Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Eyeing YBM Tengku Razaleigh's letter to the members of Parliament


Letter to Members of Parliament

Y.B. Member of Parliament.
Y.B. Tuan,

With the utmost respect to you as responsible Members of Parliament duty-bound to serve the interest of our beloved Malaysian people, I am writing to you about some critical economic issues besetting our country today, affecting the rakyat and impacting on our future generations. Avoiding the “business-as-usual” debate on the 2015 Budget tabled by the Government now on-going in the august House, I choose this route in order to underline the seriousness of the matters involved. The negative impact of the current Budget proposals, I believe, will most immediately be felt by our middle-class, recent graduates, first time employees and the poorer income groups.  While endorsing the “people economy”, the Budget 2015 does not seem to give them priority over the “capital economy”.

2. From the current perspective, we can only see that the nation is moving headlong in the wrong direction, that current economic trends are not sustainable, which, if not corrected, will lead to a crisis, which we can ill afford, sooner than we can safely anticipate, nor can we get out of it without much hardship to our ordinary citizens. Such a crisis will threaten the future peace, prosperity and security of our nation.

3. The 2015 Budget projects that GDP growth rate next year will likely be around five to six per cent, which is thought  to be sufficient as envisaged in the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) to push the country forward to achieve developed status by 2020. This forecast may be overly optimistic given the current global economic threats and our own model of growth that depends so much on our external markets and the optimism of foreign interests in our economy. As noted in the 2015 Economic Report, the downside risks are at higher odds that may impel an economic shock through our body politic.  More importantly, these figures conceal some forewarnings that are not highlighted.  I think the Government has been ignoring these signals towards a global economic reset, begun with the 2008 subprime crisis in the US and sovereign debt issues in the Eurozone, which is now shifting its focus to Asia with the slowing down of the Chinese economy and the Modi government’s recharging of the Indian economy. While rocking all boats, only those prepared with anticipatory reforms will be able to weather the incoming storm.

4. In terms of government fiscal management, the tipping point, induced by an external economic collapse such as a crash of the US Dollar or a debt default by 1MDB, would throw our financial sustainability into a spin. The rule of thumb for sustainability (whether it can be funded by current output together with net foreign inflow) for any given year is that the sum of government debt (in 2014 around RM41billion) plus outstanding loans of commercial banks and households (now totaling RM1,273 billion) - making up to RM1,314 billion - must NOT be more than five times the sum of government revenues (that is, 5xRM225b=RM1,125 billion).  Clearly this rule of thumb has been breached!

5. A good part of this deficit and the national debt overhang arises on the operating budget side from tax expenditures to support consumption to achieve growth, for example through the BRIM awards, and to finance the public wage, subsidies and pension obligations. This consumption-based expenditure, together with the high energy and food subsidies given to industry and the public to sustain aggregate demand, is itself not sustainable. This type of expenditure to boost the economy does not add to the capacity building through investment that is necessary to enhance future economic growth.  But the Government still persists over the last five years in driving a consumption-based pump-priming to compensate for the weakening growth fundamentals on the revenue side, including exports. I believe it is more fruitful to provide allocations for the growth of the agricultural sector to enhance food security and stop foreign exchange outflow through the import of food. This is more beneficial in the effort to support the cost of living of the masses in times of economic emergencies.

6. The problem with our public finance is not so much on the revenue side, but on the expenditure side. The increase in public sector fixed overhead costs cannot for instance be at the expense of development expenditure, especially when so much more is needed to bring up the economic status of Sabah and Sarawak in terms of social infrastructure and basic amenities compared to the Peninsular states. The share of the latter expenditure has been decreasing as the operating budget increases, from in excess of 30 per cent a decade ago to about 15 per cent of the total budget proposed for 2015. With the Auditor-General exposing wastage, profligate spending, unaccountable losses, and sheer incompetence and intransigent corruption, both petty and in high places, we are excused from any restraint to express our anger and intolerance as taxpayers and ordinary citizens at the current state of affairs.  There are efficiencies that can be had to enable cutting back on the secularly rising operating budget over the years.  I would have recommended that an Auditor-General office be established in every ministry and government agency to ensure necessary compliance and accountability in public spending. An Office of Ombudsman answerable to Parliament should also be established on the executive side besides the Public Accounts Committee of parliament. At the same time, we need to control and eliminate corruption by strengthening the Financial Procedure Act through its revision and amendment.

7. The rising cost of living is the most urgent issue in the economy.  The raft of knock-on price increases subsequently in transport, electricity and food items etc. act to increase the build-up of pressure on the cost of living now facing the people. The issue of the rising cost of living affects everybody, but impacts the middle and lower income classes more than others. The main causes of rising prices are insufficient supplies to meet rising demands. Hence more could be done to liberalize the economy. We must monitor the cost of electricity to ensure its affordability among the people. The same goes for road toll charges. It must be reviewed to ensure that unavoidable cost increases must be reasonable. If a road toll cannot be avoided, then the government must finds ways not to burden the people. More licenses, less quotas, a greater ease of doing business especially for small and medium businesses and traders, should be considered.

