Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More cases of ‘bullying’ by PBB

Tony Thien | October 28, 2008

The Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) is abuzz like a hornet’s nest that has been disturbed, following an accusation that Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) has been ‘bullying’ component parties.

Another Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) division leader has come out in support of the claim - Simanggang division publicity chief Nanta Chaku cited three examples in a statement to Malaysiakini.

barisan nasional taib mahmudOn Saturday, the party’s Baleh division publicity head Beginda Minda had revealed two instances of alleged bullying by PBB, led by Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud (right), as well as by Umno.

Nanta said: “To support Beginda Minda’s contention… three other examples come to mind immediately:

1. Since 1981 other component parties in the Sarawak BN have been required to send two to three names of candidates for each constituency held by them, for the PBB leadership to pick the ones to contest. In other words, the final selection is subject to PBB’s decision.

2. A certain high-ranking Iban personage in PBB who fancies himself as the paramount chief of the (community) always insists on appointing his favourites as Penghulus, Pemancha and Temenggong (even) where PBB does not have elected (representatives).

3. In the contest for top posts in component parties, the election is dependent on close (connections between) the candidates (and) the PBB leadership. In other words, candidates perceived to be supported by the PBB leadership always seems to win. Social and economic issues doesn’t seem to matter, but closeness to the PBB leadership does.”Nanta also said ‘big boys’ in Sarawak BN deny ‘small boys’ any say in the final selection of candidates, whether for a general election, appointment of community chiefs or party leaders.

parliament seats sarawak 241008Since this is subject to final approval by PBB leaders, it makes a mockery of the original concept of the BN power-sharing concept in Sarawak, he said.

“It is perhaps more accurate to say that PBB is not only all too dominant but also domineering in attitude vis-a-vis smaller component parties.”

‘Explore other options’

Nanta urged members of other component parties to examine their options.

In the two examples cited by Beginda, reference was made to selection of candidates for the Sri Aman and Lubok Antu parliamentary seats, held by PRS in the March general election, and to a particular candidate selected for the 2006 state election.

Beginda had reminded the BN top leadership that the coalition must wake up to current political realities and stop being in a state of denial.

“Before, there was only BN which could provide the national leadership. After March 2008, it is clear that PRS has other, perhaps better, options,” he ended with a veiled warning, without elaborating what these options might be.In an immediate reaction to this, Masing - the state assemblyperson for Baleh - distanced the party from the claim, describing it as Beginda’s personal stance.

Masing said he could not stop members from expressing their views but felt that they should not go overboard in their criticism. He also said he would initiate an investigation.

Beginda is one of Masing’s right-hand men and his comments have irked Taib, who is the state BN chairperson.

It is learnt that Taib has told Masing to take disciplinary action against Beginda.

Rumours are circulating that the latter may already have been sacked, but this could not be immediately verified.

Source: www.malaysiakini.com

It’s the economy Najib!

Leslie Lau , Consultant Editor
Tuesday, 28 October 2008 15:03

During the March general election campaign, the opposition’s message was simple: Barisan Nasional (BN), they told voters, stood for “Barang Naik,” which translates to rising prices.

Then, the oil price hikes, and their consequential effect on inflation, were used to amplify everything that could be wrong with the administration of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Now, as Datuk Seri Najib Razak prepares to take over the helm, the economy is even more dire straits.

He is already being judged on his handling of the economy even though he has barely learned the geography of his new office at the Finance Ministry.

Any follies and poor handling of the economy will surely open the door to a parliamentary opposition stronger than any BN government has ever faced.

Malaysians are far less forgiving today.

The opposition Pakatan Rakyat will pounce on any opening to put pressure on the government and any misstep could even result in the government falling before completing even half its term in office.

So far, the prognosis is not good for the Malaysian economy.

And Najib’s first prescription — a RM5 billion injection of borrowed EPF money into the stock market — is not being well received.

The aim is to prop up Malaysia’s stock market.

But it is already being criticised as throwing good money after bad.

The government should realise that Malaysia’s market is very small and will follow global trends.

There is very little confidence now globally in the markets, banks or even the capitalist financial system.

Najib, as the Finance Minister, needs to show more leadership.

He cannot afford to say he will only wait until Nov 4, when he winds up the debate on the Budget in Parliament, to offer details on what the government plans to do.

The market will not wait. It is an unforgiving animal.

There are genuine worries that the future is not bright for Malaysia because the country’s trading partners are all going into recession, which means the market for Malaysian products and services is not strong.

This means Malaysian businesses will need more liquidity.

Perhaps Najib and the rest of Malaysia’s senior government leaders should try to learn a lesson from what is happening in the US presidential election campaign.

The two candidates almost trip over each other in trying to offer an economic plan and to support the proposed bailout when the economy started to turn.

Politics had to be thrown out the window, they both said, as they tried to appeal to voters who were only looking at pocketbook issues.

In Malaysia, Umno is in the middle of an intriguing race for top party posts.

Najib looks a clear certainty in winning the Umno presidency unopposed.

He will have to now concentrate more on providing the kind of leadership needed to manage the economy in what is uncharted territory.

He will not need to be mired in a controversy over the proposed acquisition of 12 Eurocopters.

He will not need to be mired in controversies surrounding race relations.

He will certainly not need to be mired in the politics surrounding his own party or that of the Barisan Nasional.

What he will have to focus on right now is the economy.

If he does not manage the economy well, it could be the end of the road for him and the BN.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Can society ever extricate itself from Umno’s party penetration?

OCT 25 — The recently ignited debate about the dominant position of Umno within the ruling coalition may yet be the most fruitful of all the soul-searching attempts endeavoured by Malaysians to understand the electoral surprises of March 8.

Aside from obvious disagreements among the Barisan Nasional’s members about how that dominance came about, and who are to blame for it, there are at least two related fields that promise a good harvest for interested analysts.

These are first, party penetration of the state, and second, party penetration of the society.

In democracies where the government occasionally changes hands, a healthy distance is maintained between political parties on one side and the civil service, business groups and social networks on the other.

Because of the conditional nature of power in such societies, politicians and party structures do not have the time and the coercive clout they need to infiltrate and colonise low-level associations. Society at large remains significantly independent of parties in power.

At the other end of the scale, we have party dictatorships, as in the case of China. There, especially before capitalist reforms were carried out, the party has been starkly relevant in the daily decisions of normal people.

Malaysia’s democracy lies somewhere in between these two polarities. Component parties of the BN and its predecessor, the Alliance, have been in power throughout the country’s existence. The ruling parties, at least on the peninsula, have been Umno, the MCA, the MIC and Gerakan.

The continuous hold on power by the BN meant the same parties have exercised power over state formation and nation building.

In response to the logic of the New Economic Policy implemented in 1971 — and the heightened power of redistribution of wealth and opportunity placed in the BN’s hands — the business world, civil servants, as well as social organisations tended to align themselves as advantageously as they could in relation to the ruling coalition.

The spider in the middle of this widening web of patronage was Umno. The other parties played along despite an inevitable successive weakening of their own profiles.

Umno’s connection to its constituents — the Malays — has been strong since its very beginning. Its consistent position as the dominant party has led, in time, to a 180-degree switch in the direction of reliance between voter and party.

Malay civil society was quickly absorbed into the power structure of its major political representative. Umno and its channels became the most important routes available to ambitious Malays hoping for political, social and economic success.

This alignment around an increasingly powerful Umno could not but corrupt the party itself, and compromise the socio-economic ethos of the country.

This process of social incorporation — this Umno-ifisation — was started in the ’70s and became standard policy throughout the Mahathir period (1981 to 2003). At the top were big businesses given a string of multi-million ringgit contracts, and on the bottom were the tens of thousands of small contractors who had only one client — the federal government.

No rectification was forthcoming during the Abdullah Badawi period. A New Sunday Times report from 2005 stated that the country had 42,313 contractors (one for every 614 Malaysians), 35,000 of whom were low-end Class-F licensees living off minor government contracts involving sums of up to RM100,000.

A major problem here, which led to the government freezing the number of such licences, was that political connections had become more important than the ability to deliver quality products.

The phenomenon of Class-F contractors reflects the wider problem of the government — and party — apparatus disrupting social dynamics in such a way as to cripple productive forces and perpetuate dependence on the government.

The civil service has also been growing at an unhealthy rate, especially during Abdullah’s time in office, meaning that a larger part of the country’s workforce had become dependent on Umno’s power pyramid.

Now when five states are ruled by opposition parties, a serious tension emerges between the new governments and civil servants used to being loyal to the federal government. It may show itself to be a passing problem if and when opposition parties prove that they are here to stay.

Decades of dominance by Umno and the BN can not but leave detrimental effects that presently appear as more or less permanent aspects of Malaysian life. The major dilemma for the country lies in the liberating of civil society — especially Malay civil society — from the power structure and the dominant rationale of Umno. This explains why movements for the dismantling of draconian laws have suddenly become such a common phenomenon.

Indeed, Umno’s greatest challenge in its attempt to regain broad popular support lies in rectifying the damage done by its own excessive dominance. — TODAY

The writer is a Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Najib: Umno must have wider appeal to remain in power

By Adib Zalkapli

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 23 - Umno deputy presient Datuk Seri Najib Razak today urged Umno leaders to take steps to appeal to a wider audience to remain in power.

He said the wider audience included non-Umno members as well as non-Malays.

He was commenting on the statement by Tun Musa Hitam that Umno has become too introverted by focusing on its problems and looking for acceptance among its members, but not among the general public.

"I have always said that, holding a post, for example if you are a divisional head, that is not the end of it all. It is just the beginning of your responsibility. Your responsibility is not just to members of Umno but also to the people at large," he told reporters here.

"There is a tendency for Umno leaders, particularly at divisional level, to look within the context of just the members of Umno The time has come to look beyond that, and realise if you want to remain in power, you have to appeal to a wider audience, and wider audience includes all sections of people including those who are not Umno members and non-Malays as well," added Najib.

