Archive for the ‘General Topics’ Category

New Cabinet ministers ready to start work immediately

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020
Datuk Dr Ahmad Masrizal Muhammad, Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon, Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri, Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal dan Datuk Lim Ban Hong before swearing-in ceremony at Dewan Negara. -NSTP/ASYRAF HAMZAH

KUALA LUMPUR: Newly-appointed Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz today pledged to make tackling current economic challenges facing the country his immediate priority.

The former CIMB group chief executive officer is expected to clock in to his new office at 4pm today.

“Please allow me to start work first. Tan Sri Ahmad Badri Zahir, who is the Treasury secretary-general, will be briefing me this afternoon and that will help me have a better view,” he said when met after his swearing-in ceremony at Dewan Negara here, today.

The Senator expressed hope that he will be able to work without any political interference.

“I am very surprised by this appointment. As you know, I am not a politician.

“Anyway, I will do my best for the country. As it is, we are now going through tough times,” he added.

Meanwhile, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri said he will announce his plans for the ministry soon.

He said he hopes to eliminate any form of politicking by negative elements.

“This is the country that we love, and we should build it as best as we can. InsyaAllah,” he told reporters after his swearing-in ceremony at Dewan Negara here.

Meanwhile, Deputy Environment Minister Datuk Dr Ahmad Masrizal Muhammad dismissed talks that he was placed in Cabinet as a proxy of former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Ahmad Masrizal, who previously served as Zahid’s political secretary, said he was his own man, and is not influenced by anyone.

By Dawn ChanTeh Athira Yuso.

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PM Muhyiddin announces new Cabinet and new structure (full list)

Monday, March 9th, 2020

Muhyiddin announcing his new Cabinet line-up on March 9,2020. – MOHD SAHAR MISNI/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has announced his new Cabinet and a new structure, with plum roles for party leaders in the Perikatan Nasional coalition and their allies.

Discarding the conventional role of a deputy prime minister, he instead appointed four senior ministers, to whom other Cabinet ministers will report.

The four Senior Ministers are former PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali (International Trade and Industry), Umno vice president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (Security), Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) chief whip Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof (Works) and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia supreme council member Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin (Education).

Azmin’s deputy will be MCA’s Datuk Lim Ban Hong (who will be made a senator), while Ismail will have Datuk Seri Ikhmal Hisham Abdul Aziz, Fadillah’s deputy is Datuk Dr Shahruddin Md Salleh and Radzi will have two deputies Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon (who will be made a senator) and Muslimin Yahaya.

The rest of the Cabinet is as follows:

Prime Minister’s Department:

Economy: Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed

Deputy: Arthur Joseph Kurup

Special Affairs: Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof

Deputy: Mastura Yazid

Law and Parliament: Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan

Deputy: Datuk Eddin Syazlee Shith

Religious Affairs: Datuk Seri Dr Hj Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri (to be made a senator)

Deputy: Ahmad Marzuk Shaary

Sabah and Sarawak Affairs: Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Maximus Johnity Ongkili

Deputy: Datuk Hanifah Hajar Taib

Finance Ministry:

Minister: Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (to be made a senator)

Deputy I: YB Datuk Abd Rahim Bakeri

Deputy II: Mohd Shahar Abdullah Menteri

Transport Ministry:

Minister: Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong

Deputy: Hasbi Habibollah

Environment Ministry:

Minister: Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man

Deputy: Datuk Dr Ahmad Masrizal Muhammad (to be made a senator)

Human Resource Ministry:

Minister: Datuk Seri M. Saravanan

Deputy: Haji Awang Hashim

Federal Territories Ministry:

Minister: Tan Sri Annuar Musa

Deputy: Datuk Seri Dr Santhara Kumar

Women and Family Ministry:

Minister: Datuk Seri Rina Harun

Deputy: Datuk Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff

Higher Education Ministry:

Minister: Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad

Deputy: Datuk Dr Mansor Othman

Energy and Natural Resources Ministry:

Minister: Datuk Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah

Deputy: Ali Anak Biju

Home Ministry:

Minister: Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin

Deputy I: Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Mohamed Said

Deputy II: Jonathan Yassin

Health Ministry:

Minister: Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba

Deputy I: Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali

Deputy II: Datuk Aaron Ago Dagang

Agriculture and Food Industry Ministry:

Minister: Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee

Deputy I: Datuk Seri Ahmad Hamzah

Deputy II: Datuk Che Abdullah Mat Nawi

Rural Development Ministry:

Minister: Datuk Dr Abd Latiff Ahmad

Deputy I: Datuk Abdul Rahman Mohamad

Deputy II: Datuk Henry Sum Agong

Foreign Affairs Ministry:

Minister: Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein

Deputy: Datuk Kamaruddin Jaffar

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry:

Minister: Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi

Deputy: Datuk Rosol Wahid

Communications and Multimedia Ministry:

Minister: Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah

Deputy: Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin

Housing and Local Government Ministry:

