Monday, 5 September 2016

State of Malaysia 6 September 2016

Only a few days to go before we celebrate Malaysia Day. Yet, where is Malaysia drifting? Again, been a long time since my last article, and many things have taken a surprising turn.

1) US Department of Justice have filed a legal suit against people associated with the Prime Minister. There is implied reference to the Prime Minister being the king pin. Yet, back in Malaysia, it took a few months before they acknowledge that, and the Prime Minister's sycophants are now using the argument that "no, the US suit is a civil suit, not a criminal suit, and the PM was not identified, so why is he culpable?" Of course that's a load of gunk because the suit made it clear that MO1 had all the relevant authorrity and power to authorise the illicit activities undertaken by the scapegoat board. Who benefited if not his son in law? Also, the Arabian donation defence have been totally debunked, yet not a word from the PM. In an ordinary democracy, when a national leader is implicated (even impliedly so) in a civil suit that has its genesis in an international money laundering criminal investigation, there is no question of stepping down. Only in Malaysia can this be whitewashed. And why? Because simply put, we are no longer a functioning democracy. So the DOJ suit was a good start, but nothing changes in Malaysia. At least not yet, and perhaps likely never will. Rule of law has been soundly beaten in Malaysia. And it will remain so until, if ever, we have a change of federal government.

2) The opposition received a sound thrashing in twin by-elections coming after a sound thrashing in Sarawak state elections. We can always blame the power of incumbent in any by-elections - pouring in promises, money, gifts and threats to a small population inundated with daily visits by national political celebrities. The argument goes that in a general election, BN wouldn't have that big a piece of pie (and therefore handouts) to give, so they can only bribe to a small extent. But this view offers little comfort because you have a corrupt PM, yet 1MDB scandal did not make a dent at all. Do we blame greedy stupid rural folks who can't tell between good and evil? I think they could well be, but they are also sending a message to the opposition - you guys have screwed up royally and there is a price to pay. The opposition is clearly in disarray. Pakatan cannot trust PAS who betrayed them. But as long as PAS plays the third leg, you can bet for sure that BN is going to retake 2/3 majority in Parliament. After all, PAS is not in the elections to win. They love to be the advisor to UMNO. And then all Malaysians will be royally screwed. What can we do? Here's the two realistic solutions:

a) DAP and PKR has a change of heart and finally decide to reach a compromise with PAS. If it is Hudud, have a civilised discussion about what it is that PAS really wants, and provide a timeline on deliberation, discussion, debate, policy formation, even referendum etc. but make a commitment to address this issue if that's what it takes to bring PAS back to the fold.

b) If PAS is too far gone, then a decision needs to be made NOW for PKR to severe ties with PAS, and to go with Bersatu, Amanah and DAP. This new Pakatan plus must stop treating PAS with kid's gloves. All their actions need to be seen as Haram and supporting a corrupt PM. Constantly paint them in the same light as you would paint other BN parties in their dealings and relationship with UMNO. Goad the BN parties when they appear to compromise with UMNO over PAS. It is now BN that has the Hudud and sexist agenda. 

I would rather go with this measure and if BN wins GE14, so be it, but the platform will have a more secularist nature and policies more aligned. If you think about it, during Dr M's era, the complaint was really just authoritarianism and corruption. Both can be fixed. When Najib decides to play with religious fire and breath a new life into Hudud, he is playing with power he cannot control - power that is feeding ISIS propaganda. If between now and GE14, Pakatan plus can turn over enough rural folks' minds, then all the better. By all means win GE14 and form the federal government. Not realistic, but shouldn't stop you from trying. In a way, because PKR has dithered for far too long, the initiative has been taken by Bersatu. With Bersatu in the fold, it is increasingly unrealistic to expect a reunion with PAS.

What then does the handshake between Dr M and Anwar mean? I hope it is a signal to PAS that PKR is giving up on PAS. It should force PAS to take a hard look at itself. Ideally, PAS should implode, and Tuan Ibrahim takes over Hadi Awang. Then a reconciliation with Pakatan is possible. Add Bersatu and suddenly the opposition looks remarkably omnipotent. 

All these plans could be scuttled if the PM decides to call for early elections. Why not? DOJ hasn't escalated the civil suit to criminal proceedings at this juncture. He still has time. And he is riding high on Sarawak, and the twin by elections. Strike while the iron is hot and while the opposition is in disarray.

So in closing, there are still many moving parts. We shall see where the chip falls. 

Friday, 11 September 2015

Malaysian political upheaval and what it means - Sept 2015

It has been a long time since I wrote – back in 2013.

But recent events have given Malaysians hope, and despair, that I thought it is timely again to write.

This will be a long article, containing many subheadings, as I explore different facets of what's going on. At the end, I don't yet know if I can come to a definitive conclusion of what is, and how Malaysians could move forward – but in the attempt of doing so, I hope that I would have at least set out fairly comprehensively my segmented take of events.


1. For the longest time, we know that Najib has had to pander to the right, because the non-Malays desserted him in GE13 despite 1Malaysia theme. Forget about a long discourse about history, only that he has himself to blame because he allowed Muhyddin to insist he is Malay first Malaysian second, then there was Dr M's Perkasa, and then Pembela ... NGOs to hijack UMNO's extremist agenda so that UMNO may be "pure", but people saw through his machinations and still blame him for fracturing the nation. And there was Perak coup, and Altantuya continues to haunt him since his DPM days and some smallish scandals which are of no import. The good things he did – Peaceful Assembly Act. Nothing else, really.

2. Post GE13, 1Malaysia is dead, he insists Chinese are ingrates. He brings back Sedition Act, realises how dangerous Anwar still is and decided that he must go back to prison, and so Anwar did. He started courting PAS, dangling Hudud carrot in front of PAS' salivating mouth, leading PAS by the nose. One calculation he got right – Hadi Awang is power crazy. With Hadi Awang in his pocket, Anwar lost control of Selangor, Wan Azizah could not become MB, and Azmin Ali who became MB is beholden to PAS and therefore likely to be compromised. It's sweet victory, until someone caught him with his hands in the cookie jar.
3. 1MDB - the 4 letter word that may become the political death of Najib. For the longest time, without much information but smelling a rotten corpse (figuratively), opposition has been poking holes at 1MDB's bad investment decisions and financial management. Then Sarawak Report's Clare Rewcastle Brown happened, together with WSJ report, and Najib has been under siege since. Dr M happened. PAC and special committee (comprising the police, MACC and BNM) investigations closing in. His deputy started asking questions too often, to close to home. His problems compounded from pea size to mountain size.

