Money is wasted on youth (ministry) - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Malaysiakini : “Those who, while they disapprove of the character and measures
of a government, yield to it their allegiance and support are
undoubtedly its most conscientious supporters, and so frequently the
most serious obstacles to reform.”
― Henry David Thoreau
COMMENT | Does anyone else find it hilarious that Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman vows to defend
the freedom of speech of that doctor who wrote an anti-LGBTQ polemic
but remains strangely quiet when it comes to the freedom of speech of
Fadiah Nadwa Fikri and Asheeq Ali Sethi Alivi?
This should tell you something about the politics at play or maybe
even the kind of prejudices which are acceptable to the ruling elite in
the country. Funny isn’t it, that the youngest minister in the government who is
supposed to be supportive of youths, has no opinion on the state’s
reaction to these two young activists. That Syed Saddiq has the gall to
claim that whatever form the new Biro Tatanegara (BTN) and National
Service programmes will take, it will mould the new leaders of tomorrow,
is the height of hypocrisy.
As far as I can tell these two young people are demonstrating
leadership qualities that other young people should pay attention to,
rather than the leadership qualities (or lack thereof) of the new
Pakatan Harapan regime. Honestly reading and understanding the issues these young people
bring up, how they handle criticism and the reaction of the state
towards them is far more instructive, in my opinion, on what it means to
be Malaysians than whatever voodoo programmes the Youth Ministry belch
up to justify its existence.
Which brings me to the little spat between opposition political
operative Khairy Jamaluddin and Syed Saddiq about the alleged misuse of
funds of the1Malaysia For Youth programme. Well, duh? Of course, some of
the funds would have been misused, but is this really a revelation or
is Syed Saddiq just taking a page from the older political operatives
instead of truly reforming his ministry?
My question is, why does Harapan keep insisting on keeping programmes
or tweaking them when before the election they said these programmes
were destroying Malaysia? Young Syed Saddiq said that the idea behind 1Malaysia For Youth
programme was “noble” because it was supposed to be about encouraging
volunteerism among young people. This is really silly. Any government
programme is there is encourage young people to vote for them. Can
anyone seriously make the argument that government initiatives – any
government initiatives – are non-political?
These programmes exist to brainwash young people into thinking that
the government is a benign entity which should be supported because –
depending on the quality and efficacy of said programmes – governments
bring some sort of benefit to their lives. Whatever they receive in
terms of experience or skill sets is built upon a foundation of
This said propaganda worms its way into young people and they
conflate political parties with the independent institutions of
government. They do not think of government institutions as independent
but rather as an extension of political parties. They may not articulate
it as such, but it’s all there in how they express what they think of
government and its role.
The real issues
Two points. 1. Has there ever been an audit on all these programmes,
and a determination of how the funds were used and who profited from
these youth programmes? I mean serious audit, not an audit to blame the
BN government for all that is wrong with this country. 2. Has there ever
been an in-depth study on how these programmes shaped the young
generation over the years? Or is this merely window-dressing to justify
the existence of a youth ministry while money gets diverted to who knows
Is the youth minister really interested in addressing issues faced by
young people these days? You know what young people talk to me about or
what has been reported in the press over the years? The following may
depend on socio-economic background but here goes (in no particular
Systemic discrimination in the public and private sector, religious
intolerance which hampers their intellectual development and social
lives, the cost of living especially young married couples, domestic
violence, crime, the lure of religious terrorism, substance abuse,
owning property, their sexuality, their activism, the disconnect
between their skill sets and the employment opportunities, talent
mobility in the region, lack of awareness in financial planning, how to
get other young people involved in the political process without
resorting to political parties, aging parents, mental and physical
health issues, lack of information about birth control or lack of access
to birth control and the list does go on. This is really just a taste.
You really think that these substantive issues have been addressed by
the former regime in any real meaningful way with drowning out the
voices of young people in propaganda or racial and religious rhetoric?
And does young Syed Saddiq want to play the same game?
Sure, spin doctors could make the case that the ministry has
attempted to address some of these issues but would anyone really buy
that? I do not get me started on the sports aspects of that ministry.
Anyway, my comrade, R Nadeswaran is better qualified to speak on that
subject. And he has.
Honestly, how have these programmes over the years shaped young
people? Has it made them more responsible citizens? Has it made them
more community-minded? I would argue that young people do have a better
sense of community than their elders but this is in spite of what the
government has done, not because of it.
Here’s a question. How do you get young people forget their
difference when some young people believe that there should be
Malay-only education institutions? Or that people should be cautious of
criticising institutions like Mara because of the sensitivities of those
involved? How exactly does “volunteerism”, “team building” and all
those other fancy terms, negate political and social boxes imposed on
young Malaysians and of which they desperately attempt to break free
from, sometimes resulting in clashes with the state?
Instead of spending money on these youth programmes and a revised BTN
propaganda effort, the money should be used on our education system and
healthcare system, for example. Instead of fighting over the United
Education Certificate (UEC), perhaps the Youth Ministry should discover
why national schools, which are supposed to be the time and place that
young Malaysians form their identities and integrate with one another,
have become a hotbed of racial and religious intolerance.
Young people do not need programmes for volunteerism or whatever else
nonsense to make them political leaders of tomorrow. What they need is a
primary and secondary education system where racialism and bigotry are
not enforced by the state under the guise of majority sensitivity.
Young people have access to information now. This, of course, does
not make them news literate but it does make them understand that there
is something wrong with this country and the people who lead it. How
many percent of the “young” population vote? Not if they are eligible to
vote, but if they even think that voting will improve their lives? I have no idea about anyone else and I, of course, do not speak for
young people, but when I see young political operatives talk about young
people, it seems like they do not speak for them either.
I get that Syed Saddiq is the youngest minister with no real working
experience but you know what, I can name so many other young people who
understand the problems of young people and who would jump at the
opportunity to use the ministry to further the agenda of young people.
All these programmes conjure up images of a Leni Riefenstahl film and if that’s the goal, great. But young people deserve better.
Ultra-liberals and the futility of discourse - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, August 13, 2018
Malaysiakini : “The political nature of man made it highly unlikely that a
society designed to meet regularly would remain peaceable. "The way to
make friends quarrel is to pit them in disputation under the public
eye," Jefferson said.” ― Jon Meacham, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
COMMENT | Truth be told, I like
Rafizi Ramli. Sure, we have had a very public spat but the reality is
that for whatever reasons, he often kicks the Pakatan Harapan regime in
the nut sack and more often than not, gets pilloried for it on social
media. The internal politics of PKR, I have very little interest in. No
matter who runs the good ship, PKR politicians in Harapan will not stray
too far from mainstream Malay politics even though they, like the DAP,
claim to be a multi-racial party.
Malay establishment politicians have to pay attention to certain
agendas and non-Malay establishment politicians have to enable such
dictates. It does not have to be this way but it is easier to retain
power this way. Recently, Rafizi labelled those hounding Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail on the whole child marriage fiasco as ultra liberals who "focus on the one issue".Not nice, Rafizi.
