Malaysia: How to Win 2018 General Elections?

election

(Are these politicians qualify as suitable candidates for winning the elections? Image source: http://malaysiaflipflop.blogspot.hk)

I have been away from the country on work assignment but hardly a day passes by without me checking into the latest happenings in the country.

Criminal gangs have now turned to grenades for turf war in Bukit Bintang and at least 1 innocent person have been killed. A politician who earns more than RM21,000 comes around and says that as a Member of Parliament, he had to make do with insufficient money (he had to “ikat perut“) and even complained that MPs in Uganda are paid twice and this comment came after Najib decided to reduce the petrol subsidies causes the petrol price to go up 20 cents.

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N25 Kajang: Pakatan's Hunger Games?

Read these first:-

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(Kajang is very famous for its satay – we used to drive into the town just for this but in recent weeks, the town of Kajang has been in the focus for a different type of food on the dish – Pakatan’s rather childish games with the voters in Kajang. Image source: http://sumptuousblog.wordpress.com)

If you have read enough posts in this blog, you will know that this blogger leans more towards Pakatan rather favorably. It is not because they are best one around but rather because we had enough of the nonsense, corruption, wastage of taxpayers money, lack of transparency & accountability, selective prosecution and seeds of disunity that Barisan politicians spews or cordons on a regular basis and we only have very limited choice for alternatives. Between the two, Pakatan somehow edges more positively (yes, screw the independents – they have screwed things for the wrong reasons in the last general election).

Anyway a total overhaul from top to bottom is long overdue. But that does not mean we can blindly accept whatever Pakatan fellows say and do – they are after all just politicians with a different clothes & purpose and they can also resort to the same cheap politics to score their own politician mileage. They must not forget that the high expectations and ideals that we expect of any elected politician applies the same to Pakatan politicians.

Recently we had this:-

Kajang assemblyman Lee Chin Cheh has resigned as an assemblyman, Selangor state speaker Hannah Yeoh announced today. With the resignation, she officially declared the N25 seat vacant.

When asked on Lee’s reason for resigning, Yeoh declined to answer on his behalf and requested reporters to ask Lee directly instead. Yeoh admitted that she was surprised by the move.

(Source)

Of course, the question on everyone’s mind why should Lee resign when there is no real reason for anyone to resign. Even Lee himself could not come up with a good excuse than this:-

PKR’s former Kajang assemblyman Lee Chin Cheh finally broke the silence over his surprise resignation today, but left those awaiting clarification without the satisfaction of a clear answer.

With speculation going into overdrive that his departure was to pave way for Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to get into the Selangor mentri besar’s seat, Lee chose only to add to the mystery with a cryptic reason for his resignation.

“My decision to vacate the N25 Kajang seat is for the greater good and to reinforce the ability of (Pakatan Rakyat) to serve the people of Selangor,” Lee said in a three-paragraph statement tonight. He also thanked the voters of the constituency for their trust and co-operation.

(Source)

And now Anwar is more or less confirmed to run for the seat and the funny part is that Pakatan actually think they will win the seat without a sweat. They even had asked BN not to contest to “save” taxpayers money for the by-election – it seemed that BN is destined to lose in Kajang so why bother, right? It is simply morally wrong too and it does not make any sense and here’s why Pakatan should not have an easy ride in Kajang:-

1

There is no real need for a vacant state seat in the first place. It is not like Lee Chin Cheh had (sorry to say this) died (like in most cases for by-elections in the past)some incurable sickness and is going to die anytime soon. Or he had been caught red handed on something that is legally or morally wrong (of course no politician in this country had never took responsibility for their actions and had resigned as a gesture of accountability. Most instead get promoted with a fat salary and assigned with special duties. So why Lee Chin Cheh should anyway be different?)

2

The very excuse to vacant the seat – “for the greater good and to reinforce the ability of (Pakatan Rakyat) to serve the people of Selangor” is demeaning and downright insulting. We all know that this is not the real reason for it – why reinforce something that you already have? The very same mistake a BN politicians often do – take the voters for ride. Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan had said that PKR must show an “overwhelmingly good reason” for this unexpected by-election in Kajang and we are still waiting for this reason.

Lately there have been another excuse in circulation and this time it is from Rafizi Ramli – that Anwar Ibrahim is needed in Selangor to prevent the federal government suspending the state legislature by invoking emergency laws (source). He went to say that Anwar needed political legitimacy in the state.

That unfortunately does not hold water as well – firstly Anwar as the key person in PKR & Pakatan does not need a state seat for political legitimacy in the state (he already has political legitimacy by default by being the leader of opposition and the de facto leader of PKR), secondly why can’t Khalid & Azmin who already have a state seat and is deep in the administration of the state handle whatever Anwar hope to do with a sole seat in the state and finally, if BN had decided to invoke the emergency laws and proceed with suspension of state legislature, do you think that Anwar owing one state seat would make any difference (after all they hardly blinked in Perak).

3

Let’s assume Lee Chin Cheh had to resign for a very good reason but unable to tell the real reason in public, don’t tell me that out of the many people in Pakatan (or rather PKR), they unable to find a good candidate to replace Lee and had to resort to Anwar as the last resort? He is not local as far as Kajang is concerned. This simply reinforces the notion that Lee resigned just for Anwar to step in and for no other reason.

Pakatan have been making the same mistake from day 1 and it is getting tiresome for some of us. If you take a closer look at Pakatan, there are way too many people holding more than 1 seat – one at Federal level and another at State level, as if there is only so many people in Pakatan capable to run for these seats. This has to stop and Kajang would be a good place to reinforce this message to politicians in Pakatan.

