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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

The wheel has turned for Khairy

Posted: 13 Oct 2013 06:26 PM PDT

Khairy Jamaluddin's ability to take on the tsunami politics of the last few years was a major reason for the sweeping vote of confidence in him to continue as Umno Youth leader.

Joceline Tan, The Star

KHAIRY Jamaluddin showed little emotion even as the feedback from his boys on the ground showed that he was going to win big on Saturday night.

The SMSes were beeping in fast and furious and lots of calls were coming in.

Every single one of the messages and calls conveyed positive news on his bid for a second term as Umno Youth leader.

But he kept his composure.

There were no celebratory gestures or show of elation, even as the numbers edged past the target of 175 divisions that his team had set out to achieve.

His team could hardly contain their excitement when the dozen or so divisions they had considered as less than friendly to Khairy also gave him their votes.

That was when they realised that Khairy was speeding towards what they thought was the impossible – a perfect sweep of all 191 divisions, leaving his four challengers in the zero zone.

It was only when he arrived at the PWTC at about 10pm, wearing the white-and-red Umno Youth baju Melayu, that he had relaxed enough to smile and wave at those calling out to him.

His mother Datuk Rahmah Hamid and wife Nori Abdullah were with him.

Datuk Alwi Che Ahmad, the former political secretary to Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, was in Mecca when he heard about Khairy's win.

His immediate reaction was: "Wow! Overwhelming support."

Alwi had watched how Khairy struggled in his first term as Umno Youth chief because he was regarded as a "minority leader" after securing only slightly more than a third of the votes in the three-way fight in 2009.

But he is now the clear-cut choice of the Youth delegates and the big winner among the three wings.

Wanita Umno's power woman Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil also crush­ed her competitors but had to concede five divisions to one of her challengers – Datuk Maznah Mazlan.

But, said Alwi, a big win also comes with high expectations and big responsibilities.

"He has a lot to do, to carry out what is expected of him. But it is very important that he should not become proud or acquire airs. Humility is important when they give you so much support," said Alwi.

The humility thing aside, the big win will give Khairy the clout to push through the ideas and plans he has for the Youth wing, that is, to groom new leaders in the wing, win over fence-sitters and ensure that young Malay voters remain with Umno.

Moments after acknowledging that he had won, he said it meant that the grassroots were ready to go along with his progressive and liberal agenda.

Khairy will add energy and dynamism to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's team.

He has shown that he is not afraid of challenges and he dares to tackle the Opposition. Najib can rely on him to play that role.

The wheel has turned for Khairy. During an interview with The Star shortly before the campaign started, he described what he had gone through in politics as a wheel – sometimes up, sometimes down.

His first victory as Youth chief was followed by one of the lowest points in his political career.

He said he had spent the last four years trying to rehabilitate his career and admitted that there had been a point when he thought of calling it quits.

His father-in-law and former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who had his share of political ups and downs, advised him to be patient, persevere and stay relevant.

"I've learnt that you have to roll with the punches. You need to be patient because when you are down, it's not easy to be patient. You've got nothing - no influence, no friends, no future.

"You have to wait for the wheel to turn again.

"Sometimes, it turns quickly, sometimes it takes years and in politics, a week is a long time," he said.

There was so much scepticism about Khairy when he took over the wing in 2009.

But he has shown his party that he can survive the tsunami politics of the last five years and the sweeping win is basically about the Youth wing telling him that he has proven himself and deserves their full support.

Besides, Malay politics is such that there is often a reluctance to support a candidate who is sure to lose and that was how the Youth delegates viewed Khairy's challengers.

After a brief press conference at the media centre, he gathered his team around him to thank them and even exchanged man-hugs with a few of them.

That was when they knew that the pressure of the race had lifted because Khairy is not a touchy-feely person.

In fact, he can be quite aloof and some friends even say that he is actually a rather shy person who is not very good at making small talk.

That may be one area he will have to work on if he is to make further progress in the grassroots politics of Umno.

The Khairy team then went down to the fourth floor of the PWTC where the portrait gallery of Umno leaders is located.

On the way down, they came across Shahrizat's team and also the new Puteri Umno chief Mas Ermieyati Samsudin.

That was when the celebratory mood kicked in for them and there was a lot of laughter and cheering as they posed for one photo after another.

But the last and most important photo shot for Khairy was him posing against the backdrop of the former prime minister whose advice had helped him to persevere and wait patiently for the wheel to turn.


