Malaysians–You have the right to know the truth


January 11. 2017

Malaysians–You have the right to know the truth

Are you willing to fight for it? Nothing is for free.

by Mariam Mokhtar@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Image result for Malaysia's Corrupt Prime MinisterThis Man was tutored by Dr. Mahathir to mess up Malaysia

You claim that you are desperate for change in Malaysia, but how hard are you prepared to work for it? You know that there can be no true democracy without a free press, but how have you contributed to the struggle for media freedom?

Leaders who are insecure or who grow crazy with power will seize control of the media to make it toe the government line. You know this already because most of what you read in the conventional media are glowing articles about the state of the nation despite the price hikes and the rise in crime rates that worry you.

Most law-abiding citizens fear those who threaten the peace. You feel helpless because you are prosecuted for “threatening the peace” with the innocuous remarks you make on Facebook while others who threaten to bathe the streets in blood get a light rap on the knuckles.

So you withdraw further into your shell. The quest for change becomes somebody else’s problem, not yours anymore.

Image result for Irwan Siregar

No wonder our national finances are in one big mess. We have this Siregar fella in charge of our Treasury while another mamak called Hamsa as head of our Blue Ocean civil service.

Meanwhile, you privately complain about the corruption scandals, the abuse of power, the waste of government resources, the tedious bureaucracy, the arrogant civil servants and the lack of accountability of MPs and senior civil servants.

You feel that it is the job of the opposition to effect change and unfairly call them weak when, in truth, they are severely handicapped by a lack of resources.

You compare Malaysian journalists with their foreign counterparts and complain that ours are meek because they refrain from asking tough questions, but when whistleblowers were hauled to court, journalists were harassed and jailed, editors threatened with sedition and publications blocked and threatened with closure, what did you do to help protect your right to know the truth?

Did you look the other way or did you harass your MP, write to the press, start an online petition or protest against the lack of press freedom? Or did you excuse yourself because you have a job to protect and many mouths to feed? Did you tell yourself, “After all, I’m not a journalist”?

You were probably saddened when publications were forced to shut down because companies feared to place advertisements with them and they were thereby deprived of revenue. It did not move you to donate money to keep them open. You somehow convinced yourself that it was not your job to fund others. You failed to see that if every one of several hundred thousand people like you were to donate a few ringgit, it would add up to a large amount of money.

Of course, you are desperate for change. Sadly, it is your inaction that fuels interference in your media.

Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist.

The Trump Effect and the UMNO-Red Shirt Buffoonery


November 27, 2016

The Trump Effect and the UMNO-Red Shirt Buffoonery on the Malaysian Economy

by Koon Yew Yin

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

 

I can see clearly that there are various push and pull forces at work in our economy. Some of these forces are linked to political ones which economists attached to banks or universities do not want to talk about publicly. But they are happy to do so privately or in coffee shops with their good friends.

Image result for The Trump Effect

Other forces are more obvious but it is still useful to emphasise them in case they are easily forgotten.

Let me flag some of these which will be of special concern to investors in the market.Firstly, there is of course the “Trump effect”.

Readers will recall that I had predicted – contrary to many analysts – that the US stock market would head higher post-Trump. Well, for now, my prediction has proven to be correct.

One of the world’s foremost business newspapers, The Financial Times, in a lead article on November 26 noted that when Wall Street traders departed for Thanksgiving, they could celebrate a rare achievement. On Monday and Tuesday, the four most widely cited indices of US stocks — the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Nasdaq Composite and the Russell 2000 —hit all-time highs simultaneously. The last time a “grand slam” took place was on New Year’s Eve 1999, at the height of the tech bubble.

The article noted the breakthrough for stocks in the US which had moved sideways for two years since the Federal Reserve stopped its quantitative easing programme, seemed to confirm a regime change. Prompted by Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election, the narrative has changed to preparing for an era of tax cuts, deregulation and fiscal stimulus, after eight years of markets being guided by the Fed’s historically low interest rates.

I also predicted in my article “Trump is better for business than Hillary, that the Malaysian stock market and other Asian markets will also strengthen as a result of the US economic recovery.”

Image result for The Red Shirt Buffoons

The UMNO Redshirt Buffoons

Specifically I had written: “History has shown that when the Dow goes up, almost all the stock markets in the world, including KLCI, go up.”

