Bersatu and the shaping of new realities


January 19, 2019

Bersatu and the shaping of new realities

Opinion  |  Nathaniel Tan

 

COMMENT | I am grateful to be read by so esteemed and prolific a writer as S Thayaparan. Needless to say, like any two writers, the good Commander and I can hardly be expected to agree on everything – this is a healthy thing.

In his article on Jan 9, Thayaparan alludes to what I believe are a good many shared goals and even some shared analyses. What differences we may have could arguably be ascribed to the fundamental level of optimism versus cynicism. Of course, this is my own biased view.

I agree with Thayaparan that UMNO’s core strategy of feudal patronage was indeed very successful in securing Malay votes, especially in rural areas.

How else could we account for the fact that in terms of individual parties, UMNO had won the most seats in Parliament? Or the fact that nationally, Harapan only won approximately 25-30 percent of the Malay votes.

I also agree with Thayaparan in that this is a very tempting strategy to replicate, in order to achieve the same level of Malay support that UMNO achieved; as well as with the fact that there are undeniably some in Bersatu and Harapan who wish to pursue this path.

Thayaparan seems to believe that it is inevitable that Bersatu will indeed go down this same road. Here perhaps we differ.

I am no seer, so it would be foolish to say definitively whether Bersatu will or will not turn out like UMNO in the end. I will be willing to say however: it certainly isn’t an inevitability.

In terms of electoral strategy, I think the primary argument that should be put forth to those trying to emulate UMNO’s strategy of feudal patronage is that the votes you win very likely come at the cost of other votes.

Once again, I quote the Aesop fable where the dog with the bone saw his reflection in the river, and dropped the bone he had in greedy pursuit of a second bone.

Should a party follow UMNO too far, especially in terms of its approach to race, the backlash will be real. That constituency of voters should not be taken for granted, as GE 14 demonstrated decisively their willingness to vote in protest.

Knowing one’s opponent

Secondly, every political strategy must obviously take into consideration context and landscape.

Simply put, Harapan needs to know exactly who it’ll be up against in GE 15.

Thayaparan writes:

‘A Bersatu grassroots activist, who I usually call on because she gives it to me straight, told me that it is easy for the other Harapan components to criticise Rashid. It gets them good press and makes them seem like heroes, like young Syed Saddiq. But, the “beloved” (and she means it when she says this) prime minister not only has to ensure that Bersatu is a viable party, but also that “Harapan does not mampus (die)”.

Okay, I said, if your rural heartland base needs to be better informed, then why not begin the process of dismantling the system – political tactics included – which separates them from the urban Malay voter? “You want us to win or you want PAS or UMNOo to win?” she replied.’

Two prominent young Harapan leaders, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman and Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad have both used America’s transition from Barack Obama to Donald Trump as an example of a right-wing backlash.

This article does not look to ‘ignore’ these warnings and advocate some sort of no-holds-barred progressive agenda; nor does it intend to underestimate any particular political movement.

That said, if Harapan is posturing to fight the wrong enemy in the wrong way, it could end up shooting itself in the foot.

Feudalism impossible without controlling the government

The main problem with UMNO and PAS is that they cannot rule alone; for the same reason they can’t rule alone, these two can’t rule together either.

The Malay population currently stands at 55 percent. Unless you twist and turn electoral boundaries into some unrecognisable mangle, it is essentially impossible for UMOmno and PAS to appeal to non-Malays enough to win the federal government without some sort of ally.

Indeed, one can very easily argue that this scenario has already played out – not in GE-15, but in GE-14.

UMNO’s entire mandate was based on its leadership of BN, where every community was supposed to be represented.

With whatever shreds of that illusion now being shattered conclusively, UMNO is left as a party with a very narrow, exclusive ideology, and very few genuine allies.

PAS meanwhile has a dismal history of going it alone. In 1995 and 2004, they contested alone and won only seven seats each time. In 1999, 2008 and 2013, they contested in coalitions with PKR and DAP, and won 27, 23 and 21 seats respectively.

2018 was a bit of an outlier, with PAS winning 18 seats, but with each and every one of those seats coming from only three states (Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah) – making it fairly obvious that PAS cannot win elsewhere without strong allies.

So, it has to be asked: Who will Harapan really be fighting in GE-15?

As always, we should not imagine voters to be stupid. Even if they wanted to vote in someone they think would be more willing to deliver them government goodies feudal-patronage style, surely they understand that their candidate cannot do so if he is not part of the federal government.