Uneasy times for DAP

Posted: 13 Oct 2013 06:19 PM PDT

Baradan Kuppusamy, The Star

Trouble is brewing in the DAP on several fronts - in Johor, Kedah, Sabah and Malacca and even in Perak – as the party prepares to hold state elections in December where opportunities arise for the central leadership to engineer the replacement of state leaders seen as recalcitrant.

This move to exert greater central control is causing friction with the respective state leaders who have become used to the leeway they always have to administer their respective states.

"It's a question of control by the central leadership or the continued independence of state warlords," said a former state chairman.

"As state chairmen we always had greater control and say over our affairs….while we pay obeisance to central leaders when they visit our states but we are the authority in our states," he said.

"But now all that is changing, central leadership is exerting greater control. They are deciding what we do and say and who we promote," he said adding that a "new order" is taking shape.

"In this new order we are all factotums to a central leader and his group of loyalists," said the veteran leader, adding the "new order" is like a business corporation where state warlords have lost their powers.
"State warlords who are used to independence are naturally resisting."

This is the crux of the disputes - some of the more exertive CEM members want the state DAPs to toe the central leadership line while the state DAPs want a hands-off policy in state matters with ample decentralisation.

And tied to the issue of centralisation versus de-centralisation is the standing of some state warlords that have undergone major changes since the May 5 general election.

They fear that their hold on to their respective states have eroded as a result of the changes, and the central leadership, by being exertive, is challenging their position.

In Johor, its chairman Dr Boo Cheng Hau is under attack from several leaders loyal to secretary general Lim Guan Eng for suggesting that a three-man independent panel under party veteran Dr Chen Man Hin be formed to resolve the Kedah crisis.

In Sabah, the party has lost its Luyang assemblyman Hiew King Cheu, who has turned independent after his support for Datuk Wilfred Bumburing as state opposition leader was rejected by other DAP assemblymen.

In Kedah, state chairman Lee Guan Aik, who was not fielded in the May 5 general election, is hopping mad over the CEC takeover of the state DAP saying it was dictatorial because the state committee had been democratically elected.

In Malacca, a longstanding feud between Lim, a former Malacca DAP leader before becoming secretary general and Penang chief minister, and state leaders erupted into a full blown crisis after state chief Goh Leong San quit as state opposition leader, threatening to open the "Pandora's box".

His deputy, Lim Jak Wong, joined him and quit as deputy opposition leader.

In Perak, another long-standing feud again erupted between proxies of Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran and state chairman Ngeh Koo Ham and secretary Nga Kor Ming with a DAP member's Facebook posting alleging the cousins were "lining their pockets."

Nga denied the allegations but the political damage was done.

Dr Boo had also questioned party policies like the Malaysian Dream movement and other policies and had skipped a meeting with Guan Eng and others in Sungei Renggam, Johor, on Saturday night to discuss his grouses.

A text message that he had a "throbbing headache" was sent to Guan Eng.

Clearly Dr Boo was unhappy with the recent developments in the party, especially the central leadership takeover of the Kedah state committee and he fears that the same could happen in Johor.

"His position as Johor DAP chairman is now at risk," said a DAP veteran branch secretary adding if it can happen in Kedah it can happen to other states as well.

In Kedah, the CEC suspended the state committee and appointed Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari as caretaker Kedah chairman replacing a democratically-elected committee, as was said by the former chairman Lee Guan Aik.

While some in the DAP see Dr Boo's suggestion to form an independent panel as a rebellion against the central leadership, Dr Boo's supporters said he was merely suggesting a better mechanism to resolve the Kedah crisis.

"The era of state warlords is over," said another member who is a supporter of the central leadership. 

"We have to work as a team and ensure that the team comes out tops… not the individual. This is the corporate culture the world over," he said.

He said this is also what the delegates want and as proof pointed to the recent CEC election on Sept 29 where all the state warlords were either at the bottom of the list or were defeated.

The rise in infighting between state leaders and central leadership is also a sign that the party was in a quandary, political analysts said.

"The DAP is a political success but it has big problems managing success especially the rise of young professionals and their movement to occupy important party posts," said a political veteran.

"This has upset the old guards like Dr Boo who was used to having his way in Johor," he said.

The same kind of dynamics is taking place in other states where the old guard has to deal with the young Turks, causing uneasiness in Kedah, Johor and Malacca and elsewhere.