Minister: Zuraida Kamaruddin

Deputy: Datuk Seri Ismail Abd Mutalib

Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry:

Minister: Khairy Jamaluddin

Deputy: Ahmad Amzad Hashim

Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Ministry

Minister: Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar

Deputy: Datuk Wira Mas Ermieyati Samsudin

Primary Industries and Commodities Ministry:

Minister: Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali

Deputy I: Datuk Sri Dr Wee Jeck Seng

Deputy II: Willie Mongin

Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry:

Minister: Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri

Deputy: Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan

National Unity Ministry:

Minister: Halimah Mohamed Sadique

Deputy: Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing

Youth and Sports Ministry:

Minister: Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican

Deputy: Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal (to be made a senator)

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Lessons we can learn

Thursday, March 5th, 2020
The appointment of the eighth prime minister sets a new chapter in Malaysian politics.

LETTERS: THE longest week in Malaysia’s political history remained surrealistically under suspended animation until the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, using his judgment and discretionary powers provided under the Constitution, appointed Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as the eighth prime minister on Feb 29 .

Regardless of our political affiliation or background, there are many lessons that we can learn from this unprecedented and unimaginable political crisis.

WE must respect the king’s discretionary powers and decision girded by the constitution regardless of our sentiments on the outcome. The political turmoil with no proper government and fluid support of one candidate or another by certain members of parliament (MPs) was only superseded by intense horse trading. Carrying a burden of responsibility, the king acted as quickly as possible under the circumstances to reach a plausible decision;

PEOPLE unhappy with the king’s decision impulsively denounced it as a “backdoor” government to describe the new Muhyiddin administration. Here’s a primer: there is no such thing as a backdoor government. The king acted constitutionally and if MPs are upset with it, the proper reaction is to challenge the decision in the next sitting of the Dewan Rakyat;

CREDIT all political parties and key players that they did not need to resort to violent street demonstrations unlike other countries shaken by political uncertainties. The crisis was civilly handled in accordance with the constitution, a virtuous sign of our maturing democracy;

DUE credit to the civil service, including the police and the armed forces, for maintaining peace, order and public service despite the absence of the highest chain of command. In fact, some civil servants commented — half-jokingly — that they felt at ease and even relief without politicians lording over them.

This is the irony of governance and public accountability — a case of how some politicians are woefully ignorant of managing and motivating civil servants to better performance;

POLITICS is a dynamic and challenging form of change management. You know the dictum: In politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies, so for belligerents whose default mode is to accuse and blame, and reject the idea of changing stance on an issue, party defections or turning independent, grow up.

These are fundamental principles of parliamentary democracy, the right of MPs to switch allegiance, position or views mid-term. Yes, hold them accountable and demand a reason for the makeover but don’t jump to quick conclusions without giving them a fair hearing. Sure, there will always be dishonest, corrupt and crooked politicians, so by all means, criticise, expose or condemn such MPs but within the ambit of the law;

THE political landscape is still unpredictable in its daily fluidity but it is no excuse to dispense peace and civility while giving the new prime minister the opportunity to present his case and new cabinet at the next sitting of Parliament and let the august house decide appropriately. Respect the outcome;

THE proposed national unity government as espoused by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is an excellent idea. Its pertinence is what Malaysia needs to fix our ailing economy.

The assumption that such a unity government might re-appoint Umno leaders facing criminal corruption charges is skewed.

A unity government would be strictly based on “ability” and “integrity” and this automatically scratches out tainted leaders;

THE people opposed to a unity government on grounds of a void in check and balance and inability to “control” the Prime Minister have gotten their priorities wrong.

It reflects their sectarian interest, outdated and immature concept of accountability and how democracy works, not to mention indifference to the country’s wellbeing.

We need a national unity approach to cut down useless partisan bickering and avoid unnecessary distractions of divisive race and religious issues.

We need a rational approach that efficiently uses productive resources and synergise harmoniously to turn around the economy and to further develop our beautiful multicultural existentialism justly for our mutual benefit.


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Fix Malaysia’s democracy now!

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

HEARTBREAK, frustration, despair.

Malaysians experienced all this and more this last week, but above all, we experienced powerlessness.

Where were we in deciding who our new Prime Minister would be? Where were we in influencing the decisions of our MPs? Where were we in deciding who would be our government?

Our democratic rights were being stolen from under our noses, with alliances shifting back and forth in a tragic farce of a merry-go-round, and there was absolutely nothing we could do about any of it.

How is this a functioning democracy?

This last week has proven beyond doubt that our democracy, like so many others around the world, has long been broken and dysfunctional.

The most fundamental, core concept of democracy is the notion of self-determination: our power to determine our own fate, and to be a meaningful part of the decisions that affect us. Over decades, or centuries even, this ability to play that meaningful role in decision making has been eroded consistently, until all we have left of “democracy” is basically reduced to ticking one out of a handful of boxes every five years.

Is that democracy? Is that self-determination? Is that participating in decisions that impact us?

