Hun Sen’s Power Paradox


November 9, 2018

Hun Sen’s Power Paradox

by Dr. Sorpong Peou, Ryerson University

http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2018/11/07/hun-sens-power-paradox/

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Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is continuing to push the limits of personal power consolidation. While his strategies have been highly successful so far, they are likely to result in greater political insecurity in Cambodia.

Several concerning developments have emerged in 2018. Since the Supreme Court banned the main opposition party — the Cambodia National Rescue Party, or CNRP — in November 2017, Hun Sen has further consolidated his power by appointing family members to top government positions.

Some of these promotions were of his children. For instance, in late 2017 Hun Sen appointed his third son, Hun Manith, as General Director of the General Directorate of Intelligence, a new intelligence unit designed to train spies for combat against terrorists and any suspected threat from ‘revolutionary’ forces. Hun Sen also promoted his son-in-law, Dy Vichea — former head of the Ministry of Interior’s Central Security Department — to Deputy Chief of the National Police. Most importantly, Hun Sen elevated his eldest son Lieutenant General Hun Manet (pic below) as a General (four star) following his promotion to Deputy Commander in Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF).

Image result for West Point Gen Hun Manet

These tactical moves are part of the Prime Minister’s long-term strategy to consolidate power, which has been in place since he removed his then co-prime minister, Norodom Ranariddh, from power in July 1997. Hun Sen has used coercive means to tighten political control over state institutions and co-opt loyal followers. Hun Sen now maintains tight control over the judiciary and electoral processes at both the local and national level and his party, the Cambodian People Party (CPP), dominates the bicameral legislature.

Why has Hun Sen carried out these tactical moves? For some commentators, they are simply a part of Cambodia’s entrenched political culture of authoritarianism, nepotism and patrimonialism.

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While there is some truth to this way of looking at Cambodian politics, it overlooks Cambodian leaders’ deep sense of insecurity, which drives them to weaken opposition forces by all means necessary. Hun Sen has been comparatively more successful than past Cambodian leaders in consolidating power, and is continuing to expand his domination of Cambodian politics after more than three decades.

Despite this success, Hun Sen still appears to feel insecure. His efforts to fill top government positions with family members are not simply about building a family business empire but rather about shutting down potential threats from within and without. This may explain why Hun Sen maintains a bodyguard unit of up to 6000 well-equipped and highly-paid troops.

Hun Sen’s sense of political vulnerability is also reflected in the words of Hun Manith, who reportedly said that the new General Directorate of Intelligence was designed to deal with ‘internal and external disturbance from a hostile and ill-intended group of people’ and that ‘the political and security situation and competition in the future will be more intense than in previous years’.

But Hun Sen is making the same mistake of the many Cambodian leaders before him: maximising political security by endlessly consolidating power. Hun Sen appears to believe that this strategy will continue to work for him. The problem with this strategy, though, may emerge from Cambodia’s external environment.

Hun Sen has taken advantage of the post-Cold War peace dividend and is also enjoying growing support from China. But he runs the risk of over-relying on Beijing’s support. The extent to which China is prepared to protect the CPP is difficult to determine, but what is clear is Chinese leaders’ long history of abandoning their allies when much was at stake. While Hun Sen may be aware of this possibility, his strategy to weaken domestic political challenges may increase his political insecurity.

Another problem with power consolidation through nepotism or patrimonialism is that it tends to invite resistance and opposition from both within the party and without. At some point, forces opposed to Hun Sen will grow stronger and nastier, especially if an economic downturn hits the country. And if Western democracies begin to impose sanctions on Cambodia, not only will ordinary Cambodians suffer, but the ruling elite will also face a legitimacy crisis. In this scenario, the CPP is likely to resort to even more repressive violence and may even end up self-imploding.

Current and future Cambodian leaders need to realise that security maximisation through unrestrained power consolidation is counterproductive and dangerous. Security does not necessarily result from others’ insecurity. But for this to happen would require CPP leaders to shift from a self-serving strategy to one that considers the security of others through effective dialogue and democratic power sharing.

Dr. Sorpong Peou is a Professor with the Department of Politics and Public Administration at Ryerson University, Toronto

The 3 Malaysian agenda for Anwar Ibrahim


October 16, 2018

The 3 Malaysian Agenda–Language, Malay Rights and Meritocracy — for A Better Malaysia. Will Anwar Ibrahim do it?

by Koon Yew Yin

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

In all my work and writing during the past 20 years, readers will have noted that my major concern is for Malaysia to become a fully developed nation in all the key aspects of life – economic, socio-cultural, political and educational.

