The State of a Paranoid Government: Malaysia’s Freedom in Jeopardy


December 4, 2016

The State of a Paranoid Government: Malaysia’s Freedom in Jeopardy

by Aedi Asri@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Zahid Hamidi says the task force, consisting of the Police, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Bank Negara Malaysia and the Attorney-General’s Chambers will also check on civil society movements receiving overseas funds.

zahid-hamidi-demonstrasi-jalanan

DPM Zahid Hamid, that’s what happens when you lose your legitimacy to govern; people power takes hold. Civil society organizations are formed, and citizens take to the streets to protest. Then you stifle and intimidate them, and the people react and the whole situation repeats itself in a vicious circle of repression, reaction and suppression. 

Governing for all its complexities is,  in fact, simple if you genuinely want to serve people. But not, if you are incompetent and corrupt. Our leaders like you never learn the lessons of history, and that is people power triumphs in the end.–Din Merican

The government has set up a task force to monitor and investigate movements which are seeking to “overthrow the government”, says UMNO Acting Deputy President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

In his winding up speech at the 70th Umno general assembly, Zahid, who is also home minister, said the task force comprised the police, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Bank Negara Malaysia and the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

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“Let the task force do its job independently. If they find solid evidence, then action will be taken,” he said.

Zahid claimed there were some organizations here which had been been influenced by the idea of what he called “the Color Movement”, which, he said, was being pushed by an institution known as the Center for Applied Non-Violent Action Strategies (Canvas).

The Color Movement, he said, wanted to accomplish revolutions without violence by training, planning and developing strategies to oust democratically-elected governments.

 Image result for open society foundation
 

He said the Color Movement was a concept founded by Gene Sharp through the Albert Einstein Institute, which, he added, received funds from the National Endowment for Democracy, International Republic Institute , George Soros Foundation and the Open Society Foundations (OSF).

In recent years, Zahid claimed, Color Movement activities had been carried out in Ukraine, Lebanon, Iraq and Kuwait, among other countries.

“In Malaysia, some organisations have been found to be influenced by the idea of the Color Movement, too, including Suaram, BERSIH, Bar Council, Malaysiakini and Sarawak Report,” he claimed.

According to a report in the South China Morning Post (SCMP) published on Nov 3, civil society organisations in Malaysia had received funds from OSF in recent years.

This was confirmed by the OSF in their response to queries from the Hong Kong-based publication.

OSF had also admitted to providing small grants to election reform coalition BERSIH shortly after it was formed in 2011 but said it did not currently support the group.

“The Open Society Foundations are proud to have supported civil society in Malaysia for 10 years. Claims that the Open Society Foundations funded attempts to overthrow the government in Malaysia are entirely false.

“The Open Society Foundations support justice, accountability and democratic practice around the world, and in Malaysia our grant-making to civil society includes efforts to promote public health, foster fair migration policies and encourage the civic and political participation of all Malaysian citizens,” OSF was quoted as saying in an email reply to SCMP.

 

The New Muhyiddin Yassin baptised by BERSIH 5.0?


November 2, 2016

The New Muhyiddin Yassin baptised by BERSIH 5.0?

by Mariam Mokhtar

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for muhyiddin yassin at Bersih .o

Former Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin speaks to the crowd at the Bersih 5 rally in Kuala Lumpur November 19, 2016. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

If ever there was a rousing speech to stir the masses to fight for Malaysia and eject Najib Abdul Razak and his cronies, this had to be it. This was the ‘mother-of-all-speeches’, not just because of its content, and delivery, but more important because of the man who made it.

Who would have thought in their wildest dreams that former Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Muhyiddin Yassin, who uttered the infamous words, “I am Malay first, Malaysian second”, would have become the latest darling of Malaysia?

One could easily argue that the speech, which he made from the back of a truck in the shadow of the Petronas Twin Towers, was the most important political speech of Muhyiddin’s life.

Having worked his way up to the post of DPM, then vilified for his ‘I am Malay first’ speech, then unceremoniously chucked out of Najib’s cabinet for opposing him, Muhyiddin has made a spectacular political comeback.