Pakatan should gets its seasoned politicians to focus on national issues at Federal level whilst the young, aspiring (and very loyal) politicians should be given a chance to play their role and contribute at State level. This way, Pakatan can be assured that there will be a sense of continuity and quality when the old and seasoned politicians retires.

4

Even if we take Anwar as the next best candidate for Kajang (let’s just assume lah), can he take the dual responsibility of managing Permatang Pauh and Kajang at the same time even though it may not be the same thing (ya, one deals with Parliament, another deals with State Assembly)?

Anwar had said that he has no problem managing the 2 constituencies and he may be right in a way. After all, the real work on ground is not done by the busy elected politicians but rather by their paid minions. It is nothing new and is normal since elected politicians simply don’t have time for all the trivial issues and that is the point here with Anwar.

Anwar should be focusing more on the national issues and on keeping Pakatan in one piece. It is very likely that he will not have time for constituencies (minions are helpful but it is not the same thing as they are not elected by the people)

5

Organizing a by-election is not cheap. It is a sheer waste of taxpayers money and time. There is no reason why we need to waste another few millions just because someone had an itch at a place where the sun don’t shine. Not when we are seeing price of basic goods skyrocketing in recent months.

So why add more to the expenses by the taxpayers? There is also an issue of the people need to spend time from work & more crucial activities to assist on the campaign and to vote. Will they be compensated for the time wasted?

6

Calling for BN to stay away from the by-election to save taxpayers money is undemocratic and borders political bullying. Just because the State is ran by Pakatan and they think that they can win the seat with one eye closed, that does not mean they can ask others to buzz off. Just imagine if BN had made the same call, Pakatan head honchos would have rolled on the floor in protest. Besides, it was PKR who caused the by-election in the first place, so why they should profit from it without a sweat?

7

It sets a dangerous precedent of political parties to take the electoral to resolve their internal dirty politics. We once thought that the back door ambush of powers in Perak a few years ago was the lowest point anyone can hit with electoral but with this sudden vacant of the N25 seat for no good reason means the threshold need to be revised again. This is indeed dangerous and the people should not be dragged into the political party internal issues. Why can’t they just resolve this within themselves?

8

With Anwar coming on-board after the public spat between Azmin Ali & Khalid Ibrahim, it may spell the end of Khalid’s remarkable administration of the State. Yes, they may say now that Anwar will not be the next MB and stress to the voters that at the highest he will go is until EXCO level.

But that does not mean the situation will not change in the near future when the relationship between Khalid and Azmin gets worse? Or when Anwar turns around and say that Khalid had “agreed” to step down and he or Azmin now takes over the MB seat? That would be disastrous indeed, not when Khalid is much favored by the people of Selangor and PKR’s partners in Pakatan to helm the Mentri Besar office.

Pakatan has going to the town apologizing to people of Kajang for the by-election and had called for the voters to support Pakatan again. But then again, it is an election that should not have happened in the first place. I think Anwar & Pakatan under-estimated the public backlash when Lee announced his resignation without a good reason & Anwar jumping on aboard to run for the seat.

Coupled with the reasons mentioned above and as much as I prefer Pakatan to Barisan anytime anywhere, perhaps democracy is best served by showing Anwar & Pakatan the exit in Kajang. A point must be made that no one – whether from Barisan or Pakatan can take the voters for a ride and in the end turns around and show the middle finger.

Dump the Dumb Politicians

(Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious. – George Orwell)

Read these first:-

[youtube=https://youtu.be/9c6W4CCU9M4]

(The conceptual video relating to Google’s recent announcement of their revolutionary Project Glass – assuming that nothing tragic happens in December 2012 and things goes on as usual thereafter, we must recognize that the future is all about information at finger tips and on how it gets distributed and used in our daily lives. It will be a very technological and intelligent world – will we have the right smart leaders to lead us then?)

We all know what we expect from people who want to run for public office and we usually expect them to live by the highest standards. And one standard we need to impress on all “winnable” candidates from now onwards (other than able to stay clear from dirty politics, corruption, racial preference, misuse of tax-payers money and lack of credibility & integrity) is to have a reasonable sense of intelligence.

Just read this statement from a politician recently:-

The armed forces will not support the opposition if the latter attacks the purchase of military equipment.

Deputy Defence Minister Abdul Latiff Ahmad said that those politicising military matters risked hurting the feelings of Malaysia’s soldiers.

Though he did not specifically label the opposition, he told the Dewan Rakyat: “When it is politicised, our soldiers feel hurt. It doesn’t matter if (they’re) from the navy, ground (forces) or from the air (force).”

“Each time the government makes a decision to procure new assets, they (the military) are very happy, because they are trained to be a professional army. “So if that party… the more they condemn these assets, the more support the Barisan Nasional federal government gets,” he said.

(Source)

The Minister may think he is saying some important but all he does is exhibit a clear absent of intelligence. Read it again – the Deputy Defence Minister Abdul Latiff Ahmad said that those politicizing military matters risked hurting the feelings of Malaysia’s soldiers and the more they condemn these assets, the more support the Barisan Nasional federal government gets.

Huh?

If the soldiers are really pissed off and because of this, they are going to vote more for the BN government (hmm, not that their postal votes have not been “sodomised” in past elections), what the Minister babbling about? Does this works rather nicely to him and his political party? So, what he is complaining about? Ok, ok, say what, let’s leave that obvious question aside. Let’s assume he has a point (by stretching our imagination, of course).

