Can Malay emancipation take place with the new Government?


January 8, 2019

Can Malay emancipation take place with the new Government?

by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee

Three years ago when the 1MDB and donation into Prime Minister Najib Razak’s personal account scandals took its toll on UMNO’s standing, one of the country’s more radical Malay bloggers posted a piece on the future of Malays in the country. The post had the provocative title,” Kita ni apa? Burung merpati dalam sangkar?” – see http://deminegara.blogspot.my/

In the reflective article, the blogger, KijangMas who was living abroad, had some advice for his fellow Malays in Malaysia.

He began his post by noting

Image result for umno

Ok, UMNO is history. In its current flavor, state and form . . . UMNO is no more. No point talking about what could have been . . . or the endeavors of many – including yours truly – to make the party see the light, to reform and renew and remain relevant in contemporary politics, to cleanse itself of corrupt criminals asphyxiating it to a gory demise.

Why UMNO became history

Image result for emancipated

And, possibly with the 1MDB scandal as the tipping point of his total disillusionment with UMNO, he admitted:

It was to no avail. We failed . . . and failed spectacularly as the “parti keramat Orang Melayu” got intractably hijacked by criminal lowlifes propped by a flaky collection of self-serving nincompoops and hangers-on wallowing in the muddy road to self-destruction . . . pathetic myopic fools merrily hurtling on a runaway trainwreck-in-the-making that will one day be remembered in the same light as other once invincible political forces that got arrogant and complacent, lost their way, imploded and consigned to the scrapheap of history . . . the Kuomintang, Congress Party, PRI, LDP, Golkar.

It is significant that despite his lack of faith and his disenchantment with what many in his circle regarded as the only political vehicle capable of leading the Malays to a better future, he remained optimistic of the fate of his community.

He reassured his fellow bloggers and friends in the following terms:

The Malays will do just fine . . . once we rid ourselves of the opiate of false security offered by a band of rogues at great socio-economic cost amid an induced sense of perpetual vulnerability to looming threats of imagined pendatang bogeymen lurking in every nook and cranny of the land.

We must realise the ludicrousness of the threat of impending doom of the Orang Melayu on our own Tanah Tumpah Darah IF the current gang of pillaging pirates were to lose power. We must be emancipated from this culture of irrational fear, of crippling institutional dependency, of inability to take charge and be responsible for our own welfare, our own destiny.

Since that post he has not written again.

Was his disillusionment as a nationalistic opinion leader complete as he helplessly watched UMNO’s leaders circle the wagons and find ways to absolve the party and its representatives in authority of wrongdoing or responsibility for the 1MDB controversy, while deflecting the blame to the opposition, and anti-Malay elements working to “kill off the Malays”?

KijangMas had also called for a mental revolution. As he put it;

Kita harus berjuang lah brader. Buang sifat malas. Perkuatkan minda. Tingkatkan ilmu. Jangan manjakan diri sangat. Tak payah terlalu sensitif, terlebih tersinggung, tercepat terkilan, terlajak terkempunan, tercenderung berdengki, tergigih berdendam. Dan buang lah segala macam kepercayaan karut . . . cerita hantu, kena santau, air jampi . . . amok, sawan, histeria, meracau, meroyan.

Was it also his last hurrah when he saw his hopes for a turnaround mental revolution not happening?  

Can Malay emancipation take place with the new Government?

KijangMas did not identify who or what would help free the Malays from their caged prison.

Since then a new Malay dominated coalition has taken power. But what KijangMas described as “this culture of irrational fear, of crippling institutional dependency, of inability to take charge and be responsible for our own welfare, our own destiny” has deepened not lessened with the recent anti-ICERD and anti-Indian imbroglios.

The question is whether the call for the emancipation of Malays can come from other than KijangMas and the small group of Malay liberals who – although at a different point of the ideological spectrum – have voiced the same concern.

Crucially, are there those from the high levels of  Malay society – Malay royalty, political leaders; the top civil servants;  the heads of GLCs and corporate Malaysia; Muslim religious leaders; etc. – who can be more than just opinion leaders?

For what is needed are trail blazers in action and deed that can provide the Malay masses with their own quintessential leaders that are the equivalent perhaps of Ho Chi Minh or Jamāl_al-Dīn_al-Afghānī – revolutionary nationalists but with cosmopolitan outlooks that reject the poisonous brew of narrow religious and racial dogmas, which are an equally or more repressive cage.

