Black Swan Moments–Najib Razak’s Options


April 19, 2017

Black Swan Moments – Najib Razak’s Options

by Liew Chin Tong, MP

http://www.malaysiakini.com

In the first half of my article (Expect more black swans to appear in Malaysian politics), I explained why Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak was in a precarious position. What then are Najib’s strategies for survival? It is not that Najib doesn’t understand the precarious position he is in. He does know that Umno will not be able to win an outright mandate in the coming election.

Hence, Najib has been trying to break up the opposition as soon as the 2013 General Election was concluded.

There were even attempts by Indonesian Vice-President Yusof Kala, between June and August 2013, to broker deals between Najib and Anwar Ibrahim, which Anwar rejected.

And, since then, Najib’s strategies have included:

  • Putting Anwar Ibrahim behind bars, hence depriving the Opposition of its prime ministerial candidate and unifying figure;
  • Luring PAS into a de facto alliance with UMNO on the pretext of promoting hudud legislations; and
  • Portraying the Opposition as a DAP/Chinese-dominated alliance.

However, in his grand scheme to win by default, Najib did not anticipate:

  • The Opposition surviving despite Anwar’s imprisonment;
  • A sizable number of ousted PAS leaders forming Parti Amanah Negara in September 2015 to continue the struggle, and many in PAS still disagreeing with their top leaders’ collusion with UMNO; and
  • UMNO splitting in 2016, and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia being formed and joining Pakatan Harapan.

Broadly, even without Najib at the helm, UMNO is weaker than in the 2013 General Election for the following reasons:

First, since independence till the 2004 general election, UMNO had ruled through an extended coalition of Alliance/Barisan Nasional, and governed with substantial support from the non-Malays.

But the comfort of buffers formed by BN component parties in the Peninsula eclipsed after UMNO made a right turn – becoming more visible in its claim of Malay supremacy – in July 2005 with Hishammuddin Hussein waving the kris at the UMNO General Assembly, which led to massive defeats for its allies, the MCA, MIC and Gerakan, in both the 2008 and 2013 general elections.

UMNO dug in deeper since 2008 to push racial politics in the hope of expanding Malay support, but has achieved surprisingly little.

Second, since UMNO was incapable of expanding its support base since 2013, collaborating with PAS became an attractive option. ithopes that by colluding with PAS to polarise society into a struggle between Muslims/Malays and non-Muslims, the UMNIO-PAS de facto alliance will win enough seats between them to form the next government.

However, as an unintended consequence, such a move further alienates non-Malay voters in the Peninsula, as well as a majority of voters in Sabah and Sarawak.

Third, while Najib the man managed to command more support among Malay voters compared with UMNO the party in the 2013 election, such is no longer the case. Najib is now a burden to UMNO due to the 1MDB mega scandal, and unpopular economic policies such as the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST), fuel hikes and cuts to subsidies for basic amenities like health and education.

Frustrated UMNO leaders and members led by former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad formed Bersatu and this new Malay party is making rapid inroads in areas previously inaccessible to the Opposition.

In short, UMNO under Najib is on a narrowing path that now relies on a much smaller base than ever. If Najib is still perceived as strong, it is because the Opposition is seen as weak and disunited.

What lies ahead?

The knowns are that Najib is not popular, and there is serious discontent among the Malays. But there are certainly challenges for the Opposition to overcome in order to precipitate change.

First, the Opposition needs to stand for something inspiring and visionary, and not depend solely on the anger against Najib as its forward strategy. The Opposition must stand for more than just removing Najib. The economy and the well-being of the people should be its number one priority.

Second, the coming together of Bersatu and the Pakatan Harapan parties, namely Parti Keadilan Rakyat, Parti Amanah Negara and Democratic Action Party is a reconciliation of former foes.

Who could have imagined Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim forming an alliance nearly 20 years after their very bitter fallout in 1998? But the coming together of the once political father-and-son can unleash huge energy, if handled properly. After all, both Mahathir and Anwar are positive leadership figures compared to Najib, and they each appeal to certain segments of the Malay electorate.

Third, to present a common agenda that appeals to both Mahathir’s audience and to DAP’s supporters is a big challenge. If Mahathir and Bersatu go on a racial campaign, it will depress the support of non-Malay voters and create a lose-lose situation for the entire Pakatan Harapan coalition.