Let’s ask whether it is what the opposition politicians have been harping on all this time – on the question why we are buying new military assets? Is it that or is it on the question why we are paying through our noses for the much needed military assets when the same or better assets could be bought at a cheaper price?

Is it that or on the question on why we have to pay millions ringgit of “commission” to crony linked companies or dubious individuals with no proper track record (err, sorry I meant clean track record in military industry, not the history of getting commissions for nothing) for additional contracts that the military can manage on their own. Which of these the soldiers really want – the opposition keeping quiet and end up having taxpayer’s money paid (in millions) to some politician linked individuals for dubious military contracts (with more for bailouts later) or the opposition making plenty of noise so much so the Government is topped at their tracks and is forced to think twice and forced to tighten the procurement procedures and then reuse the money saved for other beneficial things (like ex-serviceman welfare or perhaps modernization of other aging military assets)? Read this for a response from the ex-servicemen.

Abdul Latiff fellow is just one example of mainstream politician making “dumb statements” in recent times – with elections around the corner, please expect more unknown, dumb politicians from both sides, making plenty of “not-so-intelligent” statements in public. They have to – this is the only way for them to promote themselves so that they still deemed relevant when the calls for “winnable candidates” comes crunching. As usual, some will try to be heroes (there is always 1 or 2) and will go one step ahead – they not only speak dumb but they will act dumb as well.

The point is if we can’t see their intelligence in handling trivial and domestic politics, how we expect them to handle greater things like the economy (with dwindling oil reserves), environment and education? Still remember the elected clowns wasting time in the Parliament talking about the cost of teh tarik and roti canai before they got whacked in 2008? Moving forward, we do not want similar clowns roaming around the Parliament wasting time on trivial matters.

The call for intelligent politicians is nothing new.

In 2011, Ali Kadir wrote this in the Malaysian Insider:-

Muhyiddin Yassin and Shafie Apdal (among Umno’s best and brightest judging by fact that one is the second in line to govern the country and the other is the third in line) need not apply. The two senior ministers are evidence of how hollow the ranks of leaders in Umno are.

Today, Shafie Apdal gave credence to the line that it is best to keep silent and keep up the illusion of competence rather than open your mouth and shatter it. He says that the government knows that the Bersih rally is all about politics. Wow, this is really enlightening.

And stuffing the ballot box, phantom voters and widening the base of postal voters is about what, exactly. Is it about keeping Muhyiddin, Shafie, Noh Omar, Hishammuddin Hussein, Khaled Nordin, Kong Chong Ha, Ng Yen Yen, Palanivel, Nazri Aziz employed?

The fact that is shocking is that not only do we have to deal with corruption, abuse of power. But we are asked to suffer fools. We would not tolerate some of these people as our subordinates. Why are we letting them govern us?

(Source)

In the first case, if I was Abdul Latiff, I would have just keep my mouth shut and just focus on what I suppose to do in the best interest of those under my Ministry. And a large chunk of it would have been on how military assets could be procured without incurring additional cost and without quality of the said assets short-changed. That would be the smarter thing to do. That would be the right thing to do. But if he can’t do that – given how corrupt the system has been, the least he could do is just keep his mouth shut.

I am not sure if we can ever make a positive dent in the political arena in Malaysia with the current range of politicians (some of them are Neanderthals in form of Homo sapiens and deserved to be locked away in museums) but we need to make sure that with every general elections that comes along, there must be evolution for the better. The world is changing – it is getting smaller, faster and wiser. We need the right quality of people that can lead the nation in this ever-changing world. They may not be like the intelligence, revolutionary Thomas Jefferson but at the very minimum, they must be intelligent enough to embrace new way of thinking and doing things. They must have the ability to make wise decisions in challenging times. They must have the ability to accept criticisms and instead replying with dirty politics, response admirably with short term and long term solutions.

And as we head towards another general election, let’s review back on how that all politicians (both from BN and PR and some of the independents – excluding the Perkasa moron, of course) have behaved in the past and how intelligent they has talked and acted on the constituency, state and national issues. Those who have failed have no place whatsoever in public office in the near future. The question is – are we intelligent enough to do that in the up coming general elections?

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Wayang Kulit before Elections

Folks, the signs of the general election are everywhere now – it’s anytime now

(You can hardly see this fine beautiful art in motion these days but in the political landscape, it is still alive and played well to the end. Image source: Wikipedia)

For one, there are plenty of feel-good news in the mainstream medias, highlight of the oppositions having trouble in Kedah (and other PR led states) and many more things to spin that the BN is better than PR. Just read some of the headlines in recent days and some of it may even make you want to puke:-

  • Johor is a role model in relation to the development of Chinese schools, said MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek. In comparison, Dr Chua said the community faced problems getting land for schools in Selangor.
  • Najib given an A+ for performance since last polls. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has performed well since the last general election, said Umno veteran Tun Daim Zainuddin.
  • MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek is regarded as a leader who has bravely spoken up for the interest of the community, said Umno veteran Tun Daim Zainuddin.
  • The action by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in apologising on behalf of Barisan Nasional (BN) for its mistakes, including its dismal performance in the 2008 general election, reflected the party’s humility, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

There’s more and last weekend, Najib even meet up with some NGOs – just to say that “the NGOs, which are partners at the grassroots, and their leaders contribute their time and energy voluntarily to achieve their respective objectives, whether in championing for women’s right, persons with disabilities or protection for children”.