He said, “I must appeal to all of you (to) set aside all our differences, so that we may face (BN) on a one-to-one basis.We want an honest and clean government.”

His speech was spontaneous and off the cuff. There were no teleprompters. He spoke in English and Malay, sending the crowd wild with jubilation.

Who would have thought that the former UMNO Baru strongman would demand clean elections, and a democratic government?

Image result for muhyiddin yassin at Bersih .o

Such was his punchy delivery that he overshadowed former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who had spoken before him. The former DPM has undergone a political rebirth from his political pariahdom. His reincarnation has been both elating and confusing.

Some of the nuggets in his speech, were; We must see change happen, in the next general election. The present government does not care about you, they only care about themselves. They have sold our pride. Malaysians must show that we are united, irrespective of where we come from.

Let us hope he has been sincere and is not just spouting platitudes. He spoke about a fair, just government for our children and our grandchildren. “The time is up for BN. We must dictate the future of the country. This is the time for us to work together. Malaysia belongs to all of us.”

“Time is up for the cronies, Riza Aziz, Jho Low and the ministers who speak nonsense. Berani kerana benar.”

A few days before the BERSIH 5 march, the Malay NGO Jaringan Melayu Malaysia (JMM), announced that the Federal Territories Islamic Department (Jawi) should investigate Muhyiddin for his alleged affair.

Image result for Jaringan Melayu Malaysia (JMM)

You just wonder what goes on in the minds of the JMM office-bearers. Are they obsessed with sex and time-wasting, or are they so obtuse that they cannot see that the nation is undergoing its most serious peacetime political crisis in living memory?

If JMM had any sense, and if they were of any use, they would have demanded that the religious authorities investigate Najib, his cabinet ministers, the zakat and Tabung Haji funds, and the mosque administrations to see the depth of corruption and abuses of public funds that have been allowed to go unchallenged.

Dr M will always be a crowd-puller

The other prominent ‘M’ for BERSIH 5 is former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who rushed home from a conference in Sudan to ensure he was able to participate in BERSIH 5. Mahathir has and will always be a crowd-puller.

Anyone with an elderly person in the family would be worried by Dr M’s gruelling schedule, but credit to the nonagerian, who was able to set aside his tiredness to come before Malaysians and encourage them to demand a clean and fair government.

Again, who would have thought that in our lifetimes, we would see the man, who once opposed protests and dissent, to declare that Najib must be taken down.

What a pity that his efforts to galvanise Malaysians towards reform have been dismissed by Najib, who said that Dr M likes making U-turns.

Finally, the most feared and respected ‘M’ is Maria Chin Abdullah. A fearless defender of human rights, a champion of women’s causes, and a mother of three. She does not present a threat to a clean government. All she, BERSIH 5 and decent Malaysians want are clean, free and fair elections and a return to good governance and democracy.

Locked in solitary confinement, in a 15ft by 8ft windowless cell, with two light bulbs on 24-hours a day, Maria’s comforts are a cold cement floor and wooden pangkin (bench).

So, why would the red-shirt thugs be ordered to terrorise all of Malaysia, and cultivate a culture of fear in the run-up to BERSIH 5? Why was her arrest ordered?

It is because Maria has the secret to the remaining ‘M’ – the largely sleeping dragon, the Malaysian rakyat, which she is trying to awaken.

Maria has the power to unite all Malaysians to oust Najib. That is why Maria has to be locked away in a secret location, detained for 28 days under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).

She is not a terrorist; she is a freedom fighter. If Maria is free, Najib’s political future is at risk. No wonder Najib is afraid.

 

Berish 5.0: Taking on corrupt UMNO Prime Minister


November 17, 2016

Berish 5.0: Taking on corrupt UMNO Prime Minister

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for Bersih 5.0

Electoral reform group Bersih does not regard the red-shirts as their enemy, as the purpose of the November 19 rally is to protest against corruption and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s alleged wrongdoings.

In a statement today, its chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah said the public have a right and a duty to voice their displeasure over these issues.