If this can happen –  once we have this group of what I would describe as ‘revolutionary moderates’ to be in charge, then that burung merpati dalam sangkar may finally begin to be freed from its caged condition.

One of the country’s most consistent critical social media analyst of the Malay dilemma, Prof. Dr. Tajuddin Rasdi, appears pessimistic that this can happen soon.

In his latest article, ‘Bolehkak Melayu berfikir kritis?’ he highlights the failure of the Malay educated elite to analyse rationally the information that they receive on developments related to the community and Islam.

In his words, ‘Siapa orang Melayu yang tidak boleh berfikiran waras ini? Adakah mereka orang kampung? Adakah mereka sekolah setakat darjah 6? Adakah mereka ini kaki kedai kopi dan kedai mamak?

Kalau orang berpendidikan rendah berfikir macam tu memang kita boleh agak dan fahami dan maafkan. Tetapi sebaliknya, bukan golongan macam ini saja. Kebanyakan 99% Melayu kenalan saya yang pernah belajar di universiti luar negara, universiti tempatan, dah ada Master dan dah ada PhD..

Saya mempunyai ramai kenalan Melayu dan saya berani katakan yang tidak boleh berfikiran rasional, tidak tahu berfikiran kritis, tidak mahu berfikir panjang-panjang adalah orang-orang yang jawatannya tinggi-tinggi belaka.

Apa jawatan mereka? Guru sekolah menengah, guru besar, profesor madya, profesor VK7-6-5, arkitek, jurutera, pegawai tinggi GLC, pegawai eksekutif dan doktor. Bukan calang-calang pendidikan, tuan-tuan. Semuanya extra hebat belaka. Tapi fikiran? Macam tak sekolah tinggi pun. Percaya bulat-bulat, tunggang langgang dan habis-habis. Sebab? Nak menegak ketuanan Melayu dan keagungan Islam. Dosa fitnah? Tak kisahlah. Dosa mencerca? Sikit saja. Dosa menyampai-nyampai? Tak ada hal punya beb’  (author’s emphasis).

Tajuddin’s conclusion is a warning of the long and hard road ahead for the Malay community’s nation’s well being despite the election tsunami:

Apa nak jadi dengan orang Melayu macam ini saya pun tak tahu. Negara kita ni bakal hancur dengan Melayu yang tak boleh nak urus emosi dan berfikiran rasional.

, the blogger, KijangMas who was living abroad, had some advice for his fellow Malays in Malaysia.

He began his post by noting

Ok, UMNO is history. In its current flavor, state and form . . . UMNO is no more. No point talking about what could have been . . . or the endeavors of many – including yours truly – to make the party see the light, to reform and renew and remain relevant in contemporary politics, to cleanse itself of corrupt criminals asphyxiating it to a gory demise.

Why UMNO became history

And, possibly with the 1MDB scandal as the tipping point of his total disillusionment with UMNO, he admitted:

It was to no avail. We failed . . . and failed spectacularly as the “parti keramat Orang Melayu” got intractably hijacked by criminal lowlifes propped by a flaky collection of self-serving nincompoops and hangers-on wallowing in the muddy road to self-destruction . . . pathetic myopic fools merrily hurtling on a runaway trainwreck-in-the-making that will one day be remembered in the same light as other once invincible political forces that got arrogant and complacent, lost their way, imploded and consigned to the scrapheap of history . . . the Kuomintang, Congress Party, PRI, LDP, Golkar.

It is significant that despite his lack of faith and his disenchantment with what many in his circle regarded as the only political vehicle capable of leading the Malays to a better future, he remained optimistic of the fate of his community.

He reassured his fellow bloggers and friends in the following terms:

The Malays will do just fine . . . once we rid ourselves of the opiate of false security offered by a band of rogues at great socio-economic cost amid an induced sense of perpetual vulnerability to looming threats of imagined pendatang bogeymen lurking in every nook and cranny of the land.

We must realise the ludicrousness of the threat of impending doom of the Orang Melayu on our own Tanah Tumpah Darah IF the current gang of pillaging pirates were to lose power. We must be emancipated from this culture of irrational fear, of crippling institutional dependency, of inability to take charge and be responsible for our own welfare, our own destiny.

Since that post he has not written again.

Was his disillusionment as a nationalistic opinion leader complete as he helplessly watched UMNO’s leaders circle the wagons and find ways to absolve the party and its representatives in authority of wrongdoing or responsibility for the 1MDB controversy, while deflecting the blame to the opposition, and anti-Malay elements working to “kill off the Malays”?

