Archive for the ‘Dr Mahathir’ Category


After a gap of 15 years Dr Mahathir is once again Malaysia’s Prime Minister, and his re-election means he’s also a world record holder.

At the age of 93 today, he is now the Oldest current Prime Minister having been born on 10 July 1925.

Dr Mahathir also served as Prime Minister for 23 years from 1981-2003 and came out of retirement 15 years after stepping down as Malaysia’s Prime Minister to stand for re-election.

Having initially been a founder member of UMNO, which had been in power since 1957,  Dr Mahathir resigned from UMNO and formed Pakatan Harapan coalition ahead of May 9th 2018 election.

His election victory means he’s older than the two previous serving politicians who Guinness World Records has recognised as holding the title.

Previous Record Holders

King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz

Saudi Arabian ruler, King Fahd, assumed the office of Prime Minister on 13 June 1982 on the death of his brother, King Khalid.

Born in 1921, he was the Oldest current Prime Minister by the time he passed away on 1 August 2005, aged 84.

King Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz

After King Fahd’s passing, he was replaced as Saudi Arabia’s Prime Minister by King Abdullah, three year’s his predecessor’s junior.

King Abdullah was born in 1924 and remained in the post until his death at the age of 90 in January 2015.

But other politicians have stayed in power long enough to set records.

Other prime ministerial records

The Oldest appointed Prime Minister, where a politician has been made their country’s leader for the first time, is Morarji Ranchhodji Desai.

Born in 1896, he became Prime Minister of India in 1977 at the age of 81.

The Oldest UK Prime Minister in office is William Gladstone (UK, 1809-98), who was 84 years 64 days old when he left office on 3 March 1894.

At 93, the Tun is Malaysia’s political comeback kid. I wish you well, Sir. Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad. You inspired me and men and women of my generation, although some of us may not agree with your politics. But we recognise you did things your way. Happy Birthday Sir Dr Mahathir.

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This is a nicely written editorial piece by The Malaysian Insight.

Here goes…

https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/57409

IF it were up to the politicians, Najib Razak would have been arrested and charged with a string of offences by now.

Indeed, there is some frustration among the Pakatan Harapan (PH) corps that the former prime minister is still a free man, more than six weeks after he and Barisan Nasional were ushered out of Putrajaya.

Judging from comments on social media, anger is percolating among some ordinary Malaysians that Najib’s day of reckoning ‎has not arrived.

This sentiment is understandable, especially against the backdrop of ‎the astonishing and obscene amount of jewellery and cash found at properties linked to the former first couple.

So what gives? What’s the delay in arresting Najib and charging him for offences under the anti-money laundering act?

The simple answer is: professionalism.

Attorney-General Tommy Thomas is not a politician. He does not need to play to the gallery. He has been given a two-year term by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and chief among his responsibilities is to nail all those linked to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal.

A senior lawyer with more than four decades of experience arguing cases in court, Thomas knows that you only go to court when you are satisfied that you have covered all the bases and the witnesses’ testimonies can withstand cross-examination.

To say that this is a high-profile case is an understatement. Media interest in Malaysia over the return of Dr Mahathir and Najib’s political demise has only been matched by the coverage of  the sacking and jailing of Anwar Ibrahim in 1998.

Then, the Malaysian government had put on a show that resulted in the world laughing and ridiculing our legal system. Who can forget the porous prosecution led by then attorney-general Mokhtar Abdullah and Abdul Gani Patail?

Who can forget the many instances prosecution witnesses were demolished within an hour of being on the stand by the superb defence team led by the late Raja Aziz Addruse?

Who can forget the prosecution having to make amendments to the charges to cover embarrassing mistakes?

The world’s media watched from the press gallery and reported with incredulity the amateurish prosecution trial of the former deputy prime minister.

New Malaysia cannot afford its legal system to suffer another black eye. The new Mahathir administration that promises to deliver a more transparent, independent and rule of law-based legal system has to be seen to be ticking those boxes in the trial of the decade.

Ultimately, it is to the benefit of the ordinary Malaysian or the small man that the person in charge of bringing prosecution is influenced only by the files in front of him, and not by pressure from outside sources.

We cannot have a return to the days when we faced enforcement action from government agencies and prosecution as part of a political shakedown or because we had offended some little Napoleon. Or because, it was the politically expedient thing to do.

