Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I outline three major concerns: first, rising cost of doing business and inflation is discouraging domestic investment; second, lack of policy direction due to political impasse and three, lack of private sector initiative to help energise the economy. Each of the concerns can be discussed in further details.
However, my intention here is not to merely share with you what I think of the economy. I know most of us have our own worries and grouses.
I was also asked about lack of skilled workers in the country and what can be done to attract these workers to come back. My answer is there is more to just attracting these workers with tax free cars, spouse visa (for those with foreign spouse) and other incentives.
We have to deal with our economic structure. If businesses continue to focus on cost competitiveness then they will not be willing to fork out competitive salary (even world-class salary) to attract our best brains to come home. We also need to create a dynamic and stimulating environment to accommodate these knowledge workers.
I spoke about a need to work on a new agenda. I would like to take a small step here on my blog to encourage feedback and views on what can be done to catalyst our economy. What is our next wave? What do we need to do? What should the new prime minister and his administration do to make Malaysia an economic powerhouse in the region?
Let me hear from you.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
At a conference last night, he promised to move a private member's Bill to abolish the ISA soon. This move is apt and timely. "Then we will see whether MCA leaders like Ong Tee Keat who spoke out against the ISA would support the Bill and whether Koh Tsu Koon would direct the two Gerakan MPs to support the Bill," he added.
Yes, I too would like to see if MCA, Gerakan and MIC MPs would back the bill and leave partisanship at the side. If not, the leaders of these parties should not even talk about opposing ISA. MIC Sammy Vellu is again 'begging' for Hindraf 5 to be released saying that it will be a great Deepavali present for the Indian community.
I am sure, like me, all of you are sick of his usual bullshit. Samy was the one who linked the movement to the Tamil Tigers. Yes, now you have to beg your big brother for a favour to raise MIC from its coffin. They should not have been detained in the first place.
But I cannot see the logic of Guan Eng's second proposal to acquire Kamunting. A young lady who sat beside me at the forum immediately retorted, "I am sure the government can build another detention camp elsewhere".
Yes, they can and they will do so after pocketing hundreds of million ringgit from the Pakatan 5 state governments.
By acquiring the detention camp, have we achieve our objective to free all detainees? Will RPK, Hindraf 5 and others walk free into the loving arms of their loved ones? NO! You do not need a rocket scientist to tell you the answer.
Guan Eng even committed Penang's limited financial resources to help acquire the land. Although I adore Guan Eng as a friend, let me remind him that there are other effective ways to ensure these detainees are released. He wants the 27 million Malaysians to chip to the funds.
Why don't we MOBILISE our friends, readers and colleagues differently? I HOPE readers of my blog will help to do one thing:
PLEASE HELP TO CONVINCE AT LEAST 10 PEOPLE YOU KNOW TO OPPOSE THE ISA. TELL THEM IF THE GOVERNMENT CAN USE THE ACT ON IMPORTANT GOOD PEOPLE, THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO USE THIS ACT EVER AGAIN!
Guan Eng should be reminded too that the money is state's money - mine too. Yes, I am a proud Penangite. I will not stop you from using it if it's used for effective and meaningful things.
You should really start to think on how to use our limited financial resources to jump start the local economy. It is important for your administration to prove that you can manage Penang's economy better than the previous government.
The economic frustration will soon rear its ugly head again in Penang. Hence, things like the frustration of the Football Association of Penang (FAP) is not good for the confidence of the people. The football club is almost bankrupt.
A senior FAP council member confirmed yesterday that an emergency meeting would be called soon to discuss Penang football’s dismal state of affairs. It is believed that the planned council meeting will go ahead with or without the presence of Fairus, who is also the state’s Deputy Chief Minister I. The council member said that the president would be asked to step down voluntarily during the emergency meeting, “failing which the rest of the council are ready to seek legal advice to remove him from the position”.
What is Guan Eng going to do about it? Fairus is a big let down.
From now onwards, governing politicians should take cognisance of the socio-economic needs of the people. Political skills alone is not enough to help you survive and win endless elections. If the 8th March general election is not taken as a lesson learned in electoral politics, I am afraid these politicians will never learn at all.
We need to see some concrete plans.
A BOOK tracing the history of non-sectarian politics in Malaysia, and particularly that of Parti Gerakan (Gerakan) emerges at no better time than this, as the component party of Barisan Nasional contemplates its options post-March 2008 elections.
