Posts Tagged ‘Anwar Ibrahim’



HAVING witnessed democracy in action in the form of state assembly elections in Sarawak recently, it is worthwhile looking at what the Sarawak elections had exposed. Political analysts have already made pronouncements about identity politics, that is, the politics of race and community, being pushed to the side by new demands for development. They have pronounced on the virtues of being “with the people” in the manner of Taib Mahmud, the Chief Minister of Sarawak, as opposed to the “parachute politics” of Anwar Ibrahim.

Corruption has been mentioned, but in terms that are not very clear, at least to lay people like myself. Has this exercise in democracy proved that there is widespread anger at the corruption that exists in almost all parts of society, in public bodies and authorities as well as in private entities? From what one can comprehend, the answer is the familiar “yes-and-no” that analysts take shelter behind when faced with a phenomenon they cannot really understand.

The verdict cannot be against corruption in, for example, Sarawak, where the reputation of the ruling Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) and the other Sarawak BN component parties combine is not of its being a group of saints, to put it mildly. For the record, the perception about the party that lost badly, the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) which lost 13 of 19 seats it contested and its President Dr. George Chan Hong Nam, Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak, humiliating defeat in the hands of the DAP, is no better.

In Sarawak, no one will take you seriously if you claim that the Barisan National Sarawak is pure as driven snow; that the losing SUPP was seen as utterly corrupt, which is why it lost; and that the Sarawak BN and Taib Mahmud is responsible for the chopping down of most of Sarawak’s rainforests at the expense of the indigenous communities; and Taib Mahmud was also seen as corrupt and the protector of corrupt allies. The fact is that all of them are seen as corrupt.

Without making any solemn pronouncements on why a party won or lost, or the role played by rebel candidates of all parties in splitting vote banks, one can say with a degree of certainty that a rejection of corruption was not really the main issue in the election. And that is the truly worrying factor in this round of exercise of democracy.

Equally worrying is the sense one gets that the major political parties know this and are not really bothered. They also know, from the look of things, that the public protestation of corruption will never ever amount to anything as far as political power in our system is concerned. The parties strategise their moves and countermoves on the basis of other considerations, which they think to be more effective and relevant. So we can continue to bark corruption, coruption, coruption but nothing is gonna happen and nothing is gonna change, it has not change for the last 50 years.

An article that appeared not so long ago in The Nation cited a study by a group of scholars in the London School of Economics, which said that the comparisons made by various writers and experts between Malaysia and Singapore as emerging economic powers were erroneous; that Malaysia could never hope to be a rival to the economic powerhouse that Singapore already is. One reason given for this is the all-pervasive corruption in Malaysia.

This trend of thinking will in all likelihood catch on, despite brave words from leaders of Barisan National. One can sense it in the way the Malaysian stock market has behaved; in the way the ringgit has got weaker by the day; and in the general gloom among bankers, which they will not admit to publicly but will talk about mainly among themselves. It is not gloom about the immediate future – it is about Malaysia in the long term. It is, finally, about the nature of Malaysian democracy.

There are those who increasingly see signs of fatal flaws in Malaysian democracy because of the way it has developed. Political parties in power, from regional parties to so-called national parties, depend on corruption from the top down to survive, and survival is all that matters. An even more dangerous trend was the failure to improve the education standards.

Malaysia’s failure to provide quality education means that eventually our young men and women will lack the intellectual capabilities, leading to a falling off of quality of work, of skill levels and so on, with its inevitable ill effects on the economy as a whole. But are our politicians who are engaged in the task of survival, interested or concerned?

Eventually, one has to conclude that Malaysian-style democracy and the ills afflicting our economy, our industry, our infrastructure, our health services and our education system will ensure that Malaysia does not become an economic superpower, emerging or otherwise, and that it will have to depend on aid to keep itself going after all the natural resources have depleted. Then, multinational corporations will start to invest in other more lucrative ASEAN countries. Remember, Malaysia’s debts is now a whopping RM0.5 TRILLION.

Now, a lot depends on what young leaders such as Nurul Izzah and others such as Chief Ministers Musa Aman of Sabah and Lim Guan Eng of Penang do. There is little to be gained by looking at any other leader; those who are indeed leaders are either erratic and whimsical, or interested only in lining their pockets. Some like Taib Mahmud although in his twilight may well take Sarawak towards development, but he has to provide proof of that, as Musa Aman has done so admirably.



Sabah opposition is, for all practical purposes, a collection of four main parties, DAP, PKR, Sabah Star and SAPP including newly formed but not registered Angkatan Perubahan Sabah (APS) headed by Wilfred Bumburing and Pakatan Perubahan Sabah (PPS) headed by Lajim Okin. USNO Baru is also in the fray mobilising support using founder Tun Mustapha’s name, but, its yet to be registered and very unlikely that it ever will.

There is a remark attributed, perhaps apocryphally, to Dr Jeffrey Kitingan to the effect that most Sabah politics is mathematics, a number game. As political analysis goes, this remark proves insightful. Sabah politics is, in this view, not driven by ideology or charisma. It is constituted by the mundane activity of stitching together narrow interest-driven coalitions. And electoral fortunes, for the most part, do not turn on massive changes induced by immense persuasiveness of candidates. They turn on small swings, and contingent management of interests.

But if this political analysis is taken too literally, it can become spectacularly self-defeating. It can make politics a passive waiting game. As opposition parties in Sabah prepare to met and strategise, or assuming they ever will, a plan to commit to  one-to-one fights against the Barisan National in the coming 13th General Elections brews.

Pakatan Rakyat in Sabah headed by Anwar Ibrahim has little presence here but it has done well in other PKR states from 2008. Since the last election, it has not expanded its presence in Sabah although the DAP has its footing in the urban areas.

Lest we forget, elections are ultimately about the ability to project credibility.

On the economy, the Pakatan Rakyat states have done well so far. It has given an alternative to old-fashioned UMNO/BN politics, concocting better versions to solutions. In Parliament sessions it had the rulling coalition on the mat for the many economic mess-ups in the last four years.

