- Positive messages from the PAS assembly
- Polls and bolos rule over twerk
- GE14 will be about PAS
- Using Official Secrets Act to ride roughshod over public interests
- Emotionally blackmailed Malaysians desire change but fear to act
- The missing moral compass in our leaders
Posted: 25 Nov 2013 07:53 PM PST
Where political strategies are concerned, both PKR and DAP need PAS to help check Umno in Malay rural areas. Having said that, the relationship between these three countries could present delicate changes in the future.
Lim Sue Goan, Sin Chew Daily
The PAS assembly has reaffirmed the party's stand to stay in Pakatan Rakyat, which is a good thing for democratic politics, especially the country's two-party system.
With the GE13 results not as good as anticipated and with some Malay votes drifting back to Umno, there have been voice within PAS to 'review the party's status within Pakatan Rakyat." Penang PAS even threatened to opt out of the state government out of frustration of being marginalized. With such voices now hushed after the party elections, it has now become confirmed that PAS will remain to work along with its allies in Pakatan Rakyat.
Some of the more conservative members within the party have tried to apply pressure on the party leadership for losing some of the Malay votes because the party has given in to the democratic objectives of Pakatan Rakyat, hence giving up its once aggressive religious approach.
If PAS were to quit Pakatan, BN will easily defeat the individual opposition parties. For instance after the 1990 general elections, DAP withdrew from the alternative front because PAS had insisted to establish an Islamic state. This resulted in the subsequent collapse of the alternative front, allowing BN to easily secure big wins in the coming general elections.
PAS is well aware of the price to pay if it were to allow history to repeat itself.
The two developments in PAS assembly will decide its future directions: the more open-minded Erdogans advocating continued cooperation with Pakatan allies won in the party elections. Mat Sabu successfully defeated his challenger Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah as the party's deputy president. In addition, the Erdogans also clinched two of the three vice president seats and took control of the central committee, the Youth and Wanita wings.
The incumbent Youth vice chairman Raja Ahmad,. who was aggressively hitting out at Karpal Singh in the run-up to the party elections, also failed in his bid for deputy chairmanship.
During his "Rahmat Untuk Semua" opening presidential address, party president Hadi Awang made it very clear that the party would continue to be an active ally within Pakatan Rakyat, not just a passenger, sending a very clear message to all party members.
It is believed that PAS has seen clearly what it will lose if it were to opt out of Pakatan. While going the more aggressive religious way could bring more Muslim voters to its fold, the party will also stand to lose the support of non-Muslim voters, confining the party's influences only on the east coast and giving it no chance of forming the central government at all.
Only if it opts to stay in Pakatan will PAS have an opportunity to take the helm of federal government to fulfill the goals of its political struggles. If the government's subsidy rationalization program and GST implementation eventually brings about inflation and economic recession, then Pakatan will have good chances of taking the federal administration come the next GE.
PAS remaining in Pakatan is never a good thing for Umno, although it is absolutely a good thing for democratic politics. Other than checking the advances of a powerful Umno, it will also ensure that Umno's racist policies will not go too far.
Owing to a split of Malay votes, Umno cannot afford to overlook non-Malay votes. In the recent Sungai Limau by-election in Kedah, Umno has counted on the minority Chinese votes there to wrestle the seat from PAS.
From the PAS assembly we could see that the party has been very ambitious to take over the status of Umno. To the party, it is Umno which has prevented the implementation of hudud laws, not DAP, because the power is now in the hands of Umno.
Posted: 25 Nov 2013 07:50 PM PST
In Malaysia, the term is not "selfie" or "twerk" which should be Word Of The Year but, by far, the overused, extremely popular and pooped out "polls".
"Polls" or "polling" may not be a new word but its place in the minds of the people in this country has been truly magical the past one year or so as elections of all kinds contuinue to dominate our lives everyday.
Even among the Internet generation here "selfie" and "twerk" which have just been picked as Words Of The Year by Oxford Dictionaries do not have the same impact "polls" has had or is having. "Selfie" means using your handphone to take a picture of yourself while "twerk" is a gyrating, sexually-stimulating movement common in today's dances.
I do not like its meaning but the sound of "twerk" which somehow gives out negative vibes is something else. Just by the way it sounds, I could very well use it freely on my enemies as much as they would use it on me. "You twerk!"
But look at "polls". Various speculations about when the general election was going to be held started more than two years ago and it reached frenzied pitch from the start of this year. By the time the date was finally announced eight months ago, the whole country went into a delirium with GE13 (13th general election) which turned out to be a close affair.
The significance of the word did not end there of course because this year alone, Malaysians were fed with all kinds of things to do with polls and elections apart from GE13 -- the elections in Umno, Gerakan, PAS, MIC together with the controversy-filled DAP polls as well as the Kuala Besut and Sungai Besar by-elections.
And look at what's coming in MCA and PKR.
In fact, most of the elections mentioned above have been riddled with disputes and controversies that they remain the talking point for a great number of days this year.
The word "polls" itself seems to be bewitching in the Malaysian context as it has spawned many other words and phrases that have captured our imagination.
