Malaysia–GE-14: A Harapan Government next?

April 25, 2018

Malaysia–GE-14: On the verge of a Harapan Government

by Tommy Thomas

COMMENT | Foreign missions, election pundits, polls forecasters and secret or military intelligence all predict a comfortable victory for BN in the 14th General Election, with some even claiming that coalition chairperson Najib Abdul Razak is on the cusp of regaining a two-thirds majority.

But just as they failed to observe the trend in 2008 and 2013, I would suggest they are wrong again. The principal reason why I am confident that Pakatan Harapan will form the next government on May 10, 2018, is that they will receive about 60 percent of the popular vote. Hence, it is the voters who matter, and trying to understand what our voters desire in GE14 is the challenge.

What about the cheating? That is a given, and its effects must be overcome by overwhelming voter turnout and a massive swing to Harapan.

Recall the basic facts. Approximately 15 million voters have registered for GE14. Harapan should aim for about 13 million voters to cast their ballot, that is, a 86 percent turnout. Although polling is midweek, with sufficient initiative and drive, that figure is not unattainable.

To achieve a 60 percent vote, Harapan must secure 7.8 million votes out of the 13 million votes cast: a tall order indeed, but not impossible.

Thus, to get 112 seats, that is, just crossing the magic figure of 50 percent in the Dewan Rakyat, Harapan needs 60 percent of the votes. But to govern effectively, Harapan needs a comfortable majority, say, about 125 seats.

Profligate PM

I do not propose to enumerate the long list of reasons why voters desire the ouster of Najib, the caretaker Prime Minister. As one would expect from a government that has ruled a country for over 60 years, they have become absolutely arrogant and completely out of touch with the ordinary voter.

Corruption, nepotism and leakages are the order of the day. The over-centralisation of power in the office of the Prime Minister has resulted in the thousand most important positions of the state and its agencies to be in the gift of Najib, particularly his power to hire and fire, which he has exercised with cold efficiency.

A consideration of how the economy has been mismanaged by the caretaker Finance Minister and the specific examples of plunder in 1MDB and Felda would be sufficient to establish a case against BN’s re-election.

The debts of the government and its agencies have ballooned to about RM1 trillion in Najib’s nine years in office. This computation is wholly understated because it does not take into account contingent debts, like the countless guarantees given by the government which have to be honoured, and the off-balance sheet debts.

Najib may just be among the most profligate and wasteful finance ministers in the world. How he has survived in office for nearly three years after the world discovered that more than US$600 million was deposited into his personal banking account is perhaps the best proof of the extent of his power.

Institutions that are expected to provide checks and balances have failed miserably. The debts of 1MDB, which exceed RM40 billion, have to be repaid, along with the awesome debts of Felda.

In order to increase the national coffers to fill the holes created by his extravagance, GST was introduced, resulting in the suffering of millions of poor Malaysians eking out a living. Their real wages have not increased in years, but their living expenses have multiplied. Massive immigrant labour, both legal and illegal, suppress the wages of our workforce.

Hence, without having to consider their terrible policies in health, education, law and order and foreign relations – to name but a few – their economic mismanagement, considered on its own, is sufficient by any objective standard to vote them out. They are just unfit to rule. And our voters are aware of this.

I, therefore, believe that Malaysians in their millions are going to vote against the Najib administration.

Historical parallels

A historical example comes to mind. The Congress Party governed India for 30 years from 1947. For the last two years of its governance, then-prime minister Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency Rule, which resulted in the detention of thousands and the curtailment of civil liberties on a grand scale.

When a general election was called in early 1977, the ‘genie’ was let out of the bottle. Indian voters thrived in their newly-recovered freedom, and punished Gandhi at the polls. The Congress Party was heavily defeated, and Morarji Desai (a former deputy prime minister in a Congress administration) became prime minister in the Janata coalition.

These are sufficient parallels to the Malaysia of 2018. Malaysians too wish to be liberated from the clutches of Umno rule. Harapan is now a grand coalition of Bersatu, PKR, DAP and Amanah standing on a common logo.

DAP deserves credit for preferring the wider national interest over narrower sectarian advantages when they agreed to give up their famous rocket symbol.


Harapan is led by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, whose return to power would constitute the most spectacular political comeback in modern history.

After a gap of 15 years, and heading a different party and coalition, he would return to office as the nation’s 7th Prime Minister, at the ripe old age of 92, to be followed by Anwar Ibrahim as our 8th Prime Minister, once the legal issues concerning his eligibility to run for Parliament are resolved.