 Well, the second part of my prediction has still to happen.On November 10 when my article was published, the KLCI stood at 1652.74. At the close of November 25, it stood at 1627.26 – a drop of 25 points.

Of course it is much too early to say what will happen next but my prediction that our market will move in tandem with the US market – that is upwards during the next 12-18 months still stands.

There are two big dark clouds hanging over the market. One is the big black hole left by 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) which most analysts are aware of but are too afraid to talk or write about openly for fear of being branded as anti-national or taken under Sosma and put into solitary confinement.

I will not go into the size of the 1MDB financial hole but will leave it to our accounting experts to do the mathematics. My main concern is not so much the actual financial loss incurred by the government.

Image result for Najib Razak

CIC of the Red Shirt Buffoons

Although this will go down in history as one of the biggest scandals carried out on a nation’s financial guardians and gatekeepers, frankly the actual financial loss is really not that big and it is one which the nation’s treasury can well afford.

What we cannot afford is the loss of confidence among foreign and local investors which cannot be easily quantified. Should this lack of confidence continue, then my predicted Malaysian market upturn will be undermined.

There is a second dark cloud – and this is the Red Shirts phenomenon. We have now seen the Red Shirts political ‘mat rempits’ come to centre stage in our political life. I am not only referring to Jamal Yunos but also his supporters and leaders who are now engaging in the use of force, threats of violence and other provocative actions in Parliament, Komtar and elsewhere and aimed at whoever they see as opposed to their vision of party, racial and religious dominance.

Everyone who has access to a smartphone will have seen the behaviour of these street and parliamentary hooligans and how they are destroying the peace and harmony of the country. Well, perhaps not everyone. It seems like the country’s leaders including the Prime Minister, the entire Barisan Nasional cabinet, the Inspector-General of Police, the Attorney-General and others responsible for law and order in this country have not seen these videos.

Or if they have viewed them, they do not care.

Let me be very blunt. The business community and investors in the country – foreign and local – do not read Utusan Malaysia or any of the Malay papers. They do not listen to Radio Malaysia or view TV3.

They care about how their money and the market is affected by these thugs and hooligans. They can make up their own mind on which way our national politics is going.

And if the Red Shirts phenomenon gets worse, we can expect some of them to take out their businesses and money.

Koon Yew Yin is a retired chartered civil engineer and one of the founders of IJM Corporation Bhd and Gamuda Bhd.

 

The secrets to Trump’s shock victory–A Message to Prime Minister Najib Razak and UMNO


November 10, 2016

My message to Prime Minister Najib Razak and UMNO, Do not take us for granted. You cannot stop change when the time is right–Din Merican

I have consistently stated that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the most qualified and temperamentally prepared candidate  ever in the history of US politics for POTUS. I was confident that she would have given her Republican rival a trashing on November 8, 2016 as I watched the event live on CNN at the United States Embassy in Phnom Penh. I was wrong.

I was shell-shocked when she lost to a political novice who will now occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC next January. The American voters have spoken; they want change and they go it.

I respect that and congratulate Donald Trump on his success. To Secretary Hillary Clinton, I say thank you for your gallantry and statesmanship.

If there is any consolation  for me and others who favored Hillary, it is that she won the popular vote convincingly. But in America, the winner must command 270 electoral votes ( Donald Trump got some 280 plus votes) to be POTUS. Not only did Trump become President-Elect but he also helped the Republicans gain control of the Senate and the House of  Representatives. He, therefore, deserves credit for beating the odds.

Let me say a few words about the politics in Malaysia. It is divisive and racist. Our government is dysfunctional. Our leaders in Putrajaya are corrupt and incompetent; our Parliament is a rubber stamp; our judiciary no longer administers justice; our civil service is an extension of UMNO;  our economy is tanking; our foreign policy is heavily tilted towards China for Najib’s political survival; our nation is deeply in debt; the cost of living is rising; and 2017 promises to be a  difficult year for every Malaysian except for Najib and family and the UMNO cronies.

Ignore the signs at our own peril. Of course, there are people like Ramon Navaratnam and other self-appointed apologists like him who think otherwise.