Towards this end I have provided numerous press statements, given umpteen talks and speeches, and written hundreds of articles and a book on how to attain what may be described as my own version of Vision 2020.

It is a vision which I believe is shared by the overwhelming majority of moderate and progressive Malaysians, especially among the younger generation which I am in constant touch with through the scholarship system I have sponsored for the past decade.

Now that Anwar Ibrahim has won the Port Dickson by-election, it is necessary for me to emphasise again on what are the crucial policies and strategies that the heir apparent Prime Minister has to articulate and implement to bring about the realisation of a united and progressive Malaysia Baru.

1. Language policy

Continuing attempts by Malay ultras to downgrade the use of other languages especially English and Mandarin are not only counter-productive but will end with the Malay community being left out of the global economy and world of knowledge, science and technology.

Anwar should realise that his standing among leaders in the region and the world is partly or even mainly because of his ability to communicate in English.

Nobody is disputing the role of Bahasa as the national language. But English is the universal lingua franca par excellence and whoever is Prime Minister of the country needs to make sure that all young Malaysians from an early age master the language to propel us into the club of advanced nations.

Anwar should make sure that the policymakers do not continue to go back and forth on this issue. Further pandering to the Malay language chauvinists will see the Malay community regress rather than progress.

2. Malay rights

Anwar and other Pakatan Harapan Malay politicians must bear in mind that the use of Malay rights – constitutional and extra-constitutional – to enrich the Malays is not only wrong. It will never work. You can never legislate the poor from penury into wealth and prosperity.

Worse is to take away from those who have worked hard and accumulated assets and savings to put into the pockets of those that are seen to be needy.

The ultimate foolishness is to do this on a racial basis as was attempted by the NEP during the past 40 odd years after May 69.

All the analysis by foreign and local scholars’ points to the fact that the NEP and follow up racial policies have been the breeding ground of abuse of power, mismanagement of economy and super corruption, cronyism and patronage. The NEP has been a major contributor to the falling back of our economy and society to its present low level as compared with Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and other countries that were in fact at a lower or similar stage of development in the 1970s.

I am sure that Anwar is fully aware of this. He has in the past when he was in the opposition talked about the need to do away with the NEP and a racially configured national economic policy. Now that he is at the point of becoming the Prime Minister he must not back down from his previous statements and promises on rejecting the NEP for a truly Malaysian agenda. On the contrary, he must act boldly to make the Malaysian agenda a reality

3. Restore meritocracy in all spheres of public sector

During my time in the 50s and 60s as a student and young engineer it could be said that the system of meritocracy was the dominant one in Malaysia. This is the political and economic philosophy which holds that certain things, such as economic goods or power, should be vested in individuals on the basis of talent, effort, and achievement rather than be based on factors such as race or family relationships or political affiliation.

During the past decades of Barisan Nasional rule, the meritocratic system was replaced by one based on race, political affiliation, family relations and know who.

This has resulted in the dumbing down of the civil service as well as resulted in inefficiency and mismanagement of the nation’s resources.

I am confident that if a study was done on the cost to the country as a result of the loss of the system of meritocracy, the figure will run into the trillions of ringgit.

Anwar must restore the system of meritocracy in the civil service so that we are not handicapped in competing with other advanced nations. For a start, I would like to propose two basic steps. These are

a.  University places should be allocated based on examination results and should not be based on race or other forms of quotas.

b.   Entry and promotion in civil Service, the Police and army must similarly be based on educational qualifications and working experience. There must be no political or party interference in the civil service.

Anwar now has the opportunity to lead the nation into a new era of progress, prosperity and unity. To do this he must implement the Malaysian agenda outlined above.

I and other loyal and patriotic moderates in the country will be monitoring him closely to make sure that he lives up to the cry for reform and rejection of the BN racist policies which resulted in Pakatan’s election victory and Anwar’s personal victory in Port Dickson.

Conclusion: I wish to quote the 5 most important sentences by Dr Adrian Rogers who has written 18 on politics and social issues

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation.

5. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

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

The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

 

Trishakti — the Real Malaysian Manifesto we need


October 14, 2018

Trishakti — the Real Malaysian Manifesto we need

Opinion  | Dr.  Azly Rahman

Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | The “manifesto” shoved down the eyes, ears , and brain of the voters – one that promised good things in life: no tolls, greater educational future, more equality for everything that can be equalised, less cronyism, massive arrests of white collar-songkok wearing thieves in political garments, and so on. These promises pushed the old regime of the Barisan Nasional to the corner to become losers in the 14 th general elections. This is not the sum total of a manifesto. It should not have been called a manifesto.