One is "indelible", a word seldom heard before it was announced last year that indelible ink would be introduced in the country's election process. It required voters to dip a finger in the ink as proof of having cast the ballot papers.
Posted: 25 Nov 2013 12:46 PM PST
A progressive PAS can replace Umno and lead the Malays.
Mohd Ariff Sabri Aziz, FMT
The only reason why Umno and its allies want the PAS ulamas to win all is because they know how easy it is to run circles around them.
Should PAS ever teamed up with Umno, all Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak will do is give PAS two cabinet posts and that's the end of PAS.
It will be a repeat of what PAS went through when it joined Barisan Nasional a long time ago.
If PAS revere the foremost ulama, Tok Guru they will ensure that PAS never teams up with Umno. Tok Guru will never sanction PAS sleeping with Umno.
What use is teaming up with Umno? For what purpose?
So that the right wingers in both parties can stay under one roof and become racists?
A progressive PAS can replace Umno and lead Malays. Why should it want to extend a life line to a sick Umno?
A sick party like Umno can control the minds of Malays with sick policies and agenda.
There must be something wrong in this arrangement.
It can only do this because PAS limits its own potential. If PAS becomes a progressive party, Umno is finished!
PAS has to play the game intelligently.
As my friend Walla perceptively observed, GE12 was Hindraf. GE13 was DAP. So that GE14 will be PAS.
Now take the earlier statement that in this country our Malays can be the most globally-attuned community member and graft it onto the role that PAS can play towards total success in GE14, and we have immediately a new transformation wave for this tired land.
PAS can also do the same to dignify all life again. People should not be corrupted about their needs.
Posted: 25 Nov 2013 10:44 AM PST
Our Umno-dominated, Barisan Nasional-led government, no matter how much we "love" it, seems to have a strange penchant for making secrets out of public interest issues, calling to question what it is that our leaders are trying to hide.
Hazlan Zakaria, The Ant Daily
On Nov 21, eleven Members of Parliament representing voters from the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur were asked to sign an Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA) declaration form prior to a briefing on Kuala Lumpur City Hall's (DBKL) proposed assessment rate hike.
But some of the MPs, mainly from the opposition, had reportedly refused to sign the form, citing Pakatan Rakyat's policy of transparency in governance.
Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor and KL Mayor Datuk Ahmad Phesal Talib handled the briefing, which came on the heels of public uproar over the planned hike, which in some areas are reportedly as high as 260 per cent.
The KL Mayor said the proposed increase was timely and justified it by pointing out that the local authority was faced with rising expenses.
This runs contrary to his reported statement during the local authority's budget speech that DBKL saw high revenues, for despite the lack of a rate hike for the past 21 years, the number of properties that pay assessment tax has increased exponentially.
However, the bigger picture here is our government's seeming preoccupation with making secrets out of public interest issues, and the KL assessment hike briefing is not the only case.
Two other recent glaring cases are the Selangor water privatisation deal and major toll concession agreements. Like the KL assessment rate hike briefing, both are public interest issues which for some reasons have been made into official secrets.
The secrecy clause over both agreements made it impossible for the public to know why toll rates continue to rise and concession periods seem to go on forever.
It also obscures why the federal government pumps money into a Selangor water concessionaire and agrees to proposals to raise water tariffs sky high.
Similarly, if not for the protestations of some of the MPs, no explanation would have been had for why the KL assessment rates need to be raised such.
But what is not secret is that the companies involved in the previous "official secrets" are owned by Umno personalities or business persons seen as close to BN leaders.
And despite having mostly Pakatan MPs, the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur continues to be administered exclusively by the federal government without any electoral representation.
Posted: 25 Nov 2013 10:40 AM PST
Malays who are pro-opposition but who are not civil servants face additional challenges. They are denied various opportunities and benefits, such as being unsuccessful in bids for a government tender, having their application for educational grants rejected and their request for government land turned down.
Mariam Mokhtar, The Ant Daily
Millions of Malaysians have spent their entire lives in the captivity of Umno-Baru and the Barisan Nasional (BN), and they do not know any other type of government. They are not used to anything different, so they would be confused if they were given the smallest amount of extra freedom.
Enslaved Malaysians only accept things which are familiar. Just imagine how difficult it is for them to grasp some of the most important aspects of everyday life, such as the rule of law, democracy, human rights and equality.
Reports of a 69-year-old Malaysian woman who has been kept as a slave, with two others, in England, for the past 30 years have shocked the world. It is a story that resonates with Malaysians.
Just like the three enslaved women, Malaysians are victims of emotional blackmail. Despite wanting change to improve their lives and the lives of their children, many Malaysians are repressed by an invisible force which stops them from rejecting Umno-Baru.
The rakyat, principally the Malay community, has been brainwashed into thinking that only Umno-Baru can "save" them, protect their way of life, their rulers, their language and their religion. They are told that a vote for the opposition will lead to a nation ruled and dominated by Chinese and Christians, whilst Malays will become beggars.
Details are sketchy, but the three London women were beaten and emotionally manipulated by the suspects, a married couple from Tanzania and India. The women were rescued when one of them watched a television programme and contacted the Freedom Charity.
