Advice to DPM Zahid Hamidi –Be UMNO’s Hang Jebat


January 3, 2017

Advice to DPM Zahid Hamidi –Be UMNO’s Hang Jebat

by Stephen Ng@www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for Zahid HamidiBe UMNO’s Hang Jebat

COMMENT: Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s alleged involvement in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) imbroglio has dragged on for far too long, making people becoming more impatient with the ruling party.

If I may use the word, it is ‘restless’. Yes, the people are getting very restless over the way that the economy is taking a beating as a result of the 1MDB scandal. 1MDB has been headlined in nearly every newspaper and magazine overseas, whereas in Malaysia, people are allegedly still being told one lie after another.

Everywhere I go, whenever I speak to people, whether old friends or new people I meet, everyone is fully aware of the scandal that has plagued the nation for far too long.

If UMNO’s own warlords do not unseat him as Party President before the next general election, it would do a great injustice to the entire coalition that has ruled the country for the past 60 years.

In fact, by August 31 this year, it would be exactly 60 years since Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra as the country’s first Prime Minister, declared Independence from the British colonialists.

Since his time, UMNO has morphed into something totally different from the times and era of the Father of Independence. Its alleged involvement in one scandal after another (since the days of Mahahir–read Barry Wain’s The Malaysian Maverick)has shocked the nation, yet Malaysians at large are to be blamed for being laid back and good at criticising others whom they expect to change the world for them.

It takes people like Anwar Ibrahim, Rafizi Ramli, Tian Chua, Teresa Kok, Nurul Izzah Anwar, Lim Guan Eng, Lim Kit Siang and Tony Pua to expose the scandals.

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The latest scandal exposed by PKR Vice-President Rafizi (pic above) allegedly involves Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) where US$505million (RM2.26 billion) was spent on purchasing a 37 percent stake in Indonesia’s PT Eagle High Plantations.

The price Felda was going to pay for a 37 percent non-controlling stake in the Indonesian plantation, according to PAS Deputy President Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, raises an alarm, as Indonesian billionaire Peter Sondakh, who owns Rajawali Group, had taken up a 68.6 percent stake in EHP at only US$570 million.

Rafizi claimed he has “given information to assist authorities so that they can commence investigation into whether or not there was interference or instructions from superiors, whether at the board level or from politicians or government to Felda to proceed with the acquisition of Eagle High.”

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Felda Chairman–Le Crook Isa Samad–should be sacked and then investigated

Felda, on the other hand, plans to purchase a 37 percent non-controlling stake in the Indonesian plantation for US$505.4 million (RM2.26 billion), for 582 rupiah per share.

He also brought up another major issue regarding the highest spending of RM25 billion last year on Felda’s replanting scheme, citing that this exposed the scheme to various risks of abuse and corruption.

Najib’s personal accounts

Recently, Singaporean former BSI banker Yeo Jiawei, who was linked to the 1MDB scandal, was found guilty and sentenced to a 30-month jail term. Yeo, who is also linked to Najib’s close associate, Jho Low, will be facing other charges soon.

All that the Special Affairs Department (Jasa) could say was that Yeo’s jail sentence had nothing to do with either 1MDB President Arul Kanda Kandasamy or Najib himself.

In two other recent cases down south, both Yak Yew Chee and Yvonne Seah are now serving jail terms because of their links to 1MDB. Yak is now serving an 18-week jail term on forgery charges and failure to disclose suspicious transactions, while Yak’s assistant, Yvonne Seah, is in prison for two weeks after she pleaded guilty to similar charges.

Two former executives of Abu Dhabi-based lnternational Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) and its investment arm, Aabar Investments PJS, Khadem Al-Qubaishi and Mohamed Badawy al-Huseiny were also arrested for their links to “fraud and money-laundering on 1MDB”.

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Najib Razak and his Financial Advisor– Together, they are running Malaysia into the ground

How then can Najib, through Jasa’s recent statement, deny that he had any link to the scandal, especially since he is all three – the chairperson of the 1MDB advisory board, the finance minister who came up with the brainchild, as well as the prime minister of Malaysia?

If Low was not involved, why did he not personally appear before the judiciary in the United States to claim the assets confiscated by the US Department of Justice? Why did his family members claim the assets on his behalf? I dare both the flamboyant Low and Najib’s stepson, Riza Aziz, to step foot on the US grounds at this juncture of their lives.

