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.

Image result for Malaysian Election Commission--The Handmaiden of Electoral Fraud

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

Image result for Najib the crook

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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Who’s afraid of Dr M?


August 18, 2016

Who’s afraid of Dr M?

Cmdr(rtd) S.Thayaparan

http://www.malaysiakini.com

My strong suspicion is we get the world we deserve.”

– Ray Velcoro in ‘True Detective’

In my last article, I made three points. The first, that the creation of another Malay power structure was unproductive and what the Najib refuseniks “need to do is work with the opposition without causing any more political fissures”.

The second was that “having the same interests [in removing Najib] and ‘not repeating the mistakes of the past’ are mutually exclusive”. The third, to “radicalise the Malay community by advocating ideas that would make any red shirt-clad Malay nationalist quiver with rage because it comes from former UMNO power brokers.”

I would like to elaborate on these three points because I am an outlier “keling” and sometimes, something more is needed than just “podah”. By registering this new ‘Malay’ political party, former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is attempting to do what political prisoner Anwar Ibrahim failed to do.

Do not get me wrong, Anwar had much success in changing the political landscape of this country but he did not manage to galvanise the Malay vote to the point where PKR alone, up to a point until Anwar landed in Sungei Buloh, was a credible alternative to UMNO.

This is why PKR’s over reliance on PAS has resulted in the neutering of the oppositional front. However, the charges that this is “just another racist party” are disingenuous considering the ethos of the so-called alternative pact. From a purely descriptive stance, there are only multiracial opposition parties in Malaysia. In substance, these parties are either pandering to the Malay vote or outright concerning themselves with furthering the agenda of the ‘Malay’ polity to sustain political survival.

Therefore, what we have in the Peninsular are mainstream Malay power structures like UMNO and PAS, a political party like PKR whose leadership has publicly stated that the Malay vote is paramount to their survival hence political rhetoric and policy decisions are based on the sensitivities and preoccupations of this particular community.

Meanwhile, DAP continues to seek ways to increase its Malay membership in an effort to shed its so-called Chinese chauvinistic image, only to be hampered by operatives suffering from foot-in-mouth disease, an epidemic that the DAP leadership seems reluctant to confront.

The idea that this new Malay political party could galvanise the rural Malay vote is misguided. About the so-called “rural vote”, I said this in a piece on the recently concluded by-elections – “So if UMNO delivers everything it says it will deliver, the cycle of complicity will continue. Disenfranchised people will continue voting for a regime which puts rice in their bowls. I am not talking about the urban class but rather those people who have depended on real power, federal power exercised corruptly for their benefit. That is the culture some people forget that we are dealing with. We nurtured this culture.”

The only way this new party is going to get the rural Malay vote is to outspend UMNO or to destabilise the UMNO state level machinery. The latter is possible considering the Mahathir sympathisers within UMNO but unless this new party is willing to commit massive sums, the idea of outspending the King of Cash is ludicrous.

A shared goal

My second point is where it gets messy. The agenda of removing the current UMNO Prime Minister, which no doubt is a shared goal, and with reforming the system, are unfortunately (in my book) mutually exclusive. Many of my friends have taken exception to this statement arguing that they are not mutually exclusive. I sympathise with their argument and indeed in the past have put forward the same argument.

An Indian opposition supporter sent me an email, questioning how I could advocate the opposition working with Mahathir after he used the “keling” word. The first thing I did was send him links of every racist or bigoted utterings of oppositional political figures and asked how could I sincerely advocate for the opposition?

This is not meant as some sort of apologia on behalf of the former prime minster but rather that nobody in Malaysia get to ride on his or her high horse. Political adversaries working together is unfortunately what democracy is all about and this has nothing to with having a saviour – an unfortunate straw man – but capitalising on political and resources to overcome a political foe who is turning this country into another failed Islamic state.

Concerning ideas that “correct past mistakes”, what new ideas have the opposition actually advocated? The New Economic Policy (NEP) is redefined as class-based with the provision that the ‘Malay’ community as the majority will benefit the most. Supposedly secular parties fund Islamic organisations in an effort to get more ‘Malay’ votes.

Academics that propose equal opportunity laws or advocate ideas that slay communal scared cows are vilified as “idealists” and lectured on the “reality of our political system” or reminded that UMNO is the biggest racist party ever when in substance; their preferred political alliance operates in the same if subtle manner.

In one of my numerous pieces about the racial game here in Malaysia, I wrote, “In addition, this idea that voting across racial lines as some sort of evidence of burgeoning multiracial solidarity is complete bunkum. The real test is when people vote across ethnic and religious lines in support of ideologies that run counter to the interests of their communities and by this I mean egalitarian ideas that run afoul of constitutional sacred cows and social and religious dogma.”

Indeed, opposition parties like to promote the idea that they have dropped their racial and cultural baggage but the reality is that political expediency wins out every single time because people say one thing but do and mean another. I am referring to the voting public and not only politicians.

With regards to PAS and DAP, I wrote this: “The old PAS and the old DAP were offering up ideological alternatives to Barisan National that the voting public rejected for various reasons. I would argue that the DAP and PAS of old were more ideologically pure than they are now but that is a story for another time.”