Mahathir has spent his entire political career from his entry into Parliament in 1964 fighting for Malay rights, having championed their cause for half a century. Hence, the majority race in our plural society cannot find a better protector of their rights. They felt and would feel safe under his prime ministership.

After helming the nation for 22 years, he personifies the establishment. The Armed Forces, the Police and the deep state have full trust in him. The business community would recall him as a true friend to them.

As Najib is discovering to his dismay, Mahathir remains a formidable politician, having led his party to five successive general election victories.

There is no doubt that the momentum has swung to Mahathir. The snowball effect in politics is going to propel Harapan to victory.

Former UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson once made a most profound observation: “One week is a long time in politics.” The two weeks to GE14 is even longer, and anything can happen.

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Political trickery and lies will flood our public space in the last few days before polling. The voters must stand vigilant and turn up in the millions to vote for Harapan so that a historic victory is achieved.

TOMMY THOMAS is a senior lawyer, who occasionally writes on political and economic matters.

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


GE-14–Reject Najib Razak and Corruption, says Dr. M. Bakri Musa

April 23, 2018

Malaysia: GE-14–Reject Najib Razak and Corruption, says Dr. M. Bakri Musa

by Dr.M. Bakri Musa, Morgan-Hill, California

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Prime Minister Najib Razak is painful to listen to; I have long ago tuned him out. His shrill voice grates. He raises it often when he tries to make a point. Instead, all he succeeds in doing is to sound like a hooker who has been spurned. His frequent and irritating hand gestures make him look like a monkey in heat. He mangles his rojak“Manglish” to the point of being incomprehensible. Those would be hilarious if caricatured by a consummate comedian. Najib however fancies himself a mesmerizing orator with a great stage presence. Such divergence of fantasy from reality.

Those irritating habits are not enough to ignore him. After all, he is Prime Minister. The reason I tuned him out is less his inability to discern fantasy from reality rather that the stuff coming out of his mouth nauseates me. What he utters is also dangerous to Malaysia. Likewise his actions; he is unabashed in his support for the rabidly racist “red shirts” in his party. Way back when he was UMNO Youth leader, he was notorious for his racist taunts, as with brandishing his kerisdripping with tomato sauce, to symbolize Chinese blood. He soiled, literally, a hallowed icon of our culture.

Compared to those, his telling Malaysians and the world that the billions he received from Saudi Arabia that ended up in his personal bank account was a generous “gift” would seem benign and ordinary, more so in corrupt Third World Malaysia.

I do not fault Malays in the kampungs for believing him on that one. Not that they are gullible. Far from it. Rather they harbor and cherish the old Malay values of respect and trust in our leaders. Malays are tolerant of their leaders to a fault. However as with everything else, there is a limit to that.

What I find incredulous is the gullibility of his ministers and officials. Even the sultans bought into Najib’s spin, or to be more accurate, Najib bought them! Kampung folks call that dedak, the rice husks they feed to their chickens. Throw some into their pen and they would rush in. Then all you had to do was close the barn door behind you. You had secured those birds for the night.

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Prime Minister Najib and his Dedaks-in-Chief

Najib’s dedak comes in many guises; for his ministers, continued appointments; senior officials, promises of post-retirement lucrative GLC directorships; and party apparatchiks, headships of statutory bodies or an ambassadorship to Timbuktu and LalaLand. For the Sultans, a few lucrative contracts thrown their way and they would then outdo the similarly dedak-fed ulama in quoting hadith on the importance of loyalty to leaders.

Back to that earlier generous Saudi “donation.” First he claimed that was “reward” for Malaysia’s fight against ISIS. Then when reminded that ISIS was formed much later or that he had once urged his UMNO Youth members to emulate them, Najib backed down. Those millions then morphed into an outright “gift.” Even Najib did not believe that for he later claimed he had returned it. I wonder at his donor’s reaction to that.The man cannot keep his story straight. He is a liar.

Gift or donation, that transaction triggered massive legal proceedings in no fewer than five jurisdictions, including the mother of all lawsuits, the American DOJ civil asset forfeiture under its Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative (KARI). Switzerland and Singapore have jailed a few of the involved principals. The DOJ suit euphemistically referred to Najib as “Malaysian Official 1,” the top culprit.

