Najib Razak sought CIA’s Help for GE-14–A Treasonous Act?


July 19, 2018

Najib Razak sought CIA’s Help for GE-14–A Treasonous Act?

By MP Lim Kit Siang

https://blog.limkitsiang.com/2018/07/19/was-the-najib-government-so-shambolic-and-even-anarchic-not-only-that-that-right-hand-does-not-know-what-the-left-hand-was-doing-the-prime-minister-did-not-know-what-was-happening-in-the-pmo/

Related image

The letter of the Research Division in the Prime Minister’s Department to the CIA before the 14th General Elections on May 4 seeking US support against Pakatan Harapan must have given Malaysians the shivers, reinforcing the view that the greatest thing to happen in Malaysia was the change of Federal government in Putrajaya on May 9 or nobody can be assured what would have happened to the future of Malaysia.

Image result for najib razak the criminal

Najib Razak–“A progressive leader and a staunch supporter of the US”.

The letter by the Research Division’s Director-General Hasanah Ab Hamid to the CIA painting the former Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak as  a progressive leader and a staunch supporter of the US while describing the leader of  the Pakatan Harapan Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as “anti-West” should never have been sent by any self-respecting government or official.

It is just not good enough for Najib to now claim that he, as the Prime Minister at the time, did not instruct the Research Division in the Prime Minister’s Department to pen the letter to the CIA seeking US support for the Barisan Nasional against Pakatan Harapan five days before the May 9 general election.

It raised many questions, in particular whether the Najib government was so shambolic and even anarchic that the right hand did not know what the left hand was doing, and the Prime Minister did not know what was happening in the PMO or his governemnt?

If so, Najib is clearly the worst Prime Minister in Malaysian history. But there is an even more serious question – how can a caretaker government pen such a disgraceful and even disloyal letter to the intelligence organ of a foreign government asking for foreign interference in the domestic affairs of Malaysia?

Najib’s claim that he had no knowledge about the letter is a very lame and completely unacceptable. Najib said he did not even know of its existence as “Not all letters have to go through me”.

His claim that agencies, especially those related to intelligence matters, have the autonomy to perform their duties for reasons they think would benefit them must be repudiated in no uncertain terms, and the Pakatan Harapan government must make it clear that no agencies under it have any authority to send such a self-serving and disloyal letter to any foreign government.

I had asked the MCA Deputy President, Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong, now sole MCA MP for Ayer Hitam, to state in Parliament whether he was aware and approved of Hasanah’s letter to CIA as he was at the time the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, but as expected, Wee completely avoided the subject when he later spoke in Parliament in the debate on the motion of thanks for the royal speech.

Image result for Research Division’s Director-General Hasanah Ab Hamid

Remember him? –Najib’s man in 1MDB

Let Najib turn up in Parliament and justify the despatch of the shocking letter from the Research Division in the Prime Minister’s Department to the CIA five days before the 14th General Election, and he should also take the opportunity to explain when Parliament approved the setting up of an intelligence unit in the Prime Minister’s Office and the details about the budget and operations the secret intelligence unit under him.

Image result for lim kit siang

MP Lim Kit Siang–DAP’s statesman

(Media Statement by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Thursday July 19, 2018)

 

 

Malaysia: Dr.Meredith Weiss on GE-14


July 7, 2018

Malaysia:  Dr.Meredith Weiss on GE-14

Image result for Dr. Meredith Weiss

On May 9, 2018, Malaysians threw the bums out, voting decisively against the Barisan Nasional (National Front, BN), the coalition of broadly right-wing and center parties that had governed Malaysia since independence in 1957. The election poses the question: has Malaysia bucked a global anti-democratic trend?

The conventional wisdom is that a feisty, beleaguered opposition coalition made up of a somewhat motley mix of leftist catch-all, progressive Islamist, and communal parties bested the behemoth BN by force of ideals, pluck, and the charisma of a former “dictator,” as the new prime minister now delights in branding himself. The BN’s decrepitude, born of too many years of untrammeled authority and political inbreeding in a cronyistic, dynastic order, cleared the way for new leaders. All the while, rising costs of living, increasingly stark economic inequality, and spreading awareness that the state- and party-controlled mainstream media were not telling the whole story had left the mass of voters hungry for change.

The Malaysian narrative is one of voters reflecting critically on a well-lubricated patronage machine and rejecting it, at least in part, out of aspirations for democracy, justice, and good governance. But like any good story, this one has a more complex plot line than that, peppered with stratagems, reversals, and ironic turns. What too-pat narratives obscure is the wider context and what we might expect — and voters might seek — to change or maintain.

The Scene As It Stands

Image result for Mahathir Wins

At the helm now, thanks to a weird twist of fates and strategy, is one-time Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, one of the world’s longest-serving heads of government — and also now among the oldest, as he approaches his ninety-third birthday. Although he did voluntarily step down in 2003, after twenty-two years in office, Mahathir has continued to yank at the strings of state since then, and had become increasingly apoplectic at incumbent Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s running the party and government, per Mahathir’s reading, into the ground through rent-seeking verging on plunder.

