Archive for the ‘Anwar Ibrahim’ Category


If you have read my articles more than once, you would know that I detest demagogues. Not for personal or aesthetic reasons, but because in the twenty five years that I have covered Sabah politics, I have observed that the political culture demagoguery breeds is to blame for most of our economic and political problems. It has been my humble observation that whenever Sabah was ruled by a supposedly charismatic leader, skilled in the arts of demagoguery, Sabah suffered while the leader continued to look good. This is because demagogues rarely bother to deliver on their grandiose promises to remove poverty and bring development since they are confident that their ‘charisma’ is what brings in the votes and not their work. It is sadly true that they have far too often been proved right by voters.

So, when I saw demagoguery resoundingly trashed in the recent GE13 in Sabah, it lit a small flicker of hope in my cynical old heart. In Sabah, voters had a choice between an array of demagogues and a quiet, little man who allowed the work he had done in the past ten years to speak for him. Well done Sabah for voting for Musa Aman instead of the demagogues and poseurs who came to defeat him with their charisma and their party tricks.

Musa Aman’s main rival was a very skilled demagogue called Lajim Ukin. So skilled that he has shown himself to be undefeatable despite allegations that he made millions from lopsided agreements that the Sabah Local Government had signed away to his cronies when he was Minister of Local Government and Housing, and while he was busy with his slot machines. The local government he was heading went to pieces but Lajim thrived. After moving to a parliamentary seat, he came to Putajaya to become a celebrated federal deputy cabinet minister despite doing as little for the housing as he did for Sabah. He got away with his lack of administrative abilities by being such a brilliant demagogue. His demagoguery even served to conceal the utter lack of any sort of ability that he showed as minister.

The voters of Sabah did well by making sure he failed to defend his incumbency in his Beaufort Parlimentary seat, and in his state seat of Klias Lajim won by a slim majority of 342 votes after obtaining a total of 6,324 votes. They did even better to reject the advances of a another demagogue Anwar Ibrahim. He warned Sabahan voters that they would be making a big mistake if they voted for Musa Aman because he was a chief minister who had squandered the state and allowed centralisation of power.

Musa Aman chose not to respond to the charges flung at him and instead talked of how Sabah had improved in the past ten years and brought more development to Sabah and fought for more de-centralisation and delegation of power back to the state government. At an annual economic growth of 8 per cent in the past five years (compared to 2.5 per cent before), there are visible differences in Sabah that were excellently reported by the Daily Express newspaper’s editor in two articles last month.

From our weakness for demagogues have come the political dynasties that now control most political parties in Malaysia. Whenever this happens, a political party stops being a political party and becomes a family firm whose main purpose is to serve the interests of the family who controls it. Remember Shahrizat’s “lembu” episode? Yes, from this comes the tendency to see politics as business and then inevitably we have one or other member of the family who is projected as a commercial genius who mysteriously makes a lot of money very quickly while his wife or brother or sister goes into politics.

Malaysia has suffered enough from demagogues and dynasties. What we need are many, many more chief ministers like Musa Aman who show that they can win elections by working hard for the people who vote them to power. The voters of Sabah can truly be proud of the results they gave us on May 5th 2013. If this can happen in Sabah, then there really is hope of Malaysia becoming a fully developed country in 2020. But, voters must continue to tell the difference between demagogues and real leaders.

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By Niluksi Koswanage

KUALA LUMPUR | Sun May 26, 2013 3:09am BST

(Reuters) – Malaysia’s divisive election has left a bitter taste for millions of people that risks creating a long-term problem of legitimacy for Prime Minister Najib Razak’s long-ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

The outrage was clear at a busy intersection across from one of Kuala Lumpur’s fanciest shopping malls, where a huge poster of Najib and his deputy had been defaced — a rare display of public disrespect in the Southeast Asian nation.

One of the scrawled comments poked fun at the unconvincing share of the votes won by Najib’s ruling coalition in its May 5 election victory: “47 percent PM,” it said.

“If you don’t like it, you can leave,” mocked another, alluding to a comment by Najib’s new Home Minister that those unhappy with the result — and the electoral system that produced it — should pack up and emigrate.

The tense political atmosphere threatens to prolong policy uncertainty that investors hoped the polls would put to rest, as Najib braces for a possible leadership challenge and the Opposition mounts a noisy campaign to contest the result.

By securing 60 percent of parliamentary seats with less than 50 percent of the popular vote, the BN’s victory has served to expose starkly the unfairness of a gerrymandered electoral system that is also prone to cheating and bias.

That has galvanised the Opposition, led by former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, into holding a series of big rallies as it refuses to accept the result and prepares legal action to challenge the outcome in nearly 30 close-run seats.

Disgruntled Malaysians have submitted over 220,000 signatures to the White House online petition page, exceeding the number required for a response from President Barack Obama.

In response, divisions have appeared in the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), the main party in the ruling coalition — in power since independence from Britain in 1957.

Hardliners have urged a crackdown on dissent and blamed minority ethnic Chinese voters for deserting the ruling coalition. That has raised racial tensions in a country whose ethnic Malay majority dominates politics and enjoys special privileges to offset what its leaders see as its disadvantaged position compared to relatively wealthy ethnic Chinese.

Reformers have urged Najib to press ahead with social and economic reforms to blunt the opposition’s appeal and address the concerns of discontented young and urban voters. That includes many ethnic Malays who voted for the opposition.

“Every day Najib sees angry Malaysians on the Internet. It is not an easy thing to swallow,” said a senior government official who declined to be identified. “There are people in his cabinet asking for a crackdown and there are others asking for him to brandish his reformist side.”

The hard liners appeared to gain ground last week when police used the colonial-era Sedition Act to detain three opposition politicians and activists and charged a student with inciting unrest.

The three arrested were later released after a court rejected the Police remand order, but could still face charges.

Najib is under pressure from UMNO conservatives such as Mahathir Mohamad, who served as Prime Minister for 22 years, to show a tougher side ahead of a leadership election that could be held as early as August. At least until then, planned reforms such as steps to widen Malaysia’s tax base and reduce heavy food and fuel subsidies are likely to stay on hold.

“Najib is not in a very strong position,” Mahathir told reporters in Tokyo on Saturday, saying there was a risk that his majority could be weakened further if some ruling coalition politician defected to the opposition.

“When you are concerned about that, the focus on development, economy and all that will be affected. That is Najib’s problem.”

Fraud Claims

The Opposition has yet to present clear evidence of widespread fraud, but Reuters interviews with 15 polling agents give an indication of why many Malaysians have lost faith in an electoral system that clearly favours the governing coalition.

A majority said that officials of the Election Commission (EC), which is part of the Prime Minister’s Department, did not follow procedures or were ill-equipped to oversee the polls.

“Some, not all, officials were not trained enough or did not have the experience to determine what was a spoiled vote,” said a counting agent in the Segamat parliamentary seat in southern Johor state, where the BN candidate won by a slim 1,200 majority with 950 votes deemed as spoiled.

“I cannot speculate on whether it was deliberate but there was quite a bit of incompetence,” said the agent, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.