8. The cost of housing has been rising in major urban centres, and house prices have been accelerating due to demands engendered by foreign and local investors, not just for higher-end properties but also the lower cost categories.  Affordable housing, even with the 1Malaysia Prima Homes Plan, is currently beyond the reach of fresh graduates and the lower middle class who are facing the spectre of unemployment or low wage employment and heavy debt. In this regard, I would like to see the government, through Bank Negara, reviewing the private housing loan programme of commercial banks for houses below RM250,000 which should be based on service charge rather than on compound interest.

9. Next year’s implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), although having a one-time impact and is then dissipated through the rest of the economy, is bound to add to this pressure on living costs.  In order to ease the rising burden on the rakyat, I would like to propose that the implementation of the GST be postponed until the economy is consolidated and strengthened. It is hoped that our economy would enjoy a rapid and a long-term high growth. Should there still be a need to implement the GST, it is hoped that the rates will be recalculated.

10. Beyond that macro-picture, I am seriously concerned about the high personal and household debts that are reaching critical levels, now in excess of 87 per cent of GDP, due to housing mortgages and car loans, study loans, credit card and personal (through Ar-Rahnu or Ah-Long) consumption charges that are pushing debt repayment ratios close to 30 – 40 per cent of household incomes. This situation has led to the acceleration of personal bankruptcies and mental pressures on families, and is not sustainable in the best of times, what more in an economic crisis. Yet, while it is most needed now, along with unemployment insurance, the government has been tardy in amending the bankruptcy laws and provisions, and the enhancement of other safety nets such as for medical expenses.

11. In as far as bankruptcies are concerned, it is worthwhile for the government to limit the bankruptcy period to, say, 12 months. This will ease the pressure against the bankrupt apart from sparing him the embarrassment of his situation. In striving for equity, the loan providing institution should provide a breather through moratoriums meant to postpone the application of the provision of the bankruptcy law while the borrower makes the effort to repay the loan. This would certainly be helpful to families with limited excess savings when they face unexpected emergencies. It should be noted that many government pensioners and private sector retirees are hard put in making ends meet now in the effort to face the ever-rising cost of living on their limited pensions and EPF savings.

12. Corruption itself adds to the cost of living and is a burden to all. When development projects, big or small, have a political mark-up imposed on contract awards and taken up front, little much is left to contractor profit margins that can only be charged to end-users, that is the taxpayers and consumers. To quote a columnist recently, the insufficient checks and balances continue to dog the country’s economy, thus leading to increasing concentration of power within the executive branch and persistence in rent-seeking behaviour, patronage politics, opaque governance practices and pervasive corruption.  Is it any wonder then that Malaysia is perceived as among the world’s worst countries on integrity?

13. Besides corruption, we also need to be vigilant against the occurrence of any and all forms of economic sabotage to the detriment of our national resources and wealth to benefit our future generations. It is for this reason of instituting checks and balance that reforms of the Official Secrets Act and the Universities and University Colleges Act, a freer press, and a freedom of information legislation are required. The restoration of the reputation of the courts and the enforcement agencies, including independence and enhanced power of the anti-corruption agency, SPRM, must be set in train if we are serious about tackling this cancer in our political system, bureaucracy and society in general.  Even the Standing Orders of Parliament and the structure of the Senate may have to be reformed in order to respectively allow for private members bills and greater independent representation of the states in our system of fiscal federalism.

14. Worse, whether it is a consequence of government policies or not, the distribution of wealth in the country, as expected, is extremely skewed. The wealth of Malaysia’s top 10 per cent exceeds those of the bottom 70per cent, and about 12 per cent of Malaysian households have no wealth at all. In fact, the wealth of the top one per cent, in 2012, is much higher than the whole of the bottom 40 per cent combined.

15. The government’s position as reflected in the Budget address is to divide the country into two economies: the capital economy and the people economy.  The latter refers to the world of capital, enterprise and big investment, while the latter consistent with the New Economic Model refers to the bottom 40% of households in terms of income distribution.  This is an unfortunate even dangerous classification.  To solve the issue of inequality and achieve social justice in a rich and favoured nation such as ours requires treatment of all classes of stakeholders in the nation.  Economic growth must involve and benefit all, not through distinctions of capital and work.

16. The status of inequality and imbalance, and the issue of fairness in economic benefit remain the main faultline in our society.  These economic cleavages tend and can lead to dissatisfactions among the communities and the breakdown of social cohesion built over the decades of our now maturing nation.  They take on emotional overtones and extremism, and have led to racial envy and biases and prejudice that undermine the underlying and potentially unifying values of our ethnic diversity. In view of the issue being closely linked to economic activities, I would like to suggest that the government and relevant agencies draw up policies favouring local contractors and suppliers, including those from Sabah and Sarawak, in the awards of contracts, both major and minor.