What I fear about DAP is this…

Posted: 13 Oct 2013 05:47 PM PDT

The recently held DAP CEC re-election reminds me of the 'bisa diatur' Umno's party elections.


Sweet and sour oranges look the same from the outside. It is only after you peel off the skin and taste the fruit will you be able to know if they are sweet or sour. Many a dishonest hawker have profited by selling sour oranges as being sweet and juicy!

The same with Umno and DAP. For me DAP and Umno are one and the same thing in how they project a sweet public persona and yet conduct their party affairs in a sour manner that fool so many of us.

DAP has achieved much in the last two general elections – achieved through great discipline, hard work and entrenched Chinese support. It has gone from strength to strength winning from a low of nine parliamentary seats won in the 1995 general election to garnering 38 seats in the last general election.

If truth be told they can lay claim to be the leader within the Pakatan Rakyat coalition by virtue of their electoral gains – an additional 10 seats between the 12th and 13th general elections – a feat no other member of the coalition was able to match. But what are they really like?

It took half a century for the rakyat to finally wake up to the arrogance, nepotism and corruption within Umno and when they did, the punishment meted out to Umno during the 12th and 13th general elections was a political disaster for Umno.

I predict that with DAP, the social media will quicken the process many times over.

Politicians who lie for short-term advantage are par for the course. Those who lie when caught between a rock and a hard place are harder to forgive but their supporters may still find enough compassion in their hearts to forgive, but maybe not to forget.

But politician who goes down the sordid avenue of hypocrisy risks more than just their integrity (if there were any in the first place!) and any reserve of goodwill they may have amongst those who are prepared to give them a chance at governing.

Truth is the recognition of realities. It is time we begin to see the DAP for what it is. Hypocrites!

Let us take their latest spate with the Registrar of Societies. All guns (at least those belonging to Lim Kit Siang, Karpal Singh, Lim Guan Eng and their cohorts) are trained at ROS for being the running dogs of the Barisan Nasional government in harassing DAP in the manner they conduct their party polls.

Let us get one thing crystal clear. ROS is not bothered about the result of the polls but they are bothered in the manner DAP did not adhere to their own constitution when conducting the polls.

That all DAP branches must be given 10 week notice is the requirement in DAP's constitution, not a requirement of the ROS. And if this recent party polls did not follow that same 10-week notice requirement to be made to all DAP branches – guess what ROS are going to do again?

Just address the problem

So please DAP stop beating the drums to tells ROS and the BN government that the Chinese within DAP are restless. Why not just address the problem?

Surely party secretary-general Guan Eng must not think that:

  • If all tendered projects under the Department of Irrigation and Drainage Malaysia (JPS) in Penang were awarded to bumiputera contractors (even those not reserved for bumiputeras), then DAP can claim to be multiracial?
  • If 98% of the value of JKR tendered projects managed by Penang state is awarded to bumiputeras than DAP can claim to be multiracial?
  • If Zairil Khir Johari garners more votes in the ROS-endorsed party central executive council polls this time around, then DAP leadership structure is multiracial? Huh!
  • If Dr Ariffin Omar was appointed to the party central executive council and made vice chairman, then DAP is multiracial?
  • If the budget for Jabatan Agama Islam Pulau Pinang has been increased from RM12.5 million during Umno's time to RM64 million in 2012, then DAP is multiracial?

Not bloody likely!

Yes PKR has its problems but PKR wears its heart on its sleeves. They had problems with Zaid Ibrahim and it was out there for us to see.

Azmin Ali had problems with Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Nurul Izzah, again out there for us to see. Anwar Ibrahim cannot tell Azmin what to do? Once again we saw it all unfold in real time.

I say I am more comfortable with the PKR devil that I know than a DAP devil that I don't!

What I fear about DAP is this – what we see is not what it is! The recently held party CEC re-election reminds me of the "bisa diatur" Umno's party elections – done to maintain the CEC status quo.

More truthfully, it was done to enshrined Guan Eng's people within the party CEC so as to enable easy passage of Guan Eng's political agenda to make DAP into his image – a Chinese one.

That RM64 million for the Jabatan Agama Pulau Pinang is just a smokescreen to pacify the Malays.

I am no racist but if you are Chinese, then you must be comfortable with DAP and the direction it is travelling to.