Non-Sectarian Politics in Malaysia: The Case of Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia by Neil Khor and Khoo Kay Peng paints an appropriate context for Malaya dating back to post-1957 and the early years of independence, reflecting the realities of inter-ethnic communal living back then; thereafter speedily comparing episodes and specific incidents of elections and the life (and death) of political parties over the span of the next several decades, leading to the present.
This rather academically written set of historical notes serves as a stark reminder and lessons for Malaysia.
A factual, well-structured book, the authors examine key periods of Gerakan’s life: its relationship with Mahathir, the transitions of various leaders, governing Penang, and finally the lead-up to the 12th General Election. Unfortunately, the book fails to spell out available options for Gerakan going ahead from here. The answers are left very much to the reader to surmise. With the exception of poor editing, this volume otherwise provides essential reading for any party interested in the attempt to achieve non-sectarian, non-communal politics in Malaysia.
Ultimately, the book captures the dynamism and fragility of politics in Malaysia, a fabric although perfectly woven that is equally easily broken. The dream of achieving a polity entirely devoid of racial connotations is still a way ahead. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that if there was any appropriate time to seize the moment, it is now. If 2008 marks a year in which there is potential for the future of non-sectarian politics, important lessons must be drawn from the book – and adhered to.
Tricia Yeoh is the director of the Centre for Public Policy Studies. She harbours hope that non-sectarian politics will be the mainstream in her country, and challenges all to work towards this end. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Click here to read more.
Yet, the government - with its access to instruments of power to detain and punish - is accusing these individuals of inciting threats and undermining public security. These individuals are not inherent or real threats to the society. The government is the prime threat.
This is proven by the arbitrary use of ISA to detain dissents and political opponents. It is obvious that the government cannot be urged to use civilised channels to rebut and engage the people. When challenged, it will quickly resort to using draconian legislation and coercive power (eg. the police) to finish off the challenger very quickly. With absolute ministerial power, the civil courts are helpless or unwilling to go to the extent of questioning the absolute discretion of the minister.
When a person can be easily detained without access to fair trial, how can he/she be a threat to the society? Can the government detain a real terrorist that easily? It would easily take years of intelligence before the government, with assistance of foreign governments, can uncover any terrorist cell in the country.
When a democratically elected government can no longer use democratic measures to address dissent or political opponents, it is deemed to have failed to function as an administration. If it continues to dominate power, it is nothing more but an autocratic government.
NST columnist Zainul Arifin says "THE proposed Race Relations Act, one would assume, is an attempt to get us to watch what we say or do, and not to get fellow Malaysians of different races all riled up.
"The intention of legislating such an act is obviously good; no one in his right mind would not want better race relations. But isn't policing race relations as tricky as trying to instil fashion sense? Can we make racism a crime? Can we jail someone for making racist statements?"
As a remedy to better race relations, he suggests "We need a set of policies aimed at making us understand and appreciate each other more." "It was the schools then, and it should be the schools to put us back on track. It was the schools then that taught us comradeship and fed us the formula for good race relations."
Then, Zainul goes off the track. His suggestion sounds rather familiar, "We now have national schools, Chinese and Tamil schools, religious schools, private schools, international schools, and for some people, home schooling. For most of the school types, enrolments are predominantly race-based. It cannot be denied that Chinese, Tamil and religious schools are not helping the national unity agenda.
"Similarly, the creeping Malay-ness in national schools is also working against the cause. Now I believe if we, and that includes our politicians and policymakers, are really serious about the unity and race relations thing -- we must be, since we now want to legislate against racism -- we have to look at ways to make our national schools better, a school for all."
Zainul, Zainul...I urge you to say it. The main problem is race-based politics and political parties. Vernacular schools do not restrict admission from other races. There are almost 60,000 bumiputra students in Chinese vernacular schools. This number is probably growing given the pathetic state of national schools although these schools are fully funded by the Ministry of Education.
Race based politics must be dismantled if we want to deracialise our public policies. Race Relations Act runs contrary to our objective of creating a truly Bangsa Malaysia if this act is used as a deterrent and is punitive in nature. We already have many legislation to address racism if only persecution is not selective. Leaders of UMNO seem to be immune to laws and regulations making them the new class of untouchables under both previous Dr M leadership and current Abdullah administration.
In the case of RPK, Teresa Kok and Tan Hoon Cheng, the ISA is used to protect the new class of untouchables against their opponents.
What we need is a free press and it must start with journalists who are not afraid to tell the truth. Tan Hoon Cheng can be a role model to many journalists.
