The emasculated academic

By Tajuddin Rasdi

Daim Zainuddin recently made two important points in his speech at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia in Skudai.

Firstly, he said the Malays are being fed a narrative bordering on the idea that their race and Islam are both under threat, and that more affirmative policies will be needed in the new Pakatan Harapan government in the coming years and decades.

Secondly, and this is the main point of my article, he said Malay academics appear to be doing nothing at all but are letting this narrative play out to the opportunism of certain political parties and selfish NGOs.

I have been writing to the media for 20 years, saying absolutely the same thing, but it has earned me a negative perception from the Malay establishment especially in the public universities and even the previous higher education ministry.

Daim’s statement came as a sweet surprise to me as he was never one of my favourite politicians.

I know him as a savvy businessman who grew up within the Malay patronage system. As the economic and corporate worlds are outside of my understanding, I have shied away from trying to know anything about the man himself.

But a few days ago, I was surprised to find him articulating a historical, religious and political construct of what I consider a “Malaysia-Malay construct” as opposed to what I term a “Melayu-Malaysia” one.

A Malaysia-Malay construct is simply a Malay who understands his or her own heritage and faith within a Malaysian constitutional, multi-religious and multi-ethnic acceptance of co-existence, while a Melayu-Malaysia construct is a Malay who is just a Malay, then, now and forever, living in a land geopolitically defined as “Malaysia”. No compromise, no apologies.

The Melayu-Malaysia expects others to change for the sake of his race and faith, without the need to understand, tolerate or even acknowledge the importance of the existence of others as partners in nation-building.

The academics of this country have become purely self-serving and disinterested in nation-building.

The story of a disinterested academia began in the 1980s.

The Universities and University Colleges Act, or UUCA, was instituted to kill off or control student political activities and also that of the academics.

Under UUCA, no academic can speak or write to the media or the public without getting permission from the authorities. That basically sums it up.

A few academics were charged under the act, one of them the late Fadzil Noor who was the PAS president and an academic at a public university.

The involvement of the academia in nation-building basically died. With this law, the culture of academia turned inwards to a concentration on teaching until the idea of “world class” and being “internationally recognised” in rankings came into being in the late 1990s.

With this new mantra, academics are said to be successful if they publish in “high impact” or Scopus journals and receive million ringgit grants.

It would also sweeten the deal if an MoU were signed with European or American or Western universities deemed to be “world class” and “international”. Whether such ties would produce a culture of research and inquiry was disregarded as long as universities “dapat nama”, and a minister was there to observe the deals being signed. That’s it.

After the turn of the 21st century, public universities went full blast on rankings by journals with overseas publications. Locally published books, encyclopaedias and journals were regarded as third rate.

In the old days, books and media writings commanded a high percentage and weightage but now there is hardly a column to put them in on an evaluation or KPI form.

Once, I had to put my books, articles and 200 encyclopaedia entries in a column marked “other publications”.

I used to read Aliran, whose writers are academics from universities in the north. I found their writings to be fresh, bold and highly academic.

After 10 years, I noticed their designation was still “associate professor” and wondered when these people would be called “professor”.

I soon found out that they had migrated to the National University of Singapore. There is no future in Malaysia for “public intellectuals”.

I was lucky enough to be appointed a full professor before all the crazy journal hype began to take place in universities. I managed to squeeze by with my books, papers and other writings after attending the professor interview twice.

As my writings increasingly touched on society and the nation, my appointments at committees on the national level became fewer and fewer.

I no longer got invitations to public talks from universities, because I was told that I am “controversial” in the corridors of the chancellery.

So the only appointment letters from public universities that came to me were to be an examiner for PhD candidates and evaluator of professorships and associate professorships in architecture.

The coup de grace came after I went on optional retirement, leaving after 27 years of teaching and writing at a public university, exiting the campus alone and uncelebrated.

My application as contract professor to two public universities was rejected on grounds of me being “controversial”.

I have mentioned that the key to our future is the reeducation process of the Malay mind by Malay academics who understand that Islam is strong only if you read and understand, and not sit in front of the TV or the mosque podium listening to an ustaz giving his half-baked ideas of religion and society.

The fate of our country hinges on academics changing the narratives of what is important for Malaysians in the coming decades and centuries, to be in line with the goals of sustainable development outlined by the United Nations.

We won’t go very far listening to Friday sermons condemning progressive thinkers or LGBT that may have caused Allah to turn the hot weather on us.

Forget about STEM education if academics do not speak about it.

We are facing a Malay-Muslim society that has grown up with the Islamic resurgence of the 1980s with most Malays conscious about the afterlife and religious values for their children and society.

The International Islamic University Malaysia as well as Istac and Ikim were supposed to guide the Malays into a new era of modern and democratic understanding of Islam vis-a-vis nation-building and coexistence.

But where were these academics when two muftis encouraged the use of “kafir” on non-Muslim citizens, or when calls for “jihad” against the enemies of Islam came from the national mosque?

Daim’s speech must give pause to all the vice-chancellors of public universities to rethink their KPI for academics.

We need more public intellectuals to reform and rewrite the narratives of the nation, to bring social and religious harmony and sustainable wealth to the country.

We don’t need “high impact” journals to measure our success.

Just ask the man on the street whether he should vaccinate his children or whether the world is flat or defending minority groups would start a tsunami somewhere.

First published in freemalaysiatoday.com

Christchurch killings: Deputy minister highlights hypocrisy of Malaysian politicians

Following the massacre at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, Malaysian politicians from both sides of the divide condemned the incident.

Umno politicians such as Khairy Jamaluddin and Annuar Musa were also quick to criticise Australian senator Fraser Anning, who linked the shootings to the influx of Muslim radicals.

However, Housing and Local Government Deputy Minister Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah highlighted the similarities between the New Zealand shooter Brenton Tarrant and the hate being spread in Malaysia along racial and religious lines.

Without mentioning names, but in an obvious reference to Umno and PAS leaders, he also noted the hypocrisy of Malaysia’s opposition politicians with regard to this issue.

“The biggest irony is that there are certain opposition politicians who become livid over the threats against Muslims, who are the minority in New Zealand, France and the United States.

“At the same time, these politicians continue to threaten and make rash accusations based on racial and religious sentiments against the minorities in Malaysia,” he said in a statement today.

The Amanah leader also warned that if the racial and religious hate on social media is not curbed, then a similar tragedy could happen in Malaysia.

“Statements like halal darah (permissible to kill), kafir harbi (infidels who can be killed), pendatang (immigrants) which have long been spread through social media by influential personalities can create a fertile ground for serious racial and religious conflicts in Malaysia,” he said.

Apart from politicians, Raja Bahrin said religious scholars also make such statements which can influence the people.

“The label ‘pendatang’ accorded to a portion of Malaysian citizens is the same as the label ‘invaders’ used by the New Zealand shooter to describe Muslims.

“Using social media to fan hatred towards other races and faiths is also similar to the New Zealand’s shooter’s tactics,” he added.

Noting how the Dewan Rakyat yesterday condemned the incident in New Zealand, Raja Kamarul said Malaysian lawmakers should not criticise others on issues of racial and religious extremism when guilty of doing the same back home.

“If someday, an equally devastating incident happens in Malaysia, can Parliament say it happened without any sign or warning?” he asked.

Since the last general election, Umno and PAS, which are now in a formal alliance, have repeatedly accused the Pakatan Harapan administration of failing to safeguard the interests of the Malays and Islam.

Despite repeated denials, there are also accusations that the current administration is controlled by the predominantly Chinese DAP, whom certain Muslim politicians and groups claim is bent on undermining the special position of Islam and the Malays.

First published in Malaysiakini.com

Daim denounces “Malays under threat” as nonsensical political rhetoric

Since the last general election, the political narrative in Malaysia has centred around issues concerning race and religion, particularly the position of the Malays and Islam.

Speaking at UTM Skudai in Johor last night, former finance minister Daim Zainuddin addressed this issue and described the claim that Malays are under threat as nothing more than nonsensical political rhetoric.

“Despite being more educated and having a large educated segment, we are still unable to convince ourselves that Malays have nothing to fear in this country.

“Are Malays thinking strategically, critically and logically? It looks increasingly obvious every day that the Malays are thinking with their emotions instead of with their intellect. We must ask ourselves – what is happening to us?” he said.

According to Daim, who headed the Council of Eminent Persons, the Malays have allowed their emotions to run wild and influence their perception of others.

“When Mastika (Malay-language magazine) stopped writing ghost stories, circulation ended and now there is no more Mastika. Now instead of reading about ghosts in Mastika, we are seeing ghosts around every corner.

“Instead of depending on logic and facts, we prefer to buy into the racist rhetoric of politicians with dubious reputations,” he added.

