MALAYSIA: Mr. Prime Minister, At 93, you have made history. So, it is time to rise above politics. Be a Statesman


February 17,2019

MALAYSIA: Mr. Prime Minister, At 93, you have made history. So, it is time to rise above politics. Be a Statesman

Opinion  |by  Francis Paul Siah

 

COMMENT | At least, two English dailies have carried editorials on the ills plaguing Pakatan Harapan in recent days. This is not surprising at all. It is a given that all is not well in the nine-month-old Harapan government.

Some of my fellow Malaysiakini columnists have also waded into the issue and with good reasons too. I can agree with some of their pointers.

The parties at the centre of the storm are none other than Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his fledging Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).

I am also guilty of criticising Mahathir over the past month. There were two issues I took exception to. The first was his decision to bar Israeli athletes from entering the country which ended their participation in the World Para-Swimming Championships originally scheduled to be held in Kuching this coming July.

The second was Bersatu’s intention to set up a chapter in Sabah, reneging on its pact before GE14 with Parti Warisan to not do so.

Yes, I am really disappointed with Tun Mahathir on these two fronts and I stand in total disagreement with him on these issues.

If public feedback on the social media can be taken as a yardstick, there is one which I would feedback to our Prime Minister, to inform him sincerely that his decision to bar the Israeli swimmers has triggered an international outcry. That decision has given Mahathir and Malaysia a bad Image.

My posting entitled ‘Sorry, Dr M, you don’t speak for Sarawak this time’ in the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) blog attracted a total of 31,755 unique visitors in a single day last January 28.

That was the highest number of visitors to our little NGO blog over the past eight months. Visitors were not only Malaysians but came from the US, Australia, other Asian nations, the UK and other European countries.

This is honest feedback to our Prime Minister. Many do not understand his strong anti-Semitic stand nor his inability to separate race,religion, politics from sports.

To speak from the heart, I feel bad for having to critique our Prime Minister at times and actually feel sorry for him. It’s not nice to speak unkindly of a man his age, no matter his wrongs, and especially so when I’m much younger than him. Guess we are only fallible humans.

This week, I sent this message to my WhatsApp list of friends: “I have been criticising Dr M in recent days so much so that I feel malu having to keep on hammering the grand old man. I am thinking of penning another piece to be titled ‘If I were Dr Mahathir today at 94 …’. Tell me what would you do if you were in his shoes at 94 today?”

Here are some of their responses. Let them be feedback to our Prime Minister for what they are worth.

Be a statesman

  • Tun Mahathir should forget politics. He is not seeking re-election. Concentrate on running the country and turn the economy around. At 94, time is not on his side. So, better hurry. When he is gone, nobody will remember him or his legacy. But the country must be in good hands. Be a statesman, not a politician. Act on a bold vision that the nation will rise to eschew narrow racial politics.
  • Malaysia will be in trouble if Mahathir harbours these three myths:
  • 1. I set the direction, my son will carry on; 2 The Malays are incorrigible ; but I must save them at whatever cost; and  3. Islam  and Muslims/Malays mustremain dominant in Malaysia forever.
  • First of all, I sympathise with Mahathir that he is running a Harapan government that is weak and saddled with a huge debt from the previous regime.
  • These cannot be resolved in three years. Meantime, the people, rural folk, in particular, are suffering from the high cost of living. Unemployment is a serious threat from belt-tightening. During the three years of rough journey to reform the sociopolitical imbroglio, whoever is the PM has to persuade the people to swallow their bitter medicine that will do good later. So you need to wish that Dr M is blessed with good health to continue what he set out to do for the sake of the nation.
  • Mahathir has to concede that Malaysia is in a dire state of decline in living standards. He has to move quickly to arrest that. This is a monumental challenge for any leader and it is incumbent upon Mahathir, as the Pprime minister, to do the job.
  • Put Najib behind bars first. Then bring in the rule of law […] if I were him.
  • Tun Mahathir is an extraordinary man. Not many will live up to 94. If I were him, I would take a break and relax.. I bet he is not aware there is a more beautiful and wholesome life out there, away from power and politics.
  • You should be awarded the “Nobel P***k Prize” for badgering Dr Mahathir. I like him. He is doing his best for the country. Please accord him more respect.

