PKR Lily Wan Azizah wins Permatang Pauh but with reduced majority

May 8, 2015

Phnom Penh by The Mekong

PKR Lily Wan Azizah wins Permatang Pauh but with reduced majority

by Sheridan Mahavera and Looi Sue-Chern

wan azizah 1

With a smaller voter turnout, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) had its absolute majority slashed by more than 3,000 votes in Permatang Pauh yesterday, but analysts dissecting the by-election said Barisan Nasional (BN) was still the bigger loser.

There are also warnings for both sides, as BN’s losses came from among Malay votes, while Pakatan Rakyat (PR)Dr Wong Chin Huat appeared to concede some Chinese votes to BN. BN’s failure to get more votes in Permatang Pauh, especially from Malay areas, mirrored the cold shoulder it got from the largely Malay seat of Rompin in the by-election there three days ago, said political analyst Dr Wong Chin Huat (right). Although BN was the incumbent in Rompin, its support level went down by 5% from 2013 levels.

BN failed to take advantage of the infighting between PKR and ally PAS, and despite a strident machinery, did not manage to erode support for PKR’s Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. She won by a margin of 8,841 votes against BN’s Suhaimi Sabudin.

Given the lower voter turnout, her win translates into 57% of all ballots cast, roughly the same vote share PKR had in the 13th general election. In the national polls two years ago with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as candidate, it took 58.56% of votes.

In contrast, BN received 40.1% of all votes cast in Permatang Pauh this time, slightly less than the 40.3% it received in 2013.This is despite BN pouring vast amounts of resources into its campaign and the disunity in the PR machinery, which saw some PAS allies threatening to boycott PKR.

“BN campaigned hard and we expected PR to suffer. But they did not increase their votes even with all the PR infighting,” said Wong, of the Penang Institute. Noth BN and PR have internal struggles, the former from attacks against its chairman, who is Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and the opposition from discord over hudud and threats of sabotage by some segments of PAS against PKR in Permatang Pauh.

Yet, even with internal strife in both camps, BN was the weaker of the two, Wong said. It failed in this by-election to capitalise on the chaos and disillusionment with PR to garner more votes.

PKR outpolled Suhaimi in Permatang Pasir and Penanti, constituencies with majority Malay populations of 72% and 76% respectively. Dr Wan Azizah won 63% of the popular votes in Permatang Pasir and 57% of all votes cast in Penanti.She won majorities in 16 out of 19 polling districts in those two constituencies. In at least eight of those districts, she managed to beat Suhaimi by a vote margin of 2 to 1.

Dr Wan Azizah said after the results were made official last night, that Malay votes went up by 4% to 5%, mostly among young voters.“At the end of the day, people may not like the PR but they hate BN more,” said Wong.

Wan Saiful Wan JanTaking a different view was Wan Saiful Wan Jan (left) who said PR had nothing to shout about since it did not increase its vote share even with all the issues plaguing BN, such as the unpopular goods and services tax (GST) and scandals involving government-owned fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

PR’s infighting prevented it from getting more support from a public disenchanted with BN, Wan Saiful said. (Permatang Pauh) showed that even if people are angry with BN, they are not convinced enough to vote PR. This is why PR really needs to resolve its internal squabbles soon.”

Those squabbles, he argued, were starting to eat into its support base among the Chinese.In Sungai Lembu, a polling district which is 98.7% Chinese, BN managed to increase its support of the popular vote to 30.4% compared with the 16% it garnered in 2013, according to Gerakan Youth chief Tan Keng Liang.

Wong, however, said this did not represent a true swing of the Chinese vote towards BN but more of a reluctance to vote for PR this time. This is based on lower turnout – 75% of Sungai Lembu’s 533 voters came out to vote in the by-election, compared with the 90% in 2013.

Also, there was no swing apparent in Seberang Jaya, a constituency with a 23% Chinese population.“There were ads in a Chinese newspaper that said that ‘both sides are disappointing’, so it could have swayed Chinese voters to stay home and not go out and vote,It is unrealistic to expect Chinese voters to go back to BN, but realistically, they could stay home and not vote.BN does not need the Chinese to vote for it, all it needs is for the Chinese to not vote for PR.” .” said Wong.

Either way, if PR’s internal discord continues and makes voters feel it is no better than BN, it could hurt the opposition pact’s ability to hold on to marginal seats.

Daim: What’s wrong in owning bank in Tanzania?

