Saturday, August 27, 2016

Eyeing The New Party BERSATU

Former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin on August 9 officially registered Malaysia’s newest political party: Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, or Bersatu for short. The party is the latest salvo in a slow mutiny against Prime Minister Najib Razak that has centered for more than a year around a scandal involving state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). 
Although Malaysia’s opposition has long sought to dethrone the prime minister’s United Malays National Organization (UMNO), infighting and ethnic rivalries have kept it from posing a real challenge to the UMNO-led coalition that has governed Malaysia since independence in 1957. But in a sign of the test posed by this new party, former deputy prime minister Musa Hitam on August 10 predicted that the ruling coalition would call snap elections soon, before Bersatu has a chance to gain a foothold. It is still too early to tell whether Bersatu is capable of ousting UMNO, but the party could pose a challenge to the survival of Najib himself.
Bersatu president Muhyiddin is joined by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad in the role of chairman, and Mahathir’s son, Mukhriz Mahathir, as vice president. All three are formerly key figures in UMNO who quit or were driven out over their criticism of the prime minister in the 1MDB scandal and his failure to adequately explain the hundreds of millions of dollars related to 1MDB that ended up in his personal bank accounts. The partnership of these former leaders—especially Mahathir, who led Malaysia for 22 years and shaped UMNO into its current form—presents Najib with a challenge he has not had to face from earlier opponents. 
Malaysia’s most prominent opposition figure, Anwar Ibrahim, was labeled an UMNO traitor and faced character assassination years before Najib even took office. Najib continued putting pressure on Anwar after becoming prime minister, and after a close election in 2013, a court overturned Anwar’s prior acquittal on sodomy charges that were widely deemed political and sent Anwar back to prison. 
Attacking the 91-year-old Mahathir’s reputation and painting him as a traitor in a similar manner would be difficult because of Mahathir’s long career as the face of UMNO. His decision to resign from the party in February followed solely from UMNO’s failure to address support for Najib’s role in the 1MDB debacle. Calling Mahathir a traitor would seem an act of desperation, and the charge would not likely stick even with UMNO devotees. The legitimacy that Mahathir brings to Bersatu could make it more appealing for potential UMNO defectors.
Bersatu could challenge UMNO’s place as the party of the bumiputera, or native Malays. Although the new party has already come under fire for its decision to allow only bumiputera to be fully fledged members (non-bumiputera are relegated to associate memberships), the move could give it some legitimacy in trying to replace UMNO. UMNO has long been cast as the “defender of the Malay” against other ethnicities in Malaysia. Najib has relied heavily on racial tensions to bolster support for UMNO, declaring that voters must defend UMNO at the ballot box so UMNO can defend bumiputera interests. 
Taking on a similar role as defender of the bumiputera might allow Bersatu to chip away at Najib’s ability to utilize those tensions. An indication of Najib’s concern about this came in his quick accusations that Bersatu was “allied with DAP”—the largely secular and multiracial Democratic Action Party favored by Chinese Malaysians—and thus could not fight for the bumiputera. 
To be sure, ousting Najib would take a monumental effort. The security of the premier is bolstered by weak institutions that are unable or unwilling to check the prime minister, and Mahathir himself is responsible for much of the undue power accorded to the office. Changes made during Mahathir's tenure in the 1980s restricted the political power of the sultans, the constitutional rulers of each state, and the courts. Recently implemented security legislation places many powers exclusively in the hands of the prime minister, giving him powerful tools to limit the ability of activists to openly protest against the government. 
Najib’s strict control over political discourse extends to the media. One reason reaction to the 1MDB scandal has been relatively muted in Malaysia is because voters, particularly outside urban areas, are largely unaware of the scandal. News outlets that have pursued criticism of the prime minister—such as the now-defunct Malaysian Insider or the London-based Sarawak Report—have been blocked in Malaysia, and in the case of the former, forced to shut down. Journalists at government-controlled outlets have been banned from covering the story, making it significantly more difficult to sway voters and party members to desert the ruling party.
But the most important control Najib continues to exercise is through the patronage system. The executive’s control of the purse gives the prime minister the ability to reward loyalists and deprive critics of needed funds. UMNO representatives that depend on these funds know they risk their political survival by challenging Najib. Additionally, pork barrel spending allotted by the ruling coalition to the states helps secure the backing of voters who do not know how their regions would fare under a new government. It will be a tall order for Bersatu to compete against UMNO’s budget largesse.
For Bersatu to pose a significant challenge to the prime minister, much will depend on its ability to cooperate with the fragmented opposition. The election must be held before the end of August 2018, giving the opposition just two years to resolve squabbles over seat allocations, policy differences, and long-running conflicts between the former UMNO leaders and the parties they once disparaged. Although DAP leaders have already balked at such an alliance, other opposition party heads have shown a willingness to set aside those differences to oust the ruling coalition. 
Even without those differences, however, the opposition faces an uphill battle trying to challenge Najib while assuring bumiputera voters and potential UMNO defectors that their interests will be as well-protected by a new opposition coalition as under the ruling coalition. The more UMNO loyalists Bersatu is able to win over, the easier this prospect will be. But after Najib’s purges of any outspoken critics in the party, it will be hard to sway many remaining diehards. The more Bersatu focuses on the image of “UMNO without Najib,” the easier it will be to lure away that support. More importantly, if 1MDB revelations from the ongoing investigations in the United States and other countries continue to drag Najib down, even UMNO loyalists may find that protecting the party means jettisoning the prime minister. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

