UMNO after GE-14


January 17, 2017

Thanks to the fractious Opposition, UMNO after GE-14

by S. Thayaparan@www.malaysiakini.com

“Justice can sleep for years and awaken when it is least expected. A miracle is nothing more than dormant justice from another time arriving to compensate those it has cruelly abandoned. Whoever knows this is willing to suffer, for he knows that nothing is in vain.”

– Mark Helprin (Winter’s Tale)

Image result for Mahathir Vs NajibThe Master Vs Pupil–Advantage Pupil

While I have always been sceptical of anything that comes out of the Penang Institute, I thought Ooi Kok Hin’s article in the Diplomat hit the target but missed the bullseye. I have argued in various pieces that ultimately what would bring down the UMNO house of cards is an economic calamity brought upon by “ketuanan economics” and not any stratagems that the fractious opposition comes up with.

I began the year by saying – “No matter how the government spins it, the economy is in bad shape. And when it gets bad enough, when the money runs out and when political bromides from either side isn’t enough to fill empty bellies, people on their own accord will take to the streets.”

Ooi ends his piece with – “If political change is not sufficient, will it take an economic downturn to bring change in Malaysia, like Indonesia?”

Image result for Mahathir Vs Najib

However, implying the rapid democratisation of Indonesia after despotic rule brought upon by economic instability exacerbated by policy malfeasances as something of a miracle and the only option opposition-voting Malaysians could hope for is intellectually dodgy especially after presenting a fairly cogent argument as to why Chairman Najib will most probably win the next general election.

Ooi made his first three factors as to why Najib Abdul Razak will win the centre-piece of his argument:

(1) Electoral malpractices: Keeping the incumbent in their seats.

(2) Political fragmentation: Weaker and disunited opposition.

(3) Institutional failures: Culture of unaccountability, graft, and state repression,

It is ironic that it is these three points that the opposition keeps harping about that has not gained them any traction with the demographic they claim is keeping the UMNO hegemon in power. Indeed, there is very little the opposition can do against the rigged system (that are those institutional failures) and a frontal assault is akin to attacking a tank with a spear.

Image result for Sarawak-Sabah Politics

Sarawak-Sabah–The Deciders

Counting on Sabah and Sarawak to deliver us from UMNO is exactly the same kind of bankrupt ideology that UMNO peddles and this meme that West Malaysians are ignorant and less sophisticated displays the hubris of Peninsular oppositional types and the reason why they want us to stay the hell out of their states.

And strategically speaking as long as UMNO has to rely on Sabah and Sarawak to maintain hegemony, the easier it should be to destabilise UMNO in the Peninsula. The fact that this has not happened says more about the opposition then so-called ignorant voters.

What is needed is to derail the tank’s track and this is where Ooi’s fourth factor – Societal fault Lines: One cleavage too many – is worth exploring because it provides the key to bringing down the UMNO hegemon but it is also a record of the opposition’s failure to present a cohesive alternative to not only UMNO but also policies that have no place in an egalitarian Malaysia.

While Ooi rightly argues that everything in Malaysia, is seen through the lens of race and religion, and correctly points out UMNO’s part in this mess, he fails to acknowledge that the opposition has also contributed to the narrative.

While the ‘PAS for All’ fiasco was predicated on the pragmatism of the late Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat, the systemic oppositional policy of chasing the ‘Malay’ vote by the same means as UMNO has resulted in religion playing an even greater role in mainstream oppositional politics.

By neglecting the secular approach and instead embroiling itself with Islamic, Christian and of late Hindu political and social agitations, the opposition has turned out to be just another Barisan National clone peddling the same kind of manure. People outside the echo chambers are wondering why vote for the clone when the original can get things done not by rule of law but by fiat.

Here is a hint. If you want to stop religious and racial extremism, stop funding – on a state level – institutions that enable such impulses in the guise of reaching out to the Malay-Muslim community. As long as you are held ransom to the idea that in order to defeat UMNO you must use the same tactics to secure the Malay vote, there is always going to be that Malay tilt to UMNO.

Parties dance to UMNO’s tune

Image result for MCA-MIC

The demonisation of the Chinese community is part of the larger narrative of the reactionary nature of Chinese communal politics. The MCA and DAP have positioned themselves as loudspeakers for the Chinese community hence there is no room for by bipartisanship on any issue, leaving important social, political and economic issues unresolved because these two parties dance to the UMNO tune.

Image result for PAS and Hudud

Hudud? These guys don’t care as long as they can get BR1M and other opiates via “ketuanan economics”

These contradictions of course are not lost on the voting public. While I argued that the MCA for instance “has by far had a more accessible position on this subject (hudud) instead of the conflicting messages coming out of the Muslim wing of the opposition front and their non-Muslim supporters; they stand idly by while the UMNO hegemon sponsors state-sanctioned racial provocations against the Chinese community using the DAP as a proxy.”

Not to mention that now former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is the de facto opposition leader, he continues reviving the narrative that the “Malays” will lose their land to “Chinese” interlopers, while Chinese opposition types warn against China’s investments because it is bailing out the UMNO hegemon.

So on the one hand we have the narrative of Malays losing their land to Chinese pendatangs and on the other we have Chinese oppositional types confirming that the narrative that the country is being sold to the PRC. So this lens of race and religion is opaque and it is a grave mistake – although it plays well in echo chambers – to simply describe it as something wrong with Umno policy as opposed to describing it as the reality of Establishment – BN and Pakatan Harapan – politics.

Which brings me to Ooi’s most important point and one which is most often overlooked in favor of his other three factors. And this point to me is the one where the opposition could do serious damage to the regime but unfortunately will continue being overlooked.

“There is a visible gap between the politicians, the city folks, the demonstrators who so urgently and desperately want reforms, and the voters outside the cities, who voted for candidates affiliated to Najib’s party” writes Ooi, which is axiomatic but for various reasons goes unnoticed by the power brokers of the opposition.

When Ooi writes, “people don’t mind the status quo as long as they are not affected at the most immediate and personal level,” he is not only speaking plainly but also truthfully and this of course is the reason why this country has endured the long UMNO watch.

 The opposition has a long history of being unable to organise an orgy in a brothel. Speaking plainly, ever since the opposition broke the magical two-thirds barrier, they have been coasting on their success, thinking that UMNO has been playing defence while the reality is that UMNO has only ever played offence.

All politics is local and the opposition has yet to figure out what affects voters ‘outside the cities’ beyond pushing the narrative that they are ignorant and living off UMNO handouts. There really is no excuse for this type of political laziness.

Opposition politicians operating in the rural heartlands tell me that this obsession with urban issues has absolutely no traction in their communities and makes UMNO’s job easier because it makes it seem that the urban elite – meaning us – have no idea what is going on where they live except to think of them as lazy and ignorant.

