Posted: 05 Nov 2013 08:23 PM PST
Erna Mahyuni, The Malay Mail
I find it quite amusing that we are up in arms over the US "spying" but have no qualms about spying on our own citizens.
We take it for granted, but my dear fellow Malaysians the government owns most of our data, mostly via our illustrious National Registration Department (NRD).
The IC number is tied to so many transactions in this country that it is far too easy for someone to misappropriate it. Credit cards you don't remember applying for, loans you know you didn't take out, everyone has heard the stories.
And let us be honest, why do you think the United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was formed? Merely to make sure the President didn't get assassinated?
Countries spy on each other, the trick here is to not get caught. All a silly game of smoke and mirrors, this pretense of indignation when we probably keep close tabs on diplomatic appointees and staffers when they arrive.
Let me tell you a story of this director friend of mine. He directed me in a musical a long time ago, one he wrote about the Vietnamese boat people.
Being slightly cheeky, he had one refugee reference Tun Dr Mahathir's saying, during the boat people influx, to just shoot them if they tried to land.
The musical was banned from being performed and Mr Director had to endure some difficulties from the authorities. Fortunately for him, they did not think his transgressions bad enough to throw him into the batcave we call Kamunting.
Mr Director refuses to have a mobile phone as those things are notoriously difficult to secure. He told me of this one time, where he was somewhere no one was supposed to know, in a location where no one should be able to contact him.
But wonder of wonders, he was informed that he had a phone call. From Special Branch. Just to, oh, keep tabs on him.
Funny that Special Branch puts so much effort to locate a harmless playwright/director but our cops struggle to catch thieves, rapists and conmen.
We also seem to be so free that we meddle in the affairs of our neighbours covertly or so we think. We did get rather too close to Muslim separatists in the Philippines and Thailand, after all.
Here is the thing: espionage is not going away. For it not to be needed, all countries need to be open and transparent about their dealings, there must be universal trust and adherence to basic principles of ethics.
But when we have a prime minister who says that some definitions of human rights do not apply to us, well, that isn't going to happen any time soon, is it?
Posted: 05 Nov 2013 08:03 PM PST
Tay Tian Yan, Sin Chew Daily
The Sungai Limau by-election in Kedah did not present much surprise to everyone. PAS retains the state constituency probably as a tribute to the late menteri besar Azizan Abdul Razak.
This could also be a universal mentality in the Malay society to show respect to the elderlies. While the contributions of the late MB were disputable, his sincerity, candidness and amicability definitely won him great acclaims in the state. And this has helped consolidate PAS' support base.
One unique thing about PAS in the Malay rural areas, especially in the northern and eastern regions, is that most of the party leaders have succeeded in building up a good rapport with the grassroots.
Ideologies aside, PAS leaders are also known for their relative incorruption, religious devoutness and amicability, allowing them to easily earn the trust of local residents. And also because of this, it is hard for Umno to completely thrash the party no matter how hard it has tried.
In the Sungai Limau by-election, for instance, although BN dumped in a good deal of money to run the electoral campaign, it has still failed to unseat PAS from its stronghold.
Indeed BN has succeeded in halving PAS' majority, but the outcome is still very obvious. PAS has won by over a thousand votes.
No one could have been more disappointed than Mukhriz and his father Mahathir.
As the commander-in-chief of the campaign war, Mukhriz has to swallow the responsibility of defeat. He received endless support from both the state and federal governments while he himself has vowed to adopt the constituency if BN were to win the election. Unfortunately, his effort was not reciprocated by the constituents, marking yet another setback in his political career.
Along with his failure to clinch the Umno vice presidency in the recent party elections, it appears that disaster strikes more than once for Mukhriz. Although this will not immediately impact his political future, within the short to medium term his prospects will not look any better than this for sure.
His father is equally frustrated with the result. He visited the constituency personally to show his support for BN's man there and as an old Kedahan, he was pinning his hope on his presence to help BN through the tough race.
But the old man does not enjoy good reputation there, and his influences have been significantly weaker than anticipated.
Posted: 05 Nov 2013 03:39 PM PST
The outcome of the Sungai Limau by-election bore a sweet and sour aftertaste for both the winning and losing sides.
Malay support aside, Barisan politicians claimed that the Chinese sentiment has softened since the general election. Chinese voters comprised less than 7% of the total voters, and they are located in mainly four PDMs, three of which were won by Barisan.
