Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Salam Aidilfitri to All My Malay/Muslim Friends


Balik Kampung safely;
Enjoy your time with family;
Remember to think about what we can do to carve out the next agenda;
Celebrate this festive as the beginning of something better for the country;

My Family and I would like to wish you and loved ones; "Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri"

Remedy For Our Economic Woes

Today, I was asked at a press interview what can be done to make our economy dynamic again? If political uncertainty is the main contributor to negative flow of investment into the country? What can Najib Razak do? And a host of other issues...

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

Want To Know What an Out-Of-Job UMNO Leader Does?


Kedah Umno Liaison chairman Mahdzir Khalid said that as a political party, DAP should take action against Teresa Kok, who is Seputeh Member of Parliament, for insulting security officers and also jeopardising the country’s good name.

“Teresa knew what she ate while in detention, but after her release she said the food served to her was almost like dog food.“A politician who is educated and has credibility will not make a statements which can hurt other people’s feelings”.

Deputy Minister T. Murugiah is standing firm on his move to meet Selangor executive councillor Teresa Kok and probing her allegation of being served poor food while in detention under the Internal Security Act. During his investigations, Murugiah found that only RM4.50 was spent daily to feed each detainee and suggested that the allocation be increased.

Mahdzir's demand is a laughing stock not only to many Malaysians but also the international community. If the country's image is already battered, this out-of-job UMNO leader has made it worse.

I would like to urge Murugiah to also probe food quality at all National Service camps to ensure that trainees' lives are not put in danger due to increasing number of deaths at these camps.

Mahdzir should follow his wife more often to the wet market to understand the stress of inflation put on Malaysians. RM4.50 is not even enough to buy u a decent meal let alone 3 meals a day. If this is not crap, what is?

Moreover, a person is innocent until proven guilty and deserves to be treated like human being. Who asked the authority to put Teresa under ISA detention if they cannot afford her meals?

Is UMNO willing to take action against Mohd Khir Toyo for making an unfounded allegation against Teresa?

Mahdzir action is a classic case of UMNO's failure to govern fairly. This is ensure the continuous rejection of the party among Malaysian voters.

Remember this face the next time you vote in Kedah.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Who Cares if Anwar is Just Another Pinocchio?


Some people are too fixated with deadlines and Anwar Ibrahim. It does not matter if a change of government does not happen on 16/9, 23/9 or 1/10. It does not matter if Anwar is just another Pinocchio. Even if Anwar becomes the next prime minister he will not be able wish away our problems instantaneously.

There is no short cut to solve our political and socio-economic problems. Instead of arguing over the dates, it is best for Malaysians to work together to set the agenda for the next prime minister and his administration.

If Anwar fails to take over government, do we abandon our desire for change? The movement for change is not about Anwar Ibrahim or his party alone. It is about our desire to make our country a fairer and better place to live in. Anwar the Prime Minister or Najib the Prime Minister will have to deliver the exact same results for the society. Nothing less.

We cannot ignore this momentum for change. Since the 8th March general election, many more Malaysians now believe a change for the better is not something remotely impossible. Those elites who rule this country at their whims and fancies will soon have to realise that the right to govern comes with a huge responsibility to deliver goodness for the society.

We should not argue over dates. It does not matter if a change of government materialises on 16/9, 23/9 or 1/10. The reality is a change has begun and it is impossible for this momentum to be rolled back. Any coalition governing this country knows that it cannot rest on its laurels.

Shouldn't we then work together to set the next agenda for the new administration? Surely, whoever leads the country must ensure that Malaysia flourishes on the rule of law. In the light of the current abuse of draconian law such as ISA, we should call for the repeal of all draconian laws which trample on universal human rights.

A loud signal should be send to the next PM that we cannot tolerate a Home Minister such as Syed Hamid Albar who despite his legal qualification is totally clueless about fundamental rights. A person such as Syed Hamid must not be given a full access to absolute discretionary power.

Next, we want to reinstate judicial review to provide a necessary check-and-balance on unlimited ministerial power. Separation of power is key to a healthy democracy. Anwar or Najib must be committed to review the ministerial power. Syed Hamid's perversion of justice by signing the detention order of Raja Petra Kamaruddin before his habeas corpus hearing is a fine example of power abuse.

Anwar is committed to abolish the ISA. Is Najib willing to do the same?