April 24, 2014

Daim: What’s wrong in owning bank in Tanzania?

by Malaysiakini

Former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin has asked just what the problem is in owning a bank in Tanzania.

This is in response to Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, who recently in the Keadilan Daily, claimed that he has evidence of Daim allegedly swindling money from Malaysia and keeping the money there.

Daim served as Malaysia's finance minister on two occasions, from 1984 to 1991, and from 1999 to 2001.

Daim served as Malaysia’s Finance Minister on two occasions, from 1984 to 1991, and from 1999 to 2001.

Daim dismissed Anwar as a “kaki goreng” (someone who makes things up), adding that if Anwar has any evidence on his alleged misconduct then he should make a detailed report to the authorities, he was quoted as saying in Utusan Malaysia today.

“Anwar  when meeting with the Tanzania President in an investment session there asked about my assets. The President replied that I have a bank in Tanzania, so what is the problem?” Daim asked.

Daim Shrugs Off Anwar’s Claims, Says He Was Cleared In Probes.

Daim shrugs Off Anwar’s Claims and says he was cleared in probes.

“Anwar, after he was expelled from UMNO, everything is described as improper. So what was he doing in the party?” he added.

Anwar has met the President, Finance minister and Bank governor of Tanzania

“The Governor said Daim has a bank in Tanzania and I asked him where did the money come from. Certainly it is from Malaysia and kept there,” said the Opposition leader.

He added there was evidence of Daim had abusing his power, when the person responsible in managing the bank was arrested in London.

“I brought this to the attention of the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission but there has been no action,” the Permatang Pauh MP has said.

Daim revealed that Anwar has lodged various reports against him asking for an investigation. “The call for investigation is based on letters I sent to him. However, he blanked my name and claimed he obtained the letters on his own. Twice the authorities have investigated me on my assets. At that time Anwar was finance minister and also chair for corruption, why did he not take action?

“Only after he was expelled from UMNO that he start raising this,” Daim asserted. He added that Anwar had previously claimed to hold boxes of documents of alleged abuse of power by Malaysian politicians but till today, has not exposed anything.



Najib Razak: Interview on Al Jazeera

April 28, 2013

Najib Razak meets Veronica Pedrosa on Al Jazeera

Caretaker PM Najib Razak recorded an interview with Al Jazeera a few weeks ago, apparently, and it aired yesterday.

It will probably go down as one more of Najib’s election related blunders to go along with waiting so long to dissolve Parliament and campaign as a Presidential candidate in a Parliamentary election.


Few things about the interview. Firstly, Veronica Pedrosa did a great job. Interviewers frequently get intimidated in front of Heads of State or, out of respect, avoid asking the most obvious and difficult questions. Veronica did neither and I respect her for that.

Secondly, Najib’s body language was off for the interview from start to finish. His legs were shaking. He didn’t know what to do with his hands. His face showed, at times a lack of interest, and at other times a real sense of discomfort with the questions.

Thirdly, on content Najib probably scored a low C. At a general sense he did his best to present himself as someone in a position of leadership who has some grasp of the difficult issues facing his country. However, whenever the interviewer asked about specifics Najib gave answers that probably hurt him more than they helped him.

For instance when asked about debating Anwar Ibrahim, Najib said that there are many ways to engage with people in an election and he was focused on other ways. He said a debate “probably won’t happen”. Well, is it a probability or a possibility or impossible? His answer was weak and showed that after 2 years of avoiding facing Anwar head-to-head he still doesn’t have a good answer to the question.

When asked about the Allah issue I think Najib really botched his response. The first part of the answer probably would have been OK a it reflects a sort of flimsy, neither here neither there attitude of let’s just sweep issues under the rug and try to get along. But when Veronica pressed him on the comparison between Malaysia and Lebanon, Najib once again did not have a solid answer and just said in Malaysia we’re different just because and that’s that.

The problem is that Najib may not even believe the position on non-Muslims not using the world Allah in Malaysia is a valid position. He is a Western educated self-proclaimed ‘moderate’ who is hardly a hardliner when it comes to issues of religion. Yet on this one issue he needs to pander shamelessly to the ultra right Malay base. Even PAS has relented on the position and said there is no problem here. So Najib lost big time on this one.

Which brings us to PAS. It is quite “un-statesmenship” like to berate and attack the Islamic Party of Malaysia during an election like Najib did. Basically when asked “What does PAS stand for” Najib poured scorn on PAS as if it was some antique relic party that still used candles and push carts and wrote on papyrus and animal skins.

