Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) in a Default Mode

March 20, 2018

Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) in a Default Mode

by T K  Chua@www,

Image result for Najib Razak with MCA Leaders

I just feel a little funny – Prime Minister Najib Razak wants MCA to win more seats to justify its number of posts in the cabinet. Former MCA President Chua Soi Lek, on the other hand, prefers MCA to stay out of cabinet since the party performed poorly during the last general election.

To me, MCA has worked itself into a position where it cannot win. The party has been and will continue to be a scapegoat, a victim of circumstances, a stooge, a subservient appeaser, and even a beggar.

Successive waves of MCA leadership have remained hapless, unable and unwilling to speak up honestly and forcefully to defend the party’s position. As a consequence, the rights of Chinese Malaysians whom the party purportedly represents have also been compromised or eroded.

At the same time, how dare some UMNO leaders blame MCA for being hapless and unable to perform? How dare UMNO continue to blame MCA for depending on Malay votes to survive?

Are UMNO and MCA leaders so blind to the fact that it was precisely the policies and governance of UMNO that caused the gradual demise of MCA?

MCA is expected to face a dominant UMNO, no doubt about that. But both UMNO and MCA must ensure that dominance is tempered with fair play, moderation and a genuine sense of power sharing.

Did MCA speak up forcefully and cogently on issues fundamental to Chinese Malaysians? Did UMNO listen and give due consideration to the grouses raised? Did UMNO give in on an issue based on what the party was willing to give or based on what was demanded by MCA?

To me, MCA is always pleading and begging but I don’t see UMNO conceding anything other than trivial matters or on a piecemeal basis. How then can UMNO expect MCA to perform and enjoy continued support from those the party claims to represent?  If MCA can’t speak of policies and governance, how is the party supposed to operate?

Image result for Najib Razak with MCA Leaders

Former MCA President Dr Chua Soi Lek knows that MCA is already a spent force in Barisan Nasional

So here is my opinion on Chua Soi Lek’s recent statement: it does not matter if MCA is in the cabinet or out of it.

The fundamental issue is whether MCA is willing and brave enough to speak up. Also, it is fundamental whether UMNO is willing to listen and compromise, based not on what the party is comfortable with giving, but on a genuine sense of fairness and inclusiveness.

Very often, we hear UMNO complaining of its sacrifices to carry the burden of MCA’s lack of support. Well, I have another idea: it is MCA which has been carrying the burden for UMNO for far too long, so much so that the party is losing its relevance.

There will be positions and perks to be enjoyed by MCA. But it can’t go on forever if the party has been ineffective. Sooner or later, people at large will realise that it does not matter whether MCA is in the cabinet or out of it.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.



GE14: the polls, the money, the stakes

March 20, 2018

GE14: the polls, the money, the stakes

An expert panel canvasses the big issues in Malaysia’s 2018 elections.


As Malaysians head to the 14th General Elections (GE14), the stakes have seldom been higher. The nature of the nation is now fiercely contested. While many Malaysians see the GE14 election season as another fraught debate over the core economic issues of the cost of living, inflation, and health and education infrastructure, there are also renewed fissures over the roles of religion and culture in determining Malaysia in the 21st century. And all of these issues arising at a time of great uncertainty in the region, as China rises and the United States retreats.

In this discussion, recorded in Kuala Lumpur on 8 February 2018, Merdeka Center’s Ibrahim ‘Ben’ Suffian, Universiti Malaya Professor Edmund Terence Gomez, Malaysia Muda convener and lawyer Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, and ANU historian Dr Amrita Malhi join New Mandala Contributing Editor Kean Wong to unravel some of these themes with the latest available data and analyses. This event was held with the support of the ANU Malaysia Institute and was kindly hosted by Gerakbudaya.

You can also listen to an interview with New Mandala’s Kean Wong (@keanmwong) and ANU’s Amrita Malhi (@AmritaMalhi) on Malaysia’s BFM radio that touched on some of the issues canvassed during this panel discussion.