Hmm, interesting. Would he have said the same thing to the NGOs who had contributed their time and energy voluntarily for Bersih 2.0? What about Tenaganita where the founder Irene Fernandez in 1996 arrested for publishing false news and convicted (a conviction which in 2008 was overturned by the High Court).

With election looming even closer, expect the unexpected – roads full of potholes for months suddenly patched up, new roads laid, toll charges reduced, land titles distributed, citizenship suddenly granted, previously “missing-in-action” politicians visiting their constituencies and more. Yes, you will see more and more of the famed politicians coming down from the sky, making themselves holier than the holiest man around, just to get votes for the next elections.

To be fair, we see the same thing over at Pakatan’s side as well. So, depending on which type of media you are accessing, you will either be reading too much of BN’s spins or PR’s spins. But it does not really matters as to who you will support at the end of the day – it can be a BN or PR candidate, what really matters is that you have registered to vote and you exercise them by picking the very best to represent all Malaysians and the country whilst at the same time, showing the half-past six, corrupted and two-faced politicians to their early exit.

Najib have been going around apologizing (why now?) but the fact is we rather see a real action for the future than apology for the past, bygone actions.

With NFC mess and 1Care seemed to be quite down for now (but not over), there seems to be other mess creeping in. The proposed RM7.1 billion highway project is one and this seems to be one-notch over all those lopsided highway contracts of the past:-

Critics have also questioned the logic of awarding the project to Europlus which has no experience in highway construction. Although the original length of the West Coast Expressway was 215.8km, critics claim another 100km do not justify an additional RM4 billion.

“The A-G is also questioning why the concessionaire is getting 70 per cent of the toll revenue when it should be a 70:30 agreement, with the government getting 70 per cent since it is footing the cost of the project,” said another source.

Another issue is that Europlus president and chief executive Tan Sri Chan Ah Chye also controls Talam Corporation, which has a blemished record in property development because of a number of abandoned projects.

(Source)

Will this RM7.1 billion highway contract get approved in the end with the same lopsided terms and the rakyat once again are made suckers? Certainly we hope not – BN should be smarter by now.

Then we have Lynas – the proposed tax-free, rare-earth processing plant in Gebeng, Kuantan. There has been serious concern on the by-product of the processing plant which is radioactive in nature. Even more serious is the question why there is 12 years tax break for the plant and why BN politicians harping on the project.

Despite the promises to keep close watch on the enforcement of the law on the processing plant and assurances (yeah, we all know how well enforcement of the law can be in this country), we are certainly not taking the bait, more so with this news:-

The fact that Australia has refused to accept the waste by-product – thorium – produced by the Lynas operation tells something of the risks hidden in the rare earth. Australia will only mine the ore and ship it to Malaysia. Australia is safe. Malaysia will refine it and has to take care of the waste. Malaysia is not safe.

Where do you bury the waste? Call the prime minister and he will say the thorium will be dumped far from human settlements. Not a good answer. The waste can seep into the ground and eventually contaminate the water. Relocate the affected residents? Pointless. The radioactive gas called “radon” – which is released when the ore is crushed to remove thorium – will bring menacing clouds to the whole country on the wings of the winds. There is no place you can hide.

The rare earth plant is located only 2km away from a residential area (Gebeng) with a population of about 30,000 and some 25km from Kuantan. It is estimated that the combined population of the two towns – about 400,000 – will be put at risk from possible toxic leaks and emissions. Yet the government experts are cocksure that LAMP is totally safe.

One minister even had the audacity to advance his perverted logic that the waste water can safely be discharged into drains. The call for him to resign is fitting. He does not have the foggiest idea about the Lynas operation or understand the horrors that await the people who live in the vicinity of the refinery.

(Source)

Election is coming and if Najib wants to show that BN is better than anyone in governing the country and be fair to all its people irrespective of their political affiliates, they need to prove more than just fancy headlines on state controlled media. They must show that they have changed for good – the granting of a RM7.1 billion highway contract in dubious circumstances (despite public outcries in the past on lopsided highway contract) or making policies that undermines the people’s health and welfare is not.

In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the wayang kulit to be played out to the maximum in both sides – just keep a clear head and conscience and focus on what you need to do when the elections are finally held.

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Bersih 2.0 – The King’s Response

Finally, some light at the end of the tunnel…

(The King who presided over the previous Bersih 1.0 is once again have made declaration that should bring the Government and Bersih 2.0 on talking terms again – hopefully. Image source: http://pinkturtle2.wordpress.com)

Well, it could have been an indirect warning to Bersih 2.0 or it could have been the lifeline that Najib been looking for to bring the tug-of-war between the Government and Bersih 2.0 to a friendlier conclusion but still, it is an interesting and timely statement from the King.

From theSun:-

“I am following closely the developments of the proposed gathering and procession by Bersih with the aim of handing over a memorandum to me as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and how the government, particularly the agencies and departments concerned, is handling the issue.

“However, I believe that the nation’s leadership under Yang Amat Berhormat Datuk Sri Mohd Najib Tun Haji Abdul Razak is capable of handling this problem in the best possible way.

“I urge that amid the political fervour of a section of the people to bolster democracy in our country, it must also be ensured that this demand on democracy does not bring destruction to the country.

“Generally, we cannot be following too much the practices in other countries, as harmony and stability are vital foundations for a country and which all quarters must protect.