Who is the aggressor?
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
A week ago, we have witnessed yet again, the abuse of the ISA in the case of the detention of Raja Petra Kamarudin – Editor of Malaysia Today, Tan Hoon Cheng - Journalist, Sin Chew Jit Poh and Teresa Kok Suh Sim - Member of Parliament, Seputeh.To demonstrate stand on the abolishment of the ISA and to show our solidarity and support with all ISA detainees and their families, we are organising a forum with invited speakers with details as follows:
Date: 23 Sep 2008 (Tue)
Time: 8:00 pm
Venue: KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Jln Maharajalela, Kuala Lumpur
Admission is Free; Bring Friends
The panel of Distinguished Speakers include:
Lim Guan Eng, Penang Chief Minister, DAP MP Bagan, ADUN Air Itam
Teresa Kok, Selangor State Exco, DAP MP Seputeh/ADUN Kinrara
A. Sivanesan, Perak State Exco, DAP ADUN Sungkai
Khalid Samad, PAS MP Shah Alam
Nurul Izzah binti Anwar, PKR MP Lembah Pantai
Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, Bar Council President
Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh, Chairman of Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI)
Moderator: Teo Nie Ching, DAP MP Serdang
The wives of some of the current ISA detainees, Raja Petra Kamaruddin, M Manoharan (DAP ADUN Kota Alam Shah) and V Ganabathirao will be present and be given an opportunity to speak. We should all be there to give the all the moral support we can! Forward to all your friends!
Gerakan, MCA and a number of UMNO ministers have asked for a review or repeal of the ISA. Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar brushed all these calls aside.
He said, "The Internal Security Act will not be reviewed or repealed for now". He said such preventive laws were still needed for the people to live in peace and security. Afterall, the minister approved the use of ISA on reporter Tan Hoon Cheng to protect her safety. She was living in "peace and security" for 18 hours. Never mind having to sleep on hard and cold cement.
However, he said a review could take place “when the time was right”. When is the right time? When BN lost power?
This shows the ineffectiveness of BN component parties trying to change from the inside. What are they going to do now if they can't even convince the UMNO leadership to review or debate on the draconian act?
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Since 1969, the party has failed to represent the aspiration of the community. Most voted for the MCA vis the BN only for practical reasons and not by association. Unlike the way UMNO was able to capture the Malay voters' imagination until their own undoing in the recent 2008 general election.
As expected the MCA party election this coming 18th October is going to be another factional event. Already, there loose factions, Chinese Tea versus Whisky, have lined up their battle lines at the divisional and state elections. The verdict was in the favour of the Chinese Tea faction comprised of Dr Wee Ka Siong, Liow Tiong Lai, Ong Tee Keat and leaders supported by the President. This faction is informally known as the "President team".
However, Vice-President Ong Tee Keat's reluctance to endorse any running mate may have irked his 'team mates'. Some even took the liberty to do the reverse - by endorsing Tee Keat! Ong Ka Chuan, president's brother and party's secretary general has done it.
Clearly, Ong is not very comfortable with this move. Why? Stanley Koh of Malaysiakini.com has the story:
On Youth Wing suspension in 2001 and Nanyang's acquisition:
"Recalling a past experience, a party insider said, “Despite objections against Team A's leadership for alleged undemocratic handling of the investigation, several Team A leaders in the central committee voted in support of the report’s recommendations including censuring Ong Tee Keat, rejecting the removal of two youth leaders by the youth EGM and suspending the youth wing over a stipulated period.”
Those who voted in support of the report and suspension of the youth wing (and activities) in 2001 by a central committee resolution included Ong Ka Ting, Ong Ka Chuan, Dr Chua Soi Lek, Dr Ng Yen Yen and Lim Siang Chai. They also supported the party’s acquisition of the Nanyang Siang Pau."
Some interesting dialogue included in Koh's article:
“Dato president (referring to Ling), I think the lawyers know better ... the purpose of the suspension is to settle any dispute arising from within the party or between any organisation. To my mind when I tried to read through (report submitted by Chor), is actually for the good of the party … it’s nothing disciplinary, it is reconciliatory the problem,” Ka Ting defending the suspension order (of the youth wing).
“I disagree with Ka Ting. This is a disciplinary action (suspension of the youth wing), the most severe nature. You’re attacking all the youth in this country … under the MCA banner. This is a very far reaching thing you’ve done,” Jui Meng argued.