Last weekend, a fake manifesto attributed to Najib was circulated via the internet, where he purportedly declared that he would defend the supremacy of the Malays till the last drop of his blood.

On Musa's suggestion that the Umno leadership must be made up of younger leaders, Najib said everyone has a role to play in Umno.

"Although in terms of active leadership, most Umno members believe that there must be a generational change in Umno at every level, and in my opinion everything that happens is a natural process in the party," said Najib.

When asked to comment on Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi's remark last weekend that Datuk Seri Ali Rustam should not be stopped from contesting the party number two post, Najib said: "There is nothing wrong with that, anyone can contest, as long as the constitutional requirement is fulfilled." - The Malaysian Insider

Pak Lah to be PM till March; party polls may be in December

The Malaysian Insider - UPDATED

OCT 23 - Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi said today the Umno supreme council will meet next Thursday to consider bringing forward Umno polls to December.

However the Umno president said that even if the party holds its elections in December, he will still hand over power to the new Umno president only in March assuming Barisan Nasional (BN) remains in control of the government.

Abdullah has already announced he will not seek re-election as Umno president, and Datuk Seri Najib Razak is the favourite to take over the party's leadership.

The party's general assembly had been postponed to next March to ensure a smooth transition of power, but some senior Umno leaders have been asking recently for the polls to be held in December instead.

Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, was speaking in Beijing after opening the Khazanah Nasional Berhad Beijing Representative (BRO) office.

Abdullah said the timeline of the power transition in March next year remains unchanged.

Bernama reports the Prime Minister as saying "We already have a transition plan. The transition plan will be in March next year," he said after launching the Beijing representative office of Khazanah Nasional today.

Abdullah was asked by Malaysian newsmen on reports of moves by some Umno members to push for the party elections to be reverted to December this year.

The party general assembly, originally planned for December, was moved to March to pave the way for a smooth transition of leaders.

Elections for the Youth and Wanita wings of the party will also be held at the general assembly.

Back to Dec polls for Umno?

Clash looms as party chiefs table issue for discussion at next week's meeting

By Reme Ahmad, Assistant Foreign Editor

Mr Abdullah handing over his finance minister's post to deputy Mr Najib on Monday. Mr Najib's comments regarding next week's meeting clash with the PM's wish to stay in power until March. -- PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

A CONFRONTATION is looming in Umno over the issue of Malaysia's leadership transition.

In a sign that there has been no let-up in backroom efforts to push out Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi earlier than March, his deputy, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, has said Umno chiefs will meet next Thursday to discuss bringing back the party's internal elections to December.

'I hope they can put aside politics and put people first. Many people are struggling with high costs, and now there is the global economic crisis.'

Mr Mohammad Agus Yusoff, a political science lecturer at the National University of Malaysia, expressing the exasperation some feel about the country's political developments

March to the polls
  • March 8: Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi leads governing coalition to poor outing at general election.
  • July 10: He announces his June 2010 retirement date.
  • Aug 26: Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim wins by-election by a big margin.
  • Oct 8: Datuk Seri Anwar's win deals blow to Mr Abdullah, who says he will quit in March; party elections are pushed back from December.
  • Oct 15: Umno vice-president Muhyiddin Yassin says delay in polls puts strain on money and energy.
  • Oct 18: Mr Abdullah says he will stay until March to carry out reforms.
  • Oct 21: Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak says party chiefs will meet next week to discuss December polls date.

  • 'We will answer all these questions on the 30th. For now, there is no change to the date (of the Umno elections),' he said on Tuesday.

    He was asked by reporters whether the internal polls, which two weeks ago were delayed from December to March, would be brought back to the earlier date.

    The decision-making Umno Supreme Council will meet next Thursday for its regular monthly meeting, and Mr Najib was the first to say the issue of the December polls would be discussed.

    His comments clashed with Datuk Seri Abdullah's wish to be in power until March.

    When told last Saturday that Umno vice-president Muhyiddin Yassin wanted the polls to be held in December, a visibly upset Mr Abdullah said: 'What is the meaning of all this? I am not happy with this. Is he trying to stop me from making reforms?'

    Party chiefs, including Mr Najib, had concurred with the Premier that he should be allowed to retire at the end of March.

    But the deal caused unhappiness among the grassroots because it meant the period to campaign for top posts would drag on for three more months, instead of ending by Dec18, the original date of the triennial polls.

    Added to this is anxiety in the Najib camp following a string of accusations against the PM-in-waiting.

    Political analyst Yahaya Ismail said: 'Abdullah was given 'injury time' to March to quit, but there are worries whether Umno will be stable with these accusations against Najib.'

    Two weeks ago, a website accused Mr Najib of sending many text messages to the lawyer of Razak Baginda, his former adviser who is accused of abetting the murder of a Mongolian interpreter.

    Mr Najib was then accused of pushing a RM2.3 billion (S$972 million) deal to buy new helicopters for the Defence Ministry just before he passed the position to Mr Abdullah.

    This was followed by a website's accusations of alleged past scandals. Also being circulated online were doctored pictures of him practising Hindu rites.

    This week, a fake manifesto tried to portray him as an intolerant leader who would defend Malay rights to the 'last drop' of his blood.

    Mr Najib, who has strenously denied the allegations against him in the manifesto, which was published by Malaysiakini, said yesterday he had accepted the apology given by the news website.

    The group of leaders agitating to push Mr Abdullah out earlier know they must carry the Umno ground along. So they are couching the power grab by saying that delaying the polls would drain money and energy.

    A proposal has been put forward that Mr Abdullah may remain as Premier until March, even though party polls are held in December.

    'They say he could hang on. But once you have a new Umno president in December, Abdullah will not have the moral authority to stay around,' said a Supreme Council member.

    Tan Sri Muhyiddin is among those publicly in favour of a December poll date, leading Mr Abdullah to accuse him of being 'impatient to become the deputy prime minister'.

    Mr Muhyiddin is the front runner to be Umno's new deputy president, and thus deputy PM. Supporting the Trade and Industry Minister is de facto Islamic Affairs Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, a front runner in the vice-president contest.

    Backing them is former premier Mahathir Mohamad, a bitter critic of Mr Abdullah.

    Tun Dr Mahathir said soon after the March deal was announced that it was better for Mr Abdullah to step down immediately as he must give Mr Najib full authority to rehabilitate Umno.

    But there is no guarantee that come next Thursday, the 40 Supreme Council chiefs will agree to bring the date for party polls forward because supporters say Mr Abdullah will not budge.

    Still, the flip-flops are a strain for some observers.

    'I hope they can put aside politics and put people first. Many people are struggling with high costs, and now there is the global economic crisis,' said political science lecturer Mohammad Agus Yusoff of the National University of Malaysia.


    Wednesday, October 22, 2008

    Can Umno change for the better?

    By Wong Chin Huat

    Abdullah's last chance to leave his legacy

    DATUK Seri Najib Razak said it most aptly: the Barisan Nasional (BN) has to change, or it will be changed. Every component party in the coalition knows it only too well. Except for one. Umno itself.

    Umno does not need to overhaul its election machinery, media apparatus or selection of candidates. The target of reform should be the system itself — the electoral one-party state that Umno started building since 1955, and overhauled once after 1969.

    The political system stands on two bases: authoritarianism and ethnic politics. In the past, these have reinforced each other: ethnic politics has been used to rationalise authoritarianism. Authoritarianism in turn forces Malaysians of all ethnicities and faiths to participate in the oligarchic game of ethnic power-sharing. Ethno-hegemony has almost been synonymous with political stability.

    The BN system was such a smart design of equilibrium that it impressed even many foreign observers. Some genuinely saw Malaysia as a model of ethnic accommodation when many other third-world countries had failed. Apparently, the successes in the West's so-called multicultural democracies were not comparable with Malaysia's.

    The reformist-Mahathirite spectrum

    That the BN suffered disastrous losses on 8 March spoke volumes that "something has gone wrong" with the system. But what? This is the same question former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad asked in his once-banned book, The Malay Dilemma.

    The most radical position, split into two strands, is that both authoritarianism and communalism are outdated. Both need to be replaced. The "external" and "radical" strand is represented by Umno's own ousted deputy president, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (1993-1998). He now leads a multiethnic opposition coalition vowing to end the BN's/Umno's rule.

    The spokesperson for the "internal" and the "moderate" strand is none other than Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who led Umno dissidents in the late 1980s. Razaleigh himself once led another multiethnic opposition coalition to challenge Umno/BN's rule. He has called for Umno to be transformed into a multiethnic party, not unlike the futile call of the party's founding president, Datuk Onn Jaafar.

    Sharing a similar position, but definitely not daring to associate with the Kelantanese prince, are Umno's junior partners, especially Gerakan.

    The next position is that while authoritarianism is outdated, ethnic parties are still needed. So, there should be political reforms to usher in an independent judiciary, effective anti-graft institutions, reforms to the police force, and even a freer media. But Malay dominance must remain the sacred cow in Malaysian politics.

    This is the position of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, and also the likes of Datuk Shahrir Samad and Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek. This might be the reason why Abdullah has given the cold shoulder to Gerakan's suggestion to transform the BN into a single multiethnic party. Incidentally, all three men were once in Umno's Team B in the late 1980s, led by Razaleigh and Tun Musa Hitam.

    On the other end of the spectrum are those who believe that the electoral one-party state was weakened only by Abdullah's own weak leadership. In other words, a crafty blend of authoritarianism and communalism would still do well.

    Judicial, anti-graft and police reforms would only erode Umno and Malay power. What Umno needs today is even more assertive use of power. The leader of this faction is, of course, none other than Mahathir himself. Many fear that his followers include Najib and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

    Like Abdullah, who is fighting to leave a legacy, Mahathir's task is to ensure Umno embraces his legacy. Umno must not challenge his mega projects, Operasi Lalang, or his handling of the 1988 judicial crisis. He was Umno's second transformative leader after Tun Abdul Razak, who reinvented the umbrella party of Malay groups that Datuk Onn founded in 1946. In fact, Mahathir perfected the concentration of power within the electoral one-party state.