Anwar’s three-party alliance says it has evidence that BN officials bought votes with cash and transported immigrants granted citizenship on shaky grounds to vote in areas with close races.

While its legal action, due to be filed with courts around the end of May, is unlikely to succeed, it will keep the electoral fraud issue in the spotlight for months ahead.

In Selangor state near Kuala Lumpur, a Reuters examination found at least 2,000 voters had identity cards deemed “dubious” by a commission of inquiry in Malaysia’s Borneo island state of Sabah. That commission is investigating longstanding allegations that the ruling coalition handed out citizenship for votes to immigrants.

The government denies the fraud claims, accusing the opposition of being sore losers and of trying to stir up an Arab Spring style revolt. The EC says it took a tough approach in eradicating possible fraud in the electoral rolls.

“The Opposition did not lose because of election rigging, it lost because they did not get the vote,” EC Chairman Abdul Aziz (below) told Reuters.

Deep concerns over the integrity of Malaysia’s elections are nothing new. The government has been shaken by huge street rallies in recent years organised by the influential BERSIH (clean) movement that has called for sweeping reforms, including a clean-up of the electoral roll and equal access to media.

After a violent police response to a 2011 rally, Najib burnished his reform credentials by rolling back some draconian security laws and introducing limited electoral reforms.

Reform Dilemma

BERSIH says those reforms did not go far enough, and is refusing to recognise the election results until it has verified hundreds of allegations of fraud in a “people’s tribunal”. It has previously highlighted instances of voters over 120 years of age and hundreds of voters living at a single address.

Likely far more influential than fraud are electoral boundaries that have been manipulated over the years to favour the BN. Pro-opposition constituencies in urban areas have up to nine times the number of voters than pro-government seats.

The opposition won just 89 seats in the 222-seat parliament, despite winning more than 51 percent of the vote.

“Najib won on malapportionment rather than his policies to eradicate corruption and reform the economy as voters felt he wasn’t sincere,” said Ooi Kee Beng, Singapore-based Deputy Director of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Najib, the 59-year-old son of a former Prime Minister, is unlikely to countenance deeper electoral reforms, a move that could be political suicide for the BN.

Reformists within UMNO are urging him, however, to ignore calls for a security crackdown and push ahead with steps to tackle corruption and make the ruling coalition more appealing to urban and ethnic Chinese voters who have deserted it.

“Of course the debate on whether we are truly a majority government will go on. But we can gain respect from the people,” said Saifuddin Abdullah, a prominent reformist who is a member UMNO’s Supreme Council.

(Additional reporting by Stuart Grudgings, Siva Sithraputhran and Al-Zaquan Amer Hamzah in Kuala Lumpur, and Yoko Kubota in Tokyo.; editing by Stuart Grudgings and Ron Popeski)

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/05/26/uk-malaysia-politics-idUKBRE94P01620130526

PICKED THIS UP FROM REUTERS


In February, Musa Aman seemed a trifle embattled. The Lahad Datu standoff the intrusion of almost 200 armed Filipinos in Lahad Datu, 10 of our Security Forces were killed – for the first time in his decade-long rule in Sabah, the Chief Minister was feeling the pressure.

But come April, as he announced his election manifesto, neatly appropriating the legacy of the state leader, Musa Aman had put behind him all disadvantages of the month before. He then set off to the length and breadth of the state showcasing his “Vibrant Sabah” policy. The message was lost on none – Musa Aman was still a crowd puller.

After eleven days of campaigning, as the Sabah Chief Minister reaches the fag end of his final round of campaigning, the biggest question being asked is – will that charisma continue to translate into votes for the Barisan National? Surveys and analysts predict yet another victory for man who has adroitly changed his image to development role model. At stake are bigger ambitions – Musa Aman reckons another impressive victory could propel him to be the longest serving chief minister of Sabah, breaking the 9 yrs jinx. But is this road a smooth one?

All I can say is- The situation in 2004 and 2008 is very different from that of 2013.

The ending of the rotation of chief minister every 2 years in 2004 saw Musa winning hands down. By 2008 Musa had begun constructing his new avatar, that of able administrator. But 2013 is without any emotive issue except for the Lahad Datu standoff. The fragmented opposition has managed to keep the election battle low profile, avoiding another bad showing like 2008. That has forced Musa Aman to keep his campaign confined to development as the key agenda.

But does that suit Musa Aman? “Not at all,” says a political commentator, who later add that, “His political existence and shrill rhetoric is what makes him an unstoppable leader. But this time there seems to be no emotive issue. The developmental plank can’t excite voters to a decisive point.”

Musa Aman, the master strategist, realises this. And so, analysts say, he has attempted to add another element to his electioneering this time, projecting this to be not only a Sabah vs Pakatan Rakyat battle but also the personality battle between Musa Aman and Anwar Ibrahim. By taking the battle to a new level, he is sending a very subtle message to the electorate. He may not concede his national ambitions but when he talks about the Sabah vs Pakatan Rakyat battle, he is sending out a message; here is a Sabah leader who can stop Anwar Ibrahim from taking the throne in Putrajaya. If that’s the case, 2013 will, in a way, establish what connects Musa Aman to three million Sabahans. If he wins yet again it clearly establishes that even without a polarized vote, Musa Aman can win based on a campaign revolving around development.

But this road is not without potholes.

Though pre-poll survey and pundits say former Deputy Chief Ministers Lajim Ukim and Wilfred Bumburing are unlikely to do much damage to Musa Aman. The L & B factor, as it’s is called in these parts, could play spoiler at least in the politically critical Beaufort and Tuaran region. Lajim had won a huge majority in the Beaufort Parliamentary last time in 2008, but this time both Lajim and Wilfred could play a role in obtaining less than half a dozen seats. After all Lajim represents the all-powerful Bisaya community and Bumburing represents the Dusuns to an extend, which is a sizable chunk of the electorate. But the basic problem with L & B would be absence of an organizational structure since both are using unregistered NGOs PPPS (Pertubuhan Pakatan Perubahan Sabah)and APS ( Angkatan Perubahan Sabah) riding on Pakatan Rakyat, to topple Musa Aman as chief minister. Lajim is politicising the position of “Janang Gayuh”, causing disunity among the Bisaya, a Dusunic group, found only in the Beaufort region. Lajim ran away from UMNO because he knew he would not be fielded this time, the same with Bumburing and UPKO who didn’t want him to stand in Tuaran. To be honest, what has Lajim and Bumburing done the last 30 years? Zilch.

After eleven days of campaigning in this 13th General Elections, Musa Aman is looking to retain power again, thus enabling Sabah to live up to the tag of being “the fixed deposit” of the BN. Despite the opposition pact’s onslaught for the parliamentary battle, Sabah BN is likely to win most of the seats won in the 2008 general elections. However, BN can expect tough fights for Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Tawau, Beaufort, Tuaran, Penampang, Sepanggar, Pensiangan, Kota Belud and Kota Marudu parliamentary seats. In the 2008 general elections, Sabah BN won 59 of the 60 state seats and 24 of the 25 parliamentary seats, losing the Sri Tanjung state seat and the Kota Kinabalu parliamentary seat to the opposition DAP.