In actual fact, PAS is a very modern party going through an amazing internal transformation and has come out the other end far more willing and capable to adapt to the time then UMNO has thus far shown any capacity for. My sense is Najib’s distasteful comments about PAS, if they make it to the grassroots, will backfire among middle of the ground Malays who respect the positions that PAS takes but are focused on outcomes for the country.

I suggest you take 20 minutes to watch the interview. It’s telling how the Prime Minister, after four years in office, still lacks the confidence and composure to answer a few difficult questions.

By comparison Anwar Ibrahim gave interviews on  Al Jazeera and CNBC (above) 15 days ago and generally performed much better.–Din Merican

Malaysian Economy: Is the Party Over?

April 26, 2013

Malaysian Economy: Is the Party Over?

By Azeem Ibrahim from the Huffington Post

Dr Azeem IbrahimWith an election in the near future, scheduled for May 5th, Malaysia’s economy is under scrutiny. Is it really as good as the present government says it is in its campaign propaganda? The usual indicators look good — growth is 5 percent this year, inflation is low at around 2.5 percent and unemployment is low and stable at about 3 percent. Malaysia has enjoyed vigorous growth and change in the 50 years since it became independent and it is now the 37th largest economy in the world.

But after more than 50 years of one-party administration, the country is now at a crossroads with the ruling coalition facing formidable opposition. The economy is a major campaign issue as the country has been running considerable budget deficits since 1998, with the government offering subsidies and cash handouts to maintain itself in power. Since 2008 the government’s debt has escalated exponentially and is projected to be RM 779 billion by 2017 — creating a major problem of domestic debt for future governments to face.

Government borrowing, excessive spending on huge infrastructure projects, the flight of capital overseas, and a downturn in gas and palm oil prices are combining to create concern about a potential economic dislocation, prompting warnings from financial analysts in the region.

Malaysia’s rising ratio of household debt to its GDP reached 80.5 last year, as the country’s middle class has taken advantage of easy credit. Now there is the risk of being caught in a credit bubble, similar to the sub-prime crisis in the U.S. in 2008 which forced foreclosures and the collapse of several major financial institutions.

With 30 percent as the acceptable debt service ratio, it is a matter of increasing concern that people are using more than half of their disposable income to pay off household debts. The ratio of household debt to disposable income in Malaysia is 140 percent, one of the highest in the world and above that of the U.S. at 123 percent and Thailand at 52 percent. Unless there is a rise in productivity and household incomes for Malaysia’s five million working population, this trend is not sustainable.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s policies of short term gains andNajib latest generous corporate welfare to maintain popular support contrast with the long term vision of the Pakatan coalition led by Anwar Ibrahim. Noting that “Malaysia’s fiscal space has shrunk considerably since the 2008 global financial crisis”, policies need to be put in place to spare the people the austerity measures being adopted by several of the troubled Eurozone countries.

The need is to curb household debt, to broaden the tax base, repeal subsides gradually, trim certain expenditures and generally bring the fiscal house in order without creating the pain of a sudden adjustment. Instead of raising the debt ceiling again and again, Malaysia needs to grow government revenue and rein in sovereign debt, as Malaysia’s debt to revenue ratio is approaching that of Italy’s.

In all the government’s campaign promises there is nothing to address the growing problem of blatant corruption in high places and the widening income disparities since taxes were lowered for the wealthy. Malaysian taxes are the second lowest in South East Asia, with Singapore lowest with personal income tax capped at 20 percent. Singapore has since instituted a tax on services and consumption, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) at 7 percent, a move currently under discussion in Malaysia.

To ensure that growth is sustained, Malaysia needs to implement numerous reforms which have already been outlined in the Government’s New Economic Model. Unfortunately, many of these proposals remain simply paper promises and Malaysia can no longer afford business as usual. Criticisms are common about the lack of transparency of government statistics which are skewed in favor of the incumbent regime. A retired Malaysian international banker recently described official government reports as “Alice in Wonderland statistics.”

Anwar with Hadi and Kit SiangThis would change with a victory for Pakatan Rakyat. Anwar Ibrahim’s vision of good governance, based on fairness and justice and free of race considerations is reinforced by World Bank studies that compare Malaysia with more successful countries such as China, Indonesia and Vietnam. The latest IMF report card on Malaysia indicates the need for fiscal and structural reforms and an ambitious consolidation plan, with tax reform and expenditure rationalization.

