Archive for the 'Politics' Category

19
May
20

Malaysia: the price of treachery

Malaysia: the price of treachery

Seeing the way state governments are falling to Perikatan Nasional (PN) and the way some former Pakatan Harapan (PH) politicians are behaving these days must surely cause Malaysians no end of angst and disgust. We knew, of course, that our politicians were far from perfect but who would have thought they could sink this low.

Not so long ago, many of these same politicians descended upon our towns, our neighbourhoods and our community halls promising that they would be different from the corrupt and abusive regime they were seeking to replace. They said they shared our revulsion of UMNO-BN and their horrendous record of corruption and mismanagement. They said they understood our anger at the abuse of power, our distaste for anti-democratic legislation. They acknowledged that racism and extremism were killing our nation and had to stop. They said they wanted something better for our nation.

True, PH had its difficulties; it could have done a better job. And yes, mistakes were made. None of that, however, can justify the decision to abandon PH and join forces with UMNO-PAS or participate in something as perverse as PN. Certainly, nothing can justify handing power back to the corrupt regime that the voters themselves so clearly rejected at the polls.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin and his treacherous cohort can pretend all they want that they acted with the best of intentions, hide behind the cloak of patriotism or pose as defenders of race and religion but there’s no escaping the fact that they’ve broken faith with the voters. By their actions, they have shown themselves to be entirely unprincipled, dishonest and unworthy of the office they were elected to.

What is worse, having come to power on the promise of reform, they are now leading Malaysia down a dark road that might leave us even worse off than before. It is unforgivable.

The decision to convene parliament only long enough to hear the speech from the throne, for example, makes a mockery of our democracy. Fearing the verdict of parliament, Muhyiddin has moved to silence it. It’s an abuse of executive privilege, a scam to avoid parliamentary accountability and oversight, a rejection of the will of the people in parliament assembled.

It’s a sure sign that this backdoor government does not intend to play by the rules, that it holds nothing sacred, that it cares little for its moral legitimacy or what the people think. All Malaysians ought to be deeply offended and alarmed by his actions.

It is no less stunning too that the same people who once waxed lyrical about corruption and good governance are now sanctioning an iniquitous system of cronyism and patronage by giving away GLC and other appointments to their own members on a scale not even seen under UMNO-BN.

It legitimizes the plunder of government positions; it endorses the use of public office for personal gain; it condones the mass manipulation of the machinery of government for political advantage. In a single stroke, all the progress we’ve made as a nation in advancing the cause of good governance has been negated. It can only go downhill from here.

And let’s not forget as well that Muhyiddin’s own claim to integrity in politics derived from his apparent willingness to stand up to Najib and UMNO on the 1MDB scandal; what does it say of the man that he should now think nothing about finding common cause with those same leaders?

Devoid of political legitimacy and with uncertain support in parliament, Muhyiddin is now totally dependent upon a clutch of unprincipled men intent only on furthering their own ambitions. To survive, he will have to give more and more of the shop away.

He will have to buy the loyalty of politicians with all manner of appointments and sweetheart deals. He will have to buy the allegiance of powerful business elites with contracts and monopolies. He will have to endear himself to the bureaucracy with extra bonuses.

The more he compromises, however, the weaker he will become, a puppet held hostage by the very parties that he, as part of PH, defeated in the last election.

Only time will tell just how much Muhyiddin will have to give away for the privilege of sitting in Putrajaya. With many UMNO leaders facing serious jail time on corruption-related charges, it would be one area to watch closely. The outcome of a recent high-profile 1MDB- related case is certainly not encouraging. Already Malaysians are fearing the worst.

In the meantime, the nation will pay a high price for the treachery that has been perpetrated upon the electorate. Our national psyche has been deeply wounded. Public confidence has been shaken. Disenchantment and cynicism are at an all-time high. People have lost faith in our national institutions and in our elected officials.