    Anyone would inevitably have to dismantle Mahathir's political architecture to be Umno's third transformative leader. This explains why the former premier of 22 years had to eliminate Musa and Anwar and pick their weaker alternatives: Tun Ghafar Baba and Abdullah. If only Abdullah was weak and obedient enough, he might have survived well, like Singapore's Goh Chok Tong.

    Abdullah's last chance

    Which faction will prevail in Umno's party elections? The answer cannot be clearer, what with Muhyiddin's earlier call to bring back party elections to December, reneging on the conditions for Abdullah's voluntary retirement.

    While Muhyiddin revises his position now, the prospect is not bright for Abdullah to have his three flagship reforms carried out before his retirement. These reforms are the setting-up of the Judicial Appointments Commission, the Malaysian Commission on Anti-Corruption, and the Independent Police Misconduct and Complaints Commission.

    Abdullah does not have until March 2009 to accomplish this. His deadline is actually 11 Dec, the day Parliament closes. This is because all three reforms will need the passage of parliamentary legislation, if not also constitutional amendments.

    Rationally, there is no reason why Najib and Muhyiddin should allow Abdullah to fulfill his dream. It's not, as many have argued, that an independent judiciary and other political reforms will hurt Umno leaders, especially Najib. He is, of course, still being tainted by the case of Altantuya Shariibuu's murder.

    By successfully ousting his fourth deputy, Abdullah, Mahathir can assert that he is the most powerful power-broker in Umno politics. And all this without even having rejoined the party yet. There is no reason for Najib and Muhyiddin to anger Mahathir by being kind to Abdullah.

    Circling vultures

    The fate of Abdullah's reforms is as dim as that of his followers, or those who did not back Najib or Muhyiddin early enough. Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib and Datuk Seri Ali Rustam are on the way out. They can't back down now to defend their vice-president positions, and the competition is already overcrowded. Khairy Jamaluddin will have a tough fight, too. Following the reemergence of the old emperor, the vultures in the party are now circling Abdullah's leaderless troops.

    While an anti-reform Umno may appease party members who feel psychologically traumatised after 8 March, it will not appeal to the electorate at large. Those in Umno who criticise Abdullah now should remember that they could have suffered similar losses in 2004. Indeed, the BN won in those elections hugely because it was led by someone completely different from Mahathir.

    In other words, Abdullah won in 2004 because he was an alternative to Anwar rather than a follower of Mahathir. He lost in 2008 because he was not an effective enough reformist. To win the next general election, Najib has to reinvent himself as a reformist. But there is no incentive for him to do so against Mahathir's wishes. That's the tragedy of Umno, unless Abdullah dares to attempt something bold for the first and last time.

    The whole scenario would change if he covertly backs Razaleigh to win 30% of the nominations. The aged Razaleigh may not stand a better chance than Senator John McCain. But Najib — who is no Obama either — cannot afford to humiliate Abdullah further. He will also have to stop the annihilation of Abdullah's loyalists.

    Both Abdullah's troops and his reforms will then have a better chance to survive. Thus can Umno successfully reform itself.

    The question remains. Is Abdullah bold enough to deliver this blow, not to Najib, but effectively to Mahathir? Does he dare fight back?

    A political scientist by training and a journalism lecturer by trade, Wong Chin Huat uses the Federal Constitution as his "bible" to fend off the increasingly intolerable evil called "state".

    Monday, October 20, 2008

    A straining relationship between Umno and MCA

    By Leslie Lau
    Consultant Editor

    KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 20 — The message from the delegates and members of the MCA was loud and clear.

    They want a party leadership which is more vocal, and which can be seen by the public as having the gumption to stand up to Umno on important issues.

    In other words, despite the denials of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Umno is perceived to be a bully in the Barisan Nasional and MCA members want a stop to that.

    The mood in last weekend’s MCA general assembly was decidedly hostile towards their most significant BN partner.

    “I do not know how clear a message Umno wanted that the MCA feels they are a bully. They just deny it as if what we say did not count,” a close associate of Datuk Ong Ka Ting, who completed his term of office over the weekend as party president, told The Malaysian Insider.

    During the assembly, Ong had spoken about how the public perceived Umno as being too dominant in the BN coalition.

    While there was no call from the floor during the assembly for the MCA to leave the BN coalition, there was a clear consensus among many delegates that the party would go down in the next general election if the current arrangement and relationship with Umno continues without change.

    That was perhaps the most significant reason behind some clearly surprising results in the party elections.

    While the election of Datuk Ong Tee Keat, known as a vocal political maverick, was not a surprise, Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek caused a major shock in overcoming the hurdle of a sex scandal to win the deputy presidency.

    Although both leaders created much animosity with each other during the election campaign, the delegates viewed them both as vocal and outspoken leaders, whom they hoped would stand up to Umno.

    But the two men will be hard pressed to deliver on their promises because of Umno’s continued refusal to acknowledge the groundswell of anti-Umno sentiment, especially among the non-Malay communities.

    From a platform of reforms and openness, Umno looks likely to become more insular under the likely leadership of Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

    This is because of the reverse sentiment among the hardcore in Umno.

    There is a growing feeling among Umno that the MCA and other parties like Gerakan have been making enough noises in the period since the March general election.

    Umno grassroots now want the party leadership to reassert its dominance and leadership of the BN and the country.

    There will be a tendency to be less tolerant of dissent among Umno’s incoming leadership.

    Even the idea floated by MCA Youth last week of the BN appointing a deputy chairman from the MCA has not been greeted warmly by Umno.

    In light of the situation, a resurgent MCA and an Umno eager to flex its muscles could be headed for a clash.

    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    I really scold Pak Lah This Time

    Writtenbyhim - Dr.Siddiq Blog

    11.15 p.m last night, the defending world heavyweight champion Pak Lah has knocked out Tun M outside of the ring, after shutting himself quiet for a very long period of time. Pak Lah just can’t hold it anymore, and hit Mahathir’s chest, which was believed to had cause many problem and threats to his family and cronies.

    He (Abdullah) lambasted Tun M for all foul words he gave in his blog, which I may regard that as a freedom of speech. He accused Tun M for not having any locus standi to speak for the sake of the party, since he is no longer in the party of UMNO. He was the President of UMNO for almost 23 years.

    For God sake Pak Lah, he quits UMNO because of you. Because of he is losing confidence towards you, so do other Malaysian. But you just don’t get it.

    He quits UMNO in good faith, to force you to stepdown from your throne. He did all this, is only to sign the people that you are not good, and it is for good that you are not good. He wanted to show to the people that he has committed a very big sin, since he appointed you to be his successor 5 years ago.

    But last night match, reflect a very huge embarrassment to you and your family. You said that “I will be ready to go when my work is done, ‘’ - what is that homework basically? could you please disclose the public on what is your work? I see nothing in this 5 years. But I’ve seen a lot of works done by Tun M in his 22 years of legacy and yet you tell this person to shut his mouth and stop talking about UMNO?

    Dearest Pak Lah. Show some respect to your “sir”. At least, a couple of salute to this statesman. He built this country. What have you done to claim your title over here? I support Gerakan’s motion to pick you as the “father of democracy”. Yeah right. Did you know that people are laughing at you day by day and everynight they enjoyed? Did you know that they disgust you everytime they fill up the fuel at the petrol station? Did you know that they use your face at the newspaper to wrap nasi lemak without having any feelings? Did you know that they ask their children to switch off the TV everytime they see you broadcasting live?

    Did you know all that? You are the most poor Prime Minister Malaysia ever have. So please, speak with right tone in right place. I am strongly agree with Tun M’s statement that we should proceed with the election by the end of this year. Why wait until March next year? To tell the future generation that you are able to stand the heat up to a year since march 2008?

    You got the democracy title because you let the democracy growth very nice and kindly. You caused the massive defeat to the BN over the last couple of months, and raised up many things uncontrolled. Thanks to you Pak Lah, for all racial disharmony and political instability. Thanks to you, we are now better living. Thanks to you, the people now show disrespect over other races, and yes! They made it to top, discussing sensitive issues, forcing the abolishment of the laws and constitution, and dishonour the Royalty. Thanks to you Pak Lah, the father of democracy!

    What a pathetic Prime Minister!

    Saturday, October 18, 2008

    Umno not a bully? Yeah. Right


    OCT 18 — Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi must be suffering from amnesia.

    That is the most charitable conclusion to draw after he said today that the perception of Umno being a bully in the Barisan Nasional was off the mark.

    Speaking at the annual MCA general assembly, the Prime Minister touched on a topic that has been discussed and debated since non-Malay voters deserted the ruling coalition in droves on March 8: the arrogance of Umno politicians and the perception that the MCA, MIC, Gerakan, PPP, PBS and every other component party were punished at the polls for their subservience to the ruling party.

    He said: “People say that Umno is a party that likes to bully. I actually have no idea how to bully. There is no such thing as bullying.’’

    MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting and Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon must have been bristling at the cavalier manner Abdullah dismissed the issue.

    Wasn’t it only a month ago that Umno division chief Datuk Ahmad Ismail exhibited supreme arrogance when he showed no remorse for calling Malaysian Chinese immigrants at a rally in the run-up to the Permatang Pauh by-election.

    And when Gerakan stood up to him, he behaved just like a schoolyard bully.

    He asked for Gerakan to be kicked out of the BN. Not surprising that that the incident did not register with Abdullah as he addressed the MCA for the last time as the chairman of BN and president of Umno.

    He and the party’s supreme council members only took disciplinary action against the Bukit Bendera politician after being pushed into a corner. Even then, it was half-hearted attempt to apply balm on the raw feelings of the non-Malays.