Malaysians want an end to stagnant wages and earning levels and an end to the Malaysia being caught in the Middle Income Trap with little hope of higher productivity and wages. Malaysia’s dream of joining the league of high income developed nations as envisaged in its Vision 2020 will not happen on its current course.

Anwar Ibrahim will bring about the necessary changes based on the needs of the people of Malaysia, not be deferring to the bankers, corporations or profiteering capitalists. He understands that is time for more egalitarian policies to put an end to the stifling of initiative and competition through the old affirmative action policies favoring Malays. Preferential treatment for ethnic Malays and some indigenous groups, collectively known as Bumiputra, have led to inequalities in awarding government jobs and contracts and also the provision of education and cheaper housing.

It is also time to end the practice of using low-cost foreign labor for assembly work and to invest instead in a research and development base for new industries. This would help reverse the much-discussed phenomenon of the migration of talent out of Malaysia, and would turn the brain drain into an economic gain. Productivity and inclusiveness lie at the heart of Malaysia’s transformation programs and according to the latest Malaysia Economic Monitor Report, this is an historical opportunity for change.

It remains to be seen whether Anwar Ibrahim’s message will reverberate sufficiently among the voters next month, to bring about a change in direction and a change in leadership for Malaysia, bringing with it the opportunity for the country and its people to realize their full democratic potential.

Dr. Azeem Ibrahim is the Executive Chairman of the Scotland Institute and a Fellow at the Institute of Social Policy and Understanding

NPC Newsmaker Program: Turning Point in Malaysia: Will the Ruling Coalition Finally Lose Power?

From National Press Club

WASHINGTON, April 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — On May 5, Malaysians will vote in their 13(th) general election since gaining independence in 1957 — and for the first time, the outcome of the election is in doubt. Disenchantment with the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, the growing influence of online media and an explosion in the number of young voters (20 percent of the electorate is under 30 and eligible to vote for the first time) could propel the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition to victory.

At a National Press Club Newsmaker news conference on Wednesday, April 24, John Mallott, the former U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia and one of the foremost experts on Malaysian politics, will analyze the forces at play that could make this election an historic turning point for a significant U.S. trading partner and military ally.

While the opposition currently enjoys a slight lead in national polls and a dominant position in online media, the ruling coalition controls the mainstream media and has prevailed in all 12 previous elections. Concerns about electoral fraud are high — international observer delegations have routinely criticized Malaysia’s Election Commission for its handling of previous elections.

The ruling coalition has been plagued by a series of high-profile corruption cases and widespread criticism for poor handling of race relations, including requiring non-Muslims to abide by strict statutes of Muslim law. The opposition coalition controls five of Malaysia’s 14 states and territories and has established a record of building surplus budgets, attracting foreign investment, improving social services and promoting equal citizenship rights for all ethnic groups. But it has also been hampered by internal conflicts over application of Islamic law.

Some observers maintain that a change in government would be destabilizing for Malaysia, while others contend it’s crucial for bringing about the reforms necessary for Malaysia to function effectively as a pluralistic society in a globalized world.

This National Press Club Newsmaker news conference will take place on Wednesday, April 24 at 2 p.m. in the club’s Zenger Room on the 13(th) Floor of the National Press Building, 529 14(th) St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20045.

SOURCE National Press Club

We are Malaysians, not Pendatangs, says my Friend, John Toh

January 24, 2013

We are Malaysians, not Pendatangs, says my Friend, John Toh

Din MericanLast week, and again today I met John Toh, my dear friend (both of us are septuagenarians waiting in the airport lounge, like our notorious octogenarian, for our turn to catch the next flight to eternity) at the Royal Selangor Golf Club.

John and I who are former corporate executives talked about what it was like growing up in the days when Tunku Abdul Rahman was our Prime Minister and how things got to this stage of degeneration in the affairs of state after 55 years of Independence. He and I attribute this collapse of our legislative, judicial and executive branches of government and our societal malaise to one man’s rise to power in 1981 and his 22 year+ administration. Others may disagree with us. It is their right to differ as much as it is our duty to speak up.

Tun Dr.Mahathir who started his administration with the slogan BERSIH, CEKAP danPerkasa's Patron AMANAH must take full responsibility for  our nation in crisis. We admired him very much because he fired our passion for Malaysia, but over the years, John and I have come to realise that he is  a man obsessed with power, who does not know when to let go.

Tun Dr. Mahathir has successfully brought down the Badawi administration in 2009, and is now working towards to the political demise of our present Prime Minister. I get the impression from his words and actions that he thinks he is still indispensable.

