Anwar, Dr. Mahathir and Port Dickson


October 2, 2018

Anwar, Dr. Mahathir and Port Dickson

by Zaid Ibrahim

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Image result for Anwar and Mahathir

Having spent two full days in Port Dickson, I feel compelled to urge all Malaysians, not just the Port Dickson voters, to come forward with more energy and enthusiasm in support of Anwar Ibrahim. Let’s create the buzz and excitement which is now sadly lacking in support of PKR, the party that allowed its symbol to be used for the epic victory on May 9.

Let’s not treat Anwar as an opposition figure like we did over the last 20 years. He is now an integral part of Pakatan Harapan (PH), the party that the people voted in to replace the kleptocrats.

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Many in Port Dickson and elsewhere are still asking inane questions such as why Anwar engineered this by-election, why he is in a hurry. Why can’t Nurul Izzah Anwar vacate her seat for her father, and so on. There are also those who keep asking: Is Anwar suitable to be Prime Minister, what is his vision for the country, etc.

These are legitimate questions but if we are seriously looking for answers, we should have asked them before May 9. We should not have portrayed to the people during the election campaign that Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar are working together for the good of the country. We should not have agreed to the winning formula that Anwar succeed Mahathir as Prime Minister.

Once we agree on a deal, we have to honour it. No more questions asked. There is no need to question the timing of Anwar’s entry into Parliament and which seat he should be contesting. If he is not good enough to be the next prime minister, then why the need to accost him in the corridors of courtrooms to invite him to topple Najib Razak? There must be honour, even in politics.

Why is the subject of a government of national unity being talked about non-stop by UMNO and PAS? It’s because Anwar does not feel wanted in the PH government. UMNO and PAS are therefore trying their luck to lure Anwar away from PH. In light of this, it makes sense for parties in PH to assure PKR that its position in the coalition is safe, and that its leader, Anwar, will succeed Mahathir as Prime Minister on a specified date.

This assurance must not be just verbal. Verbal assurances mean nothing in politics. Instead, it must take the form of action by Mahathir and all the leaders of PPBM, Amanah and DAP.

There are three things they can do very quickly.

The Prime Minister, after a few days’ rest from his successful trip to New York and London, needs to go to Port Dickson. Although the Prime Minister does not usually campaign in a by-election, this is no ordinary election. This one gives the certificate of eligibility to his successor. We must not give the impression that there has been a change of mind about Anwar becoming the next Prime Minister.

The people are tired of political gamesmanship and they just want a smooth transition of power. A few reassuring words from the Prime Minister in Port Dickson that the leadership of PH is solidly behind Anwar will go a long way towards ensuring victory for Anwar and sending the message to Malaysians that their leaders want to focus on the more difficult issue of governance, and nothing else.

Some say that Anwar is an “Islamist” and will abandon democracy and secular principles, while others say he was a right-wing UMNO flag-bearer before his dismissal many years ago. I don’t want to get involved in such arguments. All I know is that Anwar and PH today are much, much better than PAS and UMNO; and I know that unless we drive him out, Anwar would rather stay with other reformists in PH. His own party, PKR, is a party of diverse racial and religious groups which will guide Anwar towards policies that unite the people.

The second thing PH leaders can do very quickly is to give Anwar some latitude in the appointment of key personnel in corporations and government-linked companies. It’s probably too late now, but it needs to be said: this is how real partnerships work. If we do not want key decisions and appointments to be left to powerful oligarchs or a special selected group like the 4th floor boys or the famous “Kitchen Cabinet” under Najib’s rule, then we must also not allow some eminent persons to dictate how the country should be managed. Ministers must take charge and senior party leaders like Anwar consulted. We won the election because the people believed we were going to put an end to kleptocracy, but if “oligarchs” still make key decisions in the new Malaysia, then it’s just a matter of time before we are back to the old ways

The final thing to do is for PH leaders to set a date for Mahathir to step down. This date must be decided collectively. I suggest May 2020, which will give Mahathir enough time to put in place plans for the big picture. If Anwar agrees to this, nothing he says or does will be viewed with suspicion or interpreted as an attempt to accelerate his ascent to the top.

