Rejoice, for this is genuine Rule of Law


October 24, 2018

Rejoice, for this is genuine Rule of Law

Opinion  |  Dean Johns

 COMMENT | Feelings of schadenfreude, the expression for which we’re indebted to German, and is defined in English as ‘pleasure at learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures or humiliations of others’ may not be a terribly noble, but it’s a fact of life that this happens to be one of the many ways in which we humans are flawed.

Or at least I’m happy to admit that I am.

If there’s one class of fellow humans I hate, it’s liars, frauds and fakes. And thus I’m over the moon at the spectacle of former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, former first lady of Malaysia Rosmah Mansor and current UMNO President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi facing their moments of truth.

Of course, none of them has admitted the truth of the countless charges or masses of evidence against them.Nor, admittedly, as some readers are sure to rightly remind me, are they required to do so, given their right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

A situation that is far more generous than prevailed back when fake UMNO-BN “justice’” was meted-out against innocent witness Teoh Beng Hock, who fatally “fell” from a 14th-floor window at MACC headquarters; Scorpene-scandal translator Altantuya Shaariibuu who was shot and then disposed of with C4 explosive and countless “suspects” summarily executed in suspicious “shoot-outs” with the police.

But these UMNO-BN suspects have at least been questioned, investigated, accused and charged, and thus I feel justified in feeling a small frisson of schadenfreude in anticipation of a far bigger one when they eventually face trial and thus the possibility of conviction and imprisonment.

And not just imprisonment, as that would be mere retribution. They should also be required to make restitution to Malaysia and Malaysians of all their fraudulently-acquired assets.

Unfortunately, such a desirable and indeed delightful result is way in the future for the few big fish the law has netted so far, but there are plenty of smaller-fry alleged UMNO-BN fraudsters for the forces of law and order to bring to book and thus sustain our schadenfreude in the meantime.

In fact, many of them, both already and yet-to-be charged, are apparently so incurably addicted to falsehood, fakery and fraudulence as to be beyond redemption.

Najib (centre in photo), for example, had the effrontery, not to mention the deficiency of any sense of irony, to claim that he turned up in court yesterday to lend Zahid his “moral” support.

And for his part, Zahid himself saw fit to engage in his customary fake piety, proposing that the same God he formerly credited with choosing him for high political office is now putting him to a test that he intends to pass by clearing himself of the charges he faces.

‘Trying times’

Meanwhile, as usual, his sanctimonious accomplices and supporters in his alleged preying on the populace were urgently praying and urging others to pray to the same God.

UMNO Vice-President Ismail Sabri Yaakob urged “all Malaysians, supporters and members of UMNO to stand firm (in support of Zahid) and pray.”

Image result for Wanita UMNO Chief Noraini Ahmad

And similarly, Wanita UMNO Chief Noraini Ahmad declared that “the movement was praying for Zahid in hope that God would help him through this (sic) trying times.”

 

Zahid’s wife, Hamidah Khamis  had a somewhat different take on the Divinity’s role in the situation, making the point that “calamities as a punishment from God would hit Malaysia if problems such as the LGBT movement and alcoholic parties” – as well, implicitly as Zahid’s prosecution – “were not prevented.”

All such fantasies on the part of the fraudulent are nothing but further fuel for us schadenfreude fans, of course. But, to finish this column on a more positive note, as dedicated as I and doubtless many others are at seeing as many frauds as possible getting their just desserts, we’re also delighted that lots of genuine people will benefit.

Our honest, upstanding friends in the legal fraternity, for example, who have years of prosecution and defence briefs to look forward to now that the genuine rule of law appears to be back in force.

Not to mention the majority of true, honest-to-goodness Malaysians who have spent so many years waiting, and some of them possibly even praying, for freedom at last from UMNO-BN-style lies, fraud, fakery and also far worse.


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 compilations of his Malaysiakini columns 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.

 

Rafidah Aziz : Time To End ‘Race Supremacy’


October 24, 2018

Rafidah Aziz : Time To End ‘Race Supremacy’

The New Malaysia must clearly be gender, colour and heritage-neutral, where the only priority is the good of the people and their nation.

Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, The Sun Daily

https://thecoverage.my/news/rafidah-aziz-time-end-race-supremacy-resetting-button-malaysia-malaysia-malaysians/

I ALWAYS feel privileged and honoured that I am a Malaysian, having this blessed land, Malaysia, to call my own, to commit my loyalty and allegiance to, and to sacrifice for. My nationality is Malaysian, although my heritage, and ancestry, as far as I know, is of the Malay race.