4. He sacked his DPM, got a of people connected with the investigation to be transferred, almost stripped an investigator of her PR. Basically, abuse of power. Because of this, Bersih 4 happened. And Dr M fanned Bersih 4. And Malaysian Bar has also happened. All asking him to step down pending investigation.

5. Legal powers wise, Najib is secure. Electorally too because Malay ground did not appear to move much despite this grand corruption scandal. As long as the Speaker of Parliament do not approve a motion debating whether there is still confidence in the PM, he can only be removed if sufficient number of MP(s) gang up to defeat the budget bill. I imagine the political maneuvering should be happening behind closed doors and smoked filled rooms now. Nothing may happen if it is true that in the end, cash is king, and Najib has lots of it. And he will continue to run the country until the next GE14. By which time, he may have done several numbers on the opposition to weaken them further that BN might just win, on UMNO's strength alone.

6. The only critical political calculation within UMNO now is this – remove Najib and hope to win GE14, or think that Najib can win GE14 for them. It's essentially a debate whether Najib is a liability or an asset. Only in Malaysia can a corrupt person still be considered an asset. Goes to show how far from Westminster Parliamentary democracy we have fallen. Externally, UMNO's political consideration is this – do we court PAS all the way and help them legislate a national Hudud law that can be enforced? If they do, UMNO's concern is whether the voters will credit UMNO or PAS. Good if they credit UMNO. But bad if in crediting UMNO, non-Malay votes are lost to BN. Bad if they credit PAS because UMNO and PAS are essentially contesting the same space. If it is neutral, then all things being equal, it should be good news for UMNO because they show they have a"relatively better" developmental track record while PAS is pretty pathetic in this department.

7. In my idealist mind, I am hoping Hudud does not really matter. Food in the mouth, clothing, shelter, basic amenities and education – those are the things that matter most to people. But is the reality like this? PAS insisting on Hudud makes me think that there is groundswell preference for it. As to the reason, who knows? Is it because of corruption in UMNO? In which case, there can also be corrupt enforcement of Hudud – which makes already a repressive environment even more so. There can still be turning back from prison in a trumped up charge and conviction, but there is no turning back from losing a limp in a trumped up charge and conviction.

8. Perhaps the Sarawak state elections will be a barometer for UMNO. If Sarawak remains very secure to BN, then there is less incentive for UMNO to go it alone in GE14, and there won't be a need for Hudud. But if the opposition makes further inroads in Sarawak, then there is a stronger possibility UMNO would be spooked to realise it needs to neutralise any disadvantages and it will go alone in GE14. Its rationale would be – better to fight to stay in government and be branded racist than to play to the niceties of pluralism and lose power and all its wealth trappings.

9. Lastly, UMNO can always count on the bully pulpit, the one sided national mainstream media, government machinery, and continued tried and tested ways of offering development in exchange for votes.

2. 1MDB

Investigations are virtually dead. It would be surprising if a charge is ever preferred against the PM. That can only happen if and when he steps down albeit temporarily. The issues are these – huge sums of money found in his bank account, since then transferred overseas. Currently, various countries are investigating the money to see if there are money laundering crimes involved. Hong Kong, Singapore, to name a few. Najib admitted having the money in his account but said it is not to his benefit, which begs the question for who'se benefit. No one in UMNO knew except for maybe the Secretary General. Not even the deputy President. If the money was used up for GE13, then BN has broken election law. If some money is left and Najib stashed them away, but they belong to the party, then there is criminal breach of trust. It may also be treason because Najib took money from foreign power who wants to influence our elections. What if he is bought? What if he is selling state secrets to some middle eastern countries right now? 

No way out for Najib. But it has happened in Malaysia before. Huge corruption scandals, investigated, and only some small fries have to suffer the indignation of being prosecuted. And who knows, later, when the matter is no longer in public focus, the small fry will be exonerated. We saw that happening in PKFZ scandal. But even that, named mother of all scandals few years back, is peanuts compared with 1MDB. The scandal is getting larger, not smaller. It's acquire an international flavour because everyone in the international anti corruption conference in KL knows Najib's a crook and they will go home and pay attention. The darndest things that Najib's supporters say to the press day in day out has also invited incredulity. Unlikely for the scandal to die down anytime soon. It's dragging down the economy which is already in trouble – and when people feel the economic pinch, they will blame Najib more. And if UMNO fails to get rid of him, they will also blame UMNO.

3. Bersih 4

It was successful because of a big turn out, showing multi-racial Malaysians having a common goal of clean elections and clean government. It was not so successful because of lower Malay participation on day one, which picked up on day 2, but Malays never made up more than 50% of the crowd. What it revealed is there are enough groundswell of discontent against Najib, which should make BN MP(s) sit up and think of the possibility of voting for the no-confidence motion, or defeating Najib's budget. 

What it also revealed is that PAS has been compromised. Ulamas wiped out the Erdogans in their recent party elections. Hadi Awang, who is power crazy (perhaps for Islam), is firmly in his seat. Some of his deputies are still trying to say nice things to their ex-Pakatan colleagues, but they are not in power, Hadi is, and Hadi is not compromising on Hudud anytime soon. This bring us to...

4. Pakatan 2.0

There was a glimmer of hope when the Erdogans called it quits in PAS and came out to form Gabungan Harapan Baru. They plan to form a party under Parti Amanah Negara (PAN, but more commonly known as Amanah). DAP was elated because finally, we can have a coalition that does not have the thorny issue of Hudud. But PKR came and spoiled the game by insisting we need everyone to take down BN and PAS can be part of Pakatan 2.0

Some in Amanah says no way. DAP says over their dead body. But PKR insists we have a common objective – to get rid of BN. The plea is real because Anwar is literally rotting in prison, his health deteriorating. PKR pleads with DAP to give them time to talk with PAS. Amanah backtracks a bit – ok, we can accept PAS in the midst, but it's more of PAS not wanting to belong. Now PAS is playing hard to get, and PKR is sounding desperate. Hadi Awang has said they are stronger than when they are in Pakatan, so they won't be joining Pakatan 2.0

There are many disturbing features to this flurry of to and fro from the parties:
1. PKR does not have any principles? – it appears that in accepting PAS, they are going to continue to be coy about Hudud – but they fail to see that there is a difference between pre GE13 position and post GE13 position – PAS has come out into the open and say they want Hudud – they have even demonstrated willingness to talk with UMNO – sleep with their enemy – to pass Hudud – so PKR's indifference cannot work anymore. At the same time, one can understand PKR's desparation for wanting to save their leader at all costs and they are running out of time.

