The Demise of A Secular State


October 16, 2017

The Demise of  A Secular State

by S. Thayaparan

http://www.malaysiakini.com

“What the State can usefully do is to make itself a central depository, and active circulator and diffuser, of the experience resulting from many trials. Its business is to enable each experimentalist to benefit by the experiments of others, instead of tolerating no experiments but its own.”
John Stuart Mill, “On Liberty”

Malaysiakini columnist P Gunasegeram ends his latest piece, ‘I am a pendatang and proud of it,” with the appropriate “And know that I am here to stay whether you bloody like it or not because this country is mine too!” which is exactly how most non-Malay/ non-Muslims feel whenever they read about the use of the weaponised Islam in this country.

All you have to do is read the comments on social media when Johor’s HRH Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar stands up for what is right and decent when it comes to countering the agendas of Islamists in this country, who would use religion as a demarcation line to understand the frustrations non-Malays have with a system that on the one hand, finds utilitarian value in non-Malay contribution to this country, and on the other, is disgusted by their very existence as Malaysians with hopes and agendas of their own. These agendas are not necessarily different from each other but are anathema to the agendas of these state-sponsored Islamists.

Image result for hrh sultan of johor

Johor’s HRH Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar stands up for what is right and decent when it comes to countering the agendas of Islamists in this country. The Malaysian Opposition led by Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and his sidekick DAP’s Lim Kit Siang is deaf and dumb on this issue.
 

People often miss the larger narrative when it is easier to digest sound bites. When a religious school burns down, this should have been an opportunity for a national discussion on why these religious schools exists in the first place, what values they are promoting, how safe are they and the corrupt practices that goes in the creation and maintenance of these schools. Instead, nobody was really interested in this, but carried on putting all their eggs in the 1MDB basket.

The Muslims-only launderette issue becomes about how:

1)HRH The Sultan of Johor was the line in the sand when it comes to this type of religious mischief because politicians offered only mild condemnation which sounded more like bemusement, and

2) the relevance of an institution like Jakim (Islamic Development Department) to state religious bodies is questioned by the moves of the Johor Sultan, who, by cutting off contact between the federal religious authorities and his state’s religious department, is making it clear that – for the time being at least – he does not want religious extremism from the federal level contaminating Islamic moderation at the state level.

Where is our glorious opposition in all of this? As I said before – “If you are waffling on your commitment to a secular state, then you have to make your case for an Islamic state and this is where the trouble begins and ends. If oppositional Muslim political operatives and their allies would just stop using religion as the basis of critique and concentrate on furthering the agenda of the secular state, oppositional Muslim MPs would not have to worry about attempting to ‘out-Islam’ their rivals because this would not be the grounds on which they battle for votes.”

Image result for Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki

Prime Minister Ayahtollah Najib Razak, Malaysia Al-Islam

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Ayahtollah Abdul Hadi Awang–Deputy Prime Minister, Malaysia al-Islam

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki  reminds us that BN – not Umno but BN – is committed to make Malaysia an Islamic state and of course, we will not hear anything from the MCA and MIC about this glorious agenda. Neither will we hear anything from our doughty opposition, because they have convinced themselves that they need to be “Islamic” to win the votes of the majority of the Malay community to replace the current Umno poohbah who is apparently the enemy of the state.

Which brings up the uncomfortable question of what kind of state? The enemy of an Islamic state or a secular state?

Forsaking the Constitution

Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak blathers on about how we should embrace new politics – whatever that means – and not abandon the Constitution, but the reality is that by chipping away at the Constitution which is what Umno is doing in its attempt to create an “Islamic” state, it is just further evidence that the Constitution is not worth the paper it is printed on.

Meanwhile, the opposition is doing nothing about this. Nobody in the opposition has ever made statements that reaffirm the primacy of the Constitution or the opposition’s agenda of ending the Islamisation process. We do not even know if this is one of the reforms that would “save Malaysia” that the opposition intends to carry out.