…more
Malaysia: the price of treachery
18 May 2020 – dennisignatius.com

17
May
20

Malaysia’s Next Parliamentary Session: Show-time or Stalling for Time?

Malaysia’s Next Parliamentary Session: Show-time or Stalling for Time?

Malaysia’s next parliamentary sitting was supposed to have seen the tabling of a historic no-confidence motion against the government led by Muhyiddin Yassin. It appears that the premier has dodged the bullet – at least for now.

Come Monday, Malaysia’s parliament will convene for the first time since Muhyiddin Yassin’s Perikatan Nasional (National Consensus) coalition came to power. Initially scheduled for 9 March, the session was postponed in the aftermath of the new prime minister’s unexpected swearing in on 1 March. Despite the delay, the Monday sitting will only last for one day – a departure from the standard duration of four weeks. This is purportedly due to the unfolding Covid-19 situation in Malaysia.

Adding to the sense of abnormality, the Parliamentary Speaker, Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof, tabled a motion of no-confidence against Muhyiddin Yassin last week. A no-confidence vote is unprecedented – it has never been passed or held in Malaysia’s federal parliament. Even more poignantly, the proposer of the bill is none other than Mahathir Mohamad, the Prime Minister’s erstwhile ally and co-founder of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PBBM).

Rumours of a no-confidence bill have been circulating ever since Muhyiddin Yassin was sworn in as the head of an unwieldy agglomeration of parties. The constellation of parties is largely but not exclusively comprised of the Malay-based PPBM, the former political heavyweight United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and the Islamic Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS). The nature of this grouping’s ascent to power has come under heavy flak. After all, it goes against the spirit of the 2018 elections, which saw the rise to power of the rival Pakatan Harapan coalition led by Dr Mahathir.

Given the lengthy deliberations between the Malaysian King and the different factions in parliament, it was also unclear whether Muhyiddin actually commanded a majority when he was sworn in on 1 March (according to the Constitution, the King must appoint the person he thinks is “likely” to command a majority in the House). Notwithstanding uncertainty about the actual size of the opposing Pakatan Harapan bloc, it is clear that its steadfast “core” is sizeable and could – if the conditions are right – muster the narrowest of majorities to topple the new Prime Minister.

While shifting loyalties and factional disputes make definitive conclusions difficult, our estimates indicate that Perikatan Nasional has 110 MPs – two shy of the threshold needed for a simple majority in the 222-member parliament. Pakatan Harapan meanwhile has 107 seats. The remaining five MPs in play are non-aligned – that is, they are either independent MPs or MPs who belong to non-aligned Sabah parties. The three independent MPs are Syed Abu Hussin (Bukit Gantang), Masir Kujat (Sri Aman), Baru Bian (Selangau), while the United Alliance (Sabah) party has two MPs. While it appears that 31 PPBM MPs are likely to stay with Perikatan Nasional, this is not cast in stone. Dr Mahathir remains the party chairman and commands grudging respect from many in the party’s upper echelons. The independent MPs (with the exception of Baru Bian) and United Alliance (Sabah) were previously elected on the Barisan Nasional ticket in 2018 and are likely – but not certain – to throw their weight behind Muhyiddin Yassin. The bottom line: if Perikatan Nasional can corral support from all the 31 PPBM MPs from Muhyiddin’s faction and the five non-aligned MPs, it would only have a narrow and unstable majority.

…more
Malaysia’s Next Parliamentary Session: Show-time or Stalling for Time?
Francis E. Hutchinson, Kevin Zhang
14 May 2020 – ISEAS

16
May
20

Is Muhyiddin coming or going?


(Illustration: Huy Truong, Source: SCMP)

As Mahathir plots, Muhyiddin faces a twist in Malaysia’s Shakespearean drama

It is hard to predict what will leap out to historians as particularly egregious in years to come when they review the internecine political battles that have gripped Malaysia for the past few months.