From the archive of Open Source Investigations

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For a long time, Clare Rewcastle Brown railed against former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. She branded him a “dictator”, who had “sucked his country dry” and detailed how his retirement was only a façade covering his intention to “take care of the business”, concentrating “on the core business aspect that is worth hundreds of billions of ringgit”.
But with PM Najib Razak’s economic reforms, Mahathir and his family’s political and business interests came under threat. Mahathir needed a mouthpiece to support him. Clare Rewcastle Brown became that mouthpiece. From November 2014, Clare Rewcastle converted to a Mahathir crony, calling him “the iconic former leader of Malaysia” as she signed up to his plot to oust democratically elected Najib.
As public court documents proof, Mahathir’s close associate, businessman Kamal Siddiqi, approached Rewcastle Brown to put her in touch with Xavier Justo to buy the stolen data for $2million. And as Justo admitted, she was not interested in the content of the documents, because, he suggested, she planned to modify the data.

Written Confession of Xavier Justo, 26 June 2015:
“Clare said that as long as I could give them genuine documents, the contents of those documents didn’t matter because she would do the rest. I didn’t know what she meant by that.”
On 15 July 2015, Lester Melanyi, a former editor of the Rewcastle Brown’s blog, Sarawak Report, confirmed this, declaring that the British blogger have forged the documents used to defame 1MDB and Najib Razak. ( A later investigation confirmed this.
Here, in her own words, is Rewcastle’s conversion to Mahathir crony.
So what did Clare used to say about Mahathir?
Only two years ago, Rewcastle painted Dr Mahathir as the embodiment of corruption and cronyism. “Malaysia’s former dictator – said Rewcastle in an article from January 2013 – kept his support by distributing favours among his UMNO followers”. The favours were “paid for by Sarawak and Sabah money”. Mahathir preserved his power by bribing his party members, “making them rich”.
In May 2013, Clare Rewcastle urged the Malaysian people to protest against Mahathir and Barisan Nasional. Mahathir, said Rewcastle, “sucked his country dry”.
In June 2013, she published a story claiming that Ananda Krishnan, CEO of the Malaysian investment holding Usaha Tegas Sdn Bhd, was Mahathir’s crony. Due to Ananda Krishnan’s close relationship with Mahathir, Pexco, a subsidiary of Krishnan’s holding, entered into a partnership with the state-owned Petronas. As a result, Pexco “secured direct control of a series of Sarawak’s off-shore oil fields”. According to Rewcastle, Ananda Krishnan’s business was built almost exclusively on favourable treatment received from his old friend Mahathir: “Ananda Krishnan’s friendship with Mahathir was the path to his subsequent riches”. Mahathir, who is “the shrunken old man of the Malaysian politics”, and Barisan Nasional “run Malaysia as their own private business, as if the politicians held personal ownership of the state”.
Two months later, Sarawak Report accused Mahathir of using false charges against Anwar Ibrahim, stating: “Back when Anwar Ibrahim was a threat to Mahathir Mohamad, the former autocrat used sodomy charges to toss him in jail for six years.
In May 2013, she described Mahathir as a “dreadful old has-been without dignity”, a “past politician”, “who should go and do something else useful and not try to keep meddling”.
In June 2013, Rewcastle accused Mahathir of secretly handling the nation’s money: “Mahathir is still sitting there, controlling the key financial asset of the nation – in secret”. His retirement was only a façade covering the intention to “take care of the business”, concentrating “on the core business aspect that is worth hundreds of billions of ringgit”.
Then came the conversion.
In late 2014, Mahathir’s close associate, businessman Kamal Siddiqi, approached Rewcastle Brown to put her in touch with Xavier Justo to buy the stolen data, which was later edited before she published it.
Rewcastle then began a campaign of positive propaganda, referring to Mahathir as “the iconic former leader of Malaysia”, in stark contrast to before when she used to refer to him as “Malaysia’s former dictator”.
On the issue of logging, a cause she claims is close to her heart, Rewcastle praised Mahathir for his “contribution of great importance” in coming down in full support of the figures expressed by campaigners against logging. Her eagerness in casting Mahathir in a positive light deliberately ignored the fact that the average annual amount of logging (in cubic metres) was actually nearly double in Mahathir’s tenure compared to the amount recorded now.
In January 2015, Clare Rewcastle Brown went as far as interviewing Mahathir, and with no sense of irony, praised his unflinching fight against financial corruption “Mahathir agreed that there is a greater need for transparency”.
Having most recently asserted that “If Malaysia follows Mahathir and the legions of the opposition, Najib’s supporters will be “dead””.
Rewcastle Brown’s transition from Mahathir critic to Mahathir crony – proven in her own words – reveals how entrenched she is in Mahathir’s self-interested plot to oust Najib.