The Malays and the other races have their own take on the situation but then why should Kit Siang and Guan Eng be bothered about what they think. For now multi-racism be dammed.



Anti-TPPA: Debunking the misconceptions

Posted: 13 Oct 2013 05:34 PM PDT

The writer debunks some of the myths about TPPA, and why the opposition to it serves beyond, if at all, the purpose of only these various special interest groups.

By Anas Alam Faizli, FMT

It has been many months since the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) caught the public's serious attention and subsequently brought into broad daylight from the covert negotiations it has enjoyed since 2010. Since then, dialogues, workshops, awareness campaigns, media literature and negotiations amongst various civil society organisations have taken place.

Bantah TPPA, the largest single voice yet far in the ongoing battle against TPPA, has made significant inroads into increasing public awareness and engaging various stakeholders, industry experts, as well as the government to address the potential harms of the TPPA onto ordinary Malaysians at large.

However, there are other antagonists to the TPPA too; ranging from political personalities, special interest groups and even protectionism pundits.

But the TPPA is bigger than that. Its implications are real and will affect real Malaysian people on the ground regardless of political belief, race or interest.

Bantah is not against free trade, but against TPPA; against giving trade partners free passports to have claim onto our domestic regulations and ultimately, our sovereignty . TPPA is neither about fair trade nor even about free trade alone, given that only six of the 29 negotiated chapters are about trade. The remaining chapters are all potential threats to Malaysia's sovereignty and economic development.

Therefore, I humbly attempt to debunk some of the myths about TPPA, and why the opposition to it serves beyond, if at all, the purpose of only these various special interest groups.

1) Opposing TPPA is pro-protectionism

Supporters of TPPA will always ride on the open market promises that the TPPA allegedly offers. Local companies can penetrate the market of the US and 12 other countries and it seems that the benefits of free trade and market liberalization will be at their disposal. A few have analogized the TPPA with a six or eight lanes super highway which will open itself to our local companies upon Malaysia ratifying the TPPA. Compared to the narrow trunk roads that they are currently using, forces against TPPA will be labeled as protectionists who are jealous with the huge potentials awaiting these exporters. Is this true?

Protectionism is frowned upon by many. We read international economics and trade textbooks and we will stumble upon the curse on protectionism due to the latter's role in the Great Depression. While we agree in principle that protectionism was to be blamed (in fact it was the US who started it), it is not a "one way traffic". Opposing TPPA may land you on the protectionist camp (if it really is) but will TPPA guarantee that the US will not resort to protectionism forever?

We should not be so naïve that the US will dismantle its trade protection laws particularly its notorious anti-dumping and countervailing laws. While MITI negotiators are very optimistic about exploring new markets in the Asia-Pacific region, our shrimp producers have been slapped with 60% anti-dumping and countervailing duties by the US Fair Trading Commission (FTC). Is not that protectionist?

Again, we should not be misled by the obligation to reduce tariffs as part of our market access obligations. The US tariff rates on most products have long been low. What deters our exports from entering the US market is not that. It is the non-tariff barriers which make it very costly for our producers to comply with the US technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment procedures. The US has higher standards than us and it is likely that their standards will be imposed on us in case the TPPA comes into force.

2) Opposing TPPA is anti-competition

Supporters of TPPA have been harping on the possibility of TPPA enhancing market competition in Malaysia. While having a regulation that promotes the competitive process is good for the nation, there is no clear link between competition promotion and the TPPA. Malaysia already has Competition Act 2010 which regulates competition in Malaysia and the law does not discriminate between local and foreign companies.

Supposed one sees the necessity of increasing the level of competition in the market, the answer lies in the effectiveness of the provisions of this Act and their implementation by the competition authority in Malaysia, not mandatory recommendations that come from outside the country. Most free trade agreements (FTAs) do not provide for substantive and procedural rules that must be incorporated into domestic competition regulation.

3) Opposing TPPA is a Malay agenda

Supporters of the TPPA are arguing that the critical analysis of the possible impact of TPPA on government procurement only serves the Malay interests. Contrary to this perception, the arguments against the agreement are more than promoting the Malay interests.

It goes without saying that with TPPA, there is a danger of importing the more stringent intellectual property protection standards into this country. The increase in prices of medicines will not only be felt by Malays.

Non-discrimination that the TPPA strives to achieve is not the prevention of discrimination between locals.

The TPPA targets discriminatory practices that differentiate between local producers and foreign producers and between producers from different countries.

