Selasa, 30 April 2013

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Part 3 - BN and Hindraf MOU

Posted: 30 Apr 2013 12:40 PM PDT

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This is the third article in a series which aims to set a standard of reference for what needs to be done to uplift the Indian poor in Malaysia. 

Hindraf Economic Unit

There are not many occasions where the average Malaysian voter will take the time to consider his fellow citizen who comes from a Low Income Indian Household, aka the people whose interests Hindraf represents. This is simply because the Indian poor does not work where the average Malaysian works, or eats where the average voter eats, or shops with him or lives in the same neighbourhood.

Even though the Indian poor who has been displaced to the urban areas goes about his life amongst the more affluent Malaysians, he is usually invisible, except when the two worlds collide. The collisions are sometimes violent when crime is involved, and at other times are of the benign sort, like when the Alam Flora trucks come trundling along. For example, how many middle class voters would have noticed that 90% of Alam Flora workers are from the ranks of the Indian poor, in stark contrast to the usual 0% that the Indian poor occupy in most other industries and businesses?

On the same note, the problems that afflict the Indian poor are also vastly different to those that concern the average Malaysian voter. That is why, come election, one of the few times where the Indian poor cannot be ignored because they will actually be there queuing up at the voting centres amongst the rest of the voters, no one seemed to know how to get them to vote one way or another beyond the usual rice packet and instant noodles, tray of eggs and RM 50 in an ang pao packet.

It will not be wrong to say that for the current elections, both coalitions would have not enjoyed having to talk to Hindraf in order to ensure that they will get the lion's share of the support from the Indian poor. The only difference among the two coalitions is that BN was willing to commit itself in writing and actually have the decency to offer an apology to the Indian poor along the way, while Pakatan at times seemed unable to tell its arse from its elbow.

But signing an MOU with anyone does not mean that the problems of the Indian poor will disappear. The only way the problems of the Indian poor will ever go away is if the rest of society does what is needed to ensure that marginalisation becomes a thing of the past for all Malaysians.

Foremost amongst those who can make a difference in the lives of the Indian poor are the other Indian voters, who are actually the main targets of these articles. But what has become evident over the days and weeks since the signing of the MOU is that a significant portion of the Indian middle and upper classes have as poor an understanding of the problems of the Indian poor as the rest of Malaysia does.

Perhaps it is time to spell things out so that the Indian voters out there, regardless of who they vote for, will have an idea on how to help their less fortunate brethren improve their lot.

First of all, there is no Malaysian Malaysia (PR) or Satu Malaysia that makes an iota of difference in the lives of the Indian poor. Slogans do not create jobs or opportunities, only targeted policies do. As long as jobs are advertised as Chinese only or Malay only, that is the real Malaysia for the rest of the country.

Secondly, while the chances are that BN will hold on to Putrajaya, there is always an outside possibility that Pakatan will do the impossible and march into Putrajaya. If this does happen, it is up to the pro Pakatan Indian voter, to ensure that Pakatan implements the policies that will uplift the Indian poor. Do not worry about figuring out what to do and how, just take the 5 year Hindraf blueprint as well as the steps outlined in the BN-Hindraf MOU and run with it.

Third, and this is the most probable outcome, Pakatan will continue to form the State governments in a few states. If the pro Pakatan Indian voter does not want a repeat of what has transpired in GE 13, then get your respective state governments to implement policies that will actually target and reach the Indian poor in your respective states.

A word to the wise, it may seem like Hindraf has become the favourite target of the pro Pakatan cyber supporters of late, but that is not the case. Hindraf has always been one of the favourite targets of the pro Pakatan cyber troopers, the only difference being that most of the attacks of yesterday came from the Chinese Pakatan supporter. Now, it is the Indian Pakatan supporter who carries the ball.

The attacks against Hindraf are at best a nuisance to us, and all we can say is that you will be better off spending your time actually doing something useful. Anyone that thinks that ad hominem attacks or allegations of being bought will do anything but get Hindraf and subsequently BN even more support from the Indian poor, has got another think coming.

 

Hindraf Economic Unit

 

Red Tape of stupidity knows no bounds at the NRD

Posted: 30 Apr 2013 12:04 PM PDT

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No country in the world has an IC system.

The IC system, introduced to combat communism terrorism in Malaya, should be scrapped because there's no need for such documentation. The birth certificate will suffice to prove citizenship status, whether Malaysian or foreigner, and in the case of the former, whether one is an Orang Asal or otherwise. 

Joe Fernandez 

The National Registration Department (NRD) cannot refer non-Muslims, non-practising Muslims, murtads, fallen Muslims, and those who had no choice in the matter when they were declared Muslim, to the Syariah Court. Any such reference is unconstitutional and the matter should be brought before the Federal Court, the King and the Conference of Rulers.

According to the local media in Kota Kinabalu on Tues, a lawyer's Client, a Chinese and Buddhist, has been referred to the Syariah Court by the NRD Sabah to change the status of his son in the MyKad from Muslim to Buddhist.

The lawyer has resorted to filing an Application for Leave to obtain a Judicial Review of the NRD decision. If almost every MyKad applicant has to go through this arduous and expensive process, that means the NRD is making them run the gauntlet for no rhyme or reason. No wonder there are 350, 000 stateless people among the Indians alone in Malaya. The Penan in Sarawak, among others, are also running around half naked in the jungle, stateless.

The NRD Director General should be hauled up for incompetence and sacked for refusing to exercise his prerogative and discretionary powers in running his Department.

Why the need, for example, for a BN-Hindraf MOU to address the problem of statelessness in Malaya? Were the stateless in Malaya destined to rot till thy kingdom come in a legal twilight zone in the absence of an MOU? Does the MOU have the status of a constitutional document?

What about the non-Indian stateless in Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak? No need for another MOU to resolve their status and give them an identity? Or will they continue to remain in a legal twilight zone as a domestic pool of slave labour?

Non-Muslims in Sabah with a bin or binte in their name are also referred to the Syariah Court by the NRD when they apply for their MyKad. They have to get a declaration from the Syariah Court that they "are not Muslims and/or no longer Muslims".

This is called creeping Islamisation, a point raised so often by Hindraf Makkal Sakthi in the pre-MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) days.

The NRD has no business deciding on the religion of an applicant for the MyKad.

When I got my MyKad, my son and I were listed as Hindus.

When I queried the NRD, they replied that if there's no information in the data bank, Indians are classified as Hindus.

I replied: "In that case, you should classify Mahathir and Sheikh as Hindus since they are Indians. Have you ever come across any Hindu with the name Joseph?"

I asked for my MyKad and my son's to be changed.

They asked for my baptism certificate.

I told them: "When you listed me as Hindu, there was no need for any proof. Now that I tell you that I am a Christian, you want proof. Next you will ask me to bring the Bishop, then the Archbishop and finally the Pope. If I tell you that I am a Christian, I am a Christian. I don't have to prove to you that I am Christian. Why should I claim to be a Christian if I am not one? If I am a Hindu, I would be proud to be one. I would not claim to be something else. I want to see your Director."

Needless to say they quickly gave me and my son a form each to do the necessary rectifications.

I obtained a replacement MyKad within a week, my son a month later.

It seems that the older we are, the quicker we get our MyKad.

Otherwise, we might not be able to enter heaven.

In Sarawak, the NRD refers applicants from half-Natives -- born of non-Native fathers -- for Native status MyKads to the Native Court in defiance of the late 2010 Policy Circular from the Chief Secretary to the Government. They should be recognised as Natives as per the said Circular.

The sexist Native Court in Sarawak will never in a million years declare a half-Native with a non-Native father as Native. This is blatant discrimination. Children born of Native fathers and non-Native mothers are considered Natives.

In Sabah, the Sino-Natives born of Chinese parentage on the father's side want to play politics with their status. They want to have their cake and eat it too i.e. they want to be Chinese and Native at the same time. They also claim that if they opt for Native status, they will still not be recognised by the Land Department when it comes to Native Land because of their Chinese names. Is there a law on what is a Native name or how a Native should look like?

I have personally witnessed Sino-Natives being given the treatment at Amanah Saham Bumiputera (ASN) counters apparently because they look "suspiciously too Chinese". Even if they are the first to arrive at the ASB counter, they are the last to be cleared as checks are conducted into their background. Why would any self-respecting Chinaman claim to be part Native when he hasn't even a drop of Native blood in him beats me!

At the same time, even black as charcoal Indian Muslims -- i.e. those yet to bleach themselves into a Malay brown -- loudly conversing in Tamil among themselves face no problems whatsoever at ASB because they come under the Malay category. This proves that Malaysia is indeed under the vice-like grip of the mamaks with a few Kakas (Malayalee Muslims), Pakistanis and Bangladeshis thrown in for company.

Elsewhere, as the Royal Commission of Inquiry has revealed, the NRD has been in cahoots with rogue elements to register illegal immigrants as Orang Asal (Original People), Native and Bumiputera in order to marginalise and disenfranchisement the Orang Asal in particular. This is High Treason and a heinous crime against the people of Sabah.

No country in the world has an IC system.

The IC system, introduced to combat communism terrorism in Malaya, should be scrapped because there's no need for such documentation. The birth certificate will suffice to prove citizenship status, whether Malaysian or foreigner, and in the case of the former, whether one is an Orang Asal or otherwise.

The terms Bumiputera and Native should be scrapped.

All citizens by operation of law who are issues of citizens by operation of law are Bumiputera but since many people are denied this status, it would be politically correct to abolish the controversial term.

The term Native serves no purpose since many people who are not Orang Asal have the status.

The Government could consider the following guidelines:

(1) All Orang Asal are Native and Bumiputera.

(2) Not all Natives are Orang Asal but they are Bumiputera.

(3) Not all Bumiputera are Orang Asal or Native.

Natives and Bumiputera should not be eligible to own Tanah Adat or Customary Rights land.

Malay Reservation Land should not be considered Orang Asal or Customary Rights land but land which the British earmarked in Malaya on sovereign Thai territory to get squatters from Nusantara out of the way so that they could plant rubber and mine tin.

Lebih 36,000 Pengundi Ragu Bakal Membanjiri Selangor

Posted: 30 Apr 2013 11:57 AM PDT

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(Selangorku) - Pakatan Rakyat (PR) mendakwa satu langkah agresif sedang diambil untuk membanjiri Selangor dengan lebih 36,000 pengundi ragu dalam beberapa hari lagi bagi merampas Selangor daripada gagasan itu.

Pengarah Pilihan Raya PAS Selangor, Jaafar Shamsuddin mendakwa mereka akan dibawa masuk secara berperingkat melalui 'charter flights' (penerbangan tempahan khas) daripada Kota Kinabalu bermula 2 Mei sehingga 4 Mei ini.

Langkah itu mampu menguatkan kemampuan Umno-BN untuk merampas kira-kira 11 kerusi DUN yang dimenangi PR Selangor. Ini kerana kerusi tersebut dimenangi dengan majoriti kurang daripada 3,000 undi.

Sekiranya di agihkan antara 11 kerusi DUN itu, ia mampu memberi pertambahan lebih 3,200 "pengundi percuma" kepada Umno-BN.

Jika Umno-BN mampu mempertahankan 20 kerusi DUN yang sekarang miliknya, kemenangan dalam 11 kerusi DUN milik PR Selangor akan membolehkannya memperoleh majoriti mudah untuk membentuk Kerajaan Negeri.

Umno-BN memenangi 20 daripada 56 kerusi DUN pada pilihanraya 2008. PR Selangor memenangi 36 kerusi, tetapi hilang dua kerusi selepas dua ADUN PR Selangor, Badrul Hisham Abdullah dan Datuk Dr Hassan Ali, keluar dari gagasan itu.

Pengundi ragu yang akan dibawa masuk itu termasuk mereka yang yang lahir dan bermastautin di luar Selangor tetapi berdaftar sebagai pengundi di Selangor dan pengundi bukan warganegara Malaysia.

"Kita percaya terdapat pihak tertentu yang mengawasi dan mengubah beberapa penerbangan khas itu daripada terus dikesan pihak kita," kata Jaafar pada satu sidang media.

"Sebagai contoh, pada 28 April, kita telah memantau di KLIA setelah menerima maklumat penerbangan tempahan khas MH 8601 akan mendarat pada pukul 6 pagi namun penantian sehingga jam 11.30 pagi tidak mendapati sebarang pendaratan.

"Pemberi maklumat dalaman kemudian memberitahu bahawa jadual penerbangan itu telah ditunda kepada tarikh lain iaitu pada 1 Mei nanti," jelas Jaafar.