From the archive of Sarawak report 11th June, 2013

Top BN Crony Secretly Secures Sarawak Oil Fields! EXCLUSIVE

11 JUN 2013

“one of the largest acreages in Malaysia” – the region off Sarawak being explored by Ananda Krishnan’s Pexco
In a shocking departure from normal practice one of BN’s top business cronies, Ananda Krishnan, has secured direct control of a series of Sarawak’s off-shore oil fields.
It makes his private company Pexco “one of the largest acreage holders in Malaysia”, according to its own CEO.
The astonishing development has placed the multi-billionaire (known for his close relationship with the former PM Mahathir Mohamad) in an unprecedented position to sub-contract to major oil companies.
Till now such negotiations have been strictly controlled by Petronas and not farmed out to intermediaries to cream off the profits, says industry watcher, Ganesh Sahathevan.
Official notices to mariners confirm that Pexco are already exploring the vast area.
They started conducting seismic surveys on the 4th May and have indicated they will continue for 80 days.
Warning notice to mariners to steer clear of Ananda Krishnan’s exploration teams
If Ananda Krishnan can identify the huge areas of oil and gas believed to be located there, it is likely he will then negotiate a lucrative partnership with one of the world’s main oil production companies to extract it.
This places him in a position to hijack a large amount of the revenue that would normally have gone to the state owned Petronas!
Privatising Sarawak’s oil into BN hands
Sean Guest – Chief Executive Officer of Pexco let out the information through his entry on LinkedIn!
This is not the first example of the privatising of Sarawak’s oil resources into the personal control of businessmen, who are known to be extremely close to top BN leaders.
It follows our recent revelation that one of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s own key cronies, Tiong Hiew King, was likewise granted on-shore drilling rights in Sarawak late last year.
And it is highly disturbing that both these cosy deals were negotiated in secret behind closed doors and were not announced by the Malaysian government.
Taib last month complained in his closing address to the Sarawak State Parliament that it was untrue to claim that he could have had a hand in the awarding of the on-shore concession to Tiong, because such decisions are made federally through Petronas.
However, he neglected the point that for on-shore drilling the Sarawak Chief Minister has a blocking ability to withhold the drilling licence!
“Then when Petronas awarded a contract to a company within the Rimbunan Hijau Group, which was allegedly friendly to me, to explore oil and gas of Bintulu, I was accused for being involved in the award of that contract. As everyone knows Petronas is not under my control or subject to my authority. Yet such frivolous accusations were made against me very much in defiant of what the truth was“[Taib complaining in Parliament over Sarawak Report’s revelations 29th May – he failed to admit he does have the control to withhold the drilling permit].
Questions will now be inevitably raised about the political deals surrounding this latest departure of giving Mahathir’s own crony a similar opportunity, but off-shore where Taib holds no remit.
Has BN’s leadership started laying hands directly on what remains of Malaysia’s dwindling oil reserves?
Mysterious ‘junior’ company that has acquired Malaysia’s “largest acreage” of oil
Sarawak Report was alerted to this astonishing acquisition by the private company Pexco not by any official announcements by the Malaysian Government or indeed by Pexco, but rather by a CV on Linkedin!
Sean Guest, who is Chief Executive Officer of Pexco boasts that the company “is one of the largest acreage holders in Malaysia” in his personal CV.
From the horse’s mouth – the information that was never publicised by Petronas, whose top advisor is still the former PM Mahathir Mohamad.
According to Sean Guest, Pexco has acquired a staggering 25,000km2 in concession fields in the seas off Sarawak, none of which has been officially or openly announced.
For further information confirming Krishan’s ownership Pexco NV, which is an off-shore company registered in the Netherlands Antilles, we can look at other LinkedIn entries of Pexco employees!
Australian petroleum engineer Graham Bunn states that in working for Pexco NV he was ultimately working for Usaha Tegas, which is the Jersey registered company controlled by Krishnan