This brings us to the most important point – why do we have to ‘out-feudal’ the enemy, when the purported enemy is in no real position to be the next feudal lord?

Certainly one should not preach complacency, but one should equally not be sending warships into waters where there are no enemies, leaving other flanks vulnerable.

Indeed, Harapan’s biggest enemy could be Harapan itself; if elections were to be held, say within a year, the biggest reason behind votes against Harapan would likely be under-performance.

Worrying about maintaining and growing Malay support is not necessarily wrong, but this can easily be a strategic misstep as a counterpoint to enemies who are now mere phantoms.

Umno has already been defeated, and at its current state of disintegration – caused in the first place by the party’s dependence on government-funded feudal patronage – it remains to be seen if it would even exist come GE-15.

PAS on the other hand has shown extreme resilience over the decades, and we can expect them to be a real force, but unless they do a 180 degree turn and somehow start to appeal to non-Muslim political movements, they will not be a primary contender for the federal government.

Redefining Malay politics

This brings us to the question of what then will the fight for the Malay heartland be about?Image result for FEUDAL MALAYS

A  feudal Umno  Patron

The impression I personally got from Thayaparan’s article was a belief that these rural Malays will always be dependent feudal peasants.

I choose a more optimistic view.

Bersatu and Harapan’s unique position – resulting from UMNO’s and PAS’ extremely weak position – gives them a golden opportunity to redefine what Malay politics is about.

There are numerous examples of late showing that there are clearly elements within Bersatu who want to go the UMNOo way, but I daresay the battle for the party’s heart and soul is not over yet.

As I wrote recently, at the very top of Bersatu is Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, and his oldest dream to invigorate the Malay community – propelling them to become successful entrepreneurs, leading professionals and captains of industry.

While his unrelenting sarcasm and unfavourable comparisons might not be the best way to bring this about, I don’t think we can doubt the sincerity of his intentions.

All that remains to determine is methodology.

It won’t be any walk in the park, but I do believe that with the right leadership and policies, we can transition out from the rural heartland’s dependency on feudal patronage, into governance based on genuine empowerment – setting everything in place for Malays to succeed on their own merits.

If we take the time to look, there are always a few encouraging signs here and there – the takeover of Perlis Bersatu by Bersatu headquarters could be one such sign.

I am all for realistic analysis. It is foolishness not to base your plans on what the objective truth on the ground is. At the same time, all the realism in the world will do us no good if we have no vision; reality, after all, is often nothing more than what all of us make it.

Image result for Man of La Mancha

 

 

On my first day driving to my new job, I listened to a song from the musical The Man of La Mancha. Perhaps not for the last time, allow me – in the style of the good Commander – to quote some lines from the show:

‘I have lived nearly fifty years, and I have seen life as it is. Pain, misery, hunger … cruelty beyond belief. I have heard the singing from taverns and the moans from bundles of filth on the streets. I have been a soldier and seen my comrades fall in battle … or die more slowly under the lash in Africa. I have held them in my arms at the final moment. These were men who saw life as it is, yet they died despairing. No glory, no gallant last words … only their eyes filled with confusion, whimpering the question, “Why?”

I do not think they asked why they were dying, but why they had lived. When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. To seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!’


 

NATHANIEL TAN is delighted to have begun a new job at Emir Research.

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

FOCUS On POVERTY alleviation, not income creation for billionaires–Mahathir’s outdated policy prescriptions


January 16, 2019

FOCUS On POVERTY alleviation, not billionaires —Mahathir’s outdated policy prescriptions

by P. Gunasegaram

Image result for the malaysian maverick by barry wain

QUESTION TIME | When Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad sank low to say that wealth should be distributed equally among races, he indicated plainly that he has no solid plan to increase incomes and alleviate poverty for all Malays and Malaysians. His priorities are elsewhere.

Note that he talks about the distribution of wealth, not increasing incomes, which is more important because this is what will eventually result in a proper redistribution of wealth by valuing fairly everyone’s contribution  to wealth creation.

During his time as Prime Minister previously for a very long 22 years from 1981 to 2003 out of 46 years of independence at that time – nearly half the period of independence – he had plenty of opportunities, but squandered them.

He did not care for the common Malay, but was instead more focused on creating Malay billionaires overnight through the awarding of lucrative operations handled by the government or government companies previously, such as roads, power producers, telecommunications and others.