Do not take the rural Malays and other Malaysians for granted. No power in the world can stop change from happening when the time is due.  Change is long overdue in Malaysia. Our patience has been tested to the limit. For optimists like me, change is coming sooner rather than later. All we have to do is to make it happen.

The politics and administration in Putrajaya is as pathetic as that in Washington DC. The Americans have spoken and Malaysians will do the same with Najib Razak and UMNO. Ignore our concerns and you will face defeat and may end up in jail for 1MDB and other misdemeanors.–Din Merican

 

The secrets to Trump’s shock victory

by Nathaniel Tan

http://www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT: Donald Trump wins. My wife puts it best: “We live in the Age of The Kardashians. As long as you can create enough hoopla as a one-man circus, you can make it.”

For some reason, she also always refers to Trump’s “locker room” comments as “catch the kitty”, and seems to think that anything to do with cats always wins.

On more serious notes, let’s speculate and reflect on how Trump won, and what we might learn from this debacle.

Repeating Bush’s victory conditions

My view is that Trump won in circumstances similar to those which propelled George W Bush to victory in 2004.

These men share a number of similarities. They were widely denounced around the world as idiots, they ran a campaign amidst a backdrop of global terrorism, and they faced rather placid, uninspiring Democratic nominees.

Image result for Hillary gracious in defeat

Bush’s chief strategist was Karl Rove, and he had a devastatingly simple approach for 2004.

He said: Look, there are millions of right-leaning Americans out there who aren’t voting. Forget compassionate conservatism and centrism, swing hard to the right, inspire right-leaning Americans to come out and vote (when they usually don’t), overwhelm the opposition.

This ended up working beautifully. Rampant fear-mongering, and positioning Bush as a decisive, hawkish leader opposed to John Kerry’s flip-flopping weakness led to a resounding electoral success – while the rest of the world watched on, dumbfounded.

Twelve years later, we appear to be experiencing very similar disbelief and shock – and likely for very similar reasons.

Voter turnout appears to be reaching record highs this year, suggesting that Trump has somehow inspired a lot of people who don’t usually follow politics to come out and vote for him.

Political messaging – the simpler the better

My guess is that inspiration stemmed from simple political messages. I’d bet that for voters the world over, the primary reason for voting for one candidate or another can be summarised in less than three sentences at most.

The results suggest that Trump’s message that foreigners were ruining America for (mostly white) Americans because of weak leadership struck a simple chord, and gave people a convenient outsider to scapegoat – which is always easier than looking inwards.

Combined with rampant fear-mongering and the IS bogeyman, Trump likely succeeded in selling the story that he was the best candidate available to protect America against the many threats it apparently faced. Indeed, terrorism is in some ways the Republican party’s best friend.

Trump’s anti-establishment attacks probably also resonated, especially against Hillary Clinton’s epitomisation of the established, entrenched and privileged political elite. Bernie Sanders would have likely fared better in this regard, but it’s hard to say whether that would have been enough to beat Trump.

Trump’s criticisms of the establishment were not entirely off point either. The old lumbering structures have developed over time (and not just in America either) to favour incumbents, and to encourage keeping power in the hands of an elite club. Sanders’ defeat is a case in point.

We also cannot discount the possibility that many Americans might not have been ready to vote for a woman president.

Twitter no, nuclear weapons, yes

Whatever the reasons, most people with any progressive leanings are reeling from the results.

Nobody seemed to believe Trump could win. Clinton was already shifting her focus from the traditional swing states and targeting traditionally Republican states in anticipation of some sort of landslide victory.

Even Trump seemed to run out of steam the last couple of weeks, making comments that seemed to lay the ground for post-defeat strategies.

With the votes being counted though, it seems that America’s nuclear arsenal is now being put in the control of a man whose own staff couldn’t trust with a Twitter account.

Global fallout

The global implications of this election are scary indeed. It sounds like Vladimir Putin will be delighted to have an American president that admires him, and around whom Putin can probably run circles.

Image result for The Corrupt Najib Razak

It feels like it’s been a season of swinging to the right. Britain votes out of the European Union, fueled by sentiment similar to those espoused by Trump. Rodrigo Duterte is voted into power in the Philippines; called by some the Trump of Asia, he promptly abandons traditional ally America in favour of authoritarian China (and Najib Abdul Razak soon follows suit).