If the new AG of the Mahathir administration is being more meticulous and thorough in preparing the case against Najib, that’s a good development. It means that he knows that he believes that he is not going to get a free pass in court simply because he represents the government of the day.

He has to win on merit.

Thomas was brought into the system precisely for this reason: to give confidence to Malaysians and foreigners that the new government truly wants a clean break from the past. – June 28, 2018

THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT


I picked this piece from my WhatsApp group. It seems, folks are getting more and more restless as the days go by, after more than 30 days of the new Pakatan Harapan government, and still no sign of DR Mahathir arresting and charging former Premier Najib Tun Razak. Thanks to the multibillion-dollar scandal involving Najib and Jho Low’s brainchild: a government investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the fund became a 50 billion ringgit black hole, for which Malaysians will pick up the tab for generations. While many people are asking for the arrest of the former premier, it is not so easy says Dr Mahathir. People are waiting – when is Dr Mahathir going to arrest Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak?

Here goes……

Many are wondering why our dear Old Horse (Tun M) has yet to commence prosecution proceedings against our ex-MO1.

My reply is simple. Much as you and I, and I’m sure the majority of Malaysians, want justice to be dispensed against our ex-MO1 speedily, but we need to be wise and appreciate a few factors our dear Old Horse need to consider carefully before he takes action.

Firstly, it’s unbecoming in the Malay culture to hit at another fellow Malay/Muslim during their holy month of Ramadan, and now the happy 10th. month of Syawal of rejoicing and celebration. He will lose some goodwill with his community if he does it.

Secondly, the legal issues involved are extremely complex as we are dealing with the biggest kleptocracy case the world has ever witnessed with intricate links across many jurisdictions. We need the evidence, expertise and experience to deal with such complicated cases. Hence, the wisdom of Old Horse to recruit Tommy Thomas as our new AG to fit those requirements for this particular onerous assignment. Tommy Thomas is only in his position hardly for half a month now. He needs time.

Thirdly, and most important, Old Horse needs first to drain the swamp which is still infested by and with appointees of ex-MO1, be them in the AG’s Chambers, PDRM, MACC, BNM, the judiciary or other institutions. They can sabotage our investigation, enforcement, decision etc very subtly and finally scuttling off everything. Old Horse can’t afford to lose in his prosecution against our ex-MO1 in this war! The Chief Justice Tun Raus Sharif and President of the Court of Appeal (PCA) Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin will only leave at the end of July, and with their presence in office there won’t be certainty of a successful prosecution against our ex-MO1. Besides, there’s still a binding Federal Court decision by these two to affirm that a PM is not a public official to be liable for certain acts. That decision needs to be overturned first but only after the two have vacated office.

So my dear friends, we all need to be patient and more sympathetic to our dear Old Horse as he knows what he is doing as he’s very much an action man who won’t want to delay even for a minute. He’s bidding for the right strategic time to strike once the infested swamp is drained and cleared! Take heart. 😊


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


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.

May 25, 2017― Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad lamented today over the sale of a 49.9 per cent stake in Malaysia’s national carmaker Proton, once the country’s source of pride, to Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.

The former prime minister, who had founded Proton Holdings in 1983 in a bid to turn Malaysia into an industrialised powerhouse, said he could not be proud of Proton’s future success because it would no longer belong to him or to Malaysia.

“I am a sissy. I cry even if Malaysians are dry-eyed. My child is lost. And soon my country. Please excuse me,” Dr Mahathir wrote on his blog.

“Proton the child of my brain has been sold. It is probably the beginning of the great sell-out. The process is inexorable. No other way can we earn the billions to pay our debts. The only way is to sell our assets. And eventually we will lose our country, a great country no doubt, but owned by others,” added the country’s longest serving prime minister.

The deal between Proton parent DRB-Hicom and Geely was announced yesterday, with Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani saying that Proton would remain a national car because Proton would still have a majority hold of 50.1 per cent.

International newswire Reuters reported that Geely was expected to offer Proton some vehicle technologies in order to grow its sales overseas and to recover some of the global presence Proton had lost in recent years.