Daim then asked his audience, comprising mainly of academicians, what role they were playing in injecting logic and facts into the Malaysia narrative.

“Do you intend to go along with the emotional flow or do you see it as your academic duty to question the irrational narratives that are being shoved down the Malays’ throats?

“Do you as ‘the educated’ speak honestly and bravely about what is happening or do you simply pretend that this growing racism is justified?

“All of you here are highly educated, but how many of you have bought into the nonsensical political rhetoric that the Malays are being threatened by the non-Malays in this country? That Islam is under threat simply because of one or two people being insensitive enough to post something on the Prophet (Muhammad)?” he added.

Daim said the current narrative, which centres around race and religion, gives the impression the Malays are on the verge of being driven out of their own country.

“There is so much anger and indignation when non-Malays were appointed to high posts in the government as if this is something new.

“Why is there not the same anger when we are confronted with facts of corruption and kleptocracy of the highest order among our Malay leaders? We don’t feel offended when it was prime news all over the world. Instead, we respond with “Malu apa? (Ashamed of what?)”. Kalau “tak malu,” apa jadi kepada iman kita (If we are not ashamed, what has happened to our faith)?

“The Malays can continue down this emotional and irrational path at our own peril or we can stop, think, reflect and call for change.

“Nobody is forcing us to be emotional and irrational. We have chosen to be that way ourselves because we have allowed ourselves to be bought over by politicians whose only goal is to gain or regain power, no matter what the cost – and the cost is almost always ours to bear,” he added.

Below is Daim’s speech in full:

To understand our current political climate, it is important to look back at our history. Kusut di hujung, balik ke pangkal (Messy at the end, return to the root of the problem).

The history of the Malays starts from long before the formation of Tanah Melayu. We are descendants of great empires, from Langkasuka, to Srivijaya, to Majapahit, to Melaka. Melaka, of course, is our most popular tale, that of a world-famous port whose global success led to its eventual colonisation.

And when Melaka fell to the Portuguese, those descendants of Sultan Melaka who survived founded a new empire here in Johor. They took control of the southern Malay Peninsula, spreading across Riau, Anambas, Natuna, Tambelan, Borneo, and Sumatra. Their success was attributed to the wisdom of their rulers, and their openness to international trade.

In more recent history, the formation of the Malayan Union and the subsequent opposition led by Umno were significant events that triggered real change in the political organisation of the Malays. Onn Jaafar, himself from Bukit Gambir and an MB of Johor, founded Umno in 1946, signalling the height of Malay political supremacy. We were united and we were strong.

But our unity did not last. We didn’t know how to deal with success; the Malays started to split. When we are successful, we are drunk with success. When we fail, we look for scapegoats and go amok.

Our battle with the Malayan Union was, in a way, the first true independence that we achieved – when the British backed down. We became masters of our own land.

But the political landscape changed, and many non-Malays began to consider Malaya home and demanded a say in their new homeland.

In 1951, Onn made the first attempt to unify the races in a single party when he tried to open the membership of Umno to non-Malays. However, Umno members at the time rejected it, and he left the party.

Nevertheless, the 1952 elections marked the first real political collaboration between Malays and non-Malays when Umno and MCA joined forces for political victory. They were later joined by MIC to form the Alliance, signalling political unity amongst all Malayans, achieving a sweeping victory in the 1955 elections.

Then came the negotiations for Merdeka, where all Malaysians worked hand-in-hand to shrug off the yoke of colonialism. We learned that we were stronger together – when all Malaysians were united, we could overcome challenges.

All this happened against a backdrop of consistent armed warfare against terrorists during the Emergency, when all races fought shoulder to shoulder to gain victory. We are the only country in the world to defeat terrorists.

Then came the formation of Malaysia and Konfrontasi and throughout Malays were working with non-Malays to achieve national goals.

So, Malaysia has had a strong and rich history of inter-racial harmony and multi-culturalism since its very inception. But we must admit that it is still very complex with jobs and economic sectors identified with race, income inequality between the races and different educational systems existing.

It cannot be denied that Malaysia will prosper when Malays prosper. You cannot have 50 percent of your population in low income, there will be economic instability affecting everyone, regardless of race or economic status.

For Malaysia to succeed, the Malays must succeed. But this can only be achieved within the national context, working together with non-Malays for the benefit of Malaysia.

Why is it that Malays were able to work so closely with non-Malays for so many years leading up to Merdeka and beyond? Even in the face of outside aggression, there were hardly questions of who deserved Malaysia more – the Malays or non-Malays. Indeed, it was only when politicians decided to use race and religion as tools to gain power that we fell by the wayside.

This talk is entitled ‘Naratif Malaysia: Melayu dalam Persoalan National’. My question to you is: should we not just be talking about a National Narrative? Need we break down a national narrative along racial and religious lines?

But if your intention is to find answers to inequality, and to answer why the Malays are behind economically, then I really hope that this seminar will provide the answer.

When we talk about the Malays, we must talk about Islam. The Malays and Islam are indeed deeply entwined. They cannot be discussed separately. But what this has led to is the ignoring of our cultural and regional heritage, which has been abandoned in favour of foreign cultures (Arabisation especially) which feed into the insecurity of the Malays. It seems that everyone who does not speak like us and everything that we do not agree with, is a threat to Malays and Islam.

We must ask ourselves – is this true? Why is this so? Since when have the Malays and Muslims become so insecure about our place in this country?

When the Malays were far less economically advanced and far less educated, we defeated the British by rejecting the Malayan Union. We were brave.

We knew to organise collectively and strategically. We used our brains to defeat a colonial power. We managed to gain independence without bloodshed. We had no problems working with non-Malays and even learning from other races.

As the Malays progressed, it seems so did our sense of insecurity. Why is this so? Could it be that when there were no crutches, we had dignity, and the Malays felt more secure of our place within the country?

We are not lacking in Malay heroes. Johor alone has a rich history of formidable warriors, renowned artists, poets, athletes, scientists, doctors, academicians, and businessmen.

There was Muhamad Salleh bin Perang, who was the Bentara Luar. He was the first to draw up an accurate map of Johor, without the modern technology that present-day surveyors have available. He was the Head of Land Management and State Survey, and he used his map to plan the development of Johor. He was a Malay, but he was fluent in Chinese and was knowledgeable about Chinese culture, which allowed him to work closely with them in developing the economy.

In the realm of politics alone, the list of honours is never ending. Tun Hussein Onn, our “Bapa Perpaduan”, was from Johor. And so was his own “Bapa”, the founder of Umno, Onn Jaafar. His father before him, Jaafar Muhammad, was the first and longest serving MB of Johor. Deputy Prime Ministers Tun Dr Ismail and Musa Hitam were sons of Johor. Tun Ismail’s family was illustrious on its own, including his father-in-law Seth Said, Deputy MB of Johor, who was part of the delegation for Merdeka, and signed the Merdeka agreement against the Sultan’s orders. Without him, we would not have had Merdeka.

Johor produced the President of the Senate, Rahman Yasin. He was Tun Dr Ismail’s father. Tun Dr Ismail’s brother-in-law Ghazali Seth, was Chief of Defence, and he married Sri Norziah – sister of Hussein Onn, daughter of Onn Jaafar. Tun Dr Ismail went to school in Sekolah Melayu Bukit Zaharah in JB with two other famous figures – his brother, Sulaiman Abdul Rahman, and Ahmad Perang, who became the first Malay chairman of KTM.

Mohamed Noah Omar, the first Speaker of Dewan Rakyat, was also from Johor. His family too was very special – his two daughters married the men who would go on to be our prime ministers. Rahah, the wife of Tun Razak, and Suhaila, the wife of Hussein Onn. Tun Razak studied at Raffles College, with another son of Johor, Taib Andak, after whom Felda Taib Andak in Kulai is named. His brother Rahman Andak, was one of the early campaigners for Johor’s independence, and was State Secretary of Johor in 1984.

Governors of Bank Negara, Aziz Taha, Jaffar Hussein and Zeti Aziz. Professor Ungku Aziz, Zeti’s father, is a renowned economist. Zeti’s grandfather, Syed Mohammed Alsagoff, used to own Pulau Kukup, and had a concession to print his own money. Today, we use money signed by his granddaughter.

Why should we feel insecure with a legacy as illustrious as this?

Again, could it be that after being given all sorts of crutches, the effect has been to make the Malays weak and insecure, and most noticeably, lacking in resilience? What has led to this lack of confidence? It seems that when the Malays were facing real challenges, such as fighting for independence, our resilience was so much stronger.

As ease and comfort and quality of life improved, confidence and resilience abated. These observations call for sincere self-reflection – instead of picking fights with perceived enemies, we should look inwards and try to better ourselves instead of blaming all of our ills on others. We seem to be scared of our own shadows.