A key point to the agenda is the imminent review of the New Economy Policy. This policy was introduced as a result of the outcome of the inclusive Goodwill Council. Clearly, after 38 years of its implementation the policy has failed to close the intra-community income gap especially among the Malay-Bumiputeras.

Dr Mahathir, in one his blog posts, admitted the problem of giving contracts to a selective few because of non-performance of Bumiputera companies. Those who are allocated equity shares tend to sell them off for quick money. By selling down, the Malay equity shareholding will forever be below the desired 30% level.

If the NEP is not fixed and its abuses curbed, local investors will be deterred to invest locally. A continuous outflow of funds affects domestic job creation, economic growth and industrial development.

Is Najib prepared to review the NEP which is a sacred cow of his party? Anwar has promised to abolish the NEP and replace it with his need based New Malaysia Agenda despite being accused of negating Malay rights. Current implementation of the NEP is detrimental to Malay rights.

After nearly 51 years of independence and hundreds of years of co-existence, the next PM should strive to unite all races in order to create a truly fair and equitable Bangsa Malaysia. Political rhetoric must be carefully managed to reduce racial frictions. Rightly, the curtain should come down on race based politics.

By continuing to harp on Malay supremacy or the controversial social contract is not going to take this multiracial society forward. Are we not ready to move forward just because politicians claim that we are not? Malaysians should decide their own fate and not allow a bunch of self-centered politicians to do it for us. A united Malaysia is better than one which emphasises on race divisions.

Now, can we agree to lose our fixation with dates and focus on the next agenda? Malaysians must show that we are dead serious about change. Most people are resistant to change including you and me. But change we must in order to build a Malaysia where everyone with the right skills, determination, talent and creativity can flourish.

Otherwise, we should blame our shallowness.

Book Review: "RESET: Rethinking the Malaysian Political Paradigm"


Normally, I do not write book reviews. But the writer of "RESET: Rethinking the Malaysian Political Paradigm", Suflan Shamsuddin, is a reader of my blog and has posted several comments here. Suflan is a London based barrister. His book is not an academic work. He noted only a single piece of reference - The Real Malay by Frank Swettenham.

This is a political narrative bordering a personal opinion on what the Malaysian politics ought to be and what can be done to break the current impasse. In his preamble: "Many would blame Malaysia’s current political upheaval on decades of ineptitude, abuse, and race-based politics. Although the electoral "tsunami"suggests a rejection of past methods, an alignment on the way forward remains in doubt."

"RESET examines the fundamentals of Malaysia’s socio-political fabric and delivers an uncompromising analysis of the underlying causes of the nation’s current political crisis. It reveals our collective complicity and explains how, together, we might break the impasse."

Suflan recommends two proposals; First, his notion of hospitality which urges the Malay and non-Malay communities to treat each other as "abang angkat-adik angkat" (step brothers). Malay being the abang angkat (by seniority) is supposed to assist other communities (adik angkat) to settle into the society.

This notion is rather simplistic although I can fully understand Suflan's anxiety. He wants to breach the gap between communities and yet is cautious not to propose a fundamental leap which may upset the peace and stability.

In my earlier response to his post, I have pointed out to Suflan that this notion must be grounded on true historical perspective and take into consideration societal development over the last 50 years. Today, a community's seniority over the other is hard to determine. Intermarriages within and between communities have blurred the lines of our ethnicity.

Unfortunately, this theme is not fully examined in his book. Suflan mentions 'peranakan', Hang Li Poh and Zheng He only once in his entire thesis and fails to elaborate the significance of their existence pre-British colonial period. Many straits Chinese can trace their roots back to the early 15th century. Does this make them adik angkat (younger step brother)?

Suflan mentions about the social contract and argues why we should not interpret this contract in a cold and legal manner. However, he does not consider another strain of argument against the existence of this contract. Notably, Royal Professor Ungku Aziz denied the existence of social contract at a panel. I was honoured to be in the same panel with the eminent professor.

Suflan's groundbreaking work should explore this argument instead of accepting the convention. He should explore if the social contract does exist, in what form, who were the parties and what's the spirit of this contract?

I accept that the social contract, if exists, must not be interpreted in a cold and legal manner. A social contract is supposed to be dynamic and flexible. As a result, the contract should recognise the changing facets of the society. The 21st century Malaysian society is different from the one in 1957. Using the notion of hospitality, there should not be freshies anymore in this country after 51 years of independence and more than 685 years (since 1403) of co-existence.

