Saturday, February 28, 2009

MCA - A Road to Recovery or Oblivion?

Since the last general election, MCA, the second biggest party in BN, is still struggling to make a political comeback. The party lost more than half of all the seats it contested in the last general election. Its parliamentary representation fell from 41 seats to a meagre 15 seats. It lost in almost all Chinese majority constituencies. Chinese support for the BN was at a low of 25 to 38 percent in mostly urban seats.

Technically, the party represents the Chinese community only in name. Leaders of the party are less revered and respected compared to their predecessors such as Tan Cheng Lock, Tan Siew Sin, Lee San Choon, Lim Chong Eu, Lim Ah Lek and others. Years of racial politics has taken its toll of all parties representing the minorities in BN. Most of them lost their respective community's support because they were seen as conceding too much to the dominant racial party, UMNO.

It is interesting what the new leadership has in store for the party when it celebrates the 60th anniversary of the party. There are several crucial issues confronting MCA.

First, there is an obvious lack of unity and clarity in the party's struggle. The ongoing rift between Ong Tee Keat and Chua Soi Lek is affecting the leadership's concentration on its renewal and revival process. More leaders have offered to mediate their differences. Some leaders such as Loh Seng Kok have asked for Chua to be given a second chance. He argued that the deputy president should be given a second chance as even ex-criminals are given a chance to serve the community after they have paid the penalty and turned over a new leaf.

This is precisely the problem. The party has given Chua a chance by appointing his son, Chua Tee Yong, to replace him as the MP of Labis. Chua wants another slice of the cake for himself and demanded to be made a minister and a senator after his successful election as the deputy president of the party. His repeated demands have annoyed his president. Chua should have focused his political continuity through his son who is a qualified accountant and a likable person.

Afterall, public perception is clearly not to his favour. A recent poll by Merdeka Center said 74 percent of the respondents cannot accept politicians with moral deficiency. Political parties such as MCA, Gerakan and MIC have continued to operate in their own space and are largely ignorant of public perception. Their leaders think that they are still popular as long as they can command the support of their party delegates. This is a crucial misconception. It was proven in the last general election where dominant party leaders were defeated in the general election.

Until and unless this tiff is resolved, the party will continue to be sidetracked on personal disputes which may actually invite both anti-Ong and anti-Chua factions to join in the fray. Already sparks can be seen in Selangor and Johor where some members are considering to call an EGM to table a no-confidence motion against Ong. The EGM may also be an end game for Chua. Based on current sentiments, it is remotely possible for the no-confidence motion to succeed. A defeat of the motion will set the relationship of the two leaders on the course of no return.

On the other hand, Ong should act more magnanimous. He was too quick to go for a kill and replace many key positions with his people. Those who are familiar with Ong's political career can understand his reaction. He was treated like an outsider before the last general election. His relationships with the last two presidents were not at their cordial best. Hence, there was a mistrust between him and several key generals in the party who were appointed by the previous administration.

Ong, an ardent student of Sun Tzu and classical Chinese history, should have tried to use a softer approach to win over the heart and mind of these generals. A number of these generals are not hardcore supporters of their ex-bosses. They can be incorporated to help reduce the possibility of faction building in the party. It would be better for Ong to keep them competitive for his endorsement and attention. This creates a natural check-and-balance system in the party especially for those who are keen to impress the president.

Second, the party has yet to identify which political path it should take. A number of its leaders argued that it is likely for MCA to stay communal as long as UMNO still exists. There is a critical flaw in the statement. While UMNO has obviously benefited from this racial arrangement and is able to utilize a number of race-affirmative policy tools to strengthen its position, MCA and other minority parties have to beg for small concessions. It is obvious that their partnership was not between equals.

As a result, the influence of MCA and other minority parties is contained and constrained by UMNO and its behaviour in the coalition. The power sharing and consensus driven relationship is further eroded after the last general election when MCA and other minority parties lost badly. Most of the key policy decisions, e.g. ban on the use of 'Allah', arbitrary use of ISA against civilians, toll hike, petrol price hike et cetera, are made solely by UMNO without any proper consultation with its partners. MCA, like the opposition parties, is reduced to merely voicing their dissatisfaction over the party-controlled media.

Hence, it is not wise for the party to hinge its political direction on UMNO. The latter is not going to change its direction and policy in the near future. Politically, UMNO is still the most dominant party in the country. It has created an impressive patronage system which includes the public institutions, monarchy, elites and legal coercive forces. This patronage system is not easily dismantled or defeated. Ironically, many Malaysians were naive enough to believe that Anwar Ibrahim was on the verge of bringing this whole system down through his grand defection plan. If the plan was anywhere close, UMNO would have reacted beyond just plotting the downfall of the Perak state government.

The whole point is while UMNO can afford to remain communal, the MCA will continue to pay a huge price for not being a competent communal player. It does not have any visible leverage against UMNO. The party can only play a second fiddle in the coalition at best. It will be reminded that it was a beneficiary of UMNO's support in the 15 parliamentary seats that it won. Despite losing more than half its parliamentary seats, it was still given the same number of cabinet positions. This is another area which UMNO will claim credit.

Here is where the dilemma lies. As long as MCA is seen to be supportive and protective of UMNO, the party will not be able to regain its lost ground. All the opposition parties need to do is avoid shooting their own foot. They might even be able to win the next general election by doing practically nothing and act totally the opposite of UMNO.

In this regard, the party should take a bold step to try to overhaul the coalition instead of waiting for UMNO. Its leaders should quickly stop placing all hopes on Najib Razak's leadership to do the trick. Najib's imminent leadership has not created any positive movement or reaction from the public. The only ones who are euphoric are BN leaders. Najib's low popularity score amongst the Chinese and Indian communities is not helpful to both MCA and MIC.

If MCA cannot talk UMNO to become more reasonable, to allow the public institutions to grow independent, to restore public's confidence in them, to respect the rule of law, to address corruption, to embrace all minorities as equals and to respect the status of all religions, the party should either leave the coalition, rebrand the party as a multiracial party or become strictly a business organisation.

The last option of leaving competitive politics may not be a bad choice for the party. It can use its business clout and connections to stem its influence in any government. It does not have to fear losing the support of the community or allow its fate to be dictated by another competitive communal party.

After 60 years, MCA should wake up to the fact that UMNO is not its natural partner. If PAS and DAP are odd bedfellows, both MCA and UMNO are competitors in a race-based coalition. History has proven that race-based political parties will come to a head-on if each is committed to protect and defend the interests of its own race. MCA and UMNO relationship is sustained only because the former was willing to accept a dominant partner and is willing to concede some key concessions to the latter.

MCA is celebrating its 60th anniversary as a political party in Malaysia. At this convention, it should reorient itself with the changing facets of Malaysian politics. Anything less than a total soul searching which includes a sincere and open assessment of its party's direction, sense of purpose and place in the political milieu will not help to change its fate.

MCA can redeem itself only by being truthful. Not even a Ong-Chua strong partnership can help the party although it might keep the party focused on the challenging tasks at hand.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

UMNO's Mob Culture

DAP chairperson Karpal Singh was mobbed by a crowd of angry Umno Youth members at the Parliament lobby, wanting him to apologise for his remarks and accusation made against the movement yesterday. He called them 'Pemuda Umno celaka'(Damn Umno Youth).

Karpal was angry because he received a threatening note and two live bullets sent to his residence in Penang. Who wouldn't be? UMNO Youth, led by Khir Mohd Toyo and Khairy Jamaluddin, had tried to organise protests outside the veteran politician's residence in Penang and his office in Kuala Lumpur.

Earlier, Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin challenged opposition stalwart Karpal, whom he described as an "arrogant MP who thinks he knows everything", to repeat his accusation outside of the Parliament building.

"DAP always talks of a world class parliament but their chairman behaves in a very uncivilised and rude manner," added the Rembau MP.

Khairy should ask himself the same question; is UMNO Youth behaving in a civilised and polite manner? Didn't Khairy's youth members send out the same chilling threats to Nizar in Perak?

In Malaysian politics, no one can claim to come close to UMNO Youth in mob politics.

The burden of proof is on UMNO Youth. Can Khairy safely say that UMNO Youth did not instigate the threats against both Karpal and Nizar?

What happened to the police investigation on these threats? Our public institutions must act fairly or risk losing public confidence forever. Politicians should not under estimate public opinion.

So, Khairy the "Chameleon" is back to his old self. Interesting. We do not need your double standards in ethics and morality. What's worse: UMNO Youth is not picking a same size opponent but a MP with physical immobility.

