MP Nik Nazmi brings back memories of the Anwar-led 2008 Pakatan Rakyat

February 16,2018

Nik Nazmi brings back memories of the Anwar-led 2008  Pakatan Rakyat

By Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad  the MP for Setiawangsa.

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MP SPEAKS | This week, seven former UMNO MPs joined Bersatu. Bersatu has also declared its entry into Sabah, contrary to its pledge before the 2018 election.

I have consistently said that I am against this—and many of my colleagues in Pakatan Harapan feel the same way.

Let us focus on the challenges facing us in the present and how to move forward into the future. One thing that we need to do is to be willing to listen to all arguments—including the ones we don’t necessarily agree with.

It has been argued that these defectors are needed to shore-up Malay support for Harapan.

It has also been argued that the move is necessary to counter the emerging UMNO-PAS alliance, which is allegedly increasingly popular on social media as well as to strengthen our coalition’s standing in rural areas — such as the East Coast and Northern Peninsula.

It is true that Harapan did not win the popular vote in the last election—garnering only 48.31% of it. Indeed, much of the 50.79% of the vote that Barisan Nasional and PAS won was from Malays in the East coast and Northern Peninsula Malaysia as well as from Muslim Bumiputeras in Sarawak.

And it does appear that Malay sentiment towards Harapan is not exactly glowing. Although much of this is driven by the shrill and manufactured voices of UMNO and PAS surrogates, there is genuine concern among many Malays that the community is under threat: both politically and socio-economically.

Defections will not guarantee Malay support

But is taking in defectors from UMNO the best way to assuage these concerns?

Why can’t the various components of Harapan evolve so that we can, finally, access, engage and win the support of all Malaysians, including the rural Malays?

Why do some of our leaders seem intent on taking short-cuts, rather than the path of hard (but ultimately rewarding) work? Have we totally abandoned the idea of bipartisanship?

Why do some Harapan leaders assume that the Malay community will necessarily be impressed by taking in these defectors? Is the rural Malay community that monolithic? Is quantity really that more important in governance and politics rather than quality?

But if taking in defectors is not the way, how should Harapan resolve its “Malay dilemma”?

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Negara ini bukan  Tun Dr.Mahathir punya. Ini adalah Malaysia–Negara kita semua. 2008 GE Tagline–UBAH SEBELUM PARAH

One way is to double-down on conservative Malay politics, including turning back on reform because it will allegedly weaken the community. This is the path that PAS has taken. That was their choice to make and theirs alone, but it also means they are no longer the party of Dr Burhanuddin al Helmy, Fadzil Noor and Nik Aziz Nik Mat.

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Dr.Syed Hussin Ali-The Intelletual behind PKR

The alternative is to stick to the progressive, inclusive promises we made via the Buku Harapan.

Our GE-14 campaign manifesto was a document that all Harapan parties agreed to. But it was also a platform that addressed the aspirations and problems of all segments of Malaysian society, including the Malays.

The Buku Harapan can be executed. We couldn’t deliver all of the 100 day promises—but it doesn’t mean that it cannot be realised. The same applies to the other pledges.

Some things may need to be sequenced, but they must be done if the country is to survive and thrive. We should not simply cast the Buku Harapan aside due to political exigencies.

Harapan won because it gave Malaysians hope

It is cynical and disingenuous to say that Harapan won only because of the 1MDB scandal and the anger towards Najib Razak. That’s simply not true.

Our critics—but also our own leaders, legislators and supporters—should give us more credit than that.

Malaysians voted for us not only out of anger over BN’s scandals and mismanagement, but because they believed that Harapan had a better vision for the future of the country. They voted for us because Harapan gave them hope. What I am saying is this: Harapan should learn to take “yes” for an answer.

Malaysians gave us an adequate majority on May 9

There is no need to worry about our parliamentary majority (which is adequate to govern). Unless some quarters have some political calculations to undermine the Harapan consensus.

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As I have said many times before, a two-thirds majority is sometimes more trouble than it is worth.

It is only moral and just that constitutional amendments—when they become necessary—be done via a bipartisan consensus, by talking and working with the Opposition and civil society.

Harapan should roll up our sleeves and get down to the business of governing the country. And “governing”, means reforming our economy and making it work for all Malaysians.

Malays will benefit from progressive politics

Part of this involves winning over the Malays to the idea that progressive politics and governance is in their interest. And it is.

Who makes up the majority of the urban poor? The Malays.

Who makes up the majority of low-wage earners? The Malays.