Suflan's second proposal is equally captivating but difficult to put into practice. He proposes a change in the political structure by looking solely at the ethnic composition of political parties. He classifies political parties into two categories, namely, General Interest Party and Specific Interest Party. A GIP can only be allowed to contest in an election is its membership meets the racial breakdown of the society. SIP can form a coalition together with other SIPs and if the coalition membership base meets the requirement it will be allowed to take part in an election.

I am surprised that Suflan, after showing so much promise in his observation and criticism against race-based politics and dogmas, is caught in the very race-centric formula he criticises. His intention of wanting to achieve equal representation amongst all races can simply be achieved via a proportionate representation system. I fully agree with Suflan that the first-past-the-post system is not going to deliver us equitable representation due to our social demographic.

I salute Suflan for his succinct observation on the third wave of the Malay struggle. He points out that this struggle should be internal (introspective and intrinsic). He envisions the creation of a Malay with these four qualities: He takes personal accountability, he is achievement oriented, he has the capacity to independently understand and analyse a problem, and he plays by the book.

These four qualities encapsulate personal responsibility, meritocracy, self-determination and law abiding. Looking at the behaviour of some UMNO leaders, especially those who are prone to abuse power and rule by law, this qualities are aptly emphasised.

If you are interested to read RESET, I suggest that you focus on the sincerity of the writer. Do not expect the argument to be coherent and well structured. With this book, you should observe great patience. Suflan's proposal does not come until page 149 and his proposal is peppered with his personal narration and email exchanges with friends.

As a writer, I do not relish to review another writer's work. But I promised Suflan to do justice to his book. I promised him not to judge his book by its cover. I hope he will take my review with a pinch of salt.
Unlike mine, this book is available in most bookstores. Price is RM35.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Buy Up Kamunting? Be Practical!

Most of us who read this blog (except for BN cybertroopers) do have one thing common - fight the ISA. We support Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng's effort to battle it out for us in the parliament.

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.

The Sun: Book Review

By Tricia Yeoh

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 tricia_yeoh@cpps.org.my .

Click here to read more.

My ISA is Mightier Than Your Pen

Events in the last few weeks suggest that the aggressors are not the people but politicians with access to the instruments of power and coercion. The action taken against RPK, Teresa Kok, Tan Hoon Cheng, Kickdafella and Wee Meng Chee seems to suggest that the ISA is mightier than pen.

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.
An act suggests regulatory and prosecutorial functions, with elements of penalty or punishment to curb our excesses, or when we get all hot and bothered, talking about race."

"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

Political Detention is Unjust!


This time Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar is caught in the act. He last night signed the detention order for the blogger to be held under section 8(1) of the tough security law. According to the Act, Raja Petra's two-year detention period can be renewed indefinitely.

Immediate reaction from RPK's lead lawyer: "The act by the minister to sign the section 8 order yesterday is completely unacceptable," said Malik Imtiaz.

Is this a cabinet decision? Did Syed Hamid consult all other ministers in the cabinet before signing the detention order? If not, will these ministers especially those who opposed the use of ISA resign?

I can safely tell you that BN's life span has just shorten by a few more bars. This is TOTALLY unacceptable.

RPK is a prisoner of conscience. Detention without trial is ILLEGAL and UNJUST!

The BN government is responsible for this detention using the draconian act.

SACK THEM! Pensiangan by-election, whatever...

Harakiri


First, RPK was detained under ISA. Then, they took in another two ladies - reporter Tan Hoon Cheng and MP Teresa Kok - under the same draconian law. Blogger Kickdefella was remanded and is expected to be charged under Sedition Act for instigating fellow bloggers to 'fly' the national flag upside down.

All these happened under the nose of Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar. Yes, the minister has pushed the blame to the police. First, he admitted it was his decision and the actions were to protect national interest and security.

When challenged how a docile lady reporter could be a threat to national security, he said she was detained for her own safety. Tan was released 18 hours later. If her safety was indeed threatened, Tan could be dead by now. Is she given police protection after her release?

Syed Hamid is suffering from serious lapses of memory because he has denied giving approvals to invoke ISA on the three individuals after first admitted he did so.

I am not interested to ask him again if the decision to call up Wee Meng Chee or more famously known as Namewee, the rapper, who composed the song Negarakuku. Syed Hamid Albar will again deny his involvement and belittle our intelligence.

This is another act of 'harakiri' - self-sacrifice. However, harakiri was performed by Japanese warriors/fighters to salvage their pride and honour after a devastating failure. We can find some semblance to this action taken by the police after more than a year Wee posted his song on Youtube.com.