Shame on you!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Nation in Distress

I am beginning to feel sick reading news on our political development. Our politicians talk about everything; from morality to ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) but nothing on how to steer this nation toward economic recovery. Debates in the parliament are a good measurement of our lawmakers' priority.

It is a shame that these politicians continue to bicker on petty issues. It is a shame that we are made to pay for their salary and perks and yet have to put up with their silly behaviour and time wasting remarks. I am sick listening to cat calls and dog howls in the parliament. These politicians should feel ashamed of themselves.

They are a privileged lot to be elected to the august house. They should take their responsibility seriously because this nation is looking up to them for solution and direction. But is this what we got from the politicians?

A politician who accused a lady of immorality in the nude picture controversy finds himself embroiled in another controversy. A pot should not call a kettle black.

Another politician wants to discuss how Malaysia should be made a republic. For goodness sake, there are better times for such a question.

Politicians from both sides of the house should work together to think of the best solution to get our nation out of the global economic slump. The global economic crisis appeared to be a serious one. Bill Gates gave his prediction that we may need 9 years to recover fully. NTV7 reported that 100,000 Malaysians will lose their job by the end of 2009. This is a conservative projection.

I have spoken to a number of people. Hotel lobbies are getting quieter. Factories less busy. Manufacturing companies are slashing jobs. When jobs are lost, consumer demand will be affected and this will lead to eventual contraction in the economic growth.

Where is our focus? By-elections, snap elections, illegitimate government, scandals etc.

This nation is suffering from a serious illness. We have got all our priorities wrong. We continue to bask in mediocrity and petty politics.

To recover, the society must wake up to a serious reality that unless we change our mindset and set higher standards for everything we are not going to make much progress. Elsewhere, recovery may take 9 years but Malaysia may not recover from this slump.

My friends, whether you are a Malay, Indian, Chinese or Kadazan, it is time for us to wake up. Wake up me must to ensure this nation does not slip into perpetual distress.

You can keep your race supremacy, I will keep my job and opportunities. Which is more important? Pride or survival?

Kick these silly politicians right at where it hurts the most. Do it sooner the better.

Monday, February 23, 2009

UMNO Turns to UK QC's Help

Reported in Malaysiakini, Umno is seeking the opinion of a Queen’s Counsel (QC) on the constitutional issues on the takeover of Perak state government from Pakatan Rakyat. It was reported that a senior constitutional lawyer left Kuala Lumpur yesterday for London to engage the services of a QC on behalf of Umno to advise the party on a host of questions that is roiling debate in the country.

I thought both Najib Razak and Zambry said the takeover was constitutional and legal. If they were so sure of their position why can't they trust a local constitutional lawyer to represent them?

A self-proclaimed Malay nationalist party running to its ex-colonial master's country to seek for a legal advice on the state government legitimacy is both shocking and silly. I am sure we have enough legal brains in the country to handle the constitutional issues. This action shows no difference from feudal Malay rulers running over to seek the advice of British residents and advisers in the past.

The last person UMNO should ask for an advice is a Queen's Council. They should really go back to ask the people of Perak by calling for snap elections. This is the best way to show us their patriotism.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Say No To Race Based Politics

Some 90% of about 500 respondents believe that the abolition would result in greater social harmony and understanding among the various communities.

About 92% of the respondents agreed that “Malaysians are a colourful example of racial, cultural and religious tolerance, living peacefully in a social mosaic rich in diversity, and we should proactively preserve and treasure our common destiny.”

The poll on “Racial harmony in a balanced society” conducted by Kuching-based malaysiapollster recently.

BN race-based component parties should take some time to digest the results of the poll. They should embrace change or be changed in the next general election.

About 44% felt that racial harmony could best be achieved by getting rid of politicians who play the race card. Politicians such as Khir Toyo should take heed of this sentiment. He can continue to become a 'jaguh kampung' (race hero) in his own party but continue to be rejected by the voters.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Low Class TV3

My brother had asked me several times to subscribe to Astro TV. I told him my common staple is news and I would try to stick to the several free TV channels, among them TV3. Tonight's prime time news, Bulletin Utama, has convinced me that I should sign up for Astro TV.

As usual, today's news report has devoted more than 10 minutes on Elizabeth Wong. A TV3 reporter has taken an extra effort to interview several parliamentarians on the controversy.

I was taken aback by Ibrahim Ali's remark. He accused Pakatan Rakyat for practising double standards when its leaders, chiefly Anwar Ibrahim, have asked Elizabeth to reconsider her quit decision. He said BN leaders who were caught in similar situation would have been asked to resign immediately.

Categorically, I don't think its right for Elizabeth, Anwar or PKR to blame the entire BN. Many BN leaders, from MCA, UMNO and Gerakan, have spoken up in defence of Elizabeth. In fact, politicians from both coalitions should unite to speak up against any invasion of privacy. It may have happened to Elizabeth today and it could be someone else next. We must stop this silly game to bring down politicians.

Hence, it is important for us to know the difference - between what is moral and what is not. It is not wrong for her to sleep semi-naked. It is not wrong for a couple to be intimate. Khir Toyo's question on morality borders hypocrisy. A simple survey sample done by a local university had shown that our sexuality patterns have changed.

She did not attempt to exhibit her sexuality. It was personal to her. How many top leaders dare say that they have their moral compass pointing to the right place?

She did not commit adultery -which is not acceptable by Buddhist, Christian and others.

Hence, Ibrahim Ali's argument of double standards is both misguided and mischievous. We should condemn the action and not the victim. There are times when we can leave partisan politics aside.

It is the same in the case of Chua Soi Lek. Both the culprit and the victim were wrong. Chua was wrong to commit adultery and he had to pay for his immoral action. Similarly, the culprit who invaded his privacy was wrong to do so. If caught, he/she should face a stern punishment. This is what we can agree on.

If there is anything PAS Kelantan has done wrong in the last general election, it is to make way for 'katak' Ibrahim Ali to stand as an independent candidate on PAS banner. On his own steam, he did not stand a chance to even come to keep his deposit.

Back to TV3, the news producer should be ashamed of herself/himself for such low and cheap shots aimed at a helpless victim.

It is so unfortunate that both our politics and TV production quality have gone the way similar to our football team. Worthless, low quality and boring.

MCA President: Discard Quota System

Many prominent economic analysts and businessmen, including banker Nazir Razak, have asked for the removal of quota system under the NEP. It is an anomaly because there was not supposed to be any quota system under the policy aimed at reducing poverty and restructuring economic function to race.

Most of the specialists also agreed the government needs to go beyond both fiscal and monetary policy to address the economic crisis. An effective action must include comprehensive restructuring of the economic and industrial development structure. The Malaysian economy is highly dependent on FDI and the quota system practiced in the guise of NEP is detrimental to both local and foreign investment.

MCA President Ong Tee Keat said it is time for the services sector to be independent of the quota system at his party's event last night.

He said the time had come for a new mindset and to do away with the quota-centric mindset as liberalisation "is knocking at our doorsteps".

He reminded the policy makers, "People are talking about the New Economic Policy, the 30 per cent quota in non-Bumiputera companies at this juncture but it is important to take note of the change in the global scenario."

"We are signatories of the World Trade Organisation and the Asean framework on liberalisation in services sector and we are in the midst of liberalising the sector progressively," he said.

Earlier, UMNO deputy president candidate and Minister of International Trade and Industry Muhyiddin Yassin has called for a review of the NEP. However, he did not give any specific deadline.

For the lack of any reform record to show, the BN should take this opportunity to review any archaic and old socio-economic policies which have not benefited the nation. Any delay in acting does not augur well for the coalition which is losing its appeal by the day.

Leaders & Desperados

I am saddened by what has happened to PKR Assemblywoman Elizabeth Wong. If her pictures were taken without her permission, it is a clear violation of her privacy.

However, I am disgusted with low-class politicians who are trying to score cheap shots on her misfortune. These politicians are desperados.

Read some of the reactions:

Syed Hamid Albar, Home Minister:

"PKR has a lot of problematic people and they should settle their problems first before deciding to become the people's representatives in Parliament or even in the state assembly.Well, if she is the victim... I do not know... she is entitled to make a police report and the police will investigate.You may take naked photos in your private home, but you have to make sure the the public will not get it. In this case it is too early to say who is responsible." (A desperado?)