17. Going forward, the challenge of achieving a high-income economy is our ability to create quality and high-paying jobs, especially for new entrants into the labour force who have higher post-secondary and tertiary qualifications; not the low paying jobs that are now being filled by foreign workers in plantations, construction business and assembly-based manufacturing. Shifting to a service-oriented economy may be part of the answer to this economic restructuring, but we cannot abandon higher-valued manufacturing altogether while maintaining our industrial competitiveness by importing such foreign labour to keep our unit labour costs down. Longer term sustainability of economic growth requires the enhancement of the knowledge content of our manufacturing and service industries, which require innovation, technology and new entrepreneurship. This will increase productivity which, in turn, will raise wages and salaries. This involves not just the up-skilling of our labour force, but also the provision of correct incentives and institutions to support such value-added growth. I wonder whether the New Economic Model is sufficiently geared towards the above tasks.

18. Achieving social justice and fairness is where the work of economic reform is most important and most urgent.  These involve reform of the tax system in its separate treatment of capital and labour, the handling of labour market discrimination in the public and private sector, policies that improve the wage share of gross national income, and practices that achieve equality of opportunities and outcomes. Moving to a higher wage regime and away from a cheap labour policy involving guest workers in order to maintain our competitiveness is not an insurmountable task. This is so because data show that productivity, especially in the manufacturing sector, has been rising steadily over the years, but the wage-productivity gap has also been widening. As an immediate remedy, on top of the minimum wage law, I would suggest that a productivity-indexed bonus system be implemented by both the government and private sector employers. This is one of the more critical issues if the goal of inclusive development for Malaysia is to be achieved.

19. In spite of criticisms in the House, civil society and the media, especially social media, the Government leadership has continued to ride over these critical faultlines in our economy in the proverbial “three-monkeys” fashion, pushing through a “roll-over” budget that routinely moves the tough questions that need to be addressed immediately further down the road to the next budget and five-year plan.  The critical issues involved are of a structural nature not easily tackled via routine annual provisions.

20. I would submit that the national task to address the economic faultlines above will require new and bold ideas. These ideas need to be implemented over the next five to 10 years with supporting institutional reforms to reset the nation on the right path as promised by our founding fathers. These reforms require considerable political will to put them into effect; they cannot be undertaken piecemeal.

21. I am afraid for our economic situation. In truth we urgently need comprehensive economic reforms and institutional adjustment for resetting the economy in order to put our people out of harm’s way.

22. The people expect bold changes and even bolder leadership. We certainly cannot deny them the answers to their concerns and aspirations. Leaders should be more sensitive to the demands and feeling of grass roots. We must always be concerned about their worries and aspirations. The reality is that there is a need for change now; otherwise, as a nation, we are doomed to the status of a failed state.  This is what we have to answer for to our future generations.

23. You may think that I am a pessimist. No, I am not. I am a passionate believer in the capacity and capability of our people and especially of our youth who are going to inherit this beloved country, lead it to the global stage and sit hand in glove with countries of the first world. This, then, is the challenge before us and I know we can rise to it tackle it with our collective wisdom.

Thank you.

Yours truly,

(Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah)
Member of Parliament Gua Musang

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Eyeing Musa Hitam's take on the Malay Dilemma