What is the police going to achieve from this action? Why didn't both Ahmad Ismail and Azhar Ibrahim hauled up for investigation?

Tengku Razaleigh was right about selective persecution. When a police report is filled against those who oppose the government, the action is swift and quick. But don't bother to even hope for an action, even at snail pace, to be taken against members of UMNO. He told us at the dialogue of a corruption report lodged against PM Abdullah but no action was taken against him.

It is alright if the police insist on questioning Wee but it is important to show that they are impartial in their action. The police should not take the fall for politicians.

If justice and fair treatment is not given to Wee, BN will create another martyr just like they did to RPK, Teresa Kok and others before them.

Please do not belittle us with the Race Relations Act if you cannot even act fair.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dialogue with Ku Li


Last week, I received an invitation to attend a dialogue session with another prime minister in-waiting, Tengku Razaleigh. He was best remembered in the 1987 tussle with Dr Mahathir. Ku Li, as he is fondly known, lost by a whisker - 43 votes. We went to his palatial house in Jalan Langgak Golf yesterday.

It was the start of Mahathir's relentless effort to ensure he will not be challenged again in the party. In the process, Mahathir muzzled the judiciary, tamed his opponents in BN especially UMNO, centralised power in the PMship and others. It can be argued that it was the start of the end of BN and UMNO. UMNO leadership of BN became hegemonic. UMNO's political culture took a complete change for the worse.

Ku Li in the dialogue mentioned that UMNO needs to free up and democratise especially in its leadership selection process. He mentioned that the party must find ways to attract younger members.

Ku Li openly admitted the main problem of this government, its inability to treat people fairly and in accordance to the law. He praised Zaid Ibrahim's principled stand on ISA and mentioned that it was supposed to be a collective decision of the cabinet. Zaid's personal stand on this issue merits his resignation. (I wonder why 4 MCA ministers are still there for, since they disagreed with the use of ISA?).

He said the selection persecution by authorities is also evident in UMNO related matters such as corruption and abuse of power. As a result, the system has broken down.

If elected as the president of UMNO, he vows to change the party and make it more rule based. He promised to weed out money politics.

He outlined three key important issues:

1) Racial/National unity

2) Economy health and equitable sharing of wealth

3) Sabah & Sarawak issues

He wants his government to focus on erradicating abuse of power and corruption. His government must mean business not fun.

Well said, Ku Li. But my question to him was not well tackled. I asked how is he going to approach a surging PR led by Anwar Ibrahim. He shrugged off my comment by asking, "Is the opposition strong?"

If any PM in-waiting including Najib thinks he can manage to heal the rifts in this country without working with the opposition, I believe the leader is in a great denial syndrome. Ku Li said he met Anwar and he has no problem with him.

Second, he did not oppose the NEP. In fact, he fought Dr M because the latter wanted to remove the policy. Ku Li admitted the abuses of NEP for individual gains. I told him the language used to promote the policy has turned it into something racial and unacceptable. Unless this policy is changed, it will be difficult to be accepted by all Malaysians.

Third, he did not oppose the ISA. He is against the way the policy was being manipulated and used to silence political opponents. I thought this is not a very progressive stand. He should look at other legal alternatives which are less prone to manipulation by the powers that be.

I was hoping more from this veteran politician. But I was left a bit disappointed when he said "I can't tell you more about my plan. " "You should elect me first as the president then I will let you know."

He should know Malaysians no longer sign any blank cheque. We should not.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Forum: Abolish ISA!

Free RPK, Free Hindraf 5, Free All Detainees!The Internal Security Act under Article 149 of the Malaysian Constitution permits the detention, at the discretion of the Home Minister, without charge or trial of any person in respect of whom the Home Minister was satisfied that such detention was necessary.

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!

UPDATE:

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

Not the Time for Showmanship

I am a supporter of a two party system. For this system to work, we need political parties from the other side of the fence to gear up their own party reform too. One such party is the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), the second biggest in BN. Ironically, the only thing MCA can claim to represent the Chinese community is by having the word "Chinese" as its middle name. The rest is history.

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

I Choose to Dream


PM Abdullah Badawi, DPM Najib Razak, Ong Ka Ting, Samy Vellu and many more BN leaders called Anwar Ibrahim a liar when he claimed to have received a majority support from MPs to take over government.

