Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fatwa or Dudwa?

I cannot help but feel that the Malaysia National Fatwa Council are making a laughing stock out of itself. Well, no, not just this Islamic authority, but the nation's authorities as well. What is the occasion of this farce, you ask?

The Malaysia National Fatwa Council have just issued a fatwa that all Muslim cannot practice yoga, the ancient art of meditation originating from Hinduism. Just days later, Ahmad Abdullah Badawi. outgoing PM of Malaysia and a Muslim Scholar, contradicted (or should I say, refined) the fatwa by saying that yoga is ok, but not the chants that go with it. And because each Malaysian state is autonomous in adopting fatwas, everybody else is having second thoughts about taking this fatwa seriously. There are even some Muslims who have said openly that they will not abide by it, simply because they have practised yoga for ages and derived benefit from it without their Islamic faith being adversely affected.

What kind of fatwa is this, which can be followed willy-nilly and interpreted differently by different Muslims? The problem is, the Fatwa Council can't rescind a fatwa, nor, in this case, enforce it. Some people now have mud on their faces, which makes them look like clowns. This will be comical, except that we are talking about very serious people.

See also: Dhimmi Watch

See also Singapore Islamic Religious Authority's more sensible stand on this issue

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dog for dinner

Nothing much, it would appear, has changed where the Malaysia Polis are concerned. 10 years ago, they arrested Anwar Ibrahim and gave him a wacking in jail that the Inspector General of Police was sacked and jailed himself - because he was the one doing the wacking.

10 years hence, Teresa Kok reports that she was fed dog food when she was in police detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA). Well, that's the talk going around Malaysian blogs nowadays. How different is this compared to Anwar's wacking. Nothing much. It shows that the Malaysia Polis still have no respect for the law. They are ready to take the law into their own hands and interpret it any way they feel like it. Clearly, after so much promise that came with Abdullah Badawi's government eight years ago, nothing much has been done to wipe out corruption in the Polis force. And just when something is being attempted, the corruption fighter, Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim, has quit his post. The corrupt elements in dirty Malaysia have triumphed yet again.

I hear people sharpening their knives. The corrupt have better get out of town. History shows that people can be fooled some of the time, even most of the time, but certainly not all of the time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Suicide in the making

It would appear that the Malaysia government is doing all the wrong things to keep Anwar Ibrahim from grabbing power. Today is the self-imposed September 16 deadline when Anwar is supposed to replace the incumbent government by garnering enough defections from the ruling party to form a simple majority of MPs in Parliament. Whether this will happen today remains to be seen.

But whatever the outcome, the incumbent government seem to be giving a leg-up to Anwar towards his goal. First, in a childish move, it sent its MPs to Taiwan on a study trip in an attempt to thwart the deadline for the takeover (it would appear that the government really believes that Anwar can do it). Then in the latest move, it arrested three Malaysians under its draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) laws - one is an opposition MP, Ms Teresa Kok, another a Sin Chew journalists, Ms Tan Hoon Cheng, who by all accounts, was just doing her job, and third, the irascible Raja Petra Kamaruddin who has fired so many poison arrows at high government ministers that it was only a matter of time that he got 'done in'.

This has backfired on the government. Malaysian are even more convinced that they have the wrong people in government. Its erstwhile Law Minister, Zaid Ibrahim, has resigned in protest over the use of the ISA. So now there is even more reason for incumbent BN Ministers and MPs to defect to the Pakatan Rakyat - Anwar's platform for taking over the Malaysia government. Truly, if this happens, a large part of the fault must lie squarely on the incompetence, childishness and wrong-footing of the government - people like Najib Razak and Said Hamid Albar doing more of the dancing.

Amazingly, it would appear that the greatest source of support for Anwar's planned coup is the BN government itself. UMNO itself is now racked by disagreements and infighting, with Muhyiddin Yassin calling for Abdullah Badawi to step down sooner rather than later, and Najib Razak wavering in his support for AB. Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, the Education Minister, is reportedly against the use of ISA on the Sin Chew reporter. It is now clear that Ms Kok's alleged wrong-doing that led to her arrest has been denied by the party whom she had allegedly wronged. It is clear that the Home Ministry acted without much thinking in the ISA arrests. How can such a sloppy government continue to govern?

Is there any hope anymore for the BN? It would appear that Anwar will get his way without him lifting a finger anymore.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

That pesky bloke

Malaysia is going from bad to ridiculous. The government actually spent taxpayers' money to send tens of its MPs (from Sabah and Sarawak) and a few others on the Peninsula to Taiwan this week so that they can learn how to farm their lands better? And why didn't they just wait for the visas from China, which was their original intended destination? I suppose that we will be hearing more from government about plans to upgrade their agricultural programmes in months to come, or will it all be forgotten because this is really a government-funded holiday for its law-makers, to keep them from defecting?

Well, it is clear to all but the Malaysian government that this is to thwart Anwar Ibrahim's claim that he will take over the government on 16 Sep 08 when some government MP will walk over to his political party to execute the coup de grace to Abdullah Badawi's government. It is sad that the sitting government in Kuala Lumpur can be scared by the wayang that Anwar has been waging these past months. If it can move the government to waste taxpayers' money without him lifting more than a finger, that's an admission that Anwar deserves a greater role in government, for after all, those in government look like ants trying to run away from Anwar's poke.