There are people in the opposition who know exactly what affects these people on an immediate and personal level but these issues do not get the attention that the latest stupid thing a BN potentate says or the latest corruption scandal that is part of the news cycle that plays well in the echo chambers.

Issues facing the folks outside the cities are exactly the kind of issues that UMNO wishes to avoid and the latest outrage that captures the attention of city folks is manna from heaven for an ailing financially-strapped hegemon.

Waiting for miracles to happen absolves the opposition from actually doing the hard work of capturing the hearts and minds of people and allows job security for career opposition politicians.


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

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Trump’s Interview with The Times and Germany’s Bild


January 17, 2017

Trump’s Interview with The Times and Germany’s Bild

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/full-transcript-of-interview-with-donald-trump-5d39sr09d

Michael Gove and Kai Diekmann, right, interviewing Donald Trump in his eponymous tower in New York– Daniel Biskup

This is the full transcript of Donald Trump’s interview with Times’ Michael Gove and Kai Diekmann, former chief editor of the German newspaper Bild.

Mr President-elect, your grandfather is from Germany, your mother is from Scotland. As you know, Michael is Scottish, I am German. How will you manage relations with our countries?

Trump: Well, it’s similar. We have great love for both countries. These are great countries, great places. It’s very interesting how the UK broke away. I sort of, as you know, predicted it. I was in Turnberry and was doing a ribbon cutting because I bought Turnberry, which is doing unbelievably, and I’ll tell you, the fact that your pound sterling has gone down? Great. Because business is unbelievable in a lot of parts in the UK, as you know. I think Brexit is going to end up being a great thing.

So do you think we will be able to get a trade deal between the US and the UK quite quickly?

Absolutely, very quickly. I’m a big fan of the UK, uh, we’re gonna work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly — good for both sides. I will be meeting with [Theresa May] — in fact if you want you can see the letter, wherever the letter is, she just sent it.

Image result for Theresa May

UK’s Theresa May–The Midwife of BREXIT

She’s requesting a meeting and we’ll have a meeting right after I get into the White House and it’ll be, I think we’re gonna get something done very quickly.

Why do you think Brexit happened?

People don’t want to have other people coming in and destroying their country and you know in this country we’re gonna go very strong borders from the day I get in. One of the first orders I’m gonna sign – day one – which I will consider to be Monday as opposed to Friday or Saturday. Right? I mean my day one is gonna be Monday because I don’t want to be signing and get it mixed up with lots of celebration, but one of the first orders we’re gonna be signing is gonna be strong borders.

We don’t want people coming in from Syria who we don’t know who they are. You know there’s no way of vetting these people. I don’t want to do what Germany did.

And I’ve great respect for Merkel, by the way, I have to say. I have great respect for her. But, I, I think it was, I think it was very unfortunate what happened.

And you know I have a love for Germany because my father came from Germany and I don’t want to be in that position. You know the way I look at it, we have enough problems.

You said during the campaign that you’d like to stop Muslims coming to the US. Is that still your plan?

Well, from various parts of the world that have lots of terrorism problems.

There will be extreme vetting, it’s not gonna be like it is now, they don’t even, we don’t even have real vetting. The vetting into this country is essentially non-existent as it is, as it was at least, with your country.

Are there any travel restrictions that could be imposed on Europeans coming to the US?

Well, it could happen, I mean we’re gonna have to see. I mean, we’re looking at parts of Europe; parts of the world and parts of Europe, where we have problems where they come in and they’re gonna be causing problems. I don’t wanna have those problems. Look, I won the election because of strong borders and trade. And military, we’re gonna have strong military.

You mentioned you have German ancestors. What does it mean for you to have German blood in your veins?

Well, it’s great. I mean, I’m very proud of Germany and Germany is very special Bad Dürkheim, right? This is serious Germany, right? Like this isn’t any question — this is serious Germany. No, I’m very proud of Germany. I love Germany, I love the UK.

Have you ever been to Germany?

Yes, I have been to Germany.

When Obama came for his last visit to Berlin, he said that if he could vote in the upcoming election he would vote for Angela Merkel. Would you?

Well, I don’t know who she’s running against, number one, I’m just saying, I don’t know her, I’ve never met her. As I said, I’ve had great respect for her. I felt she was a great, great leader. I think she made one very catastrophic mistake and that was taking all of these illegals, you know taking all of the people from wherever they come from. And nobody even knows where they come from. You’ll find out, you got a big dose of it a week ago. So I think she made a catastrophic mistake, very bad mistake. Now, with that being said, I respect her, I like her, but I don’t know her. So I can’t talk about who I’m gonna be backing — if anyone.

When are you coming to the UK as President?

I look forward to doing it. My mother was very ceremonial, I think that’s where I got this aspect because my father was very brick-and-mortar, he was like, and my mother sort of had a flair, she loved the Queen, she loved anything — she was so proud of the Queen. She loved the ceremonial and the beauty, cause nobody does that like the English. And she had great respect for the Queen, liked her. Anytime the Queen was on television, an event, my mother would be watching. Crazy, right?

Is there anything else you take from having a Scottish mother?

Well, the Scottish are known for watching their pennies, so I like to watch my pennies — I mean I deal in big pennies, that’s the problem.

Is there anything typically German about you?

I like order. I like things done in an orderly manner. And certainly the Germans, that’s something that they’re rather well-known for. But I do, I like order and I like strength.

In your campaign you said Angela Merkel’s policy on Syrian refugees was insane. Do you still think so?

Image result for angela merkel

Germany’s Outstanding Chancellor, Angela Merkel

I think it’s not good. I think it was a big mistake for Germany. And Germany of all countries, ’cause Germany was one of the toughest in the world for having anybody go in, and, uh, no I think it was a mistake. And I’ll see her and I’ll meet her and I respect her. And I like her but I think it was a mistake. And people make mistakes but I think it was a very big mistake. I think we should have built safe zones in Syria. Would have been a lot less expensive. Uh, get the Gulf states to pay for ’em who aren’t coming through, I mean they’ve got money that nobody has.

Would have been a lot less expensive than the trauma that Germany’s going through now — but I would have said — you build safe zones in Syria. Look, this whole thing should have never happened. Iraq should not have been attacked in the first place, all right? It was one of the worst decisions, possibly the worst decision ever made in the history of our country. We’ve unleashed — it’s like throwing rocks into a beehive. It’s one of the great messes of all time. I looked at something, uh, I’m not allowed to show you because it’s classified – but, I just looked at Afghanistan and you look at the Taliban – and you take a look at every, every year its more, more, more, you know they have the different colours – and you say, you know – what’s going on?

Who do you blame? Obama, Pakistan? Who do you blame?