Here, Umno vice-president Mohd Ali Rustam said Anwar was trying to divert the people’s attention to cover his weaknesses and failure to take over the Federal Government by Sept 16 as he had pledged. He said Anwar was just creating “media attention” to get people to talk about him.

“The Government need not entertain him. He should wait for the next five years. It is utter nonsense that Anwar has 30 Barisan MPs.

“If he has 30 MPs, he should march to Parliament with them. He doesn’t even have one name,” Mohd Ali said.

Mohd Ali Rustam formally joins the ranks of Syed Hamid Albar and formally incorporated to the house of dummies. This is precisely what Anwar wanted - to march to parliament with them if only your President and PM is willing to call an emergency session.

With leaders like Ali Rustam, Syed Hamid Albar and Abdullah Badawi, who needs Mr Bean?

That is why no matter how ridiculous Anwar may sound, we still choose to share his dreams that soon this country will see the beginning of better times.

Call us dreamers if you want to but a dream is a start of an aspiration and a movement to make it happen.

I choose to dream. What about you?

Teresa Kok Released From ISA

I met Teresa Kok a number of years ago at a foreign embassy's function. She was a second term MP at that time. While talking, she gave me her name card and told me to call her anytime if I needed any assistance. This is the real Teresa, ever willing to assist.

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

Emergency Parliament Session


Anwar Ibrahim has upped the ante: "I have made a formal request to call for an emergency session in Parliament to debate a motion of no confidence against the leadership of Barisan Nasional not later than Sept 23."

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.

Now the Police Turn

Deputy police chief Ismail Omar today issued a stern warning against those speculating and spreading rumours of a government takeover.

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.

Gerakan Referendum

Dr Hsu Dar Ren, a division leader of Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia, has thrown down a gaunlet. He wants the party leadership to hold a referendum to find out if its delegates want to leave or stay in BN.

His reasons:

"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?

He said:

"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

PM Abdullah Should Refrain From Using ISA

In his press conference today, PM Abdullah Badawi hinted a possibility of taking strong action against his political opponent Anwar Ibrahim. 'He has become a threat to the economy and (national) security," he said.

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.

Transition Intact?


The Malaysian Insider headlines scream - "Pak Lah, Najib swap portfolios, transition intact. " In reality, the transition plan looks shaky. It appears that PM Abdullah is facing a lot of internal pressure from his party's supreme council members to hasten the transition of power.

The swapping of portfolios between him and his deputy Najib Razak will not help to abate the pressure he is facing to step down. He might have gotten Najib's consent and commitment to uphold the transition plan but the reality is he has yet to commit to stepping down earlier than June 2010. This is what demanded by factions opposing him staying in power, chiefly Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Hence, the transition looks intact to both Abdullah and Najib supporters but also help to draw up battle lines between his tag team (with Najib) against the Ku Li-Muhyiddin's tag team if Dr M can have his way.

Abdullah said: "I will continue to offer myself as president of Umno and Najib for deputy president."

We should expect a fight for the top two positions at the coming UMNO General Assembly. It appears now that Najib's fate is tied to Abdullah's. Since the 8th March general election, Najib's star power appears to be waning.

His influence and credibility was further eroded at the Permatang Pauh by-election. Najib was the campaign director in an election which saw Anwar Ibrahim return to parliament by a higher majority than his wife, PKR President Wan Azizah, at the 8th March election.

There are several questions left unanswered in this recent portfolios swap:

1) How can the swap help to calm opposing factions in UMNO who want Abdullah to step down immediately?

2) How will the swap help to strengthen UMNO as a party and BN as a coalition?

3) Will the swap enhance the confidence of finance market and help boost investors' confidence?

4) Will this swap appease both Dr Mahathir and Ku Li?

5) Will the swap turn around the fortunes of BN and help to restore other BN component parties?

6) Will the swap blocks Anwar's permanently from wresting power?

7) Will Najib's commitment to the transition plan weakens or strengthens his position in UMNO? He may be considered too lame and weak to ask Abdullah to make way for him to rejuvenate UMNO.