These are mere promises made to lure voters. To amass votes. Now they are confessing that these promises were not meant to be kept. They are meant to get the votes, get into power, maintain power, consolidate power, and leave the voters shortchanged. That’s the politics. And there are apologists to that game.

But what is a manifesto if the one that was presented by the Pakatan Harapan coalition is merely a set of to-do-list of things to implement; some to throw away and some to seduce voters into voting?

What must a manifesto do for a multicultural polity such as Malaysia, yearning to become a truly multicultural Malaysia? What language of change must it be written in, what narrative employed, what tone of discourse weaved in to make it as memorable and alive as The Communist Manifesto written by Marx and Engels, or the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America drafted by Thomas Jefferson, or even the Tennis Court Oath of the French Revolution worked on by the Paris Commune? Or even as fanciful as the Transhumanist or Cyborg-Humanoid Manifesto of today’s geeks?

Come the 15th general election, who’s going to lead the cybernetic revolution of the Third Force, Third Wave, guided by the Third Eye? The Messiah we need to get us out of the Matrix — from Najibism to neo-Mahathirism? How do we craft a shift in social-political-economic-cognitive paradigm?

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Herein lies the need to redo the manifesto or for another coalition for a new government to come up with one in preparation for the next general election, since the current regime that is sloganising a “New Malaysia” seems to be slipping into the ethos, ethics, anatomy, and psychology of the Old Malaysia, with the modus operandi of the new nation building mirroring the old ways of doing things.

A Third Force may emerge out of this possibly short-lived regime that seemed not quite interested in honouring the promises. Race politics is coming back, or too stubborn to leave the consciousness of the leaders of the new regime, although a majority of them are from parties that have multi-ethnic soldiers and major-generals. These parties may be intimidated by the hegemony and authority and insincerity of mono-racial parties that want to continue the agenda of one-race-one-religion superiority.

Hence, missing in the “manifesto” are abolishing race-based parties, levelling the racial playing field of education, combating racial and religious extremism, designing a truly social-democratic and emphatic-based economy model that is sustainable, and graced with sound principles of human rights and justice. Plus all those good things that ought to be in a manifesto which will move society rapidly and deterministically to another progressive phase of our evolution. But it seems we are made to step backwards. The new regime seems to be unsure what to do with its “manifesto” and how to honour the promises.

Elegance is missing in that thing called the manifesto. More than elegance, the bedrock of change is missing: a new national philosophy that promises to make the dream of founding fathers such as Tunku Abdul Rahman come true. The dream of a true Malaysia in which no Malaysians will be left behind. The dream of a nation “clean, efficient, trustworthy” mooted by Mahathir Mohamad who ruled for 22 years. The dream of a society not ruled by the arrogant, the privileged, the filthy rich, and those who think they are entitled to power and wealth passed down as easily as any of the world’s monarchy ruling over the enslaved majority.

The Trishakti Manifesto

Here are my thoughts on the coming wave of change — of “trishakti” as a dimension of change:

Come the 15th general election, who’s going to lead the cybernetic revolution of the Third Force, Third Wave, guided by the Third Eye? The Messiah we need to get us out of the Matrix — from Najibism to neo-Mahathirism? How do we craft a shift in social-political-economic-cognitive paradigm?

Third Force, Third Wave, Third Eye = Trishakhti — a force that should shape new politics away from the current ideological impasse. Bloggers and commentators in social media must come together and ignite this new intellectual revolution in educating the masses. Trishakti — Third Force, Third Wave, Third Eye … a force that will colour Malaysian politics blind. A force that will be a vigilante to the abusers of power. No one can stop it. The internet is anarchy — ride its wave.

The Kuhnian Revolution in science proposed that when there are too many questions that go unanswered as a consequence of the end of history for the prevailing worldview, the paradigm is meeting the near-collapse of its existence. This is said in Kuhn’s classic work The Structures of Scientific Revolution. (Thomas Kuhn is a Harvard historian of science.)

Malaysia is facing such a crisis – the collapse of the Barisan Nasional paradigm and the emergence of a newer one. There are too many questions unanswered and too many structures crumbling – judiciary, education, law enforcement, economics, culture, and so on that needed to be rebuilt but yet the old architectural plan is still used. The Third Wave is here – postmodernity. The First Wave – traditional societies – gave way to modernisation. Malaysian politics must respond to the coming of this wave.

