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The politics of hypocrisy

Posted: 02 Dec 2013 08:55 PM PST 

Free Malaysia Today 

If we were to have a law governing good taste, it should provide for the punishment of hypocrites who denounce other hypocrites. Certainly, no political organisation in Malaysia has a monopoly on the hypocrisy business, but if we had a device to measure hypocrisy, it would show that Prime Minister Najib went way ahead of his competitors with his recent comment about the pay rise for members of the Selangor state assembly.

What can be more hypocritical than an accusation of hypocrisy that comes from someone who has yet to give a plausible explanation for the wasteful ways not only of his administration and party, but even his wife? He probably thinks the Malaysian public is gullible enough to swallow Shahidan Kassim's justification of her use of the official executive jet. That's bad taste upon bad taste.

The way the BN papers went to town with Najib's outburst makes one wonder whether they have only now learned that hypocrisy happens in Malaysian politics. The rest of us know that it is one of the defining characteristics of political discourse in this country. Listen, for instance, to Umno leaders when they denounce DAP for having only Chinese interest at heart. Often enough, they would in the same speech assert Umno's credentials as a champion of Malay interests and ignore the reality that one of its bedfellows is an all-Chinese party.

As for the Selangor pay rise, we don't know exactly how to react to Khalid Ibrahim's explanation that he wanted the assemblymen to dedicate themselves to their duties and not seek other sources of income. Should we admire him for his candor or curse him for his audacity? How much does an assemblyman need to satisfy his greed? The current salary is already enough to inspire envy in the average Malaysian. And would Khalid care to explain how the assemblymen have been supplementing their income in the last five years? After all, Pakatan Rakyat is all for transparency.

Rather than give piecemeal responses to knee-jerk reactions, Khalid must explain to Selangor citizens how the extra expense incurred in the pay hike would translate into a better quality of life for them, manifested, for instance, in cleaner rivers or a reduction in poverty, thanks to well-paid and hard-working assemblymen. A man of his corporate and political experience should not find it too hard to provide a comprehensive explanation.


Selangor State Govt is Taking People for Granted

Posted: 02 Dec 2013 12:32 PM PST 

With this salary increase, Selangor state representatives will at a stroke, be getting a monthly salary (excluding allowances) of more than RM15,000 that puts them in the top 10 per cent income earners in our society! When that happens, will they still be seen leading the 90% to OCCUPY Dataran Merdeka to protest against the 10% who lord over us?


Dr Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser


By arrogating such an obscene pay increase to the MB, Speaker and other state representatives – ranging from 100 to 370 per cent - the Pakatan Rakyat-run Selangor State Government has taken the peoples' goodwill for granted and betrayed the principles they have claimed to uphold as ethical representatives of the people.


When the people voted in the Pakatan Rakyat to run the Selangor state government, they had expectations of a government that would radically reform economic, political, social and cultural life, along egalitarian and democratic lines, in sharp contrast with the self-interested style of the pro-rich Barisan Nasional.


And now we behold the spectacle of the BN Prime Minister accusing the PR-run Selangor state government of hypocrisy by enriching themselves, and so soon after the 2013 election.


Isn't it indeed hypocritical when the Mentri Besar gives himself a salary that is higher than the Prime Minister's?  


No attempt to justify


What's appalling is that the Selangor state government has not even tried to justify this scandalously high salary increase to the people whose hard earned money will be footing the bill, i.e. the tax payers. Instead, their first response was to wash dirty linen in public by pointing out that the Mentri Besar's party rival, Azmin Ali should have opposed the enactment in the state assembly instead of speaking out after the event.


If Pakatan Rakyat was to be true to it's stated principles, their de facto leader, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim would have apologised to their constituents for the Selangor state government's shameless self-enrichment enactment. He would also assure us that this was some wild aberration of a state government that is inconsistent with "reformasi". Instead, he missed the point by asking PR representatives to donate a small portion of their self-arrogated wealth to charity, money that rightfully belongs to the tax payers in the first place!