Likewise, the regime’s argument against Mahathir and Bersatu is that they are associating with the DAP. The presence of the DAP can also depress the support for Bersatu and other Malay-based parties like PKR and Amanah if the opposition is unable to break out of Umno’s racial playbook, and articulate a new narrative that can rally all groups in a larger vision.

In short, Pakatan Harapan needs to ‘reset’ the national conversation to one that centres around ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ and ideas of common destiny for the nation.

Fourth, PAS, as UMNO’s ‘new friend’ as Zahid calls the party, is a reality, and the sooner a deep line is drawn between the genuine/official Opposition, Pakatan Harapan, and the pseudo ‘third force’ PAS, the clearer the situation becomes for voters. This will weaken PAS’ usefulness as an UMNO-directed spoiler in the coming election.

Fifth, the ultimate challenge for the newly re-aligned Pakatan Harapan that now  includes Bersatu will come if Najib suddenly exits the scene and takes out the raison  d’être for the opposition and dissipates much of the anger in the Malay community.

 

If this is to happen, can the opposition in its present format survive this unlikely, but not impossible, Black Swan?


This perspective is based on a public seminar given by LIEW CHIN TONG at the Institute of South-East Asian Studies (ISEAS)-Yusof Ishak Institute on April 13, 2017. Liew was formerly a Visiting Fellow at  the Institute. He is the Member of Parliament for Kluang, and a member of the central executive committee of the Democratic Action Party (DAP).

Mahathir’s Challenge to UMNO’s Najib Razak in GE-14


March 17, 2017

Mahathir’s Challenge to UMNO’s Najib Razak in GE-14

by Saleena Saleem

http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2017/03/17/malaysias-new-but-not-fresh-opposition-party/

Image result for Mahathir's Challenge

Anwar Ibrahim and Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in the Good Old Days when the former was heir apparent and Deputy Prime Minister. Today Anwar is languishing in Jail

Speculation is rife that Malaysia’s 14th general election, which must be held by August 2018, may be called this year. The general election comes after a protracted political scandal over state wealth fund 1MDB, with damaging financial mismanagement and corruption allegations leveled at Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Several former leaders from the ruling political party, United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), have left and regrouped into a new Malay nationalist opposition, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu). Led by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad as Chairman, and former deputy premier Muhyiddin Yassin as President, Bersatu will need to sell itself to a jaded public if it is to pass as a credible contender for UMNO’s Malay voter base.

Image result for Mahathir's Challenge

Strange brew of Malaysian politicians chasing the rainbow

These public perception challenges stem from the former UMNO leaders’ decisions and actions. At the height of the 1MDB scandal in mid-2015, the expectation that UMNO leaders, particularly Mahathir and Muhyiddin, would lead a massive break-away faction of dissatisfied party members when Najib was at his political weakest, did not materialise.

Instead, they fought for control of UMNO from within for nearly a year. It wasn’t until February 2016 that Mahathir left his old party — for the second time. It was a missed opportunity that gave Najib ample time to build support for his leadership within the various UMNO groups and to present a united front. As a high-profile frontman for Bersatu, Mahathir’s actions during this period may prove problematic for four key reasons as the new party targets the Malay vote.

First, while still in UMNO, Mahathir associated with pro-opposition civil society groups such as Bersih. Mahathir’s participation in the Bersih 4 rally, which was widely seen as a Chinese-dominated anti-Najib demonstration, leaves him vulnerable to Najib’s race-based argument that should Malays fail to support him, the government would fall to a Chinese-led political machine. Given Bersatu’s alliance with the opposition coalition, of which the Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP) is a key player, such fears can be magnified to its detriment during an election campaign.

Second, Mahathir initially stated he had no intention of establishing a political party upon quitting UMNO, but he did precisely that in late 2016. The timing of his departure from UMNO, which came only after his son, Mukhriz, was forced to resign as the Kedah chief minister by pro-Najib UMNO members, provides ample ammunition to those who claim Mahathir is primarily motivated by his son’s political ambitions rather than a genuine concern for Malaysia’s future.

Third, Mahathir’s past ideological differences, and the harsh treatment of civil society activists and political foes while he was in government, many of whom he associates with today, leaves him open to charges of hypocrisy. For example, during the Asian Financial Crisis in the 1990s, Mahathir clashed over economic policies with his then-deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim. This set the stage for Anwar’s imprisonment on charges of sodomy, and his rise as an opposition leader of the Reformasi movement, which advocated an open society and economy.