What it is is a farce. A mockery of what democracy is supposed to be. In fact, these elections once every five years have devolved into mudslinging contests dominated by fevered and irrational partisanship that do little beyond dividing the nation along tribalist sentiment.

Where elections today incentivise tearing your opponents down, painting them as devils, and instigating hate between one another, genuine democracy should be about deliberation in good faith and consensus building for the common good.

When you think about it, choosing only 222 individuals to represent the entire spectrum of evolving political views held by 32 million Malaysians is mind-bogglingly illogical. The smaller the number of decision makers meanwhile, the larger the opening for money politics.

Worse yet, these 222 are invested exclusively with the power to choose the most powerful individual (by far) in the nation, and our current laws have no capability whatsoever to effectively deal with what happens when these 222 people cannot make a decisive choice.

Long story short, our democracy is dysfunctional, and it is broken – what we have seen this last week is irrefutable proof of this, as clear as day.

In the middle of this crisis, “interim” Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad made a bold suggestion that caught the imagination of some: he suggested the formation of a unity government.

The next day, I published an article about why this was in theory a step in the right direction, but one suggested at the wrong time, in the wrong context, for the wrong reasons. That Mahathir dared to suggest it at all is proof that there is a strong underlying discontent with our system of democracy today.

Mahathir floated the idea of a cabinet that was not chosen based on partisanship or party positions, but chosen from a wide pool of Malaysians based purely on merit and suitability. The ideology behind this approach is absolutely correct. But if we are to move in this direction, we must start the journey on the right foot, from the right departure point, and for the right reasons.

I wrote earlier that Mahathir cannot suggest this system, and then ask us to trust him – a man who at the time had clearly lost the majority of support in Parliament – to be the sole decider of who was qualified to lead the country and who was not. That would be a dictatorship.

There was far too much baggage, and the political climate at that time created an unsurpassable deficit in trust and legitimacy for Mahathir to lead any change in that direction. To move correctly and legitimately towards this democratic innovation that we need, the movement needs to be grassroots driven from the bottom up, and led in a non-partisan way by the rakyat and civil society. The democratic overhaul we need is not limited to the question of who is appointed to the cabinet. The journey to a functional, accountable democracy that truly reflects our aspirations as Malaysians must begin from the ground up.

Indeed it begins with instituting a democratic process in our most basic demographic and residential units – by electing leaders and representatives for our housing areas, apartment complexes, villages and so on.

There must be a clear line from these communities and their elected leaders to our local councils, state governments, and federal government. The baseline constituency at the base of our democratic pyramid should consist of thousands or at most the lower tens of thousands of people, not the hundreds of thousands per elected representative we presently have.

These baseline constituencies should be afforded a large measure of self governance, and anyone they elect to represent them at higher levels of governance should be someone they actually know personally on a face to face basis.

A functional democracy should separate somewhat the notion of administration and sociopolitical ideology. Questions of the latter, such as those involving race and religion or other ideological matters should be distanced from simpler questions of transparent, accountable, and competent administration.

Issues that stir emotion should not be mixed with simple questions such as who can best ensure our garbage is cleared and our potholes fixed, or who can manage our economy best to produce sustainable, equitable growth in a corruption-free way.

Ministries should not be led by someone appointed at the sole discretion of a chief executive, but should be run by a mix of technocrats, stakeholders, and elected representatives. Why should some unqualified career politician be put in charge of say education, health, or defence, when these ministries can be managed by a team of teachers and parents, doctors and health professionals, or military and defense experts respectively. Elected representatives can also be appointed to management teams in charge of ministries to provide oversight, checks and balances, and input that represents the public interest.

Indeed, this decentralisation of power should go all the way from the bottom to the top, where management by committee is the norm, instead of investing everything into single individuals.

These committees should always consist of a mix of individuals – some elected, and some chosen at random from professional bodies or elected representatives from the baseline constituencies described above.

Random selection, management by committee, and having a very large chamber of elected representatives to approve major budgetary decisions will go a long way in solving the problem of money politics.

In every level of decision making, the system must be designed so that leaders are consistently incentivised to always try their hardest to build consensus, and make decisions to maximise the common good.

This should replace the current system where every decision and position is made by prioritising only what will either maximise a candidate’s chances of winning their next election, or earning that candidate the most profit.

Malaysia’s democratic system has failed us all completely, and brought the country to a grinding halt amidst ongoing national crises.

The way we do business, communicate, and live our lives has changed unrecognisably in a few decades, but our political systems are recognisable from almost centuries ago. Isn’t it time to innovate our democracy to reflect new realities?

No matter who gets appointed as Prime Minister, a failure on our part to do a complete overhaul and recalibration of our democracy will leave us vulnerable to exactly the same types of problems we saw this last week again, and again, and again.

Malaysians from all walks of life need to come together, seize this opportunity, and start building a new, functional democracy from the ground up – one that reflects our true aspirations, our great potential as our nation, and the true common good for all Malaysians.