The determining factor for BN’s ability to continue ruling Sabah lies in the fact that the coalition is more united in facing the elections, while the oppositon is pitted not just against BN but also against each other. Despite pre-election calls for the opposition parties to reach an understanding so as to ensure straight fights with the BN, only the Tanjung Batu State seat and Sandakan parliamentary seat are seeing one-to- one contests.

The decision by Star Sabah (Sabah Reform Party), SAPP (Sabah Progressive Party) and PKR to field almost equal number of candidates for the state seats is clear example of serious faction among them. Given the bickering among them, its hard to imagine any one of them winning enough seats to become the leader of the pack. On top of that, PKR’s insincere gesture of offering SAPP a limited number of state seats has resulted in the latter completely abandoning the hope of wanting to work with the peninsula-based party. There are campaign whispers alleging that SAPP had received RM60 million from BN to split votes in favour of the ruling coalition. Worst still during a ceramah in Foh Sang Kota Kinabalu which I personally witnessed, SAPP was on a DAP bashing spree causing distrust among the voters.

Dr Jeffrey Kitingan’s STAR on the other hand, the youngest parties of the lot, is making unexpected inroads particularly among the mostly Christian Kadazandusun Murut community in the interiors, and the BN message is as such tailored to them. So, if Pakatan cannot turn things around, it can only likely bag the Chinese-majority seats of Sandakan, Tawau and Kota Kinabalu, while in Beaufort where incumbent Lajim Ukin, who is contesting on PKR’s ticket, is likely to pull through. Pensiangan could be taken by Dr Jeffrey’s Star Sabah. SAPP is most likely not able to get even one seat.

With the end of the race just days away it is evident that winning big is extremely important to Musa Aman and how Sabahans vote will decide the road map to power politics in Putrajaya.


Even before the May polls campaign process has reached full momentum in the state of Sabah, three generalisations dominate the marketplace of political ideas about its consequences:

a) that a third-time victory for chief minister Musa Aman in Sabah is nearly certain;
b) since this victory is a foregone conclusion, the time is ripe for a bigger role for Musa Aman

and

c) this victory is likely to be a direct outcome of ‘good governance’, understood primarily as robust economic growth, delivered under Musa’s leadership.

I see this approach as problematic for two reasons: in terms of method, it seems that QED has been etched in even before one could see the proof of what one set out to examine. More importantly, however, there is a certain naivete in this formulation that leads us to a complacence in examining the very complicated and nuanced role of electoral competition currently being witnessed in this state. I engage myself with unravelling this second strand, as viewed in the terrain of practical politics, analysing the strategies and counter-strategies of the main contenders—the ruling BN/UMNO the Pakatan Rakyat the Star Sabah and Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP). I then examine the robustness of each of these three ‘generalisations’, and in conclusion argue that although it is an advantage to Musa Aman, there is political competition to be witnessed before one could declare the match won.

For one, the Pakatan Rakyat Sabah in the field does not have a sense of local issues, an understanding of pockets of disadvantage, and also a macro-strategy of where to deploy its energies spatially. In not associating themselves with Sabahan struggles against Malayan colonisation, the party has been aligning itself on the wrong side of popular grievances. Anwar Ibrahim’s campaigns will be of disadvantage, given his historical roots in the toppling of the duly elected PBS government in 1994 and his hands together with Dr Mahathir’s in the Project IC to dilute the native population in the state. Also Pakatan’s lineup, who is going to be chief minister if they win? Lajim as chief minister? Bumburing? Tamrin? Ansari? Who? They have no one of Musa Aman’s standing and Musa’s record of governance the last ten years can speak for itself.

For the SAPP the party’s grassroots base was not evident even in the Batu Sapi parliamentary by-elections held on 2010. Besides, the SAPP had a low vote-share of 10 per cent or less even in the March 2008 elections. This will not be translated evenly into enough seats for the party this coming GE 13th May 5. Also, the margins of losing are very low. The party’s President, Yong Teck Lee failure to win over Pakatan’s Ansari in the Batu Sapi parliamentary by elections means even the Chinese in Sandakan have rejected the SAPP. SAPP’s most impressive pre-poll offering has been its “Autonomi for Sabah” battle cry, promising new Sabah IC for Sabahans if it comes to power, is questionable because they have been in the BN government for 14 years and Yong Teck Lee had been chief minister of Sabah for 2 years yet did not do zilch.

Part of the Star Sabah strategy is to focus on the interiors of Sabah, Jeffrey Kitingan’s roost, where it is said that the natives are disgruntled. As a macro-strategy, the Star Sabah is concentrating on the interiors of Sabah, where natives who are farmers have been adversely hit by high prices of fertilizers and agrochemicals and cost of essentials rocketing sky high The region accounts for nearly a third of the total seats and is the stronghold of PBS supremo Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan the “Huguan Siou”or paramount chief of the Kadazandusun Murut community, the backbone of UMNO Sabah. There is a story about Pairin saying his bids this time is his last battle to retain both constituencies of Keningau and Tambunan for the Barisan Nasional in the interest of the people, meaning Jeffrey will have a tough time to win in Keningau. Besides, there is no tacit approval by Pairin to the natives that Jeffrey will takeover from Pairin, as claimed. As an unfolding of this macro-strategy, Jeffrey might launch the Star Sabah’s manifesto for the May polls’s in Keningau, in the heart of Indigenous Sabah.

Also, the Najib government’s decision to get The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Illegal Immigrants in Sabah is of recent vintage, and can win favours for the BN. Natives disgruntlement owing to disadvantages due to the presence of huge numbers of illegals becoming instant Malaysians and Bumiputras. Najib and the Federal Government seriously addressing it by having the RCI on illegals, along with the Lahad Datu drama, makes for a strong force. After all, the defeat of Haris Salleh in 1985‘ was scripted similarly, combining agricultural disgruntlement and fear of illegals reverse taking over of Sabah and sentiments of regional disadvantage.

To the advantage of the Barisan National is the fact that there is no state-wide anti-incumbency even after a decade-long rule by Musa Aman. Economic indicators are certainly robust, with state GDP growth rates averaging 6 to 7 per cent or more (between 2003-12). Interestingly, Musa Aman has raised it to a campaign pitch, telling everyone to “learn” from the Sabah growth story. The sectoral composition of this growth rate, particularly the advances in construction, agriculture and tourism, have received wide attention. Although there have been disputes whether the growth has been as high as Musa Aman claims, even modest estimates available accept agriculture grew at higher than national average at around ten per cent or more. Economists also note the significance of the consistently high growth rate in the agriculture, construction and the tourism sector, notwithstanding the constraints it faces.