Proton reportedly dominated the domestic market by 74 per cent in 1993 at its peak, but saw its market share dwindle to around 15 per cent currently due to low-quality cars, poor after-sales service and tough competition from foreign automakers.

Dr Mahathir said he was certain that Proton would now be sold all over the world.

“It will be like Singapore. Malaysians are proud of this great city-state. If it had not been sold it would be, perhaps, as well developed as Kuala Kedah or Kuala Perlis. Then we cannot be proud of Singapore,” he said.

“Now we can be proud of Proton. With money and superior technology it will compete with Rolls Royce and Bentley. But I cannot be proud of its success. I cannot be proud of the success of something that does not belong to me or my country. Maybe other Malaysians will, but not me,” added the 91-year-old.

Anyway heard it through the grapevine that this is:

Proton Geely’s first model

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Read hear Dr Mahathir’s Chedet


Before concluding that the Panama papers are the Holy Grail of global corruption, certain facts must be viewed in perspective – one that the journalists involved in the expose have been careful to articulate but readers may have overlook due to the seductive conclusions big names tend to offer.

The papers are essentially records maintained by a law firm in a tax haven showing how several individuals used its services to set up entities and investment vehicles. Independently, this may not be a crime in several jurisdictions as the journalists have pointed out. But if properly investigated, they may reveal how some of those named might have used the route to evade rather than avoid taxes.

Beyond the fact that the records of one law firm are now out in the open, their disclosure, a remarkable journalistic feat by any measure, must be obvious that neither the presence nor the role of overseas tax havens are exactly a secret. They exist, as they have for a long time, and are used as much for avoidance as they are for straightforward evasion. While the Malaysian government has not been quick to announce a probe, it must view these disclosures in the backdrop of its avowed and largely unfulfilled objective of rooting out black money, especially money salted away overseas. In this context, the response of the Bank Negara Governor has been disappointing.

The ways of Malaysia’s rich and famous are increasingly becoming public knowledge. Prominent Malaysians’s, including one of the prime minister’s sons, Mohd Nazifuddin Mohd Najib, former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir’s son Mirzan Mahathir, even Kamaluddin Abdullah son of another former Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, owning offshore companies in Panama is just the latest of the unraveling, and adding them to the likes of Vladimir Putin, David Cameron, Xi Jinping and Nawaz Sharif among others.

Insofar as Malaysia is concerned, the onus is on tax and enforcement authorities to probe the names and information that have come into the public domain and evaluate these against declarations and filings made by the named individuals before reaching definite conclusions. This exercise must be concluded with urgent despatch, as any delay would in the event of a default deprive the exchequer of revenue. Equally, if the transactions are kosher, a delay would prolong an infamy. The suspicion here is that because of the nebulous nature of tax laws and the frequent amendments made by governments, many of these transactions will fall in the large grey space that almost by design exists between the black and white of the legal framework. In jurisdictions outside Malaysia, especially those where public persons must maintain the highest standards of probity, the revelations are bound to cause upheavals, as indeed they already have in Iceland. They are unlikely though to cause more than momentary discomfort to political figures like Russian President Vladimir Putin or Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, individuals who have in the past brushed aside such charges with disdain.

Panama is a small sliver of a country in Central America joining North and South America. Its immediate geographical neighbors are Costa Rica in the north and Colombia in the south. It is the narrow isthmus that separates the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. A 77 kilometers long manmade canal capable of accommodating large ships joins the two oceans. The revenues from this were for long the nations biggest source of income since the canal opened in 1914.

Panama soon found that becoming a tax haven that assured investors of their privacy provided a more lucrative income. The proximity to the Americas, and the balmy Caribbean islands, and countries like Colombia with its huge cocaine production and export business, and Latin America’s many kleptomaniac tin pot dictators made Panama even more attractive. Till not long ago after the overthrow of Panama’s General Manuel Noriega the Canal Zone was under the protection of US troops and that too served as an incentive for Americans seeking an offshore tax haven.

Panama as a tax haven offers foreign individuals and businesses little or no tax liability in a fairly politically and economically stable environment. Tax havens also provide little or no financial information to foreign tax authorities. This in short is the reason Panama is so important to our moneyed people who have good reason to hide their real wealth.