The country needs certainty and stability, and we must give the rakyat a smooth succession plan. The people are tired of the endless power-play, so let’s give politicking a rest. This is the message PH needs to bring to Port Dickson.

Zaid Ibrahim is a former law minister.

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

Not so much ‘New M’sia Government, but one consumed by a shiok sendiri syndrome


Not so much ‘New M’sia Government, but one consumed by a shiok sendiri syndrome and groping in the dark

September 27, 2018 by R. Nadeswaran@www.malaysiakini.com COMMENT

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William Lyons, a senior lecturer at the Glasgow University argues that fear of the dark is usually not a fear of darkness itself, but a fear of possible or imagined dangers concealed by darkness. When fear of the dark reaches a degree that is severe enough, it is considered pathological.

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Pakatan Harapan Defense Minister who became a Fighter Pilot overnight– A Case of Shiok Sendiri

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Imitating an UMNO Fighter Pilot

This is not a class on fear and darkness, but provides a fairly accurate description of how some Pakatan Harapan leaders – including ministers – are performing. After almost five months in government, they are still groping in the dark and this becomes inexcusable.

To put it more succinctly and concisely, they are not stumbling in darkness but tipping over each other in broad daylight. Offering none, or sometimes nonsensical, solutions to the problems facing the citizens, some of their utterances and actions have bordered on incongruity.

This is no report card on the government. We elected our Members of Parliament (MPs) for five years but transversely, the events since May 9 have been emitting a sense of hopelessness among the common folk. Not that the public expects the sky and moon, but would just like to see changes that would offer a better quality of life.

Let’s not beat around the bush – any government or a set of lawmakers will do better than BN– with closed eyes even if one does not try.  BN’s track record over the past six decades was so abysmal, appalling and dreadful, that even minor changes would look astronomical.

The (new) government was elected on the premise (among others) that it would root out corruption, cut out cronyism, promote meritocracy, address weaknesses in the  administration and revamp the government machinery so that the people will be the eventual beneficiaries of such changes. The people were promised improvements and reforms and doing away with nonsensical pieces of legislation.

Little of this has been seen. Take the much-talked about child marriages as an example. Why is there so much  pussyfooting over an issue that can be solved, just by taking away the jurisdiction given to religious courts.

Excuses after excuse have been given including one that there would be legal and social implications if the minimum age of marriage is increased to 18 years.

What legal and social implications, one may ask? For the previous regime, the escape-all clause when everything else failed, was to throw in the religious or the race card. It is ludicrous that a child is allowed to be married based on culture, religion and customs, which are actually excuses to    not accepting international standards in human rights. Ditto for the current set of lawmakers.

Parliament not football pitch

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How and why should an elected MP resign? What is the co-relation between “Langkah Port Dickson” and parliamentary reforms?

The last time we heard of the  phrase, the then speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia got a new toilet and an expensive set of furniture for his office!

Parliamentarians are lawmakers. Parliament is not a football pitch were substitution is allowed anytime without any rhyme or reason – according to the whims and fancies of the coach or manager.

When BN put up posters before nomination day in the last election, they were accused of breaking election laws. Drive around Port Dickson today and you’ll notice giant banners and buntings. What reform, when the law breaker is seeking office?

And why should the Education Minister play a dual role as the president of a university? However one look at it, he is conflicted, but he is finding all kinds of excuses to justify his acceptance.

Elsewhere, intra-party affairs and disputes seem to be distracting some of the leaders. Instead of seeking to implement changes and ideas, too much time is being spent on politicking.

The former premier has adopted a “make-a statement-a-day” routine and our ministers are keeping him relevant by responding and making him important. He ought to be told the literal meaning of the legal doctrine of “those seeking equity must come with clean hands”.