In Malaysia, both waves have failed as a result of the failed policies of modernisation taken over by privatisation, Look East, and Malaysian Inc policies. Vision 2020 is a meaningless slogan created by the ideology of the past. Capitalism developed without ethics, fuelled by greed and facilitated by race-based politics. The world is experiencing the earthquake of a new global ideology surfacing.

The Third Wave is here. The March 2008 tsunami was a warning of its inevitability. The May 2018 transfer of power was testament of voter nausea and irritability.

But the Third Wave needs a Third Force and a Third Eye. The Third Force cannot be stopped and the Third Eye cannot be blinded. Trishakti is here. We need a leader — an intellectual leader. Current leaders do not understand this force. They are in it and are drowned by it, like fish in the water.

Let us push this idea to the masses and see it dance in the Malaysian cyberspace and gets translated into praxis. Trishakti resides in the cave — Plato’s cave, where philosophers, architects, culturalists, and futurists of change are congregating.

We have failed to scan the global environment and understand the waves of change affecting us now and in future. We need a real manifesto. No mere set of promises to be broken. Will a Third Force emerge?


Dr. AZLY RAHMAN is an educator, academic, international columnist, and author of seven books available here . He grew up in Johor Bahru, and holds a Columbia University doctorate in international education development and Master’s degrees in six areas: education, international affairs, peace studies communication, fiction and non-fiction writing. Twitter @azlyrahman. More writings here.

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

China & Malaysia: Co-Existing with Asia’s Leviathan


September 28, 2018

China & Malaysia: Co-Existing with Asia’s Leviathan

by Dennis Ignatius

Image result for China

China’s Dark Spots

Of course, China is far from perfect. Indeed, there is a dark and sinister side to the modern China of high-speed trains and gleaming skyscrapers.

For one thing, not everyone is enjoying the fruits of its progress. Forty million children, for example, still live in poverty. And each day, some part of China is rocked by angry, often violent protests as disaffected and marginalized groups rebel against injustice and governmental abuse of authority.

The lack of religious freedom, too, is appalling. According to UN reports, Xinjiang Province is home to vast gulags where thousands of Muslim Uighurs are incarcerated in “re-education” camps. Falun Gong followers are savagely repressed and yet another brutal crackdown on Christians is now underway.

The Communist Party of China is also entirely dismissive of  basic human rights in violation of its own constitution. Hundreds of human rights activists are routinely jailed, often tortured as well. The death of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo in a hospital prison last year was a potent reminder of Beijing’s utter contempt for basic human rights.

Thankfully, Malaysia has not seen the kind of brutal and repressive measures that are routine in China today. We can learn a lot of things from China but it is certainly not a country we want to emulate in everything.

China: Vision, Planning and Leadership equal rapid Progress

Perhaps the one lesson we can learn is that where there is vision, planning and leadership, countries can progress rapidly. Countries don’t have to get everything right; success in just a few critical areas can make a huge difference.

China did precisely that and in 33 years has become a behemoth that now challenges our own sovereignty. As I have noted elsewhere, few realize how close we came to compromising our sovereignty under former Prime Minister Najib. His reckless borrowing and lopsided infrastructure projects would have turned us into “a wholly-owned subsidiary” of China.

Whatever one may ascribe China’s rapid rise to, there’s no escaping the fact that we now have a leviathan  at our doorstep and we must, as a nation, rise to meet the challenge it poses.  China is going to cast a long shadow over Malaysia and the region. And we have to be ready for it.

Every Malaysian politician, certainly every Pakatan cabinet minister, would do well to spend time in China – to  learn, to see what’s possible and to understand what we are up against. Perhaps they may return home with a new realism and a fresh determination to prepare our nation for a future in which China is going to figure very significantly.

Preparing for the 4th Industrial Revolution

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The other great challenge that we face is the rapid technological advances – the Forth Industrial Revolution – that is already gathering pace.

As Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the Word Economic Forum (WEF) put it: “We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before.”

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A recent WEF study estimates that some 65% of children entering primary school today will end up doing a job that does not even exist now. Artificial intelligence will make millions of existing jobs obsolete while many of the skills we now value will become redundant.

Naveen Menon, President of CISCO Southeast Asia, warns that those most at risk will be those “lacking IT skills and ‘interactive skills’ such as negotiation, persuasion and customer service skills….”