 

Remember, “this meme that by benching UMNO, we as Malaysians, whatever our religion or credo, would be safe from the machinations of Islamic extremists, is irrational considering that we neither have a committed secular opposition nor Muslim politicians who openly commit to secular agendas. As long as this remains the default setting of Malaysian politics, there will never be a period where secularism is safe from encroaching Islamic extremism.”

I mean really, this whole idea of making Malaysia an “Islamic” state is really about making Malaysia more like Saudi Arabia. And you know what the Johor sultan thinks about that, right? Here is a reminder – “If there are some of you who wish to be an Arab and practise Arab culture, and do not wish to follow our Malay customs and traditions, that is up to you. I also welcome you to live in Saudi Arabia.”

But what I really want to know is, what does the opposition think of that? Does the opposition think that Malay culture should emulate Arab culture and if so, does the opposition advocate that Malays who don’t want to follow “Malay” customs and traditions are welcome to live in Saudi Arabia?

Depending on your point of view, the balkanisation of Malaysia is something that is a very real possibility because of this agenda of turning Malaysia into an “Islamic” state. This is not something that any rational person would want and I am including the Malays in this equation, because if they really wanted to live in an Islamic paradise, they would have voted for PAS a long time ago.

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Young Malaysians on a Mission: #TangkapNajib

Writing for Malaysiakini has presented me with opportunity to talk to young people from all over Malaysia. This is purely anecdotal, but what young people tell me is that they are disgusted by politics in this country. They voted for change and even on a state level, this has not happened. Most, if not all, of them say that if UMNO stops “playing” with race and religion they will vote BN because they know all over the world politicians are corrupt.

A common complaint or some variation of the same, is that Pakatan Harapan is not doing anything to stop Malaysia for becoming an Islamic state. Most young people who choose to leave do not leave because of corruption, but because of race and religion.

Image result for mahathir and lim kit siang

Pakatan Harapan is not doing anything to stop Malaysia for becoming an Islamic state.

I am beginning to realise that the idea of voting for the opposition to create a two-party system and the almost zealous advocacy (mine?) of such, is an idea of diminishing returns.

Puteri Reformasi Nurul Izzah Anwar talks Politics and her Future


September 25, 2017

Puteri Reformasi Nurul Izzah Anwar talks Politics and her Future

by Zikri Kamarulzaman

http://www.malaysiakini.com

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

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

Image result for nurul izzah anwar at wefin phnom penh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Malaysia’s Prisoner of Conscience–Anwar Ibrahim

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

Women not given enough priority

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The interview has been edited for language and brevity:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will your siblings be contesting in GE14?

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

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

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

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

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

Where do you see yourself in five years?

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

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

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

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

 

The Future of Pakatan Harapan Post GE-14–Dr. M and Politics of Betrayal


August 20, 2017

The Future of Pakatan Harapan Post GE-14–Dr. M and Politics of Betrayal

by S. Thayaparan

http://www.malaysiakini.com

“A crazy country, choking air, polluted hearts, treachery. Treachery and treason.”

– Naguib Mahfouz

COMMENT | Amanah Communications Director Khalid Samad is mistaken. If Dr Mahathir Mohamad returns to the UMNO-BN fold for whatever reason after the next general election, it would not be a betrayal to Pakatan Harapan.

Image result for Mahathir and Anwar in Pakatan Rakyat
A Coalition of Political Convenience is not likely to survive after GE-14, if UMNO-BN wins the contest. Whether Tun Dr. Mahathir returns to the party he created (UNMO Baru) or not depends whether Najib Razak and his associates are prepared to bury the hatchet and welcome him. It is hard to see how this can happen at this point of time. PKR and DAP should, therefore, concentrate on retaining Penang and Selangor. Jangan jadi Mat Jenen.–Din Merican

 

The only betrayal would be that which Harapan commits to the opposition voting public. However, there would be neither any sting nor moral condemnation to that betrayal because most Harapan supporters welcome the alliance with the former UMNO President and Prime Minister. While I have argued that this is a Hobson’s choice of the opposition’s making, any attempt to minimise such betrayal is unwarranted and honestly self-aggrandising.