He depressed labour wages by bringing in millions of workers from Indonesia, and subsequently Bangladesh and the Philippines, to alter the religious balance in Sabah. A significant number of them became Malaysian citizens over the years, altering the overall racial and religious balance in the country.

By doing that he let his own race down, many of whom were workers and small entrepreneurs whose incomes were constrained by imported labour. Even now, Mahathir has not shown a great willingness to increase minimum wages, which will help many poor Malays and bumiputeras increase their incomes.

As Mahathir himself well knows, distribution is not an easy thing. Stakes held by others cannot be simply distributed, but they have to be sold, even if it is at depressed prices as it was under the New Economic Policy or NEP, when companies wanted to get listed.

Instant millionaires

There are not enough Malays rich enough to buy these stakes, but many of them in the Mahathir era and earlier, especially the connected elite, became rich by purchasing the 30 percent stakes for bumiputeras that had to be divested upon listing by taking bank loans.

By simply flipping the stakes on the market at a higher price after they were listed, they pocketed the difference and became instant millionaires.

Image result for the permodalan nasional

It was Mahathir’s brother-in-law – the straight, honest and capable Ismail Ali – who was the architect behind the setting up of Permodalan Nasional Bhd or PNB to hold in trust for bumiputera stakes in major companies. PNB now has funds of some RM280 billion and has been enormously successful in this respect.

But Mahathir, with advice from Daim Zainuddin who became his Finance Minister, still cultivated selected bumiputera leaders, many of them Daim’s cronies, and gave them plum deals. A slew of them who were terribly over-leveraged got into trouble during the 1997-1998 financial crisis.

The government, often through Khazanah Nasional Bhd, had to rescue some of the biggest ones, resulting in Khazanah holding key stakes in many companies such as Axiata, CIMB, PLUS and so on. Recently, the government has been talking about, not surprisingly, selling these stakes to investors, accusing Khazanah of not developing bumiputera entrepreneurship, which was not anywhere in its original aims.

It becomes more obvious what Mahathir is talking about. Redistribution of wealth now will come out of the selling of government (Khazanah) and PNB stakes to individual Malay entrepreneurs to equalise wealth distribution among the races. To make it more palatable, some willing Indian entrepreneurs, too, may be found.

The modus operandi will be to sell the stakes when prices are depressed and perhaps even to offer a bulk discount to these so-called entrepreneurs who, of course, will not only be among the elite, but who are cronies. That will ensure a steady flow of funds into Bersatu in future from donations to help make it the premier party in the Pakatan Harapan coalition.

Image result for the malaysian jomo and gomez

Mahathir knows full well that equal wealth distribution is impossible – it’s never been done anywhere before and makes wealth acquisition disproportionate to intelligent effort and hard work, a sure recipe for inefficiency, corruption and patronage. As eloquently argued by prominent political economy professor Terence Gomez, patronage is king in new Malaysia – if it was cash during Najib’s time.

Mahathir does not have the wherewithal to lead anymore, if he ever had it in the first place. Eight months after GE14, he is still bereft of a plan to increase incomes and improve livelihoods. He needs to recognise he does not have one and that he stays in power because of the strength of the other parties in the coalition.

Wrong direction

The only way to close the wealth gap is to increase future incomes across all races. Anything else is the expropriation of other people’s wealth. In the meantime, the holding of wealth in trust by state agencies is perfectly acceptable because the income comes back to the government.

This can be wisely used to improve the quality of education, get better quality investments, raise productivity and hence labour wages, and provide equal opportunities for growth and innovation among all communities. As so many people have said before me, you can equalise opportunities, but not outcomes.

So far, 61 years of UMNO-BN have not managed to equalise opportunities for all as the government education system is in shambles, among others. And eight months of Harapan is heading in the wrong direction under Mahathir.

Despite Bersatu being a party expressly formed to fight for Malay rights, Mahathir’s party had the lowest support from Malays of parties looking after Malay rights, including Umno, PAS, PKR and Amanah.

He is still stuck in a mode to widen his rather narrow and vulnerable power base (his Bersatu won only 13 seats of 52 contested, the worst win rate of any party in the coalition) unethically by attracting tarnished MPs from Umno into the Bersatu fold, in the process willing to break agreements with other coalition partners and doing/advocating things which are against the principles of a properly functioning democracy.