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Unlike many in Malaysia including his current nemesis Mahathir, my low expectations of Najib began much earlier. If not for his many enablers, Mahathir and Tengku Razaleigh in particular, men indebted to Tun Abdul Razak, his late father, Najib would today be at best nothing but a middling civil servant in one of the many backward districts in Pahang.

Unlike Najib’s many enablers, I discerned Tun Razak’s many sinister sides in Najib. So too his kampung constituents back in Pekan, for Najib had a near-death political experience there in the 1999 election when he squeaked in by a mere 241 votes out of a total of over 26,000. The number of rejected votes far exceeded his majority. The influx of “late” postal votes from the army tipped the balance for him. At that time he was the Minister of Defense.


Tun Razak is today hailed a national hero; his body rests in the Heroes Mausoleum at Masjid Negara. Less acknowledged is that he enlisted in the Japanese Army during The Occupation. Today his son Najib carries on that traitorous tradition. Najib (and UMNO) collaborates with China’s Communist Party, forgetting that it helped its Malaysian counterpart during the brutal Emergency years.

Tun Razak’s hypocrisy is also well hidden. He claimed to be a nationalist and a champion of Malay language. He exhorted Malay parents to enroll their children in Malay schools. Meanwhile he sent all his to English schools, and in England to boot. I wonder where he found the money for that; his minister’s pay would not do it. Najib inherits that hypocrisy. He exhorts everyone to be frugal and adjust to the high cost of living triggered by his GST. Meanwhile he and his family jet worldwide and vacation on luxury yachts in the Mediterranean, at taxpayers’ expense of course. His stepson, whose father was an army officer, owns luxury condos and mansions in Manhattan and Beverly Hills. He did at least until the KARI lawsuit.

Most unpardonable as well as dangerous of all is this: Tun Razak was instrumental in the ugly race riots of May 1969 following a drubbing his coalition suffered in the very divisive general elections. This upcoming May 9thgeneral elections have already degenerated into an even uglier and more divisive battle, except that the polarization this time is now among Malays in contrast to the interracial one, specifically between Malays and Chinese, in 1969. This coming election could prove even uglier and more vicious.

Najib’s father divided Malaysians. Najib now divides Malays. Malaysians, Malays as well as non-Malays, cannot let him do that. Malaysians must never, ever let the country descend into another orgy of bloodletting.

Najib is a politician with unbounded greed, devoid of trust, lacking in competence, and most of all, without an iota of integrity. He is pemimpin takde maruah dan tak beramanah(amoral and untrustworthy leader). Voters must reject Najib and his Barisan. Do it for the country. Finish the job Pekan voters attempted to do and nearly succeeded in 1999.

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Bakri Musa’s latest book, The Son Has Not Returned. A Surgeon In His Native Malaysia, chronicles his years as a young surgeon in Malaysia in the late 1970s.

GE–14:When The Air Is Pregnant In Malaysia

April 22, 2018

When The Air Is Pregnant In Malaysia

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Thus, the air is pregnant with the exercise of one final democratic push, invariably, the collective choice of 15 million voters, to ensure the emergence of a new Malaysian democracy that is not stillborn.

By Mustaqim Abdullah

The birth pangs of any democracy are never easy. Not unlike any biological birth, it is marked by the usual dread and unnerving moments. On May 9, Malaysia will have its 14th general election, although one no less dramatic than an actual birth.

To be sure, the labor pains, and the breaking of the water, began as early as March 2008. That was when a motley crew of opposition parties banded together under Anwar Ibrahim’s vision and showed the country, against all odds, that a two-party system was possible.

The second phase culminated in May 2013 when that once motley crew now shocked the world by winning a majority of Malaysian hearts and minds – proving to people (and also to BN) that they could win, even an unfair election.

May 9 2018 is, therefore, the near equivalent of the third trimester of the Malaysian pregnancy. Do we have a new democracy or a continuation of a kleptocracy, May 9 would mark the delivery?

But in a world of democratic recession, where democratic governments seem to be falling like bowling pins, the electoral results of Malaysia does matter to Asia at the very least.

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To begin with, Asia is a diverse collection of different regimes, none of which can be declared an actual democracy, with the exception of Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. If one enlarges it to include Australia and New Zealand, the democratic sample still holds. These are the five countries that have allowed some transitions of power to happen.

To the degree India is included, no one is certain if India’s democracy may be considered too flawed to be ranked, since it hasn’t produced the desirable economic equity, and is itself succumbing to forces of racist chauvinism. The Philippines, too, cannot be included since President Duterte has rode roughshod over it.