This brings me to my final point, radicalising the Malay community. I have written how the non-Malay community played a big part in the mess we find ourselves by sustaining Umno all these years. I also concede that the opposition for whatever reasons is chasing the Malay vote at the expense of egalitarian ideas, therefore offering no real alternative for Malaysians to take refuge in, intellectually and spiritually.

In a piece praising PKR operative Wan Ji Wan Hussin, I wrote, “I have always been sceptical of the opposition and downright scornful of the UMNO establishment. While UMNO during elections season attempts to bribe non-Muslims with goodies – and it is open season on non-Muslims when votes need not be counted – the religious politics of the opposition has been a mess of political opportunism and homages to political correctness. Neither approach is suitable for the long-term social and political stability of Malaysia.”

We have had many Malaysians who champion egalitarian ideas. PSM for instance is one such political organisation that states their ideas and goals clearly but observe how they are treated by the average opposition supporter and intelligentsia.

Therefore, I know where I stand politically and hopefully some readers do too. In one of my earlier pieces, I wrote about how the Indian community should slay some of their scared cows. I also wrote of the DAP and the Chinese community, which was met with howls of racist indignation.

I will not be held responsible for whatever problems facing the ‘Malay’ community using the “we are all Malaysians” argument. Malays should speak up for themselves, demand leadership from their own community much like how minorities everywhere in the world demand it. Do not blame the existential crisis of the Malay community on the non-Malays and use the idea of a Malaysian identity as short hand to circumvent hard questions about one’s own community.

I would argue that every minority community in this country has done its share of soul searching and even though we may find fault in what they have discovered or are discovering, this idea – actually, I would use the term propaganda that being “Malaysian” means ignoring race and culture in favour of bromides – is the kool aid Malaysia does not need.

Man, oh man!–Another Racist Political Party in Malaysia


July 26, 2016

Man, oh man!–Another Racist Political Party in Malaysia

by Azmi Sharom

http://www.thestar.com.my

Man, oh man! This new party being proposed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has really set some alarm bells ringing.

First and foremost, I think that if anyone wants to set up a political party, that’s their right to do so.Go ahead, knock yourself out, have fun.

My concern is what this does to the already incredibly messy and chaotic political scene of the country. The Opposition is in disarray. Top leaders are either locked up or being dragged through the legal process.

Pakatan Rakyat  To Pakatan Harapan– From one Mess to Another

The promising Pakatan Rakyat has torn apart with PAS suddenly rediscovering its medieval roots. The new Pakatan Harapan (PH) is still finding its feet and I do not believe it has captured the public imagination as how the Pakatan Rakyat did all those years ago.

Plus, now with PAS dancing to its own tune (figuratively of course, because I am sure the party frowns on dancing), it looks like three-cornered fights is going to be the order of the day.

If that is the case, then Barisan Nasional will stand to gain the most.All this mess, and that is without taking into consideration any internal politicking in the three component parties of the PH.

I am certain such politicking exists, although I have no idea what they may be, being an outsider and all. But even without such shenanigans, things do not look good for the Opposition.

And into this situation a new political party may jump in. We aren’t even sure what this party is all about. It appears to be concerned with working with the Opposition to get rid of the Barisan Nasional Government.

Yet, at the same time, its figurehead is saying that it may not go up against UMNO. I’m sorry. What? Maybe I am missing some subtle political point here but the last time I looked, the Prime Minister, his Deputy and many other ministers are from UMNO.

With Mahathir’s  New Party? You must be kidding, man

You want to get rid of the current Government leaders but not fight against UMNO? Can this be correct or was there a total misunderstanding and the news report I read was wrong?

Furthermore, I am most curious to find out just what this new party is all about. What is its manifesto? Is it just to fight Barisan? Or will it have other things it wants to champion?

Perhaps it is going to promise to fix the institutional disaster that we are faced with today. A disaster that can trace its roots to the regime of Dr Mahathir (1981-2003).

It would be interesting if it did want to champion this, seeing as how its de facto head does not have any inclination to admit that perhaps, just perhaps, he has to bear some responsibility for the situation we and he find ourselves in today.

Also there is a possibility that this new party is going to be a Malay party. Really? Great, that’s just what we need; another party that reinforces racial politics. I suppose since its target demographic is UMNO and PAS supporters, it wants to appeal to the Malay heartland.

Even if that is the case, it is a sad state of affairs that these people seem to think that the only way they can do this is by reverting to a political norm that has in the long term caused a divisive and divided society.

And how about their potential partners? How can the PH accept a race-based party when all three parties in PH are not race-based and have spoken out against such things in the past? Additionally, just what exactly is the relationship going to be between this new party and the PH.

Will someone like Dr Mahathir–a megalomaniac by inclination– allow himself to be merely an equal partner or will he want to dictate everything? There is no clue whatsoever as to how this new party will fit into the existing system. All this does is add confusion to an already depressing state of affairs. And I do not know if it is going to help or not.