2. PAS is PAS – their position is clear now. It is entirely possible that they are gaining strength in rural areas – UMNO strongholds – by taking a clear and unequivocal stance on Hudud. They have a well -oiled grassroots machine which PKR has been riding tailcoats on – they don't need PKR or Amanah – they can go to GE14, battling DAP because DAP bruised their go, and continue to battle UMNO – and hope to win big – then they come to Pakatan 2.0 table and talk like an equal. The downside is, non-Malays will reject PAS so PAS might as well fight in rural areas only

3. DAP may also be affected also because people may still treat DAP Malays as "agents" of the Chinese. DAP may lose some votes from areas where Malays are not insubstantial – but it is likely they can still pull through on their own. Their Impian Sarawak could work in helping them wrest sub-urban and perhaps some rural seats from BN. And they will eventually expand Impian to entire Malaysia. The thing is, DAP cannot pick up all the slack for PKR, or even Amanah, in order for Pakatan 2.0 (ex PAS) to obtain simple majority. The support will be too glaring and will definitely be canon fodder for BN/UMNO campaign about "chinese now wants to wrest over Malay political power". And it's not like DAP has so much wealth to do so. It's not money – grassroots politics take years to develop trust. At the end, no matter how big or strong DAP can be on its own, it should be careful not to be seen as taking the lead. Leaders of DAP must be very careful to speak with some deference to the other opposition leaders. I know it's hard to do when you've been successful and you have demonstrated success, but in politics, arrogance is usually a disadvantage.

5. No confidence motion

So where do we go from here? Pakatan's problems – whether to have PAS, seems like a distant problem if the current objective is to remove Najib first.

Pakatan's offer to work with BN MP(s) is very real. It is conditional on releasing Anwar. But I'm thinking – they've already been bitten twice by Anwar in 2008 and again in 2013. It's not in their political calculus to release their arch enemy. It makes it more difficult for them to say – we want Najib down, but we still want to keep the government, while Pakatan is talking about unity government. There is no eye to eye consensus on this yet simply because anyone on the side of BN would be shy of showing their hands – not to the watchful eyes of Special Branch reporting to the new DPM. Bersih 4 can continue to make demands, but they have no idea what degree of sophistication and challenge it is to execute this kind of consensus building. Only time can tell.

Of course, there is always rumour that the new DPM himself is after the job in coup of his own...

Much would depend on external conditions. If the external conditions continue to deteriorate, more minds may be swayed to take this desperate measure.

Even if Najib manages to stabilise the boat now, he will still have to face the Sarawak state election. If that election becomes a referendum on him and BN suffers badly, the no confidence measure will pick up steam again. If DAP's Impian Sarawak and other outreach programs by the opposition have some success, this threat is reasonably real. Which makes me thing – he will want to stretch the Sarawak elections to as long as possible, so that in UMNO's calculus, they will think by then that there is too little time to change captain – no matter how badly they dislike him.

We shall see.

6. GE14

UMNO's side has been discussed in UMNO section above.

For Pakatan, the permutations are now mind boggling. In forming Pakatan 2.0, they should have in mind what is their end game. Is it really that simple as removing BN from federal power without sorting out who will be PM and whether there will be Hudud?

How will they divide between themselves going into the elections? In GE13, Pakatan contested all 222 seats. They divided that between themselves roughly equally, hence each of them contested close to 75 seats. This time, do they accord equal treatment to Amanah and split 4 ways i.e. about 55 seats each? Technically, between DAP, PKR and Amanah, they can form majority. But PKR and Amanah still has much to develop by way of grassroots machinery.

The problem is overlaps. In GE13, PKR overlapped with PAS in two areas resulting in UMNO wins. This time, PAS has threatened to contest against DAP. It is laughable, and their candidates may lose their deposits, but still, it is a distraction. It is possible Amanah and PAS may contest against each other in some areas where Amanah thinks people can be persuaded to take a more moderate appraoch in Islam. Amanah and PKR overlaps are very real, because in becoming moderate Islam, how different is that from PKR?

If PAS does not initially join Pakatan 2.0 but agrees to work with Pakatan 2.0 on an electoral basis, then after Pakatan 2.0 has agreed with seats allocation, they will need another round with PAS, which may result in Pakatan 2.0 having internally reallocate again depending on which Pakatan 2.0 turf PAS intends to invade more. The fact is, if PAS thinks that it is stronger now, it should face UMNO largely in rural areas.

Assuming the horse trading works out, the real challenge is this – how do we build up the grassroots machinery for PKR and Amanah? It is one thing to have the best intentions, and even putting in the best efforts. But at the end, there are only so much resources, and party members, and not forgetting UMNO/BN is also working the ground desperately. And they have bigger guns too. It is perhaps this concern that PKR is insisting on having PAS in Pakatan 2.0. It will take some deft diplomacy to make a compromise that works for everyone, and at the same time get an irrevocable commitment from PAS from having to change their minds again. Which leads to this ultimate question..

7. Compromise

What exactly can Pakatan 2.0 and PAS compromise on?

As demonstrated above, horse trading can only go so far. At the end, the parties are cannibalising each other. In GE13, PAS needed those two PKR seats because they felt they have a better chance there. It didn't matter whether they are right or wrong – in politics, there is a fair amount of gambling involved. But can we afford gambling, for the sake of Malaysians? And if we don't want to gamble, what can we do?

What's the real contention between DAP and PAS? Hudud. What is Hudud? A range of criminal offences with its own prosecutorial and evidential standards, and punishments.

Why is Hudud unconstitutional? Is it because the constitution does not recognise punishments of decapitation, but only death in extremely serious offence? Or is it because there can only be one criminal justice system, run by the federal government?

