Happy 58th Birthday, my Country


August 30, 2015

Happy 58th Birthday, my Country

Din and Kamsiah at Bersih4.0August 31, 2015, Malaysia, my country, turns 58. I congratulate fellow Malaysians. I pray that we remain free, strong and united as a people, that we will no longer in the coming years be identified by the color of our skin, our ethnicity and religion, and that we will live in peace. We must not just call ourselves Malaysians, we must think and act like Malaysians.

We face difficult times in the months ahead. The politicians like  Prime Minister Najib Razak want you and I to think that our economic fundamentals are strong. Economists and pundits have been paid to endorse that view. If we believe them, we do so at our own peril. If you want to know about our economic health, please talk to small businessmen and the ordinary struggling Malaysian workers, and they will  tell you the truth.

The performance of the Ringgit against the US dollar and other major currencies including those in ASEAN is good indicator of loss of confidence in our government led by Najib Tun Razak.  I was with my wife, Dr. Kamsiah at the Bersih rally in the Dataran Merdeka and Jalan Tun Perak area this afternoon and was privileged to have the opportunity to a number of Malaysians who had spent the previous night sleeping in the open space. They showed great courage and determination, not despair because they know change is coming because they want change.

Our Prime Minister cannot connect with ordinary Malaysians like I was able to do. I am one of them. Like these Malaysians, I know what it takes to make our country great again. It will require commitment, hard work and self belief.  So my fellow Malaysians, Malaysia is you and I, not brick and mortar. You and I as free individuals can determine its future. When politicians let us down, we remove them. Prime Minister Najib can no longer be trusted.  And that is  why thousands upon thousands of Malaysians at Bersih 4.0 want him to go.

Congratulations to you all, my fellow Malaysians on Merdeka Day. Let us resolve on this special day to do our best for our King and country. –Din Merican

Farewell, Bersih 4. We shall meet again. READ THIS:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2015/08/30/live-at-bersih-4-good-morning-malaysia/

Going Rogue: Malaysia and the 1MDB Scandal


August 29, 2015

Bersih4We are Malaysians, so we must be who we say we are.–Din Merican

The respected, admired and well-regarded London School of Economics don, Dr. Danny Quah provides the rationale for Bersih 4.0. And here I quote his eloquent statement:

One of Britain’s greatest friends – a former colony that admired and reflected the grand British ideals of democracy, Rule of Law, free speech, and egalitarianism – has gone rogue…It does not take authoritarian autocracy to run a country into the ground. Regardless of the system of government, it takes only political elites out of touch with their people, a co-opted judiciary, an electoral process that even while open fails to surface progressive leadership, and a system that keeps to the law but fails to protect those speaking truth to power. Malaysia now has all of these sorry attributes.–Dr. Danny Quah

So go forth my fellow Malaysians at Bersih 4.0 and show the world that we want positive change and have the will to make Malaysia great again. We  must, we can, and we will succeed. All that is needed is the collective will to make it happen. We are Malaysians and proud to be Malaysians always, no matter where in this wide world we may be.–Din Merican

Going Rogue: Malaysia and the 1MDB Scandal

http://thediplomat.com/2015/08/going-rogue-malaysia-and-the-1mdb-scandal/

In 1971, more than forty years before the world would turn its attention to the so-called one percent and the problem of income inequality, Malaysia embarked on one of history’s boldest and most noble experiments to reduce social disparity. Malaysia’s New Economic Policy, or NEP, would seek to “eradicate poverty for all” and “eliminate identification of race by economic function and geographic location.” This polity that had achieved national independence just over a decade before, this country that was still a low-income emerging economy, was setting out to solve the massive problem of injustice and inequality over which other societies much more mature continued to struggle.

Malaysia was a democracy that hewed to the Rule of Law. The New Economic Policy (NEP) -1970-1990– would be Malaysia’s key political driver. Over the decades that followed, the NEP’s mantra would serve as a backdrop to almost all political discourse in the country. NEP-themed policies would, among much else, flesh out the concept of Bumiputera – an ethnic-driven formulation of native peoples in Malaysia.