Dalam pada itu, beliau berkata pasukan risikan PR akan terus memantau lapangan terbang di Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) dan Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) di Sepang, Lapangan Terbang Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia di Sungai Besi serta Lapangan Terbang Subang di Subang.

Mereka kini juga sedang dalam pemerhatian untuk mengenal pasti tempat kediaman penumpang-penumpang penerbangan ini. 

Citizens Step Up to Monitor Malaysia’s Elections

Posted: 30 Apr 2013 11:54 AM PDT

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(WSJ) - 3,000 citizens have signed up to be volunteers across 12 out of 13 states. That number falls far short of initial goal of 10,000 election observers by Mafrel, human rights group Pusat Komas and Bersih 2.0, a group that advocates electoral reforms. 

When Malaysians go to vote on May 5, some citizen activists will be on vigil at polling stations to try to ensure that the 13th general elections are free and fair.

The stakes are high for both the National Front coalition, which has ruled Malaysia since it gained independence from Britain in 1957, and a resurgent opposition, which aims to better its 2008 record electoral gains, when it denied the ruling coalition a two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Activists, who have in past clashed with police when demanding sweeping electoral reforms, complain that the government isn't making changes quickly enough to ensure the integrity of the election. The effort to dispatch citizen observers reflects concern that authorities tasked with managing the election process may not be entirely free from the government's grip.

"Everyone knows that the Election Commission is not independent," said Wong Yoke Meng, who count ballots for the first time.

The 38-year-old entrepreneur will be among volunteers reporting at their designated polling booths by 7 a.m. to make sure that ballots are in order. After the poll stations close at 5 p.m., she will help count ballots. Ms. Wong is one of the four agents at polling stations –or Paca — that a candidate in each district can nominate. In addition, local groups are scattering their volunteers across the country to observe the polling process from outside the booths.

Read more at: http://blogs.wsj.com/searealtime/2013/04/30/citizens-step-up-to-monitor-malaysias-elections/ 

Under-probe Sabah voter roll still legit, EC says

Posted: 30 Apr 2013 11:45 AM PDT

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(TMI) - Sabah's electoral roll containing 60,673 dubious entries is still legit and cannot be junked as the royal panel looking into the citizenship-for-votes controversy has yet to conclude any wrongdoing, the Election Commission (EC) said today.

An independent polls watchdog had highlighted this morning that Sabah's gazetted electoral roll used for the 13th general election was plagued with a large number problems, such as incomplete addresses and voters who shared the same identity card (IC) numbers, months after a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) had exposed much irregularities in the naturalisaton process for immigrants.

"The list of registered voters raised in the RCI is still legit, besides no final decision has been reached.

"The RCI has yet to end and make its decision, how can we discard the electoral roll," EC chief Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof told The Malaysian Insider.

He also said that the names on the EC's roll were Malaysian citizens, adding that the voter list had been on public display for two weeks starting from January 17 and no objections had been recorded during that period.

"EC had displayed the list for two weeks, if they objected, it should have been made in that period.

Read more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/under-probe-sabah-voter-roll-still-legit-ec-says/ 

 

In Sungai Siput, a fight for MIC’s future

Posted: 30 Apr 2013 11:38 AM PDT

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(TMI) - "MIC hasn't been around. And suddenly they come with a lot of money and they have been giving out money," Dr Jeyakumar told The Straits Times, expressing fear that this may sway votes in his opponents favour. 

MIC is going all-out to win back the Sungai Siput seat previously held by Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu for three decades, for both a symbolic and political victory.

The former MIC president's 30-year reign in Sungai Siput inextricably linked the federal seat to the party he once led, and his shock defeat there in 2008 made it appear as though it had lost home ground, The Straits Times reported today.

But in Election 2013, MIC is back with a vengeance, according to the Singapore newspaper.

It is fielding caretaker deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk SK Devamany and has spent more than RM3 million in the past three months alone on road repairs and other work in this constituency.

For MIC, Sungai Siput is not simply another seat. Aside from its long past with Samy Vellu, it also has a sizeable Indian community ― 21 per cent of the 51,709 voters or around double the proportion of Indians in Malaysia ― making it a quasi-referendum on the party's political relevance.

MIC won only three parliamentary seats in 2008, but is contesting nine seats in Election 2013.

To start its fightback, MIC will need to dislodge PSM's Dr Michael Jeyakumar, the soft-spoken political activist who took down Samy Vellu in 2008.

An independent, S. Nagalingam, has also thrown his hat in the ring.

This time, MIC may be aided by a less-focussed Indian community. Unlike in 2008 when the group found cohesion courtesy of HINDRAF, there is no such guiding force today.

Having attacked the government for oppressing Indians, HINDRAF signed a pact with Barisan Nasional (BN) last month, leading to a fracture in its own ranks.

But BN's fielding of Perkasa vice-president Zulkifly Noordin, alleged to have disparaged both Hindus and Indians, has also outraged the community.

Such conflicts are not lost on the voters.

Read more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/in-sungai-siput-a-fight-for-mics-future/ 

GE13: For some, economy, education matter more than hudud

Posted: 30 Apr 2013 11:35 AM PDT

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"Are you afraid of the hudud law?" This question was posed to a group of Chinese "uncles" who were sitting by the Kuala Kangsar riverside. 

Chen Shaua Fui, fz.com 

And their reply? "This is just frying cold rice." 
 
"Frying cold rice" is a Chinese expression to describe a situation where issues that have long died off are played up again.
 
For this group of middle-aged Chinese men, hudud law is of no concern as it applies to only Muslims and in their words they are "more than happy to see those who took bribes or are convicted of corruption get their hands chopped off".
 
The six of them are friends who had gathered to exchange political observations. Five are voters of Kuala Kangsar, and one of them is voting in Padang Rengas. All declined to give their names.
 
A 20-minute chat with them revealed that they are more concerned about the economy of the country rather than the seemingly hot election issue of  PAS' intention to implement hudud law should it take over the federal administration.
 
MCA has been playing up the hudud issue over the past few years, and had repeatedly claimed that its rival DAP is helping PAS to implement the law which will ultimately affect non-Muslims in the country.
 
"How can we continue to vote for people who can't even manage the economy properly? We have deficit every year. We must do something now, or else it will get worse," says an "uncle" in a white polo T-shirt, who opined that Malaysia's economic performance "is getting worse".
 
Another "uncle" chipped in with an analogy, "If your company manager keeps making losses for your company, do you still want him to work for you?"

When it was time to go to the PAS ceramah held at Arena Kuala Kangsar, where PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang would be addressing the crowd, one of them said he came to listen to the talk and wanted to donate money to the party. 

Read more at: http://www.fz.com/content/ge13-some-economy-education-matter-more-hudud 

BN, Pakatan both counting on a perfect storm

Posted: 30 Apr 2013 11:33 AM PDT

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The thing about this Chinese wave is that it has sent a counter Malay wave surging towards BN. There is no denying that the outcome of this general election will be decided in a big way by the politics of race.

Joceline Tan, ST 

THE crowds at Democratic Action Party (DAP) ceramahs are growing and, as anyone who has been to one would know, they are predominantly Chinese.

Those supporting the party are very upfront about it. They surround the stage, clapping and cheering at everything said.

They put their money where their mouth is - they hand over red and even big blue notes when the collection box goes around while in Penang, the "Ubah" soft toy has been sold out.

The ones who hang around at the back are quieter and harder to read. They will just smile when you try to strike up a conversation; some of them will not even say if they are voting in the area while others quickly walk away.

The joke among reporters is that these are the ones planning to vote for the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition but are afraid to say so for fear of being scolded or bullied by DAP supporters. It used to be that the pro-BN supporters were the vocal and aggressive ones, but the tables have turned and the aggressors are now on the other side.

This is especially so online and in urban centres like Penang, the Klang Valley and Kinta Valley where the Chinese dominate political discussion and harangue anyone who does not toe their line.

The Chinese mood, after more than a week of campaigning, has not softened for BN. The conventional wisdom is that only about 20 per cent of the Chinese vote is firmly committed to BN in the urban seats.

Some call it an urban wave, others say it is a largely Chinese wave. It is nothing as devastating as the political tsunami of 2008 where the Indians and Malays also came along but it is giving the BN a big urban headache.

The thing about this Chinese wave is that it has sent a counter Malay wave surging towards BN. There is no denying that the outcome of this general election will be decided in a big way by the politics of race.

Read more at: http://www.stasiareport.com/the-big-story/asia-report/malaysia-elections/opinion-blogs/story/bn-pakatan-both-counting-perfect-st 

 

'Brand Najib' targets undecided voters

Posted: 30 Apr 2013 11:30 AM PDT

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(ST) - HE IS everywhere. Billboards and huge posters of Datuk Seri Najib Razak have gone up at flyovers, highways and lamp posts across Malaysia as he becomes the biggest campaigner for his ruling Barisan Nasional in the country's tightest election.

 In reality, the winning party or coalition will choose the prime minister. 

"Vote for the Prime Minister!" exclaims one poster, depicting an X marked beside the BN logo - a weighing scale.

Another billboard tells the country's 13.3 million voters that a vote for BN is a vote for Mr Najib, while other billboards give details of the initiatives he has carried out since he became Prime Minister in 2009. They include upgrading of infrastructure, cash handouts and other forms of aid.

"We respect the sanctity of the Constitution, not destroy it with confusion," says yet another billboard featuring Mr Najib's photo, as it takes a dig at the opposition Pakatan Rakyat.

"Brand Najib" has become a defining feature of this closely fought election as the Prime Minister seeks to shore up support for BN, its image tarred by mismanagement and corruption scandals.

It is aimed at winning over fence-sitters who like Mr Najib's leadership style but are hesitant about voting for BN, which has been in power for nearly six decades and is hoping to win its 13th general election on Sunday.

Mr Najib is far more popular than BN. The latest survey by the independent Merdeka Centre in February showed overall support for BN at 45 per cent, and support highest among Malays at 60 per cent, Indians at 52 per cent and Chinese, 16 per cent.

The Prime Minister's personal approval rating is much higher, at 61 per cent overall in the same survey. The level of satisfaction was the highest among Indians at 75 per cent; Malays, 73 per cent; and Chinese, 34 per cent.

Read more at: http://www.stasiareport.com/the-big-story/asia-report/malaysia-elections/news/story/brand-najib-targets-undecided-voters-2013050 

 

Najib pushes back against opposition in Penang

Posted: 30 Apr 2013 11:27 AM PDT

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(ST) - He makes pledges to Chinese voters, saying BN is a government for all

PRIME Minister Najib Razak sought to push back the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) charge in Penang yesterday, as he targeted shortcomings in the opposition alliance's strongest bastion to swing votes to his ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

Making his first visit to the state in the election campaign, Datuk Seri Najib pledged to refurbish and build more low-cost houses, and also made a pitch to Chinese voters, who make up more than half the voters there.

He said Penang's well-known Han Chiang College will be upgraded to university status and offer degree courses in affiliation with a university, and will receive RM1 million (S$400,000) in funding.

"I'm deeply committed that every Malaysian has access to quality education," he said. "We are a government for all."

Mr Najib also promised that his Umno party will not take the Penang chief minister's post, which is traditionally held by the head of the BN's Chinese-based Gerakan party.

His visit to Penang came as more than 230,000 police and navy personnel took part in advance voting yesterday. Indelible ink was used for the first time, in a new measure aimed at reducing voter fraud.

On Monday, the PR ramped up its campaign in Penang at a rousing mega rally, with tens of thousands of people thronging the Han Chiang school field, an iconic venue credited with galvanising opposition supporters in 2008.

The BN, not to be outdone, held its own large-scale gathering last night. Thousands gathered in a police camp on the island, in a glitzy event attended by local celebrities.

Mr Najib maintained that it was possible to recapture Penang from the PR because the state government had not lived up to expectations.

The PR won the state with a two-thirds majority in 2008, and is widely tipped to retain control.

"There is a new spirit, which is more vigorous, among the people. The wind of change is blowing here," he told supporters during a stop in Kepala Batas, the former seat of former prime minister Abdullah Badawi.

He hit out at the lack of affordable housing in Penang, which has become a thorny issue in the state. Penang island, in particular, has seen the launch of many high-end private properties in recent years.

Property prices have doubled in many areas, creating unhappiness among poorer communities, especially the Malays. The BN has blamed the PR state government for what it called "reckless and haphazard" development.

The BN, however, cares about the poor, said Mr Najib, who announced that the government will build 10,000 affordable housing units on the island for those living in dilapidated low-cost flats.

