The Political Manipulation of Fear by UMNO


December 12, 2017

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My short message to Rais Hussin: Please do not invoke God’s name whenever we are in a crisis. That is most convenient way out when we are in a fix. The problems we as Malaysians face today especially in politics are of our own making. Therefore, the fear you talk about is something we created  for ourselves. We are scared of our own shadow.. It is better to admit for  all of us that we are all cowards  than throw our hands in the air in despair.

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Najib Razak is not endowed with supernatural powers, although it is said that our FLOM Rosmah Mansor is protected  by a number of powerful shamans from the Indian subcontinent.Our incumbent Prime Minister can be removed from office through the ballot.  If we in large numbers vote against UMNO-BN in GE-14, Najib Razak is gone in a jiffy. No Shamans can help Rosmah too. But the question is will we? –Din Merican

The Political Manipulation of Fear by UMNO

by Rais Hussin

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He should fear us, not the other way round

COMMENT | Fear is a primal instinct, driven into our brain, to survive the harshest environment since the dawn of the Homo sapiens.

No one can be blamed for exhibiting various forms of fear. During the Jurassic age, where dinosaurs roamed the world, humans existed purely as hunter-gatherers, armed with sticks and spears.

Without the help of iron and bronze, powerful catapults, and fire, Homo sapiens would have lived at the bottom of the food chain.

Things have, of course, taken a dramatic change over the last five centuries. With the advent of what anthropologist Jared Diamond called “guns, germs and steel,” Homo sapiens have transformed their sense of powerlessness not merely against the animal kingdom, but their fellow kind.

Spanish colonialism of the entire American continent, which obliterated the native tribes, where millions died, began on such account. Invariable, to steal a march on their Iberian neighbour, Portugal did the same.

The likes of Vasco Da Gama and Alfonso di Albuquerque first rounded the Cape of Good Hope in Africa, then Goa in India, before crossing the Andaman Sea, to hold the Sultanate of Malacca to a complete siege between 1511 onwards.

Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra–The First Decent Malaysian Prime Minister

When UMNO, together with other coalition partners, liberated Malaya from the clutches of colonialism from the British in 1957, one of their goals was to free Malaysians from the politics of fear.

But with the communists breathing down their neck, they couldn’t emancipate the country completely and psychologically. From time to time, UMNO and their coalition partners had to point to the threats that exist.

However, there are no communists anymore. In fact, UMNO and MCA appear to enjoy stronger and better trade relations with the Communist government of China now. Each loan from China is ledgered in the  billions of ringgit.

Yet, in spite of this, UMNO has warned Malaysians that it is Pakatan Harapan that they must fear. In the words of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, it is better to have UMNO ruling for “1,000 years”, than the opposition front.

Dr. Zahid Hamid and his Boss united the face of the Political Opposition

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi averred that the opposition front has “six captains in the cruise ship” and will drive the country to nowhere.

But psychologist John Bargh has shown through numerous studies that ruling politicians thrive in striking fear in the hearts of the people. The fear they instil is manufactured to create a sense of sheer panic or crisis, in order to cannibalise the voters.

By making the opposition small and insignificant, the ruling party would stand a better chance of consolidating their iron grip. As John Bargh explained: “research has found that when people become new parents of a tiny, vulnerable baby, they begin to believe their local crime rate is going up, even if it is falling.”

“That happened to me,” to which Bargh admits. “After my daughter was born, suddenly we felt that the neighbourhood was getting so dangerous that we had to leave.”

UMNO and BN have always introduced new stop gap measures, such as BR1M (cash transfers) when elections are near. Even the 2018 budget that Najib presented in the Parliament was screamingly front-loaded, that even BN MPs privately admitted that was indeed an election budget.

 

That is not fear-mongering, but vote buying

Front-loaded in the sense that many different cash payouts are dished out to many group of voters targeting the low middle-income and low-income groups, which includes, but is not limited to Felda settlers, farmers, fishermen, civil servants, military, police, teachers etc.