As a Malay, I am actually ‘stateless’, because people of the ‘Malay stock’ are all over the place – as citizens of countries such as Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Cambodia, Philippines, and South Africa.

Their nationality, ‘kebangsaan’, would be of the country to which they belong and owe allegiance to.

Similarly, an Indian national is from India, not from Malaysia. As also a Chinese is a citizen of China, not of Malaysia.

Citizens of Malaysia are Malaysians, regardless of ancestry and heritage. That is the undeniable fact. I am proud to be a Malaysian. I am certain my fellow Malaysians must feel the same way.

The dawn of New Malaysia brings with it new hopes and aspirations, a new beginning. Our nation is so blessed.

What is needed is good social and economic governance by those in whom we, the Malaysians, have put our trust and faith, to steer our nation successfully, through challenges and headwinds, in the ever changing environment in which we operate into the next century and the distant future.

The reset button had been pressed on May 9, 2018, setting in motion the various processes and measures, which needed to be undertaken to put Malaysia back on the right track. Expectations are high. But Malaysians must be realistic. Development does not happen in a vacuum.

Still Remember Zahid Famous Quote?-“ Malaysians Who Are Unhappy With The Country’s Political System Should Leave The Country ” – Who Should Leave Now?

Malaysia is an integral part of the global economic community and civil society.

With the erosion of borders, catalysed by the pervasive influences and advancements in all aspects of information and communications technology, there are both domestic and external factors and imperatives to take into account.

Policies need to be adaptable and able to successfully meet new demands and situations.The government must govern, and not allow itself to be distracted by unrealistic, selfish and even petty demands of some quarters.

The voice of the majority must be allowed to prevail and not to allow the fractiousness of discord among the small minority to perpetuate.

Already such pettiness and inward-looking attitudes have begun to seep in, into various dictates and rules, which border upon intervention into personal freedoms.

While other countries, which seek to be highly competitive and advanced, find ways to innovate and reengineer, and to forge strong forward-looking mindsets there are moves already in Malaysia to reinterpret religion and social interactions, which will set us far back.

Image result for We are Malaysians

We mistake Arabisation for Islamic virtues, focusing upon attire and veneer – thin facades, instead of on positive mindsets and good universally accepted good values.

We must all begin thinking of ourselves as being integral parts of Malaysia, as truly Malaysians.

We must rid ourselves of prejudices arising from narrow-mindedness and subjective considerations, which give room for xenophobic tendencies.

 

We must avoid divisiveness and intolerance, and accept the diversities in our differences in religion and racial and cultural heritage, and forge national strengths and resilience from the diversities.

We must appreciate the fact that though we are different, yet in many ways we are one as Malaysians, with similar aspirations and dreams, and hopes for ourselves, and for those coming after us.

National policies must be based on needs. There are bound to be differences in issues and needs among us.

These should be addressed specifically and in effective, targeted ways and approaches, and never based merely upon race.

Regardless of racial heritage, the needs of specific target groups of Malaysians should be addressed.

In the context of education, it should be education for all. The only justification for differentiation is between rural and urban populations.

Emphasis should always be on needs and recognition must always be based on excellence and meritocracy, especially when justifying specific and special support and consideration. Young Malaysians must benchmark performance against the global best.

Surely the well-to-do and the already successful, from any racial heritage, cannot be expected to invoke any reason whatsoever to justify ‘special attention’ and ‘privileges’ to be given, or worse still, to continue to be given.

The government of 2018 cannot be expected to implement restructuring policies which were initiated by the government of 1970. The policies then were premised on the cogent and pressing needs and demands of that era.

We cannot afford to be divided as we live and operate in an increasingly challenging and competitive regional and global environment.

It is detrimental and counter-productive to Malaysia and its people if some among us continue to play the old ‘race supremacy’ tune. Supremacy must always be that of our beloved nation, Malaysia, not of any group, race or religion.

We, as Malaysians, will only be highly respected globally when, from among us, rise young Malaysian citizens who are competent and skilled, and whose performance and achievements in their chosen field of endeavour are regarded as excellent, when measured by global benchmarks and standards.

When they can be proud to carry the Malaysian flag and be recognised by the world as successful Malaysians.

The New Malaysia must clearly be gender, colour and heritage-neutral, where the only priority is the good of the people and their nation.

We must constantly distance ourselves from the influence of the narrow-minded who continue to operate in archaic soot-covered and smoke-emitting chimneys.