Follow @GE14NewMandala on Twitter for more updates on New Mandala’s coverage of Malaysia’s election season.


Ibrahim ‘Ben’ Suffian | Merdeka Center

Prof Edmund Terence Gomez | Universiti Malaya

Fadiah Nadwa Fikri | Malaysia Muda

Dr Amrita Malhi | Australian National University

‘Malaysia’ dreams the impossible dream

March 17, 2018

‘Malaysia’ dreams the impossible dream

by Manjit Bahtia
Published on
Image result for ‘Malaysia’ dreams the impossible dream

    Prime Minister Najib Razak met Mel at Taxpayers’  Expense

COMMENT | “When you know someone is a thief, you stay away from him,” Dr Mahathir Mohamad told Beverley O’Connor, host of “The World” programme by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Thursday.

Mahathir, of course, was referring to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who is spending a long-weekend junket in Sydney at the ASEAN Heads of Government hot-air talk-shop – again at the expense of Malaysian taxpayers.

Thief isn’t the only label Mahathir used to describe Najib. He also called him a “monster”. There are far better labels for Najib and for UMNO-BN members. “Monster” is an appropriate enough metaphor. But beyond labels, Malaysia has a serious international image problem.

There was a time when Malaysia was known to the world for Mahathir’s neo-nationalist Malay brand of loud-mouthness. That’s whenever he railed against, say, Singapore, his racist rants against Jews and Malaysia’s British colonial masters – the very lot who taught him how to “divide-and-rule” his own multiracial citizens. Mahathir single-handedly made the term ‘citizen’ a profoundly dirty word.

Malaysia became even more famous after Mahathir cooked up “facts” to jail his then protégé Anwar Ibrahim and chucked him in prison. When top cop Abdul Rahim Noor black-eyed Anwar in jail, Mahathir merely shrugged in the “saya tidak peduli” manner.

Now Anwar and Mahathir have become bosom buddies in a double-act to exorcise from Malaysia’s ripped-asunder soul Najib.


The Mahathir hypocrisy hasn’t gone unnoticed, as O’Connor reminded Mahathir.  Mahathir responded sheepishly, with the tiniest regret. He said it is more important to look forward to the future to overthrow the great big thief in their midst and an Umno that has moved so far to the right of its 1946 “objectives” that both the party and its president are rotten to its core.

Mahathir said UMNO has been destroying itself from within, that Najib “has destroyed” the original UMNO and that the party exists solely to support its President and an authoritarian regime.

Note that Mahathir never mentioned any of UMNO’s coalition partners-in-crime. Nonetheless, the mission now, as everybody knows, is for the Mahathir-led Pakatan Harapan cavalry to lead the charge and rout UMNO before Najib and his band of crooks rob the country blind.

Nothing new in all this. The lineage and the so-called discourse (whatever discourse means) and the battle-cries go right back to 1969 – the year democracy in Malaysia died after a long-simmering brain snap.

My friend S Thayaparan, a Malaysiakini columnist – whom I’ve never met – has been at great pains recently to make the case that “Malaysian voters” must stand up and save the country. If there’s a certain urgency in Mahathir’s determination, there’s equal stridency in Thayaparan.

But there’s also a problem. In fact more than one problem. First, the electoral system, run by the Election Commission, is not chartered to ensure full and fair elections; it remains chartered to ensure fully foul elections.


It’s also chartered not to uphold democracy, even democracy with Malaysian characteristics, but to maintain a Malay-led kleptocratic authoritarian regime that thinks it is above the constitution, therefore above the law. The regime is the law since rule of law has ceased to exist for nearly half a century.

Second, Mahathir had for 22+ years presided over just such a regime when he led it. He – more than Abdul Razak, Hussein Onn and Mahathir’s successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi – had every time turned a blind eye to every skin-flake of known or rumoured corruption within his UMNO, his regime, his Malay-dominated bureaucracy and Police, and among the coterie of Malay, Chinese and Indian cronies or oligarchs he’d nurtured.