Mahathir has curtailed fundamental liberties that the opposition stands for — he used the Internal Security Act to imprison DAP’s leader Lim Kit Siang during Operation Lalang in 1987, after government appointments in Chinese vernacular schools spurred an outcry.

Fourth, Mahathir’s criticism of Najib’s alleged misdeeds over 1MDB leaves him exposed to scrutiny over his own actions while he was prime minister. He already faces criticism over the Bumiputera Malaysia Finance Limited scandal in the 1980s, and the central bank’s forex losses of US$10 billion in the 1990s, although Mahathir’s camp claims the two are not comparable.

Bersatu enters into an opposition political landscape that is already divided, and where the various parties now jostle to re-negotiate the terms of a political arrangement for the upcoming elections. A January survey by INVOKE, an opposition-linked NGO, found that a three-cornered fight between the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (which includes Bersatu), the Islamist party, Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) and the ruling party, Barisan Nasional benefits the incumbent government. This makes electoral pacts essential, even as the different ideological bents and histories of the parties in the opposition complicate matters.

The previous opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat, saw public bickering among its constituent parties over various issues leading eventually to its collapse. Two examples are the political impasse that ensued over disagreements on the Selangor chief minister post in 2014 and PAS’ renewed focus on implementing hudud (criminal punishment).

Image result for Mahathir's New Party

Good Luck to all Chief Sitting Bulls led by Chief Maha Bull of Kubang Pasu

The lack of agreement on seat allocations between remaining coalition parties, Parti Keadilan Rakyat and DAP, during the 2016 Sarawak state elections, and the recent DAP resignations of its elected representatives over simmering grievances from the past coalition pact with PAS, reinforce the perception that the opposition face intractable difficulties in maintaining a cohesive front.

The opposition’s current narrative of ‘Save Malaysia from Najib’, which was built on Mahathir’s short-lived ‘Save Malaysia’ movement may not be as compelling for voters compared to calls for change based on democratic ideals of equality, justice and fairness for all races, and which were emphasised during the previous two general elections.

When Mahathir recently criticised Chinese investment projects in Johor, he utilised the race-oriented tactics of the past, which can be off-putting to some voters who had been drawn to the opposition in the first place.

Nevertheless, although Bersatu carries the baggage of its founding members, it is a new political party with the potential to grow in strength if it can sustain itself beyond its immediate challenges. No doubt Bersatu is a potential spoiler for UMNO.

Addressing public perception issues and becoming a serious contender to UMNO may increasingly require the introduction of a younger generation of politicians. With the senior generation playing the role of mentors, this new generation could do much to project the future direction of Bersatu as a viable political party — one that looks beyond the objective of unseating Najib.

Saleena Saleem is an Associate Research Fellow at Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

This commentary was originally jointly published in Policy Forum and New Mandala.

 

The Look of a Winner: Mahathir-led BERSATU?


March 2, 2017

The Look of a Winner: Mahathir-led BERSATU?

by Saleena Saleem

https://www.policyforum.net/look-winner/

Image result for Bersatu's Mahathir

Malaysia’s new opposition party, Bersatu, needs to change public perceptions to win support at the next election, Saleena Saleem writes.

Speculation is rife that Malaysia’s 14th General Elections, which must be held by August 2018, may be called this year. The elections come after a protracted political scandal over state wealth fund 1MDB, with damaging financial mismanagement and corruption allegations levelled at Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Several former leaders from the ruling political party, United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), have regrouped into a new Malay nationalist opposition, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu). Bersatu, led by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, will need to sell itself to a jaded public if it is to pass as a credible contender for UMNO’s Malay voter base.

These public perception challenges stem from the former UMNO leaders’ decisions and actions. At the height of the 1MDB scandal in mid-2015, the expectation that UMNO leaders, particularly Mahathir and former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, would lead a massive breakaway faction of dissatisfied party members when Najib was at his political weakest did not materialise.

Image result for Najib RazakMalaysia’s Love Story–Rendezvous in Port Dickson

Instead, they fought for control of UMNO from within party ranks for nearly a year. It wasn’t until February 2016 that Mahathir left his old party – for the second time. It was a missed opportunity that gave Najib ample time to build support for his leadership within the various UMNO groups and to present a united front. As a high-profile frontman for Bersatu, Mahathir’s actions during this period may prove problematic for four key reasons as the new party targets the Malay vote.