Are we ready for this new world? It’s going to require a massive effort on the part of government, business and educators to ensure that our workforce will have the skills to compete and prosper in the coming decades, not just against China (which is already making quantum leaps in technology)  but even against our immediate neighbours.

It is a sobering reminder that we can no longer afford to dissipate our energies in destructive and divisive arguments and policies that detract us from facing up to the real challenges we face.

Running out of time

Simply put, we are running out of time as a nation. We cannot continue to keep fighting old battles; we either fight amongst ourselves and be left behind or unite to compete with the rest of the world.

Whether we like it or not, we cannot turn back the clock of history:

Malaysia is a multicultural nation with a rich blend of ethnicities, languages, cultures and traditions. We can either make it our  greatest strength or allow it to become our greatest weakness.

 

Likewise, we can harness the power of our respective belief systems to inspire the kind of  unity, integrity and work ethic that is necessary to build a prosperous and peaceful nation or we can use it to justify exclusionary and extremist policies that diminish us all.

We are a nation of many that must become one to prosper, to face the challenges that confront us.

The Challenge of Leadership

Of course, the challenges are enormous. How do you change the mindset of a nation that has long been conditioned to think and act in racial terms, that has long been taught to view each other with suspicion and distrust? How do you even promote much-needed policies that, in the short-term at least, might be deeply unpopular?

How does the government persuade the nation to rise to its greatness when the opposition is trying to drag it down into the gutter of bigotry?

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But that is the true challenge of political leadership: to take a nation where it must go, not where it necessarily wants to go. If anyone can do it, it is surely Dr Mahathir and this government.

Dr Mahathir has shown that he is not afraid to do what is unpopular if it’s good for the nation. And, at 93, he knows he doesn’t have the luxury of time to wait for evolutionary or incremental change; there must be a drastic reordering of the way we do things or nothing will change.

The greatest legacy he can give to our nation is to leave behind a nation with sound national institutions, a grand vision for the future and a reformatted mindset that pulls us together rather than drives us apart. It is perhaps no coincidence that circumstance has brought back the very man who dared to dream of “a Bangsa Malaysia” to lead us again when national unity is most needed.

We have perhaps a five-year window of opportunity (till the next election) to dramatically change our nation for the better. Fate has given us another chance to reinvent ourselves, learn from our mistakes and build that better nation we all long for. If China can do it, so can we.

Let us be that transformational generation  – the generation that makes the transition from the old Malaysia to the new Malaysia.

       

Anwar Ibrahim–The Asian Renaissance Man or The Mutant Malay Ultra? –PD Voters Beware


September 26, 2018

Anwar Ibrahim–The Asian Renaissance Man or The Mutant Malay Ultra? –PD Voters Beware

by Patrick Teoh

 

 

Who is Anwar Ibrahim? I am going to share the experience that someone close to me had, firsthand, to shed some light on what we are dealing with.

My niece was awarded a scholarship for further studies in the UK. There was an orientation event before she left. She found herself in a school hall, packed with hundreds of young, eager Malaysians. She was one of just 11 non-bumis present. The guest of honour addressing the crowd was Anwar Ibrahim, then the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports. He was full-on Ultra with his motivational speech.

The long, loud and spittle-spewing spiel was inflammatory, incendiary, and outright seditious. It was all about these young inheritors of Tanah Air using their Allah- and UMNO-given rights and opportunities to arm themselves with all that’s necessary to make sure the Pendatangs do not rob them of their rightful place and position in their country.

With his stature and his oratorical style, Anwar had the full attention of the young and impressionable audience. My niece wasn’t sure how her fellow awardees actually felt because she was too traumatised to make sense of the situation. She remembered that she very hastily got away from there. And she cried herself to sleep for a quite a few nights, too fearful to share what she had gone through, with family and friends.

Years later, having settled in London, she went to one of the roadshow sessions that Anwar held during his Reformasi days. Seeing the chance, and thinking that he must be a much-changed man by then, she went up to him, reminded him of that speech and asked him: Why? Without batting an eyelid, Anwar replied: Ahh, that’s politics.

Image result for anwar and mahathir

 

For sure, Anwar has benefited a lot for being such a forceful leader and champion of his race. His dramatic fallout with his boss, Dr Mahathir, and his subsequent jail time, along with advancing age, have mellowed him. But has the man changed?