Dismissing these critics, while saying these ultra liberals are not
responsible for the poor, while the DPM, was, is a strange way of
deflecting from the criticisms of the cautious response of the DPM on
this issue. Firstly, child marriage, as in marriages between children and adults, is normalising sex with children. Furthermore, it is normally the “poor” children who are exploited in
this manner. Also, this idea that ultra liberals are single-issue
advocates is rather bizarre, because it's like saying that rights groups
who advocate on a specific subject do not care about anything else –
the poor – because they advocate for specific issues.
Last year when Umno was in power, my Malay-speaking activist friends
were always worried that the state labelled them as deviant and that
meant they were liberal. As one young activist said (in Malay no less),
how could he be liberal when he can't even speak English that well. Even now I do not want to go into the whole definition on the debate
about what a liberal is even more so an ultra-liberal, which I suppose
is akin to an ultra Malay or Islamist or howsoever else Malaysians
define such things.
It gets really messy when Rafizi claims that some activists are
biased against Wan Azizah because she wears a tudung, more “Malay”
looking in her outlook and appearance and behaves like a moderate.
Really? Some would argue that Wan Azizah is an idealised version of a Malay
woman. A fair skinned, tudung wearing, religious and socially compliant
political operative. I mean we are talking about a community which is a melting pot of various people foreign and domestic, right?
Why even say horse manure like that? And what does having a Malay
outlook mean and does having this Malay outlook, trump whatever agreed
upon principles that the opposition says it has? How does one define the
middle ground this way? But wait. Rafizi already staked out the middle moderate ground. “And
the moderate centre behaves like Wan Azizah. The moderate centre does
not behave like very vocal social activists who want outright political
condemnation,” he said.
Wait, so all those years when tudung wearing Malays were outright in
their condemnation of Umno policies and rhetoric, they were not the
“moderate centre”? All those social activists many of whom were tudung
clad did not represent the centre of Malay politics, which is what the
opposition (Harapan) was saying was the true face of this country?
What about those who do not wear tudung? Are they somehow less
“moderate” in their views? Does the content of the criticisms change
depending on whether one wears a tudung or believes in a specific
Muddying up waters
But what is the moderate centre in PKR? By labelling activists who
are vocal in their criticisms about a political operative who is also
the women and family development minister, as ultra-liberal, then what
is the moderate liberal's position? Less vocal? It is like PAS saying that anyone who disagrees with their
interpretation of Islam is liberal but an ultra liberal is someone who
actually voices out such disagreements. Where does someone like Zaid
Ibrahim fall when it comes to the liberal and ultra-liberal label?
Which brings us to the futility of the discourse and the big tent approach of PKR. Let us be honest here. In most cases, the discourse is between the Malay component – liberal or orthodox – and the non-Malay component of PKR. Rafizi’s example of Malay groups who are not happy with the UEC
recognition and bringing those who are and those who do not together
sounds like a swell idea. But really, when it comes to Malay rights, can there ever be a
dialogue? Why do Malay rights groups oppose the UEC? The basis of their
dissent is based on racial and religious supremacy, right?
So it's how you have to allay their fears, right? But this is the
problem right here. Non-Malays as citizens of this country should not
have to allay the fears of their countrymen. How exactly does the UEC,
for example, threaten the culture of the Malay community? How exactly is talking about this with people who base their
objection to specific issue along racial or religious lines going to get
us to that place, where we are all treated equally before the law?
How erectly does the discourse work with people like this? I mean
really, saying non-Muslims can use the word, Allah – as long as it was
not misused – is something to be proud of? If I ask an orthodox Malay
who believes in Malay supremacy how do the non-Malays misuse the word
Allah, he or she would say that by uttering the word, they would be
For whatever reason, Rafizi is the only political operative who
pisses in the Harapan kool-aid occasionally. I will take occasionally
over the prostrating of most political operatives at the altar of the
great old one.But for Allah's sake, be mindful of how you respond to criticism. If
your critics are wrong just say they are wrong and but don’t engage in
The discourse is hard enough already without folks who should know better than muddying up the waters even more.
Is patriotism worth RM250? - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, August 11, 2018
Malaysiakini : “The flag is the simplest and cheapest symbol and for the cost of eight cigarettes, we can buy and wave the flag.”- Rais Yatim, in 2013 when he was the social affairs and cultural adviser
COMMENT | When some people say we
can finally raise the Jalur Gemilang with pride after May 9, I go, huh?
Why can we finally raise our national flag with pride? I suppose you
could make the argument that we finally become a democracy, if the
yardstick is changing governments, that is. But some would argue that
the big change was merely a reshuffling of the deck.
Indeed, waving the Jalur Gemilang and patriotism go hand in hand.
Except, if you’re from the LGBTQ tribe, or liberal Muslims or
‘chauvinistic’ Chinese, or ‘traitorous’ Indians, or not from the
'bangsa' Malaysia tribe (the negation of ethnicity/culture in favour of
partisanship), then waving the flag or even depictions of you waving the
flag means that you are promoting something which goes against the
group think of the state or not wanting to spook the majority in case
they have second thought about the Pakatan Harapan government.
In January of this year, I asked why would the non-Malays be patriotic to this country – “And really, what is it the non-Malays have to defend? We have to
defend our ‘success’ in Tanah Melayu. We have to defend the fact that we
have to work hard because we are not beholden to a system of privilege –
ideological, religious and constitutional – that enables us to think
for ourselves and realise that the world does not owe us anything. “We have to defend how we spend our wealth – too expressive in the
luxuries the fruits of our labour afford us, and we are deemed
un-Islamic, corrupt in our excesses, and of course, corrosive to the
Please do not claim that things will not change immediately. That is
not what I am saying at all. I believe that deep down inside, people
know this. They know the freak show when they see it.
It never ceases to amaze me that certain types of governments always
need to foster, instil, encourage or in some cases, enforce a sense of
patriotism on its citizens. That is really what’s bugs me about the
re-branding of the Biro Tatanegara (BTN) courses, for example. Why do
people need to be reminded or taught about being patriotic to the
country? I mean we know, or should know, that any kind of state
propaganda is there to enforce allegiance to political parties and not
democratic, independent institutions, right? The irony, of course, is that people generally have more loyalty to
political parties than any other institution in the country. They have
more faith in political parties than democratic principles or ideals. In
other words, partisanship is tangible, while any other kind of
patriotic feelings to the country is not.
And what the hell does patriotism mean anyway? I can tell you who
should not define it. I can tell you when the state attempts to define
patriotism, it is always extremely dangerous. The last people who should
define patriotism are people in power. The last people who should
define patriotism is the religious elite. In other words, if you have
some power over your countrymen, you are in no position to define what
patriotism is but it normally means that these tyrants do.