To hear breathless popular accounts of the “Mahathir factor,” one might assume ethnic Malays — who, together with smaller indigenous groups, collectively termed Bumiputera, comprise slightly more than two-thirds of the population — to be blindly feudalistic, swiveling to heed the call of their once and future master. (Just under one-quarter of Malaysians are of Chinese ethnicity and about 7 percent, Indian.) Mahathir does have his devotees, but to some extent, this common narrative reflects media sensationalism more than reality. Frustration with rank corruption, inequality, and poor governance galvanized many or most opposition supporters, independently of the icon propounding those messages. Nevertheless, Mahathir’s savvy articulation of his coalition’s objectives and BN pathologies, as well as his charisma, helped to tip the scales.

Initially organized as the three-party Alliance, the BN structures itself largely along communal lines. Its core parties represent ethnic Malay, Chinese, and Indian Malaysians, respectively. First among nominal equals — and increasingly dominant over the years — is the United Malays National Organisation, UMNO, Mahathir’s home since its founding in 1946 until he left and launched Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Malaysian United Indigenous Party, PPBM) in 2016.

Essentially ideology-free otherwise by this point, the BN claims support for having delivered development, with something for (almost) everyone. Opposition parties tend to cluster largely in an Islamist camp dominated by the Parti Islam seMalaysia (Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, PAS), or else along class lines, from a Socialist Front defunct by the early 1970s; to the social-democratic Democratic Action Party (DAP), rump successor to the People’s Action Party after Singapore’s short-lived merger with Malaysia in the mid-1960s; to the small but embedded Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM).

To take on the BN required merging these camps. First-past-the-post voting rules, coupled with heavy-handed gerrymandering and constituency malapportionment, often make three-cornered fights difficult for the opposition; pre-election coalitions are a must. That imperative is at the heart of any assessment of how far Malaysian political alternatives have come and where they may be going: Malaysia’s sociopolitical landscape makes for quirky pairings.

Coalitions require glorification of the least common denominator. Starting in the late 1990s, that galvanizing, offensive-to-few message came to be “justice,” centered initially around sacked, then imprisoned former UMNO deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim and his purpose-built Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR, People’s Justice Party). Now, in the wake of one of the world’s largest money-laundering and graft sagas, that of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) sovereign-wealth fund, the message centers around an obvious anti-corruption theme.

The coalition had maintained a non-communal premise since an initial foray as the Barisan Alternatif (Alternative Front) in 1999. Now it includes a Malay-communal party: Mahathir’s PPBM, made up mostly of his fellow exiles from UMNO. Having made incremental, inconsistent headway in cementing cooperation and securing seats since the late 1990s, the opposition coalition — reconstituted first as Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Pact), then as Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) — gained control of several states, and now the federal government.

In the last election, in 2013, Pakatan Rakyat won a slim majority of the popular vote but fell short of winning the federal government. This time, Pakatan Harapan won the government with just shy of a popular-vote majority, given divided support for the BN and the no-longer-in-Pakatan PAS, which remains independently potent in Malaysia’s northeast.

The BN is left in shambles, its remains eroding further by the week. Pakatan Harapan is up and running, but it is not entirely clear yet how far or how fast.

Pakatan Harapan will surely make positive, progressive changes to what has become an ossified, decreasingly legitimate, increasingly illiberal system. Already they have begun investigating ousted prime minister Najib Razak and wife Rosmah Mansor — whose penchant for exorbitantly priced handbags rivals Imelda Marcos’s yen for shoes — and the 1MDB saga, the convoluted, seedy story of how Najib and various others misappropriated an estimated several billion dollars from a state investment fund launched in 2009.

More than that, the new government has spoken plausibly of plans, once parliament convenes in July, to revise or revoke controls on media, association, and speech; to release the political reins on schools and universities; to implement open tender and stronger oversight on government contracts; and more. Heads of statutory boards are starting to roll, and bloated or needless government agencies are coming under scrutiny.

Most cabinet appointments, finalized only in mid June, reflect real expertise rather than political concessions, as under the BN model. The coalition itself is far more equally balanced among its component parties than the BN ever has been — and that those parties do differ in meaningful ways, in their goals or membership, ensures a wider range of alternatives may reach the policy table.

Already the results have reset the stage for states’ rights, too. Leaders of awkwardly incorporated, underdeveloped Sabah and Sarawak, states on the island of Borneo, hundreds of miles across the South China Sea from the peninsular mainland, have broken with the federal BN — not just eviscerating their former coalition, but staking a firm claim to fairer status and reward in the federation.

If Malaysia is to emerge from its increasingly authoritarian past, having this new government emplaced is a good thing. Yet of course, it will not change all things, and it may achieve far less than years of opposition manifestos have pledged in terms of ushering in a more equitable, consultative order.

Two lenses are especially germane in understanding the capacity and limits of reform, given this mix of old and new: economic policy, including the extent of communalism (as codified especially in far-reaching race-based preferential policies); and the tension between a highly personalized (however party-centered) and more issues-based or ideological politics.