Today, there is one Malay graduate for every 20 Malays. Despite being more educated and having a large educated segment, we are still unable to convince ourselves that Malays have nothing to fear in this country. Are Malays thinking strategically, critically and logically? It looks increasingly obvious every day that the Malays are thinking with their emotions instead of with their intellect. We must ask ourselves – what is happening to us?

We have allowed our emotions to run wild and influence the way we see others. We watch ghost movies at the box offices. When Mastika stopped writing ghost stories, circulation ended and now there is no more Mastika. Now instead of reading about ghosts in Mastika, we are seeing ghosts around every corner.

Instead of depending on logic and facts, we prefer to buy into the racist rhetoric of politicians with dubious reputations.

Since I am talking to academicians, I would like to pose this question to you: what role should you be playing in injecting some logic and fact into the Malaysia narrative? Do you intend to go along with the emotional flow or do you see it as your academic duty to question the irrational narratives that are being shoved down the Malays’ throats?

Do you as “the educated” speak honestly and bravely about what is happening or do you simply pretend that this growing racism is justified?

All of you here are highly educated, but how many of you have bought into the nonsensical political rhetoric that the Malays are being threatened by the non- Malays in this country? That Islam is under threat simply because of one or two people being insensitive enough to post something on the Prophet?

The religion cannot be insulted. Only people can be. If our faith is strong, we do not get insulted. In fact, we laugh at such ignorance. And our behaviour should reflect the best of our religion so that we and our religion earn the respect of others.

Our country is multi-cultural and multi-religious. We have managed to live here in peace. We are sensitive to our neighbours and respect one another. This is our way.

It is wrong to insult anybody, more so the Prophet. To make fun of religion is stupid. But we have laws, and we should respect due process. Many have forgotten our Rukun Negara. The most important document is the Constitution.

No Malaysian should make insensitive comments towards other religions and races. But what has happened with the proclamation of Jihad against non- Muslims recently?

If Muslims want to perform Jihad, it should be Jihad to better ourselves not only spiritually, but economically, academically and to contribute to the continued growth of our own country.

We talk about the Malay narrative as if we are on the verge of being driven out of our own country. There is so much anger and indignation when non- Malays were appointed to high posts in the government, as if this is something new.

Why is there not the same anger when we are confronted with facts of corruption and kleptocracy of the highest order among our Malay leaders? We don’t feel offended when it was prime news all over the world. Instead, we respond with “Malu apa?”. Kalau “tak malu”, apa jadi kepada iman kita (If we are not ashamed, what has happened to our faith)?

The Malays can continue down this emotional and irrational path at our own peril or we can stop, think, reflect and call for change. Nobody is forcing us to be emotional and irrational. We have chosen to be that way ourselves because we have allowed ourselves to be bought over by politicians whose only goal is to gain or regain power, no matter what the cost – and the cost is almost always ours to bear.

So, the choice is up to us – nak duduk macam katak di bawah tempurung (want to be like a frog beneath a coconut-shell)? Do we change and become a force to be reckoned within the context of the national agenda, Malaysia Baru, or do we go down the path we are currently treading and proclaim a narrative that is narrow, focused only on ourselves? Or will we pursue a truly National or Malaysia Narrative, in which we participate and play a very active role?

The National Agenda is not a Malay agenda or a non-Malay agenda. It is a Malaysian Agenda that takes into consideration all Malaysians. That fights poverty and inequality without discrimination, respecting the Constitution.

I am glad to note that this seminar is directed at the four sectors of politics, economy, budaya and agama. Let us get all of these right. To get all of these right, our education system must change. Don’t treat education as a political football. The education system must be right.

Our future, Malaysia’s future, will depend on giving our children the right type of education that will allow them to be confident to face the best in the world. Get education right, then politics and economy will be right. Brains minus emotions will determine our future and the future of Malaysia.

Expose our children to the world, then they will want to excel, and they will protect the best of our budaya.

There is nothing wrong with Islam. It is not under threat. It is the fastest growing religion in the world.

I would like to advise you not to follow politicians blindly. As I said earlier, for Malaysia to succeed, the Malays must succeed. I keep repeating, Iqra’ (Aik Krok) – read to acquire knowledge and to think critically. Choose the right path that will lead to success.

Time is very important and we are excellent at wasting time. We will lose to time. Let us tell ourselves from now on we shall not repeat past mistakes. We will give the best education to our children so that they can compete and succeed. Let us leave all failure of confidence behind, and start our future now.

Leave this hall confident and ok with ourselves. Tell our children that we will compete and we will succeed.

First published in Malaysiakini.com

Marrying when it’s convenient

By Wong Chun Wai

IT was a marriage doomed from the start. Of course, the flirting was exciting and both sides enjoyed this phase of the courting. Then, they discussed marriage.

In fact, Umno and PAS announced two weeks ago that they had formalised political ties and proudly proclaimed that they were now “married” after a three-hour meeting between leaders of both parties.

“We ‘exchanged rings’ in Sungai Kandis, ‘engaged’ in Seri Setia. Then, we decided to get ‘married’ – this is the official ceremony. And now, we are sitting on the dais,” Umno acting president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan proudly declared.

The Sungai Kandis by-election in August last year put in motion the alliance between the two parties after the 14th General Election. PAS made way for Umno to contest, although the Umno candidate lost to Pakatan Harapan.

“We are married,” a beaming Mohamad said after meeting PAS leaders led by their deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man.

But the wedding of the year, between Umno and PAS, has become a non-event. Invitation cards don’t need to be sent out.

On Monday, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said such a union would be incestuous, likening both parties as siblings.

Correction: PAS was married to Barisan Nasional for five years from 1974 and with Barisan Alternatif (which included PKR and DAP) from 1999 till 2004. PAS is a serial divorcee with a bad record of staying in a marriage.

To put it crudely, PAS slept with practically everyone including those it had branded “kafir” (infidels) and this even included Umno at one point. But now, Hadi apparently has amnesia, and is proclaiming Umno a brother. His argument is that a marriage (with Umno) will be incestuous, though flirting is permitted.

This rationale is no different from DAP’s, which used to justify the use of hudud, saying the amputation of hands shouldn’t be a concern for non-Muslims since only “the corrupt in Barisan” need to worry. Want proof? Just watch the related videos on YouTube.

DAP even organised study trips to Kelantan to show what an exemplary state it is, although most of us feel that Kelantan is hardly a shining example of how a state should be run. PAS information chief Nasrud­din Hassan Tantawi, the firebrand who advocates the ban of Valentine’s Day and concerts, thinks it’s the best place to live and retire in Malaysia.

In fact, Hadi even praised DAP then, saying the latter stood by the Islamist party when the Kelantan government crumbled in 1978. DAP, he noted, defended PAS when the Kelantan government fell to Barisan, “which caused chaos within the state.” He reportedly said Barisan, which was working with PAS then, did nothing to help them but “only DAP defended us at the time, and we are grateful to them”.

There are several reasons why PAS has suddenly decided to take a few steps back. The excitement of seeing the possibility of regaining many crucial seats – including states lost in the last general election – if they worked together was simply overwhelming.

Calling for Muslim unity, they seem prepared to ignore the rest of Malaysians – the non-Muslims who have abandoned them anyway.

Adding to the delusion, they forget that Sabahans and Sarawakians are not supporters of the politics of race or religion. In fact, they despise political personalities of this sort.

While Malaysians may have expressed disappointment in, among other things, the performances of some PH ministers and mentris besar, the inability to fulfil many of the election promises and the rising cost of living, any retrogressive steps, such as abandoning a multi-racial government, seems alarming, to say the least.

Let’s look at the Rantau state by-election where Mohamad Has­san is contesting – the electorate has a high Chinese and Indian presence although it has a 54% Malay electorate. The Chinese make up 19% and Indians 27%, with the other races making up the remainder.

Surely Mohamad can’t be entering the campaign shouting the Malay-Muslim rhetoric and ignoring the Chinese and Indians, the people who voted for him loyally in the past. And ironically, he is contesting against an Indian candidate from PH. All this talk of Umno-PAS must be shelved, at least, for now, until they get excited again with the seemingly amorous affair.

But PAS’ biggest problem is Hadi’s inconsistency, and this has led to rational and moderate Malaysians questioning his integrity and principles, or the lack of it. What’s disturbing is, he keeps using religion to justify his ever-changing stand for the sake of political expediency.