Who makes up the majority of the petty traders struggling to earn a living? The Malays.

Whose families are the majority of those struggling to service high household debts? The Malays.

Who are the majority of smallholders struggling from low commodity prices and delays in government payments? The Malays.

Delivering an economy that solves the plight of these segments of society, even in a non-racial manner, will do more to win over Malay voters than trying to outflank UMNO and PAS on the right – or luring opposition crossovers.

The voters in these constituencies did not vote for Harapan. They knowingly chose the vision that BN and PAS had for Malaysia. Their MPs moving over to Harapan will not likely make them feel any differently.

Instead, solving the bread-and-butter-issues of the voters will go a long way in addressing their racial and religious insecurities.

Harapan should trust our defend our Constitution

We must also learn to trust our Constitution and our system of governance, even as we repair both from decades of abuse.

Setting up the latest incarnation of the National Economic Action Council (NEAC) is the Prime Minister’s prerogative and so is its composition — although there were some interesting omissions.

The members who were selected are distinguished and respected in their several fields — one wishes them every success.

But the NEAC’s emergence has — fairly or unfairly — led to speculation over the performance of the Cabinet. There are perceptions — again, fairly or unfairly —that attempts are being made to circumvent the normal process of Cabinet-based governance in the management of Malaysia’s economy.

It is easy to dismiss these criticisms as grouses, but they have a real impact on how voters view this current Pakatan Harapan government.

If we lead, the people will follow

I hope this is something that the leaders of our government and alliance will take into account moving forward, especially when dealing with defectors and in how the administration’s agenda is to be executed.

The ends do not justify the means. Like it or not, processes sometimes matter as much as outcomes.

Malaysia needs solutions that work for the many, not the few. We need policies for these day and age. Too often we seem to be indicating of going back to the economic prescriptions of Old Malaysia.

Sticking to the spirit of Buku Harapan is the way forward.

This will go a long way towards winning over Malay fence sitters and not side-line our non-Malay and politically liberal supporters.

While UMNO and PAS embark on a journey rightwards, we should not dance to their tune.

But we must allow them the space to be a functioning Opposition that keeps us in check.

That is what leadership is. Pakatan doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. Let’s be sure of who we are, what we want to do and where we want to go. If we are sincere, the people — including the Malays — will follow.

Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad is the MP for Setiawangsa.

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

How effective is the Economic Affairs Ministry?

Fsbruary1, 2019

How effective is the Economic Affairs Ministry?


 by Nathaniel Tan


COMMENT | Universiti Malaya Professor Terence Gomez recently wrote an article entitled ‘Patronage is king in new Malaysia?’

This article elicited a rather rare response from the usually reclusive and enigmatic former finance minister, Daim Zainuddin, who registered his umbrage about having his photo printed (“reporting by innuendo”, allegedly) alongside Gomez’s article in The Star.

One of Gomez’s key questions involved the moving of key federal agencies from one ministry to another under Pakatan Harapan.

Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad created the new Economic Affairs Ministry under PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali just a few weeks after forming the government last year.

Gomez did not appear to directly question the formation of this ministry and the rationale for doing so, but Daim seemed quick to jump to its defence, writing:

“The cabinet is appointed by the Prime Minister; who he appoints and what portfolio they hold is entirely his prerogative. He can even have a minister in charge of durians if he so wishes, if he considers that a portfolio of durians is good for his administration and the country.”

Trying to play amateur psychologist should perhaps be frowned upon, but the defensiveness and sarcasm of these words might perhaps be interpreted as Gomez having hit a little close to home.

In his short piece, Daim was also quick to defend the ‘bumiputera agenda’: “The bumiputra agenda is mutually inclusive with a national agenda. For as long as we do not solve the bumiputra issue, we can never go forward as a nation.”

We must, of course, be fair. Nothing that Daim is saying in the above quotes is technically wrong, or even particularly bad.

The Prime Minister does indeed have every power to create or dissolve ministries as he sees fit, and bumiputera prosperity is not mutually exclusive with Malaysian prosperity.

All that said, it may be worthwhile for us to read a little between the lines to understand what undercurrents are at play here.

Why an Economic Affairs Ministry?

To my shame, I must admit that I was for a long time a little bit confused about the rationale of creating the Economic Affairs Ministry in the first place.

As time went by, I realised that said rationale should have been obvious to anyone deigning to consider themselves a seasoned political observer.