Joceline Tan, The Star
MOHD Azam Abd Samat, who successfully defended PAS' claim to the Sungai Limau seat, is one of those natural smilers.
He basically smiled his way through the entire campaign because his minders did not allow him to speak to the media.
They did not want a repeat of the boo-boo as seen in Terengganu's Kuala Besut by-election when their candidate said the wrong thing even to their party organ, Harakahdaily.
Azam stuck to the script and let the others do the I-say-you and you-say-me stuff that happens in a political campaign.
Sungai Limau has been what Kedah luminary Datuk A. Kadir Jasin termed an "emotional campaign".
The last time Kedah witnessed a campaign that was as emotional was after the death of PAS' beloved president Datuk Fadzil Mohd Noor in 2002.
Likewise, the death of former Mentri Besar Tan Sri Azizan Abdul Razak so soon after the fall of Kedah had an air of tragedy about it and PAS felt compelled to go all out to defend the seat.
Sinar Harian put it well when they headlined the win as Hadiah untuk Azizan (a gift for Azizan).
But not far beneath the smiles and the celebration over the win is the niggling fact that the reduced majority is yet more proof of PAS' eroded standing in the Malay heartland.
The majority of win shrank from 2,774 to 1,084.
Apart from that, Umno won in 10 out of the 19 voting districts (PDM or peti daerah mengundi) in the constituency.
In the May general election, Umno had won in only six PDMs.
PAS, on the other hand, won in only nine PDMs, down from 13 in the May election.
Their overall victory was largely garnered at one of the bigger PDMs called Bukit Besar where their hardcore supporters are located.
The signs of erosion are visible and it was clear that more middle ground in Sungai Limau has shifted without Azizan there to hold it back.
The Sungai Limau results were also in stark contrast to Kuala Besut where Umno had held on to its stronghold with a bigger majority.
"It is a win for PAS and also a setback.
"You have to remember that this is their stronghold because they have held the seat since 1995. The voters did not go solidly with PAS," said Kadir.
Malay support aside, Barisan politicians claimed that the Chinese sentiment has softened since the general election.
Chinese voters comprised less than 7% of the total voters, and they are located in mainly four PDMs, three of which were won by Barisan.
"The Chinese liked Ustaz Azizan. They saw him as a gentleman politician but I believe they also want to see more development in the area," said former Alor Star MP Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung.
But the young vote was also marginally tilted towards PAS in most of the PDMs.
The battle for Kedah in the years ahead will be a battle for the young hearts and minds.
The Umno side has tried to spin the reduced majority as "a win" for Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir. But in an election, a loss is a loss.
However, as Kadir noted, Mukhriz has given Umno a new political momentum.
His youth, intellect and the fact that he has relatively little baggage has breathed life for Barisan in the state.
Mukhriz was disappointed and the result probably left both a sweet and sour taste in his mouth.
As photographers snapped away at his post-election press conference on Monday night, he quipped: "Should I smile or should I look sad?"
The by-election has been the first real political baptism for the Kedah Mentri Besar.
He knew critics were watching his every move, ready to pounce on any mistake on his part.
He has done quite well considering that he has only been on the job for six months.
Many had thought that the Sungai Limau campaign would be as sleepy as the one in Kuala Besut.
But it turned out to be chockful of drama and incidents from phone hackings to bizarre mannequins with amputated legs hanging from trees to photos doctored to show that Azam is close to Azizan.
No less than Azizan's widow, Puan Sri Faekah Sheikh Hamzah, as well as his political rival Datuk Phahrolrazi Mohd Zawawi, claimed that their phones were hacked to send misleading SMSes – marking the first time that Kedah is seeing hi-tech campaigning.
The PAS win made its way into Facebook in a ticklish way.
Immediately after the results, Facebook was full of jokes about security guards with fake ICs voting for PAS in Sungai Limau.
It was a dig at Pakatan's infamous claims of 40,000 Bangladeshis being flown in to vote in the last general election.
Azam was not the only winner in Sungai Limau.
The other big winner is PAS' by-election chairman Datuk Mahfuz Omar.
The by-election outcome will be a huge boost to Mahfuz's prospects of defending his vice-president post in the PAS election later this month.
|You are subscribed to email updates from Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News |
To stop receiving these emails, you may unsubscribe now.
|Email delivery powered by Google|
|Google Inc., 20 West Kinzie, Chicago IL USA 60610|