Only 30 years ago, he issued the proclamation known widely as Amanat Haji Hadi (the dictum of Haji Hadi), where he labelled Muslims who supported Umno and Barisan as kafir or infidels, and it disastrously led to Umno and PAS members attending prayers in different mosques. He criticised the Federal Constitu­tion and the country’s laws as uncivilised legislation created by colonists and infidels, and declared that one did not have to be a Jew, Christian, Buddhist or Hindu to be deemed an infidel; anyone who believed in the separation of politics and Islam was to be labelled an infidel.

In January, Hadi reportedly delivered a warning to Muslims to place their trust in Muslim leaders, regardless of their wickedness, claiming that non-believers would end up in hell if led by non-Muslims. The PAS president reportedly wrote a lengthy article recently stressing the importance of religion in keeping the law and the need for Islam to reign supreme in governing the country.

“If the one leading is a Muslim, even if he were to be cruel, at least (others) can become cattle herders,” the Marang MP wrote.

“But if the one who leads is a non-Muslim even if he were to be the kindest, (others) can work however they wish (but) without any limits of what is ‘halal’ and ‘haram’, they will still end up in hell.”

The impression given – and he seems to want to provide that perception – is that Muslims are in danger of losing control of the federal government, or that non-Muslims are heavily dictating the running of the present government.

And yet on Monday, he said although the federal government was led by PH, the Malay Muslims still hold the biggest political power, as they hold 130 of the 222 parliamentary seats, and “if you add up all the seats won by the Malay Muslims in Parliament, be it from Harapan, or the opposition, Islam is still the majority”.

We can safely say that non-Malays and non-Muslims recognise and accept that the leadership of Malaysia needs to be of Muslim-Malay stock, and no one in his right mind should question the status quo. But no political party should stoke the fires of racial and religious controversy, or worse, create fictional bogeymen at the expense of national unity, which is far more supreme than parochial political ambition.

First published in The Star

A trouble-sum game for PH

by Philip Golingai

THE possibility – if you are an Umno/PAS politician or supporter – is mouthwatering.

When you add the votes the two “newly-wed” parties received in GE14, they could have won many Malay-majority seats they lost.

Take the Jerlun parliamentary seat.

Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia deputy president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir won the Kedah seat, with 91% Malays out of the total voters, by a majority of 5,895. However, if PAS’ 12,829 votes and Barisan Nasional/Umno’s 12,413 votes were combined (25,241), Umno/PAS would have won it by 6,547 votes.

Take the Parit Buntar parliamentary seat.

Amanah vice-president Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa won the Perak seat, with 69% Malays out of the total voters, by a majority of 3,098. However, if PAS’ 12,312 votes and Barisan/Umno’s 13,655 votes were combined (25,967), Umno/PAS would have won it by a majority of 9,214 votes.

There are 29 MP seats the two parties could have won if their votes were not split.

Based on GE14 results, according to Umno Youth Chief Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, Umno and PAS combined could win at least 101 MP seats – Umno 54; PAS 18; plus, the 29 seats Pakatan Harapan won due to three-cornered fights.

That’s 11 MPs shy of a simple majority to form the Federal Government.

“This is only a simple calculation without taking into account the sentiment of the voters,” Asyraf said. “I believe with the heightened grievances towards the present government, at least 25 traditional Umno seats can be regained.”

Bridget Welsh, the editor of The End of Umno: Essays on Malaysia’s Former Dominant Party, crunched the numbers on how many of the 222 parliamentary constituencies, a united Umno and PAS could win in GE15. On the surface, Welsh said the alliance would yield 109 seats base on winning Malay-majority constituencies. It could win 125 seats base on the combination of PAS and Barisan votes, she said.

“These are based purely on the GE14 results and should only be seen as possible markers of support,” she qualified.

There were five things to consider in looking at the possible trajectories, Welsh said.

First is Inter-party cooperation: “Whether PAS and Umno grassroots will be comfortable working together. It is one thing to have this dynamic in a by-election where the target is the Pakatan government, it is another to have this play out in states where there has been traditional antipathy, e.g. Terengganu and Kelantan,” she said.

Second, Inter-coalition effect: “An important question is whether non-Malays would vote for Barisan with PAS as part of the ‘marriage’ option. One thus cannot underestimate the multi-ethnic effect of Barisan, especially strong in Sabah and Sarawak where there is greater resistance to PAS.”

Third, Protest effect: Much of the support for PAS was a negative vote against Umno and Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

“It is thus important not to overstate PAS support. Many did not vote for the PAS agenda,” said Welsh.

Fourth, Party decay: “One also cannot assume they have the same level of support as in the past.”

And fifth, Leadership effect: Neither PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang nor former Umno president Najib will be viable as a national leader.

Political analyst Dr Abdul Latiff Mohd Ibrahim said based on the GE14 results, Umno and PAS’ marriage of convenience stand to increase their seats to around 122.

However, he said, one had to factor in how Pakatan was going to strategise from now to GE15 to confront this new alliance.

“That will also have a strong bearing on the voting trend and the fortunes of the two coalitions. Once PH overcomes its current ‘learning’ woes, some improvements to its performance are to be expected,” he said.

The only drawback, Abdul Latiff said, was how Pakatan was going to counter racist propaganda from Umno-PAS given that they have made DAP their punching bag.

“So far DAP’s reactions have not helped bring down the racist temperature created by Umno and PAS. DAP must do a lot more learning of Malay-Muslim culture and psychology in order to reduce the effect of the racist propaganda being unleashed currently,” he said.

Political analyst Dr Sharifah Syahirah Syed Sheikh said the combination of the two well-established parties would definitely have a strong impact.

“Hopefully they will not use race/religious negative sentiments to gain popularity. They should focus on long term goals such as national unity and the country’s development,” she said.

The combined clout of the two parties was demonstrated in the Semenyih state by-election. With the support of the Islamist party, Umno regained the constituency it lost to Pakatan in GE14 when both parties stood against each other.

Will their political marriage ensure that Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan can retain his Rantau state seat? It might be a tricky by-election as unlike Semenyih where 68% of the total voters are Malays, in Rantau it is 54%.

It would be a big challenge for Barisan/Umno to retain the seat, said Abdul Latiff.

“Even if Umno garners 80% of the Malay votes that would be 42% of the total Malay votes and they would be hard-pressed to achieve the remaining 9% from the non-Malay votes which PH is expected to gain,” he said.

To gauge who would win Rantau which is a Barisan’s stronghold, Sharifah Syahirah said one needed to consider indicators such as candidate’s locality, personality and track record.

Asyraf is optimistic the former Negeri Sembilan Mentri Besar could win mainly because of his personality.

“He has been serving the people there like his own family. Everyone is close to him including the Chinese and Indians,” he said.

Umno and PAS, said Asyraf, still needed non-Malay votes as they did not want to take over the country by undermining its special legacy of having representatives of diverse races. Welsh noted that non-Malays mattered politically and they held the balance of power.

With 46% Chinese and Indians out of the total voters in Rantau, any rational party will drool for their votes.

First published in The Star

Reform in the judiciary and Royal Commission of Inquiry

By Mah Weng Kwai

MARCH 7 — In view of recent events, I wish to write on the reforms in the judiciary and the training of judges. I believe that it is important that the public be made aware of the steps taken to implement reforms that will strengthen the judiciary.

I am acutely conscious of the public’s desire for urgent reform of the many important institutions in the country, including the judiciary.

I write this letter to highlight to the public that work has been undertaken to bring about positive changes to the judiciary since July 12, 2018 by the new management of the judiciary.

These changes are substantive and not cosmetic by any measure. They include:

1) E-court reforms

  1. A system of e-balloting (without human intervention) has been introduced so that there can be no interference in the empanelling of the Judges sitting in the appellate courts. This is an internationally recognised method of ensuring judicial independence because no interference is possible, and no senior judge may direct any particular Judge to hear a case.
  2. E-review — online case management without the physical presence of parties.
  3. Queue management system — the display of hearing time on LCD screens and mobile apps at the appellate courts.
  4. Video conferencing system in Peninsular Malaysia for hearing of simple applications by way of video conferencing.

2) Collective leadership

The decision-making process of all administrative and policy matters of the courts is now done collectively by the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, the President of Court of Appeal, the Chief Judges of Malaya and Sabah and Sarawak respectively and not from “top down..

3) Establishment of a consultative committee

A consultative committee (consisting of representatives from the Attorney General’s Chambers, the Judiciary, the Malaysian Bar, the Sabah Law Association and the Advocates’ Association of Sarawak) has been established and is tasked to define the parameters of what amounts to judicial interference or intervention, administrative actions or mere advice.

4) Appointment of judges

Though not required by law, the consultative committee will and has been consulted in the appointment and promotion of judicial commissioners and judges. Presently the Judicial Appointments Commission as a recommending body will submit the names of shortlisted candidates to the Prime Minister for appointment by the king.