We must forge ties that build and strengthen national resilience. Avoid divisiveness and fractiousness as these are recipes for erosion of unity among us. Embrace the politics of unity and national development.

Endeavour to prevent and eradicate the politics of hypocrisy, which clearly can never be premised upon the common good in this unique and diverse spectrum we call Malaysia. Malaysia is for all Malaysians. Sejahtera Malaysiaku!

Jamal Khashoggi’s Final Words—for Other Journalists Like Him


October 20, 2018

Jamal Khashoggi’s Final Words—for Other Journalists Like Him

On October 3rd, the day after Jamal Khashoggi disappeared, the Washington Post received a final column left behind with his assistant when he went off to Turkey to get married. It was, in seven hundred words, poignant and personal and epically appropriate, considering his fate. “The Arab world was ripe with hope during the spring of 2011. Journalists, academics and the general population were brimming with expectations of a bright and free Arab society within their respective countries,” he opined. “They expected to be emancipated from the hegemony of their governments and the consistent interventions and censorship of information.” Instead, rulers grew ever more repressive after the short-lived Arab Spring.

Today, hundreds of millions of people across the Middle East “are unable to adequately address, much less publicly discuss, matters that affect the region and their day-to-day lives,” Khashoggi wrote. They are either “uninformed or misinformed” by draconian censorship and fake state narratives. As the headline of his last published words asserted, “What the Arab world needs most is free expression.”

In his death, Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and former government supporter who became a vocal and fearless critic of the current Saudi crown prince, has galvanized global attention far more than he was able to do during his life. The horrific details of his murder and dismemberment have had an effect he would never have imagined—putting into serious question the fate of a Saudi leader, the state of U.S.-Saudi relations, American foreign-policy goals in the world’s most volatile region, and even policies that have kept dictators in power. The repercussions are only beginning.

But Khashoggi was hardly a lone voice decrying political repression in the Middle East, as he acknowledged in his final Post column. Saudi Arabia may be the most cruel and ruthless government in the region, but it uses tactics embraced by dictators, sheikhs, and Presidents across twenty-two countries.

In 2014, Egypt’s military-dominated government seized all print copies of the newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, whose name means “The Egyptian Today.” Al-Masry Al-Youm is that rare private newspaper in the Arab world where young reporters once dared to question government policies in hard-hitting editorials and groundbreaking journalism. “The Egyptian government’s seizure of the entire print run of a newspaper, al-Masry al Youm, did not enrage or provoke a reaction from colleagues. These actions no longer carry the consequence of a backlash from the international community,” Khashoggi wrote. “Instead, these actions may trigger condemnation quickly followed by silence.”

The world, particularly the West, is partly culpable for looking the other way, he wrote. It is a tragic irony that the world is paying attention to Khashoggi’s death, yet still not making an issue of a sweeping problem that could determine the future of a region of twenty-two countries and four hundred million people. On Thursday, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, announced that he would not attend the Saudi investment conference known as “Davos in the Desert,” which is pivotal to the crown prince’s plans to modernize the kingdom’s oil-reliant economy. The British trade minister, the French and Dutch finance ministers, and the president of the International Monetary Fund also backed out after Khashoggi’s disappearance. But no foreign government is addressing the broader political practices in any other country, or any other case, in the region.

In his column, Khashoggi drew attention to imprisoned colleagues who receive no coverage. “My dear friend, the prominent Saudi writer Saleh al-Shehi, wrote one of the most famous columns ever published in the Saudi press,” Khashoggi noted. “He unfortunately is now serving an unwarranted five-year prison sentence for supposed comments contrary to the Saudi establishment.” Shehi, who had more than a million followers on Twitter, was charged with “insulting the royal court” for his statements about widespread government corruption in his columns for the newspaper Al Watan and on a local television program.

 Image result for Michael Abramowitz, the President of Freedom House

Michael Abramowitz, the President of Freedom House and a former national editor at the Washington Post, told me that Khashoggi rightly identified the broader stakes. “Khashoggi’s final column accurately pinpointed the appalling lack of political rights and civil liberties in much of the Arab world, especially the right to freely express oneself,” he said. Khashoggi began his last piece by citing Freedom House’s 2018 report—and the fact that only one Arab country, Tunisia, is ranked as “free.” Abramowitz told me, “What is especially sad is that, while we are properly focussed on the outrageous actions by the Saudi government to silence one critic, we must also remember that countless other bloggers, journalists, and writers have been jailed, censored, physically threatened, and even murdered—with little notice from the rest of the world. And, in some cases, notably Egypt, conditions have deteriorated.”

