I am Sarawakian. I am a Paloi (Fool)?


October 15, 2017

I am Sarawakian. I am a Paloi (Fool)?

by Francis Paul Siah

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for Francis Paul Siah of Sarawak

 

COMMENT | “Orang Sarawak bukan bodoh, kata ketua menterinya” (The people of Sarawak are not fools, says Sarawak Chief Minister) was the header in many Bahasa Malaysia newspapers and news portals a week ago.

This proud and oft-repeated remark came from Chief Minister Abang Johari Abang Openg at a town hall session with some 5,000 Sarawakian diasporas in the Peninsula, as he took a swipe at former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad who is now chairperson of the opposition Pakatan Harapan.

Oh really, Sarawakians are not fools? Well, maybe not most of the time. But I will be honest. As a Sarawakian, I have to admit, almost grudgingly, that I have been a fool at times – made some stupid decisions not beneficial to my home state and fellow Sarawakians and am now living in remorse and regret over them.

 

Of course, for Abang Jo (photo), who is in power and feeling on top of the world as the state’s chief executive, it would be pretty dumb of him to say that Sarawakians, the people whom he is supposed to lead, are fools.

Abang Jo is such a nice and decent guy, to the extent that many find him boringly nice. He does not beat around the bush and tells you as it is – you already know what his next sentence is even before he says it. In a nutshell – he is very plain. (Think nasi lemak, without the ikan bilis and sambal).

Sarawakians miss Adenan Satem. I do too. He was a breath of fresh air, after 33 years of the “White Hair”. Sadly, he came on board to helm Sarawak too late in his life and didn’t have the time to do more.

So, what did Abang Jo actually say when he met Sarawakians in Kuala Lumpur recently? According to a Malaysiakini report, the Chief Minister reminded Mahathir that Sarawakians are not fools who can be lied to.

He cited the Pan Borneo Highway as one example of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s contributions to the state, a request which has been made since the time of Mahathir’s 22-year rule.

“Sarawakians are people with principles… We want politics that can deliver,” said Abang Johari, who claimed that Mahathir has since sacrificed his own principles by working together with DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang, whom he had demonised in the past.

“Let us determine our own destiny. Orang Sarawak bukan paloi (Sarawakians are no fools)… Don’t bluff us,” he said in pledging to continue negotiations with Putrajaya to reclaim Sarawak’s rights as provided under the Federal Constitution and Malaysia Agreement 1963.

Abang Johari earlier recalled his time serving as a state minister and difficulties to obtain funds for development, while Mahathir was still Prime Minister.

“At the time I was a minister in the (state) cabinet. We had asked if the (federal government under Mahathir) can build coastal roads,” he said, adding that the promises made were never fulfilled due to alleged short of funds.

“But when Najib came (into power), they (promised to) build roads like in the peninsula… So smooth!,” he said at the annual event dubbed Lan Berambeh Anak Sarawak, now in its 10th year, held at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

 

The 2,325km Pan Borneo Highway, across Sarawak and Sabah, was first announced as part of Barisan Nasional’s manifesto during the 13th general election and later formalised in Budget 2015.

When met by reporters later, Abang Johari described the questions asked during the one-hour session as an indication that Sarawakians in the Peninsula are happy with his administration of the state.

Among others, he cited questions raised on various state policies, including matters which touch on negotiations with Putrajaya for more rights to royalty from oil and gas activities.

‘Putrajaya leadership today is more open’

“During Mahathir’s time, we can’t ask these questions because we are in fear. Alhamdulillah the leadership in Putrajaya today is more open (to negotiations),” he added.

To Abang Jo, I salute you for your new-found courage in coming out to slam Mahathir now. I am with you on your many statements of disappointment and disillusionment with the Mahathir (photo) administration. I believe they are true.

Image result for dr mahathir mohamad

 

But I must also let you know why, as a Sarawakian, I am bodoh and still feel like a fool.

This is why. In 1963, when Sarawak was enticed to team up with Malaya, Sabah and Singapore to form the new nation of Malaysia, I just signed the agreement without really understanding its fine print.

I was just impressed when Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra brought me to Kuala Lumpur and showed me the development taking place. He promised me that Sarawak would progress in a similar fashion if I sign up.

Then some British fellows brought me to London in a big plane. Wow, that was the first time I had flown to a foreign land. I felt very important sitting down with the “Orang Puteh” to discuss the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63). Then, I sat at the high table (a British tradition for VIPs) and tucked in heartily at the many sumptuous dinners, not forgetting the fine whisky and brandy, offered.

Upon my return, I affixed my signature on the MA63, never bothered to think nor understand why my fellow Sarawakians, Ong Kee Hui, Stephen Yong and others from the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), were opposed to it.

