Posts Tagged ‘GE14


Umno’s state assemblyman in Kelantan disqualified due to bankruptcy

EC receives notice of vacant Nenggiri seat

The decision on whether there should be a by-election in the state constituency now depends on the Kelantan speaker.

PETALING JAYA: The Election Commission has confirmed that it has received a notice on the vacancy of the Nenggiri state seat from the Kelantan state assembly speaker’s office.

This follows the incumbent, Mat Yusoff Abdul Ghani, being disqualified due to bankruptcy.

A spokesman for the EC’s Kelantan branch told Bernama they would be notifying the EC headquarters in Putrajaya on the development.

The Kelantan EC is expected to hold a meeting soon to discuss the matter.

By-elections can only be held within three years of the last general election, which was held on May 5, 2013.

“If it is after the three-year period, the decision to hold a by-election depends on the speaker,” the EC spokesman added.

Speaker Abdullah Ya’kub said the letter was hand-delivered to the EC’s Kota Bharu office at 12.40pm today.

“It was my duty to inform the Kelantan EC on the vacancy,” he told Bernama.

The Selangor branch of the Insolvency Department had notified the Kelantan state assembly speaker’s office on the BN assemblyman’s bankrupt status via a letter on May 28.

Yusoff, from Umno, won the Nenggiri seat in the last general election after defeating PKR’s Mohamad Azihan Che Seman and independent candidate Abdul Aziz Mohamed with a majority of 3,849 votes.

EC receives notice of vacant Nenggiri seat
June 4, 2017 – FMT


The new election boundaries: Where GE14 will be won or lost

The new election boundaries: Where GE14 will be won or lost – Zoe Randhawa

MAY 27 – Earlier this month, in historic legal victories, Bersih 2.0 Outreach Officer Chan Tsu Chong along with six others were granted leave and a stay order to challenge the Election Commission’s (EC) delineation proposals in Melaka.

This means the process of re-drawing the election boundaries for Melaka has been suspended until the court case is completed.

This builds upon the work already done in Selangor to challenge the new proposals.

The importance of these legal challenges for the fate of the 14th general election (GE14) can’t be overstated.

The EC’s motivations for the new boundaries are obvious. The new boundaries are there to shift the balance of seats to secure a strong Barisan Nasional (BN) victory in the next election.

The political motivations behind the EC’s boundaries

According to research by Politweet, BN can win an additional 11 seats in the Selangor State Legislative Assembly with the new boundaries proposed in September 2016. These 11 seats would be won with no changes in votes from GE13 but only through the shifting of voters to strategic seats for BN.

Similarly, in the September 2016 proposals for Melaka, the seat of Bukit Baru, won by Pakatan Rakyat by 48 votes in GE13, would be won by BN with a 1,600-vote majority with the new boundaries. The marginal seat of Telok Mas, won by BN by just 700 votes in GE13, would become a safe seat with a 3,000-vote majority.

Worse still, based on the September 2016 proposal, the Bukit Katil federal seat, won by Pakatan Rakyat in GE13 by nearly 7,000 votes, would now be won by BN with a 4,800 vote majority. This move is especially suspicious, given that in August 2016, one month before the proposal became public, the Melaka Chief Minister called for the EC to change Bukit Katil boundaries to make it easier for BN to win.

The same pattern emerges throughout the country. In Perak, the safe Pakatan Rakyat seats in GE13 of Changkat Jering and Sungai Rapat would be won by BN, with no change in votes. In Kuala Lumpur, Nurul Izzah Anwar would lose the seat of Lembah Pantai.

The legal challenges

For the first time in our history, the EC is being dragged to court over and over again to stop their flagrant cheating through delineation. The rakyat have shown their outrage, with more than 1,000 objections submitted to the EC between September 2016 and April 2017 over their proposals.

The EC has been inundated with legal cases on delineation. So far, 11 cases have been filed in courts across the country, challenging the lack of information provided (yes, the EC doesn’t even want to tell voters how they are affected!), the unconstitutional proposals and the EC’s refusal to hold local inquiries when legally required to do so.

So far, there have been some brave High Court judges willing to take a stand.

Judges Azizul Azmi Adnan and Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera for the Selangor and Melaka cases, respectively, have both granted leave to hear the arguments of the case and have put a stay on further action by the EC to re-draw the boundaries in those two states.

The Selangor State Government’s challenge is now being heard in court and we have already heard some startling revelations from the EC, including that the information related to 136,000 addresses on the electoral roll has been destroyed.

