Bersatu and the shaping of new realities


January 19, 2019

Bersatu and the shaping of new realities

Opinion  |  Nathaniel Tan

 

COMMENT | I am grateful to be read by so esteemed and prolific a writer as S Thayaparan. Needless to say, like any two writers, the good Commander and I can hardly be expected to agree on everything – this is a healthy thing.

In his article on Jan 9, Thayaparan alludes to what I believe are a good many shared goals and even some shared analyses. What differences we may have could arguably be ascribed to the fundamental level of optimism versus cynicism. Of course, this is my own biased view.

I agree with Thayaparan that UMNO’s core strategy of feudal patronage was indeed very successful in securing Malay votes, especially in rural areas.

How else could we account for the fact that in terms of individual parties, UMNO had won the most seats in Parliament? Or the fact that nationally, Harapan only won approximately 25-30 percent of the Malay votes.

I also agree with Thayaparan in that this is a very tempting strategy to replicate, in order to achieve the same level of Malay support that UMNO achieved; as well as with the fact that there are undeniably some in Bersatu and Harapan who wish to pursue this path.

Thayaparan seems to believe that it is inevitable that Bersatu will indeed go down this same road. Here perhaps we differ.

I am no seer, so it would be foolish to say definitively whether Bersatu will or will not turn out like UMNO in the end. I will be willing to say however: it certainly isn’t an inevitability.

In terms of electoral strategy, I think the primary argument that should be put forth to those trying to emulate UMNO’s strategy of feudal patronage is that the votes you win very likely come at the cost of other votes.

Once again, I quote the Aesop fable where the dog with the bone saw his reflection in the river, and dropped the bone he had in greedy pursuit of a second bone.

Should a party follow UMNO too far, especially in terms of its approach to race, the backlash will be real. That constituency of voters should not be taken for granted, as GE 14 demonstrated decisively their willingness to vote in protest.

Knowing one’s opponent

Secondly, every political strategy must obviously take into consideration context and landscape.

Simply put, Harapan needs to know exactly who it’ll be up against in GE 15.

Thayaparan writes:

‘A Bersatu grassroots activist, who I usually call on because she gives it to me straight, told me that it is easy for the other Harapan components to criticise Rashid. It gets them good press and makes them seem like heroes, like young Syed Saddiq. But, the “beloved” (and she means it when she says this) prime minister not only has to ensure that Bersatu is a viable party, but also that “Harapan does not mampus (die)”.

Okay, I said, if your rural heartland base needs to be better informed, then why not begin the process of dismantling the system – political tactics included – which separates them from the urban Malay voter? “You want us to win or you want PAS or UMNOo to win?” she replied.’

Two prominent young Harapan leaders, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman and Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad have both used America’s transition from Barack Obama to Donald Trump as an example of a right-wing backlash.

This article does not look to ‘ignore’ these warnings and advocate some sort of no-holds-barred progressive agenda; nor does it intend to underestimate any particular political movement.

That said, if Harapan is posturing to fight the wrong enemy in the wrong way, it could end up shooting itself in the foot.

Feudalism impossible without controlling the government

The main problem with UMNO and PAS is that they cannot rule alone; for the same reason they can’t rule alone, these two can’t rule together either.

The Malay population currently stands at 55 percent. Unless you twist and turn electoral boundaries into some unrecognisable mangle, it is essentially impossible for UMOmno and PAS to appeal to non-Malays enough to win the federal government without some sort of ally.

Indeed, one can very easily argue that this scenario has already played out – not in GE-15, but in GE-14.

UMNO’s entire mandate was based on its leadership of BN, where every community was supposed to be represented.

With whatever shreds of that illusion now being shattered conclusively, UMNO is left as a party with a very narrow, exclusive ideology, and very few genuine allies.

PAS meanwhile has a dismal history of going it alone. In 1995 and 2004, they contested alone and won only seven seats each time. In 1999, 2008 and 2013, they contested in coalitions with PKR and DAP, and won 27, 23 and 21 seats respectively.

2018 was a bit of an outlier, with PAS winning 18 seats, but with each and every one of those seats coming from only three states (Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah) – making it fairly obvious that PAS cannot win elsewhere without strong allies.

So, it has to be asked: Who will Harapan really be fighting in GE-15?

As always, we should not imagine voters to be stupid. Even if they wanted to vote in someone they think would be more willing to deliver them government goodies feudal-patronage style, surely they understand that their candidate cannot do so if he is not part of the federal government.

This brings us to the most important point – why do we have to ‘out-feudal’ the enemy, when the purported enemy is in no real position to be the next feudal lord?

Certainly one should not preach complacency, but one should equally not be sending warships into waters where there are no enemies, leaving other flanks vulnerable.

Indeed, Harapan’s biggest enemy could be Harapan itself; if elections were to be held, say within a year, the biggest reason behind votes against Harapan would likely be under-performance.

Worrying about maintaining and growing Malay support is not necessarily wrong, but this can easily be a strategic misstep as a counterpoint to enemies who are now mere phantoms.

Umno has already been defeated, and at its current state of disintegration – caused in the first place by the party’s dependence on government-funded feudal patronage – it remains to be seen if it would even exist come GE-15.

PAS on the other hand has shown extreme resilience over the decades, and we can expect them to be a real force, but unless they do a 180 degree turn and somehow start to appeal to non-Muslim political movements, they will not be a primary contender for the federal government.