Where Paths Lead

First, economics. Survey after survey suggests the key issue for Malaysians, election after election, is the economy, and particularly rising costs of living. However, a thick tangle of affirmative-action policies to favor Bumiputera, dating to British colonial times but strengthened under the 1970s New Economic Policy (NEP) and a series of successor plans, tempers what it means to prioritize household economics.

The UMNO-led BN has held pro-Malay policies to be sacrosanct. Revising the criteria for qualification to be need-based rather than race-based would not dramatically shift the beneficiaries; race and class substantially align, particularly since the benefits of preference have flowed disproportionately to already-wealthy “UMNOputera,” the well-connected ruling-party elite. A better lens on economic voting in Malaysia considers not just financial standing, confidence, and progress since the last election, but which party voters trust to manage the economy.

Here we see an ethnic divide, with Malay voters typically disproportionately trusting UMNO, whatever they think of the party otherwise. The most plausible explanation is that these voters believe the best way to ensure their economic wellbeing is by maintaining preferential policies, on which opposition parties, but never UMNO, have equivocated.

The Malaysian constitution grants Bumiputera special stature in the polity; accumulated norms (backed by potent sedition legislation) translate that standing to irrefutable political dominance and economic privilege. At no time has Pakatan seriously challenged Malay primacy, but they have promised a less communally structured economy.

Pakatan’s embrace of the communally focused PPBM shifts the key. Critical to the coalition’s gains this time, especially in winning over Malay voters, appears to have been the reassurance Mahathir — whose early writings inspired and informed the NEP — and his party offered, that Pakatan would uphold pro-Malay policies. Now in office, the coalition has limited room for maneuver, especially with their main opposition still Malay-based (in UMNO as well as PAS) and only a slim parliamentary majority.

Importantly, since taking office, Mahathir and his government have insisted on their determination to maintain an even keel: to push back against some mega-investment from China, perhaps, and to cancel at least one particularly costly boondoggle — a high-speed rail line between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore — but to keep investors confident.

Mahathir is Malaysia’s original mega project mastermind: the “national car” intended to galvanize industrialization in the 1980s (Proton, short for Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional, or National Automobile Company, 49.9 percent owned by China’s Geely Holdings as of last year), the Petronas twin towers, an extravagant new capital at Putrajaya: glamorous, expensive grand gestures intended to signal Malaysia’s developmental success. His newly appointed finance minister, the DAP’s Lim Guan Eng, previously the chief minister of prosperous, opposition-held Penang state, likewise caught flak there for his coziness with developers and embrace of ambitiously grand infrastructure and real-estate projects.

Related image

Mahathir’s Council of Eminent Persons (L-R): Robert Kuok, Zeti Aziz, Hassan Marican, Dr. Jomo Kwame Sundaram and CEP Chair Person Tun Daim Zainuddin

An appointed Council of Eminent Persons, named after the elections to advise on economic policy, includes the renowned, respected, and progressive economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram, but also billionaire tycoon Robert Kuok and Mahathir’s erstwhile UMNO bagman Daim Zainuddin — so their advice could pull in any of several directions. (Already, members have come under fire for meddling beyond their mandate.)

These economic impulses and incentives taken in sum, we should assume an at least somewhat more transparent, less cronyistic system, but still with a heavy emphasis on foreign investment–led, large-scale developments (with requirements intact to ensure Malay contractors’ protected share in the bounty), faith in the blessings of neoliberalism, and politically fruitful (commonly dubbed “populist”) wealth-sharing to amplify otherwise-tepid trickle-down effects.

More broadly, both coalitions are neoliberal at their core. Both offered a host of makeshift measures to reduce the pinch of rapid, top-heavy development, ranging from targeted cash-transfer and voucher schemes (for children, students, seniors, newlyweds, the bereaved, housewives, entrepreneurs, and the poor), to subsidized utilities, to reduced road tolls. But neither suggested any fundamental branching from that economic path beyond, for instance, expanded educational opportunities to prepare Malaysians better to embrace the modern economy.

Image result for dr michael jeyakumar

Indeed, Pakatan essentially shut out the anti-capitalist Parti Sosialis: in allocating seats, the coalition offered the socialist party a meager one constituency in which to contest (in which PSM was the incumbent). When PSM insisted on standing in others, Pakatan revoked even that paltry offer and competed against PSM’s Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj, defeating him. (In pushing on to prove their point, both sides took the very real chance of splitting the vote and delivering the seat to the BN.)

Second, like the government it replaces, Pakatan is highly leader-centered, to the point of obscuring an emphasis on issues or ideology. Its commitment to term limits is a definite improvement (while Mahathir’s old age offers reassurance of his own commitment not to outstay his welcome; the plan is to hand the reins to Anwar within about two years). Yet Malaysian politics has been and remains deeply clientelistic across parties, despite  significant overseas and internal rural–urban labor migration, economic diversification, and sufficient state capacity that party machines should be off the hook for welfare services. A “personal vote” matters even when parties are at their most pulled-together — and even those candidates able to coast on their party’s coattails prioritize “going to the ground” for grassroots constituency service and mingling among the masses.

