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It’s the grand dance of democracy in Sabah, state and parliament elections are due in less than 30 days. I am in the midst of massive electoral environment in the state. As a strategist & analyst, I can foresee a clear & spectacular win for BN Sabah all over again. Tan Sri Musa Aman is all set to win 50+ state seats to form the government for the 15th year in succession. An unprecedented win for any state leader, anywhere in Malaysia.

What is quite startling for me as an analyst is almost zero anti-incumbency for an incumbent government, even after being 15 years as Chief Minister since 2003. It’s very rare scene in the contemporary political ecosystem. The credit certainly must be given to the Chief Minister of Sabah Tan Sri Musa Aman. He deserves it the most. It’s evident from my random interactions with common people cut across many sections, that there is a great respect for Musa Aman.

I see a visible glee in the faces of people, when they speak about their leader who they consider their very own. It’s amazing that an elected leader of a state can find a place in the hearts and minds of people for such a long duration, in the days where the anti-incumbency seems an ‘every 5 year affair’ across the country and ‘loyalty’ is almost a misnomer.

Despite all the media stories on GST negative impact on trader community and Shafie Apdal’s anti Musa crusade leading to a possible nail biting finish in Sabah, the ground reality looks quite different. Shafie Apdal including all the other bickering opposition parties seems to have lost the battle against Musa Aman even before they waged it, with Shafie’s organization split vertically with his politically naïve move to partner with Dr Mahathir and not working with local opposition, just ahead of elections. If a leader has initiated a movement for an objective, how can he surrender without any clear and executable assurance to a political party and become Tun Dr Mahathir’s puppet? Is the question being posed by many Sabahans. There is a growing trust deficit in his followers over his recent political moves.

GST woes are temporary & they are symptomatic teething problems of the largest indirect tax reform enforced by a reformist Prime Minister. It did pinch the massive unorganized sector & small traders across the state, they surely were angry. However, when the rational thinking kicked in preparation for casting their vote, they seem to have clearly understood the odds and outcomes of voting against the government.

Many traders still have the memories of kidnappings and Abu Sayaff , but since 2017 no kidnappings in the Eastern Sabah security Zone (Esszone) which covers 1400 km of the east coast from Kudat to Tawau. Hence, tourist arrival was all time high at 3.5 million and nearly RM7.25 billion was spent in Sabah. Traders are laughing all the way to the banks. They are not willing to lose the peace and tranquility they enjoy currently in the business ecosystem of the state for temporary pinch point like GST. Traders I spoke to are reconciling and seem to have realized that GST is an irreversible tax reform and they need to get to terms with it & move on & move on they have. After its introduction since 2015, it’s slowly but surely dawning onto them that GST is for the larger good of the nation and to boost the economic activity, which will impact them positively in future.

They also understand their businesses now get many financial and funding benefits for being registered and tax paying. They seem to understand voting for the opposition would destroy the peaceful business environment which currently exist across the state, with highly capable law and order machinery under the BN rule. They are not willing to forgo this peace and tranquility in the state at any cost.

Many openly stated that the law and order is so exemplary in the state that young women in their families have nothing to fear going out even in the middle of the night. Sabahans have no major issue with BN government. Few sections of the community which supported the opposition are reviewing their decision. The unprecedented growth rate of over 6.1% which was is the highest in Malaysia has positively impacted Sabahans more than anyone else. The rapid growth of urban trade & ecotourism business across the state also has positively impacted this close-knit community leading to massive wealth and employment creation.

The emotional surge of Sabahans for restoring Sabah rights in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and the significant progress made by Sabah State government with the Federal Government has made many opposition sections support Musa; however, in retrospect all these sections seem to be realizing the danger of having a weak government in the state under an Opposition, and its colossal damage to their community and the entire state.  The word opposition seems to only bring back bad memories to the people of Sabah.  I am quite surprised at the contempt most people I spoke to, have shown to this Shafie’s Party Warisan.. They don’t even imagine Sabah to be ever ruled by opposition again, such is the gross distaste for opposition parties in the state.

Musa Aman in his more than a decade rule, to be exact 15 years, has made historic progress in the state and it has impacted the lives of every single individual and every section of population. He did not make empty promises, declare popular welfare schemes or doled out freebies. He has bettered the living standards of common people by investing massively into rural and urban infrastructure, delivered transparent and good governance with easy and undeterred access to the citizens. He has increased Per Capita GDP from RM11,000 to RM20,000, he has increased household income from RM3,745 to RM4,1100, he has reduced hardcore poor from 25 per cent to 5 per cent from 2005 to 2016.

He has ensured the bare civic and economic necessities like drinking and irrigation water, electricity to households, homes and industries, public transport and public finance are delivered at the lowest cost ever. His vision has turned Sabah into a model economy which thrives with large scale enterprise and vibrant inclusive growth.

