Should Najib resign?


July 11, 2015

Should Najib resign?

by Hafidz Baharom

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

Personally, yes. He has tarnished the office of Prime minister with his continued failure in doing the one thing he had to do: lead. And quite frankly, I would rather he do so before succumbing to his “media triggered” depression, letting this country fall further into economic ruin and then promoting a “Twinkie defence”. Or, before he calls for martial law.

Najib must resignSo respectfully, it is time to clock out, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. And I’ll tell you why? In fact, I’ll write it out. The recent exposé by The Wall Street Journal has eroded whatever little confidence I have in the Prime Minister’s government, but I doubt his die-hard fans are quite in that position yet.

These are probably the same people who think the Titanic was an unsinkable ship that did not sink. Or to use Monty Python, still believe the parrot isn’t dead and is just “pining for the fjords”. Malaysians are a sarcastic and humorous people who have recently been able to channel this – directly or indirectly – through social media.

And with the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) public relations quagmire and the currently happening probe into how the Prime Minister had millions (or billions) placed into his personal accounts, the authorities have taken measures to try and keep this “parrot” alive through any means necessary.

Let us look at what is being suggested by these – for a lack of a better word – morons. First we have the conspiracy theorists, which include the Prime Minister himself. Initially, he had accused former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad of conspiring against him with the foreign press. When this was too ridiculous for the press to buy, or even the general public, he moved on to saying that the Dow Jones was conspiring to topple his government.

While there is a task force which is investigating these allegations, our Attorney-General found it necessary to task the police to look for who leaked the documents, even without first confirming that these documents were real or faked.

You read right. Insofar as the scandal has surfaced, the documents have been branded as “tampered documents” without any proof or revelation of the authentic ones from the parties involved. Why? Is it because the documents are classified under the Official Secrets Act, perhaps? And yet, a task force was established to investigate these allegations by an American newspaper based on these documents, and the Prime Minister is mulling action against the paper.

Personally, I would like to see this in court simply to see our Prime Minister take the stand and have the government prove that the documents released were  not real, untampered and untrue. It would allow the Sarawak Report, The Edge and The Malaysian Insider to then sue the Malaysian government for defamation and be vindicated.

Also, since the Journal is not published in Malaysia, it is outside the jurisdiction of the Royal Malaysian Police. In fact, can the Police actually take action against the Journal in any way or form since it is published and read online?

I sincerely doubt it. I’m guessing it is the same reason both Raja Petra Kamaruddin’s Malaysia Today and Clare Rewcastle Brown’s Sarawak Report are based beyond our borders. Perhaps our internet regulator will consider adding both websites in their Green Wall list – a list of websites inaccessible to the Malaysian public.

Speaking of which, we had a regulator weigh in saying that spreading false news on 1MDB was punishable by law. The Malaysian Commission for Multimedia and Communication (MCMC) found it necessary to even post this on Facebook.

Pro-government supporters are even considering the shutdown of the social network for nothing more than allowing Malaysians their right in expressing their views in the most hilarious and sarcastic ways possible – something that was guaranteed when we were granted Multimedia Supper-corridor (MSC) status.

Even going so far as to say it would make Malaysians more “productive”. Perhaps they would be so kind to practice what they preach and do so themselves, to set examples for the rest of us.

Of course, the typical UMNO leaders have also weighed in by saying that this is a foreign, Jewish conspiracy, but that is so overplayed by this government and its supporters that it rings on deaf ears. And then we have a leader of a bank who insisted on voicing his dissatisfaction and questioning the authenticity of the documents on social media, being shared by pro-government factions and being proven wrong. Sadly, his recant was not shared with the same enthusiasm as his calling the Journal stupid.

And he’s now being investigated by his employers, a move that I also do not support. We must not stifle anyone’s ability to express their thoughts on social media, and we should know where to draw the line between our individual and our jobs in the realm of social networks. For many reasons, this has been blurred drastically in the last decade when employers, the authorities and even insurance companies decided it a valid source of information.Even journalism has taken entries on Facebook as a source of news, as experienced by a fellow The Malaysian Insider columnist.

But all this makes it necessary for us to question a few things. Primarily, our government has embarrassed itself through its inability to follow up on former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s promise for reform towards transparency, especially in the case of 1MDB.

Instead of allowing Malaysians and its stakeholders to openly view the wheeling and dealings of this company under the Ministry of Finance, the company chose to shun the press to the point of refusing to even allow reporters covering them from viewing their pitch at property events.