 

 

Now 54 years later and with the growing voices of discontent among my fellow Sarawakians towards Malaya, with some even calling for secession, my conscience suddenly pricks me. Did I betray my dear homeland, Sarawak, and my people by signing the MA63 without fully understanding its implications?

I think I have to concede that it was foolish of me to sign MA63 blindly. I was bodoh.

If not, why must Abang Jo pledge to continue negotiations with Putrajaya to reclaim Sarawak’s rights as provided under the Federal Constitution and MA63?

About the Pan Borneo Highway, I am happy that, at long last, my home state will have a superhighway. I am happy too that the Barisan Nasional, under the dynamic and caring PM Najib Abdul Razak, now sees it fit to keep his pledge made during the 2013 general election.

Questions on Pan Borneo Highway

But I am also bodoh because I am afraid to ask pertinent questions surrounding the multi-billion ringgit Pan Borneo Highway project.

 

The first question I didn’t ask and, which I should is: “Why was Fadillah Yusof (photo), a relatively unknown leader of Abang Jo’s Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) suddenly appointed to head the senior Works Ministry in the federal cabinet in 2013?”

Fadillah is only the PBB Youth leader. Never has a junior person like a PBB Youth leader ever been entrusted with a senior federal ministry. Hey, the Works Ministry was helmed by none other than the MIC supremo S Samy Vellu for years.

Even the UMNO Youth leader and chairperson of BN Youth, Khairy Jamaluddin, was only given the junior Youth and Sports Ministry. And the MCA Youth leader, Chong Sin Woon, was only appointed as a deputy education minister. Isn’t MCA the second biggest BN partner?

The next question I have not asked is: “Was Fadillah appointed as the works minister just because his brother, Bustari Yusof, is the head honcho of the Pan Borneo Highway project? And Bustari was recently described in the media as the “No 1 go-to person in the Najib administration” and “the man who quietly guides Najib’s hand”.

Oh, I am bodoh. I fail to see the link. So I kept quiet, even now.

Now, what about Abang Jo’s allegation that Mahathir has since sacrificed his own principles by working together with DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang (photo), whom he had demonised in the past?

Oh, that Chinese chauvinist Kit Siang! He is a racist to the core! He has even received RM1 billion from Mahathir because Mahathir wants to be chairman of Pakatan Harapan. And Kit Siang also wants to be the next Prime minister of Malaysia. Yes, let’s have a good chuckle over those allegations against the DAP veteran.

But if Kit Siang is a Chinese chauvinist and a racist, I didn’t speak up against him when DAP started its foray into Sarawak in 1979. I was bodoh then.

It is now an open secret that the then Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Rahman Yakub was the one who wanted DAP in Sarawak to compete with the Chinese-based SUPP. Rahman was having problems with SUPP, its Secretary-General Stephen Yong in particular. Rahman was a shrewd politician and a master tactician. He wanted DAP to neutralise Chinese support for SUPP.

Even though I knew it was not right to back-stab a component party member, I was afraid to speak up against Rahman because he was a powerful chief minister and he usually gets what he wants.

Now, I know I was bodoh because I didn’t have the guts to put things right even though I knew it was wrong.

Today, DAP is the strongest opposition party in Sarawak. Serve me right!

Abang Jo also stated that with Najib at the helm in Putrajaya now, he would be negotiating for more rights to royalty from oil and gas activities for Sarawak.

“During Mahathir’s time, we can’t ask these questions because we are in fear”, the chief minister said.

My interpretation is this: I lived in fear of Mahathir in the past. Now with Najib, I am not afraid anymore.

You see, I was so bodoh. Even though I am in BN, I fear Mahathir and I didn’t dare to tick him off even when he did not fulfil his promises to Sarawak, for whatever reasons.

But with Najib now, I dare to do so. Come to think of it, I am still bodoh. Why must I kow-tow to Najib? Right now, he needs Sarawak more than Sarawak needs him. He is fighting for his political survival.

If I still have to beg Najib for development projects for Sarawak, I am a fool. Things are not going right for Najib. He is a desperate man. Now is the time to demand, not beg. If we, Sarawakians, do not know how to take advantage of the situation now, then let us forever be condemned as Sarawakians who are bodoh.

 

Or, in Abang Jo’s own word – “paloi


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

The Tyranny of Malaysian Democracy


October 3, 2017

The Tyranny of Malaysian Democracy

For better or for worse, our hope lies in this bunch of former political enemies (Mahathir, Kit Siang and Anwar) pulled together by fate and a common foe. We cannot afford to take the wrong road again.

Image result for Cogito Ergo Sum

When we cease to think and act, we lose our identity and dignity

COMMENT by Cogito Ergo Sum*| Like everybody else, I am subjective. And like most reasonable Malaysians, I am now more than a little concerned about the current trends and future direction our nation seems to be hurtling towards.