Is PAS willing to compromise on the types of criminal offences, perhaps starting small? Is PAS willing to compromise on evidential rules to bring in more in line with practical reality? I.e. is it possible to bring Hudud in line with modern reality so that while it is called Hudud, it is actually just an extension of the current criminal justice system?

Is PAS willing to compromise that instead of implementing Hudud now, it agrees to defer to a season of debate by academics, criminal law practitioners, Islamic scholars, and other interested local and international organisations, and after that a commission of inquiry who will make a recommendation, after that a national referendum, and after that a moratorium until the actual criminal justice system has been sufficiently reformed to ensure there will not be corruption involved in prosecuting Hudud cases?

It may not be such a bad idea of taking Hudud off the political agenda into a real criminal justice system issue to be examined with cool heads. PAS will be seen as successfully moved for this very measured and mature approach and take this win to the electorate while at the same time not condemning its non-Muslim allies to political cruxification. All these can of course be only done when BN is beaten the Pakatan 2.0 forms the next federal government.

If the above approach can even be contemplated by the opposition coalition, the next step is really to first find out what PAS wants out of Hudud, and then work on a roadmap that gives them a respectable chance at succeeding. We are a democracy after all. And it is not unfathomable because PAS has always said it is willing to wait for Malaysians to "mature", accept Hudud and allow the federal constitution to be amended.

The trade off is PAS can provide its grassroots mechanism to help PKR and hopefully Amanah. That way, Pakatan 2.0 stands a real chance at giving BN a run for its money in GE14.

Consider also this – if Pakatan 2.0 manages to agree, it gives PAS a leverage against UMNO. UMNO may decide to go alone and pass Hudud. But that can be shot down for being reckless and dangerous and will cost BN seats ex UMNO.

The above sounds promising. But for completeness purpose, let's take this other point - one might question – even with a watered down Hudud and despite the safeguards, are we opening a pandora's box in which there is no going back? Systems can become corrupt again. Shouln't we agree that we should not embark on any venture because its worst outcome is not something that we can accept? And will PAS actually accept such a long timeline?

Well, consider this – the middle east is shifting away from conservative form of Islam to more modernist one. It took a decade for conservative Islam to seap into Malaysian culture. It'll probably take another decade for them to disappear. If we trust this cycle, then by the time Pakatan is in power and well into its first term, there may not even be an imperative for Hudud to be implemented anymore.

Of course, ultimately, there is still the risk that this plan may come and bite Pakatan 2.0's ass, and that is by some freak electoral results, PAS becomes the leading party and stakes its claim to PMship which may well accelerate the process. The rest of Pakatan can try to break away from the ruling coalition, but PAS could ask UMNO to jointly form government. This is a disturbing, but no less real possibility.

8. Conclusion

My head spins from these permutations.

At the end, I fail to reach a definitive conclusion. There are many moving parts, motivations are unknown. Circumstances may yet change. Hadi Awang may simply pass away (not that anyone wishes so) and Amanah may decide to go back to PAS and PAS becomes moderate. Najib may suddenly step down, and the next leader may prove to be so incompetent and disruptive to Malaysian values that BN is completely decimated in the next elections. Or a new continental faultline is discovered along Peninsular Malaysia and in a major earthquake destroys the whole country – kind of like divine justice. Or Russia and US starts World War III and that's the end of human existence. Or a bright warm light from the sky turn all Malaysians into enlightened beings and we'd vote any colour as long as he/she is a competent, inspiring leader. Who knows?

For now, the smart thing for Pakatan 2.0 to do is to slowly court PAS, but at the same time, PKR, DAP and Amanah with more commonality can start planning outreach campaigns together, hone a consistent message of not only change and reform but of progress. Campaign for GE14 has to start now while BN is in defensive mode. I see no harm engaging PAS in earnest to at least find out what it really wants and then find a away to compromise. If PAS' stand is that it will never work with UMNO, and we find that this stand remains immutable, then perhaps that is yet a sign of hope. But PKR should stop insisting PAS joins them now, not that it's even possible because PAS appears intent on wanting to test waters on being solo first, which is well within its right. If a compromise cannot be reached by GE14, then at least instead of chasing after the wind, you've have gotten off on your own start and travelled some distance. It's the saying – 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing.

Any contrarian or supporting or supplementing thoughts are very welcomed. I hope to engage opinion leaders on my views especially on this compromise once I think I've covered all the bases.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

How UMNO is attempting mutual assured destruction

UMNO and their surrogates have gone ballistic.

It started off with Najib leading the charge that it's a Chinese Tsunami. The Dr M chipped in to say the Chinese are ungrateful for not accepting the hand of friendship from Malays. Then Nazri also chipped in. And of course the moment Najib fired the first salvo, Utusan was on it, provocatively asking what else do Chinese want. Najib expanded on his theme by accusing DAP of cheating the Chinese into believing that all Malay privileges will be removed if Pakatan comes to power. 

Today tops it all, on the eve of May 13. An ex-Court of Appeal judge Mohd Noor Abdullah, who sits on MACC complaints committee, considers the election result as a betrayal by the Chinese who instead of just having economic power also wants political power. He calls on Malays to be strong and give the Chinese a "backlash" by for instance invading the city, turning normal lands into reserve lands and green zones to ensure Malay majority is preserved.  He then called for states where BN rules with 2/3 majority to amend the state constitution so that only a Malay-Muslim can be the Menteri Besar. He also called for Malays to take over the assets of the Chinese so that the Malays own 67% of the economy. To top it up, Abdul Rahman Arshad, UiTM pro-chancellor calls upon the abolishment of vernacular schools because that caused disunity.

Now, ordinarily, Malaysians, especially the Chinese, listening to this kind of talk, will be very worried. But I think it is just posturing. The base-line state of mind of UMNO appears to be this. UMNO is equating attack on itself as an attack on Malays. Therefore, when DAP attacks UMNO for corruption, that's racist to UMNO. 

Such argument is of course intellectually dishonest at so many levels: 

1. UMNO does not equate Malays. It's just a political party, long as it may have been in power. While Malaysians appreciate what UMNO has done in the past, it is fallacy to think that the past justifies what is being done in the present. 