Najib The SapumanMalaysia’s  most tainted Prime Minister 

It is difficult to grow an economy – look at train wrecks strewn around the world. But seeking to do so and at the same reduce ethnic- and rural-urban inequality, and maintain social harmony among diverse ethnic and religious groups is an order of magnitude more arduous. Malaysia succeeded: From tropical jungle, Malaysia has grown to have an average income now well above the world emerging-economy average. Its urban infrastructure and worker skills approach those in the first world. Malaysia’s top bankers, business people, and entrepreneurs are admired everywhere. NEP reduced pockets of extreme poverty and created a significant, thriving, and successful Bumiputera middle class – a group of professionals and intellectuals whose contributions to Malaysian society would be the pride of any country.

And, although from time to time patchily diverging from the ideal, throughout this history Malaysia worked hard to maintain its young democracy and its adherence to Rule of Law, and to support a healthy vigorous open sphere of public debate. Sensitive racial questions were out of bounds, but open questioning of the government was lively. Top government officials routinely had the judiciary rule against them. And a national identity emerged, one that combined the best aspects of local culture and an easy-going, open-minded cosmopolitanism developed from, among other things, the many Malaysians who have seen significant international experience. More so than when at home, Malaysians outside Malaysia saw each other for the warm and lively friends they genuinely were for one another, people who felt driven by a mission to make their country better.

Since his 2009 swearing-in, Malaysia’s current Prime Minister has sought to articulate an international vision for a “coalition of moderates.” As leader of a successful moderate Muslim country, he carried an authority and credibility sorely needed in global discourse. He was widely accepted in international circles, and even famously golfed with Barack Obama.

All this is now at risk.

However noble the goal of reducing social disparity, and however laudable the democracy, transparency, and Rule of Law to which Malaysia has desperately clung, this NEP half-century has seen the emergence of an increasingly hateful race-based narrative to Malaysia’s political and economic strategies. The Bumiputera concept has become conflated with questions of religion, and threatens the open society that Malaysia has built. That concept is now considered by many – both Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera alike – to hold back continued social development for the country. Significant Bumiputera and rural poverty remain. Ever more frequent accounts have appeared of government agencies intended to reduce Bumiputera poverty yet only enriching the elites of that group. A recent article by one of Malaysia’s most thoughtful interlocutors has had to ask:

Why after decades of rigorous development planning, 40% of Malaysian households earn only about RM1,847 a month? Why after more than four decades of the NEP, 75.5% of those at the bottom are Bumiputeras? Why in spite of the billions poured into education and boarding schools, 64.3% of the Bumiputera workforce have only SPM qualifications? Why some 90% of the unemployable university graduates are Bumiputras? Why of the $54 billion worth of shares pumped to Bumiputera individuals and institutions between 1984 and 2005, only $2 billion remained in Bumiputera hands today?

In March 2010 at an international investors’ conference, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced an urgent need for a revision to the NEP, towards a national development strategy more transparent, merit-driven, and market-friendly, and towards a new needs-based affirmative action. The Prime Minister had just won a resounding electoral victory; he had the backing of all Malaysians. (I am told by reliable sources that even Malaysia’s opposition MPs felt like standing up and cheering.)  But then elements within the Prime Minister’s political party mounted significant pushback, the moment passed, and he did not stay the course. Open democratic process has not kept in check the rise of extremists rallying together the Bumiputera grassroots, good people who have been told this time will be different, this time more of the same will help them, despite its having failed to do so these last 50 years.  Since 2010 no one has been able to recount significant action on that announcement.

A Malaysia of Cronies

All this is background. The practice continues to worsen in a Malaysia of cronies undermining good intentions and exploiting for self-interest the very instruments designed to help others. The latest most visible instance of this is 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, an investment fund set up to steward the nation’s resources. Elsewhere in the world, international scrutiny of sovereign wealth management vehicles has led to their applying the highest possible standards of financial probity; indeed, among the world’s most respected, successful, and scrupulously managed of those is Malaysia’s own Khazanah Nasional. By contrast, 1MDB has seen billions of dollars of public money moved around the world in suspicious circumstances, with allegations that hundreds of millions of dollars were funneled into the prime minister’s personal bank accounts. (Malaysia’s anti-corruption agency has ruled that the money came from legitimate “donations,” without specifying who the donor was.) All of this has dragged down in the world’s eyes Malaysia’s otherwise globally esteemed financial infrastructure.