With such a small collection of actual, and functional democracies, one where the opposition leaders are not intentionally sued to bankruptcy—-as is the case in Singapore—what happens in Malaysia truly matters to the rest of the world.

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As things stand, the ground is filled with hopes of a new democracy. One that can allow others to breathe not merely a sigh of relief but practically free air. If Najib wins the election on May 9, especially with a 2/3 super majority, his ruling party UMNO and coalition, would have seen it fit to redraw any electoral boundaries, or, add to the current 222 to make it impossible for the opposition leaders to have a second chance.

Age is not on the side of all of the opposition leaders now, including Anwar Ibrahim, who will be 73 this year, and if banned another five years after his release cannot seek any public office until he is 78.

Even Dr Mahathir Mohammad, the leader of the opposition coalition, otherwise known as Pakatan Harapan, is an oddity in motion. At 93 this July, he cannot feign any more stamina than what he has already shown through the length and breadth of the country.

Lim Kit Siang, an opposition stalwart, is in his mid 70s too. Another five years he would be an Octogenarian. Dr Wan Azizah, the wife of Anwar Ibrahim is well into her late 60s, and understands the urgency of this election like no other. Mohammad Sabu, a former Islamic leader, is in the same league of Wan Azizah too. If the opposition coalition loses, all these leaders would be staring at the prospect of Najib, who is now 65, leading Malaysia well beyond 2023.


That being said, Malaysians are waiting with bated breath to ‘kick’ him out. Income has been stagnant, while the chasm between the rich and poor continues to grow; on top of which the national debt has risen to USD 155 billion, with the likelihood to pass the threshold of USD 250 billion in a few years at current spending trajectory, with no indication that a more prudent economic plan is in the works.


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Thus, the air is pregnant with the exercise of one final democratic push, invariably, the collective choice of 15 million voters, to ensure the emergence of a new Malaysian democracy that is not stillborn.

The heart is willing, so is the mind of the Malaysians. But the body is in the control of Najib, as he holds all the levers of ensuring a fair and clear election. If Malaysians don’t appear in droves to phase Najib out, which essentially means a voters’ turn out of nothing less than 85 per cent, Malaysia is a goner, and so is Southeast Asia’s experimentation with democracy.

One could of course point to the existence of Indonesia. But with Prabowo Subianto, the former son in law of President Suharto, poised to challenge President Widodo Jokowi, no one is certain if what is witnessed in the West, where the democratic order kept failing away, will not be a pandemic in Asia too.

If the world isn’t watching Malaysia carefully, it should: it is the barometer of the things to come in Asia and the rest of the world.


Malaysia’s GE-14: Putting The Future on the Line

April 22, 2018

Malaysia’s GE-14: Putting The Future on the Line

by Nicholas Chan

“Chances are political fatigue has affected reform-minded Malaysians after two missed opportunities since 2008, which has led to centrifugal politics that generated even more social tensions. Not even Dr Mahathir’s surprise (re)emergence can mend those fractures in the short term.”–Nick Chan

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Malaysia Decides on May 9. 2018

Elections are about the future. And Malaysians will get to decide theirs on  May 9,  2018. What future are Malaysians are facing and voting for? And, to some extent, what bearing will electoral politics have on it?

For now, many Malaysians are voting for the immediate future, as bread-and-butter issues such as housing, cost of living, and jobs were found to be the major concerns of Malaysians. The palpable outpouring of anger most visible in social media in the lead-up to this election, including from the Malay-Muslim electorate that has been the bastion of the ruling coalition-Barisan Nasional (BN), suggests that it’s driven mainly by concerns of the immediate future.

Both the federal government and an opposition-held state government have been splashing benefits on civil servants who are predominantly ethnic Malays. Even the Islamist party Pas has shelved the ‘Islamic state’ debate to focus on more profane concerns, such as abolishing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to curb inflation.

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UMNO’s Najib Razak or Pakatan Harapan’s Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

The impetus for change in this round of elections does not look to be as ideational as the previous two elections, where the incumbent’s ethnocentric conservatism was met with a loose consociationalist alliance between secularists, left-leaning progressives, and Islamists of various stripes.

Chances are political fatigue has affected reform-minded Malaysians after two missed opportunities since 2008, which has led to centrifugal politics that generated even more social tensions. Not even Dr Mahathir’s surprise (re)emergence can mend those fractures in the short term.