Nazri Abdul Aziz, Minister in Prime Minister's Department:

"I sympathise with the executive councillor, this thing should have not happened as she the people's representative and she had been performing her duties.Therefore, to foil what she has done for the community in this manner is not good. But I hope her spirits (remain strong) and she will not bother about what has happened." (A humane reaction)

More reactions here

The biggest desperado must be Khir Toyo urged state executive councillor Elizabeth Wong to resign following the circulation of her nude photographs. He said the Pakatan Rakyat leader should quit as state cabinet member as well as state assemblyperson for Bukit Lanjan."This is a moral issue. Previously, (former health minister and MCA deputy president) Dr Chua Soi Lek had also resigned over a similar incident."

Chua was asked to resign because he committed adultery and not because his private sex video was widely circulated in public. It is a shame that Khir Toyo cannot see the difference. Adultery is morally wrong. I would have defended Chua the same way if his private video with his legal lover was violated and circulated in public.

Of course the same set of standards must be applied to Elizabeth Wong. If she was found sleeping with another married man, then it is logical to ask her to vacate her positions.

Khir should try to answer a honest question; "does he believe that physical intimacy is something rare between couples?

There is another low-class desperado; the person who took the pictures and violated the trust of his former lover. Shame on you! You just have all men a bad name.

Monday, February 16, 2009

2nd Economic Stimulus - The Right Focus?

Deputy Finance Minister Husni Hanadzlah said the focus of the second stimulus would be on both infrastructure and human resource development. Second Finance Minister Nor Mohamad Yakcob had asked Penang to focus on workers' retraining.

I would like to urge the government too reconsider such a narrow focus. Both infrastructure development and human resource development may not be the right remedy to reverse the economic slowdown and lost of jobs.

Infrastructure development takes a longer period to have an impact on the economy. At least 6 to 12 months. Moreover, this sector uses more than 90 percent of foreign workers. Just days ago, the Ministry of Human Resource has proposed a more relaxed levy to send foreign workers home. The lack of foreign workers to work on infrastructure development projects does not immediate translate into more locals taking up the job.

The directive from the Ministry of Human Resource may create yet another human rights problem for us in our management of foreign labour/migrant workers. Malaysia is already being criticised for its poor record in handling the welfare of migrant workers who had contributed much to the nation's solid economic growth in the last 2-3 decades. This discussion will not be further explored here.

Back to the stimulus, the government should instead go for direct stimulus by injecting the cash into the domestic economy. Ambank Research has voiced out similar concern that the second stimulus might be too small to make an impact. It has asked the government to channel the stimulus directly to the system via cash coupons or tax rebates. A number of analysts, including myself, have voiced similar suggestion in the past.

The workers' retraining programme will not contribute much to keep people employed. The main problem with our economy is not skill misplacement but job lost. Jobs are lost and new positions are freezed because exports have slowed down considerably. Our exports in January (m-o-m) have slowed down by almost 17 percent.

Instead of spending the stimulus on retraining, the government should focus on creating new jobs e.g. food production, public transport, hospitality, community work, agriculture and import substitution sectors. It is pointless to retrain workers if they are going to continue to be jobless after the training period.

The stimulus package must address 3 key areas:

1) Keeping jobs
2) Creating new jobs
3) Enhance or sustain domestic demand

Hence, it is important for the second stimulus to be well directed. This is the time for right minded politicians to put down their differences and help to address the impending economic crisis.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

BN Should Consider Being More Reasonable

Frankly, I have counted a few top BN leaders as my friends. In person, they are humble, decent and can be quite engaging on various topics. One of them even agreed with my observation that the Perak power snatch is a short term victory. Won a battle but losing the war.

But there is one problem. Most of them have refused to speak up in the coalition or in public. Some even made public statements, which ran contrary to their own belief. Until and unless these leaders speak up and start to call a spade a spade, there is very little they can do to change the fate of BN.

Whether it is naivete or not, they should not hope for a one-man miracle to help restore the popularity of the coalition. Not when the man, himself, is not that popular. When the people start to wake to the fact that they can flex their muscle in a democratic system and choose the right government to represent them, they can bring down even the most autocratic and vicious government.

The right to choose must be protected and respected in a true democracy. On this same breath, I was critical of the power grab in Perak, called it illegal and undemocratic because a true democracy cannot be perverted by mere 3 individuals. Thousands of voices cannot be muted and ignored.

In a democracy, every citizen has the same rights and legal status promised under the constitution. The rights to live, to work, to be educated, to profess a religion, to mobility and to be protected and to seek justice. These rights are given the same to prime ministers, ministers, parliamentarians, royalty, rich or poor.

A ruling government in a democratic system must understand, respect and practice these democratic doctrines.

This is where BN problems lie. Its unwillingness to observe and respect the rights of its opponents and voters has created a strong negative perception of its ability to rule fairly. It is odd to hear calls within the coalition to change, repent and reinvent since its shocking electoral losses in the 12th general election and to find out that it has remained pretty much the same - an arrogant bully.

What has BN got to lose for being reasonable? What has it got to lose for being sensitive to the needs of this multiracial society? What has it got to lose for embracing change?

Nothing. Perhaps some members might not like it and want it to stay the same way, continue to practice race-centric, loud and aggressive, rule by law and corrupt politics. Then, being reasonable is actually good for the coalition. It can lose these members and retain those who are and can be reasonable.

Similarly, what can BN gain by being unreasonable? The coalition has plenty of examples here; using the draconian ISA against political dissidents and demonstrators, hurling threats against opponents, making racial slurs, using legal coercive forces illegally and others.

Not much. Some short term gains, perhaps. History has never been kind to oppressors e.g. Hitler, Pol Pot, Idi Amin and others.

Hence, component parties in BN should wake up to a new reality. No amount of party restructuring or reorganisation is going to help restore the coalition support level if they are not willing to tell UMNO leaders in the face to stop acting like these oppressors. Another problem is UMNO's thinking as a party and not as part of a multiracial coalition. Hence, it is willing to play both race and religious sentiments with impunity.

MCA should not grab on floating straws to keep itself afloat. Most Chinese Malaysian voters cannot digest the idea of voting for a MCA candidate if the party continue to stay at the periphery of Malaysian politics. How many Indian Malaysians can throw their support for MIC despite being fully aware that their community leaders, Hindraf 5, have remained behind bars without a possibility of fair trial?

How many right-minded UMNO leaders can do what Zaid Ibrahim did to defend the rule of law and individual liberty? How many UMNO leaders are willing to spare the same opportunities, privileges and rights to the poor in their own community despite claiming to champion their supremacy? How many Malay leaders are willing to risk condemnation for informing their own community that race supremacy is not skin deep but knowledge driven?

Some BN leaders may accuse me of being an instigator. No one likes to have his sweet dream bubble being pricked. Unfortunately, I like calling a spade a spade. They should stop cheering the break-up of Pakatan Rakyat and hoping to make a technical rebound. It will not happen. Politics has never been that easy. The break-up of Pakatan does not mean the end of opposition against their unreasonable rule. Afterall, didn't both Gagasan Rakyat and Barisan Alternatif went under?

BN should seriously consider being more reasonable. This looks like the only viable choice.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A New Terrorist Group in Malaysia?

Here is a comment from an anonymous reader:

"pegi mati dgn ko punya idea tak sekolah tu.. sedar diri kamu siapa dalam negeri kami. kamu tak layak untuk bersuara apa lagi nk mencampuri urusan kesultanan melayu perak amaran aku jgn main api dgn ketuanan melayu. awas kamu dalam perhatian kami."

Pedang Pejuang

Pedang Pejuang? Must be a new terrorist group in our country, eh. My humble advice to this writer, do not play with fire too. Threats can backfire on you.

Tengku Razaleigh's Romancing the Past

Image from Malaysian Insider

For the people who do not know the politician prince Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, after reading his blog, may find him a dreamer who is caught in his own time warp. However, true supporters of UMNO cannot fault him for being a true patriot of his party, UMNO.

Razaleigh continues his romance with the past, reminiscing how great his party once was as he reminded himself of the Tunku's words, “we have created Malaysia through friendly argument and compromise. The spirit of co-operation and concord is living proof of the desire we share for a common destiny.” This spirit he called the very “basis of Malaysia” and its “augury for the future.”

He continues, "Malaya and Malaysia were achievements of vision executed by patient deliberation. Umno’s leadership articulated that vision, won others over to it, and helped forge the constitutional underpinnings for a new nation in negotiations over many months."

However, the true historical narration of UMNO is not all that rosy pink. Beneath the party which was claimed to be capable of "friendly argument and compromise" this image was shattered in the 1969 racial riots.

