The Dearly Departed Sanusi Junid – Witty and loyal Lieutenant

March 10, 2018

The Dearly Departed Sanusi Junid – Witty and loyal Lieutenant

by Terence Netto

Image result for Sanusi Junid

COMMENT | Sanusi Junid, who died yesterday after being seen as seemingly healthy at the last public occasion he attended which was on the night before, was a knowledgeable man, notes Muhyiddin Yassin in an encomium to the former Kedah Menteri Besar.

That may be the most accurate thing said about Sanusi among the plethora of compliments friends and acquaintances piled on the former minister and UMNO Secretary-General and Mahathir loyalist.

Speaking well of the just-deceased is obligatory. But saying something that resonates with what is generally known of the person that manages to be both accurate and complimentary is harder to bring off.

Sanusi was a loyal lieutenant, one who was content with being just that – a hewer of wood and drawer of water – but able to bring a certain wit to that mundane role, which is uncommon among people of his disposition.

Sanusi was a loyal lieutenant, mainly to Dr Mahathir Mohamad, just as Salleh Said Keruak presently is to Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The difference between both, in the role that subalterns revel in, is in the ability to offer servility with style. Well, if you going to apple polish, might as well do it with aplomb.

Sanusi’s loyal lieutenancy to Mahathir, the leader who he served the longest in a long career in the penultimate echelons of UMNO, was service of a certain witty class.

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Consider what he said about Anwar Ibrahim when the just-sacked Deputy Prime Minister drew big crowds at the National Mosque and at Kota Semarang in Kedah in the immediate aftermath of his expulsion from government and UMNO:

“He is a snake charmer summoning spirits from the deep. But will they come?”

Epigrams are uncommon among equerries whose job is to put the best face on their point man’s policies and acts, especially when these invite public controversy and consternation.

On Najib’s refusal to admit to wrongdoing in the 1MDB imbroglio, the biggest financial scandal to afflict a nation anywhere in the world, Sanusi cited his experience when as Deputy Home Minister he had to sign off on a score of hangings of criminals in Pudu jail.

Sanusi said he had the opportunity to observe the condemned in their last days before being hanged. He observed that not even Botak Chin, the notorious criminal of the mid-70s, would admit to being guilty and deserving of his deserts, which Sanusi took as testimony to unregenerate human nature.

His ability to illustrate his arguments with analogy and metaphor that would make one sit up and notice must have been the nub of Sanusi’s appeal to his bosses.

Wacky ideas

Sure, he had some wacky suggestions such as growing padi on roof tops, and not-so-gauche ones like his urging people to eat ostrich and rabbit meat, as alternative sources of protein.

But these bizarre suggestions were not the hallmark of his career. A certain knowing feel for the weaknesses of human nature distinguished his long lieutenancy to Mahathir.

When incumbent Osman Aroff attempted to head off an announcement from Mahathir in 1996 on Sanusi as his replacement as Menteri Besar of Kedah by organising a prayer session at the MB’s residence, followed by dinner and the attendees’ signing on a pledge of loyalty to Aroff, Sanusi cracked:

“Even I would have signed off on the pledge if prayers and dinner were on the cards,” was his self-deprecating putdown of the drama.

Likewise his comments on the resignation of Nasharuddin Alang Saidin, an Anwar flunkey, from the post of Executive Secretary of UMNO in 1987 after less than three months on the job (Sanusi was the Mahathir-appointed Secretary-General): “His resignation is just like any other.”

Sanusi, whose loathing for Anwar was heartily reciprocated, was extraordinary in being able to juggle his fidelity to Mahathir with aversion for someone (Anwar) whose support for Mahathir in the 1982-98 period was critical to the incumbent PM’s longevity in office.

But this fealty didn’t extend to tolerating Nasharuddin’s tenancy in the Umno secretariat where the secretary-general would normally want to hold sway.

“He (Nasharuddin) won’t last three months,” Sanusi let-on to a journalist friend of his, shortly after Anwar persuaded Mahathir to allow Nasharuddin’s emplacement in the secretariat in the immediate aftermath of Mahathir’s narrow defeat of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in the party polls in April 1987. Anwar’s support for Mahathir in that tussle had been crucial to the outcome.

Image result for Sanusi Junid and Anwar Ibrahim
 A lieutenancy this cagey and wittily shrewd is rare in Malaysian politics.

TERENCE NETTO has been a journalist for more than four decades. A sobering discovery has been that those who protest the loudest tend to replicate the faults they revile in others.