This leaves us to ask: Why do the rich want to hide their wealth? Well, simply because they are not as wealthy as they appear to be. And if they honestly declared their true wealth they would not only be liable to pay more income tax but could also open many of them to various charges of corporate fraud and malfeasances that could earn them hefty prison terms. So the income they cannot declare gets hidden in a tax haven. The big bucks are made and salted away.

A good part of this money is round tripped back to Malaysia via nearby Singapore. Not surprisingly in 2015 the top FDI investing countries was Singapore. Singapore is the home of hundreds of corporate entities that act as a pass through for funds being held overseas for Malaysians or Malaysian entities. Singapore is little more than cutouts for monies held in other more distant tax havens like Panama, Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Lichtenstein. The smaller the country the more pliable the officials.

According to Global Financial Integrity, a Washington DC based think-tank; Malaysians were estimated to have illicitly sent out $73 billion in 2015. Where does this money go? Countries like Switzerland that offer banking secrecy usually do not pay any interest on such deposits. So money goes to corporations in tax havens from where they are invested in businesses world over. Ever wondered how many local successful businessmen managed to get so big overseas, so soon?

This is where the Panama’s of the world come in. There was a time when Panama in Malaysia was synonymous with a man’s wide-brimmed straw hat made from the leaves of the Toquilla tropical palm tree. That Panama is long forgotten. Today’s Panama is synonymous with offshore corporations and assured secrecy. The times have changed.



The Sabah State Cabinet wants the relevant authorities to take drastic action to resolve once and for all the issue of illegal immigrants in the state, after the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) blamed “corrupt officials” and illegal syndicates for the state’s burgeoning foreigner population.

Chief Minister Musa Aman said the State Cabinet, with consensus, welcomed the release of the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the issue of illegal immigrants in Sabah and supported the recommendations made to resolve the issue.

“THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UNDER PRIME MINISTER DATO SRI NAJIB TUN RAZAK HAS FULFILLED ITS PROMISE ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE RCI AND TO RELEASE ITS FINDINGS,” he said after being briefed on the RCI findings and recommendations at the weekly State Cabinet meeting today.

He said these findings have been released by an independent panel that has heard and scrutinised the testimonies of multiple witnesses.

Musa said based on these findings, it was discovered that there were wrongdoings committed by individuals for monetary gain.

“These grievous acts were committed by irresponsible individuals who were greedy and they have been brought before the law for their crimes,” he said.

In moving forward post-RCI, he said it was important for concrete measures to be taken to ensure that these acts do not recur and any efforts by any syndicates that could undermine the sovereignty of this nation must be dismantled and face the long arm of the law.

He said the State Cabinet therefore welcomed the recommendations to set up a PERMANENT COMMITTEE on Foreigners to be co chaired by Home Affairs Minister, Datuk Zahid Hamidi and himself as well as a Working Committee on Foreigners to be chaired by Deputy Chief Minister, Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

“We also call on relevant Departments and agencies to overcome any weaknesses and tighten any loopholes within their respective structures to maintain the integrity of their respective governmental functions and the ultimate objective, which is serving the people,” he said.

In the meantime, he said the State Government would continue to work hand in hand with the Federal Government to overcome issues dealing with illegal immigrants in the state.

He said the relevant authorities such as Police, National Registration department and the Immigration Department are working closely through statewide operations such as Ops Bersepadu to flush out illegal immigrants in the state.

“It is also my hope that our counterparts in our neighboring countries will assist us in this effort by facilitating the return of their citizens to their respective countries,” he said.


The Third Rail of Malaysian Politics: True Leadership.


For many years now, MANY in Malaysia have had an uneasy feeling that democracy, as generally understood, sits uneasily among the people of this country. Malaysia has large and sometimes articulate political parties and it has had leaders totally committed to the concept of democracy, which is also true. There was Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, Tun Dr Ismail, Tun Hussein Onn, John Aloysius Thivy, Tun Tan Cheng Lock, Stephen Kalong Ningkan, Tun Fuad Donald Stephens, Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, Peter Mojuntin, Tun Mustapha, O K K Sedomon, Ahmad Boestaman,  and others who believed in the concept of democracy as the only one that would keep Malaysia together and take it forward.

Like true democrats they believed that dissent was an essential part of democracy, and that the country would only be enriched by debate and discussion, even by agitation if that became necessary. Their belief was complemented by their direct contact with the people; the trust that people had in them made it possible for them to persuade them to accept, enthusiastically, the beliefs and ideas they gave them.

