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Friday, November 30, 2012

Barisan National has to go

By Zaid Ibrahim

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the country’s entire system of administration has to change.

The former Inspector-General of Police’s revelation that Ministers and other higher-ups sometimes directed him not to arrest or investigate certain individuals for alleged criminal acts is a clear case of obstruction of justice, one that has been going on for many years.

For as long as UMNO remains in power, this practice will continue because UMNO leaders believe that they are the law. Did you hear anyone at the UMNO General Assembly express their concerns about these matters? Of course not – they would rather focus on threatening Malaysians with incidents like May 13, which they said would recur if the Barisan Nasional loses power in the next General Election. They also warned that an Opposition win will bankrupt the country.

Businessman Deepak Jaikishan’s disclosure about the alleged role of a member of the Prime Minister’s family in getting private investigator P. Balasubramaniam to retract his first statutory declaration on the murder Altantuya Shaariibuu also bodes ill for the country. Bala told me that he left the country with his wife and child in the middle of the night because they were told to leave for their own safety. It looks like the use of force, intimidation and money will not end if the BN retains power in the coming elections.

Malaysians have a clear choice: we must remove those who flout the law from their political perch or endure more of such blatant abuse of power. We must not regard this obstruction of justice as a small matter. The PM claims that the BN is holistic whilst the Pakatan Rakyat is chaotic. But the PR has been administering its states well and there has been no chaos.

Even if what the PM says is true, I for one would rather have a PR that is chaotic than live under a BN rule where bodyguards kill without motive, or where witnesses are forced to leave the country to save themselves. No democratic government anywhere in the world could have survived the kind of scandals we have witnessed under Najib’s rule. There is no greater ill than the obstruction of justice, especially when it is perpetrated by those in the higher echelons of power.

The PR is only chaotic about articulating some of their policies, and they will have their disagreements on matters like concerts and hair salons. Maybe they will also fight about issues involving gays and lesbians. But I do not believe that they would go so far as to call on the IGP to do their bidding, including the willful obstruction of justice the way UMNO does. They are, in fact, much more decent than the BN.

You can be impressed by the fiery rhetoric at the UMNO General Assembly but these are actually empty words, bereft of meaning. Theirs are desperate voices full of fear, because they know that their days are numbered. We all have to make sure they will not rule again.

Irresponsible threats of May 13 and chaos if Umno loses 13GE, falsely claiming that Malays will lose political power, is best proof of failure and hypocrisy of Najib’s 1Malaysia policy

By Lim Kit Siang

The irresponsible threats raised by UMNO leaders at the 66th UMNO General Assembly of “May 13” and chaos if UMNO loses the 13th General Election, falsely claiming that Malays will lose political power and will be rendered “destitute in our own land”, is the best proof of the failure and hypocrisy of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia policy.

If the 1Malaysia Policy proclaimed by Najib after he became Prime Minister in in April 2009 is more than election gimmicks for votes in the 13GE, its philosophy “to create a Malaysian nation where every Malaysian will regard himself or herself as Malaysian first and race, religion, geographical region or socio-economic status second” should have been the guiding spirit of speeches of UMNO/BN leaders and their party conferences.

But this is clearly not the case despite the onset of the 43rd month of Najib’s premiership, as illustrated by the 66th Umno General Assembly.

In the first place, an Umno/BN leader fully imbued by the 1Malaysia spirit of “Malaysian first and race, religion, geography or socio-economic status second” would never entertain any notion let alone utter any threat of May 13 or chaos regardless of the outcome of the forthcoming 13th general election, as anyone who could toy with any May 13 threat or warning of chaos because of the free democratic choice of Malaysians in the 13th general election has not only failed to imbibe the spirit of 1Malaysia, but is acting in a most disloyal and unpatriotic manner utterly heedless of the higher interests of the nation and the best future for the country.

Such disloyal and unpatriotic notions is all the more reprehensible as they are built on despicable lies and falsehoods, that the defeat of UMNO in the 13th GE will result in the loss of political power of the Malays resulting in the Malays, to quote one speech: “..if we go down in this struggle, we do not have anything left. We will be brought down to our knees, and eventually become destitute in our own land”.

That fate may befall UMNO leaders – and that is if UMNO is incapable of reform even after being ousted from Putrajaya – but definitely it will not be the fate of the Malays.

This is because replacing UMNO/BN in Putrajaya will be the Pakatan Rakyat coalition comprising PKR, PAS and DAP – comprising Malaysians from all races, religions and regions representing the best interests of all.

Do MCA and the other BN component parties agree that if UMNO/BN loses in the 13GE, the Malays will lose political power?

MCA leaders are in fact saying the very opposite – telling the Chinese that if Pakatan Rakyat defeat UMNO/BN in the next general elections, the Chinese will lose even more political, economic, educational, socio-economic and citizenship rights!