Nathaniel Tan wrote this before announcements were made regarding the PM. He is working with other Malaysians on this project, and hopes you’ll join the effort soon. Updates will come and in the meantime, he can be reached at The views expressed here are solely his own.

By Nathaniel Tan.

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Welcome to Malaysia, where political dishonesty is fine

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

IS HONESTY still the best policy? Is it also vital to keep your promises? At least that’s what I was taught by my parents to do while growing up.

And the teachers kept drumming it into our heads in school. Well, I am not sure if this is true anymore after seeing the political and sports shenanigans that’s happening around us.

The massive attempts by football players in international leagues to completely put on an act for the referees when making dubious claims is disgusting.

Oh, how they contort their faces and claim innocence despite knowing they were the causes of the fouls committed.

And you have the hand- and face-gesturing claims that they make for a mere throw-in or a corner kick when they obviously know that it was not theirs.

To the millions who are their fans, they are sending a message that it is okay to be dishonest if you can steal a goal to win.

I am not sure if the younger generation knows how the former football great from Argentina – Diego Maradona – blatantly used his hand to score a goal against England in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final.

He went on to cheekily to say the goal was scored by the “Hand of God.” There was no Video Assisted Referee or VAR at that time.

His display of utter dishonesty was made worse by how the team was celebrating the goal that was blatantly stolen off England. To make matters worse, Argentina went on to win the World Cup, and the world forgot Maradona’s greatest act of dishonesty.

I hope he would admit he used his hands at least on his deathbed.

So there are political lies and also sports lie, which in most cases are simply told blatantly as long as they win in an election and a game.

At least in the sports arena, the introduction of VAR has exposed some of the dishonesty that happens.

Guess what, Malaysians?

The ones lying to you are the very people who actually pass the laws that require you to be honest, pay your taxes, tell the truth in court and pay penalties for violating these laws.

Unfortunately, there is no VAR in politics. However, there is something much bigger than that in a democracy – people power.

With social media, politicians better remember that the red card is in the people’s hands ready to show politicians the door in every election.

There were times in our lives that we may not have been extremely honest with ourselves, for one reason or the other. But that is between us, our conscience and the Almighty for those who believe that we have someone up there watching over us.

You deal with your own lies and dishonesty within yourself and the people around you. But if you lie and are dishonest for political reasons, beware the wrath of all.

What’s happening now is what I term as a moral breakdown among our leaders who appear to be telling us that you don’t have to keep promises, or keep to your words.

And that it is alright to cohort with those who had contributed to the destruction of our beloved nation.

Last week, we saw the best (or is it the worst?) actions of all the political parties in Malaysia. It was a political drama at its worst for Malaysians, a plot that seems to say it is okay to lie and dishonest in politics and stay in power.

It is still running, with new episodes mixed with unbelievable twists and plots.

There were massive attempts to make Dr Mahathir keep his promise of handing over power to Anwar on one side and on the other, the losing parties manoeuvring using race and religion in trying to make him go back on his promise.

To the many Malaysians who believed him and gave the full support, it was utterly disgusting. Dishonesty to the core, they say.

Another shocker was when Dr Mahahtir told a youth forum last week on the two men in history he admired most.

The first was Prophet Mohamad for some very good reasons that we all know. But the second man and the reasons he cited threw me off guard a little.

It was the 18th century Russian Czar Peter the Great. Dr Mahathir said even though he did not agree with the way Peter the Great killed and murdered the people, he had managed to change Russia through his leadership skills.

He added that when Peter the Great took over, Russia was poor and the living conditions were bad.

I beg your pardon? I am not sure if he is even aware that he is telling the youths that it’s okay to be cruel and kill innocent people if it means you do it for the betterment of the nation.

This was definitely not what my parents, school and my religion taught me.

If you are leading the nation and were voted into power with promises and pronouncements that you’d keep your pledges and clean up the nation of past dishonest practices, then you have to answer all the questions being raised now.

So all the four component parties in Pakatan Harapan agreed and, in fact, promised each other that Dr Mahathir would hand over the post to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at an appropriate time.

An “appropriate time” was said to be two years after the last election, which is three months away.

But we are now suddenly told that it is okay not to keep your word on this.

The MPs in Parliament decide on whether Anwar has majority support.

There is a technicality here: “Yes, I will hand over but…”.

Here, promises and honesty appear to take a back seat but the proponents justify this in the interest of the majority.

Whose majority?

The people’s majority or the majority of those wanting to be in power?

There is a strange set of values among some Malaysians these days that seems to say they it is really okay to be cruel and dishonest as long as there is something in there for them. Honesty makes people feel good about themselves, but it is difficult to be living honestly all the time in life.

Political honesty is not any different from real honesty. Honesty is when you speak the truth and also act truthfully.

Many of us think honesty means not telling a lie but it means more than not lying. Let’s be clear here that an honest person does not do things that are morally wrong.

What we are witnessing today is the culmination of absolute dishonesty that has unfortunately some commentators arguing that you do not need absolute honesty in politics. The truth is, everyone should question what they are saying.