    Is this PM so out of touch with reality that he does not understand how frustrated BN leaders have become in dealing with arrogant Umno politicians.

    Before he stepped down as a minister, Ong had to speak in hushed tones if he wanted allocation for Chinese schools from the Education Ministry. Speak too loud and the minister may be offended.

    Koh had to stomach all the excesses of Penang Umno for years and had to be careful not to antagonise them even when they complained about the lack of opportunities in the state for Malays.

    The arrogance and bullying did not stop there. And it hurt the MCA and other component parties in many ways.

    When the late Datuk Zakaria Deros broke every rule in the book and built his mansion in Klang, and then displayed shocking contempt, it was the MCA and Gerakan which felt the wrath of the voters. Their sin: being in the same political set-up as the arrogant Selangor Umno warlord.

    Even surveys conducted before and after the general election confirm one fact: that the majority of non-Malays believe that the BN power-sharing formula discriminates against non-Malay political parties.

    A few of the polls also put down the strong showing of Pakatan Rakyat to revulsion at the arrogance of Umno politicians.

    A poll by the Merdeka Centre in July showed that 66% of Chinese and 60.1% of Indians agree that the BN does not represent the voice of all communities.

    It’s telling that as he spoke to MCA politicians, Abdullah still was prepared to defend a political party that has bullied him since the general election; that refused to back his reform agenda and is now making final preparations for his humiliating send-off.

    Malaysians should save their sympathy and goodwill for another leader. This man deserves the bullying treatment he is getting from his party faithful.

    Friday, October 17, 2008

    Clarification Over Special Press Statement By Rulers

    October 17, 2008 17:28 PM

    KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 (Bernama) -- The special press statement issued by the Malay Rulers yesterday was the result of their deliberations prior to attending the meeting of the Conference of Rulers which concluded in Kuala Terengganu yesterday, the Keeper of the Rulers' Seal, Engku Tan Sri Ibrahim Engku Ngah, clarified today.

    He said some quarters had reported that the special press statement was the result of discussions and decisions made at the meeting of the Conference of Rulers.

    "Actually, the special press statement is the result of deliberations by the Malay Rulers prior to their attendance at the meeting of the Conference of Rulers on Oct 16 2008," he said.

    The special press statement by the Malay Rulers was regarding the special privileges, position, eminence or greatness of the Malay Rulers, Islam, Malay as the national language, the special position of the Malays, and genuine interests of the other communities in accordance with the Federal Constitution. -- BERNAMA

    Conference Of Rulers Issues Special Statement

    KUALA TERENGGANU, Oct 16 (Bernama) -- The 215th meeting of the Conference of Rulers, held at the Istana Maziah here, issued a special press statement on several matters enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

    Following is the press statement in full issued by the Keeper of the Rulers' Seal, Engku Tan Sri Ibrahim Engku Ngah.

    "Press Statement issued by the Keeper of the Rulers' Seal on the role of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Malay Rulers regarding the special privileges, position, eminence or greatness of the Malay Rulers, Islam, Malay as the national language, the special position of the Malays, and genuine interests of the other communities in accordance with the Federal Constitution.

    "The Malay Rulers who attended the meeting of the Conference of Rulers conferred on the issuing of this special joint press statement Thursday.

    "The Malay Rulers hold the constitutional role to safeguard the special privileges, position, eminence and greatness of the Malay Rulers, safeguard Islam, Malay as the National Language, and the genuine interests of the other communities in Malaysia.

    "The actions of certain quarters in disputing and questioning these matters, which formed the primary basis for the formation of Malaysia and are enshrined in the Federal Constitution, had caused provocation and uneasiness among the people.

    In retaliation, several quarters particularly Malay leaders whether in the government or non-governmental organisations as well as individuals had expressed their dissatisfaction and anger against those who had made the statements and reports and organised the forums.

    "Among the reasons identified for these to have occurred is the cursory knowledge of those concerned regarding the historical background as to why these provisions were enshrined in the Federal Constitution and the influence of their attempts to implicate the principles of impartiality and justice without regard for the historical background and social condition of this country. Narrow political interests are also a cause.

    "Unless this phenomenon is arrested immediately, it can lead to disunity and racial strife that can undermine the peace and harmony which has all this while brought progress, development and success to the nation.

    "As such, it is necessary for the Conference of Rulers to emphasise and remind all quarters of these constitutional provisions besides giving emphasis to the assurance of safeguarding the genuine rights of other communities.

    It has to be emphasised that each provision in the Federal Constitution has undergone the process of discussion, consideration, consultancy, sacrifice and compromise of the highest degree for what has been championed, discussed, considered, benefited from as well as agreed to by all quarters concerned, until the realisation of the provisions in the Federal Constitution which are known as the Social Contract.

    It is not proper to dispute and question this Social Contract and more so to subject it to a review or change because it is the primary basis of the formation of Malaysia.

    Therefore, it is appropriate for the Malay Rulers to remind that there should never be any attempt ever to test and challenge issues related to the Social Contract.

    "Truly, the leaders of the pre-independence era were insightful -- far-sighted. They brought along with them the Malay Rulers for the negotiations to claim independence. The Institution of the Rulers was retained and legally enshrined in the constitution of an independent Malaysia.

    The Institution of the Rulers was accorded eminence, was positioned at the apex of Government, as the head of the country and the states, as a protective umbrella, ensuring impartiality among the citizens.

    The Institution of Rulers takes on the role of being a check-and-balance factor to untangle complications, if any.

    "The Conference of Rulers also calls on the Malays to be united to safeguard the privileges, position, eminence and greatness of the Malay Rulers, safeguard Islam, Malay as the national language, and the genuine interests of the other communities in Malaysia as enshrined in the Federal Constitution. It has to be emphasised that this agenda is more important and foremost than political or factional interests.

    "Non-Malays should not harbour any apprehension or worry over their genuine rights because these rights are guaranteed under the Federal Constitution and provisions of the state constitutions of Malaysia contained in Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

    "It is hoped that with this emphasis, all confusion among the people regarding these matters can be contained and an atmosphere of peace, harmony and mutual respect can continue to exist among the people for the maintenance of order in the country."

    The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, attended the meeting Thursday. His Majesty was accompanied by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

    The two-day meeting, which ended Thursday, was chaired by the Sultan of Kedah, Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah.

    All the Rulers and Yang Dipertuas Negeri attended the meeting except the Rulers of Pahang, Johor, Terengganu, Perlis and Negeri Sembilan.

    The Sultan of Pahang was represented by the Regent of Pahang, Tengku Mahkota Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah; the Sultan of Johor by the Tunku Mahkota of Johor, Tunku Ibrahim Ismail Sultan Iskandar; the Sultan of Terengganu by the President of the Regency Advisory Council Raja Tengku Sri Panglima Raja Tengku Baderulzaman Sultan Mahmud.

    The Yang Dipertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan by the Regent of Negeri Sembilan, Tunku Naquiyuddin Ibni Tuanku Jaafar; and the Raja of Perlis by the Raja Muda of Perlis, Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Jamalullail.

    Also present were the menteris besar and chief ministers except the Sarawak chief minister who was represented by State Planning and Resource Management Minister II Datuk Seri Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.

    The Keeper of the Rulers' Seal, Engku Tan Sri Ibrahim Engku Ngah, said matters related to defence, security, the national economy, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong scholarships, and proposals on the appointment of the Chief Justice, President of the Court of Appeal and Chief Judge of Malaya were discussed at the meeting. -- BERNAMA

    Bahasa Malaysia version:

    [BERIKUT adalah salinan penuh kenyataan akhbar khas Majlis Raja-Raja yang dikeluarkan oleh Penyimpan Mohor Besar Raja-Raja, Engku Tan Sri Ibrahim Engku Ngah semalam.]

    “Kenyataan Akhbar Yang Dikeluarkan Oleh Penyimpan Mohor Besar Raja-Raja Mengenai Peranan Seri Paduka Baginda Yang Di-Pertuan Agong dan Duli-duli Yang Maha Mulia Raja-raja Melayu berhubung dengan hak-hak keistimewaan, kedudukan, kemuliaan atau kebesaran Raja-raja Melayu, agama Islam, Bahasa Melayu sebagai bahasa kebangsaan, kedudukan istimewa orang Melayu dan kepentingan sah kaum-kaum lain mengikut Perlembagan Persekutuan.

    “Raja-raja Melayu yang menghadiri Mesyuarat Majlis Raja-Raja telah berunding mengeluarkan kenyataan akhbar khas bersama pada hari ini.

    “Raja-raja Melayu mempunyai peranan perlembagaan untuk melindungi keistimewaan, kedudukan, kemuliaan dan kebesaran Raja-raja Melayu, melindungi Agama Islam, bahasa Melayu sebagai bahasa kebangsaan dan kepentingan sah kaum-kaum lain di Malaysia.

    “Tindakan pihak-pihak tertentu mempertikai dan mempersoalkan perkara-perkara tersebut yang menjadi asas utama pembentukan negara Malaysia dan termasuk dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan telah menimbulkan kegusaran dan keresahan di kalangan rakyat. Sebagai tindakbalas, beberapa pihak terutama pemimpin-pemimpin Melayu sama ada yang berada dalam kerajaan atau pertubuhan bukan kerajaan dan orang perseorangan telah menyuarakan rasa tidak puas hati dan marah terhadap pihak yang membuat kenyataan dan laporan dan menganjurkan forum-forum berkenaan.

    “Antara sebab-sebab yang dikenalpasti berlakunya perkara ini ialah kedangkalan pengetahuan pihak berkenaan terhadap latar belakang sejarah mengapa peruntukan-peruntukan tersebut dimaktubkan dalam Perlembangaan Persekutuan dan pengaruh prinsip-prinsip kesaksamaan dan keadilan yang cuba diimplikasikan di negara ini tanpa berjunjungkan latar belakang sejarah dan keadaan sosial negara ini. Kepentingan politik sempit juga merupakan penyebab berlakunya perkara ini.