Redefining Malay politics

This brings us to the question of what then will the fight for the Malay heartland be about?Image result for FEUDAL MALAYS

A  feudal Umno  Patron

The impression I personally got from Thayaparan’s article was a belief that these rural Malays will always be dependent feudal peasants.

I choose a more optimistic view.

Bersatu and Harapan’s unique position – resulting from UMNO’s and PAS’ extremely weak position – gives them a golden opportunity to redefine what Malay politics is about.

There are numerous examples of late showing that there are clearly elements within Bersatu who want to go the UMNOo way, but I daresay the battle for the party’s heart and soul is not over yet.

As I wrote recently, at the very top of Bersatu is Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, and his oldest dream to invigorate the Malay community – propelling them to become successful entrepreneurs, leading professionals and captains of industry.

While his unrelenting sarcasm and unfavourable comparisons might not be the best way to bring this about, I don’t think we can doubt the sincerity of his intentions.

All that remains to determine is methodology.

It won’t be any walk in the park, but I do believe that with the right leadership and policies, we can transition out from the rural heartland’s dependency on feudal patronage, into governance based on genuine empowerment – setting everything in place for Malays to succeed on their own merits.

If we take the time to look, there are always a few encouraging signs here and there – the takeover of Perlis Bersatu by Bersatu headquarters could be one such sign.

I am all for realistic analysis. It is foolishness not to base your plans on what the objective truth on the ground is. At the same time, all the realism in the world will do us no good if we have no vision; reality, after all, is often nothing more than what all of us make it.

Image result for Man of La Mancha

 

 

On my first day driving to my new job, I listened to a song from the musical The Man of La Mancha. Perhaps not for the last time, allow me – in the style of the good Commander – to quote some lines from the show:

‘I have lived nearly fifty years, and I have seen life as it is. Pain, misery, hunger … cruelty beyond belief. I have heard the singing from taverns and the moans from bundles of filth on the streets. I have been a soldier and seen my comrades fall in battle … or die more slowly under the lash in Africa. I have held them in my arms at the final moment. These were men who saw life as it is, yet they died despairing. No glory, no gallant last words … only their eyes filled with confusion, whimpering the question, “Why?”

I do not think they asked why they were dying, but why they had lived. When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. To seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!’


 

NATHANIEL TAN is delighted to have begun a new job at Emir Research.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Orang Asli Development: A New Starting Point Needed


January 17, 2019

 

Orang Asli Development: A New Starting Point Needed. It is time to stop playing  politics with their future.

By Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

Image result for orang asli malaysia The neglected and humiliated original Malaysians. Time to stop playing  politics with their future.

In the last few weeks there has been an unusual flurry of press statements drawing attention to the Orang Asli community. They include the announcement of a national conference to be held on January 11 to discuss proactive proposals to resolve the issues faced by the 200,000 Orang Asli in our country.

The conference – which seems to have been aborted – was to have been preceded by a roundtable discussion on January 6 to identify the primary issues faced by the community, including rights to land, infrastructure access, education, the digital gap and youth empowerment.

Image result for orang asli malaysia

Simultaneously, the Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail during a visit to Cameron Highlands declared that the Government was studying the need to create a comprehensive development plan in line with that of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 107 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples which encourages governments to involve Indigenous People in development projects and provides guidance on the protection of tribal people.

Observers may be forgiven if they have linked these announcements to the coming Cameron Highlands by election. Orang Asli votes comprise over 20% of the estimated 32,000 voters for this parliamentary constituency and are perceived to be a key swing factor in the much watched election taking place on 26 January.

Another Ditched Pakatan Harapan Promise?

Image result for dr wan azizah

For GOD’s sake, Wan Azizah– Get your priorities right

But perhaps the Orang Asli voters and the larger community in the country may want to give the benefit of the doubt to the new government in view of the promises contained in the Pakatan manifesto on the preservation of Orang Asli customary land rights and concern for their welfare and development.

Will this be one key election promise made by Pakatan that can be realized without too much delay and controversy?

After all, examination of the economic and socio-cultural indicators available including infant and child mortality, life expectancy, educational levels, income levels, etc. – and there can no dispute over them in respect to those of this minority community – point to the shameful reality that 60 years after independence, the Orang Asli community – indisputably the first peoples in the Malay Peninsula – remain the poorest, the most marginalized, and the most dispossessed of home, land, means of subsistence, history, language, culture and identity.

Image result for orang asli malaysia

To expedite the process of reintegration of Orang Asli into the mainstream of society, it is imperative that the old template for resolution of the community’s problems be discarded and a new starting point of reference is established to restore the rights and status of our first peoples.

New Starting Point to Correct Past and Present Wrongs

Here are 3 suggestions for the Pakatan government (and for whoever wins the Cameron by election) to consider:

  1. Ratify ILO convention 169 on indigenous and tribal peoples in place of ILO convention 106 which was introduced more than 60 years ago.  The newer convention 169 which came into force in 1991 but which Malaysia has yet to sign on has been found necessary in view of the worsening developments in the situation of indigenous and tribal peoples in all regions of the world. This has made it appropriate for countries to adopt new international standards and to remove the assimilationist orientation of the earlier convention.