He has also said he will not honour some manifesto promises, saying that these were made when Harapan did not expect to win the elections – a rather lame excuse. He has not even made solid moves to undo repressive laws introduced by his predecessor Najib Abdul Razak.

Mahathir, obviously, has no intention plan to improve the livelihood of the common Malay and all Malaysians;  he is stuck in old-school forced distribution which is injurious to the economy, maybe even fatal in the long term.

 Malaysians don’t want the creation of Malay (or any other ) billionaires from government wealth.


Old wine in a new bottle is still sour. 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.

 

 

Rebranding the myth of the ‘lazy Malay’


January 11, 2019

Rebranding the myth of the ‘lazy Malay’

Opinion  |by Dr. Azly Rahman

 

COMMENT | To wage war upon others, you dehumanise them. To enslave your own people, you call them lazy and create a structure of dependency.

To cure these two mental ills of the two colonisers, you deconstruct and destroy the myth. The once oppressed among us have become the oppressors. Brown skin, white masks. This is what I am writing about in the following passages.

Aren’t politicians the laziest, profiting from the myth of the benevolent ruler? They get paid a lot, they fight too much, they don’t attend well to the people’s needs. They go missing, produce contradictory statements, and churn out propaganda to fool people. They beg for votes and when they win, they invite the latter to a beggar’s banquet.

To call a people ‘lazy’ is to legitimise a system of discipline, punishment and continual dependency – the politician’s excretory rhetoric. Capitalism thrives by telling workers that they are lazy when they cannot produce as fast as the owners can profit.

Rebranding the myth

Consider how much the common person works these days, how many hours a day and on weekends, just to put food on the table in an economy plagued, plundered, and ravaged by those who called the natives ‘lazy’. How many jobs do people you know work these days before and after the 1MDB fiasco?

Malaysia is built upon the blood, sweat and tears of workers, farmers, share-croppers, Felda settlers, taxi drivers, petty traders, shopkeepers, and the working class whose culture the politicians say needs to be ‘changed’.

The myth of the lazy natives is now reproduced by the acquired ignorance of our leaders. What is the politics behind the continuing labeling? New Party. New Coalition. Same Excretion?

Billionaire-club Malays will often say Malays are lazy when they cannot enslave the Malays of blood, sweat, fears. “Sickos,” as Michael Moore would call them. That’s the worldview of the one percent. That’s their “mental habitus”, to borrow from Pierre Bourdieu.

We continue to carry the wrong sunglasses of history, fogged by the haze of winner’s history. Who cares if Yap Ah Loy or Sutan Puasa ‘founded’ Kuala Lumpur? I want to know what happened to the natives. How were they chased out by these ‘founders’? Just like how Christopher Columbus was instrumental in killing 10,000 Arawak Indians in his quest to be baptised as the one who ‘discovered’ America.

I want our young generation to learn the people’s history of Malaysia. Teach not the history of glory of kingdoms, of fake kings, but the sufferings and successes of our ancestors. Family history first that runs parallel to the one’s personal history. Therein lies the core of human dignity as makers of history.

As Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, “Man is born free, yet everywhere he is in chains.”

Multiple truths

We must acknowledge that there are multiple truths to choose from, depending on one’s cultural perception of what spirituality means. I read and taught the major scriptures to see the beauty of each, especially as cultural perspectives, and good, magical, fantastical stories written by scribes, collectively, from long ago.

I love Bible stories. And the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, the Analects of Confucius, the Tao Te Ching, the I Ching and even the Dianetics of the Church of Scientology. These contain their own truths, fanciful stories of creation, deconstruction, destruction. Religion and its scriptures rely on storytelling and the crafting of degrees of believability, sustainable enough to be passed down from one generation to another. We live in a universe of stories we love sharing with one another. The Bible and the Quran too serve such purposes. One truth, many paths.

But what are we as Malaysians? Each of us a child of immigrants. Our place, this place we inhabit, is what Pramoedya Ananta Toer called “bumi manusia” or earth of mankind. Bumi Malaysia, where each race is a product of history, exploited by the colonial masters, in collaboration with the local rulers and chieftains.

Whether we were here as kampung folk, or we came as a band of kangchu and kangani, we are here, challenged to mediate our differences, to live as if civil war and genocide are words that do not exist in our vocabulary.