“I also urge the government to carry out everything that is entrusted to it by the people in a just and wise manner, and it is important that I as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong do not want to see this country with a plural society in a situation where there is animosity among them or a section of the people being enemies with the government, on whatever grounds.

“When any problem arises, we as a civilised society must resolve it through consultations and not follow our emotions, as the Malay saying goes, Yang Dikejar Tak Dapat Yang Dikendong Berciciran (Not getting what we chase after and spilling what we carry).

“The fact is, street demonstrations bring more bad than good although the original intention is good. Instead, we should focus on our main objective to develop this country, and not create problems that will cause the country to lag behind.

“Remember that there is no land where the rain does not fall, there is no ocean that is not turbulent. That is how important moderation and compromise is, which has been long been in practice by our nation’s administration.”

Yes, it is a translated text (read here for the BM version) but there are wise messages for both side of the divide from the King and if one read between the lines (rather widely, of course), is the King telling the Government that they are not handling the situation wisely?

Consider these statements:-

“…Najib Tun Haji Abdul Razak is capable of handling this problem…”

The King says Najib is capable of, he did not say Najib IS handling the best possible way. As at todate, instead of engaging Bersih 2.0 in a more matured ways, the Government unfortunately has only acted irrational and with a pinch of paranoia from labeling the organizers as trouble makers, banning yellow Bersih T-shirts under an unnamed law, arresting groups of protestors under unimaginative charges, to stopping pre Bersih 2.0 rallies.

“….a section of the people being enemies with the government…”

Instead using the label “trouble makers” for the organizers of Bersih 2.0, the King calls them “a section of the people” which is true and admirable because Bersih 2.0 at the end of the day is nothing but ordinary citizens who have certain demands for the Government. And when the ordinary citizens are deemed to be enemies of the Government, it is actually reflecting badly on the Government, not the people. This is because Government is elected by the people and once you fall out with the people, it could mean the end of you in the next elections.

No doubt, there were messages for Bersih 2.0 as well – to continue with direct engagements with the relevant stakeholders instead of doing it through street rallies and demonstrations. And there seems to be some positive development towards that both from Bersih 2.0 and the Government (they seems to agree on rally to be held in a stadium now) but do expect massive traffic jam during the weekend especially towards the city centre.

The ball is in the Government’s court now – demands of Bersih 2.0 only calls for betterment of the election process (minus the call for street rally perhaps). We would not have even gotten to Bersih 1.0 if the whole election process has been well managed and fair from the very start but the truth of the matter is that it is not – one must admit that loopholes still exists and even the EC has admitted that there is “only so much” they could do although many may disagree with this – certainly “cleaning the electoral roll, reforming postal balloting, use of indelible ink, and minimum 21 days campaigning period is well within the ambit and ability of the EC.

P.s. In the meantime, it seems that Ibrahim Ali is now so upset because the King is willing to see the organizers of Bersih 2.0 and not him. His quote of the day – “We at Perkasa have written many times to meet with the King on several issues but we’ve never gotten that” was timely responded by one of reader with this statement “Ibrahim Ali? Perkasa? I am not surprised with Istana Negara’s decision”. Now that is funny!

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Putting it in Perspective

Bersih 2.0

Imagine reading this news on 10th July 2011 morning:-

I have been busy with an assignment lately and I have been traveling too but as much as possible, I do try to keep abreast with the latest news at home. And one that has been quite hot in the news recently is the Bersih 2.0 rally on 9th July 2011.

It is amazing that 500 – 600 police reports have been lodged against Bersih 2.0 todate and it has gotten Perkasa and UMNO Youth into the act as well although their objectives may differ from what Bersih 2.0 is standing for.

No doubt, public rallies in Malaysia have always been chaotic and not in all circumstance, we can say that the blame needs to be put on the shoulders of the organizers. As Ibrahim Ali of Perkasa had said it will be chaos and we agree to that but it only get even more chaotic when there are opposing parties striven to throw the spanner into the woodworks. Still remember the rallies by Anti ISA organizers and the Pro ISA organizers that happen on the same time. The Pro ISA rally was cocked up only after the Anti ISA rally was announced.

And whenever we have public rallies, there is this famed “mother of roadblocks” by the police which does nothing to prevent the public rally from happening but gets into the nerve of every motorist that have to pass through these insane traffic jams that is created by these road blocks. It is more productive for these policemen to doing real policing work rather stand around by the side of the highway, manning road blocks which cause 3 lanes of traffic to be squeezed into 1 and as no ones passes these road blocks wears a large “I am Public Rally participant” signboard, the effectiveness of such road blocks is highly questionable. Bersih 2.0 organizer did not get the permit for the public rally but so did Perkasa – so it will be interesting to see how police will act against the two.

And why we should oppose this rally which calls for fair election practices? Doesn’t it promote the very principles of democracy? There are still loopholes in the way we conduct our elections although the Election Commission and the Government will think otherwise. Postal votes for example remains a pain in the neck for the oppositions and it is no secret that gerrymandering is practiced wide spread by those who intend to keep themselves in power. Yes, our election process has not reached the level of maturity that we have hoped it to be.

Bersih 1.0 was unprecedented and was a great success and a couple of weeks later, the Government had another headache dealing with Hindraf rally. Both rallies, coupled with high handed tactics by the previous Government helped to steer the nation to hand over the worst election result to BN and helped the opposition to gain control of 4 states. We have seen the progress made by the oppositions since 2008 – some is good, some is bad.

