Sunday, August 26, 2012


The leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the architect of the 1 Malaysia concept and the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) introduced for the good and prosperity of the people, should no longer be disputed, said Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.
In this regard, he agreed with the views of former prime ministers Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who praised Najib’s (picture) leadership since helming the country’s administration four years ago.
“We should all realise that (Najib) as prime minister, he is sensitive to the needs of the people and many projects and programmes have been introduced to improve the people’s lot,” Musa said when met at the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Aidilfitri open house at Dewan Tun Hamdan, here, today.
Musa was earlier asked by reporters to comment on Dr Mahathir and Abdullah’s views on the performance of Najib’s administration.
Yesterday, Mahathir was quoted as saying that the Barisan Nasional government’s position was growing stronger, while Abdullah commended Najib’s leadership and the implementation of various transformation programmes to take Malaysia to greater heights.
Musa said, “We are now enjoying the result of the efforts taken and I believe the people appreciate these benefits.
“That is why we’ve seen that at any of our gatherings or celebrations, many people turned up and this showed their support for the BN government.”
On DAP’s suggestion for the drawing up of an anti-party hopping law, Musa dismissed it as a mere political gimmick.
“We don’t believe in what they (DAP) are doing,” he said.the 2014 elections will throw up a fractured mandate- throwing the nation into another round of political convulsion. Political competition will intensify and along with it money and muscle play. It is time for ANWAR to act as a statesman and unleash the thought process for political and electoral reforms that can lead to cleaner governments elected in a real democratic fashion.222men and women elected though money and muscle power and network of race and kin can hardly qualify to be the representatives of the people. So will Anwar bell the cat? Or will he be as nondescript asMAHATHIR? Time alone will showreadmore
Project IC was meant to help immigrants to obtain citizenship. This is what Sabahans are questioning.Mahathir is sending a dire message to PM Najib Razak. He wants him to be tough and not to pander to Pakatan, and some of the ruling Sabah, leaders.”If the findings fall in favour of the government, the opposition will say it’s manipulated and if it is against, the government will get it in the neck,” Mahathir said.
What government? No, the RCI will find out whether you, not the government, was the one who caused these problems.Knowing Najib, his trip to Sabah would pass as a non-event. He would not, and cannot, act without the blessing of the grand old man.If you conducted a study on what went wrong with this country since the 1990s, whether in politics, judiciary, economics or issues like corruption, government business failures or cronies or gross wastage of public funds, you will find a common factor and you know who that is. It’s amazing that he still has an audience to listen to him.


NFCorp is owned by Shahrizat’s husband, Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh Ismail, and the couple’s three children.
 Before I come to the main subject of this post, it is necessary to consider the kind of convoluted and senseless logic that prevails in Najib politics and media today. Let me show how it goes with an example. Say, the opposition presses charges against some minister Rafizi had previously said that although he had repeatedly raised the question of conflict of interest in the award of the NFC project to Mohamad Salleh’s company when Shahrizat was still in the Cabinet, it was only the NFCorp chairman who was charged in court with wrongdoing.
On May 12, Mohamad Salleh pleaded not guilty in the Sessions Court to two counts of criminal breach of trust involving RM49.7 million in NFCorp funds with regards to the purchase of two condominium units.
“I did not know my husband’s company had been awarded the project. I only found out somewhere between late 2006 and 2007 when my husband wanted all our children to come home from abroad to work on a project awarded by government,” she said.
“Only after husband wanted children to come back then only I knew for certain,” she added.
All three of Shahrizat’s children Wan Shahinur Izmir, Wan Shahinur Izran, and Wan Izzana were made company directors of NFCorp between December 2006 and November 2007.
Shahrizat previously told the court she was unaware her husband had submitted a bid to operate the national cattle farming scheme through the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp), and was not involved in helping her family secure the federal government project.
Shahrizat, who was a minister when the project was awarded to her family in 2006, relinquished her Cabinet post in early April over the allegations against her family.
The federal opposition has alleged that the directors of National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp) ― the firm that runs NFC ― had abused a RM250 million federal cattle farming loan.
. The government obviously denies the charges but then, in order to placate the opposition and to prove it has nothing to hide, concedes the opposition’s demand. As soon as this happens, the opposition screams “See, our charge must have been true. Why else did they remove the minister”! The government’s action catches the opposition by surprise. They never expected the government to actually remove the minister. Their own accusation was never really a serious one. Those were just sound bytes for the media! The government was plain stupid.The Devil outside may be easier to resist than the Devil within, which makes temptation a natural state of existence for us. Our natural urges are all set to be tempted and lead us astray. We give in to temptation when we rationalize the outcome and convince ourselves that we are doing the right thing by giving in. The body craves pleasure and so, all the wrong things; the mind, which knows better, tries to resist, but then rationalizes the craving and gives way. Curiosity is a huge factor in temptation. Curiosity, which is basically a function of the mind, is aroused by denial or unapproachability.