I think it is fair to say we can expect more such ludicrous explanations from the EC as the cases progress.

What does this mean for GE14?

Even though the Federal Constitution allows the EC up to two years to complete the delineation exercise, the EC now seems to be desperate to finish the process as soon as possible. We can only wonder why this would be the case.

If the EC cared to follow the Constitution, once the court granted a stay for Selangor, this should have halted the process for the whole of the peninsula. This is because the Constitution says peninsular Malaysia must be treated as a whole unit when drawing constituencies.

However, the EC has decided to continue the delineation process “excluding the state of Selangor”. It is clear the EC is trying to bulldoze their proposal through no matter what the courts say. It shows complete contempt for the rule of law and our Federal Constitution.

On a positive note, it looks like the boundaries to the federal and state seats in Selangor may have been saved from the changes that would have led to a rigged election in a state BN is desperate to win back.

For the rest of the country, we can only speculate what the EC’s plans are.

It is now possible the EC will take the unconstitutional step of presenting their final proposals to the Prime Minister without completing the process for Selangor and Melaka. The prime minister can then table the new boundaries in Parliament by the end of July and announce the dissolution of Parliament by August. The election can then be held as early as September.

The EC up to the same old tricks

We are fully aware of how the process would have been conducted if the EC were not merely a puppet for the ruling party.

The Constitution is clear. Seats in the same state must have “approximately equal” number of voters and the EC must try to follow local ties in drawing the boundaries.

If the EC were fair, we would not have a seat in Selangor with more than 150,000 voters (Petaling Jaya Utara) and another with just 37,000 voters (Sabak Bernam). We would not have boundaries that cut households or communities in half to suit certain voting patterns. Local councils would not be criss-crossed with constituency boundaries, resulting in councillors having to communicate with multiple MPs on local issues.

The new election boundaries: Where GE14 will be won or lost – Zoe Randhawa
May 27, 2017 – MMO


How safe is BN’s 1.6 million civil servant vote bank?

How safe is BN’s 1.6 million civil servant vote bank?

AKHMA opted for the top bunk in the smallest room in a three-bedroom flat in Precinct 9, Putrajaya. It wasn’t cheap at RM280 a month, but still cheaper than a room or a whole unit to herself. The lower bunk costs RM20 extra.

Though a civil servant, she had to share the flat with five housemates.

“My flat is in the most undesirable location in Putrajaya, where most of the foreign workers live. I have been living here for 1½ years now and it’s not cheap either,” she told The Malaysian Insight at one of the government complexes in the administrative capital.

The 27-year-old from Gombak said she had to relocate to Putrajaya because of work demands, the same reason she bought a Proton Saga.

“I could’ve chosen to live in a bigger place or buy a Myvi, but I want to save at least RM300 a month,” she said, adding that she spent most of her salary on patrol and food.

She said the cost of living would be one of the major factors when it comes to voting in the next general election.

“I don’t really follow politics but I will look at their election manifestos and see which one will benefit people like me,” the undecided voter said.

Political analyst Mohamad Hisomuddin Bakar of the Ilham Centre said unlike those with perks at the top, civil servants aged 35 and under were the ones struggling to make ends meet and more willing to vote in change.

The 1.6 million civil servants, who make up 12% of registered voters, are considered Barisan Nasional’s vote bank.

“We can even see the trend in the previous election and if situation does not change, we expect a bigger swing from the civil servants,” he told The Malaysian Insight.

Factors like low salaries, rising cost of living, high housing prices and weak ringgit have changed the voting pattern even for those from hard-core Umno families, he said.

Last December, The Sun reported Congress of Union of Employees in the Public and Civil Services Malaysia (Cuepacs) president Azih Muda as saying about 700,000 to 800,000 civil servants could be categorised in the bottom 40% (B40) group.

GDP effects not trickling down

Socio-Economic Research Centre Sdn Bhd executive director Lee Heng Guie said despite forecast of stronger gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the first quarter of 2017, people were still worried about the current economic situation.

“There is a disconnection between what the data shows and what consumers are feeling. People still feel that conditions have not improved as they look at the overall economy and see that growth has slowed down for the last two years,” he said.

Lee added that the scenario could be reflected in Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER)’s consumer sentiment index (CSI), which is still below the 100-point optimism threshold. Malaysia’s consumer price inflation also hit an eight-year high in March, at 5.1%.