    “Gejala ini jika tidak ditangani dengan segera boleh menyebabkan negara terjebak dalam kancah perpecahan dan persengketaan antara kaum yang boleh menjejaskan keharmonian dan keamanan yang selama ini telah membawa kemajuan, pembangunan dan kejayaan kepada negara.

    “Justeru, adalah perlu Majlis Raja-Raja menegaskan dan memperingatkan semua pihak tentang peruntukan-peruntukan perlembagaan tersebut di samping memberi penekanan tentang jaminan perlindungan hak-hak sah kaum lain. Perlu ditegaskan bahawa setiap peruntukan dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan telah melalui proses perbincangan, pertimbangan, konsultansi, pengorbanan dan sifat tolak ansur yang sangat tinggi nilainya bagi apa yang telah diperjuangkan, diperbincangkan, dipertimbangkan, dimanfaatkan serta dipersetujui oleh semua pihak yang terlibat, sehingga wujudnya peruntukan-peruntukan dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan yang dikenali sebagai Kontrak Sosial.

    "Kontrak Sosial ini tidak wajar dipertikai dan dipersoalkan lebih-lebih lagi disemak semula atau diubah kerana ia adalah merupakan asas utama pembentukan negara Malaysia. Untuk itu Raja-raja Melayu wajar memperingatkan supaya isu berkaitan Kontrak Sosial tidak sekali-kali cuba diuji dan dicabar.

    “Sesungguhnya, angkatan pemimpin di era prakemerdekaan, berfikiran dalam - berpandangan jauh. Raja-raja Melayu telah dibawa bersama semasa rundingan menuntut kemerdekaan. Institusi raja dikekalkan dan dimaktubkan secara perundangan dalam Perlembagaan Malaysia Merdeka. Institusi raja diberikan kemuliaan, ditempatkan di puncak kerajaan, sebagai Ketua Negara dan Ketua Negeri, laksana payung pelindung, menjamin berlakunya kesaksamaan di kalangan warga. Institusi raja berperanan sebagai faktor penyemak dan pengimbang, untuk merungkai sebarang kekusutan, sekiranya berlaku.

    “Raja-raja Melayu juga membuat seruan kepada orang Melayu supaya bersatu-padu untuk mempertahankan keistimewaan, kedudukan, kemuliaan dan kebesaran Raja-raja Melayu, melindungi agama Islam, bahasa Melayu sebagai bahasa kebangsaan dan kepentingan sah kaum-kaum lain di Malaysia seperti yang termaktub dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan. Penekanan juga perlu dibuat bahawa agenda ini adalah lebih penting dan utama dari kepentingan politik atau kelompok.

    “Kaum bukan Melayu tidak perlu merasa khuatir dan bimbang tentang hak-hak sah mereka kerana hak-hak tersebut telah dijamin mengikut Perlembagaan Persekutuan dan peruntukan-peruntukan yang terkandung dalam Undang-undang Tubuh Negeri-negeri di Malaysia yang termaktub dalam Perkara 153 Perlembagaan Persekutuan.

    “Adalah diharapkan dengan penegasan tersebut, segala kekeliruan berhubung dengan perkara ini di kalangan rakyat jelata dapat dibendung dan suatu suasana yang harmoni, aman dan sikap saling hormat menghormati di kalangan rakyat dapat terus diwujudkan demi menjaga ketenteraman negara.”-- Bernama

    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    Oh Guruji, ke mana kau pergi?

    Malaysia Today at http://mt.m2day.org/

    Photo courtesy of Malaysia Today

    Life would have been a lot safer for some people if Alexander Graham Bell had never invented that thing called the telephone. And if no one had come up with this modern day thing everyone calls the short messaging service (sms).

    Najib and Shafee would agree.

    Najib as good as admitted that the sms’s are for real when he said they were a private matter.
    In that process he fucked the fix-it-if-the-price-is-right hotshot lawyer as well. Now this Shaf-ted lawyer does not know where to hide his face. He’s told those who are still prepared to be seen with him that he’s not going to answer any more calls from dungu Najib.

    Najib doesn’t give a fuck about losing this overpriced shyster, though. No, he’s got other things to worry about.

    Sure, Badawi has announced that come March next year, he’s going to hand over the prime minister’s job to Najib. But Najib’s boys have reported back to him that Badawi’s not finished with Najib yet. No, Badawi is not to be trusted. Najib’s boys have picked up a strong scent of Najib’s dirt that Badawi’s boys are unleashing, bit by bit, so that come March Najib will be history.

    Actually, Badawi’s announcement that he would not run for president of UMNO in March and would hand over the prime minister’s job to Najib then shocked his inner circle of friends and business cronies, including Kali-M- Ular, Kee Yong Wee and Idris, all of whom had seen Badawi just days before and had persuaded Badawi to stay on and fight. Well, they thought they had persuaded Badawi.

    Actually they had. And Badawi had said he would fight. But as has happened many times of late, every time Badawi meets up with Najib with the intention of telling Najib that he can dream about ever becoming prime minister, Badawi seems to chicken out. And people have begun to ask whether this is because Najib’s dirt on Badawi is more potent than the dirt that Badawi has on Najib.

    Actually that potent thing that Najib had over Badawi was this fella called Guruji who has now gone AWOL.

    No, Najib’s not worried that the Shaf-ted one won’t take his calls or that Badawi’s boys are going to let loose all the dirt they have on him. But Najib’s really shit-scared now because he needs Guruji to work his magic for him and neutralize all his enemies.

    Who’s Guruji?

    Remember just before polling day in Permatang Pauh, Malaysia Today broke the story of Najib being ‘Muslim by birth, Hindu in practise ’, complete with the statutory declaration (sd) of Thagarajoo a/l Thangavelu, detailing out how both Najib and Rosmah were faithfully partaking in Hindu rituals?

    Guruji is the ‘Mr Ji’ mentioned in Thagarajoo’s sd.

    Yes, Guruji, Najib’s faith healer, spiritual leader and voodoo master, is nowhere to be found. He’s been packed off back to Chennai in India and Najib’s only just found out that all the hexes, spells and charms that Guruji cast on Badawi and several others were broken when Guruji crossed over the Indian Ocean enroute to Chennai.

    Turns out that Guruji’s own sifu in Chennai found out that his protégé was abusing the powers that sifu had imparted and had summoned Guruji back. Guruji left without a word to Najib or Rosmah.

    Actually, Guruji couldn’t have said a word to Najib or Rosmah before leaving. He doesn’t speak a word of English or Malay and neither of them speak Tamil. And so they’ve always had to communicate with the aid of intermediaries.

    One of those intermediaries is Kenneth Eswaran, who’s already mentioned of in Thagarajoo’s statutory declaration.

    The other, a woman, is very close to Rosmah.

    Actually, it was Rosmah who first sought the services of Guruji. She told close friends that her nasi kangkang was no longer having the desired effect on Najib and C4 is not always readily available. However, both Rosmah and Najib are now so obsessed with Guruji’s powers and will not make any major decisions without first consulting him and getting him to work his magic. Until Guruji disappeared, not a single day went by when Najib and Rosmah were not in contact with Guruji through the intermediaries.

    Now how do you suppose they kept in constant contact with Guruji?

    You guessed it! That thing called the telephone!

    Lots and lots of phones! Lots and lots of calls! And lots and lots of sms’s!

    Okay, here’s the deal. I’ll match each little bit of dirt on Najib that Badawi’s boys roll out with a little bit of detail of my own.

    ALSO READ: Najib: Muslim by birth, Hindu by practice

    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    Utamakan Usaha Lindungi Ekonomi Negara

    Di-petik daripada Blog 'The Scribe A Kadir Jasin'

    [Komen menggunakan pengenalan anonymous TIDAK AKAN DILAYAN. Sila gunakanlah nama sebenar atau nama samaran. Jikalau menggunakan anonymous, sila nyatakan nama di penghujung komen. Ulasan yang mengandungi unsur fitnah, hasutan, perkauman dan bahasa kesat tidak akan disiarkan. Ulasan yang terkeluar daripada tajuk tidak akan diberi keutamaan.]

    DALAM kita terus beraya, bersuka-suka menjamu selera, kita lupa sedih dan duka buat sementara. Kita suka berjumpa sanak saudara, jiran tetangga.

    Tapi bukan semua orang sedih dan semua duka. Kadang-kadang jadi orang jahil pun ada baiknya.

    Apa yang kita tak tahu, tak akan membuatkan kita sedih dan pilu. Orang putih kata, ignorant is bliss. Dalam bahasa kita maksudnya, orang yang jahil atau tidak tahu apa-apa sentiasa dalam kedamaian.

    Tapi oleh kerana orang tahu saya tahu (kalau tak banyak sikit) atau mereka anggap saya tahu, maka ke rumah atau tempat siapa pun saya pergi untuk beraya, ramailah yang hendak berbincang fasal politik dan ekonomi.

    Mengenai ekonomi, saya kata jangan sekali-kali pandang ringan dan buat remeh. Krisis ekonomi dunia sekarang adalah lebih global daripada krisis kewangan Asia 1997/98.

    Ekonomi Amerika sudah pun mula mempamerkan ciri-ciri kemelesetan (recession). Bukan kata saya, tapi kata orang yang tahu macam bekas pengerusi Bank Pusat Amerika, Alan Greenspan.

    Dalam dunia kewangan global, Greenspan dianggap macam ‘tuhan’ sebab selama dia jadi Pengerusi Bank Pusat, kalau dia kata jadi, maka jadilah.

    Dalam temu ramah dengan akhbar Jerman Die Zeit baru-baru ini, dia kurang yakin langkah Bank Pusat dan Pentadbiran Bush membelanjakan US$700 bilion boleh menyekat kemelesetan.