As for Najib, who claimed that RM2.6 billion that went into his personal accounts was donated by an unnamed generous Arab prince, why did he apply to intervene in the ex-parte lawsuit filed by Zaid Ibrahim to compel AmBank Islamic Berhad to disclose the details of how RM2.6 billion had been deposited into five accounts which are allegedly his?

Zaid did the right thing to pursue this matter, but hopefully, the court will uphold justice and rule in public interest. Like Zaid, we, too, want to know where the money came from and how it ended up in one man’s personal accounts, especially since the US Department of Justice had alleged that the money came from 1MDB.

It is not only RM2.6 billion, but another RM41 million which had allegedly originated from SRC International.

After all, the whole nation and the world is being told that the money was a donation from a generous Arab prince. Is there anything for Najib to hide now?

A question of our future

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Letting this Fox into the Hen House–Are we Malaysians stupid or what?

This year, 2017, Malaysians have yet again to make a decision of whom they would vote for. Would they continue to vote for Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Harapan, which is now flanked by former prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia?

Currently, Bersatu only has a small group of supporters, but it is well-received by most Malaysians especially people who are unhappy with Umno. Its Facebook page, which only has 3,215 likes at this juncture, needs to receive a boost from its supporters.

On the question of whether Dr Mahathir or Muhyiddin Yassin would eventually betray Pakatan Harapan, I think they better not betray the people’s trust, especially after the people have given them another chance.

It is better for them to work within the framework of the alternative front, so that the people now have a choice between Barisan Nasional and a stronger competitor than to be cursed for the rest of their lives.

As for Najib, a piece of sound advice to him for 2017 would be to think twice before acting further. To call a general election would be a disaster for both UMNO and Barisan Nasional.

When I read about MCA President Liow Tiong Lai going to speak to Najib about allocations for the Chinese school, my only response was, who, in the first place, failed to provide the allocation to the schools when they deserved it? Therefore, Liow should just stop pretending to be a saviour for the Chinese schools.

Even Najib’s harping around the Rohingya issue has become a bane to both international relations and dwindling support within UMNO. I asked a Malay gentleman about it, and his response was: “Najib cannot even care for the Temiang Orang Asli in Kelantan, does he even want to interfere into another country’s affairs?”

Mahathir –A Malay Leader of Paradoxes and Contradictions


December 25, 2016

Mahathir –A  Malay Leader of Paradoxes and Contradictions

S. Thayaparan@www.malaysiakini.com

“I’m a realist, I do what I can do, if I can’t do, I don’t.”

De facto opposition leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad

What if I said that Malays have a lazy, rent-seeking culture, relying on political and social influence to gain wealth and unable to retain power despite all their special privileges? Would this be wrong? Would this be racist? Would this be seditious?

How about if former Prime Minister and now de facto opposition leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad said this? Would it still be “racist”? Would this be considered some sort of truth telling? Would it make a difference when he said this last week or when he was prime minister of this country?

More than a decade ago, in an UMNO General Assembly speech –Amanat Presiden (which also coincided with a celebration of sorts – 21 years in office), the former prime minister engaged in some “realist” assessment of the Malay community he had led for over two decades.

As reported by Malaysiakini, he claimed – “If today they (Malays) are colonised, there is no guarantee they will have the capacity to oppose the colonialists.”

The Ex-Premier said Malays had failed because they were lazy and sought the easy way out by reselling their shares, licences and contracts to non-Malays.

“They cannot be patient, cannot wait a little, they want to be rich this very moment… no work is done other than to be close to people with influence and authority in order to get something,After selling and getting the cash, they come back to ask for more,”” he said.

Therefore, there is a rather bizarre logic in his thinking when he said that he had no regrets about stifling dissent in young Malay people during his tenure. Bizarre because the former prime minister has never been afraid of using the stereotype of the Malay community as a means of galvanising support.

And this extends to the other communities as well. Well by “others”, I really mean the Chinese community because as we all know the Indian community is absent from the discourse. In the same speech at the 2002 UMNO General Assembly, he also referenced the Chinese community – the very community that UMNO has always demonised as a threat to Malay hegemony but in reality, meant they were perceived as a threat against UMNO hegemony.

He said, “If we take out the Chinese and all that they have built and own, there will be no small or big towns in Malaysia, there will be no business and industry, there will be no funds for the subsidies, support and facilities for the Malays. Learn from the Chinese.”