And I suppose that the situation has deteriorated to such an extent that Dr M feels compelled to enter the fray again to take charge of the country and rid the country of pests like the PKR and Anwar. What Malaysia needs to get rid of a pest is to get a bigger pest. Don't hold your breadth now, Malaysia. There is a battle royal coming up real soon...in your very own backyard.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Shown the behind

Censorship is the prerogative of the sitting government, so the Malaysian government has every right to censor web sites that are spewing forth pornographic, obscene or libelous content. And so the Malaysia Today web site has been blocked. Netizens and free speech advocates are up in arms over it, reminding the government of the promise it made to the world that it will not censor the internet when it first set up its very ambitious MSC project.

But of course, the Malaysian government cannot be bound by its commitments, particularly when those commitments were made during somebody else's watch, especially when that somebody has already resigned from the political party under which he was PM and is basically acting as a lone opposition figure - opposition to the PM, i.e.

It is naive of anybody to think that a government can be held by its words, particularly where politics (and perhaps pornography) is concerned. Practically, it isn't an issue anyway because the web site that is being blocked has been mirrored and is still accessible. If the news had not broke, you'd think nothing out of the ordinary has taken place. That's the real power of the internet - it just cannot be controlled, at least not in the long run. So for the M'sian government to have done what it has done - blocking Malaysia Today's web site - shows how helpless it really is. Far better to leave it alone than to have its behind exposed, as in this instance.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Punch and counter-punch

Things are coming to a head in Malaysia. Anwar Ibrahim has just been arrested for alleged sodomy (i.e. homosexuality) with a young 23 former volunteer at his political outfit. People are wondering why he was taken to the hospital when a swap of the saliva is sufficient to provide material for determining one's DNA. But I suppose that, going by Malaysian government doctors, you need a specialist to extract the DNA sample 'properly'. You need even to go to the hospital to do it, and I suppose, it had to be a government hospital. No, a General Practitioner (GP) will not do, and much less a police with a mouth swap in his hands, although this is widely practiced elsewhere in the world. I suppose that the Malaysian government wants to uphold the highest standards as they will be accused of un-professionalism when and if Anwar is convicted of sodomy - again. So that's why the government steadfastly refuses to acknowledge the medical report filed by a GP at a private hospital that reportedly stated that Saiful, the accuser, showed no signs of being violated in his private parts - a necessary condition for his accusation of sodomy by Anwar to stand.

I suppose all these started with the opposition gaining a spectacular victory in the last GE in March, where the opposition came 30 seats shy of unseating the incumbent government. With Anwar promising to really unseat the government by September 2008, things couldn't lie still. Real or not, Anwar got slapped with the sodomy charge, which if convicted, would guarantee that he will stay out of parliament for another 10 years. A punch must be met with a counter-punch. Najib was then accused of sleeping around with a murdered Mongolian model, whom he claimed never to have met - in spite of circumstantial evidence that showed he was probably doing a Pinocchio. Curiously, the lawyer who made the charge recanted almost the next day and went missing. Then the government grabbed Saiful and put him under police protection and quickened the pace of charging Anwar for sodomy. They knew that was the most effective and legal way of silencing Anwar, at least in Parliament, if not in public. But truth be told, the Malaysia Police do not have much credibility in the eyes of Malaysians, or foreigners for that matter.

Now, Anwar is trying to beat them all by running for election in the ward vacated by his wife. Many believe that he will win, even if he were arrested and sits in jail during campaigning. A duly elected Indian MP still sits in detention under ISA laws. But Anwar will still be denied if the charge of sodomy is carried, unless a Member of Parliament carries immunity for this type of 'crime'.

What next?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sleepless nights

First, Dr Mahathir gave his support to Abdullah Badawi so that Badawi became PM of Malaysia. Then Dr M turned on AB and wanted him to step down, like, err, yesterday. He threw his support behind Badawi's deputy, Najib Tun Razak. This Najib is now in a shouting match with Anwar Ibrahim. He is being accused of adultery with Mongolian model Altantuya Shaaribuu, who was killed. Anwar is in turn accused of the crime of sodomy.

In his latest show of support, Dr M is throwing his weight behind Muhyiddin Yassin, for him to be elected a Vice President of UMNO. Dr M is certainly not unaware that the Vice Presidency confers the likely status of Deputy Prime Minister. Is Dr M supporting Muhyiddin for PM of Malaysia one day?

Going by Dr M's track record on judging people, I wouldn't hold my breadth. Even if Muhyiddin becomes PM one day, and if Dr M is still around, I wouldn't be surprise if there is some falling out again. The way I look at it is that Dr. M sees himself as the only person who can rule Malaysia without all these political crisis popping up left, right and centre. But his time is well past now, and Malaysia is now in the throes of sorting itself out for the next decade.