 

Mind you, this is not a jab at Khalid whom I think is an honourable politician – a trait lacking in the current political leadership – but rather a rejoinder that “betrayal” of any kind in the current political climate is meaningless.

So what if Bersatu, Mahathir or any other politician betrays Harapan? This is a single-issue election – the wrong issue in my opinion – which means the current UMNO grand poohbah is vanquished or he is not. The best-case scenario if the opposition fails in that endeavour is that it retains Selangor and Penang.

Image result for Mahathir and Anwar in Pakatan Rakyat

While I have no doubt that opposition political strategists are working that angle (retaining Selangor and Penang at all cost), the real issue is whether Mahathir and Bersatu can deliver. If he cannot, and if the opposition loses support from their base, then the real question is, will Harapan cling on to the former Prime Minister?

But you ask, why are the stakes so low? Well, the stakes are low because even if Najib wins and this kleptocrat prevails, it would not be as if the sky will come tumbling down. We have endured a corrupt kleptocracy for decades and many would argue that we as a people, despite the overt systemic discrimination, have thrived.

I have argued numerous times of the futility of this strategy – “And right here is the problem for the opposition because this is really is what most voters who vote Barisan National think. Through the decades, despite all the corruption scandals, the sustained attacks against independent institutions, the slow process of dismantling our individual rights, Malaysia, in the words of Josh Hong, ‘for all its flaws, Malaysia remains a prosperous, relatively efficient and economically vibrant country.’”

Besides, the history of Harapan is littered with betrayals that most opposition supporters have accepted. Harapan has always managed to find allies – maybe except PSM – that they managed to do business with, who eventually betrayed the opposition alliance.

I would argue that the opposition is extremely comfortable with betrayals. How many political operatives, political entities and the rest of the flotsam and jetsam of establishment politics have betrayed the opposition? Honestly, I have lost count.

And let us be honest. The opposition was not fooled because they were naive. The reality is that the opposition has never met a political outfit or personality that was anti-Najib that they did not have use for, until ultimately, they were betrayed because they were outplayed.

No cohesive platform

I am not making the argument that disparate interests should not attempt to come together but rather, the opposition has never really made an attempt to work together in an honest way. There was never any attempt to form a cohesive ideology or a platform that honestly addressed the agendas that opposing interests brought to the table. There were always these piecemeal efforts to bury the political and/or ideological differences and shoe horn everything into the “save Malaysia” narrative.

Moreover, many opposition supporters were comfortable with this. I would argue that these “betrayal” narratives sustained the opposition when things fell apart because of their own ineptness. “We were betrayed” when it should be “we should never have been in this position in the first place”.

Meanwhile, the UMNO regime has its own cries of betrayal. The urban demographic has betrayed them. Former members have betrayed them. With UMNO, it goes further. Betrayals are not just against the political party. Betrayals are against race and religion. This is why I suppose Bersatu is attempting the same strategy.

I mean take a look at what Bersatu Youth chief Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman says while describing the current UMNO grand poohbah as the “Malay race’s number one enemy” – “Pawning the interests of the Malays by giving mega contracts to communist China while we have to shoulder the debts amounting to billions of ringgit.”

I made my stand on this issue of the PRC deals clear here – that pro-opposition rhetoric consists of furthering the narrative that China is taking advantage of the natives and the country is being sold piece by piece to a foreign power to settle Najib’s debts. While my disdain for Najib administration is well-documented (by me, mostly), making the argument that these China deals have no credibility merely because they come from the Najib regime is disingenuous.”

So, sit back and enjoy the show. Nobody is going to betray the opposition because nobody was loyal to the opposition in the first place. PAS will eventually engage in three-concerned fights with its former allies because they have a new sugar daddy. I am sure there will be defections on both sides in the upcoming general elections.