It might sound like I wrote a eulogy for Musa Aman, but this is the first-hand feedback and dispassionate inputs from the regular people on the streets. Everyone in the state seem to acknowledge and realise that quantifiable development has occurred under Musa Aman regime and the BN Sabah rule. Above that, they are also fully aware of every aspect of where this progress has been made in comparison with erstwhile opposition rule.

Most of those I spoke to, speak of opposition misgovernance and lack of competence to run a state like Sabah, as if they had ruled the state in the last term. Such are the memories from opposition rule. Musa Aman’s master political strategy also ensured that Sabahans never forget the disastrous rule during opposition time. BN Sabah not just communicates the successful governance delivery of its government, it also seems to ensure opposition model of misgovernance remains constantly in the minds of voters.

Opposition stands no chance in Sabah. As I see, it will lose the election with very huge margin and end up losing more than 20 per cent of its existing assembly seats. The electoral outcomes of Sabah will be a death-knell to Shafie Apdal and the all the other opposition parties. Sabah election results will destroy all and any possibility of Party Warisan rising in the near future.

There’s simply no escape from accountability this time around for Shafie Apdal and the combine opposition. BN Sabah win will be a decisive one. It will once again prove that in a democracy, if a party can deliver on its promises to its people and sincerely serve them to impact their everyday lives positively, the voters will ensure repeat victories.  Musa Aman will set an unprecedented national record for being the only leader from Borneo State to be reelected 4 times in a row , for UMNO, since 2003. In my field level electoral analysis, I foresee BN Sabah winning about 50 state seats.

NB: Today 8/4/2018, this piece came out in the Daily Express Sabah


I picked up this short video from my WhatsApp group. Seen here in this video is Tan Sri  Musa Aman addressing a ceramah in Sandakan. In this video Musa has made it very clear that Shafie Apdal has a history of incompetence. Scary. If this is the case, wonder how Shafie Apdal will govern Sabah if his Party Warisan takes over after GE14? A leopard never changes its spots, so it would be expecting too much from Shafie! From this we can come to a conclusion that whoever comes in as Musa’s successor will find it hard to fill in his shoes.

Here goes….

 


IT’S NOT THAT I AM FORGETFUL. I AM JUST EXCEPTIONALLY INTELLIGENT!
Science has made an amazing discovery about forgetful people that will change the way you think about your own memory. It turns out that being forgetful might not be a bad thing at all…

If you give yourself a hard time about how forgetful you are, stop right now. New research indicates that being forgetful doesn’t mean you’re losing your marbles, in fact, it could mean that you are exceptionally intelligent.

SEE HERE….

New Study Reveals That Forgetfulness May Actually Be A Sign Of Superior Intelligence

Everybody forgets something at least once in a while. Maybe it’s an umbrella inside a coffee shop, or maybe it’s the phone number you forgot to write down, we’ve all been there.

Science has made an amazing discovery about forgetful people that will change the way you think about your own memory. It turns out that being forgetful might not be a bad thing at all…

READ THE REST HERE….

The skeletons are still tumbling out. It has become clear that Facebook is now one of the biggest threats to the western liberal democracy. This is the message from the latest scandal that the company, along with data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica, finds itself embroiled in. The story is still linked to Russia meddling in the US presidential election that saw Donald Trump racing ahead of Hillary Clinton. But around two years after the talk of this meddling started, the contours of the whole operation are coming into sharper focus. And it is in this big picture we meet Cambridge Analytica.

A lot has been said about how Cambridge Analytica worked with the Trump camp to target US voters and how it got data to build psychological profiles of voters from Facebook, so I am going to keep it short. But here is the takeaway: the data that Facebook has on people, and the way this data can be used to build very detailed profiles of people — including their socio-economic conditions, their orientation, their fears, their desires and their political leanings — give companies like Facebook or whoever uses this data an unprecedented leeway. It gives people, companies and organisations that have this data the ability to impact elections in very direct and nefarious ways.

The scandal involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica angered regulators and lawmakers in the US and Europe. In the US, senators are leading fresh inquiries into just how much Facebook, which probably knows its users better than the users themselves, is responsible for the US presidential debacle.

fb-690_032018060558.jpg It gives people, companies and organisations that have this data the ability to impact elections in very direct and nefarious ways. Photo: AP

The regulators in the UK are probing Cambridge Analytica and its role in BREXIT vote, in which against all expectations “leave” triumphed over “remain”. The European regulators are taking a fresh look at whether Facebook violated the EU privacy laws or not by allowing its data to be used by Cambridge Analytica.