KijangMas had also called for a mental revolution. As he put it

Kita harus berjuang lah brader. Buang sifat malas. Perkuatkan minda. Tingkatkan ilmu. Jangan manjakan diri sangat. Tak payah terlalu sensitif, terlebih tersinggung, tercepat terkilan, terlajak terkempunan, tercenderung berdengki, tergigih berdendam. Dan buang lah segala macam kepercayaan karut . . . cerita hantu, kena santau, air jampi . . . amok, sawan, histeria, meracau, meroyan.

Was it also his last hurrah when he saw his hopes for a turnaround mental revolution not happening?

Can Malay emancipation take place with the new Government?

KijangMas did not identify who or what would help free the Malays from their caged prison.

Since then a new Malay dominated coalition has taken power. But what KijangMas described as “this culture of irrational fear, of crippling institutional dependency, of inability to take charge and be responsible for our own welfare, our own destiny” has deepened not lessened with the recent anti-ICERD and anti-Indian imbroglios.

The question is whether the call for the emancipation of Malays can come from other than KijangMas and the small group of Malay liberals who – although at a different point of the ideological spectrum – have voiced the same concern.

Crucially, are there those from the high levels of  Malay society – Malay royalty, political leaders; the top civil servants;  the heads of GLCs and corporate Malaysia; Muslim religious leaders; etc. – who can be more than just opinion leaders?

For what is needed are trail blazers in action and deed that can provide the Malay masses with their own quintessential leaders that are the equivalent perhaps of Ho Chi Minh or Jamāl_al-Dīn_al-Afghānī – revolutionary nationalists but with cosmopolitan outlooks that reject the poisonous brew of narrow religious and racial dogmas, which are an equally or more repressive cage.

If this can happen –  once we have this group of what I would describe as ‘revolutionary moderates’ to be in charge, then that burung merpati dalam sangkar may finally begin to be freed from its caged condition.

One of the country’s most consistent critical social media analyst of the Malay dilemma, Prof. Dr. Tajuddin Rasdi, appears pessimistic that this can happen soon.

 

Never-ending bumi policy dashes hope for ‘New Malaysia’


December 31, 2019

by Dr.Kua Kia Soong 

Never-ending bumi policy dashes hope for ‘New Malaysia’

COMMENT | We will be starting the New Year with our hopes for a New Malaysia dashed by the announcement of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mahathir that the bumiputera agenda (expiry date 1990) will continue.

Image result for Dr. Kua

The NEP stays for as long as The Malays have political power. Let us not kid ourselves. It is non-negotiable, although I believe it is a major obstacle to Malay economic advancement. Discrimination on the basis of race is a fact.–Din Merican. 

Image result for Dr. Kua

As in 1970 when the New Economic Policy started, and again in 1990 when the New Economic Policy was replaced by the National Development Policy which then morphed into the New Economic Model in 2010, we are treated to the same ludicrous doublespeak.

Doublespeak has been defined by some as “the ability to accept two conflicting beliefs, opinions, or facts as valid and correct, simultaneously. Doublespeak may happen because of someone being willfully perverse or as a result of faulty logic.” It is of course a word coined by George Orwell in the novel 1984.

Consider this. In the process of announcing the continuation of this Never-ending Bumiputera Policy, the Prime Minister tells Malays to stand without the ‘tongkat’ that the government is going to continue to provide them.

Even more doublespeak was the Bersatu President Muhyiddin Yassin’s pious wish that the implementation of the new bumiputera agenda as part of the Pakatan Harapan government’s core policy “must contribute towards economic growth with benefits enjoyed by all Malaysians”.

Why is it not possible to have an Affirmative Action Policy for the B40?

I find it remarkable that after more than 60 years of affirmative action for the bumiputera, we still cannot find intellectuals who can devise a race-free affirmative action policy! Our scholars and intellectuals have been schooled in the best universities overseas but they still cannot come up with a policy that does not discriminate on the basis of race.

An exception is economist Dr. Mohamed Ariff, who spoke out against such racially discriminatory policies in 2013:

“The NEP had outlived its usefulness and the government must move affirmative action policies from race-based to needs-based. This policy shift will ultimately benefit the Malays as they form the bulk of 40 percent of households in the lower-income bracket… The government’s policies seem to be populist in nature and not focused… hand-outs should only be given in crises, such as famine, as they remove the incentive to work hard. The Malays would not be able to compete in a globalised environment if they continued to depend on hand-outs.”