Orientalising to death

The British colonial policy of divide and rule, their conjuring up of the myth of the lazy native to describe Malayo-Polynesians, their construction of the other based on what was in it for them, their Conradesque narratives pounded into others ‘three-quarters as human’ as they are.

Peeking at the styles of other colonialists, we find similar themes of dehumanisation in the French ‘civilising mission’, the defining of ‘Bangsa Indonesia’ by the Dutch, and the Spanish racial delineation in the Philippines. All these illustrate the craft of imperialism.

Knowledge is power, and in the use of policies based on the construction of otherness and the emphasis on differences for economic-exploitative goals – all historical ingenuity. The story of Malcolm X’s return from pilgrimage in Mecca is, I think, a powerful narrative on the deconstruction of the matter and manner called race.

Back to who we now are, as peoples once enslaved. We are a model of civil dialogue. We seem to be doing well. We share a memory, a wonderful, yet equally challenging time we once had and lived gracefully. In poverty lies wealth, dignity, and ethics – this is what we learned from the post-Merdeka days.

We had to do that for historical logic – we came in and out of the bloody riots of May 13, 1969 and the brutal process of decolonisation, though we were spared the full Pandora’s box of human madness over power, wealth and violence.

We Malaysians learned to live with each other and grow with the differences we were born with and into. Because we are human beings, essentially and within us lies cultural hybridity, of the elements of cultures of ‘otherness’ weaved into our psyche, philosophy of living, and our physicality. We love each other’s food, fashion, and festivities. At the level of the masses we are good as a people of a relatively new nation.

But now we are facing a crisis of identity. A manufactured one. Today, identity has turned political – of the forbidden-ness and the halal-haram of things. Of fascist-type rallies fuelled by false sentiments of race and religion. Those uber-rallies that will soon lose their pomp and be seen as a genre of weekly pageants of irrationality.

The first mistake

Wherein lies the mistake of our cultural evolution? Education, I’d say. In this enterprise of “drawing out, of human potentials” lies that gentle profession the politicians have emboldened with the lava of racial prejudice and the myth of the limited economic pie.

Is there hope? We must begin with the amber, of what’s glimmering and what’s promising, but we cannot twist the arms of politicians if their bodies are wrapped with the straitjacket of wealth and power made out of that lava of latter-day-capitalism, insisting that the only way forward is to traverse the path suggested by Niccolo Machiavelli and Sun Tzu.

Maintain power by whatever means necessary, use deceit, use strategies to outdo the enemy, kill if you must, play with numbers, make statistics lie even better, and go to war with each other perpetually. Use education as a tool of apartheid, mental oppression, so that we may produce more myths, while the rich watch the numbers go up and down in the ticker-tape of the stock exchange. The ‘standards and poor’, where global poverty is the gold standard of the one percent of the new imperialists.

What do we actually want? Today the myth is recreated, reconstructed, and rebranded, as if we are living in an amnesiac society, ruled by leaders who are plagued with selective dementia.

It does not make sense to turn our politics and policy-making into a ghoulish carnival of the living dead, the ghosts of yesteryear being perpetually resurrected and used to instil fear in a new generation of Malaysians of each other – as if they must be forced to carry the burden of Malaysia’s violent episodes of history, crafted by the powers that want to maintain hegemony and the master-slave narrative.

That is what is happening now and, since independence, and the purposeful reluctance of accepting sane and logical solutions to our racial and religious ailments – like the debates over the United Examination Certificate (UEC), all-Malay elite boarding schools, proliferating tahfiz schools, English-language instruction, and the ketuanan educational-philosophical orientation.

We all want the best for our society, especially for the young ones struggling to make sense of the world. It is their future we are entrusted to craft. Hence, educational visioning must be undertaken as soon as a new government takes shape.

Leadership needs philosophy, process, innovation, and management of change, as we know. It needs empathy in the case of educational leadership, so that we may not discriminate and turn this gentle profession of educating into a hidden system of apartheid. This is what I see happening here. Continuation of unclear vision and the rabid hanging on to racial and religious dogma.

We have a lot to gain if we understand education for mental liberation in all its complexity in a multiracial society. One avenue to begin our restructuring is to learn from the diaspora who have seen what education looks like in diverse settings, and why advanced countries continue to advance and outlaw racial discrimination.

We should stop believing and supporting politicians who wish to continue to divide us through their rhetoric. We must wage an ideological yet dialogical battle with those who still call this and that race ‘lazy’, ‘greedy’, and ‘dirty’, and all kinds of demeaning and derogatory representations of these peoples’ pride and dignity.