                                   ILO Convention 169

Convention No. 169 represents a consensus on the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples within the nation-States where they live and the responsibilities of governments to protect these rights. It is based on respect for the cultures and ways of life of indigenous peoples and recognizes their right to land and natural resources and to define their own priorities for development. The Convention aims at overcoming discriminatory practices affecting these peoples and enabling them to participate in decision-making that affects their lives

2   Resolve the land problems of the Orang Asli communities by recognising their ownership right to customary and ancestral lands and providing them with permanent titles. This can begin with analysis of land office, survey, mapping, forestry and other archival records of British colonial rule as well as the records of the post-colonial government which can establish the boundaries of areas where the Orang Asli have had their traditional settlements and hunting-gathering territories; and which,during the colonial period, were demarcated and regarded as Orang Asli territories.

3.  Honour the Orang Asli by recognizing their rightful place in this country through a national apology or a similar declaration from the highest level of government expressing regret for the historical injustices done to the community; pledging and honoring to right past wrongs committed during the colonial and post-colonial era; and promising action to build a sustainable and meaningful future for the community.

To date national political apologies or official expressions of remorse have taken place in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United States of America, Norway and Sweden.  Similar expressions have also been recently made by political leaders in some Latin American countries with indigenous communities.

A declaration to this effect would be a significant first for Malaysia in the ASEAN Community while we would be the second nation after Taiwan in Asia to provide such a political initiative.

This move has been seen by scholars researching the topic of apologies to indigenous peoples in comparative perspective as having the merit of putting things on record and as a prelude to reconciliation and correction of ethical flaws in the state political culture.

More importantly to me, an official expression would demonstrate the nation’s commitment to respecting human rights, and upholding justice, equality and non-discrimination.

 

FOCUS On POVERTY alleviation, not income creation for billionaires–Mahathir’s outdated policy prescriptions


January 16, 2019

FOCUS On POVERTY alleviation, not billionaires —Mahathir’s outdated policy prescriptions

by P. Gunasegaram

Image result for the malaysian maverick by barry wain

QUESTION TIME | When Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad sank low to say that wealth should be distributed equally among races, he indicated plainly that he has no solid plan to increase incomes and alleviate poverty for all Malays and Malaysians. His priorities are elsewhere.

Note that he talks about the distribution of wealth, not increasing incomes, which is more important because this is what will eventually result in a proper redistribution of wealth by valuing fairly everyone’s contribution  to wealth creation.

During his time as Prime Minister previously for a very long 22 years from 1981 to 2003 out of 46 years of independence at that time – nearly half the period of independence – he had plenty of opportunities, but squandered them.

He did not care for the common Malay, but was instead more focused on creating Malay billionaires overnight through the awarding of lucrative operations handled by the government or government companies previously, such as roads, power producers, telecommunications and others.

He depressed labour wages by bringing in millions of workers from Indonesia, and subsequently Bangladesh and the Philippines, to alter the religious balance in Sabah. A significant number of them became Malaysian citizens over the years, altering the overall racial and religious balance in the country.

By doing that he let his own race down, many of whom were workers and small entrepreneurs whose incomes were constrained by imported labour. Even now, Mahathir has not shown a great willingness to increase minimum wages, which will help many poor Malays and bumiputeras increase their incomes.

As Mahathir himself well knows, distribution is not an easy thing. Stakes held by others cannot be simply distributed, but they have to be sold, even if it is at depressed prices as it was under the New Economic Policy or NEP, when companies wanted to get listed.

Instant millionaires

There are not enough Malays rich enough to buy these stakes, but many of them in the Mahathir era and earlier, especially the connected elite, became rich by purchasing the 30 percent stakes for bumiputeras that had to be divested upon listing by taking bank loans.

By simply flipping the stakes on the market at a higher price after they were listed, they pocketed the difference and became instant millionaires.

Image result for the permodalan nasional

It was Mahathir’s brother-in-law – the straight, honest and capable Ismail Ali – who was the architect behind the setting up of Permodalan Nasional Bhd or PNB to hold in trust for bumiputera stakes in major companies. PNB now has funds of some RM280 billion and has been enormously successful in this respect.

But Mahathir, with advice from Daim Zainuddin who became his Finance Minister, still cultivated selected bumiputera leaders, many of them Daim’s cronies, and gave them plum deals. A slew of them who were terribly over-leveraged got into trouble during the 1997-1998 financial crisis.

The government, often through Khazanah Nasional Bhd, had to rescue some of the biggest ones, resulting in Khazanah holding key stakes in many companies such as Axiata, CIMB, PLUS and so on. Recently, the government has been talking about, not surprisingly, selling these stakes to investors, accusing Khazanah of not developing bumiputera entrepreneurship, which was not anywhere in its original aims.

It becomes more obvious what Mahathir is talking about. Redistribution of wealth now will come out of the selling of government (Khazanah) and PNB stakes to individual Malay entrepreneurs to equalise wealth distribution among the races. To make it more palatable, some willing Indian entrepreneurs, too, may be found.

The modus operandi will be to sell the stakes when prices are depressed and perhaps even to offer a bulk discount to these so-called entrepreneurs who, of course, will not only be among the elite, but who are cronies. That will ensure a steady flow of funds into Bersatu in future from donations to help make it the premier party in the Pakatan Harapan coalition.