Chor in response to Jui Meng said, “Let me explain, actually what I decided to do after conferring with a few central committee members, now because of late, we’ve been, I mean, the party has been brought to much ridicule…especially the youth. I’m not saying, Tee Keat, you’re wrong. No. But true enough, everyday it appears in the papers. I’m thinking how to solve this … so how are we going to bring calm back.”
Supporting the motion to suspend the youth, Soi Lek said, “….if we can restore peace and stability to MCA, MCA youth, I must be very sure, everybody here who loves the party must support this resolution. Let the police do their report ... the police may take five years.”
Defending himself, Tee Keat addressed the central committee, “If I may say a few things, since I am the interested party and I wish that what I’m saying be put on record.” “….since you (central committee) want to suspend the youth wing, my feelings are not hurt ... this is none other than a different form of emancipation of powers and also the provision of the rights of delegates, the youth delegates.”
“What I am trying to say is that you may call in any 3-man or 6-man committee or what have you, just like the peace-keeping force of the UN (United Nations) to oversee the whole process….,” said. Tee Keat.
Sadly, the defender (Chua Jui Ming) is taking on the victim (Ong Tee Keat) for the presidency at the coming party elections. Koh argues that both should avoid fighting among themselves:
"Vice-president and Transport Minister Ong Tee Keat will lock horns with former vice-president Chua Jui Meng, also a former health minister. It does not matter now that both had then shared the same platform and were in the same camp during the Ling Liong Sik-Lim Ah Lek leadership crisis.
Both were against the acquisition of Nanyang Siang Pau spearheaded by Ling and on several occasions, Chua defended Ong, then MCA youth chief, in 2001 against the many “unjust” decisions of the incumbent Ling leadership in handling the infamous “youth chair-throwing” fiasco on August 3, 2001 which led to the suspension of the youth wing.
Sharing some common characteristics like outspokenness and political courage, both are defenders of justice and righteousness. Political adversaries nevertheless agreed on common ground that both are capable of taking divergent views away from the herd-mentality. Both had been politically marginalised by a previous incumbent leader. However, the similarities end here."
Both Ong and Chua could have formed a formidable tag-team making both Change and Reform of MCA their main objective. Unfortunately, Chua has a problem with his ego. He is not someone who can make way for a younger Ong to take helm and support the latter as his no.2. Chua is a man who needs to be in the driver's seat.
Either Chua Soi Lek or Ong Ka Chuan being elected as no.2 will not augur well for Tee Keat and his ambition to reform the party and perhaps take it towards a multiracial route. Both Jui Ming and Tee Keat believe that the party needs to take such route to stay relevant.
Again, what is stopping the two outspoken leaders from working together? Chua Jui Ming's showmanship. It is time Chua to put the interest of the nation above his own. He should go for no.2 and allow for Chua Soi Lek to contest against Tee Keat. Then, endorse Tee Keat as his running mate.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Today, I was asked about her release after barely serving a third of her original detention period. I told a reporter friend it shows the government has jumped the gun in arresting her. Shouldn't they complete their investigation first before detaining her?
The use of ISA against Sin Chew reporter Tan Hoon Cheng and sassy MP Teresa Kok has trivialised the legislation which should not have existed in the first place. This is a piece of colonial relic which is both draconian and unsuitable for any democracy. Hence, by releasing Teresa early the government has nothing positive to prove. The damage is already done.
Zaid's parting words as the de facto law minister are damning. He said that he was facing serious problems in making them to understand the need to be fair and just to all. He was spot on. While Tan, Teresa and RPK were detained last friday, real perpetrators such as Ahmad Ismail, Azhar Ibrahim, Khir Toyo and several others were walking free. Utusan Malaysia, a culprit in Teresa's detention, was not cautioned but three other newspapers were given a show cause letter each.
This is selective persecution. More harsh, it is bullying. Leaders of a certain political party have lost any moral sense to continue leading this country. Despite some serious defeats inflicted on a coalition led by them, there is no evidence of some serious soul searching.
Ex-leaders such as Dr Mahathir is not contributing anything positive to the country despite his relentless attacks on PM Abdullah Badawi. He said the country will be alright once Abdullah steps down. Unfortunately, thousands were bought by his revenge laced words.
We are suffering from the behaviour, attitude and mindset of politicians who are trapped in their own time warp. In fact, Abdullah himself is a victim. He cannot control this bunch of politicians. This speaks of his leadership ability. No thanks to Dr M, Abdullah's legacy is now tainted by his ex-boss. He could have been remembered as a Mr Nice guy or a moderate ex-minister of foreign affairs.