Sure, lies by politicians are not criminal acts but there are many good reasons why we should penalise political lies severely.

The voters must act as VAR or we have to face this filth every few years.

In the meantime, brace yourselves for more political and sports lies because our system of winner takes all is too entrenched. Pessimistic? Yes, unfortunately. After the fall of New Malaysia that was so promising, we have been set back by decades.

By K. Parkaran

K. Parkaran was a deputy editor at The Star and producer at Aljazeera TV. The views expressed here are solely his own.

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Malaysia’s biggest betrayal in history. What’s next?

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

DEMOCRACY has been betrayed.

Malaysia has been betrayed.

We – the rakyat – have all been betrayed.

I don’t think I have it in me to really articulate the pain, loss, and betrayal that so many of us are feeling about the possible new backdoor government. I’m sure others will do that better.

I do know however that the other emotions swirling in there is despair – alongside cynicism, defeatism, and anger.

These emotions are perfectly normal, and we need to give them the air and time they need.

Ultimately though, we may need to get to the point where we can say, as my sister often does: don’t get mad, get organised.

In order to face Malaysia’s biggest betrayal, we are going to need Malaysia’s best and brightest working together, not working against each other. And we’re going to need to really understand the new forces and strategies at play here.

The primary motivation of this betrayal is of course the greed and personal ambition of the individuals driving this move.

That said, this doesn’t mean that there is no political calculation and logic behind said move. If we are to face this, we need to understand that logic – especially in the light of possible snap polls.

So basically, the formula is Umno, PAS, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, East Malaysian parties, and other token representative parties versus mainly PKR, DAP, and Parti Amanah Negara.

To some observers, this may seem a little too monoethnic on one side. Is it?

I think this new coalition (let’s call it “Pakatan Nasional” or PN for now) has carefully thought through its electoral viability. So, what is their plan?

In recent decades, Barisan Nasional was extremely monoethnic. It remained strong in all the rural areas, while the Opposition reigned supreme in all the urban areas.

Due to gerrymandering, malapportionment, and delineation, this formula actually kept Barisan firmly in power. They had long ago lost their two-thirds majority, but still had a comfortable overall majority in Parliament – even with sacrificing almost every urban, non-Malay majority seat.

I think this is exactly the strategy that PN is looking to replicate.

This would make sense, because the only time Barisan failed to win using this formula was in the 14th General Election (GE14) in May, 2-18, when PAS split the Malay vote.

I’ve actually run the calculation before, and if you use the (admittedly overly) simplistic model of combining Barisan and PAS’ votes from GE14, that coalition would have easily beaten Pakatan Harapan, by winning 129 of the 222 seats in Parliament, and controlling eight states.

The PN campaign (in rural areas especially) will run on the very simple ideology of Malay unity. This will be especially effective after two years of what has been perceived as severe Malay disunity and the fragmentation of Malay political power.

Most importantly, this campaign will drive one of the biggest racial wedges we have ever seen in the fabric of Malaysian society. PN will make this almost entirely about a Malay versus non-Malay struggle, and tensions will be about as high as we have ever seen.

The main vulnerability of PN will be the balance of power between Umno, PAS, and Bersatu. Where once Umno decided everything, now we will see if this trio can survive beyond grabbing power.

The Opposition as is will have no trouble winning in most urban seats, if it is one-to-one fights. But the end result will likely be no better than the results in GE12 (2008) or GE13 (2013), and the old formulas will not do much to provide an alternative to the racial wedge.

The current PKR-led political coalition cannot replicate the results of GE14 quite simply because PAS is no longer there to split the rural vote, and there is no earthshattering new factor or issue that they can campaign on (in this atmosphere, many in those seats will not care about “backdoor government”). These factors are decisive.

If we want a different result from GE12 and GE13, there needs to be a huge change – something really different.

Politically, the answer is not likely to be an urban-based, English-speaking third force. Such a movement will have no influence or appeal in any seat that PKR/ DAP/ Amanah would already win on their own.

The new element required needs to have mass appeal. If it only appeals to certain segments, failure will be inevitable. This likely means that it needs a strong Malay, Muslim element.

While PN will likely campaign on an “us versus them” platform, the alternative needs to embrace an inclusive, unifying platform.

Where PN will campaign using toxic divisiveness and political mudslinging, the alternative needs to be a rejection of politicking, and a focus on a wholesome, solid vision for a healthier democracy.

Our only hope is to change the paradigm completely – to carry a message of hope, inclusivity, and genuine democratic empowerment.

Most importantly, there needs to be a strong and clear ideology, based on actual values of integrity, justice, transparency, and compassion.

There has to be a genuine commitment to a predetermined vision, not some fake manifesto that no one believed in; and there needs to be a complete rethink of what democracy really means, if we don’t want to continue being stuck in a vicious cycle of politicking.

Without these crucial elements, any coalition will be as paper thin and directionless as Pakatan Harapan has been these last two years.