Read more at: http://www.stasiareport.com/the-big-story/asia-report/malaysia-elections/news/story/najib-pushes-back-against-opposition-penang- 

EC staff made mistake by not shaking ink bottle

Posted: 30 Apr 2013 11:25 AM PDT

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(Bernama) - ALLEGATIONS that indelible ink can be easily removed by washing may be due to failure by the Election Commission (EC) staff to follow procedures.

EC secretary Datuk Kamaruddin Mohamed Baria said yesterday following the allegations, the EC ran some tests yesterday and as a result, fingers smeared with ink from shaken bottles lasted longer than the others.

"Not withstanding the impact of indelible ink, the EC like to emphasise that early voters who voted on April 30 2013 cannot vote again on May 5 because their names do not exist in the electoral roll for ordinary voters," he said in a statement yesterday.

Kamaruddin said the EC will continue to use indelible ink on May 5, 2013 in accordance with the requirements of the law currently in force.

The EC received the information via social networking sites with photograph of an early voter showing the indelible could be easily removed by washing.

 

The unanswered question surrounding Realmild

Posted: 30 Apr 2013 01:00 AM PDT

Both Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim need to answer the question surrounding Realmild. At the centre of this controversy is PAS's candidate for the parliamentary seat of Tasek Gelugor, Penang, Abdul Rahman Maidin. Is Rahman Maidin, a known Tun Daim Zainuddin crony, really a PAS candidate or an Umno mole that will 'jump ship' once he wins?

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

(The Malaysian Insider, 30 October 2010) - Realmild Sdn Bhd was a brainchild of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim when he was in government as a means for Umno to protect its business interests, a lawyer told the High Court here today.

The former deputy prime minister had also hand-picked four media people — Datuk Khalid Ahmad, Datuk Kadir Jasin, Datuk Ahmad Nazri Abdullah and Mohd Noor Mutalib — to be its first shareholders and act as nominees for the ruling party, said Alex De Silva.

"In 1992, Realmild was formed in Malaysia. Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim created it as a new Bumiputera vehicle to take care of Umno's interests."

"This is the genesis of Realmild," De Silva said in making the case for his client Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Maidin.

Khalid, a former TV3 boss, is suing Abdul Rahman to pay up the remaining RM10 million of RM15 million the former claims was the agreed sale price for the block of shares.

But Abdul Rahman disputes the amount — he told the court the agreed price was RM10 million and he had paid half before finding out from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was then Umno president, that he did not have to pay.

Now Abdul Rahman wants his money back.

De Silva argued today that Khalid, as the seller, was not in a position to demand payment for the sale of a block of Realmild Sdn Bhd's shares wholly held in trust for Umno.

"My submission is that none of them were actually running MRCB. They were just put there by the powers-that-be...to take care of MRCB, NST and etc."

"It's completely illogical for Umno or anyone to own only 70 per cent [of the shares] and for 30 per cent to be shared out among the others," he added, noting previous testimony from another successive Realmild director, Tan Sri Syed Anwar Jamalullail, showed that Umno owned all the shares.

Syed Anwar is the younger brother to the Raja of Perlis Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Ibni Al-Marhum Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail who also held the position of Yang di-Pertuan Agong at the time of the contentious takeover at the turn of the millennium.

Anwar, who happened to be in court today for his Sodomy II trial, was evasive when asked to comment on his role in the Realmild-Umno deal.

"Seventy per cent was held by Dr Mahathir. It has nothing to do with me," said the 63-year-old politician, now PKR's advisor.

Khalid's RM10 million suit against Abdul Rahman, over the sale of a five per cent stake in the company in 1999 took place during a shake-up and buy-out related to Anwar's sacking from government.

"Yes, I was supportive of it back then but 30 per cent of the shares was owned by Khalid, Kadir, and Nazri, Mohd Noor," Anwar said.

"It was only when I exposed them in court, Dr Mahathir called for Realmild surrender 70 percent," he added.

Asked if he saw the controversial 100-storey Menara Warisan announced by Prime Minister Najib Razak reflected in Umno's continuing bid to protect the party's interests, the Opposition Leader remarked: "All mega deals protect the interests of the Umno elite."

"Realmild is a classic example, proven, it was led by Dr Mahathir. I'm convinced there are cronies involved," he said.

Back in court, De Silva stressed that Realmild was a "sendirian berhad" (private limited company) with four ex-NST journalists and accountant who became stakeholders of MRCB, a public-listed company, supposedly bought from Renong Berhad for RM800 million.

"It's clear as daylight none of the shareholders had the means or capacity to do so," De Silva said.

"Yes, they testified they raised the money on their own. [But] nobody wakes up one morning and says, 'Yes! I'm going to take over NST and TV3. Can you do this on your own? Impossible!"

"My Lady, from the start of the scene, government hands or Umno hands were involved...to keep the media under control of Umno."

"It was not for personal benefit but for the benefit of the party. That's why Realmild took control from Renong. That's the genesis of Realmild," Abdul Rahman's lawyer repeated for emphasis.

De Silva also pointed out that none of the four had exercised their rights as owners after the buy-over from Renong and instead continued their daily duties as newsmen, which was typical of nominees.

Trial judge Datuk Mary Lim asked if they were nominees, whether it meant they can't transfer the title deeds to the shares; and whether it would not then require the defendant to show he had a title to pass on.

"Not necessary. What we are looking at is the concept of real ownership," De Silva replied, before adding, "Who were the real owners?"

He moved to back his argument by pointing to the large number of lucrative projects given to Realmild's construction subsidiary, MRCB, including building a power plant.

"MRCB was bestowed and granted huge government contracts and loans, subsequently...in 1997, the government awarded MRCB the KL Sentral project...two years later, they got a support loan of RM336 million," De Silva cited.

"All these point effectively to the fact they were formed by the government because MRCB was effectively owned by Umno," he argued further.

"Yes, the shares were held in their names, but when instructed to transfer, they transferred."

"And they all transferred all, together," he said slowly, lending emphasis to his submission.

But lawyer Ahmad Fadzil Mohd Perdaus, in pushing the case to be ruled in the plaintiff Khalid's favour, submitted that Abdul Rahman had failed to show documentary evidence that proved an Umno "trust" existed, adding the defendant's entire argument was pulled from oral testimony by parties not brought to court, including the former prime minister.

Ahmad even suggested that Abdul Rahman should have taken legal action against Dr Mahathir to recover his money instead of claiming it from Khalid.

"Why the defendant chose not to take action when he found out about the trust?"

"His line, his basis is what was told to him by the PM [then, Dr Mahathir] that he would not get his money back and that the shares belonged to Umno," Ahmad said, referring to Abdul Rahman's testimony in court.

"It's not for the defendant to say the plaintiff held it in trust, held it as a nominee...that he was not accountable to pay..."

"The transfer was valid. He was the registered owner, legally, and [it was] common for nominees to transfer shares to [their] principals; it's not for defendant to say no."

"If such a case, defendant still liable to pay for the purchase price as agreed upon for the transfer of shares at the material time," Ahmad concluded.

The nexus between Umno and certain conglomerates has been revealed in the court hearing that started in August this year involving the past shareholders of Realmild, the shadowy company that took over media giant The New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Bhd in 1993, and Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB).













 

GE13: Are Chinese Malaysians mostly rooting for the opposition?

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 08:59 PM PDT

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/DAP-crowd-ceramah-Sarawak-election.jpg 

(Bernama) - Many have been quick to generalise that almost all Chinese voters in the country will root for opposition candidates. But an in-depth look into the issue indicates that this is not entirely the true picture. 

In the 2008 general election, BN lost its two-third majority in the Dewan Rakyat, and one of the main arguments for this was that a sizeable number of Chinese voters supported the opposition coalition of PKR-DAP-PAS.     

Political observers say this trend had started five years earlier in Kedah, Penang, Selangor and the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and spread to Sarawak in the 2011 state election where BN lost 13 state seats, all Chinese-majority seats, to DAP.  
 
There are now arguments that this trend may even spread to Johor, so far the bastion of support for the BN, because urban Chinese have turned out in large numbers at opposition political gatherings. The DAP is making a major onslaught there this time.   
 
In view of these developments, many have been quick to generalise that almost all Chinese voters in the country will root for opposition candidates. But an in-depth look into the issue indicates that this is not entirely the true picture. 
 
Rita Sim, co-founder of the Centre for Strategic Engagement, said most urbanites – Chinese, Malays and Indians included – appeared to be yearning for change and tend to look at the Opposition.  
 
She discerned that even middle-class Malays in the urban areas have shifted their attention away from BN. 
 
In view of the trend towards change and perception held by most urban residents, Sim said, the Chinese, being mostly urbanites, had also been lumped as opposition sympathisers.  
 
Sim explained that the opposition parties were harping on issues that connected well with the urban voters. 
 
"There are also urban Chinese voters who support the BN. But, these people don't openly state their support," she said. 
 
Political observers say that not many have the gumption like actress Datuk Michelle Yeoh who had openly pledged her support for BN and even called on Malaysians to give caretaker Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak a strong mandate. 
 
Chinese support for BN still reasonable
 
Political party workers explained that three main factors could influence the decision of the voters. One is the type of constituency, whether urban, semi-urban or rural; the other is the ethnic composition of voters in the constituency; and the third, the choice of candidates.  
 
Political analysts say that Chinese support for BN is still at a reasonable level even though they only form between 20% and 30% of the voters in most constituencies, like Bagan Datoh, Sungai Siput, Sembrong and Tambun.  
 
"For example, in the predominantly Malay parliamentary constituency of Tambun located in Ipoh, a DAP stronghold, incumbent Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah is extremely popular with the Chinese voters," said a party insider.  
 
Another example is the Sungai Siput parliamentary seat where former MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu enjoyed good support from the Chinese. 
 
Samy Vellu's defeat there in 2008 was due to the fact that he lost a quarter of the Malay votes and almost 70% of the Indian votes while the level of support from the Chinese voters remained almost the same as in 2004.  
 
Similarly, in the Kuala Terengganu by-election in early 2009, the first by-election after the political tsunami of 2008, Chinese voters support for BN increased although the party lost the parliamentary seat. 
 
"In Terengganu, we still rely on the strong Chinese support. We do have PKR and DAP contesting there but their effect (on the Chinese) is not that good. Our local support is still strong, (it is) different from some other states on the west coast, northern Peninsular Malaysia and in the Klang Valley," said state MCA chairman Datuk Toh Chin Yaw.  
 
Candidates' personal touch
 
He explained that the choice of candidates and their personal touch played a critical role in deciding the winner.  
 
Toh stressed that as such one could not simply generalise the so-called general sentiment said to be running through the Chinese community.  
 
Toh's reasoning may perhaps explain BN's ability to retain the Kampar parliamentary seat in Perak in 2008 despite the fact that 60% of the voters there were Chinese and there was strong sentiment against BN then.  
 
Kampar is located in the Kinta Valley, an area known as DAP's stronghold. But BN's candidate from MCA, Datuk Lee Chee Leong, managed to win with a majority of 2,697 votes even though 60% of the voters were Chinese. 
 
"He won mainly due to his personal touch and humble approach. He served the constituency well. That's why the voters still gave him their support," said MCA Youth deputy chief Datuk Mah Hang Soon, who was also the sole BN candidate from MCA to have won the state seat of Chenderiang in Perak in 2008.   
 
A mistaken notion that Chinese are mostly pro-opposition
 
MCA's strategist and Central Committee member Datuk Ti Lian Ker believes that the mistaken notion that the Chinese are mostly for the opposition is merely spread by the DAP to influence the Chinese voters.  
 
"Basically, they (DAP) talk about change in the hope to convince the Chinese voters that they can make a big difference with their votes when in fact the Malay and Indian votes are still with the BN.  
 
"In any democratic country, there is always a 20% to 30% of core voter support for either side. So, in this case, there is still a core of 20%-30% Chinese support from MCA members for the BN," he said. 
 
Ti therefore believed that the trick is to zero in on the estimated 30 plus to 40% of the undecided or "fence-sitters".  

With polling in the GE13 set for Sunday, the notion that the Chinese electorate is pro-opposition may prove to be not true at all.   

The Malaysian Election: A Tale of Two States

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 08:46 PM PDT

http://www.abc.net.au/news/image/976956-3x2-340x227.jpg 

(ABC) - Sabah and Sarawak are famous for rainforest retreats and the endangered orangutan, but they could also hold the key to power when Malaysians go to the polls on May 5.

Battleground Sarawak.

Malaysia's opposition party is hoping to tap into Indigenous voters in Sarawak to help jostle the ruling party out of power.

The states of Sabah and Sarawak were given more national seats than any other state when Malaysia became a federation in 1963 to entice the regions to join, and the states could decide the outcome of the election.