Image result for terence gomez universiti malaya

 

Prof Terence Gomez has often questioned the race-based criteria for wealth distribution:

“Why the continuing fixation with numbers when many Malaysians, among them even members of BN component parties, have questioned the veracity of these government-released ownership figures? Even if bumiputera equity ownership is increased to 30 percent, would this mean that wealth has been more equitably distributed among members of this community or between them and other Malaysians? And, most importantly, should we continue to perpetuate a discourse on equitable wealth distribution among Malaysians along racial lines?”

At the Bersatu general assembly, the Prime Minister has justified the continuation of this racially discriminatory policy on the grounds that more than 70 percent of the B40 are bumiputera. If that is so, why not have an affirmative action policy for the B40, which would be race-free and would be agreeable with our Icerd obligations? Why practise racial discrimination and be noted as one of the few pariah nations in the world community that do not ratify Icerd?

What happened to the slogans for ‘New Malaysia’, ‘Asian Renaissance’, ‘Malaysian Malaysia’? Have these all been empty slogans? The other leaders of Pakatan Harapan – Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang, Mohamad Sabu, P Waythmoorthy, who have condemned racial discrimination in the past – have not said a word about the continuation of the bumiputera agenda announced by the prime minister. Does silence signify consent or indifference?

Litany of crony capitalists

Given the Pakatan Harapan manifesto, it was shocking, though sadly not surprising, to hear Bersatu vice-president Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman (photo above) supporting delegates at its general assembly by calling for government resources to help the party. The former Election Commission chief said Bersatu must do all it could to win elections “by hook or by crook”. He said, “Looking at the situation now, we cannot defend our position as the governing party because the division chiefs are being left out of contracts.” Right, so contracts for the boys!

And was it surprising that throughout the years of the bumiputera agenda, Malaysia has featured high on The Economist’s crony capitalism index. Uncontrolled rent-seeking has allowed politically well-connected billionaires to double their wealth, thereby posing a threat to the free market, The Economist said. These rent-seeking industries include those easily monopolised, and that involve licensing or heavy state involvement, which it said was “prone to graft”.

This skewed bumiputera agenda is at the heart of the kleptocracy problem the Harapan government claims it wants to fix after the GE14.

From the 80s on, Mahathir’s privatisation of state assets ensured the divestment of state capital into the hands of favoured Malay crony capitalists. The success of the NEP in restructuring capital has, in the process, increased class differentiation within the Malay community. Thus, instead of targeting and providing strategic aid to the poor of all ethnic communities, the Umno ruling elite has continued to use the tried and trusted strategies of race-based cash aid and uplift plans aimed at bumiputeras.

Authoritarian populism of the Malaysian state

Image result for book byas Anne Munro-Kua

The truth is, as Anne Munro-Kua has analysed in her book, the Malay ruling elite in Malaysia has relied on an authoritarian populist style of rule to stem the possibility of the peoples from different ethnic communities uniting into a class-based political force and to simultaneously ensure the continued political domination of the Malay-led coalition.

  • A communal populist approach continues to be used to deflect the economic grievances of the Malay labouring classes against capitalist exploitation into a race-based ideological allegiance to the Malay ruling elite. The results from the GE14 will further ensure Harapan rely on such populist policies to try to capture the Malay rural votes.

While bumiputera policies are intended to benefit all bumiputera, the reality is that these policies have been usurped by the privileged Malay elite whose weak enterprise culture and expertise has had damaging consequences for the economic health of the nation. The bureaucracy has grown in tandem with the populist measures by the state capitalist class to carve out bigger and bigger slices of the rural and urban economic pie.

Institutional obstacles to attaining high-income status

According to an IMF working paper, Malaysia, as compared to other Asian countries, faces a larger risk of slowdown stemming from institutional and macroeconomic factors. A recent Asia Foundation Report also points to a compelling need for Malaysia to shift from a race-based to a needs-based policy in order to address imbalances in society and improve the democratic process to ensure good governance and that the rule of law prevails. It points out that poor institutions could deter innovation, hamper the efficiency of resource allocation and reduce the returns to entrepreneurship.

The report goes on to reason that despite the numerous bold policy measures and long-term plans introduced by the government over the years, Malaysia’s economic progress continues to be plagued by a lack of innovation and skills, a low level of investments in technology, declining standards in education, relatively high labour cost and sluggish growth in productivity. These lagging factors can be traced to the continuation of a backward racial discriminatory policy.