Those accused or nabbed, like Perwaja Steel’s Eric Chia, “somehow” managed to get off scot-free. It doesn’t take a genius to work out how.

Not when the separation of powers between the legislature, executive and judiciary, as a democracy would like to have it, disappeared virtually overnight under Mahathir. Yet here he is crying that Najib has violated everything decent and, worse, he’s getting away with it.

‘Muhibbah’ only in name 

Something else is worth remembering. What Najib is doing – centralising structural and institutional power in his hands through what I’ve called the UMNO-Leninist state – is very much the same thing Mahathir was doing when he ran the place like a dictator. Or close enough to one. The hypocrisy is stunning.

Third, the desperation among “Malaysians” opposed to the regime is perfectly understandable. The desperation for the coalition of opposition parties, Pakatan Harapan, is also perfectly understandable.

To go as far as enlisting Mahathir is one thing; to make him the leader of the pack and, more, Prime Minister if Harapan should win, is unthinkable.


The man who created the 21st century monster of Malaysia, among the many other monsters who clutter the regime from across the ruling coalition, was Mahathir. He gave each one of them long enough rope to enrich themselves, heeding Deng Xiaoping’s dictum. Najib too embraced the licence. Najib’s “living the good life,” Mahathir put it on television. So are Mahathir’s cronies and nepotists.

Mahathir can’t have it both ways. He needs to own up to the past wrongs when the rot started to really set in. Mahathir now says Malaysia needs to reset good governance by ridding the country of Najib et al. Fine.

But (a) what good governance did Mahathir bring to Malaysia when he was Prime Minister? And (b) he must not become Prime Minister a second time, not even as a seat-warmer for Anwar.

The King of Malaysia has a duty to the country. All the Sultans do. The King knows Najib has been ripping off Malaysia; he cannot continue to sit on his hands and wait for ridiculously pointless protocols before pardoning Anwar – if he dares to pardon Anwar at all. But he must if he does not want his country monster-ised further.

Anwar at the helm gives Harapan the legitimacy it needs to fight the elections. This is not to suggest Anwar (photo) is unproblematic. Even with Anwar at the tiller isn’t a sufficient condition to rule.

Thayaparan says “all Malaysians” must vote, that they must do their bit. I would agree if I knew just who “all Malaysians” were – another point Thayaparan missed in my letter. Show me one “all Malaysian”.

Here’s what I see. Here’s what I’ve always seen. And on my last visit to Malaysia very recently I saw this much more clearly.

There’s no “all Malaysian”. There are no “all Malaysians”. There are Malays, Chinese, Indians and so on – discrete ethno-tribal, sociological, economic and political units separated by competition between race, religion and ideology.

The old story. I don’t need to tell you this. The ruling coalition is also dominated by similar units separated by race and religion. So, too, Pakatan Harapan.As we do in primary math addition, this will be carried over into the future.

Therein lies Malaysia’s core problem. The country might be able to solve some of the economic divisions that rift the people, but it can’t and it won’t solve every one of them or every other accompanying problem until competition between race, religion and ideology is resolved.

“Muhibbah” exists but only in name. Always has since 1969. Najib, UMNO and their BN clan know this and they’ll play this up to the hilt, no matter what the fallout.

There are many other problems that will inevitably be brought into general election No 14 from GE13. Many are beholden to UMNO-BN. Some are also evident, again, in the opposition.

Like it or not, Harapan is divisive because it is itself divided. In fact – and I agree with Thayaparan – Harapan looks woefully inadequate. It hasn’t learnt from its mistakes from GE-13. Those mistakes were fundamental, starting with its rather lame manifesto.

Harapan may have done better than expected in that election but it can’t hope for the same lucky streak in GE-14 to break the proverbial UMNO-BN camel’s back once and for all.

It would be wonderful if it does but UMNO has some things on its side, and a certain important – no, critical – momentum that Harapan would wish it has too. It won’t if it keeps carrying on like it has. But Mahathir isn’t the answer.