Image result for the malaysian jomo and gomez

Mahathir knows full well that equal wealth distribution is impossible – it’s never been done anywhere before and makes wealth acquisition disproportionate to intelligent effort and hard work, a sure recipe for inefficiency, corruption and patronage. As eloquently argued by prominent political economy professor Terence Gomez, patronage is king in new Malaysia – if it was cash during Najib’s time.

Mahathir does not have the wherewithal to lead anymore, if he ever had it in the first place. Eight months after GE14, he is still bereft of a plan to increase incomes and improve livelihoods. He needs to recognise he does not have one and that he stays in power because of the strength of the other parties in the coalition.

Wrong direction

The only way to close the wealth gap is to increase future incomes across all races. Anything else is the expropriation of other people’s wealth. In the meantime, the holding of wealth in trust by state agencies is perfectly acceptable because the income comes back to the government.

This can be wisely used to improve the quality of education, get better quality investments, raise productivity and hence labour wages, and provide equal opportunities for growth and innovation among all communities. As so many people have said before me, you can equalise opportunities, but not outcomes.

So far, 61 years of UMNO-BN have not managed to equalise opportunities for all as the government education system is in shambles, among others. And eight months of Harapan is heading in the wrong direction under Mahathir.

Despite Bersatu being a party expressly formed to fight for Malay rights, Mahathir’s party had the lowest support from Malays of parties looking after Malay rights, including Umno, PAS, PKR and Amanah.

He is still stuck in a mode to widen his rather narrow and vulnerable power base (his Bersatu won only 13 seats of 52 contested, the worst win rate of any party in the coalition) unethically by attracting tarnished MPs from Umno into the Bersatu fold, in the process willing to break agreements with other coalition partners and doing/advocating things which are against the principles of a properly functioning democracy.

He has also said he will not honour some manifesto promises, saying that these were made when Harapan did not expect to win the elections – a rather lame excuse. He has not even made solid moves to undo repressive laws introduced by his predecessor Najib Abdul Razak.

Mahathir, obviously, has no intention plan to improve the livelihood of the common Malay and all Malaysians;  he is stuck in old-school forced distribution which is injurious to the economy, maybe even fatal in the long term.

 Malaysians don’t want the creation of Malay (or any other ) billionaires from government wealth.


Old wine in a new bottle is still sour. E-mail: t.p.guna@gmail.com

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

 

 

Patronage is king in new Malaysia?


January 12, 2019

Patronage is king in new Malaysia?

by Dr.Terence Gomez

 

COMMENT | When Dr. Mahathir Mohamad led the opposition to a stunning election victory, he had an effective rallying cry that reflected why Umno’s form of governance was problematic: “Cash is king.”

If Mahathir is not careful, worrying recent trends indicate a similarly disconcerting problem about Pakatan Harapan’s government: “Patronage is king.”

When Harapan wanted to capture power, the coalition’s leaders told Malaysians to expect real change if UMNO was expelled from government. These reforms included ending ethnically-based policies, unfailingly applied since the 1970s to justify patronage favouring bumiputera, though extremely abused to enrich politicians in power.

The Prime Minister would also no longer concurrently serve as finance minister who had under his control a slew of GLCs like 1MDB and Tabung Haji, enterprises that had been persistently abused by UMNOo. Politicians would not be appointed as directors of GLCs.

These pledges contributed to Harapan’s considerable achievement of ending authoritarian rule in Malaysia. However, Harapan has been in power barely eight months and already alarming trends are appearing which suggest that this coalition is finding ways and means to renege on its pledges.

Equally troubling is a gradual and perceptible attempt to reinstitute the practice of selective patronage in the conduct of politics and in the implementation of policies, hallmarks of UMNO politics that led to its fall.

Soon after Harapan formed the government, it created the Economic Affairs Ministry, led by Mohamed Azmin Ali. Subsequently, numerous GLCs controlled by the Finance Ministry, under the jurisdiction of Lim Guan Eng, were transferred to the Economic Affairs Ministry.

Malaysia’s only sovereign wealth fund, Khazanah Nasional, was channelled from the Finance Ministry to the Prime Minister’s Department. The government did not publicly disclose why the shifting of these GLCs between ministries was necessary, but it is now clear that the Finance Ministry no longer holds enormous influence over the corporate sector.

With Khazanah under his ministry, Mahathir, though not also functioning as the Finance Minister, had secured control of Malaysia’s leading investment arm. When Mahathir argued that Khazanah had deviated from performing one of its original objectives, helping the bumiputera, this contention was disputed by numerous analysts.

Mahathir went on to appoint himself as chairperson of Khazanah, though this was, by convention, the practice. The convention also was that the finance minister should be a member of Khazanah’s board.

Instead, Azmin was given this appointment. Whether the prime minister and the economic affairs minister should have been appointed board members of Khazanah merited debate as Harapan had pledged that politicians would not be appointed as directors of government enterprises.

On Sept 1, 2018, a Congress on the Future of Bumiputeras and the Nation was convened by Azmin’s Ministry. Mahathir stressed at this convention the need to reinstitute the practice of selective patronage, targeting bumiputeras, though no longer would the government allow for the distribution of what he referred to as “easy contracts.”