However much media and pundits exaggerate the extent of his personal responsibility for Pakatan’s win, Mahathir did help to tip the scales, and it remains to be seen what Mahathir the man represents vis-à-vis a reform agenda. More to the point, that the best Pakatan could do in terms of a broadly palatable leader — realizing the imperative in Malaysia of a leader to lead the charge, no matter how deeply unpopular their rival — was the long-retired Mahathir, architect of the system now in place and whom so many within PH once reviled as a despot, could bode poorly for its sustainability and depth of support.

On the other hand, Pakatan has a clear advantage on this score — though less in Mahathir’s PPBM than in its partner parties. Spurred not least by predations during Mahathir’s previous longue durée, Malaysia has developed a vibrant civil society, encompassing not only largely urban, middle class–based advocacy NGOs, but also mass-based Islamist organizations, deeply embedded communal and cultural associations, and more. Many of these groups, from Chinese educationists to Muslim dakwah activists to human-rights campaigners, have a clear political, and often partisan, orientation. That rootedness in civil society gives Pakatan not only a loyal base of volunteers for get-out-the-vote and other efforts, but also reinforces its orientation around issues of better governance, social justice, and civil liberties.

That said, Pakatan’s record of governing at the state level revealed greater ambivalence than many activists had expected about their collaborating with advocacy NGOs in particular. Even many Pakatan legislators who cut their political teeth in those same NGOs came to consider their one-time colleagues too single-issue-oriented or impatient for improbably sweeping change and found the constant pressure irksome.

Promises of reserved seats for civil society activists in appointed local councils, for instance — as a stopgap remedy until Pakatan could restore local-government elections, halted since the 1960s — withered in Pakatan-held Penang and Selangor over the past decade. (Pakatan’s national manifesto does not promise restoration of local-government elections, but pressure is sufficiently high that progress toward that goal seems likely.)

Moreover, women’s organizations in particular have urged all parties to improve the gender balance in representation in public office. While these efforts have yielded aspirations and quotas, no party has come close to meeting them, even for appointed offices with a clearly sufficient female pool from which to draw. So while the close ties between civil society and Pakatan parties bode well for generating sufficient new leaders to sustain real competition, among candidates with skills and experience for leadership roles, recruitment could still fall short in terms of enhancing representativeness and idealism in practice.

And at the end of the day, there is always another election ahead. Pakatan developed under BN rule; it may hesitate to change the rules of a game it has only so newly mastered. Nor can it risk losing its lead. Some Pakatan support is proactive: champions of change, away from the too-long-entrenched BN and toward cleaner, more accountable and responsible governance. Some, though, is reactive: voting against Najib, but without necessarily seeking any dramatic overhaul beyond that purge — hence the appeal of not-too-different PPBM and Mahathir.

To win a second time, Pakatan needs to keep both camps in its corner. Unless electoral rules change (unlikely, although entirely reasonable to consider) or something else goes really awry in Malaysia (always possible), the wider frame of these recent elections suggests observers keep their expectations of systemic change in check.

Malaysia is unlikely to return to the old Mahathirian model, which Najib stretched to its extremes, of an excessively strong executive, rapacious ruling party, and snowflake-sensitive public authorities. On the other hand, quick, dramatic change toward a much more politically competitive or economically progressive order is equally unlikely, given the pull of the status quo. (Nearby Indonesia, having just marked twenty years since the Reformasi that ousted Suharto and his New Order regime, is a sobering Exhibit A.)

What the wider context suggests is something in between: an order that increases the political space for, and responsiveness to, alternative voices and ideas, within and outside parties; that does less to stifle efforts within civil society toward more coordinated, efficacious advocacy; and that encourages — even just by dint of a multipolar electorate and fissiparous coalitions — real competition around principles as well as personalities.

Malaysia has opened the door to fundamental reform, even if new leaders do little more than peek around the corner in these early stages, and even if its citizens opt ultimately to update the décor rather than shift the socioeconomic foundations of the state.

About the Author

Meredith L. Weiss is professor of political science at the University at Albany, State University of New York.

Rejoinder by  Dr.Rais Hussin: Bumiputeraism is not the root issue

http://www.malaysiakini.com

American political scientist Dr. Meredith Weiss has done extensive field research in Malaysia. The country needs more academics like her to cast light on the dynamics of Malaysia. However, the accolades stop there. Her article in Jacobin recently has all the drama and flair of a New Yorker literary piece. Yet, it went off on a tangent. How?

First, Weiss warned that the new electoral landscape is not necessarily new. While she did not warn of the spectre of Mahathirism, which implies a return to authoritarianism, she hinted strongly at the complexity of unravelling the National Economic Policy, which in her view amounted to all the same anyway. Again, how?

Entrenched Malay interests in the political, corporate and other sectors would be too deeply embedded. A single electoral victory from Pakatan Harapan, even one led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad, now the seventh prime minister of Malaysia, would not be enough to alter the dramatic and complex landscape.

Second, Weiss averred that any reforms would not be smooth sailing, especially when the tensions between the top members of the coalition look all but impossible to overcome.