The former Chairman of Pexco, Norman Singer, further confirms that Pexco is the “natural resources division of Usaha Tegas”, Krishnan’s vast company based in the off shore tax haven of Jersey.
Owned by Krishnan, according to the former Chairman
It is worth noting that official documents in third countries like America and Australia (where transparency is required in business dealings, unlike Malaysia) Pexco is referred to as an affiliate of Usaha Tegas, which implies that while the Ananda Krishnan company controls Pexco, it may not entirely own it.
Sarawak Report suggests that the people of Sarawak should be informed therefore as to whom exactly this concession for their off-shore reserves has gone.  Who are all the shareholders of Pexco?
Given the information so far, there is a rightful concern that BN political leaders appear to be busily stuffing what remains of the country’s dwindling oil reserves into the pockets of their known business cronies and their off-shore registered businesses!
Mahathir’s unhealthy control over Petronas
‘Junior’ oil company, according to Pexco’s Chief Finance Officer, William Deertz
The stealthy departure from the normal procedure of offering Petronas controlled oil contracts to major international producers is hard to justify in revenue terms for Malaysia.
Petronas’ traditional Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) are strictly controlled, allowing major oil companies to make competitive bids in return for around 30% of the oil they drill out. The rest is revenue for Malaysia.
However, there is doubt as to whether Pexco has sufficient experience to manage oil production directly, without itself hiring in one of the major oil producers to carry out the main job.
The company’s own Chief Finance Officer, William Deertz, points to this in yet another Linked In entry, in which he describes Pexco as a ‘Junior’ oil company.  This means it habitually conducts preliminary oil explorations and then calls in bigger companies to act in joint ventures to actually produce the oil.
More information from Linked In!
If Pexco is merely a ‘Junior’ oil company why has Petronas handed it the keys to one of the largest oil exploration areas in Malaysia, off Sarawak’s coast?  Why is Petronas itself not dealing with the contract rather than allowing this Malaysian business crony of ex-PM Mahathir Mohamad to slip in between?
Retired to take care of the business?
The often relied upon argument is the benefit of giving contracts to home grown ‘Malaysians’.  But at Pexco the top people are still clearly foreign, apart from the owners.
This development draws further attention to the continuing influence of Mahathir over the management of Petronas, which is perhaps the greatest outstanding scandal attached to BN’s management of Malaysia.
It was already a scandal that the Petronas accounts, which are by far the country’s greatest source of revenue, should have been kept secret only for the eyes of the Prime Minister/Finance Minister.
But at least this fellow is elected, whether to be trusted or not. But, once Mahathir was no longer elected or in government he had no business to be involved in any way in these matters.
To the contrary, the ex PM has stayed as the ‘Consultant’ to Petronas ever since.  He commands a great big office in its vainglorious headquarters in KL, and by all accounts he still dominates the decisions of this crucial public company.
The excuse was that this should be an advisory position offered to the past PMs.  However, Badawi came and went and Mahathir is still sitting there, controlling the key financial asset of the nation – in secret.
If there is nothing to hide, be transparent
Ananda Krishnan’s friendship with Mahathir, struck up when they both took refuge in London, was the path to his subsequent riches – now he has been granted much of Sarawak’s oil wealth.
It has frequently been observed that BN run Malaysia as their own private business, as if the politicians held personal ownership of the state.
In which case it appears that Mahathir has merely given up the public face of politics, so that he can concentrate on the core business aspect that is worth hundreds of billions of ringgit.
If this is not the case, then it is time that both the shrunken old men of Malaysian politics, Taib and Mahathir, came clean and explained how it is their key business cronies have emerged as vast private concession holders over great chunks of Sarawak’s oil reserves?
Modern Malaysians should not have to resort to Linked In to discover how an unelected past Prime Minister is allocating their natural resources!
Update:  Subsequent to this article Sean Guest amended his Linked In