Daim Zainuddin, the chair of the Committee of Eminent Persons (CEP), established to prepare a report reviewing the state of the economy, endorsed the need for such a bumiputera policy, though he acknowledged problems of the past when he said: “We want to get it right this time.” Daim also stressed that the government would strive to change the mindset of bumiputera.

The nation was not told how this policy will be altered to get it right, nor how mindsets will be changed. Meanwhile, the CEP report, though submitted to the government, was not publicly disclosed.

Instead, the bumiputera policy was stressed when the Economic Affairs Ministry released its Mid-Term Review of the 11th Malaysia Plan, while other ministers have actively affirmed that GLCs will be divested, an issue also in the 2019 budget. Given Malaysia’s long history of political patronage, worrying questions come to mind of these divestments.

For example, one important equity sale by Khazanah, an issue that barely secured any analysis in the press, was that of its interests in CIMB, the country’s second-largest bank. Khazanah reduced its equity holding in CIMB by 0.66 percent, a seemingly small divestment.

However, does this sale mark the beginning of the transfer of control of CIMB to well-connected business people, even proxies of politicians, a common practice by UMNO in the 1990s? Will Harapan, through such divestments, move to create a new breed of powerful well-connected business groups, even oligarchs, a trend seen in other countries transiting from authoritarian rule to democracy?

‘Dr M should know better’

Another worrying issue occurred recently. Rural and Regional Development Minister Rina Harun of Mahathir’s party, Bersatu, approved the appointment of politicians from her party to the boards of directors of GLCs under her control.

This is extremely worrying because, under UMNO, the Rural and Regional Development Ministry was persistently embroiled in allegations of corruption, with MARA being the prime example.

The practice of patronage through GLCs to draw electoral support was rampant under this ministry as it has a huge presence in states with a bumiputera-majority population.

So important is this ministry, in terms of mobilising electoral support, that it was always placed under the control of a senior UMNO leader. During Najib Abdul Razak’s administration, then UMNO Vice- President, Mohd Shafie Apdal, served as its minister before he was unceremoniously removed from office. Shafie was replaced by Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Najib’s close ally.

What Rina, once an UMNO member, has done by appointing politicians to GLCs under her authority is so reminiscent of patronage practices that had undermined the activities of these enterprises.

Azmin subsequently endorsed what Rina had done on the grounds that “there are some politicians who have professional background, such as accountants, engineers or architects, who can contribute to GLCs”.

Mahathir should know better than to allow this. After all, he had stressed that GLCs function to fulfil a “noble vision”, including the alleviation of poverty, equitable wealth distribution and spatial development, promotion of rural industries and the fostering of entrepreneurial companies in new sectors of the economy. Mahathir had also persistently referred to Malaysia’s complex ensemble of GLCs as a “monster.”

During Najib’s administration, this vast GLC network, created primarily to fulfil the bumiputera agenda, became tools easily exploited by UMNO, so visibly manifested in serious corruption associated with Felda and Tabung Haji.

However, Harapan has refused to establish an independent committee to review this extremely complex GLC network that operates at the federal and state levels. Is this reluctance because Harapan plans to similarly employ GLCs for the practice of patronage, as recent trends suggest?

What is clear, even becoming the norm, is Harapan’s consistent message to the nation: selectively targeted patronage will continue. The primary advocate of this message is Bersatu, an UMNO off-shoot.

 

At Bersatu’s first convention after securing power, held two weeks ago, its president, Muhyiddin Yassin, was quoted as saying: “As a party for the ‘pribumi’ or indigenous group, Bersatu should not be apologetic to champion the bumiputera agenda”.

Muhyiddin went on to say: “No one in our society will be left behind. Hence, this agenda is not a racial agenda, but a national agenda.” These statements are strikingly similar to what Umno had stressed when in power.

These trends suggest that for Harapan, and Bersatu in particular, consolidating power, by marshalling bumiputera support, is its primary concern, not instituting appropriate economic and social reforms.

If the government hopes to change mindsets, Harapan must focus on just universal-based policies that assist all Malaysians. In the process, disenfranchised bumiputera will also be supported. Patronage need not be king.


TERENCE GOMEZ is a professor of political economy at the Faculty of Economics and Administration, Universiti Malaya.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Can Malay emancipation take place with the new Government?


January 8, 2019

Can Malay emancipation take place with the new Government?

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

Three years ago when the 1MDB and donation into Prime Minister Najib Razak’s personal account scandals took its toll on UMNO’s standing, one of the country’s more radical Malay bloggers posted a piece on the future of Malays in the country. The post had the provocative title,” Kita ni apa? Burung merpati dalam sangkar?” – see http://deminegara.blogspot.my/

In the reflective article, the blogger, KijangMas who was living abroad, had some advice for his fellow Malays in Malaysia.

He began his post by noting

Image result for umno

Ok, UMNO is history. In its current flavor, state and form . . . UMNO is no more. No point talking about what could have been . . . or the endeavors of many – including yours truly – to make the party see the light, to reform and renew and remain relevant in contemporary politics, to cleanse itself of corrupt criminals asphyxiating it to a gory demise.