Policemen handling the case said that there was a possibility that there were thousands of others who are being held in similar circumstances. Malaysians empathise. Many of us are like those women, being held captive against our will, unable to free our minds of the pervasive influence of Umno-Baru.
I have no intention of trivialising the London women's experience, but there are many similarities between their plight and ours.
Various British newspapers say that the women were forced into a life of servitude. To their neighbours and outsiders, the suspects gave the impression of being a "normal family".
Isn't this similar to Datuk Seri Najib Razak's representation on the world stage of Malaysia as a nation of moderate Muslims? Only Malaysians know that extremism and nationalist policies dominate. An ignorant and ill-informed rakyat will always pay homage to Umno-Baru. Didn't Najib also say he would tackle corruption, and yet he and his cabinet ministers are allegedly still implicated in many corruption scandals?
The British policemen describe "invisible handcuffs" being used to metaphorically shackle the women, at a house in south London. Sadly, Malaysians know only too well what it is like to be restrained by "invisible handcuffs", with civil servants and students suffering most from Umno-Baru's enforced enslavement.
It is alleged that teachers who vote for the opposition can be traced by the serial number on their ballot papers. This is a means of control and it forces everyone who values his job to vote Umno-Baru.
It is also alleged that civil servants who attend opposition ceramahs face a bleak future. They are denied promotions, unlike their peers who climb speedily up the career ladder. This means of control ensures loyalty to Umno-Baru. Civil servants are not enamoured of Umno-Baru policies, but they are forced to toe the line.
Students who attend opposition marches also allege discrimination by the college authorities. Scholarships may be withdrawn. Student leader Adam Adli faced a severe punishment and was suspended from college.
The subtle message is that if you are anti-Umno-Baru or anti-BN, your career prospects and future will be severely restricted. These are not the acts of a democratic government, but more the by-products of a tyrannical government. As long as we think we cannot escape Umno-Baru, we will forever be their slaves.
Posted: 25 Nov 2013 10:35 AM PST
The opposition must not just offer a change of personnel in Putrajaya but a new kind of real, moral leadership that sets high standards of right and wrong in public affairs and inspires others not to be law-breakers or obedient slaves, but to be responsible citizens who will not fear their government.
Zaid Ibrahim, TMI
Lately, quite a few of our newspapers have had to retract their stories and apologise as part of defamation settlements. The spate of suits filed against mainstream newspapers, including the "New Straits Times" – and the regularity with which that once-august institution has had to apologise – has become a national embarrassment.
All this implies that journalistic standards at the paper are, at best, questionable. Worse, it indicates a dismal lack of professionalism and the abandonment of the principle by which journalism is governed: the dedication to truth.
The basic duty of a reporter is to present a story with as much balance and objectivity as possible. Higher up the chain, editors will always be subjected to the interests of the outlet's owners – and this is true the world over – but a certain minimum standard must be observed at all times.
The problem is that our minimum standards are in the gutter. Perhaps owners and publishers don't care too much about ethical principles and good journalism. Perhaps what's "fair" and "unfair" are bothersome and unnecessary details that clash with political will.
Now, most of us know that the component political parties of Barisan Nasional own most of the major newspapers in Malaysia. As such, it's incumbent on these owners to address the present situation which is, to put it mildly, deplorable.
Journalists can't exercise the standards they aspire to if their editors don't or can't let them. In our country today, it has become difficult to write and print fair, balanced, or even accurate and truthful stories without upsetting owners.
Sadly, it seems as if some journalists have had to transform themselves into "political warriors" who are concerned only with the political victory and power of their paymasters. Anything can be justified in the service of these twin goals.
Other journalists don't have much choice. They must follow orders if they want keep their jobs, let alone climb the ladder. One can't blame them for trying to earn a living in these uncertain economic times.
Can we look to the opposition for good examples? Unfortunately, not all their political leaders practise the same level of integrity and fairness they expect from government leaders.
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has so far seemed unable to use purely moral and ethical arguments against the Government in a way that Dr Martin Luther King and Gandhi struggled against gross injustice and dictatorship.
Even Nelson Mandela, branded a "terrorist" in his youth, grew into a compassionate elder statesman who harboured no ill-feelings against those who imprisoned him for 27 years.
Can you imagine any Malaysian politician today displaying even half that magnanimity?
Over the years, Anwar has not been able to inject into our political culture the same values that he accuses the Government of lacking. He has not been able to impart with conviction the belief that, as a society, we must possess core values that guide our entire community, including the practice of national and party politics.
He has been unable to provide the guidance that will enable the people of our country to discover their own moral compasses. Perhaps this is too tall an order.
Perhaps Malaysians are "not ready" for this kind of responsible democratic engagement.
What is Anwar's own example? If you recall, on May 5 (polling day) this year, he tweeted that "PR has won….#ubah" while news spread of a 9pm press conference at the One World Hotel.
Pakatan Rakyat did not win. It was nowhere near winning a parliamentary majority.
Why was he so cavalier with the truth? Why did he say, weeks before the election that he would retire if Pakatan failed to win – when he had no intention of retiring?
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