Prior to the incident, a blot in our race relations, the party was instrumental in shifting the whole political landscape toward a very dangerous racial extreme. Incidents leading to the 1969 racial riots were laced with emotional racial sentiments and fervour culminating in the demise of Singapore from Malaysia in 1965.

In fact, several UMNO leaders were allegedly involved in inciting the riots which turned into racial riots. As a healing process, the BN government did not take any positive step to conduct a full inquiry into the incident.

Back to Razaleigh's own political career, we know that he left UMNO in 1987 to form the "original UMNO" through his party, Semangat 46. In spirit, Razaleigh has never left the party. He ceased to associate himself with the new party which was re-registered by Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Perhaps, Razaleigh should have realised that the "original UMNO" and in his own words "But no other party can do what Umno once did..." has ceased to exist after 1987. It was ruled illegal by the court. The old UMNO, in its true spirit and form had evaporated when Razaleigh later rejoined the new UMNO and disbanded his own Semangat 46.

It is not a problem for Razaleigh to continue romancing the past. True blue UMNO leaders who are with the party since its formation should feel the same way. There is no wrong for Razaleigh to remain loyal and hopeful of the party he criticizes "Today’s Umno, under its present leadership, is probably beyond reform. Our leaders are the problem, and they have structured the party, bullied and bought it, so that they cannot be replaced by those who would lead to serve."

The problem is Razaleigh, the statesman and a leader, has allowed himself to be caught in a time bubble. Until and unless Razaleigh allow himself to look straight at the real cause of his struggle - for a better multiracial Malaysia - he will miss the substance for the form. His romance with the party whose leadership is rotten will continue to guide his political existence and (ir)relevance.

Razaleigh should accept the crude reality that nothing in life is permanent. Not us. Definitely, not UMNO. Even Dr Mahathir could not stand the current UMNO which he had helped to create, shape and allow it to turn into an insensitive bully. Dr M has gotten himself out of the party and is trying very hard to dump any misgivings to his unsuspected successor, Abdullah Badawi, who will soon ride into the sunset himself. I could not help but pity him. Perhaps history and critics have been too unfair to Abdullah.

Razaleigh's sharp criticism and sincerity at this point, one of the darkest hours in Malaysian history, is most welcomed. But his writing will not do much to help restore our pride or broken politics if he continues to romance the past.

A good leader should adapt with the changing hours. In a polite response to his ardent readers, he wrote:
"Each medium of communication comes with its own style of communication and makes people relate to each other in different ways. Old-fashioned writing tends to be more formal and distant, with responses spaced out over days or weeks. Conversation puts people in the same moment. Blogs, I have found ask for immediate, informal and more personal communication with … the world. For someone bred and educated in my time and circumstances, it does take some getting used to. So I beg your indulgence meanwhile."

The politician prince should not only get used to the technology but the changing facets of today's politics too. He should learn to let go. No doubt, UMNO had played its role in the past. It had given us several great leaders e.g. Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Dr Ismail, Tun Razak, Tun Hussien etc. But the party is no longer relevant or committed to its past struggle.

Moreover, the society today is different from the one 50 years ago. This country is at its crossroads. For our own good, the path soon to be taken by this nation must not be layered with the same communal dynamics of the past. Let bygones, be bygones. Nothing less than embracing our diversity and enhancing mutual respect and acceptance that we can hope to survive the global onslaught. No more racial politics.

We need credible leaders. We need a Razaleigh who can derive from his vast political experience, good family background and education to guide us to the future. Not a Razaleigh who is still romancing with his past. It will not get us or himself anywhere.

"Patik Mohon Derhaka"

Police Public Image

IGP Musa Hassan must have grown immune to all criticisms and allegations hurled at the police force. It is sad that he had grown immune and impartial to these criticisms instead of doing his utmost best to change the negative public perception against his force.

Musa's silence and inaction can be perceived as arrogant and insensitive.

I have said before that the police should not allow themselves to be used as a political tool by the politicians. Unfortunately, in the case of Perak, they have acted in ways which will be hard to justify their independence.

Why form a barricade at the state secretariat building to deter the democratically elected MB and his excos from entering? The police should have acted only when directed by the court.

From the ban on political ceramah to the probe against Karpal Singh's intention to contest the decision of Perak Sultan to sack the MB, the police's action may be perceived negatively by the public.

As a custodian of public safety, I sympathize with our policemen. Many of them are dedicated and some had even sacrificed their own safety to combat crime. But the police must stay out of politics and act impartially.

It is a lose-lose situation if the public no longer trusted the police.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ridiculous Tengku Zainol of Kedah

Ridiculous is word to describe the call of the Kedah Association of Royalty to ban the entry of DAP chairman Karpal Singh to Perak for being rude to Sultan Azlan Shah.

Its president Tengku Zainol Tengku Yahya said the Malay Rulers are pillars (in the society) that have to be protected, so Karpal's outburst against the Sultan of Perak is unacceptable.

He described Karpal's outlandish remarks as uncivilised and could influence others to make seditious remarks against the Rulers and called on him to apologise to the Sultan.

Tengku Zainol would do the royalty good by keeping his mouth shut. His remark against Karpal might be perceived as the royalty efforts to restore feudalism and monarchy in Malaysia. He should be reminded that Malaysia is a constitutional democracy and the role of royalty is only symbolic in the constitution.

It has been given some role in the constitution but the execution of its responsibility must be consistent with the laws. Hence, any action taken by any party, if not consistent with the constitution, can be challenged in court. The judicial process allows for the necessary check-and-balance of the system.

The main pillars of the Malaysian democracy are the constitution, the parliament, the judiciary, the constitutional monarchy and the democratic process of elections. No one is above the law.

To ban Karpal from entering Perak runs contrary to his constitutional rights to move freely throughout the country. Tengku Zainol is ridiculing Malaysians' intelligence by assuming what we are brainless parrots who could be easily influenced to do something wrong. Most of the criticisms against the decision of the Perak Sultan to dismiss the MB and the popularly elected government are made independently, without the influence of Karpal.

Karpal should not even be credited as the person who started the criticism. Many constitutional experts have sounded the same alarm bell.

Economic Woes and Stimulus

With global trade numbers continue to show dismal results, down by almost 45% vis-a-vis same period last year, it is time for the federal government to look deeper than merely approving additional budget to be used through the ministries.

Dr Mahathir has pointed some crucial points on what can be done. He said that Malaysia needs to find its niche. To do so, the country must assess its own strengths and weaknesses. The economic solution must include a relook at Malaysia's economic structure and industrial processes.

Mahathir said "It is not just giving money here and there... giving it to this school or to this area, that area... that is not the way. We have to structure the whole economy and structure which part needs support.”

One area is to tie government assistance with a compulsory internal restructuring to ensure higher adoption of technology and processes to improve productivity and enhance quality.

There are some crucial areas for the government to ponder:

  1. Use the stimulus to create new industries and new jobs e.g. food production, import substitution industries, public transport, agriculture, hospitality services and related cottage industries
  2. Assistance for the SMEs to ensure job lost and retrenchment is minimized. Lost of jobs will translate to lost income and lower consumer demand
  3. Review the role of the GLCs to support the local economy. GLCs play a significant role the domestic economy. It is time for GLCs to look at broader areas of capacity building for local suppliers and extending support to SMEs.
  4. Revise and review archaic economic policies which are hampering economic development
  5. Revise and review our human resource policy. Malaysia must not continue to depend on low-to-medium skilled foreign workers. This is an disincentive for local companies to hold back technology adoption and innovation
  6. Consider the setting up of retrenchment support funds. SMEs and local companies can be encouraged to reduce retrenchment if the government can support part of their labour cost. It is important to keep workers at work. Workers supported by the funds can be utilised by the government on separate socio-economic programmes including community works
  7. PM Abdullah has asked political parties to keep their differences away and work together to safe the economy. This statement no longer holds any credibility with the recent debacle in Perak. But the federal government should refrain from using public funds, in the guise of development allocation, to serve its own political purposes. Federal government MUST allocate additional funds to all states FAIRLY. It is UNPATRIOTIC for BN to do otherwise.
  8. Finally, we need to look at economic centralisation critically. The centralisation of economic planning and implementation is no longer relevant and is open to abuse and corruption. We need to explore the need for economic decentralisation through proper power sharing between the state and federal governments and their respective agencies.
I would like to encourage views on this issue. Any delay of a swift and calculated action from the federal government is going to put our economy in jeopardy. Aggregate demand will continue to fall if jobs are lost and government economic stimulus not rightly directed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Politics & Communalism

Malaysian politics continues to be in doldrums. The more we expect the political paradigm to move away from the communal centric model, the worse it has become. Political parties from both the coalitions have continue to dig deep trenches to protect their own communal interests and identity. When challenged, these political players tend to lose their mask which hides their real face.