The old ways simply don’t work, just as the old formulas simply don’t work.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is a pretty decent man, but if he leads the same type of political coalition as he did in GE12 and GE13, the results will be the same. Indeed, with PAS now replaced with a “PAS Lite” that has no real grassroots support, the results will likely be even worse.

PKR, DAP, and Amanah will not stand any chance if they choose to believe that the old ways are good enough today, or that they already have everything they need to succeed.

It doesn’t make sense to arrogantly try to counsel against arrogance. No one person or group has all the answers, least of all me.

But I think it’s safe to say that what we need moving forward is a grand coalition – one that represents not only people we like or are comfortable with, but one that truly and proportionality reflects the full spectrum of Malaysian society.

That is the only way we can save Malaysia’s democracy from the jaws of certain death it now faces.

By Nathaniel Tan

NATHANIEL TAN is a strategic communications consultant, ready to serve Malaysia. He can be reached at The views here are the writer’s own.

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PM: Role of family, school, community should continue to be strengthened

Monday, February 17th, 2020

KOTA KINABALU: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the role of the family, school and the community should continue to be strengthened by instilling noble values and fostering a national culture, especially among the younger generation, in pursuit of making Malaysia a developed nation.

“This is in line with Islam as the addin (way of life). Every move, act and action we make is subjected to our religious values.

“Therefore, we should not follow the act or do things that are against (the teachings of) the Quran and the (authentic) hadis that will lead to destruction, subsequently preventing us from achieving success and progress,” he said.

The prime Minister said this in his speech when opening the 63rd national-level Quran Recital and Memorisation Competition at the Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) here last night.

A total of 28 Quran reciters are taking part in the competition, to be held until Friday.

Dr Mahathir said the government, while determined to make Malaysia a developed nation, is aware of doubts on the country’s future direction.

“Some are worried that when the country developed, we will be losing the feeling of penance and will push aside the values and teachings of Islam, but, obviously, the progress and prosperity that we achieve are entwined as we celebrate the diversity of races and religions in the country.

“Islam is growing rapidly and has become a catalyst for progress. This balance is achieved and maintained if we hold on and go through our daily lives by adhering to the Islamic principle of addin, a way of life,” he added.

In line with that philosophy, Dr Mahathir said on Oct 25 last year, the government agreed that the “RAHMAH” approach will be used as the foundation for the Malaysian model of Islamic administration based on Maqasid Syariah and ‘Rahmatan Lil ’Alamin ‘which is universal, inclusive and transparent and in tandem with the customs and culture of Malaysians themselves.

RAHMAH stands for six qualities: amicable (ramah), peaceful (aman), harmonious (harmoni), genial (mesra), universal (alami) and respectful (hormat).

The government believes that this policy can give a positive impact on the people and the country in enhancing the social well-being, prosperity and unity of the multiracial and religious community in the country, he said, adding that the policy was also in tandem with the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030.

The prime minister also touched on the industrial revolution 4.0 and expressed the need for the people to be prepared to face the challenges.

“We must be more innovative, creative and continue to empower ourselves with knowledge, high skills, competitiveness and self-identity, in developing Malaysia according to our own mould.

“This is our country. We are the one ones who will determine our destiny. No one else can shape our future, except ourselves, with Allah’s permission,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said the country also needed people who are matured, knowledgeable, hard working and place importance on unity and called for them to together continue to build a more prosperous country and make Malaysia more competitive, clean and with integrity.

by Bernama

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Kimanis and economic future of the voters

Sunday, February 2nd, 2020

The whole world, from Timbuktu to Timor Leste, from USA to China, is struggling for economic development or fighting for economic superiority [like USA and China]. In sharpest contrast is the just concluded Kimanis by election. PH coalition has said there is a lesson to be learned, exactly what they have said in the last 5 by election losses. Tun M’s statement that PH might be a 1 term government is the most serious admission so far. BN, in typical unnatural exuberance over another by election victory, has expressed dreams of being returned to power. Up to date score is PH=5 and BN=5.

Speculations of causes for the loss or victory in Kimanis will have sufficient fodder for 1,000 PhDs and keep political analysts busy for a month. These speculations are a matter of concern to the respective political parties and/or the candidates only. What about people of Kimanis? What will become of them and their future? Judging from the campaign speeches in the public domain, nothing much will change. Life goes on for the Kimanis folks as before.

Not being conversant with things politics, I will not venture to guess the reason[s] for voters’ switching their support from PH to BN in such a dramatic fashion. For certain, however, is that voters’ mindset has changed since GE14. No longer will they stick to 1 party all their lives and are not afraid to switch party allegiance quickly. This shows democratic political maturity of the voters.

Many Malaysian including Sabahan politicians have become political sociopaths. Meanings of sociopath from Google are—[a] Glibness and Superficial Charm. [b] Manipulative and Conning. They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. [c] Grandiose Sense of Self. [d] Pathological Lying. [e] Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt. [f] Shallow Emotions. [f] Incapacity for Love [for the people]. My apologies to the true and genuine political leaders.