What a spectacle it now is. Journalists just cannot sleep nowadays for fear of missing the next juicy bit of news that keeps flooding out of KL.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Crocs Cometh

What is wrong with Malaysia today? All the buayas (Malay for crocodile) seem to be baring their fangs. First, Anwar Ibrahim's former aid, a very ambitious and young 23-year old - Saiful Bukhari Azlan, accused Anwar of sodomising him. That's not new. Anwar was accused of the same thing 10 years ago, for which he was convicted but which judgement was later overturned by the Supreme Court of Malaysia. I can understand why Anwar bolted to the Turkish Embassy to seek refuge the moment the accusation was made. He had to do so before the Malaysia Police could lay a hand on him. The last time, the Chief of Police (Inspector-General of Police, they call him) gave Anwar such a beating that he blackened his eye. Anwar certainly wasn't going to wait around for another black eye. But why would a young man make a false accusation, if it indeed was one? He is either a morally upright chap, or a opportunistic young man led astray, rather willingly, may I add.

A tit must be met with a tat. Anwar seems to have played a part in Mr P. Balasubramaniam, a private investigator employed by Abdul Razak Baginda who stands accused of killing Mongolian model, Altantuya Shaaribuu, 2 years ago, making a sworn statement that DPM Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak knew Ms Altantuya, and that he had had sex with her. If Anwar can be accused of being a homosexual, surely DPM Najib can be accused of being an adulterer?

'I have never met her before", claimed DPM Najib in reply. Given the circumstantial evidence, it is hard to believe that statement. This revelation is not new. 2 years ago, when this tragic crime took place, tongues were already wagging of the DPM's complicity in the case. Otherwise, why blow up the victim into smithereens? Probably to ensure that no trace is left of any other persons than those already accused was involved. But this is all speculation.

When two of the pretenders to the Malaysian political throne go at each other like this, you wonder if there is any more hope for the long-suffering people of Malaysia.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Great White One

You must give credit to the Malaysian government. After losing Pedra Branca (the Malays call it Pulau Batu Puteh - the White Rock) to the Singaporeans, they have taken immediate action to review the status of about 100 islands that they think belongs to them. But unlike previously when they didn't even bother to station a person (at least from time to time) on the island they claim to be theirs, in spite of Malaysia fishermen frequenting the area near the island regularly, it is taking a long hard look at every rock now and probably to assert their rights in the right way - the ICJ way. Which is simply to care for it.

The Malaysians have learnt to their grief that neglect is a sure way to lose something in international law. That, plus writing ill-conceived letters dis-claiming ownership of anything, even a piece of rock at the mouth of the Straits of Johor on the side of the South China Sea. Now, in spite of what they promised before the ICJ judgement was handed down, they are busy overturning their cupboards and drawers all the way to their former colonial master's to look for a purported document that could get the ICJ fellows to reverse their decision over ownership of Pedra Branca. Those Singaporeans - they think that everything is settled. Think again, man. You are dealing with a 100 pound gorilla in your backyard. It doesn't matter if a 1000lb gorilla half way across the world agrees with you.

Well, you can bet one thing - Singapore is not likely to claim sovereignty over any other island for now. It has better sense than that. So the Malaysians should look askance at the Indonesians. But then again, Indonesia has so many islands already, why do they want to claim some more stoney rocks near Johor? Frankly, those rocks are just not worth the trouble, but tell that to Singapore, who obviously think that their Pedra Branca victory was a significant one.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Taking the guess out of gas

Did Abdullah Badawi really have no choice but to increase the price of petrol? I think nobody will dispute it, not when India, Taiwan, Vietnam, and a whole host of countries recognise that subsidizing fuel prices is no longer tenable, given the skyrocketing price of this commodity. I suppose the only people who are laughing all the way to the bank are the oil producers and the speculators.

But increasingly the prices by about 41% for petrol and 67% for diesel with less than a week's notice? That's mighty strong medicine and obviously very difficult to swallow. In fact, there were long queues at gasoline stations the night before the price increase kicked in (5 June 2008). Motorists were just acting out of economic self-interest by lapping up that last litre of cheap petrol. I wonder if not more had brought along their jerry-cans to get even more savings.

It hadn't dawned on me that Singaporeans have been living off the largesse of the Malaysians, or their foolishness, these many years. You don't realise it until prices of vegetables, eggs, poultry, and even travel and tours into the Malay Peninsula, in Singapore start to rise. That's the inevitable trend and Singaporeans are bracing for another round of imported inflation. Think about it. For as long as the Malaysian government has been subsidizing the prices of petrol, they have been subsidizing the livelihood, and yes, even the pleasures, of the Singaporeans, both the rich and the poor. So its not just the Singapore motorists who fill up their tanks in Johor that has benefitted only.

So Singaporeans are now understandably very disappointed by the removal of the fuel subsidies. I think they will stand together with ordinary Malaysians in lobbying the M'sian government to reverse the drastic increases of gasoline, notwithstanding its obvious wisdom. But people don't like rude shocks and see their money reduced in value so fast.