“Red-shirts leader Jamal Md Yunos is not our enemy. We are not hitting the streets to fight Jamal and his band of thugs. We are not flexing our muscles or showing who has bigger numbers.

Image result for Malaysia's corrupt couple

Malaysia’s Corrupt Couple–A National Disgrace

“We are protesting because keeping silent on corruption and abuse of power is not an option. We are gathering because we have a right to protest against Najib (over his alleged) mega scandals which gave our country the ‘kleptocracy’ label.

“Jamal is just a decoy to shift attention away from public enemy number one: None other than the Prime Minister himself.

Image result for Mahathir and Bersih 5.0

“We must focus on Bersih’s demands (for clean elections and eradication of corruption), which seek to make Malaysia a better place for our children,” she said.

‘Cops will help us’

Maria expressed confidence that the Police will help facilitate a peaceful and orderly rally, just as they did for Bersih 4.

Image result for Din Merican and Dr. Kamsiah at Bersih 4.0

I was at Bersih 2007, and Bersih 4.0 but my academic duties in Phnom Penh prevent me from joining you this Saturday. However, Dr. Kamsiah and I wish our friends like Ambiga, Maria, Cynthia Gabriel, Dr. Subramaniam Pillay, and fellow Malaysians all the best for a peaceful and orderly protest against this corrupt Rosmah controlled regime.

Beware of agent provocateurs led by buffoon Jamal Ikan Bakar in your midst. Special Branch agents will also be in your company. Exercise restraint and respect public property.–Din Merican in Phnom Penh, Cambodia 

“Last year, we saw how the Police kept the peace during the 34-hour long protest, where the red-shirts appeared only at the end. We hope that the Police will be prepared for provocation by Jamal’s camp to divert attention from Bersih’s objectives,” she said.

In view of this, Maria urged Malaysians not to be concerned over Jamal’s threats. They should take part in the Bersih 5 rally and show the world how much Malaysians we detest Najib Razak and his kleptocrats.

Image result for Mahathir and Bersih 5.0

The Police have claimed that the notices submitted by Bersih, as part of the requirement under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, were defective and thus the rally on Saturday was unlawful. Nevertheless, Bersih has claimed it has fulfilled the legal requirements and will be pressing ahead.

Why are you Prime Minister Najib?


November 13, 2016

My friend Hussein,

Image result for Ugly Rosmah Mansor

Malaysia’s First Lady Rosmah Mansor and her counterpart Michelle Obama

It does not take a hot shot rocket scientist to answer your question why you are not Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib is.  Allow me, an Average Awang ( or Average Joe ),  answer you.

You are not the corrupt, lying, dishonest eldest and spoilt son of Tun Razak Hussein who is under queen control of that despicable and greedy Rosmah Mansor with an inferiority complex. 

You,  I and other Malaysians of the masculine gender are embarrassed to have this henpecked Najib Razak as the leader of the country we love. We have to blame Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad for creating UMNO Baru to enable a character like Najib to become and remain Prime Minister.

It is tough for someone like me teaching in foreign country to explain the Najib phenomenon to my graduate students. It is even tougher for a career Ambassador to do so. But Najib is able to appoint his UMNO crony and a  serving MP from Pahang  as Ambassador to the country where I now reside.   –Din Merican

Why are you Prime Minister Najib?