Clearest sign of the existence of political sociopath are in the last 10 by elections, more so in the just concluded Kimanis one. A review of the campaign speeches by both sides would reveal a lot of emotional/irrelevant issues. Luckily little or no racial/religious issues came up because such issues do not hold water in Sabah. Glaringly missing from both sides is how can the people of Kimanis benefit economically. The biggest losers in this by election is the people of Kimanis. This is what I mean.

Both sides have no credible economic agenda or plan for Kimanis.

It is very clear from the beginning of campaign that both the government and opposition have no idea or have not thought of how to develop Kimanis. Without competing economic plans, the people of Kimanis cannot judge how best they can benefit from their votes. Their yardstick, not surprisingly, is on how much bantuan they can collect. Also, without economic competing ideas, PSS has become the only dominant issue. It has become a one issue by-election. No doubt PSS is important but for the by election to be meaningful for Kimanis people, economic development issues should also be in the forefront.

Both sides have failed to do their homework for economic development of Kimanis.

Very obvious that both sides and their respective candidates lack economic leadership and have not gone into any detail analysis on the economic profile, development issues and potentials of Kimanis. Some of these issues have not been addressed by the government or challenged by the opposition.

Petronas’ contribution for Kimanis.

There was great fanfare when Petronas announced its plan to develop Kimanis as its landing points for gas. Great expectation was generated and land prices spiralled up. Today, the few small private commercial developments are languishing with no buyers. Nothing much has happened. Petronas’ economic development contribution to Kimanis in particular and Sabah in general has been a gross disappointment. The government of the day should be challenged to increase Sabah’s share of revenue and Petro-chemical projects. Sabah is getting a raw deal and this needs to be rectified soonest. Kimanis can benefit greatly if Petronas can give Sabah an equitable share.

Where is the new KKIA airport?

Many people have suffered losses in land purchases in expectation of KKIA to be located in Kimanis. Lim Guan Eng has said no new airport for Sabah which means no new KKIA to be built in Kimanis. Ignoring the urgent need of a new KKIA, the federal government has deemed fit to build a new airport in north of W Malaysia where has insufficient traffic for a long time. Penang airport is under use. Definitely KKIA which is the 2nd busiest airport and whose capacity is fast saturating, needs to be relocated. The opposition should have challenged the government’s decision not to go ahead with the new airport in Kimanis. If KKIA is to be built in Kimanis, it would generate tremendous amount of economic activities and employments for the locals.

Beautiful Kimanis Beach—why no resort developments?

Kimanis is blessed with a very beautiful long stretch of beach with soft lovely sand. Chinese tourists would swoon and salivate over this beach and its sunset. Sabahan and foreign Investors would beat a path to invest in boutique hotels and/or resorts in Kimanis if only the government can do a bit of planning, provide basic infrastructure to the beach. The private sector will take the cue and Kimanis will have a tourism boom like Tuaran. The government needs to do so very little and the returns for Kimanis would be tremendous. But no political party or its candidate can see the potential of the beach. I cannot understand why the government cannot get around to encouraging tourism on the Kimanis beach fronts.

This is the lowest hanging fruit. It is so easy but nothing has been done. The Kimanis people are entitled to know why the government has failed to bring tourism to this area when Club Med has gone pass Kimanis to much further Kuala Penyu.

What is there for the Kimanis youth?

Talking about politicians being custodians of the people and their future? I have not seen any political party or its candidate making a statement on how they would create hope, future and jobs for the youth in Kimanis. Youths are our future. If they are not concerned with our youths, what future would they have?

I am encouraged that Sabah government leaders have taken responsibility for the defeat and have withdrawn PSS. This is political maturity. For Sabah to benefit from true economic progress, every constituency leader should be required by the party to be conversant with economic issues and priority at constituency levels. This was lacking in Kimanis. All YBs and potential candidates should be required to show economic leadership, not just “bermain-main” with the economic interest of the voters.

By: Datuk John Lo

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Shipping cost hike worries businesses

Sunday, February 2nd, 2020

KOTA KINABALU: The eighth day of the Chinese New Year (Feb 1) marked yet another business cost hike which will affect the business community, particularly involving import and export, as all ships are mandated to use low sulphur fuel which is more costly.

The increased cost will be passed on to the consumers of imported items and also affect the prices of export items to overseas markets.

This came about as the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) compels all ocean or sea-going ships to comply with its new 2020 Low Sulphur Regulation by switching to lower sulphur fuels.

For regulation compliance, the sulphur content in the fuel oil must be reduced from 3.50 to 0.50 per cent.

“The aim is to reduce the amount of sulphur oxide emissions for health and environmental benefits globally, including improving air quality and reducing the risks of acidification of the oceans,” the IMO explained.

Consequently, Malaysian shipping companies like MTT Shipping Sdn Bhd impose an “Emergency Bunker Surcharge”, effective Feb 1.