This latest policy change will likely cost PM AB his premiership. The knives were already out prior to this latest uproar. It now remains for them to be plunged into the gut for the fatal blow. Will PM AB survived? Who will take over? Can he do a better job? The Malaysians are now not too optimistic about the incumbents. Will the Opposition do any better, or will they turn out to be just as disappointing?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pull down the curtain

What? Dr Mahathir has quit UMNO? Well, I would imagine that Abdullah Badawi thinks its about time Dr M did so, except that Dr M still retains a lot of influence that his latest move may lead to the dissolution of UMNO and the government. Does he love himself more than he loves UMNO? That's the question on many a lip.

Some say Dr M's latest antic is to ward off attention to the government's decision to investigate him for alleged shenanigans in the appointment of judges during his time as PM of M'sia. That is really a blot on his PM'ship. He has left the country with a discredited judicial bench for which the present government is trying to make right (I hope). Dr M first made the challenge to have him investigated 'fully' - no stone unturned - as he says that there are some things that he can 'expose'. That must have sent some of his cronies and perhaps some other political foes into a state of panic. Now he announces his resignation from UMNO, and has put out a call for everyone to do the same. Its as if he is signaling to those that  do not want their ugly linen to be exposed to follow him. Its a distraction, but one that seem to have several layers of meaning.

Actually, Dr M should just leave things be. He need not have stirred the hornet's nest. Let the newer generation fight their own battles, tackle the country's problems and manage the political landscape. He seems to be implying that the party and the country is going down the drain without him. He's 82 and has suffered a few heart attacks. Why put himself into harm's way again and suffer another, which may be fatal?

I, for one, applaud Dr M's resignation from the party. Shocked? I don't see why anyone should be. He has been doing this sort of things from time to time. There can be no surprises, need be no surprises. At his age, he should have faded away gracefully. instead, he is trying to fight his way out of retirement, which is a pity. History would have remembered him better, but I suppose the ghosts of the past would not let him alone. Whoever wants to can follow him. These people are probably the excess baggage that Abdullah Badawi is only too glad to get rid of - in this case without lifting a finger.

Ironically, Anwar Ibrahim and the opposition parties are probably the beneficiaries of the ongoing spat in UMNO.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Save the ringgit

Malaysia's National Service is a joke, according to some. Yet others refer to it as an "Outward Bound Course" - fun and meaningful. At 3 months, it is 27 months short of what Singapore's more serious National Service is. However, Malaysia does not claim its National Service programme as anything other than social bonding stints. But some Malaysians think the bonding can be deadly - already 6 lives have been lost in its 4-year history. That is perhaps one death too many and some Malaysian want the NS abolished. The newly minted Opposition is carrying the flag for these people in Parliament, which is the only place where abolishing the NS programme can take place.

Predictably the government is not budging, but if the numbers in the abolitionist camp grow, then DPM Najib may not be able to hold out. Frankly, the current Malaysia NS is a waste of time. Social bonding? In 3 months? There is no quicky route to long term genuine bonding. It probably would take a lifetime to bond adequately. I say, save the ringgit for other more pressing national causes. But don't let the ringgit saved go into anybody's pockets.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Slippery slope

If nothing, there is one thing that is begging for an answer in the arrest of Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK) - is Najib Tun Razak involved in the death and murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaaribuu? So far, Abdul Razak Baginda has been fingered together with two policemen, but there is fierce talk out there that Najib's hands are tainted too. The Rakyat's questions have not all been answered, and given the state of the judicial system in Malaysia today, it won't be answered any time soon either. And given the state of the justice system in Malaysia today (and this includes the police and their political masters behind them), it is not surprising that RPK is now being thrown into the slammer for even suggesting that Najib is involved in this sordid affair.

Not only is there vehement insistence among the Rakyat of Najib's complicity, I have heard similar sentiments expressed by Singaporeans with equal vehemence. No smoke if no fire, so instead of shutting up RPK, the Malaysian government - the elected representative of the Rakyat - must do what is right to silence idle talk, or admit to the truth. Sadly, since a top politician, the number 2 government official, is involved, the current loyalties in the government makes the telling of the truth impossible.

Malaysia has notched itself one rung lower in the eyes of its own people, if not the world.   

Friday, May 02, 2008

Dr M Speaks

One and a half years ago, some friends of Malaysia's former PM, Dr Mahathir (Dr M) reputedly set up a blog named UndurLAH in support of his call on PM Abdullah Badawi to step down as PM. That blog, UndurLAH was shortlived, or neverlived, because I managed to register the UndurLAH.blogspot.com (the blog that you are now reading) to blog about things Malaysia. A search for UndurLAH.com, UndurLAH.com.my, etc. returned nothing. So I wonder if ever that report was true in the first place.

Now, Dr M himself has taken to blogging, with his freshly minted www.chedet.com blogsite. It is surprising that he has done so only now. His daughter, Marina M, has been blogging for some time now. Better late than never, I suppose.

His one entry has so far has attracted more than 600 comments - not bad for a beginner - although some of those comments seem patronising to me. One thing I did notice about how Dr M blogged - very civil service like, numbering all his points. It is said that Singapore's George Yeo blogs (here and here) in this manner too. I suppose habits die hard for these government (and former government) officials. Once an officialese, always an officialese.