Let UMNO and MCA leaders decide on one common message – whether it is the Malays or Chinese who will lose political power if UMNO/BN is replaced by Pakatan Rakyat in the 13GE.

The true answer is that it is not the Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans or Ibans who will lose political power but the UMNO-putras and their hangers-on in the other BN component parties – with ordinary Malaysians regardless of race, religion or region coming into their own to have rightful share in the decision-making process in a more democratic Malaysia.

It is time that UMNO and MCA leaders stop their irresponsible politics of “divide and rule” and compete with Pakatan Rakyat parties instead on “unite and rule” for a more democratic, just, prosperous and competitive Malaysia.

Najib’s omission of three paramount issues in his Umno presidential address confirms vital necessity of political change in 13GE to take Malaysia to next step of national development

By Lim Kit Siang

No Malaysian is shocked that Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Umno Presidential Address to the 66th UMNO General Assembly this morning is a war-cry to UMNO leaders and members to “fight like Churchill” to defend UMNO political power in Putrajaya in the 13th General Elections which I expect to be held within four months by March next year.

No Malaysian is surprised that UMNO leaders at the various UMNO Assemblies are raising the warning that the defeat of UMNO in the 13GE would result in the Malays in the country losing their political power, although rational and level-headed Malaysians can immediately see the fallacy of this falsehood as it is the UMNO leaders and not the Malays who will lose political power with the Umno/BN Federal Government replaced by the Pakatan Rakyat coalition of PKR, PAS and DAP. Furthermore, this is in direct contradiction to MCA propaganda that it is the Chinese and non-Malays who will suffer further loss of their political, educational, socio-economic and citizenship rights when Pakatan Rakyat comes to power in Putrajaya.

Although Malaysians are outraged, it is also not completely outside their expectations that apart from exploiting the race and religious cards at the UMNO Assemblies, UMNO leaders are also try to stoke fear by playing the “May 13 card” – proof that UMNO leaders are under great “pressure” as they know in their heart of hearts that the 13GE could signal the end of UMNO hegemony in Putrajaya despite all the brave front put up by UMNO leaders that UMNO/BN are sure to be returned to power in the 13GE, even to regain its parliamentary two-thirds majority.

But what must have come as a surprise to Malaysians is the total lack of vision in Najib’s UMNO Presidential speech of what Malaysian nation he wants to build in the second half of the first century of the country’s nationhood – apart from the cliché of “high-income developed state”.

There is nothing more empty and hollow in Najib’s Umno Presidential Address than when he shouted “1Malaysia” at the start of his speech, as his 1Malaysia concept and objective to create a Malaysia where every Malaysian regards himself or herself as Malaysian first and race, religion, region and socio-economic status second is the greatest failure of all the Najib sloganeerings – reduced to pathetic multiplication, commercialisation and cheapening of the slogan to try to win votes for Umno/BN in the 13GE.

Najib’s omission of three paramount issues in his Umno presidential address confirms the vital necessity of political change in 13GE to take Malaysia to next step of national development.

The three paramount national issues omitted by Najib are:

• Announce zero tolerance for corruption and full commitment to wage war against corruption and uphold integrity both in UMNO and the country.

• Establish Najib’s sincerity in his 1Malaysia concept by declaring that Ketuanan Rakyat Malaysia and not Ketuanan Melayu is the overarching UMNO objective.

• Demonstrate full democratic credentials and loyalty to his declared objective to make Malaysia “world’s best democracy” by committing UMNO to fully respect the right of voters to choose the government they want and full assurance to transfer power peacefully to Pakatan Raykat if this is the voters’ verdict in the 13GE.

Will Najib rectify these three vital omissions in his winding-up speech at the end of the Umno General Assembly?

Malays not under threat, Umno is

Mohd Ariff Sabri Aziz | FMT

There are 18 million Malays in this country and all the security forces plus every level of the government is Malay, so what threat is Najib Tun Razak talking about?

You can’t produce anything different from the same mould. As such, the idea which Malaysians must emulate is to change this government and move forward from there.

Let us all leave Najib Tun Razak and his pot of Mongolian alphabet goulash behind.

Change comes from a changed leadership and a new government.

Now, let us examine what Najib means when he says Malays must unite and Malay unity is no threat to others.

When Najib uses the phrase “Malays must unite”, he can mean the following things:

i) All Malays must make sure Umno wins so that he can continue to be prime minister.

ii) Malays submit themselves under Umno.

iii) Malays must ensure Malays dominate Malaysian politics.

The first two meanings are self-serving. The third implies that if Malays stay disunited, they will face threats.

So we ask in turn, threats from whom? There are 18 million Malays in this country. All the security forces and every level of the government are already controlled by Malays.