And the egregious actions continue: shutting down the press has become the next step in that escalation. In July 2015 Malaysian authorities blocked a website that had become a significant and honest whistleblower on high-level developments in Malaysia. That same month Malaysian authorities suspended The Edge newspaper for its reports on 1MDB. Criminal defamation litigation threatened by the prime minister against the Wall Street Journal on its 1MDB reporting turned into a fiasco of the most basic legal ineptitude. Towards the end of July Najib removed from Cabinet his own deputy prime minister, the government’s most significant and prominent voice to raise questions on 1MDB. While four different official Malaysian government investigations are underway, there has now been a sudden replacement of the attorney-general and chief prosecutor. The deputy public prosecutor and others involved in the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission have been arrested. The Prime Minister moved four members of the 1MDB parliamentary committee into his cabinet, thereby shutting down all further proceedings even as the committee’s official report comes due. Opposition MPs have been prevented from leaving the country on their way to discussing 1MDB and the political crisis in Malaysia.

In all this turmoil, many of Malaysia’s most remarkable leaders and numerous ordinary people have spoken out on the need for the country to get back to its roots. The country again needs to have a government that runs for the well-being of its people. Malaysia’s current political leadership no longer articulates a vision that serves Malaysia’s people. Malaysia’s leadership is no longer one admired by and hopeful for others around the world.

One of Britain’s greatest friends – a former colony that admired and reflected the grand British ideals of democracy, Rule of Law, free speech, and egalitarianism – has gone rogue.

Gandhi quote

It does not take authoritarian autocracy to run a country into the ground. Regardless of the system of government, it takes only political elites out of touch with their people, a co-opted judiciary, an electoral process that even while open fails to surface progressive leadership, and a system that keeps to the law but fails to protect those speaking truth to power. Malaysia now has all of these sorry attributes.

Danny Quah is Professor of Economics and International Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Director of the Saw Swee Hock Southeast Asia Centre at LSE. He had previously served on Malaysia’s National Economic Advisory Council, 2009-2011.

Malaysia’s great – and recent – identity crisis


August 16, 2017

Malaysia’s great – and recent – identity crisis

If ever there was a country chronically afflicted by an identity crisis, it would be ours. Debates rage on about how we should define our identities. For example, do I say I am Malaysian first, or Malay first, or Muslim first?

But why not all or none of the above? After all, many of us from George Town may consider ourselves Penangite first.

While I believe identities are fluid and should not be set in stone, there is something to be said about the pervasiveness of racial identity in our public sphere. Discourse on almost every issue, be it the economy, education and especially anything political, cannot escape the inevitable question of race.

penang-free-school

pfsheadmastersBorn in 1816 for Multiculturalism

In the Malaysian context, this is translated into the great dichotomy of our country – the division between the Bumiputeras, a bureaucratic label with no constitutional basis, against the others, who are collectively reduced to the ignominious label of “non-Bumiputera”. As the state actively promotes a distinction between these two groups of citizens, the perception now pervades that there are some Malaysians who are considered to be more Malaysian than others.

Ironically, even the Bumiputera identity itself is full of ambiguities and contradictions. Deriving its modern definition from the genesis of the New Economic Policy (NEP), the term generally encompasses the Malays, the Orang Asli and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak. Yet while government employment and education quotas are supposed to favour the Bumiputeras, its practical application has raised questions about some Bumiputeras being more Bumiputera than others.

malaysiansThis is Penang

Issues revolving around Bumiputera, particularly Malay, rights and privileges are often emotional and confrontational in nature. In fact, for a race that is probably the most inclusive in definition, as anyone can be a Malay provided they fulfil the constitutional requirements of language, religion and culture, the Malay race is perhaps one of the most exclusive and parochial of political identities in Malaysia today. Not only have they walled themselves into a self-created mental fortification, Malay nationalism also adopts a fiercely antagonistic attitude towards their politically constructed rivals, the non-Bumiputeras.

It is no wonder then that former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad once commented that the current Prime Minister’s “1Malaysia” slogan would never be coherent, simply because it essentially means different things to different people.

Ethnicisation

According to sociologist Frederick Holst, identity has become central to socio-politics in Malaysia because both public institutions and social structures have undergone a process of ethnicisation – the infusing and intertwining of economic or political contestations with collective identities. As a result, the question of race, or more accurately, ethnicity, cannot be separated from any form of discussion regarding our country’s social and political dimensions.

Yet, it is important to realise that such a situation is not naturally occurring but instead a social construction. In other words, the ethnicisation of Malaysian society has taken place through a conscious agenda to create an identity that is primus inter pares (first among equals) in order to legitimise policies that favour a certain ethnic group. Hence, the construction of the Bumiputera identity. While the term is not new and has been used in various contexts prior to independence, its adoption as an umbrella identity for the Malays was essentially a post-NEP concept.