There are calls to regulate Facebook and streamline its privacy policies. There are calls to force Mark Zuckerberg, one of the most powerful persons in the world right now given how much private data his company has on nearly two billion people, to testify in senate hearings.

But even as the rest of the democratic world takes a look at the threat Facebook is posing to the functional democracy, in Malaysia there is no talk on this matter. The Election Commission is either turning a blind eye to it or is probably woefully ignorant about the ways in which foreign countries can use Facebook to influence elections in Malaysia. It’s not unthinkable. Russians allegedly used Facebook to influence the US elections. There are signs that BREXIT too was a vote that was influenced with social media campaigns.

In fact, Cambridge Analytica has said on record that it has worked with political parties for elections in Malaysia. CA Political Global managing director Mark Turnbull had revealed to an undercover Channel 4 reporter that the firm did work in Malaysia. On its website, CA says it “supported BN in Kedah state with a targeted messaging campaign highlighting their school improvements since 2008”. BN took back Kedah from the opposition in GE13, winning 21 out of 36 state seats, and 10 out of 15 parliamentary seats.

It reportedly worked with the Barisan National, with help of its Malaysian partner in Kedah in the 2013 GE13 and got a success rate of 90 per cent on the seats for which it provided inputs.

Yet, in Malaysia, the Election Commission is not looking at how Facebook, or for that matter social media and tools like WhatsApp, can be used by outsiders or by people with dubious aims to influence elections. May be it is already happening. If the presidential election in the US has been influenced by outsiders, what guarantee do we have that some country hasn’t tried to shape elections in Malaysia using Facebook or WhatsApp?

The process with which voters can be targeted to influence an election unfairly has been made very easy due to all the data collected by Facebook. And the company, so far, has been fairly cavalier about sharing this data. If you are an advertiser, Facebook is mostly more than happy to share even the most private details of its users with you. If you wave money, it will even let you micro-target the voters so that you can influence their franchise.

The Election Commission in Malaysia is supposed to guard elections from exactly the kind of threat that Facebook poses. There is a reason why exit polls in Malaysia have to be made public only after voting has ended. There is a reason why during the campaigning there exists a model code of conduct. There is a reason why politicians can’t say some things in their speeches, or political parties can’t induce people by giving them money on voting day.

But using Facebook and WhatsApp, chances are that political parties, or for that matter even actors outside Malaysia, can bypass the model code of conduct and break the whole democracy. Facebook data, in a way, can let political parties and organisations play on the fears of the voters, instead of their hopes. It can help politicians reach deep within the minds of voters, using algorithms and big data. In tech parlance, you can say that it can let parties and organisations hack into the minds of voters, and the Cambridge Analytica scandal shows that this can be done by just collecting and analysing the likes and videos that people post on Facebook.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal is a wake-up call. The lessons from the last US election were alarming, but the latest scandal involving Facebook shows just how badly social media is damaging democracy. It’s time for Malaysia to have a conversation about big data, how it influences elections, the micro-targeting of voters and just how much control Facebook should be allowed to have over people’s lives.

We need to have this conversation now because in the next 100 days or so we will be voting in the general election – GE14


President Trump’s lawyer secretly obtained a temporary restraining order last week to prevent a pornographic film star from speaking out about her alleged affair with Mr. Trump, according to legal documents and interviews.

The details of the order emerged on Wednesday after the White House’s spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said that Mr. Trump’s lawyer had won an arbitration proceeding against Ms. Clifford, who goes by the name of Stormy Daniels.

Ms. Sanders’s statement put the White House in the middle of a story that Mr. Trump and his lawyer had been trying to keep quiet for well over a year. The turn of events created the spectacle of a sitting president using legal maneuvers to avoid further scrutiny of salacious accusations of an affair and a payoff involving the porn star.

READ THE REST HERE

The actress, known as Stormy Daniels, had prepared to speak publicly about her alleged affair with Mr. Trump.

My daughter, Vilashini Somiah, who has several new age fads about food swears by Quinoa. She calls it super food. She has tried to get me to have it for dinner once. I kind of like the stuff and now I take a tablespoon of quinoa every morning with my oats and other grains. I still prefer my wheat and occasionally some rice.  Now quinoa is the cause of a raging fight in Malaysia. I can understand the intensity.

“To millions of Malaysians, rice is at the center of most meals. Many start and end their day with it. Rice is the basis of the national dish, nasi lemak.

So when Prime Minister Najib Razak said this past week that he preferred quinoa because it was “better than rice,” he stirred up a tempest in a lunch bowl.

Opponents pounced and other Malaysians took to social media to fret and fume when Najib was caught saying: “I don’t eat rice. I eat quinoa. My son introduced me to it.”