Why UMNO became history

Image result for emancipated

And, possibly with the 1MDB scandal as the tipping point of his total disillusionment with UMNO, he admitted:

It was to no avail. We failed . . . and failed spectacularly as the “parti keramat Orang Melayu” got intractably hijacked by criminal lowlifes propped by a flaky collection of self-serving nincompoops and hangers-on wallowing in the muddy road to self-destruction . . . pathetic myopic fools merrily hurtling on a runaway trainwreck-in-the-making that will one day be remembered in the same light as other once invincible political forces that got arrogant and complacent, lost their way, imploded and consigned to the scrapheap of history . . . the Kuomintang, Congress Party, PRI, LDP, Golkar.

It is significant that despite his lack of faith and his disenchantment with what many in his circle regarded as the only political vehicle capable of leading the Malays to a better future, he remained optimistic of the fate of his community.

He reassured his fellow bloggers and friends in the following terms:

The Malays will do just fine . . . once we rid ourselves of the opiate of false security offered by a band of rogues at great socio-economic cost amid an induced sense of perpetual vulnerability to looming threats of imagined pendatang bogeymen lurking in every nook and cranny of the land.

We must realise the ludicrousness of the threat of impending doom of the Orang Melayu on our own Tanah Tumpah Darah IF the current gang of pillaging pirates were to lose power. We must be emancipated from this culture of irrational fear, of crippling institutional dependency, of inability to take charge and be responsible for our own welfare, our own destiny.

Since that post he has not written again.

Was his disillusionment as a nationalistic opinion leader complete as he helplessly watched UMNO’s leaders circle the wagons and find ways to absolve the party and its representatives in authority of wrongdoing or responsibility for the 1MDB controversy, while deflecting the blame to the opposition, and anti-Malay elements working to “kill off the Malays”?

KijangMas had also called for a mental revolution. As he put it;

Kita harus berjuang lah brader. Buang sifat malas. Perkuatkan minda. Tingkatkan ilmu. Jangan manjakan diri sangat. Tak payah terlalu sensitif, terlebih tersinggung, tercepat terkilan, terlajak terkempunan, tercenderung berdengki, tergigih berdendam. Dan buang lah segala macam kepercayaan karut . . . cerita hantu, kena santau, air jampi . . . amok, sawan, histeria, meracau, meroyan.

Was it also his last hurrah when he saw his hopes for a turnaround mental revolution not happening?  

Can Malay emancipation take place with the new Government?

KijangMas did not identify who or what would help free the Malays from their caged prison.

Since then a new Malay dominated coalition has taken power. But what KijangMas described as “this culture of irrational fear, of crippling institutional dependency, of inability to take charge and be responsible for our own welfare, our own destiny” has deepened not lessened with the recent anti-ICERD and anti-Indian imbroglios.

The question is whether the call for the emancipation of Malays can come from other than KijangMas and the small group of Malay liberals who – although at a different point of the ideological spectrum – have voiced the same concern.

Crucially, are there those from the high levels of  Malay society – Malay royalty, political leaders; the top civil servants;  the heads of GLCs and corporate Malaysia; Muslim religious leaders; etc. – who can be more than just opinion leaders?

For what is needed are trail blazers in action and deed that can provide the Malay masses with their own quintessential leaders that are the equivalent perhaps of Ho Chi Minh or Jamāl_al-Dīn_al-Afghānī – revolutionary nationalists but with cosmopolitan outlooks that reject the poisonous brew of narrow religious and racial dogmas, which are an equally or more repressive cage.

If this can happen –  once we have this group of what I would describe as ‘revolutionary moderates’ to be in charge, then that burung merpati dalam sangkar may finally begin to be freed from its caged condition.

One of the country’s most consistent critical social media analyst of the Malay dilemma, Prof. Dr. Tajuddin Rasdi, appears pessimistic that this can happen soon.

In his latest article, ‘Bolehkak Melayu berfikir kritis?’ he highlights the failure of the Malay educated elite to analyse rationally the information that they receive on developments related to the community and Islam.

In his words, ‘Siapa orang Melayu yang tidak boleh berfikiran waras ini? Adakah mereka orang kampung? Adakah mereka sekolah setakat darjah 6? Adakah mereka ini kaki kedai kopi dan kedai mamak?

Kalau orang berpendidikan rendah berfikir macam tu memang kita boleh agak dan fahami dan maafkan. Tetapi sebaliknya, bukan golongan macam ini saja. Kebanyakan 99% Melayu kenalan saya yang pernah belajar di universiti luar negara, universiti tempatan, dah ada Master dan dah ada PhD..

Saya mempunyai ramai kenalan Melayu dan saya berani katakan yang tidak boleh berfikiran rasional, tidak tahu berfikiran kritis, tidak mahu berfikir panjang-panjang adalah orang-orang yang jawatannya tinggi-tinggi belaka.

Apa jawatan mereka? Guru sekolah menengah, guru besar, profesor madya, profesor VK7-6-5, arkitek, jurutera, pegawai tinggi GLC, pegawai eksekutif dan doktor. Bukan calang-calang pendidikan, tuan-tuan. Semuanya extra hebat belaka. Tapi fikiran? Macam tak sekolah tinggi pun. Percaya bulat-bulat, tunggang langgang dan habis-habis. Sebab? Nak menegak ketuanan Melayu dan keagungan Islam. Dosa fitnah? Tak kisahlah. Dosa mencerca? Sikit saja. Dosa menyampai-nyampai? Tak ada hal punya beb’  (author’s emphasis).