First, while still in UMNO, Mahathir associated with pro-opposition civil society groups such as Bersih. Mahathir’s participation in the Bersih 4 rally, which was widely seen as a Chinese-dominated anti-Najib demonstration, leaves him vulnerable to the PM’s race-based argument that should Malays fail to support him, the government would fall to a Chinese-led political machine. Given Bersatu’s alliance with the opposition coalition, of which the Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP) is a key player, such fears can be magnified to its detriment during an election campaign.

Second, Mahathir initially stated he had no intention of establishing a political party upon quitting UMNO, but he did precisely that in late 2016. The timing of his departure from UMNO, which came only after his son, Mukhriz, was forced to resign as the Kedah chief minister by pro-Najib UMNO members, provides ample ammunition to those who claim Mahathir is primarily motivated by his son’s political ambitions rather than a genuine concern for Malaysia’s future.

Third, Mahathir’s past ideological differences, and the harsh treatment of civil society activists and political foes while he was in government, many of whom he associates with today, leaves him open to charges of dishonesty and hypocrisy. For example, during the Asian Financial Crisis in the 1990s, Mahathir clashed over economic policies with his then-Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. This set the stage for Anwar’s imprisonment on charges of sodomy, and his rise as an opposition leader of the Reformasi movement, which advocated an open society and economy. Mahathir has curtailed fundamental liberties that the opposition stands for – he used the Internal Security Act to imprison DAP’s leader Lim Kit Siang during Operation Lalang in 1987, after government appointments in Chinese vernacular schools spurred an outcry.

Fourth, Mahathir’s criticism of Najib’s alleged misdeeds over 1MDB leaves him exposed to scrutiny over his own actions while he was prime minister. He already faces criticism over the Bumiputera Malaysia Finance Limited scandal in the 1980s, and the central bank’s forex losses of US$10 billion in the 1990s.

Bersatu enters into an opposition political landscape that is already divided, and where the various parties now jostle to re-negotiate the terms of a political arrangement for the upcoming elections. A January survey by INVOKE, an opposition-linked NGO, found that a three-cornered fight between the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (which includes Bersatu), the Islamist party, Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) and the ruling party, Barisan Nasional benefits the incumbent government. This makes electoral pacts essential, even as the different ideological bents and histories of the parties in the opposition complicate matters.

The previous opposition political coalition, Pakatan Rakyat saw public bickering among its constituent parties over various issues – for example, the political impasse that ensued over disagreements on the Selangor chief minister post in 2014, and PAS’ renewed focus on implementing hudud (criminal punishment) – that eventually led to its collapse. The lack of agreement on seat allocations between remaining coalition parties, Parti Keadilan Rakyat and DAP, during the 2016 Sarawak state elections, and the recent DAP resignations of its elected representatives over simmering grievances from the past coalition pact with PAS, reinforce the perception that the opposition face intractable difficulties in maintaining a cohesive front.

Furthermore, the opposition’s current narrative on “Save Malaysia from Najib”, which was built on Mahathir’s short-lived “Save Malaysia” movement may not be as compelling for voters compared to calls for change based on democratic ideals of equality, justice and fairness for all races, and which were emphasised during the previous two general elections. When Mahathir recently criticised Chinese investment projects in Johor, he utilised the race-oriented tactics of the past, which can be off-putting to some voters who had been drawn to the opposition in the first place.

Although a new political party, Bersatu carries the baggage of its founding members. Addressing public perception challenges and becoming a serious contender to UMNO may paradoxically require less of a reliance on its aging political giants. Instead, an effort to introduce younger politicians could do much to project the future direction of Bersatu as a viable political party — one that looks beyond the objective of unseating Najib.

This article is published in collaboration with New Mandala, the premier website for analysis on Southeast Asia’s politics and societies.

Anwar Appeal Loss–Serious Setback for Malaysian Opposition


December 19, 2016

Anwar Appeal Loss–Serious Setback for Malaysian Opposition

Anwar Ibrahim’s December 14 failure of the final appeal to overturn his sodomy conviction and a five-year jail term is regarded by critics as little more than a subterfuge to keep him in prison for at least another 16 months and blocking him from competing in the next general election, which must be held by the middle of 2018.