Dr Mahathir’s Barisan Nasional Baru

March 10, 2018

Dr Mahathir’s Barisan Nasional Baru

PPBM’s policy of being Malay-only to woo the Malay voters only seems to reaffirm BN’s claims that the opposition is built along racial lines.

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There were moments in recent times when PKR and DAP shelved their differences and painted a picture of deception that all is well with PAS. They formed a loose bond with PAS despite being warned by well-wishers that it would be a disastrous move. Despite having differences in opinion, they held together only because of one reason – a common enemy.

The disagreements never disappeared; rather, they became prominent and resulted in turmoil within the opposition. This led to many of us thanking our lucky stars that the opposition did not take over Putrajaya in the last election.

Unfortunately, Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Pakatan Harapan (PH) is embarking on the same journey of a “relationship of convenience”. It has accepted Hindraf and the Minority Rights Action Party (Mira) as strategic partners for the upcoming election.

Mahathir’s admission that they are currently perceived as a Chinese and Malay party, thus the need to align with Hindraf and Mira, reminds us that he has not changed in his political approach. Prior to Mahathir’s venture into PH, DAP and PKR stood their ground as multiracial parties. Now, it is back to square one.

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Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) only boasts Malay members and is an exact replica of UMNO. DAP is perceived as the opposite of MCA while Hindraf and Mira will fight for MIC’s vote bank. In the past, Mahathir formed UMNO Baru. Is he trying to do a Barisan Nasional Baru now? We can speculate.

PPBM’s policy of being Malay-only to woo the Malay voters, and Lim Guan Eng’s mocking of MCA leaders standing in constituencies where non-Chinese are the majority seem to reaffirm BN’s claim that the opposition is even more racial.

Everyone knows that Najib Razak has been wooing Indians for years. Other then forming an independent Indian unit within the government and giving out millions in initiatives, he also allocates special funds for other ethnic sub groups like Telugus, Malayalees and Sikhs. He went as far as being the first Prime Minister to hold visits at Thaipusam every year.

Mahathir feels that he needs to replicate this, so he goes about forming an alliance with fringe players to represent Indians within PH, unsure if they have any grassroots Indian support or if even 10% of the Indian community knows of their existence.

These deceptive bonds with every organisation for the sake of toppling BN will spell disaster whether they win the election or not. One could argue that such action is a necessity in the attempt to topple BN. This also means an admission that tossing integrity and principles out the window to win is acceptable. If this is just another basket of rotten fruits, maybe it is best that we stick to the devil we know rather than the one we don’t.

What has happened to DAP and PKR’s principles of multi-ethnic members and policies? Mahathir was the propagator of racial division in Malaysia with his policy and politics for 22 years, which has been the bane of our existence. Now, PH and its supporters have given him the power to split the nation even more. The majority of the rakyat envision a change, which is far from what PH has to offer now.

Karamjit Gill is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak is about to steal an election

March 9, 2018

Stop, Thief!

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak is about to steal an election

Image result for Najib Razak The Thief

Despite being embroiled in various scandals, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is about to “steal” the upcoming 14th general election by rigging the system, The Economist reported.

In an article titled “Stop, thief! Malaysia’s PM is about to steal an election”, the weekly British magazine said Najib feared that most voters would not vote BN to power again if given a choice.

As such, the report alleged that Najib is “taking their choice away” by means of gerrymandering and malapportionment, among other tactics. It cited the 1MDB scandal, in which US authorities say billions of ringgit have been misused, as the main point of argument.

“In most countries, a government that allowed US$4.5 billion to go missing from a state development agency would struggle to win re-election. If some US$681 million had appeared in the Prime Minister’s personal account around the same time, which he breezily explained away as a gift from an unnamed admirer, the task would be all the harder. An apparent cover-up, involving the dismissal of officials investigating, or merely complaining about the scandal, might be the last straw for voters. But in Malaysian elections, alas, voters do not count for much,” said the hard-hitting write-up.

Najib has denied any wrongdoing with regard to 1MDB, and has been cleared by the attorney-general of any misconduct.

The Economist further cited BN holding on to power despite losing the popular vote to the opposition in the 2013 general election, thanks to the “shamelessly biased drawing” of constituencies, which allowed BN the “ill-deserved victory” of securing the majority of seats in Parliament.

Read more: BN still at slight advantage with EC’s new proposal, says don

“Faced with the risk of losing power, the government is rigging the system even more brazenly. Parliament will soon vote on new constituency boundaries. The proposed map almost guarantees Najib another term, despite his appalling record,” the article said.