This is the kind of attitude and mindset that we want change. Not just Abdullah Badawi. Can Dr M cronies deliver that? We do not want a repeat of Mahathirism.
Hence, I SUPPORT Teresa Kok's intention to SUE the government for her illegal detention. I hope Tan Hoon Cheng can do the same as well. Don't stop at the government, sue those individuals involved too including the ridiculous Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar who seriously need a refresher course on 101 Basic Laws for Dummies.
Syed Hamid should refrain himself from looking at another silly proposal of Race Relations Act proposed by another out of touch minister. Both of them should keep the act to themselves and stop troubling us with another silly suggestion. Can you legislate race relations without first dismantle race based politics?
Both of them should first declare illegal their respective party.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
He wanted the Parliament to be recalled not later than next Tuesday under the section 11(3) of the parliamentary rules. “The standing orders are quite clear. The PM has the authority to convene an emergency session. All he needs to do is inform the speaker."
“We have given the date for the emergency session. It makes no sense for an emergency session to be held next year. We expect the prime minister to respond.”
Malaysian Insider called it "a master stroke in buying time". The self-proclaimed insider news website opines that the latest action taken by Anwar will "GIVE him the time he needs to work the ground and try and persuade some MPs to abandon BN for Pakatan Rakyat."
It says, "Anwar has been meeting professionals, businessmen, a few former MPs and even members of some prominent Umno families in the past week asking them to join Parti Keadilan Rakyat. He has told a few of them that he has the numbers but was unwilling to share any names of the BN crossovers with them. Some of them have left the meetings - which have taken place at his home in Segambut or at the home of mutual friends - convinced that he does not have 31 BN MPs in his pocket. Others have been willing to give him the benefit of doubt."
Given the website's insider network and connection, it should advice PM Abdullah to accept Anwar's request to convene a special parliament session to debate on the premier's government.
If Anwar is really calling a bluff, this will be a golden opportunity to nail him. Why would Abdullah want to be continuously taunted of being afraid to face his own parliamentarians? It cannot be a master stroke if Abdullah does not allow it to happen and if the PM is convinced of his own support base. Worse, by not responding to the request he is inviting more speculations and rumours. The ball is clearly in his court.
Using the ISA against Anwar should not be an option at all. The government will be accused of trying to hold on to power through sheer brute force.
In a democratic system, such pressure should be expected from a strong opposition. Abdullah and especially Syed Hamid Albar should not even think of using ISA as an option to contain a surging Anwar.
Those who can't take the heat should stay out of the kitchen.
These speculations are causing instability in the country, he told a special press conference at the federal police headquarters in Bukit Aman this afternoon.
Earlier, Army Chief General Abdul Aziz Zainal called for "stern action" against those inciting racial conflict in the multicultural country, after the government warned tensions were rising.
Today, Ismail Omar warned “The irresponsible rumours have been spread through certain media organisations, short text messaging system (SMS), blogs and internet websites.These irresponsible people have spread rumours that there will be takeover of the government (by opposition).
Is Ismail jumping the gun by sweeping Anwar's claims as irresponsible rumours? Perhaps, PM Abdullah should grant Anwar's request for a special parliament session to help reveal the truth and 'kill off' Anwar's ambition once and for all.
Ismail should be reminded that political rumours and speculations happen in all thriving democracies. In fact, not only oppositions are raising claims about their new found popularity. Veterans such as ex-premier Dr Mahathir are calling for PM Abdullah to be toppled almost daily. His recent call for both MCA and Gerakan to work together with UMNO to topple PM Abdullah is one example.
Ismail said "Everything is as usual and under control and the public can continue on with their lives without worries or fear. The security of the country is stable." Yes, we agree with him. So, my advice to Ismail is to stop sounding like a UMNO politician. Leave politics to the politicians.
He should be more worried about rising crime in the country. Recently, a 16 year old school girl was abducted and murdered. Deteriorating public safety is real, not mere rumours. This is an area which requires undivided police attention.
"It is clear from these two cases (resignation of Zaid Ibrahim and Ahmad Ismail racist slurs) that reforming Umno will be an almost impossible task. Bearing in mind that ex-Gerakan president Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik recently said that the party is like a beggar inside the coalition, and that an ex-MCA vice president said MCA is like a slave, it is clear that the master is not going to listen to the slave or the beggar no matter how much they slog or beg."