“Despite petrol prices dropping in the last three weeks, the cost of living is still high and that will continue to pinch on the low income and the middle income. This is due to price stickiness as traders will not lower prices even though petrol prices have come down.”

RAM Ratings expects the economy to grow 4.8% in the first quarter, a higher figure than the 4.5% in the Q4, 2016. The ratings agency cited stronger exports as the major factor for the Q1 growth rate. Bank Negara will release the Q1 growth rate today.

Hisomuddin said only senior civil servants, such as those who in premier grades or JUSA (public service premier post) are worried about a change in government.

“The dogma of civil servants must vote (ruling party) has changed but for senior officers or JUSA, it’s still about Malay Muslims who must lead the government, not a party like DAP,” he said.

Crackdown on civil servants

Despite the recent Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) crackdown on immigration, customs and police personnel in recent weeks, political scientist Dr Wong Chin Huat does not think it will figure during elections.

The Penang Institute fellow said the majority of government employees were not decision-makers, law enforcers or gate-keepers in any licensing or application process.

“Hence they have no power to extract bribery or embezzle public funds. I doubt they will identify with the corrupt officials who live way beyond their legal incomes.

“Najib’s civil servant votes are shaken, not so much by crackdown on graft, but because he has no buy money to give subsidies and pay rise to buy their support,” Wong said.

How safe is BN’s 1.6 million civil servant vote bank?
19 May 2017 – Malaysian Insight


UMNO’s Captive Voters…No More

UMNO’s Captive Voters…

A captive audience is one that has no choice but to listen to a particular speaker. In Malaysia’s FELDA communities, however, it’s a question of captive voters.

These communities (which command 54 parliamentary seats) are gated and the men at the gate are forbidding and threatening opposition campaigners from entering to canvass, meaning they can only hear from UMNO.

Because, as far as UMNO are concerned, these farm workers belong to them politically and they have no intention of letting them listen to alternative views, apart from the propaganda pumped out on government controlled radio and television and printed media.

The opposition say they have widespread evidence of recent criminal mismanagement of FELDA’s funds and also evidence FELDA money will be used to bribe votes at the upcoming election, just as it was also used, they say, for the Sarawak state election.

FELDA voters are likely to want to hear about that and to question ruling UMNO on the allegations. After all, MACC investigations into FELDA mismanagement have been on-going for over two years, according to information received by Sarawak Report and just in January there were 5 arrests of senior staff relating to the fund’s investments.

FELDA Global Ventures, launched on the stock market at RM5.5 a share in 2012, is latterly worth only a miserable RM1.9 following an immediate series of disastrous investments.

That is a direct loss and blow to the futures of all those settlers, whom Najib had persuaded to release their lands in return for this stock market ‘asset’.

Sarawak Report has already exposed a shocking parallel in Sarawak, where the entire native landowner ASSAR fund has likewise been run down to 17% of its nominal value, thanks to the disappearance of half a billion ringgit into a whole swathe of loss-making ventures, where nobody checked for conflicts of interest.

Pouff! All the compensation money for native people, who had been forceably thrown off their lands for peanuts, now gone.
FELDA Losses – how settlers were duped

The issue is, say opposition voices, that along with so many other public funds, FELDA, which was set up to guard the interests of these landowners, has been raided and pillaged. Take for example the scandal of FELDA Global Ventures (FGV), Najib’s brain child stockmarket flotation of much of the settler’s land bank in 2012.

Najib had enticed reluctant farmers to release their land with an upfront RM15,000 ‘sweetner’ on the deal. At $3.1 billion the huge sale was the second largest IPO ever after Facebook. And then the shares plummeted.

Even the Prime Minister’s own political crony and (second) cousin, Shahrir Abdul Samad (their mothers were cousins*) appointed to be CEO in January, expressed shock to discover the disappearance of nearly all the proceeds of that launch upon arriving at the fund:

“Felda received RM6 billion from the listing of FGVH which is Felda’s business asset. From that amount, we have spent RM1.7 billion as windfall,” Shahrir was quoted saying yesterday.

Shahrir said Felda awarded settlers and their families RM15,000 for each household, leaving behind a balance of RM4.3 billion.

“So where did this RM4.3 billion go? I think this has frustrated settlers who are very close to Felda … who admire the role of Felda … I think they have been disappointed,” Shahrir said.