Workers have always had to justify any pay increase by referring to percentage points in productivity levels and inflation rates, so how do these state representatives justify such an exorbitant salary increase?


Social equity – the first pillar of 'Reformasi'


How often have we heard PR leaders decrying BN policies and actions that have caused greater and greater social inequity in Malaysian society? And how often have we heard PR leaders berating their members to lead by example by serving the people as Yang Berkhidmats?


Yet, what has PR done to ensure the implementation of the minimum wage in Selangor, Penang and Kelantan in the face of opposition from employers? Given that the government and employers tell the underpaid workers in this country that they cannot afford to pay a minimum wage of RM900, how can Pakatan Rakyat arrogate such an obscene pay rise in such a cavalier manner?


With this salary increase, Selangor state representatives will at a stroke, be getting a monthly salary (excluding allowances) of more than RM15,000 that puts them in the top 10 per cent income earners in our society! When that happens, will they still be seen leading the 90% to OCCUPY Dataran Merdeka to protest against the 10% who lord over us?


Is PR aping Lee Kuan Yew's plutocracy?


Lee Kuan Yew has tried to justify the PAP's fabulously paid government officials by saying: "Low salaries will draw in the hypocrites who sweet talk their way into power in the name of public service, but once in charge will show their true colour, and ruin the country."


With the Selangor state government's attempt to follow this PAP logic, one could well turn LKY's dictum around into: "High salaries will draw in the hypocrites who sweet talk their way into power in the name of public services…" There is no evidence anywhere in the world that corruption is prevented by awarding large salaries to government officials.


Spend state surplus on public health and social services


If the Selangor state government justifies its fabulous salary increases for government officials by pointing to the surplus in its coffers then it is out of touch with the social conditions in the state:


-          Inadequate infrastructure – roads, water pipes and sewerage systems in critical need of upgrading;

-          Overwhelmed public health care system with medical professionals needing improved conditions;

-          Lack of elderly care centres and support services, including access to mobile health care;

-          Low cost housing for the poor and marginalized with adequate space for community activities, recreation and green areas;

-          Effective public transport system for the people ;

-          State assistance for the unemployed;

-          Free/ affordable healthcare for the poor and low income earners.


In conclusion, the PAP government's volte face of slashing its officials' ridiculously high salaries after their humiliating losses in the 2012 general election, should have served as a warning to PR… 

Bujang Valley - A shame for Malaysian

Posted: 02 Dec 2013 12:21 PM PST 

We have lost a major historical site in the name of development. We are nothing but a country that has very little respect for our own heritage yet our government insists History is a mandatory subject to pass.


Natesan Visnu 


Bujang Valley or Lembah Bujang is part of Malaysian heritage. The historical complex has an area of 227 and is the richest archeological site in Malaysia. The site consists of ruins dating circa 2000 years ago. The tomb or 'chandi' reflects the influence of Indian culture in Kedah. The site is the oldest man-made structure in South East Asia. On 1st December 2013, Candi No.11 was demolished by an irresponsible developer. Candi No.11 is a 1200 years old temple. (Source: Wikipedia)


Many scholars and politicians have criticized the Federal and State government for not taking any action on the developer. We only realize the value of the ruins when it is demolished. Despite being a major historical site, the government has not done any major program to promote the Bujang Valley as a key tourism location in Malaysia. We are known for KLCC, F1 Sepang, Pulau Tioman, Mount Kinabalu, etc. Is Lembah Bujang a major tourist attraction? Did the government play the role of promoting Lembah Bujang as part of Malaysia's tourist attractions? The answer is NO.


Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat have failed miserably in preserving the Lembah Bujang. It's a shame for a state that produced two Prime Ministers could not save a major historical site. Government or opposition, the elected leaders have failed to save Lembah Bujang. All past and present leaders should be ashamed of themselves for not preserving a major history site of our country. We spend millions to promote tourism but nothing much to develop Lembah Bujang. Lembah Bujang is supposed to be our very own 'Angkor Wat'.