Betrayals will be rife and teeth gnashed, but ultimately the losers will not be the urban demographic but the “lower classes” that many politicians and analysts are banking on to save the opposition.

The only gun pointed at anyone is the one pointed at the marginalised communities here in Malaysia, and they know that that gun will be passed to anyone who claims the throne of Putrajaya.


S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.

A Malay is an UMNO Construct


August 3, 2017

A Malay is an UMNO Construct .Go figure

by S. Thayaparan

http://www.malaysiakini.com

 

Image result for zahid hamidi is a javanese

Zahid Hamidi is a Melayu SeJati defined by UMNO.

Image result for Najib the Bugis Warrior Even  a Bugis is a True Malay  since he is UMNO President

 

“I want to be a normal member. Because I cannot do anything (for the Malays).”

– former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad

COMMENT | Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has chosen to insult the Indian community with his “attack” on Pakatan Harapan chairperson and former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Indian pedigree and subsequent actions as not being a Malay “trait”.

To be honest, I had been expecting something like this for a couple of months now – “The only thing that is different this time is because the Malay community is fractured, and UMNO has had to play the race and religion card against its own. Playing the race and religion card against your own community is a recipe for disaster, especially when the country does not have an alternative to the Islam proscribed by UMNO.”

Since the struggle for the Malay soul – read: vote – is now between UMNO and Bersatu, this whole idea of demonstrating “Malay-ness” becomes the battleground, instead of real policies which would take the Malay community in a new direction.

I never understood what a “Malay” sejati was anyway. As far as I can tell, to UMNO, any Malay who is not in the UMNO fold in not a true Malay.

I remember when then Prime Minister Mahathir chided his Malay/UMNO base (during numerous annual general meetings) on their “mudah lupa”-ness , their laziness , their ineptitude, their incompetence and their general “tidak apa” attitude , in other words, “traits” which he found detestable, the sycophants that surrounded him went to the press and claimed that the good doctor was giving them strong medicine because he really loved UMNO and wanted the best for UMNO and its members.

Once out of UMNO, he becomes an Indian

Do you think I am seditious when I talk about these Malay traits? Mahathir has more or less said the same. The former 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,” he said. “After selling and getting the cash, they come back to ask for more.”

Perhaps Zahid should take the former Prime Minister’s advice and learn from the Chinese: “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.”

Again, if you think I am racist or seditious for defining the narrative in such a way, please keep in mind that the reason why we have buffoons like these UMNO ministers blathering on about authentic Malays is because the current opposition de facto leader, Mahathir Mohamad admitted that he “failed” to change the “Malay” mindset:

“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.”

Now, of course, the UMNO narrative is that because he was not an authentic Malay, what he really did was use UMNO for his personal interests. This is kind of a joke because UMNO has always had special privileges for its members, all the rest are discounted citizens.

Mind you these are the same traits that some folks believe would seep into their respective cultures, so Zahid is not the only person who is worried about the authenticity of his race and religion. Go figure.

However since this is the Deputy Prime Minister we are talking about here, he never stops to consider that maybe just maybe, there is a Malay proverb that addresses this specific trait because such traits exist in the Malay community as they do in all communities.

As this kind of basic logic is way over the head of a political operative like Zahid, what we are left with is the kind of Malay (ketuanan) trait that makes some Muslims worry for the mental health of their community.

This is the same kind of Malay “trait” that makes a group like Jaringan Melayu Malaysia (JMM) lodge a report against Marian Mahathir for “liking” a twitter post support of the LGBT community. Of course if some prominent person liked a Twitter post in support of some banned Islamic extremist group, these same people would have no trouble supporting a “like” and demonizing detractors as Islamophobic.

While some folks may argue that these are the “traits” of the Malay community and they would also argue that we should be mindful lest the other – pendatang – communities are tainted by such traits, ultimately what we are dealing with is the racist nature of mainstream politics here in Malaysia.