FELDA settlers are right to be disappointed, but Shahrir ought not to have been surprised. He himself admitted to personally receiving a million ringgit handed to him by Najib, after being exposed by Sarawak Report.

Shahrir was clearly appointed for a reason and the former BN back bencher boss soon backtracked into explaining how the FGV money had been unfortunately invested in a number of apparently loss-making hotel and other enterprises, mostly abroad. Now he is trying to sell them off.

Nevertheless, just last month he concluded yet another plainly lousy deal on behalf of his cousin Najib, whereby FELDA agreed to a blatant half billion dollar purchase of 39% of Indonesia’s loss-making Eagle High Plantations way above its market value. The owner of Eagle High is a known businessman crony of the Prime Minister.

FELDA Global Ventures had been originally earmarked to do the deal at an even higher $700 million, however news of the scandal spiked the move and the EPF (a major investor in FGV) ditched its shares.

UMNO’s Captive Voters…
7 May 2017 – SR


Najib risks losing support of civil servants due to rising cost of living

Najib risks losing support due to rising cost of living

As the prime minister prepares to seek re-election, he faces warnings that soaring living costs risk eroding the support of his party’s most reliable vote bank – the 1.6 million civil servants.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s 1.6 million public servants have long been one of the most reliable vote banks for Prime Minister Najib Razak’s ruling coalition, but as he prepares to seek re-election he faces warnings that soaring living costs risk eroding that support.

Prices have risen sharply since Malaysia cut state subsidies and launched a national goods and services (GST) tax to plug a hole in its finances caused by falling oil and gas revenues, and rank-and-file government workers say they are feeling the pinch.

“My wife earns some side income doing freelance work, but we just can’t save,” said 28-year-old Mohd Nizam, who has supported Najib’s Umno party in the past but, like around a dozen public sector workers who spoke to Reuters, did not want to say if he would do so again.

“I don’t know how we’ll manage if we have a child,” said Nizam, who rides a motorcycle to work each day in the administrative capital Putrajaya, where he earns RM3,000 a month as a government clerk.

Rising prices were a key factor that prompted urban and non-Malay voters to abandon the coalition led by Umno over the past two elections.

But Umno clung on to its rural Malay Muslim heartlands and the votes of rank-and-file civil servants – most of whom are ethnic Malays due to a decades-old positive discrimination policy that gives them priority for government jobs.

The next election is not due until 2018 but, after facing down a corruption scandal at state developer 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Najib is expected to capitalise on opposition disarray and call an election this year.

Analysts expect Najib to win, but he has little room for manoeuvre. In 2013, the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition lost the popular vote but won most seats in parliament – if its majority were further eroded this time, Najib could face an internal leadership challenge.

Rizalman Mokhtar, a grassroots leader with Umno, said he feared civil servants – who make up around 15% of all voters – could turn against the party if nothing is done about the rising cost of living.

“We have to address this issue, or it will have a big impact on our support,” he said.

Deeper in debt

Malaysia’s annual inflation hit an eight-year high of 5.1% in March, among the quickest in Southeast Asia and far outpacing Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.

Private sector wage growth is expected to average 5.7% between 2013 and 2017, based on data compiled by the Malaysian Employers’ Federation.

But public sector wage growth was between 2% and 3% over the same period, according to the Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Service (Ceupacs).

Ceupacs president Azih Muda said civil servants have ended up heavily indebted to manage rising living costs, to the point that more than 60,000 of them risk bankruptcy.

“This is a direct effect of the hike in the cost of living. Civil servants end up taking up a lot of loans and this is unsustainable and they are unable to manage their finances,” Azih told Reuters.

Najib risks losing support due to rising cost of living
May 7, 2017 – FMT


Felda – How an ill-fated stock listing could sway Malaysia’s election

How an ill-fated stock listing could sway Malaysia’s election

The controversial listing of the Federal Land Development Authority’s commercial arm has left many of the Malaysian government’s key supporters – the rural poor – rethinking their allegiances

Viewed from afar, Malaysia’s ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation (Umno), might seem nigh-on unchallengeable in the general election expected as early as this year. After all, it has been in power since the country’s first such election in 1955 – two years before the country’s independence from Britain.

Yet, while it is undeniably strong, its armour is not without chinks. The party cannot afford to lose the support of Malaysia’s rural constituencies – a dependency that has entwined its fate with that of the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) for the past 60 years and may now represent just such a weak spot.