Our leaders have failed us again. We are a forgiving nation. After a few months, no one will talk about Lembah Bujang. Lembah Bujang will be remembered as a Wikipedia page, photos from the past, and stories from people who have visited the place. The government has made History a mandatory subject to pass, but the same government could not save a 1200 years old historical site.


We Malaysians have contributed to the demolition of the temple. How many of us have visited Lembah Bujang? If we supported it by fueling the economy of Kedah by local tourism, maybe the income earned from the tourism industry would have saved the temple. For corporate companies that spend millions on branding and advertising, none of the corporate companies came forward to preserve the temple. If Air Asia or MAS came up with some tourism campaign and promoted Lembah Bujang heavily, we could have saved the temple.


Talk is cheap. I'm ashamed I could not do anything to save the temple. I wish I had the millions to buy over the entire site and convert it to a major tourist destination. I wish I had the power to transform Merbuk into a tourist town and the income from tourism could sustain the livelihood of the Merbok folks. We could have built hotels, resorts, backpackers lodges, a modern museum, etc to generate revenue and jobs for the local economy. How I wish I had the money or power to do so.


Temple building is a lost art. The artifacts from Lembah Bujang kept the secrets from the past for architecture and engineering. The stone carvings are a challenge for modern construction. With proper research on the ruins, stone carving could be reintroduced into the Malaysian modern construction industry. The architects could use the ruins as inspiration for new age buildings that combine the past and present. Lembah Bujang would have been a catalyst for revolution in Malaysian architecture.


Whatever said and done, there is nothing much we can do about the temple. We have lost a major historical site in the name of development. We are nothing but a country that has very little respect for our own heritage. It's a dark day in our history. 

Malays need well-rounded leaders in PAS

Posted: 02 Dec 2013 11:59 AM PST 


In the case of PAS, the party wants to establish a system of government based on Islamic laws and practices, or alternatively to establish a welfare state for the betterment of Muslims and the nation. However, ideals and reality are two different things. Leaders may have the ideals but it is the people who live with reality. 


Awang Abdillah


Any organization such as a political party is formed by groups of people who share the same ideals, objectives and cause, and has its own means to achieve its vision. Hence, every political party is formed for reasons of its own. The call by a veteran DAP politician that all parties should go multi-racial is definitely not practical and not in tune with reality. Any party can pursue its own cause and chooses its own means to attain its objectives as long as it acts and operates within the perimeters of the law and the norms of democracy. In the case of PAS, the party wants to establish a system of government based on Islamic laws and practices, or alternatively to establish a welfare state for the betterment of Muslims and the nation. However, ideals and reality are two different things. Leaders may have the ideals but it is the people who live with reality. Hence a party should pursue its idealistic objectives within the environment of the real world.


Expectations in an election


In the 5th May 2013 GE, the unimpressive performance of PAS was below expectations compared to its two partners where it managed to grab only 21 parliamentary seats out of 73 seats contested. The big question is, what had gone wrong? In any GE there would be different expectations for the respective contesting parties -


1) Some expect a victory then win, in which case they are likely to continue with their winning strategy. For those who expect a victory but lose, have to do the 'muhasabah' - a general and self appraisal on the mistakes/weaknesses that derailed their expected performance.


2) Those who anticipate defeat then lose have to rectify their weaknesses before and after the GE. But for parties that expect to lose but instead win, need to look at the mistakes of their opponents.


3) There are those who cannot accept defeat. They will use all means available to avert the anticipated unacceptable course of reality. Reality is very much related to Qadha' and Qadar (fate and destiny). A political organisation that cannot accept reality is one that believes in and practices the power of dictatorship and extremism which are both detrimental to the nation. It will sabotage the electoral process by resorting to a long list of cheating tactics in order to change the election outcome to its favor. This was UMNO's strategy to win the 13th GE at all costs by manipulating the election process of the 13th GE to it's advantage. The same modus operandi is expected to be adopted in the next 14th GE. UMNO dirty tactics was partly responsible for PAS' unexpected failure to gain more seats.