I am as old as Malaysia and have witnessed this nation grow from a fledgling, newly independent state to one that has become a regional and international player in sports, diplomacy and the world economy. It was also, at one time, a paragon of multicultural tolerance and showcased that diversity and unity could be one.

The government of the day, for most of the days in the past, was a benevolent one that provided a vision and clear direction for us to progress with the times technologically, socially and economically.

Along the way, something went terribly wrong. We are now a nation of bigots where once tolerance flourished. Prejudices based on race, religion, gender, creed and colour are now the order of the day, not the exception.

Democratic Leadership of the Corrupt Sort

Despite the institutionalized apartheid policies in the guise of affirmative action that were constructed, people were still able to eke out a decent living and make enough to put aside for a rainy day. And give their kids good education with moral values.

But all that changed almost suddenly. We are now well-known for repressing dissent, jailing social activists and opposition members, 1MDB, and GST. And the list goes on.

A Nation in Debt

We now have a domestic debt of over 80 percent, which means that 80 percent of salaries and wages are set aside for debt repayment and the balance for food, shelter, transport and health. It is impossible to save anything, much less to even have a decent meal once a month.

To exacerbate the problem, we seem to be jailing and punishing the very people who have championed the struggles of the people. Two days ago, Tian Chua (centre in photo), the PKR MP for Batu in Kuala Lumpur, was jailed for being present in a police restricted area.

Malaysian Law is an Ass when our Judges are slaves to Political Power

But his defence was that he was forcibly brought into the restricted area after taking part in an elections reform rally, Bersih in 2012. Surely common sense must prevail. If the facts are correct, according to Tian Chua, the courts should have found the charge defective and released him, even if he withdrew his appeal. What has happened to the concept of judicial review?

Desperation and depravation

In any democracy, the ballot becomes the silver bullet for ills ailing society. If a government fails in its elected duties, you change it in the next polls. But that hope for a fair and clean poll is now fading. Disingenuous and not so subtle methods are underway to ensure that the incumbents are returned, come hell or high water.

Gerrymandering and altering election boundaries are in full swing and there are efforts to stop them by various NGOs and individuals. But the courts do not seem to be very impressed with these efforts and neither do they seem too keen to upset the apple cart.

As desperation turns into depravation, the ruling regime is conscious that for the very first time in 60 years, dissent and dissatisfaction are now rampant, cutting across racial, religious, and social barriers. And that it could be facing a catastrophic and historic defeat is a very real possibility now.

The desperation becomes more and more apparent by the ludicrous replies given by various officials and ministers to genuine concerns and questions by the opposition and pressure groups.

Joy Ride  on a Military Aircraft at Taxpayers’ Expense

One such reply that stands out is the use of military assets to fly Sarawak chiefs to Putrajaya to thank them for fighting the communist some 47 years ago!

One wonders what four Prime Ministers were doing in four decades of being in power and all of them seem to have forgotten to reward the Sarawak chiefs.

Our “fixed deposits” seem to have garnered no interest in forty years. That latest gaffe is just the tip of the iceberg of a slew of idiotic responses to come out of the corridors of power over the last two years or so.

Thrust into power again

Our hope lies in the fabric of our political set-up. We now have an opposition that seems to have recovered from its own internal squabbles, cobbled together by a motley crew of ageing and youthful leaders.

For many, the resurgence and leadership of Dr Mahathir Mohamad are as repulsive as the idea of Malaysia being led by the current Prime Minister. His chairing of the opposition Pakatan Harapan seems like a fait accompli after the jailing of Anwar Ibrahim, the former opposition leader.

While the opposition has many young leaders in the likes of Nurul Izzah Anwar, Liew Chin Tong and Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman who will be the next generation of lawmakers, they do not as yet have the political acumen to defeat the juggernaut that is Barisan Nasional. For that, Harapan needs the wiles and cunning strategies of older leaders who have been to the brink and back like Mahathir, Lim Kit Siang and others to out-think and out-fox an aging old and wounded wolf.

Mahathir’s Legacy–A Broken System of Governance

Many institutions of governance today suffer the symptoms and ills of 22 years under Dr Mahathir’s leadership. It is not an exaggeration to say that many challenges today are the 92-year-old’s making. However, there were moments of glory and achievement as well.

The people were not taxed beyond what they could bear. Short of apologising for the past, he has, by his actions and words, shown a genuine interest in getting this once beautiful and tolerant nation back onto its feet.

Image result for Mahathir Mohamad

Whether he has other motives or not, at this present time, we do not know. What we do know is that we lack salt and experienced leaders in the opposition.