So where does the threat come from and to whom is the threat directed? The threat arises from the political and social consciousness of the people.

Threat not ‘people to people’

After 55 years, Umno has carried out ruinous economic and social policies that have resulted in a less than prime economy and a more divisive nation.

This is the lie that Umno has imposed on Malays by making them believe that they are protected only if Umno is around.

The truth is the threat is directed towards Najib’s PM-ship and Umno.

The threat is not from the people to the people but directed towards a parasitic ruling class that has enriched itself while creating economic injustice on the people.

How do you unite a nation so divided with no shared ideals and beliefs?

How do you motivate the majority to have the acquisitive inclinations to move up the social ladder when they see those cutting corners and bluffing their way through getting equal rewards?

Najib can’t unite people, much less a nation. The sad truth is, Najib does not know how to secure unity.

He doesn’t see that the way to structure the country upon shared beliefs and ideals must start with a universal acceptance of the supremacy and rule of law.

When the rule of law is compromised, it is impossible to establish shared ideals and beliefs. This is because the various groups as stakeholders in the country will always harbor suspicions that the other will seek to manipulate power to their own advantage.

When one is equally protected by the law, there isn’t a necessity to refer yourself according to your ethnicity, as is now done in Malaysia.

The writer is a former Umno state assemblyman but has since joined DAP. He is a FMT columnist.

Shame on you, Shahrizat: You are a fear-monger

By P Ramakrishnan | Aliran

It is disgraceful that a politician seemingly on the way out has to ressurect the fear factor to shore up her flagging fortunes in Umno.

As a former minister, she should have more sense to be responsible and appreciate the democratic process. Instead, she comes across as someone who is not prepared to accept the verdict of the people in a democratic election if that verdict went against Umno.

Is she planting the seeds of hatred in the minds of Umno members and instigating them to run amok and create havoc?

How does one view her statement when she said at the Wanita Umno Assembly, “If we are no longer in power, we would lose political stability. Certainly, the Malays, the majority in this country, would be unsettled” (Malaysiakini, 28 November 2012).

“I am concerned and worried that this would bring racial tensions that could lead to a repeat of the May 13, 1969 tragedy.”

Is she threatening Malaysians that there will be a recurrence of the May 13, 1969 tragedy if Umno were to lose power? Why should that be so? Is she calling on Umno members to get ready to do the unthinkable if they were forced by the electorate to vacate Putrajaya?

Is she aware of the terrible consequence of rioting following the likely routing of Umno? She doesn’t care to think for a moment of the destruction and the loss of innocent lives that can ensue in such an eventuality. Her concern seems not to be for the well-being of the country and the people but only focused on remaining in power at whatever cost.

This is utterly irresponsible!

Her unintelligent gibberish only bewilders thinking Malaysians. Consider this for a moment when she rambles, “We must address this now if we don’t want to be refugees in our own land. A split in the Malay vote would dull the political power of the Malays.”

How can citizens become refugees in their country? Refugees are people who flee their own country because they no longer feel safe for their lives. Refugees run away to another country for some valid reasons: political oppression, social upheavals, unrest, persecution, absence of rule of law, absence of protection from the government, inability to eke out a livelihood, etc.

Can anyone foresee this ever happening in this country i.e. people being forced to flee? She has to exaggerate this lie to create fear and horror in the minds of unthinking Umno members!

How would “a split in the Malay vote dull the political power of the Malays”? The Malay vote has been split for decades. That has not dulled the political power of the Malays. This goes to show that Umno doesn’t necessarily equate with the Malays, and vice versa. The political reality is much more complex than Umno would like us to believe. Besides, Malays, like any other ethnic group in the country, should instead unite around noble principles of justice, equality and compassion.

Take Kelantan for example. There was and has been a split in the Malay vote but has that dulled the political power of the Malays? Has that forced Umno members to seek refuge elsewhere outside the country?

There was a change in government in Kedah. Has that dulled the political power of the Malays? How many Umno members fled Kedah to seek safer haven elsewhere?

Take the case of Perak that was taken over by the Pakatan Rakyat. In recognising the political reality and the make-up of the polity of this country, Tan Sri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin was appointed the Menteri Besar of Perak. Obviously, Pakatan was very sensitive to the Malay sentiment and did not do anything that could be upsetting. We are not aware if Umno members were involved in any exodus from Perak!

Then there is Penang, which fell to Pakatan Rakyat in March 2008. In keeping with the tradition and original understanding – unlike Malacca – Lim Guan Eng was sworn in as Chief Minister. There was no unrest. There was no flight of refugees from Penang.

So there is no basis to claim that the Malays will become refugees or that their political power will be diminished. What has been established is the fact that change can be peaceful and that the harmony of the country will not necessarily be destroyed.