Afghanistan is, is not going well. Nothing’s going well — I guess we’ve been in Afghanistan almost 17 years — but you look at all of the places, now in all fairness, we haven’t let our people do what they’re supposed to do. You know we have great military, we’re gonna have much greater military because we’re gonna have — you know right now it’s very depleted, we’re gonna have great military, but we haven’t let our military win.

Boeing and Lockheed Martin are you know big contractors for this country and we have an F-35 program that has been very, very severely over budget and behind schedule. Hundreds of billions of dollars over budget and seven years behind schedule. And, uh, they got to shape up.

And what’s your priority for the military as Commander-In-Chief?

Isis.

And how are you going to deal with Isis?

Well, I’d rather not say, I don’t want to be like Obama or others where they say — I always talk about Mosul, you know Mosul’s turned out to be a disaster — brutal.  So Mosul, so they announced four months ago we’re going to attack Mosul — I said, “Why do you have to announce it?”. Like you said, “What’s going to be your priority?”. When are you going to attack? When are you gonna, how are you gonna do it? What kind of weapons are you gonna use, right? What time of the day?

You think Obama telegraphed his punch?

Mosul turned out to be a disaster because we announced five months ago that we were going into Mosul, in five months. In four months we said, “We’re getting ready”, by the time we get in, it’s been so much talk — and it’s been very hard to take — you know that, right?

Do you think that what’s happened in Syria now with Putin intervening is a good thing or a bad thing?

Nah, I think it’s a very rough thing. It’s a very bad thing, we had a chance to do something when we had the line in the sand and it wasn’t — nothing happened. That was the only time — and now, it’s sort of very late. It’s too late. Now everything is over — at some point it will come to an end — but Aleppo was nasty. I mean when you see them shooting old ladies walking out-of-town — they can’t even walk and they’re shooting ’em — it almost looks like they’re shooting ’em for sport — ah no, that’s a terrible — that’s been a terrible situation. Aleppo has been such a terrible humanitarian situation.

Talking about Russia, you know that Angela Merkel understands Putin very well because he is fluent in German, she is fluent in Russian, and they have known each other for a long time — but who would you trust more, Angela Merkel or Vladimir Putin?

Well, I start off trusting both — but let’s see how long that lasts. It may not last long at all.

Can you understand why eastern Europeans fear Putin and Russia?

Image result for Vladimir PutinThe Tough and Enigmatic Russsian

Sure. Oh sure, I know that. I mean, I understand what’s going on, I said a long time ago — that NATO had problems. Number one it was obsolete, because it was, you know, designed many, many years ago. Number two — the countries aren’t paying what they’re supposed to pay. I took such heat, when I said NATO was obsolete. It’s obsolete because it wasn’t taking care of terror. I took a lot of heat for two days. And then they started saying Trump is right — and now — it was on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, they have a whole division devoted now to terror, which is good.

And the other thing is the countries aren’t paying their fair share so we’re supposed to protect countries but a lot of these countries aren’t paying what they’re supposed to be paying, which I think is very unfair to the United States. With that being said, NATO is very important to me.

Britain is paying.

Britain is paying. There’s five countries that are paying what they’re supposed to. Five. It’s not much, from 22.

For decades now, Europe has depended on America for its defence. Will that guarantee be there in the future as well?

Yeah, I feel very strongly toward Europe — very strongly toward Europe, yes.

Do you support European sanctions against Russia?

Well, I think you know — people have to get together and people have to do what they have to do in terms of being fair. OK? They have sanctions on Russia — let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia. For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it. But you do have sanctions and Russia’s hurting very badly right now because of sanctions, but I think something can happen that a lot of people are gonna benefit.

Will you rip up the Iran deal?

Well, I don’t want to say what I’m gonna do with the Iran deal. I just don’t want to play the cards. I mean, look, I’m not a politician, I don’t go out and say, ‘I’m gonna do this — I’m gonna do —’, I gotta do what I gotta do. But I don’t wanna play. Who plays cards where you show everybody the hand before you play it? But I’m not happy with the Iran deal, I think it’s one of the worst deals ever made, I think it’s one of the dumbest deals I’ve ever seen, one of the dumbest, in terms of a deal. Where you give — where you give a $150 billion back to a country, where you give $1.7 billion in cash — did you ever see a million dollars in hundred-dollar bills? It’s a lot. It’s a whole — it’s a lot. $1.7 billion in cash. Plane loads. Of, of — think of it — plane, many planes. Boom. $1.7 billion. I don’t understand. It just shows the power of a president — when a president of this country can authorise $1.7 billion in cash, that’s a lot of power.

And you think that money is now funding terror?

No, I think that money is in Swiss bank accounts — they don’t need that money, they’re using other money, I think they’ve taken that money and they’ve kept it for themselves. That’s my opinion.

What did you think of Obama’s approach towards the UN Security Council resolution on Israel just before Christmas?

I think it was terrible. It should have been a veto. I think it was terrible.

Do you think the UK should have vetoed it?

Well, the UK may have another chance to veto if what I’m hearing is true, because you know you have a meeting as you know, this weekend. And there are a lot of bad stories being circulated. The problem I have is that it makes it a tougher deal for me to negotiate because the Palestinians are given so much — even though it’s not legally binding it’s psychologically binding and it makes it much tougher for me to negotiate. You understand that? Because people are giving away chips, they’re giving away all these chips.

And do you think the UK should veto any UN Security Council resolution on Israel put forward this week so that you are in a stronger position to get the right deal for the Middle East?

Well, I’d like to see the UK veto. I think it’d be great if they veto because I’m not sure the United States is gonna veto, amazingly. They won’t, right? You think the United States is gonna veto? I’ll have friends who are Jewish have a fundraiser for Obama and I’ll say, “What are you doing? OK — what are you doing?”

Is it true you’re going to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?

Well, I don’t want to comment on that, again, but we’ll see what happens.

You know that famous saying by Henry Kissinger: “Which number do I dial if I want to talk to Europe?” Which number are you going to dial?

Yeah, well I would say Merkel is by far one of the most important leaders. ’Cause you look at the UK and you look at the European Union and it’s Germany. Basically a vehicle for Germany. That’s why I thought the UK was so smart in getting out and you were there and you guys wrote it — put it on the front page: “Trump said that Brexit is gonna happen”. That was when it was gonna lose easily, you know, everybody thought I was crazy. Obama said to go to the back of the line. Meaning, if it does happen — and then he had to retract — that was a bad statement to make.

And now we are at the front of the queue?

I think you’re doing great. I think it’s going great.

What is your view on the future of the European Union? Do you expect more countries to leave the European Union?

I think it’s tough. I spoke to the head of the European Union, very fine gentleman called me up.

Mr Juncker?