‘No more political appointees in government-linked companies’ was the battle pre-May 9. The head honchos who made up the pancaragam which composed and sang BN’s campaign song found themselves out of their jobs. So, did scores of others, but who were their replacements?

On the administration side, there is little visible change. It still takes ages for some government departments to respond to letters; the “pegawai pergi mesyuarat” (the officer’s in a meeting) slogan is frequently used to avoid contact with citizens and other old practices. Self-appointed regulators of public morals are still imposing their values, including dress codes on visitors. They seem more interested in the length of the skirts than the issues they have to address.

Why haven’t they been reined in? Yet again, the answer would be: “It is a sensitive issue.” Many are reluctant and refuse to adopt Transport Minister Anthony Loke’s diktats – those who find female flight attendants’ uniforms too sexy should turn their heads away and not look at them.

The only visible change is the move to do away with the sign-off, which means nothing. From “saya yang menurut perintah” (I’m just following orders), it has become “saya yang menjalankan amanah” (I’m just following the mandate). Everything else including mindsets remain status quo. How does it help improvise delivery?

The attitude and brashness of most civil servants has not changed. They seem stuck in the old culture, and continue to act as Little Napoleons ruling their own fiefdom.

Public opinion matters little to Harapan lawmakers, who now believe they can walk on water. The mainstream media which pilloried, denounced and humiliated them when they were on the wrong side of the divide, has suddenly changed tack. These days, the editors (and censors) are now lining up to “pay homage” to very same leaders they had once pounced on, like vultures devouring a carcass.

Instead of using its new-found freedom and being objective, it wants to continue its insalubrious role as the supporter of the ruling elite. There has hardly been a whimper on the weaknesses which are so visible. Every citizen including journalists has a right to demand explanations on expenditure and policies because this government promised transparency and accountability.

Asking questions and requesting for justification does not make anyone a lesser Malaysian.

R NADESWARAN has no party affiliation and believes that the it is not an offence to hold government accountable. A good government must priorities good governance. Comments: citizen.nades22@gmail.com

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

Cry no more, my beloved country, Malaysia


September 26, 2018

Cry no more, my beloved country, Malaysia

Opinion

by Bob Teoh@www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT | Saddened by the state of our country, I wrote a piece titled “Cry, my beloved country” six years ago.

But the unexplainable happened on 9 May. The old regime was swept out of power through an unprecedented electoral revolt. Hope has finally arrived on our shores.

However, the frantic rush by party warlords to install the next Prime Minister after the current one steps down mid-term is worrying. Still my hope is anchored on nothing less than a New Malaysia. Cry no more, my beloved country.

Two former Star colleagues of mine, both retired, one in Penang and the other in New York were trying to catch up with the distance that separates them just the other day in Petaling Jaya. Very soon they came to the same conclusion. They don’t trust Anwar Ibrahim, the Prime minister-in-waiting.

“And it is too much of a coincidence that every time Anwar’s name crops up in conversation, others say they don’t trust him too,” one of them said.

Indeed so, I agree with both of them but for different reasons, as I wrote earlier in my piece, “The Prime minister-in-waiting must not jump the queue”.

Losing the plot

I was a life member of PKR since 2008, but not anymore.  Anwar seems to have lost his Reformasi plot. He sticks to old regime politics not much different from what UMNO used to do. In the New Malaysia, we need statespeople, not apparatchiks.

His party, PKR, which is now the biggest component in the new ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition in terms of parliamentary seats, is hopelessly split with Vice-President Rafizi Ramli running against current Deputy President Azmin Ali to be deputy to Anwar, the President-designate.

This is not only Azmin’s second term in this party position, but he is also the new Economic Affairs Minister and former  Menteri Besar of Selangor. He was one of the better performing chief ministers the state ever had.

Azmin (photo) has his critics, who have accused him of putting his own people in the state government when he was Menteri Besar, as well as in the current federal cabinet. He is also accused of insisting on keeping PAS in his cabinet against party wishes.