The mind kicks in and starts wondering about the denial, wishing to discover what would happen if we did exactly what we are warned not to do! When a man hears colleagues rib each other about extra-marital affairs, he starts wondering if he is missing out on something, an experience he may regret not having had? His curiosity and competitive spirit are aroused and he becomes a vulnerable candidate for infidelity. The mind plays tricks on us and we convince ourselves of the reasons we do certain things.
For a newspaper that toes the government line, I am shocked to see that Utusan Malaysia did not heed the prime minister’s call to not politicise Islam.
Take the story that appeared on Wednesday (August 8, 2012) with the headline “Haram sokong DAP”; this was apparently the stand of an Islamic religious scholar.
Abdullah Sa’amah, from Tumpat, Kelantan, runs a “sekolah pondok” in Kampung Geting.
The story caused quite a buzz around the country and comments were made left, right and centre by all parties concerned.
Then yesterday arrived and Utusan again came out with a front page story on the same issue, with a headline that screamed “Lagi seruan tolak DAP.”
This time, the newspaper came up with a slew of other “religious” people to back up their first story declaring that it is “haram” (forbidden) to support DAP.
Apparently, supporting those who are “kafir harbi” (belligerent infidels) means supporting non-Muslims who are fighting against Islam. And what made DAP “kafir harbi” is the fact that they are against hudud law.
Also, as Abdullah Sa’amah was quoted by Utusan as saying: “DAP’s fight does not accept the country’s (Federal) Constitution, they want equality (for) Islam and non-Islam, temples and mosques (they) also want equality.”
These religious authorities added that supporting MCA and MIC is not “haram” since these parties are not “kafir harbi” as they supported Islam and were not a threat.
It is quite a dangerous and charged term to use. Back in the day, “kafir harbi” was used to label non-Muslims who didn’t have any rights, including the right to live.
This is opposite of “kafir dhimmi”, which refers to non-Muslims who have their full rights protected as equal citizens in a Muslim state.
In fact, many modern Muslim scholars don’t even make any distinction between a non-Muslim dhimmi and a Muslim citizen. And, as for what the so-called religious authorities were quoted by Utusan as saying that DAP wants equality… how is that against Islam?
Prophet Muhammad had this to say:
“Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, curtails their rights, burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I will complain against the person on the Day of Judgement.”
Surah Al Haj in the Quran states:
“And were it not that Allah checks the people, some by means of others, there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned. And Allah will surely support those who support Him. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might.”
So, I don’t understand the basis of these so-called religious authorities when they say that supporting DAP is “haram” because they are against Islam. As far as I know, DAP has never said they were against Islam. Yes, they are against hudud (Islamic penal law), and yes, as Utusan has stated, they have made their statement public.
But then again, they are allowed to be against hudud law. Even Muslims are allowed to be against hudud law, if they feel it is flawed. Bear in mind that hudud and syariah rules are the interpretation of man and are known as fiqh, or jurisprudence, hence they are debatable.
Anyway, if the point of argument is that DAP is against hudud, and that MCA and MIC are not, think back and try to remember properly. In September last year, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek made a statement that his party will leave Barisan Nasional if hudud was to be implemented.
He even said that that if Malaysia was to implement hudud, the country’s economy would suffer, and that the stock market would probably fall 10 to 20 per cent.
MIC have remained quiet although its CWC member N. Rawisandran did mention that hudud is inappropriate for Malaysia’s multicultural country, as reported by The Malaysian Times. However, this was quite a while back and MIC is very much an irrelevant mosquito party in the bigger scheme of things anyway.
At the end of it all, I’m just wondering: Whatever happened to Ridhuan Tee and why isn’t he a part of this whole Utusan “campaign”? Here’s hoping he’s well.
There has, of late, been much speculation about the date and timing of the upcoming 13th General Election of Malaysia. For more than a year now, Malaysia-watchers have speculated about the date of the elections which will undoubtedly be one of the most important elections in Malaysia’s postcolonial history.
Since the elections of March 2008 ― where the opposition coalition known as the Pakatan Rakyat managed to gain control of five (later four) state assemblies ― questions have been raised about the future of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition that has helmed the state since the creation of the Federation of Malaya in 1957.