by Hussein Abdul Hamid aka Steadyaku47aku

http://steadyaku-steadyaku-husseinhamid.blogspot.my/

My Dear Saudara Najib Razak,
Every day, in many ways, I am trying to make some sense of how someone like you is now, in fact, and in reality, the Prime Minister of my country.
Image result for anwar ibrahim 2016
I know that that the late Karpal Singh, Aruah Tok Guru Nik Aziz, and Lim Kit Siang are all  better men than you. I am certain that Anwar Ibrahim is not only a better Finance Minister but if given the opportunity, will surely be a better Prime Minister than you. There are at least a dozen politicians that I personally know who have demonstrated by their action and their deeds that they are more deserving of being Prime Minister than you…..and there is even an Oxford graduate in your cabinet who thinks he is better than you….and yet none of them is the Prime Minister of my country…you are!
I know that corruption and arrogance are now drowning UMNO in its own filth and shit. I know that UMNO leaders no longer care for the party, for its members or for the Malays because the culture of kebendaan and the greed that it breeds, has totally consigned them all to that odious cesspool of “vested interests” in everything that they do. And as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, I know that it is not if, but when, UMNO will finally drown in all these scums….so I know what has to be done not only to save UMNO…and yet I am not it’s president, …you are!
Malaysian everywhere have read enough about 1MDB, that  ringgit 2.6 billion donation, the manipulation of Felda, Tabung Haji, EPF and so many public entities for the personal financial gain of UMNO and BN leaders…and we know that this is the cause of the malaise our nation, our economy and our future are being burdened with….but even though we know all this and we know what has to be done to make things right….none of us are in a position to do anything about it because we are not in government, nor are we it’s head…..you are!
As a Malay I know our weaknesses, our strengths and the vast untapped resources that lie dormant within our psyche and the inner resolve that beats within our hearts that will enable us to be at par, if not better than the others who also call Malaysia their home…but even as I know this and want to do something about it…I am not the avowed champion and leader of the Malays….you are!
All this and more we Malaysians know and are still counting the many ways that we are better than you, smarter than you in almost anything than we do in life, in our community, and for our country…and yet none of us is Prime Minister of this nation….you are.
So tell me Najib how come one of us is not the Prime Minister but you are?
Image result for Ugly Rosmah Mansor
Any of us would have the common sense to not marry a wife like Kak Rosmah…fool around with her maybe, but marry “NO!”….and if in error we have married her….we would still be able to beat some sense into her egoistic self and if having failed to do so…..we would not hesitate to rid ourselves of someone like her….but pray tell us Najib why did you not only put up with her but also allow her to wear the trousers in the house?
Anyone receiving a donation of RM2.6 billion would call it anything else but a “donation”. And to this day I am still wondering how come you are stupid enough to think that you will not be found out for having deposited that amount of money in your own private bank account….but then we are not the one receiving that “donation:…you did!
As for 1MDB….you must be some kind of a retard to think that you and your cohorts can scam the nation out of billions of ringgit and not get found out!
These are but just some of the instances that made me go “hmmmm”….how come I know all this and Najib who is the Prime Minister, does not?

So please….can someone tell me why I am not the Prime Minister and Najib Razak is?

Bersih 5.0: UMNO plays hardball


November 8, 2016

Bersih 5.0: UMNO plays hardball

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

It is no surprise that the sabre-rattling and harsh rhetoric by UMNO and various members of the Government is growing in intensity as November 19 – the day of the planned Bersih 5 rally in Kuala Lumpur – approaches.

Image result for UMNO Red Shirts

At least three hardline tactics are discernible from the UMNO side. One is of crude threats (once again) to start a blood bath by Red Shirts leader Jamal Yunos. Showing his complete disregard for the law and showing his middle finger to the agencies that are supposed to enforce it as well as abandoning whatever sense of civic decorum may still linger in him, the Sungei Besar UMNO leader made the following threat during a press conference :

Kami berikrar dan menentang mereka habis-habisan. Kami tidak akan teragak-agak untuk melakukan apa saja, walaupun sanggup bermandikan darah. (We swear to fight them to the end. We are prepared to do anything, even shedding blood)”

Malaysians can expect this fascistic and openly lawless grouping within UMNO which is bent on suppressing any form of opposition and criticism – in the name of supporting the Government and ensuring peace and order – to make more provocative statements and more blood curdling threats in the coming days.

Supporting the Red Shirts

Image result for Najib and Red Shirts

Meanwhile a parallel attempt to kill off the Bersih rally is being made by Jamal’s superior in the UMNO leadership lineup. Intent on burnishing his ketuanan UMNO credentials at this time of leadership turmoil in his own party, Khairy Jamaludin, UMNO Youth chief, has called on the authorities to shut down the roads leading to Dataran Merdeka to prevent Bersih supporters from gathering at the square.