As long as we accept and respect the political process as a legitimate avenue of expression, political change will be without any untoward incident. By and large, the majority of Malaysians are peaceful, sensible and responsible. However we must be on the lookout for the few who may try and stir up trouble. We should leave them to the police to take care of.

Umno must be desperate if such lies have to be manufactured!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Join The Green Walk Now! Last Lap Schedule

Join The Green Walk Now!

Dates and Venues :

Saturday 24/11, 7.00am pagi Taman Rimba:

Last leg before the Green Walk enters the concrete jungle of KL: the Green Walk will start off from Saturday 7.00pm Taman Rimba along the old federal road from Bentong to Gombak. You can drive your car to follow the buses departing from Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall at 6.30 am to Taman Rimba. All buses are full. no more buses will be booked since it is not possible to do it at this late stage.

Saturday 24/11, 2.00pm Gombak/UIA ( near Gombak toll ):

The Green Walk enters Kuala Lumpur here. Big welcoming party and Press conference to be held. Bring your voices and music! Selangor NGOs will come. Political parties and MPs will come. You can lead the Green Walkeers into the city here!

Saturday 24/11, 9.00pm malamTaman Melewar, Markas Tarbiah PAS:

Ceramah by Anwar Ibrahim and Mat Sabu.


Sunday 25/11, 8.00am pagi Taman Melewar, Markas Tarbiah PAS:

Green Walkers start off to Kampong Railway in Sentul.

Sunday 25/11, lunch hours:

Stop at Kuil Kampong Railway, Sentul

Sunday 25/11, 4.00pm petang Dataran Merdeka:

We Are Here! Bring your music and cheers! Green Walkers will camp here. Come in numbers. Dato Bandar Kuala Lumpur is waiting for you!


Monday 26/11, 9.00am pagi Dataran Merdeka:

PM Najib and all MPs invited to join the Green Walk to receive The Green Demands. The wakil rakyat come to the rakyat this time! The Rakyat will crawl to Parliament no more!

Come to walk proud! Come to walk brave! Get up from the wheelchair of fear and Walk!

Please copy and repost and share! Act now!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A disappointment to all young Malaysians

By Ong Kian Ming | TMI

I had the opportunity to have lunch with Chua Tee Yong (CTY, hereafter) before I joined the DAP. I was grateful for this opportunity given that I had already written a few less-than-complementary articles about his father, Dr Chua Soi Lek, in his capacity as MCA president. I wanted to meet up with him because I had been somewhat impressed by the manner in which he handled himself in Parliament. He was articulate in his parliamentary replies and he responded coolly and calmly to the supplementary questions thrown his way. I thought that this MCA leader, in his capacity as the chairman of his party’s Young Professionals Bureau, could raise the overall level of political discourse by attracting more qualified young people to be engaged in the political landscape. I never thought that less than a year later he would instead drown in a puddle of his own making, snuffing out whatever little hope his party had of rejuvenation and regeneration.

The cause of CTY’s massive loss of what credibility he may have had is well known — the so-called RM1 billion Talam “scandal”. When he first announced this “scandal”, many of us in the opposition were worried that he had actually uncovered an issue that could potentially sink the Pakatan government in Selangor. He displayed tremendous confidence which we now know was actually ignorance masked by cockiness. The utter baselessness of his accusations has been exposed by my colleagues in Pakatan. I don’t need to go into the details here except to say that he has been faulting the Selangor Pakatan state government for trying to retrieve debts owed to the state, something which the BN federal government has failed to do time and again because of “obligations” to cronies such as those behind the PKFZ scandal, the NFC scandal, the MAS bailout, and a long list of other real scandals. The public at large, with access to alternative sources of information, have also figured out that CTY is barking and continues to bark up the wrong tree, especially after the recent release by the Selangor state government of the Talam White Paper.

What I will highlight is the utter disappointment that CTY has been to the young people of Malaysia. The political landscape post-GE2008 had been thrown wide open. Given his privileged position as a new MP who had inherited his father’s seat in Labis, Johor, his rapid promotion to the position of a deputy minister and the access to the resources of the MCA and indirectly, the Star, CTY could have been a noteworthy young leader in influencing the political landscape especially among young Malaysians.

A small but growing number of young Malaysians were awakened politically post-GE2008. Many of them were looking for direction, for avenues to be more politically engaged and for young political leaders who could inspire and perhaps even lead them. CTY could have positioned himself as one of the key young BN leaders to watch by engaging in thought leadership on the important issues of the day including political reform and economic transformation, by taking on Pakatan on substantive issues (read: NOT TALAM!), by building a team of young aspiring leaders to renew his flagging party, by having meaningful engagements and reaching out to the younger generation through the strategic use of social media, by taking strategic contrarian positions to set himself and his party apart from the larger BN infrastructure, just to mention a few. I’m sure there are (hopefully!) many experienced and politically savvy MCA leaders whose advice he could have followed in order to take full advantage of the changed and changing political landscape.