4) TPPA will help uproot corruption from outside

Whether corruption is endemic in this country is a question that may be answered differently depending on whom it is posed to. But considering the level of public dissatisfactions over government spending and the scandalous exposes that have rocked the ruling party, it is not unusual if fighting corruption is used to justify the TPPA.

But is fighting corruption impossible that an outsider's help is necessary to make such noble intention comes true. And if the answer is yes, what regulation of trade relations between states has to do with removing the leakages that result from corrupt practices in the country?

It is true that aspects of international trade regulation are prone to corruption just as other branches of public authorities. However the task of uprooting corruption should be left to domestic regulation. FTAs, including TPPA should merely liberalize trade and remove trade barriers.

If the trend is to broaden the scope of FTAs to domestic regulation, it may be good if the high standards of US anti-corruption law be exported to our country. But is that the case as far the TPPA is concerned?

We do hope that there is an anti-corruption chapter in the draft TPPA text. If there is none, should the US be concerned with the corrupt practices by people in the Malaysian government or businesses?



What Asians did without Obama

Posted: 13 Oct 2013 08:57 AM PDT

More difficult, but notable would be for American negotiating tactics on the TPP agreement to be balanced, to allow Asian partners to feel more like partners.

Simon Tay, Today Online 

More attention was given to United States President Barack Obama's late decision to cancel his trip to Asia than to what the region did without him. This is testimony to America's enduring power and the President's prestige.

Focus intensified also because of the circumstances that triggered the cancellation — dysfunctional Beltway politics that has brought the world's largest economy to the edge of default.

Continuing market concerns about the debt ceiling crisis may validate the decision to prioritise domestic concerns. But that does not mean — as some in America think — that there was little cost for the cancellation or that Asians did not move ahead on their own agenda.

What China did received much attention, but it is wrong to see Beijing's gains as being at America's expense. The new Chinese leadership always planned to make an early and strong impression across the region.

Visiting Malaysia and Indonesia, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised to accelerate trade and investment — much welcomed as growth is slowing. In Jakarta, he became the first foreign leader to address parliament in the region's largest democracy and also provided a safety net for the weakening rupiah with a currency swap worth some US$16 billion (S$20 billion).

Attending the wider summits, Premier Li Keqiang set a new context for ties with ASEAN. China now aims to make the South China Sea a "sea of peace" and calm the disputes that have bedevilled relations. No claims were retracted, but concrete next steps identified are to establish communication hotlines, search and rescue cooperation, and an informal dialogue amongst defence ministers.

Beijing will also upgrade the free trade agreement with ASEAN, with ambitious trade and investment targets. The Philippines — vocal disputants over maritime issues — will not be pacified. But with others, these Chinese efforts can be persuasive.


While host ASEAN itself made fewer headlines, this was largely because its journey towards becoming a community by 2015 
remains on track, notwithstanding challenges to deeper economic integration. Some initiatives do bear special notice.

One is the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund that will soon commence lending. While this begins with only US$1 billion, the fund, supported by the Asian Development Bank, can gather momentum to support connectivity needs.

Another initiative is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to tie together ASEAN's free-trade agreements, from Japan to India, and down to New Zealand.

The first RCEP Ministerial Meeting was held in Brunei this year and the effort, which excludes the US, bears watching in relation to the Obama-endorsed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

A third notable decision taken by ASEAN was the adoption of the Sub-Regional Haze Monitoring System. Normally the domain of environment ministers, the fact that leaders signed off shows escalating concern over fires in Indonesia that this year severely impacted not just local communities, but also Singapore and Malaysia. This demonstrates that even sensitive issues of sovereignty are being addressed among Asians.

These are just some of the long list of items on ASEAN's agenda and each may not rank as urgent or earth-shattering. But taken together, they add up to an important signal: Asian regionalism is thickening to develop detailed and real measures.


Mr Obama's absence did not derail this. It only raises issues about whether the Americans want and can be present to participate, or if it will just become an occasional if honoured visitor.

Back in 1998, amidst the Asian crisis, another US President skipped a visit to the region. While Presidents Bill Clinton and then George W Bush did subsequently visit key countries in the region, that incident sparked the sense that Asia should deepen regional cooperation amongst themselves, excluding America.

Following that, the first summit among East Asians was held and, over the next decade, China's influence and ties grew exponentially.




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