He has argued that the Red Shirts have emerged as a reaction to Bersih 5. His logic: if there were no Bersih 5 rally, there would be no Red Shirts demonstration.

The same argument can be made that the civil society opposition – which now includes ex-members of UMNO and their breakaway party – is marching due to the Government’s failure to bring about institutional reform, including in the electoral process, and its responsibility for the 1MDB and other cases of misgovernance. Hence all that’s needed to defuse that opposition is for the present leaders to step down.

Khairy and his UMNO colleagues such as the Home and Deputy Home Ministers, Zahid Hamidi and Nur Jazlan Mohamad, need to go back to school and enrol in “Fundamentals of Political Democracy 101” if they think that particular argument is a reasonable one to prevent citizens from exercising their right to dissent in legitimate and peaceful ways.

The third approach is that of using official channels to block the Bersih rally participants. We have a history of City Hall refusals to grant permits to opposition-organized rallies. A similar response can be expected of Bersih’s application to DBKL wherever the rally organizers may decide to hold the rally and however far it may be away from the city center.

At the same time the Police and FRU can be expected to mobilize en masse along the rally routes to prevent members of the public from joining the rally. They, as seen in the past, will have no qualms on using water cannons, tear gas, truncheons and other means of physical coercion on protestors who they perceive as resisting their instructions.

In addition, there is likely to be a new para-military team waiting to jump into action in case the rally event is seen as getting out of control. It is unlikely that Prime Minister Najib will use the newly minted National Security Council Act to declare the rally locality a Security Zone and to crack heads. That task is rumoured to be outsourced to the Redshirts.

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UMNO’s Top Rogues

But if the National Security Operations Force (NSCOF) is brought into action, there could be repercussions which the Government will surely regret, and have to pay for letting this particular genie of state sponsored violence and mayham escape from the bottle. Already the National Security Operations Force team photographed in full combat gear with guns and apparently supported by helicopters and 4WD vehicles has demonstrated to the public its ominous incompetence by its grammatically fractured motto – “speed and accurate” – displayed prominently on the showy extra-large arm badge worn by its team members.

Despite the heightened beating of UMNO’s war drums to dissuade the rally organizers and participants, the rally will surely happen. There will be a rally in Kuala Lumpur on November 19 in which we can expect a formidably-sized assembly of protestors – as described by Hishamuddin Rais, activist and Bersih resource person – “taking the Gandhi philosophy, non-violence.”

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The rally will be a multi-racial and peaceful one as previous Bersih rallies have been. We can also expect that the majority of participants will be from the Malay community, increasingly disillusioned and estranged from the present UMNO leadership.

This will make meaningless any blackening of it as a traitorous non-Malay or Chinese attempt to overthrow the Malay government, except by those belonging to the asylum.

But who is it that we can expect from the Malay community to march with other Malaysians in Kuala Lumpur and from another 40 or more cities in the world in support of Bersih’s peaceful objectives? There will be the usual supporters from the opposition, less PAS members aligned with PAS president Hadi Awang. There will also be PAS dissidents who have broken away as well as those still in the party but who do not go along with Hadi’s dalliance with Najib.

How large will the rally presence be from UMNO dissidents, some already with Parti Pribumi Bersatu and others still in UMNO but with little or no confidence in its present leadership? 50 thousand, 100 thousand?

Image result for khairy jamaluddin and Najib

The last grouping is the wild card. Khairy’s open warning to UMNO Youth members who intend to participate in Bersih 5 that they will face disciplinary action shows he is clearly worried that they will turn up in their tens of thousands.

But can such bullying and intimidation still work? And if blood is to be spilled as Jamal Yunos has promised, Malaysians and the rest of the world will be in no doubt as to whose bloodied hands are the ones responsible.