Two significant developments have ensued since March 2008: Firstly, the mantle of leadership of Malaysia has been passed from former Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to his successor Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Though Badawi failed to secure a similarly impressive mandate as he did at the elections of 2004, and was blamed for the decline of the BN’s fortunes in 2008, it cannot be denied that many of the reforms that were introduced during his brief tenure have changed the socio-political landscape of Malaysia, permanently.
It was during Badawi’s period that the media was given relatively more freedom to operate, and Malaysia’s cyberspace witnessed an explosion of many new websites, news sites and blogs that have significantly expanded the public discursive domain in the country.
Similarly, Prime Minister Najib has attempted his own series of market-friendly reforms; opening up several sectors of the economy that were hitherto protected, and bringing to an end some of the more contentious laws such as the Internal Security Act (ISA) that were seen as a bane to civil liberties in the country.
Secondly, the fact that five (later four) state assemblies had fallen into the hands of the opposition Pakatan Rakyat meant that for the second time ― since the elections of 1969 ― the country’s federal system is being tested by state governments that have, on occasion, chosen to go against the will of the centralised federal government.
During the past four years the economies of two of the states under opposition control ― Penang and Selangor ― have registered positive results in terms of investment and investor confidence, suggesting to the Malaysian electorate that the opposition is able to govern relatively well, albeit on the level of state governments at least.
Added to these two factors are other vital variables such as the emergence of the “youth vote” bank, with millions of first-time voters going to the polls at the coming elections; and the rise of a new generation of first-time politicians (mainly from the opposition parties) who have considerably altered the complexion of Malaysia’s political scene.
There remain, however, lingering doubts as to what might happen at the next elections, whenever they may be called. Local surveys conducted in Malaysia suggest that the electorate is evenly divided into three camps: Hardcore BN supporters, hardcore PR supporters, and a substantial third bloc made up of fence-sitters.
Complicating matters further is the apparent abandonment of the BN by the non-Malay voters of Malaysia, notably Malaysian Chinese, who seem to have thrown their weight behind the opposition coalition. The BN’s age-old formula of ethnic compromise and multicultural representation at both Federal and state level will be severely dented at the coming elections if the current trend does not change, for it implies that the non-Malay component parties of the BN will be virtually wiped out.
This complex scenario gives rise to a host of what-if questions: What if the BN wins with a slim majority but with almost no significant representation of non-Malays at the Federal government level? What if the opposition PR wins but without the overwhelming endorsement of the Malay-Muslim majority?
What if there is a hung outcome in the Malaysian Peninsula and one (or both) of the states ofEast Malaysia decide to switch camps at the last minute? Can Malaysia be governed by an overwhelmingly Malay-Muslim government without visible non-Malay support?
Will the parties of East Malaysia be the eventual king-makers in a last-minute settlement that concedes more representation to East Malaysian politicians at the Federal government level and the cabinet?
And most pressing of all: If there is a transition of power ― which will be unprecedented in Malaysian history ― can it happen peacefully?
Malaysia and Malaysians are now faced, for the first time, with the possibility of radical contingency: the occurrence of an event that has no precedent and for which there are no established norms or modalities that may help them understand and anticipate what may happen next.
Such occurrences are rare in the case of any country, but at this juncture it might be useful to look at some of the other countries in the Asean region that have likewise experienced unprecedented changes, and to consider how they coped with them. Two cases come to mind: The Philippines in 1986 and Indonesia in 1998.
Indonesia may be a better comparison for our purposes here due to the long-established and well-known cultural-social-political commonalities between the two countries. From the late 1960s to 1998 Indonesia effectively came under the control of General-turned-President Suharto who led the country with the support of the Golkar (Golongan Karya) party and the Indonesian Armed Forces.
From the 1970s to the late 1990s, Malaysia and Indonesia’s development trajectories were quite similar: Both countries were firmly allied in the war against Communism, tacitly partisan to the Western bloc, open to international capital investment, and keen to transform themselves into developing and industrialising economies.
Urbanisation, mass education, the pumping of foreign capital into domestic infrastructural projects ― were the hallmarks of the development model adopted by both countries then. By the late 1990s, the results of this top-down state-driven form of capital-friendly development were there for all to see: In both countries there emerged new, educated, professional and upwardly socially-mobile classes that wanted to be given a chance to enter the new market created by the state.
However in the case of Indonesia, decades of elite-driven development also meant that the entrenched elites in the Golkar party and the armed forces were even more embedded in the network of political-business relations, and less inclined to share in the spoils of development with the newly emerging urban middle classes.
This was the real outcome of FDI-driven development across Southeast Asiain the 1980s and 1990s: the emergence of new social groupings that were educated, better networked, able to mobilise and were driven by middle-class aspirations.