MANJIT BHATIA, an Australian, is a US-based academic, researcher and analyst specialising in Asian and international economics, political economy and international relations. He lives in Hanover, New Hampshire.

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


The Malay or The Najib Malay?

March 17, 2018

The Malay or The Najib Malay?

Let the Late Malaysian Poet Laureate Usman Awang remind the present generation who they should be.


Image result for The MalayThis is a Najib Razak Malay


They can longer be a people who have to depend a nanny state which is being run into the ground by a kleptocracy under Prime Minister Najib Razak. They cannot be bought by BR1M money and other handouts. They need to demonstrate that they are a proud, self-reliant, competitive and hard working people.–Din Merican

Extolling China, demonising Chinese

March 15, 2018

Extolling China, demonising Chinese

by  Ambassador (rtd) Dennis Ignatius

Extolling China, demonising Chinese

Image result for The Malaysian Chinese

Last week, the Interdisciplinary Research and International Strategy Institute launched its latest publication, Pen’China’an Malaysia: Tergadaikah Tanah Kedaulatan Bangsa? [The Sinicisation of Malaysia: Is Malay sovereignty being mortgaged?, according to one translation].

It turned out to be yet another Malay supremacist gathering masquerading as an academic event.

Bogeymen and brothers

Interestingly, the book itself opens with a chapter on the influence of the Jewish diaspora, a hint perhaps that there is a parallel between the Jewish diaspora and the Chinese diaspora. Linking two of the Malay world’s favourite bogeymen – Jews and Chinese – strengthens, I suppose, the siege mentality necessary for bigotry to thrive.

Going by press reports, the panelists who were assembled to discuss the book used the opportunity to censure Malaysian Chinese, with speaker after speaker questioning their loyalty and commitment.

PERKASA’s Deputy President, for example, warned that the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia posed a threat to the Malays. Noting that “we have seven million Chinese here, four million in Singapore, six to seven million in Thailand,” he went on to argue, rather absurdly, that “the thinking of the Chinese is stereotyped…the Chinese in China and those here all think the same.”

The implications were clear enough: the Chinese diaspora are potential fifth columnists for a resurgent China.

Other speakers seemed to readily agree. “All the Chinese in the world are brothers…so they will fall along with Beijing,” a lecturer from the Islamic Science University was quoted as saying.

ISMA’s Deputy President also questioned the allegiance of Malaysian Chinese while suggesting that their contributions during the Emergency were exaggerated.

Bigotry and Ignorance 

The fabricated and racist narrative that Malaysian Chinese cannot be trusted, that they are ungrateful, that they remain an existential threat to the nation, that their contributions to national development are overblown, is now so ingrained among certain segments of our society that it has become an article of faith.

Image result for robert kuok

It does not help, of course, that UMNO itself regularly reinforces this narrative as it did recently with its outrageous attacks against Robert Kuok.

I suppose there is some truth to the dictum of Joseph Goebbels (Hitler’s propaganda minister) that, “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it and you will even come to believe it yourself.”

As might be expected, the panelists offered no real evidence to back up their arguments, including the contention that “all Chinese think the same;” they, however, offered plenty of evidence that all bigots are cut from the same cloth.

In the end, one is left with the unmistakable conclusion that all this palaver is simply about Malay supremacy; the Chinese are mere convenient scapegoats.

China and Chinese

To be sure, there are legitimate concerns about the growing influence of China in the wake of burgeoning bilateral political, economic and military ties.

Clearly, there is a pressing need for a rational debate about our relations with China to ensure that it serves our national interests above all else and that it is driven by national priorities rather than political expediency or the interests of a few well-connected Malay cronies.

Image result for Lee Kuan Yew on the Malays

Now we know why: UMNO is a Malay supremacist political party

Like it or not, China is a neighbour, a global power and a major trading partner. Good relations are not an option but a necessity. Building a national consensus on the issue is, therefore, essential if we are to develop stable and mutually-beneficial relations with China.