Devoid of a clear-cut ideational divide, the certainty of a graspable, common goal such as ‘Vision 2020’ is long gone now for most Malaysians. Even immediate aspirations vary depending on whom one asks.

This is reflected in both Pakatan Harapan (PH)’s and BN’s manifestos that run hundreds of pages thick. Part of the reason is that Malaysia is a highly centralised federation. Anyone aiming for federal power is expected to deliver a wide spectrum of public goods, including policing, education, and public transport planning that are usually reserved at the level of states and municipalities of other federations

But another part of the reason is that the development gap between states and regions remains stark. The GDP per capita in 2016 of Kuala Lumpur (RM101,420; A$33,566), for example, is more than double that of relatively industrialised Penang (RM47,322; A$15,662), not to mention the poorer states such as Terengganu (RM27,268; A$9,025) and Sabah (RM21,081; A$6,977). According to data from the Brookings Institution, Kuala Lumpur continues to outgrow the country in terms of GDP per capita and employment. Yet, even the Kuala Lumpur-Klang Valley region, which hosts one-fifth of Malaysia’s population, is a hotbed of inequality itself, as a study from UNICEF found.

In other words, there are two worlds politicians will have to speak to, the First and the Third. In one, even basic services are craved; but in the other, five-figure salary earners are comfortable enough to insist on non-material needs. To be fair, such inequalities have not escaped the government’s attention and redistributive interventions were made. According to the latest plan, cash aid is now disbursed to close to half the households in Malaysia if one goes by the data from the latest household income survey. An almost surreal fact for a country claiming to be achieving ‘high income nation’ status in two years’ time.

Granted, all nations are complex with their own identity, ideology, class, and developmental divides. Yet this ostensibly last election before the 2020 milestone also signals a wander into the unknown for there is no longer any developmental—teleological even—model that speaks of the choices and challenges for Malaysians ahead. There are at least two aspects to this.

First, while the end goal of the New Economic Policy (NEP) is to eliminate inter-ethnic inequality, the rather simplistic framework has led to a more complicated outcome. According to a World Bank report, most income inequality now exists within ethnic groups. Yet, the instruments aimed at boosting inter-ethnic equality have also resulted in public-private inequities that stemmed from the state’s ownership of the economy, an oversized civil service, and labour benefits accrued to said service (such as higher minimum wages as well as ostensibly higher purchasing power).

At the same time, Malaysia remains a low-wage society, even for university graduates. The kind of wages being afforded to fresh graduates in Singapore, even on a dollar-to-dollar basis, is almost unthinkable in Malaysia. Both of which combined to form a situation of over-reliance on state employment, low productivity, and the encouragement of talent outflow.

This happens at the same time as Malaysia reports encouraging GDP growth figures, as well as visibly high income consumerist patterns (and housing prices), creating a confounding situation—high growth data with little personal wealth increase; high consumerist options matched by low income— interlocutors stuck in old race-based paradigms are unwilling and unable to articulate.

Tearing apart the old consensus of racial progress as Progress also contributed to the proliferation of political parties and movements in Malaysia as there is no longer a grand narrative to adhere to. Insecurity seeps in. Protectionist sentiments increase. Interest groups multiply, more so in a political economy touched by the many hands of the state.

Second, not only have First World countries such as Japan (via the Look East Policy) expired as role models for Malaysia, the country has, whether by choice or not, begin to experience ‘First World Problems’ of its own. Urban-rural, intra-urban income and opportunity gaps plague Malaysia as much as it plagues Britain. The aforementioned urban poverty might make some uncomfortable for its comparison to African countries, but the same problem has occurred in the United States and New Zealand. Youth un- and underemployment is as much a Malaysian problem as it is a South Korean one.

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Disruptive change brought on by artificial intelligence and social media will reach Malaysian shores like any technological change: rapid, revolutionary, and ruthless. Climate change will impose its effects (for some, it already has) and like most countries, probably with the exception of Europe, it will be an issue that has long-term effects but almost zero short-term incentives for politicians to act on it, more so in a time of climate change denying and anti-vaxxers.

It’s worth noting that out of the manifestos of the three major contenders (BN, PH, and PAS), only PH’s has explicitly addressed the issue of climate change.