Tajuddin’s conclusion is a warning of the long and hard road ahead for the Malay community’s nation’s well being despite the election tsunami:

Apa nak jadi dengan orang Melayu macam ini saya pun tak tahu. Negara kita ni bakal hancur dengan Melayu yang tak boleh nak urus emosi dan berfikiran rasional.

, the blogger, KijangMas who was living abroad, had some advice for his fellow Malays in Malaysia.

He began his post by noting

Ok, UMNO is history. In its current flavor, state and form . . . UMNO is no more. No point talking about what could have been . . . or the endeavors of many – including yours truly – to make the party see the light, to reform and renew and remain relevant in contemporary politics, to cleanse itself of corrupt criminals asphyxiating it to a gory demise.

Why UMNO became history

And, possibly with the 1MDB scandal as the tipping point of his total disillusionment with UMNO, he admitted:

It was to no avail. We failed . . . and failed spectacularly as the “parti keramat Orang Melayu” got intractably hijacked by criminal lowlifes propped by a flaky collection of self-serving nincompoops and hangers-on wallowing in the muddy road to self-destruction . . . pathetic myopic fools merrily hurtling on a runaway trainwreck-in-the-making that will one day be remembered in the same light as other once invincible political forces that got arrogant and complacent, lost their way, imploded and consigned to the scrapheap of history . . . the Kuomintang, Congress Party, PRI, LDP, Golkar.

It is significant that despite his lack of faith and his disenchantment with what many in his circle regarded as the only political vehicle capable of leading the Malays to a better future, he remained optimistic of the fate of his community.

He reassured his fellow bloggers and friends in the following terms:

The Malays will do just fine . . . once we rid ourselves of the opiate of false security offered by a band of rogues at great socio-economic cost amid an induced sense of perpetual vulnerability to looming threats of imagined pendatang bogeymen lurking in every nook and cranny of the land.

We must realise the ludicrousness of the threat of impending doom of the Orang Melayu on our own Tanah Tumpah Darah IF the current gang of pillaging pirates were to lose power. We must be emancipated from this culture of irrational fear, of crippling institutional dependency, of inability to take charge and be responsible for our own welfare, our own destiny.

Since that post he has not written again.

Was his disillusionment as a nationalistic opinion leader complete as he helplessly watched UMNO’s leaders circle the wagons and find ways to absolve the party and its representatives in authority of wrongdoing or responsibility for the 1MDB controversy, while deflecting the blame to the opposition, and anti-Malay elements working to “kill off the Malays”?

KijangMas had also called for a mental revolution. As he put it

Kita harus berjuang lah brader. Buang sifat malas. Perkuatkan minda. Tingkatkan ilmu. Jangan manjakan diri sangat. Tak payah terlalu sensitif, terlebih tersinggung, tercepat terkilan, terlajak terkempunan, tercenderung berdengki, tergigih berdendam. Dan buang lah segala macam kepercayaan karut . . . cerita hantu, kena santau, air jampi . . . amok, sawan, histeria, meracau, meroyan.

Was it also his last hurrah when he saw his hopes for a turnaround mental revolution not happening?

Can Malay emancipation take place with the new Government?

KijangMas did not identify who or what would help free the Malays from their caged prison.

Since then a new Malay dominated coalition has taken power. But what KijangMas described as “this culture of irrational fear, of crippling institutional dependency, of inability to take charge and be responsible for our own welfare, our own destiny” has deepened not lessened with the recent anti-ICERD and anti-Indian imbroglios.

The question is whether the call for the emancipation of Malays can come from other than KijangMas and the small group of Malay liberals who – although at a different point of the ideological spectrum – have voiced the same concern.

Crucially, are there those from the high levels of  Malay society – Malay royalty, political leaders; the top civil servants;  the heads of GLCs and corporate Malaysia; Muslim religious leaders; etc. – who can be more than just opinion leaders?

For what is needed are trail blazers in action and deed that can provide the Malay masses with their own quintessential leaders that are the equivalent perhaps of Ho Chi Minh or Jamāl_al-Dīn_al-Afghānī – revolutionary nationalists but with cosmopolitan outlooks that reject the poisonous brew of narrow religious and racial dogmas, which are an equally or more repressive cage.

If this can happen –  once we have this group of what I would describe as ‘revolutionary moderates’ to be in charge, then that burung merpati dalam sangkar may finally begin to be freed from its caged condition.

One of the country’s most consistent critical social media analyst of the Malay dilemma, Prof. Dr. Tajuddin Rasdi, appears pessimistic that this can happen soon.

 

Malaysia: Let us do the political frog our way from UMNO to Bersatu


January 3, 2019

Malaysia: Let us do the political frog our way from UMNO to Bersatu

Image result for from UMNO to Bersatu

 Kermit is not stupid fro. He has  fans around the world . Unlike political froggies from UMNO, he is worth more than a dime a dozen.

“Political frogs are now on the prowl and are available at a dime a dozen. And, in most occasions, at no cost. In accepting them into their new homes, some owners accept them to show their strength in numbers and in other cases, to tap their talent and expertise, if they have any. “– R. Nadeswaran

 

Image result for salleh keruak with najib and rosmah

UMNO’s Super Katak Salleh Keruak

SATIRE | Political frogs are now on the prowl and are available at a dime a dozen. And, in most occasions, at no cost. In accepting them into their new homes, some owners accept them to show their strength in numbers and in other cases, to tap their talent and expertise, if they have any.