    Kalau Amerika meleset, hukumnya dunia juga akan meleset. Sebab itulah negara-negara di Eropah sudah ikut macam Amerika menyelamatkan bank-bank mereka, macam kita buat pada tahun 1997/98 melalui Danamodal.

    Dulu mereka kutuk Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad kerana selamatkan bank-bank dan badan-badan korporat. Mereka kata, bailout tidak akan berjaya kerana bercanggah dengan ekonomi bebas. Anwar Ibrahim setuju dengan mereka.

    Dr Mahathir buat juga dan berjaya. Sekarang giliran mereka buat bailout beratus bilion dolar.

    Kalau ekonomi Amerika dan negara-negara maju lain merosot, kita akan rasa kesannya. Hukumnya kita akan rasa lebih teruk daripada banyak negara membangun fasal ekonomi kita sangat bergantung kepada perdagangan luar.

    Kita adalah antara 20 atau 30 negara perdagangan terbesar di dunia. Kalau tak salah saya, kita adalah satu-satunya negara Islam dalam kategori itu.

    Kalau orang Amerika dan Eropah tak beli komputer baru, telefon baru, televisyen baru dan perabot baru kerana ekonomi mereka merosot, kita akan rasa kesannya.

    Itulah kerja budak-budak kita di Bayan Lepas dan tempat-tempat lain yang mengeluarkan mikrocip, radio, televisyen, perabot dan bermacam-macam barangan eksport lagi.

    Begitu jugalah dengan petani kita yang mengeluarkan getah dan minyak kelapa sawit – semua ini adalah untuk dieksport. Yang kita guna dalam negeri tak banyak.

    Mungkin ramai yang tak tahu bahawa harga getah dan kepala sawit pun dah banyak turun. Macam itu jugalah dengan harga minyak mentah.

    Jadi bila pemerintah dan Bank Negara kata ekonomi kita kuat dan stabil, saya rasa kita kenalah bandingkan dengan apa yang sedang berlaku kepada ekonomi global sekarang. Kita tak boleh kata kita ok bila rakan niaga kita tak ok.

    Dalam pada kita beraya dan bersembur-sembur air liur bercakap fasal politik, fasal Anwar nak tubuh Kerajaan, fasal Pak Lah nak bersara, fasal Najib bakal jadi PM dan fasal pemilihan Umno, kita jangan lupa bahawa yang lebih penting dan afdal adalah pengurusan ekonomi.

    Krisis Pelaburan Maybank

    Sebenarnya, dengan tidak ada krisis ekonomi dunia pun, ekonomi kita ada masalah. Macam-macam cerita kita dengar. Syarikat kita dijual kepada orang asing macam Pantai Holdings. Lepas itu kena kerah Khazanah supaya beli balik.

    Sekarang ini kita dengar pula cerita Malayan Banking akan rugi besar kerana buat silap beli Bank International Indonesia (BII) dengan harga yang sangat-sangat mahal.

    Kalau Malayan Banking rugi, ramailah rakyat Malaysia khasnya orang Melayu yang akan rugi sebab Malayan Banking milik mereka melalui pelaburan PNB.

    Macam mana benda ini boleh berlaku? Macam mana Maybank boleh beli BII begitu mahal, khabarnya empat kali ganda daripada nilai buku?

    Kita pun tak tahu siapa dalam Maybank, PNB dan Kementerian Kewangan yang begitu beria-ia hendak beli saham BII sedangkan bank-bank lain, termasuk CIMB sudah lama beli pada waktu saham-saham Bank Indonesia murah. Fasal apa tiba-tiba hendak beli sekarang?

    Yang sedihnya, saham-saham BII yang Maybank beli itu dimiliki sebelumnya oleh Temasek. Temasek ini adalah syarikat pelaburan negara Singapura.

    Jadi seolah-olah Maybank masuk perangkap. Temasek untung besar dan selesai masalahnya di Indonesia. Maybank yang teruk. Harga sahamnya di Bursa Malaysia dah banyak jatuh. Dari segi nilai pasaran dah jatuh bawah Public Bank. Malu.

    BII ini cerita lama. Sebuah firma perbankan antarabangsa yang berkaitan dengan bekas Menteri Kewangan, Tun Daim Zainuddin pernah pegang saham syarikat ini, tapi dijual sebab dia dah ada satu lagi bank di Indonesia, iaitu Bank Bumiputera.

    Khabarnya dia beli saham BII dengan harga R89 sesaham dan empat tahun lepas itu jual dengan harga R280 sesaham kepada Temasek.

    Jadi sekarang, Daim jual mahal kepada Temasek empat tahun lalu, Maybank pula beli lebih mahal daripada Temasek. Apa cerita?

    Nampak-nampaknya Maybank sudah masuk perangkap. Kalau tak beli, duit taruhan AS$150 juta (kira-kira RM495 juta) akan hilang. Tapi ada juga orang kata, Maybank akan rugi sampai RM700 juta.

    Kalau Maybank nak terus juga beli saham-saham BII, Maybank khabarnya kena pinjam sampai RM11 bilion. Khabarnya sampai waktu ini Maybank sudah pun pinjam RM6 bilion.

    Jadi saya rasa inilah antara tugas awal Mohd Najib Abdul Razak sebagai Menteri Kewangan. Dia kena siasat skandal ini. Apatah lagi kalau keputusan membenarkan atau memaksa Maybank membeli saham-saham BII itu tidak dibawa kepada Kabinet sebelum ini.

    Mohd Najib kena berjaga-jaga. Bukan sahaja jual-beli ini akan melemahkan Maybank, PNB dan para pelabur unit saham PNB, tapi boleh menjadi masalah kepada Mohd Najib dan negara kemudian hari.

    Kalau dia tak tahu, dia mesti siasat dan pastikan siapa yang membuat keputusan yang nampak-nampaknya merugikan ini.

    Kita tidak boleh tutup mata dan biarkan orang atau pihak yang bertanggungjawab itu lepas tangan dan lari begitu saja. Apatah lagi mereka yang mewakili Kerajaan, Kementerian Kewangan dan mereka yang menjadi commission agent, kalau ada.

    Kita tidak mahu skandal camam Bank Negara yang rugi berbilion ringgit akibat spekulasi mata wang terjadi kepada Maybank dan orang yang bersalah tidak dihukum.

    Kalau Najib tidak pisahkan dirinya daripada fiasco ini, dia juga mungkin akan dituduh dan disalahkan suatu hari nanti.

    Jadi dalam keghairahan kita semua berpolitik dan makan ketupat raya, kita kenalah berfikir panjang dan mendalam mengenai krisis ekonomi dunia dan macam mana kita hendak melindungi negara dan rakyat jelata daripada kesannya.

    Kita tahu, Najib seorang tak boleh buat, tapi kalau dia pandai dan sedia dengar nasihat, saya yakin kita boleh setidak-tidaknya mengurangkan kesan krisis ekonomi dunia terhadap negara kita.

    Dalam Semangat Raya Mereka Berjumpa

    Semalam saya pergi dua rumah terbuka. Satu di Putrajaya yang diadakan oleh Menteri Luar, Mohd Rais Yatim dan terserempak dengan Perdana Menteri, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Dah jadi hukumlah, bila waktu raya ni kita bermaaf-maafan.

    Sebelah malam, ada member ajak pergi ke rumah seorang penggiat Umno di Ampang. Meriah majlis rumah terbuka dia. Datuk K dan Siti Nurhaliza pun ada.

    Tapi ramai hadirin lebih excited sebab turut duduk semeja adalah Dr Mahathir dan Tun Dr Siti Hasmah, Mohd Najib, MuhyiddinYassin, Syed Hamid Albar, Shafie Apdal, Mustapha Mohamad dan beberapa pembesar Umno yang lain.

    Itulah raya. Kawan-kawan yang lama tak berjumpa atau takut nak berjumpa, pun berjumpa. Eloklah. Itulah semangat raya. Saya tumpang sekaki saja.

    Monday, October 13, 2008

    Advice, solicited or not, landing on Najib's lap


    OCT 13 - Many well-meaning Malaysians and a few opportunists have been beating a path to the home and office of the country's next prime minister.

    Some of them urged Datuk Seri Najib Razak to throw caution to the wind when he takes over in March by introducing wide-ranging reforms and making more structural changes to the economy, including revisiting the New Economic Policy and liberalising the services sector.

    Others have bent his ears with ideas of winning over non-Malays and young professionals – the two categories of people who appear more inclined to listen to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim than any Barisan Nasional leader.

    Quite a few wanted to know how Najib was going to handle a revitalised and energised Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Was he going to set up a panel of advisors headed by Dr Mahathir and be guided by their decisions? Was he going to give the former prime minister an advisory position in the administration? Was he going to politely decline the offer of help and advice from Dr Mahathir?

    Informed sources told The Malaysian Insider that the Deputy Prime Minister has great respect for the experience and wisdom of Dr Mahathir and would tap on his ideas to reform Umno and strengthen the economy.

    "The DPM will seek out input from various sources including Dr Mahathir (right) but he will not be anyone's puppet.

    "My sense is that he will not accept being criticised in public just because he is not following someone else's prescription for the party and country,'' said a source.

    Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the favourite to become the Umno deputy president and deputy prime minister, believes that Najib will be his own man.

    "It will be improper for anyone to say the country and Umno would be under the control of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad when Najib takes over the premiership… I don't think Najib would want it to happen as he has his own political programmes to re-strengthen Umno and regain the people's confidence," he told reporters after opening the Pagoh Umno division general assembly yesterday.

    Several political pundits have speculated that Najib's term in office will mark the return of Mahathirism. This analysis is based on the fact that Najib's thinking and philosophy have been greatly shaped by serving more than two decades under the former prime minister and the fact that he would not want to tangle with someone who seems bent on righting the wrongs of the Abdullah era.