Even the Pime Minister himself destroyed his credibility in the court of public opinion. From being too fast on the draw during Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s guilty verdict, his “golf diplomacy” trip to Hawaii during the worst flood since 1971, the insistence on flying to the Middle East during earthquakes in Sabah, yet the quick draw ability to comment on “gay parades” and 24-hour eateries callously shows his failure in setting priorities for a country.

Adding on to this was his no-show from the ironically named “Nothing2Hide” closed door forum, his insistence on continued sniping instead of a face to face session with Mahathir, the MARA scandal and even the continued hiring of people to help his faltering public image.

Goons in Malaysia's CabinetAll I can say is, this government was led by an ineffecive leader and an even worse a Cabinet that has led to the exhaustion of their political capital built up in the past 60 years, all spent up in the last decade. But don’t take my word for it. Let us wait for Merdeka Center to conduct their poll. Better yet, take a look at the Edelman Trust Barometer. In 2012, the Malaysian government scored 52%. In 2015, that number went down to 45%.

Erosion of trust, inability to defend the nation, an ineffective cabinet of dunces, a public persona of ridicule and allegations of underhanded dealings and nepotism, and more importantly, bankrupting the ruling party’s political capital, all of which have been highlighted by both government and alternative media.

1MDB: Where is the RM42 billion?


June 1, 2015

1MDB: Where is the RM42 billion? Just give us an honest answer and stop the bull, Mr Prime Minister

by Scott Ng@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Confused NajibSome days, I really do wonder what happens up in Najib’s office at Putrajaya, where I imagine a veritable horde of PR consultants, headed by Lim Kok Wing, work tirelessly to try to salvage the much damaged reputation of the Prime Minister. Sweat on their brows, they toil into the late hours to find answers to the questions thrust at the Prime Minister day in and day out, hoping to find a way, any way, to counter the vicious onslaught of Mahathir Mohamad.

I do feel pity for the PR team. They have great odds stacked against them. But then another FAQ appears on Najib’s website that makes me slap my head in disbelief and I remind myself that they’re paid handsomely for their services and thus should be castigated in full measure for their failure to get the Prime Minister to make the right moves.

As blogger Jebat Must Die points out, the FAQ is misleading and, once again, fails to actually answer the questions it purports to answer. For one, it’s riddled with semantics instead of answers, like Najib’s “explanation” for the unaccounted billions that should be in 1MDB’s coffers.

Mr Prime Minister, no one said that the money was a “loss” as that would mean that there would be a paper trail to bad investments or sudden market fluctuations. What we’re asking is, where is the money?

It is quite weird that so much money could just vanish into thin air, and Jebat makes a good point in pointing out that 1MDB purchased RM15 billion worth of assets. If those billions came from the RM42 billion that 1MDB is in debt for, there should be RM27 billion left, aside from the company’s RM51 billion in assets.

For that matter, there is also the extremely valid question of why the 1MDB cannot seem to handle its own corporate crisis communication, leaving our beleaguered PM to answer all queries. You’d think that a company worth billions would invest in a crisis communication team since scandals and such are bound to come up every once in a while. One really has to wonder how much time Najib has for actual governance while he runs around putting out 1MDB’s fires.

The Prime Minister seems unable to get anything right, trying his hardest to pass the buck for the 1MDB to whomever he can shunt it to (most recently, the Auditor-General) only for it to blow up in his face. Jebat makes another great point in recalling that Najib truly is a career politician with no real-world experience, and as history has shown, pampered elites are quite usually disconnected from the rest of the world.

UMNO-TBH Goons

Attempting to attack Mahathir without answering his questions directly is not a viable method of discrediting the former Prime Minister, especially since those same questions are echoed by the general public, the opposition and civil society members. In releasing so-called answers that fail to address the questions, the Prime Minister seems to be taking us for fools yet again despite the public contempt for his previous FAQ, which suffered the same delusional disconnect from reality.

Now that documents have leaked that show Najib has to approve all major investments made by 1MDB, it seems like there truly is no road for his redemption. He is now personally answerable for all the bad investments, the vanished money, and all the baggage that comes with 1MDB, and no amount of out-of-touch FAQs can redeem a brand that damaged.

Fight on if you will, Prime Minister. Give us a good show, and keep us entertained. We’ve paid for it already, anyway. But when the inevitable happens, know that you were the architect of your own fall, not Mahathir, not the opposition, not the “liberals” your administration seems to sneer at, not civil society. You were your own worst enemy.

 

The Ugly Face of the Malay psyche on display


March 25, 2015

The Ugly Face of the Malay psyche on display

by Mariam Mokhtar@www.malaysiakini.com

It takes a brave Malay woman to say what the whole nation is thinking, and it is amazing how many Malay men cannot wait to show the world the ugly face of the Malay psyche.