When Malaysians find some petty cash in their hand, they begin to believe that a new government will take them away — not realising the new entity can actually eliminate corruption, malfeasance, abuse of power and other malpractices allegedly perpetuated by UMNO and its coalition partners, to better the living standards of Malaysia.

Ask the voters in Selangor or even Penang, has their welfare improved after UMNO was defeated in 2008? The answer is undoubtedly, and a resounding yes. Even the Malays stood to gain more in terms of support from the Penang and Selangor state governments. With such positive records, Malaysian voters should not be lulled and fooled by Umno again and again.

As the late US President Franklin Delani Roosevelt once said: “One has nothing to fear but fear itself.” How one eliminates fear, in other words, is to stop others from manipulating them. In Malay adage, the advice is even more poignant: “Berani kerana benar.” One should be brave because one is truthful.

Having fleeced the country of billions, making it the worst “kleptocracy in the world,” it is UMNO that has all to fear from the wrath of the people at the 14th general election.

God save Malaysia.

Apatheism beats Atheism


November 26, 2017

 Apatheism beats Atheism

by Dean Johns@www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT | As hard as I try to avoid reading or writing about the eternally contentious and utterly tedious topic of religion, it keeps rearing its ugly head.

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Especially in Malaysia, where some senior members of the kleptocratic UMNO-BN regime consistently claim to be divinely-appointed to their positions, and the UMNO party as a unit perennially poses as the ‘protector’ of Islam.

And to support and hopefully perpetuate this ‘protection’ racket, selected UMNO spokespeople regularly make more or less ludicrous ‘religious’ pronouncements.

The most notorious of these that I recall was the claim six years back by some hack named Hasan Ali that the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) had discovered that Christians were covertly trying to convert Muslims by means of ‘solar-powered hand-held talking bibles.’

In Malaysia, the UMNO-BN regime still persists in its years if not decades-long campaign to ban the use of the generic Arabic word for God, Allah, in Bahasa Malaysia translations of the Bible.

However, the latest shot in UMNO’s self-styled “struggle” to “protect” the “faith” of Malaysia’s vast Muslim majority involves not just copyright of the word “Allah” or threats from other religions, but the spectre of anti-religion, or atheism.

This latest controversy was started last week in Parliament, when MP Siti Mariah Mahmud (Amanah-Kota Raja) complained that a group calling itself the Atheist Republic Consulate of Kuala Lumpur was leading Malay youths astray with its nefarious activities, which include criticising Islam and other religions on Facebook.

This alleged group sounds to me to be as vivid a figment of the fevered imaginations of UMNO’s “religious” authorities, or in other words as bad a joke, as the above-mentioned solar-powered hand-held talking bibles so obviously were.

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But Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki took Siti Mariah’s complaint seriously, and pronounced atheism to be “unconstitutional” and “an offence under the Sedition Act 1948”.

“In the context of Malaysia,” he claimed, “freedom of religion (as) stated in our Federal Constitution does not mean freedom not to have a religion.”

And he followed this barefaced falsehood with a series of lame attempts to demonise atheism as a “dangerous” contravention of public order and morality laws, and of the “principle of belief in God” as enshrined in the Rukunegara.

As for Siti Mariah’s lament that the Atheist Republic Consulate of Kuala Lumpur is allegedly using social media to undermine the sanctity of Malaysian society, Asyraf was quoted as stating that the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) had sought to block the group’s Facebook page, but failed.

“Jakim, in cooperation with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), had reported it to Facebook,” he elaborated, “but unfortunately Facebook responded that it did not violate their policy.”

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“If (the) MCMC were to block it, they can’t just block the page,” he lamented, “but will need to block the whole of Facebook.”

Faithbook, Fakebook or Flakebook

For my part, I can’t for the life of me see why the UMNO-BN regime doesn’t simply block the whole of Facebook. Jakim is funded to the tune of well over a billion ringgit a year, and the MCMC and the Prime Minister’s Department countless – and unaccountable – billions more, so between them all they can well afford to fund their own regime-friendly substitutes for Facebook.

And given the multitude of religious and other such maniacs, there evidently are in not just Malaysia but everywhere else around the world, an UMNO-BN sponsored Faithbook, Fakebook or Flakebook could be a monster success.