2. UMNO does not own exclusive right to Malay loyalty. Malays will still have political power because the power will just be wielded by mainly PKR and PAS. The Malays who did not vote for UMNO voted for PKR and PAS, and to some extent, DAP.

3. It wasn't just DAP attacking UMNO for corruption, PKR and PAS also had a hand. More importantly, DAP wasn't just attacking UMNO, but anyone in power who is corrupted. 

4. Did DAP say Malays should be treated like second class citizens? No. On the flip side, UMNO never stopped talking about Malay supremacy. So who is the racist here? 

Hence, attacking UMNO for corruption and abuse of power is not attacking Malays, and is certainly not racist. 

As to the specific threats by Mohd Noor and Abdul Rahman, I only have these to say:

a) the last time I checked, there is still constitutional safeguard to right to property. 67% ownership will never happen because firstly, not all Chinese are rich, and even the rich ones don't control 67% of the assets in this country, and secondly, unless it's creation of new wealth and asset, they can never expropriate existing assets - otherwise it's called robbery by any other name.

b) as for invading the city, I reckon Mohd Noor is asking the rural folks to move into the city. I say, well and good, because once they come into the city and gain excess to alternative media, they will see how utterly corrupt and arrogant UMNO is, and they will vote for Pakatan anyway.

c) amending the state constitution - I think that's just childish. In respecting the convention, Pakatan has always appointed a Malay-Muslim as Menteri Besar regardless which Pakatan component party has the majority state assemblymen, hence amending those state constitutions is a non-issue.

d) turning vernacular schools to national schools is obviously a sensitive point for the Chinese, not because of parochialism, but because national schools have been known to produce poorer results in Maths and Science - it's simply a question of what people (not just Chinese) want for their children - Malays and Indians sending their kids to Chinese vernacular schools is testament enough that national schools under the leadership of a politician is crashing downhill. All citizens have the liberty to practise their religion and culture - and vernacular schools count as part of Chinese culture. So I'd like to see Abdul Rahman closing all vernacular schools in defiance of the Federal Constitution.

Malaysians are no longer faint hearted. UMNO should know by now. If Malaysians were faint hearted, there would not have been Bersih 2.0 and Bersih 3.0. If the verbal attacks on the Chinese escalates to violence, Malay, Indian, Dayak/Iban and Kadazan brothers and sisters are going to come to the aid of the Chinese. There won't be another May 13. If anything, Dr M should give himself some credit for this because he's created a significant multi-racial middle class that is the bedrock to our national unity.

We're seeing an escalation of provocative statements, demands and rhetoric over the last week because firstly, UMNO is desperately attempting to divert attention from electoral fraud, and secondly, Najib is desperate to continue to lead UMNO without getting the boot. If he is out of power, he may just as well be UMNO's sacrificial lamb to prove they are serious about anti-corruption.

We majority Malaysians won't let UMNO distract us from the issue at hand - that they need to account for the irregularities before and during the elections, to ensure they have legitimacy to rule Malaysia for another 5 years. It's not a question of anarchy, but a question of legitimacy. 

Obviously the opposition has exaggerated about having popular vote but not winning power. History, even in advanced democracy, shows that it is possible. In President George W Bush's first term, he was a "minority" President because Al Gore won the popular vote. In our case, yes, gerrymandering has caused this result, and our electoral system has been an accumulation of electoral diseases for decades, yet the opposition has always acknowledged this disadvantage.

The real criticism this time is not that BN does not have popular vote, rather it is - how badly did BN misbehaved and would those irregularities have affected the outcome of the election. However, at the same time, the significance of the popular vote cannot be under-emphasised. It means Pakatan now holds moral imperative in all political discourse with BN, and BN had better respect this moral imperative.

We are at a juncture where provocative accusations and demands against the Chinese can only grow louder just as the public collectively pressures BN to account for electoral fraud. One thing the majority Malaysians must do, is to hold steady, don't let intimidation or anger affect our judgment, and we must persist to get to the truth, and assert our need for justice. We will be loud, we will be firm and calm, but we will not intentionally provoke anyone. We will try to defuse tension with humour. We will be patient with the other side. Let our moral high ground put them to shame and convert them to our cause. Only with our high ground, can we defeat UMNO.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Extinguishing the artificial conflagaration of racial tension

Dr M lost it. Najib lost it. Nazri lost it. Palanivel lost it. Chua Soi Lek was the first to lose it. Utusan channels their accusations into seditious rhetoric. I haven't read NST or the Sun or Sinar Harian. I'm sure they will follow suit, together with RTM, TV3, 8TV and NTV9.

Malays of good education  now stand accused of being stupid to have bought into DAP lies that BN is corrupt. Malays of good education now stand accused of being ingrate to BN.

Chinese all across the board now stand accused of being stupid, for buying into DAP lies that if the government changes, the constitutional guarantees for Malays will be dismantled.

What was it that our supposedly enlightened leaders have lost? Certainly not their intellect. What they have lost is civility, a sense of balance, and their personal integrity.

Accusing Malays of good education and all the Chinese of betraying the caretaker ruling coalition is like Pakatan accusing BN for demonising them with falsehood that DAP wants to turn Malaysia into a Christian State and a Republic, or saying that PAS has betrayed Islam by working together with DAP infidels. It's like BN accusing Anwar Ibrahim of being a sodomist, an Israeli agent, a CIA agent, a terrorist leader and a prostitute seeker.

If BN thinks that it is fair game in the political discourse to hit below the belt, how is Pakatan persuading the rakyat to reject BN because they have failed to be transparent, accountable and respect the rule of law even remotely provocative by comparison? If such political discourse constitutes provocation, then what about their despicable attacks on Pakatan? If they claim that there is some truth in those accusations, yet failing to produce any proof, but they can continue their attack; how is that compared with copious amounts of proof that Pakatan shows each time they accuse BN of corruption, nepotism or cronyism?

I doubt that BN does not know that their angry accusations are at best vacuous, without any truth whatsoever behind them. It is simply a desperate behaviour that they are resorting to such measures in order to shake up the public so that they don't focus on firstly the electoral fraud and secondly their aspirations for a better government. While the higher ups only talk about it, their forceful words have impact on the less educated Malays who are beginning to take matters into their own hands. Mat rempits have been seen insulting pedestrians of Chinese descent to "balik Cina" etc. Malaysians must hold the BN government and their grand patron personally responsible should their racist rhetoric lead to any form of spontaneous racial violence. It is obvious that they are ramping up the hate message ahead of May 13 to cow the rakyat into fearful submission. They may even on the pretext of national security arrest the opposition leaders.