Disappointingly, instead of taking the bull by the horns and charting out a new progressive direction of leadership, he has squander his privileged position in the manner in which he handled the one issue that will define him for many years to come — the non-scandal of “Talamgate”.

The Talam issue is a financially complicated deal with many moving parts. Even though I think there was no basis for CTY to use this issue to attack the Selangor state government, he could have potentially salvaged some pride and his reputation by at least agreeing to have a debate with any one of the Pakatan MPs from Selangor who were more than willing to take him on. If he was that convinced of his case and if he was confident that he could convince the larger public, he should have taken up one of the many offers made to him to have a public debate with — Tony Pua, Teresa Kok, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad and William Leong. By doing so, he would have put himself in the firing line and perhaps come away with some “street cred” for daring to take on some of these Pakatan heavyweights. Instead, he chickened out. Worse yet, he failed to allow a single Pakatan MP to be heard when the MCA organised a discussion/debate on Talam because he insisted on debating with the Selangor MB, Khalid Ibrahim (this is akin to Tony Pua wanting to debate with the PM), who instead sent four able and willing representatives (three Pakatan MPs and his political secretary) to answer CTY’s allegations.

Perhaps he should have followed the example of some of his BN colleagues who have responded to the changing political times. Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin does not seem to have an issue with debating PKR’s director of strategy, Rafizi Ramli, not once but twice, even though Rafizi does not hold any elected position within his party. And Khairy regularly shares the same platform in panels and dialogue sessions with younger Pakatan leaders such as Nurul Izzah, Tony Pua and Anthony Loke.

Does CTY perceive his political stature to be above that of Khairy so much so that these sorts of political engagements are beneath his office? Or perhaps he thinks that such debates and dialogues are not part of Malaysian culture? If so, he should take the lead of a fellow BN deputy minister, Saifuddin Abdullah, currently deputy minister for higher education. Saifuddin regularly engages not just with Pakatan politicians but also many NGOs including youth groups from a wide spectrum of society and political leanings. It is worth highlighting that Khairy and Saifuddin have been working with MCA Senator Gan Peng Sieu, who is also the deputy minister for youth and sports, rather than CTY on making stands against certain government positions including urging the government not to appeal the decision by the Court of Appeal that section 15 of the Universities and Universities Colleges Act (UUCA) is unconstitutional as well as making a stand against the controversial amendment to section 114A of the Evidence Act.

CTY’s Talamgate attacks have negative political repercussions not just for him but also for his party and the BN. The fact that an MCA politician from Johor had to be “catapulted” to Selangor to lead the charge against the Selangor government speaks volumes about the confidence which Chua Soi Lek has in Selangor MCA chairman Donald Lim Siang Chai. The fact that Chua Soi Lek has to use this channel to promote his son also speaks volume about the leadership dynamics within the MCA, especially with regard to the availability of young and articulate leaders. Sadly, this is a reflection of a larger systemic problem within the BN component parties, namely the lack of young, inspiring thought leaders which has led to the ceding of more and more political ground to the ever-dominant Umno.

Not that I should be complaining. CTY’s antics are definitely helping convince the voting public that BN, especially the MCA, is a lost cause. But from a perspective of someone who thinks that raising the level of political discourse and increasing meaningful youth participation in politics on both sides of the political divide is a positive and necessary step for the country, CTY’s inability to take advantage of his privileged position is very disappointing indeed.

Ong Kian Ming is the DAP’s election strategist.

Nation-building or undermining? - Open Letter to PM

By Aliran, on 21 November 2012

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, P Ramakrishnan takes to task Najib’s cakap-tak-serupa-bikin rhetoric.

My dear PM,

You sounded like a great statesman when you urged Malaysians “to disregard political difference and work toward nation-building”.

That was simply fantastic!

It was very heart-warming to hear you say, “We must build the nation together. Irrespective of the political differences that we have, at the end of the day this country is ours.”

That was simply unbelievable!

How we wish that you really meant what you said. If that was your philosophy, by now you would have been proclaimed as the greatest Prime Minister this country has ever had. If that had happened, you need not now scramble around the country desperately trying to get the Barisan Nasional returned to power.

If you had put this rhetoric into practice, this country would have moved forward in leaps and bounds, astounding the rest of the world. We would have achieved so much during your three and a half years of premiership that would have helped you to walk through the coming 13th General Election without a sweat.

But when we assess you and try to match you with what you said at the launch of the Genovasi Challenge in Kuala Lumpur on 14 October 2012, we are gravely disappointed. You come across as a hollow politician who is not capable of living up to your words.