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The only downside being, of course, that those accursed atheists might sneakily insinuate themselves into these sites too. Not that atheism is anywhere near as threatening to the UMNO-BN’s hold on the hearts, minds and souls of the majority of its subjects as the regime’s members and propagandists appear to fear.

As I see all around me, and discern in myself, the most serious threat these days to not only religions but also anti-religions like atheism may well be what anthropologist Kate Fox calls in the latest edition of her classic book “Watching the English”, apatheism.

In other words, people are abandoning religion, at least in England and much of the West, not so much out of antagonism or active disbelief, but sheer indifference or absolute apathy.

And if there is any nation on earth with a bigger proportion of its populace capable of total apathy about anything much besides eating, shopping and of course sex, it’s Malaysia.

Millions of people are too apathetic to bother to vote; or too apathetic to speak out or otherwise openly protest against the robbery, rape and misrule of their country by a corrupt, repressive, lawless, lying and above all hypocritical regime; or to otherwise care so much as a damn for even a semblance of self-respecting citizenship.

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Only UMNO and PAS members are true to Islam, other Malaysian Muslims are deviants

If only this world-beating capacity for apathy could be extended to apatheism and thus render any and all religion irrelevant, it would prove infinitely more powerful against the fake pieties of UMNO-BN than any amount of atheism.

And, who knows, from there more people might progress towards apathy for apathy itself, or, in other words, actual action or even activism in the cause of decent and truly democratic self-government.

 

Deal Between Anwar and Najib Razak? :The Worst Possible News for Malaysia


November 21, 2017

Deal Between Anwar and Najib Razak?: The Worst Possible News for Malaysia

by P. Gunasegaram@www.malaysiakini.com

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Is there something brewing here which is suggestive of some kind of a deal materializing between these two once staunch allies? Like they say, there are no permanent enemies in politics and politics is the game of the possible, or is it the impossible? Never mind, you get the drift.–P. Gunasegaram

QUESTION TIME | In Malaysia where conspiracy theories arise at the drop of a 10-sen coin, the visit by Prime Minister Najib Razak to jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is in hospital following a shoulder operation, has started tongues a-wagging. And how they are wagging!

Is there something brewing here which is suggestive of some kind of a deal materialising between these two once staunch allies? Like they say, there are no permanent enemies in politics and politics is the game of the possible, or is it the impossible? Never mind, you get the drift.

After all, who would have thought that former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, widely held responsible for Sodomy 1 which put Anwar in jail for six years until 2004, would now be working with him to topple BN and Najib? If that can happen, why not a reconciliation, or even a deal, between Najib and Anwar for mutual benefit?

 

Even the burying of past differences between Mahathir and Anwar is difficult to understand. How does a person who spent years in prison, was beaten after he was arrested, had his life ruined and political future now in tatters, forgive the person who was held to be most responsible for this?

And was it not what Mahathir did in terms of consolidating his power within UMNO – technically UMNO Baru as the old UMNO was dissolved as part of plans implemented by Mahathir – that now makes it near impossible to remove a sitting UMNO President and Prime Minister because of all that such a person has at his disposal in terms of power?

Now this, Najib visits Anwar in the hospital with his wife Rosmah Mansor and with Anwar’s wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail present and the gossip bandwagon goes berserk, although it is more likely to topple than to sustain over the next few days.

Here was the man who pushed Sodomy 2 against Anwar with Anwar’s accuser having seen him – Najib – before making his police report. And Anwar is in jail again for a further five years from 2015, more or less putting paid to his political career unless Pakatan Harapan wins the next election. The chances of that are pretty low right now.

How could Anwar countenance a visit from this man who was responsible for his prison sentence in the first place with a lot of people believing that Anwar’s sentence was terribly unfair with admission of evidence that could have been tampered with? If Anwar’s trial was fixed, as he himself claimed, then only one person could have been responsible.

How could he even consent to see this person? As difficult as this is to understand for people like me, those who understand Malay culture say that nothing should be read into the meeting. The PM went to see a former friend and ally who was ailing – nothing more, nothing less.