 

When our poets, satirists, cartoonists, songwriters and social activists are persecuted, prosecuted and jailed for speaking up, when opposition voices are silenced by the very parliament they have been voted into, we know that democracy has become tyrannical and kleptocratic.

Zunar–The Cartoonist and Freedom Fighter

Harapan needs to tell the people what its game plan is. They need to know and know now, what corrective economic and social measures they have planned after winning over Putrajaya. General broad strokes are no longer enough. The rakyat needs a concrete hope and the brass tacks of programmes for them to believe in.

For better or for worse, our hope lies in this bunch of former political enemies, pulled together by fate and a common foe. We cannot afford to take the wrong road again.

*COGITO ERGO SUM is a Malaysiakini reader.

Puteri Reformasi Nurul Izzah Anwar talks Politics and her Future


September 25, 2017

Puteri Reformasi Nurul Izzah Anwar talks Politics and her Future

by Zikri Kamarulzaman

http://www.malaysiakini.com

INTERVIEW | For almost two decades, Anwar Ibrahim has been the opposition’s bedrock, a political titan who had cast a long shadow over those opposed to BN.

It is a shadow that his party PKR has struggled to step out of, even in his long absence due to imprisonment over sodomy charges.

Image result for nurul izzah anwar at wefin phnom penh

Reverence for Anwar had even stymied Pakatan Harapan at one point, with PKR’s insistence on giving him a top position and delaying the formation of the coalition’s leadership lineup for weeks.

Still, he remains highly regarded, with many still deferring to his judgement or invoking his name in their struggles. But as the 14th general election (GE14) looms, Anwar’s daughter Nurul Izzah feels that it is time for the opposition to step into the light.

“At the end of the day I think even Anwar himself wants us to move beyond his shadow,” the PKR Vice-President told Malaysiakini in an interview on Thursday.

Praising Anwar’s commitment and willingness to sacrifice personal freedoms for a better Malaysia, Nurul Izzah said the former Deputy Prime Minister’s ideals and struggles are embodied by PKR, and is what drives the party forward. however, she said PKR was not a personality based movement.

Her remarks echo that of Anwar’s symbolic statement in June this year, that he would not be seeking a position as Harapan’s candidate for Prime Minister.

His statement came amid long, drawn-out arguments between Harapan and its then-newest member Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia on who should head the new government.

Many in PKR, DAP and Amanah insisted that Anwar was the only choice, but the former opposition leader said such arguments were distracting the coalition from more important matters, such as preparing for GE14.

Malaysia’s Prisoner of Conscience–Anwar Ibrahim

GE14 will likely be the first time since 2008 that Anwar has not been on the ground campaigning for the opposition. He is currently serving a five-year jail term, but is expected to be freed by the middle of 2018 on good behaviour.

Women not given enough priority

Nurul Izzah indicated that his absence will be felt on the campaign circuit, but said many leaders, especially women, have stepped up to the plate.

“We should focus on our core strengths. PKR President Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, and (Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s wife) Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, they have their own followers.

“The womenfolk are always, always not given enough priority. I feel that it is a Zeitgeist for female empowerment. It is our moment to seize the future of Malaysia,” the Lembah Pantai MP said.

But to truly step out of Anwar’s shadow, she said, one thing must be done by the opposition, which is to achieve critical mass among all walks of society in order to enact reforms.

“If you want to step out of the shadow, we should harness everyone’s strength… Even harnessing the strength and support of PAS members.

“If we can harness a former dictator (Mahathir) who has embraced reformasi, don’t tell me that you can’t harness everyone else.”

In the following excerpt from Malaysiakini‘s interview, Nurul Izzah addresses speculation that she will be defending Anwar’s traditional seat Permatang Pauh, as well as whether her siblings will be contesting in GE14.

The interview has been edited for language and brevity:

Will you defend Lembah Pantai? There are rumours that you will move to Permatang Pauh.

I love rumours, Malaysia is built on rumours, at least because we don’t have access to mainstream media. Thankfully, we have Malaysiakini, which can allay some rumours

It has been such an honour (being Lembah Pantai MP) because I contested in 2008 and it was Bangsar, it was Lembah Pantai, it was Kerinchi.

Lembah Pantai is a microcosm of Malaysia, and that’s where I got the chance to represent them. I was humbled by the experience, especially more so winning for a second term the most hotly contested seat (in the Federal Territories) previously held by (UMNO Wanita Chief) Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, and then the new minister (Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin), who controlled the coffers of Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), and who defined the name of the game in terms of political patronage. So, it was so monumental for me.

I’ve learned so much. I would love to serve them (Lembah Pantai constituents) again. But we are all tied to the decisions made by the political bureau. This is exactly my same answer in 2008 when people asked me, “Are you going to contest Lembah Pantai?”.