What really ticks me off is when bureaucrats and politicians weigh in
on patriotism. Kuantan Municipal Council (MPK) administration reminded
business owners that they faced a RM250 compound if they failed to fly
the Jalur Gemilang. This clause is apparently in the business licence
MPK public relations officer Izad Zainal Muhammad Safian babbled on
about how this would “foster patriotism among Malaysians, especially
traders in the council area, by flying Jalur Gemilang and the Pahang
flag. You can bet your last ringgit that fines collected for not being
patriotic is going to line the pockets of you knows who. It sure as hell
not going to benefit the people in any way. Really, a municipal council
telling traders to be patriotic. I get that they are the middlemen but
seriously, you really think that this type of "extortion" encourages
Being forced to hoist the flag with a RM250 penalty for failure to
comply, does not foster patriotism amongst traders who just wish to make
a decent living. Who makes these flags and who profits from the
enforced patriotism of these traders? Always follow the money trail. But
really, when you have to force people to wave the flag, do you really
think that people would feel any sense of kinship to their countrymen or
You see these big companies going all out during the patriotic
season, and you just know the bottom line is part of their
consideration. I do not blame them. It’s all part of the capitalist
system, but here in Malaysia where we have plutocrat-politicians, you
just know that the big companies will have incestuous links with the
ruling government. Corruption and patriotism go hand in hand, and
believe me, they pay more than just RM250.
Small traders who have to deal with low-level bureaucrats and
mid-level politicians, of course, have to play a different game. RM250
may not mean much, but to some people that is a sum they could do with. Former minister Rais Yatim back in 2013 - the quote that begins this
piece – went on about how students, young people and the denizens of
urban areas were not patriotic enough. Of course, instilling patriotism
meant loyalty to the state which at that time was Umno, but really this
is Malaysia, so when people tell me that they have loyalty to the
country what they really mean is that they are glad that Harapan is now
in the driver’s seat.
So it’s funny, right? Young people and urban folk were the catalysts
for kicking out BN and for Rais Yatim getting his new job, whatever it
is. A political conversion brought upon by young people and urban folk,
who had very little patriotism to this country. I can understand why the
former Umno regime was worried about why people were not patriotic
enough. Their jobs depended on it.
The same applies to the Harapan bunch. You really think they have any
allegiance to the democratic institutions/principles of this country?
If they did, they would not be reneging on their promises which would
cost them nothing to keep (if it did cost them something, why make it in
the first place?) or poking their noses into the lives of people on
Also, when a judge denies a gag order on Najib's corruption trial
because it goes against free speech but the MCMC issues a guideline
against the use of specific words by broadcasters, does anyone else see
the hypocrisy in this? Let me guess, those lists of banned words and
books, is something Harapan either on a state or federal level will not
People have to discover why they are patriotic to this country or if
patriotism is even something worth thinking about. But if its value is
RM250, I can assure you, you are doing something wrong.
Malaysiakini : “Any religion-based state has a mission to limit the minds of its
people, to fight the developments of history and logic, and to dumb
down its citizens. It’s important to stand in the way of such a
mentality, to deny it from continuing its mission to murder the souls of
its people, killing them deep within while they are still alive and
breathing.” – Raif Badawi, 1000 Lashes, Because I Say What I Think
Pakatan Harapan – either by design, incompetence or maybe just a lack of
imagination – is making the Islamic discourse in this country even more
toxic than it already is.
Take the Islamic Development Department (Jakim), for instance. This
is a religious bureaucracy plugged into every aspect of government. Why
hasn’t there been any sustained effort by this so-called religious
authority to combat corruption, racism and bigotry? Isn’t this the kind
of Islamic moral police that Harapan alluded to when it comes to the
religion of the state?
The pointless op-ed piece about Women, Family and Community Development Minister Dr Wan Aziziah Wan Ismail, penned by her deputy Hannah Yeoh and panned by Latheefa Koya, is an example of how the political elite attempt to cloud issues that they do not want to deal with.
In past articles, I have written about the tremendous pressure Muslim political operatives are under. I get it, I really do. It should tell you something about mainstream Harapan dogma when
people do not question why Latheefa’ position on the issue of child
marriage, for example, is not defended, while the cautious – and I am
being charitable here – position of the deputy prime minister is
embraced by the political elite who told us before the election that
they would defend the secular position in this so-called Islamic state.
of the photos of LGBTQ activists, who by the way were also part of the
struggle against the Umno regime, not only demonstrates the pettiness of
the religious bigots in Harapan, but also the hypocrisy of their
actions. How many Harapan political operatives met with activists (who
were part of the LGBTQ discourse) as part of a grassroots rejection of
De facto Religious Affairs Minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa's double speak
of the state protecting these people from a society that rejects them
hides the fact that the bigots within Harapan believe that the more
disenfranchised you are, the less political cost you incur. Sooner or later, everyone becomes disenfranchised except the
political and religious elites. Keep up the good work Charles Santiago
and anyone else who public ally opposes these religious imperatives.
And no Mujahid, I do not want you to arrest
them. I want you to keep your mouth shut about them, and instead create
a counter-narrative that Harapan's Islam is about promoting a first
class education for your brethren, weeding out corruption in the
political and religious class, ensuring the healthcare system is one of
the best in the region, and ensuring a plurality of Islamic voices, so
young people do not join extremist groups that pose a danger to the
citizens of this country.
I have asked this question many times before, but how many times have
past Umno administrations made unilateral decisions which went against
the perceived Islamic groupthink to garner votes from non-Muslims? How
many times has the Umno regime retreated from extreme positions to
appease their BN non-Malay/Muslim partners? Did they suffer – before May 9, 2018 – from a Muslim backlash? No,
they didn’t. Why? because the majority of Muslims are content to follow
their leaders instead of setting the Islamic agenda.
My last article
was more about the hypocrisy of the opposition then any real political
influence by a foreign power. Anyway, all of this is just a smokescreen.
Three important issues have cropped up which point to the theoretic
agenda of the Harapan state – far more important than a bumbling group
from DC mucking about our country.
The first is the syariah-compliant guidelines
for the private sector. What horse manure is this? Apparently, this was
in response to the incident where some woman was sacked from her job
for not covering up her aurat. Let me get this straight. We have already had problems in the public
sector where religious types dictated how we dress when we interact with
the bureaucracy, and now, Harapan wants to impose its “guidelines” on
the private sector?
I can just picture it. Private companies who want to do business with
the government will suck up to the regime by adopting these guidelines.
Some women will advocate for this guideline to be adopted by their
companies to ensure that they are not discriminated against, and when
there is pushback from the company, the religious far right will get
involved and Harapan and these bigots will be on the same page.
This is how it starts – innocently enough. Hidden behind a
message of fairness is actually the tools for compliance. Guidelines
eventually become dogma, and because they think people will not notice –
most often they do not – they encroach into our public and private
The second is the rebranding of the National Civics Bureau (BTN). I wrote about this here
– “Okay, you may say, fine, reform BTN. Sounds simple, right? Has
anyone stopped to think why this organisation is needed? Forget about
what it is costing taxpayers, but why would there ever need to be a
government agency instilling ‘patriotism’ in the civil service and
students? Why would the state need to do this except to ensure that
people are brainwashed into voting for them?”
People need to question why Harapan is accepting money from kids who
break their piggy banks, but has the money to fund what is essentially a
state propaganda organ, which would reach into every facet of public,
not to mention private life? Do people not see the hypocrisy and danger
of an organisation like BTN, revamped or not? While some Harapan politicians have spoken up on this, the big guns are waxing eloquent about other senior leaders, promoting a third national car, or reminding the rakyat about how bad Umno's corruption scandals
were. Not to mention the defence that Harapan made these promises not
realising they could win has achieved some sort of legitimacy among the
The third, and perhaps most important, is the waffling on abolishing
the National Security Council Act 2016. All I can say is, you lying
sacks of manure. Before the election, Harapan, the then-opposition, was going on about
how this act had effectively turned this democracy into an autocracy.