No more pussyfooting

So what is my own take “if I were Dr Mahathir today”? The first thing I would do is to stay far, far away from politics, resign as Bersatu chairperson and allow Muhyiddin Yassin and Mukhriz Mahathir to run the show.

I would not worry about my son’s ascension on the political hierarchy. I should know that the Mahathir name alone would carry my next few generations very well and ensure a bright future for them.

I would also stop meeting former UMNO lawmakers, including those from PAS. I would avoid them like the plague. I should know that when they want to meet me, they expect something. There is nothing such “parasites” could bring to the table to help Harapan improve anything in the country.

I would reshuffle my cabinet. The under-performing ministers should go. Nine months is enough time for them to prove themselves. By now, I should know that some are just not minister-material. A spring cleaning is in order.

I would stop antagonising my Harapan colleagues and start listening to their concerns about accepting ex-UMNO parasites. Saying that they have changed sounds so shallow and feeble. So is telling Shafie Apdal that Bersatu is going to Sabah to help him and Warisan. I should be aware that those statements sounded hollow, childish even.

I would make sure that my promise to Anwar Ibrahim to pass the baton to him two years after Harapan’s victory is fulfilled. No more pussyfooting around on this.My friend is right. Mahathir must stop being a politician. He has to be a statesman.

That is what many would want our current paramount leader to be. Even those of us who have criticised him would badly want him to succeed for the sake of the nation and the people as he enters the final lap of his illustrious political career.

May the One Above continue to bless our dear Dr Mahathir with good health and we all wish him many, many happy years ahead!


FRANCIS PAUL SIAH head the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at sirsiah@gmail.com

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

7, 2019

 

Up Periscope: Malaysia’s Submarine Scandal Resurfaces


February 13, 2019

By: John Berthelsen

https://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/up-periscope-malaysia-sub-scandal-resurfaces/

Image result for malaysia scorpene submarine

What, until the US$4.5 billion 1MDB affair, had been Malaysia’s biggest scandal, has reappeared – the US$1.2 billion purchase of submarines under then-Defense Minister Najib Razak at the turn of the century, a lurid tangle of blackmail, bribery, murder, influence peddling, misuse of corporate assets and concealment.

Crusading French lawyer William Bourdon and his associate, Appoline Cagnat, are currently in Malaysia discussing the affair with Attorney General Tommy Thomas, according to local media. Bourdon and his associates compiled much of the evidence about the purchase at the turn of the decade for Suaram, the Malaysian good-government NGO, but he was kicked out of the country for attempting to follow up the case by Najib’s government.

Credit: Malaysiakini

The matter has remained in limbo since 2012 as the Najib government pulled out all the stops to keep it buried. Now, however, after the May 9, 2018 election that turned out the Barisan Nasional and brought the Pakatan Harapan coalition to power, the new government has shown considerable zeal in bringing long-buried scandals to the light.

The Scorpene submarines were purchased by Malaysia from subsidiaries of the state-owned weapons manufacturer DCN although there is no evidence that Malaysia ever needed submarines and in fact they had to be based in East Malaysia because the waters around Peninsular Malaysia were too shallow for them to operate efficiently.

Related image

According to evidence compiled by Asia Sentinel in a long series of articles that won the 2013 Award for Excellence in Investigative Reporting from the Society of Publishers in Asia – Asia’s version of the Pulitzer Prize – the transaction steered a €114.96 million (US$130.3 million at current exchange rates) kickback to the United Malays National Organization through a private company called Perimekar Sdn Bhd.

Perimekar was wholly owned by Abdul Razak Baginda and its principal shareholder was his wife, Mazlinda, a close friend of Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor.  He was then the head of a Malaysian think tank called Malaysian Strategic Research.