If you truly meant that “at the end of the day this country is ours” why is it that a vast majority of citizens are not made to feel that way? Why do you tolerate and refuse to take to task those narrow-minded Umno petty politicians and Perkasa poison-spewing ultras who refer to the rest of the citizens as ‘pendatang’? This is as much the country of the ordinary citizens and they have as much right as these name-calling despicable and loud-mouthed politicians who claim sole ownership to this right.

If you truly meant that “we must build the nation together”, why is it others are not given their chance to contribute as well? Why is it that those outside the Barisan Nasional circle are excluded and denied their legitimate right to voice their opinions and articulate their policies and promises?

Why do you punish those had voted for the Opposition by denying their MPs and state assembly members the allocations that you lavishly make available to your BN MPs and assembly members? Aren’t these elected opposition representatives also citizens of this country? Don’t the voters who elected these opposition representative have the same voting rights to choose whoever they prefer – just like those who elected the BN MPs and assembly members – without being punished for their choice? Why then this discrimination? What has party affiliation to do with the democratic process and the benefits that are due to the citizens?

And yet, hypocritically you declare, “We must build the nation together.” How do we do that when you don’t reach out to the others; when you completely shut them off and punish them?

You don’t even bother to consult the Leader of the Opposition before introducing new Bills to parliament as is done in mature democracies. You don’t give sufficient time for citizens to comment on these policies that are bound to impact them in various ways. Very often you rush through these Bills with super speed and with very little debate. How do we build this nation together? It has always been only your way and no other way! If there is no room for inclusion or co-operation, how then do we work together?

“Irrespective of the political differences that we have, at the end of the day this country is ours,” you say. But how is it that others are not allowed to work together with you for the common good of the nation? Why are you so divisive in your policy and approach?

You have done nothing to stop Utusan from spreading its venom and lies. You have never reprimanded them or replaced the editorial staff responsible for creating discord and hatred. They seem to have a field day. How do we “disregard political differences and work toward nation-building” when we are constantly bombarded with vile and vicious and divisive commentaries without any let up?

How is that those who disagree with or who have different views from you are hardly given the space to operate democratically? They have to contend with the police and the hooligans who turn up to disrupt Opposition events and activities. How do we “build the nation together…. Irrespective of the political differences that we have”?

How do we bring the various communities together and strengthen our national unity for the good of the country when the entire fabric of BN policy is racial? It is never based on justice irrespective of ethnicity – it is always based on racial quotas and racial handouts. It is a policy designed to keep the poor and the helpless dependent on the BN charity and not to rescue them from their poverty to lead a life of dignity. That is how the BN has thrived as a saviour of the rakyat for more than half a century, deluding the people that they don’t have a life and hope beyond the BN.

But you are not partial even to all the Malays even though you claim to represent the Malays. You only look after the cronies and the elites in Umno. When the Malays don’t belong to these groupings, they don’t get any benefits. But Umno will always speak in the name of the Malay community as if it is the benefactor of all Malays. The reality is that the Malays in Pas are almost completely ignored when it comes to receiving benefits; the Malays in Parti Keadilan Rakyat are treated as enemies. They get hardly any goodies.

How do we work together? How do we believe you when you say “at the end of the day this country is ours”? Do we all equally have a share in the wealth of this nation?

In spite of the much touted BR1M magic that you introduced, in spite of the greatly proclaimed 1Malaysia delusion that you created, Malaysians are not brimming with joy!

If after more than half a century of nationhood, we can’t rise above our racial identities and political differences and work together as citizens of this country then we have failed ourselves miserably. For this the BN must be solely held responsible. It is their divisive policies that have kept us apart and never brought us together.

The BN policy has failed this country and its people. They are not capable of any alternative policy that will benefit every citizen. The wealth of the nation really has not been equally distributed among the people – only cronies and certain leaders at the top have harvested benefits beyond the wildest dreams of the ordinary, common man.

The BN’s so-called nation-building efforts have not yielded the results this country deserves. We have to turn to an alternative policy to achieve this and this opportunity will be available at the 13th General Election.

P Ramakrishnan is the immediate past president of Aliran

The politics of accommodation in PAS

Bridget Welsh | Malaysiakini

Islamist parties throughout the world are grappling with new roles and responsibilities. PAS is no exception.

The discussions at the party’s muktamar held in Kota Bharu last weekend highlight that PAS is adapting to new conditions globally and nationally, and in fact embracing reform.

Perhaps more than any party in Malaysia, PAS is engaging in accommodation.

Despite news reports focusing on the comments of one or two individuals – a common feature, especially in the reporting of Malaysia’s Islamic party – PAS is moving towards a more nationally-oriented position in which it can play a prominent role as a partner in an alternative government.

In fact, judging by its actions and the meeting taken as a whole rather than the words reported, the muktamar highlights that PAS is continuing to embrace more progressive positions, especially among its leadership.