You may think that we have not yet descended into Myanmar of yesterday. But is that too difficult to imagine when they have kangaroo courts to charge people on trumped up charges, make sex videos to vilify leaders of great integrity within Pakatan or fail to investigate the masterminds behind those who blew up a foreign national?

Malaysians must stay calm in light of such provocation. If provoked, shoved, pushed, bullied, threatened etc, turn the other cheek. Ours must be a movement born out of love for Malaysia, persistence of our objective, firmness and peaceful.


In the meantime, if you haven't been following Kelana Jaya tonight, it's amazing. The whole stadium is filled to the brim, there are many more walking there, reaching there but not being able to get in. The entire PJ is in a happy, festive gridlock. Malaysians of all walks of life show up. If there is an antidote to BN's race-baiting, this picture of a sea of yellow, black and all reformation colours paint a thousand words.

One may be concerned that it is premature to have such an event at a time when emotions are still high. And what would Anwar say that could really be backed up with evidence?

I feel that as a leader, Anwar is channeling the frustration of the people into a movement of "further" change. In having this massive gathering, he is showing to BN especially Utusan, in not so many words, that the lies they concoct about Chinese tsunami is about as barefaced a lie as one can get. He is not asking for violent overthrow of the government. In fact, he is asking for calm, but the kind of steely calm with dynamic action. His is a aggressive-pacifist movement that uses public pressure on BN to force reform. We will be wearing black on Saturday to mourn for a stolen election. There will be rallies all over Malaysia in the weeks ahead, together with gathering of evidence for election petitions over the 30 or so seats suspected to have serious electoral fraud.

I salute Anwar. For Malaysians, who have been saturated with an unending electioneering since 2 years ago. Last Sunday was to have been the climax, and then we can return to the other things we do, a relatively comfortable life. In comparison, Anwar, with his courage and conviction, seems to have endless fighting energy. The fight as it appears, never ends. Only a genuine man passionate about his moral high ground, can sustain this kind of high at all times. I see how exhausted Najib is. Anwar too is tired too, but when he speaks, there is consistency between what he says, how he feels and what he does. With Najib, it seems that he is battling himself, looking tired, lacking conviction and coherence.

It would appear that Anwar is the true leader we may never have as PM. He is telling us not to live by the status quo, shrugging our shoulders and say "what to do"  and accept fate. We must believe that change is possible. But we have to take some risks for change to happen.

For instance, if BN's rant is geared towards cowering Malaysians so near to May 13, do we fall back, or if we are true to our convictions that we are matured and civilised, whether we push ahead with an even bigger rally and negate the lies and the threat? To Anwar, it appears that we should not cower in the face of adversity, as long as ours is a cause which is just and true. To Anwar, it appears that it is better to be transparent, to come out in the open and tell Malaysians what Pakatan wants, and then to fight for it in the open.

In taking a riskier road, he is showing us what it takes to win a fight - you never back down against bullies because if you do, the more they will bully you.. And perhaps this time, he knows BN will blink because this time, the real majority has spoken and rejected them. And contrary to 1969 where there was genuine concern with racial economic divide, such a limitation no longer exist for people to continue to support Pakatan even if a state of emergency is declared and sustained for months on whatever frivolous grounds.

Our struggle for change also need not be violent. We will fight on all fronts - symbolically, public pressure, legal action, and others such as help from the international community etc. As I have said and repeated in my previous articles, if there is a time for participating and volunteerism, it is now.

I'm an actual skeptic. I won't pour my emotional energy into calling for an immediate regime change until evidence shows massive electoral fraud potentially reversing the outcome of the Parliamentary elections. Even then, I half expect the courts will still stand by its political masters.

But I will continue to be an agent for change. I will say "ah well", if on final count, we have to wait until the next general elections to topple BN. In the difficult times ahead as Malaysians press for change, we need to act, but we also need to tamper our expectations. We must develop the ability to accept that not all things will happen our way and look positively that each bit pushing and nudging towards change is a better life for you, me and our next generation not in days, weeks or even months ahead, but years and decades from now. That way, from my experience, we can stay sane in our prolonged noble struggle. It is said that civility is best tested in trying times. Malaysians will have plenty opportunities to develop both steel and civility in the weeks and months ahead. These are stuff that makes a great generation of Malaysians. It's all good.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Potential constituencies for election petition

Pakatan and Bersih wants to scrutinise the electoral process and see whether electoral fraud has warped the outcome of the elections. Here's my cursory analysis. I sourced the information from Wikipedia.

Any majority below 1,000 votes is suspect. Higher than that may be difficult to prove because each ballot boxes should only be about 500-700 votes. It becomes tougher where fraud requires 2-3 boxes. But let's group them.

Key suspects:

P26 Ketereh
P29 Machang

P35 Kuala Nerus

P78 Cameron Highlands
P89 Bentong

P93 Sungai Besar
P96 Kuala Selangor

WP Kuala Lumpur:
P119 Titiwangsa

P142 Labis
P159 Pasir Gudang

P168 Kota Marudu
P177 Beaufort
P220 Baram

That's 13 seats. If they are all successfully challenged, that will bring the tally to 120 vs 102. This result alone will give BN a miniscule majority of 8 Parliamentary seats, and may cause an internal revolt within BN and potential defection.

What if electoral fraud runs much deeper, for instance, foreigners who are already registered to vote? They could number a lot, but here's taking a conservative range of majority votes between 1,000- 2,000 and consider the next batch of potential suspects:

P3 Arau

P9 Alor Setar
P12 Jerai
P19 Kulim Bandar Baharu

P53 Balik Pulau

P58 Bagan Serai
P67 Kuala Kangsar

P92 Sabah Bernam
P118 SetiaWangsa

P140 Segamat
P144 Ledang
P158 Tebrau
P182 Pensiangan

That's another 13 seats. If these switch, BN will fall and Pakatan will gain a 5 seat majority.

Of course BN is free to contest some results as well in a tit for tat measure, but since EC acts in cohorts with BN, who'd believe them? Only the hantu's would.