The portfolios swap has put UMNO on a brink of serious power tussle leading to next month's division meetings and the party elections in December.
UPDATES:
Hours after the press conference, bickering between Najib and Abdullah supporters have started. I just received a text message informing me of the Malaysian Insider news break:
"Fyi, Najib ppl very upset with Malaysian Insider spin. Please see this when Najib boys have asked to pass on: Friends! Story on Malaysian Insider that Dato' Sri Najib agree (sic) to stick to 2010 plan is NOT TRUE!! It is a 4th floor spin meant to confuse the restless ground. Dato Sri Najib tidak berganjak dari pendirian bahawa bahagian2 tentukan peralihan kuasa. Ini psy war untuk melemahkan semangat penyokong arus perubahan. Please spread the word!
When is Najib part of the movement for change? If he is, can he use his influence to free all ISA detainees who are being detained illegally and unjustly? Can Najib end corruption and racial politics?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Significance of Sept 16th


Today, I received a number of text messages and anxious calls from friends and colleagues. Most of them asked the same question, "Did Anwar do it?" The answer is still hazy and unclear. But what is for sure today is clearly not his day.

Anwar, in a press conference, claims that he has the number to form the next government but would like to meet up with PM Abdullah to plan for a peaceful transition. Fair enough, I believe since defections are unavoidable it is his responsibility to ensure there is a smooth transition of power.

But Abdullah has rejected the idea of meeting up with Anwar to discuss transition of power. Instead, the premier also challenged Anwar to reveal the names of the alleged Barisan Nasional defectors. Abdullah has missed a golden opportunity to catch Anwar telling a big fat lie. He should have agreed to meet up with Anwar and then expose his intention to negotiate power sharing with him.

By turning down Anwar's request to meet up with him, Abdullah is again conceding more psychological grounds to his opponent. Both are prominent leaders and I am sure none of them is willing to stake it all in this high risk mind game.

I would like to URGE Abdullah to accept Anwar's request to meet up and kill the rumour of defections once and for all. By doing so, he is helping our political situation to calm down and allow the current government to function properly.

Since Anwar would probably missed his Sept 16th deadline, I am sure many of you would not be holding back to call him a failure. However, the reactions from the government over the last few days proved otherwise. I am not sure if Anwar is a total failure. He has definitely employed the right political strategy to get what he wanted for his party.

First, UMNO is surely cracking up and factions are emerging within the party making internal threats more dangerous to Abdullah than external ones. Dr M is making a comeback which is seen as a desperate last minute move to dethrone Abdullah and block Anwar from taking over federal government. According to Ahirudin Attan (Rockybru), both Dr M and Ku Li have teamed up to form the "Dream Team".

Funny, USA's basketball dream team was defeated in the 2004 Olympics. So, not all dream teams are equally potent. Frictions have started to emerge and some voices have called for the mid-2010 leadership transition plan to be reconsidered by the delegates. Others are not happy that the transition was decided by merely two persons.

Second, the government was obviously pushed to the limit and was forced to use the ISA on 3 political detainees - the last straw which broke Zaid Ibrahim's nerve. The highly regarded de-facto law minister Zaid resigned yesterday and his move was a major blow to Abdullah's reforms agenda. Both Abdullah and Zaid were not consulted on the use of ISA. Logically, a law minister should have been consulted on the use of right legislation on the three detainees.

Many who know Teresa, Tan and RPK would laugh at the idea that they are national threats. Teresa and Tan are docile looking women who are anything but a national threat. RPK may occasional bark louder than he bites but has never been involved in any plot to harm the nation.

Third, the sending of 50 BN backbenchers to Taiwan for a field trip has made the BN government a laughing stock. Why only Taiwan if the intention was to a study trip? News reports of BN MPs making abrupt hotel transfer at midnight and wee hours in the morning made Taiwanese proud that we have finally adopted their political tactics.

The fear of Sept 16th materialising is freaking out the ruling party. The more they react the more mistakes they will commit. This is precisely Anwar's game plan. The outcome is a loss of confidence of Malaysian public in their government. Such outcome is going to push away even more MPs from the BN to make a leap of faith knowing that their political career may not last beyond the next general election.

The emphasis given to Sept 16th is symbolic and yet potent to attract and fire the imagination of many people especially East Malaysians. By making the Sept 16th his rally point and a deadline for change, Anwar wants Malaysians to make a psychological leap and break all current socio-political boundaries erected by the present regime.

This date marks the birth of the nation - Malaysia. Anwar's New Malaysian Agenda talks about a new framework for nation building including the abolishment of draconian laws, the New Economic Policy, the promotion of a truly multiracial coalition and others. BN's reluctance to accept the full significance of Sept 16th has irked many parties especially Sabahans and Sarawakians who are seeking for a fairer treatment and a full reinstatement of the 20-point agreement made between them and Malaya.