But electoral competition, and even more electoral victories, are not simple outcomes of people calculating the benefits of policies and voting for political leaders who set the regional economy right. Were this hypothesis correct, why would Premier Najib Tun Razak have announced a series of cash incentives a year before the May poll dates set in? These include promises of farm loan and free internet usage, electricity bill waivers, enhanced allowances to security personals and civil servants, allowances for youth earning less than RM2000 and payment of arrears to teachers among others and the BR1M and many more goodies. Even the kampong headman has been promised a increase in allowances. The cash transfers build a new constituency of supporters, while countering some of the opposition from the lower bureaucracy and the poor. Advantage to Musa Aman again.

Of greater bearing for electoral fortunes is Musa Aman’s use of political vocabulary and tailoring the campaign language to hype his achievements and castigate the opposition. In state wide ceramahs, the opposition are his target, as if the party’s state unit led by Lajim Hj Okim, Wilfred Bumburing, Dr Jeffrey Kitingan and Anwar Ibrahim has no bearing. To malign the image further, Musa Aman adds that the “Pakatan Rakyat and the local opposition is not united and cannot really be trusted.”

Coming back to the three generalisations I began with, it is the first of which the chances seem highly likely. But Musa Aman’s victory is unlikely to be attained without competition from the local unit of the opposition front. The opposition front has also made pro-poor election promises of housing and employment for the poor, reduction of petrol prices, abolition of PTPTN and Sabah rights. How well they are able to sustain these as campaign issues, and combine their attack along with the challenges from UMNO dissidents, may have very little implications for this election.

The second generalisation about “a bigger role for Musa Aman” for the moment seems to be a ploy to hype the leader into a “larger than real” stature, and is certainly a political statement intended for local Sabah consumption. Finally, robust growth notwithstanding, Musa is not relying on these laurels alone. So also the opposition, which has understood that growth pursued in a certain way produces grievances amongst the displaced and the rural poor, and these can be woven into a counter-campaign strategy. In conclusion, it is advantage Musa Aman, but the battle is yet to be fought.


LETTER

by Joe Fernandez

Some Hindraf Makkal Sakthi veterans are demanding that the NGO’s chairman, P. Waythamoorthy, decide whether Indians should support the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) or the Opposition Alliance led by Pakatan Rakyat (PR). It’s not the done thing to give Waytha a 48-hour ultimatum.

Besides,  it’s not Waytha’s idea to meet with Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Najib himself asked for the meeting with Hindraf. How can the Hindraf leader spurn the Prime Minister? That would be downright kurang ajar! It must be remembered that Hindraf wanted to meet with then Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in 2007. Badawi initially agreed but backed off when the racists in Umno made a hue and cry and insisted that the Prime Minister should not “lower himself” — jatuh standard —  by meeting with any Indians. The Indians, the racists insisted, should meet with MIC President S. Samy Vellu, the man who had been squatting on the Indians for over three decades and had no power to decide on anything. Apparently, the Malaysian Prime Minister was only for Malays. Samy was the Prime Minister for Indians. The Indians had no choice, in the absence of dialogue with the Government, to take to the streets on 25 Nov, 2007 and in mid-Feb 2008 in Putrajaya.

According to these veterans, the Indians are confused as to who they should support in the 13th General Election. There’s nothing to be confused about!

Why should Hindraf dictate to the Indians who they should support? These so-called Hindraf veterans should have their heads examined! Such stupidity even after 56 years of suffering under BN. These people deserve whatever they have been getting since 1957. Probably, it’s a congenital thing, brought about by not mixing with anyone outside their own tiny little circle of katak di bawah tempurung.

Hindraf is not the self-serving MIC which has been squatting on the Indians for over half a century in return for some crumbs from the Umno table for a handful of its leaders.

The Indians should draw lessons from the tragic fate of the Christian minorities in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring and focus on avoiding political victimization when the polls are over.

If they root for BN and PR comes in, what will be the fate of the community for the next five years? Likewise, if they root for PR instead and BN still manages to cling on to power as in the past 56 years, are the Indians going to head for the nearest toilet bowl to put their heads in for a dose of bitter reality? BN cannot be even more vicious and vindictive than they have already been towards Indians. But what about Anwar Ibrahim? This man will be even worse than Mahathir Mohamad. You can see it in his conspiratorial face and his sneaky, cynical, sneering smile. The Indians didn’t get even one tiny benefit from the PR Governments in Selangor, Kedah, Penang and Kelantan. So great is the hatred this man, a grandson of a Tamil, has for Indians. That’s why Mahathir, another Indian, is shitting bricks these days and is leading the BN campaign together with Daim Zainuddin, his Siamese comrade in plundering the Public Treasury, instead of Najib who has been virtually pushed to one side as a Bugis puppet.

God help Malaysia if Anwar Ibrahim becomes Prime Minister! This is a very bitter man plotting, scheming and conniving to be the head of Government. The voters will be extremely foolish to take such a risk. Anyone who aspires to be Prime Minister must be someone like Obama, not someone who has more than his fair share of skeletons in the cupboard and has a poor track record. The Opposition should woo Tengku Razaleigh, the man who Mahathir cheated out of the premiership in 1987, if they want to maintain some credibility on the issue of who among them should be Prime Minister. Not that turbanwallah Hadi Awang from Pas. Karpal Singh, as Mahathir suggested, would make a better Prime Minister for PR. In his own warped and jaundiced way, Mahathir is pointing out that PR has no Prime Minister in Waiting to lead the charge.

Indians should support neither BN nor BN come the GE.

The issue is simple.

Indians, despite nearly one million of them being on the electoral rolls, do not have even one seat in any legislature in Malaysia, whether Parliament or state. This is the biggest crime perpetrated by the MIC against Indians.

This means no Indian can be elected by Indian votes. In Segamat for example, where MIC Deputy President Subramaniam is the incumbent, Indians make up only ten per cent of the voters while the remainder are equally divided between the Chinese and Malays. How can Subramaniam claim to represent the Indians on speak up on their behalf? No wonder he never opens his mouth in Parliament on Indian issues.

Any Indian elected to any legislature would need non-Indian votes. Such vulnerability rules out the possibility that they can open their mouth in the legislature on Indian issues. The Indian legislator, naturally, degenerates into being a political mandore, i.e. one to marshal Indian voters to the ballot boxes on behalf of the Malays and Chinese in return for some crumbs from the powers-that-be for himself. This has been the classic MIC modus operandi over the last 56 years.

The safest approach for Indians to take is to vote against all incumbents, whether from BN or PR, by spoiling their ballots. This would be the best way to protest against marginalization and disenfranchisement and bring international attention to bear on Malaysia on the plight of the Indians. There’s nothing in the two-party system for Indians.

If new faces are fielded, Indians should decide for themselves which candidate deserves their support.

Obviously, it must be a candidate who takes note of the following: (1) the Sapu Bersih deviations and distortions in the implementation of Article 153 and the NEP — shades of Apartheid, Nazism, Fascism, Communism, Political Islam, caste system —  must be ended; (2) the Government of the day must stop enacting administrative laws — not law at all but government policies in action — which are anti-non-Malay minorities and anti upward social mobility for the non-Malays. There’s a case for a Ministry of Orang Asal and Minority Affairs (MOAMA); (3) the Syariah and the Syariah Court must not intrude into civil law; (4) Islam must be kept in its proper perspective as per Article 3 of the Federal Constitution which doesn’t mention an official religion; and (5) change must mean change of the ruling party at regular intervals through free and fair elections.