If the squabbles had ended in March, the shock ousting that month of the 94-year-old Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister by his own party would clearly stand out in any historical timeline.

The tussle saw Muhyiddin Yassin – among the dozens of politicians groomed by Mahathir in his seven-decade career – succeed him as the country’s leader under the aegis of a new Perikatan Nasional alliance led by Malay nationalists the duo had defeated in 2018’s watershed polls.

The move booted out the Pakatan Harapan bloc that won that election, and extinguished with it hopes of a more progressive and multiracial approach to governance.

Muhyiddin – an ardent Malay nationalist – triggered the political earthquake after he pulled the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) he co-founded with Mahathir out of Pakatan Harapan over supposedly intractable differences with the Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP).

Even with such head-spinning events already having taken place in the first five months of the year, political insiders who spoke to This Week in Asia last week said the turmoil was likely to intensify in the medium term – with few signs of an entente among warring camps.

Some of the insiders suggested the Shakespearean political drama would continue for as long as senior politicians warring for years while constantly switching alliances remained in the picture.

Mahathir, for one, has signalled that he is not done even after the unceremonious manner in which he lost power in March, with the king appointing Muhyiddin after determining that Mahathir had lost the confidence of parliament.

Also on his side of the ring is his son Mukhriz Mahathir – the chief minister of Kedah state – as well as the former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, who may soon be sacked by the PPBM.

Having initially distanced himself from his on-off ally Anwar Ibrahim – the de facto leader of Pakatan Harapan – after being ousted, Mahathir has now realigned himself with the younger politician with the aim of bringing a quick end to the tenure of Muhyiddin’s Malay-centric Perikatan Nasional alliance.

On the other side of the ring, Perikatan Nasional is battling to prove its legitimacy amid charges from critics of being a “back door” administration.

Muhyiddin was sworn in by the king on March 1 on the premise that his new bloc commanded a simple majority in parliament, though experts last week said their independent counts showed he did not have such support. Among these observers were Francis Hutchinson and Kevin Zhang of Singapore’s ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

In a commentary published on Thursday, the researchers wrote that the Perikatan Nasional alliance – which includes the United Malays National Organisation (Umno) ousted in 2018’s elections – now holds 110 seats, two shy of the 112 it needs for a simple majority in the 222-seat legislature. Perikatan Nasional might be able to command a “narrow and unstable majority” if it could gain support from at least two of five non-aligned MPs.

The governing alliance has a separate internal headache, with PPBM’s Muhyiddin seen as beholden to Umno – the coalition’s biggest component even though he is the prime minister.

Pakatan Harapan and its allied party Warisan – which together won 121 seats in the 2018 elections – currently have 107 seats, according to the two researchers.

Mahathir had sought to test Muhyiddin’s support with a no-confidence vote on Monday, but the administration blocked the move, saying it would only hold an extended legislative session in July when the Covid-19 situation improves.

For now, Monday’s session will only have one order of business: the king’s customary opening address. Mahathir’s immediate response was that the whole affair of a single-day sitting with no debates allowed showed that Muhyiddin and his government were “illegitimate”.

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As Mahathir plots, Muhyiddin faces a twist in Malaysia’s Shakespearean drama
Tashny Sukumaran and Bhavan Jaipragas
16 May, 2020 – SCMP

16
May
20

Backdoor govt ‘illegitimate’ until approved by Parliament

Backdoor gov’t ‘illegitimate’ until approved by Parliament

COMMENT | While the king has to use his judgement to choose the prime minister when there is a dispute over who commands the majority in Parliament, common sense and prudence dictate that this decision is ratified by Parliament which should sit normally after that.

Using procedures to deliberately delay Parliament and constrict its powers through nonsense restrictions to frustrate and postpone the inevitable no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is against all principles of a democratic government and may well be open to challenge in the courts.