At another level, the concept of “race” is also a problematic one because our understanding of it is essentially derived from colonial knowledge. In fact, race as a genealogical concept to describe the societies in the Malay Archipelago was almost non-existent in pre-colonial times. Often, race was used to describe the milieu, such as humanity, as was the case in the Malay Annals or the Sulalatus Salatin, which I quote below:

Maka sahut Nila Pahlawan, “Adapun kami ini bukan daripada jin dan peri, dan bukan kami daripada bangsa indera; bahawa adalah bangsa kami ini daripada manusia.”

Similarly, the concept of “migrants” or “pendatang” has no historical basis. In Hikayat Hang Tuah, for example, the word “asing” or “foreign” is rarely used, and only in reference to foreign countries. When describing traders from foreign lands, the simple and universal term dagang or merchant is used, without any ethnic, racial or national connotation.

In fact, the concept of race as a social identity only became dominant following the arrival of colonialism. As a case in point, the first modern census in the country was conducted in 1871 in the Straits Settlements and had no reference to “race.” Instead, people were categorised into a multitude of ethnicities, such as Acehnese, Boyanese, Bugis, Burmese, Jawi Peranakan, Malay, Malayalam and so on. It was only in later censuses that the term “race” was used in the context that we are familiar with and the Malay, Chinese and Indian races officially became collective identities.

Overcoming our psychological problem

Ketuanan_zawawiHow right you are, Dr. Zawawi

As can be seen, our own history has much to offer in trying to make sense of our post-colonial nation-state. If we seem confused as a society and unable to escape our identity crisis, it is because we do not truly appreciate the richness of our origins. As controversial as it may be, the conversation about who we are, where we came from and who this country belongs to is one that needs to take place. However, it also needs to be discussed rationally and objectively, without being pulled into the myopic frames of ethnocentrism.

Contrary to what the federal government thinks, the way to foster such constructive discourse is to allow greater space and more debate, rather than stifle alternative opinions through draconian legislation. But while ideas should be allowed to propagate, there must also be room for them to be challenged. It is only through such a process, of mature deliberation and openness to contrarian opinions, that we can shake off the noise surrounding the issue and finally discover our true Malaysian identity – or identities.

Zairil Khir Johari is MP for Bukit Bendera, Penang, and Executive Director of Penang Institute.

G25 wants to meet Malay Rulers to review Islamic laws


August 15, 2015

COMMENT: The G25? I thought my friends have disbanded and I am Din MericanYwrong. So, keep pushing until you get results. But stop barking at the Prime Minister since you are not getting his attention.

On matters of religion, the G25 should have approached our Royal Highnesses right from the start and not wait for the Prime Minister to take action.

Najib Razak has not been serious about his responsibility as leader of our country. How can he, since he himself is being led by strange forces. Look at the mess he created since he took office in 2009. Are we surprised about the man? If you study the man’s background, you should know that character wise, he is the weakest, albeit the eldest,  of the Razak boys. He cannot lead since all he can do is to talk and make commitments which he does not intend to execute. His record to date supports my view.

I, therefore, appeal to our Royal Highnesses to act in the interest of our country. Please prevent UMNO and PAS politicians from using Islam as the means to create a Muslim ummah of bigoted and irrational Malaysian muslims for their political ends. Religion and politics make strange bedfellows and that is trite and true.

Our esteemed Rulers can no longer stand back and watch an unfolding national tragedy. The incumbent Prime Minister Najib Razak is only interested in remaining in power to enjoy the privileges and perks of his office. He is behaving like an Imperial Prime Minister who thinks he can do as he pleases.

Here is the opportunity for our Royal Highnesses to make a difference. Our Royal Highnesses cannot allow an “elected” leader to undermine their long cherished traditional roles as Defenders of the Faith. They cannot and must not permit the Prime Minister to usurp their authority.It is time for our Royal Highnesses to do what is right and act as the true and sole authority on matters related to Islam and Malay culture In Malaysia.

The G25 proposal to establish a high powered committee (and here I assume) of jurists and constitutional experts with well worded Terms of Reference to review the application of Islamic principles in Malaysian Law is a good one, deserving our support. To avoid any conflict of interest, however, our mullahs and other religious functionaries should not be included in the proposed committee. In addition, the Committee’s report on its deliberations and final recommendations should be submitted to the  Council of Rulers.–Din Merican

Malaysia: G25 wants to meet Malay Rulers to review Islamic laws

by KC Nazari @www.themalaysianinsider.com

Agong

The group of retired Malay civil servants of G25 against religious extremism plans to seek an audience with the Malay rulers to petition for a committee that will review the application of Islam in Malaysian law, its spokesperson Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin said at a talk on August 14.

