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PAS veep contest is too hard to call

Posted: 12 Nov 2013 10:54 PM PST

The candidates vying to fill the three vice-presidents' posts in the PAS election comprise rising and fallen stars, and also a veteran making a comeback.

For instance, Abu Bakar, who is critical of PAS' ties with DAP and PKR, had once lashed out at Nik Aziz at a gathering: "I don't even want to look at your face. I didn't want to come, but I came anyway. You should not impose your views of a two-party system on us."

Joceline Tan, The Star

PAS politician Datuk Husam Musa has always been a bit of a mystery even to his closest friends.

His supporters in PAS had confidently told people that the incumbent PAS vice-president would be going for the deputy president's post in the party election next week.

But shortly after returning from Kurdistan last Friday, the maverick politician announced via Twitter that he would defend his VP post.

Husam had downsized his ambitions to settle for something more realistic and within reach.

His political career is certainly far from over, but his superstar days are behind him. If this was grand slam tennis, Husam would be the Roger Federer of PAS – a big star whose lights are now dimming.

Once regarded as a potential mentri besar of Kelantan, he is now just a backbencher.

Although he is still the Salor assemblyman, he has been sidelined in the Kelantan Government because the palace has issues with him and Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat is no longer up there to defend him.

PAS members are still talking about his belligerent behaviour during the recent Budget session of the Kelantan Legislative Assembly.

Some of his PAS colleagues thought that he might as well have been speaking from the opposition bench. His confrontational style was made more dramatic by the little Hitler-style moustache that he has been sporting.

It was quite ironic because just a few years ago, Nik Aziz had handpicked him to table the state Budget. But, he is now criticising the Budget. Some thought it was a case of sour grapes, others said he is simply playing a meaningful backbencher role.

There is a lot at stake for this intellectual-minded politician in the party election.

A win will give him a much-needed boost, a loss will hasten the end. But he told a boyhood friend that he is leaving his fate in God's hands and he was not going to fret over whether he will win or lose.

There are five candidates for the three VP posts. Apart from the incumbents Husam, Salahuddin Ayub and Datuk Mahfuz Omar, the other two are Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man from Pahang and Datuk Abu Bakar Chik from Terengganu.

It is a good thing Husam is so sanguine about the contest because the favourite to win this time is Tuan Ibrahim, the party's publicity chief and a highly respected religious scholar from Pahang.

Tuan Ibrahim struck a chord among many in the party when he declined to contest for the deputy president's post, saying that the post is too big for him.

That humble plea will probably catapult him to the top VP slot.

Of the remaining four candidates, the one most likely to lose is Datuk Abu Bakar Chik, an elderly and portly politician.

Abu Bakar is a peer of party president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang. He used to be a big name in Terengganu, but these are sunset days for him and no one in PAS can quite explain why he has decided to jump into the fray.

Moreover, he has a talent for being tactless and has accumulated more critics than friends over the years.

For instance, Abu Bakar, who is critical of PAS' ties with DAP and PKR, had once lashed out at Nik Aziz at a gathering: "I don't even want to look at your face. I didn't want to come, but I came anyway. You should not impose your views of a two-party system on us."

Abu Bakar said he wants to be in the forefront, so that he can help shape the party's direction in the next general election.

Translated, it means that he thinks that PAS will lose more Malay support unless it stops compromising on its Islamic agenda and return to the original path.

It is hard to see PAS delegates giving him their precious votes and he may be riding into the sunset like his counterparts in Umno, Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad and Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam.

This would leave Salahuddin, Mahfuz and Husam fighting over the two remaining slots.

Salahuddin is very likeable and his diplomatic approach on issues had earned him the moniker, "Kofi Anan of PAS".

He secured the highest number of nominations and if these translate into votes, he should be able to make it.

His problem is that, unlike Husam and Mahfuz, he is no longer a Yang Berhormat. Salahuddin took a huge risk in giving up a safe parliamentary seat in Kelantan to contest in Johor, where he lost.

Mahfuz, who is Pokok Sena MP, is not an exceptional politician, but mediocre people are often much more successful in politics because they do not pose a threat to others and, as a result, have few enemies.

He also has incredible luck or, as his friends put it, he has a guardian angel looking over his shoulder.

In 2011, a couple of hours before the delegates were due to vote, the president in his policy speech praised Mahfuz for his role in the anti-speed trap campaign and that helped Mahfuz speed across the finishing line in the polls.

Mahfuz may make it again thanks to the PAS win in the Sungai Limau by-election where he was the election director. PAS desperately needed this win and Mahfuz helped make it possible.

Husam's supporters are pushing for him, saying that he helped PAS hold on to Kelantan when he opted to contest the Putrajaya parliamentary seat in the general election.

They claimed the Kelantanese working in the Klang Valley had flocked to his ceramah in Putrajaya and he helped shape their sentiment when they returned to vote in Kelantan.