Therefore, the significance of May 9, 2018, would fade in due course. The internal solidarity of the elites forged before and on that date would crack. While she didn’t specifically mention the causal or ideological factor that could lead to its fissure or implosion, Weiss implied that their personal animus and histories are enough to warrant deep concern.

Third, Weiss argued that Pakatan Harapan is bound to make progress in light of the insidious practices of UMNO that had set the bar so low, the mere rejection of corruption alone would be Harapan’s defining moment. Just by saying ‘no’ and the latter would enjoy more confidence from the public. Wrong.

In fact, Weiss is wrong on all counts. To begin with, the optic she adopted is one devoid of variant analysis. Even before the events took place, she had already claimed that everything else would either fail or fail to move forward. But then how does Weiss explain the power of the May 9 election?

Voters were given a choice between more billion-dollar handouts and subsidies by the Najib-led BN, or liberation from becoming the object of international ridicule.

While 45 percent of the voters rooted for UMNO, this also marked the Malay behemoth’s dramatic fall from grace. From a high of 88 parliamentary seats in the 2013 election, Umno now only has 52 parliament seats, and the numbers are still dropping as elected UMNO members declare themselves independent.

Corporate and economic reforms are bound to be difficult. Not for the reason of race or race-based preferential policies alone i.e., bumiputeraism, which pervades Weiss’ article, but the massive size of the national debt due to liabilities from government-linked companies.

Image result for edmund terence gomez university of malaya

Research by Edmund Terence Gomez and his associates show close to 900 such entities have accepted some form of government bailout and are swimming in a sea of red ink. The gravity of the situation begins from the Gordian knot of these companies, not the problems rooted in bumiputeraism.

Finally, why should the egos of the different Harapan personalities matter, when the coalition has merely won the general election once? Unlike how UMNO warlords, who had won in quick succession since 1955, had a sense of self-entitlement and invincibility, Harapan leaders know that if they screw up, the coalition will be booted out regardless of whether Mahathir or Anwar Ibrahim is at the helm. In other words, perform, or be put out to pasture.

Not surprisingly, some MPs had tried to remain in their comfort zones before the election but this backfired for some.

Tan Kee Kwong was not even nominated by his own party. He had to give up his Wangsa Maju seat to another PKR candidate.

Liew Chin Tong, marginally lost his seat in Ayer Hitam in Johor, thus depriving him of the chance to be the transport minister, as his successor Anthony Loke admitted.

Indeed, DAP fielded more Malay candidates under 40 across the board in GE-14, more than even what UMNO could attempt. These and other factors are more important to understand how the new Malaysia came to be rather than how old Malaysia will be resistant to change.

To begin with, sheer defiance of a kleptocratic regime is a given. Members of UMNO like Bung Mokhtar even claimed that the ill-gotten gains of Najib Razak are the assets of UMNO. Najib, meanwhile, insists many were gifts accumulated over his over 36 years in politics. Does he mean the business of being a politician is to be in business? Now that Najib has been arrested, more of the truth will be unveiled.

Anyway, Weiss is welcome to undertake more research on Malaysia. But she should understand that change, in fact, is happening at breakneck speed. There is the Council of Eminent Persons, the Harapan manifesto, and cabinet orders to reform the country within 100 days and over the next five years. Meanwhile, 17,000 political appointees have been terminated, and more are expected to face the same fate.

Even politically appointed Ambassadors of Najib Abdul Razak will not be spared. Heads of government-linked investment companies, such as Abdul Wahid Omar of PNB, have resigned.

Rome was not built in a day. The Harapan government is learning through adaptation to see which elements of the previous policies can be kept, and which policies cannot be phased out immediately, or, suspended, in order to allow a thorough review of various projects with Chinese private construction companies.

If Weiss were in Malaysia at Mahathir’s side, she would be shocked at how the doyen of Malaysian politics is slashing the excesses of the previous government, in order to set things right. It is far too easy to be an armchair critic, and Weiss seems to have made that faux pas to critique from the safe confines of her ivory towers in US.


RAIS HUSSIN is a supreme council member of Bersatu and heads its policy and strategy bureau.

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

 

Malaysia: Race-based power sharing coalition is here to stay?


July 6, 2018

Malaysia: Race-based power sharing  coalition is here to stay?

By Darshan Singh@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

“Whether we like it or not, Malaysia’s political fundamentals are anchored in a race-based power sharing ideology, thus race politics will stay and BN is an established structure to effectively serve that purpose. All that BN needs is to adopt a moderate and inclusive approach moving forward.”–Darshan Singh

Image result for umno barisan nasional and pakatan harapan

A lot has happened since May 9, when Malaysians decided to alter the political landscape of the country, electing a loosely formed coalition called Pakatan Harapan (PH) into government. A devastating blow landed on the once mighty UMNO-led Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition when, for the first time in over 60 years, it lost the mandate to rule.

Never had I thought that this would be possible in my lifetime. I expected BN to lose a couple more seats but to win the election as usual.