To be clear, I am not saying Malaysia is similar to other First World countries. For example, it will have to deal with the problem of growing old before growing rich (enough), unlike Japan which only needs to deal with first half of the problem. Malaysia’s educational institutions are still lagging far behind its First World counterparts, which is probably why Singaporean fresh graduates can fetch salaries Malaysia’s graduates can’t.

Elections are good for deciding pathways of change, only if those pathways are carefully thought-out, comprehensively debated, and creatively sold. For too long Malaysians have strived for a dream to go from Third World to First. It may now need to figure out a way to connect First World and Third.–Nick Chan

What is for sure for Malaysia is that it cannot spend its way out of it. The decline of humanities and social science in universities also means that the state has hoarded much of the critical thinking to its own – a fact to be dealt with regardless of the outcome of the elections. The passing of the anti-fake news bill and the populist streak dispensed by unpopular parties are not promising signs. Like the world writ large, Malaysia has entered terra incognita. It will need to devise ways and philosophies of managing a hyperconnected yet fragmented world. And it needs to do so now not as a nation catching up, but as a member within a global incubator.

Elections are good for deciding pathways of change, only if those pathways are carefully thought-out, comprehensively debated, and creatively sold. For too long Malaysians have strived for a dream to go from Third World to First. It may now need to figure out a way to connect First World and Third.

As UMNO-Baru says, ‘Depa Aku Pantang'(DAP) dan Kami Takut Diri Sendiri

April 21, 2018

As UMNO-Baru says, ‘Depa Aku Pantang'(DAP) dan Kami Takut Diri Sendiri

by Mariam Mokhtar

COMMENT | Do you fear flying? You shouldn’t. You have a greater chance of being flattened by a lori balak (timber lorry), or be run over by a bus Some people claim that the most dangerous part of flying is the journey to the airport; negotiating bumpy roads and dicey corners. Others claim that one should not fear flying, but crashing.

On some airlines, some people are afraid of sitting beside a passenger who removes his clothes to watch porn. Or be comforted inappropriately, by a steward. Or having to eat a miserable looking nasi lemak, with limp cucumber garnish.

These are rational fears, aren’t they? Do you recall when you were a child and your mother tried to get you back inside the house, at senja (dusk), to have dinner, a wash and then, to bed. Remember her clarion call? “Cepat masuk, takut hantu datang” (quickly come inside, before the ghosts appear).

These fears worked. Now, some of you also use the same ruse to make your children come into the house at dusk, because the trick is effective.

My relatives in the kampung, who lived in houses on stilts, used to have big earthenware urns filled with water, at the bottom of the stairs. Anyone who returned home late at night, used a cebok (water scoop) to wash one’s feet. Children who refused to follow orders were told that it was necessary, so that the hantu would not follow them into the house.

Naturally, parents used to say this so that children would not bring muddy feet into the house, but the “takut hantu” ploy worked. Human primitive instincts prevail, and for the past 61 years the same tactic has been used in politics.

Tried and tested methods are used

The bogeyman is not the unseen hantu but the very active and visible Democratic Action Party (DAP). UMNO-Baru strategists are not very creative. They use tried and tested methods, like the “Takut hantu” trick to scare Malay voters into thinking that the DAP will annihilate the Malay race and destroy Islam.

UMNO-Baru leaders use the tactics used by the best cults. They have an authoritarian leader who demands absolute commitment from his followers. They go through many rituals, just like religious worshippers. They don’t call it brainwashing. It is called party policies (dasar parti).

Cult followers are isolated from mainstream society. This tactic is also used by UMNO-Baru and PAS leaders. Malays are, in reality, isolated from other communities through religious indoctrination and education. Even our schools practise segregation. Malay students attend agama classes, but non-Malays have moral civic classes. The cult of UMNO-Baru does not want integration.

The Malay child’s indoctrination is reinforced at home and in society by JAKIM (Islamic Development Department Malaysia) and the various state religious authorities. The behaviour and dress of Malays girls are strictly controlled. Yoga or dancing the poca-poca are prohibited. Enlightening books are banned. Muftis will issue fatwas to mop up Malays who refuse to toe the line.

Then they wonder why many Malays, especially the women, find new-found mental, vocal and physical liberation when they go overseas to study. Perhaps, not in the Middle East, but certainly in the West.

The UMNO-Baru leaders, who claim that DAP is the enemy, are indirectly saying that they, and UMNO-Baru, have failed. After 61 years, UMNO-Baru’s language is still couched in talks of tribalism and tribal politics, despite Malaysians having moved beyond this.

