Tengku Adnan:Overstaying his welcome


April 19, 2018

Tengku Adnan:Overstaying his welcome

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An Empty UMNO Vessel Makes the Most Noise

Tengku Adnan, the (caretaker) Minister for Federal Territories and UMNO Secretary-General followed a well-worn pattern of fearmongering when he warned recently of the threat posed by Christian evangelists.

Speaking to civil servants in Putrajaya last week, he cautioned them to be wary of the DAP (and by extension Pakatan Harapan) because, according to him, many DAP leaders are Christian “evangelists.”

Continuing, he stated that from Catholicism they become Protestants and from Protestants they become evangelists and born-again Christians, Methodists, etc.  “If they are Catholics, I can still believe them,” he said, “but when they are evangelists, they are considered new Christians. It is a problem.”

He went on to hint that the country’s sovereignty, the special rights of the Malays, the Malay language and many other things would be “destroyed if we are not careful.”

Appalling ignorance 

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UMNO Kelptocrats with the their Boss

In the first place, his remarks reveal an appalling ignorance about the Christian faith. He does not appear to even understand some of the Christian terms that he uses and yet  he is ready to condemn Christians. And he insults all Christians by trying to divide the Christian community into good Christians and bad Christians on the basis of their denominational affiliation.

If that is what he believes, he should explain what he thinks of the evangelical Christians who until the dissolution of parliament sat with him in cabinet and are part of BN. Are they, too, considered a threat to national security or are they good Christians by virtue of their support for UMNO?

An admission of failure?

The penchant of UMNO leaders to divert attention from pressing national issues by constantly playing up one imaginary threat or another – the Chinese, the Christians, the Jews, etc. – is tiresome and speaks more about their political bankruptcy than anything else.

It is, as well, simply mindboggling that a senior UMNO minister would be even obtuse enough to suggest that a small minority faith community [there are less Christians than UMNO members, for goodness sake] could depose the monarchy, overthrow the government, impose their faith on Muslims and abolish Malay rights. And this in a country that is staunchly Islamic, where Malay-Muslims vastly outnumber other ethnic and religious groups and have a near total monopoly of political, economic and military power.

If Tengku Adnan genuinely believes that our national institutions are still so weak and vulnerable after more than 60 years of UMNO rule, it would be a stunning admission that UMNO has completely failed the Malays, and indeed all Malaysians, and should be promptly removed from office come May 9th.

Faith and politics 

Of course, everyone understands that UMNO and the DAP are sworn political enemies and disagree on almost every issue. In a democracy, however, politicians discuss and debate their differences in a sensible and civilized way in order to give the voting public a better understanding of their respective positions.

What they don’t do is belittle their opponents’ religious beliefs or indulge in blatant racism and bigotry.

As a politician, Tengku Adnan should have the courage, if not the decency, to meet his political opponents head-on in a debate and challenge them on issues of importance rather than hide behind the walls of bigotry and hate and make snide remarks about their faith.

And in case he hasn’t noticed, non-Muslim politicians have, in general, been careful not to inject their faith into politics. You don’t hear non-Muslim politicians quoting their respective religious text, framing issues in a religious context or demonizing other faiths when discussing political issues.

It is not because they are less fervent in their faith but because they understand that in a multi-faith setting it is best to leave religion out of politics. After all, they are not in politics to promote their faith or to burnish their religious credentials but to promote policies, programmes and ideas that would help build a united, stable and prosperous nation for all Malaysians irrespective of race or religion.

Issues that matter 

Tengku Adnan should also know that the Christian agenda, if there is indeed one, is the same agenda that all Malaysians share  – a peaceful, united and prosperous nation. In fact, it was what UMNO itself used to care about before it allowed itself to be seduced by power and privilege. 

Rather than focusing on imaginary threats and sowing division and discord, therefore, Tengku Adnan might better serve voters by focusing on the issues that matter to  all Malaysians  – respect for the Constitution, good governance, corruption, national unity, the rising national debt, and the high cost of living. 

All the other issues – the position of Islam, the monarchical system, the special rights of Malay-Muslims as enshrined in the Constitution – are, in reality, non-issues because they are accepted and respected by all Malaysians including Christians. Only politically bankrupt leaders keep harping on these things because they have nothing better to talk about.

A great disservice

Tengku Adnan does Christians a great disservice by cynically stoking anti-Christian hostility to advance his political objectives. It recklessly endangers the safety and security of Christians at a time when radical militants are already targeting non-Muslims places of worship, as the police warned recently. It also feeds the kind of sentiment that very likely led to the abduction and forced disappearance of three Christian leaders last year. He ought to be ashamed of himself.