But talk is not so easily stopped because Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, at one time one of Anwar’s closest friends and allies, visited him as well. Perhaps there is nothing but those visits perhaps indicate to Mahathir that two can play the game – if Mahathir can reconcile with Anwar, Najib can reconcile with him too, with all that it implies for Mahathir.

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What about the stolen money?–1MDB 

But is it as simple as all that really? No. Because if somehow Najib and Anwar ally, who becomes the enemy then? Surely not Mahathir now. And what about 1MDB? What does it mean for all that the opposition has been saying about billions stolen and still unaccounted for?

And what about the allegations, with some evidence, that UMNO and BN are tainted with 1MDB money and that they support Najib only because of that? Will all this be conveniently swept under the carpet forever more and everybody lives together happily ever after?

There can be only one deal that will allow this – in that permutation or combination of both, Anwar has to become Prime Minister, no less. That will entail Najib continuing for a while and then making way for Anwar – which means that Anwar has to be within BN or some larger conglomerate.

Anwar Ibrahim– A political chameleon or a publicity seeking politician?

How that may form boggles the mind but remember that after the May 13, 1969, riots and emergency rule, Najib’s father Abdul Razak Hussein persuaded (coerced?) the substantial opposition then into a coalition in 1973 forming Barisan Nasional, with the only significant party out in the bitter cold – that being DAP. If Anwar and Najib make a deal whereby Anwar is rehabilitated and Najib carries on, for a while at least, that is the worst possible news for Malaysia because all sections of the political divide – both ruling and opposition parties – will implicitly sanction the greatest theft this country has ever known and multiple events of gross mismanagement and lack of governance.

I don’t believe this will happen but I would have been far more comfortable if Anwar had not consented to meet Najib – and yes, if he had not done a deal with Mahathir too. But then who am I but just another insignificant citizen of Malaysia?

 

Rethinking Southeast Asian civil society


November 7, 2017

Rethinking Southeast Asian civil society

by Kevin Hewison@www.newmandala.org

http://www.newmandala.org/illiberal-civil-society/

In the mid-1990s, there was a lot of enthusiasm for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the expansion of civil society in Southeast Asia. At the time, there was an efflorescence of activism as activists campaigned against trade agreements, foregrounded gender issues, worked to reduce poverty, improve health, protect the environment, advocated for workers and consumers, exposed corruption, bolstered human rights and agitated for democracy.

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The optimism of the decade was driven by a feeling of confidence that democracy was taking root in the region, growing on a foundation of thriving capitalist economies. The resonance of 1960s modernisation theory was palpable—the “Third Wave” of democratisation was said to be washing over the region. This was emphasised by the triumphs of popular uprisings in the Philippines (1986), South Korea (1987), Thailand (1992) and Indonesia (1998). These events were associated in the theory with the rise of the middle class and an expansion of civil society.

Two decades later, this optimism has faded. There is now more pessimism about civil society and democratisation. To understand these changing perspectives, it is necessary to give attention to recent political events, and rethink how we conceptualise civil society and its role in Southeast Asian politics today.

Civil society and democratisation

The notion of “civil society” has meanings embedded in the development of capitalism and the end of absolutism in Europe, and the consequent reduction of the weight of the state. The idea of a space relatively autonomous of the state developed quite late in colonial and postcolonial Southeast Asia. While anticolonial, socialist and communist movements, religious and educational organisations, trade unions and the like were established from the late 19th century, they were usually repressed.

When writing of civil society in late 20th century Southeast Asia, analysts tended to emphasise the non-state nature of civil society organisations (CSOs). Many have agreed with David Steinberg, who defined civil society as:

composed of those non-ephemeral organizations of individuals banded together for a common purpose or purposes to pursue those interests through group activities and by peaceful means. These are generally non-profit organizations, and may be local or national, advocacy or supportive, religious, cultural, social, professional, educational, or even organizations that, while not for profit, support the business sector, such as chambers of commerce, trade associations, etc.