Whatever, it will be interesting to see more of Dr M in print rather than just hearing him shoot his mouth off.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Angkasawan technician

Yes, there is no more funds for Malaysia's space programme. So its second prospective Angkasawan, Major Dr Faiz Khaleed, will have to look at the moon and the universe from one side of a spyglass - the telescope, for now and in the future. Dr Faiz was brave about the decision by the state to stop at one. He reportedly said that the "space mission should no longer be about sending a Malaysian to space but for Malaysia to embark on the aerospace industry" - brave words, those. It this is so, then stop referring to it as the space mission. Its just like saying building the second Penang bridge is not about building a bridge... Ironically, this bridge project is also stalled by a lack of funds.

I pity the Dr. I am sure he trained long and hard for the prospect of going to space. His government failed him because it persisted in wasting money sending its one and only Angkasawan to space on a Soviet Soyuz and giving him the impression that he will still be very involved in the space industry. Wake up Dr Faiz, your employer just admitted that it went bust. Do you still want to be around and stick with them? What aerospace industry are you talking about? The country cannot even sustain its own automobile industry - the national car project has been sick for a long long time - do you think the aerospace industry will go anywhere except perhaps into MRO? Then you will be a glorified Angkasawan technician repairing aeroplanes. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, Malaysia did not buy that Soyuz spacecraft from the Russians. Otherwise there will be yet more space craft to do MRO on....

Thursday, April 03, 2008

No UMNO

I find it nothing short of comical that Dr M is now taking the charge to pull down PM Abdullah Badawi through rescinding a rule that he put in place to protect himself. He has gone public to get his UMNO cronies to get AB replaced by changing this rule, which he originally put in place when he was first challenged by Tengku Razaleigh for the Presidency of UNMO back in 1987. This rule required the contestant to have at least 30% of the UMNO party's divisions backing. It was this very rule that kept Dr M. in power for as long as he was, until ill-health forced him to retire. I suppose his health has improved leaps and bounds since then.

Dr M was famously irked by AB for canceling the many programmes and projects he had put in place before he retired. I suppose that is akin to tearing to shreds any vestige of the prestige he could take away with him to the grave. Projects like the KLIA, Petronas Twin Towers, MSC, the Malaysia Car and Cyberjaya are examples of these projects that came to fruition, but many have not turned out to be the successes that he had hoped for. Fortunately, for Singapore, his crooked idea of a crooked bridge to replace the Singapore-Malaysia Causeway was never realised. Maybe that is why AB had to cancel the projects still on the drawing board - so that the country does not waste time and money putting up a veneer of grandeur - grandeur that Malaysia cannot really find meaningful in their lives and are often sources of cronyism, nepotism and corruption.

BN is now more broken that it was just after the losses it suffered in the last GE in March. I can see a gleeful Anwar Ibrahim, who has gone on to form a formal alliance of the 3 major opposition parties that took control of 5 states and denied the BN a 2/3 majority. If the state of turmoil continues in UMNO, and the people in UMNO do not band together instead of fighting one another, then the end may not be far off.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Say what?

Dr Mahathir is again not doing credit to himself and the Islamic world at large. In response to Geert Wilders' Fitna video, Dr M is calling on the entire Muslim world to boycott Dutch products. Can we hear something more original and more effective, please? As a long-serving PM of Malaysia, with geo-political experience, I expect him to have more than a certain level of understanding and knowledge of the world today compared to the common man/woman. Therefore he cannot not be aware of the fact that many people in the Netherlands are Muslims, his brothers and sisters in the faith he professes and claims to be defending in his latest 'call to arms'. His call for the boycott will probably hurt Geert Wilder, but it will also hurt his brothers and sisters in the faith too, many of whom live in the Netherlands today. The world is no longer a monolithic Dutch vs Malays vs Chinese, etc. in any one piece of land. And Dr M labeling every person who is Dutch anti-Islamic just because one of them acts in a certain way is surely immature and unbecoming of a former statesman and PM . I daresay that some 17 year olds can be more mature in thought compared to him. Is he getting senile, I wonder? On the other hand, the Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen has reportedly called on the Islamic world to be level-headed in its response to the film. "Let's keep a cool head and warm relations," Mr Verhagen was quoted as saying in Asharq Al Awsat, which is read in many Arab countries. He has "...distanced his government from the text of the film, which he said made generalisations and was polarising." (Today, 31 Apr 2008 "Dr M calls for Dutch boycott').

Dr. M will do well to keep his own counsel and not shoot off that mouth at every opportunity. It appears that the more he says, the more he chips away at the goodwill and legacy he has built up over so many years among his people and those of the world. Granted not many in the Western world are particularly enamored of this straight-talking man, but continuing to give offence in such as a manner discredits his thinking and makes even his friends cringe.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Shadow Krising

For Abdullah Badawi (AB), it isn't going to rain. It is pouring. First, he led his BN alliance to its worst showing in a General Election, though it did help him shed some major deadwood from the government. Then Mukhriz Mahathir fired off a letter urging AB to step down. AB is now facing a constitutional crisis in the State of Trengganu (Terengganu) when the state's royalty (whose sultan is also the King) rejected the government's nominee for Menteri Besar (Chief Minister). Tungku Razaleigh Hamzah added oil to the burning house of UMNO by challenging AB for the Presidency of UMNO, which is the same as challenging AB to move aside and let him be the PM. Now, there are poison-pen letters swirling around Malaysia that is seeking to pull down AB, Anwar Ibrahim-style.