The answer becomes clear when we look at a sampling of which federal agencies were transferred from Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s ministry to Azmin’s portfolio: Felda, Felcra, Unit Peneraju Agenda Bumiputera, Yayasan Amanah Hartanah Bumiputera, and Yayasan Peneraju Pendidikan Bumiputera, just to name a few.

Azmin’s ministry also convened the Congress on the Future of Bumiputeras and the Nation in September last year.

The facts suggest that there were elements who felt uncomfortable with placing the agencies mentioned and all the power that came with them above under the aegis of someone with a surname like “Lim.”

Political ambitions as a distraction

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There is one more element here at play. It may not have been a coincidence that Azmin was handpicked to lead this carved-out ministry.

The enduring focus of political speculation and gossip in Malaysia is whether or not PKR President Anwar Ibrahim will succeed Mahathir as Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, some might say that the enduring focus of Daim’s vision for a future Malaysia is one in which Anwar is not prime Minister.

The mutual dislike between these men is not much of a secret. In the early days after GE14, both made thinly veiled attacks against one another.

Image result for Daim on ANWAR

Anyone looking to prevent Anwar from becoming Prime Minister would naturally look to alternatives. Azmin of course is an obvious option, given the increasing animosity playing out between Azmin and Anwar.

The available facts and public positions taken by each respective party does make it look like there is some Azmin-Daim partnership manoeuvering to try and put forward Azmin as a successor to Mahathir instead of Anwar.

The disproportionate amount of Mahathir-friendly content on Azmin’s Twitter timeline and Daim’s reputation as someone inclined to project considerable influence (‘meddle’ is the less kind word some might use) in various spheres of governance all add to this perception.

The stakes in this game are high of course – literally the highest, where Malaysian politics is concerned. So it should come as no surprise that a lot of energy and resources go into the political manouvering at play.

Getting back on track

A few days ago, a piece of tragic, shocking news emerged, where two elderly ladies in Pudu died in a mini-stampede at the wet market over a rush to get coupons for free food.

Amidst all our politicking, this was a sobering reminder of the (literal) life and death realities Malaysians are facing on the ground.

Whatever his political ambitions, and whether or not his entire ministry was created amidst racial concerns, people like Azmin and others are all capable of playing a big role in facilitating much-needed growth in our economy.

Doing so, however, will require him and the rest of those in power to hunker down and really focus on finding solutions.

If we fail to do so, we put the welfare of those like the two ladies in Pudu, and millions of other Malaysians with them, at severe risk.

NATHANIEL TAN is Director of Media and Communications at EMIR Research, a think tank focused on data-driven policy research, centered around principles of Engagement, Moderation, Innovation and Rigour.

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

The clear messages from Cameron Highlands

The clear messages from Cameron Highlands

By P.

‘There are very clear messages from the Cameron Highlands by-election. Harapan must take heed of these and act accordingly, or face the prospect of dwindling support from the populace – and even a possible loss in GE15. That would be a major setback for reform”–  P.  Gunasegaram

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QUESTION TIME | If the Pakatan Harapan coalition was in thinking and strategising mode instead of inter- and intra-party feuding, posturing and jostling for power and privilege, they may have been able to better see what was happening on the ground and prevented a bigger loss in the Cameron Highlands parliamentary by-election on January 26.

This seat was won by BN with a majority of just 547 votes in GE14, but this time around, BN’s majority widened considerably to 3,238 votes with Ramli Mohd Nor garnering 12,038 votes, while the closest contender, Harapan’s DAP candidate M Manogaran, got 8,800 votes.

There are three strong messages that come out from this Cameron Highlands result. It is imperative that Harapan take notice of these if they are to keep up their momentum and continue to fire the imagination of all sectors of the Malaysian public for change.

Even more importantly, coming up to nine months after achieving power, they need to start showing some results instead of bickering among themselves, and in the case of PKR, very tellingly within themselves, to show that they have the wherewithal to take this country decisively to a higher plane and keep going higher.

The first message is this – that an UMNO and PAS alliance can be a strong galvanising force to unite Malays, especially in the clear absence of any party within Harapan to stake a solid claim to represent Malay interests.

It was a matter of time before UMNO and PAS realised that and closed ranks. If Harapan had been in thinking mode, they would have long ago realised this and thought about it. But they needed this Cameron Highlands blast to jerk them out of their reverie, to sit up and take notice. They have lost valuable time.

The last general election results showed decisively that Bersatu, with its 13 parliamentary seats won, was nowhere near a replacement for UMNO. Likewise, PAS defectors’ party Amanah, with 11 seats, was a poor shadow of PAS, but it did much better relative to PAS than Bersatu relative to UMNOmno.