The organisations mentioned can be formal or informal, may be charitable, developmental or political. Yet when considering democratisation, authors usually associate civil society with efforts to expand political space. Some authors identify a “political civil society,” where “non-violent … organisations and movements … seek to promote human rights and democratisation…”. Their efforts mean that the political space of civil society becomes a site of intense competition and struggle—including for the organisations that occupy this space.

Civil society and political conflict

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But this conceptualisation of civil society—one which views the groups making up civil society as only being non-violent and peaceful—is too limiting. Civil society and its political space is open to many groups, not just those considered “democratic” and “progressive”. That space can also be occupied by state-sponsored, right-wing, anti-immigrant and anti-democracy activists, and many others considered nasty, fascist, and reactionary. That the groups occupying civil society’s political space will sometimes be violent, and will oppose other groups, should be no surprise when we consider that all societies are riven and driven by conflict over all manner of resources.

Thinking this way of political space and civil society is not uncontroversial. Much of conventional political science, heavily imbued with modernisation theory, has romanticised civil society as the natural domain of individual and group freedoms, and sometimes conceived of NGOs and CSOs as representative interest groups. Such a perspective treats conflict and division as pathological, and misses the fact that political space is created through contestation with the state and with other groups in society. It is a view that fails to give sufficient attention to how civil society groups have actually behaved.

Contestation within civil society

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Bersih Movement in Malaysia

When we think of civil society as a site of struggle, it becomes clear that it is not always a ballast for democratisation. Islamic militias in Indonesia, racist Buddhist gangs in Myanmar and right-wing ultranationalists in the Philippines and Thailand are not forces for a democratic society—yet each undoubtedly occupies the space of civil society.

Islamic militias have re-emerged at various times during Indonesia’s reformasi era and engaged in mobilisation and violence. While the use of violence might exclude such groups from the romanticised approaches to civil society, militias have occupied a space created by democratisation, even if their activities are meant to mobilise anti-democratic groups and against some freedoms. A recent example of such anti-democratic opposition was seen in the defeat of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) in the 2017 Jakarta governor’s election. The Islamic Defenders Front (Front Pembela Islam, or FPI) joined with several political parties to oppose Ahok in an acrimonious contest that involved the mobilisation of Islamic identity in huge demonstrations that targeted Ahok as a Chinese Christian portrayed as “threatening” Islam. Eventually, Ahok’s opponents gained the support of elements of the state to jail him on charges of blasphemy and inciting violence.

In Myanmar, religious groups have also engaged in racist and xenophobic activism. Radical Buddhists such as the ultra-nationalist 969 Movement and Ma Ba Tha (Myanmar Patriotic Association) have been able to mobilise mass demonstrations against Muslims and have fuelled extreme communal violence since 2012. Such groups have also been supported by elements of the state and by elected politicians, all the while taking advantage of the expanded political space created by Myanmar’s political transition to mobilise and propagandise.

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Buddhist monks walk during a prayer ceremony for the victims of the recent unrest between Buddhists and Muslims in Mandalay, at Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar’s capital Yangon on Friday, July 4, 2014. (Reuters)

 

Indonesia and Myanmar demonstrate how extremists use the political space of civil society, and elements of electoral democracy, to oppose and challenge the freedoms that have come with democratisation. These groups are connected with some of the most regressive elements that continue to populate some state agencies. So far, they have not managed to destroy the political basis of these new democracies. But to see how the political space of civil society was used to re-establish authoritarianism in a Southeast Asian “democratic success story” of years past, we only need to turn our eyes to Thailand’s decade of high-octane political contestation.

Thailand: civil society for military dictatorship

 

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The Yellow and Red Shirts of Thailand

Thailand’s recent political mobilisations have been designated by the colours that define their motivations. Their massive street demonstrations mobilised many, including NGOs and CSOs. The broad Red Shirt movement and the official United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship bring together supporters of electoral politics, those opposed to military interventions, and supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra. The Red Shirts, of course, developed to oppose the anti-Thaksin Yellow Shirt movement. The latter initially coagulated as the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), wearing yellow to announce their royalism. Yellow Shirts tend to support the status quo, are anti-democratic, ultranationalist, and supported the 2006 and 2014 military coups.

In the 1990s, Thailand’s civil society, dominated by middle class interests, gained a reputation for opposing the military’s domination. NGOs and CSOs also tended to support the liberalising ideas that permeated the so-called People’s Constitution of 1997. When Thaksin was elected under the rules of this constitution in 2001, his government gained the support of many NGOs and CSOs. This support was forthcoming because of Thaksin’s initial nationalism, and his attention to grassroots issues and poverty eradication. That early support quickly drained away, with Thaksin coming to be viewed as authoritarian and corrupt.

The PAD, which was formed to oppose and bring down the popularly elected Thaksin, came to include many CSOs and NGOs which, at the time, would have been bundled into the broad category of “progressive civil society”. As the anti-Thaksin campaign expanded, the middle class, including spokespersons for civil society groups, began to denigrate the grassroots. The latter appreciated Thaksin’s “populist” policies and, especially in the north, northeast and central regions, voted for his parties in large numbers. Mobilised Yellow Shirts vilified this grassroots support for Thaksin, labelling those who voted for his party as ignorant, duped or bought.

As pro-Thaksin parties won every election from 2001 to 2011, the Yellow Shirts began an inevitable shift towards the denigration of the electoral processes itself, while declaring themselves the protectors of “true democracy”. The Yellow Shirts—the PAD and its clone, the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC)—emphatically rejected electoral politics, arguing that electoral victories amounted to a dictatorship of the majority. In the 2013–14, PDRC protesters opposed an election called by then prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Yellow Shirts blocked candidate registration, prevented the distribution of ballot papers, and tried to prevent voting on polling day. The PDRC argued that no election could be “free and fair” until the “Thaksin regime” had been destroyed. Their ultimatum was that the Yingluck government had to be thrown out, replaced by an appointed government and an appointed “reform” committee to purge those associated with Thaksin’s rule.

Backed by Bangkok’s middle class, including CSOs and NGOs, PAD and the PDRC campaigned for a “democracy” that rejected voting and elections. They wanted a greater reliance on selected and appointed “representatives”, usually opting for a royally- appointed government of “good” people. This paternalism was taken up by protesters, who claimed to champion transparency and anti-corruption while begging the military for a coup. Such Orwellian doublespeak was also in evidence when the military responded and seized power in 2014. The junta defined a coup and military dictatorship as a form of “democracy”. One pronouncement called on:

all Thai citizens [to] uphold and have faith in the democratic system with His Majesty the King as Head of State. [The] NCPO [junta] fully realizes that the military intervention may be perceived by the West as a threat to democracy and a violation of the people’s liberty. However, this military intervention was inevitable, in order to uphold national security and to strengthen democracy (emphasis added).

The result has been more than three years of military dictatorship that has narrowed political space and heavily restricted much civil society activism. Red Shirts had championed electoral politics, arguing that winning elections should count for something and reckoned that electoral democracy was the appropriate platform for political reform. Under the military junta, they have been demobilised, jailed, and repressed.

Interestingly, most of the PAD and PDRC-affiliated NGOS and CSOs have either supported, or at least not opposed, the junta. Some have continued to receive state funds. However, the relationship with the junta remains tense, not least because the junta sees some of these groups as contingent supporters, worrying about their capacity for mobilising supporters and considering them more anti-Thaksin than pro-junta. Few high-profile leaders of these groups have expressed regrets about having supported the 2006 and 2014 coups.

Complicating “civil society”

The travails of electoral democracy in Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand are not unique in Southeast Asia. Certainly, any notion that increased national wealth results in a civil society that becomes a “natural” ballast of democratisation should be rejected. Democratisation does increase the space identified as civil society. However, this space is not always a stronghold of progressives. As a site of struggle, civil society can be occupied by groups that are anti-democratic, ultra-nationalist, and sectarian. As the experience of Thailand and other countries has made clear, much abstract talk of “civil society” runs the risk of crediting its constituent parts with a uniformly pro-democratic outlook that they manifestly do not hold.