Trump isn’t likely to be someone who truly respects human rights, and probably has more in common with dictators than American presidents of the last century. What scary things these portend for global geopolitics only time will really tell; so far, crashing global markets have expressed their opinion in no uncertain terms.

Perhaps there are some things we can learn from this locally as well.

Exiting our urban bubbles

The most obvious lesson is not to be overconfident of course.Another lesson is to never let our urban bubble prevent us from understanding a demographic as a whole.

The media made it look like the entire world (understandably) thought of Trump as a buffoon. This was probably largely true of many urban Americans; but urban Americans and the America the media imagines (or rather sells to) don’t decide elections.

Malaysia has a similar significant urban/rural divide. All major urban areas have solidly voted opposition in recent elections, but Barisan Nasional remains firmly in power off the back of rural support.

It’s an area and a (much less visible) demographic that the opposition truly does not understand well, and surrounding oneself with like-minded urbanites is unlikely to change this status quo. As an aside, this is also probably the reason PAS’ relevance will be unlikely to diminish anytime soon.

The third-party effect

Worth noting as well is the effect of third-party candidates. After Trump and Clinton, the two most significant candidates for president were Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein.

At at least one point in the night, Johnson and Stein were having a visible effect on the elections. Their combined number of votes at that point in Florida and Michigan – key battleground states – were double that of the difference between Trump and Clinton.

This means that if (a very big hypothetical of course) those individuals voted for Clinton instead of Trump, there’s a good chance the election would have gone to Clinton instead.

As our next general election approaches, I think it is safe to say that three-corner fights will almost certainly result in BN victories.

This is not to say that we should blindly support whichever Pakatan we still believe in. I believe that in the long run, our best hope lies in a movement which does not really exist yet.

In the meantime, while it is foolhardy to say that one on one fights will guarantee victory against BN, I think it is equally foolhardy to imagine that three (or more) corner fights will produce anything but a BN victory.

Bridging gaps

It’s easy to rant and rave about how America will truly elect any idiot whatsoever President.

In the end though, if we don’t want to continue living these realities, we really have to move out of our comfort zones, stretch out our imagination and really develop better respect for those who live far away from us, watch different TV shows, and vote differently.

Only then can we start bridging the gaps we need to in order to make our aspirations come true.


Harvard educated and smart NATHANIEL TAN has only ever caught actual kitties; never metaphorical ones.

Najib in Power:Parliament, Civil Service, Police, Judiciary, and UMNO have failed the Malaysian People


September 20, 2016

Najib in Power:Parliament, Civil Service, Police, Judiciary, and UMNO  have failed the Malaysian People

by  P Gunasegaram

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for Najib the crook

After all his failings and lies over his brainchild, 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), and at least US$3.5 billion (RM14 billion) embezzled from it, and as much as US$7 billion (US$28 billion) unaccounted for, why is it that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak remains in power?

How could a nation keep a Prime Minister who is directly and indirectly responsible for the biggest fraud in Malaysian history and perhaps the biggest fraud ever in the world in power? The Minister of Finance Inc (Najib is Finance Minister, too) owns all of 1MDB, he was chairperson of the advisory board and the memorandum and articles of association of 1MDB required him to sign off on all major deals.

In other countries that practice true parliamentary democracy, that would have been enough to nail him and kick him out hard if he had not already resigned by then, but not here. Why?

Just because he was Head of UMNO and Barisan Nasional or BN when the coalition won the last elections in 2013, it does not convey on him an automatic right to remain prime minister until the next elections.

A Prime Minister can be removed if he does wrong under the law but for that to work you need independence of both investigating and prosecuting authorities. Najib circumvented that by removing the previous Attorney-General (Gani Patail) under highly suspicious circumstances. At the same time, the country’s corruption-fighting body saw wrenching changes while central bank officials were questioned by the Police for possible leaks of information over that US$681 million “donation” that went into the accounts of Najib at AmBank.

When dissent within his party began to surface, he took action against senior party officials culminating in the expulsion of his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin who, together with former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has now formed a new party.

That served as an example for any others who might want to challenge Najib’s leadership of UMNO and resulted in UMNO top guns and other heads of political parties within the BN coalition keeping mum and voicing their support for Najib.