She said the G25 hoped that the Sultans, as heads of Islam in their respective states, would form the committee to implement a process of consultation, comprising various stakeholders, to assess current laws and ensure that they comply with the Federal Constitution.

“We want to see all the rulers, the governors and all the chief ministers to sell this idea.What G25 is calling for is for the government to establish a consultative process, specifically to establish a consultative committee comprising shariah law experts, constitutional law experts and others who are adversely affected by Islamic laws.

“They will look at the shariah criminal enactment and review them and make recommendations on those that are in clear violation of the Federal Constitution,” Noor Farida said when giving a public lecture at Sunway University in Petaling Jaya this afternoon.

She said the group’s decision to meet with the Malay rulers was “Plan B”, after not making further headway in meeting with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, whom she said was “currently occupied with other matters”.

Noor Farida and other G25 representatives had met one of Najib’s officers earlier this year to set up a meeting with the Prime Minister, but no meeting has taken place to date.

Najib in prayerThe former Ambassador added that they also had a “Plan C”, which involved meeting federal lawmakers from the ruling coalition and the Opposition to set up a parliamentary caucus on Shariah laws and Islam.

The G25, which in December last year wrote an open letter expressing concern over Islamic extremism and that some religious laws were violating the Constitution, has been advocating moderation and rule of law in the application of Islam in a parliamentary democracy.

Malaysia’s identity as a Muslim nation has long been the subject of debate, with legal experts saying the Federal Constitution by nature calls for a secular country with Islam as the religion for the federation for ceremonial purposes, while those in favour of giving it a greater position argue that its status as the official religion places it above other laws.

Najib Razak’s Cabinet–Hududism on the Way


August 2, 2015

Listen to Ambiga on kiniTv: PM gone crazy

Malaysia: More on Najib Razak’s Cabinet–Hududism on the Way

by AR Zurairi@www.malaymailone.com

Najib on HududA Hudud Prime Minister

A Cabinet reshuffle is not about dropping ministers who have underperformed or are unpopular with the public, at least not in Malaysia.

If that were true, then we would not still be seeing former Deputy Finance Minister Ahmad Maslan around after the massive kerfuffle with the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax.

Ahmad MaslanHigh GPA Minister

Instead he is now the Deputy International Trade and industry minister, with perhaps a role in the handling of the hot potato that is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

And we would not still see Ismail Sabri Yaakob, not after his call to boycott Chinese traders in February. And then, you have Jamil Khir Baharom, whose tenure as a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Islamic affairs has been nothing but horrendous with regards to the rights and civil liberties of not only non-Muslims, but some in the Muslim community themselves.

Datuk-Jamil-Khir-BaharomLaksamana (Admiral) al-Hudud

The past few years have seen the divide between Muslims and others grow even wider as Islamic authorities gain the upper hand in determining the country’s policies and undermining the Federal Constitution.

Under Jamil, Islamic authorities — either federal or state — have only grown bolder in encroaching more into Malaysian lives with impunity and without rebuke.

State religious authorities have several times, in court and usually in judicial reviews, insisted that the Shariah court has jurisdiction over civil courts, and Shariah laws should not be subjected to the provisions in the Constitution.

Jamil himself has even alleged a “new wave” of assault on Islam here, accusing human rights activists of colluding with enemies of Islam to put its religious institutions on trial in a secular court.

Instead, Jamil now has a Deputy minister in the form of Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, the UMNO senator more popularly known as the head of Muslim missionary group Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia (YADIM).

Judging from his track record, Asyraf is a perfect fit for Jamil, and we can expect more of the same from our Islamic authorities.

In 2013, Asyraf was among the speakers of the Symposium on Facing Foreign Agenda with the theme “Malay Leadership Crisis”, jointly organised by Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia and its student wing Pembina, where he urged Muslims to always prioritise their own rights over the non-Muslims.

More recently, his antics as a senator included suggesting in Dewan Negara that 24-hour eateries could be the cause of “social problems”, claiming no such outlets are available in developed countries.