Having thousands of people on the streets will not only be a logistic nightmare for the organizers but also for the law enforcement agencies. Can they keep peace and order? The easy way out for the police would be to deny the permit for the rally in the place, mitigating the expected chaos if the rally goes through. And that is what the police had done too but certainly it is not going to stop the rally. And what about the inconvenience that it creates for those who is not involved in the rally but had to drive in to the city for urgent matters. Think of the traffic jams and disruptions to the daily routine for the day. And we have yet to count the expected losses by businesses that had to close their premises for the day in fear of riots and public disorder.

Thus arriving to the question that many may be asking – whether we still need a Bersih 2.0? To answer that question, we probably need to see what Bersih 2.0 is demanding.

Bersih 2.0’s 8 demands are not surprisingly something new – it is something we have been hearing from NGOs and the oppositions all over the years.

1. Clean the electoral roll
The electoral roll is marred with irregularities such as deceased persons and multiple persons registered under a single address or non-existent addresses. The electoral roll must be revised and updated to wipe out these ‘phantom voters’. The rakyat have a right to an electoral roll that is an accurate reflection of the voting population.

In the longer term, BERSIH 2.0 also calls for the EC to implement an automated voter registration system upon eligibility to reduce irregularities.

2. Reform postal ballot
The current postal ballot system must be reformed to ensure that all citizens of Malaysia are able to exercise their right to vote. Postal ballot should not only be open for all Malaysian citizens living abroad, but also for those within the country who cannot be physically present in their voting constituency on polling day. Police, military and civil servants too must vote normally like other voters if not on duty on polling day.

The postal ballot system must be transparent. Party agents should be allowed to monitor the entire process of postal voting.

3. Use of indelible ink
Indelible ink must be used in all elections. It is a simple, affordable and effective solution in preventing voter fraud. In 2007, the EC decided to implement the use of indelible ink. However, in the final days leading up to the 12th General Elections, the EC decided to withdraw the use of indelible ink citing legal reasons and rumours of sabotage.

BERSIH 2.0 demands for indelible ink to be used for all the upcoming elections. Failure to do so will lead to the inevitable conclusion that there is an intention to allow voter fraud.

4. Minimum 21 days campaign period
The EC should stipulate a campaign period of not less than 21 days. A longer campaign period would allow voters more time to gather information and deliberate on their choices. It will also allow candidates more time to disseminate information to rural areas. The first national elections in 1955 under the British Colonial Government had a campaign period of 42 days but the campaign period for 12th GE in 2008 was a mere 8 days.

5. Free and fair access to media
It is no secret that the Malaysian mainstream media fails to practice proportionate, fair and objective reporting for political parties of all divide. BERSIH 2.0 calls on the EC to press for all media agencies, especially state-funded media agencies such as Radio and Television Malaysia (RTM) and Bernama to allocate proportionate and objective coverage for all potlical parties.

6. Strengthen public institutions
Public institutions must act independently and impartially in upholding the rule of law and democracy. Public institutions such as the Judiciary, Attorney-General, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC), Police and the EC must be reformed to act independently, uphold laws and protect human rights.

In particular, the EC must perform its constitutional duty to act independently and impartially so as to enjoy public confidence. The EC cannot continue to claim that they have no power to act, as the law provides for sufficient powers to institute a credible electoral system.

7. Stop corruption
Corruption is a disease that has infected every aspect of Malaysian life. BERSIH 2.0 and the rakyat demand for an end to all forms of corruption. Current efforts to eradicate corruption are mere tokens to appease public grouses. We demand that serious action is taken against ALL allegations of corruption, including vote buying.

8. Stop dirty politics
Malaysians are tired of dirty politics that has been the main feature of the Malaysian political arena. We demand for all political parties and politicians to put an end to gutter politics. As citizens and voters, we are not interested in gutter politics; we are interested in policies that affect the nation.

Certainly reforms like automatic registration of voters for example will eliminate the need for manual registration of voters that creates the notion of phantom voters. We have the right tools and resources, so what’s keeping us from deploying them to ensure everyone of the right age automatically qualifies to vote on who will represent them in Parliament.

And if the EC and the Government are of the opinion that they have done the best to ensure a fair and just election process, just have a look at the recent Sarawak State Election where there were incidents that prevented a fair and just election process.

In the past, we have called for fair and just election process through the press statements, letters, memorandums, petitions and more but progress towards fair and just election process has been rather slow. Sometimes, it does take a public rally with thousands of people from different background and cause to drive the point home. It happened with Bersih 1.0 and we can expect the same awareness with Bersih 2.0.

What we request in the end from the Government is a promise to allow the rally to proceed and end peacefully and thereafter to take Bersih 2.0’s demands for reforms. After all, doesn’t the needs of the nation takes precedent over the needs of political agendas?

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Menuntut Kebersihan

Sarawak State Elections: The Outcome

Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib bin Mahmud, Chief Mi...

Taib Mahmud at helms again but Pakatan had some good gains as well. Image via Wikipedia

Personally, the final outcome was kind of disappointing though – it would have been nice if the opposition had denied the two-third majority and put the ruling Government under a microscope but still it was a good run for the oppositions.

The voters have decided and we need to respect that. BN retained their two-third control in the State Assembly once again – Taib Mahmud would feel relieved. BN won, no doubt with a lesser seats – perhaps it was due to Najib’s assurances that the alleged native land-grabbing Taib Mahmud is definitely going away for good this time.

Bian Baru finally got his seat, an acknowledgement of his past work with the natives on human rights issues and native land issues. And it was well reported that the Chinese votes swing to the oppositions this time around. Taib Mahmud had promised to look into reasons for this – we will wait and see.