Anyway, this is just a rough guide. To pull off a convincing electoral fraud, you don't uniformly distribute your cimbs. You put them where they are the least conspicuous. Generally that means Indonesians and Bangladeshis in Malay areas, Cambodians and Burmese/Myanmarese in mixed constituencies. Also, it depends on where Pakatan election machinery are weakest so that you can pull off box switching the easiest.  Kedah wins by BN appears to be very decisive. Is it possible that Dr M smelled the relative disaffection with PAS administration, decides to parachute his son in, and engineered massive electoral fraud to secure the win? In a contest for limited resources amongst BN parties for cimbs in the last minute, perhaps foreign voters were diverted to Kedah, causing Selangor to remain in the hands of Pakatan - if so, it's a good call by Dr M because the cimbs Najib put into Selangor would have only dented, but not defeat Pakatan. If we include Kedah with majority votes under 10,000, we can add:

P4 Langkawi
P7 Padang Terap
P10 Kuala Kedah
P11 Pendang
P13 Sik
P14 Merbok
P16 Baling

into the mix bringing up the suspect list to 33. If we then move to Perak, which BN knows is a toss-up state, and look for majorities less than 10,000, the following becomes suspect:

P54 Gerik
P55 Lenggong
P56 Larut
P5 Parit Buntar
P61 Padang Rengas
P63 Tambun
P69 Parit
P72 Tapah
P73 Pasir Salak
P75 Bagan Datok
P77 Tanjong

adding another 11 seats into the mix, bringing the suspect list up to 44. Assuming Pakatan wins all these contested seats, it will have Parliamentary majority of 21 seats to form a very stable federal government. We haven't even looked into Terengganu where there appears to be a swing to Pakatan as well.

Hence, there seems to be some credibility to what Anwar is saying in terms of outages, dumped boxes and ballot papers, boxes being driven to tallying centres, PACABAs asking to leave the rooms where the ballot boxes are, failure of indelible ink, the most important of all, a flawed electoral roll. And we haven't even analysed cheating on grand scale in terms of access to media and onslaught of vote buying. If Malaysians did not come out to vote in droves, it could have been a landslide for BN.

It's all good, really - Part 2

This morning, I woke up feeling like a victim of a tragic love story. I've been patient. I've battled the elements, crossed great seas, did all I can. Destiny was within my embracing arms. And then she was pulled away. Yet I can still feel her nearby. We may yet unite.

As I've mentioned in my earlier musings, Pakatan securing a majority of votes, in excess of 1 million, has breached the penultimate psychological barrier.

For one thing, BN can no longer claim that Pakatan does not speak for the silent majority. The silent majority has spoken, but in favour of Pakatan. There is this elephant in the room now that BN cannot ignore, or can only ignore to their own peril.

For another, what Pakatan leaders say now represent the moral imperative of the majority of the rakyat.

BN will fight back, claiming that the social contract is as such that we abide by the constitution and first past the post system etc. But I should remind BN that they won power on the back of 56 years of gerrymandering. That was not the original social contract that Malaysians signed up for, not to be indirectly disenfranchised by giving more weightage to the voters in rural areas, where with great but sadly misplaced foresight of UMNO leaders such as Dr M, gave a severe advantage to BN.

But here's news to BN. That's the past. This is now. Malaysians' yearning for change is a juggernaut larger than BN, and cannot be stopped.

Therefore, when BN's lackeys in the police force, MACC, AG's Chambers and the judiciary think about pulling a funny one, you better think twice because your political masters no longer hold legitimate power. All BN  hold is legal power, but without moral recognition, the exercise of such powers shall from now on remain suspect. If all of you in the police force, MACC, AG's Chambers and the judiciary have studied your history of the world and your jurisprudential theories, you should know that power through coercion alone is the makings of a dictatorial regime and a failed state.

In the coming days and weeks, Malaysians from all walks of life, forming a majority, and peacefully, will unravel the electoral fraud that took place on 5 May. Whether that can turn the final outcome remains to be seen, but dedicated civil servants in those critical institutions now have the moral obligation to ensure that the process is transparent, and the decisions that you make must be fair, just and based on facts. You must stick to the truth, and you must act without fear or favour and put aside any of your personal feelings. If you are threatened in anyway, you must speak up, because now, you know that you stand with the majority.

More than BN realises, the political dynamics of this nation has changed in favour of Pakatan. Those in the civil service should accept this as a fact.

It's all good, really

It's been a roller coaster emotional ride for me in the past 2 days.

I've always been a skeptic going into GE13, because I thought that BN is so formidable (in a non-legitimate way) that they will secure the rural votes, and some urban votes, and with Malays and Indians swinging back to BN (as they have so alleged and even some pundits say that), they are in for a comfortable victory.

Towards polling date, my hopes etched up as the public of all races rushed to attend Pakatan mega-rallies as if they are going to a concert of superstars, and Merdeka survey topped it all saying more people want to give Pakatan a chance at governance.

Polling day morning, my hopes are still up because throngs upon throngs of people lined up outside the polling stations.

In the afternoon, I had a sinking feeling when several places faced downpours.

Towards the evening after the polls are closed however, my spirits went up again when EC said that turnout is 80%. There is hope yet for Pakatan.

When results trickled in ever so slowly, I saw a marked difference between the time when Malaysiakini uploaded the information, compared to national news stations updating their information. At the back of my mind, I began to speculate whether there are some shenanigans going on where opposition victory is pulled from under their feet in the last minute by mysterious new votes.

True enough, they could never catch up as both coalitions race towards 112. When Bentong, Labis, Segamat fell, I had a sinking feeling that it was game over for Pakatan. I went to sleep feeling not hopeful. I woke at 3am, the penultimate results merely confirmed my nightmare scenario come true. BN won again.

The next morning, news only begun to trickle in. I was alarmed when Anwar said he will challenge the results. What does this mean? Will there be street protests? Then he asked for calm, and for the leaders to handle this. At the same time, Kit Siang disputed Chua Soi Lek's characterisation that this is race-war, and he seems to have acknowledged that this are likely results to live by. I felt assured that it's safe to go to the office.