DCN officials hinted that Perimekar had come into existence only to facilitate the kickback transaction. Documents note that “Perimekar was a limited liability company with a capital of MR5 million (€1.4 million) of which 1 million is available. It was created in August 1999 … it has no record of sales during 2000. Its ownership is in the process of restructuring.”

Razak Baginda was a close friend of Najib Razak, who went on to be Malaysia’s prime minister and would be booted out of office in disgrace over the 1MDB scandal, which later supplanted the Scorpene scandal by far.

Another €36 million was directed to an obscure company in Hong Kong named Terasasi Hong Kong Ltd., whose principal officers were listed as Razak Baginda and his father and which appeared to be nothing more than a name on an accounting firm’s wall. According to an August, 2017 story, Razak Baginda was charged by French prosecutors with “active and passive complicity in corruption.”

According to the documents made available to Asia Sentinel, some of the misdeeds appear to have taken place with the knowledge of top French government officials including then-foreign Minister Alain Juppe and with the consent of former – and current — Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Top Thales officials been named in news stories in Paris as having suborned bribes in the matter. Najib was also named as the recipient.   However, given the involvement of such individuals as Juppe and others, it seems unlikely that the matter will be carried further in France despite a statement last July by French Ambassador to Malaysia Frédéric Laplanche that “Cooperation between France and Malaysia (on the investigation) is very good.”

As Asia Sentinel reported in 2012, the payment appears to have been in violation of the OECD Convention on Bribery, which France ratified on June 30, 2000. On Sep. 29, 2000, DCNI, a DCN subsidiary, “took corrective actions” after France joined the bribery convention. Contracts concluded after that date were to be routed to companies held by Jean-Marie Boivin, DCN’s former finance chief, headquartered in Luxembourg and Malta respectively.

Among the documents is one that shows Boivin paid to send Razak Baginda on a jaunt to Macau with his then-girlfriend, Altantuya Shaariibuu, a jet-setting Mongolian national who was later murdered by two of Najib’s bodyguards in gruesome fashion in October of 2006 and whose body was blown up with C4 explosives, possibly to destroy the fetus of the child she said she was carrying when she was killed.

In a handwritten note found in her hotel room after she had been murdered, Altantuya said she was blackmailing Razak Baginda for US$50,000, although she didn’t say why. However, according to the documents, she had considerable knowledge of the purchase of the submarines from her relationship with the defense analyst. And, although Najib has repeatedly denied it and sworn on the Quran that he had never met her, there is evidence that he had not only met her but had an affair with her before Razak Baginda.

Two of Najib’s bodyguards, Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar, the latter of whom left the country when he was temporarily freed by an appeals court and remains in Australia, were tried and convicted of her murder in a long-running trial that appeared to be carefully orchestrated to make sure nobody above the two bodyguards was ever named despite the fact that one of them, in a sworn statement, said they were to be paid MYR50,000 to carry out the killing. Musa Safri, Najib’s aide de camp, was identified as the individual who designated Azilah and Sirul to pick up Altantuya. But there is no evidence he was ever questioned by the police about his involvement.

In June 2018, the then-newly appointed Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun told reporters that an investigation into Altantuya’s death would be reopened, based on a new police report submitted by Altantuya’s father. So far there has been little public indication of progress.

Image result for rosmah and altantuya

 

The story, which was considerably bigger than just the Scorpenes, in essence began when Najib was appointed Defense Minister in Mahathir’s cabinet in 1991 and embarked on a massive buildup of the country’s military, arranging for the purchase of tanks, Sukhoi jets, coastal patrol boats – and submarines, all of which appear to have been mired in corruption and kickbacks that enriched Najib and UMNO. French, German, Swedish, Russian and Dutch manufacturers in turn went looking for the most effective cronies of the Malaysian leadership to help them out.

“The major defense contracts in Malaysia as in other countries require substantial money transfers to individuals and/or [political] organizations,” according to documents taken from DCN’s files by French investigators. “In Malaysia, other than individuals, the ruling party [UMNO] is the largest beneficiary. Consultants [agents or companies] are often used as a political network to facilitate such transfers and receive commissions for their principals.”

Old Malaysia’ in Cameron Highlands


January  31, 2019

‘Old Malaysia’ in Cameron Highlands

OPINION  |  Dr.Bridget Welsh
Published: 30 Jan 2019, 8:50 pm
www ,malaysiakini.com

 

COMMENT | Although not to the degree touted by the BN as a ‘referendum,’ the Cameron Highlands by-election does offer important lessons.

So far, in valuable analyses, the focus has been on ‘ethnic voting’ patterns (in which the Malay community showed the most swing away from the new federal government), the choice of candidates and the need to shift campaigning practices in rural/semi-rural areas.

While these issues were important in shaping the final vote, they miss the larger point: Pakatan Harapan’s biggest mistake in Cameron Highlands was that it adopted the practices and assumptions of BN in the election. In Cameron Highlands, Harapan locked itself into a ‘campaign as usual’ mode that did not effectively embrace the reform momentum that put it into office or move its campaign out of the ‘old Malaysia’ mode.

Analysis of results

A number of studies have examined the results. Below, using a statistical method of ecological inference, is my analysis of estimates of voting behaviour in Cameron Highlands. There are three important findings.

First, turnout dropped across the different ethnic communities, especially among Chinese and Indian voters. This is not a surprise given the timing of the by-election before Chinese New Year, but speaks to fatigue and disinterest among voters across communities and within Harapan’s political base.

Second, the swing in support along ethnic lines is biggest among the Malays – a large swing of over 31.5% to BN. This was followed by an estimated swing in Indian support for Harapan, by 5.1%, and estimated swing in favour of BN by Orang Asli voters of 5%. The BN’s victory was tied to the candidate and race-based mobilisation.

Finally, Harapan witnessed an erosion in its political base, losing support in terms of both turnout and among Chinese voters, although not to the extent as losses in other communities. Harapan’s Cameron Highlands defeat should be seen as their own weaknesses in the campaign.

Persistent racial mindset

I argue that a crucial part of the erosion of support comes from Harapan’s adoption of ‘old Malaysia’ practices. Perhaps the most rigid of these practices is the continued insistence of seeing Malaysians race first. No one denies the importance of ethnic identity in Malaysia, which is tied to rich cultural practices embedded in social and political life for decades. Yet, at the same time, the myopic and shallow focus on race constrains much-needed reform in political engagement.

BN survived 60-plus years by using ethnic politics to legitimise and maintain its hold on power. They are continuing to rely on this old model for political survival today.

In Cameron Highlands, their victory was tied to two racialised factors: the strategic upfront choice of a candidate for his race – Ramli Mohd Noor representing Orang Asli – and the insidious behind-the-scenes anti-Indian/pro-Malay racism that was emotionally used as a tool to bring back the support of the Malay community and secure a BN victory. The BN fed on sentiments of ethnic displacement and insecurity, especially among the Malay community, as they have done for years.

The mode has changed somewhat, however. Victimisation has taken on even greater traction for those displaced by Harapan’s control of government. There is a deepening of insecurity.

Also, the current political environment has fostered alliances among opposition parties, with UMNO taking a backseat behind the BN label. PAS and Umno’s adoption of a ‘Pan-Malay’ sentiment is not new (as it featured in GE14), but it has gained ground. At its core, the alliance is a political strategy for the return to power of elite who have been displaced rather than genuine representation of the Malay community at large.

It builds primarily on the same negative sentiments that got UMNO kicked out of office – anger and resentment, and, as such, does little to actually empower the Malay community, or any other for that matter. The BN, however, cannot be faulted for relying on what it has done for decades. It won them a seat in parliament.

BN’s dominant narrative

Harapan, on the other hand, allowed the BN to dominate the campaign using race. Not only did Harapan not project a viable alternative narrative, it adopted racial politics full on.

By concentrating on the Orang Asli, a community who has seen decades of exploitation and neglect (even effectively ignored by Pakatan when it was in opposition), Harapan reinforced the focus on specific communities rather than voters at large.

This fed into the sense that Harapan is representing minorities rather than majorities, playing into the sentiments being stirred on the ground. The voting analysis shows it did not yield them results, as their share of the Orang Asli voted decreased.

Perhaps the worst example of Harapan’s old Malaysia campaigning style was the BN-like promise of minority ethnic representation in cabinet, sounding so similar to BN songs sung in the Teluk Intan by-election and elsewhere. It is no wonder that BN won; the campaign was their race-based song.

Najib, Najib, Najib

Harapan opted to play the Najib card in his home state. Harapan continues to believe that it can get mileage out of attacking the former prime minister, the same man on whom they have imposed multiple charges for alleged serious crimes. This strategy failed, and has been decreasing in effectiveness since GE14. The more Harapan focused on Najib, the more sympathy was stirred among his traditional support base.

 

Despite the evidence, many in UMNO’s political base continue to believe in Najib and do not see wrongdoing, in part because it would mean they were also responsible for facilitating the wrongdoing themselves. For others, especially in Umno’s political base, the focus on Najib further reminded them of their political displacement.

It is important to remember that the 1MDB scandal had less impact in rural and semi-rural areas in GE14 as well. This refrain also had less impact on Harapan’s political base. Urban voters understand that Najib faces a court process, and they were angry, but this sentiment is no longer as strong as it once was given the fact that Najib is no longer in office.

The focus on the past, however, was a common BN practice, another one that Harapan has adopted in its hustings. Rather than focus on what it is doing in government, they continued their opposition mode of attacks on a man no longer in government. Ironically, this served to empower Najib as his name was headlining the campaign rather than those in Harapan, or Harapan’s candidate in Cameron Highlands for that matter.

Harapan seems not to fully appreciate that it needs to focus on what it is doing now and will do in the future if it is to maintain support, and show how it is working to deliver for the rakyat. They need to embrace their role as government, not the opposition. Instead, they played an old record that did not jive.

Clean election

Of all the old practices that Harapan seems to be adopting, the most ironic of those in Cameron Highlands was the violations of good electoral practices.

The by-election was called because of vote buying in the first place. Less than one day into the campaign, these issues were raised on the part of Harapan, along with questions about the use of government resources and ‘promises’ from government. The campaign finished with the Harapan candidate infringing election procedures by wearing the coalition logo in a polling station.

 

The irony is striking. One of the main reasons voters in Harapan’s political base voted for the coalition was electoral reform. This election could have served as an opportunity to embrace a fairer and cleaner electoral process. Despite denials and explanations, Harapan came off as not differentiating themselves adequately from BN in its ‘irregular’ campaign practices. In fact, they seemed to be replicating them.

The trend appears to be for the Harapan to use patronage and promises as a means to garner suppMort. Harapan has yet to realise that given the differences in the coalition and the reality of less resources at hand, they are unable to replicate UMNO on the ground, or PAS for that matter. Continue reading

Najib, still the man?


January 25, 2019

Najib, still the man?

//www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2019/01/25/najib-still-the-man/

 

Najib Razak is certainly a man on a mission (decommission). He seems intent on trying to revive his standing by convincing his base that he was unfairly demonised by Pakatan Harapan (PH) and unjustly tarnished by the 1MDB scandal. His efforts appear to be showing some results; he was mobbed by villagers in Sg. Koyan and elsewhere in Cameron Highlands recently when he campaigned there on behalf of Barisan Nasional (BN).

And it was not just Cameron Highlands. In the last few months, despite multiple corruption charges hanging over his balding head, he has been more visible and more vocal than many PH leaders, dishing out advice, skilfully exploiting local grievances and hammering away at PH’s perceived failures. He even managed to steal the show at the Thaipusam celebrations at Batu Caves.

He’s also proving adept at taking credit for everything good and blaming PH for everything bad, never mind that PH is struggling to clean up the colossal mess he himself left behind. But memories are short and the more gullible are already pining for “the good old days” under Najib.

In Cameron Highlands, he even had the audacity to tell voters, “Don’t allow them [PH] to cheat us… don’t trust them… how long do we want them to continue cheating us?” And this from the man who stands accused of cheating the people of Malaysia of billions of ringgits!

Image result for Najib in Cameron Highlands

Down but not out

Clearly, Najib may be down but he is not yet.

If he succeeds in convincing the Malay-Muslim electorate, in particular, that he is but a victim of a political vendetta or worse still, a non-Malay conspiracy (something that unfortunately all too many will be quick to believe), his influence will only grow.

Image result for Najib in  Anwar and Mahathir

After all, nothing can be ruled out in politics; if Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim can rise again from the ashes, so can he.

Unlike other UMNO leaders who remain largely clueless, Najib understands that the UMNO brand and its formula of racial and religious exclusiveness still retains its appeal among many Malay-Muslim voters and can be weaponised against PH. He knows too that his only chance of avoiding serious jail time lies in UMNO regaining power.

The feudal mindset of many voters also works in Najib’s favour. They are often willing to overlook serious, even criminal shortcomings in a leader so long as he is perceived to have defended Malay rights. They remain eternally grateful to a leader for building a mosque here or a road there, or for giving them a pittance in handouts while he helps himself to millions from the public purse.

Court of public opinion

PH has focused on bringing Najib to justice via the courts for his alleged criminal misconduct. To that end, the government has painstakingly built what looks to be a strong legal case against him with multiple charges now pending in court.

Of course, it is absolutely necessary to bring Najib to justice for whatever crimes he may have committed. However, the legal process is often a slow and cumbersome one and the outcome is by no means a foregone conclusion.

Nevertheless, the case against Najib is more than a legal one; it is a political one and must be fought and won in the court of public opinion as well.

PH must rise to the challenge

If PH ever hopes to win the support of Malay-Muslims, it must persuade them that they will be better off in every respect under a clean and responsible government led by PH than a corrupt one led by UMNO.

The full extent of the corruption and the abuse of power of the Najib administration and how it has hurt the Malays themselves must be emphasised. Just look at the substandard housing of FELDA settlers in the Cameron Highlands constituency and the hardship they still face; if corruption hadn’t robbed the nation of billions, their lives would undoubtedly be far different today.

Of necessity, this is a political campaign that can only be fought and won by PH’s Malay leadership. They must be more proactive in carrying the fight to the Malay heartland where support for UMNO and Najib remain strong. And not just during by-elections. Until PH has firmly established itself in the Malay heartland, it needs to be in continuous election mode.

PH’s Malay leadership must also take on Najib more directly. Najib is, after all, challenging their legitimacy to represent the Malays and they must confront him. It wouldn’t have escaped notice that it is Messrs Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng who are constantly attacking or refuting Najib while PH’s Malay leadership remains largely silent, even deferential at times. This has allowed Najib to argue that only DAP seems “obsessed” with attacking him, that this is somehow racially motivated.

The battle against Najib (and UMNO) for the allegiance of Malay-Muslim voters is PH’s biggest and most important challenge; if they don’t rise to it sooner than later, they might well be forfeiting the future of Malaysia Baru.

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

Hadi, Le Hypocrite as Malaysian Prime Minister– GOD Save US from Bigotry


January 23, 2019

Hadi, Le Hypocrite as Malaysian Prime Minister– GOD Save US from Bigotry

by Dennis Ignatius

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

At a party political campaign meeting in Cameron Highlands in support of the Barisan Nasional candidate, PAS president Hadi Awang insisted that it was the religious duty of Muslims to vote only for Muslims so that they could bring an “Islamic voice” to Parliament. He urged Muslim voters to trust only Muslims to represent them because non-Muslims apparently have no concept of sin and heavenly reward. Presumably, that makes them unfit to sit in Parliament.

Hadi, of course, is a bitter foe of DAP (although he was happy to embrace them when it suited him). His comments, however, speak to wider issues on race and religion in Malaysia and cannot be allowed to let stand.

Where was the Islamic voice?

In the first place, if an “Islamic voice” in Parliament is needed, Hadi and his cohort of Islamist politicians are hardly the ones to represent it.

For years Hadi and the whole bunch of PAS and Umno members of Parliament aided and abetted the cover-up of the 1MDB scandal, the biggest scandal in our history. Billions of ringgit of taxpayers’ money, money belonging to the voters of Cameron Highlands, Muslim and non-Muslim, was looted and squandered on high living, debauchery and partying all over the world. Expensive champagne, paid for with taxpayer funds, was flowing in distant playgrounds while the voters in Cameron Highlands had to struggle to earn a decent living.

Where was the “Islamic voice” of Hadi when all this was going on? Instead of speaking up for the voters and defending their rights in Parliament, Hadi was defending the kleptocrats and dismissing the 1MDB scandal as fake news.

A concept of sin without integrity

As a multiracial, non-religious political party, DAP, of course, takes no position on concepts of sin and heavenly reward. Nevertheless, DAP has a far better track record when it comes to integrity, justice and public service than religiously-inclined parties like Umno and PAS. Indeed, it was this commitment to integrity, justice and public service that led DAP on a long and lonely quest to expose the 1MDB scandal while Umno and PAS were doing their best to cover it up or look the other way.

Of what use is a concept of sin and heavenly reward if it does not lead to integrity, honesty and respect for truth here on earth? Umno was rejected by the people because it came to be seen as a highly corrupt party that was more interested in earthly rewards than heavenly ones. Did the millions in cash and jewellery found in Najib Razak’s house reveal nothing to Hadi? Even now, as the new Pakatan Harapan government uncovers scandal after scandal, PAS keeps insisting that Umno is the right party to represent the people simply because it is a Muslim one.

Is Hadi so blinded by his disdain for non-Malays and non-Muslims that he’d rather have a corrupt and discredited Malay-Muslim party in power than a clean and honest coalition of Muslims and non-Muslims in office?

And let’s not forget that the biggest victims of Umno’s abuse of power and the conniving silence of PAS were the Malays themselves. Even cherished institutions like Tabung Haji, LTAT and Felda that were set up specifically to help Malay-Muslims were mismanaged or plundered by Umno cronies. Nothing was sacred to them. All the talk about “bangsa, agama and negara” was simply a cover to enrich themselves.

Non-Muslims

Amazingly, after suggesting that non-Muslims were not fit to represent the citizens of Cameron Highlands in Parliament, Hadi had the audacity to appeal to non-Muslims to support the Umno candidate because Umno “has already proven that it respects their rights”.

Is Hadi delusional? Has he forgotten that under Umno our democratic space was vastly reduced, our economy was mismanaged, our sovereignty was endangered through unsustainable levels of debt, and the country itself became the world’s biggest kleptocracy?

Hadi himself has persistently advocated a kind of religious apartheid state where non-Muslims would be barred from holding high office, reduced to “dhimmitude” in their own country and subject to a form of shariah law that is so harsh that even Muslim countries shy away from it.

Hadi has done nothing to earn our trust and everything to earn our disgust. He’s the last person that anyone should listen to when it comes to casting their vote. If anything, voters can’t go wrong rejecting any candidate that Hadi endorses.

At the end of the day, our nation’s interests are surely better served by people with integrity and a proven track record of public service rather than by people who may have a concept of sin but are utterly lacking in integrity and a commitment to good governance and respect for diversity. Better non-religious politicians committed to serving the people than hypocritical ones hiding behind religion.