"So why are they still staying on? Is it for ideological reasons? For MCA, being a race-based party, staying in a race-based coalition would not be too much of a clash with their ideology. But for Gerakan, how are the leaders going to reconcile their own calls to the members to go back to promoting a "non-racial, fair and equitable society" by remaining in BN? It is rather hypocritical to sing one tune while dancing to another."
What is the good doctor going to do if the party leadership refuses to listen to his call?
"So far, Gerakan leaders have not decided on calling for a referendum, which they think unsuitable at the moment because the delegates may be too emotional. This sort of thinking will not go down well with the grassroots, who are matured enough to know what is good and bad, not only for the party, but, more importantly, for the people and the country."
"Many of them are already talking about an indirect way of getting the message across if a referendum is not allowed. One indirect way is, of course, to have someone contest against the top leader and, if that someone manages to get a sizeable percentage of votes, it would be a very strong signal that most members want Gerakan out of BN."
Since there is an obvious conflicting statements between Dr Lim Keng Yaik and other leaders in the party, I believe a referendum is the best way for the party to feel the pulse of its grassroots. Any leadership which does not listen to its grassroots will eventually be thrown out.
So, it looks like Gerakan delegates will get a final chance to decide their party's future - to stay in BN and experience a trip into oblivion or take the SAPP way to autonomous. SAPP's President Yong Teck Lee announced enthusiastically, "We are finally free from BN!". It has opened a new chapter for his party.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
And when asked what action the government would take against him, Abdullah refused to reveal his cards, saying: "I will not indicate what plan I will take, what I do will be in the best interests of the people and the country."
I agree with the editorial observation of Malaysiakini: "Using the ISA against Anwar would undoubtedly have severe repercussions but such a move would not come as a surprise after three individuals, including an opposition politician, were nabbed under the draconian law last Friday."
Anwar Ibrahim is not a national threat although his recent political moves have threaten to disintegrate UMNO and BN. Abdullah is besieged by internal and external demands to step down as an indirect results.
Our national security is not synonymous with BN's security. I hope the premier is wise enough not to initiate the use of such draconian act on his hugely popular opponent.
On the contrary, the use of ISA against Anwar will have a negative effect on the state of national security. Abdullah has brushed aside Anwar's threat of taking over the federal government as mere lies and mind games. If so, why would he take the threat of Anwar so seriously until it demands the use of ISA?
His statement here, which borders a threat on Anwar's personal freedom, is worrying and serious.
If Abdullah does not want to go down in history as the one who initiates the downfall of BN and UMNO, he should refrain from using the ISA in the midst of very negative public sentiment towards its use on RPK, Teresa and Tan.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
“We have the numbers,” says Anwar. “We are ready.” Pakatan leaders have written to the PM calling for the release of all ISA detainees and for the smooth transition of power. “The process has begun,” confirms a senior PKR leader. “Tomorrow, emissaries are going to try and meet the PM, and if that doesn’t materialise, Anwar will start the process.”
Abdullah's immediate response:
Anwar's claim was immediately panned by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and other Barisan Nasional leaders. Abdullah scoffed at the Opposition's plans, saying it was "a nuisance" and "preposterous." He said the people had become very uneasy with this “naughty” speculation that the government would be toppled.
It does not matter who is telling the truth and who is not. The answer will be out in the open when we greet a new day on 16th September.
Meanwhile, it is more alarming for BN to look deeper into its own coalition dynamics instead of being over worried of a possible threat from PR. If BN does disintegrate, the leadership only has itself to blame for a spate of unpopular and selective measures.
Being leader a governing coalition for the last 51 years, UMNO has lost its sense and sensibility. On the 9th May, I wrote an opinion piece in The Star urging the PM to keep up the pace of reform and hinted that the only way for BN to win back support is by being more people oriented. It has to ditch communal politics.
Of course, there was no reaction to the article. A number of friends called to say that this article contained important messages they wanted to send to the government too. I was glad I helped to convey this message.
The outcome of sticking to status-quo is clear. UMNO is still more interested in maintaining its race centric political dominance. Its priority became clearer when PAS leaked out secret meetings held between its leaders and PM Abdullah Badawi to talk about Malay-Muslim unity. It was clear to many of its BN component parties' leaders what was UMNO's priority immediately after BN suffered heavy casualties in the last elections.