This renewed awareness has ignited new dynamics, possibilities and energy for Malaysians to push for true nation building, national identity and a just and equitable society. This awareness cannot be simply erased despite the fact that there is no change of government on this date, Sept 16th, 2008.

If you still think that Anwar Ibrahim is a failure, I suggest that you think harder. Since the 8th March general election, Anwar has merely helped to enhance our awareness on the significance of Sept. 16th and what this date holds for all of us. He has succeeded in his objective.

Through this awareness, we are collectively responsible to ensure that this momentum for change is sustained. This movement for change is going to make this nation a better one that it was previously.

This date will strengthen our resolve to fight racism, corruption, power abuse and unfairness in our society.

Is Anwar still a failure?


Last of the Malaysian in UMNO


De facto Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim has tendered his resignation over the government's use of the Internal Security Act, which allows detention without trial, against three individuals (Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Tan Hoon Cheng and Teresa Kok) last week.

Zaid, who is the former Kota Baru MP, was made a senator and named as minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of legal affairs during the cabinet reshuffle by premier Abdullah in March. His appointment was lauded by many quarters as it was seen as a gesture by the prime minister to put in place judicial reforms.

Zaid lamented, however, that the latest ISA arrests had dealt a blow to his six-month-long task of trying to regenerate the judiciary.The minister also conceded that his views on certain matters do not go down well with his cabinet colleagues.

Seen as a liberal in the party, Zaid has espouses his non-communal views in his book "In Good Faith". Critics sang praises for his views, "Zaid asserts that we should go beyond mere tolerating to embracing and celebrating our differences (“Pluralism and Democracy in Malaysia”). This is the only way for a plural society like Malaysia to survive and indeed thrive."

On justice, he said: “If we continue to put ourselves in reverse gear by departing from democratic principles, we will continue to fall behind other countries.” He added, “Democratic and civil values are not new novel concepts, alien to Malaysians! In fact, strong subscription to these values propelled us to where we are today.”

Zaid Ibrahim is probably the last Malaysian left in communal centric UMNO. His resignation, although may be seen as trivial to leaders of UMNO, is a great loss to the party. He may be the last drop in the reservoir of hope for a change in UMNO.
Selamat Hari Malaysia!

Sept. 16: Trust Anwar or Abdullah?

I was watching PR's ceramah live online until a permanent distruption at about 11pm. In Anil's blog:

“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

Oppose and Yet Not Oppose

MCA Youth leader and Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai should really make up his mind on the use of ISA. He opposes the use of ISA against reporter Tan Hoon Cheng but was dilly dally when asked about its use against both Raja Petra and Teresa Kok.

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.

"Dream Team"? In Your Dream, Not Mine


According to Ahirudin Attan (better known as Rockybru) in his article in My Paper, a faction within Umno is working overtime to form what one insider (or a spinmaster?) calls "the Dream Team".

It would reunite two of the biggest rivals Umno has ever seen - Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. The team would include Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, Dr Mahathir's son,who will run for Umno Youth chief. Others include Rais Yatim and Muhyiddin.

Rocky's sources said Mr Najib was so worried that he sought an appointment to see Dr Mahathir. They met early this week. There have been no press reports on the meeting, but my paper understands that Dr Mahathir made it clear to Najib that he was "quite committed" to the Dream Team.

I am left wondering why the partnership between Ku Li and Dr M is known as the 'Dream Team'. Ku Li, until now, has been quite rhetorical about his vision to lead UMNO. There is no definite answers to the direction he intends to lead UMNO and BN in the future.
What is his position on the NEP, subsidy structure, civil service, education, BN partnership formula, interethnic relations and others?
If he intends to get the support of Dr M, he should know it does not come cheap. With Dr M behind the scene, it is not known how long this liaison can last. Do you expect the grand old master to simply keep quiet and hand's off to let Ku Li running the entire show without imposing his will?

Already, in his wish list is his son, Mukhriz, nomination as the Youth Chief. Mukhriz is best remembered for his anti-war NGO (Peace Malaysia) which has been quite active in the Middle East. He heads Ansara, a Malay professionals' association. Mukhriz is a staunch supporter of Dr M's legacy in UMNO.

Apart from his occasional political statements on Abdullah's incompetency, I have not really seen anything substantial from Mukhriz.

But we have seen and experienced a lot of Dr M even until today. He simply cannot go away. Malaysian voters had given him the best sent off by returning the BN government with a overwhelming parliamentary majority (92%) in the 2004 general election.

