersatu, Mahathir or any other politician betrays Harapan? This is a single-issue election – the wrong issue in my opinion – which means the current UMNO grand poohbah is vanquished or he is not. The best-case scenario if the opposition fails in that endeavour is that it retains Selangor and Penang.

Image result for Mahathir and Anwar in Pakatan Rakyat

While I have no doubt that opposition political strategists are working that angle (retaining Selangor and Penang at all cost), the real issue is whether Mahathir and Bersatu can deliver. If he cannot, and if the opposition loses support from their base, then the real question is, will Harapan cling on to the former Prime Minister?

But you ask, why are the stakes so low? Well, the stakes are low because even if Najib wins and this kleptocrat prevails, it would not be as if the sky will come tumbling down. We have endured a corrupt kleptocracy for decades and many would argue that we as a people, despite the overt systemic discrimination, have thrived.

I have argued numerous times of the futility of this strategy – “And right here is the problem for the opposition because this is really is what most voters who vote Barisan National think. Through the decades, despite all the corruption scandals, the sustained attacks against independent institutions, the slow process of dismantling our individual rights, Malaysia, in the words of Josh Hong, ‘for all its flaws, Malaysia remains a prosperous, relatively efficient and economically vibrant country.’”

Besides, the history of Harapan is littered with betrayals that most opposition supporters have accepted. Harapan has always managed to find allies – maybe except PSM – that they managed to do business with, who eventually betrayed the opposition alliance.

I would argue that the opposition is extremely comfortable with betrayals. How many political operatives, political entities and the rest of the flotsam and jetsam of establishment politics have betrayed the opposition? Honestly, I have lost count.

And let us be honest. The opposition was not fooled because they were naive. The reality is that the opposition has never met a political outfit or personality that was anti-Najib that they did not have use for, until ultimately, they were betrayed because they were outplayed.

No cohesive platform

I am not making the argument that disparate interests should not attempt to come together but rather, the opposition has never really made an attempt to work together in an honest way. There was never any attempt to form a cohesive ideology or a platform that honestly addressed the agendas that opposing interests brought to the table. There were always these piecemeal efforts to bury the political and/or ideological differences and shoe horn everything into the “save Malaysia” narrative.

Moreover, many opposition supporters were comfortable with this. I would argue that these “betrayal” narratives sustained the opposition when things fell apart because of their own ineptness. “We were betrayed” when it should be “we should never have been in this position in the first place”.

Meanwhile, the UMNO regime has its own cries of betrayal. The urban demographic has betrayed them. Former members have betrayed them. With UMNO, it goes further. Betrayals are not just against the political party. Betrayals are against race and religion. This is why I suppose Bersatu is attempting the same strategy.

I mean take a look at what Bersatu Youth chief Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman says while describing the current UMNO grand poohbah as the “Malay race’s number one enemy” – “Pawning the interests of the Malays by giving mega contracts to communist China while we have to shoulder the debts amounting to billions of ringgit.”

I made my stand on this issue of the PRC deals clear here – that pro-opposition rhetoric consists of furthering the narrative that China is taking advantage of the natives and the country is being sold piece by piece to a foreign power to settle Najib’s debts. While my disdain for Najib administration is well-documented (by me, mostly), making the argument that these China deals have no credibility merely because they come from the Najib regime is disingenuous.”

So, sit back and enjoy the show. Nobody is going to betray the opposition because nobody was loyal to the opposition in the first place. PAS will eventually engage in three-concerned fights with its former allies because they have a new sugar daddy. I am sure there will be defections on both sides in the upcoming general elections.

Betrayals will be rife and teeth gnashed, but ultimately the losers will not be the urban demographic but the “lower classes” that many politicians and analysts are banking on to save the opposition.

The only gun pointed at anyone is the one pointed at the marginalised communities here in Malaysia, and they know that that gun will be passed to anyone who claims the throne of Putrajaya.


S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.