Malaysia’s opposition believe the next polls are their best chance to unseat Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is mired in a huge financial scandal involving the state-backed 1Malaysia Development Bhd. and an unaccounted US$1 billion found in his personal bank account. The US Justice Department in July detailed the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars from the fund, which is believed to have lost RM50 billion through theft and mismanagement.

The last time Anwar emerged from prison on what human rights organizations called trumped-up charges of sodomy and corruption was in 2004. He immediately galvanized the opposition, which made dramatic gains against the ruling Barisan Nasional in 2008 elections and won a majority of votes in 2013, although gerrymandering and the first-past-the-post electoral system kept them in opposition.

Hun Sen and Mahathir

The ruling is thus a blow to Anwar’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat and a nascent coalition that includes his old boss Mahathir Mohamad. The coalition is showing unexpected strength, particularly in Johor, the home base of ousted former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, analysts say. Mahathir’s new Parti Pribumi Bersatu was formed after the former prime minister was also driven from the United Malays National Organization.

Bersatu, as the party is known, is also showing strength in Kedah, where Mahathir’s son Mukhriz was chief minister until engineered his ouster earlier this year, and in the East Malaysia state of Sabah, the home of Shafie Apdal, who was fired from the cabinet after he questioned where Najib got US$681 million that was deposited in his personal account in 2013.

Rafizi-Ramli

With Anwar in prison and the party’s secretary general, Rafizi Ramli, threatened with prison over violation of the Official Secrets Act, the opposition is mostly in disarray. The rural-based Parti Islam se-Malaysia, or PAS, last year split into two camps.  Nonetheless, a political analyst said, if an election is called soon, the scandal could cost an additional 10 or two seats – not enough to dislodge the Barisan, but enough to cost considerable pain.

“You can never underestimate the power of the kampong people,” a source said. “People are suffering. Things are expensive. People live on one meal a day. They are losing jobs. Mamak restaurants – the lowest denominator in the food chain – are closing down. Forget about the glut in high end property. Forget about the glut in commercial space. If interest rates keep rising – as they will with Trump’s proposed spending spree and rising yields of US dollar debt – interest rates here will go up and the property market will collapse. Finally – and I don’t say it with glee – Malaysians are having a real issue filling their stomachs. All the ingredients point towards a Malaysian spring.”

The Barisan has survived a long string of similar predictions of disaster, however, and it is likely to do so again, given its electoral organization and the money to buy votes. With the opposition also in disarray, it is neither a healthy or pretty picture.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch criticized the ruling against Anwar, calling it politically motivated and involving trumped up charges in trials that were plagued by fundamental problems in procedure and evidence.

“The Federal Court’s decision which maintains the conviction of Anwar Ibrahim is a real tragedy for justice in Malaysia,” said Phil Robertson, the Southeast Asia deputy director of Human Rights Watch. “More than anything, this outcome shows that the Malaysian courts were no match for Prime Minister Najib Razak’s political vendetta against Anwar.

“With this final decision running roughshod over Anwar’s rights and sending him back to prison, Najib and the ruling UMNO party have just fired the starting gun on the expected 2018 election by permanently sidelining the political opposition’s most capable leader,” he said.

Some 400 of Anwar’s supporters gathered outside the cordoned-off Palace of Justice to get news of the ruling but were unsurprised and unfazed when they heard the apex court had rejected the opposition leader’s appeal.

“It is our time we make it matter. We’ll make sure the kleptocrat can never sleep at night,” Anwar’s eldest daughter, the lawmaker Nurul Izzah Anwar, said after she came out of the court building in the country’s administrative capital Putrajaya.

Her kleptocrat comment referred to the United States Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, which referred to a figure called Malaysian Official 1 who allegedly facilitated the 1MDB scandal that saw the state fund go in some US$11 billion in debt.  The US Department of Justice complaint said some of the money was found in the accounts of Malaysian Official 1, whom a minister had confirmed was Najib.

Unanimous ruling

Amnesty International issued a statement naming Anwar a “prisoner of conscience” and said the ruling “raises concerns about the Malaysian judiciary’s independence from political insurance.” The human rights organization said Anwar was “jailed solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, and he must be immediately and unconditionally released.”