Indians must bury MIC once and for all to end mandore politics.

In the 67 parliamentary seats in Malaya, and the related state seats, where Indians decide, the community should support Hindraf if it fields any candidate.

The purpose of such an exercise, win or lose, is to demonstrate that Hindraf has more Indian support than PR and BN combined.  Hindraf can count on other 3rd Force allies as well. Hindraf co-Founder P. Uthayakumar is showing the way here.

So, Indians should stop being confused.

Forget the Hindraf Blueprint.

Both PR and BN will never endorse it although the amount involved is a measly RM 4.5 billion, just a tiny fraction of the RM 225 billion Budget for this year. If the Hindraf Blueprint is implemented by the Government of Malaysia, the sky will fall down.

The Government of the day, whether PR or BN, can appoint Indians to the Senate and even the Federal Cabinet, GLCs, and the government sector to represent the Indian Nation in Malaysia. One good start would be the Ministry of Orang Asal and Minority Affairs which can be headed, for a start, by either an Orang Asal or an Indian. Many countries have such a Ministry to cater to the Original People and Minorities. If the Federal Government is interested, Jeffrey Kitingan, Waytha and this writer can suggest who should head the Ministry. We have discussed the issue at length. Keep out the vested interests so that we can see some real change for the communities concerned and Malaysia. the Government should not surround itself with the usual bunch of sycophants, hangers-on, fat cats, and cronies claiming to represent the Orang Asal and Indians.


All through childhood my mother would tell me: “You have to work hard to get whatever is in your destiny. But, remember, you can never get more than you are destined to get and never before the time that you are destined to get it.’’

I am reminded of that again as I watch Najib Tun Razak fight against his destiny to continue as Prime Minister after GE13. Perhaps it is in his destiny, perhaps not. Perhaps it could even be RAHMAN’s prophecy signifying the end of the line of Umno. But he is, at least, putting up a great fight for it and it is good to see that the man who wanted us to believe that the UMNO was a party with a difference, is himself now at the head of those differences with so many others.

However, it is satisfying to know that what we have been saying all along about Barisan National – that it is actually doing much worse than the Pakatan Rakyat despite seeming so scatter-brained and incapable of holding their act together – is now being reiterated by the grand old man Dr Mahathir. And though it might be due to the threat of losing his power as Prime Minister that might have brought forth the realisation of impending doom, it could actually be time for others within the Barisan National coalition to heed Dr Mahathir’s warning.

The party is usually better at hiding its bickering than the Pakatan Rakyat is under similar circumstances. Dr Mahathir’s latest diatribe seemed to be aimed at Najib as usual, but it is not just Dr Mahathir who is attempting to bring him down a peg or two. Muhyiddin Yassin is also sending feelers that he wants to contest for the Number One position in UMNO after this coming polls.

Now Najib himself is unable to espy the mischief afoot against him in his home town by his own men — those who claim proximity to him have already begun to work the wires to ensure that he does not win in Pekan, in the 1999 general election, dominated by Anwar’s dismissal and marked by mass defections from UMNO, Najib’s 10,793 majority in Pekan fell to just 241 votes, thanks to the postal votes he won. And the Pakatan Rakyat has, of course, opened out its arms to such backstabbers and is wholeheartedly aiding their game plan. Whether, then, Najib overcomes the image of being a coward, as Anwar has suggested, due to a refusal of a debate, remains to be seen. This is exactly what I have been saying all along about Najib — and being called all sorts of names for that observation.

Clearly, Mahathir has more friends in the UMNO than Najib does and so the orchestration has begun in preparation for polling day GE13 2013 — though, I believe, the national party leaders were waiting with bated breath for the announcement of the dissolution of parliament on April 3rd 2013 before really outing themselves. There is a whole group of anti-Najib people who despair that he might win with a small majority but the opposite is felt over at UMNO, as loud whispers points to figures and statistics, proving that neither Malaysia nor its current PM are doing as well as they pretend.

The meeting of anti-Najib heavyweights earlier this week, which openly declared war against Najib, could not have happened without some covert support from Dr Mahathir . This is an indicator that the party has clear-cut division of camps, if not a split – those for and those against getting  Najib out of Putrajaya. Ironically, those who want to confine Najib to Pekan also wish to see Pahang fall to Pakatan Rakyat GE13 for that would truly clip his wings even if he might redouble his efforts in continuing on as UMNO President , seeking a national role for himself.

As I gather from some BN leaders I spoke to, it is clear that this is what they are waiting for — and not just because it would bring back control of the four Pakatan controlled states, including Selangor. UMNO fears handing over the party nationally to Najib, yet BN seems to be simply looking forward to that very prospect. For a while, Najib’s national ascension might have cut short the ambitions of Muhudeen Yassin’s dream of becoming PM in the event of a BN victory. However, UMNO is certain that that a BN victory will never happen with Najib at the helm as they would then be the automatic beneficiaries of the consolidation of votes against the BN.

Whichever way UMNO might resolve this very real headache growing in the party, my money is on Anwar, even though I am no fan of his. I had said multiple times in my past entries that Anwar was an old fox; he would never let go and could be expected to outfox all the foxes, old and new, in both UMNO and BN. Not for nothing did Anwar toil hard to bring the Pakatan Rakyat together and cemented both PAS and DAP which are so diverse in their ethos and pathos, but today, they are able to sit together in one table and talk. Anwar has done the impossible (politically at least) and we have to accept that. Pakatan Rakyat came from nothing and is now steadily working towards the formation of a government at the Centre.

Now, for once, will destiny be on Najib’s side in this battle against the Umno leaders, against Anwar and against Dr Mahathir? There could be many twists in the tale between now and May 2013. But with friends like these in their own party, no UMNO leader — Najib or Muhideen Yassin — need enemies?

Food for thought: It was Anwar Ibrahim who said upon his dismissal in 1998  “I have been betrayed not by others but by my own  people.”


You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

I’m always reminded of Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman whenever I read this poem entitled “Still I’ll Rise” written by the black poetess, Maya Angelou. Although Angelou wrote this in the context of her protest against White racism, it is almost as if a large portion of this poem was written with Musa Aman in mind. In the recent decade, there has been continuous allegations and abuses hurled at him. No invective has been left unused while abusing him. The Pakatan Rakyat and its major and minor cohorts in the media have carefully indulged in a systematic campaign of Musa’s character assassination. Despite this, their efforts have gone in vain because he’s won election after election with a two-thirds majority. That’s not all. In the ensuing 2013 13th general elections, there’s every indication that he is likely to be the Barisan National Sabah’s Chief Ministerial candidate again.