I am sure we will hear a lot from Ahirudin Attan about this "Dream Team". Only that it was my yesterday's bad dream. I am looking for something less scary in the future.

Picture courtesy of bigdogdotcom.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

BN Consensus Fails!


Only days ago, the BN Supreme Council held a meeting to discuss consensus building and a code of ethics for all members in its bid to control racist and sensitive sentiments in the coalition.

Yesterday, PM Abdullah Badawi and Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar have shown to us that the BN consensus is DEAD.

It is unthinkable for the duo to approve the use of ISA against Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Teresa Kok and Tan Hoon Cheng without consulting the cabinet which is the highest executive body. Did Abdullah consult his other coalition partners, knowing that his action will affect them badly?

Clearly, it is NO longer tenable for the coalition to exists if UMNO continues with its solo act and in the process hurt innocent victims with their action.

I would like to URGE Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar to resign immediately for his total incompetence and insensitivity. This is the same minister who had instructed the police to mount roadblocks when Anwar was present in the parliament causing massive traffic jams throughout Klang Valley.
Earlier, he said that the ISA was used on Tan to protect her 'safety'. This is the most preposterous justification. She could be warned or given police protection. Where is the threat coming from? Why didn't the police arrest the perpetrators who are threatening her safety instead of detaining her under ISA? The use of ISA here shows that Syed Hamid Albar is NOT FIT to become the Home Minister.

DAP should mull a legal action against the government and the police for using the ISA against MP Teresa Kok without a valid justification. MP Teresa Kok has provided exemplary leadership and is a good role model for Malaysian women. At all times, she has acted responsibly in her speeches and parliamentary conduct.

Syed Hamid Albar said today that Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng could be released as soon as today. We want him to RELEASE the two other detainees or charge them in court IMMEDIATELY.

The government's failure in ensuring a just and fair governance has made me change my mind about crossovers. We cannot ignore the possibility of Malaysia turning into a failed nation if this irresponsible behavior from the government were to continue.

We MAY have to support a change of the Federal Government as a last resort to heal the country.

Please, please stop sending smses and emails calling the Chinese to unite against the Malays. THIS IS NOT A RACIAL CHALLENGE. RPK is a Malay royalty. Similarly, we have stood up for him.

This is a CHALLENGE against our DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS and MALAYSIANS OF ALL RACES must stand up to defend our sacred rights.

AVOID TURNING THIS INTO A RACE RIOT.

Focus on getting massive support from all Malaysians, friends of Malaysia and our RIGHTMINDED MPS and Assemblymen who are truly Malaysians to stand on our side.

Speak Out Against Treachery

PAS leader Mujahid Yusuf Rawa, who was also at the police station, did not mince his words in arguing that Ahmad should be the one detained under ISA and "not the journalist who reported what he had said".

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.

Abdullah Badawi's Tainted Hands

The Abdullah's Administration has resorted to the use of a draconian law, ISA, to detain even more people without any valid reason or justification.

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.

STAY CALM.

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

Repeal and Reject the Use of ISA


Yesterday, I was asked by a reporter from Oriental Daily if I support the use of Internal Security Act against Ahmad Ismail. My answer was no, there are other criminal instigation laws which be used against Ahmad and he should be allowed to defend himself.

My position on the use of ISA against Raja Petra, the popular blogger of Malaysia Today, is the same. The government, at any point in time, should refrain from using this draconian piece of legislation to detain political opponents.

Raja Petra was charged with sedition in May for allegedly implying the deputy prime minister was involved in the killing of a young Mongolian woman. His trial is scheduled to start next month. There are several other cases against him. Let him defend himself. As a working democracy, even the most serious law offenders deserve their right to be defended and to be heard.
There is no possibility of justice in ISA.

ISA is a detention without trial and it should not be used against Raja Petra. The government owes us an explanation on why the ISA is used against a blogger. As a member of the international community, Malaysia must demonstrate its willingness to comply with the international convention.

We must firmly reject the use of this draconian legislation. If not, we should REJECT the Barisan Nasional forever.

Dr M Should Speak for Himself

Dr M's recent statement about the Chinese Malaysians being more interested in business and would readily accept race based politics shows how outdated he is as a politician.

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.

He said:

"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.

STUPID!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Focus on the Movement For Change

A number of reporters have asked me if Anwar Ibrahim would be deemed a failure should the change of government failed to materialise on 16th September 2008. I advice them not to be too fixated with the date.

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.