The contradictions of the Indonesian model that were summed up by the slogan “cronyism, nepotism and corruption” became the battle-cry for a new generation of socially and politically ambitious new aspiring elites who led the student revolts of 1998 and which brought the Suharto era to a graceless end.
The fall of Suharto did not, however, lead to a neat and simple transition of power: Indonesia, that had been under virtual one-party rule and military control for three decades, first experienced more than half a decade of instability and chaos.
From 1998 to 2004 Indonesia’s international image was largely poor, with incidents such as the anti-Chinese riots of 1998, the Bali bombings, Muslim-Christian conflict in the Moluccas and the rise of both hyper-nationalist and religiously conservative mass movements hogging the headlines.
A succession of civilian politicians ― Habibie, Megawati and Gus Dur ― attempted to govern the country, but some semblance of unity was only restored in 2004 when Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ― and ex-General himself and the dark horse of the elections whose party won only around 9 per cent of the popular vote ― was made president.
Yudhoyono’s second ― and more convincing ― victory at the polls of 2009 was a landmark in the history of post-Suharto Indonesia for it means that for the first time since 1998 some sort of political continuity has been introduced to the country.
As Indonesia braces itself for the polls of 2014, it is interesting to note that several other Presidential contenders were themselves former senior army commanders: Prabowo Subianto of the Gerindra party, who was formerly head of the Indonesian army’s Strategic Command (Konstrad) and Wiranto who heads the Hanura party.
What does this say about the Indonesian public’s perception of power, politics and governance today, and how can we account for the appeal of these ex-generals who have now become politicians: Yudhoyono, Prabowo, Wiranto?
It could be argued that the rise of these new generals-turned-politicians points to a wider sense of political fatigue among ordinary Indonesians ― 60 per cent of whom remain rural and bound to the agrarian economy ― who simply want to see some form of order restored to their lives.
It is telling that since the Suharto era, Indonesia’s political landscape has remained largely monotone, and even after the fall of Suharto in 1998 there has not been a significant revival of Indonesia’s political left.
Summed up retrospectively, it could be said that in the wake of Suharto’s demise Indonesia went through a period of turbulence as it grappled to find its balance again. That balance came about through a restoration of personalised charismatic politics, a “soft” version of the older sort of strongman politics that the Asean region had witnessed during the era of Suharto and Ferdinand Marcos. Radical contingency was met, at first hesitantly, but eventually domesticated by a return to the familiar and normalised.
As Malaysia and Malaysians look to the coming 13th General Elections soon, it might be useful to consider the Indonesian case again. Even in the event of a slim victory by the opposition at the Federal level, it is unlikely that radical changes can and will be instituted immediately.
As in the case of Indonesia, long-serving state institutions such as the bureaucracy, police and army, will remain as stabilising elements, but also in the sense that they may throw up institutional inertia to delay or scuttle any ambitious reforms that may be attempted.
As in the case of Indonesia where the bureaucracy, judiciary, army and police had been so closely bound together during the three decades of Suharto’s rule, it would be difficult to transform the normalised political and institutional culture of the country overnight.
Then there is the problem of the inherent instability of Malaysia’s political coalitions ― both BN and PR ― which may fragment, shift allegiances, engage in horse-trading, etc which as been the norm in Malaysian politics for decades too.
The past decade has witnessed many attempts by both BN and PR to lure members of Parliament and State Assemblies to defect and change sides, and should no overwhelming victory be secured by either coalition, this tactic is more likely to continue rather than subside.
Much therefore depends on the final outcome of the 13th General Elections in Malaysia: A clear and decisive victory for the BN would give a much-needed mandate for Prime Minister Najib Razak, and may well spell the end of the career of his nemesis Anwar Ibrahim.
Conversely a clear victory for the PR would severely weaken the standing of Prime Minister Najib Razak in his own party, and may well mark the extinction of some of the non-Malay parties of the BN such as the MCA, MIC and Gerakan.
Many local commentators, however, do not see an impending major shift on either side, and Malaysia may well be in store for another term of weak, indecisive government. Yet the country cannot afford to flounder in the waters of the international politics at the moment, and in the coming years there will be many vital issues that will have to be tackled by a government that has a clear vision of what and where Malaysia is to be and go in the future, such as the Asean charter of 2015

Social disservice

It’s spreading faster than H1N1, and one can’t be sure who is the swine and who flew fast enough. To the envious moralists on the other side of the restobar, the hockey stick-wielding ACP Dhoble of the Mumbai police is Batman. To the hapless targets of his zeal, he is the Dark Knight who has risen to throw us into the worst kind of power cut there can be for a flashy city. And now his colleagues have caught the readmore

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