From the archive of Sarawak Report 11th May, 2013

Quite Right To Fight!

11 MAY 2013

Symbol of BN’s GE13 election ‘win’?
BN should not expect Pakatan Rakyat to take their version of GE13 lying down.
After all Pakatan represent the majority of the voters by a very substantial and convincing margin!
Even after all the jiggery pokery with the electoral register, the bus loads of phantom voters, the mysterious additional ballot boxes that arrived during re-counts, the double voting that excluded numerous rightful voters from being able to cast their ballots, Pakatan gained almost 8% more of the votes in Peninsular Malaysia.
53.29% compared to just 45.74% for BN .
Even when the despot votes from Taib and Musa Aman were chucked in from East Malaysia Najib roundly lost with only 46.8% compared to 50.8% of the electorate.

Malaysiakini’s figures from the Election Commission
So, it is quite preposterous for any police chief to suggest that they might arrest Pakatan leaders for ‘sedition’ for pointing this out.
Any such an arrest would in fact constitute the seditious act, as it would plainly undermine the wish of the popular majority of the state.

People have been threatened with ‘monitoring’ for wearing black!
Likewise, it is surely seditious for police to attempt to harass people for wearing black in protest over jerrymandering by an Electoral Commission, which was stripped of its independence by BN and now sits in the PM’s own offices with a primary duty to make sure BN wins for ever and ever and ever?
What a load of outrageous nonsense to start talking of arrests!
Protest is a democratic right
If BN want to make an expensive public show of running a civilised democracy with elections (and GE13 cost billions, if mainly in bribes) then they must needs put up with the other key trappings of democracy.
These include public demonstrations, protests, banners, free speech on public platforms and the right to wear black, yellow or what ever other form of apparel expresses the inner views of the individual.
People don’t usually give up their Saturday afternoons, unless there is something extremely important that they are concerned about, and governments are duty bound to listen if they do.
In return, the people are required to act in a restrained and non-disruptive manner that does not upset any of the rights of other fellow citizens. The orderly rally in a stadium on May 8th was a perfect example of just such a gathering.