Dr Jenri Amir, from the University of Malaysia, says there are 31 seats up for grabs in Sarawak.

"It's very important for the Prime Minister (Najib Razak) to ensure they win more than 20 seats in Sarawak, to ensure they can win the Federal Government," he said.

The seats have traditionally fallen the way of the ruling coalition - Barisan Nasional.

The Indigenous vote

But the Opposition believes the Iban people - the famed former headhunters of Borneo - are an untapped reservoir of votes and could change that.

Opposition candidates have been campaigning hard for Iban votes and according to Dr Amir the Opposition may have an in.

In a traditional Iban village everyone lives under one roof in a longhouse, and there are over 5,000 of these longhouses across the state.

"I think the mother of all issues among the Iban voters is of course NCR land - Native Customary Rights land, whereby they apply for this land," he said.

"The government didn't give the title to this land, instead most of this land was given to proxy companies or companies related to the Chief Minister of Sarawak."

The Chief Minister is Taib Mahmud who belongs to the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition and has held the position since 1981.

Video of relatives and business associates of the Chief Minister trying to arrange crooked land deals for their own financial gain has been made public.

 

Mr Mahmud denies any wrongdoing on his part.

"If they are trying to create something, find something more credible, they are trying to frame people like me with evidence that can be interpreted by anybody," he said.

Despite the denials, the scenario doesn't look good for the party.

But will it be enough to swing Iban voters?

Read more and watch the video at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-04-30/an-borneo-malaysia-election/4660122?section=sport 

Ink used on voter's index finger is NOT indelible

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 08:39 PM PDT

http://mk-cdn.mkini.net/625/c4fcfc5622ff6855797c953469eb4e2c.jpg 

(Malaysiakini) - Barely hours after 'indelible' ink was used for the first time in Malaysia, complaints have emerged that the ink is in fact removable.


This is contrary to the Election Commission's (EC) assurance that traces of the ink would last at least seven days on the finger after being painted on with a brush.

One soldier, who had marked his ballot in advance voting this morning, said he had removed most of the ink with water alone - just six hours later.

NONE"Only 30 percent is left, and I haven't even used soap yet. 

"The standard is like stamp (ink) pads, which is not very strong.

"On the nail, it is 100 percent gone. It is a little difficult to remove from the seams. 

"On the skin, I think it would be gone with rigorous washing with soap," the soldier, who did not wish to be named, said in a text-message.

 

PKR vice-president Tian Chua said some 20 security personnel had approached him to demonstrate how the ink could be "entirely" removed with hand sanitiser gel.

Read more at: http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/228547 

Lahad Datu: Bukit Aman to interview Raja Petra over Sulu intrusion article

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 08:34 PM PDT

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-arZ0xNigYik/T8ot27FuH8I/AAAAAAAAE0I/Cwm2Y1Fe2rQ/s400/ePetra.jpg 

(The Star) - Bukit Aman is not revealing where police would record the statement of Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin pertaining to an article on the Sulu intrusion in Lahad Datu.

"We cannot reveal which country we intend to interview him as it might jeopardize our investigations.

"We are recording his statement pertaining to individual or groups involved in the Lahad Datu intrusion," Federal CID director Comm Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Zinin told The Star.

It is learnt that Raja Petra, now living in exile in the United Kingdom, had flown to another country. 

What it all boils down to (UPDATED with Chinese Translation)

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 06:25 PM PDT

Now, if I were to bet RM100,000 on Pakatan Rakyat winning more than 100 seats, I might most likely win RM100,000. However, if I were to bet RM100,000 on Pakatan Rakyat NOT winning 100 seats, then I might lose my RM100,000 but, if I win, I will win RM1 million.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

The graphics below from The Malaysian Insider are very interesting. Malaysians understand pictures better than long cheong hei pieces so maybe you can look at those graphics to understand what is going to happen this Sunday, 5th May 2013.

Umno is contesting 120 out of the 222 parliamentary seats. The non-Umno parties in Barisan Nasional are contesting the balance 102 (60 in West Malaysia, 11 in Sabah, 31 in Sarawak, and 1 independent/Ibrahim Ali).

Assuming the 60 non-Umno/Barisan Nasional candidates in West Malaysia are going to get reduced to just 5 (MCA only), then Umno must win at least 70 of the 105 seats in West Malaysia.

That would give Barisan Nasional a total of 75 out of the 165 parliamentary seats in West Malaysia while Pakatan Rakyat would have 90 seats.

Then Umno needs to win another 10 seats in Sabah (losing 5) to make it a total of 85 seats.

Then the non-Umno/Barisan Nasional candidates in Sabah must deliver at least 6 seats (losing 5) and this would give the opposition 10 parliamentary seats in Sabah with Barisan Nasional controlling 16 of the 26 seats.

PBB in Sarawak must deliver 12 seats with another 12 from the other Sarawak coalition members giving Barisan Nasional a total of 24 seats and the opposition 7.

Hence the non-Umno/Barisan Nasional candidates in East Malaysia will deliver 30 seats combined to add to Umno's 85 to make it a total of 115, with 107 seats going to Pakatan Rakyat

That is what the Chinese bookies are giving Pakatan Rakyat, more than 100 parliamentary seats.

And if you bet on Pakatan Rakyat NOT winning more than 100 parliamentary seats and they do not, then you will walk away with RM10 for every Ringgit that you bet, odds of ten to one.

Good money, no, if Pakatan Rakyat does not win more than 100 seats?

Now, if I were to bet RM100,000 on Pakatan Rakyat winning more than 100 seats, I might most likely win RM100,000. However, if I were to bet RM100,000 on Pakatan Rakyat NOT winning 100 seats, then I might lose my RM100,000 but, if I win, I will win RM1 million.

Hmm…if I were a gambling man which do you think I would bet on?

***************************

归根究底

现在,如果我下注10万块钱,赌民联会赢多过100席的话,那我赢得10万块钱的机会会很大。无论如何,如果我把那10万赌在民联不会赢的话,虽然说我输的机会很大,但如果我赢的话,我就会获得100万。

原文:Raja Petra Kamarudin

译文:方宙

 

以上大马内幕者刊登的图表是很有意思的。比起'长气'的文章,大马人一般会更容易看得懂图表,所以你可以看看这些图表来更清楚地了解这个星期日到底会发生什么事情。

这次在所有222个国席当中,巫统会在120个国席竞选(西马105席,沙巴15席)。而剩余的102个将会由非巫统的国阵成员党竞选(西马60席,沙巴11席,砂劳越31席,独立人士/土权会的伊不拉欣阿里1席)

假使西马60席的非巫统国阵候选人只输剩5席(其他都输光,只有马华胜出5席),那巫统就必须从西马的105席中赢得70席。那既代表,西马165席当中,国阵只胜出75席,而民联90席。

巫统然后在沙巴的15席当中赢得10席,现在国阵就有85席。非巫统的国阵候选人再赢多6席(输掉5席),那国阵在沙巴26个国席中就会控制16个,其他10个则归民联。

砂劳越的PBB必须胜出12席,再配合其他成员党的12席,那国阵在砂劳越就会牢控24席,而民联只赢得7席。

既是说,东马的非巫统国阵候选人必须交出30个议席,加上巫统自己本身的80+5席,那他们的总数会是115席,对垒民联的107席。

这就是华人卜基开给民联的,他们认为民联将会赢多过100个国席。

如果你赌民联不会胜多过100个国席的话,那你的赔率会是1赔10,即你下1块钱注,庄家赔你10块钱。

如果民联真的赢少过100席的话,那你将会赢得很多钱,不是吗?

现在,如果我下注10万块钱,赌民联会赢多过100席的话,那我赢得10万块钱的机会会很大。无论如何,如果我把那10万赌在民联不会赢的话,虽然说我输的机会很大,但如果我赢的话,我就会获得100万。

哼。。。如果我是名赌徒的话,你们猜我会下哪个注呢?

 

Where are the swing voters?

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 05:24 PM PDT

When the opinion poll showed that the BN and Pakatan Rakyat are well-matched in strength, I must again stress that if the poll is accurate, the final decision of the 9% middle voters can indeed affect the outcome of the election and play the role of the last straw. The question is, who can tell Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim where the middle voters are?

Lim Mun Fah, Sin Chew Daily

On the sixth day before the general election, the BN and Pakatan Rakyat have basically completed their respective deployments to consolidate their basic support. It is expected that the following strategy would focus on fighting for the support of middle voters.

Some people asked whether there are still middle voters at this stage.

Theoretically, middle voters exist until votes are cast. However, as the polling day is approaching, the number of middle voters will gradually decrease. The latest opinion poll of the Universiti Malaya Centre for Democracy and Elections (UMCEDEL) has reflected such a phenomenon. Compared to March, the number of middle voters has fallen by 6% to 9%, with most of them Malays.

If the poll is credible, it has then conveyed an important message, namely the 9% middle voters is going to be the final kingmaker of the 13th general election.

When it comes to the key role of middle voters, the most commonly known would be the Median Voter Theorem. According to the theory, if there is only two candidates with well-matched basic support in an election, the campaign strategies of the candidates must focus on middle voters to gain more votes.

When it comes to implementation, however, there is no absolute standard to define "middle" line. Moreover, there are more than one election issue and thus, it is not easy to accurately strike the balance and meet the expectations of middle voters.

Moreover, even middle voters can be divided into different groups according to their racial identities, family backgrounds, education levels and political awareness.

As I know, middle voters are not necessarily fence-sitters with no political stand or party preference. Instead, they might be members of a political party without a strong party spirit and are not willing to be controlled by the party. Therefore, they insist to be independent voters.

Of course, there are also middle voters who have no political party preference. They are well-educated and reject blind obedience. They can think rationally before making prudent judgement. They refuse to blindly follow and thus, are more careful in making comparison in terms of political platform and election manifesto of various parties, while observing the words and deeds, as well as qualities of candidates, before making a decision and cast their votes.

In addition, there are also some so-called "middle voters" who are not interested in politics at all. They do not care about politics, and some are even indifferent to politics. Of course, they have no political knowledge, not to mention political ideal. Such kind of voters either choose not to vote or can easily be affected by their families and friends. They might even just follow the majority's preference to vote for the party with a higher winning odds.

When the opinion poll showed that the BN and Pakatan Rakyat are well-matched in strength, I must again stress that if the poll is accurate, the final decision of the 9% middle voters can indeed affect the outcome of the election and play the role of the last straw. The question is, who can tell Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim where the middle voters are?

 

The new media's profound influence in GE13

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 05:15 PM PDT

(Bernama) - Two of the main contenders in the 13th General Election (GE13) namely the Barisan Nasional (BN) and the pakatan pembangkang (PR) have been fully exploiting the new media's potential in wooing the voters.

The new trend indicates that almost all parties and candidates have been building up their public persona through websites, blogs, and social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

Even BN stalwarts like Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Hishammudin Tun Hussein and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin have embraced the new media to reach out to the masses.

On the opposition side, Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, PAS's spiritual head Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat and his deputy Datuk Dr Haron Din, and DAP's Publicity Secretary Tony Pua have become the centerpiece.

Most of the parties and candidates also have accounts at various social sites to relay information more efficiently while encouraging two way communication with the community.

HIGH STATISTICS

Internet usage monitoring website, Internet World Stats () recorded that, up to June 2012, the total  number of Internet users in Malaysia is estimated to be 17,723,000, representing  60.7 per cent of the country's population.

Meanwhile, the Asian Correspondent website () said in an article the Internet Penetration rate in Malaysia has increased by 300 per cent since GE12 in 2008.

At the time of writing this article, the total number of active Facebook users in Malaysia accounted for 13,354,900, the 20th highest in the world while Twitter users numbered 1,128,000.

If these statistics are anything to go by, the Internet certainly provides the advantage for parties and the candidates to win over the voter.

NAJIB THE CHAMPION OF SOCIAL WEB SITE

A brief survey conducted by Bernama found that Najib who is also the BN's chairman led the most liked profile at Facebook and Twitter.

Internet monitoring site Socialbakers (www.socialbakers.com ) recorded, Najib's Twitter handle (@NajibRazak) having the most number of followers in Malaysia, 1,510,127 to be precise with Najib adding about 100,312 followers over the last one month.

Najib's Twitter followers are the 11th highest in the world under the politicians category. Only two Southeast Asian politicians made it to the top 20 , Najib and Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who ranked 8th with 1,709,746 followers.

After Najib, in the same category, it is Hishammudin (@HishammuddinH2O, with 477,893 followers), Anwar(@anwaribrahim, 278,535 followers), Khairy (@Khairykj, 264,734 followers) and Tony Pua (@tonypua, 59,090 followers).