Now we are making our rounds visiting the constituencies especially where people are in need of help, and we are planning a huge Deepavali get together.

So, for me until D-Day, which is election day, it’s going to be a battle in Lembah Pantai, that is how I look at it.

If PKR’s political bureau decides that you have to go to Permatang Pauh, would you go?

Yes. Of course. As a soldier of the party, I would expect every candidate that hasn’t been dropped to follow the instructions of the party.

There is a certain degree of freedom allocated to you as an individual, but there’s also the responsibility you have towards the organisation, and that’s community responsibility at work.

Assuming you stay in Lembah Pantai, your vote majority fell by over 1,000 votes in GE13. Can you survive?

I was really humbled by that win. It was extremely challenging. You aren’t taking into account the exact number of votes and the exact degree of manipulation.

Who knows exactly how many votes were cast for us? At the same time, you also have the transfer of voters that took place quite alarmingly in the last election, and because of that, I don’t really place much of an issue in terms of numbers.

It’s more of whether the seats are marginal or whether it’s supposed to be a safe cushion for us in the government. We have to ensure there is a high degree of voter awareness. We have to utilise technology whether it is cell phone cameras etcetera, to guard against vote tampering.

We do hope this time around with all this preparation and investment in poll monitors, legal support, there will be a reduction in terms of BN getting fewer opportunities to get away with fraud.

Prime Minister Najib Razak (seen with his Advisors and Sycophants) faces the greatest challenge of his long political career– Credibility. Problems he faces are of his own making. He is seen as a corrupt, dishonest, lying and greedy leader. As a result, he is today the most unpopular Prime Minister in our country’s history. That said, he has all the advantages of incumbency and should not be underestimated–Din Merican

But we have to be realistic. It is life or death for (Prime Minister) Najib (Abdul Razak). It is life or death for his government. They won’t stop at anything.

That is something we have to be prepared for. You have to understand that we used to win due to protest votes. We used to win due to people genuinely giving a chance to the opposition. But this time around, it’s going to be a clear headcount war.

Every person has to be engaged.The approach by Harapan’s secretariat is canvassing, getting out to the voters like never before utilising sentiment analysis, which is what (PKR Vice-President) Rafizi Ramli has been mentioning, also Institut Darul Ehsan has been , targeting people’s sentiments.

These must all coalesce into a targeted smart and sophisticated campaign. Every message counts. We can’t make a mistake because BN (UMNO-BN) will be watching and, of course, their mistakes can be managed very well through a controlled media, but not ours.

So yes, I think because of that, marginal seats are not just ours for winning but also theirs for losing.

Will your siblings be contesting in GE14?

(Laughs). You have to ask them. I think that’s quite a funny question you know… all of us have the Anwar DNA.

I grew up very much in my formative years with reformasi. He was in prison for a long time. I can’t change the fact that I’m very much his daughter. But in terms of learning about human rights, civil rights, that is from (my time in) Abim, Suaram. That formed me into the person I am today.

We (my siblings and I) are all of different cohorts. I’m building a future for Malaysia. I want to represent my generation, and that’s the generation born from 1980, 1985, to 1999. That’s my generation. So I represent them.

I think my sisters and my brothers represent their generation. You don’t need to be a politician to enact change

You have to give them the right to choose. So you have to ask my siblings (whether they want to contest in GE14). For now, they are quite happy in their own chosen vocations.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I want to continue fighting for the ideals I believe in. I want to be proud of the fact that I am a living testament to my children as someone who will do everything I can to secure a better future for them.

MP Nurul Izzah Anwar who was born into a political family is Vice President of Parti KeADILan Rakyat (PKR) which was founded by her father, Anwar Ibrahim. Her mother, Dr. Wan Azizah is PKR President.

And of course, I’d like to always be there as their mother. Supporting them, empowering them. Since they’re the biggest joys for me.

YESTERDAY: No negotiations, Nurul Izzah says Harapan’s stand is clear

 

Former Prime Minister Dr.Mahathir Mohamed allowed in Sarawak. Congrats to Chief Minister Abang Jo and Sarawakians


September 24, 2017

Former Prime Minister Dr.Mahathir Mohamed allowed in Sarawak. Congrats to Chief Minister Abang Jo and Sarawakians

by Francis Siah

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for mahathir mohamad

At long last, former Premier and Pakatan Harapan chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad will be stepping onto Sarawak soil again. He is scheduled to speak at a Pakatan Harapan event in Kuching on September 24.

Mahathir’s visit this time is significant as he is visiting the Hornbill State for the first time as a leader of the opposition.

In the past, I paid little or no attention to Mahathir’s visit to my home state when he was Prime Minister. Those were normal, ordinary events – yeah, what is so extraordinary about a Prime Minister visiting a state within his own country? Like many others, Sarawakians or not, I must honestly concede that I didn’t really care when Mahathir came a-visiting.