Rafizi’s reason for running against Azmin is to make sure Anwar becomes the Prime Minister. The incumbent Vice-President accuses Azmin of coveting the premiership for himself and that the latter is in league with former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin and colluding with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Azmin is also accused of disloyalty to Anwar simply because he has not offered to give up his Gombak parliamentary seat for Anwar to be elected into the lower house in order to assume the premiership.

By this token, there now seems to be two prime ministers-in-waiting, not just one. Either way, the pretender to the throne is in a hurry to seize the moment now. But Azmin has been quick to punch back by saying Rafizi was still a “toddler” when the Reformasi movement started in 1998. Azmin said he had stood by Anwar and has stayed loyal to his struggle from the day the latter was sacked from the government.

Reformasi veterans like Tian Chua are aligned to Azmin. Among those  in Rafizi’s camp is Anwar’s daughter and Permatang Puah MP Nurul Izzah who was the “Puteri Reformasi” (Reformasi princess) and still in school when Anwar went to jail back then.

Nurul has come a long way since. She commanded the most votes in the Vice-presidency contest in Penang over the weekend, garnering 4,039 votes, far outnumbering her opponents.

Meanwhile, Anwar himself has confirmed things are not going well. He said unnamed leaders in PKR are allegedly offering projects for support in the party’s internal election. Is UMNO-style money politics making in-roads into PKR?

Anwar also acknowledged weaknesses in the party’s ongoing election processes, after voting was variously suspended in several states owing to alleged irregularities as well as violent disagreements.

A betrayal

This is plain betrayal to those who elected Danyal four months ago. By accepting this, Anwar is similarly tainted. This scandalises the whole notion of a democratic election, where the sanctity of democracy is now sacrificed on the altar of political ambition.

An ethical question mark hangs over Anwar’s Port Dickson Move. The incumbent MP there is PKR’s Danyal Balagopal Abdullah (centre in photo). He vacated his seat on Sept 12 to make way for a by-election for Anwar to contest to enable him to become prime minister.

In the 14th general election, Danyal won the Port Dickson seat in athree-corner fight, garnering 36,225 votes, with a large majority of 17,710 votes. He has now handed over the seat on a platter to Anwar.

The Prime Minister-in-waiting should have been more circumspect. There are other options for him.

Anwar’s electoral base has always been Permatang Pauh. When he was in prison, his wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, now Deputy Prime Minister, stood in for him in this parliamentary seat until the last general election where she switched to Pandan, the parliamentary seat previously held by Rafizi Ramli, and won. He did not contest due to a court conviction for exposing a page of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) audit report. He was later bound over.

In a parallel move, Anwar’s daughter, Nurul, moved from her Lembah Pantai constituency to contest in Permatang Pauh and won.

We are not told of the reason behind this family musical chairs. No one would complain if either of them vacated her seat to make way for Anwar to return to Parliament via a by-election. This would have been better than the Port Dickson Move, which was very much outsourced to Rafizi.

It was Rafizi (photo) who had conjured the Kajang Move that morphed into a full-blown political crisis in Selangor in 2014.

The idea was to topple Khalid Ibrahim as PKR’s Menteri Besar of Selangor, and install Anwar Ibrahim as his replacement. The attempt resulted in a nine-month political crisis within the state of Selangor and the Pakatan Rakyat coalition, that also involved the Palace of Selangor. The irony is that the crisis concluded with the appointment of PKR’s Deputy President, Azmin, as the next Menteri Besar of Selangor.

The Kajang Move backfired. It can backfire again. As pundits would have it, Anwar would have succeeded in his Kajang Move. What if nobody turns out on polling day on Oct 13? Already the BN opposition has said it would not contest, and PAS may also not field a candidate. Anwar may suffer the embarrassment of facing an unknown independent. It may be a hollow victory after all. This does not augur well for a Prime Minister-in-waiting.

After May 9, we now have a two-party electoral system, the first in six decades. In the recent general election, the opposition did not expect to win and the ruling coalition did not expect to lose.