UMNO party elections have been postponed to after the next general elections, preventing would-be contestants from ousting him. It looks like no one within Umno is capable of organising a revolt or rebellion and to force an extraordinary general assembly which could remove him as party chief and hence prime minister.

That Najib remains PM, and UMNO President, is first and foremost a reflection of the poor leadership at the top of UMNO. Except for Muhyiddin, Shafie Apdal and Mukhriz Mahathir, no significant UMNO leader has opposed Najib over 1MDB and other matters. If enough UMNO top leaders join in the clamour against Najib, Najib will have to go – you don’t even have to wait for a grassroots revolt.

Let’s take it from the top. Najib’s current deputy, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, continues to make noises of support for Najib. This one-time solid Anwar Ibrahim supporter, jailed under the Internal Security Act (ISA) with Anwar in 1998 under Mahathir’s rule, must know that if UMNO goes into the polls with Najib at the top, its chances of winning would be much eroded. But he does not want to make the mistake his former boss did of moving too hastily.

Image result for Hishammuddin Hussein Onn the idiot

The UMNO Idiotic Minister of Defence

And then, with the exit of Shafie Apdal, comes Hishammuddin Hussein, Najib’s cousin and son of the Third Prime minister, Hussein Onn. Najib was son of the second. If Hishammuddin had his father’s guts, principles and integrity he would have no choice but to voice his opposition to Najib. But no, he does not but condones Najib.

Image result for Khairy Jamaluddin--Man in a Hurry

Ambitious But Unprincipled 

And then there is UMNO Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin – suave, dapper and Oxford educated.  A man in so much of a hurry to get to the top that one can’t expect him to be steadfast and upholding and give up what may, yes, get him to the top.

No ‘scrotal gumption’

For all three of them, does good politics dictate that they must support Najib no matter what, even if he allows Malaysia to be turned into a kleptocracy? Do they all not have the “scrotal gumption” – to borrow two words from former Court of Appeal judge Mahadev Shankar – to at least this once put nation and people above their own personal ambitions, and do what’s right even if it is risky?

Who knows, their political ambitions may be furthered if they do that because a majority of Malays themselves are likely to support their actions. Polls indicate Najib’s support among Malays is at an all-time low of 25 percent.

Remember Mahathir’s meteoric rise after he lost his parliamentary seat way back in 1969, criticised then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, got expelled from UMNO and then became Education Minister in 1974 after he was given a seat to contest by Tunku’s successor, Abdul Razak Hussein, Najib’s father?

Clearly they don’t make young UMNO leaders like they did before. And clearly too UMNO politics were rather devious even then. And MCA and MIC, what say you? Does Liow Tiong Lai for a moment think that the ordinary Chinese think his support for Najib is justified? What about the Indians, Dr S Subramaniam, do you think they support Najib right now?

Over in Sabah and Sarawak, do Kadazans and Dusuns and others actually support Najib? And shouldn’t leaders of parties like PBS and PBB be more circumspect of their support for Najib as leader of the coalition? How about it, Joseph Pairin Kitingan and Adenan Satem? Is it not time to make your views felt?

Umno after all had only 88 seats out of 133 seats at the end of the last elections in 2013 in the 222-seat Parliament. UMNO cannot rule without its partners no matter what some of their leaders say.

The combined opposition had one more than UMNO with 89 seats. If all of UMNO’s partners moved over to opposition, the government is toppled. In fact, if only 23 out of 44 defect, down comes Najib’s government. Surely they are collectively in a position to make some threats but why don’t they? Lack of scrotal gumption again?

He could be removed by Parliament – by a vote of no-confidence which will precipitate general elections if enough people vote with their conscience and not along party lines.

Image result for Malaysia'a dysfunctional Parliament

Najib stays in power because not enough elected representatives from the ruling coalition will say a word against him, let alone vote against him. UMNO has failed the people, MCA has failed the people, MIC has, and likewise Gerakan. The East Malaysian parties have also failed the people.

Ultimately, Malaysia’s elected representatives in Parliament collectively failed the people – they let a terribly tainted Prime Minister continue in office. Now all that is left is for the people to pressure the representatives to do their job and if they do not, kick them out unceremoniously when the time comes.  That will teach them to do the right thing the next time around.