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Faking Malaysia (or is it, Malusia)


April 12, 2018

Faking Malaysia (or is it, Malusia)

by Dean Johns

https://deanjohns.wordpress.com/2018/04/12/faking-malaysia/?fb_action_ids=10155462681720893&fb_action_types=news.publishes

Dean Johns Ad Lib

I shouldn’t by rights be writing this. Because after 11 years of contributing a weekly column to the first and still foremost of Malaysia’s pitifully few non-fake newspapers, Malaysiakini, I’ve had to take a break for the sake of my faking sanity.

But with another typically fake Malaysian federal election looming, I just can’t help adding a few more to the 500,000 or so words of calumnious columny I’ve already composed about this nation’s decomposing ‘democracy’.

Or, more accurately, about the ministers, members and supporters of Barisan Nasional (BN), the rotten-to-the-core regime that has been ruling and ruining Malaysia ever since the nation was granted independence by Britain 61 years ago, and changed its name from Malaya to Malaysia.

A moniker that quickly became fake, as the ‘si’ syllable in its new name represented the fact that it supposedly included Singapore.

But, for fear of having to deal with all those pesky extra Chinese led by the then young firebrand Lee Kuan Yew, UMNO, the dominant Malay member of the coalition of race-based parties comprising the the Alliance, as BN was known in those days, soon threw Singapore out and thus made the ‘si’ in Malaysia misleading.

Thus equipped with a fake name, and a constitution falsely deeming Malays to be definitively Muslim as well as providing special privileges for them on the grounds that they were the first inhabitants of the country, a clearly fake claim in light of the existence there of the ‘orang asli’ (original people) long before Malays migrated there from present-day Indonesia and the Philippines, the ruling coalition proceeded to create a fake facsimile of Westminster-style democracy.

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Najib Razak and his supporters

Complete with an agung (king) periodically chosen from not just one family of hereditary ‘royal’ parasites as in Britain, but nine of them, headed by the very sultans who had been bribed with cash, Rolls-Royces and other perks by the former colonial powers to keep their subjects abject.

And a coalition, as mentioned above, consisting of parties representing the various races, principally the Malays, Chinese and Indians, leaving little if any room for a proper opposition, plus so privileging the Malays as to inevitably promote racial resentments and tensions.

Or, indeed, outright hostilities, as on May 13, 1969 when there was an outbreak of bloody anti-Chinese rioting allegedly instigated by Tun Abdul Razak, father of current Prime Minister Najib Razak, in what proved to be a successful bid to seize the top job from the nation’s inaugural Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman.

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Dr. Mahathir Mohamad–Malaysia’s Former Strong Man turned Democrat-Reformer

Ever since then, and especially during the 22-year+ premiership, or, if you prefer, doctatorship of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s always highly dubious ‘democracy’, or more accurately, as I proposed in a long-ago column, ‘dermocracy’, given that it’s based on race or in other words skin colour, has been totally destroyed by the increasingly incompetent and corrupt UMNO dominated Barisan Nasional regime (aided and abetted by a fawning civil service and an utterly corrupt Police force) and the millions of fakewitted Malaysians (mainly Malays) who have been systematically bullied, bribed, bullshitted and bamboozled into keeping on voting for it.

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Bullied by threats of a repeat of the May 13, 1969 riots, as in Najib Razak’s oft-expressed determination to hold onto power even at the cost of ‘broken bodies and lost lives’; or of arrest under the Internal Security Act, since replaced by the equally severe Sedition Act; or of dismissal of dissenting civil servants or withdrawal of government scholarships from students suspected of disloyalty to the regime.

To back-up all this bullying, Malaysian voters are bribed with often utterly empty promises of government expenditure on infrastructure and other improvements in their electorates, plus salary-raises, bonuses, extra handouts under the so-called BR1M scheme, and additionally bribed every election day with free meals, bags of rice and sundry other ‘gifts’ including hard cash.

Besides all this bullying and bribery, Malaysians are ceaselessly bombarded with barrages of BN-regime bullshit. Faked-over in every possible way, from being faced with Najib Razak’s fantastic invention of some apparently parallel nation he called ‘1Malaysia’, and under which banner he proceeded to create a whole raft of fake initiatives ranging from falsely ‘economical’ food outlets to the massive global financial fraud and money-laundering scam 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), to being fed a steady diet of fake ‘news’ by Malaysia’s regime-controlled and thus ruthlessly truthless press, radio, television and outdoor media.