And integral to this effort is the need for a clear distinction between China and Malaysian Chinese. China is a foreign country, we may agree or disagree with its policies; Malaysian Chinese are fellow “sons and daughters of Malaysia” (to quote from  Prime Minister Najib’s Lunar New Year message) and should never be treated with suspicion or contempt simply by virtue of their ethnicity.

Hounds and hares


In any case, it is ironic that a Malay supremacist political party (UMNO) spearheads the push for closer strategic ties with China and the loyalty of Malaysian Chinese are questioned. Well-connected cronies get the contracts and local Chinese get the blame.

UMNO and its fellow travelers are clearly running with the hares and hunting with the hounds, extolling the benefits of good relations with China (and profiting from it) while exploiting the insecurity it generates among unthinking followers.

Our nation might be better served if all those who are zealous for its honour look a little closer to home – at the theft of public funds, the abuse of power, the betrayal of trust, the violation of our constitution – instead of focusing on superficial and self-serving definitions of loyalty that divide and diminish our nation and unjustifiably alienate so much of our citizenry.

Dennis Ignatius | Kuala Lumpur | 14th March 2018

Malaysia: 1MDB– A Major GE-14 Issue

March 14, 2018

Malaysia: 1MDB– A Major GE-14 Issue

by P.

Image result for najib razak in a fix over 1mdb

QUESTION TIME | They say rural Malays and other deprived Malaysians don’t care about 1MDB and that their major concern is only with the higher cost of living. I say, utter rubbish.

I refuse to believe that any Malaysian, rural or urban, is unconcerned that effectively as much as over RM40 billion was stolen from 1MDB and of this, over RM30 billion was borrowed money.

The problem may be that the magnitude and significance of what has been allowed to happen by BN – that means all of them from Ministers to MPs to state assemblypersons to delegates from all BN parties but particularly UMNO – has not been explained to all of the Malay masses.

And the only person who seems able to explain it in an understandable manner to Malays is Dr Mahathir Mohamad in his own inimitable style.

But make no mistake about it – if 1MDB is still not an election issue it has to be made one. Essentially, 1MDB borrowed money and most of the borrowed money was allegedly stolen by transferring it out through a convoluted process into accounts controlled by an associate of the Prime Minister, Jho Low (photo).

A total of US$681 million (RM2.7 billion) came into Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s account before US$620 million (RM2.5 billion) was transferred back. These are facts.

It is unprecedented in the annals of Malaysian history. Never before was money “stolen” from a government-owned company (100 percent owned by the Minister of Finance Inc) in such a manner and tens of billions of ringgit at that.

It is much bigger than the Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (or BMF) scandal (RM1.8 billion) and much more blatant and audacious.

There is a hole in 1MDB which at some time will show itself, despite all the denials by the government simply because one cannot hide the movement of international funds.

The government is already engaged in desperate moves to try and fill up these holes such as getting into lopsided contracts with others, including companies from China.

Such things are a double-whammy as more and more money is thrown away through overpriced contracts and the like to try and return money into 1MDB accounts and to perhaps steal some more. No matter what they do, such flows can eventually be traced through the international financial system.

It is through identification of international flows that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has managed to obtain an overwhelming amount of evidence that money was stolen and laundered for the purchase of luxury assets including a US$27 million pink diamond necklace.


If we don’t collectively get rid of this government and hold it to account for all the losses incurred at 1MDB, the future of this country is very bleak indeed.

If anybody needs a recap of what 1MDB is, and we all need one from time to time, here it is 10 points:

1. RM40 billion or more ‘stolen’ from 1MDB. It’s allegedly the biggest theft by a government (kleptocracy) the world has ever seen. Malaysian officials like world records and this is truly a world record but of the very wrong kind. It has made Malaysia rather notorious and infamous.