Malay opposition politicians, including our current prime minister, said
that this act further eroded the powers of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
In fact, Dr Mahathir Mohamad went so far as to claim that Najib Abdul Razak had given himself the powers of the Agong. Anwar Ibrahim mounted a legalchallenge and later withdrew it. This is the most dangerous law this country has.
Now, these duplicitous politicians are claiming:
“When it comes to security issues of the country, we will examine all
aspects to ensure our country’s safety is not compromised.” Really? What
changed? I mean what have you discovered about the security of the
country that changed your mind on the utilitarian values of this act? Did the Najib regime have good cause to table this act? Was the Najib
regime aware of things that necessitated such an act that you were
(then) ignorant of? Were all criticisms against this act unfounded?
Based on ignorance and not fact?
Let me be very clear. I say theocratic agenda because ultimately,
religion is the foundation on which unjust laws and propaganda will be
used in this country. This is the new virulent strain introduced into
the Islamic discourse. Virulent because:
The goodwill Harapan has from its base clouds the discourse in an
avalanche of apologia, or more often ad hominems. This adds to the
virulence of the discourse, because people lose sight of the real issue
and attempt to engage with the strawman arguments. This, of course, only
strengthens the Malay far-right position.
The media is concentrating on the plethora of corruption scandals of
the past regime, which subsumes other more important long-term issues
which have long-lasting effects on the social and political landscape of
this country. Politicians, who before the election were bullish on institutional
reform which involved the religious apparatus, now find it profitable to
carry on existing narratives that worked so well for BN until the
events of May 9.
This, of course, is the most dangerous aspect of this
new Malaysia I get that people do not think it is a big issue. But look back at
the history of the country and see the cultural changes that took place.
Do you really think corruption has done as much damage as the religious
and racial imperatives of the Malay and non-Malay political class?
IRI ’interference’ poses no clear and present danger to M'sia - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, August 08, 2018
Malaysiakini : “Here is my first principle of foreign policy: good government at home.” ― William Ewart Gladstone
COMMENT | Some folks have been
emailing me asking me what I think of all this International Republican
Institute (IRI) “collusion” with Pakatan Harapan. I get that
“collusion” with foreign powers is a big thing at the moment, but
honestly I do not really see the issue here. Some people have said that
the IRI is a cut-out for the American intelligence apparatus or
something like that.
Really? Look, I think the American intelligence apparatus is a
cut-out, or has become a cut-out, for big business - Big Pharma, Big
Agro, et cetera - and all the other corporate interests that influence
American foreign and domestic policy.
Besides, the fact that a representative from the organisation goes around blabbering about the “long game”
with the opposition demonstrates that whatever nefarious intentions
attributed to the IRI aid is misplaced because it sounds like amateur
hour when you boast about a victory which you acknowledged that you had
no hand in. This looks like spin to counter all the negative spin that
the IRI faces all over the world. A good news story about a democracy
that works in an Islamic country and how the IRI played its small part.
Granted, I would like to know what kind of “training” they
provided to our local politicians. I am most curious if this involved
the use of social messaging and propaganda, but ultimately this kind of
interference happens all the time.
Foreign groups wishing to cultivate a specific kind of government or
promote specific agendas operate in countries through ways benign and
toxic. Opposition parties facing hostile establishments have very little
choice but to get support where they can find it, more so if such
support is sexed up with democratic ideas. Furthermore, since its
inception, our opposition has been made up of former establishment
figures, so there of course would be foreign power brokers invested in
how the country chooses to vote.
Claiming, as the IRI did, to have access to the prime minster, his
office or to political operatives, is admittedly worrying. However, I
consider most of these types of engagements as falling under the
“lobbying culture” which Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad should be
familiar with, considering he had paid a lobbyist back in the day to
meet a US president. So, it is not that unusual.
Which is not to say that the IRI is a benign outfit. Just two years ago, US media outlet Politicoreported
that Russia concluded that the organisation posed “a threat to Russia’s
security and political system.” I mean, Russia should know a thing or
two about interfering in the political process of foreign countries.
IRI’s response was: “For 33 years, IRI has worked around the world
with citizens, civil society groups and political leaders to advance
democracy and human dignity. We’ve helped women and members of
marginalised communities take their rightful place in the
decision-making process of their societies. We simply believe, as Ronald
Reagan said three decades ago, that ‘all people should have the freedom
to determine their own destiny’."
On the other hand, US magazine Mother Jones in 2004 detailed the fallout from the organization’s activities in Haiti and Venezuela and of its penchant to choose sides:
1. “At the time, all the major US democracy-promotion groups were
active in Venezuela, including both IRI and NDI (the National Democratic
Institute). But documents obtained through the Freedom of Information
Act show that while NDI worked with parties across the political
spectrum, IRI staffers spent much of their time cultivating the
2. “And despite a warning from the National Endowment for Democracy
not to take sides in Venezuela, IRI also used its own money to bring
opposition figures to Washington, where they met with top US officials.”
So there’s that. Of course, now everyone from Gerakan to
Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) is claiming that they had no involvement
with IRI and their ilk. PSM is the most believable because of their track record and the fact
that their ideology is anathema to mainstream US groupthink.
Gerakan, meanwhile, is correct to call out PKR
vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar over her claim that Gerakan received
training from IRI. If she makes such a claim, she should back it up with
evidence and not attempt to smear everyone with the mulch Harapan finds
Now the IRI has claimed it worked with the BN regime too, but it does
sound like an afterthought considering their man had said that they
played the long game with the opposition and that Harapan political
operatives had allegedly thanked the IRI for standing with them all
Maybe it’s just that in the rush of things, people say stupid
things, especially when the assets you have cultivated produce political
fruit, waiting to be plucked. Ok, that was mean. Do I think that there
are compromised political operatives in Harapan and BN? It would not
surprise me, but I just think this whole thing with the IRI is
overblown. But it does provide some comic relief though, courtesy of the
Lim Guan Eng’s denial
of any involvement with the IRI was funny. Pro tip. If this is the
first time you are hearing about this, should not the logical answer be
to discover more about the subject instead of merely denying any
involvement because your coalition partners admitted involvement?
Here’s the thing. If the influence of IRI through Harapan is
detrimental to the sovereignty of the country, then DAP is involved by
virtue of being part of the coalition. And really, DAP has
been “critical” of the US Republican Party? Has DAP been critical of
the US Democratic Party too? Or is this a cheap shot at US President
Donald Trump to score points with the domestic audience?
Of course then there was the predictable backpedalling, when Guan Eng (photo)
admitted that DAP had contact with the IRI but did not hear the
reporter’s question properly. Yeah, right. The first flight response
from DAP when it comes to anything it perceives could tarnish its image
is getting tiresome. Nothing to rock the boat, eh, Guan Eng, even when
it means waiting to craft a response which does not throw your coalition
partners under the bus.
And of course, the stupidest thing was said about having contacts
with the US political parties. Lim said that DAP had no contacts with
the US Republican Party or the US president, but training with
thinktanks was okay because it was not like having contacts with the US
Central Intelligence Agency. How stupid is this?