And if all that wasn’t sufficiently bamboozling, BN has progressively, by which of course I mean regressively perverted the Police from a force for public law and order into a farce for the protection of regime flaws and ordure; turned the formerly independent and impartial judiciary into a regime-skewed and indeed screwed travesty of justice; made such a mockery of the so-called Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) that it turns a totally blind eye to regime and crony corruption, and gets away with such faking outrages as the death of witness Teoh Beng Hock in its custody; has so comprehensively corrupted the ‘religious’ authorities (JAWi and JAKIM) as to constitute a disgrace to the very Islam it so faux-piously claims to ‘protect’; and so successfully suborned the Election Commission as to blatantly manipulate electoral boundaries, numbers and even racial mixes in its favour.

All of the above is concealed as far as possible from the Malaysian people, of course, by the BN-controled so-called ‘mainstream media’, newspapers, television, radio and increasing numbers of online sites all keeping silent about BN crimes and corruptions, and loudly proclaiming the regime’s fake propaganda.

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@Kini–Let us build something great together- The gallant men and women of Malaysiakini led by Steven Gan and Premesh Chandran.

And now, in an attempt to shut-down the small space for true, independent news and views opened-up by Malaysiakini two decades ago and since expanded by other online portals like Malaysia Today and Sarawak Report, the faking powers that be have passed a so-called ‘The Anti Fake News Act’. Which is in fact an act of bastardry designed to ban the spread of truths that BN deems to be fake, as in contrary to its corrupt and outright criminal interests, by way of penalties of up to six years imprisonment, or fines of up to RM500,000 (about US$120,000), or both.

So, as everything I’ve written in this piece is as far as I know the gospel truth about the BN regime, and thus very likely to be viewed by its self-styled censors as ‘fake news’ under the Act, I won’t be sending it to Malaysiakini for possible publication as a column.

Image result for Dean JohnsMy Friend Dean Johns

 

The very last thing I want to do is to risk costing Steven Gan, Premesh Chandran or any other members of the Malaysiakini family, of which I’ve so long been proud to be an honorary and I hope honest and honourable member, a slew of cash or a spell in the slammer, let alone both.

But from down here in Sydney I can relatively safely blog as much true or in other words fake fake news as I like, in the faint hope that it might by roundabout means reach enough of the vast majority of unfake Malaysians to help strengthen them in their resolve to finally force their fake and on-the-take BN government to for once and for all fake off.

 

Najib Razak: A Deft Power Politician


April 11, 2018

Najib Razak: A Deft Power Politician

by John Berthelsen, Asia Sentinel’s Editor

https://www.asiasentinel.com

The odds-on favorite to govern Malaysia for the next five years has governed the country for the past nine – Najib Razak, the son of former Prime Minister Abdul Razak.

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The Deft Power Politician–Najib Razak, UMNO President

Despite what may be the most concerted effort by the opposition in the country’s recent history to unseat him, most political analysts in Kuala Lumpur believe the ruling Barisan Nasional, or national coalition headed by Najib’s United Malays National Organization, or UMNO, will return to power, although by a slim margin.  The opposition, now headed by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, has charged that gerrymandering and government restrictions on politicking will make their chances to win the election almost insurmountable. Nonetheless it is running an energetic campaign against extremely difficult odds.

Zimbabwean tactics

 

But what the country would be getting in Najib, if the Barisan wins, is a man who since the start of his political career in 1976 has been devoted to corruption, deceit, philandering and venality on a Zimbabwean scale, beginning almost from the time he entered public office, playing havoc with his country’s treasury.

Najib, to be sure, is also a deft politician who has maneuvered to split the opposition by romancing the rural-based fundamentalist Parti Islam se-Malaysia, which has spent decades in the opposition, into believing he will allow the party to implement Shariah law in the only state it controls.  He has played on the fears of ethnic Malays, who make up 61 percent of the population, that ethnic Chinese will assume political as well as economic power in the country.

Sometimes he is more direct than deft. Opposition politicians have been threatened with prosecution for sedition and other crimes. Zunar, the news portal Malaysiakini’s irrepressible cartoonist, faces 43 years in prison on sedition charges, mainly for making fun of Najib and his wife.  Rafizi Ramli, the 41-year-old vice president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, faces 30 months in prison for violating the Banking and Financial Institutions Act for exposing details relating to what became known as Cowgate, one of the country’s most embarrassing scandals in which a top United Malays National Organization official and her family – and a Najib ally —  were accused in 2012 of misusing RM250 million (US$63.5 million at current exchange rates) from the National Feedlot Corporation, an ill-starred project that never fulfilled its purpose to supply religiously-approved, or halal beef for Malaysia’s Muslims.