Whilst Najib get busy on understanding why BN won fewer seats this time around compared to the last State Elections (with reduction of margin of win as well and the Deputy Chief Minister even losing to a new comer from DAP), Pakatan Rakyat should look into their success and how they can capitalize on this for the next election.

First, get organized – the bickering between the opposition political parties for the seats just before the elections was shameful and at one point almost set DAP going off on their own. No doubt, there are arguments for PKR to contest in more seats than DAP in Sarawak but the initial bickering in the open could have done some lost of confidence in the opposition front.

Secondly, show that Pakatan Rakyat means business in Sarawak – a stronger opposition presence in the State Assembly mean it will not be easy for the ruling Government to do what they been doing all this time without proper scrutiny and accountability.

With Taib Mahmud & his family firmly in control of the state, one can be assured that a stronger opposition will enticed the much needed check & balance on the Government and the alternative media like the Sarawak Reports will have plenty to report on for the next 5 years.

The road for a total change of Government in Sarawak may be still long and far but if the opposition is able to maintain the momentum and check on corruption and abuse, the people of Sarawak would be the real winners in years to come.

For now, well done Pakatan!

PM’s Lelong, Lelong

(Zunar’s cartoon that says it all but the question, will the authorities book Najib for election offences?  Cartoon source: Malaysiakini)

This post in Malaysiakini is just too good to be missed a read:-

‘DEAL OR NO DEAL’ FALLS FLAT

By Mariam Mokhtar

As they say, politicians are like nappies – they should be changed often and for the same reasons. Yesterday, the people of Sibu made history when they elected DAP and rejected BN.

Days earlier, at Rejang Park, the prime minister convinced me that BN does not have the interests of the people of Sibu at heart.

1. He said: “I don’t have to come here…..to Rejang Park……This is not the place for a prime minister to come.”

2. He insulted the intelligence of the people by making deals in exchange for public service.

3. He lowered the tone of his speech by saying “Bull Shine”. Is vulgar slang accepted speech by a prime minister?

Without the involvement of money politics, DAP’s majority could easily have been in the thousands rather than just 398 votes.

Nevertheless, this win has caused a tiny seismic shift in the Malaysian political landscape. Once again, politics has become interesting and dare I say it, fun too?

DAP’s victory is well-deserved but it must be under no illusion, for if the electoral dice had fallen differently, politics in Sarawak and Malaysia would have been business as usual.

Was there one single factor for the swing away from BN? Or was it a combination of factors? There was more money available last week than at any single time over the past 47 years. Was it divine intervention, in retribution for the PM’s fleeting visit to the Tua Pek Kong temple?

During this campaign, only a person with a heart of stone would not have been troubled by the poverty that sits uncomfortably beside the wealth in Sarawak. The state is blessed with an abundance of natural resources. Why then is a sizeable portion of its people living in shanty towns devoid of running water and electricity?

My single defining reason to tick the box for DAP, had I been a voter, would have been Najib Abdul Razak’s speech at Rejang Park.

Who could forget that ’speech’? Some people have called it ‘You help me, I help you’ talk. Those present witnessed the display of arrogance of condescension; how he talked down to people; and disgracefully made the public gesture of money in exchange for votes.

He showed us how NOT to demean people and thus get the backs up of those whom we wish to help us. Surprisingly, Najib overlooked how the Internet beamed his unflattering comments worldwide.

Najib also showed the political elite how NOT to treat the electorate or to make empty promises. To a lesser extent, it revealed how his spin doctors, who stage-managed his campaigns, failed to register the suffering of the Sibu people.

The PM joked about solving the flooding, saying: “Can we have deal or not? Can we have an understanding or not? You help me, I help you. It is quite simple.”

I recall how a policeman once stopped me for apparently going through a red light, even though I had not. He also used similar phrases like, “We got deal or not? We have understanding, yes? I can help you. Easy-lah.” These phrases sound very familiar don’t they?

Needs long neglected

Najib told the crowd he would have a cheque ready to help solve the flooding, only if Robert Lau Jr was elected. He wasn’t aware of the actual cost for the flood defences, but guessed it to be RM3 million.

He insulted the intelligence of the crowd by believing they could be easily seduced. Equally, Lau’s credibility was given little value. If he (Lau) had any pride, he would have been angered that his selection as candidate was not because of integrity, hard work and public service, but only because Najib was feeling generous.

Sibu’s flooding problem is not new and it is impossible to imagine there were never discussions about this at cabinet meetings – RM 3 million or even RM5 million is a fraction of the total cost.

The whole scenario is reminiscent of an auction with shouts of ‘lelong! lelong!’. Have we stooped as low as this?

Then came the shock declaration: “’I don’t have to come here…..to Rejang Park……This is not the place for a prime minister to come.”

I am sorry, Mr Prime Minister but your statements have done you and BN untold damage. What sort of place is suitable for a PM then? We are sorry if Rejang Park is not as luxurious or exclusive as Belgravia in London or the White House, which you visited last month, in Washington DC.

Rejang Park is often flooded, but it is still home to thousands. They live, work and play here. And for the past 47 years, the government has neglected to serve them.

When the PM told us about the security concerns of his visit, he said: “My security boys say there are back alleys…..”

Yes. Sibu is infamous for its gangs. Civil law and order is included in the long list of Sibu’s problems. If the PM was advised to stay away, then it speaks volumes about the law and governance of the place.