The Malays are suffering from inferiority complex because of Putrajaya’s preaching that the community is backward and always in need of assistance, said former deputy prime minister Tun Musa Hitam.
"Putrajaya has mentioned several times that it has a target of increasing the Bumiputera equity ownership in the national economic pie to 30% by 2020.
"But, the government does not take government-linked companies into account when they point out that the present Bumiputera equity ownership is 24%.
"We are deluding ourselves by continuously pointing a finger at the Chinese. There is no such thing as perfection," Musa told The Malaysian Insider in an exclusive at the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) office in Hampshire Place, Kuala Lumpur.
Musa, who is the WIEF chairman, said the race issue had been played upon numerous times and has had a negative effect on Malaysia.
"Only bankrupt politicians continually use race and religion to win support.
"Do not get me wrong, I am Umno through and through, even if I am may not talk like a mainstream party member.
"We cannot adopt the attitude of 50 years ago. We have to keep progressing and updating ourselves."
Musa said the New Economic Policy introduced by former prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein was to improve the livelihood of Malays.
"The NEP was to lift the Malay community in Malaysia and to remove their inferiority complex."
He said that there were many Malays who had performed well and now made up the middle class of Malaysia, and that they could rationalise for themselves.
But, he regretted that there was a gap between the current generation and certain leaders in Putrajaya as they appeared to be on different wavelengths.
"Some leaders do not appear to be in sync with the very people whom they have trained."
He recalled an incident with a group of youths over a meal while travelling to Johor for a holiday:
"A group of 30 to 40 Malay youths stopped by the eatery where my wife and I were eating."
"Some of them recognised me and approached us. After exchanging pleasantries, one of the boys asked whether they could share something with me.
"I said go ahead, by all means. The youths told me in a rather apologetic manner that they were anti-government."
He said he told the youths the fact that they disagreed with Putrajaya was born out of the previous administrations, which reflected democracy.
"Many quarters take it for granted that Malay leadership is the most important factor. But, there are many other challenges to that due to the open society we live in.
"I am also saddened and disappointed by some of the comments and remarks made by the present leaders.
"They do not appear to have done their homework and research before saying something.
"More often than not, many of the present leaders talk first and then realise they have made an error later when it is too late to retract their statement."
Musa said the current leadership had shown that they were unable to deal with sensitive issues like religion.
"The Malays seem to be confused about religion. The non-Malays are appalled at what is happening among the leadership in Putrajaya. "
He said politicians want to be seen as belonging, "so nobody speaks about the subject, for fear that they will be viewed as being anti-Islam".
On Christians using “Allah”, he said: "Whatever the arguments which have been raised, the simple fact of the matter is that it was decided that only Muslims in the peninsula have ownership of the word 'Allah'."
Musa was amazed and astounded that the issue had been blown all out of proportion.
"If you are confident about your religion, there is no need to worry about Malays getting confused if the word 'Allah' is used by non-Malays."
During his stint as education minister between 1978 and 1981, Musa said Christian representatives approached him.
"At that time, the government was encouraging the use of Bahasa Malaysia by all races, including Christians.
"There were no Malay-language Bibles at that time and the Christians discovered that Indonesia printed such books.
"They sought permission to import the Malay-language Bibles to Malaysia and I approved it with certain conditions.
"The conditions included importing the Bibles for their own use, to be kept in the church and no open selling or distribution of the Bibles outside of churches."
Musa stood by his decision, saying it was right and a correct compromise as the issue had been quietly settled and rationalised.
"If you want everyone to use the national language, then you should not put roadblocks and obstacles."
On Malaysia today, the 80-year-old said he felt quite depressed and down.
"Malaysia is facing the possibility of becoming a failed state as it does not know how to handle success and the intricacies of politics.
"Sure, there are positives… foreigners are impressed with Malaysia and its infrastructure. Perhaps they get the impression that Malaysians are happy and friendly.
"But there are so many wrongs which have become a right, so many extraordinary things which have become ordinary.
"We pride ourselves on being democratic and embracing the Westminster-style of politics.
"Malaysia must learn how to embrace democracy and be prepared to lose," Musa said, referring to the two-thirds majority which Barisan Nasional used to enjoy.
In the 2008 and 2013 general elections, BN watched as DAP, PKR and PAS began to make inroads into its traditional strongholds.
"Democracy also means understanding the role of criticism and being able to accept it."
Musa said the present leaders adopted the attitude of accepting a single compliment and overlooking the criticism which accompanied it.
"Digital democracy has arrived in this world. It is unpredictable, open, kind and can also be cruel."
On the hudud fracas, Musa was disappointed at how Putrajaya handled it.
"I am reasonably confident that across board, the Malay community is disagreeable to the concept of hudud.
"The image portrayed by hudud of body dismemberment is quite scary and horrifying.
"While PAS has attempted to rationalise the issue, nobody else dares to say openly that he is against it.
"Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announces Malaysia is not ready for hudud, Umno Youth says who said it is against it?"
Musa cited a solution by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on the issue:
" Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad gave a very simplistic yet logical summary of hudud."
"He said if a Malay was caught stealing, his hands would be cut off. But if a non-Malay was caught for the same offence, he would only spend a couple of years in jail.
"This is the way to resolve issues, to do research and rationalise, to give explanations. Nowadays, everyone simply jumps on the bandwagon.
"Nobody dares to disagree."
But, he also admired PAS for standing up to what they believed in.
"Unfortunately, nobody listens to PAS and their explanations." – August 31, 2014.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Eyeing a comment in the facebook about DSAI