If that happens and UMNO declares Musa Aman as their Chief Ministerial candidate, let no doubt remain that this poses the biggest danger to Pakatan Rakyat, SAPP and Star Sabah. And it is to prevent this exact situation that the fragmented Sabah opposition is working overtime. The Assembly Elections scheduled from anytime now till May 2013 will witness yet another victorious Musa Aman. It takes 31 seats to capture the 60-member Sabah State Assembly. However, if the Barisan National under Musa Aman manages to garner a tally 35, it will be portrayed as a defeat of Musa Aman. This is why the fragmented Sabah Opposition is willing to stoop down to any level to ensure that the Barisan National bags a figure under 35. The electronic media as usual, has become a willing handmaiden to aid the Pakatan Rakyat, SAPP and Sabah Star in its every nefarious move. However, this time around, many have already begun to shed light on these dirty tricks.

According to a Pakatan Rakyat strategist, PKR has identified two ways to accomplish this. The first is the one it implemented in Selangor and Sabah. In Selangor, the Pakatan Rakyat capitalized on the Umno’s infighting and its in-house traitors thereby wrecking the opposition Barisan National. In Sabah, it has already yoked up the disgruntled Umno elements in the form of Lajim Ukin and Ibrahim Menudin, and has pitted them against Musa Aman. The second way is vile way of direct, open character assassination. But why is the Pakatan Rakyat after Musa Aman with such zeal? What is it about him that’s giving it sleepless nights?

Today, the only state which stands between Anwar Ibrahim and the Prime Minister’s chair is Sabah. Obviously, What is stopping Anwar Ibrahim from becoming Prime Minister is Musa Aman. Anwar Ibrahim needs at least 20 Parliamentary seats out of the 25 Parliamentary seats from Sabah for his dream to become Prime Minister to become a reality. Musa Aman controls the bulk of the Parliamentary seats in Sabah. The argument that Musa Aman allows for corruption is shallow and the opposition front is very aware of this fact. Historically, corruption in Malaysia has always been connected to both government and opposition, who are both equally corrupted, a fact that the opposition front is well-acquainted with. However, they repeatedly uses the corruption card for obvious reasons. In the present day, using the same card to discredit Musa Aman has become over played, and if we allow such divisive politics to succeed, we can only shudder at the future of this nation.

The fact is that despite numerous attempts over the last 10 years, the opposition front has been unable to find even one flaw in Musa Aman. Why?
Well typically, every successful politician or leader or public figure has a team or at least one shrewd adviser who guides and advises the leader on various matters. Tun Mustaffa had a Syed Kecik, Pairin Kitingan had a Dr Jefrey Kitingan before he went under ISA, Dr Mahathir had Daim Zainuddin and Abdullah Badawi aka Pak Lah had son-in-law Khairy Jamaludin, and so on. In present day politics, this applies to a Lim Guan Eng who had Daddy Lim Kit Siang and Uncle Karpal Singh, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim who had Anwar Ibrahim, Taib Mahmud who had a Bomoh, Anwar Ibrahim who had Azmin Ali, Najib Tun Razak had Rosmah Mansor. None of these leaders took any decision without first consulting their advisers and every decision once taken, has the imprint of their adviser in some form or the other.

If this is the case—an age-old precedent—who is this one person who advises and guides Musa Aman?

There’s no answer to this question because Musa Aman is his own King and wise counsel. Historically, the opposition front is known to “book” such advisers and exploit the weakness of the adversary through this key person. However, despite painstaking efforts spanning a decade, the opposition front encountered a solid wall in the case of Musa Aman because—apart from having no adviser, he is clean. Of late, the opposition front has explored the avenue of trying to tarnish him through his family and distance relatives—for example, a distance relative Manuel Amalilo aka Mohammad Suffian Syed who scammed 15,000 Filipinos of 12 billion pesos (RM895 million) in a ponzi scheme in Philippines is purportedly engineered by Musa Aman. However, even this turned out to be a dead end. The handlers and the dirty tricks department of the opposition front apparently found out that Musa Aman isn’t in politics for selfish ends, and was forced to accept the fact that Musa Aman’s interest lay in Sabah’s interest. It’s left to our imagination as to the future of Sabah if a man like this becomes Chief Minister again for the 4th term.

This is the reason Musa Aman has captured the imagination of the Sabah masses.

He comes across as an introvert. It’s hard to predict when he speaks or when he doesn’t. By himself, he’s a great strategist. In the 2008 Sabah assembly polls, he steered the Barisan National to more than two-thirds majority winning 59 of the 60 seats contested, without calling in any central leader from the party to the campaign trail. This is because of the confidence that comes from demonstrating performance and delivering clean governance. Thus, it’s clear that he’s the only leader in Malaysia who can mount an effective opposition to Anwar Ibrahim becoming Prime Minister. One of the easiest slurs to assassinate the character of a person is to brand him corrupt and a womanizer. So the Chinaman Micheal Chia’s story will be recycled over and over again stooping to a new low. And that’s not all—according to Pakatan strategist, the Pakatan Rakyat is pulling no stops. It has created an entire “stop-Musa” machinery by roping in all sorts of activists, media persons, and disgruntled UMNO Sabah elements. Yet, as Maya Angelou says:

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise. You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Let Musa Aman rise, vanquish his opponents and lead Sabah towards progress and prosperity.


As the hours zero in on the closing of the Sulu standoff and a possibility of some intense immigrant backlash in Lahad Datu and her neighbouring coastal towns, one may wonder what is next for Sabah. Although speculations have indicated that the prolong stand off is due to meek and uncharismatic leadership by the top guns of BN, one could also say that they have been making calculated and planned moves to ensure success and simultaneously lessening the anti- BN war cry among neigh sayers. After all, an early move could result in multiple riots among Suluk immigrants throughout Sabah. As predicted, Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman, has had his share of publicity amidst the standoff as well. The Suluk Filipinos are after his head as they eye the Chief Minister’s post in a renewed bid and Musa, affectionately known as Moses among his fellow Dusuns, has Foreign Minister and brother, Anifah Aman along for the ride, this time around.

Their major critics, Suluk Filipinos and the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), allege that Anifah is Musa’s “real nominee”, who is involved in all sorts of shady dealings involving timber and even the recent arrest of Manuel Amalilo aka Mohammad Suffian Syed who scammed 15,000 Filipinos of 12 billion pesos (RM895 million) in a ponzi scheme in Philippines is purportedly engineered by the Aman brothers which is so ridiculous. Those who know Anifah will swear that the Kimanis MP is one shrewd operator too. He’s strictly scrupulous about the way he arranges his public and private life. Having made his money and tons of it before he went into politics, Anifah has since then stayed out of business and professional dealings which would cast aspersions on his character and his integrity in public service. So, the critics would appear to be barking up the wrong tree on Anifah. I mean, why would you kick a dog just because you hate its owner?

Many want to see Anifah destroyed along with Musa to minimize any possibility that the younger brother taking up the challenge of being the Chief Minister if ever the opportunity presents itself. Anifah is getting closer by the day to the Chief Minister’s post as he has since chalked up an enviable record as Foreign Minister. Aside from Anifah, Pairin is the only other leader who will get Musa’s support as his successor. But Pairin has been Chief Minister from 1985 to 1994, and is unlikely to accept his old post even if offered. He is also extremely pleased with Musa’s performance as Chief Minister since he took over the reins of the state government. He works quietly without getting into needless politicking, or like PKR, promising the sun, the moon and the stars in between.