UMNO did not take immediate steps to restore its coalition partnership. After the Permatang Pauh incident, it became clear that the party has made a big mistake by continuing to ignore its multiracial support base but its Malay ground did not grow stronger despite all that communal chest beating and slogan shouting by its leaders.
Now the matter involving Ahmad Ismail, Azhar Ibrahim and lately Khir Toyo has grown large enough to consume UMNO. Its non-Malay support may vanish for a long time. This outcome will not go down well with parties such as MCA, Gerakan, MIC, PPP, SUPP and others who are dependent on the support from minorities to sustain their political relevance.
After the recent ISA detentions, Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar showed us the reality of BN's credibility deficit. The minister has given 3 conflicting statements in less than 3 days. First, he said the detention was for reporter Tan's own safety. Then, he pushed the blame to the police and asked them to explain the detentions. Today, he admitted he signed the detention orders and argued that it was justified when Tan wrote about her 18 hours ordeal in detention.
Syed Hamid Albar is an embarrassment to the BN cabinet and a bad role model to the government. However, PM Abdullah deserves to shoulder some part of the blame for being ignorant and lost in the whole event. Did he approve the detentions? If not, he should immediately suspend Syed Hamid from his cabinet position.
The perpetrators Ahmad Ismail and Khir Toyo remain defiant. Coupled this with UMNO's selective use of ISA to persecute its political opponents and double standards against its own members, it is fair to say that it is going to self destruct.
The reality is Anwar Ibrahim alone could not have destroyed the coalition if it had started on the right foot immediately after the 8th March general election.
A power transition in UMNO, with Dr Mahathir's involvement, is not going to help the party or the coalition.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
What is Liow's stand on ISA? Is he willing to oppose the use of ISA only if he feels it is politically safe to do so. If he opposes the use of draconian law against a commoner or Malaysian, then he should learn to be fair and impartial like his colleague, Zaid Ibrahim.
Zaid has threatened to resign if the government continues to use the Internal Security Act, which allows detention without trial, against political dissidents.
It is either you oppose the use of ISA or you don't. Liow should not be selective in his stand. It is NOT OK to use it on both RPK and Teresa Kok.
I hope more BN leaders will oppose the use of ISA as a tool to silence political opponents.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
I have called up a few of our Malay MPs and assemblymen for help and assistance. We need you to speak against the treachery against the 3 persons, RPK, Teresa Kok and Tan Hoon Cheng, by our government.
I have asked the diplomatic community to speak up too through my friend in the diplomatic circle.
All Malaysians MUST SPEAK UP against this treachery. The selective use of ISA against political opponents is most despicable.
Earlier, he told Bernama that the government will not use the Internal Security Act (ISA) without concrete reason, and this was so in the detention of blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin. Detentions under the ISA were carried out only after the government was convinced that there was a threat to security and public order.
What did MP and Selangor Exco Teresa Kok do to deserve an arrest under Section 73 (1) if the ISA Friday? It was clear that Khir Toyo had played up mischeviously the 'azan' issue. Is there any action taken against Azhar Ibrahim, Ahmad Ismail, Khir Toyo and others?
Is Sin Chew Daily News reporter Tan Hoon Cheng a national security threat when she was arrested from her home in Taman Permai in Bukit Mertajam at 8.30pm?
Only an obvious HIDDEN agenda by the Abdullah administration can explain why it took such drastic and unpopular action against the trio - RPK, Teresa Kok and Tan Hoon Cheng.
Since the hidden agenda is NOT A SECRET. We should NOT ALLOW them to GET WHAT THEY WANTED.
Stay calm. Do not go to the street or organise any street protests.
I would like to urge all non-UMNO BN component parties' leaders to demand PM Abdullah to release the trio immediately if they still care for the nation's democracy. The current situation is totally untenable.
Earlier, I told a diplomat that it is ingenious for the government to choose a Friday to detain RPK. This coming weekend is the most crucial for all of us.
We must not fall into the trap laid by our own government. It is supposed to protect the people but it has chosen to protect its own cronies and racist leaders.
This is an act of thuggery.
Please help spread this message to all your friends, through your blogs, text messages etc.
Do not react in any way which may help this recalcitrant government to announce emergency rule.
We deserve BETTER!
Friday, September 12, 2008
At the same time he highlighted the some possible actions which could be taken against the Chinese community should they voice out their dissatisfaction against the government.