Its challenges, however, have more to do with winning over its more parochial and conservative membership that is reluctant to change and struggling to adapt and understand a more complex and demanding political environment.

We are for Pakatan

One message that resounded at the muktamar was PAS’ commitment to Pakatan Rakyat. Every component of the party – from the ulama and the spiritual leader to the women’s wing – stated categorically that PAS was an integral part of the alternative coalition.

In fact, those linked to the alternative position of ‘unity’ with Umno were conspicuously absent. The unity group has been marginalised in PAS, and even faced open criticism for taking positions in public that conflict with the consensus of the leadership.

The surprising person leading the charge in this criticism was no other than one of the most conservative ulama, Harun Din. Definitively, PAS has taken a stand: we are for Pakatan.

This message was apparent in other ways as well. Rather than present its own alternative vision of governance – as has happened in the past with the welfare state concept, for example – the thrust was on reaffirming connections to the common platform, notably the Buku Jingga.

This sense of collaboration was repeatedly echoed in the inclusion of non-Malays (whose support is essential for the party to hold onto its current seats and make electoral gains in states like Negeri Sembilan and Johor) and in engagement with the artistic and cultural communities.

Importantly, discussion on the decisive, dividing issue of hudud was muted as its leaders aimed to show that, in the spirit of consensus, they would seek common ground. Repeatedly, the call for political consensus, tahaluf siyasi, was made – a consensus that its Pakatan partners will find essential.

The PAS at this muktamar was not wedded to the past, but engaged in outreach for the future. The image of PAS as a group of mullah defending narrow conceptualisations of tradition and religion, banning social activities and limiting freedoms is no longer fair. The identity of PAS as a political party is changing.

While some in the old guard and their protégées in the Youth wing are uncomfortable with PAS’ more modern open approach, the leadership as a whole, presided by Abdul Hadi Awang and reinforced by an overwhelming majority of progressives in the central committee and as members of parliament, embraced collaboration and greater tolerance.

The repeated attacks on Umno and Najib Abdul Razak’s tenure further illustrated that their sights are focused in its partnership in Pakatan. Closing the meeting on the last day with a prayer for Umno’s defeat in elections was a powerful signal.

The affirmation of a Pakatan commitment has been overshadowed by questions arising from mainstream media reports on the muktamar, namely the issue of whether Hadi Awang wants to be premier and whether he supports Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim in that position.

Attention continues to centre on possible points of division, with the hope of driving a wedge among parties that have worked and governed together for four years.

Hadi Awang repeated that he does not want the premiership. Many people, however, refuse to accept his response.

Tackling trust deficits

Globally, Islamist parties face trust deficits. PAS faces this on multiple fronts – from whether the party is truly loyal to the opposition to their goals in office. PAS is also hounded by its past, when it joined Umno in the 1970s, only to lose its credibility, and its soul. Memories of PAS’ betrayal of the trust of voters run deep, especially among older voters.

Even more suspicion exists among liberals and/or non-Muslims who believe that PAS is the driver of religious intolerance, curbs on religious freedom and limits on women’s rights.

Years of media socialisation and PAS’s own record in places like Terengganu underscore this anxiety and it only takes a few trigger words such as “hudud” or “ulama leadership” to open the floodgates of possible additional trauma.

The fact is that trust once broken is very hard to rebuild. In this muktamar, PAS’ challenge of building trust manifested itself clearly as focus continued to be on the triggers of division rather than on cohesion. A question that arises from this muktamar is whether PAS can overcome this trust deficit with those who are inclined toward suspicion. Are doubts so embedded that views cannot change?

What is not always clearly understood is that PAS’s current young leadership is also facing a trust deficit from the old guard in the party. The proponents of internal distrust come from the protégées of the old guard ulama in the Youth wing.

While the rank-and-file are committed to Pakatan, some of the PAS’ delegates at the muktamar are uncertain about the progressive path adopted by the current leaders. This was evident in the attack on party organ Harakah for its open coverage of news. It was also evident in personal attacks on progressive PAS leaders who espouse tolerance.

The source of this distrust is multiple – many in the old guard are staunchly conservative and resist reform. PAS is not the only party with old fashioned outlooks, but disproportionally the party has many of them. The more cutting element of distrust comes from the fact that some of the progressives have openly called for an end to the ulama leadership of the party.

Some of the ulama feel under attack and this reinforces their defensiveness and, in some cases, reactionary responses. The ulama are uncomfortable with displacement and accepting accommodation as they feel this leads to their marginalisation. They are uneasy with the dissolution of their influence and this feeds into the distrust from within.