Yes, ah, to congratulate me on what happened with respect to the election. Uh, I think it’s very tough. I think it’s tough. People, countries want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity but, I do believe this, if they hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees, so many, with all the problems that it, you know, entails, I think that you wouldn’t have a Brexit. It probably could have worked out but, this was the final straw, this was the final straw that broke the camel’s back.

I think people want, people want their own identity, so if you ask me, others, I believe others will leave.

As a successful businessman, do you trust the European currency?

Image result for Trump and The US Dollar--I trust the Dollar

“I trust the dollar”. –Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States (w.e.f. January 20, 2017)

Well, it’s doing OK. I mean, you know. What do you trust? I trust the dollar, I’m gonna trust the dollar a lot more in four years than I do now, but sure I mean it’s a currency, it’s fine. But I do think keeping it together is not gonna be as easy as a lot of people think. And I think this, if refugees keep pouring into different part of Europe. I think it’s gonna be very hard to keep it together cause people are angry about it.

What is better for the United States — a strong European Union or stronger nation states?

Personally, I don’t think it matters much for the United States. I never thought it mattered. Look, the EU was formed, partially, to beat the United States on trade, OK? So, I don’t really care whether it’s separate or together, to me it doesn’t matter. I can see this — I own a big property in Ireland, magnificent property called Doonbeg, what happened is I went for an approval to do this massive, beautiful expansion — that was when I was a developer, now I couldn’t care less about it — but I learnt a lot because I got the approvals very quickly from Ireland and then Ireland and my people went to the EU to get the approval — it was going to take years — that was a very bad thing for Ireland.

Do you think that the EU is holding back all its member states? Is it an obstacle to their growth and prosperity?

Well I can tell you from the environmental standpoint, they were using environmental tricks to stop a project from being built — I found it to be a very unpleasant experience. To get the approvals from the EU would have taken years — I don’t think that’s good for a country like Ireland so you know what I did? I said forget it I’m not gonna build it.

People in Europe and beyond have expressed concern that America may have a protectionist trade policy that will hurt America’s friends. What would you say to them?

Well, I can tell you that in the last … I think I’ve done more than any president-elect ever — Many factories now, many car plants, that were going to be built-in other locations are building in Michigan and Ohio — ya know Ford announced a big one, Fiat Chrysler announced a big one, General Motors is announcing, they’re all announcing and I’m not just talking about cars I’m talking about other things, there will be many other things — you can’t allow companies to leave our country, fire all of its employees, move to Mexico, make whatever the product is, and then sell it back in with no tax — and there will be a very substantial border tax for companies that do that. And when people hear that — they say we’re gonna stay here or we’re gonna build in the US — so they’ll go and they’ll build their car plant or they’ll build their air-conditioning plant and they’re gonna sell their air conditioners but they’re gonna pay 35 per cent tax . . . there’s not gonna be any tax because they’re not gonna leave — see there’s not gonna be any tax — but the conservative theory is open borders, open borders is all fine. First of all it’s bad for security — for trade it’s fine — the problem is the US is always taken advantage of — we have hundreds of billions of dollars of trade deficits with China — we have $805 billion in trade deficits with the world — ya almost say, who’s making these deals when you’re losing that kind of money, right — we actually have almost $800 billion — almost $800 billion in trade deficits with the world — so you say, who’s making these deals?

Well, Germany is obviously benefiting because we are the world champions at exporting?

Well you’re very good at export — we buy lots of your cars.

Do Europeans have to fear something similar to what you might announce for China — higher custom duties?

It’s going to be different — I mean Germany is a great country, great manufacturing country — you go down Fifth Avenue everybody has a Mercedes-Benz in front of their building, right — the fact is that it’s been very unfair to the US, it’s not a two-way street. How many Chevrolets do you see in Germany? Maybe none — not too many — how many — you don’t see anything over there — it’s a one-way street — it’s gotta be a two-way street — I want it to be fair but it’s gotta be a two-way street and that’s why we’re losing almost $800, think of it, $800 billion a year in trade so that will stop — ya know we have Wilbur [Ross, his choice for commerce secretary] as one of our guys, ya know Wilbur . . .

And I will say most of it . . . most of it is China ’cause China is a tremendous problem.

You just mentioned Mercedes, BMW, even VW — do you expect them to build more plants in the US? For example, BMW wants to open a plant in 2019 in Mexico . . .

I would tell them, don’t waste their time and money — unless they want to sell to other countries, that’s fine — if they want to open in Mexico, I love Mexico, I like the President, I like everybody — but I would tell BMW if they think they’re gonna build a plant in Mexico and sell cars into the US without a 35 per cent tax, it’s not gonna happen, it’s not gonna happen — so if they want to build cars for the world I would say wish them luck — they can build cars for the US but they’ll be paying a 35 per cent tax on every car that comes into the country . . . so what I’m saying is they have to build their plant in the US, it will be much better for them and what we’re doing — maybe more importantly, is we’re lowering taxes — corporate taxes — down to from 15 to 20 per cent and were getting rid of 75 per cent of the regulations — from 35 down to 15 to 20, we haven’t picked the final but from 15 to 20, and we’re also gonna let the companies bring back their money with the inversion, corporate inversion.

That will affect people like Google?

Well, we’ve got five — I think it’s five, they say it’s 2.5-3, I think it’s five, but it’s $5 trillion over there and they can’t bring back their money so that’s part of our tax bill, the money comes back.

Given your views on free trade, would you say that you’re a conservative?

I’m pragmatic, look I go in front of crowds — I had the biggest crowds anybody’s ever had for a presidential election and that’s tough and when I was fighting with Jeb Bush, ya know “low energy” Jeb, he would say, ‘Donald Trump is not a conservative’, so I’d go in front of 25,000 people and, like in Michigan, where there’s massive — 32,000 people — and I’m screaming, ‘Jeb Bush says I’m not a conservative’, they’re screaming, ‘Who cares?’, and I said, ‘What do you want? Do you want conservative or a good deal?’ And the reason, because Jeb Bush said I’m not a conservative because I don’t believe in free trade — well I do believe in free trade, I love free trade, but it’s gotta be smart trade so I call it fair trade — and the problem, so I said to the people, ‘Do you want a conservative or do you want somebody who’s gonna make great deals?’, and they’re all screaming, ‘Great deals, great deals’ — they don’t care, there are no labels — ya know there’s some people, he is not — Jeb Bush would stand up — ‘He is not a true conservative’ — who cares — I am a conservative, but I’m really about making great deals for the people so they get jobs . . . the people don’t care ya know when you’re talking — they don’t care, they want good deals — ya know what? They want their jobs back.

Do you have any models — are there heroes that you steer by — people you look up to from the past?