I am kind of fuzzy on the logic behind this attack. Is Mahathir not an authentic Malay because of his Indian heritage, or because he left UMNO and is now working with the opposition?

If not leaving UMNO is a Malay trait, then what does it say about all those other Malays who have left UMNO? What does it say about those Malay who are not “tainted” by pendatang ancestry but who no longer are part of the UMNO establishment or who have been in UMNO?

And if working with the opposition is not a Malay trait then what does it say about the numerous UMNO /Malay political operatives who are working with PAS, a supposedly opposition party and at one time the arch-enemy of UMNO?

“This is our culture. We do not know what is hardship, we only want things to be easy,” is how Mahathir defined Malay culture. Is he wrong? Of course Zahid will say that all these utterances of Mahathir just prove that he is not an authentic Malay ignoring the fact when he was saying them in the various UMNO general assemblies, the sycophants were prostrating themselves before him and acknowledging their sins.

Ibrahim Yahya, the Deputy Prime Minister’s aide, claimed that the politics of hate that is sowed by the opposition is destroying the country, but the reality is that that the politics of hate defines this country. This is just another example of what I have always said.

Will Dr. M make ultimate U-turn if Harapan wins GE?


July 25, 2017

Will Dr. M make ultimate U-turn if Harapan wins GE?

by Alyaa Azhar

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for Mahathir--The Political Fox

 

Do you trust a political fox in the national hen house? Lest it be forgotten–Mahathir is an enigma with a Machiavellian streak. I do not expect that he will change his stripes. It is too late for that. Furthermore, the over-confidence shown by Pakatan Harapan politicians and analysts who support them is worrying since they underestimate the advantages of incumbency Najib possesses. Who will conduct elections if there are indications that one might lose. And politically astute Najib, who may be corrupt and incompetent, is not likely to commit a political hara kiri by doing so. It would be more reasonable to assume that he would create the pretext for emergency rule and govern the country Erdogan (Turkey) style. –Din Merican

Many breathed a sigh of relief after Pakatan Harapan finally came out with its line-up but there are those, especially among hardcore supporters of the Reformasi movement, who are slightly uneasy with seeing former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad sitting as chairperson of the coalition.

Their concerns are understandable. After all, this was the man responsible for throwing PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim behind bars in the first place, they contend.

Even those who do not really follow politics know that it was Mahathir’s sacking of Anwar as Deputy Prime Minister that gave birth to the Reformasi movement in 1998.

So can he be trusted to ensure that Anwar would indeed become the country’s eighth Prime Minister should Harapan emerge as the victor in the 14th general election?

And despite Mahathir’s apparent dislike of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, evident through his non-stop criticisms hurled at the latter and even his exit from UMNO a third time (Mahathir was first sacked from the party by Tunku Abdul Rahman in 1969), what would happen if UMNO were to decide to abandon Najib?

Image result for najib razak quotesYes, he didn’t be betray country, he just sold national assets to cover 1mdb losses

 

Would Mahathir leave Harapan and return to UMNO again, the party he had led for more than 20 years?

After all, it would not be the first time he would re-enter the country’s largest political party. Or would Mahathir, like two of his predecessors (Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Hussein Onn), remain outside UMNO until his very last breath?

Crossed red line

Image result for najib razak quotes

Many still believe this bull from Najib Razak

Providing his take on this, PKR Secretary-General Saifuddin Nasution Ismail believes that Mahathir has long crossed the “red line” when it comes to UMNO.

“The more I engage with him (Mahathir), I can only conclude that there is no turning back for him. Even though the source of anger could be Najib alone, but by now I think he realised that the whole system is corrupt.I have no doubt to dispute his sincerity, commitment and dedication to work together with the opposition,” said Saifuddin to Malaysiakini.

Although there is that possibility of Mahathir betraying Harapan if UMNO were to reject Najib, political analyst Khoo Kay Peng pointed out that the tables would turn if Harapan were to win in the general election.