While the majority of non-Malays were expected to vote for the PH coalition, what surprised me was the fact that a sizeable percentage of the Malay electorate decided to ditch BN as well. Traditionally, the majority of the Malay population had voted for BN, fearing a loss of political power if they did otherwise. This trend was expected to continue but unfortunately this time, it didn’t. Dr Mahathir Mohamad had successfully provided the necessary comfort in assuring that Malay rights and privileges would continue to be protected even if BN was no longer in power. After all, it was Mahathir who had indoctrinated the concept of supremacy during his previous 22 years as prime minister.

It will be interesting to see if the Malay electorate continues to vote for PH post-Mahathir in GE-15.

Image result for UMNO Baru under Zahid Hamidi

UMNO Baru: More of the same racist politics under Dr. Achmed Zahid Hamidi from Pornorogo–Hidup Melayu

Personally, I think it was the inability of the former Prime Minister to offer any reasonable explanation for his alleged involvement in financial scandals which influenced the end result. It is a little far-fetched that BN did not expect to lose power, and even more amazing that the former Prime Minister was detached from ground realities.

Warning signs were all over that the people were disappointed and angry with the BN brand of politics, which was plagued by alleged corrupt practices and abuse of power and complete disregard for the principles of transparency, accountability and good governance. The only democratic value left was probably holding general elections on time.

True enough, with the seizure of hundreds of millions in cash and belongings from premises linked to the former Prime Minister, public perception on embezzlement is slowly becoming reality.

Since losing power, BN has been in disarray, desperately trying to recover from the shock election defeat. In such a situation, it does not help when one-time allies decide to jump ship and walk away with those who have newly acquired power. Effectively, there are only three parties left in the BN coalition, and at this point in time, it is not even certain if it will stay this way. There are obvious cracks visible even among its surviving members.

In reality, this election defeat should be viewed positively as an opportunity for BN to review its structure and ideology, correcting the mistakes of the past and emerging stronger. Being in the opposition can be useful to test the newly laid foundation which can be continuously improved until the next general election is called. People will surely appreciate an opposition which roars responsibly in Parliament.

Image result for  Zahid Hamidi

UMNO Baru’s Malay First President

Whether we like it or not, Malaysia’s political fundamentals are anchored in a race-based power sharing ideology, thus race politics will stay and BN is an established structure to effectively serve that purpose. All that BN needs is to adopt a moderate and inclusive approach moving forward.

The majority will continue to claim rights and privileges while the minority will scream racism. This will not change even if the odds are tilted in any other way as we are a selfish and racist society.

Darshan Singh is a FMT reader.

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

 

The Honesty Factor


July 5, 2018

The Honesty Factor

by The Sarawak Report

Image result for The Sarawak Report

 

Malaysia has dispensed with juries, meaning that concerns around issues of contempt and the potential for reporting to influence the outcome of trials are lessened.

Nevertheless, Malaysians are agreed former Prime Minister Najib Razak ought to receive a fair and objective hearing, which was something he and his current defence lawyer, Shafee Abdullah, spectacularly denied to others when the shoe was on the other foot. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Aside from the specific details of the charges, what the unraveling of events in recent weeks has shown is just how extensively this former Prime Minister and those around him have been prepared to blatantly lie to justify their actions and foist accusations on others in the process.

Given this record of lying, it is likely to be challenging for Najib to present himself as a reliable or trustworthy character with regard to a single thing he says. Take for a start today’s charges, which mirror the original charges against him in 2015, which were published at the time by Sarawak Report.

Dismissed as false - original charges, leaked to SR

Dismissed as false – original charges, leaked to SR

 

Back in 2015 Najib immediately announced that these charges (now confirmed by Dr Mahathir after consultation with the former Attorney General) were a complete fabrication. Not only that, Najib used the false denial to set the full force of the law onto Sarawak Report.

A raft of charges were brought, accusing the editor of scheming to bring ‘false news’ and to destabilise the government, described as ‘activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy’.

Not satisfied with issuing an arrest warrant in Malaysia on these exotic grounds, Najib even went so far as to attempt to get INTERPOL to also issue a Red Notice terror alert, all based on the same false denial about a story that has turned out to be true.

The Prime Minister went on to employ executive powers to ban online access to Sarawak Report and bully other media into not covering any of this website’s further reporting, again on the grounds of his own false denial. A campaign of online villification and defamation was then unleased to attempt to further discredit Sarawak Report.

Xavier Justo

Image result for xavier justo

Xavier Justo with Prime  Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

Far worse was experienced by whistleblower Xavier Justo, who was denounced and then arrested and imprisoned on false charges in Thailand as part of the same campaign to deny thefts from 1MDB.

The Swiss national was blackmailed in captivity to issue false confessions, all designed to exonerate the Malaysian Prime Minister and others on matters relating to the very charges he now seeks to deny, namely those thefts from the fund.

Najib, therefore, has not just a record of denying the truth, he has come after those who spoke the truth with a vengeance and forced others to tell lies to suit his narrative.  So what credibility will his denials hold, one wonders, against the charges themselves?  It will be for the judges, thankfully, to weigh the facts.