Thus, the move by Muhyiddin to restrict Parliament to only the king’s address and not to conduct any other business via an amendment to the agenda sent to the speaker – he appears to have the legal power to do this, although some dispute that – is an utter mockery of parliamentary process and an abuse of his powers.

It prevents either the legitimisation of his government or the demonstration of his lack of majority. That must lead one to suspect that Muhyiddin may not have the majority especially given how whimsical some MPs become during such times when they can be swayed by promises of power, patronage and money.

In other words, the blunt truth may be that this is an illegitimate government which is prolonging its existence by delaying a proper parliamentary sitting which will decide once and for all whether Muhyiddin commands the majority in Parliament.

…more
Backdoor gov’t ‘illegitimate’ until approved by Parliament
P Gunasegaram
15 May 2020 – Malaysiakini

14
May
20

Malaysian government illegitimate, says Mahathir

Malaysian government illegitimate, says Mahathir, after no-confidence vote blocked

The former prime minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad on Wednesday described the ruling government that ousted him in March as “illegitimate” after it blocked his effort to call a no-confidence vote.

The parliamentary speaker Ariff Md Yusof earlier in the day announced that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government had elected to permit only one order of business in next Monday’s parliamentary sitting – the ceremonial opening address by the king.

Ariff said the Perikatan Nasional government took the decision “as the Covid-19 pandemic has not been fully cleared”.

“How can this be called a government when MPs are not allowed to speak even when there is a parliamentary sitting?” Mahathir asked in a pre-recorded video released by his aides late on Wednesday.

“[As a result] this government is in fact illegitimate,” Mahathir said. “I think Muhyiddin is illegitimate.”

With the legislature sitting only for one day, the move effectively means Mahathir will not be able to go ahead with a plan to table a motion of no-confidence against Muhyiddin, who took power in March and is a former ally of the 94-year-old.

The government’s move had been expected with observers saying it had planned to push back debates to July to delay the turmoil that would set in once parliament sits.

The law minister Takiyiddin Hassan last week said parliament would sit for at least 15 days in July.

The king made Muhyiddin prime minister after the politician triggered a power vacuum by pulling the party he and Mahathir co-founded out of the Pakatan Harapan alliance that won the May 2018 election.

The new Perikatan Nasional, which has teamed up with Pakatan Harapan arch-rivals, the United Malays National Organisation, has thus not proven it has the support of a simple majority of the country’s 222-seat legislature, as the house has been in recess since December.

A March sitting was delayed on account of the pandemic and the sitting next week is compulsory as the constitution stipulates that the legislature stands to be dissolved if it does not convene at least once in six months.

While Muhyiddin was handed power by the constitutional monarch Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah on the premise that the politician had a majority, Mahathir in his video questioned whether Muhyiddin actually had such backing when he was sworn in on March 1.

He has previously suggested Muhyiddin was only now gaining the required support from backbencher MPs after offering them jobs in government-linked agencies and other state-backed institutions.

The country’s partial lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which has been in place since March 18, was slated to end this week but has now been extended to June 9.

…more
Malaysian government illegitimate, says Mahathir, after no-confidence vote blocked
Bhavan Jaipragas
13 May, 2020 – SCMP

12
Mar
20

Don’t expect much from this Ketuanan Melayu cabinet

A Ketuanan Melayu cabinet

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin now has a cabinet. For non-Malays, it represents the most regressive cabinet we’ve ever had, a cabinet premised upon the idea that non-Malays don’t count, don’t deserve to participate in the governance of this nation. Muhyiddin used his coup to nullify the non-Malay vote; now he has used his cabinet to silence their voice.

His cabinet is the ultimate Ketuanan Melayu cabinet. Out of 70 ministers and deputy ministers, there are only two non-bumiputra ministers and five deputy ministers, the lowest representation in terms of percentage we’ve ever seen. Every other prime minister, whatever their own prejudices, felt obliged to take into account the fact that Chinese and Indians are a significant minority in Malaysia and must be acknowledged via adequate representation in cabinet. Muhyiddin has now dispensed with this.