But when such leaders and people are not there any more, what happens to the parties and institutions they have built and nurtured? One facile answer is that political argument gets stronger and power shifts from one group to another when elections are held. In other words, the people decide who will have the responsibility to manage the state, removing those whom they consider incapable and bringing in those they think can do the job. This is very convenient and comforting. It is also totally fictitious.

It is true that political argument does get stronger, more so because of the increasingly watchful media both print and electronic, of which most political groups have become wary, even fearful, and not without reason. The fiction lies in the belief that the “people” remove those who do not perform and bring in those who they think can perform.

First, the concept of “people” is simplistic; the vast numbers of individuals in the state are an infinitely complex entity consisting of a vast number of groups and sub-groups. This enormous mass of individuals does not come together and decide anything; that is not what happens, not at all. What happens is that a strategy aimed at finding acceptance with groups of individuals, in some cases possibly fortuitously, works or works better than the strategy of another group.

In the 2008 general elections, the strategy of what was called the Third Front did not work; most individuals did not trust it. In a muddle of strategies, five states fell to the opposition Pakatan Rakyat but not because it had planned to do so. It had, of course, tried to win the Federal Government, but its plans were wide off the mark. When it won 5 states and 82 parliamentary seats it must have been as surprised as anyone else.

On the other hand, Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman had a strategy that he had worked on for years since 2003 – to give people the kind of development and security they had been yearning for – and his many victories till 2013 May 5th was no surprise, except perhaps to his opponents, and their surprise was more at the magnitude of his success than at the victory itself. It made their strategies and plans look comic in comparison. Musa Aman is an exception, and a phenomenon confined to Sabah.

At the national level, and in most other States, the structure of democracy is being subjected to forces that may well change it completely over time. To understand that one has, perhaps, to take a step back and look at what the process is about today.  It is not about representing the “people’s” will. It is about control and power.

Our so-called democracy is defined not by the existence of dissent and opposition activity but by the nature of the power wielded. It is monarchical and meant to secure the interests, political and economic, of the ruling group, whichever it is. And this is done by ensuring that power remains with an elite group – preferably the family, but also those who are close to it and share the same backgrounds.

One can see it today in what many refer to as the First Family in the Umno Baru; Dr Mahathir Mohamad is clearly grooming his son, Mukhriz, to be the next Prime Minister. But they are not by any means the only family. Look at the number of sons and daughters and son-in-law now who are inducted into the corridors of power:  Najib Tun Razak, Hishammuddin Tun Hussein Onn, Khairy Jamaluddin, even Mukhriz Mahathir in Kedah who is what he is because he is Dr Mahathir’s son, and a whole host of others whom media naively call the Young Turks. The original Young Turks were not just young; they had come to prominence because of their abilities, not because of who their father or mother or father-in-law was. A number of sons and daughters whom the media naively call Young Turks have been inducted into the corridors of power.

Inevitably, the elements of power are being chivied towards specific families, which will then determine who will stand for elections for their parties, and thus consolidate their own position, securing it for their generation and the generations to follow. Increasingly, their contact with the people has become more and more distant; the people get to be called the “rakyat” who have to be maneuvered by race, religion, money and promises. But this is not a phenomenon confined to the Umno party; it is as much in evidence in the opposition Pakatan Rakyat parties such as the DAP, PKR and PAS. Look at Lim Guan Eng, Nurul Izzah, Karpal’s sons, Ustaz Din Tok Guru the son-in-law of PAS President Ustaz Abdul Hadi Awang, so many more.

And where the factor of unease comes in is in what appears to be an inevitable slide towards oligarchy, where an elite takes over power – political and economic. It is economic, too, of course. All the big corporate giants are busy grooming their sons and daughters to take their place among the power elite; Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary is only one instance of this. Even the much-revered Al Bukhary group is reportedly looking for a Syed to head it once Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary leaves; Vincent Tan has already inducted his son into his Berjaya empire, so has Kuok Brothers, so has Ananda Krishnan.

One can only hope that this is not what we have in store for us, that we do produce some leaders from outside the elite families who, like Musa Aman in Sabah, will lead with clear concepts of development.