The most polished personalities in the Sabah opposition scene, Dr Jeffrey Kitingan and Yong Teck Lee, don’t seem to show that they have what it takes to run the state economy like the way Musa Aman has, but has only seem to be harping on the Sabah Rights vis a vis the Malaysia Agreement 1963. They are also simply waiting for the Barisan National Sabah to make more errors to give them a lift. To make matters worse, internally, the Sabah opposition itself is faced with a series of simultaneous equations it cannot solve. The main one is of course the mistrust between Malaya based Pakatan Rakyat and Borneo based Star Sabah and SAPP.

Most commentators assume that the Sabah opposition’s central dilemma is between Sabah Rights and a more centrist position. But, arguably, this is not its biggest dilemma. It will never be able to persuade die-hard antagonists who think that Sabah joining the Federation in 1963 to form Malaysia is a mistake. Regrettable as it might be, it can probably get away with a game of calculated ambiguity, so long as it is not deeply polarising. Its central dilemma is that Malaya does not understand what federalism means for Sabah politics.

If politics has become genuinely federal, then there are implications for how political parties are organised. In an ideal situation, like what we see now in the Musa Aman Government, state-level leaders and units have to believe that there is a symbiotic relationship between them and the leadership in Putrajaya. Association with the Putrajaya leadership enhances the prospects of local units and that’s why we see so much positivity coming from the Musa Aman government today. But if the Putrajaya leadership does not significantly add to the state units’ prospects, or worse still, becomes a liability ( like during the PBS days) then the central high command has little authority over the state. On the other hand, a party composed entirely of state units can have no coherence at the centre, and cannot project itself as a national party, like in Sarawak. This is the basic structural dilemma faced by the Sabah opposition.

It is, for all practical purposes, a collection of four parties; DAP and PKR, (Malaya based), Sabah Star and SAPP (Borneo based). Except for Jeffrey Kitingan and Yong Teck Lee who can be considered local leaders, PKR and DAP does not have anyone except Anwar Ibrahim who isn’t local himself. So the question of who is going to lead the Sabah opposition becomes an issue. To complicate matters, PKR in Sabah is undergoing a leadership crisis. Anwar and his cronies have meddled and presented Azmin Ali, also an outsider, as a solution to a headless PKR in Sabah. Clearly, the Sabah opposition’s problem is that it has no charismatic local leader of any kind to take reign, althogether failing to see that the the average age of its cadres does not reflect new Sabah.

Since Yong Teck Lee’s myopic misjudgment in Bati Sapi Parliamentary by-elections, the Sabah Opposition has been groping in dark for a leader. There is a great clamour for Lajim Okin now however, even if we grant him administrative acumen (not slot-machine acumen!), his ability to give the Sabah opposition a direction is limited. Despite Lajim giving up his RM30,000 salary as a Federal Deputy Minister and resigning as Umno Supreme Council member, Beaufort Umno Division chief and Beaufort BN chairman, justifying his actions by way of an epiphany (Lajim claims, after 18 years, to have come to a realisation that Umno/BN had not done anything for the welfare of Sabahans) still makes him a polarising figure. Lajim has got too much political baggage. He will have to come up with some spectacularly convincing gesture of contrition to be acceptable to Pakatan Rakyat and Pakatan Rakyat’s potential allies in Sabah. There is also a curious and potentially fatal omission in his strategy to make himself acceptable. Sabahans still see him as  an UMNO member and Lajim has not made any special initiative to campaign in Sabah. If he is a potential chief minister, his energies would have been directed to mass engagement across the state. He remains a question mark in everyone mind.

The only long-term solution for the Sabah opposition front is to have a serious institutional reform on how they are run. But no incumbent leader wants this and there is the paradox that a leader must first acquire authority to do this within current institutional rules. It is said, with some justification, that any party that wins in Sabah will look a bit like the Barisan National. But the real issue is, which Barisan National: the idea or its debased version?

At the moment, the Sabah opposition is looking more like the debased version: it matches the Barisan National’s petty-mindedness with its own display of small egos. We can debate structural issues to death. The Sabah opposition will get a lot of advice from its faithful on what to do. But the harder issue to come to terms with is this: there is a kind of inchoate lack of will that characterises the Sabah opposition parties, it is as if it is not sincere. Much of its leadership is doing what it does, not because it sees a point to it, but because it does not have anything else to do. This is an ultimate kind of nihilism, politics as casual play, increasingly disconnected with everything around it especially the economy. They are unable to show that if they capture the state they could run it prudently and efficiently like how Musa Aman has, a cash reserve of RM3.3 Billion, and a state budget getting bigger and bigger to a tune of RM4 billion a new record, which was never heard of before Musa Aman.


Print ads and films, campaigns on Twitter, Facebook and maybe a special deal with YouTube… Premier Najib Tun Razk is leaving little — including expenses — to chance. No wonder the Pakatan Rakyat is worried!

Anwar Ibrahim, is having sleepless nights NOT because he will be taking on popular Najib Tun Razak in the coming 13th General Elections but because he will have to counter Najib’s huge power of communication.

Leaders of the Pakatan Rakyat think that Najib will use his government’s budget for various ministries in the coming six months to propagate himself and his government’s achievements. It can be done legally and, Pakatan Rakyat know, it will also be done smartly. Besides the budget for 2013 which will be tabled in Parliament this September 28, the government is going to be playing Santa Claus promising benefits to current voters at the expense of future generations. The government will borrow massively; that create debt, which future families must pay back with interest.

The Pakatan’s estimate is that before the elections, Najib will unleash material for his publicity and propaganda like never before. A senior Pakatan leader told me,  “Our estimate says it will be anything in the range of 1 billion Ringgit.”

But a DAP leader from Penang puts the figure much higher. He says, “Najib will use various budgets in the range of 2 billion Ringgit to gear up for the elections. Only if there is a model code of conduct then only he will he use party funds.

According to a senior Pakatan leader, who is a member of the party’s counter-strategy team, it is very difficult to segregate the government’s publicity and Najib’s personal and political publicity.

It is believed that Najib has massive plans to publicise his achievements both before and during the elections.

The entire publicity of the Malaysian government which ALWAYS means Prime Minister Najib’s publicity — is being supervised by his most trusted bureaucrat and principal secretary.