Image result for Michael Abramowitz, the President of Freedom House

In the Gulf states, Human Rights Watch chronicled a hundred and forty cases—a number chosen based on the original character limit on Twitter, though there are actually many, many more—where governments have silenced peaceful critics simply for their online activism. Among the most famous is Raif Badawi, a young Saudi blogger who ran a Web site called the Saudi Liberal Network that dared to discuss the country’s rigid Islamic restrictions on culture. One post mocked the prohibition against observing Valentine’s Day, which, like all non-Muslim holidays, is banned in Saudi Arabia. In 2014, he was sentenced to ten years in prison, a thousand lashes, and a fine that exceeded a quarter million dollars. (I wrote about his case in 2015.)

Badawi’s sister Samar—who received the 2012 International Women of Courage Award at a White House ceremony hosted by Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—was arrested in July. When the Canadian Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland, tweeted her concern about the Badawi siblings, in August, the kingdom responded by expelling the Canadian Ambassador, recalling its envoy, freezing all new trade and investment, suspending flights by the state airline to Toronto, and ordering thousands of Saudi students to leave Canada. (I wrote about the episode that month.)

In Bahrain, Nabeel Rajab, one of the Arab world’s most prominent human-rights advocates, is languishing in jail after being sentenced to five years for tweeting about torture in the tiny sheikhdom and criticizing Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. In the United Arab Emirates, Ahmed Mansoor, who ran a Web site focused on reforms, was sentenced to ten years for social-media comments calling for reform.

“The Arab people are desperate for real news and information, and Arab governments are desperately trying to make sure they never get that,” Sarah Leah Whitson, the executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division, told me. “Uncensored communication on social media promised journalists and writers in the Middle East the greatest hope to freely exchange ideas and information, but it’s also why Arab governments, so terrified of the voices of their own citizens, rushed to pass laws criminalizing online communications and jailing writers and activists for mere tweets.”

Image result for crown prince mohammed bin salman

The wider world bought into the Saudi narrative that Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince and de-facto ruler, was intent on opening up the kingdom. Perhaps tellingly, it is the free press elsewhere in the world that first asked questions about Khashoggi’s October 2nd disappearance, in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he had gone to get papers so he could marry. “The world should take note that it is the free press, not the Saudi government or the White House, that has doggedly searched for the truth about what happened to Mr. Khashoggi,” the Democratic senator Patrick Leahy, of Vermont, said in a statement. “It reminds us, once again, that a free press is an essential check against tyranny, dishonesty, and impunity.”

 

Safeguarding A Rules-based Trading System against America First Trade Economics


October 16, 2018

Safeguarding A Rules-based Trading System against America First Trade Economics

by Dr. Mari Pangestu, Universitas Indonesia

http://www.eastasiaforum.org

 

Image result for Dr. Mari Pangestu

“Without concerted effort and a coalition of willing leadership, including from the EU and East Asia, the future of the rules-based trading system will remain under threat.”–Dr. Mari Elka Pangestu

Despite expectations that the US Federal Reserve would raise interest rates, capital flows to the United States have led to the appreciation of the US dollar against most major currencies.

The hardest hit countries are Argentina and Turkey, which are experiencing fiscal issues complicated by their political situations. Brazil, South Africa and the emerging countries in Asia have also been affected — albeit at a lower rate of depreciation of their currencies in the 10 to 12 per cent range. Even Australia and China have experienced depreciation of around 8 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.

The level of depreciation experienced by different economies reflects how investors perceive their different fundamental macroeconomic conditions, especially the level of their current account and fiscal deficits and policy outlooks.

Image result for Dr IMF's Christine Lagarde

The rising US dollar raises questions about the capacity of emerging economies to service their dollar-denominated debts and the vulnerabilities this could expose in their financial systems. Even if the current economic conditions point to a low potential for contagion from Argentina and Turkey, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde recently warned that ‘these things could change rapidly’. The uncertainty that already exists is a clear and present danger.

The uncertainty in the world economy has been increasing since Brexit and the election of President Trump in 2016, and in 2017 as the United States left the Trans-Pacific Partnership and announced many threats to impose trade restrictions. This uncertainty has heightened since January 2018 when US President Donald Trump made good on his threats to remedy bilateral trade deficits — what he sees as ‘unfair trade’ practices against the United States — by imposing tariffs on imported solar panels and washing machines, followed by aluminium and steel.