In the words of former UMNO leader and minister Rafidah Aziz, God heard our collective prayer. The people won. The eyes of the Almighty is on our nation. Man may propose this move or that move, but it is God who may dispose. I am at ease. Cry no more, my beloved country.


BOB TEOH is a faith-based writer.

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

Anwar family’s credibility gap is troubling


September 19, 2018

Anwar family’s credibility gap is troubling

by Terence Netto
A perception of nepotism would still be justified even if the reformasi movement, triggered by Anwar’s travails 20 years ago, had not had as its rallying cry the demand to end the corruption, cronyism and nepotism then plaguing the nation from UMNO-BN’s misrule.

 

COMMENT | The danger of choosing relatives of an iconic leader to deputise for him when he faces legal trammels imposed by the powers that be is that the surrogates are soon apt to think they are where they are by merit rather than presumption.

This is the situation of Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the PKR leader who has just added petulance to a lengthening list of her demerits, both as party leader and as Deputy Prime Minister.

“Is there a problem? I thought we were voted by the rakyat (people),” was Wan Azizah’s disingenuous reply when questioned by reporters on the possibility of the public perceiving the presence in Parliament of her, daughter Nurul Izzah and – should he win in Port Dickson – husband Anwar Ibrahim as rank nepotism.

A perception of nepotism would still be justified even if the reformasi movement, triggered by Anwar’s travails 20 years ago, had not had as its rallying cry the demand to end the corruption, cronyism and nepotism then plaguing the nation from UMNO-BN’s misrule.

Because the movement had made it its clarion call to combat these three scourges of the polity, it is incumbent upon the Pied Piper of the movement (Anwar) and the one who deputised as leader while Anwar was in prison to see to it that such faults as the reformasi movement decried then are not replicated now, when the reform-seekers have become the government.

That’s not all the perceptual burden that has to be avoided.As recently as last year, in an interview with Al Jazeera, Wan Azizah had described her part as that of a “seat warmer”. Clearly, she meant that her withdrawal from the political arena would follow upon the release of Anwar from jail and his return to the legislative fray.

A royal pardon for Anwar in May removed one hindrance to his return; his election unopposed to the PKR top post last month has taken care of the other. But Azizah is not budging from her occupation of the Pandan parliamentary seat she won in GE-14.

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Neither is Nurul Izzah (photo, above) from Anwar’s traditional stronghold of Permatang Pauh, to which she fled from Lembah Pantai, her seat for two parliamentary terms from 2008.

Things have to be paved and peril-free for the First Family, small matter if that aids the public perception that the family is being granted exceptions to the norm.

The decision of the newly-elected PKR MP for Port Dickson, Danyal Balagopal Abdullah, to quit his seat to allow Anwar to contest en route to becoming the eighth prime minister of Malaysia is being lauded as noble sacrifice. Perhaps we now know why Anwar recently publicly noted that there maybe more Indian Malaysians in PKR than in MIC: The ethnic group are easy sacrificial meat.

He may think that the ability to gyrate to the rhythms and mime the songs of Tamil movies should suffice as a demonstration of solidarity with the concerns of this demographic.Suffice that members of the First Family have become PKR royalty, exempt from the ordinary criteria of selection and scrutiny.

The fact that the party has become dysfunctional as a democratic entity, its factional strife so obvious that it makes liars of those attempting to deny the reality, is not allowed to redound to the discredit of the First Family.

Mendacity is the default option of those for whom the acquisition of power overrides other chastening considerations.In years past Anwar used to be fond on the hustings of quoting Mahatma Gandhi’s “What is morally right cannot be politically wrong, and what is politically correct must not be morally wrong,” to project his concern that the devices of politics be congruent with the imperatives of morality.

In recent months, the gulf between the two – his morality and his politics – has opened up wide enough for many to think that what has happened to Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan is occurring to Anwar.


TERENCE NETTO has been a journalist for more than four decades. A sobering discovery has been that those who protest the loudest tend to replicate the faults they revile in others.

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