This post appears as part of the Regional Learning Hub, a New Mandala series on the challenges facing civil society in Southeast Asia, supported by the TIFA Foundation.

FELDA Global Ventures is bigger scandal than 1MDB, says Jomo


November 4, 2017

FELDA Global Ventures is bigger scandal than 1MDB, says Jomo

by Geraldine Tong@www.malaysiakini.com

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The Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) scandal is bigger than the one surrounding 1MDB because it affects more people, opined prominent economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram.

“There is a tendency for everyone in the opposition to focus on 1MDB, but there is a lot of nonsense going on and it is not all 1MDB.

“The bigger scandal in my view, affecting more people, is FGV,” Jomo said in a forum titled “Envisioning the Future: Malaysia Beyond GE14” in Bangsar today.

He pointed out that Felda settlers took part in the “second biggest IPO (initial public offering)” in the world with FGV in mid-2012, but now the stock prices are less than 40 percent of their original value.

This has caused Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to resort to giving Felda settlers “bribes” in the form of a RM5,000 replanting grant as well as instructing banks to forgive all their loans, he said.

“This underlines how sensitive the issue is,” he said.

Jomo stressed again that there are other scandals in Malaysia aside from 1MDB and even FGV, including the Gatco issue in Negeri Sembilan.

Amanah strategic director Dzulkefly Ahmad, another forum panellist, denied that the opposition only focuses on 1MDB. Dzulkefly said that Pakatan Harapan also focuses on the cost of living, GST, the Mara scandal and many others, including FGV.

When FGV was first listed, its stock price was RM4.55 per share. It is currently listed at RM1.83 per share.

FGV had also come under investigation by the MACC in June after its former CEO Zakaria Arshad was given leave of absence, and CFO Ahmad Tifli Mohd Talha along with two other senior management members were suspended.

‘Incompetent’ opposition

Jomo said that BN is likely to gain strength in the upcoming general election if things remain as they are now. “It is not as if BN, UMNO or the Prime Minister is very strong. Rather it is the situation of the incompetence of the opposition”.

Meanwhile, Jomo said that BN is likely to gain strength in the upcoming general election if things remain as they are now.

“It is not as if BN, UMNO or the Prime Minister is very strong. Rather it is the situation of the incompetence of the opposition,” he said.

This will lead to three-cornered fights, which will subsequently open a path for BN to secure a two-thirds majority, which he said will give the ruling coalition greater legitimacy and allow them to reform laws to suit its interests.

Image result for Malaysia's Most Corrupt Prime Minister Najib RazakThe Most Corrupt Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak is poised to win a stronger mandate in GE-14 because of the incompetence of the political opposition, says Dr. Jomo

“The opposition, by being unable to unite, is going to give this government, arguably the most corrupt government we’ve ever experienced in my lifetime, a stronger mandate. That is, unfortunately, the dystopia we face (in the future),” Jomo said.

GE-14: Whither Pakatan Harapan


October 25, 2017

GE-14: Whither Pakatan Harapan–In Disarray

by S. Thayaparan

http://www.malaysiakini.com

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After GE-14, No Harapan–Masuk Angin, Keluar Asap

Government was rarely more than a choice between the disastrous and the unpalatable.” ― Barbara W. Tuchman, The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam

 

PKR Vice-President Nurul Izzah Anwar said that Pakatan Harapan needs a clear narrative but I would argue that the problems of Harapan go far beyond needing a clear narrative, which it does by the way. The months of internal squabbling within the party and the collateral damage of dealing and negotiating with PAS have diminished the credibility of the party. Meanwhile, DAP as the Harapan anchor has had to fend off numerous controversies of its own.

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How can Pakatan Harapan win GE-14–Leadership in Disarray

To claim that the opposition is in disarray is an understatement and to most people, it seems that this close to the election – whenever it is – the opposition looks to be a coalition of petty fiefdoms existing in an alternate universe where merely belonging in the opposition washes away the sins of the past.