Thus far, Malaysia’s education system has failed to produce the skills and talent required to take the country’s economy to the next level. A key obstacle lies in the government’s failure to promote a fair and open economy. The bumiputera policy and insufficient checks and balances continue to hamper the country’s economy, leading to poor practices in governance. Reforms, especially the replacement of racial discriminatory policies with race-free inclusive policies are critically needed to rally the nation to achieve its economic objectives.

Affirmative action based on need, not race

In Malaysia, since the passing of the deadline for the NEP in 1990, it makes developmental sense to implement a new socially just affirmative action policy based on need or class or sector. Thus, if Malays are predominantly in the rural agricultural sector, the poor Malay farmers would be eligible to benefit from such a needs-based policy while the rich Malay land-owning class would not. Only such a race-free policy can convince the people that the government is socially just, fair and democratic.

The cost and consequences of the racially discriminatory policy in Malaysia have been immense especially since the NEP in 1971. It has caused a crippling polarisation of Malaysian society and a costly brain drain.

While the Chinese middle and working classes in Malaysia have largely adapted to this public sector discrimination by finding ways to make a living in the private sector, this has not been so easy for working class Indians.

Many Malaysian Indians have found themselves marginalised, much like the African Americans in the US were, especially after the destruction of the traditional plantation economy. The cost of preferential treatment has also seen greater intra-community inequality, with higher class members creaming off the benefits and opportunities.

More potentially dangerous and insidious is the effect this widespread racial discrimination has had on ethnic relations in this country. Unity can only be promoted through an affirmative action policy based on need, sector or class, never on race.


KUA KIA SOONG is adviser to human rights NGO Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)..

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

Entering a new year with what ifs– A 2019 Message To PH Leadership. Reject Ketuanan Politics


December 27, 2018

Entering a new year with what ifs– A Message To PH Leadership.Reject Ketuanan Politics

Leadership at its most fundamental is about moving people in the right direction – usually through changing their thinking and actions. It’s about empowering the people to move forward together towards a shared goal of improving the human condition.

In South Africa, it’s known as ubuntu – “the profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others; that if we are to accomplish anything in this world, it will in equal measure be due to the work and achievements of others,” Mandela said.

An ancient word of the Bantu peoples in South Africa, ubuntu essentially means “’I am what I am because of who we all are”. –Eric Loo

Leadership at its most fundamental is about moving people in the right direction – usually through changing their thinking and actions. It’s about empowering the people to move forward together towards a shared goal of improving the human condition.

In South Africa, it’s known as ubuntu – “the profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others; that if we are to accomplish anything in this world, it will in equal measure be due to the work and achievements of others,” Mandela said.

An ancient word of the Bantu peoples in South Africa, ubuntu essentially means “’I am what I am because of who we all are”.

Ubuntu manifests itself in our individual actions, in our family, in society, and on a larger scale in our politics. When we work together in the ubuntu spirit to oil the squeaky wheels of reforms and keep it turning, it will eventually lead to a transformation of cultures and mindsets.–Eric Loo

COMMENT | Madiba’s Way – Lessons on Life is worth a repeat reading. The book describes how former South African president Nelson Mandela, as a young boy, used to herd the village cattle with his friends in the afternoon.

“You know, when you want to get the cattle to move in a certain direction, you stand at the back with a stick,” he said.

“And then you get a few of the cleverer cattle to go to the front and move in the direction that you want them to go.

“The rest of the cattle follow the few more energetic cattle in the front, but you are really guiding them from the back. That is how a leader should do his work.”

As we start the New Year with a new government grappling with the old issues of communal politics and party factionalism, let us reflect on Mandela’s pragmatic leadership in apartheid South Africa, why the answer to complex questions is not always either-or but often the inclusive both, and the ideals that a leader is prepared to die for.

Leadership at its most fundamental is about moving people in the right direction – usually through changing their thinking and actions. It’s about empowering the people to move forward together towards a shared goal of improving the human condition.

In South Africa, it’s known as ubuntu – “the profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others; that if we are to accomplish anything in this world, it will in equal measure be due to the work and achievements of others,” Mandela said.

An ancient word of the Bantu peoples in South Africa, ubuntu essentially means “’I am what I am because of who we all are”.