It appears that Anwar’s big brother, the US, is fed up with his antics in Malaysia. At first the US were supportive of the Malaysian opposition leader, thinking he was a better ally than the Malaysian government. However, the Obama administration recently have been distancing themselves from their once upon a time ‘darling.’
Abraham Lincoln once said that if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. Anwar was given power and he failed the test miserably. Instead of proving to Malaysians that he was a better option than the current government, he proved to everyone that he was not only incompetent, but also a hypocrite and corrupt. All those accusations that he flung at the ruling coalition, he was guilty of himself. He claims that the the ruling coalition are greedy bastards who practice nepotism. Yet, in his own political party, his wife is the president and his daughter is the vice-president, and he is the puppet behind the two of them, his justification is that they are a team. So when others do it it’s nepotism, but when Anwar Ibrahim does it it’s called a team. Seriously? He was even accused by his former friend and supporter, Zaid Ibrahim, a respected Malaysian lawyer, of rigging internal elections. Remember Anwar, when you point one finger at someone else there is four pointing back at you.
You see when an American politician screws up in his private life or with his family through a sex scandal or a divorce. The family will come out with the truth, apologize, and stand by each other. Anwar Ibrahim’s family is riddled with scandal from Anwars’s sodomy scandal to his married daughter’s alleged affair with another married man. Instead of standing together and coming out with the truth, to this day Anwar’s wife has refused to comment or acknowledge her husband’s scandal. His daughter, an adulterer, who is the vice-president of his political party, also refuses to comment about her impending divorce with her husband of 10 years. According to Anwar’s daughter, it was no one’s business but hers. Let’s take a moment to digest that, Anwar’s daughter is the vice-president of a political party, therefore making her a political figure, thus a public figure. I am not sure how it is done in Malaysia, but in the rest of the world, the lives of public figures, ESPECIALLY politicians are an open book. People deserve to know the intimate details of the lives of the people they are voting for. By not being honest with her people about her life, she is lying to them. Here’s a message for you NurulIzzah, it is their business, it’s everyone’s business, that’s the price of power, and if you could not handle it then you should not have taken the position.
Another reason we are fed up with Anwar Ibrahim, is that he is self-destructive. His greed and ambition are causing his political party to self implode. He keeps on saying that it’s all a smear campaign against him. When asked why he did not want to provide the courts with a sample of his DNA to prove his innocence? His answer – it’s a smear campaign. Actually he was scared that the truth would come out, Anwar Ibrahim’s scandalous ways are genetic. Apparently, Anwar Ibrahim was born out of a scandalous affair between his father, Hj Ibrahim, and a nurse. Guess the apple doesn’t fall so far from the tree after all. When Zaid Ibrahim spoke out against him? It was a smear campaign. When there was a petition to the Obama Administration sent by B’nai B’rith International asking the government to cut all ties with Anwar Ibrahim for his anti-Semitic comments. Yep, you guessed it – smear campaign. To Anwar Ibrahim he is a martyr, it’s him against the world. But come one man, how many times are you going to play the victim card. Seriously, come up with something new.
So in the Ibrahim family, Daddy’s sex maniac and a greedy moron who can’t keep it in his pants long enough to actually run a state and a political party. Daughter dearest is an adulterer, which according to hudud law, which is an extreme version of Islamic law that her father wants to implement by cohorting with the Pan Malaysian Islamic Party, means she should be stoned to death. So where is mommy dearest in all this? As President of the political party surely she has a lot to say about the state of her family and her husband’s indiscretion. Surely she stood by her man and vehemently denied that he was not a bad guy and that she still loved him. Nope. Apparently mommy dearest hasn’t even bothered to watch her husbands sex tape. When asked about her husbands little affair with the prostitute, she told the media that she married Anwar because she had a dream of his face being on election posters. Wait. What? She didn’t even answer the question!! Was she high during the interview? People are asking her about her husband’s sex scandal and she’s taking a trip down memory lane? What is up with this family??
Hey Malaysia, do you really want your first family to be this family. I mean you have so many families to choose from! Hell, even the Adams Family and the Kardashians would make a better first family. Guys, get your heads out of the sand, we did, and we realized that your opposition leaders are whack jobs.

the source of the comment here

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Eyeing: Selangor feud a make or break for PR?

BY A. JALIL HAMID - 17 AUGUST 2014 @ 8:07 AMONE voter in Selangor joked that he does not mind going back to the ballot box.
But with the intriguing political drama unfolding in Selangor showing no signs of an early respite, a fresh state election in Selangor could be the only option now to break the protracted impasse in the Pakatan-induced tussle for the No. 1 seat in the state.
What is clear so far is that Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim is no political pushover when his job is on the line.
Seasoned politicians like Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the PKR’s Ketua Umum (Ketum for short), and DAP strongman Lim Kit Siang have been reduced to being mere “political amateurs” by Khalid, as this current episode revealed.
Those who think they can bully Khalid and immediately drive him out of his office might have underestimated the former Kumpulan Guthrie CEO’s political mettle.
He has been able to maintain his cool and calm despite the intense pressures brought to bear on him by Anwar and company. He even managed to take his wife for a Japanese dinner at a posh golf club at the height of the crisis.
The “Kajang Move”, designed by PKR to oust Khalid and throw a political lifeline to Anwar but which has been checkmated at every step, has been aptly renamed “Kajang Folly” by PKR detractors.
The Selangor political crisis, if prolonged, has deeper repercussions beyond just the survival of Anwar and Khalid.
For one, it could make or break Pakatan, casting doubt about its survival in the next general election.
The crisis has brought out the simmering fundamental and deep differences between PKR, Pas and DAP.
“Even if they pull through in Selangor, the partnership or alliance at the national level has been dented,” said Chow Kum Hor, executive director of Centre for a Better Tomorrow, a civil society group that says it promotes moderation and good governance.
Unprecedented harsh words had been exchanged between, for example, DAP’s Lim Guan Eng and Pas member of parliament Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi.
Nasrudin had blamed Pakatan for practising double standards, citing the proposed Kinrara-Damansara expressway (Kidex) in Selangor and Penang’s subsea tunnel project.
Pas has also been very vocal about Anwar’s choice of his wife, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, as the new MB to succeed Khalid.
Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang had reportedly told Anwar at a meeting in Kuala Terengganu last week that Pas objected to Dr Wan Azizah’s nomination based on three reasons: her leadership quality, her chances of functioning as Anwar’s proxy in Selangor’s administration and her appointment would break palace and religious protocols.
By the way, the Pas central committee is due to meet today to formally announce whether to accept or reject Dr Wan Azizah’s nomination. A “No” vote could mean Pas walking out of the Pakatan bloc in Selangor.
The Selangor MB issue, which, in the first place, was triggered by a leadership split in PKR, could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, as far as Pas is concerned.
But by Pas walking out of Pakatan in Selangor, or even nationally, it would mean a blow to Pas’ credibility. Non-Muslim voters may punish the party in the next election.
But by doing this, Pas could also send a strong signal that it would want to revert to its traditional support base, which is the Malay heartland in the northeast, after its foray in the west coast states.
Speaking about hypocrisy, PKR and DAP often pride themselves on upholding good governance and party discipline and yet were quick to embrace two Selangor Pas assemblymen who decided to break ranks and walk to the other side.
From a voter perspective, what is happening in Selangor right now clearly underscores PKR’s lack of leadership in running the party and the state.
One question: Why is it always about Anwar and his family?
This is not about Khalid’s integrity or ability to run the state.
This is about Anwar’s family ego. If he goes to jail, the one who will be in charge of the party and the state of Selangor will be his wife. Full stop.