Rigging the election

The report then went on to explain the process of gerrymandering and malapportionment, which would favour the ruling coalition. It noted that “the practice (malapportionment) is so unfair that it is illegal in most countries, including Malaysia, where the constitution says that electoral districts must be ‘approximately equal’ in size”.


The report added that the federal opposition also had the odds stacked against it in the form of the “supine” media, as well as the police and judiciary, which seemed “more interested in allegations of minor offences by opposition figures than they are in the blatant bilking of the taxpayer over 1MDB”. It also pointed to the alleged “open violation of the constitution” by the Election Commission (EC).

The Economist also said that the latest federal budget was seemingly aimed at “buying the loyalty” of civil servants, by pledging to dish out a special bonus just after the likely date of the election.

Ultimately, the report concluded that a rigged electoral system trumped other biases, as it “robbed” Malaysians’ votes of meaning.

Tilting the playing field

Image result for Wong Chin Huat

If Najib Razak is poised to win GE-14, Malaysians make sure he is denied 2/3rd majority in Parliament. We need a very strong opposition to prevent him from creating an Islamic State under Hudud Law. The man will do anything to stay in power including making a deal with the PAS devil.

In another brief piece titled “Tilting the playing field”, The Economist also spoke to Penang Institute’s political analyst Wong Chin Huat (photo), who likened gerrymandering to “politicians choosing voters”, as opposed to an election, where voters choose politicians.


“Malapportionment – the creation of seats of wildly unequal size – worries critics most. This involves packing urban and minority voters, who tend to support the opposition, into highly populated constituencies, while the largely rural and Malay backers of the BN occupy depopulated provincial seats,” the report said.

It noted that an opposition MP thus needed more votes to win an election than one from the ruling party. As an example, it highlighted BN winning 60 percent of seats in the 2013 general election, despite receiving a minority of votes, and attributed its win to this tactic.

Read more: Know the power of your vote

The article also noted gerrymandering added to the problem. In the case of Malaysia, the report said, “This involves redrawing constituency boundaries to pack opposition voters into a few seats, while ruling-party supporters form a narrow majority in a larger number.”

The Economist said that the EC had initially produced maps for state assemblies that appeared to sort voters into ethnic ghettoes. “The revised versions, although less racially divisive, remain partisan,” it noted.

“Concentrating opposition supporters in the one seat should more than double the incumbent’s winning majority, but makes it harder for the BN’s critics to compete next door,” said the article.

It quoted former Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah lamenting the EC turning a deaf ear to grievances voiced by the opposition against such exercise, and the equally “little hope” of winning such cases in the courts.

Postal votes, and including voters with non-existent addresses in the electoral roll, were also cited as means of rigging the election.

Despite Najib “showering voters with handouts”, including 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) and civil servant bonuses, The Economist said that “the government’s zeal to diminish voters’ say in the election suggests it does not have total faith in its ability to win them over”.

From The Economist

Image result for The Economist Logo

Malaysia’s PM is about to steal an election

American officials say he already stole millions from taxpayers

IN MOST countries a government that allowed $4.5bn to go missing from a state development agency would struggle to win re-election. If some $681m had appeared in the prime minister’s personal account around the same time, which he breezily explained away as a gift from an unnamed admirer, the task would be all the harder. An apparent cover-up, involving the dismissal of officials investigating or merely complaining about the scandal, might be the last straw for voters. But in Malaysian elections, alas, voters do not count for much.

Under any reasonable electoral system, the coalition running Malaysia would not be in office in the first place. The Barisan Nasional, as it is known, barely squeaked back into power at the most recent election, in 2013. It lost the popular vote, earning only 47% to the opposition’s 51%. But thanks to the shamelessly biased drawing of the constituencies, that was enough to secure it 60% of the 222 seats in parliament.

This ill-deserved victory, however, occurred before news broke of the looting of 1MDB, a development agency whose board of advisers was chaired by the prime minister, Najib Razak. America’s Justice Department has accused him and his stepson, among others, of siphoning money out of 1MDB through an elaborate series of fraudulent transactions. Much of the money went on luxuries, it says, including paintings by Picasso and Monet, a private jet, diamond necklaces, a penthouse in Manhattan and a gambling spree in Las Vegas. In February Indonesia seized a $250m yacht that the Americans say was bought with Malaysian taxpayers’ money. Authorities in Switzerland and Singapore have also been investigating.