This time, however, I care. Why? I had wanted to arrange a Mahathir visit to Sarawak since late last year. No, my intention was not political. I would be inviting him under the auspices of my NGO, the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS).

Image result for sarawak land of the hornbills

Welcome to Sarawak, the mystical Land of the Hornbills, where the legendary headhunters of Borneo originated. A land rich in cultural heritage and colourful ethnic tribes, discover the excitement of traditional animistic beliefs and immerse in this festive paradise.

Be mesmerised by Sarawak’s treasure of natural wonders; from ancient rainforests to national parks, wild caves to spectacular limestone pinnacles, pristine beaches to sparkling azure ocean, and rare flora to exotic fauna. Seeped in old-world exotic charm, Sarawak is also blessed with modern technology, infrastructure and facilities and is ready to take on the world. Sarawak’s brand new state-of-the-art hotels and convention centre are supported by a fantastic range of great eco-tourism products, adventure destinations and world-famed hospitality. Sarawak joined Malaysia on Septmber 16, 1963–54 Years ago.

My objective? I feel that Mahathir owes it to the people of Sarawak to explain what he has been doing or intends to achieve for the nation should he be successful in unseating Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in the 14th General Election (GE14). There are so many questions Sarawakians would want to ask him.

It has been more than two years since he came out with his guns blazing at Najib Razak and all throughout, the people of Sarawak were left in the dark about his intentions. A visit to the state to personally explain his goals and future plans for the nation would be in order, or so I thought.

Early this year, I spoke to a Mahathir aide (I will not mention his name as I did not obtain his permission to do so) about my plan to invite Mahathir to visit Sarawak. He was very positive about my proposal and got back to me after a while, informing me that his boss has agreed in principle to visit my home state at the invitation of MoCS.

On May 15 this year, I met up with the aide at the Perdana Leadership Foundation in Cyberjaya to discuss my plan in detail on the proposed Mahathir visit to my home state.

Image result for Kuching Cat City

Kuching–The Enchanting Cat City–welcomes former Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

By this time, it was not just a visit to Kuching and a meet-the-NGOs session as I had originally planned. A friend who leads a Dayak NGO has also asked whether a visit to Betong to meet the Iban community leaders could be arranged in Mahathir’s itinerary. This was put forward in our discussion that morning and as always, Mahathir’s aide was very positive about including it in the itinerary.

Then came the all-important question which he placed before me. Would Mahathir be barred from stepping foot in Sarawak?

A ‘mortal sin’

To be honest, that question had not crossed my mind but that was a valid question indeed. A number of opposition politicians and prominent social activists have been barred from Sarawak but would Mahathir, a former long serving Prime Minister, receive the same cold treatment?

Faced with that poser, my immediate reaction was, “Surely, the Chief Minister of Sarawak would have more in him than to find some flimsy excuses to stop a 92-year-old former Prime Minister from stepping foot in Sarawak.

No, that couldn’t and shouldn’t happen, I thought to myself. It would be a mortal sin to bar Mahathir’s entry into the state.

Image result for Abang Johari and His Cabinet

Surely, my Chief Minister, Abang Johari Openg (photo), would not stoop that low in imposing a ban on a highly revered Malaysian statesman just because Mahathir has aligned himself with the opposition now. Abang Jo should understand politics better than anyone else in Sarawak since he is the Chief Minister.

Must I also mention that Abang Jo should know what a “mortal sin” is since he also received his early education in a Catholic institution, St Joseph’s School, in Kuching?

But in planning for Mahathir to visit Sarawak, I had to ensure that he is allowed in. Oh, wouldn’t it be embarrassing if the nonagenarian former PM were to be stopped at the Kuching Airport and sent back to Kuala Lumpur on the next available flight? We could not afford for this to happen. It would be a total disaster.

The very next day, I quickly checked with my sources in the Sarawak Chief Minister’s Office and was greatly relieved to find out that Mahathir was not on the “blacklist” of unwelcomed visitors, whether in the political or other categories. He is “clean”.

Yes, why should Mahathir be barred at all? Sarawak BN leaders should have no quarrel with Mahathir. All of Sarawak should consider this an internal UMNO problem which has spiraled out of control. And there is no UMNO in Sarawak.

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Mahathir and Najib have reached a point of no return. One is adamant on staying in power, come what may, and the other is determined to oust a sitting Prime Minister, no matter what it takes.

I have to say that I am very happy that not a single BN leader from Sarawak has come out publicly to criticise or condemn Mahathir since he formed Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) and teamed up with the opposition. Not a squeak came from them against the former Prime Minister.