Eyeing: PKR–Khalid feud will break up opposition pact

Azmi Anshar mishar@nst.com.my
Never has a sordid PKR plot to take down a popular Selangor menteri besar been this outlandish, so overplayed in its recklessness that nothing in political history could muster a decent precedent.
Selangor has such an epic saga in ridding itself of unwanted menteris besar that you’d think that the post itself is cursed: assuming the post is easy, hanging on is hard and the tendency to get booted out is inevitable.
At their zenith, Selangor Umno warlords can’t hope to hatch a similar conspiracy and they were experts in hounding out disgraced menteris besar: think Datuk Harun Idris (1976), Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib (1997) and Tan Sri Abu Hassan Omar (2000).
Now, it is Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim’s turn to face this political guillotine for mulishly clinging on to his tenure despite his party’s nagging insistence that he resign, backed by a churlish DAP, but just about opposed by a divided Pas and Umno.
This outsized bid to kick out Khalid is a tale of two extremes: PKR defacto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s megalomaniacal push to be prime minister and Khalid’s indecorous last stand to cling on to a placement.
In one extreme, Anwar’s scheming that precipitated the dubious Kajang Move to install him as menteri besar was botched after he lost his Sodomy II appeal and it mutated into a desperate thrust to prop up his wife, PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, as the alternate pretender after she substituted her husband to win the Kajang by-election.
On the other extreme, Khalid acts as if the menteri besar’s job was won in a menteri besar election, never mind that it was a party appointment and if the party wants him out, he should have withdrawn.
But why does PKR badly want Khalid out? Two visible reasons:
KHALID signed a binding water deal with the Federal Government that ensured long-term supply to a state plagued with a water drought, much to PKR’s distaste; and,
KHALID steadfastly sat on a staggering RM3 billion in state reserves while declining contracts as simple as garbage collection, so much so that desperate contractors begged for help from the Federal Government.
To be sure, there is method in Khalid’s madness: he senses that if he is forcibly removed, ugly things will mess up the state, starting with depletion of the reserves and bad tidings for the people.
Khalid may not be wrong.
PKR thinks otherwise: for a party that’s taking an eternity to complete its elections, it issued a swift show-cause letter to Khalid on why he shouldn’t be sacked for refusing to make way for Dr Wan Azizah.
A two-week deadline is usually accorded to show-cause respondents but Khalid seemed to have until Sunday to defend his deteriorating position, the day axis leaders meet to thrash out for good this ignoble crisis.
To reinforce their overblown case, PKR released in limited circulation a 50-page report chronicling Khalid’s alleged “wrongdoings”, making insinuations about his previous financial dealings as corporate chieftain and raising alleged misdeeds that question his integrity.
The silly question is, why wasn’t this hardboiled inquiry rammed in his face when he was appointed menteri besar after the watershed 2008 general election?
Obviously, it is an improvised afterthought to pressure Khalid to capitulate but he remains defiant, especially with the comfort of support from Pas and Umno.
But this staunch backing by Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat inadvertently forces Pas’ hands: if the Islamists throw their lot with Khalid, they risk disintegrating Pakatan, with Pas obviously disadvantaged should a snap state election is 
somehow manoeuvred to settle the crisis.
That’s how PKR and DAP will try to play Pas, that support the Islamist party enjoyed in two general elections will vanish overnight, but Pas will think that a renewed alliance with Umno, for the sake of preserving the state’s coffers, will be worth the risk.
Anwar also won’t risk a vote of no-confidence at the state assembly because he knows PKR’s tag team with DAP can’t outmatch the Pas-Umno combo, plus Khalid’s hand-in absolute numbers.
The only tough hand to play is to sack Khalid as PKR member and use the moral/integrity card to force his resignation, of which Khalid is too astute to even entertain.
Legally, Khalid can still continue as menteri besar, even as an expelled PKR member: his state assemblyman status undisturbed, his Pas and Umno backing solid, and most importantly, a tacit palace endorsement. As for the people, as long as the water crisis is worked out, this feud is political entertainment in a moment of tragic despondency.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Khoo Kay Peng's take on Kit Siang's wake up call