These are the politicians who thrive on wealth, wilfully blind to the fact that poverty cuts across race and religious lines, that extremism is in all religions, and that the future generations need not be punished with the sins of their fathers and be made to feel helpless and hopeless with all kinds of unkind misrepresentation.

We must, especially through our educational philosophical and pedagogical design, shape a more peaceful, productive, and collaborative future amongst the races. So that we will not produce more amnesic politicians who will continue to sing us more lullabies about the ‘lazy, greedy, and dirty’ natives.

We have a lot to work on to achieve the goals of the political rhetoric of ‘Vision 2020’. But first, we must educate for peace, progress, and prosperity that “makes the many, one, and the one many”.

It must begin with a grand design of our educational future. A truly Malaysia future. No child left behind. Just look into the eyes of the children of Malaysians on their very first day of school. Do they tell us what discrimination means and will turn them into? Will they be in chains, when they are born free?

Have a safe 2019 fellow Malaysians!

Image result for dr. azly rahman


AZLY RAHMAN is an educator, academic, international columnist, and author of seven books available here. He grew up in Johor Bahru and holds a doctorate in international education development and Master’s degrees in six areas: education, international affairs, peace studies communication, fiction and non-fiction writing. He is a member of the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education. Twitter @azlyrahman. More writings here.

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

 

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.

 

Malaysia: Let us do the political frog our way from UMNO to Bersatu


January 3, 2019

Malaysia: Let us do the political frog our way from UMNO to Bersatu

Image result for from UMNO to Bersatu

 Kermit is not stupid fro. He has  fans around the world . Unlike political froggies from UMNO, he is worth more than a dime a dozen.

“Political frogs are now on the prowl and are available at a dime a dozen. And, in most occasions, at no cost. In accepting them into their new homes, some owners accept them to show their strength in numbers and in other cases, to tap their talent and expertise, if they have any. “– R. Nadeswaran

 

Image result for salleh keruak with najib and rosmah

UMNO’s Super Katak Salleh Keruak

SATIRE | Political frogs are now on the prowl and are available at a dime a dozen. And, in most occasions, at no cost. In accepting them into their new homes, some owners accept them to show their strength in numbers and in other cases, to tap their talent and expertise, if they have any.

Some have expertise in certain areas, including finance, technology and the lot. But there are many who excel in wheeling and dealing and have called themselves fixers. Not long ago, three Datuks called themselves “The Fixers”.

In such instances, the transfer of such mentality, proficiency and capability is always recognised as wannabe-members openly declare that they would inculcate such traits à la “transfer of technology.” They sometimes raise few eyebrows, but for political expediency, nothing counts and the philosophy of “everyone is welcome” prevails.

Early signs emerged when the party held its annual congress last week. Among the speeches of the transferees or beneficiaries of this technology, one came from someone who has worked the system to fine-tune the supposed below-the-line activities to make sure the previous party stayed in power. The electorate was balanced; the rolls were adjusted so that the then Opposition was kept out. He was answerable to no one. The members of his team were referred to as members of the “dumb and deaf” committee.

He spoke at length: “An eventful year has come to an end. We are the victors. We won. We worked hard – mentally and physically for our success. It was not easy fighting someone with one-handed tied to the back. Yet, we came out with flying colours.

“Pinch yourself – we are in power and we will continue to remain for many more years to come. We are entitled to some reward – presently and in the hereafter for our work.

“We all – the elected representatives, divisional chiefs, branch captains and even the ordinary member who put up banners and pasted posters must be rewarded for our hard work.

“It is time for us to share the spoils of the war. Representation has been made; calculations have been completed; vacancies have been identified; those who have to make way have been subtly told that they have overstayed their stay.

“Forget what we promised in the manifesto – a clean government. But that was sheer electioneering – propaganda.”

‘This is utter nonsense’

The young man who had a huge Plaster of Paris around his wrist, to cover a scratch from his girlfriend, retorted: “This is utter nonsense. Didn’t we promise that the best people would be employed for top jobs? Didn’t we promise to dismantle the abang-adik system in government departments and government agencies?”

Amid shouts of duduk (sit) and tutup mulut (shut up), he was told: “Well, that ‘cronyism must end’ battle cry was to appease the urbanites and the liberals – the English speaking mob which believed in ‘true democracy.’ Now it is our turn. Our branch leaders have to be rewarded too.”