Gosh, these politicians in Malaysia sure have a thousand and one Keris' up their sleeves. Strike while the keris is hot, I suppose, and pull down the incumbent. When the Opposition party claims they can save Malaysia, that is to be expected. But when the untried (Mukhriz), the also-run (Tengku Razaleigh) within the same party, and the silver-spooners (the King) want a piece of the action, you begin to wonder if Malaysia is going to the dogs (who let the dogs out, woof, woof), if you would pardon the expression. If Mukhriz and Razaleigh had any wonder formula, they should have shown it already. As it is, Razaleigh didn't even contest the last elections and Mukkriz's margin of victory is nothing to shout about. Sure, you might say that AB is a failure, but people who failed the first time around should be given a chance to make amends. If half way through and he doesn't show results, then people can boot him out, no questions asked.

Would a change in leadership bring about any good at this time anyway? I think not. And even if a change is necessary, UMNO should support Najib Tun Razak instead, not an also-ran uncle of a royalty.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Do the job

Hey, where did this Tengku come from? Razaleigh Hamzah I mean. Yes, I have heard of him. He was a in very public spat with Dr M when he tried to wrest fro him the UMNO presidency in 1987, some 20 years ago. Now, as the Chinese saying goes the "East Mountain has risen again" and he wants to challenge Dr M's successor, Abdullah Badawi for the UMNO presidency (again) and become Prime Minister. Apparently his backers are the rejects in Abdullah Badawi's new Cabinet. Come on, many of these rejects have served for long periods of time in Cabinet, and if they are not wanted this time around, they should just 'fade away'. Some period of reflection may be in order why they were dropped.

Instead, I heard that they are trying the back door through the old man, Tengku Razaleigh. He is 71 this year. The last thing that Malaysia needs now is a disunited BN - not after it fared so poorly in the last elections. So not only does AB have to contend with Anwar Ibrahim,who is threatening to further reduce the BN's majority through enticements to defect, he also has to watch his back for would-be assassins from within his own people. How the political situation has deteriorated. It is perhaps at such times that people's true colours are revealed. Never mind that you have been working with a person for years, and have been 'pal-ly' all this while, even to the extent of shedding tears in public. Some people cannot see beyond their own interests at the interests of the people and the nation. Is it any wonder that the people have rejected the status quo and demanded change? Yet there are some who are living in self-denial, and I am not surprised because that has been the case for too long. AB shouldn't be too nice a guy. He must remember that he was put there to do a job. And this being his last term as PM (he wouldn't want to continue this - its just not worth it, really), he should do what needs to be done and then hand the hot potato to his deputy, Najib Tun Razak. Then history would remember him more favourably.

UMNO should close ranks and give their leader the support that he needs, not hack him down at the next opportunity. 

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Imitation Kings

Is there a conspiracy between father and son? We know that Dr Mahathir has long wanted Ahmad Badawi (AB) to hand over the PM'ship to his deputy, Najib Tun Razak. He said that he had wanted Ahmad Badawi to just serve one term, hinting of such a private 'gentlemen's' agreement when he first chose Ahmad Badawi to succeed him. This sounds awfully like what actually happened in Britain, where Tony Blair, the former PM, reportedly made a pack with the current PM, Mr Gordon Brown, to hand over the premiership after an agreed period. Well, how original of Dr. M, to borrow the story from his former colonial masters and make it his own!

Why does Dr M want Ahmad Badawi to be gone? It is said that Dr M was immensely displeased that AB cancelled many of the mega-projects, including the fantastic crooked bridge that was planned to replace the Singapore-Malaysia Causeway, that he, Dr M, had put in place while he was PM. This is probably true. I do not know if this also includes AB successfully repairing the sour relationship between Singapore and Malaysia during Dr M's time. If so, then Dr M is being very mean, to both AB and Singapore.

But it appears that this pattern of imitation runs in the family. Freshly minted MP, Mukhriz Mahathir (MM Jr) is echoing his father's long-standing call for AB to step aside as PM. He has gone to the extent of circulating a letter to the top people in UMNO calling for AB's resignation. Hmmm...sounds awfully familiar when one recalls the flurry of letters before Anwar Ibrahim was sacked and thrown in jail. The reason given now is not the mega-projects or Singapore. MM Jr is so freshly minted that he has no other credibility except that he is Dr. M's son. But he is nevertheless imitating some nations where, when the election result is less than ideal for the sitting government party, the leader - the PM - resigns to take responsibility. An example will be Japan, which has serial examples of PM's resigning due to unfavourable election results. It is their symbolic version of hara-kiri. MM Jr must be fascinated by this ancient Japanese practice to want to have it imitated in UMNO politics. Or is it opportunistic plagiarism? Whatever it is, it appears that MM Jr has become Dr M's surrogate. We had hoped that MM Jr would establish his own credentials and come into his own as a politician and leader. If his approach today is representative of his thinking - one of imitation and duplicity - then he has lost the people and allied himself with the cronies of Dr M's time, which is not surprising.