Well, I don’t like heroes, I don’t like the concept of heroes, the concept of heroes is never great, but certainly you can respect certain people and certainly there are certain people — but I’ve learnt a lot from my father — my father was a builder in Brooklyn and Queens — he did houses and housing and I learned a lot about negotiation from my father — although I also think negotiation is a natural trait, I don’t think you can, you either have it or you don’t, you get better at it but basically, the people who I know who are great negotiators or great salesmen or great politicians, it’s very natural, very natural . . . I got a letter from somebody, their congressman, they said what you’ve done is amazing because you were never a politician and you beat all the politicians. He said they added it up — when I was three months into the campaign, they added it up — I had three months of experience and the 17 guys I was running against, the Republicans, had 236 years – ya know when you add 20 years and 30 years — so I was three months they were 236 years — so it’s sort of a funny article but I believe it’s like hitting a baseball or being a good golfer — natural ability, to me, is much more important to me than experience and experience is a great thing — I think it’s a great thing — but I learned a lot from my father in terms of leadership.

Your policy platform of America First implies you’re happy to see the rest of the world suffer. Do you?

I don’t want it to be a disruption — I love the world, I want the world to be good but we can’t go — I mean look at what’s happening to our country — we are $20 trillion — we don’t know what we’re doing — our military is weak — we’re in wars that never end, we’re in Afghanistan now 17 years, they told me this, really — 17 years, it’s the longest war we’ve ever been in.

Given what’s been reported this week, what does that say about your relations with the intelligence community?

Well, we have to have, ya have to have the right people and as you know Pompeo — who’s really been received, did a good job yesterday, head of the CIA — might I think we have some very great people going in — I think we have some great people — ya know I have a lot of respect for the intelligence but a lot of leaks, a lot of fake news coming out, a lot of fake news.

It’s been reported that a British former diplomat was involved in this whole thing — do you think that we, in Britain, need to look at our intelligence services?

Well, that guy is somebody that you should look at, because whatever he made up about me it was false — he was supposedly hired by the Republicans and Democrats working together — even that I don’t believe because they don’t work together, they work separately — and they don’t hire the same guy — what they got together? See the whole thing is fake news because it said the, whoever it was, intelligence, the so-called intelligence, said he’s an operative of Republicans and Democrats — they don’t work together, they don’t work together.

Who do you think, then, is behind it all?

I think probably could be intelligence or it could be, it could be, the Democrats.

When I just heard it — I ripped up the mat . . . if I did that in a hotel it’d be the biggest thing — they’d have me on the front page of The New York Post, right? And the other thing, I can’t even, I don’t even want to shake hands with people now I hear about this stuff — ugh.

It’s fake news, it was totally made up and I just got a letter from people who went to Russia with me — did you see that letter — very rich people, they went with me, they said you were with us, I was with them, I wasn’t even here when they said such false stuff.

I left, I wasn’t even there . . . I was there for the Miss Universe contest, got up, got my stuff and I left — I wasn’t even there — it’s all . . . so if this guy is a British guy you got a lot of problems.

How is being President going to change how you operate?

Ya know this is a very, very big change — I led a very nice life and ya know successful and good and nice and this is a lot different — but ya know my attitude on that is when you’re president, you’re in the White House which is a very special place — you’re there for a limited period of time — who wants to leave? Like I’ve liked President Obama, he’s been very nice, yeah he’s been nice one on one, but maybe not so nice in other ways — but who wants to leave the White House to go to some other place and be away on a vacation? The White House is very special, there’s so much work to be done, I’m not gonna be leaving much — I mean a lot of work to be done — I’m gonna be in there working, doing what I’m supposed to be doing — but who wants to leave the White House?

They say Camp David is very nice.

Yea, Camp David is very rustic, it’s nice, you’d like it. You know how long you’d like it? For about 30 minutes…

When you’re President will you still tweet? And if you do will it be as the Real Donald Trump, as POTUS, or probably as Real POTUS?

@realDonaldTrump I think, I’ll keep it . . . so I’ve got 46 million people right now — that’s a lot, that’s really a lot — but 46 million — including Facebook, Twitter and ya know, Instagram so when you think that your 46 million there, I’d rather just let that build up and just keep it @realDonaldTrump, it’s working — and the tweeting, I thought I’d do less of it, but I’m covered so dishonestly by the press — so dishonestly — that I can put out Twitter — and it’s not 140, it’s now 140, 280 — I can go bing bing bing and I just keep going and they put it on and as soon as I tweet it out — this morning on television, Fox — “Donald Trump, we have breaking news” — I put out a thing . . .

. . . You were tweeting a lot this morning?

I tweeted a little bit, yeah.

And you do it on your own?

I tweeted about the intelligence agencies because it all turned out to be false information.

And you do it on that phone there?

This — I have numerous, I have numerous — I have iPhones, I have . . .

But nobody else knows how to log into your Twitter account?

No, I do — I have one or two people who do during the day I’ll just dictate something and they’ll type it in.

So, Steve Bannon or someone else?

No, not Steve, but I have people who do it. But ya know the tweeting is interesting because I find it very accurate — when I get a word out and if I tell something to the papers and they don’t write it accurately, it’s really bad — they can’t do much when you tweet it and I’m careful about, it’s very precise, actually it’s very, very precise — and it comes out breaking news, we have breaking news — ya know, it’s funny, if I did a press release and if I put it out, it wouldn’t get nearly — people would see it the following day — if I do a news conference, that’s a lot of work.

Although the media have been better lately, which is shocking, shocking — in fact today they have a front-page story saying that Trump’s people will never leave him — ya know all of the voters that I have will never leave — which is very interesting cause we have great support in the country, tremendous support, I was very surprised at that story.

What role will [your son-in-law] Jared [Kushner] play?

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Harvard educated Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and 45th POTUS

Oh, really . . . Ya know what, Jared is such a good kid and he’ll make a deal with Israel that no one else can — ya know he’s a natural, he’s a great deal, he’s a natural — ya know what I was talking about, natural — he’s a natural deal-maker — everyone likes him.

And will [your daughter] Ivanka play a big role in the administration?

Well, not now, she’s going to Washington, and they’re buying a house or something, but ya know she’s got the children, so Jared will be involved as we announced — no salary, no nothing. If he made peace — who’d be better at that than Jared, right — there’s something about him . . .

Are you looking forward to meeting our prime minister?

Well, I’ll be there — we’ll be there soon — I would say we’ll be here for a little while but and it looks like she’ll be here first — how is she doing over there, by the way, what do you think?

Theresa?

Yeah, May.

She’s got very strong approval ratings.

Popular. How are they doing with the break-up? How’s the break-up going?

Well, the PM wants to get a strong deal with the US.