The VP race will see a big winner and a big loser. Apart from that, it will be hard to call.


Malaysia: A fractured, polarised nation

Posted: 12 Nov 2013 08:10 PM PST


Unless remedial measures are taken soon, young Malaysians who have the world at their feet will move to greener pastures, warns Tommy Thomas

Tommy Thomas, Aliran 

The social contract, social compact or bargain reached by the three communities under the watchful eye of the British imperial power as a condition to Merdeka, was that in exchange for full citizenship, a right to use their language and observe their religion, the non-Malays had to concede special privileges to the Malays to assist the latter to ascend the economic ladder. It was a quid pro quo.

It was a consensus arrived after hard bargaining, and has formed the basis of nationhood. In this equilibrium, the non-Malays were not to be relegated to second class citizens: citizenship was not on a two-tier basis and there was going to be no apartheid, partition or repatriation.

What was required from the non-Malays at the time of Merdeka was undivided loyalty to the new nation. They could no longer owe their allegiance to the mother country, China or India.

Racial differences were recognised. Diversity was encouraged. There was no pressure to integrate into one Malayan race. A new nation was to be integrated over time, but as a plural society. Assimilation was out of the question.

Thus, a united Malayan nation did not involve the sacrifice by any community of its religion, culture or customs. Minorities were not to be discriminated in a system of parliamentary democracy based on constitutional supremacy. In many respects, the establishment of Malaysia strengthened the social contract.

Any reason to celebrate?

But as Malaya completed 56 years as an independent sovereign nation on 31st August, and more significantly, Malaysia turned half a century on 16th September, do the 26 million Malaysians have reason to celebrate? Unfortunately, the popular response would be very much in the negative.

The twin forces of race and religion have substantially polarised the nation. Every issue of public life, however minor or insignificant, is given an ethnic undertone by the politicians and the civil service and glaringly publicised in the government controlled mass media.

Totally absent in the national landscape is a statesman like the Father of Merdeka, Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister, who was prepared to speak for the nation and the public weal, rather than from a parochial or sectarian perspective

Even after the closest general elections in our history, with the coalition governing the nation not enjoying majority popular vote and with the next general elections only due in five years, politicking of the worst kind continues daily. The Prime Minister is not giving the leadership that he sought from the electorate, and which he received.

With a 44-seat majority in the Dewan Rakyat, the Barisan government has a majority which is the envy of many governing coalitions across the globe. Yet, a sense of paralysis grips the centre.


Exciting PAS Youth polls for a change

Posted: 12 Nov 2013 02:15 PM PST

Black hands, animals, famous sons and the good and dark side of social media are some of the talking points in the race for posts in the PAS Youth wing.

Joceline Tan

PAS politician Zulhazmi Shariff knew he would be the underdog when he decided to go for the No. 1 post in the Dewan Pemuda, as the party's Youth wing is known.

What he did not expect was to be labelled "a dog" on Facebook. Zulhazmi had thought it was a joke when friends alerted him of it.

It was no joke and there was even a superimposed image of a forlorn-looking black dog in place of his photograph. He was very upset and lodged a complaint with the PAS election body.

"This sort of thing has never happened in a party election. It is not only about me, it affects the image of the party. I am urging my colleagues in PAS to condemn it," said the corporate lawyer with the rocker hairdo.

Battling it out: (From left) Muhammad Khalil is going for the deputy's post while Suhaizan, Zulhazmi and Kamaruzaman are going for the No.1 post in the PAS Youth wing.

The offensive picture of Zulhazmi was placed alongside that of the other two candidates for the Youth leadership, Suhaizan Kayat and Kamaruzaman Mohamad.

Zulhazmi, 37, is only an ordinary member and although he has been making the news, the real fight is between the other two contenders.

Both Suhaizan, 43, and Kamaruzaman, 40, are graduates from local universities with a background in information technology but the former is backed by the Erdogans and the latter has the backing of the ulama group.

Suhaizan was the Johor Youth chief before becoming the Pulai division chief. Party leaders think highly of the activist because he is hardworking and has ideas.

But he does not seem to have much luck when it comes to elections. He has contested and lost in three general elections.

His most recent defeat might have something to do with the fact that he had once declared it was unIslamic for Muslims to wish Christians "Merry Christmas". A Christian DAP leader from Johor labelled him a "warped zealot" for that.

Suhaizan was ready to go for the top Youth post in the 2011 party polls but the then incumbent Nasruddin Hassan had pleaded for another term. Nasruddin promised to make way for him in two years and persuaded Suhaizan to go for the deputy chief's post.

Suhaizan agreed but lost the deputy's post to Nik Abduh Nik Aziz, the son of Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat. And things are not easier for him two years down the road either because so much has changed inside and outside the party.