OUTSPOKEN: It is timely for DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang to ask if Pakatan Rakyat will still be around for the 14th general election due in 2018. Being its most senior leader, Lim had witnessed the demise of the Barisan Alternatif (BA) after the 1999 general election when a few DAP senior leaders including him had lost in the elections.
The parties, DAP, PAS and PKR, regrouped during the 2008 general election to form an electoral pact to ensure a straight fight between their candidates and Barisan Nasional’s. The electoral pact was largely a success and its stellar performance was repeated in the 2013 general election.
It is unfortunate that the three parties have failed to build on the success and are generally happy for status quo to prevail as long as the formation and collaboration can bring them electoral success on their own turf.
DAP is content with the unprecedented support it received from the Chinese community and its iron grip on the Penang state government. PAS would be happy if it can continue to lead the Kelantan state government and make electoral inroads into key Malay majority states such as Terengganu, Kedah, Perlis and Pahang. PKR’s de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is the only one eyeing the Putrajaya prime prize.
There are three major missteps (or a lack of any concrete step) made by the Pakatan leaders. First, the leaders have generally failed to agree on a common framework of governance. They have chosen to ignore the ideological differences that appeared since the post-1999 break-up of the BA.
Issues such as the implementation of Islamic state, hudud, power-sharing model at the federal level, shadow cabinet, mode of governance, inter-ethnic relations and others are left intentionally unanswered. The leaders shared a mindset that they will only cross the bridge when it is necessary. The leaders have not been able to draw a clear conclusion on how their leadership is distinctively different from the BN. They have chosen to focus solely on elections.
As a result, the Pakatan platform remains just an electoral pact rather than a collaborative political coalition that is ready for collective rule. Many of these unresolved fundamental issues are weighing in on the coalition at the moment.
Secondly, a lack of a clear leadership structure and a central policy making body within the Pakatan coalition is a cause to most of the issues and frictions between the component parties. Individual parties are making decisions autonomously as a means to meet their own ends.
PAS has reignited frictions between the party and DAP by announcing its intention to implement the hudud in Kelantan. It had formed a joint committee with Umno to help ease the implementation of the Islamic penal code. DAP’s leaders were quick to point out that PAS’ decision was politically driven. Could this decision be taken autonomously if there were a Pakatan central leadership?
Similarly, PKR leaders had engineered the controversial “Kajang Move” in an attempt to solve their internal leadership crisis in Selangor. The move had not only failed to provide a solution to the ongoing dilemma but had also caused a serious credibility issue for PKR and a few of its leaders who had masterminded the by-election. Ironically, the party is now facing a threat of implosion when its party elections were marred by squabbles, fistfights, irregularities and protests. 
Finally, a lack of integration between the state governments under Pakatan rule is showing up like a sore thumb. In Penang, the DAP-led government under the party’s secretary-general Lim Guan Eng has a total dominance on the state administration.
State party leaders, especially those from PKR and PAS, have been left uncomfortable with his decisions. Several PKR leaders told this writer that the decision to build the undersea tunnel and to award it to a consortium of local and Chinese companies was made solely by chief minister Lim Guan Eng.
Most of the decisions especially those concerning the local development plan, sale of state-owned land and key appointments were made by Guan Eng without consulting his component parties.
It is not surprising that the same behaviour was repeated and replicated in states such as Kelantan and Selangor. The DAP is now upset with the proposed hudud implementation in Kelantan and a series of arbitrary decisions made by Selangor MB Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim on the controversial highway Kidex, water rationing and concession, the seizing of Malay-language bibles and others. Worse, for his own political survival he has chosen to hide behind the royal curtain.
The biggest dilemma with Pakatan is a lack of political will to become a serious alternative to BN.  It has too many leaders who are easily swayed and distracted by a taste of power and position. There’s no difference between Pakatan and a band of bounty raiders who would share their spoils at the end of a raid.
The trio of Datuk Ahmad Yaakob, Guan Eng and Khalid are obviously dreaming a different dream from their fellow leaders. These leaders have failed to demonstrate that they are willing to subject their authority to a central leadership. Each of them has acted arbitrarily by choosing to govern without the consensus of their coalition partners.
Kit Siang is right to sound a wake-up call. There might still be a Pakatan at the 14th general election. If the current situation remains, it would be nothing more than just another electoral pact to ensure that the respective component party keeps its spoils and maintains its territory.
It would be a folly to expect Pakatan to bring change and a new dawn simply because the coalition does not understand the change it needed to make for itself.
Khoo Kay Peng is a political analyst and a management consultant. He believes that this nation can only progress with the collective will of its people. 
- See more at: http://www.theantdaily.com/Main/Can-Kit-Siang-s-warning-wake-up-Pakatan-s-sleeping-beauty#sthash.0wXPuL5X.dpuf