It’s not surprising that PKR has no qualms about walking on the wild side of politics in Sabah. It’s an open secret in the state that Opposition Leader and de facto PKR chief Anwar Ibrahim was among the chief architects responsible for placing illegal immigrants, mainly drawn from Suluk Filipinos, on the electoral rolls. He was then in the BN Government as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister. Anwar’s shady past in Sabah has caught up with him in the present to haunt his future. That’s why the call is getting louder in Sabah for Anwar to be called in as witness to the ongoing RCI on illegal immigrants in the state. Besides, PKR has even pledged, in an act of political suicide, that illegal immigrants in Sabah would all be given permanent residency (PR) status should the opposition alliance seize the reins of power in the state.

Between the Suluk Filipinos and Anwar’s PKR, they are not too happy that Musa convinced Najib Tun Razak and mobilised UMNO Sabah to pledge support for the RCI. More alarm bells have gone off when Anifah lashed out publicly not so long ago against attempts by the a special unit at the National Registration Department (NRD) in Putrajaya to issue birth certificates and MyKads to 40,000 people in Semporna alone without going through the local Mobile Court system. Anifah doubted that there could be that many people in one district alone without personal Malaysian documents. But the truth is, Semporna is undoubtedly infested with illegal immigrants, especially Suluk from the nearby Sulu Archipelago in the Philippines.

Anifah’s outburst on Semporna, coming on top of his brother’s public support for the RCI, was the last straw for the Suluk Filipinos. They, led by the Godfather, decided that the Aman brothers would have to go sooner rather than later. Their “secret weapon” is to recycle the old Chinaman’s story, of Michael Chia Thien Foh being nabbed with some Singapore $16 million at one time at Hong Kong Airport, and allegedly close to Musa. But the truth to the matter is, Micheal Chia is a bosom buddy to Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, minister in the Prime Minister Department. So close is Chia that he had even given Nazri’s son a Hummer SUV, as a gift of sorts.

The story, as it now transpires, is that Chia was never caught in the Hong Kong Airport with bag load of foreign currency. Chia’s hotel room in Hong Kong was raided by the Hong Kong authorities, acting on a tip-off which came from an estranged business partner of Chia, now at loggerheads. In that hotel raid, the Hong Kong authorities found in Chia’s room Singapore $ 16 million. So, this whole story about Micheal Chia getting caught in Hong Kong Airport is a whole lot of rubbish. It never happened in the Hong Kong Airport but indeed took place in the hotel room in Hong Kong where Chia was staying.

The Hong Kong case, if any, has been closed but PKR and Musa’s Suluk Filipino political enemies do not want to cease and desist. They are doggedly flogging the Hong Kong in various recycle versions and liberally dishing them around among the alternative media with known links to PKR and Anwar. A new spin from both PKR and the Suluk Filipinos, is that Attorney-General Gani Patail is related to Musa through his wife. Hence, as the spin continues, his reluctance to prosecute the Sabah Chief Minister and his brother “despite the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) having concluded its investigations”.

The fact of the matter is that it’s not the AG who immediately decides on the prosecution of Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders suspected of being involved in corruption. The MACC files on such leaders have to be sent to the Prime Minister who in turn will have to return them to the Commission before they are sent to the AG for further action, if any. In Musa and Anifah’s case, even if there’s an MACC file on both of them, it’s unlikely that it has been sent to Prime Minister Mohd Najib Abdul Razak. Indeed, even if such a file exists and it has been sent to the Prime Minister, it’s highly unlikely that he would be so foolish as to send it back to the MACC for onward transmission to the AG.

This is the system first initiated by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. The MACC files on Eric Chia of Perwaja Steel and Kasitah Gaddam were under lock and key in Mahathir’s office for years. It was his successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi aka Pak Lah, who sent these files back to MACC. The rest is history. Even if there’s a circumstantial case against Musa and Anifah, current PM Najib is unlikely to rock his Fixed Deposit state of Sabah just because some Suluk Filipino got too big for his boots and wants to be Chief Minister. For one, no Suluk Filipino will ever become Chief Minister of Sabah.

The Dusuns in particular — including the Kadazan and Murut – would not allow it. That would be the worst imaginable political scenario for them as it would open the floodgates to further influx of illegal immigrants from the Philippines in particular. Mindful that the Dusuns and Muruts through Joseph Pairin Kitingan and the Parti Bersatu Sabah are solidly behind Musa, the Suluk Filipinos recently tried to sponsor KDM Malaysia as an NGO to further split the non-Muslim Natives as a political force to reckon with in the state. Their efforts came to nothing and the NGO is currently on the verge of being deregistered by the Registrar of Societies (ROS).

For another, the Suluk Sabahans and other local Muslims – Dusun, Bajau, Barunai, Irranun, among others – are dead set against a Suluk Filipino taking the reins of the state government. The stand was made clear by the Suluk Sabahans who have re-grouped under the old United Sabah National Organisation (Usno) in a protest against the disproportionate political role being played in Umno by the Suluk Muslims. The Suluk Filipinos running amok in Sabah, like other illegal immigrants, should thank their lucky stars that they have not so far been detained and deported to the Philippines and banned forever from entering the state. If they think that they can cover up their tracks and buy political protection by seizing the Chief Minister’s post, they are sadly mistaken. Already, local Muslims feel increasingly marginalized and disenfranchised by the continuing influx of the illegal immigrants who go on to enter the electoral rolls and monopolize opportunities which would have otherwise gone to them.

The Lahad Datu armed intrusion and the Malaysian armed forces’ operations against the Filipino Suluk intruders claiming Sabah belongs to Philippines is a real eye opener. We have lost 8 of our security personals so far in this skirmish since the events began unfolding in Lahad Datu. For decades, we have allowed the influx of illegal immigrants and granted citizenships to Filipino immigrants under Project IC. The security threats posed by the large presence of illegals in Sabah has been highlighted by Sabahans for decades but this has fallen on deaf ears in Putrajaya. News of Azzimuddie Kiram’s brother who resides in Sabah, being placed on the police’s wanted list shows the complexities of the situation. Many of the Suluks and Moros, numbering 500,000 in Sabah, are ardent followers of the Sulu sultanate. Will they still support BN?

Although still too early to say who Sabah will decide to be their next leader, how they will go about it and the reasons behind it is no mystery. It has to be a “Sabah for Sabahan” stand for now, and having outsiders, local or otherwise, just may not make the cut. The tic-tac-toe of Sabah’s next Man will eventually be dealt with in good time. And who knows, perhaps other media oulets like Reuters, Al-Jazeera and Bernama just may have their own take on the socio-political landscape of Sabah, allowing for newer and more different ideas and even evidences to be discussed and showcased.

But for now, ladies and gentlemen, back to the stand off.


Malaysian democracy has been overtaken by dynasty, and only relatives of senior politicians enter politics. True, doctors and engineers too encourage their children to take to their profession. But there is a difference. Children of doctors and engineers have to pass exams. They do not inherit their degrees from their parents.