It has been found that Najib’s office has smart plans, in this election year, to promote Najib on YouTube.

The online video channel MAY sign an agreement to insert a 10-second video clip of Najib in millions of videos listed on its site. If this agreement is signed, it will be a never-before-done kind of political campaign on an international platform by a Malaysian leader.

Unconfirmed reports claim that the agreement may cost upward of 5 million ringgit a day and it will run for weeks till the election. It is well-known that Najib has accounts on Facebook, Twitter and many other sites, and that he is one of the most popular political leaders on social media sites. His account is believed to be run by trusted techies from the United States of America.

Najib’s office in Putrajaya is one of the most smartly operated offices as far as news, information and reference material collection is concerned, where he takes the help of most trusted techies. Najib also has studios and supportive technology to make publicity material both in Putrajaya and in Pekan, Pahang and at his home in KL.

The prime minister has a full-time expert to make his films, videos and documentaries. Najib’s office is also in negotiation to award a massive order for a 1Malaysia booklet showcasing his achievements.

Not well known, or appreciated, is the fact that Najib is a first-rate copywriter with a folksy and populist style. He loves writing slogans and prose for posters and political graffiti etc.

The Najib government has even special plans for a publicity blitz in the Orang Asli villages. There are 147,412 orang asli in Malaysia and the majority of them reside in 869 villages in Peninsular Malaysia, comprising around 0.6 per cent of the Malaysian population. Most of them are divided into three major ethnic groups – Negrito, Senoi and Proto-Malays –and Pahang tops the list of having the most number of Orang Asli 54,293. Huge LCD screens and mobile vans have been ordered, with huge budget for travel to orang asli villages to publicise the government’s achievements. Just this March Najib had announced an additional allocation of RM750mil, of which RM151mil has been earmarked for water supply projects to be spread out over the 869 orang asli villages.

Some Pakatan Rakyat leaders allege that the Najib government spends money even to get ‘Likes’ for Najib on social media sites. One of the DAP leaders involved in his party’s publicity and planning complains, “For every click on ‘Like’ 1 Ringgit is spent.

It is already known that APCO Worldwide, the US-based multinational, has been engaged to do publicity work for Najib.


by Joe Fernandez
Guest Columnist

COMMENT Pas President Hadi Awang should not have said that only a “Malay” Muslim — probably “determined” by a DNA test a la Pas — will be Prime Minister if and when Pakatan Rakyat (PR) seizes the reins of power in Putrajaya and initiates, forms and leads the Federal Government.

Is he implying that a “Malay” Muslim is not the Prime Minister now and that “Malay” Muslims have never held the post?

What he said is not unlawful in a Court of Law.

However, it’s unconstitutional to say such things and therefore not lawful, and certainly inconsiderate and hurtful of the feelings of the non-“Malays” including Muslims.

Besides, it’s not the done thing to say such things and further alienate, for one, the good people on the other side of the South China Sea who are neither “Malays”, despite speaking Malay, nor for the most part Muslims. Why should Sabah and Sarawak be in Malaysia if they are denied the Prime Minister’s post.

Already, “Malaysians” in Borneo are saying things like that they are not really in Malaysia and claiming that they still retain the self-determination they obtained on 31 Aug 1963 (Sabah) and 22 July 1963 (Sarawak).

They are screaming internal colonisation — caught between the evil extremes of ketuanan Melayu and grinding poverty — and are demanding that the United Nations Security Council step in on Putrajaya’s non-compliance on the four constitutional documents and/or conventions which formed the basis on which they were “persuaded” by the Malayans and British to help form and participate in the Federation of Malaysia viz. the 1963 Malaysia Agreement (MA63); the 20/18 Points (20/18 P); the Inter Governmental Committee Report (IGCR); and the Cobbold Commission Report (CCR).

Perhaps Hadi wants to discontinue the peculiar situation where the Prime Ministers so far have not been “Malay” in his mould and at the same time rule out the possibility of Lim Guan Eng, or “even worse” notorious Islam-baiter Karpal Singh — “an Islamic state over my dead body” — being Prime Minister.

LGE was silly enough to say that the Constitution was “silent” on who could be Prime Minister and thereby kill his chances at the top job.

Does he want to be confined to Penang for the rest of his political life? Doesn’t he want to continue from where Lee Kuan Yew left off after Singapore was kicked out from Malaysia? He should not fear that Penang, like Singapore, will be kicked out as well to thwart his known Prime Ministerial ambitions.

No one can play the same trick thrice.

The first was when West Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, the North West Frontier Province and East Bengal were kicked out from India through partition to prevent Mohd Ali Jinnah becoming the first Prime Minister after independence in 1947.That’s how Jawaharlal Nehru became Prime Minister and went on to build a political dynasty which is still around.

Jinnah died of TB less than a year after Pakistan was created.

Nehru could have waited but he simply couldn’t just like Lee Kuan Yew who was in too much of a hurry. Lee regrets to this day, like Anwar Ibrahim not so long ago, and like the latter keeps kicking himself every day and crying himself to sleep on having lost the chance to be Prime Minister of Malaysia. Lee even promised Donald Stephens of Sabah that he would be Deputy Prime Minister when he became Prime Minister. It seems it was the Tunku’s idea. So, Stephens dropped his opposition to Malaysia.

The Constitution is anything but silent on the issue of the Prime Minister’s post.

LGE should read the Constitution, like a Bible, briefly five times daily if he wants to convince himself that he’s qualified to be Prime Minister. Penang should not be in Malaysia if its Chief Minister is disqualified from gunning for the top political job in the country on the dubious grounds of race and religion. If LGE can’t be Prime Minister of Malaysia, even though qualified and eligible, should he “go back” to China to be one?

Why didn’t Hadi give the name of the person who will be his candidate for the PM’s post?

Is Anwar Ibrahim finally out of the picture at PR because he’s not really “Malay” at all given his Tamil Hindu grandfather?

That means Anwar will have to “go back” to Tamil Nadu to be Chief Minister and from there wrest the job of Prime Minister of India away from Manmohan Singh. Probably, he will have some competition here from Karpal Singh. In India, one will not be denied the Prime Minister’s job on the grounds of being from a minority. Jinnah was just unfortunate to run into Nehru.