MTT Shipping notified Sabah companies that “in view of the increase in the price of low sulphur content fuel oil, we will introduce an Emergency Bunker Surcharge (EBS). EBS will fluctuate according to monthly VLSFO price and will be           announced by the middle of every month.”

This applies to export from West Malaysia to East Malaysia, Labuan and Brunei; export from East Malaysia, Labuan and Brunei to West Malaysia; export from East Malaysia, Labuan and Brunei to East Malaysia, Labuan and Brunei; and export from West Malaysia to West Malaysia.

The quantum is a flat RM410 for all types of 20-foot containers and a flat RM820 for all types of 40- foot containers for February.

The shipping company said the EBS is payable with ocean freight on prepaid or collect basis as appropriate for all domestic COC (Carrier Own Container) shipments.

Another Malaysian shipping company, Malaysia Shipping Corporation Sdn Bhd, will impose low sulphur surcharge using Bunker Adjustment Factor (BAF) in all quoted ocean freight based on All-In Freight + fixed BAF + Low Sulphur Surcharge from Feb 1 at RM411 per 20-foot container.

“The Low Sulphur Surcharge will be applicable to all container types, including but not limited to General Purposes Units, Reefer Units and all other Special Units such as Open Top Units or Flat Rack Units,” said the company.

For a long time, Sabah companies have complained of high shipping costs for making their export of manufacture items uncompetitive, hence impeding the rate of industrialisation in the State, and blamed the Cabotage Policy that protects monopolistic cartel shipping price fixing among ship owners.

This is also against a background of higher electricity tariffs, water supply costs, labour cost issues, land                    ownership costs and limited domestic market size that the past governments were unable to overcome to help the local business community excel and grow to be world beaters.

This has resulted in many foreign investors being turned off by the high costs of doing business in Sabah.

By: David Thien.

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Doubts should be cleared before 12th Malaysia Plan

Saturday, February 1st, 2020

Adviser to the Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Khalid Jaafar said the “SPV2030 is no way a race-based policy but a needs-based one aimed at narrowing the economic gap in the context of income, irrespective of race”. NSTP/ASYRAF HAMZAH

LETTERS: GIVEN the rising anxiety regarding the spread of the deadly Wuhan virus, it can be easy to miss the growing concern and the doubts over the emerging Shared Prosperity Vision (SPV) 2030 that will be introduced in Parliament in the third quarter of this year.

According to a Bernama report, Adviser to the Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Khalid Jaafar said the “SPV2030 is no way a race-based policy but a needs-based one aimed at narrowing the economic gap in the context of income, irrespective of race”.

He added that “to say that the SPV 2030 is a rehash of the New Economic Policy (NEP) is a misconception”.

Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, in his ministry’s latest report card, said his ministry had conducted 390 engagement sessions with various parties to prepare the 12th Malaysia Plan that would crystallise the implementation of SPV 2030.

However, despite their laudable efforts to explain SPV 2030, there is considerable doubt as to whether it will be different and more progressive than the archaic and sometimes discredited NEP.

I recall that those of us who helped design the NEP were happy at that time, that it was meant to eradicate poverty regardless of race.

It was implemented faithfully in the initial stages, but soon got abused with an uneven application and implementation. The non-Malays and indeed many poor Malays felt left out and alienated.

Thus the economy did not realise its full potential. Neither did the NEP adequately achieve national unity in the later years of its implementation!

So the questions that loom large in the minds of many is whether the SPV will also have high aspirations but turn out with low expectations?

There is therefore a need for the planners and political leaders to:

1) set up effective socio-economic safeguards in the 12th Malaysia Plan to ensure that a basic needs policy is implemented fairly and properly; and

2) put in place efficient monitoring systems that will assure the public in a more transparent manner that the government policies are being achieved.

It is vital that we succeed in getting the full support of all sectors of our society. This is a prerequisite for greater national unity and prosperity and progress for all races. No one should feel alienated or marginalised.

The poor and unfortunate will not begrudge equal opportunities for all races who need equal and equitable treatment. Neither will any of our religions and values encourage unfairness.

Thus, I appeal to the government to publicise the principles of SPV 2030 and explain more thoroughly how it will benefit the poor, even before the 12th Malaysia Plan is presented to Parliament later this year.

Only then will the lingering doubts about SPV 2030 and its association with the NEP be erased.

Bumiputeras sadly still constitute most of the poor in our country. We must help them advance. But we must also allow other poor Malaysians to move forward and not stagnate and become anti-social and a drag on our economy.

While the income gap between the B40 and M40 groups should be narrowed, we have to also narrow the income gaps between them and the T20.

How else can we have more equal opportunities, socio-economic and political stability, and stronger national progress?

Given the viruses of polarisation, racism and religious bigotry plaguing our country, SPV 2030 can be the cure to most of our national problems.

But it should not be like the divisive and debilitating NEP, which was often abused in its implementation.

This may be our last chance to restructure our economy to make it serve the basic needs and human rights for our people, for a better Malaysia for all.


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