Politicians’ wards have no such barrier to overcome. They land up from some American or British university and immediately become “somebody” of a political party built by hundreds of party workers. The second in command, who has expectations of becoming the next leader, is unceremoniously dumped. Needless to say, the sons and daughters win the election. Dynastic succession has become the biggest threat to Malaysian democracy.

Familiarity of the clan is a starting point in making many choices. One of the parameters we use in making choices is based on birth. While the poor and illiterate are easily swayed away, others are blinded by race and religion and other narrow considerations. Dynastic politics is a malady we have to learn to live with.

We find sons and daughters and even son-in-law following the path of their fathers or father-in-law, illustrious or otherwise, in all walks of life. Their success largely depends on their calibre and performance.

Najib Tun Razak is the son of the second prime minister, Tun Abdul Razak; Hishamuddin Hussein Onn is the son of third prime minister, Hussein Onn; Mukhriz Mahathir is the son of fourth prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad; Khairy Jamaluddin the UMNO Youth Chief is the son-in-law of fifth prime minister, Tun Abdullah Badawi; Penang chief minister and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng is the son of DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang while Karpal Singh’s both sons, Gobind and Jagdeep Singh, are elected representatives; Nurrul Izzah is daughter of Anwar Ibrahim; PAS Youth deputy chairman Nik Abduh is the son of PAS spiritual advisor Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat and the list goes on.

The practice of dynasty politics exists in both the Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat.

Now Mahathir is trying hard to get his son Mukriz Mahathir to take over as deputy prime minister of Malaysia and then to become prime minister. To reach that goal, Mahathir wants his son Mukriz to first takeover as Menteri Besar of Kedah, Mahathir is selling this idea to Kedahans and that they have to first topple the Pakatan Rakayat government come GE13. So, let us give Mukhriz Mahathir a chance and pronounce a judgment after UMNO wins Kedah, if it ever wins.


The pioneer in world of cyber journalism in Malaysia or even South East Asia is the Late MGG Pillai and his mailing list – discussion forum “Sang Kancil”, years before the likes of Malaysiakini and Malaysia-Today were even established. My respects for him and I consider him my Guru!

Before social media, journalists had very little tools to “listen” to the people – the audience. It was mostly through polls, emails, etc. Now, you have a slew of online communities that allow journalists to keep their hands on the pulse of what’s going on. Social Media has also allowed the people to directly connect and humanize the journalists who were mostly kept behind the veiled publication without much control and influence (except for a PR person).

Now, it’s created a two way channel for the people and journalists to connect. While a lot of journalists and publications are moving in light speed to capture mind share, connect, and engage via tools such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+Hangout, the very core essence of journalism cannot be forgotten.

Journalists are entrusted by the public to tell the story in an objective manner with credible sources and provide information that is both educational and insightful. Journalists have a duty to the public to tell the story using various channels via blogs, etc. but ensure the story is credible, factual, and compelling. While Social Media may have changed the fundamentals of communication and delivery, the core foundation of journalism cannot be mistaken or forgotten

When one talks about social media, it’s a three level approach:

First – to disseminate information to relevant target audience at the right time, using the right channel.
Second – to engage target audience by relating and ‘connecting’ to them.
Third – to generate loyal ambassadors in a way that they represent you in the good sense among other target audience and answer on your behalf thus building a credible image.

The potential of social media to provide opportunities to ‘convert’ is huge but it requires strategising and extensive planning.

Anwar Ibrahim, has sure emerged as the star of Malaysian Politics through social media. With his blog, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ Hangout, he seems to have been in the news and has been the trending topic on most social media for awhile. This seems to have given a sudden twist in the ability of social media to reach the right target audience. While Umno and Barisan National at one time mocked and even said that social media is for people who have got nothing better to do and have doubted the ability of Social Media to reach their target audience, today they play a different tune after Anwar Ibrahim has proved a point. Najib Tun Razak is also trying hard with his Facebook, Twitter and his recent Goggle+hangout, but sad to say he is yet there.

This is the first time in Malaysian Politics that anybody has attempted to reach out to Malaysians on social media and we must say, what a campaign! The team behind Anwar Ibrahim’s campaign seems to have researched well and they have splurged content on all social media where it matters. They are on Twitter, Facebook, G+, some of the top social networking sites and they are in touch with the right set of influencers in the online world to extensively talk about Anwar’s campaign in the digital medium. The campaign is brilliant and they do the updating of information on the go and they ensure that they have researched the potential of all features of the top social networking sites and use it to their advantage. While most other political parties are harping on being first people to adopt social media, we are yet to see a campaign of this magnitude that effectively utilizes relevant features of social media.

So, has this campaign proved to be the best social media campaign in Malaysia? In some ways yes, this is the first campaign of its kind where there has been an effective utilization of digital medium in such a magnitude. The reach is significant and the design brilliant. However the effort is yet to spill over to the next levels – engagement. The campaign has just begun, but will it hold the audience glued? The Facebook posts are great but the comments are yet to be monitored and catered to. There are several comments that need to be addressed, but it does not look like anybody cares. Facebook does provide the opportunity to convert people but Najib Tun Razak’s team is yet to use it fully to their benefit. Going by number of fans or number of people talking about the page as a metric to determine popularity, is now passé. The number of people talking about the page could be phenomenal, but how many are talking positive and helping spread political awareness is the question, specially his 1Malaysia. But as Facebook users know all too well, a “fan” may not always be a fan and a “friend” may not always be a friend. And sometimes “likes” is just a five letter word.

Najib should remember, starting is 50% of work done. But will Najib’s team deliver the other half? Even though his has been a brilliant campaign with the help of APCO Worldwide, but there are signs of fading, unless of course there is constant innovation in reaching the target audience online. What has happened so far is the mandate of his social media presence. His group has failed to cross the first level – appropriate presence. The second level of engagement is to ‘connect’ and cater to audience in real time, the magic to move towards conversion. This level is yet to be achieved in Najib’s campaign.

The impact on netizans of this ‘move towards social media’ could be several, but the impact on Malaysian Politics and on Malaysia is immeasurable. The next thing we know is, Malaysian politicians embarrassing social media to make their impact. This is an era where you could clearly say – a politician is a fool to not have a social media presence! The politicians will be forced to take to social media and we might see a new breed of net savvy politicians who have the presence of mind to ‘connect’ in the real sense. The web 2.0 (now moving to 3.0) experience will force politicians to at least move towards what is right if not ‘do what is right’.

With mobile phones are already showing high penetration, politicians and government will ensure that there is internet connectivity at every corner in Malaysia so that they are able to at least present their messages if not ‘interact’. Rais Yatim should wake up and do better on the internet connectivity in Sabah which is only 30% and Barisan National should stop blowing their trumpets saying Sabah being the “fixed Deposit. Rais Yatim does zilch to improve the internet connectivity in Sabah!

Just because people respond to you through social media — by liking and friending and following you — that does not mean their virtual support will always translate into actual support, Rais Yatim!