Ubuntu manifests itself in our individual actions, in our family, in society, and on a larger scale in our politics. When we work together in the ubuntu spirit to oil the squeaky wheels of reforms and keep it turning, it will eventually lead to a transformation of cultures and mindsets.

Here, I’m reminded of the Group of 25, a congregation of Malay public intellectuals who came out to strongly reject Islamic extremism and “supremacist NGOs” that “have led to the deterioration of race relations, eroded citizens’ sense of safety and protection under the rule of law and undermined stability”.

But since its formation in December 2014, not much else is known about the G25 or how the progressive Malay intelligentsia could have significantly influenced the tone and contents of the national conversation. Which leads me to wonder about the what ifs as we enter the New Year.

What if the G25 had sustained its intellectual momentum and prompted the emergence of other progressive bumiputera think tanks?

Would it have fostered a gradual transformation of mindsets and rethinking of ketuanan politics among the Malays?

Would we see less factional politics in the Harapan cabinet and more concerted efforts in meeting its election promises of fundamental reforms?

What if Mahathir were to step aside over the next year or so and guide a younger leader ‘from the back’ the Mandela way? Would the leadership transfer see us move forward to a Malaysia Baru, away from the old politics of special rights and privileges? Maybe not.

What if the stranglehold of Ketuanan politics on the Malay mindset were to regress Pakatan Harapan to the vision and values, policies and propaganda, character and convictions of the old UMNO-led BN?

The situation is certainly fluid. As we enter another year of political uncertainties and factionalism, let not the cliched messages by our leaders be mere rhetoric.

Let us ensure that their pedestrian words of hope are matched by their audacious deeds over the next four years or so.

Here, I’m reminded of the “audacity of hope” that President Barack Obama invoked often in his speeches.

Writing in The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream (2006, page 63), he said: “Sometimes we need both cultural transformation and government action – a change in values and a change in policy – to promote the kind of society we want … I believe in the power of culture to determine both individual success and social cohesion … we ignore cultural factors at our peril.”

May the 20-something age voters with their ideals, particularly from the Malay heartland, foster a new progressive language that can shift the bumiputera-or-non-bumiputera mentality to an inclusive mindset, akin Malaysian ubuntu that channel our energy into overcoming impossibilities and fulfilling potentials rather than continuing to harp on special privileges and rights to move ahead.

As we enter the New Year, may the polity awaken the ubuntu spirit here to replenish our hope for improved living conditions, equitable opportunities for all, and institutional reforms under Pakatan Harapan, which the rakyat gave the mandate to govern for the next four years or so, but which they can easily take back at the GE-15 if the new government morphs into another UMNO-BN outfit.


ERIC LOO is a senior fellow (journalism) at the School of the Arts, English & Media, Faculty of Law Humanities & Arts, University of Wollongong. He is also the founding editor of Asia Pacific Media Educator.

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

 

 

 

 

 

As 2018 comes to an end


December 23, 2018

As 2018 comes to an end

 

QUESTION TIME | While 2018 draws to a close, bringing with it a time for reflection, some serious questions are being asked as to the state of the country and what it means when Malaysia’s oldest party, UMNO, faces collapse from within as elected representatives desert it in droves for what they think are greener pastures.This will cause problems in Pakatan Harapan, for it threatens to significantly alter the delicate power balance within the coalition, which may see a sudden burgeoning of power for Bersatu with all its attendant implications. And then there are the power shifts within PKR itself. All of these spell uncertainty ahead.

But even so, things are much better right now than a year ago, despite the many problems that need to be resolved. If the challenge of removing BN after 61 years has been successfully overcome, surely the ones facing the nation right now can be more easily settled.

One year ago, the nation was already in the throes of election fever. There was desperation, despair, denial, and fear on both sides – fear that they might lose the elections with all implications for both sides. And the rakyat worried like never before about whether the unbridled kleptocracy would end or not.

In the end, they took the right and brave decision to throw out a corrupt and thieving government, paving the way for a former prime minister of 22 years to return to the helm for the interim and de facto Harapan leader Anwar Ibrahim to take over the reins later.

That unprecedented overthrow of UMNO-BN was, without doubt, the highlight of the year with all the drama of a 92-year-old waiting at the palace to be installed as the next prime minister as agreed by the Harapan coalition.

Along with that drama, there was another one unfolding which saw Anwar finally getting an unconditional pardon and released from jail. There was much jubilation and elation at Harapan’s victory, and everyone admired Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s energy and persistence throughout the process, something remarkable for a man his age.