Keep it up – BN could never get a crowd like this to support them!
There should be many more such public expressions of dissatisfaction to remind BN that they lost their legitimacy in this election and that reform of their gerrymandering devices is required immediately.  Contested seats should also be properly adjudicated.
Waste of energy?
People who are saying that more rallies and protests are a waste of time tend to be jaded observers of Malaysia’s recent past and the corruption of the country by Mahathir Mohamed.  They feel there is no point, since everything is a sham.
However, in practice they are asking people to give up on demanding their rights. And if the people do not stand up for themselves now, BN will move swiftly to oblige and with a huge sigh of relief.
If marchers stop turning out, their energy sapped by bleak cynicism, the losers in this election will go as far as they dare to try and ban any expression of the popular will by calling rallies ‘seditious’ or ‘unruly’ or whatever they like.  Some are already doing it.
Instead, BN should just get used to persistent if polite marches and rallies until they put their house in order and conduct clean and fair elections.
BN have lost their confidence, don’t let them regain it undeservedly
This decades old coalition has rightfully lost its confidence as a result of this election drubbing and the people should not permit BN to regain it or to tell themselves that they won the election after all.
BN did not win the election, they lost it fair and square and in the full glare of international publicity.
Some have fallen lamely back on talk of the US in 2000 being won by a minority vote, but that is nonsense too.  In 2000 it was sufficiently contentious that Bush was able to claim victory with .5% less of the popular vote.
In Malaysia in 2013 Najib gained 4% less of the popular vote than Anwar (after cheating) and 7.5% in Peninsular Malaysia.
Time moves on
So, giving up is not an option.
It is easy for people to become stuck in the past and to imagine that what happened before must always be.  In Europe the Berlin Wall was treated by many like a fact of life, as if it had always been there instead of just a few decades, like BN.
But in truth all empires collapse, everyone dies and nothing stays the same.  Therefore it is right that Malaysia’s young people should be active in determining a better future, rather than resigning themselves to more corruption and despotism.
Progress does happen when enough people put some effort into it.
And no one should under-estimate the sea-change that did take place in GE13, when a massive turnout swept away all BN’s efforts to manufacture the sort of wins they got away with in the past.
BN lost their legitimacy on May 5th
BN employed the full apparatus of the state into trying to ensure their win.  The media talked up their ‘victory’ unceasingly and refused to publicise Pakatan wins until they were ‘over-turned’ by numerous dubious re-counts.
The police were dragooned into escorting buses loaded with foreigners to election booths and state employees were bullied and pressured into voting for BN.
Yet, even so, to justify the figures the ballot box stuffers of the Election Commission were forced to announce an extraordinary and record breaking 80% turn out on the night, which next day they had to revise up to 85% to explain the numbers of votes that had apparently been forced into the various re-counts.
How could the turnout suddenly bounce up AFTER the election had been announced and yet other figures stay the same?
Think about it.  An 85% turnout in Malaysia?  This means that the extensively rural country with large numbers of very poor voters and around a million of its better off citizens unavailable abroad produced one of the highest turnouts in global election history!

42 seats more for BN, despite the less votes
Not even that explains the jiggery pokery behind the election commission’s figures, because even now their own figures still don’t tally.
The over all election vote, according to their separate figures was 27,403 more than the tally.
Does this mean 27,403 ‘spoilt votes’ on top of all the other outrageous jiggery poker?

Figures revised after the event!
27,403 spoilt votes is a very large number.  Especially when you look at the narrow margin of so many of BN’s wins, a good number of which over-turned original Pakatan wins after a recount.
According to our calculations, 5,827 votes represent the total majority of BN’s 10 most narrow wins!
20,067 represents the total BN majority in the most marginal 20 seats.  Another 3 seats come to 6,303 total majority, meaning that the number of spoilt votes alone exceeds the margin by which BN ‘won’ the election.
Individually, there has already been considerable evidence that in numerous seats the ‘spoiled votes’ outnumbered the BN majority by a considerable amount.