Look, a political party having contact with another democratically
elected political party is good, even if the political party is in the
opposition and share the same ideologies. It is the way that democracies
work and democratic ideas flourish.
However, far more dangerous, are members of a political party
attending training and workshops by so-called thinktanks which promote
agendas public and sub-rosa. Indeed, it would have been better if DAP maintained ties with the US
Republican and Democratic parties because that is what functional
political parties do. Maintaining lines of communication with other
democratically elected political parties is a good thing, and not
mucking about with foreign NGOs, some of whom are funded by political
parties which could have been infiltrated by intelligence operators
beholden to higher undemocratic powers.
It is good that DAP finally cleared this up. Guan Eng’s bad hearing
saved the day because at best DAP was ignorant of what their partners
were up to – which does not inspire much confidence –
or at worst, DAP is a useful idiot. Look up the term. When it comes to help and funding from foreign NGOs you have to take
the good with the bad. It is unfortunately as simple as that, especially
considering that we have done our fair share of regional interference.
Look that up too.
All of this nonsense, of course, is a smokescreen for the real
threats to our democracy which are the moves by the Harapan regime to
backtrack on their campaign promises and start a new, more virulent
Islamic discourse, which is for part two.
Second oldest genes and the oldest Malay political game - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Monday, August 06, 2018
Malaysiakini : “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.” – George Carlin
COMMENT | Some of you may have read (and had a hysterical fit of
laughter) about the theory put forward by historian Zaharah Sulaiman (top photo)
at a recent forum organised by the Muslim Youth Movement (Abim), where
she claimed that the Malay gene was the second oldest in the world. This
flight of fancy was grounded by a rebuttal by Monash University professor Maude E Phipps.
But what is really amazing is what Zaharah is intending to do. As reported in the Malay Mail:
“The historian also said she plans on approaching the government hoping
to revise Malaysian history so it will be more accurate in light of the
recent findings.” If anything, what this demonstrates is that the idea of ketuananism
cannot withstand scientific and intellectual scrutiny. Although with
this government, you can never say never. Maybe what they need is time
to “study” the issue before making any comments.
‘Studying the issue’
What does "study the issue" really mean anyway, especially when it
comes to the promises made before the election? Take this latest bit
about the Gender Equality Bill. Deputy Women’s Minister Hannah Yeoh says “religious authorities must now be consulted to ensure the bill being drafted takes into account cultural norms.” Really? Whose cultural norms are we talking about here? And which
religious authorities would be consulted? That's the key right? The
other faiths in this country do not have religious authorities. The only
faith with authority – pardon the pun – is Islam. You cannot get a
Gender Equality Bill off the ground, but you can seriously propose a Racial and Religious Hatred Act?
One of the reasons why I have great scepticism for this nonsensical
Racial and Religious Hatred Act, is that as usual, Harapan politicians
say things but do not back up their words with action. For instance,
when Pasir Salak MP Tajuddin Abdul Rahman said that Pakatan Harapan is a
Christian-led coalition and uses their platform to evangelise on the Sungai Kandis campaign trail, would this run afoul of the act?
Lim Kit Siang may term this as Umno’s “scorched-earth policy”
but nowhere is his rebuttal did he reference the proposed act, and what
it would mean for the racial and religious discourse in this country.
The fact that PKR retained
the state seat – low voter turnout notwithstanding – is evidence, I
think, that most Malays couldn’t care less about the racial and
religious slander coming out of Umno.
The only people with real influence in the religious discourse is
PAS, and as usual, they choose their words carefully and infiltrate
existing power structures and political movements to subvert them from
within… Hold on, did what I just write run afoul of the act?
Losing control of the narrative
The reality is that Harapan is bending over backwards to demonstrate that they do not want to spook the Malays. When someone like PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man says that under this new regime, Islam and Malays rights are more freely criticised,
what he is really saying is that Malay power structures are unnerved
that the sacred cows that for years were used to stampede on the rights
of non-Malays are slowly running out of steam.
The Malay world did not end on May 9. Former Umno Youth chief Khairy
Jamaluddin thinks that the existential crisis in his party is the
rhetoric of race and religion, but he is wrong. If it were, then it
would be a crisis for Bersatu too, but it isn’t. The existential crisis
for Umno is that it no longer controls the narrative when it comes to
Malay rights, and that it has lost the Islamic narrative to PAS.
Because Harapan is so afraid of controlling the narrative when it
comes to Islam, all the power lies with PAS at this moment. This is why
Malay/Muslims who call for an end to child marriages or seek to halt the
regressive elements of the religion are demonised as ‘liberals’, and
even the Harapan political and religious elite are cautious about
issuing statements in case they go against whatever groupthink they
think will win them elections.
The folly of caution
Being cautious when it comes to this is stupid. I get that the
Harapan Malay power structures do not think they have the Malay vote
locked down. But that’s okay. What you need to do is expand the base,
especially the younger Malay voting demographic, instead of reaching out
to the same (old) base which is slowly, for various reasons, becoming
Look, when someone like Tuan Ibrahim gets his knickers in a twist
about religious schools in that he does not want them touched, why do
you think this is? Because Islamist power structures, like the one he
belongs to, understand that the indoctrination process spread out
throughout the country gets them a young voter base aligned with their
Because no matter what people say, young people want progress. This
is not to say that they are not religious, but they do not want their
religion to constrain them. Instead of encouraging a vanguard of
progressive Malay voices, what Harapan and its enablers are doing is
attempting to replicate the BN formula, which ultimately led to the
Najib Abdul Razak regime.
What is the foundation
of ketuananism? “Those Malays who want an egalitarian system will no
doubt be mocked or vilified for expressing such sentiments and accused
of rocking the Harapan boat. Encouraging the perception that the Malay
vote is monolithic and unchanging is the foundation of ketuanan
This idea has become so ingrained, perhaps not in the general Malay
population, but rather the political and intellectual class of Malay
society, that we get – for lack of a better word – moronic statements,
like the historian and her world’s second oldest gene, or the numerous
statements about Malay rights and the supremacy of Islam over every
I get so many emails from people asking me to give time to the
government to formulate their policies. This is not about policies. Let
me be very clear. I have very little interest in the corruption scandals
that plague this country. With a change in government, I have full
confidence that there are people working to solve this issue, knowing
that corruption is a matter of degree.
No, the existential threat facing this country is religious extremism
coupled with racial supremacy. The government needs to put forward a
counter-narrative to the ideas put out by PAS and Umno. They should not
cave in to the regressive forms of theocratic tendencies, because that
is exactly what the opposition wants.
Here's the thing. Bad ideas and rhetoric have to be challenged at
every opportunity. Extremists sense and understand how they can
manipulate weak governments into creating bigoted policies. They
understand that the Harapan faithful do not want to rock the boat, and
will use every opportunity to hamper reform efforts in the guise of bangsadanagama.