Again, why “Malay” Muslim?

Are there “Malays” in Malaysia who are not Muslim?

Is this also a broader Hadi reference and “safeguard” against the non-Muslims in Umno’s “Rumpun Melayu” (Malay Group) theory under which every Tom, Dick and Harry — from Bugis and Suluk to Dusun, Dayak to Acehnese — on the islands of south east Asia is “Malay”, becoming Prime Minister? Where does the Orang Asli fit in?

Why didn’t Hadi just say “Malay”?

Is the term “Malay” Muslim being used to rule out Muslims like Mahathir Mohamad who came from Kerala, southwest India and denied Tengku Razaleigh, a “Malay” in Hadi’s mould, the Prime Minister’s job not once but twice.

Mahathir went on to become the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia by default and, by sheer cunning, still managed to cling onto the post even after it was discovered in Court by a “Malay” Judge from Kerala that he actually lost the 1987 Umno presidential elections but sneaked in votes from 30 illegal branches to “win” by 43 votes. The Judge, a Malayalee backing another Malayalee, refused to discount the illegal votes and award Razaleigh the Umno presidency.

Hadi’s statement means that Tunku Abdul Rahman, whose mother was Thai and from across the border, was not “Malay”.

Also, Tun Abdul Razak (Bugis); Hussein Onn (more Turk than anything else); Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Chinese on one side and Arab on the other side); and Najib (Razak’s son) were all not “Malays” in Hadi’s mould, even though Malay-speaking, and therefore cannot be forgiven.

Who are these “Malays” which Hadi keeps referring to? Will the term under PR exclude people who are not “Malay” like the Bugis, Javanese — think Khir Toyo — Minang, Acehnese etc but use Malay as their lingua franca and are considered “Malay” by Umno which is also infested with Indian Muslims?

Why not say Muslim since Hadi said they — obviously including the “secret Malay Christians” — form the single biggest group in Malaysia?

Why are the Orang Asli, Dusuns, Muruts and Dayaks — the real Natives of Malaysia — being denied a shot at the PM’s post under the Hadi formula by the emphasis on the candidate being Muslim?

Jeffrey Kitingan — “why can’t a Sabahan be Prime Minister?” — must be crying himself to sleep every night in the cold of Tambunan in the high country over Hadi’s statement. It’s an open secret in Sabah that Jeffrey wants to be Prime Minister when a hung Parliament materialises as he expects after the 13th General Election and the 3rd Force comes marching in.

In London, Kelantan-born Hindraf Makkal Sakthi supremo P. Waythamoorthy must be fuming mad with Hadi. He must be planning to go to Court to get the Pas President legally certified as insane.

It’s the King who decides who will be PM — unless Nik Aziz by some miracle becomes King — and he will have to pick a person wiho is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members in the Dewan Rakyat.

That person must of course be a Malaysian citizen who is not bankrupt or has not been certified legally insane by a Court of Law.

Preferably, the Prime Minister-designate should not — “this is not in the Constitution” — be suspected of having skeletons in the cupboard like being on the take, being on crack, hitting the bottle every night, having blood on the hands, sleeping around, being chased by a C4 ghost every night or cannot avoid creating situations in Court casting doubt on his sense of moral values.

Since Hadi mentioned “Malay” Muslim, let’s consider Native status in Malaysia lest he’s under some delusion that his “Malay” Muslims are Natives.

The Principle of Law in determining Native status is that Natives are the 1st people in a defined geopraphical area, we don’t know where they came from, & this is the only place where they can be found.

Of course, it’s not really necessary to have all the criteria as in the case of the Native Indians — we know where they came from — in America.

The 1st criteria would suffice and is a pre-requisite.

So, that’s why the Federal Contitution does not state that the Malay-speaking communities in Peninsular Malaysia — they are actually Bugis, Javanese, Minang, Acehnese and the like — are Natives.

So, the Thai in Tunku Abdul Rahman coined the term Bumiputera (sons of the soil) as an umbrella term to include the Malay-speaking communities along with the true Natives viz. the Orang Asli, Dusuns, Muruts & Dayaks.

The Constitution, reflecting Umno’s philosophy, defines all “Malays” as Muslims but that does not mean all Muslims are “Malays”.

There’s no Principle of Law on all Muslims being “Malays.”

So, Indian Muslims like Mahathir for example are wrong when they claim to be “Malays”, & by extension, Bumiputera.

Example: if all Pakistanis are stupid, does it mean that all stupid people are Pakistanis?

Similarly, it cannot be said that all Muslims are “Malays”, & by extension, Bumiputera.

Since the Malay-speaking communities are not the Natives of Peninsular M’sia, they cannot come under the umbrella term Bumiputera either and should not claim to have a divine monopoly on the Prime Minister’s post.

The Malay-speaking communities, whether Muslim or otherwise, should not deny others especially the Natives, the Prime Minister’s post.

There is a Malay language, which historically began as a dialect in Cambodia, and was developed by the Hindus and Buddhists to emerge as the lingua franca of the Archipelago for missionary work and religion, education, trade and administration. That’s how the Malay language became the basis for the development of a national language in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia with the departure of the colonialists.

The “Malay” in the Malay Archipelago refers to the language and not any race.

There is no such thing as a “Malay” race despite what Hadi thinks or a “Malay” Group (Rumpun Melayu) as Umno likes to claim. Indonesia — Indos Nesos or Indian Islands in Greek — would never agree with the Rumpun “Melayu” theory.

“Malay” Nationalism is a concept created in Singapore by Muslims from Kerala to rally support against Chinese economic domination. The Origin of Malay Nationalism by Professor William Roff refers.

DNA studies show that all the people of southeast Asia are from a common stock.

They are descended from the Dravidians — archaic (old) Caucasoids — who made their way from south India, along the coast, to south China and Taiwan and mated with the Mongolian tribes living there.

We should cross the bridge on the Prime Minister’s post rather than delude ourself into wishful thinking, living on hope and fairy tales to convince the King in defiance of the Federal Constitution.