Lawyer Shafee Abdullah

Image result for Shafie Abdullah

Tan Sri Muhammad Shafie Abdullah–The Iago of Malaysia’s Legal  Profession

This astonishing case is of course further distinguished by the fact that the leading defence lawyer has arguably almost as extensive a track record of being accused of dishonesty and abuse of process as his client himself.

He has taken on the case after several previous lawyers hired by Najib headed for the exit, however Shafee Abdullah goes way back with the Prime Minister as the world knows. There is barely a controversial case involving Najib, that has not also involved Shafee over the past decade.

The Altantuya cover-up and the now rejected and discredited prosecution of Anwar Ibrahim were both managed by Shafee. Indeed, over the past few weeks Shafee has been publicly roasted by a high court judge for having claimed to be the legal representative for Deepak Jaikashan in the Altantuya cover-up, when, in fact, Deepak complained he was being blackmailed to accept Shafee as his representative to enable Najib to control his submissions in the case.

The judge threw Shafee’s out , along with this lawyer’s cooked up defence, which Deepak complained had been constructed on behalf of his secret genuine client, Najib Razak, not the actual defendant, whom he was purporting to represent.

Image result for ag tommy thomas malaysia

Malaysia’s Attorney-General Tommy  Thomas

Last year Shafee attempted to sue fellow lawyers, including the present Attorney-General Tommy Thomas (pic above), for libel over their reporting of him to the Bar Council for improper conduct over the prosecution of Anwar Ibrahim.  Shafee’s conduct during that prosecution had indeed been the subject of much concern on many levels and his libel case was thrown out by the judge on the grounds that the reporting of the matter to the Bar Council was well justified.

So, this allegedly duplicitous pair are now to be the key players in the upcoming headline grabbing trial where Najib is defending himself against charges brought by none other, of course, than Tommy Thomas.

On the matter of payments, Sarawak Report has already revealed that Najib issued Shafee two cheques totalling RM9.5 million in late 2013 and early 2014, from one of the suspect SRC funded accounts that are at the centre of this trial.

The reason for those two payments have never been explained, although they coincided with the period during which Shafee usurped the role of the public prosecutor in the Anwar case, which he claimed he had performed for free as a public service to the nation.

He has yet to comment whether he will be taking a fee to defend Najib. However, what is certain is that any writer would be hard pressed make up a stranger set of circumstances or such a narrative of role reversals as the one about to be played out in the Malaysian High Court before the eyes of the world over coming weeks.

Copyright © 2018 Sarawak Report, All rights reserved.

The Myth of Supremacy Politics and the Fourth Estate


July 4, 2018

The Myth of Supremacy Politics and the Fourth Estate

by Bob Teoh

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/432602

COMMENT | Ousted former Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is trying desperately to save his skin in the shadow of his impending trial over allegations of massive corruption by espousing the myth of Malay supremacy.

Image result for najib razak arrested

Therein lies the challenge to the fourth estate: to check the return of such extremism in the public square.

Such blatant use of the race and religion card is not new to UMNO; it was the bedrock of the finally defeated BN coalition. But it was in the decade of Najib’s regime that this fascist tendency of suppressing his critics and opposition by any means, and the use of the Malay supremacy ruse, became an art form for political survival.

At one time, Najib seemed invincible and unstoppable. Indeed, he had become a god of his own making, until the rakyat overwhelmingly removed the altar from under him in the May 9 general election. Even Umno members deserted him en masse, leading to the party’s unprecedented defeat.

Malays, by and large, do not fall for Najib’s racist supremacy bait. Otherwise, how do we account for UMNO’s massive loss of Malay votes? The doctrine of supremacy is both a fallacy and a myth.

Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor have nowhere to run to, now that they are prohibited from leaving the country. Like a drowning man would clutch to a straw, he now tries to incite the paranoid Malay elements to rally around him by telling them they have become terbangsat (bastardised) on their own turf, now that UMNO has lost power.

And he takes pride in his misplaced prophesy, by saying in words to the effect of “I told you so three years ago.”

Why ‘terbangsat’?

Terbangsat is a nuanced Malay word that is difficult to translate. It could mean ‘despised’ or ‘contemptible’. But Najib uses the prefix ter-. This elevates the word to a superlative of the highest form. This could mean ‘truly despised’ or ‘terribly damned’. Malaysiakini used the term ‘bastardised’, but regardless of the translation, what is certain is that it stinks – literally. The word derives from bangsat, a kutu busuk or bedbug.

When I was small, it was not unusual to find bangsat on our mattresses. We couldn’t swat the bangsat – not only would the blood leave an ugly stain, but a smell on the fingers that would not go away, even after washing.

 

There is no doubt, therefore, that Najib’s use of the word was meant to be incendiary. He posted the comment on his Facebook on the same night of UMNO’s triennial election, on June 30.

Image result for UMNO in Tatters

The End of UMNO?

“UMNO members need to put the party’s interests as a priority in order to rebuild the party strength. We also have to learn from past mistakes, strengthen unity and care between UMNO members. We should stop arguing and avoid making imputations that can affect UMNO unity if we want to restore the power of the party and lift the struggle for religion, race and country.