Well-dressed wife

In the meantime, over the past 20-odd years, a long series of stories has appeared in both the local and international press about Najib’s depredations and those of his portly wife, who has been photographed awash in enormously expensive jewelry including a US$27.3 million pink diamond necklace that the US Justice Department would like to get its hands on.  Her affinity for Birkin handbags costing up to US$300,000 is legendary.

Najib has managed to beat back all opposition within his own party, the United Malays National Organization, corrupting it unmercifully, reportedly by bribing the party chieftains who vote for the UMNO presidency. He has sacked his party opponents including former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and his allies.  There is hardly a government contract that has been awarded over the past decade and more that didn’t go to politically connected businessmen, assuring him the loyalty of the Malay establishment.

Two Gigantic Scandals

He is the author of the two biggest scandals in Malaysian history. The first is the US$1.2 billion purchase of Scorpene submarines from the French munitions maker DCNS, which netted a kickback of €114 million (US$141.3 million at current exchange rates) that was funneled to the United Malays National Organization. Although the purchase was finalized in 2002, it is still going on, with Abdul Razak Baginda, a former Razak close friend and ally, under indictment in France today for bribery. Two officials of a DCNS subsidiary have been indicted specifically on charges of bribing Najib Razak.

The case was given additional notoriety over the 2006 execution of a jetsetting Mongolian translator and party girl named Altantuya Shaariibuu, believed to have been the lover of both Razak Baginda and Najib. After a protracted trial, two of Najib’s bodyguards were found guilty of killing the 28-year-old woman. One of the two, in a recorded confession, said they were to be paid RM50,000 for her execution. However, that statement never came up in the trial and enormous effort went into concealing the names and activities of anyone who might have offered the money.  Razak Baginda was turned loose by a judge without having to stand trial and fled the country, although he has since returned.

The second, of course, is 1Malaysia Development Bhd., which opposition spokesman Tony Pua called “the mother of the mother of the mother of all scandals,” and which was looted for at least US$4.5 billion in what the Swiss Attorney General called a “Ponzi scheme.” It has been called by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions the biggest kleptocracy case ever brought by the US Justice Department.

Attempt to Bribe Trump Justice Department

The case popped to the surface again in March with a report by the Wall Street Journal that Elliott Broidy, a top Republican fundraiser close to US President Donald Trump apparently asked as much as US$75 million from Najib’s confederate, businessman Low Taek Jho, to get the US to stop investigating the 1MDB scandal. So far the US Justice Department has confiscated at least US$1.2 billion in stolen property, but hasn’t got its hands on US$681 million that appeared temporarily in Najib’s own bank account before it was hurriedly transferred out to somewhere unknown.

Messages now in the hands of the US Special Prosecutor looking into Russian influence on the 2016 election “include draft agreements” between Broidy’s wife’s California law firm and Jho Low’s representatives “that explore a US$75 million fee if the Justice Department quickly drops its investigation.” Although Najib visited Trump  at the White House, the odds that the investigation will be dropped are minuscule to nonexistent.

The US Justice Department’s confiscations of stolen property are astonishing, including, on Feb. 28, Jho Low’s 300-foot superyacht the Equanimity, worth US$250 million. The Justice Department has sequestered millions of dollars in profit from several movies produced by Red Granite Productions, co-owned by Riza Aziz, the son of Najib’s second wife Rosmah Mansor, as well as  Jho Low’s Bombardier Global 5000 jet in Singapore, jewelry worth millions of dollars gifted to celebrities Australian Miranda Kerr and Taiwanese Elvia Hsiao, and several properties in New York, artwork, film rights and a US$107 million interest in EMI Music Publishing and a Picasso to Leonardo DiCaprio, plus an Oscar once owned by Marlon Brando that was gifted to the actor by the Red Granite owners.

The start of a long and winding career

But Najib’s first depredations began when he was appointed chief minister of the state of Pahang, the once heavily-forested state directly to the east of Kuala Lumpur where, according to sources in Malaysia, he began making land and timber deals that benefited him directly.  He is said to have been close to a now-defunct company whose representative was Rosmah Mansor, a sociology graduate of Louisiana State University in 1968.

The two divorced their respective mates and married in 1987, after he joined then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s cabinet as minister of culture, youth and sports. While married to Rosmah, he did take time out to be caught in a hotel room in the town of Port Dickson, according to the website Malaysia Today, with an actress-model. As Malaysia Today reported, a photographer caught pictures of Najib clad only in a towel with the woman and turned the pictures over to Mahathir. They have never surfaced.