4) A third force could upset the anticipation of victory of certain contestants. In a concocted faulty election system, the disadvantaged parties are fighting against the partisan election body and contesting against the favoured opponents! Even if the Pakatan Rakyat could have performed better, the massive fraud in the 13th GE strategized by the Election Commission in tandem with UMNO subversions would trounce Pakatan Rakyat and give victory to UMNO. Hence, the people should realize that the defeat of PR is not so much by UMNO/BN itself but rather in the hands of the Election Commission! The latter only awarded the victory to UMNO/BN. A party can rectify it's own weaknesses but how do you rectify a faulty election system that was engineered by the election agency and the executive government themselves? The options left are to go after the EC relentlessly, use the might of people's power and apply the mechanism of check and balance of parliamentary democracy.




PAS needs to carry out the 'muhasabah' (general and self-appraisals) of its mistakes and strategies.

The party has failed on three counts -


i) Too idealistic

PAS' struggle is more on the ideals of Islam but overlooks real issues affecting the daily lives of all Malaysians. It failed to present a practical comprehensive Islamic system of government and could not provide proposals and solutions to tackle economic and national issues. Instead, PAS continued to harp on the hudud. Being part of the Syariah Law, it is in essence a religious matter rather than a religious issue, thereby not so much related to the day-to-day problems of the people. Furthermore, it is limited to acts of crime which many young people are less interested in. PAS should have presented a realistic comprehensive Islamic system that covers many issues namely the Islamic banking and finance system, the zakat/Islamic taxation system and others, and to tackle many social, national and economic issues that are related to the religion.


ii) Well-rounded leadership traits     

The three great qualities of a leader are wisdom, intellectualism and learnedness. These virtues cannot be acquired through academic knowledge alone, but rather through experiences in life as one goes through it's trials and tribulations. Common sense (akal) is the foundation of wisdom that leads to logical thinking thereby enhancing one's reasoning power to enable him to attain the virtue of wisdom. A wise man is one who understands an issue/problem and makes the right decision. Intellectualism comes from the on-going process of learning and understanding important matters making him an expert in those fields. A learned person has an in-depth knowledge of certain/various disciplines, thereby he is often consulted on these matters. Leaders with these 3 virtues can lead the people and nation to greater heights. A cleric with academic religious knowledge, but without these virtues would not make a good leader. The display of the well-rounded good leadership qualities by the party was not convincing enough.


iii) Religious matters and issues

There are differences between religious matters and issues. Religious matters are specific and relate to the Muslim community while religious issues affect the ummah and related to national issues. Hence, using religious matters to gain support is not right. PAS should not use religious matters such as the hudud law to gain popularity. There are many religious issues that are related to national issues such as the Islamic system of banking and finance, the Islamic taxation system and the role of religious institutions such as Tabong Zakat and Baitulmal to redistribute the nation's wealth. Even national issues like poverty and crime, employment, housing, infrastructure, moral issues, etc. that need to be tackled are related to the religion too. The people want to see how PAS leaders can tackle these issues. But if PAS dwells on religious matters only, then the people will lose confidence in the party and eventually regard the party as not relevant with reality. PAS should revamp the role of Islamic institutions such as the Islamic banks and other finance bodies, Tabong Zakat and Baitumal to enhance the ummah economic position in terms of promoting redistribution of wealth, investment, savings, etc. The standard zakat tax rate of 2.5% (rates could vary) yearly on all kinds of profits, incomes and assets (domestic and abroad) on the rich/well-to-do Muslims, if managed efficiently according to the syariah law could hit more than one billion ringgit per year!


iv) DAP the cause of PAS' failure?

Many PAS supporters felt that PAS' close association with DAP was one of the causes of poor support from the Malays. Thereby, many are calling for the party to leave the Pakatan partnership. However, judging by the voting trend, PAS candidates received good support from non-Muslim voters meaning the latter had no problem with Islam. However, the Malays had hoped that PAS being a Malay and Muslim based party could be the alternative to UMNO, able to lead the coalition like UMNO leading the BN, but it failed to take that crucial role.