Friday, June 27, 2014

Eyeing the Friction Fiction

'DPM quits - from friction to fiction

   
Rumours that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was planning to resign acquired a life of its own until the Prime Minister himself stepped in to put an end to it.
THE Prime Minister has called the rumour “political fabrication” and his deputy has declared himself as “still here, alive and kicking”.
Both Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin took the unusual step of concurrently dismissing gossip that the latter is resigning from his Deputy Prime Minister post.
It was almost as though there had been some pre-arrangement between the top two to clear the air.
But Putrajaya sources suggested that Najib was actually quite startled to learn of Muhyiddin touching on the resignation rumour and it is understood that calls were made as Najib moved quickly to reaffirm that their partnership and teamwork are as solid as ever.
Najib’s use of the word “political fabrication” pretty much summed up his feelings about the rumour – it was a piece of fiction. Yet, this concocted story had been making the rounds for several weeks, floating around in social media and discussed in Umno circles.
The rumour had become so irritating that Muhyiddin finally de­­cided to put a stop to it a day before his rumoured date of resignation.
The story was that Muhyiddin would be resigning on Friday, June 20, the day when Najib was supposed to announce the Cabinet reshuffle. The date has, of course, come and gone with no resignation or reshuffle.
To complicate matters, Najib was having one of his “Kelab Setia Kawan” gatherings at his official residence, also on Thursday. The “Kelab Setia Kawan” are his friends in politics, some of whom go back with him to his Umno Youth days.
At the gathering of about 200 divisional level leaders, Najib had spoken about loyalty and urged them to stand by him through thick and thin. The timing could not have been more awkward and it probably fanned the rumours to a frenzy.
Muhyiddin’s aides were probably more worried than him because they had been bombarded by inquiries the last few weeks.
Those familiar with Muhyiddin have asked him in the face.
In fact, an Umno division chief had asked him just minutes before Muhyiddin told the media that it was untrue that he is resigning. None of his aides knew what to make of it and some of them were unsure whether it was coming from outside or inside Umno. But they were very sure their boss was staying put although the rumour refused to go away.
When Muhyiddin took a week’s leave last month, the rumour was that he was on leave prior to resigning – it was that bad.
Umno politics is such that not all rumours are mere rumours. As one press aide to a Mentri Besar pointed out, the exit of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Tun Musa Hitam from Umno had been preceded by rumours that blew like the monsoons.
The Umno administration had apparently conducted its own investigation and they think they have traced the source of the rumour. It had allegedly started as Facebook postings by a rather notorious Umno blogger who used to be close to but had fallen out with Muhyiddin.
The postings were picked up by a pro-Pakatan Rakyat news portal before it was jazzed up in a PKR website.
By then, the rumour had acquired a life of its own.
The denials by the top two is not going to stop people from talking.
The most effective way to put it to rest is for Najib to settle the Cabinet reshuffle because that was where it all started. The reshuffle story has dragged on for so long that people have become bored with guessing about the underlings and moved on to speculating about the big fish.
There is no real reason for Najib to want to replace Muhyiddin. On the contrary, there are several reasons why Najib needs Muhyiddin at his side.
“History has shown that a Prime Minister’s worst distraction is to have an ambitious deputy,” said a leading Umno insider.
Muhyiddin has been very loyal to him. It is known in Umno that he is not out to undermine Najib’s position as Prime Minister.
Besides Muhyiddin is already 67 while Najib turns 61 in July. Muhyiddin’s maturity and experience mean that he is not about to launch a palace coup, so to speak. It has given Najib the peace of mind to do his work without having to constantly peer over his shoulder.
“It is also good to have someone like Muhyiddin as the No. 2, especially when the stars of the Umno VPs (vice-presidents) are shining so brightly. Muhyiddin is a good buffer, Najib is quite comfortable with that. They are good for each other,” said the insider.
Going by Najib’s statement on the issue, it is evident that he wants Muhyiddin by his side at least until the end of this term. Their social backgrounds are very different but they are contemporaries, they came up together and the comfort level is there.
Some say the two men should make a greater effort to be seen together in social settings. Muhyiddin had once told his staff that the Prime Minister had told his Cabinet members that politics is about communication.
He said he wanted to put it into practice and had asked his staff: “Are we communicating enough?”
Perhaps the Prime Minister and his deputy should also put that into practice.