Well, we’re gonna get a trade deal. Well, how is our Nigel doing? I like him, I think he’s a great guy, I think he’s a very good guy and he was very supportive. He’d go around the US — he was saying Trump’s gonna win. He was one of the earliest people who said Trump was gonna win. So, he’s gotta feel for it. Michael, you should’ve written that we were gonna win.

Well, at least let me give you a copy of my book on how to fight terrorism.

Good, I’d love that. That’s fantastic — how to fight terrorism, I can use that.

 

The Kindleberger Trap


January 16, 2017

The Kindleberger Trap

by Joseph S.Nye @www.project-syndicate.org

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CAMBRIDGE – As US President-elect Donald Trump prepares his administration’s policy toward China, he should be wary of two major traps that history has set for him. The “Thucydides Trap,” cited by Chinese President Xi Jinping, refers to the warning by the ancient Greek historian that cataclysmic war can erupt if an established power (like the United States) becomes too fearful of a rising power (like China). But Trump also has to worry about the “Kindleberger Trap”: a China that seems too weak rather than too strong.

Charles Kindleberger, an intellectual architect of the Marshall Plan who later taught at MIT, argued that the disastrous decade of the 1930s was caused when the US replaced Britain as the largest global power but failed to take on Britain’s role in providing global public goods. The result was the collapse of the global system into depression, genocide, and world war. Today, as China’s power grows, will it help provide global public goods?

In domestic politics, governments produce public goods such as policing or a clean environment, from which all citizens can benefit and none are excluded. At the global level, public goods – such as a stable climate, financial stability, or freedom of the seas – are provided by coalitions led by the largest powers.

Small countries have little incentive to pay for such global public goods. Because their small contributions make little difference to whether they benefit or not, it is rational for them to ride for free. But the largest powers can see the effect and feel the benefit of their contributions. So it is rational for the largest countries to lead. When they do not, global public goods are under-produced. When Britain became too weak to play that role after World War I, an isolationist US continued to be a free rider, with disastrous results.

Some observers worry that as China’s power grows, it will free ride rather than contribute to an international order that it did not create. So far, the record is mixed. China benefits from the United Nations system, where it has a veto in the Security Council. It is now the second-largest funder of UN peacekeeping forces, and it participated in UN programs related to Ebola and climate change.

China has also benefited greatly from multilateral economic institutions like the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. In 2015, China launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which some saw as an alternative to the World Bank; but the new institution adheres to international rules and cooperates with the World Bank.

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On the other hand, China’s rejection of a Permanent Court of Arbitration judgment last year against its territorial claims in the South China Sea raises troublesome questions. Thus far, however, Chinese behavior has sought not to overthrow the liberal world order from which it benefits, but to increase its influence within it. If pressed and isolated by Trump’s policy, however, will China become a disruptive free rider that pushes the world into a Kindleberger Trap?

Trump must also worry about the better-known Thucydides Trap: a China that seems too strong rather than too weak. There is nothing inevitable about this trap, and its effects are often exaggerated. For example, the political scientist Graham Allison has argued that in 12 of 16 cases since 1500 when an established power has confronted a rising power, the result has been a major war.

But these numbers are not accurate, because it is not clear what constitutes a “case.” For example, Britain was the dominant world power in the mid-nineteenth century, but it let Prussia create a powerful new German empire in the heart of the European continent. Of course, Britain did fight Germany a half-century later, in 1914, but should that be counted as one case or two?

World War I was not simply a case of an established Britain responding to a rising Germany. In addition to the rise of Germany, WWI was caused by the fear in Germany of Russia’s growing power, the fear of rising Slavic nationalism in a declining Austria-Hungary, as well as myriad other factors that differed from ancient Greece.

As for current analogies, today’s power gap between the US and China is much greater than that between Germany and Britain in 1914. Metaphors can be useful as general precautions, but they become dangerous when they convey a sense of historical inexorableness.

Even the classical Greek case is not as straightforward as Thucydides made it seem. He claimed that the cause of the second Peloponnesian War was the growth of the power of Athens and the fear it caused in Sparta. But the Yale historian Donald Kagan has shown that Athenian power was in fact not growing. Before the war broke out in 431 BC, the balance of power had begun to stabilize. Athenian policy mistakes made the Spartans think that war might be worth the risk.

Athens’ growth caused the first Peloponnesian War earlier in the century, but then a Thirty-Year Truce doused the fire. Kagan argues that to start the second, disastrous war, a spark needed to land on one of the rare bits of kindling that had not been thoroughly drenched and then continually and vigorously fanned by poor policy choices. In other words, the war was caused not by impersonal forces, but by bad decisions in difficult circumstances.

That is the danger that Trump confronts with China today. He must worry about a China that is simultaneously too weak and too strong. To achieve his objectives, he must avoid the Kindleberger trap as well as the Thucydides trap. But, above all, he must avoid the miscalculations, misperceptions, and rash judgments that plague human history.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/trump-china-kindleberger-trap-by-joseph-s–nye-2017-01

Davos elites struggle for answers as Trump era dawns


January 16, 2017

Davos elites struggle for answers as Trump era dawns

By Noah Barkin

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-davos-meeting-preview-idUSKBN14Z07V

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DAVOS, Switzerland – The global economy is in better shape than it’s been in years. Stock markets are booming, oil prices are on the rise again and the risks of a rapid economic slowdown in China, a major source of concern a year ago, have eased.

“The state of global politics is worse than it’s been in a long time.At a time when we need more coordination to tackle issues like climate change and other systemic risks, we are getting more and more insular.”–Ian Goldin, Oxford University

And yet, as political leaders, CEOs and top bankers make their annual trek up the Swiss Alps to the World Economic Forum in Davos, the mood is anything but celebratory.

Beneath the veneer of optimism over the economic outlook lurks acute anxiety about an increasingly toxic political climate and a deep sense of uncertainty surrounding the U.S. presidency of Donald Trump, who will be inaugurated on the final day of the forum.

Last year, the consensus here was that Trump had no chance of being elected. His victory, less than half a year after Britain voted to leave the European Union, was a slap at the principles that elites in Davos have long held dear, from globalization and free trade to multilateralism.

Trump is the poster child for a new strain of populism that is spreading across the developed world and threatening the post-war liberal democratic order. With elections looming in the Netherlands, France, Germany, and possibly Italy, this year, the nervousness among Davos attendees is palpable.

“Regardless of how you view Trump and his positions, his election has led to a deep, deep sense of uncertainty and that will cast a long shadow over Davos,” said Jean-Marie Guehenno, CEO of International Crisis Group, a conflict resolution think-tank.

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Moises Naim of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace was even more blunt: “There is a consensus that something huge is going on, global and in many respects unprecedented. But we don’t know what the causes are, nor how to deal with it.”