5) Separation of the judicial and legal services

Initiatives have been taken to separate the judicial and legal services administratively. The Chief Registrar’s Office under the direction of the Chief Justice has submitted a proposal to the executive for the deletion of Pekeliling Perkhidmatan Bil 6/10.

6) Written judgments

A circular has been issued by the Chief Justice directing that grounds are necessary for the hearing of appeals in the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court. A case summary will be issued to the press in respect of public interest cases to ensure accuracy in media reporting. Dissenting judgments are encouraged.

7) Judicial review

The Rules of Court 2012 have been amended recently by the Rules Committee, of which the Chief Justice is the chairman, to dispense with the “leave application” requirement in judicial review matters. This change is now waiting to be gazetted by the government. A judicial review guide for public officers launched at the opening of the legal year 2019 has been published.

8) Continuing legal education

The Judicial Academy continues to provide monthly training for judges on various topics of the law. In this respect, the Judicial Academy continues to collaborate with the judiciary from United States of America, England, Singapore and Australia to enhance the quality of the justice delivery system to the public in Malaysia.

9) Corporate social responsibility

  1. Mobile Court programmes, environmental programmes and charity programmes. Activities include building a hostel for students, free meals for staff and back-to-school programmes.
  2. Courtroom to classroom programmes jointly organised with UITM and the Ministry of Education. Activities include giving talks to primary and secondary school students and bringing students to the courts to experience court proceedings.
  3. Engagement with stakeholders, ministries and government agencies and international bodies.

Judges, by the very nature of their position and in the best traditions of the institution, do not and cannot respond publicly to the kind of personal criticisms levelled against them recently.

I had the honour to serve till my retirement as a Court of Appeal judge, remember only too well what is (quite rightly) expected of judges, and the responsibility judges have in upholding the Constitution and to the litigants who appeared before them.

I remember well my respected brother and sister judges many of whom are still on the Bench, and who continue to execute their duties faithfully and with integrity. I am also delighted to see so many promising new talents who are serving, and who are prepared to serve, in the Judiciary.

This brings me back to recent events. It cannot be denied that the judiciary has in the past suffered from many disturbing incidents. One such Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) has already taken place, that looked into the Lingam tapes scandal.

Now a second RCI is to be held because of an affidavit sworn by a sitting Court of Appeal judge which contains serious allegations. As stated, the judges referred to in the affidavit cannot respond publicly and the RCI will now give them an opportunity to do so ion whether there is any legal or factual basis to the allegations.

It will also be an opportunity to address holistically the concerns expressed by the public about the judiciary. However, in the interest of due process, the work of the RCI should start with a direction to the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to complete their investigations into the several police reports made regarding the contents of the affidavit.

I must emphasise that the findings of the RCI must contain actionable recommendations that will assist in a systemic and positive changes in the judiciary. Such changes are imperative to enhance the rule of law and the independence and impartiality of the judiciary.

Judicial independence is a core feature of the rule of law and steps must be taken to restore public confidence in the Judiciary as an institution. Malaysia must aspire to adhere to the international standards as set out in the United Nations Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary.

This will serve to bolster not only the independence but also the integrity and sanctity of the judiciary as well as to promote the rule of law.

In the meantime, Malaysians must take heart that the work of the judiciary has been proceeding as usual as it should be, and the judges. must be left to carry out their duties unimpeded.

First published on malaymail.com

PH ministers are L license drivers: Daim

PETALING JAYA, Feb 20 (Sin Chew Daily) — Former Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin described the ministers of the Pakatan Harapan government as the “L license” drivers, and they took over a “dried tree” with only roots left, estimating that the tree grow again after two years, and the national economy and administration can gradually get better.

Last year, Malaysia celebrated 60 years of independence and changed government. After 9 months of the administration under Pakatan Harapan government, Daim evaluated the performance of the new government when he accepted an exclusive interview with the Sin Chew Daily.

He joked that he used to work in the government for a long time and did things very quickly. Like Mahathir, he was an “F1 racer”, and the new government minister was still “L license holders”. People should not hope that they could compete with F1 racers.

”In the 100 days after Pakatan Harapan took office, I (then the chairman of the elite advisory group) was responsible for collecting and analyzing the information. My staff worked until 4 am, and as the F1 driver I had to work until midnight.”

He said that the operation of a government is not easy. Pakatan took over a “dried tree” in a mess. The people are now eager to make various demands from the government. They have forgotten that the new gardeners are looking after the dying tree for it to continue growing.

”This tree will continue to grow and the people should have more patience.”

He said that as long as the “L-license ministers” become qualified drivers, everything will improve and they will need two years for the country to be in good shape.

Asked when the national economy will improve, Daim expects it to get better in two years. “The pre-condition is that there is no external intervention. We don’t know what will happen. Just like the Sino-US trade war and the US involvement in Venezuela, politics is complicated and inter-related, so we must always be vigilant.”

His advice to the L-license ministers are to remain united. Although the ministers can have their own agendas on behalf of their respective political parties, the issues can be brought to the cabinet for discussion. However, the cabinet must adhere to the principle of collective responsibility and no criticism outside the cabinet.

”For example, if the Ministry of Housing wants to build low cost houses, it must be approved by the EPU, the Ministry of Finance, the municipal government, etc. This is a complicated issue. If it is too long, the people are impatient and think that the minister says too much and cannot deliver.”

Pakatan Harapan must honour the election manifesto

Daim said that he reminded the Pakatan government that it must fulfill the promise of the election manifesto, otherwise it will not be able to gain the trust of the people in the future.

”If there is something that cannot be done now, it must be explained to the people, such as the abolition of toll promised.”

He pointed out that after research and analysis, if the toll is to be abolished immediately, the Government must pay RM110 billion compensation.

He said, but now Malaysia’s debt level exceeds RM1 trillion, and it still need to borrow some money. If the money is borrowed for the acquisition of the company, the debt level will increase, the credit rating will be lowered, the ringgit value will decline, and the price will continue to increase. People will criticized, so the Government must strike a balance.

”So the government need more time to study, this can be done, it takes more time, and the government must explain to the people at this time.”

Ministers should go to rural areas too

Asked about his assessment of the ministers’ performance, Daim disclosed that someone told him that he had waited for six months to meet with a minister but still to no avail.

”They were full of frustration and anger when they complained to me. In fact, the people just want the minister to listen to their grievances and they are very happy. Even if some of the matters can’t be solved, people won’t mind.”

He said that the elected representative must blend with the crowd, get the support of the people, and not to repeat the mistakes of Umno.

He also said that ministers cannot just believe in their own teams, but they must also cooperate with civil servants in order to allow government matters to be handled smoothly without delay.

The cabinet is not an opposition party

Daim reminded the cabinet ministers that they are the ruling government and should no longer have the opposition party’s mindset where they only know how to attack, but they do not know how to defend government’s policies.

He pointed out that many people in the cabinet still stay in the “opposition mindset” and are good at attacking, but they cannot defend their own policies.

”Everyone likes to attack each other but now the leaders of the Pakatan Harapan are no longer opposition parties, they can’t just attack, and they must not attack each other.”

He said that what the Pakatan Harapan government needs to do now is to defend the government’s policies and explain the government’s policies to the world.

As some ministers have expressed different opinions on some topics such as the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), Daim believes that there should be a unified voice in the government.

”Other countries such as China, the United States, and the United Kingdom leave it to a spokesperson to speak, to avoid confusion.”

He believes that the government should set up a team to communicate with the people. The existing team focuses on attacking the former government, rather than promoting the government’s policies.

Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib has recently shot to fame in social media. He believes that the reason is that Najib has a team coming up with questions and Pakatan Harapan rarely responds.

He said that Najib’s team is good at publicity. In fact, the new government has made many reforms but lack of coordination and like to publicise through the media.

In response to the people still facing the problem of excessive living expenses, Daim said that the Pakatan government has stopped collecting (GST) from July to September last year, where its income was reduced by RM10 billion. The people should save money when GST was abolished instead, they were spending unwisely.

”Under the principle of supply and demand, since everyone is willing to spend money, how can prices of goods be reduced? Since everyone spends money, why should businesses lower prices? When the sales and service tax (SST) is implemented in September, prices will certainly be higher.”

He said that the government must explain to the people that the government has “sacrificed” RM10 billion in taxes. It was savings for the Rakyat but the Rakyat wants to spend.

Economy

Daim said that this year’s economy is expected to slow down due to the fluctuation of international oil prices. Other issues included Brexit, Sino-US trade war, Venezuela, the Middle East issue, Syria and Afghanistan, oil palm price decline, etc. The entire world is affected.