But most of all, the Tumpat-born Asyraf is a vocal proponent of implementing the controversial Islamic penal code of hudud across the country, and he seems to have a clearer vision of it than Jamil.

Last year, YADIM organised a conference compiling working papers on implementing hudud from Muslim academics nationwide. The compilation was edited into a book by Asyraf and it was launched earlier this year.

Among those who submitted papers were former Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad, and Perlis mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin. But there were also PAS Ulama wing chief Dr Mahfodz Mohamed, Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali who was then the wing’s information chief, and Kelantan exco member Dr Mohamed Fadzli Hassan, also from PAS.

The conclusion from the papers had been that it is not impossible for hudud to be implemented in the country, but it takes a bipartisan effort that puts Islam above all other considerations.

When met after the book launch, Khairuddin had coyly said this consensus on hudud is not a collaboration between UMNO and PAS, but rather a government-to-government deal between Putrajaya and Kelantan.

It has since been a tug-of-war between the two political parties. Ever since Kelantan passed an amendment to its Shariah Criminal Enactment to pave way for hudud, PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang has been trying to table private members’ Bills to clear any legal obstacles.

Even though Jamil had said that Putrajaya and UMNO have no qualms implementing hudud, he has stopped short of suggesting anything concrete. Hadi’s Bills have so far been put on the backburner in two previous Parliament sittings.

It has been suggested that the failure of PAS to push for hudud has been its recent haste in doing so, ignoring the blueprint allegedly drawn by Putrajaya to implement hudud in the country.

The paper, said to be prepared by a Shariah-Civil Technical Committee under JAKIM, the federal Islamic authority under Jamil, had concluded that the Constitution does not bar the incorporation of hudud into the Penal Code and its subsequent application to all Malaysians, not just Muslims.

It also stated it was vital for all local laws to be harmonised with Islamic principles.

Of course, the blueprint went out of the window after it was leaked to the public, and PAS meanwhile went ahead with its hudud plan in Kelantan to advance its credibility with its supporters prior to its annual congress and internal polls.

The move had arguably forced DAP’s hand which led to Pakatan Rakyat’s death, and also PAS’ progressive leaders in Harapan Baru which are now finalising plans for a new Islamic party.

With DAP and its progressive leaders out of the picture, and PAS going it mostly alone, its hudud goals might get a new life.And now PAS, and its clergy faction which took over the party, has one more ally in a high place: the now Deputy Minister Asyraf.

With UMNO grasping for support amid its fractious power struggle, will we see this alliance lead to a rekindling of the PAS-UMNO “friendship”?

“What is the most important is to ensure the agenda involving hudud can be realised, God willing,” Asyraf said in a status update on his official Facebook page on Wednesday following his appointment. With his newfound power, Asyraf now has carte blanche to realise this hudud ambition.

Malaysia: Questions to ponder


July 26, 2015

COMMENT: I cannot disagree with Zainah Anwar on the issues she raised in her article.  Spot on, but we have reached beyond theKamsiah and Din 2015 CNY pondering stage since the rot started long before Najib became the 6th Prime Minister in 2009.

Who was the Prime Minister who brazenly stated that our country is an Islamic state and who played the race card? Let us not forget that he came to power on the back of ultra-Malay nationalism and Islamism. Who destroyed our system of governance to leave as his legacy a powerful office of Prime Minister and a UMNO President who cannot be challenged.

He now is the man who is leading the charge to overthrow Najib from high office. He cannot conveniently say that he is not good at picking his successors (Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib Razak). He eliminated some outstanding UMNO leaders like Tun Musa Hitam, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim and created UMNO  Baru so that he could govern without opposition from his party and Parliament with the help of a compliant Judiciary and a civil service which  he could manipulate to achieve his political goals and perpetuate his rule (he did it for 22+ years).

Mahathir Lawan Najib

Today we have become a failed nation led by a kleptocracy under the leadership of a weak and corrupt Prime Minister Najib Razak.  UMNO is beyond redemption. In stead, we have to ponder whether UMNO of pagar makan padi types should continue to govern our country.

For me the answer is clear: No, UMNO which is trapped in a culture of patronage, cronyism, and corruption cannot be expected to revamp itself and govern differently. But what is the alternative?

Right now, given the fact the political opposition is in total disarray and UMNO is without a replacement, we have no choice but to endure the pain and agony of Najib’s transformational leadership for a few more years. The Economist could be right in coming to this conclusion. May God save Malaysia.–Din Merican

Malaysia: Questions to ponder

As issue and more issues made the headlines, will there be an implosion of all the things that Malaysia had built over the years?