The titles of the discussion panels at the WEF, which runs from January, 17-20, evoke the unsettling new landscape. Among them are “Squeezed and Angry: How to Fix the Middle Class Crisis”, “Politics of Fear or Rebellion of the Forgotten?”, “Tolerance at the Tipping Point?” and “The Post-EU Era”.

The list of leaders attending this year is also telling. The star attraction will be Xi Jinping, the first Chinese President ever to attend Davos. His presence is being seen as a sign of Beijing’s growing weight in the world at a time when Trump is promising a more insular, “America first” approach and Europe is pre-occupied with its own troubles, from Brexit to terrorism.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who has the thorny task of taking her country out of the EU, will also be there. But Germany’s Angela Merkel, a Davos regular whose reputation for steady, principled leadership would have fit well with the WEF’s main theme of “Responsive and Responsible Leadership”, will not.

‘Rejoicing in the Elevators’

Perhaps the central question in Davos, a four-day affair of panel discussions, lunches and cocktail parties that delve into subjects as diverse as terrorism, artificial intelligence and wellness, is whether leaders can agree on the root causes of public anger and begin to articulate a response.

A WEF report on global risks released before Davos highlighted “diminishing public trust in institutions” and noted that rebuilding faith in the political process and leaders would be a “difficult task”.

Guy Standing, the author of several books on the new “precariat”, a class of people who lack job security and reliable earnings, believes more people are coming around to the idea that free-market capitalism needs to be overhauled, including those that have benefited most from it.

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“The mainstream corporate types don’t want Trump and far-right authoritarians,” said Standing, who has been invited to Davos for the first time. “They want a sustainable global economy in which they can do business. More and more of them are sensible enough to realize that they have overreached.”

But Ian Bremmer, President of U.S.-based political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, is not so sure.

He recounted a recent trip to Goldman Sachs headquarters in New York where he saw bankers “rejoicing in the elevators” at the surge in stock markets and the prospect of tax cuts and deregulation under Trump. Both Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein and his JP Morgan counterpart Jamie Dimon will be in Davos.

“If you want to find people who are going to rally together and say capitalism is fundamentally broken, Davos is not the place to go,” Bremmer said.

Pace of Change

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Suma Chakrabarti, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), believes a “modern version of globalization” is possible but acknowledges it will take time to emerge.

“It is going to be a long haul in persuading a lot of people who there is a different approach. But you don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water,” he told Reuters.

Still, some attendees worry that the pace of technological change and the integrated, complex nature of the global economy have made it more difficult for leaders to shape and control events, let alone reconfigure the global system.

The global financial crisis of 2008/9 and the migrant crisis of 2015/16 exposed the impotence of politicians, deepening public disillusion and pushing people towards populists who offered simple explanations and solutions.

The problem, says Ian Goldin, an expert on globalization and development at the University of Oxford, is that on many of the most important issues, from climate change to financial regulation, only multilateral cooperation can deliver results. And this is precisely what the populists reject.

“The state of global politics is worse than it’s been in a long time,” said Goldin. “At a time when we need more coordination to tackle issues like climate change and other systemic risks, we are getting more and more insular.”

(Additional reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Pravin Char)

 

Obama’s Legacy–Optimism


January 15, 2017

The Optimism of Barack H. Obama

Americans will miss Mr. Obama’s negotiating skills on tough issues and the dignity and character that he and his family brought to the White House.–New York Times

Barack Obama is leaving the White House with polls showing him to be one of the most popular presidents in recent decades. This makes sense. His achievements, not least pulling the nation back from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, have been remarkable — all the more so because they were bitterly opposed from the outset by Republicans who made it their top priority to ensure that his presidency would fail.

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Many Americans celebrated the election of the first African-American President as a welcome milestone in the history of a nation conceived in slavery and afflicted by institutional racism. Yet the bigotry that president-elect Donald Trump capitalized on during his run for office confirmed a point that Mr. Obama himself made from the start: that simply electing a black president would not magically dispel the prejudices that have dogged the country since its inception. Even now, these stubborn biases and beliefs, amplified by a divisive and hostile campaign that appealed not to people’s better instincts but their worst, have blinded many Americans to their own good fortune, fortune that flowed from policies set in motion by this President.

That story begins on Inauguration Day in 2009. That’s when Mr. Obama inherited a ravaged economy that was rapidly shedding jobs and forcing millions of people from their homes. The Obama stimulus, which staved off a 1930s-vintage economic collapse by pumping money into infrastructure, transportation and other areas, passed the House without a single Republican vote. Republican gospel holds that government spending does not create jobs or boost employment. The stimulus did both — preserving or creating an average of 1.6 millions jobs a year for four years. (A timely federal investment in General Motors and Chrysler, both pushed to the brink during the recession, achieved similarly salutary results, preserving more than a million jobs.)

Mr. Obama’s opponents have had trouble accepting that any of this actually happened. They have not learned the simple truth — a truth clear in the New Deal and just as clear now — that timely and significant federal investment can make a real difference in people’s lives. Or accepted that compassionate and well-designed government programs can do the same. Driven by ideology or envy, or maybe both, Republican leaders have now pounced upon the demonstrably successful Affordable Care Act of 2010, a law that has improved the way medical care is delivered in the United States, providing affordable care for millions and driving the percentage of Americans without insurance to a record low 9.1 percent in 2015. Despite the law’s clear successes, Mr. Trump and Republican congressional leaders have nevertheless declared it a failure, hoping to justify a repeal that would rob an estimated 22 million people of health insurance. The point of following this destructive course can only be to destroy a central Obama legacy — even though doing so will drive up costs and cause havoc in the lives of the newly uninsured.

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With no help from Congress, Mr. Obama has also managed to make progress on issues where nobody gave him much of a chance, notably climate change, which both he and his secretary of state, John Kerry, placed very near the top of their to-do list. Against heavy odds, Mr. Obama first managed to persuade the Chinese to join the effort. This demolished the critics’ argument that he was asking America to do all the heavy lifting. It also made possible the Paris agreement in December 2015, in which 195 nations agreed on a plan that they hope will reduce greenhouse gases that are warming the atmosphere and threatening the viability of the planet itself.

Americans will miss Mr. Obama’s negotiating skills on tough issues and the dignity and character that he and his family brought to the White House. Beyond that, they will also miss an impassioned speaker whose eloquence ranks with that of Abraham Lincoln. The way he has defended the founding precepts of the United States while also arguing that those precepts have to be broadened to achieve a new inclusiveness has been especially striking, as have his remarks delivered at moments of national tragedy.

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His 2015 eulogy in Charleston, S.C., after a Confederate flag-waving white supremacist slaughtered nine African-American parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, was redolent with history. As always, he viewed the horror through the prism of a seemingly innate optimism about the country’s ability to set aside hatred and move toward a more perfect union.