Can you win a general election without having a debate and winning it? Curiously, Najib Tun Razak and Barisan National seem to think so but the principal opposing alliance Pakatan Rakyat’s Anwar Ibrahim do not seem to think so. My take is, Najib Tun Razak and Anwar Ibrahim  should debate about “more food, less fear, for future Malaysia.” But this is not going to happen.

The government has a vested interest in fudge. After all, there can be no opposition if there is no position. Its best hope is to muddle through the 13th General Elections and return with roughly the same numbers through a strategy of least resistance. What is less comprehensible is the response of the Barisan National. It looks befuddled before fudge. Instead of raising issues, its spokespersons throw pebbles. If you cannot clear a haze, the haze has won the day. The Pakatan Rakyat has been more successful in creating the tension of a debate, but its resonance is limited to a couple of pockets, while the Third Front is too thin to be considered a net, let alone a magnet.

This is going to be a cold election. Neither candidate nor party will be able to waft on hot air. If the Barisan National wants to succeed, it has to remember a key fact: the young voter is outgrowing communal rhetoric. He wants more food and less fear. At the moment he is getting the reverse.

The UMNO has one advantage: Malays, its main vote bank, do not vote for something; they vote against someone. This suits the UMNO perfectly. It feeds fear to Malays, and offers development to other electorates.

Success breeds imitation, but change, the slogan which dazzled the US when Obama became President of America, will be insufficient in Malaysia. Frustration has stripped the Malaysian voter of illusions. Offer him change, and he will demand to know to what. Promise him a job and he will ask where, when, how and to whom. Americans gave Obama a pass on delivery systems and destination. The relevant slogan is not the one that ousted Pairin Kitingan’s  Sabah government in 1994 state election despite PBS securing a victory, but the one that laid out Pairin 18 years ago: It’s the economy!

Since no government in its senses would want to contest an election on the economy when jobs are disappearing in cities and farmers are finding hard to sell their produce because of the escalating prices on seeds, fertilizers and chemicals and even the rising animal and poultry feed prices is hitting poultry processors hard, the Barisan National/UMNO seems poised to offer a virtuous trinity of vitality (Khiry Jamaludin), morality (Najib Tun Razak) and nobility (Rosmah Mansur). The voter will, however, check for substance behind the advertising. The chief minister of the biggest Barisan National state, Sarawak, Taib Mahmud, has become synonymous with illegal land grab, a thousand plots of land acquired in recent years by the state, much of which have been passed on to Taib’s close relatives and cronies at dirt cheap premiums. Many of these plots of lands, which total more than 1.5 million hectares, were in fact NCR lands, secretively sequestered from the natives. Taib has lost the plot. Or, more accurately, he has sold the plot.

The arithmetic of a cold election will be determined by the sum total of regional numbers. The formation of the next government could depend on how well the allies, rather than the principals, do. The Pakatan’s partners seem more confident than the Barisan Nationals’ friends. But such is the perceived fluidity of options that Anwar Ibrahim, Tuan Guru Hadi Awang, Lim Kit Siang, see themselves as possible occupants of Putrajaya. They may not agree on anything else, but they believe that neither the Barisan National nor the Pakatan Rakyat will cross the 111-seat mark necessary to become the plank on which a government can rest. The politics of the 90’s and the 20’s has seen the rise of flexible morality leading to an explosion of opportunity in March 2008 GE12.

Will the politics of the 2010’s be different? Yes. There is likely to be fatigue in West Malaysia with the insular dynamics of regional parties in Sabah and Sarawak, trapped in concentric rings of family and state; and a yearning for political formations that offer more than stagnant regional horizons. The next government in Putrajaya, like this one, might be less than the sum of its parts, rather than more. There are no institutional methods of re-nourishment once the leaders of small parties in Sabah and Sarawak become vulnerable to age or accident.

You might then, with good reason, consider 2008 the semi-final election. The finals will take place in the elections after this, probably this year 2012, when the Barisan National and the Pakatan will square off in most parts of the country, sufficient to give one or the other over 111 seats. They will have younger, if not newer leaders, creating the base for Sabah and Sarawak to be the kingmakers in Putrajaya.

The debate will not change, because the problem will not have been resolved. Whoever wins the argument on food and fear in 2012 will control the decade.


In the next ten years, development will become the main political issue with different social groups demanding their share of the Sabah growth story.

The clearest evidence that the political paradigm is changing came from Musa Aman’s sweeping victory in the 2008 Sabah assembly elections. He cooked up a storm with a development plank that pushed traditional politics, both of patronage and identity, to the margins of irrelevance and gave him numbers that all political leaders dream of but rarely get.

It was a personal triumph for Musa Aman but the real significance of his win lies in what it says about the emergence of development as a key political issue in today’s Sabah.  So when the Sabah 2012 Budget was unveiled, it was the Biggest Ever budget in the history of Sabah and it amounted to RM4.048 billion, recording an increase of RM979.62 million or 31.92% as compared with the 2011 Budget of RM3.068 Billion, and this increase is all to be spent on development of the state. With the economy projected to continue growing at between 5-9% annually over the next decade, there is every reason to believe that development and governance issues will increasingly dominate public discourse with different social groups demanding their share of the GDP pie.

The Barisan National party’s politics of patronage of vote banks had currency in an underdeveloped economy. Race and religion-based identity politics took over as the process of economic and social empowerment began with the opening up of the economy.

Today, after a period of rapid growth, politics is set to enter another phase, which is likely to be defined by battles for a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources. The lessons from Sabah are slowly being assimilated. Musa Aman’s mastery over the emerging new idiom reaped him huge electoral dividends.

Now Sarawak’s  Taib Muhamud is seeking to emulate Musa Aman as he scrambles to set his house in order before the 13th General Elections although he just won the Sarawak state polls, but losing much support in the urban areas. Like Musa Aman next door, he too is concentrating his energies on targeted development projects for marginalized native communities. Dayak villages are at the top of his list, but he is also trying to ensure that roads, electricity, water, schools and primary health care centers reach areas populated by extremely backward natives and minorities.

In fact, Sarawak’s utilization record of funds allocated for development of minority concentration districts is one of the best just like Sabah — almost 60%.

It is important to understand the nature of the development politics taking shape.