Judging by his recent speeches, Anwar Ibrahim is still very much a man for all audiences, but one who knows who he can be champion for. In a nutshell – the ultimate politician. Beneath the mellow facade lurks a very ambitious and impatient man. Making him more potent is the popular notion that he has been badly wronged. And that the time has come for him to claim his crown.

There is a lot of resistance to that trajectory. But the deal had been struck. If and when Anwar ascends to the throne, will he rely on the failsafe strategy of race-and-religion in his bid to obtain and retain power?

Would this ambitious but beleaguered politician be opting for a divide-and-conquer strategy, taking the country down the path to fundamentalism, and keeping a large part of the population placated, ignorant and compliant?

It’s all familiar stuff – highly workable, failsafe, and easy to achieve – the perfect gameplan for a man in a hurry, someone who is a bit short of the intelligence, substance and conscience that define a real leader of a multiracial country. We are acutely short of such leaders but that should never be the excuse to settle for someone who will choose the fast and easy way to achieve his ‘My Time is Now’ ambition.

 

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A leader like Anwar must have a system of check and balance firmly in place, to prevent him from resurrecting the structure of UMNO that would enable him, his family, and his cronies to get their stranglehold on the country. We have seen how it is done. This time around, we can make the difference. We have to. Yes – Patrick Teoh

Patrick Teoh

Patrick Teoh (born 16 October 1947) is an actor and radio personality in Malaysia. A career in radio, TV, stage and movies spanning more than three decades has earned Patrick the nickname of “Voice of Malaysia”, bestowed by his fans and the Malaysian mass media.

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A Plague on both your houses, ex-UMNO man tells Dr M and Anwar


September 22, 2018

A Plague on both your houses, ex-UMNO man tells Dr M and Anwar

A former UMNO MP has urged moderate parliamentarians from the party not to take sides between Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim, but to remain as an independent and progressive bloc.

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“Penerapan nilai-nilai Islam” or Malay Decadence?

Speaking to FMT, Tawfik Ismail said Mahathir and Anwar started Malaysia on the path to ultra-conservative Islamisation in the 1980s, with the then-Prime Minister establishing the powerful JAKIM and Anwar pushing his idea of “Penerapan nilai-nilai Islam” in the government.

Given the seemingly directionless and weakened state of their former party UMNO after the May 9 polls, he added, both Mahathir’s PPBM and Anwar’s PKR were now waiting with bated breath.

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“A plague on both your houses I say,” said the former Sungai Benut MP, taking a line from William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”.

“I’m cynical of UMNO, PPBM and PKR because they’re all fragments of UMNO Baru, which was unrecognisable from the original UMNO.

“People say UMNO is dying, (but) that’s not accurate because UMNO already died in 1987 when it was declared illegal along with its noble ideals.”

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They forgot that they started the rot but I  don’t–Din Merican

Tawfik said because UMNO Baru was now “dead”, he believed many of its leaders wouldn’t hesitate to ditch the party and join either PPBM or PKR to secure their personal interests.

“At the end of the day, if this happens, will we really see a different Malaysia?At least where ultraconservative Islamisation is concerned, I have to say no because neither PPBM nor PKR seems to really want to kill what Mahathir and Anwar created.”

He said the “ex-UMNO Baru” bunch in PKR and PPBM seemed reluctant to appear “unIslamic”, whether in addressing the issue of child marriages, deinstitutionalising religion or pushing for change where religious matters were concerned.

“The religious agenda continues to be driven by the very same people who made it more important than it should have been. It’s both lawmakers and civil servants.”

He said moderates like Mustapa Mohamed and Anifah Aman, who left UMNO earlier this week, would find real change impossible if they had to join either Mahathir or Anwar.

“There’s going to be a lot of uncertainty in Malay politics at this rate but rather than take sides, like warring camps in UMNO did in 1987, why don’t the moderates in Umno form a non-aligned, progressive and moderate bloc on their own?

“If you take sides, it will just be a return to the ways of UMNO Baru. The likes of Mustapa, Anifah and Khairy Jamaluddin don’t have to side with others. If they remain moderate, they can draw moderates not just from UMNO Baru, but from those outside of UMNO Baru, including non-Malays.”

He said there were bound to be moderates in PKR and PPBM, just as there were radicals in the two Pakatan Harapan parties and UMNO Baru.

He added that forming a moderate bloc, aligned to neither PPBM nor PKR, would keep the two parties from going down the path of race and religion while helping them stay true to the spirit and ideology of the original UMNO.