Since March, the greatest uncertainty has been from the brewing tit for tat trade conflict between the United States and China, which started with the imposition of 25 per cent tariffs on US$50 billion worth of China’s exports to the United States. China retaliated with the same sized tariffs on the same amount of trade from the United States. Trump then escalated the trade war further in September with the announcement of 10 per cent tariffs on US$200 billion worth of China’s exports to the United States.

The US–China trade conflict and the uncertainty surrounding it is expected to have knock on effects on global trade and investment flows. The impact of the reduction in China’s exports to the United States on China’s growth will reduce China’s imports, which in turn will impact the many countries that China has become a major trading partner for.

This means that China and other countries facing US trade restrictions will look for new markets for their goods. The situation has already led some countries to impose restrictions or initiate trade remedy investigations, for instance on steel. This uncertainty has and will continue to influence trade and investment, as businesses evaluate how the increased restrictions will affect their supply chains.

It is too early to tell how large the disruption will be, as it is not easy to dismantle supply chains. But the costs down the line could be great as businesses re-evaluate their trade and investment decisions to insulate themselves from tariffs rather than to maximise their competitiveness.

The most concerning aspect of all this is that, after 75 years of being its greatest advocate, the United States is now the biggest threat to the future of the rules-based trading system that has provided predictability and fairness in the way the world engages in trade. There is no clear light at the end of the tunnel.

The key question is: what is Trump’s intention? Is it to change the rules of the game to benefit the United States and address China’s ‘non-market-oriented policies’ or is it just anti-trade and America First? Assuming it is the former, there are at least three important responses needed.

First is safeguarding the stability of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the overarching framework to provide predictability, fairness and stability. To this end, it is vital that the WTO dispute settlement mechanism continues to operate. The test case is the Chinese and EU case against US steel and aluminium tariffs and getting past the blocking of panel judge nominations by the United States.

Ensuring that the United States does not use blunt unilateral instruments to address its concerns also means that reforms to the WTO rule book are needed. More must be done to address concerns around intellectual property rights, investment, the environment, labour, competition policy, subsidies, tax, digital data and the treatment of developing countries.

Second, the process of opening-up must continue, with or without the United States. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership is a good start. And it is of the utmost importance that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations are concluded in November this year. These are all important processes to signal the continued commitment of East Asia to expanding markets and fostering flows of trade and investment.

Third, and what most will agree is the most important process, is unilateral reforms. Given increased global uncertainty and limited policy space for fiscal stimulus, structural reforms are a must for East Asian countries, especially China. These range from trade and investment reforms, as well as reforms related to competition policy, intellectual property, the role of state-owned enterprises and sustainability. As in the past, unilateral reforms are more successfully undertaken when there is peer pressure and benchmarking from international commitments.

Without concerted effort and a coalition of willing leadership, including from the EU and East Asia, the future of the rules-based trading system will remain under threat.

Dr. Mari Pangestu is former Indonesian trade minister and Professor at the University of Indonesia.

This article appeared in the most recent edition of East Asia Forum Quarterly, ‘Asian crisis, ready or not’.

The DJ Blogger is back, momentarily


October 13,  2018

Image result for Din Merican

The DJ Blogger is back, momentarily

Looking back into the 1960s, The Shadows bring back lots of fond memories of friends, school mates and MU and GWU classmates, University Of Cambodia colleagues and other contemporaries and the loves I have won and lost.   Just relax. It is wonderful to know you and thanks for accepting me as your pal and for enriching my life.

Way back in the 60’s we were Malaysians. Race and religion were irrelevant. Damn Malaysian politicians for dividing us and for putting our diversity and harmony at risk. –Din Merican

Thayaparan on Pakatan’s GE-14 Manifesto: It’s void ab initio


October 13, 2018

Thayaparan on Pakatan’s GE-14 Manifesto: It’s void ab initio

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for rais hussin

It ain’t got a Thing if It ain’t got a Swing–Duke Edward Kennedy Ellington

“Every page should explode, either because of its staggering absurdity, the enthusiasm of its principles, or its typography.”

― Tristan Tzara, ‘Manifesti del dadaismo’

COMMENT | Is the Pakatan Harapan manifesto worthless? Yes, it is. Most manifestos or campaign promises are suspect but now we know that the Harapan manifesto was void ab initio (void from the beginning).

Image result for s thayaparan caricature

Politicians who make campaign promises make an attempt to fulfil them and would make excuses if they could not. What they never do is say: “We made a bunch of stuff up to get your votes which we knew we could never fulfil.” This is exactly what the old maverick has said.