It’s not just a simple matter of building roads or providing electricity. The question to which voters are demanding an answer is: development for whom?

Musa Aman’s success lay in the focused manner in which he took development to different social groups to create a wider constituency beyond the narrow race and religion base. This is identity politics of a different kind in which mobilization is not merely on the basis of race and religion but also on economic, gender and age subgroups.

The coming decade will see an acceleration of the factors responsible for altering the political dynamics in the country. The three important ones are the mainstreaming of marginalized social groups, the communications revolution and increasing urbanization.

The biggest success of Sabah democracy has been empowerment of natives and communities that existed outside the social pale. The spread of adult franchise, a series of affirmative steps like communal land titles, a slew of welfare measures and the growth of market forces are changing the feudal nature of social and economic relations. The rise of native-based parties like PBS, UPKO, PBRS  and even the spread of Jeffrey Kitingan’s STAR Sabah chapter which is allign to Sarawak’s State Reform Party and Jeffrey’s own UBF (United Borneo Front) which promotes the Borneo Agenda, are all signs that those at the bottom are demanding to be heard.

Besides, increasing connectivity in Sabah and Sarawak has only strengthened the process of empowerment. Mobile phone connections have already zoomed beyond 3 million and are expected to cross 5 million by 2015 in Borneo States, while internet penetration, according to industry estimates, will cross the 60% mark by 2020. It means people in every corner of the Borneo States are rapidly getting connected and acquiring independent means of accessing information. It also means that voters can no longer be fooled by mere rhetoric and empty promises. They want delivery and are acquiring the means to monitor it.

The third factor, urbanization, has the potential to take politics beyond race to include class. More than one third of the population is likely to be living in cities and towns by 2020 and their concerns and issues will be shaped by their urban environment and the growing disparity between the rich and the poor, between those who live in gated communities and drive shiny, big cars and those who live in kampongs without basic civic amenities and have to make do with shoddy public transport.

A transforming Sabah means a changing polity. Those who keep pace with the times will emerge as the powerhouses while others will fall behind. The visible process of fragmentation into subgroups, subregions and subcultures gives regional forces an advantage over national parties which have to work with a larger canvas.

Regional satraps like Musa Aman or Taib Muhamud or Pairin Kitingan or even Jeffrey Kitingan (except Jeffrey Kitingan, while the rest who despite belonging to the Barisan National are really regional chieftains) are better connected to the grassroots. They also have the flexibility to knit together an electorally successful social alliance specific to their state without having to worry about the bigger national picture.

The Barisan National was compelled by local Sarawak considerations to allow scam-hit Taib Mahmud to continue as chief minister even as it fought a high-pitched battle over corruption allegations during the recent Sarawak state elections 2011. Taib’s victory underlines the continuing relevance of the satraps.

The Barisan National Sarawak in its glory days was an umbrella party of strong regional leaders. Its decay began when Taib Mahmud started cutting them down one by one till the Chinese based SUPP party stood decimated as can be seen in the recent Sarawak State polls 2011. Today, regional chieftains have created their own political units while Baru Bian and Wong Ho Leng survive in national party like the PKR and DAP only because they have been given almost complete autonomy.

Yet, as Musa Aman understood and as Taib Mahmud seems to be realizing, regional leaders have to expand their political horizons beyond race and religious identities to remain on top. They have to put together broader social coalitions while national parties will have to put aside their dreams of single-party rule and contend with political coalitions to run Putrajaya. This is one reality that is unlikely to go away even as the political frame expands to include issues of development and governance and Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Illegals getting Malaysian Identity Cards to become voters.

Past tense In politics, every player works and waits for a big moment. A real leader emerges when there is perfect harmony between his ideas and the people’s mood. But, at some point, he has to fade away. The leaders who make desperate attempts to cling to their receding turf often face humiliation. Taib Mahmud, once the giant of Sarawak politics, was rejected by the urbanites and even in one or two rural constituencies in the recent Sarawak State Elections 2011.

So, lets see what is there in the cards come the 13th General Election which should take place anytime before March 2013, and, with Anwar Ibrahim now acquitted from sodomy2 charges, things might move quite differently.


Anwar Ibrahim labeled ‘Indonesia’s stooge’ for talking about migrant workers

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sat, 07/30/2011 3:08 PM

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said that he is frequently labeled as Indonesia’s stooge for criticizing his government’s policy on Indonesian migrant workers.

According to Anwar, the labeling has emerged as he repeatedly urges the Malaysian government to treat all migrant workers, whether from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Burma or anywhere else, with respect.

“It is important that they are left unharmed. If they do something wrong, send them home in a proper fashion. Do not send them home as if they were animals,” he said, on the sidelines of a discussion at the Jentera School of Law in Jakarta, on Saturday.

However, the labeling, and other allegations against him, have surfaced due to the control that the Malaysian government exerts over mass media in the country, Anwar said as reported by tempointeraktif.com.

Many Indonesians work in the informal sector in Malaysia. Several cases of violence and abuse to Indonesian migrant workers have led to a rift between the two countries. In May, however, Indonesia and Malaysia signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to enhance the protection of migrant workers.

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/07/30/anwar-ibrahim-labeled-indonesia%E2%80%99s-stooge-talking-about-migrant-workers.html

 


It was a great experience watching in CNN how on that night in US, Obama became President-elect. That election energised people across the US – and the world. There was great hope and expectation. How I wish we could say the same about Malaysia’s leaders.

Here, there is an air of resignation, of politics as usual, like the gutter politics of sex videos. We need a leader who can energise us, whom we can relate to, and who embodies a vision for the New Malaysia. We need to get a large percentage of our citizens involved in the community process – which is what Obama managed to do.

So, who can be Malaysia’s Obama? I think we have elections happening in the next 6-odd months. We need change, but will probably not get it this time. The three choices this time are likely to be Najib Tun Razak (who has disappointed more than delighted), Anwar Ibrahim (let’s hope he governs as well as he talks), and a dark horse in Muhideen Yassin (also a total disappointment). I think we will have to wait a few more years before Malaysia’s Obama emerges.