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It was in 1991, when Mahathir made him Minister of Defense, that Najib’s career as a kleptocrat really got underway. Despite the fact that the country’s borders have been largely secure for 40 years, Malaysia’s Defense Ministry embarked on a whirlwind round of purchases that allegedly provided a river of money for the ruling United Malays National Organization and helped to solidify his position as an eventual prime minister contender.

Three Corrupt Contracts

Three separate contracts stand out. All three, approved under Najib, have been widely cited by the opposition. Opposition and defense figures told Asia Sentinel in 2007 that the three, one for Russian Sukhoi jet fighters, a second for the French submarines and a third for navy patrol boats, appear to have produced millions for UMNO cronies, Najib’s friends and others – and Najib himself.  The “commission” for defense purchases across Southeast Asia was estimated to range from 10 to 20 percent by Foreign Policy in Focus, a think tank supported by the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC.

In 2007, opposition DAP leader Lim Kit Siang pointed out that the 18 Sukhois had cost US$50 million each for the same plane models that Vietnam purchased for US$25 million each, while the Indian Air Force had paid US$40 million.

“That is US$10 million more (per plane) compared to India, so times 18, you get US$180 million or about RM600 million entering someone’s pocket. But if you compare with price paid by the Vietnamese government, it would be a cool RM1.8 billion (US$460.8 million at current exchange rates). I wonder whose pocket is that?” Lim asked. The question has never been answered.

The second case was detailed by Malaysia’s Auditor General in a report that alleged that a contract to build naval vessels given to PSC-Naval Dockyard, a subsidiary of Penang Shipbuilding & Construction Sdn Bhd, which is owned by another UMNO crony, Amin Shah Omar Shah, was hopelessly botched. It involved PSC-Naval Dockyard, which was contracted to deliver six patrol boats for the Malaysian Navy in 2004 and complete the delivery in 2007. They were supposed to be the first of 27 offshore vessels ultimately to cost RM24 billion plus the right to maintain and repair all of the country’s naval craft.

But only two of the barely operational patrol boats had been delivered by mid-2006. There were 298 recorded complaints about the two boats, which were also found to have 100 and 383 uncompleted items aboard them respectively. The original RM5.35 billion contract ballooned to RM6.75 billion by January 2007. The auditor also reported that the ministry had paid out RM4.26 billion to PSC up to December 2006 although only Rm2.87 billion of work had been done, an over payment of Rm1.39 billion, or 48 percent.

In addition, Malaysia’s cabinet waived late penalties of Rm214 million. According to the Auditor General, 14 “progress payments” amounting to Rm943 million despite the fact that the auditor general could find no payment vouchers or relevant documents dealing with the payments.

Financial Mismanagement, Incompetence

The auditor general attributed the failure to serious financial mismanagement and technical incompetence stemming from the fact that PSC had never built anything but trawlers or police boats before being given the contract. Once called “Malaysia’s Onassis” by former finance minister Daim Zainuddin, Amin Shah was in trouble almost from the start, according to a report in Singapore’s Business Times in 2005. The financial crisis of 1997-1998 meant he was desperate to find funds to shore up ancillary businesses, Business times reported. After a flock of lawsuits, the government ultimately cut off funding in 2004 amid losses and a net liabilities position. Boustead Holdings effectively took control from Amin Shah, reducing him to non-executive chairman.

In 2008, opposition leaders complained in Parliament that Najib’s defense ministry had vastly overspent for 12 Eurocopter Super Cougar EC727 helicopters to replace their 40-year-old helicopter fleet. Brazil paid only RM84 million for the same helicopters bought by Malaysia for RM141 million. Opposition leaders alleged that the aircraft weren’t shortlisted before they were purchased and that the price had zoomed, nor did the air force test-fly the craft.  A demand for the parliament’s Public Accounts Committee investigate the purchases resulted in a full exoneration of the deal, as every other single scandal has ended.

Those are only a few of a never-ending list of scandals. (It should be noted, however, that Najib is hardly alone. Malaysia has been visited by so many scandals that Wikipedia maintains an exhaustive list. They can be found here, ranging into the billions of dollars.)

Najib’s various subsidy cuts, while sound economic policy, have contributed to soaring living costs, while fluctuating oil prices and a threat to palm oil prices as the European Union has voted to ban the oil, as well as other issues,  have led to a steady depreciation of the ringgit from RM2.993 to US$1 in 2013 to RM3.90 today. According to the Merdeka Centre opinion research firm, “Economic issues, comprising worries over rising cost of living, economic hardship, jobs and other related matters, remained the top most concern voiced by 72 percent of voters across the country.”