Claiming that you made promises while actually believing that you could not win is really dumb. I mean, the people who voted for you had faith in the movement and obviously thought you could take Putrajaya.

It’s funny, isn’t it? That we now have the prime minister saying that those promises were made when Harapan operatives did not really believe that they could take Putrajaya. I wonder what Prime Minister-in-Waiting Anwar Ibrahim’s promises to the folks at Port Dickson are worth.

 

Mahathir is not some neophyte political operative. He is a seasoned political operative who managed to get people to vote for his coalition even with the systemic corruption, systemic discrimination and race-based ideology for decades. Granted he was operating in unfamiliar terrain with the then opposition but even in this marriage of political convenience, surely he must have believed in some parts of the manifesto, right?

Surely there must have been Harapan political operatives who did believe in the manifesto and did not just say things because they believed they could not win. Was that really the strategy? Make a bunch of stuff up and then if victory was miraculously achieved, claim that they could not fulfil those promises? Moving forward, how can people ever trust anything Harapan officials say when it comes to policy?

Image result for rais hussin

Bersatu’s Rais Hussin claimed that a lot of thought went into the manifesto but apparently the Prime Minister does not think it means all that much. All these people that Rais (photo above) talks about, who put in the hard work of drafting the manifesto, did they not have access to the facts when they promised they could abolish tolls, for instance?

 

We always get this horse manure that the manifesto promises cannot be kept because new information has been “discovered” but really, the Harapan political elite had been claiming that we were reaching failed-nation status, hence whatever “new information” that has been discovered could not be possibly worse than the apocalypse they believed would happen if they did not win.

Remember that they claimed that the government was bankrupt at one point. Surely all this must have gone into the number-crunching done by Rais’ so-called experts when they were formulating the well-thought-out manifesto, no?

Flip-flopping on Sedition Act

If you buy this “new information” excuse, you do understand what this really means, right? That Harapan operatives were talking without having full access to the facts. They were making promises while ignorant of the facts and either they knew it or did not care. Claiming the discovery of new facts that make certain promises unworkable is the height of political mendacity.

And please, while this “new information” may fly with die-hard supporters, do you know what is the most important feature of a corrupt regime like Najib’s administration? Information leaks. You really believe that Harapan operatives were not getting information from whistle  blowers and sympathisers from the BN regime? You really believe that BN plutocrats were not leaking information to the political operatives from Harapan to hedge their bets?

Sure, some information especially dealing with massive corruption deals were “classified” but business dealings of the UMNO hegemony were not exactly sacrosanct especially when Mahathir, an arch-establishment figure, took over Harapan.

 

I argue here that this idea of not fulfilling election promises was because the base was quiet on this issue. Harapan is waffling on its promises because its base does not demand that these promises be kept. Often, this base and various political pundits make excuses for why Harapan needs time to fulfil certain promises instead.

This may be true in specific issues – like education reform, for instance – but when it comes to repealing certain laws, abandoning certain propaganda organs, or just fulfilling certain promises such as recognising the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC), this excuse of needing more time is indeed a weak one.

You may have come across some cretins who claim that they believed that Harapan is right to have said anything to win. In other words, voters are so dumb that they will believe anything political operatives tell them because they despise the UMNO regime.

But this is dangerous. How can we trust anything political operatives say if they cry wolf all the time or believe that they can say anything, break any promise and the base will not hold them to it? It gets even more perilous when the base is not bound by any ideological beliefs but rather a hatred for a regime for different reasons.

Now, maybe this may not mean anything to the urban, “educated” electorate, who are always telling the rural heartlands that they need to educate themselves about how the former UMNO policies were destroying the country, but how exactly does this play when these so-called ignorant people realise that Harapan does not intend to honour its promises because these were made while thinking the coalition would not win?

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Mr. Gobin Singh Deo–Communications and Multimedia Minister

The removal of certain pernicious laws and organisations could be done with the necessary legislative and bureaucratic processes. But even with these, there has been flip-flopping by the Harapan administration.

Having a moratorium on the sedition law as put forward by Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo until the necessary legislative processes were carried out was a simple and honest move by Harapan. But before that, we had numerous political operatives including the Prime Minister flip-flopping on this issue.

Anyway, all this does not mean a thing. We do not have a credible opposition and the base will no doubt have more red meat thrown at it when the next financial scandal comes into view.

It all boils down to how Harapan handles the economy. If it succeeds in a way that the average rakyat does not feel “burdened”, then the burden of this manifesto would not mean anything.


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.