When everyone sat down and the situation calmed down, the session Speaker announced. “I have heard enough. I want to make an important announcement.

“Phase One of ‘Ops Kita Sapu Semua’ starts tomorrow. Please change your membership cards with the latest chip technology which has been provided free by the same company that does the cards for government agencies.

“As of midnight tonight, you don’t have to pay toll anymore. Your membership card is actually equivalent of the Touch ‘n Go card, but yours is better. You don’t have to top-up. There is no value cap on it and it can only be changed if and when we are kicked out of power in the next hustings.

“As you are aware, the blue plane people have refused to collect the passenger service fee for our airports’ company. We have been told that tables will be placed at the entrance at every departure gate, where passengers will have to make cash payments before they are allowed into the departure lounges. In the case of our members, show your chip-embedded card and you will be exempted. Use the special red lane allocated for us.”

Delegate after delegate spoke, sometimes out of turn, to applaud the new initiative. “We waited for this for 61 years while they plucked all the fruits. This is our chance,” said one.

“I’m not finished yet,” the Speaker said: “Phase Two starts next week. Every job or position which comes with salaries and perks (like members of the boards of electoral reform committee, the aviation regulatory organisation, the social security agency, etc) belongs to us. We will appoint divisional chairmen and branch leaders to such posts.

“We will replace all members of the boards of government-linked companies (GLCs) as a first step. Members are humbly asked to nominate ordinary people instead of titled people. The previous regime put people there who stole and got caught. We will put people who won’t get caught because they won’t steal so much with having just passed SPM.

“To steal, we don’t need brains of those with degrees achieved or otherwise bought, as in the case of the guy we put in charge of pilgrims. As long as you are able to say setuju (agree) and angkat tangan (lift your hands), there’s no other skill required.”

‘Looking at government contracts’

In Phase Three to be launched next month, the Speaker said, “we will be looking at government contracts…” and he was rudely interrupted.

A few delegates spoke out: “This is not what we stand for. NGOs will start screaming blue murder and claim that our ruling elites are channelling government resources for themselves.”

Corruption and political patronage, they argued, emanated such a revolting stench that prompted the previous fellows being ejected. “Will they do the same to the present group?”

Another said: “These are our entitlements. No one can take those away from us. Yes, the NGOs will make noise for a while, but throw them a few crumbs in the form of non-important positions in the consumer side, and they will shut up.”

But the most important issue that set the delegates scratching their heads was: “What are we going to tell Uncle Lim? He put his head on the chopping block to work with us to throw out the kleptocratic government. How will the good doctor face him?”

The hall fell silent. Suddenly it dawned on them that they were in control collectively with three others. Doing it their way would sound wrong.

But then, someone provided a perfect riposte. “Our doctor not only treats the sick but has enough antidotes in his medical bag to treat even political sickness. If not, would he have made a comeback after being in the wilderness for two decades?”

There was a pin-drip silence for a moment and then the hall exploded. When everything settled down, the Speaker said: “Our doctor has a cure for everything.” This time, there was a standing ovation. Need more be said?


R NADESWARAN will pen yet another piece next month when Phase Three is implemented. Comments: citizen.nades22@gmail.com

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

Bersatu’s inexorable move to becoming a sanitized, immunized and Bersih UMNO Terbaru 3.0


January 3, 2019

Bersatu’s inexorable move to becoming a sanitized, immunized and Bersih UMNO Terbaru 3.0

Opinion  | By P. Gunasegaram

Published:  |  Modified:

  QUESTION TIME | If anything, Bersatu’s recent annual general assembly starkly shows one thing – that it is merely an extension of the old UMNO (Baru,) and will use the model of Malay supremacy,ty and put back in place corruption via patronage politics.

The only way to check that unfortunate retrograde policy is for the other Pakatan Harapan partners, especially those who have three to four times the number of MPs Bersatu has, to exert their combined muscle to rightfully regain more influence in the coalition and restore the original reform agenda pre-GE14.

At the AGM, Bersatu vice-President Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman, also a former Election Commission (EC) chairperson, termed pushbacks against delegates’ demands to be given government resources to help the party retain power as “stupid”.

Bad enough that you have the former EC chairperson advocating breaking laws but this same person was shockingly appointed in August last year to head a Putrajaya committee that will make recommendations on electoral law reform in two years time.