Mr Najib denies any wrongdoing—and of course he has loyal supporters. But his administration has not tried very hard to clear things up. Only one person has been charged in connection with the missing billions: an opposition politician who leaked details of the official investigation after the government had refused to make it public.

All this is unlikely to have improved Mr Najib’s standing with voters. Yet an election must be held by August. Faced with the risk of losing power, the government is rigging the system even more brazenly. Parliament will soon vote on new constituency boundaries. The proposed map almost guarantees Mr Najib another term, despite his appalling record.

How to rig an election

One trick is gerrymandering, drawing constituency boundaries so that lots of opposition voters are packed into a few seats, while ruling-party supporters form a narrow majority in a larger number. Lots of this goes on in Malaysia, as elsewhere: the new boundaries put two opposition bastions in the state of Perak into the same seat. Gerrymandering is made even easier by another electoral abuse called malapportionment. This involves creating districts of uneven populations, so that those which support the opposition are much bigger than those that back the government. That means, in effect, that it takes many more votes to elect an opposition MP than it does a government one. The practice is so unfair that it is illegal in most countries, including Malaysia, where the constitution says that electoral districts must be “approximately equal” in size.

Nonetheless, the constituencies in the maps proposed by the government-appointed election commission range in size from 18,000 voters to 146,000 (see article). The Barisan Nasional controls all the 15 smallest districts; 14 of the 15 biggest ones are in the hands of the opposition. The average Barisan seat has 30,000 fewer voters than the average opposition one. And this is the election commission’s second go at the maps—the first lot were even more lopsided.

Unfortunately, the electoral boundaries are not the only way in which the system is stacked against the opposition. The media are supine. The police and the courts seem more interested in allegations of minor offences by opposition figures than they are in the blatant bilking of the taxpayer over 1MDB and the open violation of the constitution at the election commission. The latest budget seems intended to buy the loyalty of civil servants, by promising a special bonus to be disbursed just after the likely date of the election.

But these biases, as bad as they are, are not the same as fiddling constituencies. As long as the electoral system is fair, Malaysians will be able to judge the government and vote accordingly. But a rigged system will rob their votes of meaning. That is the point, of course. Mr Najib may be venal, but he is not stupid. He fears that most voters would not return him to office if given a choice, so he is taking their choice away.

This article appeared in the Leaders section of the print edition under the headline “Stop, thief!”

Former MB of Kedah Sanusi Junid is dead

March 9, 2018

Former MB of Kedah Sanusi Junid is dead

by Amin Iskandar

Image result for Sanusi Junid and Mahathir Mohamad


FORMER Kedah Menteri Besar Sanusi Junid died today, his son Akramshah confirmed. He was 74.

“My father died this morning just before subuh prayers,” Akramshah told The Malaysian Insight.

According to Bernama, Akramshah said Sanusi had gone for a medical checkup yesterday.

“Yesterday, my father went for a medical checkup and everything was fine, in fact he even attended the Pakatan Harapan manifesto launching last night without showing signs of a health problem.

“This morning, (he) had performed ablution and was waiting to go for prayers when he suddenly fell unconscious,” he was reported as saying.

Sanusi’s body has been brought to Saidina Umar Al-Khattab Mosque for prayers and will be laid to rest at Bukit Kiara Muslim Cemetery after Friday prayers.

Sanusi was UMNO Minister of Rural and Regional Development between 1981 and 1986 and also served as Deputy Home Minister from 1980 to 1981.

He left UMNO and joined the party started by former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad – Bersatu. Last June, Sanusi was elected Chairman of Bersatu’s Disciplinary Board.

Image result for Sanusi Junid and Mahathir Mohamad

 “We want to die in the ring,” Sanusi said.

In an August interview with The Malaysian Insight, Sanusi said the political reconciliation between Dr Mahathir and de facto PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim had rattled Barisan Nasional leaders.

But he also said there was no longer any point for him to stay on in UMNO as it was no longer the party he joined in 1963. He left UMNO the first time in 2008 over dissatisfaction with then Party President and Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

More recently, he told The Malaysian Insight that UMNO was now a party “with the same name (but) does not have the spirit and goals of the UMNO that I used to be a part of”.

Sanusi’s long political career in public service began at the age of 31, when he was elected the Jerai MP. Later, he also won the Jerlun parliamentary seat in the 1982 General Election.

He served a stint as Federal Minister of Agriculture before becoming Kedah Menteri Besar from 1996 to 1999. Most of his years in public service were under Dr Mahathir’s administration and the two men, who are both Kedah-born, are close.

Sanusi last contested in the 2000 general election, winning the Kuah state seat.