If you raise these kinds of issues with the regime, all you will
probably get is something like what Yeoh says, that the religious
authorities would need to be consulted to take into account cultural
Malaysiakini : “… girls who reached puberty as young as nine years old were physically and spiritually ready for marriage” – Shabudin Yahaya, Tasek Gelugor MP
COMMENT | Last October, Azalina
Othman Said, who was then minister in the prime minister’s department,
said that no sexual crime cases involving children were protected
under the Official Secrets Act (OSA). Yet, she said Section 15 of the
Child Act 2001 prohibits any media report from including details that
would lead to the identification of the children in any proceeding,
regardless of whether they were victims, witnesses or suspects.
said this when responding to MP Kasthuri Patto (DAP-Batu Kawan). Patto later referred to a statement by Ong Chin Lan, the head of the
Sexual, Women and Children Investigation Division of the Royal Malaysian
Police, in which Ong had said the police did not want people
misinterpreting such information. Patto wrote:
“This statement is highly irresponsible as the public must have this
information to protect their children, families and their communities.”
Last month, Suriana Welfare Society executive director Scott Wong
highlighted the fact that many in the country were ignorant of the
sexual exploitation of children. He drew attention to the fact that
official statistics sealed under the OSA hampered efforts to understand
Dominique F Fernandes writing for The Diplomat (about this OSA classification) who also highlighted the case of pedophile Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin who Mara thought deserved a “second chance”. She asked: “But shouldn’t society be alarmed and coalesce to arrest
the rise in cases before our moral fabric unravels? The spike in cases
of sexual abuse against children is either a new phenomenon, the result
of an inability to stop feelings of powerlessness present with
increasing modernisation; or an age-old one, only uncovered as a result
of society’s ever-lower tolerance to such offences. Both scenarios are
Right now, our deputy prime minister and minister for Women, Family
and Community Development is under sustained pressure to do something
about the case that essentially legalises pedophilia. When two underage citizens, for whatever reasons, decide to get
married, that is one thing. But when a grown man marries a child and
this is sanctioned by the state, to me, this exemplifies the unravelling
of our moral fabric. It really does not matter what religion endorses
such unions. What does matter is the fact that the marriage of an adult
man and a child is normalised in our society.
Has this anything to do with a specific religion? Critics have
accused me of a whole host of issues when it comes to Islam but the
reality is that I am merely reacting to the statements made by prominent
politicians, religious scholars and activists. Indeed, some folks may claim that when police division chief Ong said
people would misinterpret the statistics, that it is people like me who
would do the misinterpreting. I think this line of reasoning is horse
manure. Let me be very clear. Any culture, religion or state which
sanctions child marriages in Asia or elsewhere will receive nothing but
scorn from me. If a Hindu, Christian or Buddhist religious operative
sanctioned the marriage between an adult and a child, this would receive
nothing but opprobrium from me.
The exploitation of children, specifically the sexual exploitation of
children, is something that has been buried beneath secrecy and apathy
in our country. When it comes to child marriages for instance, we have “religious
sensibilities” to contend with. I am glad that folks like lawyer
Latheefa Koya are calling out the horse manure when they see it. In many
pieces, I have singled out not only Kasthuri Patto but also the DAP’s
Teo Nie Ching who constantly do good work.
Protecting religious elites
With regards to MP Shabudin’s statement, Siti Mariah Mahmud
(Amanah-Seri Setia) had said: “I don't blame him totally because the law
allows it. I'm not saying he is right, but that is the mindset of
Malaysians today, of Muslims today." Is that really the mindset of (Malaysian) Muslims today? I do not
think so. I think that this is what religious operatives or politicians
who profit from religion want people to think. I think that hiding child
sexual abuse statistics behind the OSA is not because people would
misinterpret the data but because more people would speak out against a
culture that endorses the sexual exploitation of children.
I think if more people understood the scope of the problem, they
would compel their elected representatives to act. I believe that the
reason why this data is hidden is to protect a corrupt religious and
political culture which seeks to reinforce a specific type of religious
discourse and they are worried at the outrage that would happen if
people were to be confronted by the kind of culture that such beliefs
This is not about religion, this is about the religious elites. I am
sure the Chinese, Indian and Orang Asal communities would want to have
the official statistics on child sexual abuse within their communities.
We would want to confront this issue head-on and ensure that our
children are protected. We would want our religious and political
leaders to act.
Similarly, I think the same of our Malay-Muslim brethren. I am sure
they would want to know the official statistics so they could address
this issue in their religious and political spheres of influence. There
is no need to hide the truth from Malaysians unless what is hidden is
detrimental to the political and religious elites in this country. This
is usually the case. It’s one thing supporting something in the name of
religion. It is another for the whole world to see the consequences of
When this issue crops up, the context is usually a sensational case
highlighted in social media. Let me assure you, conversations which
social workers, the state security apparatus – current and retired – and
religious activists have, points to a culture where children are
sexually exploited and it never sees the light of day.
And this should be an easy win for the Harapan regime. Why on earth
should there be such cautiousness when confronting this issue? This idea
of the “sensitivity of religion” is misplaced. What are they afraid of?
A mass rally supporting the right of an adult man to marry 11-year-old
The first step is admitting we have a problem. The first order of
business is not hiding things from Malaysians. After all, the 1MDB issue
is no longer an official secret. By the same token, the time has come
for Malaysians to confront the issue of child sexual abuse and for
politicians to stop enabling this culture.
Malaysiakini : “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” ― George Orwell, author of ‘1984’
COMMENT | I have got the perfect solution for this Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran’s ‘pendatang’ kerfuffle. Maybe Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa
can organise a meeting between Kulasegaran and Umno Youth chief Asyraf
Wajdi Dusuki to settle their differences whereby the end results would
be that Kulasegaran acknowledges that Malays were never ‘pendatangs’ and
that the police would carry on with investigations on the numerous
police reports filed against him. All this, of course, would be done “behind closed doors” – where have
we heard this before? – and as usual, the non-Malays would come out of
such meetings chastised while the idea of Malay supremacy would be
Alternatively, Kulasegaran could resign. But why stop there? Every
non-Malay political operative should resign because sooner or later they
are going to slip up and say something hurtful to the sensitivities of
the Malay community. Hold on, maybe there should be a law that
non-Malays cannot run for any kind of public office. And perhaps that is what former minister and Bersatu member Rais Yatim wants. In a tweet reported in the press, Rais said this:
“When a minister or civil servant is urged to quit because of his
‘mulut celupar (rudeness) about an issue with a negative impact on the
nation, the implications are huge. “This minister has lost his credibility because he is unable to present himself as a cabinet member,” Rais (photo) tweeted in Bahasa Malaysia.
How times have Malay political operatives displayed "rudeness" which
was dismissed by the ‘bangsa’ and ‘agama’ crowd? Do not get me wrong. If
Kulasegaran had done something that warranted his resignation, then I
would have no problem for calls for his resignation, but what exactly
has he done which warrants a loss of credibility? Do the other Malay
political operatives in Harapan think that Kulasegaran should resign? Or
is this just a Bersatu thing?
There are many who think that Rais has no business being in Harapan
because he is a political operative with a history of rudeness, not to
mention political scandals. Will anyone in Harapan call for Rais'
dismissal from the coalition? I thought not.
I made this suggestion here
- "When you consider the racist rhetoric coming out of Umno
powerbrokers, government ministers and government institutions, the
religious bigotry from the same, Umno should just drop this charade of
democracy and ban all non-Malay/Muslim political parties. This way, the
Malay community, or least that section of the Umno voting base, will not
have to be encumbered by the existential threat the non-Malays
supposedly pose to their ‘bangsa’ and ‘agama’.”