The threats of physical violence and rape on BFM host Aisyah Tajudin, for her satirical take on the Kelantan hudud law, have proven that despite receiving the ‘best education in the world’, many Malays remain shallow, servile and seriously stupid. Only insecure, egotistical Malay men would feel threatened, not just by the truth, but by a woman, and worse still, a Malay woman.

The rakyat’s problem is that Malaysia’s religious men aspire to become politicians, and its politicians pretend to be religious men.

The latest hudud debacle has very little to do with religion. It is about power. Power over the Malays in Malaysia. Power to overcome any non-Malay resistance. And power to crush any opposition, especially from progressive Malays, who represent the biggest threat.

Aisyah (above) wanted to liberate Malay minds, not conquer their bodies. Her video was for people to reflect and to ponder. She did not force her message on others, if they did not wish to accept them.

Aisyah discussed important issues, so we may understand some of our country’s problems. If she didn’t care for her country, she would have chosen to remain quiet, like 97 percent of the population.

The Malays are creative and in the olden days, songs, sajak (poems) or bangsawan (opera/plays) would relay any messages, from rulers to their subjects. Aisyah is merely continuing a rich Malay tradition. The Malays who reacted badly to her satire, are an uncultured lot.

Aisyah appealed to the Muslims’ faith and their compassion. The Malays who threatened her, revealed everything that Islam does not represent.The BFM host used ingenuity to drive home a message about hudud, in Kelantan. The bigots revealed their stupidity and inability to use their intellect, to counter her point of view. Their threats, to rape and kill, will force more moderate, but silent Muslims, to speak out. These bigots have also stained the moderate face of Malay Muslims.

BFM should not have apologised for making and airing the satirical video. The company probably had no choice. The government issues permits, and can shut down companies. In the past, companies had their computers seized, their editors harassed, their Muslim writers accused of being lesbian, gay, apostate or atheist, and issued with death threats, violence or legal action.

In the Charlie Hebdo massacre of January 7, terrorists used Islam as their excuse to mow down several people, including a Muslim Policeman. Disagreeing with the cartoonists, does not give the men a licence to kill. The terrorists’ actions further tarnished the image of Islam and gave the impression that Muslims lacked the ability to enter into intelligent discussion.

Silencing freedom of expression

The day after the Paris carnage, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar said that Malaysia needed the Sedition Law to prevent such attacks on Malaysian soil. The terrorists used bullets, in Paris, to silence freedom of expression, but Khalid uses the Sedition Law, to curb freedom of speech.

The IGP claimed that his role of policing Twitter, was to act like the referee of social media, and stop troublemakers. So, why are tweets from extremist and racist UMNO Baru politicians not censured? Khalid should leave Aisyah alone, and arrest the men who threatened her.

NIK RAINA INTERVIEW Using a slew of laws like sedition and blasphemy to condemn Aisyah, just shows his desperation. The IGP is mimicking the Federal Territories Islamic Affairs Department’s (JAWI) relentless pursuit of the Borders manager, Nik Raina Abdul Aziz (above).

Malays brought up on UMNO Baru’s diet of race, religion and royalty, have had their brains sucked dry. They have long forgotten how to think, to rationalise and to analyse.

By all means, blame UMNO Baru, but do not forget their new partners in crime, PAS. Both parties are desperate to take control of the Malay mind, but more importantly, their votes. It is all about power. Sadly, the late Nik Aziz Nik Mat’s experience of both him and PAS being betrayed by UMNO/Umno Baru, have already been forgotten by the PAS ulama.

PAS President Hadi Awang is desperate to force hudud through Parliament. This is about power. When it comes to absolute power, religion becomes a pawn, and a means to an end.

Hadi has fallen into UMNO Baru’s trap, and we are now being distracted by hudud, instead of tackling major issues like 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), corruption, the goods and services tax (GST) and the flood victims.

Malays can still be pious without having to become wannabe Arabs. Malays are in danger of losing their history and their culture, which go back several centuries, long before Parameswara was born.

If Malays do not reclaim their true identity, the only reference to Malay culture will appear at cultural shows, for the benefit of tourists, and at Tourism Malaysia performances worldwide. The religious indoctrination by power-hungry Malay men, has reduced Malays to a poor imitation of Arabs, and turned multi-cultural Malaysia to a ghetto-nation.

Hudud does not belong in multicultural Malaysia. Aisyah’s video made us think, and that is what the bigots fear most.

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.

Najib_Aljazeera_interview

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