This same Abdul Rashid had been heavily criticised by both PKR and DAP, the dominant parties in Harapan, over his tenure from 2000 to 2008 as the EC chairperson. This continues a tendency for Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to appoint tainted,controversial and/or discredited people to important positions.

This includes Daim Zainuddin to head the Council of Eminent Persons; former Inspector-General of Police Abdul Rahim Noor (who brutally assaulted Anwar Ibrahim and gave him a black eye while in Police detention) to negotiate security arrangements with Thailand and former discredited aAtorneys-General to important positions.

Abdul Rashid’s comments at the Bersatu assembly are particularly galling and provocative and advocate extra-judicial measures to keep and extend Bersatu’s hold on power. These are clearly against the law but Abdul Rashid (photo) received a misplaced standing ovation from Bersatu delegates.

“Looking at the situation now, we cannot defend our position as the governing party because the division chiefs are being left out. It is lucky that the Prime Minister gave me a job with a big salary so that I can support my division,” said Abdul Rashid, apparently referring to his appointment to the government’s election reform committee.

“But the others, we don’t need to be arrogant by saying we shouldn’t give them jobs, that we would be taking away the jobs of others, that we should not take this or that. That opinion, to me, irresponsible. In the election, we must win by hook or by crook,” he said.

He added that although he did not like the idea of using government resources, it had to be done.

“All division chiefs should be given activities so that they can have the opportunity to defend their divisions,” he said.

Abdul Rashid also urged the government to restore the parallel village chief system practised by the previous BN government. “And our people must occupy these positions,” he said.

Village chiefs are traditionally appointed by the state government but the previous BN government appointed parallel village chiefs in states not under its control. The Harapan administration has abolished this parallel system.

“All development projects should be channeled to these (parallel) committees and the division chiefs must benefit,” he said as the crowd cheered him on.

Blown to smithereens

It is unthinkable that this man, who clearly advocates moves against current elections laws, heads Putrajaya’s committee on electoral reform. If anything, he will probably advocate changes in the law to allow these offences to take place.

Harapan leaders should forthwith put their foot down and demand that Abdul Rashid be removed as the head of the electoral reform committee as he has clearly shown, by his words at a public gathering, that he is not a fit person to come up with electoral reforms which are up to international standards.

That he had so much support from Bersatu delegates for his views is worrying, with other leaders echoing his sentiments. While Bersatu head Mahathir has said that what Abdul Rashid says is his personal opinion, he should immediately review Abdul Rashid’s position as head of the electoral reform committee.

The original UMNO  was founded in 1946 to champion Malay rights in the lead up to independence. Its founder Onn bin Jaffar left UMNO after the party refused to open membership to non-Malays. Tunku Abdul Rahman took over the helm and became Malaysia’s first Prime Minister.

That UMNO was de-registered in 1987 after the courts declared it illegal. Then prime minister Mahathir formed UMNO Baru or UMNO 2.0 and organised members of UMNO, who supported him to join this UMNO Baru, excluding others who did not. There was a breakaway group called Semangat 46 formed, headed by Mahathir’s then opponent , Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

Mahathir altered the constitution of the original UMNO considerably by making it next to impossible to remove a sitting UMNO Baru President. This resulted in a progressive erosion of government accountability and transparency, eventually leading to 1MDB and its excesses. And UMNOMNO-BN’s first loss in the general election last year.

As droves of MPs start to desert UMNOo Baru, Bersatu may well become Umno 3.0 if it accepts these UMNOo MPs as members. That will irrevocably change the complexion of the coalition and alter the balance of power within Harapan.

Other coalition partners, in particular, PKR and DAP, should clearly resist this and state their irreversible opposition to such moves, simply because all UMNO and BN MPs are tainted because they knew full well of the corruption and theft within 1MDB when they decided to stand for elections.

If all of the UMNO MPs are accepted within the Bersatu fold and become Harapan members effectively and those within Bersatu who call for extrajudicial measures to remain in power are not checked, it is inevitable that Bersatu will become UMNO 3.0 and the strongest party within the Harapan coalition.

With that, the hopes of the majority of Malaysians for a fairer, more equitable country, where everybody is considered Malaysian and where corruption is a thing of the past and accountability and good governance will be practised, will be blown to smithereens.


P GUNASEGARAM says we have to guard our newfound freedom zealously instead of surrendering it back to UMNO goons and gangsters who want a return to the past. 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.