    Dr Mahathir did little to dismiss the view that he would want a bigger say in policy matters under Najib's administration.

    In an interview with The Star, he said: "We cannot give too much power to the PM and president of Umno because he can abuse it. I have been saying he should have a panel of advisers, one each for the PM and Umno president to ensure he doesn't go off on a tangent.

    "That way it would be difficult for the Prime Minister to favour his family. The panel should not be appointed by him, maybe Mubarak (the association of former Barisan Nasional MPs and assemblymen) can play a role. If asked, I would be willing to serve for free.''

    He reiterated this point in Melbourne, saying that Najib needs to consult former elected representatives and experts in running the country.

    At this point, it appears that Najib will consult a whole spectrum of individuals and interest groups before making major decisions. He has already started looking for resource groups and a brains trust.

    But it is unclear whether he will want to have a formal structure like a council or panel of advisors and be bound by their decisions.

    Saturday, October 11, 2008

    Najib under pressure, again

    KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 11 - He is behind bars but Raja Petra Kamarudin's campaign to link Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak with the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shariibuu intensified today – with a startling allegation.

    His website, Malaysia Today, carried a report detailing what it alleged was an exchange of text messages between Najib and Shafee Abdullah, the prominent lawyer who represented Abdul Razak Baginda before he was charged with abetting two police officers in the murder of the model.

    These SMSes – if true – raise some questions over the handling of the case and suggest that Najib took a strong interest in the investigation from the beginning.

    The SMS exchange, which went on from Nov 8 to Dec 2, 2006, is likely to become great fodder for the Opposition when Parliament sits again on Monday. More so now that Najib is a cusp away from becoming the president of Umno and the prime minister of Malaysia.

    In one SMS, Najib allegedly tells the lawyer that Razak Baginda – his advisor – “will face a tentative charge but all is not lost.”'

    Malaysia Today said that this message raises some questions about Najib's role in the case. “Why did he mention ‘tentative’ charge and that ‘all is not lost’ for RB (Razak Baginda)? How would Najib know this before Razak was charged? These are important questions which will have ramifications, not just on this case but far beyond,” a posting on the website said.

    Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the Opposition have tried to link Najib and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, with the murder since it happened in October 2006.

    Najib has furiously denied any involvement with the case, and has even sworn in a mosque that he did not know the woman. His wife has also sought recourse in the courts to clear her name.

    Their nemesis has been Raja Petra. He published many reports and commentaries alleging a cover-up in the investigation of the murder. He was detained under the Internal Security Act for allegedly publishingarticles which were blasphemous.

    Tuesday, October 07, 2008

    Too small an electoral college


    Malaysians should no longer accept two anomalies of life here: the fact that the 2,000 men, fed and fattened on patronage, who pick the prime minister of the country and Malaysia's top two leaders come from a damaged political party.

    There may have been a time when Umno politicians merited the respect shown to them by the public and the standing afforded to them by their political partners.

    Those were the days when a large majority of Malays supported the political party and their leaders – Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak, Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, Tun Hussein Onn and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad - enjoyed the wide embrace of Malaysians.

    Those were the days when candidates from the party formed a clear majority in Parliament, and owned the allegiance of Chinese, Indian and non-Malay bumiputeras in Sabah and Sarawak.

    Not anymore. Analysis of the general election results shows that Umno no longer can claim bragging rights of speaking for the Malays. The split with Parti Islam SeMalaysia (Pas) is nearly 50:50.

    Anecdotal evidence also suggests that contempt with the arrogance and excess of Umno politicians was the main factor why Chinese and Indians deserted the Barisan Nasional in droves. In a nutshell, Umno does not enjoy the overwhelming support of Malays, Indians or Chinese.

    In Parliamant, Umno has 79 seats, fewer than the 81 seats held by Pakatan Rakyat. It would have made sense if the country's leaders are chosen from Barisan Nasional because the coalition does have a clear majority in the House and government, not Umno.

    Now let us examine the talent available in the ruling party. Nearly every one of the candidates who has offered himself for senior positions in the party comes with some baggage.

    Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib will forever be known as the politician who forgot to declare RM3.8 million when entering Australia; Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was on the crony list revealed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad; Tan Sri Isa Samad just completed his suspension for money politics. The list goes on and on.

    But perhaps the most troubling aspect of the current system of choosing Malaysian leaders is the fact that it is done by an electoral college of 2,000 Umno delegates.

    These men and women are picked to represent their divisions at the party's general assembly through a mix of patronage and money politics.

    In the 2004 party elections, candidates sprayed money at delegates to buy their support. One supreme council member gave each of the delegates 500 euros as pocket money. Why euros? He had just returned from an overseas trip and did not have the time to change the currency.

    Four years on and nothing has changed.

    Umno officials say that the money which was given to division leaders (but not used) to oil the election machinery for March 8 is only now flowing to the ground. It is being used to influence the voting of grassroots leaders.

    These politicians, many of whom are stained by money politics, will over the course of October and November nominate those who are contesting for senior positions in the party.

    In March, they will have a far more important role. In the cavernous Putra World Trade Centre, they will elect the party president, deputy president, vice-presidents and supreme council members. By convention, the top two in the party will become Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia.

    Seems odd that we are still willing to allow 2,000 men and women to choose our leaders, knowing how decayed the Umno electoral process has become and how detached their leaders are to the aspirations of most Malaysians.

    Saturday, October 04, 2008

    Zaid attacks race politics

    By Leslie Lau
    Consultant Editor

    KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 4 — Amid widespread speculation over his political future, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has criticised his own party Umno for contributing to race relations problems.

    He also urged Umno to engender a more fair-minded administration, and lead the Malays towards having better race relations with non-Malays.

    Speaking to the mass-circulation Chinese-language Sin Chew Daily in his most extensive interview since resigning as a member of the Cabinet recently, Zaid also called for more open debates over "sensitive issues”.

    He also pointed out that the results of the March general election were a clear message from the people that they wanted change, but the government had failed to change.

    The former minister in the Prime Minister's Department, who resigned in protest against recent Internal Security Act arrests, said he had joined the government for the wrong reasons.

    "I became a minister for the wrong reason. That reason was reform, but I have failed.

    "I thought they would no longer use the ISA. I thought the government would be more open to the rule of law and the constitution, but I was wrong."

    There has been, in recent weeks, intense speculation over the political future of Zaid, but the Umno man did not address the issue in his interview with the Chinese-language daily.

    But he was highly critical of the "culture of fear" in Malaysia, which he appeared to blame on Umno and the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.

    "When we face an issue we cannot discuss it, we cannot debate it. We only use fear or we take to the streets. That is not the way things are done in a mature society," he said.

    He said the leadership style of "those with political power" had resulted in race relations being a sensitive issue even after 50 years of independence.

    The former minister said race politics had been constantly used because it was easy to get support that way.

    "Umno feels that it is a party needed by the Malays. Umno leaders keep telling the Malays that they are constantly in danger and therefore need Umno.

    "They always feel that only they know what is good for the Malays."

    He said there was no need for "real Malays" to feel any fear or insecurity.

    The real question, he said, was that too many people did not understand or respect the historical fact that for the last 100 years, the Malays, Chinese and Indians have contributed to nation-building.

    He said Malaysia's status today as the 19th largest trading nation in the world was due to the contributions of all races.

    Zaid also felt that under today's circumstances, a "May 13" race riot is not likely to happen again.

    "I am not afraid of the Chinese being smart, because I too am smart. We keep talking about the Chinese having more shops and how we should be worried. The fact is we should not be worried. We should think of how to catch up," he said.

    He added that it was no longer necessary for "one party to represent one race" anymore.

    Wednesday, October 01, 2008

    Choosing the prime minister


    1 Oct 08 : 9.00AM
    By Jacqueline Ann Surin and N Shashi Kala
    jacquelinesurin@thenutgraph.com, shashikala@thenutgraph.com

    EVEN as opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim stumbled in his quest to unseat the government by 16 Sept 2008, the likelihood of a change in government lingers palpably. Questions now abound about how exactly Anwar can achieve forming the next government.

    Some legal experts have said a vote of no-confidence in Parliament against the sitting prime minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, is the Pakatan Rakyat leader's only recourse.

    Lawyer Tommy Thomas tells The Nut Graph what methods are constitutionally available for a change of premier. The constitutional lawyer explains the legal principles involved, stressing that blocking a vote of no-confidence in Parliament against the prime minister — which has happened twice already — is unconstitutional, as are attempts to detain Anwar or any other member of parliament (MP) at this juncture.

    TNG: What are the legal principles established by the three cases: Stephen Kalong Ningkan (1966); the Privy Council case (Nigerian case: Adegbenro vs Akintola in 1963); and 1994's Datuk Amir Kahar Mustapha vs Tun Mohd Said Keruak, which involved former chief minister of Sabah Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan resigning from his post?

    Tommy Thomas: The legal principles established by the cases are this: In the Stephen Kalong Ningkang case, the court said, the only way to test confidence is by a lower house vote. That is the legal principle. So it is confined to one method only. In the Privy Council case from Nigeria and the Pairin Kitingan case, there was no lower house vote. Yet the courts said in both cases, the governor acted correctly. That's the principle to be drawn.

    So the three reported cases we know of [involved] governors (the Sabah and Sarawak Yang diPertua's powers are similar to a governor's). Yet none of them is the decision of the head of state or a constitutional monarch. I personally know of no [such] cases.

    So, in the Malaysian context now, there are no precedents to guide us?

    Going by Article 43(4) [of the Federal Constitution], although in our 51st year of existence, Malaysia is entering into uncharted waters but it doesn't mean a Malaysian constitutional lawyer is bereft of examples. Malaysian constitutional law follows British constitutional law [in that the king or queen appoints the prime minister]. And not just the UK, but the major or mature Commonwealth countries — Canada, Australia, New Zealand and India — follow British constitutionalism.