Inevitable problems

But the inevitable problems began to surface. First, it was the cabinet composition and then the formation of the Jedi-like so-called Council of Eminent Persons headed by the controversial Daim Zainuddin (photo).

It was clear that this council, with a declared lifetime of 100 days was more powerful than the cabinet itself and was making many decisions which should rightly have been decided at the ministerial level.

Daim’s reports to Mahathir still remain confidential, with the public in the dark about the measures recommended by the council. Despite the council no longer sitting, Daim still continues to exert considerable influence in government, leading to discomfort among some members of Harapan.

After subsiding for a while, the problem of “frogging” – leaping from one party to another – has resurfaced with a vengeance with some 17 UMNO MPs having resigned and a handful joining component Harapan parties, mostly Bersatu.

There is considerable discord over this party hopping, with PKR and DAP clearly against it while Bersatu is as clearly for it because of the small number of MPs it has and the potential for such moves to increase its numbers and influence. Bersatu has even set up a vetting process to consider who should be admitted.

Far-reaching consequences

This is going to be a serious problem for Harapan going forward, because it has the potential to cause far-reaching changes within the ruling coalition which will alter its balance of power and may even set off a race among coalition members, except DAP, to get some of the defectors into their fold.

As much as there is uncertainty now over what will happen to Harapan and the reforms and changes it promised, it is still far better than the situation a year ago, with ominous consequences for the country if BN-UMNO was yet again re-elected.

In the end, faith prevailed and collectively we turned away from the abyss that faced us by voting out an allegedly kleptocratic government and averted near-certain disaster.

Subsequent events have shown that we were right about the magnitude of the problems facing the country, and that steps are necessary to ensure we, as a nation, don’t face a similar problem in future.

If everybody involved in the reform movement remembers the past and how near we were to a colossal breakdown of epic proportions in government due to extensive and ingrained corruption, outright pilferage of borrowed money, and the constant raising of race and religion as issues to mask deficiencies, then they will realise the need for reform to stop corruption and theft.

That would mean not allowing into government anyone who is even remotely connected with the previous government’s unprecedented kleptocracy, no matter how small the role they played in that. That means no hopping MPs.

And that means standing up for these reforms and facing up to those who now want to forget them. Only that will ensure a better Malaysia going forward, even if there is some initial cost to this vital long-term benefit that we need in order to sustain this country of ours as a viable nation.


P . GUNASEGARAM wishes all Malaysiakini readers and subscribers a merry Christmas and happy new year. His column will resume next year. E-mail: t.p.guna@gmail.com

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

Did Malaysians vote Harapan for UMNO to rule again?


December 15, 2018

Did Malaysians vote Harapan for UMNO to rule again?

by  Charles Santiago  @ www. malaysiakini.com

 

MP SPEAKS | Party-hopping by Malaysian politicians isn’t anything new. But it raises the question as to whether it’s ethical to do so, as defections are a violation of the people’s mandate.

Having said that, I do understand that using the legislation to curb switching sides may take a whack at a person’s right to freedom of association.

But what’s happening over the last few days in Sabah and further rumoured party-hopping by UMNO politicians to Bersatu are definitely not due to a loss of confidence in its leadership or irreconcilable differences.

It’s out of fear and the need to ensure one doesn’t get nabbed by the anti-graft commission for corruption and abuse of power.

The back-door deals to remain relevant in politics and to stay out of prison are unacceptable and makes a fool of Malaysians who voted in Pakatan Harapan, believing our governance would be transparent and accountable.

We are muddying our administration by receiving tainted and corrupt politicians, who are desperately abandoning a sinking ship for vested interests.

It’s unthinkable that we refuse to use our discretion to swat them away like flies.

The Malaysia Baru or New Malaysia cannot be about wheeling and dealing; it cannot be about strategising for political longevity or dynasty; it cannot be about emboldening one’s political party and it certainly cannot be about favouritism and positioning who sits on the throne next.

We cannot afford to be arrogant just because we won handsomely at the last general election. We are not the kingmakers. The people are.

If we care to listen to the ground, we will hear deafening opposition to receiving UMNO politicians into the Pakatan Harapan fold.

We hear, once too often, that politics is littered with broken relationships and strange bedfellows. As an activist, I always knew that many politicians find manipulative ways to ply their political trade.

But I was hoping that these belonged with the former UMNO-led BN government.

It’s not too late, however, as Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad can still say no to party defections by politicians who believe they can switch from sinners to saints.