 

Nazir Razak and Promoters of National Consultative Council 2 (NCC 2)–Don’t be Naive


October 19, 2016

Message for Nazir Razak and Promoters of  National Consultative Council 2 (NCC 2)–Don’t be Naive

by Dr. Kua Kia Soong

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Image result for Malaysia's Red Shirts

Image result for Malaysia's Red Shirts

My Advice to Nazir Razak and G-25–Remove this Toxicity First–Din Merican

…as long as pro-Bumiputera policies remain useful in winning Bumiputera votes, it is unlikely that the ruling class in UMNO will want to dispense with this method of rule. Racism has been thoroughly infused in all the national institutions, including racist indoctrination of Bumiputeras in state institutions such as the BTN that recently came to light.

Since Najib introduced the slogan “1Malaysia” to try to woo the disaffected non-Bumiputera voters after the 2008 fiasco, strident racism often associated with UMNO Youth has now been outsourced to the far-right Malay supremacist groups. They continue to play the role of storm troopers and disrupt activities organised by civil society to promote social justice, democracy and human rights. UMNO’s competition with PAS has also heightened Islamic populism in the country, with dire consequences for ethnic relations. Above all, racial discrimination facilitates crony capitalism that is essential to UMNO’s monopoly of power. This has not changed since the Mahathir era.–Dr Kua Kia Soong

I understand the sentiments of “moderates” who are rightly alarmed at the increasing racism, religious bigotry and corruption in Malaysia and are proposing the establishment of a new ‘National Consultative Council’ (NCC2) like the one set up after May 13, 1969. But are they harbouring naïve views about how an NCC type approach can meaningfully address such concerns?

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The presupposition behind those who call for unity and good sense and a rational way ahead for the nation is that “racial” discord in our society and the present slide into a banana republic can be solved through a council of eminent persons who will plot the path forward for the nation. But was that what was actually achieved by the NCC after the May 13 riots in 1969?

Who were behind the May 13 incident?

The official version of Malaysian history places the cause of May 13 on an inevitable clash between the “races” because of intractable inequalities between the ethnic communities. ‘Tanda Putera’, the official film goes even further by imputing blame on “provocation of the Malays” by the Opposition after the 1969 general election.

What did the NCC actually achieve?

The National Consultative Council was headed by Tun Abdul Razak who became the new Prime Minister after Tunku stepped down. It formulated the Rukun Negara that was intended to create harmony and unity among the various races in Malaysia. Although the Rukun Negara has often been touted as the panacea for our current problems in the country, I demur on two grounds: First, this so-called “national philosophy” was crafted and promulgated under a state of emergency and not passed through the democratic processes afforded by the Federal Parliament; second, the ‘eminent persons’ responsible for it were not inclusive enough for they left out groups such as our indigenous peoples and Buddhists among others when they insisted on “belief in God” as one of the pillars of this state ideology.

The NEP was the game changer

Thereafter, the New Economic Policy (NEP) was launched in 1971. The NEP was aimed at “creating unity among the various races in Malaysia through reducing the economic gap between the Malays and Bumiputera on the one hand, and the non-Malays on the other”. It was a social re-engineering action programme formulated by the National Operation Council (NOC) formed in the aftermath of May 13, 1969 riots. This policy was intended to be implemented for a period of 20 years but it has since, under different guises, become a Never Ending Policy.

It is important to note that the New Economic Policy that has transformed Malaysian society and also institutionalised racial discrimination all these years was the prerogative of the National Operation Council (NOC) and not the NCC. The NOC was the preserve of the Minister of Home Affairs, the leaders of UMNO, MCA & MIC, Chief of Armed Forces Staff and Inspector-General of Police. The council of eminent persons in the NCC only dealt with the formulation of the Rukun Negara. The National Cultural Policy was announced also in 1971 after a conference at which a token number of non-Malay academics were invited.

So let us be clear about what the NCC actually achieved after May 13. The NCC certainly failed to prevent the numerous amendments to the Constitution which have entrenched inequality since 1971, the most serious of which has been Amendment 8A to Article 153 in 1971, allowing more racial discrimination through the “quota system”. Nor did it prevent the amendment to Article 121 in 1988 that made provisions for the recognition of Islamic shariah courts/laws – since then, the Judiciary has tended to defer its powers to the shariah courts whenever there are disputes in conversion cases.