Many examples...

Kulim state assemblyman Lim Soo Nee of Parti Keadilan Rakyat has warned that he might quit Pakatan Rakyat if it continues to implement policies that do not benefit the Chinese. He was critical of the recent ruling by the PAS led Kedah state government which required the mandatory installation of glass cubicles by pork sellers at markets.

Lim wants the state government should place emphasis on improving security in the state and other problems that concern the people instead of touching on such sensitive issues. It is unfortunate that Lim is acting like a loser. He should know that politics is not a bed of roses. His role is to ensure the agenda of his constituency is being seriously considered by the state government. Threatening to quit will get Lim nowhere and what is the use of politicians who can't struggle but throw tantrums?

For the upcoming Bukit Selambau by-election, a seat with barely less than 30 percent Indian voters, Hindraf is keen to lobby the seat for its national coordinator RS Thanenthiran who may stand on a PKR ticket. Leaders of Hindraf thought the movement should be rewarded for its aggressive campaign on behalf of Pakatan’s election campaign last year.

PR cannot become a truly non-racial coalition if its members continue to bicker over race and are concern about only those in their community. They should learn to lose their communal lenses. Can Hindraf win in Bukit Selambau if its sole interest is about Hindu's rights? The movement should keep out of multiracial politics if it is only keen to look after its own community.

It is time for Malaysian politics to look beyond narrow paramaters of race and religion. Otherwise, the same racial dynamics which plagued BN will find its way into PR. One day, these racial forces may be forced to collide.

Elsewhere, both DAP and PAS continue to bicker on hudud laws. I suspect that negative reaction and perception toward hudud laws was caused mainly by fear of Islamisation than the punishment meted out under the laws.

Enhancing mutual religious understanding and respect is another area our political parties must work on. The whole discourse on religion today is too shallow. There is very little to be achieved if Karpal Singh continues his opposition against the hudud laws without first trying to reach out to the proponents of hudud.

We do not have to support the hudud laws by reaching out to understand. But we will surely create unnecessary divisions and misunderstanding if we choose to first ignore and reject.

Both communalism and interreligion dialogue must be put at the top of the priority for both coalitions if they want to set a new leadership direction for this country.

Malaysia has long suffered from a broken racial politics which is detrimental to nation building. Most of us are Malay/Chinese/Tamil/Kadazan/etc. first, Malaysian second. Without getting this right, get more people to think as citizens of this country, it is difficult for the country to stand united against any global challenges.

We must accept the fact that we have yet to reach the turning point of race politics. End the bigotry now or the losers are us, all of us.

Defensive New Perak "Menteri Besar"

The Malaysian Insider reported that Zambry Abdul Kadir snapped at awkward questions from reporters at his first press conference, that he has been feeling the strain of defending what has been an obviously unpopular and possibly unconstitutional takeover of the state from Pakatan Rakyat.

Also reported:

When asked today if he thought he has the support of a majority of the public in Perak, Zambry said: "That is why we are here."

When it was pointed out that he did not gain his position as menteri besar via an election, he grew visibly defensive and snapped back: "What do you mean? This is a democratic process.

"Do you understand democracy? I am asking you, do you understand the political philosophy of democracy?

"I am asking you back. Why are you not asking them (Pakatan Rakyat) back when they are
talking about the party hopping? "When they triggered everything right from the very beginning. You should ask yourself about that."

I am not surprised that Zambry feel awkward trying to defend the BN takeover in Perak. But I am amused by his lack of understanding of democracy. If democracy to Zambry means UMNO can do whatever it likes because Anwar is doing the same then this is perverted understanding of democracy. Two wrongs do make a right.

Zambry should be reminded that democracy is about the people. If he thinks democracy can be dictated by the three controversial "independent" assemblymen then we should not raise our hopes on his administration. A leader who does not want to accept reality and trying to distort the notion of democracy is not worth his salt.

If Zambry is so sure that he has the support of the majority, he should do the right thing - get their mandate.

On another note, if Zambry claimed to serve all why would be need to appoint two advisors with state exco status to assist him on Indian and Chinese issues. MIC S. Veerasingam will be his advisor for Indian affairs while Chang Ko Youn will be Chinese advisor. Ironically, the two had lost their seats in the last general election.

How can they represent the the two communities when they did not even receive the mandate of the people to serve?

Unfortunately, Zambry's government is not consistent with his claim - that he serves all. There is no need for both Indian and Chinese advisors if he is really close to the grassroots. Another headache for him, whether or not to continue with the 999 years land lease.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Karpal Needs the DAP Support

Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has confirmed that no ISA would be used against Karpal.

"When the investigation is completed, the report will be submitted to the Attorney-General for whatever action he deems fit," the prime minister told reporters when asked to comment on calls from various parties for immediate action to be taken against Karpal Singh, including under the ISA, to maintain public peace in the country.

I would like to advise the Prime Minister to stop wasting the time of his Attorney-General on such flimsy allegations against Karpal Singh. The AG office should spend more time to investigate custodial deaths and corruption charges against several politicians.

Bar Council has taken a stand to support Karpal's right to sue the Sultan of Perak. The suit is not a personal attack against the Sultan. It is not a defamation suit but to challenge the Sultan's interpretation of the constitution. All of us agree that the constitution is the highest law of the nation and any right minded Malaysian should stand firm to defend the sanctity of the constitution.

We agree that the Sultan's decision to sack the MB and to install the new government despite some serious democratic and moral flaws in the appointment has created constitutional crisis in Perak.

What Karpal need is, at least, support from his own party. He is, afterall, the Chairman of DAP. His criticism of Anwar Ibrahim is another matter. But on this ground, the feisty politician needs support from his own comrades.

Are they abandoning him to fight his own battle against those who wanted to use the ISA against him or threatening his safety?

If DAP cannot stand up for its own chairman, can we expect the party to stand up for us?

Headache for the New Perak Government

The newly installed BN government in Perak is facing an expected problem. Two of the three 'independent' assemblymen facing corruption charges, Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu and Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi, have failed to turn up for their court's hearing.

The two were charged in a Sessions Court on Aug 25 last year with allegedly receiving bribes over the application for a RM180mil housing project in Sri Iskandar in Perak Tengah.

An arrest warrant is now out against Osman for going AWOL. The two were instrumental in the fall of the PR Perak government. With their support, the BN was able wrest power in the state.

However, I have said earlier that this new government which was formed primarily on the support of the three 'independent' assemblymen is not stable.

Failing both democracy and morality test, the best way forward is to dissolve the state assembly to allow for snap elections. Ultimately, a government must be supported by the people.

Funny, the two assemblymen looked healthy when they turned up at Putrajaya to support Najib and the BN. None of the three assemblymen appeared on the state exco list today. Looks like Hee Yit Foong may have to wait a bit longer for her Toyota Camry.

BN is taking a great risk to appoint the three as state excos. This is the main reason why the coalition has continued to fish for more defectors.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Bukit Gantang By-Election, Najib's Nightmare

PAS member of Parliament for Bukit Gantang Roslan Shaharum passed away this morning of heart attack at 50. In last March's election, Roslan defeated Umno treasurer Azim Zabidi by a majority of 1,566 votes. Bukit Gantang is a Malay majority seat with 27% Chinese and 10% Indian votes.

This is a by-election that Najib's UMNO does not need. It will be a difficult by-election for UMNO to go into in the midst of high emotions and anger running in Perak. Moreover, not all BN component parties' leaders are convinced that the Perak political coup was a right thing for the coalition now. The controversial new "Menteri Besar" Zambry will not have an enviable task to lead this election. He is far from settling into his role.

Will Najib dare to "turun padang" or lead the campaign like the previous two in Permatang Pauh and Kuala Trengganu? It looks like the in-coming PM will not have much of a choice since he put himself as the new UMNO chief of Perak. A worse than 2008 results will put Najib on the spot and discredited him.

If BN's machinery was wanting in Kuala Trengganu, it will be at its worse in Bukit Gantang. Non-UMNO parties in BN will be cautious to throw everything at PR in the by-election if UMNO leaders resort to its anti-Malay and anti-monarch slogans against PR.