And speaking off Facebook's Fan page, 'Najib Razak' is the second most liked one with 1,633,812 'Likes', after Tun Dr Mahathir with 2,085,034 'Likes'.

Nik Abdul Aziz is in the third place with 917,785 'Likes', while Dr Haron (4th) and Anwar (5th) with both recording 672,546 and 582,839 'Likes' respectively.

THE POPULARITY FACTOR

Political analyst Associate Professor Datuk Zainal Abidin Borhan noted that Najib's success at the social website is very much due to his personal touch in reaching out to the communities through the cyberspace.

"The personal touch is crucial in the world of communication. The campaign through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the new approaches that provide the personal touch when people communicate directly with the prime minister," said Zainal.

"The Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for example, provide private space for any individual in communicating directly with their audience and therefore are highly effective compared with the conventional campaign approach," explained Zainal.

He added, the use of social media provided a profound impact on young voters as they were the biggest users of the medium.

"It is highly effective and successful. Just imagine even a chance to shake hands, to photograph, to sit beside or have coffee with the PM is a big thing, and what more when the PM himself answers your questions at the social website.

"These are the factors that could attract youngsters to BN and subsequently win their votes," explained Zainal.

WEAKNESS OVERCOMED

Zainal noted that BN's poor showing in 2008 is due to its failure to capitalise effectively on the alternative media.

Having learnt its lessons, this time around the BN machinery has embraced wholeheartedly the new media in its campaign.

Recently, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's (UKM), Deputy Dean of the Social Science and Humanities Faculty Associate Professor Dr Mohd Fuad Mat Jali said his studies from 2010 to last March indicated that there is a good chance for BN to regain its two thirds majority in

Dewan Rakyat as long as there is no sabotage.

He pointed out this time around there is the change of heart among the youngsters due to the government's transformation programmes that vastly have benefited the youths and low income earners.


Irrational Voters & Check-and-Balance: SAY NO TO 2/3 MAJORITY!

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 05:06 PM PDT

Khoo Kay Peng

I watch the 13th GE with a sense of sadness and concern. It is obvious that there is a growing irrationality amongst voters and supporters leading to the polls on 5th May. I hope the irrationality will not lead Malaysia into another era of backwardness.

It is sad that voters are so absorbed with slogans and propaganda that all good senses have been thrown out of the window. In this regard, both coalitions are at fault.

On the part of BN, their campaign has been marred with senseless and reckless flags, banners and billboards competition that are not only wasteful but causing great inconvenience to the public. Support for any party is not judged by the number of flags being put up. Candidates need to be persuasive, able to engage on public policy and present an attractive manifesto.

On the part of PR, the coalition's supporters have shown a great deal of intolerance and disrespect to those supporting the BN. This is a democratic country. If Malaysia has descended to the level of an autocratic country, the PR coalition would have gain so much momentum and strength as it is able to demonstrate today. A political debate and discourse should be based on mutual respect, non-personal and fact based.

Whichever political party we pick or support, the motive is the same. We want to pick those who can represent us the best. We should put these politicians to the strictest scrutiny so that we, the voters, play the role of quality bearers. We set the standards and the politicians are expected to meet or surpass.

In a mature democracy, candidates who are keen to contest are often encouraged to serve in their respective constituency for years before being nominated to stand as a candidate. As voters and observers, we should help to moderate, control, influence and persuade our politicians to campaign more positively.

For the 2013 GE, it is important we evaluate these aspects before voting:

READ MORE HERE

 

Pakatan gunning for 12 federal seats in Johor, says Kit Siang

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 02:58 PM PDT

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is targeting a win of 33 federal seats in Johor, Sabah and Sarawak, including 12 in the southern peninsula state, as the opposition pact seeks to unseat the Barisan Nasional (BN) government in Election 2013, Lim Kit Siang said today.

The DAP veteran highlighted a report by Chinese newspaper Nanyang Siang Pau today that quoted BN sources as saying that the ruling coalition would lose 10 federal seats in the key battleground state of Johor.

"That's why the battle of Gelang Patah is to make a breakthrough in Johor," Lim (picture), who is contesting the Gelang Patah parliamentary seat in Johor, told reporters at the DAP headquarters here today.

"We're aiming for at least 12 parliamentary seats in Johor and more than a one-third majority in Johor, Sabah and Sarawak that have a total of 83 parliamentary seats. Pakatan can win 33 parliamentary seats," he added.

Lim stressed that PR was aiming to win 125 out of 222 federal seats, with PKR having the most at 45 seats, and the DAP and PAS having 40 seats each.

"No one party will be dominant," he said.

BN, which has been in power since independence, faces its stiffest challenge from the opposition after winning Election 2008 with the slimmest margin in history.

PR is aiming to decimate the MCA in Johor, with Lim leading the charge against caretaker Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman in Gelang Patah.

Though PR is aiming to win more seats in east Malaysia, the numerous multi-cornered fights in Sabah are complicating its efforts to sweep more than the one federal seat in Sabah that it had won in Election 2008.

READ MORE HERE

 

How to vote based on a candidate’s MENTALITY?

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 02:54 PM PDT

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Here are 10 types of mentality that I would not vote for. 

Anas Zubedy 

Why must we vote based on a candidate's mentality?

Our mentality is the characteristic attitude of someone's mind or a way of thinking of a person or a group. It guides the way we look at things, make choices and decisions, and how we act on them. It is the framework on how we see the world. It guides our interactions and how we engage with our surrounding.  One of the surest ways to tell how someone will behave in the future is to gauge their mentality.

For example, the former US President Bush Jr. (yes the not-so-smart one) is a neo-con who carries the mentality that insist, "If you are not with me, you are against me". As such, the way he ran his administration reflects that mental make-up. On the other hand, Gandhi's framework suggests that we must "hate the sin, not the sinner", so non-violence is the preferred way of life.

Here are 10 types of mentality that I would not vote for.

Read more at: http://letusaddvalue.blogspot.com/2013/04/how-to-vote-based-on-candidates.html 

Higher Royalty versus State Ownership of Petronas

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 02:51 PM PDT

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Whoever wins the next election, the four states will see increased revenue, if this promise is kept. But how will this change affect Petronas? 

Anas Alam Faizli

The oil royalty debacle is perhaps one of the popular components for both Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) as the nation approaches polling day on 5th May. In Kelantan, the "R" for "royalty" movement has in fact been proliferating, especially amongst PR supporters. For years, we have seen the fight for royalty highlighted by the four producing states, namely Terengganu, Kelantan, Sabah and Sarawak. While Kelantan continues with its ongoing battle for legitimacy of its claims under the Petroleum Development Act 1974, Sabah and Sarawak local dailies have been putting forth their plight for a bigger than 5% share over oil and gas incomes.

In an unprecedented move, PR in its Buku Jingga launched in December 2010 proposed an increase of oil royalty contributions from Petronas to state governments from 5% to 20%. This is again reiterated in its election manifesto. Upping the ante, BN too in its recently-launched manifesto has promised the same, albeit under a different name.  Whoever wins the next election, the four states will see increased revenue, if this promise is kept. But how will this change affect Petronas?

The Truth behind the 20 Percent Royalty

First, we must know that royalties or cash payout as per PDA 1974 is cost charged to revenues, rather than a share of operating outcomes. Whatever income Petronas or oil operators get from selling oil and gas, royalties are entitled to the first cut. To illustrate, a barrel of oil sold for USD 100 will see USD 5 or USD 20 (depending on the percentage) immediately taken away as royalties. Only what is left after that and taxes, will be left for Petronas to recover its tremendous capital and operating costs, and to reimburse other oil operators and producers.

Imagine what it means in times of lower crude oil prices! This puts tremendous pressure on Petronas' profitability, which will ultimately affect revenues dispersed to the federal government as dividends. (Note that the federal government receives revenues from Petronas via multiple avenues; including royalties and taxes as the government, and dividends as Petronas shareholder).

Second, based on the above, a 20% oil royalty payment will potentially render many in-place existing Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) unattractive. Without going too much into the intricacies of a PSC, oil operators like Shell and Exxon Mobil having operations in Malaysia, under the PSC, owe royalties and taxes to Malaysia but is then promised some form of "cost oil" and "profit oil".

The PSC essentially ensures Malaysia is compensated as much as possible for oil coming out of its territories, while these operators still makes some attractive margins for their productive efforts. Unless Petronas takes the entire hit from losing a further 15 percentage-points worth of revenues by promising the same profitability to oil operators, the attractiveness of PSCs will be unavoidably severed.

Third, it may be argued an incentive system by way of oil royalty leaves the states with no interest over the profitability of Petronas. This is only natural, as getting a first cut over oil incomes makes it too convenient to worry about the processes thereafter. Thus, states may not be too concerned if foreign operators are no longer incentivized to operate on Malaysian wells and use their valuable expertise on Malaysian oil wells, or if Petronas' long term productivity and sustainability is at stake.

Petronas Inclusive Ownership: Give Shares to the States

The three points above highlight the few potential challenges in applying a 20% royalty contribution from Petronas to the state governments. After all, Petronas is one of Malaysia's few true success stories contributing to a large part of Malaysia's growth. Its sustainability without question is in the interest of all states and Malaysians alike.

It is important to note that Petronas could indeed credit its success to effective management of hydrocarbon resources out of the producing states. Although revenue contributions attributable to domestic petroleum resources has now reduced to 60% of revenues, Petronas would have not arguably been where it is today; if not for the petroleum "capital" contributed by these states to the corporation, by virtue of the PDA 1974, and other enactments entrusting custody of oil fields over to Petronas. Although today, incomes from domestic oil and gas blocks are not the single largest component of Petronas' incomes, other incomes would have never been there in the first place without the petroleum from these producing states.

A whole slew of Petronas subsidiaries, including downstream industries such as Petronas' Gas, LNG, petro-chemicals, and retailing businesses, as well as the inception of local contractors such as Sapura Kencana, MMHE and many others have created a plethora of job opportunities, and positive spillover economic impacts onto Malaysia which would have not happen without oil and gas from the four producing states.

It is proposed here that ownership of Petronas is made more inclusive. Currently, the federal government owns 100% of Petronas. Let's maintain the 5% royalty rate but give oil producing states some profit participating stake in Petronas via non-voting equity shares without participation at the board as to evade a corporate governance nightmare. With this, decision-making and executive matters are still left to the hands of professionals who have done a fantastic job at running the country's only Fortune 100 company.

A 2% ownership each to the four producing states for example, would mean RM600 million out of the fixed annual RM30 billion dividends would go to each shareholding state, while the remaining is still paid to the federal government as the major shareholder. However, how much equity each state will get is for another discussion.

Being shareholder, oil producing states will want to see Petronas as a company grow and maintain profitability as to enjoy dividend incomes from the company. Meanwhile, the dynamics and attractiveness of current and future PSCs and RSCs will not be tampered with.  In the case of oil royalty, the states have no interest with Petronas' profitability as they take directly from revenue.

The bottom line is, a higher royalty and equity stake will increase revenue for the four producing states which is among the poorest in Malaysia, which is the ultimate blanket intention. The equity route, however, maintains maintains the status quo for Petronas and PSC Contractors and still rewards the states, especially the poorer ones that deserve the oil royalty income they badly need. 

Here's another catch, oil royalty cash payments will only exist as long as oil and gas is being produced while an equity stake and dividend payments will continue to be there as long as Petronas exist and do well. Alternatively, as proposed by PR, little Petronas can be setup e.g Petronas Kelantan, Petronas Sarawak, etc which will be governed by Petronas with equity participation in the oil producing states. 

 

* A version of this article first appeared in The Edge

** Anas Alam Faizli is an Oil and Gas professional. He holds a Master's degree in Project Management and is pursuing a post graduate doctorate. He tweets at @aafaizli

 

Rise of young voters shifts M’sia election balance

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 02:48 PM PDT

Young Malaysians are a crucial, possibly decisive, source of support in an election that promises to be the closest since independence.

Free Malaysia Today

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak escaped a direct showdown with a youth when a 23-year-old student gave up his bid to challenge him in his home constituency in the May 5 general election.

But Mohammed Bukhairy Mohammed Sofian's quixotic plan to run against Najib – which he dropped to avoid diverting votes from the main opposition candidate – was a reminder of how young voters are shaping politics in the Southeast Asian nation as never before and unnerving the long-ruling coalition.

He is one of 2.6 million Malaysians registered to cast their ballots for the first time, making up roughly a fifth of Malaysia's 13.3 million eligible voters. That is much higher than the 638,000 new voters five years ago.

Analysts say an upsurge in interest in politics following the opposition's best-ever election showing in 2008 has driven more young people to register.