What a waste for a young and freshly-minted MP!

See also: UMNO Youth mulling action against MM Jr

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Chance to change

Come to think of it, PM Abdullah Badawi should shake Anwar Ibrahim's hands as a gesture of gratitude for having 'humiliated' him in the last General Elections. For without him and the loose opposition coalition's success in wresting 4 states from the BN, Abdullah Badawi would not have been able to get rid of some dead wood in his old Cabinet and given him a chance today to reform his government, particularly those at the highest levels. I can imagine that all components parties in the BN will now be less quarelsome when it comes to the allocation of cabinet posts. Abdullah Badawi has a great opportunity to put good people in the proper places so that it would be easier for him to forward his agenda of fighting corruption and nepotism. He should stay put with the old gang left by his predecessor, Dr Mahathir.

The question is, would he do it? Or is his weakened authority and credibility going to force him to accept Tom, Dick and Harry that his stronger 'colleagues' in the BN, like Najib Tun Razak, and conceivably Mukhriz Mahathir, have in mind? If he cannot exert his authority, or what is left of it, in gathering a good team around himself - people who are interested in serving the country rather than themselves - then he may as well retire from politics today.

For clearly the next 5 years cannot be more of the same. Yes, he has articulated his position through the Wall Street Journal partly to calm the financial markets, but talk is still talk. Would he walk the talk, for example, in fighting corruption, which he listed as his third objective in the statement to the WSJ? We know he said that 5 years ago, but didn't follow up with enough concrete action to fulfill that promise. What gives anyone any confidence that he can do better in the next 5 years? Hopefully the factor will be the absence of imcompetent former ministers and leaders who may be more interested in building themselves palatial homes in an exclusive suburb in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur or fattening their Swiss bank accounts, if any exists. With a chastened BN, there is opportunity to do the right thing and not the old thing.

Hopefully, Ahmad Badawi will not fail his people this time. Or are the knives already out for his head?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Humble pie around the table

The writing was already on the wall. Riots, running inflation, perceived injustice suffered by the Indians, corruption at the highest places, religious bias in favour of the state religion, Islam, in a supposedly multi-racial multi-religious country - the results of the Malaysian Election are hardly unexpected, except the scale of the upset. Upset is perhaps too tame a word to use. Some called it a tsunami that knocked the incumbent BN off their pedestal, forcing them to eat humble pie this time around. The Barisan Nasional (BN), the ruling coalition led by PM Abdullah, lost a total of 5 states - Kedah (the home state of former PM Mahathir), Penang (the home state of sitting PM Abdullah Badawi), Selangor, Perak and Kelantan (retained by PAS). The BN even lost to lawyer Manoharan, a candidate who is still incarcerated in Malaysia's prisons under the Internal Security Act. Can it be any more humiliating than this? And for the first time perhaps, a blogger, Jeff Ooi, won against seasoned politicians.  

And they failed to retain their two-thirds majority. I don't understand why the two-thirds is a factor in the first place. Sure it allows the government to change the Constitution, but does anyone want to change the Constitution? Two-thirds is an important and indicative target because it shows the total confidence that the electorate has in the ruling party - confident enough to allow them to change the Constitution at will. But that confidence is no more.

Many of the bigwigs in BN either lost their seats or were returned with reduced majorities. For all the hype surrounding Khairy Jamaluddin, UMNO's Dpy Youth Chief, he won by a slim majority of 5,746 votes. The previous BN candidate had won by a margin of 18,656 in 2004. People just aren't comfortable with this young man. His work is cut out for him once his father-in-law exits the political stage sooner rather than later. 

Probably the only consolation the BN got was DPM Najib Razak's overwhelming victory in Pekan, Pahang - polling an increased 26,464-vote majority - in a constituency that he has held since he was 22 and before that, his father, Malaysia's second PM, Tun Abdul Razak. What can be said perhaps is that the electorate has kept faith with its favourite political family. Now, there is more reason for PM Najib to claim the Premiership from Abdullah Badawi, notwithstanding questions over his alleged involvement in the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu. This case will now probably never see the light of day.

And of course, Malaysian's heeded their former PM Mahathir's instructions - dump Samy Vellu. Ironically, Mahathir is probably now a very happy person. First, he isn't the PM that suffered such as stunning loss. People apparently still listen to him. He will probably see PM Abdullah Badawi stand aside in favour of DPM Najib - something he has been very vocal about. His son, Mukhriz Mahathir won in Jerlun, Kedah, which used to be part of Kubang Pasu where his father was MP for 3 decades.

Anwar Ibrahim is probably also a very happy man. Both his wife and daughter won their Permatang Pauh and Lembah Pantai parliamentary seats respectively. Wan Azizah Ismail polled a vastly improved majority over her last election. Although Nurul's majority margin was only 2,895, she was up against a formidable and proven opponent. She wasn't even expected to win.