Right-wing Malay politicians have long been unhappy with the post-independence construct that shared power with all of Malaysia’s ethnic groups. After GE14, when for the first time, a fairer political representation emerged, they were determined to stop any move towards shared governance.

The narrative that Malaysia is for Malays and that Islam does not permit non-Muslims to hold senior positions in the administration of the country took on a life of its own. It also found expression in rumblings that the DAP was controlling the government and undermining Malay institutions like Felda and Tabong Haji, that Christians were trying to change the official religion of the country and that non-Malay terrorist groups like the communist and LTTE were trying to subvert the nation. It was all rubbish, of course, but it served its purpose.

The message was clear: other than a token representation, non-Malays should have no political role in the governance of the nation. They are interlopers and pendatangs, here by an accident of history, less Malaysian than Malays.

Muhyiddin – who in Trumpian fashion once described himself as Malay first, Malaysian second – has now given the Ketuanan Melayu crowd what they’ve always wanted, a cabinet overwhelmingly dominated by Malays.

Of course, the likes of Wee Ka Siong and Saravanan and a small clutch of other MCA and MIC members are part of the cabinet but let’s face it, they are there as window-dressing, a ruse to mislead the public into believing that this is somehow a multiracial cabinet.

In any case, how can two political parties which were overwhelmingly rejected by the electorate speak for them?

No doubt the MCA and MIC are hoping that their return to cabinet would usher in a new beginning. With scraps from Muhyiddin’s table perhaps they think they can rebuild their political fortunes. They should have no illusions as to just how despised they are. By going along with Muhyiddin’s fake multiracial government, they have once again betrayed the aspirations of Malaysians; sooner or later they will feel the wrath of the people.

In the meantime, don’t expect much from this cabinet especially given the huge economic uncertainties we now face – the coronavirus pandemic, falling oil prices (and government revenue), declining investments, and a prolonged global slowdown. All we’ll get from them is more of the same failed old policies that have kept us trapped within the wells of racism and religious extremism.

…more
A Ketuanan Melayu cabinet
Mar 2020 – dennisignatius.com
Posted by Dennis Ignatius in Malaysia, Politics

05
Mar
20

Has hope turned into despair?

Has hope turned into despair?

COMMENT | I’m tempted to say yes (to the question above). Or the past week’s turn of events may just fortify and mobilise the people’s determination to reclaim the mandate of GE14 and return to being governed by a reformist multi-racial administration.

But for now, grey is the skies as the eighth prime minister works on forming a “new” government under a new name. Its composition, however, will not be. It will probably reflect a pre-GE14 power structure shaped by Umno-PAS stalwarts driven by their tired old “ketuanan Melayu” (Malay supremacy) agenda.

For the angry 48 percent that voted for regime change two years ago, Perikatan Nasional (PN) will always remind them of the backroom manoeuvrings and treacheries that broke Pakatan Harapan’s back.

Who knows if PN will “save the country from the current crisis”, whichever way Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin cuts it, or whether the defectors were out to first serve themselves rather than the people? How the vanquished, led by the Mahathir-Anwar allied groups, will now reconsolidate to challenge the legitimacy of the “new” government? This we will witness with cautious optimism over the next few weeks.

Given the visceral nature of Malaysian racialised politics, who knows who and which party can effectively govern with inclusive intentions, integrity and accountability by the rule of law. The nascent reformist Harapan provided that hope until it lost five by-elections within two years to Umno.

Indeed, I see grey skies clouded with questions of why and what could have been. Would Muhyiddin have become PM if Dr Mahathir Mohamad had kept to his promise of transitioning the prime ministership to PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim? Was the leadership changeover ever in Mahathir’s game plan even as he least expected a coup? Why resign when he could have endorsed Anwar (below, right) or his former deputy Wan Azizah Wan Ibrahim (below, left) as the next PM?