2. US$7 billion (RM28 billion) unaccounted for. Press reports quoting the Auditor-General’s Report on 1MDB, a report which is kept unrevealed to the Malaysian general public by using the Official Secrets Act, say this. If it was untrue, all the government has to do is unveil the auditor-general’s report which it has not done so far. The figure amounts to most of the long-term bonds of RM31 billion at current exchange rates.

3. Interest, asset and fees over-payments could cost over RM10 billion. The under-pricing by 1MDB of long-term bonds through needlessly high-interest rates, excessive fees to Goldman Sachs which arranged the bonds and over-payment for power assets, which now belong to a China entity, would have cost over RM10 billion more.

Image result for Equanimity


4. US$4.5 billion (RM18 billion) stolen, according to DOJ. This is the definitive figure given by the DOJ which is now in the process of recovering US$3.5 billion (RM14 billion) in assets. The yacht Equanimity belonging to Jho Low costing US$250 million or RM1 billion was the latest large asset to be seized, to be handed over to the FBI in Bali by the Indonesian authorities.

5. US$681 million (RM2.7 billion) of the money went to Najib. It came from an account which the DOJ says was controlled by Jho Low, a family friend of Najib’s.

6. US$238 million (RM952 million) went to Riza Aziz, Najib’s stepson and Rosmah’s son. Riza is a close associate and friend of Jho Low and reportedly did a deal with the US recently – the company that Riza (photo) is associated with, Red Granite Pictures, last week agreed to return to the US government US$60 million (US$240 million).

7. Najib must be aware of 1MDB deals. According to Section 117 of 1MDB’s memorandum and articles of association, Najib had to be informed of all of 1MDB’s major decisions. Najib was and is Finance Minister and the highest officer of Minister of Finance Inc which owns all of 1MDB. He was also chairperson of the advisory board. It is highly unlikely he did not know and the fact that he does nothing now is a sure sign of a cover-up.

8. Authorities maintain all is well at 1MDB. Despite overwhelming evidence in a number of countries that money was stolen from 1MDB, the authorities, including the Police and Attorney-General maintain nothing wrong was done. 1MDB has not even reported the loss of the money to the police.

9. US$4 billion (RM16 billion) of ‘stolen’ money can’t be returned. The Malaysian government steadfastly and ridiculously continues to insist that 1MDB did not lose money, making it impossible for various governments to return money and assets bought with allegedly stolen 1MDB funds which they have seized or are seizing in the course of their own investigations.

10. Desperate measures and a weakened ringgit could further aggravate the situation. The government is aggressively doing deals which may raise illegal money through contract overpricing to plug the holes in 1MDB such as the RM55 billion East Coast Rail project with China companies and others. These will have deleterious effects on the future of the country. Meanwhile, the weakened ringgit has resulted in the latest rounds of price increases (not GST whose full impact finished at the end of 2016) as confidence evaporates, to price in a risk premium for the ringgit.

There is more but that pretty much sums up the main points. So whoever wants to do the messaging for the rural and other folk needs to focus mainly on the below three points, using the 10 above to add colour and illustration:

1. 1MDB lost RM40 billion. 1MDB borrowed over RM30 billion money through long-term loans which were “stolen”. A further RM10 billion was lost through high-interest rates, paying too much for things bought and to advisers.

Image result for Shahrir Samad admits to receiving R1 million from Najib Razak

2. The current Prime Minister, government and all major BN politicians were aware of this, and some even benefited from the “loot” with UMNO division heads admitting they received money from the Prime Minister e.g Shahrir Samad ( pic above). UMNO still supports its leader.

3. If this government is not changed, even worse things will happen to this country as more and more money could be stolen.

How can anyone even think that 1MDB is not a major issue in these elections? If it is not, isn’t it time it was made one?

If anyone was aware of the facts, would they actually think 1MDB is a non-issue? It will be a major mistake to underplay the issue of 1MDB in the forthcoming elections.

P GUNASEGARAM is sceptical of surveys which claim to show this and that when they clearly go against plain old common sense. E-mail: