Cry no more, my beloved country, Malaysia


September 26, 2018

Cry no more, my beloved country, Malaysia

Opinion

by Bob Teoh@www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT | Saddened by the state of our country, I wrote a piece titled “Cry, my beloved country” six years ago.

But the unexplainable happened on 9 May. The old regime was swept out of power through an unprecedented electoral revolt. Hope has finally arrived on our shores.

However, the frantic rush by party warlords to install the next Prime Minister after the current one steps down mid-term is worrying. Still my hope is anchored on nothing less than a New Malaysia. Cry no more, my beloved country.

Two former Star colleagues of mine, both retired, one in Penang and the other in New York were trying to catch up with the distance that separates them just the other day in Petaling Jaya. Very soon they came to the same conclusion. They don’t trust Anwar Ibrahim, the Prime minister-in-waiting.

“And it is too much of a coincidence that every time Anwar’s name crops up in conversation, others say they don’t trust him too,” one of them said.

Indeed so, I agree with both of them but for different reasons, as I wrote earlier in my piece, “The Prime minister-in-waiting must not jump the queue”.

Losing the plot

I was a life member of PKR since 2008, but not anymore.  Anwar seems to have lost his Reformasi plot. He sticks to old regime politics not much different from what UMNO used to do. In the New Malaysia, we need statespeople, not apparatchiks.

His party, PKR, which is now the biggest component in the new ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition in terms of parliamentary seats, is hopelessly split with Vice-President Rafizi Ramli running against current Deputy President Azmin Ali to be deputy to Anwar, the President-designate.

This is not only Azmin’s second term in this party position, but he is also the new Economic Affairs Minister and former  Menteri Besar of Selangor. He was one of the better performing chief ministers the state ever had.

Azmin (photo) has his critics, who have accused him of putting his own people in the state government when he was Menteri Besar, as well as in the current federal cabinet. He is also accused of insisting on keeping PAS in his cabinet against party wishes.

Rafizi’s reason for running against Azmin is to make sure Anwar becomes the Prime Minister. The incumbent Vice-President accuses Azmin of coveting the premiership for himself and that the latter is in league with former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin and colluding with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Azmin is also accused of disloyalty to Anwar simply because he has not offered to give up his Gombak parliamentary seat for Anwar to be elected into the lower house in order to assume the premiership.

By this token, there now seems to be two prime ministers-in-waiting, not just one. Either way, the pretender to the throne is in a hurry to seize the moment now. But Azmin has been quick to punch back by saying Rafizi was still a “toddler” when the Reformasi movement started in 1998. Azmin said he had stood by Anwar and has stayed loyal to his struggle from the day the latter was sacked from the government.

Reformasi veterans like Tian Chua are aligned to Azmin. Among those  in Rafizi’s camp is Anwar’s daughter and Permatang Puah MP Nurul Izzah who was the “Puteri Reformasi” (Reformasi princess) and still in school when Anwar went to jail back then.

Nurul has come a long way since. She commanded the most votes in the Vice-presidency contest in Penang over the weekend, garnering 4,039 votes, far outnumbering her opponents.

Meanwhile, Anwar himself has confirmed things are not going well. He said unnamed leaders in PKR are allegedly offering projects for support in the party’s internal election. Is UMNO-style money politics making in-roads into PKR?

Anwar also acknowledged weaknesses in the party’s ongoing election processes, after voting was variously suspended in several states owing to alleged irregularities as well as violent disagreements.

A betrayal

This is plain betrayal to those who elected Danyal four months ago. By accepting this, Anwar is similarly tainted. This scandalises the whole notion of a democratic election, where the sanctity of democracy is now sacrificed on the altar of political ambition.

An ethical question mark hangs over Anwar’s Port Dickson Move. The incumbent MP there is PKR’s Danyal Balagopal Abdullah (centre in photo). He vacated his seat on Sept 12 to make way for a by-election for Anwar to contest to enable him to become prime minister.

In the 14th general election, Danyal won the Port Dickson seat in athree-corner fight, garnering 36,225 votes, with a large majority of 17,710 votes. He has now handed over the seat on a platter to Anwar.

The Prime Minister-in-waiting should have been more circumspect. There are other options for him.

Anwar’s electoral base has always been Permatang Pauh. When he was in prison, his wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, now Deputy Prime Minister, stood in for him in this parliamentary seat until the last general election where she switched to Pandan, the parliamentary seat previously held by Rafizi Ramli, and won. He did not contest due to a court conviction for exposing a page of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) audit report. He was later bound over.

In a parallel move, Anwar’s daughter, Nurul, moved from her Lembah Pantai constituency to contest in Permatang Pauh and won.

We are not told of the reason behind this family musical chairs. No one would complain if either of them vacated her seat to make way for Anwar to return to Parliament via a by-election. This would have been better than the Port Dickson Move, which was very much outsourced to Rafizi.

It was Rafizi (photo) who had conjured the Kajang Move that morphed into a full-blown political crisis in Selangor in 2014.

The idea was to topple Khalid Ibrahim as PKR’s Menteri Besar of Selangor, and install Anwar Ibrahim as his replacement. The attempt resulted in a nine-month political crisis within the state of Selangor and the Pakatan Rakyat coalition, that also involved the Palace of Selangor. The irony is that the crisis concluded with the appointment of PKR’s Deputy President, Azmin, as the next Menteri Besar of Selangor.

The Kajang Move backfired. It can backfire again. As pundits would have it, Anwar would have succeeded in his Kajang Move. What if nobody turns out on polling day on Oct 13? Already the BN opposition has said it would not contest, and PAS may also not field a candidate. Anwar may suffer the embarrassment of facing an unknown independent. It may be a hollow victory after all. This does not augur well for a Prime Minister-in-waiting.

After May 9, we now have a two-party electoral system, the first in six decades. In the recent general election, the opposition did not expect to win and the ruling coalition did not expect to lose.

In the words of former UMNO leader and minister Rafidah Aziz, God heard our collective prayer. The people won. The eyes of the Almighty is on our nation. Man may propose this move or that move, but it is God who may dispose. I am at ease. Cry no more, my beloved country.


BOB TEOH is a faith-based writer.

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

Anwar family’s credibility gap is troubling


September 19, 2018

Anwar family’s credibility gap is troubling

by Terence Netto
A perception of nepotism would still be justified even if the reformasi movement, triggered by Anwar’s travails 20 years ago, had not had as its rallying cry the demand to end the corruption, cronyism and nepotism then plaguing the nation from UMNO-BN’s misrule.

 

COMMENT | The danger of choosing relatives of an iconic leader to deputise for him when he faces legal trammels imposed by the powers that be is that the surrogates are soon apt to think they are where they are by merit rather than presumption.

This is the situation of Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the PKR leader who has just added petulance to a lengthening list of her demerits, both as party leader and as Deputy Prime Minister.

“Is there a problem? I thought we were voted by the rakyat (people),” was Wan Azizah’s disingenuous reply when questioned by reporters on the possibility of the public perceiving the presence in Parliament of her, daughter Nurul Izzah and – should he win in Port Dickson – husband Anwar Ibrahim as rank nepotism.

A perception of nepotism would still be justified even if the reformasi movement, triggered by Anwar’s travails 20 years ago, had not had as its rallying cry the demand to end the corruption, cronyism and nepotism then plaguing the nation from UMNO-BN’s misrule.

Because the movement had made it its clarion call to combat these three scourges of the polity, it is incumbent upon the Pied Piper of the movement (Anwar) and the one who deputised as leader while Anwar was in prison to see to it that such faults as the reformasi movement decried then are not replicated now, when the reform-seekers have become the government.

That’s not all the perceptual burden that has to be avoided.As recently as last year, in an interview with Al Jazeera, Wan Azizah had described her part as that of a “seat warmer”. Clearly, she meant that her withdrawal from the political arena would follow upon the release of Anwar from jail and his return to the legislative fray.

A royal pardon for Anwar in May removed one hindrance to his return; his election unopposed to the PKR top post last month has taken care of the other. But Azizah is not budging from her occupation of the Pandan parliamentary seat she won in GE-14.

Image result for nurul izzah anwar 2018

Neither is Nurul Izzah (photo, above) from Anwar’s traditional stronghold of Permatang Pauh, to which she fled from Lembah Pantai, her seat for two parliamentary terms from 2008.

Things have to be paved and peril-free for the First Family, small matter if that aids the public perception that the family is being granted exceptions to the norm.

The decision of the newly-elected PKR MP for Port Dickson, Danyal Balagopal Abdullah, to quit his seat to allow Anwar to contest en route to becoming the eighth prime minister of Malaysia is being lauded as noble sacrifice. Perhaps we now know why Anwar recently publicly noted that there maybe more Indian Malaysians in PKR than in MIC: The ethnic group are easy sacrificial meat.

He may think that the ability to gyrate to the rhythms and mime the songs of Tamil movies should suffice as a demonstration of solidarity with the concerns of this demographic.Suffice that members of the First Family have become PKR royalty, exempt from the ordinary criteria of selection and scrutiny.

The fact that the party has become dysfunctional as a democratic entity, its factional strife so obvious that it makes liars of those attempting to deny the reality, is not allowed to redound to the discredit of the First Family.

Mendacity is the default option of those for whom the acquisition of power overrides other chastening considerations.In years past Anwar used to be fond on the hustings of quoting Mahatma Gandhi’s “What is morally right cannot be politically wrong, and what is politically correct must not be morally wrong,” to project his concern that the devices of politics be congruent with the imperatives of morality.

In recent months, the gulf between the two – his morality and his politics – has opened up wide enough for many to think that what has happened to Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan is occurring to Anwar.


TERENCE NETTO has been a journalist for more than four decades. A sobering discovery has been that those who protest the loudest tend to replicate the faults they revile in others.

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