Analysis of BN’s election ‘win’ has only just begun, but the more that comes out the greater the smell
All this is virtually impossible for the shamed and embarrassed BN hierarchy to defend.  Who would want to be in their shoes day after day during the next Parliament when the majority leader (Anwar Ibrahim) challenges them on all these points and requires them to give way?
The problem BN faces is that time HAS ALREADY moved on and the crude practices that the likes of Mahathir could get away with as he sucked his country dry are no longer effective in a world of fast communications, video recorders and the internet all employed by an educated young population.
BN are already a museum piece, like North Korea.
Don’t let them re-group

Open secret – ‘hard man’ Muhyiddin has been waiting in the wings, to let the more popular Najib lead BN in the elections and then take over after blaming him for BN’s losses
The worst thing would be to allow the dreadful old has-beens of BN from the Mahathir era to think they can turn back the tide of that history and that all that is needed is a ‘crack-down’ under some kind of ‘hard chap’, like Muyhiddin Yassin.
There are people who think that by reversing what reforms have taken place in past years they can restore past ‘glories’.
Such small brains forget that the reforms were conceded under pressure in the first place and they imagine that Malaysia can return to be a backward museum of sham democracy where people like them can continue to enjoy ruling the roost.
But they need to realise that what small state dictators got away with in the Cold War era, when the eyes of the electronic age had yet to be switched on, is no longer possible.
In their hearts they admitted it when they accepted that they needed to keep the more moderate and tolerable Najib as their leader during the election, since only a small angry minority of voters prefer the aggressive Mr Muhyiddin.
The UMNO extremist hope now is to replace their front man, Najib, with their hard man Muhyiddin and then defy anyone to say they didn’t win the election fair and square!

‘Has been’ without dignity – past politicians should go and do something else useful and not try to keep meddling.
This is too crude, too public and too playground ridiculous to wash on the world stage.
This weekend the British PM meets the Russian PM to decide on how to collaborate on sorting out Syria.
This is no longer the Cold War era and no government wants to be seen openly supporting a thug and BN cannot reverse this election with a crackdown and expect it to pass unnoticed as before.
BN have got to find a more dignified way out of this mess they are in and concessions, reform and gracious acceptance of the present popular opinion is the only route forward.
It may mean they will soon be out of power for some years.  But, it gives them the chance to come back.  If they ‘crack down’, go backwards, fight and oppress the majority then they will write themselves out of Malaysia’s future and blacken their names forever in Malaysia’s history.

From the archive of Sarawak Report 30 January, 2013

The Main Plot Is Against Najib!

The Main Plot Is Against Najib!

30 JAN 2013

As BN’s juddering coalition splutters and stutters towards the election, which it has been putting off but can no longer avoid, all the whispering is about revenge.
Najib is getting the blame in UMNO for the falling poll ratings and party plotters have been talking about how to deal with him and regain full control of Malaysia, which they once managed like their own personal vehicle.
Unlucky sight for BN on the road outside Kuching? After 50 years in government the collapsing UMNO vehicle is also   trying to keep on the road for its 13th General Election in the year 2013