Nonetheless, the five-man bench ruled unanimously. In its 62-page decision, the Chief Judge of Malaya Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin said it was a review of Federal Court’s decision and the appellant had raised the issue of miscarriage of justice.

Zulkefli raised the point that Article 128 of the Federal Constitution does not provide the Federal Court to review its decision, thus dismissing Anwar’s application to set aside his sodomy conviction and five-year sentence for sodomizing his former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

The other three judges present in court were Justice Hasan Lah, Justice Abu Samah Nordin and Justice Zaharah Ibrahim, while the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, Justice Richard Malanjum, was absent as he had to attend a funeral.

On January 9, 2012, the High Court acquitted and discharged Anwar of the sodomy charge on the grounds that the court could not be 100 percent certain on the integrity of samples taken for DNA testing from the alleged victim. The court had ruled that the samples could have been compromised before they reached the Chemistry Department for analysis.

On January 9, 2012, the High Court acquitted and discharged Anwar of the sodomy charge on the grounds that the court could not be 100 percent certain on the integrity of samples taken for DNA testing from the alleged victim. The court had ruled that the samples could have been compromised before they reached the Chemistry Department for analysis.

However, the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court judgment and found Anwar guilty of sodomizing Saiful and held that the trial judge had erred in his findings about the samples which were based on the evidence of two expert witnesses called by the defense.

The Federal Court said it upheld the conviction and the sentence imposed by the Court of Appeal after taking into consideration the seriousness of the offence and Anwar having allegedly taken advantage of his position as the employer of a young victim.

UMNO Rule for 5 more Years?


December 18, 2016

COMMENT: UMNO Rule for 5 more Years?

by Narhaniel Tan@www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for Najib is a crook

Five more years under greedy Rosmah Mansor?–God Help Malaysia

Are we truly prepared for five more years under UMNO? Should DAP and PKR be thrown out together with PAS?

In the aftermath of the US elections, I came across one article by Kurt Eichenwald that I can probably best describe as… memorable?

It opens as such:

“On Friday, I almost assaulted a fan of my work. I was in the Philadelphia International Airport, and a man who recognised me from one of my appearances on a television news show approached. He thanked me for the investigative reporting I had done about Donald Trump before the election, expressed his outrage that the Republican nominee had won and then told me quite gruffly, “Get back to work.” Something about his arrogance struck me, so I asked, “Who did you vote for?”

He replied, “Well, Stein, but – ” I interrupted him and said, “You’re lucky it’s illegal for me to punch you in the face.” Then, after telling him to have sex with himself – but with a much cruder term – I turned and walked away.

A certain kind of liberal makes me sick. These people traffic in false equivalencies, always pretending that both nominees are the same, justifying their apathy and not voting or preening about their narcissistic purity as they cast their ballot for a person they know cannot win.

I have no problem with anyone who voted for Trump, because they wanted a Trump presidency. I have an enormous problem with anyone who voted for Trump or Stein or Johnson – or who didn’t vote at all – and who now expresses horror about the outcome of this election. If you don’t like the consequences of your own actions, shut the hell up.”

Drinking poison to quench thirst?

Let me insist at the outset that I do not quite share Eichenwald’s self-righteous anger, nor would I generally condone employing the approach he did (then again though, I’m not the one who just got Donald Trump as his president. Poor guy.).

The points he raises though, certainly bear some reflecting on. I was reminded of this article when I read one of the comments about PAS in Malaysiakini’s Your say, which suggested that allying with PAS was akin to drinking poison to quench one’s thirst. My compliments on a vivid and highly effective metaphor.

I truly do respect all political opinions. I daresay the commentator, one self-styled ‘Existential Turd’, could even be correct for all we know. Perhaps allying with PAS will indeed only solve short-term problems while creating bigger long-term ones.

I think that if we are objective about all available evidence, we must certainly concede that possibility.In the same breath, and judging from the same pool of evidence,

I do also believe however that we must also concede the possibility that the opposite is true – perhaps rejecting PAS is what will solve short-term problems, while creating long-term ones. It’s not necessarily easy as yet to say for sure which is which.

The problem with not voting Hillary Clinton

Eichenwald spends the rest of his article ranting about liberals who refused to vote for Hillary Clinton because she did not live up to their high ‘standards’. What he simply couldn’t stand was people complaining that Trump won, despite having themselves failed to vote for the one candidate who had a chance of beating him.