Looking at the development in Perak, this by-election will be fierce and fiery and may even be one of the most racist campaigns ever conducted in Malaysian politics. This is where Malaysians must use their head and not their heart to participate in the campaign as supporters or voters.

It will also prove another salient point, will there be more Hang Jebats or Hang Tuahs in Bukit Gantang, Perak?

Before the March 8, 2008 general election, Bukit Gantang was a strong pro-UMNO seat. This is an interesting election to watch. PR will pull their full weight behind their candidate and the people who wanted to get a shot at UMNO will now have a chance to do so.

With UMNO's party election looming near, this is a by-election which will become Najib's nightmare.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Karpal's Calling a Spade a Spade

There is one thing I like about DAP Chairman Karpal Singh - his bluntness. Here, Karpal is calling a spade a spade when he openly demanded that PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim quit as Pakatan Rakyat chief.

“He has created enough trouble and it is time for him to repent.”

Karpal said both parties had fallen sway to Anwar’s rhetoric, who had supported defections of elected lawmakers, even bringing in Bota assemblyman Datuk Nasharudin Hashim who later returned to Umno.

This is the same justification used by UMNO leaders to justify the fall of PR government in Perak. To jog back our memory, it wasn't Anwar who started the ball rolling on defections. It was UMNO leaders, both Dr Khir Toyo (Selangor) and Tajol Rosli (Perak), who started it first.

Even Gerakan Koh Tsu Koon is calling Anwar the "King of Frogs" and blamed him for starting the defection game. I was surprised that Koh, a Ph.D holder, was so childish to suggest that the defections were okay because Anwar started it first. Even if it was Anwar who started the game, it is still not okay to support defections. Just because someone you know starts to steal it does not mean that it is okay to steal.

Some sense and sensibility should be applied to evaluate the extent of damage these defections have done to our democracy and politics. General elections are about the people and not the politicians. When a mandate has been given, the politicians should respect it.

Yes, Anwar was calling a bluff for months and he broke all deadlines without much success. It was obvious that many analysts, like myself, have grown tired of Anwar's antics. I told him to strike a balance between governance and politics. Alas, he chose the later and did very little to help the former.

It was obvious that a number of PKR lawmakers and executives did not perform up to expectations. Yet, I heard a number of their state leaders were asking for more positions. Some wanted to be consulted on state appointments. Anwar should have worked harder to ensure that his people perform and fulfill their election pledges.

He should understand that it is not possible for the people to continue trusting non-performers. Some did not even set up their service centre until being criticized for failing to do so.

Anwar should not hope to continue riding on people's negative sentiments toward BN to keep on winning.

A number of PR leaders may not be comfortable with Karpal's outburst. No one will. Not even BN leaders when criticized. But Anwar wanted to show us a different kind of leadership. I was a victim too when I criticized UMNO leaders. I was reprimanded by my ex-employers.

PR leaders including Anwar should view Karpal's criticism constructively. Maybe it is a good idea for Anwar to adjust his leadership style. He should be thankful that it was BN which drew the first blood and it was ugly. The public is fuming mad about their democratic rights being robbed off. Civil rights organisations are critical of the BN. I think it is a distasteful action by the BN.

On the hindsight, these criticisms could be aimed at Anwar and BN could play victims. They would have inflicted worse damage on PR.

A less heroic and dominating Anwar would be good for his coalition. At present, nothing moves if Anwar does not. When Anwar sneezes, the whole coalition catches flu. He should consult more, communicate with his fellow comrades, get both DAP and PAS to iron out their differences and groom more leaders to take up important roles. It does not have to be a personality centric PR.

Anwar as a cohesive glue of the coalition has already played his role and it is time to move on to play a more important advisory role - to strengthen his fragile coalition.

Karpal's criticism is important for PR and it is up to its leaders to take heed or curse it to the dustbin. Remember, PR leaders can be quite arrogant too.

Beware of the Political Diversion

Shrewed Najib, now he is saying that it was the Perak Sultan's decision to install the new BN government in the silver state. A number of top UMNO leaders such as Rafidah Aziz, Muhyiddin Yassin, and Dr Mahathir Mohamad have crititicized the PR leaders for going against the Sultan's order to vacate the state government.

Dr M said, “Ethically, it is not good, but lawfully, nothing can obstruct a person from suing (the Sultan).” I have said earlier what is legal may not be democratic or moral. I believe Dr M's advice should be shared by all, including the Perak Royalty.

We are begining to see something more serious than a mess created out of the unconstitutional dismissal of the democratically elected PR government of Perak. Numerous groups, associated with UMNO, are trying to push the responsibility to the Perak Royalty and pledging their support for the monarch. This is a classic art of diversion.

It is fair to say that the main fault lies in UMNO and its practice of corrupt politics. This is a fact acknowledged by its own top leaders including Dr M. The fact that ex-DAP Hee might be given an exco seat is a clear evidence of corruption. She was earlier not happy because she was not made an exco by the PR government.

Perak Sultan should not be the main focus of the protestors anger and brunt. His Royal Highness acted in accordance to his interpretation of the constitution. Since the constitution is the highest law of the country, not Dr M or any individual, it is not unethical or wrong to challenge the decision at the highest court. If it is unethical, Dr M would have long been banished under the ISA for taking away the immunity enjoyed by the royalty. Instead, his action was lauded and helped to ensure no one is above the law.

Hence, Umno Youth's planned rally to support the constitutional monarchy is hypocritical. This action was decided when it was obvious that only UMNO is going to benefit from this rally.

Moreover, Perak Youth Council wants action under the Internal Security Act (ISA) be taken against DAP chairman Karpal Singh for allegedly jeopardising the country’s security.

Malaysian Insider has warned that any attempt to paint the PR as anti-Malay and anti-royalty could "...inject an element of race into an already polarised political climate."

UMNO is trying to divert the attention away from its unscrupulous and undemocratic political coup in Perak. It is obvious that the party is not sincere in defending the Perak Royalty but saw this as an opportunity to divert the blame to the monarch.

Many Malays still love their sultans. This feudal relationship is ingrained in their social culture. As such, UMNO is again playing with communal fire.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Perak - A Failed Democracy

From a legal point of view I was made to understand that the power of the Sultan to disallow the dissolution of the state assembly is a grey matter. What is obvious is the Sultan does not have the power in to dismiss the serving Menteri Besar other than through a vote of no-confidence.

Another grey area is whether the Sultan should accede to the request by the Menteri Besar to dissolve the assembly or can act on his own prerogative whether to allow it or not.

I am not a legal specialist. For more, read Malik's article here. However, as a legal expert the Royal Highness should understand that what is legal may not necessarily be moral or democratic. Taking a full legal consideration to allow the installation of the BN government in Perak has confirmed the Sultan's oversight on important elements such as democracy, morality and stability of the state government.

There are 3 grounds which I found the Sultan to have erred in his decision.

First, it is obvious that he did not weigh the sustainability and stability of the new government through the backdoor. On this ground, the popularly elected state PR government was brought down not through a democratic mean but through defections of its members to the opposition.

Legally, the constitution provided for a freedom for association but this freedom is not absolute. We need to study this freedom of association in the context of a state or federal government. Malaysia practices party politics and most of its elected members are linked to political parties. The ruling coalitions are made up of political parties.

Hence, it is not democratic to allow for any defections which may easily threaten the stability of an elected government. Moreover, the three assemblymen who defected did not give any public explanation to justify their decision to defect. They even lured the public to believe that they were busy with their respective commitments.

Next, the Sultan has failed to conduct a test of character on the 3 defectors who are key to the change of government. If a test of character is conducted, the 3 assemblymen would have a problem to justify their defections. Firstly, two of the three are facing corruption charges and are due to face the court on Feb 10. If found guilty, they will have to vacate their seats.

Hence, it is obvious that even the new BN government supported mainly by the 3 assemblymen is not stable. Then, it is the interest of the Sultan to ensure that such probability of an unstable government should not be allowed to exist. The Royal Highness should have appointed a caretaker government, at the very least, before their cases are called and argued in court. The assembly speaker has filed a case against the 3 defectors claiming that they have resigned. This case should be allowed to go to the court too.

It is obvious that the claim that they were made to sign the resignation letters under duress is hard to prove. It is part of an employment terms since the 3 held important positions in the Perak state government.

On this point, the Sultan has failed conduct a morality test on the 3. There are reasons to believe that their defections may worsen the negative conduct and practice in politics. This conduct is detrimental to the people if they are allowed to be part of the new government.