What helped Obama was the Internet – in raising cash for the campaign and mobilizing millions of supporters across the country. In Malaysia, that change will come in 5-6 years although we saw something close to it in the 2008 elections with the mobile platform. But we also need leaders who can think big and put Malaysia first, but sad we don’t have that kind at this moment.

So, who will be Malaysia’s Obama? Any ideas? If I had to pick one person, it would be Nurul Izzah Anwar Ibrahim. She is young even younger than Obama, relatively young compared to the people we have now. She is liberal, hardworking and gone through baptism of fire when her dad was thrown in jail for sodomy and portrayed as the biggest sex maniac in Malaysia, all trumped up by the system. She survived all that shame and continued to be a good efficient Member of Parliament and to the people in her constituency. Mind you she is a women, a mother, a daughter and what shame she has been put through, and she still stands tall in spite of all the shit thrown at her father.

Obama used the electronic media effectively to build his brand and channelise the tremendous support for his message of hope and optimism. A few years down the line, we might have a large number of Internet subscribers but I seriously doubt that we will have a politician who can rise above the cesspool and generate the same kind of enthusiasm among common people.

Of course the two names I have mentioned the current PM, his Deputy, has been a massive disappointment. They maybe effective campaigners and communicators but they rely heavily on the same old strategy of divide and rule. In summary, our search for Obama is going to be a long and hard one.


Guys should hear this. The Surgeon Razali Ibrahim, who had examined Saiful Bukhary Azlan for signs of sodomy, told the High Court that it was not easy to carry out the proctoscopy examination on Saiful, even with the use of a lubricant.

He related that it took him two tries to insert the proctoscope — a narrow, hollow and transparent cylindrical tube made of plastic that looks similar to a test tube — into Saiful’s asshole.

Razali said the first time he used a saline lubricant, but found he could go only a short distance inside Saiful’s asshole; so he switched to a gel-based lubricant for a deeper probe.

Razali Ibrahim also told the court that any sudden introduction of any instrument into the asshole would likely cause injury to the sphincter, a sensitive body part. Saiful’s ass was not injured looks like by the insertion of proctoscope by Razali.

It seems Saiful had not complained of pain during his asshole examination by the surgeon.

Wow! the fate of Malaysia is determined by Saiful’s asshole!

Well done Saiful, you have the most famous asshole in the world. You promoted Malaysia to the whole world. The Minister of Tourism should recommend a title for you now.


Anwar why are you doing this to PKR Sabah again? Sometimes you just make me puke. Why now? Why now after 12 months you go after those 12 aligned to Dr Jeffrey for their so-called involvement in the botched effort to register Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS) ? Is it because of the PKR divisional elections next month? That’s bad. Datuk, for your info, at the rate it’s going, there is enormous discontent within the party base and PKR Sabah had to watch out that it does not lose its credibility. The ground is saying you want to get rid of all 12 because you know they will all win in their divisions and because they are align to Dr Jeffrey, its bad news for you, Azmin and all your other “butt kissers”. Sorry Datuk for the language, but, this is what the ground in Sabah is saying and I’m just the barometer.

The 12, Daniel John Jambun, Awang Ahmad Sah Awang Sahari, Mozes Iking, Guandee Kohoi, Sylvester Balon, Dr Nicholas Guntobon, Harry Manisit, Rubbin Guribah, Paul Kerangkas, Innocent Makajil, Gonsubin Yosundang and Nasir Sami are all good people. I know most of them and they are all committed to the PKR struggle although they look upon Dr Jeffrey very highly.

The timing is out Datuk. How come during this divisional elections you are taking action on them? After all, the PCS matter was considered solved last year. You had asked the 12 to withdrew the PCS application from the Registrar of Societies. Which they did based on your advice then. What more? And you had even agreed to Jeffrey’s demands as condition for him and Christina Liew to retract their resignations as vice president and supreme council member respectively. You even sent Tian Chua and Michael Bong to resolve the impasse and that was the end of it. It was settled. Then why this matter resurfaced again now?

Are you afraid Jeffrey and his group might throw their support to Zaid Ibrahim for the PKR deputy President’s post and your Azmin Ali might lose his pants? And are you doing this to save Azmin Ali’s back? Anyway, Zaid is difinitely more popular than Azmin Ali as far as Sabah and Sarawak is concern. And for Azmin Ali to win he must get votes from Sabah and Sarawak members and looks like Azmin Ali lost that support after his “great fumble” when he was handling PKR Sabah the last time.

I want to reproduce my article I wrote on June 19th 2009 which I think has got some relevance, “Anwar Ibrahim Better Living In Exile Than In Prison”, see below :

Datuk Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy charge is to be heard by the court beginning 1st July, 2009.

Another 10 days more for Anwar Ibrahim to meet Saiful The Pondan, in person, in court, after Saiful The Pondan had lodged a police report last year on June 28, claiming that two days before the police report, Anwar, had sodomised him on various occasions, the last being at a condominium unit in Damansara. Saiful The pondan also claimed that he could not pass motion for a number of days after being sodomised.

Remember, back in 1998, Anwar Ibrahim was also first charged for sodomy for sodomising in 1994, Azizan Abu Bakar the driver of Kak Wan Azizah. For this, Anwar was sentenced to 15 years in prison for sodomy and for abusing his authority to cover up the deed. However the court overturned the sodomy conviction and freed him in 2004, after Mahathir had retired.

So what will happen to Anwar when he goes for trial this July 1st? Most likely, he may be denied bail and then sent to prison under remand. After that, there will be a quick conviction and found guilty and jailed for 20 years and whipped under section 377B of the Penal Code. This is a very possible scenario. If this is going to be the case, Anwar may die in prison after this.

So, can we trust our judges to be impartial and fair? I have my doubts like many other Malaysians.

I totally agree with many that our system has fallen pray to Umno power play and money. Consequently, many individuals and even lawyers wonder if they are ever going to get a fair trial here. Such a question should never enter someone’s mind when going to court. But its not the case here, sad to say. All judges should be fair and impartial, and when we start questioning whether our judges will be fair and impartial, democracy ceases to exist as we know it.