Let’s be frank, the reason I keep singling out Dr Mahathir is because without him, this new party will not exist. He has been campaigning against the Prime Minister for a long time now and you must be naïve to think that this new party, whatever it may be, will be formed if Dr Mahathir didn’t want it to happen.

But how influential is he anyway? In the last two by-elections, there seems to be no indication that his presence can make a dent in the UMNO support.

Will his party do better? Who knows? Yet, the PH are probably hoping that the Mahathir factor can help turn that particularly Umno-centric demographic.

They obviously decided that it is worth it to consort with their former enemy to do so. The question is, what if the Mahathir factor is not a factor at all? Will it then be worth it to have him in the same team?

Only time will tell.

Azmi Sharom (azmi.sharom@gmail.com) is a law teacher. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

Policyless ‘Pakatun’ parties


July 20, 2016

Policyless ‘Pakatun’ parties

by Dr. Kua Kia Soong

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

In Bolehland (Malaysia), Dr Mahathir Mohamad has announced the possibility of a formation of a new political party without having to lay out the policies or at least the political colour of this new party.

It suffices that he is anti-Najib Razak. That seems to be all you need to join the Pakatan Harapan coalition. From the fuss that was accorded to him in the recent “Citizens’ Declaration” by the Pakatan leaders, it does look as if he might take over the mantle of “de facto” Opposition leader of the new “Pakatun” coalition.

For a former Prime Minister who ruled this country with an iron fist for more than 20 years and who set up the trappings of economic and political power that the current Prime Minister now lords over, what are the policies of Mahathir’s new (proposed) party that are so different from the other parties in Malaysia? That is the question all discerning Malaysians want to know.

Does his new party address all the issues surrounding human rights and democracy and neo-liberal economic policies that he implemented in the 1980s and 1990s?

Mahathir has to this day still not apologised to all the victims of Operation Lalang or to the former Lord President whom he sacked in 1988, together with other Supreme Court judges. This plunged the Malaysian Judiciary into its gravest crisis that the country has still not recovered from until today.

He has also not compared all the financial scandals during his rule to that of the present Prime Minister’s. According to the late social scientist Barry Wain, these financial scandals during Mahathir’s rule cost the rakyat close to RM100 billion.

So Tun, It is not enough just to be anti-Najib to try and gain electoral support. Malaysians are wise to this attempt by politicians to ride on the anti-Najib wave without telling us their policies.

Superman’s policies

Recently, we were treated to the spectacle of DAP’s erstwhile “Superman” declaring his views on the China-ASEAN spat over the South China Sea, soon after the judgment by the International Tribunal at the Hague. It was only after the outcry from the public that DAP’s Superman finally met his kryptonite.

For such an important foreign policy statement, one would have expected the top DAP leadership to release a press statement on the issue. Instead, they relied on their “Superman” to take on the mantle of foreign policy spokesperson.

For years, “Superman” played the convenient role of the DAP’s “loose cannon” to be set against the party’s political opponents. He provided ceramah amusement and was feted at party functions. Then Superman began to take off by expanding his portfolio.

When he unleashed his homophobic aside against a columnist in the online press, the DAP kept a discreet silence although in another situation, the DAP Secretary-General expressed the party’s position vis-a-vis the LGBT community: “When did the state government recognise LGBT rights?” he pouted.

Again, as a party committed to human rights, one would have expected an unequivocal policy stand by the DAP on the rights of the oppressed LGBT community instead of such a passive and negative denial.

Never Ending (Bumiputera) Policy

On the polarising issues dividing Malaysians, we don’t hear very much these days from Pakatan politicians regarding the Barisan Nasional’s New Economic Policy any more.

It is as if Pakatan will continue with this racially discriminatory policy if they ever come into power. Will the Tun’s new party continue with this “Bumiputera Agenda”? If so, how will this square with Pakatan Harapan’s stand on this?

The “Pakatun” coalition should spell out in no uncertain terms well before GE-14 whether they intend to have a Non-Racial Economic Policy committed to equality and affirmative action, based on need, sector and class.

The Malaysian people have put up with this blatantly racial discriminatory policy since 1971 at great cost to the nation’s development and unity.

What progressive fiscal and social policies?

Will the “Pakatun” coalition impose a higher marginal tax rate on high-income earners and other taxes on wealth, luxury goods and speculative capital in order to close the income inequality gap?

Is Mahathir also committed to scrapping the regressive goods and services tax (GST)? Will the new Opposition coalition have concrete housing, health and transport policies for the lower-income earners that are an alternative to BN’s policies?

Has Mahathir been rehabilitated?

In other words, has Mahathir undergone a dramatic transformation in his conscientisation to people-centred philosophies or is he simply stuck in his anti-Najib groove? Do the other parties in the Opposition coalition even care if he has become a born-again democrat with a new commitment to human rights and social justice?

And last but not least, can he even be admitted into the Opposition coalition – never mind lead it – if he still clings on to his prejudice that Anwar Ibrahim is morally unqualified to be the Prime Minister-in-waiting?

Dr. Kua Kia Soong is the Adviser for Suaram (Suara Rakyat Malaysia).