Political tests and risks

Bringing a party toward reform is never easy, especially when old mindsets persist. It is compounded when there are interests involved. It was thus clear that the progressive PAS leadership is facing its biggest test in the next election battle. They have to show with electoral victories that their approach is earning support.

It is not enough for the progressives to point to coalitions between Islamists and other groups in countries like Tunisia and Turkey, for the PAS progressive leadership has to deliver at home. A failure to win seats will allow the traditional, conservative old guard to return to the leadership.

This election is as much about Pakatan as it is about the future of Islamism in Malaysia. Voters will decide whether PAS is more tolerant, more democratic and inclusive, or whether it returns to the dark ages and pushes Malaysia away from a modern future.

Make no bones about it, the dark forces in PAS are waiting for the chance to come back to power at any sign of weakness of the current progressive leaders in the party.

On some fronts, they have interests in the failure of the PAS progressives. The old guards and their protégées want a return of stronger conservative ulama leadership, and are uncomfortable with the spiritual role that the ulama currently hold. They know that if PAS does well electorally, it will minimise the possibility of ulama taking on more positions in the helm of the party.

They also fear further displacement with greater electoral gains and winning government. Many ulama lack the skills to take on technocratic governing positions, and those with old guard mindsets are often too closed in outlook to win over the support needed for electoral victory. Insecurity among some inside the party fuels the internal distrust.

PAS delegates are also frustrated that they are on the firing line electorally. Many feel that PAS is competing in the most difficult seats, in Felda areas for example, and has uphill battles to win seats.

As the pouring of goodies continues in the Malay heartland in the rural constituencies dominated by state-owned media, PAS faces a serious struggle to win over voters.

Many delegates felt that the obstacles they face electorally in winning Malay votes was not appreciated within Pakatan and some even worried that the coming general election could lead to their marginalisation in the governing coalition.

The new role in Pakatan is not just about commitment to the coalition, but confidence that the party will continue to have a place and prominent position. Many delegates expressed the desire to be better treated in Pakatan, as an asset and partner.

Three-pronged approach

While seats are competitive for all the parties, disproportionally PAS as a party does have serious obstacles in making electoral gains. The party is locked in a battle with Umno for Malay votes, and grappling with effective approaches to woo and reach non-Malay voters. What is telling is that advocating for hudud is not prominent among these approaches.

Instead there are three prongs in PAS’ contemporary engagement.

Foremost, PAS centres on the issue of corruption. This is the moral core of its campaign, the call for voters to reject abuses of power. The steps taken to declare assets within the party at the muktamar reveals that it is building safeguard procedures within the party.

Second, PAS has emphasised greater representativeness in its slate of candidates. It is bringing in more technocrats, former civil servants, entrepreneurs and security personal, and women. PAS is extending its umbrella to include more pluralism is its prospective candidates.

Finally, PAS has reaffirmed its adherence to democratic principles. When speaking to the delegates in his closing speech, Hadi Awang emphasised a premiership based on electoral performance, consensus and representativeness. Motions from the floor supported electoral reform movement Bersih and continued the commitment to electoral reform.

What was perhaps more telling in democratic governance was the willingness to allow open views from delegates to be expressed. This muktamar was not a controlled event as delegates were allowed to raise concerns, and some of the points from the floor bordered on the bizarre.

Unlike Umno, PAS has held party elections in the last few years and its leaders do have a party mandate. The leaders within the party faced criticism openly, a sign of strength not weakness.

One of the most striking elements in this muktamar within PAS was the appreciation of difference. The reality is that the delegates know there are different views, but these differences were acceptable. The tolerance of difference within PAS has grown in its evolution in Pakatan.

To judge a party based on its party congress is ultimately a flawed exercise. At best, the muktamar is a venue to assess trends and directions. Pakatan loyalty, progressive leadership and strengthening democracy stood out. This said, there are differences within PAS over many issues, from hudud and ulama leadership to electoral strategies.

But differences are normal. What is important is the way differences are addressed – through debate, engagement and adherence to principles. The 58th muktamar showed that the PAS is not shying away from these tough issues, an important evolution for any party hoping to win support to govern nationally.

DR BRIDGET WELSH is associate professor of political science at Singapore Management University and she can be reached at She was an observer at the 58th PAS Muktamar in Kota Baru.

Do keep your health in check. and be ready to #ABU

Its no fun to lay in bed, taking medicine after medicine, sleeping and not being able to do anything.

Do keep your health in check especially when you have reached the age of no return.

Sorry for not updating my blog due to health reason. Mind is crowded and topsy turvy due to medication.

Will re post a few articles from other sources to boost up the spirit to fight GE 13.

Umno/bn is gonna win the GE13 by spreading lies and spin statements from the opposition. Hope that you all will not be caught into believing that umno/bn is going to change for the better.

Do read the next few re post to fully understand why we must

#ABU - Anything But Umno/bn


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