By noon, it is clear that while BN won, they lost popular votes. My colleagues were pretty much dejected and some devastated. Some say they've turned their facebook banners to black. Some came to me and said their friends feel that it's hopeless in Malaysia and nothing will change anymore and they contemplate leaving. I went back feeling pretty much depressed.

This morning, I read that Pakatan won popular votes by an excess of more than 1 million votes. I mused - is Najib politically dead man walking? Sure enough, news articles follow saying he now faces a bigger challenge in UMNO. I also feel assured that Bersih will try to get to the bottom of electoral fraud. And my colleague told me that even a 9 year old is saying there should be Bersih 4.0 soon.

After lunch, my mood is on an upswing. I feel that while there are massive challenges ahead before we have a truly functioning democracy, things are actually looking up. And this is what I want to share with you today.

Pakatan has breached the penultimate psychological barrier. First was in 2008 when BN's 2/3 majority was breached. This time, BN's popular votes have been decimated.

There is enormous significance to how Pakatan achieved this majority votes. It could not have been on the backs of overwhelming Chinese support alone. It came from a very strong backing of Malays and Indians. Pakatan is the truly multi-racial platform, and they didn't achieve this by race-baiting. What they say from one ceramah to another, whether the constituent is Malay, Indian or Chinese, is consistent.

It is a fundamental psychological victory because along the way, extremist politics have been decimated, in the form of Perkasa.

What this means is, Malays by a large number, safe for rural areas, are not concerned with a Chinese/Christian takeover of the country. And the Chinese is no longer afraid of the Hudud bogeyman. The best part is, no one is afraid of May 13 anymore. No matter how Utusan, RTM and TV3 spins it, those propaganda no longer have traction.

UMNO can no longer say that DAP does not have the support of Malays, or MCA claiming that PAS does not have the support of Chinese.

If it only happened once in 2008, BN can claim that it is a fluke, that forces were gathered against Abdullah Badawi and not BN. Now that it's happened again, UMNO and MCA can kiss goodbye to their racial and religious propaganda. It will be idiotic of them not to see that it is the end of racial politics in Malaysia.

Along with outdated race-baiting, BN can also throw out its playbook on Pakatan not having the experience in governance. Penang and Selangor amply demonstrates that administering those states stupendously was not a flash in the pan, but is borne of great policies, people friendly policies, and honest hard work. And the constituents appreciated that and rewarded Pakatan big time. Pakatan has shown the way that good governance and progress can co-exist. Pakatan has now sealed its reputation as a tour de force, a favourite replacement for aged and broken BN.

I've never felt a greater sense of solidarity with my fellow brothers and sisters of other races today than I have ever before.

One may ask, but don't we have a racial divide in the rural areas? Personally, I refuse to accept that there is a racial divide. It is also not an urban-rural divide as many political commentators have put it. There is only 1 divide, which is between those who know and those who don't. BN's machinery failed miserably in urban areas because the public had access to alternative news and could discern the trees from the woods. The rural folks are handicapped because they continue to only hear one side of the story, unable to make comparisons. Without knowledge, they are not able to defend themselves against the undue influence of vote buying. Anyone who says there is a race, class or urban-rural divide is doing a great disservice to Malaysia, for they are avoiding the real issue of unfair playing field, which makes Malaysia a fake democracy.

Therefore in my heart, I am relieved and grateful that my brothers and sisters of other races have finally woke up together and see that we are in desperate need to reform. I am finally relieved and heartened that my fellow brothers and sisters of all other races share with me the urgency that we need to fix our economy, our education, and institutions of governance and our race relations. I couldn't be prouder to be Malaysian today than ever before. And that is the bottom line, and it is a darn good bottom line to have.

From there, we try our luck with what we can get in the meantime. In the days and months ahead, we can look forward to more hopeful events.

There will be electoral challenges in the courts. From there, the decision will be upon the judges whether they fear the 1 million surplus vote bank of Pakatan, or they fear their political masters more.

If BN does not fall through this or some other form of defection, then Malaysians need to dig in our collective heels and fight for the long haul.

We will go after the Election Commission to revisit the demands of Bersih.

We will then go after the Ministry of Information for equal access to RTM, and the Home Ministry for freedom of the press. At the same time, we boycott Utusan, NST, the Star etc.

And then, we go after the Home Ministry and especially the National Registry Department by ensuring that there is no illegal issuance of IC.

Finally, we go where it will hurt BN the most - the rural areas.

Of course, the likelihood of failure is spectacular, because the tools of governance is still stacked up against the people - but never underestimate the power of genuine fear of defeat on the part of BN, which may compel them to relent.

Alternatively, BN realising they are at the threshold of being crushed the next round, may simply resort to even dirtier tactic, and hang on to power by sheer intimidation. We may very well experience the use of Sedition Act and SOSMA to repress political expression and dissent on the pretext of racial tension. Therefore, in the coming days and weeks and months, Malaysians must pre-empt the framing of this election along racial lines by drowning out the lies of Utusan, TV3, NST and the Star. In fact, Najib and Dr M has already started on this line of offensive. They must be stopped.

If there is a time for all Malaysians to stand up and be counted, this is it. We have to go beyond merely forwarding emails/video clippings, or go beyond turning up to vote. We must offer our time and service to the greater cause this time more than ever. Our volunteerism (as I have called upon in my last article) must start now for the legal/political fights that will likely occur in days and months ahead. There must be no relenting or letting up otherwise we will give BN a chance to regroup and dig their heels in.

Historical tide is on Pakatan's side. It is on the side of majority Malaysians from all walks of life who aspire change for a better, greater Malaysian destiny. Engaging in Malaysian political process is a full time job. We must all do our part. We must start turning it into a habit to be engaged in the process. It is only through our collective engagement that we can finally finish off BN one way or another.

To be fair, at the same time, it also depends on what BN turns out to become, and how Pakatan continues to modify itself to meet the aspirations and demands of the Malaysian electorate. But if you ask me, entrenched corrupt power will have little incentive to change. They will forever be trapped in a mindset that it's not entirely broken so why replace it? Therefore, going by the current trajectory, we will get 2 million more voters in GE14, and this time no cimbs will stand in our way.

I feel therefore, all things considered, things are really looking up in the next 5 years.It's truly an exciting time (some might say once in a lifetime opportunity) to be involved in political activism and civil disobedience that will come to be known as the golden era of Malaysian politics.