I’m not here to add to his rant; and given all the misleading information that was in the media in the lead-up to the election, perhaps some Americans can be forgiven for thinking that they did not need to vote for Clinton in order to prevent a Trump presidency.

I do concur somewhat though, with Eichenwald’s sentiment that those who did not vote for Clinton are perhaps not the best qualified to be expressing outrage regarding Trump’s victory. I think it’s fair to expect such people to instead take some responsibility themselves for the outcome, rather than rage at others.

Battles vs the war

The obvious parallel here is that those who eschew any sort of cooperation with PAS should be prepared to face the consequences of another Barisan Nasional victory in the next general elections.

Of course, there are some who insist that the opposition can win the next general elections despite three corner fights with PAS. I don’t think I’m exaggerating excessively though when I express my doubt that any serious, objective political analyst sees that as a likely scenario.

Let me preface the following by stating my beliefs strongly: I think it is a perfectly valid and defensible position to believe that it is worth sacrificing battles in order to win a war, however many general elections down the road of the distant future.

If PAS truly is as bad and hopeless as some people think, then yes, it could make sense to three corner everything, lose the next general elections and hope for better sometime in the years or decades to come.

I’m not saying that this is what I believe, but I am saying it is in theory a defensible position.

Taking responsibility for more Najib, more UMNO, more BN

What I am also saying is that if this is your belief and the road that you choose, then you must be prepared to accept the consequences of continuing to live at least another five or so more years under Najib Abdul Razak, UMNO and BN.

Image result for Najib is a crook

This means, that you will bear some responsibility for the continued alleged rape and pillage of our country’s resources, continuing human rights abuses, the lack of judicial reform, ongoing repression of the media, the ongoing sale of our country to China, and so on.

If you believe it is all worth it, you are a hundred percent within your God-given rights to your belief; but the responsibility still applies, and no one will know whether it was all justified until some distant day in the future.

Again, despite all the implications one might read into these arguments, I believe there is simply not enough clear evidence (to an outsider like me at least) to provide a simple answer to the question as to whether PAS should be given a meaningful role in the opposition (it is perhaps worth noting that the ‘meaningful role’ PAS has declared it’s looking for amounts to a maximum of 70 out of 222 seats in Parliament).

I do feel however, that for most of the people vocally opposing any more association with PAS whatsoever, there is perhaps an iota of bias – something of a dislike, perhaps, of the ‘type’ of people in PAS, and the ‘type’ of people that they represent (almost exclusively for now, given the evident nascency of Amanah and Bersatu).

Those ‘type’ of people however, are much larger and politically significant than most of us urbanites care to understand; and they are 100 percent as much Malaysian as the rest of us.

If PAS should be abandoned, so should PKR and DAP

Many commentators brought up the issue of trust, and how PAS essentially deserves none of it. I suppose that is one of many interpretations, and about as fair as any of the others. My own interpretation however, is that if PAS deserves distrust, then so does any existing opposition party.

I could be wrong of course, but my reading is that PAS has not betrayed its advertised principles any more than PKR or DAP has. I’m sure that will be a controversial statement, and maybe saying so makes me sound like exactly the type of liberal that Eichenwald was ranting against.

I’m also quite confident that a sizeable number of the usual suspects will rage at such an equivalency; the arguments of those who defend DAP or PKR (or PAS) no matter what however, will probably be taken rather less seriously. In any case, debating this claim at length would require the space of one or more additional articles.

If you want to abandon one of the former Pakatan Rakyat parties on principle, abandon them all. Abandon all of the old generation. Build something new, something untainted, something truly grounded in real values. I guarantee you there are enough principled, compassionate and able Malaysians to make it happen.

Najib’s Handmaiden of Electoral Fraud


September 21, 2016

Malaysian Election Commission — Najib’s Handmaiden of Electoral Fraud

The final nail was knocked in the coffin of a fair, independent and non-partisan commission a long time ago. But that does not mean the Malaysian electorate should be made perennial pall bearers of that coffin.

by  Lim Teck Ghee

The public and opposition parties should be very concerned with the latest round of electoral boundary changes in the country’s parliamentary constituencies. This is yet another effort to rig the electoral system to ensure UMNO and BN dominance and political hegemony.