When Nurul says that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak does not talk about his scandals, what this really means is that the UMNO Grand Poobah is not playing defence. UMNO is on the offence when it comes to the corruption scandals that plague this administration. He does not need to talk about them because he understands that these scandals are complicated and that the opposition’s rhetoric that he is an international outcast does not jive with the photo ops that “world leaders” provide for future services rendered.

 

With loads of money and lots of goodies from 2018 Budget UMNO Grand Poobah is expected to retain Putrajaya

When this issue of holding this anti-kleptocracy was gaining momentum, I said it was a bad idea – “As it is, this rally will only benefit the UMNO regime because it affords them numerous opportunities to point to the dysfunction of the opposition, which means very little in echo chambers online, but is of great influence for people who are sitting on the fence or disillusioned with the opposition and finally, supporters who may not even turn up to vote, much less march on the streets.”

Sure enough, what this rally demonstrated to fence-sitters was that the opposition, even with their “Big Guns”, was in disarray and UMNO had a field day, shooting fish in a barrel when it came to the rhetoric emanating from this rally.

Furthermore, when you talk about the opposition being oppressed and the need for people to sympathise with the opposition, and the path to this “empathy” is a clear narrative, you are on the wrong path.  Here’s the thing. People want to believe that politicians empathise with them even if politicians clearly demonstrate that they do not. Therefore, when the people see all the infighting that goes on in the opposition, they translate that to the opposition only being concerned about themselves and political power.

Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia central committee member Tariq Ismail Mustafa said that rural folks needed to be convinced that “change” can happen, but what exactly does change mean? What are they changing to? Whenever I talk to PSM people, I know exactly what message they are sending to people. A grassroots message that involves how the system oppresses the average citizen, which is linked to the local affairs of the community they are contesting in.

This is why I have always said that Harapan is stupid not to involve a grassroots movements like PSM in their strategy, even if it means giving up seats to them and supporting them because imagine what could be achieved if PSM’s DNA was injected into the opposition body politics. Maybe some people do not want that, which again points to why convincing people that they need to change merely with rhetoric and not action is problematic.

Take this talk of election rigging. Our system has some very serious issues. There is enough literature out there to support the proposition that our election system is compromised. However, when the average citizen sees that the opposition has denied UMNO its two third’s majority and won the popular vote, they believe the system works. If the flawed system works, then the opposition must be doing something wrong which is what most people would think when they hear opposition types talking about a rigged game.

As someone who believes that the opposition winning the next general election – even this opposition – would be a turning point for Malaysian politics because average citizens would come to understand they have a choice, even if it means not exactly appealing choices at this time, in the people they want to lead this country. In other words, Umno does not have to rule in perpetuity.

But how do we get there? DAP election strategist Ong Kian Ming says that people have to be given two clear choices, the status quo or change. The problem with this is thinking is what happens if people think that the status quo is acceptable?

You know what one UMNO strategist is doing. When he talks to rural constituents, he says (and I am paraphrasing here);

“Yes, there is corruption, and UMNO is working on it like they are doing with all the arrests the MACC is making. We are addressing the problem but more importantly, when former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was in power, there was corruption too, and the country did not become a failed state like what the opposition claims now, and the opposition is trying to damage the economy and your livelihood.”

When it comes to the Malay demographic, perhaps it is time to seriously consider what someone like Rafizi Ramli flirted with, in the beginning of the year – Indeed, when Rafizi says that “We (the opposition) must honestly accept failings and offer solutions that may be controversial”, it becomes clear that for some Malay politicians, mainstream Malay political dogma is failing the opposition but not UMNO. What does putting forth controversial solutions mean?”

When opposition people talk to me, the discussion usually involves, in one form or another, the ways and means to propagate a clear message. I always refer to the opposition winning big when they won the popular vote as the perfect storm of political personalities, issues, and plain luck.

People wanted to change and they voted opposition because they were fed up with the establishment. Therefore, I keep telling people that it is possible but sometimes people need to see radical departures from the “business as usual” politics. Anyway, it is much too late for that now.

I tell people it is a numbers game. Get more people to vote and overwhelm the establishment with numbers. It would take a smarter man than me to come up with a clear narrative for the opposition.

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