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Najib’s English public-school manners and accent and his reputation as a moderate Muslim leader have stood him in good stead internationally despite the scandals. But although US President Donald Trump welcomed to the White House last year – as Malaysia described billions of dollars in commitment to purchase US airplanes and other items, the President visibly turned away from Najib and Rosmah at the APEC meeting in Manila last November.  It remains to be seen if Malaysia’s voters do the same.

John Berthelsen is Asia Sentinel’s Editor

 

The Politician of the worst kind–UMNO’s Jamal Ikan Bakar Mad Yunos


January 4, 2018

The Politician of the worst kind–UMNO’s Jamal Ikan Bakar Mad Yunos

by James Chai@www.malaysiakini.com

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UMNO’s Jamal Madd Yunos–Not Funny but stupid

If there is one name that Malaysia was introduced to in 2017, it is UMNO Sungai Besar division chief Jamal Md Yunos. This name takes different variations depending on his latest antics, sometimes he is “Jamal Tuala”, other times “Jamal Ikan Bakar”.

It is the name that, when mentioned in any social group, will arouse a shared sense of disgust and delight. Jamal is like what badly burnt ikan bakar does to you: at first, you relish its crunchy charred sides, but then you realise that it is awful for your body.

Once Jamal was a nobody, now he is a household name. When asked what made him famous, we could at best identify a laundry list of silly tactics like hitting a table with a sledgehammer in angry protest, wearing a towel and showering in front of the Selangor State Assembly building, breaking boxes of beers, and parading effigies of numerous politicians in public places.

 

We know what made him famous, but we still frown and ask: Why is he famous? When Jamal announced his intention to run for the UMNO Youth chief position, we knew that some of the fun and games had to come to an end. The attention we had fed to a person of no real value to our political landscape had now become the reason for his success.

Jamal acquired legitimacy through his actions, premised on intolerance and fury. This is the new viable modus operandi for political success – and it is toxic for us all. We must take some responsibility for creating him.

Media, audience, and politicians

It is expected that the media would cover Jamal’s grotesque and bizarre acts. This is because the media functions on sensationalism in order to get more views and share counts. In some ways, the media’s coverage is merely responding to our worst basic instincts as an audience that relishes the entertainment provided in a political space that is not known to be fun nor interesting.

The more inexplicable, the better; the more unpredictable, the better; the more Jamal, the better. For the media, covering Jamal is like striking gold.

Politicians also kept themselves away and let Jamal carry on with his ways. The opposition grossly underestimated how indifference could pave the way for Jamal’s notorious insurgence that was irreversible once it passed a certain threshold.

On the other side, UMNO politicians are ever-ready to exploit any increased popularity as they understand that that is the primary tool for capital accumulation in politics. Without a moral doctrine of right and wrong, even the prime minister is ready to embrace the popularity of Jamal.

Did we create Jamal?

If we are in agreement that the rise of Jamal is a bad thing for the country, it bears asking: Who created him? Is Jamal a result of our creation (inadvertent or otherwise), or is he merely a product of the normal operation of democracy?

 

Regarding the latter, could we infer that Jamal is merely the face of a growing portion of society that is increasingly intolerant and shamelessly uncivil? I would argue no. He has no such representative truth. Violence, insult, and provocation have never been part of the history of Malaysia.

This is not merely a wishful assertion; instead, it is based on careful dissection of our history since the 1800s and a contextualisation against the backdrop of world history. Malaysia is one of the most peaceful countries in the world.

When early colonisers and immigrants visited this land, the consensus was that this was a land comprising “nature’s gentlemen”. All forms of violence, intolerance, and incivility were widely denounced in every culture that stepped on this land, and the preference for peace had endured through the test of time.

Is Jamal funny?

While it may be argued that humour is indeed in the veins of Malaysians, we only laugh when it doesn’t come at the price of another. And we only laugh when it is funny. The sooner we realise that Jamal is a politician interested in the leadership ranks of the country, we have to draw a line to defend our future against the worst ascendancy. He is, in other words, too serious to be taken lightly – too serious to be laughed at.

But the conclusion is inevitable: We created him. There is a dire urgency to recognise this reality so that we can respond accordingly. We need to relegate him back to where he belongs and stop him in his tracks.

It is difficult to attach moral considerations to every news story that we read. Most of the time, we only read what is shown to us, and we respond in a knee-jerk fashion. But we must choose to be more aware of the larger trajectory, because bad things come at you slowly at first, then all at once, we are greeted with a monster of our own creation.