Third, the Sultan has initially indicated his choice of a unity government. This term is greatly misunderstood by the Royal Highness. There is no unity if the largest faction of the assembly is not included in the new government. A unity government formed between the BN and 3 so-called "independents" is not sensible and defeat the real meaning of unity.

All points considered, I believe the new government will be even more unstable than the previous one. Moreover, the manner in which the state secretary and the police who acted in unconstitutional and irresponsible manner against the incumbent elected Menteri Besar has worsen public outrage. Politicians, especially those from the BN, should learn to respect the democratic process and the rule of law.

Perceptions are a powerful force. The perceptions formed on the BN and the new Perak are government detrimental to its rule.

The decision to unconstitutionally dismiss the elected MB and his administration is a bad decision of the Sultan part. It is obvious that the decision has failed the democratic and morality test.

The manner in which the incumbent government was toppled is illegal. Malaysians must learn an important lesson. It is them who can protect and defend their beloved democracy and constitution, not the politicians and not even the royalty.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Coup D'etat in Perak

A take on the Constitution by another royalty politician, Tengku Razaleigh,: "The Constitution is the highest law of the land. It is the foundation and source of legal authority, and the Rulers are sworn to protect and uphold it."

"Acording to the Constitution, Dato’ Seri Nizar Jamaluddin is Menteri Besar until he resigns of his own accord, or is removed by a vote of no-confidence in a formal sitting of the assembly. The Constitution makes no provision for his removal by any other means, including by petitions or instructions from any other authority."

He added, " [a] legitimate constitutional government draws all its authority from the consent of the people and only from that consent. The people consent because it is their government formed according to their constitution, whose leaders they have chosen through free and fair elections."

The present government was brought down through none of the above - not through a vote of no confidence or elections. Yet, the state secretary has asked the MB and his executive councillors to vacate their office and make use of the police FRU to barricade the administrative building.

If this is not a coup d'etat, what it is? Coup d'etat is the sudden unconstitutional overthrow of a government.

Today is a shameful day for Malaysians. I urge any Perakians, who are willing, to sue the BN government for breaching their Constitutional rights.

Can BN, UMNO, PR, the monarch and the rest of us respect the rule of law? Malaysia is turning into a Banana republic.

I would like to urge Malaysians to stay united to overcome the serious economic challenges ahead. We must first survive this downturn to fight another day. Stay calm because these unscrupulous politicians will have to come back to us to renew their mandate.

When the time comes, we will show them the real MAYHEM!

A Black Day for Democracy If This is True

NST reported, "Sultan Azlan Shah did not consent to the dissolution of state assembly and has asked Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin and his exco line-up to resign with immediate effect."

If this is true, the RH's decision will trigger a political free for all in Malaysia. What stops the BN federal government from toppling if Anwar can get the numbers?

Second, the formation of the MACC is really a cruel joke for the country. From Dr Mahathir to some very senior UMNO leaders have warned against the cancerous money politics. This incident is going to amplify the magnitude of corruption.

Third, BN the ruling coalition since independence shows no remorse and no commitment toward the strengthening of democracy in this country. PM Abdullah reform plans deserved their rightful place - the dustbin.

Malaysia's biggest problem is our mindset. Until and unless we change what is up there, Malaysia will not recover from its mediocrity.

History will be your judge. We must record this incident and put it up as one of the darkest hours of Malaysian history.

MCA President Should Reconsider His Stand on Defections

MCA President Ong Tee Keat is well respected as a principled man. During the last party election, Ong was critical of leaders who have no moral standing. He was against leaders with sex scandals seeking public office. I supported his stand and opined that MCA needed a leader with high moral standing to chart a return of the party.

Hence, I would like to advise Ong to reconsider his full support to the formation of the new Perak Government through the most despicable and undemocratic way. Morality has a standard and it must be applied consistently.

Ong added, “This is a very good development. The people of Perak, by large, yearn for a change for betterment and good governance." Fair enough, but don't he think the best way is to ask the people themselves? Why speak for them? In a healthy democracy, we should let the people voices be heard. That is why a general election is held every five years to measure their voices.

Since the March 8 general election, there is no clear indication that Chinese support has returned to MCA and this stand will not encourage any more gains in the future.

I understand Ong has to be a good team player but it is important to observe fair play. I criticised Anwar's intention in the past and I will continue to speak out against any illegal intrusions of our democracy. This is the responsibility of every citizen.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

BN True Colours

Gerakan deputy president and Perak Gerakan chairperson Chang Ko Youn said although Gerakan did not win any state seat in Perak in the general election last year, the party fully supported the formation of a new state government.

"Although we prefer a fresh election, we don't want to burden the people and strain any resources in view of the current economic situation."

Chang, this is precisely my point. How can we allow your coalition to govern when your party did not even win any seat?

Straining resources? Malaysians must protect our democratic process regardless of the price. If the democracy is allowed to be trampled by 3 people who can decide the fall of a state government regardless what the millions of voters think, isn't it more expensive than any price we are made to pay for snap elections?

Chang, what about millions of development funds allocated to BN representatives/proxies in states which BN lost? These are public resources. Not from UMNO's piggie bank or the rentals collected from your Menara PGRM.

Gerakan Youth Chief Lim Si Pin's stand against defections should be lauded. Is he willing to resign to oppose his party stand?

MCA Kong Cho Ha said "BN has the numbers. It is only natural for the coalition to offer itself to form the state government. However, for detailed arrangement, we prefer it to be discussed behind closed doors."

Kong still hasn't learned the lesson of 308. Still behind closed doors. You have robbed off Perakians' democratic voice.

MIC president S Samy Vellu, in welcoming the change in the Perak government, congratulated BN leaders who led the change.

Samy, what change? You are the last person who is fit to talk about change.

Umno Youth chief Hishammuddin Hussein said with the latest development in Perak, BN should now get closer to the people and learn from past mistakes. Hishammuddin, what didn't the coalition get closer the people it governed since independence?

In Kuching, the four BN component parties - Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP), Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) and Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) - described the latest political development in Perak as a good sign for the coalition.

BN has shown its true colours. At least there were leaders from DAP and PAS who were against defections and had asked for an anti-hopping legislation to be passed.

What has changed in Perak? Three more individuals decided to support the BN. These three unscrupulous individuals have made a mockery of our democratic process. BN should expect to lose big in the next general election.

For more, read here.

Fickle Minded or Opportunist?

Bota representative Nasarudin Hashim has to be the most fickle minded politician of the year. He left UMNO days ago claiming he is able to serve the interest of his constituency better under the Pakatan Rakyat government and went back again to UMNO.

The truth is Nasarudin is not serving the interest of his constituency but his alone. I had asked Nasarudin to resign and seek a fresh by-election to prove that his voters are supportive of his earlier decision. He even hosted a ceramah to explain to the voters his decision.

What about now?

This is an expensive lesson for PR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim. He should leave UMNO political tactics behind when he left the party. PKR cannot claim to be the new face of Malaysian politics which is clean and responsible if its paramount leader has been talking about defections since the March 8, 2008 general election. I have been waiting for him to talk about governance and new ideas for the country.

Assemblymen Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi, Osman Jailu and Hee Yit Foong should be ashamed of themselves. They were lying through their teeth and giving all sorts of reasons to justify their disappearance. Perakians who wanted a better Malaysia should ensure they end the political career of the 3 politicians.

Next time, vote for the quality of a candidate. There are good people in PR and there are a few good men in BN too. Malaysians should make their elected representatives work for them and not the other way round.

A number of us, independent observers, had warned the PR state governments to pull up their socks. What did I get from a few constructive articles I wrote about PR state governments e.g. Penang? I was maliciously accused by a DAP MP Jeff Ooi in Penang for blackmailing the state government for fund as a reason of my criticism. This self-proclaimed blogger activist did not even bother to apologize when he was not able to come out with any concrete evidence after the 72 hours deadline given to him.

Sometimes criticism is meant to be constructive and helpful. We criticize because we care and want the two-party system to work. The end results is always for a better Malaysia.

PR needs to handle their own "little Napoleons".

For the sake of the nation, I hope the Perak Sultan will allow for a snap election to be called. It is not for the politicians to decide who should rule. In a real democracy, it is all about the people's choice. By allowing BN to take power via the backdoor, the monarch may actually help to perpetuate corruption and unscrupulous practices in politics.

Let the people decide!

Perak Unity Government Breeding Disunity?

Malaysian Insider reported there are rumours circulating that Perak Sultan Azlan Shah has asked Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin to form a unity government amid swirling rumours that deputy state speaker Hee Yit Foong has also turned independent.