Their numbers make young Malaysians a crucial, possibly decisive, source of support in an election that promises to be the closest since independence. They are also a force that could blur the traditional race-based faultlines that have shaped the political landscape in the multi-ethnic country.

An unbroken 56-year grip on power has given the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition control over mainstream media and the ability to spend freely in the election campaign as they preside over a period of strong economic growth.

Although a coalition win with a reduced parliamentary majority is seen as the most likely outcome, the opposition says that the new voters are the "X Factor" that could create Malaysia's biggest electoral shock since independence in 1957.

"I know what young people want. They want a voice and that means change," Bukhairy, a third-year Islamic political science student at Universiti Malaya, told Reuters.

An opposition win would bring unprecedented uncertainty to politics in Malaysia, whose government is the longest serving in the democratic world, and herald a major shake-up in five decades of cozy relations between government and business.

Force for change

Najib's government, which saw its parliamentary majority slashed in 2008, is struggling to respond to growing demands for more accountability and democratic reforms.

Those demands are being pushed most forcefully by the young, many of whom get their news from lively independent websites rather than state-controlled media. Many feel impatient with the gradual pace of reform under Najib, a 59-year-old veteran of the United Malays National Organisation (Umno), which dominates the ruling coalition, and the son of a former prime minister.

An opinion poll by the respected pollster Merdeka Centre, released in February, showed that voters aged 21-30 are the age-group most dissatisfied with the performance of the prime minister, who enjoys an overall approval rating of 61%.

"With younger voters, I think the pattern of voting on racial lines is going to be more subdued. Certainly not as accentuated as with the older generation," said Ibrahim Suffian, programme director at the Merdeka Centre.

Another survey, released in January by Universiti Malaya, showed 52% of new voters backing Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim for prime minister, with Najib at 30%.

"Things that are important to them are things like transparency, good governance and corruption. All these issues tend to look very bad for the government," said James Chin, head of the arts and social sciences school at Monash University Malaysia.

Protests for electoral reform and against a controversial rare earths plant, which in April drew tens of thousands onto the streets of Kuala Lumpur, have had a strong youth contingent.

"The activism is not necessarily political, it's simply a people-led movement after so many years of Barisan Nasional rule. It is wanting change," said Khairani Razak, a 22 year-old education major at Universiti Malaya.

Najib has made a concerted effort to pursue young votes. He's cultivated a cooler image, gathering nearly 1.5 million followers on Twitter. The ruling coalition, meanwhile, organized a series of free music concerts featuring international acts including K-pop sensation Psy in February.

More substantively, Najib approved landmark reforms of tough security and media laws in an effort to reach out to young and middle-class voters. But despite his efforts, Najib's government has struggled to shake off Umno's reputation for cronyism and critics say the reforms are more form than substance.

READ MORE HERE

 

Change

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 02:45 PM PDT

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Ask yourselves if a transformation has really taken place. Is your life better today than it was 5 years ago? If it is then by all means vote BN again. 

Krishna M Singh 

About 2 years ago there was a general election in Singapore. The ruling PAP won handsomely. However, there was a clear message that the voters were not happy at how things were being run. The PAP lost a few seats but there was a higher percentage of votes for the opposition. That was enough for the PAP to stand up and take note. The immediate effect was that LKY and a few ministers lost their jobs. And the PAP continues to listen and make some serious changes to their previously "rammed down the throat" policies.

Five years ago there was a general election in Malaysia. The ruling BN lost quite badly but managed to retain a majority in the Parliament. What did BN do? For a year UMNO moved to remove Abdullah Badawi as though he was alone responsible for the losses. Then Najib took over and promised big changes. There have been a lot of slogans and billboards repeating them. There have been transformation programs which have been declared a great success. A lot of vote buying giveaways have been taking place.

Ask yourselves if a transformation has really taken place. Is your life better today than it was 5 years ago? If it is then by all means vote BN again.

For 22 years Mahathir ruled this country. Every institution of government was made UMNO pliant. There was no more fair play. Accusations of abuse were swept under the carpet with the reasons which treated us common folks as fools who will accept anything. Then ask yourselves:

Are the police and MACC working with an even hand and without fear or favour?

Are all other institutions of government – the courts, the EC and government departments working independently as they should?

Has firm action been taken against those who have abused their power or acquired wealth which cannot be accounted?

Year in and year the Auditor General has revealed huge wastages. Has that been plugged?

If your answers to the above questions are in the positive then by all means vote for BN.

For me, the answers tell me that it is time for change. BN is not capable of carrying out any change. Changes will hurt those who are and were in power. Those in power have blurred lines between what is personal and what is official. Everything is being treated as bapak punya harta.

Mahathir is made adviser to Petronas and his son gets the rights to sell petrol at KLIA. Mahathir uses the Petronas plane to travel at will.

Abdullah Badawi is made adviser to MAS so that his brother can bleed MAS selling expensive satay.

Lifelong plundering carries on!

If BN really has been a good government it does not have to give all these gifts to get your vote. We will judge them on their performance and vote for them. They have to resort to these low cost tactics because they know they have failed.

We have to change that. We have to have a new government which will respect the independence of the institutions of government. Power must be in the hands of the people. We cannot allow anyone to force known corrupt leaders down our throat. We can see that from the list of those nominated to run in the coming election. We cannot allow a situation where the people of Kuala Lumpur vote out the BN candidates but Kuala Lumpur is being run by a BN controlled DBKL.

About a week ago a senior customs officer with integrity, who has helped stamp out corruption, was mercilessly gunned down in broad daylight. This is a frightening development where the corrupters are gunning down those who are standing up to them. That is how deep rooted corruption is in our system and UMNO is not the one that can stamp it out.

I also fear that the following will happen if BN comes into power after GE 13:

  1. Goods and services tax will be implemented

  2. In Selangor project Langat 2 will commence at a great cost which will be passed on to the consumers;

  3. AES, which was suspended, will be resumed;

  4. More crony contracts will be dished out so that there is another 5 years to clean out the treasury.

The voters must know that they are getting these goodies from BN for one reason only. There is an opposition in place which has and is mounting a serious challenge to their long years in power. We must always keep BN on edge by voting for a strong opposition. Vote for Change.




 

Election a balancing act for Najib

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 02:44 PM PDT

(AFP) - Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has walked a tightrope between voters demanding change and hardliners resisting reform in Malaysia's decades-old regime, a balancing act that will be tested in elections on Sunday.

The UK-educated economist with a patrician air took office after the ruling party dumped his predecessor over a 2008 parliamentary election performance that was the government's worst in its now-56 years in power.

He now confronts a multi-ethnic opposition that smells blood and has gained ground with promises to end rampant corruption and reform controversial policies that favour majority ethnic Malays.

The mild-mannered Najib, 59, has the advantages of incumbency, solid personal-approval ratings, control of traditional media, and his own pedigree as he seeks his first mandate from voters.

He is the son of a Malaysian founding father, hails from a revered ethnic Malay nobility, and has served three decades in Umno.

With pressure rising for greater political space, the Umno leader has sought to cast himself as an agent of change through limited reforms including replacing some security laws widely criticised as tools to stifle dissent.

But these moves are dismissed by the opposition as electoral window-dressing and viewed with distaste by Umno conservatives.

Caught in the middle, Najib has avoided deep reform and opinion polls suggest he has failed to alter his regime's image as an arrogant, corrupt, status-quo force.

"On reforms, he is the emperor without any clothes," said Bridget Welsh, a Malaysian politics expert at Singapore Management University.

Sunday's vote pits the Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition, one of the world's longest-serving governments, against a three-party alliance led by former Umno star Anwar Ibrahim.

A thin Barisan victory is predicted, but even that could imperil Najib – Umno is used to thumping majorities and is keen to recover ground lost in 2008.

If that fails, analysts and Umno insiders say Najib could face a party leadership fight just like that which brought him to office in 2009.

Najib has seemed destined for Malaysia's political summit.

His father was Razak Hussein, Malaysia's second prime minister and a key figure in securing independence from Britain in 1957.

Najib studied economics in England and in 1976 at age 23 won the parliamentary seat made vacant by his father's death.

He later took high positions at Malaysia's central bank, the state oil firm and in the Cabinet, including the defence portfolio. He is also currently the finance minister.

Najib has moved to water down policies that give Malays advantages in business and education but which irk minorities, and claims to have shielded the economy from the global woes with huge public spending and cash handouts to citizens.

"While some may have voiced concerns, ultimately the party has delivered a bold and wide-ranging set of reforms, which have expanded civil liberties and made this government the most open and transparent in its history," Najib said in e-mailed comments to AFP.

But the prime minister's own reputation has been threatened.

He has been linked to allegations of huge kickbacks in a 2002 purchase of French submarines while defence minister, a case later connected to the gruesome 2006 murder of a beautiful Mongolian woman involved in the deal.

Najib denies wrongdoing, but the episode – one of a litany of Umno's graft scandals – has never been fully explained, and an ongoing probe by French justices threatens to revive it.

Najib's wife Rosmah Mansor is also widely seen as a liability, ridiculed for an imperious demeanour, a reputation for meddling in Najib's work, and allegations of high-ticket overseas shopping forays, which she denies.

 

Heading Towards a Catastrophe?

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 02:38 PM PDT

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Isn't this what the PAS-DAP-PKR grouping is all about? An opportunistic grouping hell-bent on power but opposed to each other. 

Chandra Muzaffar 

Dear fellow Malaysian,

Peace.

I am writing this Open Letter because I am deeply concerned about two trends within the electorate which may have an adverse impact upon the future of our nation. The first is a trend associated with a segment of the Malay electorate, both rural and urban. The second is a trend associated with a segment of the non-Malay communities. If these two trends are enthroned through the 13th General Election on the 5th of May, 2013, it could be catastrophic for our people.

The Malay Electorate.

Some Malays, disillusioned with elite corruption and the widening gap between the have-a-lot and the have-a-little, regard a hudud-oriented Islamic State as the solution. They should ask themselves the following questions.

One, is there any such State in the contemporary world that serves as a model worthy of emulation? Saudi Arabia? Sudan? Afghanistan?

Two, why is it that the vast majority of Muslim states have not opted for a hudud oriented Administration?

Three, why have the people in the world's largest Muslim country, namely Indonesia, rejected hudud oriented parties over and over again in elections?

Four, why has Turkey whose ruling party has an Islamic root, eschewed hudud and a fiqh oriented legal system in favour of a democratic, constitutional, secular system of governance? 

Five, if the mainstay of the ruling coalition in Malaysia since 1957 was PAS and not UMNO, what would be the socio-economic situation of the Malays today? Would poverty have been reduced from 64% to 1.7%? Would there have been the phenomenal transformation of an entire people, sustained over two generations, which has resulted in a significant Malay role in education, the professions, commerce and industry, compared to what it was at the time of Merdeka? Would the Malays have emerged as an important component of the Malaysian middle-class which has undoubtedly helped to stabilise ethnic relations and politics in the country and allowed democracy to function?

One just has to look at PAS's 22 year rule in Kelantan to get an idea of what its version of Islam can do to a people. From its dismal failure to provide jobs for tens of thousands of well-qualified Kelantanese to its utter inability to curb rising drug addiction, Kelantan is Malaysia's first and only failed state. Malaysian voters should have no illusions about the type of Islamic State that PAS seeks.

The Non-Malay Electorate.

If some Malays are under an illusion about PAS's Islam, a lot more non-Malays, especially many middle-class Chinese and some middle-class Indians are labouring under a huge misconception about what their vote would deliver. They are convinced that it would be able to "eliminate ethnic discrimination" and bring to an end alleged "Malay supremacy." Since those who have been pedalling these cliches, have never really explained in detail what they mean by eliminating ethnic discrimination or Malay supremacy, non-Malays exposed to this rhetoric have drawn different conclusions.

For many, the perception is that the Pakatan Rakyat is going to set aside the Special Position of the Malays and the Bumiputras of Sabah and Sarawak. This cannot be done. The Articles in the Malaysian Constitution pertaining to places in the public services, licences, scholarships and land reserves (like some other Articles) cannot be amended or abrogated by Parliament even if the PR wins 100% of the seats. Special Position is safeguarded by the Conference of Malay Rulers.

Publicly, all three PR parties, including the DAP, have endorsed Special Position. However, at the hustings some of the DAP and PKR activists give the impression that it is discriminatory and is therefore unacceptable. This is why their leaders should be honest with their members and supporters. Tell the whole truth. Neither Special Position nor any of the other iron-clad Articles in the Constitution pertaining to citizenship, language and the Rulers will change one iota if PR comes to power. 