You and I know no one is indispensable. Each generation will have its own leaders and it is the duty of our generation–and certainly mine and John’s–to ensure that the present leaders both in the government and the Opposition administer our country properly and not badger them at every opportunity. We must guide, cajole, encourage, and praise them if they do the right things and do them right. Critique them, if we must, but do that constructively.

Recently, Tun Dr. Mahathir went over the top when he tried to divert our attention from his granting of Identity cards to both Filipinos and Indonesian illegals to enable the vote in the 1994 Sabah state elections by blaming Tunku Abdul Rahman. He said that the Tunku gave citizenships to Chinese, Indians and others. The Tun forgets that it was part of our Independence deal with the British colonial government. It is nasty for Tun Dr. Mahathir to accuse a man who is no longer around to defend himself. Lawyer Tommy Thomas has done us a service when he wrote an article on the subject, which I put on this blog.

Let me now post John’s e-mail to me. I promised him that I will share his concerns with all of you. Thank you, John. You and I cannot give up. As I said to you today, we both are heavily invested in Malaysia. Our children are luckier than us because we have given them good education to enable them to compete anywhere in the world. We cannot now abandon our dream of a united Malaysia. Why? We know we can change things around. So,we must speak against the likes of Ibrahim Ali and others like him. Being indifferent is no longer an option. Elegant silence?, well, leave that to Tun Musa Hitam.–Din Merican


Kuala Lumpur, January 24, 2013

Dear Dato’ Din,

It was most gratifying to meet up with you after a lapse of over 40 years. A lot has happened to our respective lives  in the intervening period but I am glad to note that the fire in your belly is still burning bright. Although I was unable to meet you until now, I have been following your blog faithfully and have kept up with the issues you saw fit to discuss in the public domain especially for those who lack media support and in the process denied the laws of natural justice.For this I must salute you in your fearless crusade to help those who are oppressed.

Co-incidentally, a very important and current issue which I find disturbing is the remark by Tun Dr. M regarding Tunku’s act of granting Citizenship to over 1 million pendatangs soon after Merdeka. While I myself am a 3rd generation Malaysian born and a humble subject of HRH Sultan of Selangor which I became in 1954 by Operation of Law I still feel alienated by such references to Pendatangs and I reflect on Tunku’s action and ask what is the rationale and the end result of the “gift of Citizenship” by our beloved Tunku.

I must firstly confess that I am not a Member of any political Party or NGO but just one of those who happen to love our Nation and any action that cause dissension among the people naturally saddens me. I am also not an economist or political scientist.

After clearing the air, permit me to give you my layman’s view on what prompted Tunku to do what he did and what are the consequences. By the time we gained Independence, Malaysia had the good fortune to experience a number of “booms”. First was the rubber boom in late 1940’s but development of synthetic rubber caused the rubber industry to lose its bounce in less that 2 decades. Then we had the tin boom followed by the timber boom and in early or mid 1970’s we also experienced the oil and gas boom. With the huge deforestation of timber land, entrepreneurs began to plant oil palm over the logged over land and palm oil became the next boom factor what lasts to this day.

My point is this. Except for the oil and gas sector, all the other booms that occurred required substantial local labor and business resources and also the support of good transport and communication infrastructure,which brings to mind the venerable institutions we had. At that time, Malayan Railways ran efficiently and profitably but not anymore. Telecoms, Central Electricity Board, PWD, Postal Services, Waterworks Department. were managed by many Pendatangs and all were able to render reliable services to the people but not anymore.

These days we can’t even drink water straight from the taps like we used to. So our beloved Tunku, in his wisdom saw that in order to develop the country, we need to have capable and dedicated workers regardless of where they came from and if anybody were to ask me how Malaysia came to be what it is today, I will tell them it is due to Tunku’s foresight.

In comparison, let us look at Sabah. At the point of joining the Federation in 1963, Sabah was one of the richest if not the richest State in Malaysia. Besides oil and gas, Sabah had  huge timber resources plus minerals and its rich volcanic soil will let anything you put into the ground grow. Sadly, today, Sabah is one of the poorest State and most of its resources have been depleted.

I am not competent enough to allude this situation to the influx of illegal immigrants into the State but from a layman’s perspective, I cannot totally dispel this notion but I will leave it to the qualified experts to draw their own conclusion.

Hope you won’t find the above overbearing. Lets meet soon for a meal together. Best wishes to you and Family and May God Bless you in your endeavors.