A fine mess you’ve got us into

So how did we end up in the mess we find ourselves in at present that is troubling the “moderates” and corporate players?

First, we have to thank Dr Mahathir Mohamad for privatising most of our state assets when he came to office in 1981 right up to 2003. These were assets that we all owned that were sold for a song to private capitalists. By 1989, the contribution of the private sector to economic growth exceeded that of the public sector and Mahathir’s mission to transfer state capital to private Malay capitalist hands was well on target. During Mahathir’s tenure as Prime Minister, three main UMNO officials focused their attention on building “Bumiputera capitalists”. This was facilitated after Umno was declared illegal in 1988 and its assets were required to be sold off. The three were Mahathir himself, crafty Daim Zainuddin who was his finance minister during two phases in Mahathir’s term and thirdly, Anwar Ibrahim who, before his downfall in September 1998, was second in power to Mahathir. All three had their respective corporate connections.

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During the financial crisis of 1997, the state provided support for favoured firms linked to “Bumiputera capitalists” after the imposition of capital controls, such as reflationary measures that included cutting interest rates and making credit more readily available to these fledgling firms. Banks were also encouraged to lend more, and to bail out troubled firms – including that of Mahathir’s son – and a new expansionary budget was introduced in October 1998.

Apart from his historic creation of Malay private capital through privatisation of state assets and his grandiose projects, Mahathir left a racist legacy that was the result of his populist intention to win over the Bumiputera votes. The racial discrimination implicit in the NEP was continued without any public debate; poverty was racialised as mainly a Bumiputera phenomenon; “Bumiputeras only” institutions were expanded, and racial discrimination was extended to discounts and quotas for housing, access to investment funds, loans and scholarships. This racist legacy included a chauvinistic National Cultural Policy that tried to pander to Malay-centrism with dire consequences for ethnic relations, especially in 1987.

Mahathir’s term in office was marked by sensational financial scandals that were not unexpected of an authoritarian populist who did not pay much heed to accountability and good governance. No one knows about all these scandals better than the leader of the Opposition who must declare if Mahathir can get away with impunity.

Mahathir’s racist paradigm was translated across the board to incorporate political, economic, educational, social and cultural policies and he left a racist legacy that has today been latched upon by a far-right Malay supremacist group of which he is the patron. This Malay-centric ideology they purvey has become increasingly infused with extreme Islamic populism, leaving even “moderate” Malays worried for the future.

Najib has merely extended Mahathir’s methods of rule

At the 13th general election (GE13) held on May 5, 2013, the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition won 133 of the 222 seats in Parliament, preserving its majority, despite the fact that it only received 47.38 per cent of the popular vote against 50.87 for the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition. Soon after GE13, UMNO decided to punish the non-Malays for their support of the opposition PR by giving only 19 per cent of places in public universities to Chinese students and 4 per cent to Indian students even though the two ethnic groups together make up about 30 per cent of the student population. Mahathir castigated Prime Minister Najib Razak for wasting election funds on Chinese voters.

Image result for Najib and Rosmah Mansor

The GE13 results signalled a return to Mahathir’s strident racial politics and a U-turn on Najib’s pre-election attempt to reach out to the other races through his slogan “1Malaysia”. As noted above, Umno’s erstwhile Malay chauvinist credentials have since been farmed out to Malay far-right organisations like Perkasa and other groups. The latter will seek to prolong pro-Malay discriminatory policies and Najib’s pre-election attempts to cut back on ethnic Malay privileges in the NEP now seem politically futile.