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Scholarly studies by local and foreign academicians of similar exercises in the past have shown a clear pattern of the manipulation of electoral boundaries at both national and state levels. This together with the great disparity of voter numbers among the constituencies, use of the governmental machinery in support of UMNO and BN candidates; the incidence of phantom, postal and absentee voters; and various other irregularities and unethical practices have debased the credibility and legitimacy of the electoral process.

That these frauds against the opposition have strengthened UMNO’s and BN’s standing in Parliament and state assemblies by distorting electoral outcomes is beyond a shadow of a doubt.

In the last election, the BN polled 5,237,699 votes, or 47.4% of the vote. The opposition PR polled 5,623,984 votes, or 50.9% of the vote. However, the BN won the election with 133 seats against the opposition’s 89. The PR increased their vote by 2.9%, while the BN vote fell by 3.9%, yet the PR made a net gain of only 7 seats.

This outcome did not happen by accident but by deliberate design and manipulation. If the proposed changes go unchallenged, we can expect more skewed outcomes in the coming GE that will make a greater mockery of the “one person, one vote” principle.

Electoral Commission: Handmaiden of BN Hegemony

Malaysians are well aware that the Electoral Commission is the key stake player in ensuring free and fair elections. However, the EC has become another of the vital institutions established to safeguard and support our system of parliamentary democracy which have been coopted by the ruling establishment to maintain its monopoly of the government.

The framers of our original Constitution must be turning in their graves to see what has happened to the EC.

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The beginning of the end of the Electoral Commission’s independence took place in 1962 with the Constitution (Amendment) Act. According to Professor H. E. Groves, who edited the first major commentary on the Malayan Constitution, and was also dean, and president of various academic institutions, cited by Lim Hong Hai in his article, Electoral Politics in Malaysia: ‘Managing’ Elections in a Plural Society ( see http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/iez/01361005.pdf)

It is apparent that the new amendments as to elections converted a formerly independent Election Commission, whose decisions became law and whose members enjoyed permanent tenure, into an advisory body of men of no certain tenure whose terms of office, except for remuneration, are subject to the whims of parliament. The vital power of determining the size of constituencies as well as their boundaries is now taken from a Commission, which the constitution-makers had apparently wished, by tenure and status, to make independent and disinterested, and has been made completely political by giving this power to a transient majority of parliament, whose temptations to gerrymander districts and manipulate the varying numerical possibilities between “rural” and “urban” constituencies for political advantage is manifest.

Professor Groves wrote this critique in 1962. But even he must shocked at how the system of elections in Malaysia has been manipulated during the last 50 years to keep BN in power.

He would also probably agree with this latest critique of how UMNO-BN has been able to win the last GE:

The key fact about the Malaysian electoral system is that it is designed to preserve the power of the Malay Muslim population over all other racial and religious groups, and within that population, to ensure the dominance of the main Malay party, UMNO. Since only 54% of the population are Malay Muslims, and since not all of them vote for UMNO, this requires rigging the electoral system to ensure UMNO’s continued dominance. UMNO supremacy is also safeguarded by an alliance with small parties representing the Chinese and Indian communities (MCA and MIC respectively) in the National Front (BN) coalition. (Adam Carr, How They Stole the Malaysian Election)

Preventing Another Stolen GE

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Don’t let Najib and his 1mdb fraudsters get away–G0 and Register in full force and vote for a Better Malaysia. Remember you can make a difference. Otherwise you deserve Najib and UMNO-BN Government and Crooked Rosmah Mansor.–Din Merican

There are several short-term recourses that Malaysians have to check the EC’s latest attempt at gerrymandering.The first is that a group of no less than 100 registered voters of an affected constituency can protest. This, however, is on an individual and ad hoc basis when in fact the entire system of delineation needs to be put under scrutiny and reformed.

The second is for the public and civil society organizations to insist that the Commission provides a full explanation of the rationale for each change and also why changes have not been made in other constituencies. “No changes unless it is on a full, transparent, justifiable and accountable basis” should be the demand.

Meanwhile, leading members of the new party, PPBM, under whose watch similar electoral manipulation has taken place in the past, and who presumably harbour many secrets of previous electoral fiddling – especially Dr. Mahathir, Muhyiddin and Mukhriz – need to speak out and rally the opposition on this important development.

The final nail was knocked in the coffin of a fair, independent and non-partisan commission a long time ago. But that does not mean the Malaysian electorate should be made perennial pall bearers of that coffin.

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