He said that in the economic recession that first experienced in the 1980s, it also faced a decline in price for commodities such as palm oil and rubber prices. Before that, when the price of palm oil fell, the price of rubber rose, and vice versa. However, when prices fell simultaneously, the economic recession occurred.

”At that time, we sat down to discuss how to stabilize the price. I asked the then Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tun Lim Keng Yaik to talk with Indonesia and Thailand to set the ceiling price and floor price. At least the small estate holders know the top price and the reserve price.

At that time, the cooperation of the three countries could stabilize the price of the raw materials. The current situation is unclear, but I believe we can talk to our neighboring countries.”

Asked whether the establishment of Economic Action Council can revive our economy, Daim pointed out that the council can allow cabinet ministers to make quick decisions on economic issues.

He said prior to this the Council of Elders could collect information and data, such as how to deal with the national debt problem, but could not implement various debt relief measures. But the council chaired by the prime minister can implement measures to deal with the problem more quickly.

As for why he is not a member of the Economic Action Council, he said that it would be nice to let the newcomers to join with new ideas. He laughed that his “F1 racer” was running too fast and that accidents might occur.

”I hope that this council can solve economic problems more quickly, and the decision made by the council can be implemented after approval by the cabinet.”

On ringgit’s performance in future, he said that too many external factors are involved and he is unable to predict.

”I manage the economy in a style that is like managing a family, spend in a prudent manner and not to have too much borrowings. Adhere to financial discipline in a strict manner. “

Elite Advisory Group report contains 15 topics

Daim said that the report submitted by the Council of Elders to the government should be made public to let the people debate and discuss, and then the government will know which recommendations should be implemented.

He said that the report has 15 topics, including institutional reforms, parliamentary reforms, living expenses, affordable homes, toll rates, e-hailing car services, debt, and unemployment.

”We collect the information and analyze the problem and hand it over to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister decides what to do. The people are asking about the content of this report. I think it should be made public so that the people can debate but I also appreciate the sensitivities and there are laws to follow”.

Tun Daim was given key responsibilities by Prime Minister Tun Mahathir in the past. He was invited to the cabinet twice in the 1980s and 1990s. He was in charge of the Finance Ministry and the Special Functions minister of the Prime Minister’s Department where he retired in 2001.

After Mahathir returned to power, he also set up a council of elders before he first announced the cabinet line-up. Daim was appointed the chairman and assisted the government and provided advice 100 days after the new government won the election.

The other members of the Council of Elders are Malaysian richest man Robert Kuok, former National Bank President Tan Sri Zeti, former President and CEO of Petronas Tan Sri Hasan Malik and economist Jomo.

ECRL is still under negotiation

Tun Daim said that the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) contract is still in the negotiation stage and there is no final decision. Prime Minister Tun Mahathir will visit China in April this year. When attending the 2nd Belt and Road International Cooperation Summit, both Malaysia and China would be hoping to be able to achieve a win-win situation for this matter.

He said that Malaysia and China have set a deadline to negotiate and hope to conclude the negotiation this year. But of course, the sooner the better.

In an exclusive interview with Sin Chew Daily, Tun Daim said that the Malaysian government had considered cancelling the ECRL project because the cost is too high where Malaysia has to bear both construction and running costs. The government also faces terms which we feel not fair.

The cost of ECRL soar from the original RM55 billion to RM66 billion. If interest is added, the cost may be as high as RM90 billion.

”We believe that these costs are unfair, the government is not against the plan, and more dissatisfied with the pricing, operation and running cost, plus the payment terms. These are the conditions agreed by the former BN government.”

”However, basically this is an infrastructure project. We believe that if there is better planning and a blueprint for development, plus more reasonable development costs, in the long run, this project can and should benefit the people.”

”We also need to explore how to share some of our operations and running costs with China, not just in terms of cost, but also technology transfer and other matters.”

”We have initiated multiple rounds of negotiations to explore how to reduce the cost of this project. We also explore the joint operating costs after the project is completed.”

He believes that the existing railways are sufficient. The money is generated by freight rather than passengers. The passenger fare is subsidised by the government.

”This plan was mainly for former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib… because 1MDB is in trouble.”

In addition, Tun Daim said that the Malaysian government needs to be very cautious in dealing with the East Rail project because it involves government agencies and government-owned companies.

”I think the issues involving bilateral countries should not be made public. I have been conducting negotiations on behalf of the Malaysian government since 1981. The ECRL project is still under negotiation and there is no final decision.”

”This involves bilateral relations, and the situation is complicated, because it involves not only the ECRL but also other areas such as trade, oil palm, tourism, etc.”

Tun Daim said that China is Malaysia’s main trading partner and China is also an important trading partner in the region. “I believe that this issue can be resolved through proper diplomatic channel. At the same time, Malaysia and China can also achieve a win-win situation.”

”I can say that both parties have reached a comfortable level in terms of relationship.”

”There must be mutual trust in negotiations. Therefore, we cannot have too many people involved, as this may cause confusion and can be muddled.”

He believes that important things, especially for the corporate sector, they want certainty and decisiveness, which is what we hope to achieve in the current round of negotiations.

Tun Daim stressed that the ECRL project is not just a contract, which includes Malaysia-China relations and friendship dating back centuries.

”We must maintain close political, trade and cultural ties.”

Tun Daim said that according to the contract, if Malaysia and China want to terminate the project, he can bring the case for arbitration first, but both sides agree not to do so. At present he tries to negotiate with the China on price.

”The current stage is negotiating the price and the price has not yet been recognized. I am doing commercial settlement so that both parties gain,’’ he said.

”As reported earlier, significant progress has been made in reducing development costs, and we believe that if a good price can be negotiated, along with some other issues currently under discussion, the project is likely to be implemented.”

Asked if he knew the Cabinet’s decision on the ECRL, Daim said that he did not know the decision of the Cabinet.

With regards to the amount of compensation that the Malaysian government needs pay to cancel ECRL, Tun Daim did not give positive response. He merely said the parties can bring the case for arbitration if both parties so decide. We prefer to sit, talk and settle.

Tun Daim believes that Malaysia’s recent cancellation or suspension of development projects between Malaysia and China will not affect the friendship between the two countries. China is more concerned about the issue of “face”.

”So, we want to help maintain China’s ‘face.’ We are old friends.”

”Our relationship with China is not only 45 years, but dated back to the Malacca dynasty. We are very close to China in terms of culture and economy. They are happy with Malaysia and we are happy with them.”

Anwar is the choice for the future prime minister

Whether PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar, can take over the baton of Prime Minister from Tun Dr Mahathir in 2020 has various versions. Daim is of the view that according to Pakatan Harapan’s agreement, Anwar is the successor to Dr Mahathir as future prime minister.

He said: “Pakatan Harapan has reached an agreement. I don’t understand why there are unnecessary arguments which create instability. Why do we have to speculate, create problems and instability? They have agreed, let them and we should not intervene.”

Tun Daim is also a former finance minister. He accepted an exclusive interview with Sin Chew Daily and responded to questions whether Anwar, the former deputy prime minister, could take over as the future prime minister.

”I said: This is an agreement, let’s go through with the agreement.”

He said that Anwar’s decision to take over as prime minister is not an issue. He does not understand why someone deliberately create unnecessary problems.

”Because they want to win the party election, they have created all kinds of issues.”

Asked if Dr Mahathir has given assurance of stepping down in 2020 for Anwar to take over, Daim replied: “I often meet Anwar and he praised Dr Mahathir of believe him.’’

”I tell you that in the current economic situation, no one wants to be the prime minister. Let Dr Mahathir completes the task in order. When the food is ready, you can eat it. Why do you want empty dishes? Let Dr Mahathir do everything, and he will retire.”

The consequences of cooperation between Umno and PAS

Tun Daim believes if Umno and PAS collaborate to play with religious issues, it is a very dangerous matter for Malaysia, and may take Malaysia to a more extreme direction.

He stressed that religion must not be allowed to infiltrate politics.

He said that one can’t argue with religion because it is seen as a fate and it involves emotions.

”PAS has its own interpretations on things. To manage the country, religion must be left aside. Religion should be an individual matter.”

”They accused Pakatan Harapan of not protecting Islam and organised demonstrations against the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). I have explained that if we violate the positions of the Malays, we need to amend the Constitution… and ICERD is a Convention, not a legal issue.”

If you turn matters into emotional issues, you can’t argue anymore..”

Tun Daim also said that if Malaysia were to vote based on race and religion, rather than universal/common values, this will be the saddest day for Malaysia.

”PAS continues to use religion and persuade the Malays to vote for Muslim candidates as an obligation, even though these candidates are corrupt, lazy or inefficient.”

”PAS continues to play on emotions and causes the Malay community to panic, including the fate of their after life depends on which party they support. We cant stop PAS with its politics” but he believes that the best way to solve this kind of issue is to educate and improve people’s standard of living.