It turns out that the party in Harapan which has the greatest amount of Malay and bumiputera support is the multi-racial PKR, which won 48 seats, twice that of Bersatu and Amanah combined, many of that in Malay-dominant areas (see table below).

This indicates that many Malays are prepared to support a multi-racial party with Malay leadership at the very top with non-Malay leaders too at other levels, provided the party adheres to special privileges for Malays and the bumiputera and is prepared to walk the talk, while at the same time committing to stopping the abuse of such privileges.

It may be too early to dissolve all parties within Harapan to have one single multi-racial party. However, Harapan will do well to look at that, as well as other arrangements such as partial mergers between, say, Bersatu and Amanah or between PKR, Bersatu and Amanah, leaving out DAP if the time for that has not yet come.

Harapan needs to address urgently the vital issue of how to get Malay support. And they should not exclude a possible alliance with PAS for this, thus pulling the carpet from under UMNO.

This may require a leadership change within PAS and the dropping of DAP’s virulent opposition to the Islamic party. To bring PAS into the Harapan fold will help moderate its demands in terms of Islamisation and improve dialogue for a more constructive solution towards religious harmony, which will be acceptable to both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Patience wearing thin

The second message is that the candidate does matter under some circumstances, and it certainly did in Cameron Highlands. Sometimes it is necessary to look for the right candidate instead of blindly getting the previous candidate to stand.

BN was willing to do exactly that to get MIC to give up its claim for the seat and pass it to a qualified Orang Asli candidate who was a former assistant commissioner in the police force and a direct member of BN. If Harapan had been thinking, they could have got him instead.

That move ensured strong Orang Asli support, who formed 22 percent of the constituency against an Indian population of just 15 percent, a Chinese population of 30 percent and 34 percent Malays (adds up to 101 percent due to a rounding error). Also, the candidate is Muslim which would have ensured more Malay support as well.

Harapan will do well to remember that an increasingly discerning public will demand better candidates to be their representatives, not UMNO has-beens. Bersatu, especially, should be looking out for capable candidates for GE15 who are not of the UMNO mould. It is some cause for celebration that an Orang Asli has finally entered Parliament in Malaysia.

The final message is that the public is starting to get disillusioned with Harapan. In the Port Dickson by-election of Oct 13, some three-and-a-half months ago, Anwar Ibrahim won by a 23,560-vote majority, higher than the previous majority of 17,710, despite a lower turnout when Harapan contested against a PAS candidate who got 7,456 votes.

Former UMNO strongman and Najib Abdul Razak ally Mohd Isa Abdul Samad, who contested as an independent, lost his deposit with 4,230 votes, while Anwar’s former aide who accused him of sodomy, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan garnered just 82 votes. According to an analysis by Malaysiakini, Anwar garnered more Malay support in Port Dickson than that obtained there in GE-14.

Yes, the dynamics were different in Cameron Highlands, but Harapan needs to note that the people’s patience is wearing thin. If it can show some tangible results in terms of fulfilling election manifesto promises and outline a definite plan of action, Harapan can do much better in future by-elections.

There are very clear messages from the Cameron Highlands by-election. Harapan must take heed of these and act accordingly, or face the prospect of dwindling support from the populace – and even a possible loss in GE15. That would be a major setback for reform.

P GUNASEGARAM says it is dangerous to ignore the writing on the wall as a new chill wind blows in. E-mail:

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

cakap ( Talk), cakap( Talk) : As a blogger, I have failed.

January 26, 2019

cakap ( Talk), cakap( Talk) : As a blogger, I have failed.

By |Saturday, January 26th, 2019|Categories: FEATURED, IN MIND, NATION|Tags: ,

If you do not trust nor believe the words of Tun Mahathir, Azizah, Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang and LGE, who then can you believe? Who then can you trust?

If you just had a King abdicate after he had married a Russian beauty queen and abdicate for reasons that ran the gauntlet of being a drug and sex addict, to a King beholden (or more appropriately, held to ransom) by the previous BN government who had plied him with much cash and closed one eye to all of his human failings….how else, you may ask yourself, can you expect the other Royals to misbehave?

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If you had already endured a BN government that had taken you for fools and idiots in the manner they do government and you are now facing the real prospect of this Pakatan Harapan government also taking you down the same garden path as BN did…surely, you should by now, start to ask yourself, what else is there to come.