“UMNO members will flock to Bersatu,” he said. Khoo also believes that Mahathir might be open to cooperating with UMNO as he “still has a strong brand value for Malays”.

Image result for merdeka center for opinion research director ibrahim suffian

Ibrahim Suffian says, “the issue of Mahathir going to UMNO would be moot”. After all, the former Prime Minister fathered UMNO Baru, which Najib Razak inherited.

Concurring that there will be no chance of Mahathir returning to UMNO as long as Najib remains as Prime Minister, Merdeka Centre programme Director Ibrahim Suffian also believes that the “entire political equation” will change should Harapan were to wrest Putrajaya from Barisan Nasional. “The issue of Mahathir going to UMNO would be moot,” he said.

Trust needed

And Harapan leaders, he added, do not really have a choice in the matter as they have decided to have Mahathir as a leader and must therefore only trust him.

“For those folks who have doubts about Mahathir, they have to make some compromises. They can’t have the cake and eat it, too.” The possibility of Mahathir betraying Harapan may be low but Khoo believes Harapan has not made enough preparation to face the possibility of a betrayal by Mahathir.

“They can’t simply because they don’t have time, choice and resources to focus on something else.But what Harapan should do is at least identify a clear line of leadership succession,” he said.

“Leaders who continue to make wrong decisions must be accountable and make way (for others).”

Harapan may be a little too relaxed in the matter. But for Saifuddin, the only plan that matters right now is none other than to defeat UMNO and BN. “In terms of time frame, we only have less than a year, probably less than six months from now.

No question of betrayal

Image result for saifuddin nasution ismail

Saifuddin Nasution Ismail–“There is no question of betrayal because we formed a partnership to become the next government.”

“We only have one plan and that plan is crystal clear, which is to take over the government.” Saifuddin also believes that concerns of a betrayal by Mahathir “do not arise at all. There is no question of betrayal because we formed a partnership to become the next government.”

For his coalition partner Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) Deputy President Salahuddin Ayub, now is the time for Harapan partners to put all their suspicions of Mahathir aside. “What’s more important is to build up the confidence to the public. We don’t have time to dig up all the sins Mahathir did during his 22 years (as Prime Minister),” he said.

And there would be no point in doing so, he added, citing his past experience in PAS when Anwar was sacked as the country’s number two leader.

“We accepted Anwar and his party at the time. It would not bring any benefit if my friends in PAS then and I, were suspicious of Anwar. It’s not our business to become the judge in whatever Mahathir did in the past. Amanah is not a court of law,” he added.

But shouldn’t Harapan at least have a contingency plan on the possibility of Mahathir betraying Harapan? Salahuddin is of the opinion that it would not be good for Harapan to have such a mindset and pointed out that the agreement signed between Harapan and Bersatu when the latter joined the coalition last year was enough to bind them.

Admitting that anything can happen in politics, Salahuddin, however, cited his observations of Mahathir, having engaged closely with the 92-year-old in the past two years.

“What I can say about Mahathir is his consistency. From day one of the Citizens’ Declaration, he never went back on his word. If I think he was the kind of person who flip-flops on his statement, he would not be the type of leader that I would want, too. He is very firm on his stand to face Najib, the 1MDB issue and to build this country.”

Admitting that he was initially quite guarded when it came to Mahathir as he thought that the latter only wanted to replace Najib and would ultimately return to Umno, Salahuddin now believes that Mahathir has “served his purpose”. He also allayed fears that Mahathir had been resorting to his “dictatorship style” in meetings.

A mellowed Mahathir

“This is from the bottom of my heart – in many meetings, we could debate with him, we could argue with him (and even) oppose him. Sometimes there are among us who are particularly vocal during meetings but he didn’t mind, he could accept it. Sometimes he even changed his original idea to follow the voice of the majority. If Mahathir behaved like a dictator in the meetings, I don’t think we would have remained with him for long.”