Since PR cannot do anything about Special Position, what sort of discrimination is it going to eliminate? Will it abolish the NEP? In theory, the NEP does not exist anymore. It came to an end in 1990 though one of its twin objectives of restructuring society in order to reduce the identification of ethnicity with economic function continues in certain specific areas. Given the nature of this objective, it would be wrong to view it as ethnic discrimination. Rather it is an attempt to enhance national integration. 

1Malaysia

Everything considered, the actual flaws with the NEP are related to its implementation --- its excesses and its abuses. These should be rectified. In the last four years, Prime Minister Mohd Najib has made a concerted attempt to do so. Federal scholarships for students are based largely on academic merit; there is a serious endeavour to increase the number of Chinese and Indian public servants; and their mobility in the public services has improved through some high profile appointments. At the same time, all 1Malaysia ventures --- from its retail trade outlets to its affordable housing programme --- are non-ethnic. 1Malaysia in its concrete manifestation is an all-embracing, inclusive idea. Najib is also paying close attention to the needs of different ethnic and sub-ethnic communities and engaging them at the social and cultural level as part and parcel of his 1Malaysia drive.

There is a lucid message he is attempting to put across. There must be understanding and empathy among us, whatever our religious or cultural differences. We must respect one another. Respecting one another means that we should never ever manipulate each other. This is what happened in the recent DAP symbol episode. Though there was no question at all about whether the DAP could use its own rocket symbol, in the high drama that the leadership staged it opted to use PAS's symbol, rather than the PKR symbol on the Peninsula. Wouldn't it have been more logical for the DAP to use PKR's symbol since the DAP wants PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim, to be the Prime Minister if PR won the General Election? Why did it prefer the symbol of a party whose goal of a hudud oriented Islamic state it vehemently opposes? Is it because Pas has much more Malay support on the Peninsula than PKR and the DAP was hoping to capitalise on its support? Isn't this rank opportunism? 

Isn't this what the PAS-DAP-PKR grouping is all about? An opportunistic grouping hell-bent on power but opposed to each other. If an illusion on the one hand, and a misconception, on the other, makes the grouping a catastrophe, its opportunism renders it an even greater catastrophe.

THINK CAREFULLY! VOTE WISELY!!

With warm regards,

Chandra Muzaffar

 

PAS playing dangerous game

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 02:38 PM PDT

If PAS continues with its 'Islam superior' stance, there is little chance for Pakatan to win big in the May 5 general election dubbed as the 'mother of all elections'.

Jeswan Kaur, FMT

Islamic party PAS cannot distinguish the tree from the woods with its stubbornness in wanting only a Muslim leader to serve as prime minister.

In his pre-election ceramah or speech recently, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang said the party stand was that only Muslims can be the prime minister of this country.

Saying that anybody can be a minister regardless of whether the person was a Muslim or a non-Muslim if the opposition pact under the Pakatan Rakyat banner formed the next government after the May 5 general election, Abdul Hadi added:

"Non-Muslims can work with Muslims to administer this country on condition the prime minister must be a Muslim.

"The person in charge of policies must be a Muslim in an Islamic nation. If he is a non-Muslim, then he should embrace Islam.

"For instance, for the Works Minister's post, if the person picked is a non-Muslim, but he has the knowledge and expertise in road and building construction, we will appoint him, but we will not appoint a non-Muslim to take charge of mosques."

With only days to go before Malaysians step out to choose the government of their choice, Hadi's defiance and acerbic remarks have not gone down well with Malaysians.

But then Hadi is not alone. PAS deputy spiritual leader Haron Din says that hudud will take effect if Pakatan comes into power upon winning the 13th general election.

PAS' move to implement hudud never sat well with DAP, but Haron could not care less and says hudud it is if Pakatan makes it to Putrajaya, regardless of whether DAP is against the move.

"I'm confident that DAP will accept hudud because of its willingness to contest under the PAS symbol. However, this can only be done after Pakatan is given the mandate to rule the country.

"Pakatan must take over the federal government. Only then can we amend the (Federal) Constitution to implement hudud," Haron had said.

Haron, who is the candidate for the Arau parliamentary seat, is of the opinion that Pakatan parties must "give and take" in order to work together.

Whose cause is PAS championing?

PAS a few years ago had enacted hudud (prescribed Islamic penalties) in Kelantan, to be imposed only on Muslims who represent about 90% of the state's 1.5 million population.

The laws introduced Syariah punishments for theft, robbery, adultery, liquor consumption and apostasy.

It is not just hudud. Haron also wants DAP to concur with PAS' decision not to allow the use of the term "Allah" by non-Muslims.

Looks like both Hadi and Haron have forgotten that their existence as politicians is not to serve vested interests but that of the rakyat.

If PAS continues with its "Islam superior" stance, there is little chance for Pakatan to win big in the May 5 general election dubbed as the "mother of all elections".

It is not just the hudud and "only Muslim prime minister" that PAS has set its sight on. The party's "new kid on the block", the former Selangor menteri besar, Muhammad Muhammad Taib, has wasted no time in declaring that Islam is the way of life, saying that all Muslim women should wear the tudung.

Muhammad, the former Umno vice-president, is unhappy that Muslim women newsreaders and schoochildren did not wear the tudung.

"They say Islam, but look at the newsreaders not wearing headscarves. They say Islam, but there are schoolchildren who wear skirts," Muhammad was quoted by Bernama as saying.

Not only that, Muhammad thinks he has "seen the light" when he remarked that albeit its development, Selangor's progress was one that lacked "soul" which had resulted in the (moral) decline among children of affluent families in the cities.

How Muhammad came to that conclusion is anyone's guess. If he blames the Selangor government for the moral decay of its children, whom does he assign blame to in the case of off-springs of politicians going astray, indulging in vices of all sorts?

READ MORE HERE

 

Be Grateful, Go Vote This Sunday

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 02:35 PM PDT

The new media is of tremendous help here. It enables us to connect directly to leaders from both sides. We can now judge better who we think and believe will make good leaders based on our own set of criteria. Likewise, those unsavory characters will have their true colors exposed in no time.

TBH 

How often have you been reminded to be grateful?

I received an email from a friend, reminding recipients not to be "ungrateful" to the ruling coalition for their contribution all these years – education, peaceful life, conducive business environment etc. etc.
 
The leaders themselves have also frequently been reminding the people, as if expecting rakyat to be "eternally" grateful.
 
Yes, Malaysians have been grateful which probably explain the reason why Barisan National had been voted into power at every general election since independence!
 
But does being grateful dictates that we must continue to turn a blind eye to a wide spectrum of issues ranging from personal and communal grievances to matters of national interest that many now blame the sitting government for?
 
In the good old days, controversial issues were easily kept hidden from the public. However, with the help of Internet, issues that would have otherwise remained "covered-up" are bared to all and sundry. Much to the people's horrors, our state and national closets were overflowing with skeletons (not going into details here as many have written about these) with the stench unbearable.
 
After weighing all the "goods and bads", the inevitable happened. Feelings of disdain and disgust simply overwhelmed that of gratefulness. It manifested itself in 2008.
 
All said, it is the future that we should really be concerned with. While none is perfect, who do we think can lead our country better? Which set of party leadership is more dynamic and capable? Which team can we expect to have the courage and conviction to make the necessary drastic changes envisioned and expected by majority of the rakyat? Surely, a time will come when people perceive a different set of leaders to be more capable of leading our country and will vote for change, gratefulness notwithstanding!
 
The new media is of tremendous help here. It enables us to connect directly to leaders from both sides. We can now judge better who we think and believe will make good leaders based on our own set of criteria. Likewise, those unsavory characters will have their true colors exposed in no time.
 
Of course, there is no known scientific tool available to make these precise measurements. Each of us simply judge as any normal human would and we all form own respective opinions which collectively will translate into the result of our votes.
 
So do not patronize us - the raykat knows best.
Stop constantly telling us to be grateful - we have been!
Stop telling us the other side is inexperienced – seeing Penang, Selangor, Kedah and Kelatan, we believe they can deliver.
Stop saying the other side will ruin or bankrupt our country - candidates and leaders from both sides are just as Malaysian, just as loyal and just as patriotic as you and I who love and definitely want the best for our country!
Just tell us and convince us why you deserve to govern the next 5 years.

Be grateful Malaysians. Go vote this Sunday.
 

 

Higher royalty versus state ownership of Petronas

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 02:31 PM PDT

Give oil producing states some profit participating stake in Petronas via non-voting equity shares 

By Anas Alam Faizli, FMT

The oil royalty debacle is perhaps one of the popular components for both Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) as the nation approaches polling day on  May 5. In Kelantan, the "R" for "royalty" movement has in fact been proliferating, especially amongst PR supporters.

For years, we have seen the fight for royalty highlighted by the four producing states, namely Terengganu, Kelantan, Sabah and Sarawak.

While Kelantan continues with its ongoing battle for legitimacy of its claims under the Petroleum Development Act 1974, Sabah and Sarawak local dailies have been putting forth their plight for a bigger than 5% share over oil and gas incomes.

In an unprecedented move, PR in its Buku Jingga launched in December 2010 proposed an increase of oil royalty contributions from Petronas to state governments from 5% to 20%. This is again reiterated in its election manifesto. Upping the ante, BN too in its recently-launched manifesto has promised the same, albeit under a different name.  Whoever wins the next election, the four states will see increased revenue, if this promise is kept. But how will this change affect Petronas?

The truth behind the 20 percent royalty

First, we must know that royalties or cash payout as per PDA 1974 is cost charged to revenues, rather than a share of operating outcomes. Whatever income Petronas or oil operators get from selling oil and gas, royalties are entitled to the first cut. To illustrate, a barrel of oil sold for USD 100 will see USD 5 or USD 20 (depending on the percentage) immediately taken away as royalties. Only what is left after that and taxes, will be left for Petronas to recover its tremendous capital and operating costs, and to reimburse other oil operators and producers.

Imagine what it means in times of lower crude oil prices! This puts tremendous pressure on Petronas' profitability, which will ultimately affect revenues dispersed to the federal government as dividends. (Note that the federal government receives revenues from Petronas via multiple avenues; including royalties and taxes as the government, and dividends as Petronas shareholder).

Second, based on the above, a 20% oil royalty payment will potentially render many in-place existing Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) unattractive. Without going too much into the intricacies of a PSC, oil operators like Shell and Exxon Mobil having operations in Malaysia, under the PSC, owe royalties and taxes to Malaysia but is then promised some form of "cost oil" and "profit oil".

The PSC essentially ensures Malaysia is compensated as much as possible for oil coming out of its territories, while these operators still makes some attractive margins for their productive efforts. Unless Petronas takes the entire hit from losing a further 15 percentage-points worth of revenues by promising the same profitability to oil operators, the attractiveness of PSCs will be unavoidably severed.

Third, it may be argued an incentive system by way of oil royalty leaves the states with no interest over the profitability of Petronas. This is only natural, as getting a first cut over oil incomes makes it too convenient to worry about the processes thereafter. Thus, states may not be too concerned if foreign operators are no longer incentivized to operate on Malaysian wells and use their valuable expertise on Malaysian oil wells, or if Petronas' long term productivity and sustainability is at stake.

Give shares to the states

The three points above highlight the few potential challenges in applying a 20% royalty contribution from Petronas to the state governments. After all, Petronas is one of Malaysia's few true success stories contributing to a large part of Malaysia's growth. Its sustainability without question is in the interest of all states and Malaysians alike.

READ MORE HERE

 

Pakatan leading in Negeri Sembilan

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 02:27 PM PDT

The opposition pact is ahead in 19 of the 36 contests for state seats.

Zefry Dahalan, FMT

Pakatan Rakyat is leading in the race to capture the Negeri Sembilan State Legislative Assembly.

A random FMT survey of voters' preferences indicate that DAP, PAS or PKR are ahead of their Barisan Nasional rivals in 19 of the 36 contests for state seats.

The 19 are Bahau, Klawang, Chennah, Repah, Johol, Paroi, Port Dickson, Lukut, Chuah, Mambau, Senawang, Rahang, Bukit Kepayang, Lobak, Temiang, Nilai, Ampangan, Sikamat and Lenggeng.

DAP is leading in all 11 contests it is engaged in.

PKR, however, is not doing so well. It looks like it will not do better than retaining the four seats it won in 2008, which are Port Dickson, Chuah, Ampangan and Sikamat.

PAS is likely to improve upon its performance in 2008, when it won only the Paroi seat. It is expected to keep Paroi and add Klawang, Johol and Lenggeng to its tally.

The situation is shakiest for Pakatan in Johol, Lukut, Ampangan and Rahang. It is only slightly ahead of BN in these four constituencies.