50% chance in Semenyih by-election

According to Tun Daim’s analysis, both Pakatan Harapan and BN share equal chance in winning the Semenyih by-election. Pakatan Harapan government must be in control and offer explanation to voters.

A minister’s capability as well as his willingness to go on the ground to physically and diligently conduct field visits, will add that chances of winning the by-election.

He said that the Pakatan Harapan candidate did not manage to win the Cameron Highlands by-election and the problem is not about high cost of living or that the election manifesto has not been fulfilled. Instead, Pakatan Harapan has not been able to offer good explanations to the people and feel for the people.

He believes that ministers should walk on the ground and know how to explain to the people why the government has not been able to fulfil the promises in the election manifesto, rather than attacking the opposition.

According to Umno analysis, they can win the by-election with a majority of about 300 votes, so they may arrange for a Chinese candidate to become an independent person in order to split the votes.

”If it is a 50 to 50 situation, more than 300 of majority votes are a large number of votes.”

”The result of the Cameron by-election is negative for Pakatan Harapan. When BN arranged for Orang Asli to contest, Pakatan Harapan should not field a Malaysian Indian candidate. Because 50% of the votes are the Orang Aslis or the Malays.”

”In terms of strategy, PH should look for an Orang Asli…but PH candidate has lost three times, you can’t always field a loser to contest …”

Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib shot to fame online during Cameron Highlands by-election. He was referred as “bossku.”

In response to this, Tun Daim asked: “Why is Najib becoming popular? Because Pakatan Harapan does not have a communication team.”

”When Najib said, ‘I am a thief who steals people’s heart,’ why no one immediately jumped out to refute him:, ‘If you are a thief who steals heart, you would not have lost GE14.’’’

Umno MPs’ crossover

Crossover of some Umno MPs to Bersatu has caused protest among some people and even high-ranking leaders in Pakatan Harapan. Tun Daim believes for Pakatan Harapan to do reforms and it needs to have two-thirds majority.

”I think the people are really confused. If we want to carry out reforms, we need to have two-third majority, otherwise we are unable to deliver.”

”Some people are impatient. Even some non-governmental organizations have lost patience. They accuse the government of not doing anything. But they know that PH needs two-thirds majority in order to deliver. Now there are Umno members who want to crossover to Pakatan Harapan. They choose Bersatu. You should support PH, if you want to reform. If Umno members have changed, why not them?”

”You complain that PH fails to deliver… The party wants to accept frog, but you don’t want the party to do this. What do you want? Which one is your priority? Reform?”

”If you want them to stay in the original party, don’t complain that the government has not fulfilled election pledges,” he said.

In addition, Tun Daim said that there is no law in Malaysia prohibiting MPs from crossing over. MPs have the freedom to choose the political parties they want to join.

”Tun Dr Mahathir himself comes from Umno, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin too, PAS was also the former Umno and PKR too. As long as they change, you should not oppose.”

”It is up to them to either join Pribumi, PKR, DAP or Amanah. They have the freedom and there is no law to stop them.”

”Some people have accused Pakatan Harapan a weak government, and the Malays refer to this government as led by the DAP. This is not true.”

”Prior to this Umno was strong, no one could oppose it. It was very powerful. Now, the four parties of Pakatan Harapan are all equal, and the number of ministers of each party is almost the same, no matter how many seats you have. The new government pays attention to equality.”

Tun Daim believes that although Pribumi receives a large number of Umno members, Pribumi will not be Umno 2.0.

He said that Umno has deteriorated, so members will leave to join Pribumi.

He stressed that the Pribumi did not use money to lure Umno MPs from crossing over but they sincerely want to join Pribumi, such as the former Minister of Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Mustapa.

”MPs need to take care of their constituencies. The current government is fair, and the opposition party can also receive constituency grants, but the sum is not enough. They need more funds to serve the area.”

On whether the government intend to draft an anti-hopping law to stop MPs from crossing over, Tun Daim believes that the Constitution allows people to freely join political parties unless the government amends the constitution.

”Earlier someone in Sabah took the cross-over case of an elected representative to the court, but the court stated that people enjoy this freedom in the constitution, so they can’t do anything and the case was dismissed.”

Recognition of UEC

On recognition of UEC, Tun Daim said, the Malays must first be assured and discard their defensive mode for the Malays to know that they have nothing to lose.

He believes that the Malays will oppose the government’s recognition of UEC because they believe the move violates constitution and the rights of the Malays, so the government need to explain.

”The only way is to educate. If they are educated, you can argue that you can find good jobs, good income, and you don’t have to worry about anything. But unfortunately, this subject has been politicized.”

Tun Daim explained that first of all, the government need pacify the Malays that they have nothing to lose. After all, education is the key to our future.

”We need to sit down and discuss. Even DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang said PH needs Malay support. We need to deal with this subject with caution.”

”We must make sure we inform everyone that we are all Malaysians, this is our country, let us fight together. We can discuss details, but deal with the principle matters first.”

He also mentioned that there are currently many Malays who send their children to Chinese schools because the schools are more disciplined.

”People seek good education, and you will find that only the rich Chinese and the wealthy Malays send their children to English (private) schools.”

”If the national schools offer the best like those English (private) schools, everyone will want to go to the national schools. Therefore, the Ministry of Education must sit down and discuss this issue and ensure national schools offer the best on education.”

”Parents want the best education for their children and they sent their children to best schools. It is a duty of the Government to provide the best schools and education to the people. Children are our future. Education must unite all of us.”

You ask about economy, I know and I can answer. If you ask about education or health, I find it difficult to answer. I don’t know these subjects.

First published in mysinchew.com.

Pathetic and disgusting

By Wong Chun Wai

PATHETIC and disgusting. That’s surely an understatement in describing the continuous racist slurs non-Malays have had to endure.

Using non-Malays – particularly the Christians – as bogeymen hasn’t ended, even more than six decades after independence.

The situation has probably worsened because social media has made things more evident and amplified them. Thankfully though, politicians selling venom to their target audience can no longer be a covert affair.

These chameleons used to stir the hornet’s nest of race and religion with the Malays, portraying themselves as champions of their community. And then, they have no qualms attending events at Chinese new villages, where they try to please the residents by professing to be one people. Just to add value to the “show”, even a calligraphy writing session is entertained.

Next on their “tour” – get on stage, put their palms together, and greet the people in Tamil, and then do the dance bit, of course. And we bought all that, believing they portrayed the real Malaysia.

Incredibly, some are still doing the rounds. For a fresh twist, the LBGT element has even been thrown in now, and despite the charade being recorded, clarification must be issued to say otherwise. You know, I didn’t mean it.

Someone has forgotten that it isn’t only the ghosts, drunkards and LBGT community who are still awake at 11pm and need to use the toll.

These commuters include nurses, doctors, policemen, security guards, hawkers, taxi drivers, restaurant employees, firemen, factory workers, food deliverers and of course, journalists too, and we often work the infamous graveyard shift.

Scoring points and teaming up with an equally repulsive partner to create suspicion against other fellows, with fictional threats of race and religion, is just unacceptable.

While we cringe over the thought of how there are listeners who buy their hate speech, we expect these politicians to at least rise above these nauseating tactics and convince the people that they can provide better governance and deliver more than the present government.

They should prove to the people that the new government’s failings include not fulfilling its election promises, allowing the cost of living to go up and watching the ringgit’s value shrink. And to add ammunition, highlight how some ministers have even failed their probation.

That’s what a fault-finding Opposition is supposed to do – ensure check and balance, and behave like a government in-waiting, but here we have opposition Members of Parliament who can’t wait to broker a deal by defecting to the government’s side of the fence.

There’s another distateful story. It’s about an Umno MP who crossed over to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and had the gall to admit that he was doing it for the constituents.

So, we have an odd situation where opposition MPs mourned the defeat of the previous government even after almost a year, and now plot to join the new government. Not plot to topple, of course, not that again, but plot to join. Naturally, it’s in the interest of the people.

We believe you, well, some of us do. Most of us know it’s just a lie, but hey, we are in the era of malu apa

Then, there are the “remnants”, who probably won’t be accepted by the new government, and figure that the only way for them to get back on the gravy train is to stoke the fires of racial and religious sensitivity. You’ve got to give it to this lot, though. They are, at least, fighting back, although their methods are pretty despicable.

However, the hate speeches will likely work in some constituencies, where, like oil, it burns the minds and hearts of angry voters who are already struggling to put food on the table for their families.

Still, it’s the pits when someone like Barisan Nasional secretary-general Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz resorts to claiming that having a non-Muslim Attorney General is not “lawful” since he took oath without swearing on the Quran. Nazri, of course, is bluffing, but he’s like those snake oil peddlers who will say anything to make a sale.