In hindsight, Mahathir should also take responsibility for this huge setback. He said Samy Vellu had overstayed his welcome, but he had kept him as a government Minister for all those many years he was the PM. The corruption, the rot, did not start with Abdullah Badawi. Mahathir may or may not be corrupt, but as the PM, he didn't have a hoot of an idea how to resolve the problem. History will have many negative things to say about the Mahathir years which may have contributed to today's sorry state of affairs.   

Truly, the political landscape has changed drastically with this latest elections. One only hopes that the BN will pay more attention and gain a greater urgency in resolving problems that have been festering for years.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Get this guy

Yes, the Malaysia elections campaigning are in full swing now. But Singaporeans, unfortunately, cannot care any more. It has greater problems in its back yard - looking for a dangerous terrorist which it inexplicably allowed to escape.

So till we find the *sob*, I'll have to give the electioneering a miss. Just don't keep your guard down during this time, my dear neighbours. Malaysia is nearer than any other country to Singapore. And it'll be a good place to run to because everybody is engrossed in the elections to care about an escaped convict from the island of Singapore - those incompetent, err, better not say.

Keep an eye out for Mas Selamat Kastari, will ya? He looks like this. Well, no, don't vote for him! When you see him, send him to the Singapore Prison Island, yah? Tolong, not to the Malaysia Parliament, ok? And pronto, please. Reward? Here's the reward.

Mat Selamat Kastari


p.s. Of course, if Malaysia wants him, it can keep him for good. Just down mix him up with those Hindraf political detainees. This guy is a real criminal.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Elect the Blogger

The temperature is hotting up, not only in Kuala Lumpur, but elsewhere throughout the Peninsula and East Malaysia. PM Badawi disssolved Parliament on 13 February 2008, paving the way for a General Election in March 2008.

Significantly, at least one prominent blogger - Jeff Ooi - is getting into the fray and putting himself up for election. He wrote:

But the call of national duty is definitely prompting me. I need to do what I wanted to do in JEFF 4 MALAYSIA campaign, and I have made some details here, to explain the mission. The state Election Manifesto, which I helped draft, will be release at the right time. I am certain that talk is cheap and beyond being a blogger, I need a legislator role to speak up for Malaysians!

Well, as a fellow blogger, I wish him well. As a foreigner, I'd stay neutral in the contest. But it seems that he does need a lot of campaign contribution and the amount he has received so far is paltry. Perhaps the rest of Malaysia's bloggers are not too enthused that one of their own is putting himself forward for national duty?

Visit his Blogsite and his Election Site to find out more.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Indiscrete conversation

Would you believe, after viewing this video, that Mr V.K. Lingam was drunk? He sounded perfectly, though damningly, sound and sane to me. But of course Mr Lingam is a lawyer, so I wouldn't be surprised with his explanation for an incident that has brought out the political knives in Malaysia today. This video is the subject of an ongoing Royal Commission of Inquiry whether judicial appointments had been unduly influenced by Mr Lingam's and perhaps others' effort since 2001. But of course, Dr Mahathir claims that all judicial appointments made during his tenure of office as PM was solely by him, taking into account the feedback and advice of various people.

You be the, ahem, judge, whether Lingam was drunk or not.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Bedroom Politics

Malaysia seem to be having a love affair with videography.

I found it odd that Dr Chua Soi Lek had admitted to being the man in the now notorious sex video showing a man and a woman having sex in a hotel. According to some people in his hometown of Batu Pahat who had seen the video (circulated by some unknown persons or parties), they couldn't even make out that the male in that video was Dr Chua! That being the case, the smart thing for Dr Chua to have done was to deny everything. But Dr Chua prefers to be honest, which is not a bad thing, though his romping in bed with a woman not his wife was a case of bad judgment, and doing so in a hotel which had such lax security was a bad choice of location to have his night of pleasure.

It would appear that there is one sure way of causing the downfall of any rival in Malaysian politics, or anywhere else for that matter. If Dr Chua, who by any measure, is a successful man - he is a medical doctor, a No. 2 man in the dominant Chinese political party, the MCA and married with 3 kids - can be brought down so easily by a moment of indiscretion, anybody is fair game. And this has been going on for some time now. The most famous of these is the former Deputy PM, Mr Anwar Ibrahim, who was convicted of sodomy with his driver, although the veracity of the Court's judgment remains suspect to this day. But it doesn't have to be true, making it look convincing is enough to push one off the edge into political oblivion. This is what people mean when they say that politics is a dirty game - for how many otherwise effective leaders have not had their nights in the bedrooms of a woman not their wives? Plenty. John F. Kennedy, Thomas Jefferson, Fran├žois Mitterrand, Bill Clinton (well, sort of), Napoleon Bonaparte, etc. are some of the more famous ones. All of these, except JFK, completed their terms in office, though.

While the verdict is still out on the performance of Dr Chua as an MCA leader and Health Minister, it is unfortunate that he was honest about it - unfortunate for his political career, but it was probably a good thing for him to be honest about it.

I wonder if there is a budding film industry in the making in Malaysia.