Call it what you like, political wisdom or political maturity, but the fact remains – Sarawak BN leaders have no axe to grind with Mahathir. Wisely, they have stayed above the fray, and Abang Jo and his team should continue to do so.

Since May, other commitments have delayed my plan to organise a Mahathir visit to Sarawak. But I am most glad that he will be in my home state on September 24.

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Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at The White House with America’s Political Icon President Ronald Reagan

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Najib Razak pays hormage to an American Political Novice President Donald Trump

This is the opportunity for him to explain in person to Sarawakians his plans and programmes for the nation should Pakatan Harapan win GE14, and what will happen if BN retains power.

I hope Mahathir will have a dialogue with leaders of civil society while he is in Kuching and answer all their lingering questions. Confusion and doubts on his plans of action for the future and progress of the country must be cleared.As a Sarawakian, I extend a warm welcome to Tun to my home state. May your first visit as an opposition leader to Sarawak be fruitful, meaningful and memorable.

Welcome to the Land of the Hornbill again, Tun.


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

After Mat Tyson’s return to UMNO, Mahathir could be next?


September 20, 2017

After Mat Tyson’s return to UMNO, Mahathir could be next?

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Malaysian politics has witnessed numerous twists and turns over the past years with mentors and protégés turning on each other, adversaries becoming allies and allies becoming adversaries.

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Anything is possible with this enigmatic politician. After all, UMNO Baru which Prime Minister Najib Razak inherited was created by Dr. Mahathir in 1987. If it were to happen,( and I won’t dismiss it outright), that would be a slap in the face people like activists like Ambiga  Sreenevasan and her associates. People like Anwar Ibrahim, Mat Sabu, Lim Kit Siang and others would also be badly let down.–Din Merican

No political pundit’s crystal ball in the past foresaw Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Lim Kit Siang forming an alliance or Mahathir and Anwar Ibrahim burying the hatchet.

On September 17, Muhammad Muhammad Taib ( aka Mat Tyson) was the latest to make a political twist, his third since quitting UMNO.

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From a PAS grasshopper elevated to an UMNO katak

After UMNO, the former Selangor Menteri Besar went to PAS and then later to PKR. Yesterday, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak announced that Muhammad, after seeing the light, had returned to UMNO.

An article published in PAS organ Harakah Daily stated it is possible that other former UMNO leaders, who are now in Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), would return to UMNO as well.

In fact, the article said it would not be impossible for Bersatu chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad himself to return to UMNO.

“As it is known, Mahathir has served well in creating a mess in the opposition and at the same time has been able to give UMNO credit to hold (on to power) in GE14.

“It is clear this is an old script. In the end, the people are cheated with UMNO’s tricks and at the same time, issues like 1MDB, fuel price hikes, increase in cost of living and others will be confined to history when Mahathir returns to UMNO,” it stated.

Mahathir, 92, has denied that he would return to the party which he had helmed for more than two decades, claiming that UMNO is no longer the UMNO he believed in.

Meanwhile, the Harakah Daily article described Najib’s announcement yesterday regarding Muhammad’s return as an anti-climax to the hype which had been building up since morning.

Speculations were aplenty when news broke that the Prime Minister would make a special announcement and all UMNO leaders were ordered to be present, forcing Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to cut his trip to Perlis short.

There were those who speculated that Najib would announce the dissolution of Parliament to pave the way for the next general election, or that some top gun from the opposition had switched camps.

However, the Prime Minister drew flak and ridicule when he announced Muhammad’s return, with detractors claiming that the latter did not warrant such fanfare.

Following this, new theories surfaced that Najib was supposed to announce something bigger but this did not materialise. Some have linked it to a possible coup of the opposition-helmed Selangor government.

The Harakah Daily article, on the other hand, claimed that the announcement was part of Najib’s attempt to divert public attention.

At the same time, it claimed, the move is to give the impression that former UMNO leaders have repented and come to understand that only UMNO can defend the Malays and Malaysia.

 

The article claimed that the move was aimed at diverting attention from the concerns arising from Najib’s disclosure that EPF and Khazanah Nasional would invest in the US.

“It is common knowledge that the people, especially workers contributing to EPF, are livid. They are worried if the investment would end up a liability like 1MDB.

“This is what Najib wanted to silence and did a ‘market test’ by announcing Muhammad’s return to UMNO,” it stated.

Pakatan Harapan –Avoid Strategic Ambiguity in Election Manifesto


September 1, 2017

Pakatan Harapan –Avoid Strategic Ambiguity in Election Manifesto

by Dr. Wong Chin Huat

http://www.eastasiaforum.org

Image result for Ultra Mahathir Mohamad

 Tun Mahathir as Pakatan Harapan Chairman–The Election Changer?