Would Mahathir now be content to act in a non-executive role as eminent advisor to the sitting PM? Would he, in his remaining years, fade into the background and settle down to blogging his political wisdom, and leave a legacy worthy of one or two biographies?

Who knows the true intentions of power-intoxicated ageing politicians regardless of what they say in public? “Saving the country”, “uniting the people”, and so forth, are tired and old meaningless cliches. The reality is for most politicians, their sight is often fixed on just winning or wrestling power from the incumbents whom they have fallen out of favour. To hell with the common good.

As I wrote in January, I see the key traits of a progressive prime minister to be someone who can see beyond the next election; someone who is demonstrably dedicated to serving the people than be served; someone with an acute sense of social justice, and a commitment to fair and equal economic opportunities for every Malaysian.

Given the evidently limited pool of progressive political talent, Anwar comes up on the top drawer for his intellect, more cosmopolitan outlook, ability to comfortably transcend racial and religious lines, notwithstanding his core Malay-centric ideology, and his global experience. He is the one to more likely keep open the pages of Buku Harapan and better represent Malaysia on the international stage.

Muhyiddin does not fall into this category. Given his track record as a Malay chauvinist, he will have a hard time convincing the dejected 48 percent that he can truly work to reconcile the special privileges of Malays with the constitutional rights of non-Malays to fair and just treatment.

I cannot recall Muhyiddin ever making any momentous public policy statements – in the jobs, health, economy and education sectors – that reflected a conciliatory spirit and racially inclusive intentions during his tenure as deputy prime minister and education minister in former PM Najib Abdul Razak’s administration.

He overturned PPSMI in 2009, introduced by then PM Mahathir six years earlier. The Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) scores in 2009 showed the competency of our 15-year-olds were three years behind the international average. Likewise, Malaysia’s ranking in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (Timss) rankings in 2011 fell from 20 to 26 in Mathematics and from 21 to 32 in Science.

Burnished in my memory was his statement in 2010, that he is Malay first and Malaysian second, for which he rationalised that it would be fine for non-Malays to so declare their ethnic pride. 1Malaysia was a non-concept nor a practicable or achievable goal.

As Umno deputy president in 2014, he urged Najib to make the bumiputera agenda part of his administration’s core policy. “The bumiputera agenda as a national agenda cannot be executed in pockets, it must be part of the national framework,” he said.

Muhyiddin will always remain a conservative Malay-first minister who may not expect broad support from minority non-Malay voters, and who, like many of his Umno predecessors, operates on the dogma that national stability is only assured by satisfying the demands of the dominant Malay population. The interests of non-Malays, if they are addressed at all, would be tokenistic dressed in his obligatory attendance at Chinese/Indian cultural festivities.

PN has jumped into bed with Umno-PAS. It is a racial and religious reunion, a tryst in camouflage. Who knows if the incoming MPs with their Umno-PAS baggage will or will not be tempted to hitch a ride on the gravy train given its history of corruption and political patronage.

PN’s claim of majority support, and hence their right to govern, will certainly be tested on the Parliamentary floor. The ultimate test of PN’s legitimacy will be whether the investigation of Umno politicians and their cronies implicated in the 1MDB scandals will be compromised under Muhyiddin’s administration.

…more
Has hope turned into despair?
Eric Loo
3 Mar 2020 – Malaysiakini




The dawn of A Better Malaysia!
Rafidah Aziz, Hannah Yeoh, Ambiga at TTDI ceramah

 

Mahathir in Putrajaya ceramah

 

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Nuclear lessons for Malaysia (Part 1) (Part 2)
BN govt is directing attention to distant past and distant future, in order to distract people from present misdeeds and poor governance
Felda - A picture is worth a thousand words
How the 1MDB Scandal Spread Across the World (WSJ)
We cannot afford ridiculously expensive RM55 Billion ECRL!
All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
Do you hear the people sing?

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