Nowhere in the Federal Constitution does it state that an AG needs to take an oath using the Quran. And surely, we won’t expect the likes of Nazri to concede that in the history of Malaya, there were six British AGs.

Cecil Sheridan, who died aged 88 in 2000, was the last British Attorney-General of Malaya and helped in drafting the constitution of its successor state, Malaysia.

When Malaya attained independence in 1957, Sheridan was promoted to Solicitor-General and in 1959, became the country’s Attorney-General. He also helped in the preparations for the formation of Malaysia in 1963 and in the process, worked closely with Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Prime Minister of Malaya, Tun Razak Hussein, its deputy Prime Minister, and Lee Kuan Yew, of Singapore.

True, the eight subsequent successors were Malays, but there’s no race and religion criteria in the appointment of the top-ranking public prosecutor of the country.

The first Lord President of Malaysia – now renamed Chief Justice – was a Scot named Tun Sir James Thompson, who assumed the post in 1963 when Malaysia was formed. He held the post until 1966.

Likewise, after independence in 1957, Malaysia’s first two finance ministers were ethnic Chinese – Tun H.S. Lee and Tun Tan Siew Sin. However, from 1974 until very recently, the post had been held by Malays.

So, what we are effectively saying is that our founding fathers had no issue with the ethnicity of these important posts such as chief judge, attorney general and finance ministers. However, as six decades have worn on, we have become more degenerate, insisting on focusing on race and religion, instead of qualifications, credibility and integrity as the main criteria?

Certainly, these men, who held the loftiest positions, did well then, and many of us can accept that they didn’t collude with individuals to loot the wealth of this country and the Malays – who make up the bulk of Malaysians.

The harsh reality is that the pilfering and corruption are shamelessly executed by those claiming to fight for their race and religion. They shouldn’t blame anyone else or try to fan the flames of racial discontent to save themselves. Malaysians are tired of such perversion, so we can’t allow such incorrigible politics to proliferate in our beloved country.

One Chinese Finance Minister, a Christian Chief Justice and an Indian Attorney-General aren’t going to be able to control a country of 31 million people, where Malays and the indigenous people make up 61.7%, compared to the the shrinking Chinese (20.8%) and Indian (6.2%) population.

As for religion, according to a 2010 estimate, Muslims number most at 61.3%, Buddhists 19.8%, Christians 9.2%, Hindus 6.3% with Confucianism, Taoism and other Chinese practices at 1.3%, others 0.4%, no religion 0.8%, unspecified 1%.

As for the 1.6 million civil servants – the then-Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim told Parliament that as at December 2014, the ethnic composition of the civil service was as follows: 78.8% Malays, Bumiputera Sabah (6.1%), Bumiputera Sarawak (4.8 %), Chinese (5.2 %), Indians (4.1 %), other Bumiputera (0.3%) and others (0.7%).

As for the police force, then-Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said non-Malays only made up 5% of the 133,212-strong force.

“Of the total, 80.23% or 106,871 are Malays, while Chinese make up only 1.96% (2,615), Indians 3.16% (4,209), Punjabis 0.21% (275) and others 14.44% (19,242),” he said in replying a question by Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah (Amanah-Kuala Terengganu).

And we haven’t even counted the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and the Malays holding key posts in the Cabinet, and of course, the overwhelmingly Malay armed forces, numbering 420,000 personnel. It’s downright contemptible for our politicians to make fictional claims of non-Malays gaining control of the country, when the facts and figures clearly speak for themselves. For most rational Malaysians, we just want to see a clean government and civil service, which can safeguard our national interest, regardless of race and religion.

The late Chinese premier Deng Xiaoping famously said that it doesn’t matter if the cat is black or white, so long as it catches the mice.

Our recent history has showed that our big fat cats didn’t catch the mice but ended up becoming rats themselves.

Published first in The Star

I told you so, Pakatan

By Tajuddin Rasdi

I have never written an “I told you so” article before, so I am going to try and see how it feels.

I wrote several pieces to warn about Whatsapp and mosque ceramahs taking over the Cabinet chair as political influencers.

I wrote about Islam becoming a major narrative and the need for drastic measures of counter communication. I also wrote that the power struggle among Pakatan Harapan leaders would bring down the government, and that mollycoddling the Malays will send the non-Malays away from PH.

One PH MP disagreed with me when it was pointed out that Semenyih would be lost. He said Semenyih voters were more educated and those from the middle-income level.

I told him that Malays of middle- and upper-middle class have accepted the narrative that Islam is under threat, as well as the other narrative that Malay rights and privileges were usurped by “Chinese DAP”.

But the MP brushed it off. Now, it is plain as day that the Malays do not care two hoots about Najib Razak’s 1MDB. The Malays do not even care about the claim that PAS got money from Umno. PAS Malays, meanwhile, have full trust in their Tok Guru.

When I wrote about the illusion of power in the Cabinet, some ruling politicians pooh-poohed my idea. I told them that no Malay is tuning on the TV and the newspaper because they believe the Whatsapp more, not to mention the lectures by the ustazs.

Did PH take my suggestion of retraining these ustazs and letting them loose in the mosque with the rahmatan-lil-alamin (mercy to the worlds) idea?

No. Mujahid Yusof Rawa kept having indoor seminars with scholars. These scholars do not command either the mosque or the media. They write papers and impress upon ministers of their long discourses in empty seminar rooms.

I told PH that they must reactivate their ceramah machinery and send out second and third level leaders to the ground because the TV and policy papers are useless in the battle on the ground. Najib’s tweets and “Malu Apa Bossku” were effective to small-minded Malays.

I told many activists opposed to Education Minister Maszlee Malik becoming the IIUM president that the future battleground will be Islam and a moderate narrative.

Maszlee must reactivate IIUM, and send academics out of the seminar and classrooms into the larger community to reeducate the Malays about Islam as part of democracy and multi-faith co-existence. Did anyone listen?

No. Maszlee’s critics from DAP kept harping on their naïve principle of “non-political interference”.

I did not mind students who opposed Maszlee for the post; they are young adults who never understood battle strategies and war plans.

Now, who is to take the battle of Islamic narrative to the Malays? On the field now, PH has no goalkeeper, no full back, their strikers sleeping in their limousines. The opposition can score goals with their eyes closed.

The next by-election is in Rantau. PH will lose again hands down. The Malay ground has shifted with the open goal provided by the arrogant PH leadership. The Chinese will no longer care because all the PH promises have not materialised. And mollycoddling the Malays did not work anyway!

Then there is Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s strategy to turn PPBM into his new Umno, which has irked many non-Malay voters.

For PH to win, not Rantau, but the next general election, three things must happen.

Firstly, it must deploy all the thousands of religious teachers under Mujahid and Maszlee to retrain them under a civilisational construct. Some must be sent for Masters in Communication or Social Science courses in non-Muslim countries and some to be trained in a special workshop.

The KPI for these ustazs will be lectures and ceramah in mosques and writings in the Malay media on the “rahmatan-lil-alamin” concept. This must be done or else ministers should start packing up.

Secondly, PH must start on major reforms and forget about mollycoddling the Malays. It must even deploy the Mahathirian strategy of concentrating on the non-Malays. After the disastrous result of the 1999 elections, Umno and Mahathir reeled from the shock of the Anwar Ibrahim sacking. The Malays left Umno in droves, and Mahathir introduced the PPSMI and the non-Malays saved the BN because of that.

Many thought Mahathir was thinking of our children in ensuring English proficiency. Truth is, I think, he was saying to the Malays, if you guys do not support me, then I will not beg for your support but will favour other communities.

Similarly, Najib did almost the same thing. He released a whole plethora of extremist statements against the non-Malays. His message was simple and curt to the Chinese particularly: if you guys won’t support me, then I am giving full support to all the crazy Malays, even those religious fanatics in PAS.

For starters, PH must recognise the UEC and open up UiTM for postgraduates, as suggested by one of UiTM’s founders Arshad Ayub.

Send a signal that the Malays in Umno and PAS do not dictate policy. Otherwise, the magic of GE14 will never sparkle in GE15.

Thirdly, the Old Malaysia politics must leave PH. Let the really new and untried politics lead the way. Enough with has-beens and cabinets within cabinets.

Semenyih is a warning that the voters will not turn out to vote PH if this dirty politicking and nonsense of not sticking to the original idea of succession is put in play.

But in many ways, the defeat in Semenyih is a blessing in disguise. It showed that Old Malaysia cannot survive GE15. It also shows that the Islamic narrative will rule the next three general elections.

But will PH’s arrogance pave the way to Malaysia’s ultimate failure?

First published in Free Malaysia Today.