Some have expertise in certain areas, including finance, technology and the lot. But there are many who excel in wheeling and dealing and have called themselves fixers. Not long ago, three Datuks called themselves “The Fixers”.

In such instances, the transfer of such mentality, proficiency and capability is always recognised as wannabe-members openly declare that they would inculcate such traits à la “transfer of technology.” They sometimes raise few eyebrows, but for political expediency, nothing counts and the philosophy of “everyone is welcome” prevails.

Early signs emerged when the party held its annual congress last week. Among the speeches of the transferees or beneficiaries of this technology, one came from someone who has worked the system to fine-tune the supposed below-the-line activities to make sure the previous party stayed in power. The electorate was balanced; the rolls were adjusted so that the then Opposition was kept out. He was answerable to no one. The members of his team were referred to as members of the “dumb and deaf” committee.

He spoke at length: “An eventful year has come to an end. We are the victors. We won. We worked hard – mentally and physically for our success. It was not easy fighting someone with one-handed tied to the back. Yet, we came out with flying colours.

“Pinch yourself – we are in power and we will continue to remain for many more years to come. We are entitled to some reward – presently and in the hereafter for our work.

“We all – the elected representatives, divisional chiefs, branch captains and even the ordinary member who put up banners and pasted posters must be rewarded for our hard work.

“It is time for us to share the spoils of the war. Representation has been made; calculations have been completed; vacancies have been identified; those who have to make way have been subtly told that they have overstayed their stay.

“Forget what we promised in the manifesto – a clean government. But that was sheer electioneering – propaganda.”

‘This is utter nonsense’

The young man who had a huge Plaster of Paris around his wrist, to cover a scratch from his girlfriend, retorted: “This is utter nonsense. Didn’t we promise that the best people would be employed for top jobs? Didn’t we promise to dismantle the abang-adik system in government departments and government agencies?”

Amid shouts of duduk (sit) and tutup mulut (shut up), he was told: “Well, that ‘cronyism must end’ battle cry was to appease the urbanites and the liberals – the English speaking mob which believed in ‘true democracy.’ Now it is our turn. Our branch leaders have to be rewarded too.”

When everyone sat down and the situation calmed down, the session Speaker announced. “I have heard enough. I want to make an important announcement.

“Phase One of ‘Ops Kita Sapu Semua’ starts tomorrow. Please change your membership cards with the latest chip technology which has been provided free by the same company that does the cards for government agencies.

“As of midnight tonight, you don’t have to pay toll anymore. Your membership card is actually equivalent of the Touch ‘n Go card, but yours is better. You don’t have to top-up. There is no value cap on it and it can only be changed if and when we are kicked out of power in the next hustings.

“As you are aware, the blue plane people have refused to collect the passenger service fee for our airports’ company. We have been told that tables will be placed at the entrance at every departure gate, where passengers will have to make cash payments before they are allowed into the departure lounges. In the case of our members, show your chip-embedded card and you will be exempted. Use the special red lane allocated for us.”

Delegate after delegate spoke, sometimes out of turn, to applaud the new initiative. “We waited for this for 61 years while they plucked all the fruits. This is our chance,” said one.

“I’m not finished yet,” the Speaker said: “Phase Two starts next week. Every job or position which comes with salaries and perks (like members of the boards of electoral reform committee, the aviation regulatory organisation, the social security agency, etc) belongs to us. We will appoint divisional chairmen and branch leaders to such posts.

“We will replace all members of the boards of government-linked companies (GLCs) as a first step. Members are humbly asked to nominate ordinary people instead of titled people. The previous regime put people there who stole and got caught. We will put people who won’t get caught because they won’t steal so much with having just passed SPM.

“To steal, we don’t need brains of those with degrees achieved or otherwise bought, as in the case of the guy we put in charge of pilgrims. As long as you are able to say setuju (agree) and angkat tangan (lift your hands), there’s no other skill required.”

‘Looking at government contracts’

In Phase Three to be launched next month, the Speaker said, “we will be looking at government contracts…” and he was rudely interrupted.

A few delegates spoke out: “This is not what we stand for. NGOs will start screaming blue murder and claim that our ruling elites are channelling government resources for themselves.”

Corruption and political patronage, they argued, emanated such a revolting stench that prompted the previous fellows being ejected. “Will they do the same to the present group?”

Another said: “These are our entitlements. No one can take those away from us. Yes, the NGOs will make noise for a while, but throw them a few crumbs in the form of non-important positions in the consumer side, and they will shut up.”

But the most important issue that set the delegates scratching their heads was: “What are we going to tell Uncle Lim? He put his head on the chopping block to work with us to throw out the kleptocratic government. How will the good doctor face him?”

The hall fell silent. Suddenly it dawned on them that they were in control collectively with three others. Doing it their way would sound wrong.

But then, someone provided a perfect riposte. “Our doctor not only treats the sick but has enough antidotes in his medical bag to treat even political sickness. If not, would he have made a comeback after being in the wilderness for two decades?”

There was a pin-drip silence for a moment and then the hall exploded. When everything settled down, the Speaker said: “Our doctor has a cure for everything.” This time, there was a standing ovation. Need more be said?


R NADESWARAN will pen yet another piece next month when Phase Three is implemented. Comments: citizen.nades22@gmail.com

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.