JAMES CHAI works at a law firm. His voyage in life is made less lonely with a family of deep love, friends of good humour and teachers of selfless giving. This affirms his conviction in the common goodness of people: the better angles of our nature. He tweets at @JamesJSChai.

 

Only Malaysians can save Malaysia


October 9, 2017

Only Malaysians can save Malaysia

by Mariam Mokhtar@www.malaysiakini.com

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Two Respected Malaysian Activists–Farouk A. Peru and Mariam Mokhtar

COMMENT | The Malaysian Special Branch is one of the most effective in the world. Its main role is intelligence gathering and the analysis of the information, for use by other government departments.

Predictions of the Special Branch about voting patterns and trends are highly respected. However, recently it was unable to tell Najib Abdul Razak and his cabinet the lie of the land, and how the rakyat will vote in the 14th general election (GE14). That does not augur well for the prime minister, who must call GE14 soon.

We are a divided nation, with Malays pitted against non-Malays, Muslims against non-Muslims, and East Malaysians against peninsular Malaysians. Fracture lines also exist within the communities, for example among the Malays.

The saying “Divide and conquer” has been used by successive Malaysian governments. Despite Najib’s boasts that the economy is doing well, and that everything is under control, he has delayed calling GE14? Why?

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Is Prime Minister Najib unable to contain UMNO extremists and Zakir Naik or is he fermenting unrest  by using race and religion so that he can declare Emergency Rule? 

The recent steep rise in religious and racial intolerance, which has resulted in events like the Oktoberfest being cancelled and deemed a national security risk, is indicative of Najib’s increasing loss of control over the overall situation in Malaysia.

The bigots in the various government departments need to control the masses. Religion is their answer and Najib has provided them the means. Enter Abdul Hadi Awang, the leader of PAS. They are like a tag-team. Hadi has provided Najib the legitimacy to act in the name of Islam. Take one away, and their grip on the Malays is rendered useless.

Rallying call to reject the opposition

On a daily basis, we find the Malays being fed an unwholesome diet of the lies that the non-Malays would conquer them, if the Opposition, in particular the DAP, were to triumph in GE14. The rallying call to reject the Opposition is that the Malays will be driven back to the kampung, Islam will cease to be the official religion, mosques will be removed and Malay will soon be a forgotten language.

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Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Zahid Hamdi  who refuses to be outdone by his boss also embraces Indian Fugitive Zakir Naik

You may laugh and wonder why anyone should believe this rubbish, but when you tell this to many so-called “educated” Malays, you will discover that they actually believe this inflammatory rhetoric.

So, why should the Malays feel threatened? They hold top jobs in the civil service. They have no problems obtaining government grants, government contracts and government licences. Education is tailored to their needs, especially after one former  UMNO education minister decided that the pass mark be lowered for Malays who sit for public examinations.

The Malays are  admitted into the civil service and the armed forces. The royal households are all Malays. You are correct to point out that only those with “cable” (connections) to the top will prosper. But then, who are these people? Are they not mostly Malays? In other countries, this knowledge would be seized upon, questions asked in Parliament and protests demanding swift action, but not in Malaysia. Are we that cowed?

More fearful of Jakim’s officials, than of God

The Department of Islamic Development in Malaysia, Jakim, with its RM1 billion budget, spends much of its time policing our morals and telling us how to live our lives. Many of the Malays who do as Jakim tells them, are more fearful of this department’s officials, than of God. The irony is that we ignore the Quran because we are too lazy to learn.

Malaysians who can afford the fees send their children to study in international schools. Malaysians buy properties overseas so that they can send their children to schools in that country. This shows that they have no faith in the Malaysian education. Instead of demanding that the government improves the situation, they simply allow the system to get worse.

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Mat Rempit and Minah Rempit in Action and then this (below)

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Why are many local graduates unable to get jobs? Why do many Malay teenagers drop out and end up being Mat Rempit in stead of finishing school?

Many Malaysians are rant and grumble about with the state of economy, the education system and the simmering tensions in the country, but they are too scared to do anything about it. Why do they leave it to a few activists  when they can take part in the movement for change?

You, too, have the power to change Malaysia. You can contribute your best. It may be in the form of one article, one poster, one talk, one interview, or one vote. It takes  a flutter of a butterfly to create a tsunami to  remove UMNO-Baru from the seat of government in Kuala Lumpur/Putrajaya, which it has held since Independence.