We may conclude that unlike PKR and DAP who received strong support from voters of all races, the Malay voters' confidence in PAS took a dip. If PAS chooses to go it alone in the 14th GE , it would be a disaster!

Wither Umno and the Malays?

Posted: 02 Dec 2013 10:51 AM PST

Affirmative policies that favour one race is no longer tenable and given the excesses of the past and the greed of its present leaders, there's a dire need for a change in the Umno hierarchy


For the Malays the next few years before the next general election will be a time for reflection. It has been one hell of a ride since Merdeka. May 13, 1969 jolted the Malays out of their malaise.

It was no longer acceptable that they are disadvantaged socially and economically in their own country and Umno took the bull by the horns with the introduction of the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1971.

It came up with affirmative policies that have since coloured Malaysia's political, racial, social and economic landscape in the hues of the Malays, the Malays and the Malays!

Education was used, without apologies to the purist, as a means to an end – the same end as envisaged by the NEP. Higher education quotas for non-Malays effectively forced many to go overseas.

Like every other government functionaries under Umno's control, education was skewered to favour the Malays and this Umno did without fear, for political power was theirs to use for that purpose.

After four decades the Malays have achieved honour and dishonour, fame and infamy, greatness and notoriety in almost everything that they have attempted to do for themselves, with or without Umno.

Today the biggest banks, the largest insurance companies, the most diverse of corporate endeavours, the most successful of business undertakings, the most powerful of political organisation, the most astute of politicians and the most dominant of race are all Malays.

The Malays are also the most arrogant, the most corrupt of civil servants, businessmen and politicians, they have the most horrendous of lost and abused business opportunities, the least honest of leaders, the most adept of practitioners at cronyism, nepotism and money politics.

They are committed to the maxim that the ends justify the means, and their use of race and religion to advance their ethnic interest is legendary – fueled no doubt by the abundance of political power at their disposal.

That is the price the Malays have paid for their dominance of all things Malaysians. For some Malays, that price has been bearable but for some, they think it is too much for any race to bear. So wither the Malays today?

The times we now live in no longer tolerate affirmative policies that favour one race. The NEP is no longer tenable simply because the idea of racial superiority (ketuanan Melayu) went out with Hitler, the Ku Klux Klan and Apartheid.

If Umno does not understand this reality, then the fault lies with its leaders. If the Malays do not accept this reality then four decades of the NEP has failed.

Malay parents in the kampungs did not know then the effect of sending their children to college. Now they do. Their college graduate children no longer want to till the land, fish for a living or live in a house without electricity and running water.

And with the change in their children, the change in their parents' lives have also started and both parents and siblings have to come to terms with the change and adjust accordingly.

If the parents are not for change then the children will wait for the end of their parents' generation and make the move to the urban areas anyway. In the meantime trips to and fro from kampung to the urban areas are the order of the day.

Not an Umno problem

Umno finds itself in the same position as the parents of these rural children who have been sent to college. Everything has changed and yet Umno does not. While the parents of these children have a limited life span, Umno does not.

And when those that Umno has changed through the NEP and other attendant legislations ask that Umno change with them, Umno will not! So wither Umno's direction now?

This is just not Umno's problem. This is a Malay problem and dare I say it…a Malaysian problem. This is a good time for taking stock of what is happening around us.

Today in Malaysia everyone has one vote each. Mahathir has one vote to cast, Najib one, Anwar one, Hadi one and Kit Siang and Karpal Singh also one. Politically we are equal..are we not? What other manner of political equity do we want or can we have other than one vote each?

There have been no violent revolutions to talk of in Malaysia. No coup, no bloody rampage, no terrorising of one race or religion, no complete economic meltdown – the May 13 racial riot is a school boy fight during recess compared to what Indonesia, Thailand and our neighbours have gone through.

We have been different because Umno leaders are of a different ilk from those of our neighbours. Umno leaders prefer to preside and most times take part in and actively encouraged massive corruption in every facet of government and also indulge in money politics.




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