Only Mahathir could balance such contradictions, playing the racial card against communities, including the one UMNO claims to represent. Which is why in Mahathir’s thinking there is really no reason why he should not be standing shoulder to shoulder with his former opponents in an attempt to bring down the Najib Abdul Razak regime.

He really does not care what political pundits, who seek to remind people of what he did during his tenure, say because he knows that he then enjoyed the support of the majority of Malaysians and he did this using the kind of realpolitik that oppositional parties during his regime did not grasp or were uninterested in learning.

While some opposition supporters blather on about “truth and conscience” but offer no real evidence that these form the desideratum for oppositional forces in this country, the former Prime Minister has no problem twisting the facts on the ground or contorting social and economic realities to fit his narratives.

A clear example of this would be when in an interview, he acknowledged that discrimination was part of the system but that there were communities who thrived in spite of it – “The Chinese in Malaysia have no special rights, they experience discrimination. But they are more successful than us.”

This is exactly the system a Gerakan political operative was talking about when he mocked the opposition for subscribing to the same system as BN. And the same kind of thinking that for years sustained BN which led to the creation of the leviathan which in the Najib regime. We get the world we deserve.

Slaying sacred cows

And please keep in mind that during Mahathir’s tenure, UMNO defined oppositional racial preoccupations because the slaying of UMNO sacred cows were the very definition (and still is) of any kind of egalitarian agenda that would truly “save Malaysia”. All those other so-called racial preoccupations, religious, social and economic are a direct result of the UMNO agenda and the mendacious ‘social contract’.

However, since the short-term goal of saving Malaysia means removing Najib, the real powerbrokers, those invested in the system – and they are not only Malays – would like to keep the gravy train moving, only with a different railroad engineer.

Unlike some oppositional voices who pontificate about “principles” or at least attempt to control the discourse, demonising those who dredge up so-called ancient history and engaging in victimhood to facilitate political expediency, the former prime minister is clear about the purpose of his alliance with the oppositional forces in this country.

As he told me when I brought up the trust deficit when it comes to opposition supporters and his new role as oppositional leader – “If Najib is there, the opposition will suffer. If Najib is there, even UMNO will suffer, the whole country will suffer. I think the opposition is not supporting me, they are interested in removing Najib. I have the same interest. It is okay to work together – only on that issue, not on other issues.”

Furthermore, he has had no problems claiming that he would slay Malay sacred cows for the benefit of the community – “I cannot predict how much longer this (affirmative action) will go on but at the moment, we are trying out… some kind of experiment… by withdrawing some of the protection in education,” he said. “We want to see whether they will be able to withstand the competition or not. Obviously if they prove themselves able to, we can think of reducing further some of the protection.”

This was always the stick component of the carrot-and-stick approach, and the former prime minster knew very well that affirmative action programmes had a deleterious effect on the Malay community.

Moreover, when he hinted that he would slay sacred cows, he was greeted with rapturous applause as some sort of truth sayer by the very same UMNO who now endorse the Najib regime’s attempt to further consolidate power and engage with Mahathir’s sworn enemy, PAS.

But of course, now that the Malay community is fractured and the Malay opposition needs to reassure the Malay community, all those special privileges, all those affirmative action programmes, everything that the former Prime Minister said was holding back the Malay community, are off the table.

The only thing that discerning Malaysians have to take away from any of this is that Mahathir acknowledges that he failed to change the Malay community – “What else (can I do) … I have tried to be an example, tried to teach, scolded, cried and even prayed. (But) I have failed. I have failed to achieve the most important thing – how to change the Malays.”

Image result for The Malays are lazy--Mahathir quote

The Question we must ask ourselves–Does Mahathir what he says?

When asked if there was anything he would do differently, he claimed that he wanted to be a “normal” UMNO member because he could not do anything for the Malays. Well, he is not even a member now and he is the power behind a nascent Malay power structure.

Image result for The Malays are lazy--Mahathir quote

The big question is, will he fail again. More importantly, is changing the Malays really the agenda of the game for him or anyone else.

Malaysia: Why Democratic Change Has Not Been Possible


December 16,2016

Malaysia: Why Democratic Change Has Not Been Possible

The mysterious (0r Delirious?)Dr. Mahathir


September 22, 2016

The mysterious (0r Delirious?)Dr. Mahathir

by Mariam Mokhtar

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for mahathir mohamad

Fighting Against All Odds to Undo the Done

Do you blame the former Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, for Malaysia’s perilous state? Have you always wanted to know why he did what he did, and why he is desperate to get rid of Najib Abdul Razak?