"Even hawkers and small traders; the subcontractors, the retail shops owners are unhappy with the government. They are however very cautious about criticising Datuk Seri Abdullah but when pressed they admit that they wanted Abdullah out but dared not say it aloud for fear of being accused of rejecting Malay leadership."They also worry about their businesses being singled out for some unpleasant treatment like being investigated by the Inland Revenue Board," he wrote in his blog today.
Must Dr M be reminded that these tactics if used are a continuation from his era? As the premier, he had perfected the art of political persecution against those who went against him - those detained during the Operasi Lallang and Anwar Ibrahim.
Raja Petra's ISA detention today resembles a common dirty tactic used during his era to detain and silence political opponents.
Dr M should not underestimate Malaysians and their level of political maturity. Most Chinese Malaysians and other races (including the Malays) were more disturbed by the Keris waving issue at the UMNO's general assembly than the incompetence of Abdullah Badawi.
Abdullah is seen as incompetent because he could not manage and discipline a bunch of racist members/leaders in his party.
Dr M must not be surprised to hear that we supported Abdullah in 2004 because he promised to initiate reforms to get us out of the rot and excesses of the Mahathir era which was an epitome of racism, abrasive and highhanded politics, corruption and nepotism.
Abdullah as an individual is less spiteful than Dr M. We did not and should not criticize his personal character but his political and leadership incompetence.
Then again, as his ex-boss and the one who put Abdullah in his current position, Dr M must shoulder most of the blame for the state of politics we have experienced today.
Who turned all other non-UMNO component parties in BN into small pussy cats? Dr Mahathir.
Yet, Dr Mahathir insisted that the votes for the opposition were not due to a desire to replace BN with Pakatan Rakyat, but were actually protest votes. He said,"But is it protest against the BN parties? Is it a rejection of race-based politics? I don't think so."
Goodness sake, stop blaming Abdullah Badawi for everything that went wrong in this country. It started from you, Dr M.
Dr M should just speak for himself and not for 6.5 million Chinese Malaysians in this country.We know best what we want from politicians.
SAY NO TO RACISM!
Yes, Dr M has proven to us that he is a bygone, a relic of his generation. I reckon many of his generation are more progressive than the ex-premier to suggest that Chinese Malaysians do not mind race-based politics.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
If we are too preoccupied with the 16th September, like the present BN federal government, we will lose sight on the true movement for change. This movement is not solely about Anwar's ambition to become the next prime minister of Malaysia.
This movement for change is about a crucial transition for the country which is at the crossroads. Existing forces will try to direct this nation back to the old tested road of communalism. This old tested path is one laid for the comfort of elite politicians who would continue to lead the country using the divide and rule method they know best.
Ahmad Ismail and his antics gave us the best, raw and unsophisticated example of such politics. For his own political expediency, Ahmad would beat his chest and claim to speak for his community. But would Ahmad sell off his Mercedes and share his NEP accumulated wealth with the less fortunates in his community? Will Ahmad swap his bangalow for a humble low cost house in his effort to try to understand how tough life can be at the bottom?
If the answer is NO, what can the Malay community expect out of a NEP elite like Ahmad Ismail?
The movement for change is not about Anwar Ibrahim and his 16th September deadline. This movement is about a permanent change we must bring to the country and our social order. We can only talk about democracy, fairness and morality if this country recognises a place and the birth rights of all its citizens regardless of race and religion.
The politics of race is the lowest denominator of our humanity simply because it is too foolish to fight the will of heaven and random biological logic. I do not choose to become a Chinese Malaysian. Ahmad was not born a Malay by choice. In spirituality, you may call it a heaven's design. Scientifically, it is simply a random biological logic. But scientifically and spiritually, humans are all the same. The same blood runs through our veins.
But why is Ahmad fighting against the will of God and nature? Only a silly practice of racial politics can explain his action.
Hence, the Movement for Change is beyond just a date. If we have chosen Anwar Ibrahim and his colleagues as our agents of change, we should be wise enough not to put the whole burden on the shoulder of a few.
Is Anwar Ibrahim a failure if he fails to deliver a new government on 16th September? No, if you are part of the movement. The successes tasted so far by the Anwar led PR belonged to the people too. Without us, Anwar Ibrahim is nothing.
With or without a change of government comes 16th September, we are all winners. We are winners because we have chosen to face the challenges head on. This movement for change cannot be easily trivialised by a mere date. We will change Malaysia even if it takes a week, a month or years from now.
Anwar Ibrahim should also be constantly reminded that the Movement for Change comes with great responsibility. Great power comes with great responsibility.