Dr Mahathir Mohamad, a former prime minister who is leading the Pakatan Harapan (PH) opposition coalition in elections expected by August, took to Twitter to jeer the prime minister and to express his support for Malaysia’s traditional grain.

“I only eat local rice,” Dr Mahathir tweeted.

Another opposition leader, Lim Kit Siang, said he had never even heard of quinoa.”

*Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa; (/ˈkiːnwɑː/ or /kɪˈnoʊ.ə/, from Quechua kinwa or kinuwa) is a flowering plant in the amaranth family. It is a herbaceous annual plant grown as a grain crop primarily for its edible seeds. Quinoa is not a grass, but rather a pseudocereal botanically related to spinach and amaranth.

After harvest, the seeds are processed to remove the bitter-tasting outer seed coat. Versatile for many dishes, cooked quinoa supplies nutrient content similar to wheat and rice, such as moderate amounts of protein, dietary fiber, and minerals. Quinoa is gluten-free.

Quinoa originated in the Andean region of northwestern South America, and was domesticated 3,000 to 4,000 years ago for human consumption in the Lake Titicaca basin of Peru and Bolivia, though archaeological evidence shows livestock uses 5,200 to 7,000 years ago. Amazingly, researchers have also found that quinoa could have origins in Taiwan as well.

READ THE NEW YORK TIMES

Malaysians were not happy when Prime Minister Najib Razak said he preferred quinoa because it was “better than rice,” the national staple.

After the last party congress in Beijing in October 2017, i predicted that President Xi Jinping will soon become an emperor. Well its happening now.

“China’s Communist Party cleared the way for President Xi Jinping to stay in power, perhaps indefinitely, by proposing that the nation’s Constitution be changed to abolish a two-term limit on the presidency.

The Communist Party Central Committee, a council of senior officials from the ruling party, “proposed to remove the expression that the President and Vice-President of the People’s Republic of China ‘shall serve no more than two consecutive terms’ from the country’s Constitution,” the Xinhua News Agency said on its English-language website.

Since each term is five years in length, the Constitution had limited Mr. Xi, who became president in 2013, to 10 years in office.”

China’s Communist Party has proposed revising the nation’s Constitution to end a two-term limit, which would allow Xi Jinping to remain president, perhaps indefinitely, by proposing that the nation’s Constitution be changed to abolish a two-term limit on the presidency.

SCAREMONGERING ABOUT CHINA

Posted: February 21, 2018 in China, Malaysia, USA
Tags: ,

Despite all the scaremongering going on within America’s security community, I dont believe China will be able to credibly challenge the USA, militarily, economically and politically for the rest of this century at least. I also dont believe that China will ever have the soft power or become aspirational like the USA. I don’t believe that the world’s many nations will hoard their foreign reserves in Yuan as opposed to US dollars (68%). I don’t believe that countries can ever become rich by posting trade surpluses with China as they have (including China) with the USA. I believe all this American scare mongering is driven by the lure of funding from the US military industrial complex. The US MI complex needs an arms race to keep going and to persuade the nation to cough up 7-8% of GDP for defense. The Chinese are too smart to engage the USA in any direct conflict because they know they will get whipped. Even Russia will be too formidable for them till at least 2050. China will reserve its aggressiveness for countries like India, Japan, or Vietnam. Remember the old Chinese saying about “skinning the cat to scare the monkey!” If  Malaysia is smart it will resist becoming the cat, till it gets really sharp talons.

Regardless of how America responds to the Chinese challenge, its policy must be rooted in reality.

The Sabah government is committed to ensuring continuous political stability, economic development and social progress in the state, Chief Minister Musa Aman said.

Musa said efforts would also be made to ensure the people continuously benefit from programmes to improve their living standard, as well as maintain harmony and stability in the state.

“Therefore, any action that can have a negative effect on unity and stability should be avoided to enable us to achieve our aspiration, improve the socio-economic standard and focus on efforts to bring more progress to the state,” he said.

Musa said this in his speech at an Ang Pow Festival dinner organised by the Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS) in conjunction with the Chinese New Year celebration in Kota Kinabalu last night.

At the event, Musa also announced an allocation of RM50,000 to FCAS.

Musa said the state government had never neglected any faction of the society in its implementation of development programmes, but strived for the benefit of all quarters, regardless of religion or ethnic, as evident with the huge allocation provided for non-Islamic schools and houses of worship.

He said the state government had allocated about RM300 million for non-Islamic schools and houses of worship in Sabah since 10 years ago.

“When I was appointed chief minister, the allocation for non-Islamic schools and houses of worship was only RM1.5 million then. I felt the amount was not enough and I increased the allocation to RM30 million a year,” he said.

As such, he urged the Chinese community in Sabah to continue to support and help the government in efforts to further develop the state.

– Bernama


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