“Malays cannot rely on the government of Pakatan Harapan to defend and fight for their destiny. This is because the power of their Malay party comes from the support of non-Malays. So far, the Harapan government has allowed a violation of the Malay language, and the Islamic and bumiputera agenda will not be prioritised in their administration. I had said Malays will be terbangsat in their own country if UMNO lost power.

“We have lost power and must be strong in the face of this challenge laid before us by Allah. God willing, with stronger unity and love for the party, UMNO can restore people’s confidence, especially the Malays,” his post read.

Self-fulfilling prophecy

If Malays were indeed in danger of being terbangsat three years ago, why then did Najib not do anything to save their fall from grace?

Did he promote the use and stature of the Malay language? Why did he allow contractors from China building the heavily debt-laden East Coast Rail Line to use only Chinese in their signage and speeches? Did they use Malay subcontractors? Who was it really that hastened the terbangsat downslide of the Malays?

It seems like anytime anyone cries wolf, the pack goes on the hunt for something Chinese to vilify. Even the Oxford-educated Khairy Jamaluddin had no qualms in using the race card in his bid for the top post in the party.

His Ketuanan Melayu politics failed him

Five days before the polls, Khairy (photo) chided Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng for issuing a trilingual press statement that included one in Chinese, accusing him of undermining the status of Bahasa Malaysia.

“My concern is this act will continue to fan the flames of anger among the majority who are feeling increasingly threatened in recent weeks,” he said on Facebook. It is pathetic coming from Khairy, the best of the worst UMNO has to offer.

For six decades UMNO ruled the country without any real opposition, and yet Malays in their eyes are terbangsat. Or are in danger of falling down the slippery slope – in Khairy’s logic – because of one press statement.

Right on cue, up popped former Johor Menteri Besar Mohamed Khaled Nordin to describe Lim’s action as insolent and an insult to the status of Bahasa Malaysia.

Race card up the sleeve

The manner in which UMNO leaders, particularly Najib, use the race card to incite Malays would presuppose that they cannot think for themselves.

For instance, just a month before the recent general election, Najib raised another ruse. He had told the audience at a dinner for the armed forces and police that a “Malaysian Malaysia” – referring to the Chinese-dominant DAP – might spell the end of the Royal Malay Regiment if the wrong leadership takes control of the country.

Fortunately, the armed forces veterans group Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan (Patriot) retorted that it would be “virtually impossible” for any party to disband the regiment due to constitutional safeguards, as well as the unit’s long history.

Image result for Patriot President Mohd Arshad Raji

Patriot President Mohd Arshad Raji (pic above) said Najib’s remarks were also clearly targeted at opposition parties and would not augur well for overall national unity.

The monarchy, special position of the Malays, Bahasa Malaysia and Islam, and other Malay institutions, are so heavily protected by the Federal Constitution and state constitutions that one would not dare to imagine anyone in his right senses would even try to undermine it.

Rest assured, the Malays are secure. But the new democracy we voted for on May 9 is still a work in progress. Illiberal, conservative forces still lurk in our midst to undermine our newfound freedom.

Given this situation, the press, as the fourth estate, must learn to discard its fear of pointing out racism and xenophobia. This is because the role of the press is to safeguard public interest and democratic values by pursuing an informed discussion – fearlessly and honestly.


BOB TEOH is a media analyst.

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

Malaysia’s No. 1 Kleptocrat and Crook arrested


July 3, 2018

Malaysia’s No. 1 Kleptocrat and Crook  arrested

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/07/03/asia/razak-malaysia-arrest-intl/index.html

Image result for Justice at Last for Malaysians

We Malaysians rejoice at Najib’s Arrest today–Justice will be done

(CNN)Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was arrested Tuesday, according to Malaysian state media Bernama. Bernama cites the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which has been investigating billions of state funds that went missing while Najib was in power.

Last week Malaysian Police said they had seized $225 million in luxury handbags, jewelry, cash and goods from six properties linked to the former leader.
The goods were seized as part of the investigation into the sprawling scandal related to 1MDB, a state investment vehicle from which Najib was accused of siphoning off billions of dollars.He has denied any wrongdoing.
Image result for Najib Razak arrested
Najib, whose government was plagued by scandal, was soundly defeated in parliamentary elections in May. Veteran politician Mahathir Mohamad came out of retirement to lead a coalition that challenged and defeated the incredibly unpopular Najib.
According to an investigation by the US Justice Department, Malaysian financier Jho Low used $1.3 million of funds misappropriated from 1MDB to buy 27 different 18-carat gold necklaces and bracelets for the wife of someone listed in the complaint as “Malaysia Official 1.” That official has been widely reported to be Najib.
The US is currently seeking to recover around $540 million misappropriated from the 1MDB fund, with more than $1.7 billion of assets subject to forfeiture under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.
Some of those assets include profits from the Martin Scorsese film “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which was financed by a company associated with 1MDB, as well as properties linked to Low and others.
Mahathir, who succeeded Najib as Prime Minister in May, has promised to hold his former protege accountable.