I AM beginning to feel as if this country and its rakyat are being crushed and pummelled by wrecking balls.

JELAJAH JANJI DETEPATI / KULIMThe wrecking ball of race and religion, of insatiable greed, of never-­ending sense of entitlements, of unpunished crimes and abuses, of ideology over rational thinking, justice, and fair play.

These concerns are nothing new. What’s new is the breathtaking scale, the endlessness of it all, and the shamelessness with which the perpetrators display their unscrupulous, destructive and criminal behaviour, in words and deeds.

 The seeds of this rot were sown a long time ago. Any dominant party in power breeds its own seeds of destruction. For too long, too many of its leaders and party apparatchiks get away with all manner of transgressions. They tend to believe they are immune from any form of retribution.
LOW_YAT_HOOLIGANS_120715_TMISETH_0

I was in Geneva two weeks ago and UN officials and activists I met were asking what was happening to Malaysia.How did things get this bad? We were once a model country that others looked up to as a prosperous, progressive, politically stable, multi-ethnic society. We are a high middle-income developing country, not a basket case.

Now we are looking more and more like another banana republic, with scandals galore making global headlines. The deep concern many feel that these wrecking balls could lead to an implosion of everything that we have built over the ­decades is real. And what is scary is that there are people who are priming for trouble to break.

The Low Yat plaza riot will not be the last in their scheme of things. Thank God, the IGP and his forces acted fast in nipping the problem in the bud and stating the facts clearly and unambiguously. It was a crime; not about one race trying to cheat another.

Najib and 1MDBAll those who exploited the situation by making hate speech to manufacture racial conflict must be charged for their role in inciting violence.

Lessons must be learnt fast if we want to stop those determined to destroy the country in order to remain in power and preserve what they believe are their lifetime entitlements – on nothing but the basis of birth.

As desperation over the inevitable closing chapter sets in, there will be more attempts to ignite fires of racial conflict.

The truth is the ruling elite is becoming more and more beleaguered – under the weight and scope of allegations of misappropriation of public funds, plummeting popularity and finding itself devoid of new blood and new ideas, and certainly bereft of courage and will to bring the transformation needed to win back public support.

Let’s manufacture more threats to add to the standard “Malays under threat”, “Islam under threat”. Now it’s “national security under threat” as more and more damning evidence of mind-blowing brazen sleaze and corruption is revealed.

Who is really threatening whose survival? And what has happened to the warnings given at the UMNO General Assembly last year that UMNO must “change or be dead”? It looks like the choice UMNO has made is very clear.

Unless a new breed of young far-sighted leaders come forward with the will and courage to change the system – political and economic – to become more inclusive, more just, more honest, more transparent, we are really seeing the end of a long era in Malaysian politics. Time has run out for this old form of authoritarian politics and rule by a privileged elite.

Trust Us GangIn their book Why Nations Fail, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson argue with evidence across history and geography that authoritarian “extractive” political and economic institutions designed by elites in order to and perpetuate their power at the expense of the majority of the people are bound to run out of steam.

The pride we have in our beloved country is that was NOT our history. That was not how Malaysia began. But today this is where we are heading.

Just look at the alleged Mara scandal. An agency set up to redress a historical econo­mic injustice against the Malays ends up led by people cheating the very group they are supposed to help, pocketing millions in barefaced shenanigans.

A policy vehicle pumped with hundreds of millions of taxpayers money to eradicate poverty on the basis of race gets abused by the privileged elite of that race.

This is yet another case of pagar makan padi. Those entrusted to protect you, instead betray you. And there are many more such scandals, just waiting to be surfaced.

Let’s ask some hard questions here. Why after decades of rigorous development planning, 40% of Malaysian households earn only about RM1,847 a month?Why after more than four decades of the NEP, 75.5% of those at the bottom are bumiputras?

Why in spite of the billions poured into education and boarding schools, 64.3% of the bumiputra workforce have only SPM qualifications? Why some 90% of the unemployable university graduates are bumiputras?

Why of the RM54bil worth of shares pumped to bumiputra individuals and institutions between 1984 and 2005, only RM2bil remained in bumiputra hands today?

And why oh why should the bumiputras continue to raise a begging bowl and ask for more of the same kind of handouts from the same ruling elite? The bottom 40% get crumbs. Let’s focus our attention on these priorities.