BN should not have much trouble retaining Palong, Jeram Padang, Serting, Sungai Lui, Pertang, Sri Menanti, Pilah, Senaling, Juasseh, Gemas, Gemencheh, Kota, Chembong, Rantau, Linggi, Bagan Pinang and Labu.

However, Pakatan has the potential to overtake BN in Palong, Pilah and Linggi. All three seats used to be Umno strongholds, but some of the party's branches in these three places are unhappy with BN's choice of candidates for them.

Former Jempol MP Lilah Yasin is the BN candidate in Palong. Umno members are unhappy with the choice because he is not a local boy.

Recycled candidate

In Pilah, local Umno leaders consider Norhayati Omar as a recycled candidate. She won the seat in both the 1999 and 2004 elections, but was replaced as a candidate in 2008 and by the much younger Adnan Abu Hasan. Observers are surprised that BN has chosen to drop Adnan this time around. His service to the constituents is said to be satisfactory.

READ MORE HERE

 

G-men or grumpy old men in a free country

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 02:22 PM PDT

Government men, past or present, are rallying against the Barisan Nasional this time around.

By Syed Nadzri Syed Harun, FMT

Other than the mindless name-calling in cyberspace, one of the surest indicators that democracy is alive and kicking in Malaysia is the number of prominent G-men openly declaring their spunky support for the opposite side in this general election (GE).

G-men could also mean "grumpy" old fellas not happy with everything in post-retirement life. But for the purpose of this story in the thick of GE frenzy, the expression is restricted to the straightforward modern slang for "government men" past or present. And that makes "opposite side" mentioned above as referring appropriately to non-Barisan Nasional parties.

Of course the world already knows about the biggest G-man turning over in Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy prime minister and big shot in the BN government.

He has trained his guns on BN for many years now.

But the streak of former disciplined G-men of the security forces distinctly rallying against BN this time around is quite mind-blowing.

Top of the list are retired generals and police commissioners no less, which shows that, contrary to what some people would like to believe, this is indeed a free country.

Movie star Michelle Yeoh was within this realm when she declared her open support for Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak a week ago. What was wrong with that? But she touched a raw nerve in some people.

At least six retired generals have joined Pakatan Rakyat either through PAS or PKR – former deputy army chief Lt Gen (Rtd) Abdul Ghafir Abdul Hamid, former chief of air logistics Brig-Gen (Rtd) Abdul Hadi Al-Khatab, former chief of staff logistics Navy fleet headquarters Rear Admiral (Rtd) Imran Abdul Hamid, former director of the Army Corps of religion Brig-Gen (Rtd) Najmi Ahmad, former chief of staff of the army Gen (Rtd) Md Hashim Hussein and former vice-chancellor of the National Defence University Lt Gen (Rtd) Ismail Samion.

Ghafir and Hashim (both PKR) are placed to bring firepower to Pakatan's serious effort to wrest Johor. They are fielded in parliamentary constituencies of Pasir Gudang and Johor Baru respectively.

Imran and Hadi (both PKR) are fielded in Perak in the parliamentary seat of Lumut and Behrang state seat respectively while Najmi (PAS) in Baling, Kedah. Ismail, a mechanical engineer by training, officially joined PAS last Thursday.

Cause for concern

On the police side, there is former federal criminal investigation director Fauzi Shaari standing as a PAS candidate in the Larut parliamentary constituency. Former federal commercial crimes director Ramli Yusoff is also said to be a strong supporter of PAS and at one time he was even considered to be a candidate in Pasir Mas to fight controversial Ibrahim Ali, a pro-BN independent.

READ MORE HERE

 

Violence won’t translate into votes

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 02:17 PM PDT

As campaigning enters the final rounds, stories of violence are making headlines in the mainstream media.

Free Malaysia Today

True to form, the mainstream media went to town with stories and pictures of escalating violence in the run-up to the 13th general election. The blown-up photograph taken at night of the scene of a blast in one newspaper was clearly and delibrately played up to scare voters into believing that peace and harmony were in danger of going up in smoke. It was a cheap tactic employed to advance the interest of the ruling coalition under threat of going down in defeat.

The so-called escalating violence is used as a pretext to spread panic that Malaysia will descend into chaos if the attacks spiral out of control. Invariably the fingers will be wagged at the opposition for stirring up trouble. The opposition will be blamed for every blast including firecrackers even though it could be the work of the other side. If fighting erupts on the streets, the caretaker government can declare a state of emergency and call off the polls.

When emergency rule is in place the guns will be turned on the opposition force and its leaders may end up behind bars for causing mayhem. With the opposition crippled, the election will resume but under the barrel of the gun. Voters will be intimidated into casting their ballots for the same discredited rulers. But this scenario is unlikely to come to pass because the caretaker government has a weak case. No government can have the force of legitimacy if an election is not won fair and square.

The campaign is entering the last few laps and both camps are stepping up their verbal assaults against the background of "escalating" violence. For sure, here and there scuffles will break out, which will get "star" treatment in the state-controlled media. The ever-vigilant press will be ever ready to distort, twist, manipulate every incident in an all-out bid to poison and influence the minds of the voters. Any fatal shooting involving government officials will be subtly linked to the election battle. The line between truth and fiction will be blurred to serve the interests of the political masters.

Malaysians are no longer guillible. The story and picture of the bomb blast published in the newspaper was only greeted with disgust and anger. Disgust at the blatant attempt by the daily to create unnecessary alarm, and anger at the caretaker government for using the media platform to advance its agenda for victory at all cost. If any thing, the fear tactic will only backfire. The mood in the country is turning ugly with every passing day and the ruling party is not helping itself with its crude methods of swaying public opinion.

Not a good strategy

The crowds at the opposition rallies are getting bigger and bigger. This is a clear indication that the opposition alliance is scoring at the popularity stake. This also means that the ruling coalition is in deep trouble. Herein lies the danger: the caretaker commander may decide on something drastic to stop the inexorable march of its opponents to Putrajaya. How about lobbing a few Molotov cocktails into opposition gatherings? This can easily be done with the help of pro-government supporters or any bad hats paid handsomely to do the job. It will not work.

READ MORE HERE

 

Country braces for its closest election ever

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 02:11 PM PDT

(AFP) - When Malaysian voters cast ballots in Sunday's general election it will be the first time in the country's history that they do so without knowing the eventual winner.

The ruling coalition headed by the United Malays National Organisation (Umno) is among the world's longest-serving governments, unbeaten since independence in 1957 thanks to decades of economic growth and authoritarian rule.

But the rising Pakatan Rakyat (People's Pact) opposition alliance has tapped into Umno fatigue with promises to end authoritarianism and corruption, and many observers say the vote is hard to predict.

"It's going to be really close. I think [the ruling coalition] will win but with a reduced majority. But there is a real chance Pakatan might do it," said Wan Saiful Wan Jan, head of the Malaysian think- tank IDEAS.

Controlled by the Malays who make up 55% of Malaysia's population, Umno's Barisan Nasional (National Front) ruling coalition has vastly greater resources and a chokehold on traditional media.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak can tout steady economic growth of 5.6% in 2012 and a torrent of populist handouts as he seeks his first mandate – he was installed by Umno when it pushed out his predecessor over a 2008 polls setback.

But the multi-racial opposition led by charismatic former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim is no longer a pushover after seizing a third of Parliament in 2008, tripling its seats and shocking the country with its best showing ever.

With Anwar vowing a "Malaysian Spring", the three-party opposition can claim the momentum and point to success governing four states won in 2008.

It pledges a national shake-up including reform of policies favouring Malays in business and education that irk the sizeable Chinese and Indian minorities and are criticised as a drag on national competitiveness.

Anwar also promises to free state-controlled traditional media and break cosy ties between politics and business.

Sensing the mood, Najib has made cautious reforms including replacing some repressive laws. But despite solid personal approval ratings, surveys show his government's image has not improved.

"The reality is that Umno has not reformed in the key areas needed – corruption, arrogance of power, racial inclusion and a fundamental vision for where to take the country," said Bridget Welsh, a Malaysia politics expert at Singapore Management University.

The Barisan coalition has 135 of Parliament's 222 seats to Pakatan's 75, and a reduced Barisan majority is widely forecast. But dozens of seats are considered too close to call.

The stakes are high for both sides.

A Barisan loss threatens a Malay elite accustomed to political dominance and its rich business perks.

Najib, meanwhile, is under pressure to improve on 2008′s showing and could face a career-ending Umno leadership challenge if he fails, party insiders say.

If the opposition falls short it must confront life after Anwar, who says he would step aside as its figurehead in that event.

Anwar was once Umno's heir-apparent but was ousted in 1998 and jailed for six years on sex charges after a power struggle with his boss, then-premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The episode altered Malaysian politics by giving the previously ineffectual opposition a formidable campaigner with top government experience. But Pakatan has no one else approaching his stature and pan-racial star power.

The occasionally fractious Pakatan includes Anwar's multi-racial party, a secular party dominated by ethnic Chinese, and a conservative Islamic party representing Muslim Malays.

"This election will decide Malaysia's future," Najib said in e-mailed comments to AFP, determining who will "set the direction for Malaysia through the 2020s and beyond".

One wild card is a new generation of voters – 2.5 million of the 13.3 million registered to vote are under age 30 – raised on pro-opposition views that have exploded on Malaysia's uncensored Internet in recent years.

An electoral reform group that has staged huge rallies in the past two years warns it will be Malaysia's "dirtiest" election, alleging widespread fraud by Barisan in voter rolls, which the government denies.

Tempers have flared during campaigning, with police reporting hundreds of cases of election violence.

Economists warn, meanwhile, of long-term fiscal damage from the promises each side has made under their similarly populist platforms.

 

Anwar faces last, best shot in GE13

Posted: 29 Apr 2013 02:04 PM PDT

(AFP) - Cast into the political wilderness 15 years ago by Malaysia's regime, Anwar Ibrahim faces his best and possibly last shot at vengeance in climactic elections on Sunday.

The former heir-apparent to Umno is today its most feared enemy, having galvanised a diverse opposition that now dreams of unseating one of the world's longest-serving governments.

"I can be crazy in some ways, partly because I have gone through a lot," Anwar, 65, told AFP in an interview.

"But I just want to prove that you can run the country with good governance, eliminate corruption… and make Malaysia a mature democracy."

Umno has towered over the moderate Muslim country through a coalition government since independence from Britain in 1957, but faces rising pressure over corruption and authoritarian tactics.

Much of the credit for the changing landscape goes to the mercurial Anwar, whose charisma, oratorical skills and appeal across multi-ethnic Malaysia's racial lines breathed life into a once-hapless opposition.

His three-party Pakatan Rakyat faces a formidable, dug-in foe, yet many analysts say the result is too close to call.

An opposition victory would cap a remarkable journey for Anwar, whose chameleon career has transformed Malaysian politics.

He was an Islamic student leader whose natural political skills caught the eye of authoritarian former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who dominated Malaysia for 22 years and fast-tracked Anwar to the top.

Morphing into a reformist who was lionised in the West, Anwar looked set to succeed Mahathir.

But a 1998 power struggle between them, in which Anwar criticised cronyism and graft, saw him unceremoniously sacked and later jailed on sodomy and corruption charges widely seen as politically motivated.

His appearance in court with a black eye triggered global opprobrium and unprecedented anti-government protests in Malaysia, deeply polarising its politics.

"The groundswell in Malaysian society today is a direct result. Many people became disillusioned," said Ooi Kee Beng of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

Anwar says he was kept in solitary confinement, singing 1960s pop tunes to stay sane and reading the Qur'an, the Bible, Shakespeare – anything he could get.

Released in 2004 when the sodomy charge was overturned, he later led the opposition to its best showing ever in 2008 polls, taking more than a third of Parliament.

His personal travails continued, however – he was acquitted last year of new sodomy charges after a lengthy legal battle he condemned as another Umno bid to wreck his comeback.

Now in the clear, Anwar predicts victory and sweeping change for Malaysia.

He has pledged to root out rampant graft, free government-controlled traditional media and reform policies that give advantages to Malays but are criticised as a drag on the economy and a source of racial resentment.

A former finance minister, he advocates populist social and economic policies savaged by Umno as fiscally irresponsible.

He insists, however, that attacking corruption and curbing illicit money outflows from Malaysia – which total billions of dollars a year, according to watchdog groups – will fund its agenda.

"Just by being transparent, we can achieve our goals," he said.

But Anwar also vows to step aside as leader if the opposition fails to take power.

Anwar's departure would leave the alliance with no central unifying figure, but he says "there is no indispensable person".

"People have to accept that I have given all that I have. I have given a lot of my personal life and suffered immensely."

 

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