Image result for Sanusi Junid and Mahathir Mohamad

In 2015, when Dr Mahathir had not yet left UMNO to start Bersatu, Sanusi in an interview said he and the former Prime Minister were living on “borrowed time” as they sought to raise pressure within UMNO for Prime Minister Najib Razak’s resignation over alleged scandals in state investor 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

“We want to die in the ring,” Sanusi said. – March 9, 2018.

GE-14 :Time to shift Political Discourse to Policy Issues

February 25, 2018

GE-14 :Time to shift Political Discourse to Policy Issues

by Wan Saiful Wan Jan

THE date of GE14 has been on our minds for quite some time. Most analysts I know are suggesting that polling will likely take place in April or early May.

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Political parties are clearly ramping up their efforts to woo voters. Ceramah are organised every night in various places across the country. These talks are quite exciting to watch.

In the absence of good stand-up comedy shows, the hypocrisy of some of our politicians is the next best thing, especially when they claim that their side monopolises everything that is good, while those who are not on their sides are the root of all evil. Isn’t it amusing that, in their eyes, everything is either black or white, with no shades of grey at all?

I suspect that as we get closer to GE14, race and religion will once again dominate the political discourse.

Image result for Malaysia --Battle for the Malays
UMNO Leaders–Najib Razak and Zahid Hamidi–can be expected to play the Islam and Malay Survival card in order to retain power. Najib Razak’s shift towards policy issues is an attempt to appear liberal and moderate to non-Malay voters–Din Merican


This is necessary because politicians from ethnic-based parties need to achieve immediate-term victories, while the long-term fate of this country is not the top priority.

Ensuring society is divided and sowing distrust between groups are the only way for ethnic- and religion-based parties to remain relevant in the modern world. If society rejects division, starts to trust each other unconditionally and opts for unity, these parties will become irrelevant.

I can be more specific. I have been studying Malay politics and Malay political parties in depth since March last year. In the many interviews and focus group discussions I’ve conducted, the most common issue brought up by the Malay voters is their fear of a Chinese “takeover”.

In the eyes of many Malays, the Chinese cannot be trusted because they want to remove Malay political control from the rubric of this country. Supposedly, the Chinese can only be trusted if they are subservient.

The impact of this sentiment is many-pronged. UMNO and PAS will remain influential in constituencies with certain demographics without much contest. As a coalition, Pakatan Harapan must accept the Malay leadership provided by Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Pribumi), just like Barisan Nasional accepted the leadership of UMNO.


Image result for Malaysia --Battle for the Malays

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad– The Revivalist and Reformer

Non-Malay parties in both BN and Pakatan must know what they can talk about and what they must avoid. The dividing lines may be invisible, but they exist. And, for the politicians who feel that they cannot win when debating policy and governance, their best strategy is to further embed the dividing lines.

Sadly for Malaysia, the divide-and-rule strategy is still the more successful one when it comes to political competition. In fact, ethno-religious division is so rooted in the country today to the extent anyone who does not play the same game will find it very difficult to win.

My biggest fear is the damage created by this divisive strategy will be entrenched even further in our society as a consequence of what the politicians do to win in GE14.  But desperate politicians usually have no qualms about destroying relations between our multicultural groups so long as they can win in the immediate term.

Having said the above, I am glad that there is an increasing number of political leaders calling for debates that are more policy-oriented. If you listen to the formal speeches by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak over the last few weeks, you can sense the push towards policy. And many other politicians, from both sides, are following suit.

I also noticed that among the ideas gaining traction is the proposal to separate the roles of the Attorney-General from that of the Public Prosecutor.

Currently, there is a clear conflict of interest because the A-G is also the Public Prosecutor. The A-G holds absolute discretion in deciding whether to prosecute someone.

The A-G is also the chief legal adviser to the Government, which means the Government is his “client”. It is incredible that the defence lawyer also holds the power to decide if his own client should be taken to court.

I think this is among the most urgent changes that we need to make. The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) has been advocating this reform for more than three years now, and I am glad that more people have warmed up to the proposal. I hope political parties from both sides will now take it one step further and include this reform in their respective manifestos.

It is not difficult to make this change. The A-G should be a politician who is a member of the Cabinet.

He will continue to be chief legal adviser to the Government. The Prime Minister should appoint a trusted MP to this post. But the Public Prosecutor should be a different person, appointed from the legal or judicial system, or perhaps even a suitable senior civil servant.