Like Salahuddin, having been in the opposition for a considerable amount of time, Saifuddin admitted that his previous topic in political ceramahs was all about attacking the Mahathir administration.

“But finally I realised we are all human. To move on, we have to learn to forgive and forget. That’s how I have positioned myself.”

So has all been forgiven just because Mahathir is now the federal government’s prime critic? That may not be the case but Saifuddin argued that allowing Najib and UMNO to continue to lead Malaysia would “only be a disaster”.

“Once it reaches the point of no return, then everything is too late. So before we reach that point, with whatever forces that we have, no matter the differences, I think we need to emphasise more on the things that can make us be united.”

Najib Razak’s BN to retain Putrajaya


June 15, 2017

Najib Razak’s BN to retain Putrajaya, says former Singapore envoy to Malaysia Ong Keng Yong

by FMT Reporters

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

ST Global Forum discussion on next general election concludes 1MDB, billion-dollar deals with China will have no impact on how the majority vote.

PETALING JAYA: Barisan Nasional (BN) will continue its hold on Putrajaya by winning the next general election (GE14), as the status quo in Sabah and Sarawak and support from Malays in Peninsular Malaysia will remain, The Straits Times (ST) reported.

Image result for Ong Keng and Din MericanSingapore’s Ambassador at Large Ong Keng Yong (center)

This was the conclusion drawn from an ST Global Forum panel discussion held in Singapore yesterday. The forum was entitled Malaysia’s Next GE: The Perils And Prospects.

“I don’t think that it will be worse than what Prime Minister Najib Razak or the BN obtained in 2013. For the Malay voters, I think they will stick with what they know,” said Ong Keng Yong, who is Ambassador-at-Large at Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign affairs, Former High Commissioner to Malaysia and Secretary-General of ASEAN.

Another speaker at the forum, Merdeka Center director Ibrahim Suffian concurred, saying that even though Najib’s popularity remains low, BN remains the most trusted brand among Malay voters.

According to the Singapore daily, the rationale proffered by the speakers, which also included OCBC Bank Treasury Research and Strategy head Selena Ling, was that all the billion-dollar scandals and headline-grabbing deals with China would not have an impact on the vast majority of voters.

Describing the issues surrounding 1MDB as “approaching historical status”, Ibrahim said many Malaysians have gone beyond the issue. “1MDB has now been bundled as just being part of what is perceived as leadership weaknesses,” he was quoted as saying.

Image result for Najib RazakThe Likely GE-14 victor

Ambassador Ong believes the cases that have emerged over allegations linked to 1MDB in other countries, including Singapore, the United States and Switzerland, has only affected Kuala Lumpur’s standing from an international standpoint, but it “has not greatly harmed Najib or UMNO” in the homefront.

Meanwhile, Ling told the forum that Malaysia’s economic data was healthy, but that too would be of minimal consequence.“When it comes to elections, people are going to vote on bread-and-butter issues. It is not going to be because growth is 5% or less than 5%,” she said, according to ST.

The panelists all agreed that Najib’s biggest challenge will be overcoming the growing unrest over the cost of living, with the GST and lower value of the ringgit having an impact on the price of goods.

The reality on the ground remains harsh according to Ibrahim who spoke about the struggles of Malaysians, both young and old.“Young people are worried about finding a good job, married couples are concerned about whether they can afford a home and whether they can get a pay rise, while most retirees do not have sufficient savings to tide them over,” he was quoted as saying by ST.

The speculation over when Najib will call for GE14 is mixed with some predicting it will be held in the last quarter of this year, or early next year. However, the Prime Minister has until next June to decide when he wants to dissolve Parliament.

The Federal Constitution states that a general election needs to be called when Parliament is dissolved or it reaches a maximum term of five years. The current Parliament kicked off its term on June 24, 2013, therefore Parliament will automatically be dissolved as of June 24, 2018.

As a general election needs to be called no later than two months after Parliament is dissolved, therefore, the last possible date for the next general election (GE14) will be August 24, 2018.