The move to form a unity government is possible if neither parties were successful in obtaining a simple majority in a state assembly.

In this case, a unity government between hostile parties will only prolong the political stalemate in Perak.

Perak Sultan's call for a unity government is well-intentioned but may not be the best solution to put the state's political chaos to rest.

Since the Election Commission has acted ultra vires to the federal and state constitutions, it is best for the parties to go back to the people for the verdict. Democracy is, afterall, about the people and their voice.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Hardworking Najib

Najib is everywhere ... Permatang Pauh, Kuala Trengganu, Perak, etc.

and busy meeting up with very important people...Saiful (ex-assistant of Anwar Ibrahim), PKR leader Fauzi Muda, Ezam, etc.

and allegedly involved in many high profile cases.

But he was not where he should be - at his desk in the Finance Ministry - attending to the possibly worse economic crisis faced by the country since early 1980s.

More people are being retrenched and factories closing, what are you going to do, Mr Finance Minister?

Even his brother, top banker Nazir Razak, is asking for economic leadership.
Do we need two finance ministers who are both not doing much?

Mass Media on Morality

The Star has an interesting news article today, "Poll shows public will reject adulterous politicians."

Reporting on a recent survey by Merdeka Center, it said some 72% of the 1,018 participants of the 4th Quarter 2008 Peninsular Malaysia Voter Survey said they would not approve of a leader whose career has been tainted by such controversies.

The centre’s programme director, Ibrahim Suffian, said the results showed that the public took into consideration a politician’s personal life when choosing who to support, as it reflected the moral standing of the leader.

Is the article trying to suggest anything?

Perak UMNO Would Be Foolish To Admit Duo

Behrang assemblyman Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi and Changkat Jering assemblyman Osman Jailu are PKR state executive councillors in Perak and yet their decision to go AWOL in the last week exposes their guilty conscious.

Today, Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi has resigned from PKR over Pakatan Rakyat’s move to declare his seat vacant, saying he will remain an independent in the 59-seat Perak state assembly. It is mind boggling for Jamaluddin not to respond to the relentless phone calls from his party's leaders even if he is nursing his backache.

He pleaded his innocence and yet fully knowing that the whole nation is looking for him. As state excos, both Jamaluddin and Osman are supposed to act responsibly.

Jamal said he did not contact anyone to defect but one is curious to find out how did the Prime Minister came up with the idea that some PR assemblymen are defecting to his party soon?

As a top leader of the country, the prime minister should spend his waking hours on the nation's economic challenges than to speculate about who is defecting or not.

We should not be surprised if the duo will defect to UMNO in the near future. However, UMNO is accepting the duo at its own detriment. The mood and reception for UMNO and the controversial assemblymen is not positive.

UMNO may win a battle but lose the war in the future. The party should prove to Malaysians that it is willing to change its way. By accepting the two - who are facing corruption charges - into its fold only shows UMNO's grit to keep its old habits.

This episode should serve as a good lesson for PR component parties to focus on good governance instead of wresting power via the backdoor. They should be mindful of their own "little Napoleons". It is time for DAP's Ngeh and Nga cousins to reassess their leadership style in Perak.

For both Jamal and Osman, it is the end of their political journey. As an ancient Chinese proverb puts it, "To test a man's character, give him either wealth or power."

Amazing, our political scene is beginning to look like English Premier League. Our politicians and elected politicians can be bought over like footballers. They cost millions too. No wonder we suck at sports and good at politicking.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Chaos in Perak: Testing People's Patience

Both PKR and UMNO are the culprits in Perak. It is disappointing to note that both parties have failed to perform the duty of governance. So much energy and time are wasted on unhealthy politicking while the economy is plummeting.

Ex-UMNO Bota assemblyman Nasarudin's reason to defect is not justified and petty. He defected because he was not happy with Tajol Rosli's leadership and lost in the divisional party's election. Being an UMNO man for over 20 years, Nasarudin should have known the real face of party politics. It's a dog eats dog world.

The Bota assemblyman announced that his decision was supported by his constituents. The best way to know that is to face a fresh by-election. General election is a sacred mean to allow the flourishing of a democracy. The focal point of an election is to allow the public to choose. In the case of defection, the public are mere by-standers. It is not democracy at work when the right to choose is no longer made available to them.

It would have been more bearable if Nasarudin defected because he can no longer stomach racist politics practiced by his former party. PKR should have been more selective. Granted that political parties should expect competitive politics in a healthy democracy. But the end results of politics is to provide leadership. It is leadership that we need in such trying times. Not endless politicking.

It looks like PKR is stricken by the same illness affecting UMNO. If this kind of political culture continues, voters will lose trust of elected representatives because they can't be sure if their choice will remain committed to his/her political struggle. Often voters voted for the political affiliation of a candidate, very seldom solely for the candidate. Policies are made at the party or a coalition level.

Both PKR Perak state executive councillors, Jamaluddin Mat Radzi (Behrang) and Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu (Changkat Jering), are a big disappointment. Yet both held important portfolios of entrepreneur development and tourism in the state. Osman said he wanted to quit the party and become an independent. Both Jamaluddin and Osman owe the voters an explanation. Politically, it does not make sense for the two to take a self-demotion. Their action is going to arouse suspicion of guilty conscious since the two will be facing the court on Feb 10.

The state PR leadership went all out to defend the two and blasted UMNO for framing the duo. If the two were proven guilty, the state government's credibility will be in jeopardy. Can Perak Menteri Besar Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin come clean and transparent on this issue?

BN leaders are no better. Gerakan's Koh Tsu Koon blamed PKR for starting the defection game. It is not about the question of who started it first but whether it is morally correct to do so. Needless to say, Gerakan was the main beneficiary of defections in the past. MCA's Ong Tee Keat is keeping his party's doors open. Several leaders including Muhyiddin and Joseph Pairin were against defections. There is no use of BN to blame PKR if its leaders are supporting and even encouraging defections.

On the economic front, BN continues to disappoint. Finance Minister and PM in-waiting Najib Razak has proven that he belonged to the old school politics. Najib's decision to channel hundreds of million through the BN parliamentarians as part of his stimulus plan is a complete let down and an abuse of public funds. Economic stimulus must be carefully managed. It does not matter if some of the states are controlled by the other coalition because the federal government is responsible to ensure the stimulus works for the entire nation.

Channeling funds only through BN parliamentarians is a blackmail and an irresponsible decision. Many of the elected representatives are not trained economists. The funds should be coordinated by non-political institutions.

It looks like the people's patience will soon be tested. Many are forced to vote for a lesser evil and not necessarily for a political organisation which is the most efficient and responsible.

This is the day I cry for Malaysia.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Anti-Hopping Law & Hypocrites

So, the sandiwara continues...When Bota assemblyman Nasarudin joins PKR, there were howls and calls for the immediate implementation of an anti-hopping law. Leading the call was UMNO's strongman Muhyiddin Yassin and PBS president Joseph Pairin Kitingan. The latter was a victim when elected representatives from his party hopped to BN and brought down his administration.

The DAP and Pas today voiced their support for an anti-hopping law, but they said lawmakers who resign must be allowed to seek a fresh mandate. DAP has been quite consistent with their stand. Previously, the party had suffered from defections. Their stand is admirable.

However, there is a twist in Perak. It seems that the tide is flowing against PKR; which is still celebrating the defection of Nasarudin. UMNO is now trumpeting possible defections from two PKR exco in Perak to UMNO.

He gave a strong indication that the Barisan Nasional may soon wrest back control of the Perak state government from the Pakatan Rakyat. Abdullah responded in the affirmative when asked if there was any truth to the rumours that two PKR assemblymen in Perak would hop over to Umno soon.

I can't help but smelling dead rats. The duo were reported missing in action. How could Abdullah possibly know their intention to defect? Does he know the whereabouts of the two? Could they be possible held up by UMNO?

This is the main problem with UMNO and BN. When defections are in their favour, the action is considered laudable and appropriate. The holier-than-thou attitude shows that UMNO is not sincere and probably will never be in reforming the political system in this country.

I am waiting to hear opposition from both Muhyiddin and Pairin on the possible defections of PKR assemblymen to UMNO.

I have said this before, the newly minted coalition PR should take cognisance of their own mavericks and little Napoleons. Did PKR investigate the bribery allegations against the two excos?

Serve PKR right if the two assemblymen actually defected. The defections will prove that corruption is rampant in UMNO. The party should be more selective and careful. In this case, the two assemblymen are facing bribery charges and the hearing is next Feb 10.

What has UMNO promised the two?