Malaysia’s opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) is busy preparing its manifesto for the 14th General Election (GE14) to be held by August 2018 at the latest. PH cannot afford to repeat past mistakes and publish a strategically ambiguous election manifesto as a simple public relations exercise — it needs to produce a transition pact that clearly spells out what its victory would change and what it would not.

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UMNO Ketuanan Melayu–BN1.0

Malaysia is a one-party state which has been ruled by the Malay-nationalist United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and its coalition partners since independence from Britain in 1957. Malaysia is also a polarised society where the majority Malay-Muslims and the minority Chinese, Indian and Bornean non-Muslims have largely opposing views on Islamisation and pro Malay-Muslim preferential policies.

This fundamental contradiction has helped UMNO’s party-state to survive previous challenges since the opposition has never been able to win favour with both blocs. In 1990, the opposition won the Chinese vote, but lost the Malays due to their fear of losing political and religious dominance. In 1999, the opposition won the Malay vote, but many Chinese feared an ethnic riot if UMNO performed badly. In 2013, the opposition coalition won 51 per cent of the total vote, but its Malay-Muslim support was only around 40 per cent. Thanks to partisan gerrymandering, the UNMO-led Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition held on to power by a margin of 44 seats.

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Voices of Moderation in Civil Society

Looking toward the coming election PH is aiming to win more Malay votes. The inclusion of Mahathir Mohamad (formerly of UMNO and prime minister between 1981 and 2003) as PH’s new chairman is a game changer. He fills the void left by the Pan-Malaysia Islamic Party (PAS) which now collaborates with UMNO to pursue its agenda to expand Syariah law.

Many now hope for a tsunami of Malay voters to sweep UMNO away. But there is a catch to such optimism: communal incoordination risks foiling the opposition coalition once again.

Given UMNO’s further shift to ultra-nationalism after 2013, Chinese votes appear unlikely to swing back to BN. But with Mahathir evading talk of concrete reforms, many Chinese who fear PH turning into a BN 2.0 may stay home on election day offsetting any potential Malay swing to PH.

Previous opposition coalitions have tried this sort of strategic ambiguity before. Instead of taking clear positions on Islamisation and the pro-Malay New Economic Policy, they seized upon salient issues such as corruption and good governance. But ambiguity is neither strategic nor possible this time around. UMNO will continue — with the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party’s help — to warn Malays that both Islam and Muslims are under threat. If PH responds by leaning towards the Malays, more Chinese votes risk being lost.

Beyond populist and catch-all promises like repealing the Good and Sales Tax, a better strategy for PH would be to enter into a transition pact with citizenry on how it would manage regime change should it win. Such a pact should separate the pro-Malay/Muslim policies which UMNO holds its ethnic constituency at ransom with from the party-state, dismantle those features of the political system which prevent genuine electoral competition and enable corruption, and find better alternatives in inter-communal policies.

In terms of making politics competitive, both the authoritarian and majoritarian features of the party-state need to be eliminated.

To dismantle authoritarianism, three institutional reforms are indispensable. First, civil and political liberties must be reinforced to emphasise the freedoms of expression, assembly and association. PH must also commit to media freedom and to no detention without trial.

Second, there must be judicial and prosecutorial reforms regarding the appointment, promotion and retirement of judges as well as the establishment of an independent prosecution separate from the attorney general.

Third, political impartiality of the state apparatus — bureaucracy, police and the military — must be enforced. State agencies and officials must be checked by independent anti-corruption and ombudsman institutions with real regulatory teeth. Such reforms may produce a majoritarian democracy, but leaves the risk of democratic winner-takes-all politics which will likely further tear at Malaysia’s bipolar social wounds. Hence, two more institutional reforms are needed to dismantle majoritarianism.

First, electoral, parliamentary and cabinet reforms must be enacted — this includes a more proportional electoral system and a term limit on prime ministership. Powers need to be devolved to the states, the senate should be directly elected and local elections restored. These reforms will end a concentration of power at the top of the leadership, the root cause of the 1MDB scandal.

At the same time, PH should also promise to avoid sweeping change without national consensus on divisive issues like the pro-Malay ethnic preferential policy, Islamisation as well as language and education. These issues should be deliberated by broad-based consultative bodies to produce new policy alternatives, which may be modified to become party manifestos in the 15th General Election (GE15).

Instead of repeating ‘strategic ambiguity’, PH should make clear that GE14 will only be a ‘transition election’ from the party-state while the ‘founding election’ for a new Malaysia will be GE15, when playing field is level.

With the right balance of change and continuity guided principally by a two-stage roadmap, there is hope that PH may just garner enough Malay and non-Malay voters to end UMNO’s corrupt party-state.

Wong Chin Huat is the Head of Political Studies at Penang Institute.