While it is the growing trend of many countries to reduce their civil service, Malaysia’s Prime Minister’s Department in particular, has done the opposite. It has more than doubled its number of civil servants from 21,000 to 43,554. In stark contrast, the White House employs only 1,888 staff! To date, there are ten “Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department” alone, on top of other important agencies or governmental bodies that fall within the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department. These include, among others, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Election Commission of Malaysia, Department of Islamic Development, Public Service Department, Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal, the Judicial Appointments Commission, Economic Planning Unit and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

Image result for The Malaysian civil service

Image result for The Malaysian civil service

The oversized bureaucracy and the Bumiputera-ist populism have, in turn, created massive leakages in the economy. In 2010, Cuepacs President Omar Osman revealed that a total of 418,200 or 41 per cent of the 1.2 million civil servants in the country were suspected to be involved in corruption. The 2009 Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) report revealed that Malaysians generally consider political parties and civil service to be the most corrupt groups, and the government’s anti-corruption drive to be ineffective.

Thus, instead of focussing on remedying the particular needs of the various poor classes in Malaysian society, the state has chosen to blame the plight of the Malay peasantry on “Chinese dominance of the economy”. At the same time, the state’s populist Bumiputera policy is intended to win over the allegiance of the whole Malay community while mainly benefiting the wealthier strata most of all.

The NEP and the state’s authoritarian populism

The state has subverted the democratic process through the proscription of so-called “sensitive” issues that include questioning the special position of the Malays, the national language and the rulers’ privileges. These proscriptions have been implemented through the use of detention without trial laws as well as the Sedition Act. Thus, the demands of workers and peasants, educational, religious and cultural organisations, indigenous peoples and regional minorities have been summarily dealt with through the cynical use of such repressive laws.

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The NEP has served to institutionalise racial discrimination and its continuation is crucial to the authoritarian populism of the Malaysian state. This is blatantly practiced in the armed and civil services, education and economic sectors. Communalism, which is an intrinsic part of the state’s ideology, continues to produce tension in Malaysian society today and even more so after the challenge to the status quo at the 2008 general election. Even while Malaysia has been experiencing healthy economic growth rates since the seventies, the Malaysian state has had to rely on continued repression and communalist policies to divide the people.

The movement for genuine reforms

To conclude, as long as pro-Bumiputera policies remain useful in winning Bumiputera votes, it is unlikely that the ruling class in Umno will want to dispense with this method of rule. Racism has been thoroughly infused in all the national institutions, including racist indoctrination of Bumiputeras in state institutions such as the BTN that recently came to light. Since Najib introduced the slogan “1Malaysia” to try to woo the disaffected non-Bumiputera voters after the 2008 fiasco, strident racism often associated with Umno Youth has now been outsourced to the far-right Malay supremacist groups. They continue to play the role of storm troopers and disrupt activities organised by civil society to promote social justice, democracy and human rights. UMNO’s competition with PAS has also heightened Islamic populism in the country, with dire consequences for ethnic relations. Above all, racial discrimination facilitates crony capitalism that is essential to UMNO’s monopoly of power. This has not changed since the Mahathir era.

The ethnic Indian working class and the indigenous peoples in both East and West Malaysia are the poorest communities in Malaysia; the former and the Orang Asli cannot rely on “Bumiputera” privileges, while the indigenous peoples of East Malaysia do not enjoy the same amount of state largesse as the Malays in West Malaysia even though they are categorised as Bumiputeras.

So, if there is going to be an NCC2, will the new council of “eminent persons” be prepared to face this reality and join the movement for genuine reforms in order to progress into the future. The road toward uniting the Malaysian peoples is through a concerted effort for greater democracy not only in the political realm but also in economic, educational, social and cultural policies. The state’s ideological view of “national unity” through one language and one culture and the dissolution of Chinese and Tamil schools are intended to fuel Malay chauvinism. The basis of unity rests fundamentally on the recognition of the equality of all nationalities. The imposition of one language and one culture on all the communities will produce only a hollow unity.

The basis for unity among the people has also to embody a commitment to democracy and policies that will improve the living standards of workers and farmers of all communities and at the same time unite them. These components involve the lifting of restrictions on legitimate political organisation and activity, as well as the encouragement of social and political institutions that ensure genuine popular control.

Thus, the task for all Malaysians is to build a solidarity movement for democracy, fully cognisant of the need to improve the livelihood of the masses and build a society that is progressive, inclusive and truly equal.

Kua Kia Soong is the advisor of Suaram (Suara Rakyat Malaysia).