Stupefying effect

People will recall how when Princess Diana died, the British premier – then Tony Blair – captured the mood of the nation’s grief and called her the “People’s Princess”.

When Najib amused us with his visits to the Sibu pasar, the people thought he was “really friendly”. He used the term “People’s Prime Minister”. I am sorry, but three trips to Sibu’s pasar does not make him the “People’s Prime Minister”. If only it were that simple.

He then said that his government would “fight for the people”. So, why does it hold the people to ransom? Sibu’s problems include flooding, lack of basic infrastructure, land issues, poverty and economic malaise. Offers of help should not come with a proviso. That is not responsible government. That only creates mistrust in an already maligned political system.

The PM claimed that “people come first” and “people really matter”. However, these ideals are not addressed in Sibu. Withholding peoples’ rights does not win the battle for hearts and minds.

The repeated use of “I never fail to deliver my promises…we honour our commitment” throughout the speech has the same stupefying effect as someone saying, ‘I never tell a lie’ or ‘Honestly speaking’. The opposite effect is achieved.

Body language relays important signals. The regularity with which the PM wiped his mouth with his handkerchief during the speech is disturbing. What is his subconscious trying to wipe off his lips?

Now that the electorate has shown BN the door, what lies ahead for the people of Sibu?

Will Najib’s compassion shine through? Will he solve the flooding and other problems in a calculated move to win back the trust of Sarawakians for the upcoming state elections?

Or will he punish Sibu and cancel the cheques for the schools and leave the people to drown their sorrows, in the floods that wreck their lives?

If he does that, the state elections and GE-13 would create another massive tidal bore, just like the ones the Sungei Rejang – and now Sibu – is famous for.

MARIAM MOKHTAR is a non-conformist traditionalist from Perak, a bucket chemist and an armchair eco-warrior. In ‘real–speak’, this translates into that she comes from Ipoh, values change but respects culture, is a petroleum chemist and also an environmental pollution-control scientist.

The post is good but what the PM have done to fish for votes is downright insulting. Such acts by anyone deserves a good beating (in this case, in the next general elections)

Snippets – 14 May 2010

Damn!

Some called the shooting of a boy who stole a car, involved in a hit and run and failed to stop when ordered by the police as tragedy. In real sense, this is more tragic:-

A 10-year-old schoolgirl died after she is believed to have accidentally hanged herself at home while re-enacting a movie suicide scene.

(Source: TheStar)

At end of the day, it is up to the parents of the young ones to educate the children on what is wrong and what is right and what is real and what is fantasy. They need to keep very close eyes on the young ones so that such tragedy can be avoided. Sometimes it is too late to realise this.

No doubt, working parents may not have the time to watch over their kids all the time. I know since I face the same problem but whenever possible I make sure my son is aware of his environment and to be more careful when we are not around. Negative thoughts are quickly analysed and talked to so that we aware of the source of the negative thoughts – whether it is due to wrong information, wrong perception of things or miscommunication.

But still, young children dying needlessly is tragic.

Wee Resigns

What a 180’ degree turn – just last month MP Wee Choo Keong said this in his blog:-

The truth is I have been ignoring a series of reports in these news portals (and others) where it had made at least 4 false allegations that I was supposed to have resigned from PKR on various occasions.

I have reasons to believe that the false allegations were fed by a few “little napoleons” with the predominant aim to damage my reputation and/or force me out of the party.

When the assurance come that he is not resigning, we were happy that the rumours turn out to be nothing but rumours. We were happy that PR politicians were still keeping things close. But now, Wee Choo Keong had confirmed resigned from PKR and turns to an independent (what a timing he has, just before Sibu by-elections). We now wonder whether the rumours were the true after all.

(MP Wee and PKR during the good times – Image source: http://www.mysinchew.com)

Apparently Wee is not happy with how things been going in Selangor (even though he is not even representing a constituency in Selangor) and therefore decided to resign. We do expect PR politicians to be different from the BN politicians when it comes to issues but washing dirty linen at the eve of major elections is NOT one of them. What happened to asking questions on how the Government works in the State Assembly or Parliament or working through the systems?

Certainly Anwar have a bigger problem now. With the Sodomy II in play, Anwar needs to consider just how many of the remaining PKR elected politicians are frogs in the waiting. It is an irony that PKR (in form of Anwar) has been the strongest link in Pakatan Rakyat (who else can bring DAP and PAS to agree on the common issues) and yet it (in form of its politicians) had remained the weakest link in destabilising the Pakatan Rakyat’s foothold in Parliament.

Hopefully lessons are learned and weaknesses are resolved before the next election.

Neighbours & Police

This is assuring news after the police put under spotlight recently:-

Seven burglars were caught red-handed by police as they were ransacking a house at Taman Kinrara in Puchong early this morning.

(Source: Malay Mail)

Good for the neighbours who been on the lookout of the suspicious characters in the neighbourhood. It is time for bring back the concept of Rukun Tetangga and foster “good working relationship” among the neighbours – more importantly to improve security in the neighbourhood.

Hulu Selangor Poser 5

The comedy continues with the MIC Youth Leader…

The quote of the day:-

“Kiss his hand? When did I kiss his hand? Show me where I did that,”

The above quote however cannot match the picture of the day:-

(Image & Story source here)

They say a picture tells a thousand words and in this case, photographic evidence basically killed BN’s candidate’s dismissal of allegations (or are they going to claim that it is doctored as well?).

More on Hulu Selangor posers here.

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A lie to cover a lie

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