Malays hold key positions in government, the GLCs and also very senior positions in educational establishments, the Armed Forces, the Police and diplomatic missions. Most scholarship holders are Malays. What has the Malay to be scared of? Maybe, their own shadows.

The population is composed of 69 percent Malays/bumiputeras, and 23 percent Chinese. The DAP and the Christians constitute only a small percentage of the populace.

One makcik from Kelantan said, “The conservative Malay states have serious problems with their youth who indulge in drugs, middle aged men who are involved in incestuous relationships or marry young brides, and then leave many single mothers with their children in the lurch.

“The East Coast states have the largest number of viewers of online pornography. More married middle-aged women are infected with HIV-AIDS, not because they are promiscuous, but because they have unprotected sex with their husbands, who are infected.”

The leaders who have abused the rakyat’s trust, and stolen taxpayer’s money, are Malay: The National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) scandal. The Arab prince’s RM2.6 billion “donation”. The Mindef (Ministry of Defence) land allegation. The sale of Felda land. The Mara scandal. The Felda, KWSP, KWAP, Petronas, Proton, MAS and Tabung Haji fund scandals.

Using the DAP to scare the Malays is a “takut hantu” tactic. The real ‘hantu‘ can be found among the Malay leadership.

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO). Blog, Twitter.

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


Neither Doom nor Gloom: A Reflection on GE-14

April 21, 2018

Neither Doom nor Gloom: A Reflection on GE-14

by Johan Saravanamuttu

Despite the #UndiRosak campaign, two-coalition politics has become has become the new normal – and this is likely to continue, writes Johan Saravanamuttu.

Considerable pessimism occupies the blogosphere these days with the notion that the electoral process has failed to deliver any substantial political change.

Image result for GE-14: Najib or MahathirMalaysia Hobson’s  come May 9, 2018


The #UndiRosak campaign speaks to this gloomy view of developments whether one thinks of it as a BN-orchestrated ruse or not.

A continuing spate of negative political developments, such as what has happened to whistleblower Rafizi Ramli, the Member of Parliament for Pandan, who will lose his seat because of a court conviction, may have also convinced many of the futility of keeping up the good fight.

The gerrymandering exercise of the Electoral Commission, conducted every eight years or so, no doubt contributes to the sentiments about the efficacy of elections and to a sense of powerlessness and frustration of the enlightened voter.

But we should remember that the commission has always provided the structural basis for the ‘manufactured majorities’ of the ruling coalition.

And, over the last decade, we have seen the rise of the Bersih electoral reform movement, which has been able to check some of the Electoral Commission’s excesses, kept it under watch, and even influenced some changes to the electoral system.

The current Bersih campaign for public objections to the redrawing of constituency boundaries is not likely to halt it but importantly, it will raise public consciousness about the need for further electoral reform.

The continued interest in the coming general election and its subjection to almost daily analysis and punditry must surely also mean that elections are still important in the public mind.

Despite structural flaws, most electoral systems are a necessary political device to guarantee meaningful political choice and, ultimately, democracy. Thus, I think we must continually analyse the outcome and impacts of elections to discern new pathways to meaningful change.

Recently we have seen the surfacing of well-researched and complex analyses of elections by independent, non-partisan organisations which have enhanced our understanding of elections.

For this reflection, I’d like to focus on one such recent study on the coming general election by Politweet, which describes itself as “a non-partisan research firm analysing interactions among Malaysians using social media”.

Politweet’s use of statistical tools and computer simulations has added to the sophistication of electoral studies although one should always be forewarned of the caveats and assumptions of such statistical analyses.

It is logical that with the rise in computing power and techniques, Malaysian ‘psephology’ (the statistical study of elections) should become more established. For analysts of Malaysian electoral politics, the statistical studies of the Politweet sort, are certainly an important additional modality to improve and hone our understanding of electoral outcomes.

Image result for GE-14: Najib or Mahathir

The New Partnership for the Malaysian Opposition

So, let me briefly examine the latest findings by Politweet on the coming general election and then present a perspective of how we should view current developments in Malaysia in the light of its findings.

For the Politiweet study, see here.

Study in brief

First, note that this is only a study of Peninsular Malaysia.

The study used the new electoral rolls of the first quarter of 2017, basing its extrapolations on the state and federal outcomes of the 2013 general election and “individual historical voting patterns” of the 2008 and 2013 general elections – that is, using polling lane results, which gives us the best data available to assess individual votes.