Whenever issues like this crop, I always think, if only there was a
law that would protect the sensitivities of the majority. I mean
clear-cut laws that would give justice to the poor souls who were
offended by the harsh words of political operatives. Wait a minute. Harapan is going to give us such a law. Oh boy, I
can’t wait for the Racial and Religious Hatred Act to come into force.
Surely what Kulasegaran said runs afoul of this law? Then, I won't have
to think if there is any validity to what Kulasegaran said.
That’s the use of this law, right? To protect the religious and
racial sensitivities of Malaysians? So, when some Malays claim that the
non-Malays are out to usurp their power and privilege and demonise
non-Malay political operatives, this should run afoul of the law but
most probably will not.
Why? Because, as former Umno supreme council member Annuar Musa claimed,
racism is allowed in Islam - “Being racial is endorsed in Islam as long
as you are not cruel towards other people. This rally if you say is
racist, yes. What are you scared of? Islam has put in place guidelines,
what is not allowed is racism that is cruel towards other races.”
But wait. Say you do not buy religious-sanctioned racism, Sungai Besar Umno chief Mohd Jamal Yunos (photo) claimed that his racism was constitutionally endorsed
- "We have no problems to say we are racists or what. I admit I am
racist, but my racism follows the constitution. I am defending our
rights. Malays have to be racist..., but it must follow the social
Hey, if I’m wrong then somebody from Harapan should set me straight.
Are lies about the non-Malay community considered in the kind of speech
that this Act aims to discourage? Speaking about lies, what about
history and context? If such offends the sensibilities of anyone, would
they be a defence under this law?
What if what Kulasegaran said is fact? Don’t be ridiculous. Here in
Malaysia everything is ahistorical but more importantly, the reality
distortion field of ketuananism means that words flowing from the mouths
of non-Malays are judged on a different standard – a standard which
changes at any moment – than those from the ‘bangsa’ and ‘agama’ crowd.
Right, so the validity of Kulasegaran’s statement is not important.
What is important is that it has hurt the official narratives and
sensitivities of the majority Malay community.
Now, I don’t know if the average Malay even cares what Kulasegaran
said but the ‘bangsa’ and ‘agama’ political operatives care. If this was
under BN rule and something like this happened, and it has before, the
non-Malay component party would meekly apologise – no doubt necessitated
by the public opprobrium of Umno Youth – and the natural order of
things would be restored.
Some folks think that Kulasegaran is not blameless in all of this.
That’s a fair criticism when it comes to Malaysian politics. I mean, why
even dredge up something like this, right? I blame the whole Bangsa
Malaysia Kool-Aid. On the one hand, we are all supposed to be Malaysians
but on the other, we incessantly talk about race. Of course, talking
about race when you are Indian is frowned upon but when it comes to the
Chinese/Malay dialectic then apparently it is okay.
Besides this whole ‘pendatang’ issue is passe. A couple of years
back, the former Umno poobah reassured the Chinese community in a
Gerakan convention that the Chinese community were not ‘pendatangs’.
Then MCA Youth chief Chong Sin Woon labelled those who engaged in such
rhetoric as political dinosaurs.
“We have been here for three or four generations. This is our
homeland and no one has the right to call any Malaysian pendatang,” he
said. Chong praised Prime Minister Najib Razak for insisting that
Chinese were not pendatang during Gerakan’s delegates conference
While I can understand the political fallout from Kulasegaran’s
statement, I really have no issue with it. I have no need for Malay
leaders to legitimises my ethnicity and citizenship of this country and
if what Kulasegaran said reminds people of historical fact even if
certain groups use it as political capital, so be it.
Umno used to shield its political operatives and ignore the baying of
its members for blood. Harapan should grow a pair and do the same. The
more Harapan does not control the narrative, the easier it becomes for
the far-right nutjobs to control the narrative.
And as history
demonstrates, Malay political structures have very little backbone when
it comes to bucking trends, even if such strategies may very well end up
Malaysia Airlines, MH3: The flight from hell by Mariam Mokhtar
Monday, July 30, 2018
Malaysiakini : COMMENT | Malaysia Airlines, in
particular, MH3 from London’s Heathrow Airport to Kuala Lumpur, should
be renamed the airline from hell. Ask the passengers who were stranded
at Heathrow on Friday, July 27.
They received an email at 0300 hours on Friday morning, to inform
them that their flight, which should have departed at 10.45am London
time, would be delayed till 12 noon. Who reads emails at that ungodly hour? A few more hours in bed would
have been appreciated. Some passengers had also flown in from Europe. Some had purchased tickets the day before. If they had known, about the delays, they would have chosen another airline.
When the MAS passengers checked-in at Heathrow, they found “closed”
check-in counters. When asked, the few unhelpful ground crew employees
sitting behind their desks would point towards another area of the huge
complex, and say “Go there”. No reason was forthcoming. “There” was
apparently “Counter 1” of the MAS Customer Services desk, where a long
queue was visible.
Whilst dragging his trolley towards “Counter 1”, a redirected
passenger would pass around 70 people, in another queue. These MAS
passengers had allegedly been told to gather for hotel bookings. Around
the corner, was a third queue of 50, or more, passengers, who were told a
different story. These three queues did not appear to be moving. Only two ground crew employees were manning the front desks at Counter 1. An Airbus A380 fits around 550 passengers. This is the summer holiday.
Why did MAS fail to communicate with the passengers? There was no
warning about cancellation. The notice boards said the flight would
depart at 12.30pm. Is grim silence the standard operating procedure
(SOP) for cancellations? Two MAS employees who appeared, beat a hasty retreat when passengers approached them for information. Another new SOP?
Mothers with babies among the stranded
An Heathrow Airport employee, who was approached for help, proved more useful than the MAS ground crew.
Mothers with babies and young children were among the stranded.
Businessmen would be late for meetings. Two passengers had to attend
funerals and the delay meant they would be unable to attend the
cremations. Another had to attend a wedding. Many had connecting flights
Passengers travelling on their own would wait ages in a queue, only
to be told that they were in the wrong queue. If they left their bags
unattended while seeking information about MH3, the luggage would be
destroyed by security staff.
One person who complained on Twitter, said that on the previous day
(Thursday), one passenger had tweeted that their MH3 had been cancelled.
That MH3 had taken off one day later (on Friday). So why were MH3
flights on consecutive days cancelled? What is happening? Was MH3, on
Saturday, also cancelled?
Was it a technical error? No one knows because they were not told. Was it adverse weather conditions? Unlikely, as other flights were operating, normally. Had a crew member, like the pilot, been taken ill? As far as we are aware, there is a backup crew on standby. Is it strike action by MAS? Unlikely. Did MAS run out of money to pay for aviation fuel? Who knows?
Remember a few years ago, when on two days, MAS passengers were told
that their luggage could not be put on the plane because of headwinds?
Passengers are not unreasonable people
Did the airline need a particular spare-part to be flown in from KLIA? Passengers are not unreasonable people. They know the importance of
safety. They understand that weather may affect the flight schedule. MAS
management’s inability to communicate is both irresponsible and
unprofessional and has let everyone down. MAS and Umno-Baru have two things in common. Brand loyalty.