If you are, and would like to question him, here is your chance. There is one proviso. You have to be in London, on Wednesday, when Mahathir will appear at the Senate House, The University of London. Places are limited, and on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.

The first question is: Why is Mahathir appearing on a stage in London, having a cosy chat with Wan Saiful Wan Jan, the Ideas chairperson. Information is limited. Why London?

One activist said, “Mahathir is desperate. No one is listening to him in Malaysia, so he’s had to cast his net further afield. The Malaysian activists in London may listen.”

His colleague disagreed. “He’s got his own PR team, and the activists are the least of his concerns.Many UMNO Baru leaders will be in town to enrol their children in university. I foresee several secret meetings over the coming days. Also, some UMNO Baru bigwigs, who were at the UN meeting, in New York, will travel home via London. This Wednesday talk is just a smokescreen.”

Another Malaysian said, “I want nothing to do with that man. He destroyed Malaysia, and taught Najib all he needed to know about clinging to power. Let him rot!”

A doctor, who was denied a scholarship and now practices abroad, said, “I demand that he apologises for the harm he caused Malaysia. The racism. The bumiputraism. The cronyism, and the other-isms.I had to leave Malaysia, and be separated from my family. My parents mortgaged their house, begged from others to educate me. I cannot forgive Mahathir, but if he wants us to consider giving his Citizens’ Declaration a chance, then he must consider making a public apology.”

So if you are in the audience, what would you ask? The list is long. Where would you start?

As a Sabahan, you probably want to know why he authorised Project IC, also known as Project M (M for Mahathir). The answer is obvious. Power. He will neither admit that, nor will he agree that Sabah should secede.

So how would you restructure your question? The migrant communities outnumber the locals. Sabah’s racial and religious demographics have been altered by Project IC. If you consider him responsible, then what do you think he can do to put things right? Mahathir cannot even elevate his son to a position of power.

The nation is polarised. You could ask why Mahathir is starting another race-based party, but the answer is obvious, isn’t it? What would you want him to say?

Did you believe him when he said that that he is worried about Malaysia? Why does he want to get rid of Najib, but not Umno Baru? Umno Baru is as much of the problem as Najib.

Why did he allow many of the things which caused Malaysia to fall apart, like allegedly giving the best concessions to his closest allies? They benefited from their friendship with Mahathir. For years, the rakyat and the opposition complained about many underhand practices, but Mahathir did not agree, until a year ago.

Worried about his legacy?

Was Mahathir’s keenness to oust Najib precipitated by his son Mukhriz’s loss of power in Kedah? Was Mahathir worried about his legacy?

Why did he tell people that he was not responsible for the detentions during Operation Lalang, the other Internal Security Act (ISA) detentions or Project IC? What sort of leader is unaware of what goes on during his watch? Convenient explanation, just another excuse, or finding a scapegoat?

Mahathir failed to clearly state that he was in Malaysia on the day of the Memali massacre. His Deputy at the time, Musa Hitam, took the blame, but more shocking was the silence of Mahathir’s coterie.

They could read and understand a calendar, yet, when asked, “Was Mahathir in Malaysia for Memali? Did he order the attack?”, they simply smiled and hid the truth, along with Mahathir. Why? Did they fear him?

Those who are worried by the rising religious intolerance may wish to know why Mahathir curbed the power of the royals, but did not curb the power of the religious men.

He allowed the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to become the alleged ravening beast that it is today. A beast that forces Malaysians to live in a climate of fear. He declared Malaysia an Islamic state, knowing full well it is a secular state and Islam is its official religion.

Whilst Mahathir is in England, he might as well go to The University of Oxford, and have a chat with other influential Malaysians. So, why do you think Mahathir is in London?

https://www.malaysiakini.com/columns/356119#ixzz4KuYNbdvY

 

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.

Image result for Najib the crook

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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Malaysian Politics: Can a leopard change its spots?


September 16, 2016

The Economist

Mahathir Mohamad

Can a leopard change its spots?

A former Prime Minister seeks to topple the party that brought him to power

http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21707236-former-prime-minister-seeks-topple-party-brought-him-power-can-leopard-change-its

FROM a cavernous office in a posh part of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, Mahathir Mohamad is sowing dissent. “This government is really destroying the country,” complains the cantankerous former Prime Minister, now 91 and still sporting his trademark safari suit. His 22 years in power came courtesy of UMNO, the party that has led Malaysia’s ruling coalitions since independence in the 1950s. But Dr Mahathir has lost all faith in UMNO: it is time, he says, to overthrow it.