    My point is the Yang diPertuan Agong has very similar powers to Queen Elizabeth II. So, the precedent would be what the Queen of England, and the previous monarchs, have done in the past. Those are constitutional conventions, and they would guide you.

    And applying that, to my knowledge, the monarch's decision in England to appoint so-and-so as the prime minister — Mr X as opposed to Mr Y — has never been challenged in the courts. These decisions are called non-justiciable — you cannot take this matter to court.

    Is this by convention?

    It's a principle of law. And that's because the monarch's power to appoint the prime minister is what is known as a royal prerogative. It's like the question of mercy, pardon and giving honours — all these are examples of royal prerogative. So if, for example, you didn't get a Tan Sri-ship, you cannot go to the courts and say, "Judge, give me a Tan Sri-ship." Or if you have a Tan Sri-ship, you cannot go to court and say, "I want a Tun-ship." Some disputes are just not suitable for legal solutions.

    But in this particular case, even though it is the monarch's prerogative, he or she is guided by certain conventions.

    Yes, conventions or precedents. [But] when they exercise their conventions, if they exercise it "wrongly", it has never been taken to court.

    Has it been in the past?

    Never. Let me give you two real examples. In 1956, when Anthony Eden resigned as prime minister in Britain, Queen Elizabeth II had a choice of either Harold MacMillan or Rab Butler, both from the Conservative Party. She chose MacMillan. So those who supported Butler would say that's the wrong decision. But did they take it to court? No. They accepted it because that's the royal prerogative.

    Likewise in 1963, when MacMillan himself resigned, again she had a choice of Butler and a few other candidates. She chose somebody from the House of Lords — Lord Sir Alec Douglas-Home. These cases happened fairly recently, not a few hundred years ago.

    Now I give you an Australian example. In Australia, the governor-general represents the Queen, who is still the constitutional monarch of the country. The governor-general has tremendous freedom; they have vice-regal powers. The Australian Governor-General Sir John Kerr in 1975 sacked the Labour Prime Minister Gough Withlam and appointed the leader of the opposition party, Malcolm Fraser, as caretaker prime minister. The entire Labour party was very angry, but they didn't challenge this in court.

    So the head of state's decision is respected?

    The conventional theory is that the person making the decision — the head of state — is supposed to look after the affairs of the nation in times of crisis. This person is above partisan politics and is concerned for the nation. The ruler embodies the nation.

    And if you are a popular ruler, like Queen Elizabeth II for example, when she makes such a decision, the country will rally around [her]. Even if they disagree with a particular choice, they'll say fine, we recognise and respect her decision.

    And over here, the king, or the institution of the Agong, has become very popular over the past 51 years. It's accepted by the country. And the present king, who is from Terengganu, is also popular, as was seen during the struggle over the choice of [the state's] menteri besar earlier this year (2008). When the Agong arrived in Kuala Terengganu on 29 March, he was welcomed by 10,000 people holding yellow roses.

    How do you know that whatever decision made by the King — if he is invited to make that decision and which in his judgment is made for the good of the country — will not be received by millions of Malaysians in the same way? Because millions of Malaysians will say that they are fed up with the politicians fighting among themselves. We have more faith in the institution of the monarchy.

    Parliament (Courtesy of Merdeka Review)

    Just to clarify, in our Federal Constitution, there are a few ways that the existing government can be changed. One is through the show of no confidence in Parliament, and the other is for the Agong to make a decision if he thinks the present leader no longer enjoys majority support in Parliament. Could you elaborate?

    We are invited to interpret Article 43(4) which reads: "If the PM ceases to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the House of Representatives, then, unless at his request the Yang diPertuan Agong dissolves Parliament, the prime minister shall tender the resignation of the cabinet."

    What we are trying to do is find out what is the intention of our founding fathers. That is what the task is all about. How do you interpret those words?

    Who are the founding fathers? First, the five members of the Reid Commission — two members from the UK, one from Australia, one from India and one from Pakistan — the senior Commonwealth members. The other group of people are Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun VT Sambanthan and Tun Tan Cheng Lock.

    What we are trying to do is interpret their words, 43(4), with the intention they had in mind. Some legal experts have said it is limited to a poll, a vote of no confidence in the Dewan Rakyat. My argument is that cannot be the intention because if it is so limited, then the language would have been something like this: "If the Prime Minister is defeated on a motion of confidence in the House of Representatives, then..." So you see the opening words of 43(4) and my imaginary version are very different...the actual wording is far more general, broad and wide, whereas the other is specific and limited to one method.

    Plus, there's a fundamental reason [for this]. When countries have written constitutions, the idea is that the written constitutions are meant to last for hundreds of years. It is a serious document. It charts the country's future. It is what is called a living tree. It has to cater to all kinds of contingencies and crises and emergencies throughout the life of a country.

    So, the founding fathers used broad words, so that the governments, leaders and people that follow in the future would have some idea of what they intended and would interpret it. We mustn't forget the purpose of the constitution.

    These — the vote of no confidence and the king's prerogative — are the two known methods.

    But the important thing is that it is the king's satisfaction that matters. The king must be satisfied that the prime minister of the day no longer enjoys the confidence of the majority of the lower house. So what that means actually is that the king cannot act arbitrarily; there must be some objective facts, some proof, some reason for him to act.

    And finally it goes back to the question of numbers. We know that the lower house has 222 MPs. To have a simple majority, whoever wants to be prime minister must have the support of 112 people. The king must be satisfied that whoever he is going to invite to form the government enjoys the support of at least 112 members.

    How he goes about satisfying himself on this point is up to the king.

    Article 43(4) doesn't make any mention of the methods he could use. Are there any precedents in the UK?

    In the UK the Queen talks to people, they have their own soundings. But as to other methods that could be used, one is the declaration in writing, a document containing all 112 signatures. The disadvantage is the possibility of forgeries. How can the Agong be sure that the MPs actually signed the document? So in this case, the Agong may decide that he needs more proof. He may summon them to the palace.

    But there could be other methods. It depends on the contingency.

    So the methods that the Agong chooses to verify — whether the PM or an alternative candidate has the support or not — is up to him?


    But at this juncture, it does not seem like the Agong is being called to take on this responsibility.

    We don't know. What I would say is that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is treading very, very carefully because of the political reality, more than he needs to under the constitution. Because it is a fact, we know, it is public knowledge that the Speaker of the House has turned it (motion to table a vote of no confidence against the PM) down twice. Now, there I say the Speaker is acting unconstitutionally.

    What remedy is there?

    The remedy is for the Agong to say that he is aware that two motions for a vote of no confidence against the PM were presented to Parliament, and the Speaker rejected them. He can therefore conclude that the Speaker has prevented a voting of no confidence on the floor of parliament. And by such conduct, the Speaker has nullified, thwarted, and foiled the constitutional mechanism. Because 43(4) is there. You cannot thwart a constitutional mechanism. And that's what he did. He is acting unconstitutionally.

    But no other action can be taken against the Speaker.

    No, because you cannot remove the Speaker — the king cannot remove the Speaker. Nobody can. But what the king can say is, "I am therefore satisfied that that method should not be used in this case. I will turn to other methods."

    So the Barisan Nasional are actually doing themselves a disservice.


    Because eventually people are going to be frustrated enough, and take notice enough to look at other methods.

    Exactly. Constitutional law expert Prof Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi, for example, recommended that Parliament be postponed for six months.

    Which is the Prime Minister's prerogative...

    My answer is, that will be unconstitutional in the present circumstances. If you postpone the sitting of Parliament for six months with the objective of preventing a motion of no confidence, that would be unconstitutional. Just like if you detain Anwar Ibrahim today, that would be unconstitutional.

    What if he is detained in any case?

    In the present climate, it would be an unconstitutional detention. Because the Agong can say that as far as he is concerned, Anwar is a prime ministerial candidate. He may be in the pool of people the Agong may invite to form a new government.

    To put it into context, the Agong doesn't have a free hand. He cannot appoint a senator to be prime minister. It must be a member of the lower house. So that means straightaway the choice is limited to 222 MPs.

    What I am trying to say is, the Agong is not a dictator. His hands are tied to picking someone from the 222.

    Technically, even if Anwar was under Internal Security Act (ISA) detention, that should not preclude the Agong from saying, "I believe that he has the support", and still appoint him as prime minister.

    Yes. Absolutely. You cannot frustrate the system this way. You cannot detain any of the 222 MPs today because each of them is a voter. Because everybody knows — and the king certainly knows — we are entering into a critical period in the nation's history: uncharted, unprecedented. That is, there is a possibility of a change in leadership, both within Umno — between Abdullah Badawi and Najib and anybody else — and between the Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat. And the king knows in those circumstances, he may be invited to exercise the royal prerogative and appoint a prime minister.

    You say he needs to be invited. Who needs to do this inviting?

    Whoever goes to see him with the numbers. And therefore, the critical players are the 222 MPs because they chart the future. And the Agong can say, I need them all there. You cannot take 10 away or five away from either party.

    So within the current circumstances, any kind of detention of MPs under the ISA is unconstitutional.

    Yes, in my opinion. The big point to make is, you cannot arrange your affairs — be it the speaker or the prime minister or the home minister — in such a way as to thwart the constitutional mechanism, which has, at the minimum, 222 players (the MPs) and the king. [Among the MPs] is the potential prime minister. [So, the MPs] have special status at this current point of time.

    Technically, the prime minister still has the prerogative of delaying parliamentary sitting for up to six months. And he can still go ahead and do that, even though you said earlier that it would be considered unconstitutional.

    Well, the Agong cannot stop him. But [the Agong] will know that Method #1 has been frustrated.

    Then at that juncture, it is left to the opposition to employ other methods to convince the king?

    Yes. And that [same response by the opposition could be used if] the Speaker turns down [yet again] the motion to table a vote of no-confidence.