And just as you think there may be some hope in the integrity and independence of the Judiciary and all those whom have been appointed and anointed to do just that….we are confronted by the images of these same individuals thumbing their noses at the very adage that they must be familiar with “That justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done,” as we are confronted with images of these very same individuals from the highest judicial office in Malaysia  doing what is not very “judicious”….letting their hair down in public. For sure you can argued that it was a closed gathering but surely these August Judicial Officers must be aware that Chua Soi Lek thought that what he was doing in the confines of a hotel room would remain in the confines of that Hotel room…alas he was wrong. These judicial officials must not forget that at all times, they must carry themselves with decorum and with grace less they become suspect in the eyes of the rakyat as being complicit with the powers that be in taking the judiciary down to their level.


Increasingly we are being confronted by disturbing images and the juvenile deeds of high public officials. Everyday we hear of, and read about little Napoleons in position of little or no authority pushing their weight around by being arrogant, overbearing, uncaring and unable to emphatize and sympathize with the plight of the rakyat trying to eke out a decent living in very trying circumstances.

All these and more, day by day, is becoming a crushing burden on the rakyat as this Pakatan Harapan government asks, nay demands, that you and I must pikul this crushing burden for God knows how long more. There is no end in sight! A burden the Rakyat seems unwilling and unable to shoulder even for another single day…what more for another week, a month or even years.

Something has to give!

The distinguishing feature that has defined the Barisan Nasional government and now, this Pakatan Harapan government is DIVISIVENESS.

Both BN and PH leadership are guilty of not attempting to bring the nation together in their decision making process. BN and PH found it politically expedient to divide the nation at the expense of social cohesion to achieve the own vested political ends. This pattern of divisiveness is a recurring factor that has distinguish each and every prime minister after Tunku. It is the preferred MO of politicians in and out of government that they exploit to win elections. What we now have is a damaged nation, a divided nation as reflected in the truths of religious and racial divide that we now have in Malaysia today.

The proliferation and exponential growth of social media means that Malaysians no longer remain ignorant of this truth. Politicians can no longer hope that Malaysians hear no evil, see no evil and think therefore that there is no evil…..and yet sadly, they still do! We all know the truth about the recent abdication of the Agong. We all know he married a Russian beauty before this Pakatan Harapan told us. We know that a South American guy by the name of Marco walks in and out of the palace as the supplier of the coke that this Agong partakes in. When will this Pakatan Harapan government tells us of this?

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This PH government cannot have its cake and eat it. Tun Mahathir or no Tun Mahathir, we have yet to see PH show any intent to break the mould of toxic leadership that has defined the sad state of politics in Malaysia ever since UMNO reign supreme.  

What is about to give is my patience, my once stoic acceptance that our political leaders knows what is best for us and certainly my unquestioning loyalty to race and religion. I now understand that things are not just black and white….that there are shades of grey. And for me, that is how I write. I cannot be honest with myself if I do not offer some honest reflections on the things that I care about.

And so I give notice to those who read what I write…come with me on this journey that we must all embark.

Thinking of what is to come and what we, collectively and individually have to do on this journey is daunting but if we do not do our duty for Malaysia, who else will? If the longevity of any blogger is a measure of their success then having blogged for over a decade, I am a success…but  if I look around me today at the state of our nation, then any success I may claim falls away significantly. I have blogged for social cohesion amongst all Malaysians. I have blogged for good, open and responsible government. I have blogged for racial and religious tolerance….and none of these things that I have blogged can, in all seriousness, been said to have been achieved nor possible in the Malaysia that we now know. So as a blogger I have failed. You must now ask yourself, if, as a Malaysian, you too have failed to achieve those things that matters to you. If your aspiration as the same as mine, then we both have failed.

What do we now do next?

……to be continued. 



Malaysian Islam seen through 3 men

January 21, 2019

Malaysian Islam seen through 3 men

I wish to present three perspectives of Islam concerning the concept of choosing a “leader” in Malaysia.

This article is inspired by Abdul Hadi Awang’s clarion call to Muslims to choose his narrow-minded brand of Islam, perhaps for the upcoming Cameron Highland by-election.

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I will describe the views of Hadi, Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, and Muslim scholar Dr Farouk Musa, who heads the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF).

Each has given three different views of what is considered appropriate leadership within an Islamic framework of their choice.

This article is specifically for Malaysians to contemplate the type of Islam existing in Malaysia that will determine the course of our nation in the coming decades.