Mr. Obama never would have gained the office without that unflagging optimism, which inspired a generation of young voters who saw in him a new kind of leader. So it seemed fitting that he would end his farewell address in Chicago on Tuesday with them in mind:

“Let me tell you, this generation coming up — unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic — I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair and just and inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, that it’s not something to fear but something to embrace; you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result the future is in good hands.”

Caring about Malaysia


January 15, 2017

Caring about Malaysia

by Dean Johns@www.malaysiakini.com

Who cares about Malaysia? This is the question that fellow Australians most frequently ask me, and indeed that I frustratedly keep asking myself, about why I keep writing about Malaysian politics.

And it gets more difficult every week to come up with a convincing reply.

Back when I started in 2006, however, my motives seemed as simply and plausibly explicable to others as they were clear in my own mind.

My main motivation, as I recall explaining in the introduction I wrote for the my first book of collected columns, ‘Mad about Malaysia’, was to make some meaningful contribution to the country that my wife, daughter, extended family and a great many good friends and valued colleagues called home, and in which, though a foreigner, I was temporarily welcome to work.

Image result for Steven Gan and Premesh Chandran and Malaysiakini Staff

The courageous men and women of Malaysiakini led by  the now globally famous duo, Premesh Chandran and Steven Gan. I am proud to be associated with them as SEACEM Fellow a few years back. These committed Malaysians work hard and put in long hours to keep us all informed. Great 2017 and Keep Going.–Din Merican, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Less altruistically, but just as sincerely, I also felt driven to be involved with, and if possible help support, Steven Gan, Prem Chandran and their staff in their courageous struggle to ensure the survival of their inspired creation, the country’s first source of true news and independent views in living memory, Malaysiakini.

These days, however, now that Malaysiakini is no longer merely surviving but mightily thriving, and my wife and daughter have long-since embraced life in and become citizens of Australia, it’s not so easy to explain to myself or anyone else why I persist in writing columns calumnising the criminal regime that’s still apparently endlessly running and in the process ruining Malaysia.

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Din Merican’s Favorite Mat Salleh Dean Johns–He and I  and other Fellow Journeymen care about Malaysia since being dumb and  remaining silent is for us not an option.

Mainly what keeps me persisting in this frustrating and thus-far utterly futile endeavour, of course, is my feeling of sympathy, solidarity and comradeship with all those intrepid and truly patriotic Malaysians who have chosen to struggle to save their beloved country, not by leaving it and criticising its criminal misleaders from a distance, but staying at home to fight.

But despite their fighting with all their might, and my own and others’ efforts to support them from beyond the battle-lines if not out of sight, the vast majority of Malaysians are still apparently failing or refusing to see the UMNO-BN blight in its true lying and larcenous light, and so Malaysia remains in a terrible plight.

As the head of the allegedly blatantly UMNO-BN biased Election Commission (EC) Mohd Hashim Abdullah lamented recently in a laughable attempt to portray himself and his officers as politically-impartial, 4.2 million Malaysians citizens who are qualified to vote have not taken the trouble to register, and millions of those who have registered can’t be bothered turning up on election days to cast their votes.

A distraction from ‘manipulation of constitituencies’

What Mohd Hashim failed to mention, however, was that a great many voters have become hopelessly cynical about and thus alienated from participating in the electoral process by the EC’s shameless alleged manipulation of constituencies, which are constitutionally required to be of similar voter-population size with a maximum permitted variation of 20 percent, but currently range from around 5,000, as in the blue-ribbon UMNO seat of Putrajaya, to 150,000 or more.

He was also using his regret at low levels of voter registration and turnout as a distraction from this and also the lamentable reality that in many electorates a great many of those who do both register and show up to vote only do so in the expectation of allegedly receiving gifts or outright cash payments for supporting UMNO-BN candidates.

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The fawning UMNO henchman–Using Power of his Office to defend Malaysia’s No. 1 Criminal, Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Another UMNO-BN bigwig working hard this week to convey an illusion of care for the country more than for himself and his own privileged position as a prominent member of the UMNO-BN regime was Attorney-General (AG) Mohamed Apandi Ali.

Despite the universally-known fact that he was promoted over the politically dead body of the former AG to pander to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s allegedly dire need to be declared innocent of any larcenous intent or even meaningful involvement in the massive 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) financial misappropriation and money-laundering scam, Apandi had the gall and audacity to hector his audience at a Conference of the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ Legal Officers in Malacca on the topic of corruption.

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Dean Johns and Din Merican are fighting to get rid of this toxic and bygon resistant termite –Najib Razak (and his consort Rosmah Mansor too).

“Corruption is like a termite infestation that will slowly weaken the country without the people realising it,” he thundered, as if his own legal officers, like the rest of us in Malaysia and around the world weren’t aware that the UMNO-BN regime he represents, or rather misrepresents, wasn’t a nest of the nation’s allegedly most notoriously voracious – and at the same time least veracious – political termites.

Just as former Chief Minister of Sarawak, Abdul Taib ‘The Termite’ Mahmud, built a multi-billion mound of money by allegedly chomping his way through his state’s rainforest-timber resources, Najib has devoted his time as Prime Minister to systematically white-anting the entire nation of Malaysia.

With the aid, support and protection of his hordes of alleged sycophants in Government, the Judiciary, the Police Force, the ‘mainstream’ news media, the aforementioned electoral commission and all the other public services, he has allegedly consumed countless billions of Malaysian people’s rightful share of public money and natural resources, and allegedly undermined as many as possible of the Malaysian citizens’ civil rights and legal protections.

Yet there he was this week trying to kid attendees at the Prime Minister’s Department monthly assembly that the recent and current string of graft charges against civil servants “is a reminder that those in government must not take away what rightfully belongs to the people.” The sheer hypocrisy of it all!

The rest of us know very well that this just another Najib-style lie to conceal the fact that those being targeted for corruption are either small termites, or slightly larger termites who have made the mistake of failing to pass the expected cut from their country-consuming scams up the line to the termites at the top.

So, who cares about Malaysia? Certainly not Najib, Apandi, Mohd Hashim Abdullah or any other members, cronies or supporters of the UMNO regime. Which leads me to the conclusion that it’s up to all the millions of Malaysians who claim that they care about Malaysia but do nothing to show it, to finally summon-up the interest, energy, integrity, courage or whatever else it takes to demonstrate that they truly do give a damn about making a difference.


DEAN JOHNS, after many years in Asia, currently lives with his Malaysian-born wife and daughter in Sydney, where he coaches and mentors writers and authors and practises as a writing therapist. Published books of his columns for Malaysiakini include ‘Mad about Malaysia’, ‘Even Madder about Malaysia’, ‘Missing Malaysia’, ‘1Malaysia.con’ and ‘Malaysia Mania’.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.