The main point is, the Public Prosecutor should not be a political appointment, whereas the Attorney-General can be. That way, the Public Prosecutor has no master other than the rule of law.

Wan Saiful Wan Jan is chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs ( The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

Wan Saiful Wan Jan

Wan Saiful Wan Jan is chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs.

Now is the Time to throw Corrupt and Racist UMNO out of the Window

January 18, 2018

Now is  the Time to throw Corrupt and Racist UMNO out of the  Window

by Tommy Thomas

Image result for The Crooked Najib Razak

The Incumbent UMNO-led Barisan Nasional Prime Minister of Malaysia

COMMENT | When the Alliance coalition under Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra assumed power as our first government on August 31, 1957, Dwight David Eisenhower was President of USA, Nikita Khrushchev and Mao Zedong were the respective supremos of the Soviet Union and China, Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister of the UK, Jawaharlal Nehru the Prime Minister of India and Sukarno the President of Indonesia.

In the decades that followed, the US presidents and UK prime ministers have rotated between their two major political parties. Nehru’s Congress party lost power at the ballot box in 1977. Sukarno was overthrown in an army-sponsored coup in 1965. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The only political party among these randomly selected nations that is still in power today is Mao’s Communist Party of China.

Yet in Malaysia, 13th general elections and 60 years later, that coalition, known since 1974 as Barisan Nasional, is still in power. The UMNO-led coalition is the political grouping with the greatest longevity in the world, ruling continuously and without a break for 60 years.

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 A Gallery of past UMNO Presidents–Onn Jaafar, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak, Tun Hussein Onn, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

It follows that all the ills that plague the nation, whether politically, economically, socially or otherwise, are the result of UMNO’s stranglehold over the nation. They are principally to be blamed for racial and religious polarisation, endemic corruption, centralisation of power in the office of the prime minister, the lack of independent, impartial institutions intended to act as checks and balances over the power and influence of the executive, the increase of Putrajaya’s influence to the detriment of the 13 states, and so on.

I shall, in the coming weeks, describe in some detail how one-party rule for over half a century is gravely injurious to our welfare. Just imagine the Conservative Party ruling the UK since 1957 or the Republican party providing the 11 presidents after Eisenhower. Well, one cannot imagine such a scenario. So why should it be acceptable to us?

‘Enough is enough’

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Malaysia’s Reformist Prime Minister to be at 92?

So the foremost reason for a change of government in the forthcoming 14th general election is that Malaysians must be freed at last from the clutches of UMNO. Sixty years is surely sufficient for any one political coalition to rule any country.  Enough is enough.

Although the Alliance had three component parties and BN has 14, it is commonly accepted that the reins of power have always been in the hands of UMNO, with its President automatically becoming Prime Minister.

Major policies are made and decisions taken by UMNO, sometimes even at its Supreme Council meetings. Each of the 13 other component parties knows its subordinate place in the BN hierarchy. The political reality is that for 60 years, UMNO has dominated public space in Malaysia.

For a party that was established in 1946, UMNO has only had seven Presidents in its 71-year history. Four of its Presidents left the party after leaving office. Onn Jaafar, Tunku, Hussein Onn and Dr Mahathir Mohamad not only resigned from UMNOo but joined parties opposing UMNO. It is as if they only discovered the true nature of UMNO after they left office!

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Second Prime Minister Abdul Razak Hussein died as its president. The only former UMNO president who continues to support it after his resignation is Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (pic above).

This year’s general election must therefore be treated by voters as a referendum on UMNO’s continuous and unbroken rule since Merdeka. How have they managed public finances, administered schools and hospitals, arranged sales of national assets like public utilities, roads and railways to the private sector in lopsided deals against the public interest, deprived space to minorities, critics and dissenters, and so on?

They should be judged on their political and economic governance of the nation. How have they fared? What about nepotism, cronyism, patronage and leakages?

Seen from this perspective, the focus must be on the actual governance by UMNO for six decades, rather than considering the opposition, and whether Pakatan Harapan would be able to govern as a federal government.

Well, no opposition party or coalition has so far been entrusted with national governance, and so they do not have a track record to defend. Governing the states is not a real comparison because the states have little power and influence over matters that affect our daily life, apart from local government issues.

But even if one were to measure the performances of the Penang and Selangor state governments since 2008, objectively speaking, they have performed creditably and can be trusted to govern federally.

But I suggest that the focus should be on those who have held federal power to defend their track record, and be judged by such governance. Hence, the spotlight must be turned on UMNO.

TOMMY THOMAS is a prominent lawyer and social commentator.