Back in 2011, many blamed a senior leader from Terengganu, whom they called the "black hand", for pushing Nik Abduh to take on Suhaizan. The same "black hand" is being blamed again this year because another famous son is in the fray. The party president's eldest son Muhammad Khalil Abdul Hadi is going for the deputy's post.

Khalil is fair, handsome and looks nothing like his father Datuk Seri Hadi Awang. He is an ulama and he will probably beat his non-ulama candidate Dr Raja Ahmad Iskandar without breaking sweat.

But Suhaizan's worry is no longer about "black hands" or famous sons. His chief competitor Kamaruzaman is not an ulama but an ultra-conservative who is loved by the ulama group because he is fearless in defending the party's Islamic agenda.

Kamaruzaman is quite famous for opposing pop concerts and any activity that will lead to maksiat or vice. At the last muktamar, he tried to move a motion to censure the party organ Harakah for not being 100% PAS.

He was the Federal Territory Youth chief before becoming the new Putrajaya division chief. Incidentally, his running mate is Khalil and they are on the way to victory if the Dewan Pemuda trend at the state level is any indication.

Young ulama figures have been voted to victory in the Youth wing at state level. The Dewan Pemuda leadership in eight out of 14 states are now headed by young ulama figures.

On top of that, the state committees are dominated by young ustaz or religious teachers and preachers.

It is ironic that while the senior level of the party is dominated by the Erdogans, the Youth wing is going the conservative way.

The campaign for posts in the PAS election has been the most intense in the history of the party. There has been an unprecedented use of social media, especially Face­book and Twitter, particularly at the Youth level.

Unfortunately, there has also been a lot of abuse and the Internet has become the new version of the old poison pen letter. However, not everyone buys into the underhanded campaign, going by the comments rubbishing some of the allegations made.

By yesterday, the Facebook fan page had issued an apology to Zulhazmi, claiming that the posting was done by a new and immature member. But the page remained unapologetic towards the Erdogan candidates who are perceived as undermining the party's Islamic agenda and sidelining the role of the religious scholars.

"PAS is an Islamist party but you've got to remember that members are also human. They want to win," said a PAS official who has been assigned to investigate the complaint filed by Zulhazmi.

Power or even the thought of power has that sort of effect on all politicians. Elections in PAS used to be rather staid and sleepy but now, everyone wants a party post because that will be their ticket to the big time if they get to Putrajaya.


Are We Being Served by Half-Past-Six Ministers?

Posted: 12 Nov 2013 11:23 AM PST


Kee Thuan Chye

Do we have half-past-six ministers running the country? Well, from the utterances of at least three ministers in the last few days, that seems to be so.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Shahidan Kassim put his foot in his mouth when he declared in Parliament last Monday that the electricity and water bills incurred by the prime minister's official residence in Putrajaya last year – amounting to a staggering RM2.55 million – was among the lowest in the world. And how did he come to this conclusion? Did he make comparisons with other countries?

No, he came to this conclusion based on his own "observation"!

Woooh! RM2.55 million of taxpayers' money spent and that's what we get? A personal observation by one of our top public servants that it's relatively peanuts?

Asked by Opposition MPs for comparisons with the utility bills of the residences of other countries' leaders, he said he did not have them. "If you want the specifics, you will need to give me time to collect the details," he said. Which clearly showed he was simply tembak-ing (shooting in the dark).

But how can a minister simply tembak? Has he no regard for the intelligence of his fellow MPs and, worse, that of the rakyat? How can he say the utility bills are among the lowest in the world – in the world, mind you, don't play-play! – without scientific evidence to back up his claim? Did he pass Form 3 or not?

What also drew derisive laughter that was so loud it could have been heard in Putrajaya was his justification for his observed conclusion. He said the utility bills were relatively low because the country's top leaders practised the "frugal system"! He even added, "I believe the frugal spending system implemented in Seri Perdana is the best."

Er … Shahidan, would you have any facts and figures to explain what this "frugal system" is? And why you say it is "the best"?

Does this frugality extend to Prime Minister Najib Razak's overseas travel expenses in 2011, which amounted to RM10.1 million, and his 10-day visit to London, New York and Washington, DC, in May 2012, which cost taxpayers RM2.9 million?

Is it frugal to spend RM2.9 million on a 10-day trip?

Does it extend to the utility bills of Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin last year being as high as RM964,722?

In the first place, do we need an official residence for the prime minister as big as 17 hectares and that of his deputy as big as 7.3 hectares? Whom are we trying to impress? Even the White House, residence of the president of the United States of America, is smaller than both, at 7.2 hectares.

In view of all of the above, if Shahidan cannot tell us what he means by the so-called "frugal system", what bullshit is he saying?

Read more at: http://my.news.yahoo.com/blogs/bull-bashing/being-served-half-past-six-ministers-145511228.html 

Kredit: www.malaysia-today.net

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