The only alternative for Anwar in this scenario is to go into exile from Malaysia. Maybe Anwar should look into this option. Anwar should know that even Daw Aung San Suu Kyi should have gone into exile long time ago in order to be more effective for Burma. By staying put in Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi was not able to meet and talk to the international community and hence could not urge more international pressure to be put on Burma like what Khomeini or Dalai Lama did.

What are you waiting for Datuk? This is a sincere request from a fellow Penangite. Don’t wait lah! Malaysians will be very depress if you go in for the next 20 years and there will not be any more SEMANGAT to fight. We want you outside so that the fire will be burning till there is a real regime change.”

And then on 17th October, 2009, I wrote another piece “Manifestation Of Peninsula-centric.” See below :

The problem with Anwar Ibrahim is that he is not empowering the PKR local chaps in Sabah. Why cant he get the Sabah boys to lead Sabahans? Why cannot? What is so wrong with Dr Jeffrey Kitingan to lead? Why so peninsular-centric even after 46 years of independence. Come on lah Anwar you can do better than this.

Appointing Azmin Ali to look after PKR Sabah is a real mistake.

This Azmin Ali fellow is suppose to organise and help facilitate for Anwar Ibrahim in Sabah, but he is not. He is trying to micro-manage PKR Sabah big time. Who is Azmin Ali a junior in politics, a greenhorn to Sabah politics compared with Dr Jeffrey Kitingan?

All the good people left PKR because of Azmin Ali’s stupid attitude and tendency of dominating and monopolising Anwar. See how he undermine Tan Sri Khalid in Selangor, even in Penang he try to undermine my goodfriend Dr Mansor the Deputy Chief Minister of Penang. Now Datuk Zaid Ibrahim seem destined to become yet another casualty.

Maybe Anwar and PKR should go and learn some management skills from Kit Siang and Karpal. See how the DAP does in Sabah and Sarawak. DAP does not put a West Malaysian guy to look after their operations in Sabah and Sarawak. Go learn from DAP and maybe this will help PKR run their operations in Sabah better.

I don’t know what is with this KL. It seems politicians both opposition and ruling seem to manifest how peninsula-centric they can be. Even the federal govt officers in Sabah are full of ego and superiority complex and some so BIG head, arrogant and living in a world of their own. How to promote national unity and integration like this eh? A Penangite, I have been in Sabah long to know of this kind of mentality and its even more disgusting when my kids both Sabahans tell it to me on my face.

Now Najib our PM talks in great deal about this 1Malaysia thingy, this sugar-coated slogan of his. For me, this 1Malaysia is an empty-shell slogan with no real substance and intentions. As long as we have corruption, injustice, discrimination, inequality and particularly the “Ketuanan Melayu”, no way we can achieve 1Malaysia. Can Najib do it? I doubt it but we shall see as time will tell. Maybe Najib should come stay in Sabah and Sarawak to learn about 1Malaysia which has been existing long before Malaysia was formed in 1963.

The issue is colonization in the 21st century. East Malaysia is getting the same treatment as East Timor under Indonesia, becoming a second class minority in their own country, with no history of being part of Malaya until Malaysia was formed.”

And today my friend Haris Ibrahim of People’s Parliament writes ” Mahathir kicked Anwar out of UMNO, yes, but who will now kick UMNO out of Anwar?”

On 5th November, last year, Malaysiakini carried the following report :

“Nahalan, a prominent leader in the east coast, took some time to explain his position at length on why he supports any proposed new party to be headed by Jeffrey.

“I received a call from Anwar Ibrahim last week asking me why I supported Jeffrey to be PKR state chief and not Thamrin,” disclosed Nahalan who is a Bajau-Suluk.

“I told him that Jeffrey was elected by the majority of division chiefs including my division. Besides, he’s the best leader we have in the opposition. It’s not true that he’s crazy about posts or likes to switch from party to party for no reason.”

Implied, but not stated specifically by Anwar during the hour-long telephone conversation, was that Nahalan should seriously think about supporting Thamrin on the basis of their common faith.

Apparently, Anwar was busy working the phones last week trying to persuade other Muslim division chiefs as well, including KadazanDusunMurut, to withdraw their support for Jeffrey to be the new state chief.

Muslim KadazanDusunMuruts come from the Orang Sungei along the Kinabatangan, Bisaya in the west coast and Ranau Dusun tribes in the high country.

Anwar’s willingness to ride roughshod over local sentiments in Sabah was the last straw for Nahalan. He said he realised that “Anwar has not changed since his Umno and Abim (Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia) days and is very much a closet racist” .

10 days later, at a ‘meet the bloggers’ session hosted by Anwar at the Lake Club, I broached Anwar on this.

He assured me that there was no truth in this and that Nahalan had in fact sms’d Anwar to say that the Malaysiakini report was completely untrue.

Anwar, of course, was not to know that I had already been told by someone who was at the meeting on 6th November, 2009, in Kota Kinabalu, where Tian Chua met several of the PKR state leaders, including Nahalan, that the latter had reiterated the very same allegation to Tian Chua.

I thought then that I would let this pass.

What’s a little face-saving white lie from a politician?

To be expected, no?

I was in Kota Kinabalu end of last month for the ’1963 Re-visited : The Way Forward’ forum organised by the Borneo Heritage Foundation together with the Common Interest Group Malaysia.

This was an important forum and I will blog about it soon.

I’ll just tell you now that what I learnt at the forum was that just as BN screwed us Semenanjungites big time, they did the same to Sabahans and Sarawakians.

Big, big time.

After the forum, I sat down to coffee with two PKR leaders from Sarawak.

The discussion, while wide-ranging, finally turned to Anwar and PKR.

“PKR, under Anwar, is UMNO by another name”, one of them said.

“Go and ask Anwar if he will deny that his plan is to keep the Dayaks divided so that the Muslims will continue to rule in Sarawak. How different, then, is PKR from UMNO? If he dares deny this, come back to me and I will give you proof”, the other offered.

I referred to what Nahalan had said last November and asked them what they thought.

“Anwar is more dangerous than that Perkasa fellow. That Perkasa fellow is openly a bloody racist. Anwar hides behind ketuanan rakyat. He is still on a Muslim agenda. Anwar is more dangerous”, one responded.

The other nodded in agreement.

See the rest HERE