A spent vehicle guided by a back-seat driver?
Front man for the election, but for the chop right after
Sarawak Report has already detailed an advanced plot to get rid of Taib by his closest insiders, but the real big story is that the same fate is being planned against Najib, also for the moment the election is over.
This means that Malaysians could end up voting for one leader, but end up with a completely different character just weeks afterwards.
That character would be the far less popular, hard man, Muhyiddin Yassin, the current deputy.
Behind the manoeuvrings is Malaysia’s very own back-seat driver, Mahithir Mohamad, who can’t accept his own retirement.
Mahathir’s back-seat driving is no secret in UMNO
And backing him are UMNO’s party hard-liners, nostalgic to bring back what they see as a Golden Age, when they controlled everything in Malaysia and could crack down hard on anyone who dared challenge that power.
Mahithir is running his own campaign plan”, explains one inside observer “and what he is telling people is that Najib is doing it all wrong, he is too soft.  He is saying Najib is too weak and Malaysia needs strong government”.
That there is such talk going round is widespread knowledge, as are the hard-line views of Mr Mahithir, who ruled Malaysia with an iron rod and removed the independence of the judiciary, press, police force and civil service in order to make sure his executive authority could not be challenged.
Malaysia’s former dictator kept his support by distributing favours, paid for by Sarawak and Sabah oil money, among his UMNO followers.
Ready to return with an iron fist. Mahathir is confident that Muhyiddin will bring Malaysia back to the way it was run
However, Mahithir was himself removed because this style of government had become plainly intolerable to Malaysians and UMNO needed to develop a different face to stay in power.
Badawi started the process and the resulting freedom saw the opposition doing much better in the 2008 elections.
But the UMNO hard-liners took this as their cue to claim Mahathir had been vindicated and it is well known that Mahathir himself was a prime mover behind the removal of Badawi shortly after that ‘disaster’ of democracy.
The tub-thumping Muyhiddin is their answer to Najib, who is seen as even weaker and more accommodating than Badawi, as he tries to show that Malaysia can reform and catch up with the world in terms of human rights and democracy.
Nothing annoyed the hard-liners more than the sight of the peaceful demonstration earlier this month, where hundreds of thousands dared turn out on the streets for the opposition, for once unmolested by the regime.  They would have preferred a crackdown and to hell with what the world thinks.
Simple plan
Opposition marchers risk a police bashing – BN marchers go for rice hand-outs from 1 Malaysia workers
The tensions have put Najib between a rock and a hard place.  He is indeed weak and still forced to indulge in the corrupt practices that have sustained BN for so many years.
After all, once you have started a career in bribery and corruption you can never escape it and the same rule applies to political parties.
The PM’s own counter-rally of a few thousand supporters looked pathetic, with the handouts of rice telling the full story of BN’s lamentable relationship with its followers.
But, Najib is also sufficiently modern to realise that he cannot put the cork back in the bottle in Malaysia and that change must come.  This was the reason why BN had to dump Mahathir in the first place and the reason behind the political tsunami in 2008.
It is obvious that to crack down again now would cause dangerous and intolerable pressures that would explode sooner not later.
However, this is exactly Mahithir’s plan, say observers.  He wants to bring Muhyiddin to power straight after the election is over, through a revolt at the long-postponed UMNO convention, which will have to take place almost immediately.
The former leader, who commands everyone’s ear in the party, because he was regarded in being so successful hanging on to power and making them rich, is trading off the growing fears that the momentum is sliding away from the party each day that the election is held off.
“Mahithir is talking to UMNO leaders and state leaderships one by one.  He was actively doing it at the recent UMNO General Assembly in November, when all the delegates were complaining about Najib’s leadership, especially the uncertainty over the election.  He has been saying to them ‘I have my misgivings with Najib as well, but we need to be united until the elections’ “, explains a separate observer.
Mahithir’s plan is simple, use Najib’s more moderate image, which is 20% more acceptable to the voting public than Muhyiddin’s, to get through the election and then substitute him.  Muhyiddin is far the more popular character with hard-line party insiders and will win their votes at the party convention.
Cheating again
It seems not to worry UMNO one bit that this is effectively setting out to cheat the electorate by advertising a more palatable, if weak leader and then substituting him with a hard-liner with an agenda to crack down on democracy and freedom.
But, then UMNO have been cheating and bribing the electorate for years.
If the widespread talk about replacing Najib in this way is untrue, then we await BN’s denials once more and look forward to hearing Mr Mahithir and Mr Muhyiddin pledge their loyal and undying support for their party leader and Prime Minister both before and after the election.
BN should meanwhile bear in mind that such plots predicate an election victory that is looking less certain every day that passes!