CHARLES SANTIAGO is the Klang MP.

The views expressed here


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

Anti-ICERD rally a win for New Malaysia but a setback for Harapan’


December 9, 2018

Anti-ICERD rally a win for New Malaysia but a setback for Harapan’

by Lim Kit Siang  |  Published:  |  Modified:

 

MP SPEAKS | The peaceful holding of the anti-ICERD rally in Kuala Lumpur yesterday is a victory for New Malaysia but a setback to Pakatan Harapan.

As Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin rightly said after the rally, it was a demonstration that the Pakatan Harapan government will always respect the rights of the people to speak and assemble peacefully, as long as these rights are practised according to the provisions of the law and the Malaysian Constitution.

The former UMNO-BN government have never recognised, respected and upheld the constitutional and democratic right of Malaysians to speak and assemble peacefully, as witnessed what happened to the five Bersih rallies from 2007 to 2016 – Bersih 1 on November 10, 2007; Bersih 2 on July 9, 2011; Bersih 3 on April 28, 2012; Bersih 4 on August 29 and 30, 2015; and Bersih 5 on November 19, 2016.

But there is a major hitch – the organisers of the of the anti-ICERD in Kuala Lumpur did not want a New Malaysia, which was born on the historic day of May 9, 2018, to re-set Malaysian nation-building policies to save Malaysia from the trajectory of a rogue democracy, a failed state, a kakistocracy( cronyism+ and a global kleptocracy and awaits Malaysians to give it flesh, blood and soul to be a world top-class nation – united, democratic, just, progressive and prosperous – which may take one or two decades to accomplish.

The organisers of the anti-Icerd rally came to destroy and not to create a New Malaysia. I said it was a setback for the Pakatan Harapan to build a New Malaysia because yesterday’s rally would not have happened if the Harapan government had handled the Icerd issue better.

As constitutional law expert from Universiti Malaya, Professor Shad Faruqi, has stressed, most of the criticisms against ICERD have no legal basis.

He said: “However, as hate and fear are potent weapons in politics, the perpetrators have succeeded in polarising society and raising the spectre of violence.”

As Shad Faruqi has pointed out, Icerd is neither anti-Malay nor against the Malaysian Federal Constitution. Since yesterday, Malaysia has become the laughing stock of the Muslims in the world, as 99 percent of the 1.9 billion Muslims of the world live in 179 countries which have ratified ICERD, including 55 of the 57 Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) nations.

UKM research fellow, Dr. Denison Jayasooria, wrote a good article in Malaysiakini entitled: ‘Examining Icerd ratification among OIC members’, where he reviewed the ratification by OIC member states, including Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Palestine, and he concluded: “As far as I note, none of them has objections or placed reservations in the name of Islam.”

IiVERD ++ also does not undermine the power of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, resulting in the abolition of the system of Malay Sultans.

There are 38 countries with the monarchical system, out of which 36 countries have ratified the Icerd including the United Kingdom in 1969, Norway (1970), Sweden (1971), Denmark (1971), Netherlands (1971), Jordan (1974), Belgium (1975), Japan (1995), and Saudi Arabia (1997).

There are absolutely no indications that the ratification of ICERD by these 36 countries have undermined the monarchical system as to lead to their abolition.

But as Malaysia is a plural society, it is of utmost importance that the unity and harmony of our diverse races, languages, cultures and religions in Malaysia must be the paramount goal of the nation.

For this reason, Malaysia should not ratify ICERD until the majority of the races and religions in Malaysia are comfortable with it, support it and understand that it poses no threat to the various races, religions or the Federal Constitution but is a step forward to join the world in promoting human rights.

The Harapan government should not have allowed the organisers of the anti-Icerd rally to hijack, twist and distort the ICERD debate with the toxic politics of lies, hate, fear, race and religion to incite baseless fears that Icerd is anti-Malay, anti-Islam and anti-Malay Rulers, which camouflaged an agenda to allow those responsible for sending Malaysia into the trajectory of a rogue democracy, a failed state, a kakistocracy and a global kleptocracy to make a political comeback and to destroy efforts to re-set nation-building efforts to create a New Malaysia.

This is a lesson the Harapan government must learn quick and fast, or both Harapan and the great vision of a New Malaysia will be destroyed.


LIM KIT SIANG is Iskandar Puteri MP.

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

Special Report

The ICERD Outrage

Malaysia is one of only two Muslim-majority countries in the world that have not ratified ICERD.