The study further adds a scenario, factoring in the current exercise to redraw constituency boundaries undertaken by the Electoral Commission that is most likely to be implemented in the coming general election.

The main focus of the study is on the prospects of Pakatan Harapan in the coming election based on its seat allocations on the peninsula that have recently been announced: 52 seats to be contested by PPBM; 51 seats by PKR; 35 seats by DAP; 27 seats by Amanah.

A total of 300 simulations were run based on three scenarios of voter behaviour:

  1. as occurred in the 2013 general election
  2. with a 2% increase of support for the Opposition, and
  3. with a 5% increase of support for the Opposition.


The results of the simulations are shown in the table below, which I have reproduced from the study.
































Source: Politweet Study of the 2018 general election

The main conclusions of the study are as follows:

  1. In a situation of straight fights in Scenario 3, Pakatan Harapan can form the federal government with a five-point swing of support leading to a win of at least 115 seats in the 222-seat Parliament.
  2. In three-corner fights between PH, Pas and BN (Scenario 3), PH would have to gain 10% of pro-BN supporters on the assumption that 10% of the anti-BN vote would go to Pas.
  3. The simulation based on the current redrawing of constituency boundaries predicts that the BN would win an additonal 10 seats. These would be the Amanah seats of Kuala Nerus, Terengganu; Bukit Gantang and Lumut, Perak; and Hulu Langat and Sepang, Selangor. PKR would lose its seats in Kapar, Selangor; Lembah Pantai, Kuala Lumpur; Telok Kemang, Negri Sembilan; Bukit Katil, Melaka and Batu Pahat, Johor.

There are many more interesting details of the study. See the reports on the study made by the Malay Mail Online and the Malaysian Insight.

The outcomes of the Politweet computer simulations are an eye-opener.

First, rather counter-intuitively, is that the Peninsula results alone could lead to PH winning a majority of seats if there are straight fights under Scenario 3 (that is, a 5% swing of votes to the Opposition). The study did point out that a win of some 10 seats from East Malaysia would buttress Scenario 3 for PH.

Second, in the scenario of straight fights between PH and BN (ie Pas not contesting against the three Malay-based parties of PH), a win is possible with a 5% swing of support to the Opposition. So imagine, if Pas had stayed in the Pakatan fold, the defeat of BN could almost be thought to be imminent in the coming general election. Instead, we now face the likely prospect of three-corner fights. In this scenario, the study shows that an Opposition win would require the tall order of Amanah weaning away 10% of BN supporters. These more difficult odds would surely incense former supporters of Pakatan Rakyat.

Of further note is that the study also points out that its social media data shows a alarming decline in voter interest in political parties, from a high of 64 % in December 2015 to 30% in December 2017. This troubling factor could feed into the #UndiRosak campaign.

Even with all its assumptions and caveats, the Politiweet study does convey to us the sense that much has changed on the electoral terrain in Malaysia, and electoral success is not a foregone conclusion for the ruling coalition.

I would add that if a major swing against the ruling parties occurs in East Malaysia, particularly in Sabah, a BN win is not at all assured.

Concluding remarks

One could take away the following broader observations and conclusions from the Politweet study of the coming general election (GE-14).

First, the overall big picture in Malaysia is that two-coalition politics has become normalised or, if you will, it has become the new normal.

Second, it is also implied that two-coalition politics will continue at the second level of state politics (contra federal). Although this was not analysed by Politweeet this is easily deduced. In a separate earlier study, Politweet analysed the impact of the redrawing of constituency boundaries on Selangor and found that the incumbent ruling group is still likely to retain power.

Third, it is unlikely that the BN will regain its super majority, a two-thirds majority of seats for some time to come even if it continues to win federal elections.

Fourth, Sarawak and Sabah are important states for federal power, if not necessary ‘fixed deposits” as the conventional wisdom seems to hold. The complexity of multi-party politics in these two states obviously deserves a separate analysis. It would be interesting to see if Poltiweet would undertake such a study.

Image result for johan saravanamuttuDr. Johan Saravanamuttu


Finally, I believe that elections are still indispensable to the democratisation process. Bringing about political change through the electoral process is clearly frustratingly slow and riddled with pitfalls but substantial change has been achieved since 2008.

Beyond elections, a strong civil society with a jealously guarded public sphere remains as the ultimate bulwark against democratic slippage.

Johan Saravanamuttu
Co-editor, Aliran newsletter