Felda was created by Umno a year after its maiden election win to handle the resettlement of rural poor into newly developed areas and smallhold farms. It went on to alter the development of Malaysia beyond recognition as large swathes of unused land became well-irrigated plantation schemes that transformed both agricultural exports and the incomes of its rural communities.

Settlers on Felda land have remained fiercely loyal to Umno, which forms the backbone of the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (National Front), ever since and have played no small part in defending Umno’s grip on power. Of the party’s 86 parliamentary seats, 54 are from constituencies on Felda-developed land.

But there are signs Umno’s grip may now be loosening with opinion among its erstwhile diehard support base now deeply divided by the government’s handling of the listing of Felda’s commercial arm – Felda Global Ventures (FGV) – on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange in May 2012.

While savvy investors who bought FGV shares in November 2016 may be laughing all the way to the bank with returns of 36 per cent (the uptick followed a management reshuffle), those who bought at the time of the listing have seen their investments cut in half.

So bad has FGV’s performance been that rumours have swirled for the past month that it may be delisted from the exchange completely. If that happens, it will only further undermine the trust of many first- and second-generation Felda settlers in the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak, a leader already under fire for alleged links to a corruption scandal at the state firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

Critics say Najib’s government was oblivious to the risks when it placed 360,000 hectares – out of Felda’s total of 508,000 hectares – on 99-year leases as collateral for the listing on the stock exchange.

The president of Anak (the Malay acronym for the National Felda Settlers’ Children Society), Mazlan Aliman, says the move has exposed Felda to a perpetual cycle of debt-servicing.

And it’s hard for Najib to claim he wasn’t warned. When the initial public offering (IPO) was first announced in the budget of 2011, more than 65 per cent of senior officers working in FGV were opposed. Yet Najib pushed ahead, much to Anak’s chagrin.

Increasingly, there are signs of wider scale political disillusionment. Discontent was palpable when the Felda stronghold constituency of Rompin, Pahang, held a by-election in May 2015. Of its 16 polling districts, two returned a majority for the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party – the first time in history a district in a Felda constituency had not backed the Umno candidate.

Although the Umno candidate, Hasan Arifin, still won by a majority of more than 8,000 votes, the final tally showed a 50 per cent drop in support.

Such a reversal of fortunes has set the alarm bells ringing at Umno and Najib has since tried to win over Felda settlers with soft loans that have given some the opportunity to borrow up to US$22,000. That tactic has had mixed results, increasing indebtedness among settlers rather than bringing them swift financial redemption.

How an ill-fated stock listing could sway Malaysia’s election
By Phar Kim Beng
9 Apr 2017 – SCMP


The key to the future in our hands – Our Vote

From global kleptocracy to leader of the new paradigm

COMMENT | With the Wall Street Journal reporting recently that Jho Low will face criminal charges for wire fraud related to 1MDB, which ranks as the largest financial scandal of all time according to the Department of Justice, another nail in the coffin of Malaysia’s good standing in the global community has been hammered.

Malaysia has become the face of corruption in the world today. I don’t need to reiterate all the reasons which are clear as a sunny day to all who wish to look. Many don’t wish to acknowledge the facts, and I understand that as it damages us and as patriots we want to protect our beloved nation.

Instead of rehashing all the sordid details of Scorpene, 1MDB, SRC, and all the collateral damage that it has inflicted upon our parliamentary democracy, our institutional integrity, our rule of law, and our common citizen, I instead prefer to focus this article on the future – where do we go from here?

Believe it or not, we have the key to the future in our hands. Not just in the hands of the power elite, but in the hands of every member of the rakyat from the business tycoons to the farmer settlers. That is nothing more than your vote, and in the next general election you MUST use this weapon.

Even if you feel that the system is rigged against you, as the now-president of the world’s greatest superpower bemoaned, the force or our collective will can effect a historic change. The minute you believe this, our reality will change. Follow your heart and you will show the light of your humanity.

My message could easily be that we must punish those that have done evil deeds. But that is God’s work. Sadly, Justice is not the natural order of the Universe; it is Power. The harsh truth is that most of us living what we think are enlightened and comfortable lives are actually just free-range slaves.

The new paradigm

Your leaders have three swords which they use to enslave you. First: money. Second: influence. And third: reliance on your greed. You should recognise that your desire to serve your own self-interest is their biggest asset. If you take that away, their influence shrivels and their money is abhorrent.

From global kleptocracy to leader of the new paradigm
Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff
15 April 2017 – malaysiakini

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?