Hadi Awang

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To Hadi, non-Muslims can NEVER be trusted at all, now and forever. To him, even if the non-Muslim looks “clean” he would eventually be corrupted simply because he is not a Muslim.

To Hadi, non-Muslims can NEVER be trusted at all, now and forever. To him, even if the non-Muslim looks “clean” he would eventually be corrupted simply because he is not a Muslim.

Simple. Clear. Concise. At whichever leadership position there is, whether for a head teacher, an elected representative, a district officer, a minister, a vice-chancellor and especially, the prime minister, the choice must always and forever be Muslim, no two ways about it.

It seems Hadi can clearly see the fate of everyone, Muslim and non-Muslim, because even the Prophet has said that no one knows their fate except Allah.


Image result for dr. asri and zakir naik

In a lecture posted on YouTube, the Perlis mufti was asked whether one can choose a non-Muslim leader or not. To me, for Malays to be asking that very question speaks volumes about the failed state of our education system for the past 60 years.

Asri gave what to me was a scholarly and clear answer. He firstly clarified that what is haram must be stated clearly, and anything that is not stated in the hadith and the Quran can be considered acceptable.

Democracy has never been stated by the Prophet and by the Quran and so it is not haram to use such a system in choosing a leader by a one-man, one-vote system.

Secondly, he said that the present administrative governance of the leadership in Malaysia is enshrined in the constitution and backed by the Malay rulers. Thus, the laws and guidelines for governance within a Malaysian-Muslim construct are well established and any different levels of leadership cannot decide willy nilly about any whimsical desire.

A head teacher has an SOP, an elected representative has a certain responsibility and jurisdiction, a district officer has his or her regulated guidelines, and so does a minister.

In that regard, a Muslim may choose anyone who is Muslim or non-Muslim for a position of leadership at any level except the topmost one, which is the prime minister of Malaysia.

Ahmad Farouk Musa

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The third view is by far my favourite, the most radical and what I consider the most constitutionally correct.

This view is propagated by Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, a fierce critic of traditional and state Islam and a proponent of a modern and enlightened Islam for all.

He says that a Muslim must never choose a corrupt, immoral and cruel leader just because he is a Muslim. A Muslim must subscribe to the principle of morality and justice for all by choosing someone trustworthy with the strength and will to do the right thing for all, at all times, regardless of faith, race or status.

If the candidate is a non-Muslim then Muslims must choose him or her over a corrupt Muslim.

What Muslims believe

It was fortunate that Barisan Nasional (BN) had a mutual understanding of electing leaders at all levels of governance by choosing citizens of various races, cultures and faiths.

Malaysians must acknowledge the great debt we owe to BN for ignoring extremist views like those of Hadi. Truly Hadi’s view is destructive to all Malaysians and serves perhaps his egocentric desire for power and prestige as well as financial gratification. Thank you, BN!

The choice of leadership modelled after the likes of Asri has been a precedent that Pakatan Harapan (PH) now emulates. Thank you also to PH for ignoring the views of the ulama who think they are the only ones capable of ruling over Malaysia with their limited education and framework of thinking.

Hadi’s view is perhaps relevant for a small fishing community. However, the great problem that has arisen is that after the Islamic revival movement of the Abim/Ikram era, Muslims are more religious than the days of P Ramlee in the 60s and 70s.

In those days, one out 1,000 Malays would pray regularly. Now one out of 100 Malays will not pray regularly.

Most Malays pray and have access to speeches by narrow-minded teachers, who propagate the Hadi view of leadership.

The proponents of this view are mostly in public universities holding positions of professors and associate professors. If I were to venture a figure in the 60s and 70s, 90% of Muslims would subscribe to the middle view of Asri and only 9% to Hadi and 1% to Farouk’s.

Now, I would venture that 70% of Muslims are with the view of Hadi, 29% with Asri and 1% with Farouk. This breakdown will cost untold hardship in Malaysia’s political scenario.

I would venture that my view and that of Farouk are 50 years ahead of time. The numbers supporting Asri’s view must turn to 70% if we are to move comfortably forward.

If I were to be bold and venture a guess, 100% of non-Muslims would subscribe to Asri’s view of leadership because the non-Malays accept and respect the cultural leadership of the sultan and the history of Tanah Melayu as an important civilisation and heritage.

Malaysians must understand that Asri is educating the Malays in a more moderate and progressive way, while Hadi seeks only discord and conflict as a political tool of power grabbing.

What of Farouk’s radical view of Islam? Well, he and I can wait 50 years. No hurry.

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

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.