The party faithful think that their party can do no wrong. The rakyat
tolerated the previous regime because they were afraid of change.
Despite a corrupt and under-performing Umno-Baru, they still voted for
the party at every general election. That was until GE14, when the
rakyat decided “Enough is enough!”
Despite the cost (MAS is one of the more expensive airlines for
long-haul flights), poor service, shabby interiors and low-quality
meals, loyal Malaysians still fly with MAS because they love their
national carrier – brand loyalty. Many destinations across the world –
North and South America and Africa have been axed. London is its only
European destination. It is a farce to call the airline “International”.
When Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman (photo) retired as the CEO and
managing director of MAS, he left MAS with RM5 billion cash reserves.
When he was the CEO, MAS employees received yearly bonuses. Today, it is
a different story, altogether.
The day that Khazanah and the government stop any political
interference and politically-connected bureaucrats in MAS will be the
day for rejoicing by all Malaysians. If MAS employees are demoralised, what about its passengers? After
the MH3 palaver at Heathrow last week, passengers may finally say,
“Enough is enough. We will fly with another, more reliable, airline.”
The management staff of MAS seem to be burying their heads in the
sand and hoping that their irate passengers will forget about the
problem. This is a tactic that was employed by Umno-Baru and their
cronies; many still hope that the rakyat will forget about 1MDB.
The concepts of openness and accountability are part of the new
foundations that are needed to restore the economic and social health of
Malaysia. If the management of MAS cannot adapt to the New Malaysia,
they will have to be replaced.
Malaysiakini : "That will be my message to young people out there. I felt
empowered at 18, that I could do anything, that I will not allow fear to
dictate my actions." - Nurul Izzah Anwar
COMMENT | The grand Umno poohbah, now opposition leader, says that the “public” – read, Malays – are unhappy
with the Pakatan Harapan government. If that is the case, there would
be thousands on the streets, like what happened with the numerous
rallies when BN lost the popular vote in 2013.
Remember that. Thousands on the streets, even though we lost, going
to post-election rallies. That is rakyat power and not these snivelling
NGOs and Rais Yatim (of course) reminding the government of Malay rights.
About the only thing I agree with our current Malay opposition leader
– I say Malay, because Umno and PAS only care about the Malay vote - is
that Lim Kit Siang should stop stalking him. I mean this with the
utmost respect, Mr Kit Siang, but there is neither a need to remind
people what a kleptocrat Najib Abdul Razak is, nor is it necessary to
remind people how toxic his
politics – our? – politics is.Instead of studying every word Najib
says, effort should be spent on describing how Harapan intends to remedy
the mistakes of the long Umno watch. There is no need to fire up the
What someone like Kit Siang should be doing is expanding the base and
the way how to do this, to inform people of the reforms that Harapan is
in the midst of that would change the lives of Malaysians for the
If there is anything to talk about, of course, do talk. Because
continuing screeds against Najib is best left to political pundits and
not elder statesmen. Kit should be starting conversations on the
possible changes in Malaysia and ensuring that political parties in
Harapan do not revert to the days of Najib's Birkin Bag democracy.
The Malay far right is like Cardinal Richeliue. All you have to do is
give them six lines written by the hand of an honest man, and they will
find something to hang him with. In politics, there are no honest men.
Hence the Harapan political operatives should be mindful.
Of the Malay opposition I wrote this:
“The Malay opposition will define itself by offering a virulent
counter-narrative when it comes to issues of race and religion. They
will attempt to force the Harapan regime to demonstrate how committed
they are in their secular principles, and of course their egalitarian
principles – if they are committed to these at all.
“Add to this the perception that the ketuanan types will
project that the ‘Chinese-based’ element of Harapan is pulling the
strings will no doubt come into play, and it will be interesting to see
how equal power sharing translates in this new milieu.”
Corruption and religious hypocrisy
While Najib may claim that Kit Siang is equating
Islam with kleptocracy, the reality is that corruption and religious
hypocrisy go hand in hand. That has always been the problem with the way
how the DAP has attempted to use Islam in politics. My advice has
always been to stay away from religion.
Embrace your secular position and defend it without having to rely on
religion – any religion – to make your case. Speak up against religious
harassment but do not attempt to define religious beliefs in line with
your political agendas.
While I may bitch and moan about what Harapan is doing or not doing,
the reality is that, for once, there is a bigger democratic space in the
Malaysians political and social landscape, where the state will not
stamp its boot on your throat at the slightest provocation.
The only people who are unhappy with the Harapan government are the
far right instigators who think that when someone, for example, like
Nurul Izzah Anwar (photo) wants to clean house with a TVET programme. They smell the fear in each other that their corrupt practices would be made public.
Anecdotally speaking, I think the average rakyat knows this. They
know they have been screwed for so long and they understand that the
government is attempting to do things to rectify the situation. That's
the baseline. A small amount of cautious goodwill that should not be
conflated by the social media outpourings by the Harapan faithful.
Khairy Jamaluddin may hope that the PAS/Umno Sungai Kandis tango is a one-off thing,
but we all know that this is the new normal for Malaysian politics. But
here’s the thing. The genie is out of the bottle. Malaysians understand
now that regime change is possible. And however you self-identify,
there’s this feeling that the rakyat can hold the government
accountable. The genie of regime change is out of the bottle.
Umno miscalculated with PAS. Whenever I speak to PAS political
operatives and activists, I get the sense that the base is fired-up. For
once they think they really have the upper hand. PAS may have split the
Malay vote in the last election but they know that this cannot be the
strategy forever. PAS is testing the waters with Umno, knowing full well
that their base is divided on working with Umno.
Slowly shifting to Bersatu
Sooner or later Umno is going to fall before PAS. Look, even the most
unsophisticated PAS member knows that PAS is offering something to the
Malay voting demographic. Religion. What is Umno offering?
Umno can’t say it is the protector of race and religion anymore
because everyone who had a role in propagating that has been slowly
shifting to Bersatu. People like me may complain about the religious and
racial politics of Harapan, but the reality for a majority of
Malaysians is that this sort of equilibrium is something they are used
Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's (photo) nose may twitch whenever he thinks he smells
some sort of transgression in the Malay social and political terrain
but the reality is that most Malays will eventually settle on the fact
that the new ruling coalition will look after their rights, much like Dr
Mahathir Mohamad did when he ran Umno. That’s not a rat he smells –
those are Umno establishment rats abandoning ship.
The best part about this whole new Malaysia is that, for once, the
majority Malay community understands that the power they wield is not
dependent on Umno. If the Malays were really spooked, there would have
been hundreds of thousands at that rally with Rais Yatim. The young Malay vote is the key.
You see it in the way how former propagandists still ply their trade,
aided by young extremist voices, new voices emerging questioning sacred
cows that rattle the cage and the way how, for once, there’s a sense of
real uncertainty when it comes to the Malay vote. This is a good thing.
There is really no point banging the drum on racial and religious
issues. All it does is to remind young Malay voters how they have been
screwed over by the system.
What Harapan should do is encourage young Malays through economic and
social reforms, so they become suspicious whenever a political party
claims that only their party can look after their interests.