Incompetent Officials, UMNO Flunkeys and Idiots

On September 8, Dr Mahathir became the founding chairman of a new political party which aims to do just that. The registration of Bersatu, which means “United” in Malay, is the latest step in a long campaign that Dr Mahathir has been waging against Najib Razak, Malaysia’s scandal-hit prime minister. Even more strikingly, Dr Mahathir is seeking help from Anwar Ibrahim, his former deputy and now Malaysia’s opposition leader, with whom he fell out in dramatic fashion in 1998. The two men met for the first time since then earlier this month.

Dr Mahathir resigned Malaysia’s premiership in 2003, but has found it impossible to resist bashing his successors. In 2009 his carping helped to bring down the Prime Minister of the day, Abdullah Badawi, and usher Mr Najib into power. Since Mr Najib fumbled a general election three years ago, Dr Mahathir has campaigned for his removal too.

What looked like a personal vendetta became a national cause last year, when it emerged that billions had been looted from 1MDB, a state-owned investment firm. American investigators have indirectly accused Mr Najib of receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from the beleaguered company. Mr Najib admits to having banked whopping sums, but says the money was a gift from an unnamed Saudi Royal, and that most of it has been returned.

To widespread disgust, Mr Najib has managed to squelch dissent within UMNO, thereby hanging onto his job. Indeed, he appears more safely enthroned than ever. He has brushed aside official enquiries and replaced critics in the Cabinet with flunkeys. Long fading in the cities, UMNO has whipped up support among rural voters who have only limited knowledge of the scandal—to whom it bleats that it is being picked on by foreigners and ethnic minorities. The next general election is not due until 2018, but some think Mr Najib may be feeling confident enough to call it next year.

Bersatu aims to field as many candidates as possible in the coming polls, and promises to target UMNO’s seats in particular. At its heart are several former government officials whom Mr Najib has recently purged. They include Muhyiddin Yassin, a former Deputy Prime Minister sacked last year after speaking out about the 1MDB affair, and Dr Mahathir’s son, Mukhriz, who used to run Kedah, a small northern state. Dr Mahathir says he will not stand for parliament himself.

The former Prime Minister still has many fans in Malaysia, including among young ethnic Malays who have little memory of his time in power. But snagging more than a handful of seats will be tough. Malaysian elections heavily favour incumbent governments, which control most print media and can train vast resources on gerrymandered constituencies.

To stand any chance, Bersatu will need to cosy up to Malaysia’s other opposition parties, which nearly toppled the government in 2013 but are now squabbling. That explains the courting of Mr Anwar, who was arrested shortly after Dr Mahathir sacked him, beaten by the chief of police and jailed for corruption and sodomy after a farcical trial, as Dr Mahathir stood by. Since last year Mr Anwar has been back in prison, convicted in a new sodomy case which looks just as suspect as the last. Dr Mahathir says he has “no problem with him now”. On September 5 he made a surprise appearance at a court hearing which Mr Anwar had been allowed out of his cell to attend (pictured). The two men spoke privately for half an hour.

A pact of some sort seems likely, and is essential if Mr Najib’s enemies are not to squander the next election through three- or four-cornered fights. But Malaysia’s liberals would feel much happier if Dr Mahathir were more contrite about his part in the country’s present predicament. He is probably right to insist that, on his watch, corruption was more limited than the lurid misdeeds of which the present leadership stands accused. But it was under his tenure that UMNO’s leaders became so hard to dislodge, and Malaysia’s courts so cowed.

One big worry for the opposition is how far Dr Mahathir’s conversion goes. No one doubts his visceral disdain for Mr Najib. Less certain is whether, given a choice, he and his party would stop short of ousting UMNO altogether. Previous splinters from UMNO have eventually reattached themselves to the party. The government claims Dr Mahathir’s real goal is to install his son as prime minister.

Dr Mahathir scoffs at all this. He admits he once thought that replacing the prime minister would be enough to put UMNO back on track. But he says Mr Najib has “totally corrupted” the party, which now “just functions to support him”. He says there is no way Bersatu would consider a deal that leaves UMNO in government, even under a new leader. “The time for UMNO is over,” he insists.

-http://www.economist.com/