Home and away, Najib has a China dilemma


September 22, 2017

Home and away, Najib has a China dilemma

While the Malaysian leader relies on Beijing for economic succor, he’s still viewed skeptically by his country’s ethnic Chinese voting bloc with tight polls on the horizon

Singapore
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Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak looks on duringIndependence Day celebrations in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia August 31, 2017. Photo: Reuters/Lai Seng Sin

 

Prime Minister Najib Razak addressed Malaysia’s Chinese community at a well-attended gathering last week to urge support for his Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition government ahead of new national polls.

The leader called for stronger Chinese representation in his United Malays National Organization-led (UMNO) government and doubled down on promises of delivering prosperity and quality education across all of the country’s ethnic groups.

“If the Chinese voice is stronger in BN, then you are able to shape the policies and possibilities of this government even better and even stronger,” Najib said. “Without peace in the country, the Chinese will be the first to be targeted and that is why we are a moderate government committed to peace and mutual harmony.”

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While Najib placed emphasis on Malaysia as a multiracial nation and struck an overall moderate tone, others interpreted his remark as a fear-mongering veiled threat. Opposition parliamentarian Liew Chin Tong accused the premier of trying to win votes by “singling out the ethnic Chinese,” a move he said would actually undermine support for his government.

Malaysia’s next election is due by August 2018, though there is speculation that early polls could soon be announced. Najib’s outreach to the Chinese community signals an attempt to re-engage the minority voter bloc following general elections in 2013 where the BN coalition delivered its worst-ever election performance.

At the time, Najib acknowledged how ethnic Chinese voters had supported the opposition in droves, controversially characterizing their voting behavior as a “Chinese tsunami.” Najib initially vowed to undertake national reconciliation following the electoral upset, but instead has moved to burnish his Islamic credentials in a bid to consolidate support from conservative and rural ethnic Malay voters.

Ethnic Chinese communities make up around 23% of Malaysia’s population and are seen to be largely in opposition to Najib’s continued rule. His term has been defined by the international multi-billion dollar money laundering controversies related to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state development fund he created and until recently oversaw.

Lesser noticed, however, have been perennial allegations of money politics, elite corruption, stark political polarization and a widening cultural divide between Malaysia’s ethnic and religious groups that some fear could tip towards instability if not effectively reconciled.

Image result for Najib and HadiThis strange alliance with Hadi Awang may prove costly to Najib Razak in East Malaysia where Islamisation is viewed with anxiety and suspicion.

Recent studies show nearly half the country’s ethnic Chinese population have a strong desire to leave Malaysia due to perceived discrimination, political disenfranchisement and fears of Islamization. Nearly 88% of the 56,576 Malaysians who renounced their citizenship in the decade spanning 2006 to 2016 were ethnic Chinese.

Shortly after assuming office in 2009, Najib introduced the 1Malaysia national concept, a governing philosophy which placed emphasis on ethnic harmony, national unity and efficient governance. Following the 2013 election, the Prime Minister has placed less pretense on the talking points of the scheme, opting to posture as a defender of Islam and Malay unity.

“Political parties from both sides of the divide are centered around the Malay agenda, winning votes in Malay majority constituencies. Meanwhile, government efforts like 1Malaysia and its subsequent rebranding has neither substance nor strategy,” political analyst Khoo Kay Peng recently wrote. “The concept of unity is not even at the forefront of societal discussion.”

An important aspect of Najib’s domestic agenda in recent years has been the formation of a loose alliance with the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), which has an electoral stronghold in Malaysia’s rural and conservative north and advocates a hardline sharia punishment code known as hudud.

Abdul Hadi Awang, PAS’ influential President, was given tacit government approval to table a controversial hudud bill in parliament in 2015, which sought to ease some of the constitutional restrictions imposed on sharia courts in order to implement more severe punishments, subjecting offenders to longer prison sentences and corporal punishment.

Though observers were initially dismissive of Najib’s support for hudud, his government attempted to take over Hadi’s bill last year. The prime minister reversed course in March due to strong opposition from other BN coalition partners – notably from the Malaysian Chinese Association and other ethnic minority parties – and concerns it would dampen foreign investor sentiment.

Against a backdrop of political controversies and a deepening cultural divide, Malaysia’s upcoming general election is expected to be one of the tightest in decades. The political opposition, once a fractured grouping of disparate parties, appears more cohesive under the leadership of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who defected from UMNO and embraced opposition parties to form the Pakatan Harapan coalition.

Comeback kid: Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, 92, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Putrajaya, Malaysia, March 30, 2017. Photo: Reuters/Lai Seng Sin