When is enough, enough? No exact cut-offs in this country for those who have achieved absolute immunity to any infringement to any law of the land. For a populace perpetually subjugated to adulation of their leaders, for a change, it happened in the highest environs of power. They should be able to conclude, that what happens without is no different, it’s worse. They should get the semblance of what can be the real threats if demands are not met in the most protected places. Make no mistake that the same is happening without. To bring back empowerment to the common law abiding citizen, ask for fair punishments that would have been given to a visitor in the galleries, if he did the same act. Some people should be taught to walk on level surface once again. They do not understand dialogue in democracy. They may be eased out to try another profession!At the core of the issue is that no more do we have “leaders”, forget leaders with vision. Personal integrity as an attribute to qualification in politics, is no longer relevant. Street smartness, ability to take short cuts, garner enough funds for the party are considered the essential virtues of a politician. There was a time, when parts of a discussion on the floor were expunged as they were suitably termed “un-parliamentary”. Today, anything spoken by the roadside is parliamentary. Besides, there are claps and bench thumping if you can add to the vocabulary. It is a dismal situation, if we are running short of people who can make brilliant, weighty arguments. That, combined with the will to take an agenda forward, makes a somewhat reasonable politician. Party spokespersons let themselves go with the crudest of personal attacks. There were times, when the efficacy of a retort lay in its subtlety.
What’s with these BN leaders? Have they ever heard of the statement ‘riding off into the sunset’? Chua Soi Lek, S Samy Vellu, Abdul Taib Mahmud, Dr Mahathir Mohamad the ‘power crazy’, ‘secure my son as party president’ or the money’ effect that makes these ‘has been’ politicians cling on to power.Paradox and problem intersect in any country;Malaysia’s size and potential make the challenge more complex. We will see whether UMNO has the agility to use power to transfer power to yet another generation.What happened today, was a natural continuum of the loose talk and slander that goes on in public campaign meetings. Statements by senior politicians almost suggesting rape of another just because someone is in opposition, and then allowed to go scotfree. Anti-Malay and crude remarks are not unusual either. Communities, regions, states are not spared. Anything that attracts publicity, even at the cost of spreading hatred would do. The whole idea of the executive and the opposition, working together, and yet preventing any deviation from a democratic process, is now less visible. The Universal Health affordability bill of Mr Obama failed. Part of the flak was that it was not well worked out, but more importantly the major objections of the Republicans were not addressed or negotiated. Maybe there was no room was left for a dialogue. Perhaps a limited pilot program could have been started, with the Republicans given respect for their participation, even corrections. Well this is just a point of view. I can’t go beyond. There may be more core differences than seen or known at the level of the Press.
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim still has voter appeal in Kajang, says Singapore’s Straits Times.
Ousting a popular Chief Minister in his own party risks trouble but repositions him nationally
Dr James Chin, a political analyst at Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, was quoted as saying: “He’s truly popular among non-Malays for being the only senior Malay leader who wants to reform the Malay-centric National Economic Policy. Others say it too, but the people won’t really believe it if you don’t have Anwar-like stature.”
The surprise decision last month by Malaysian Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to push aside Khalid Anwar-Kajang Ibrahim, the respected chief minister of Selangor, one of the country’s two biggest states, and try to take the post himself is a complex gamble.
“For the dream of finally replacing Umno, Malaysians are willing to overlook a great many things, and Anwar is one of the best salesmen of dreams this country has ever seen,” Straits Times quoted Nathaniel Tan, a former Anwar aide turned critic, as saying.
Among other things, it is designed to preserve or enhance Anwar’s standing as a national figure, according to political analysts in Kuala Lumpur, by giving him a state to run. Should he lose the March 23 state by-election that would give him the job – considered unlikely – it would consign him to political oblivion and make his Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) appear riven with factionalism.
Former state Assemblyman Lee Chin Cheh raised the curtain on the drama last month by resigning his seat in a Kuala Lumpur suburban district that would allow Anwar to stand for the state seat. That has upset many within the party who view it as an opportunistic move by Anwar and who have applauded Khalid’s stewardship of the state.
One think tank head joked that watching the opposition crack heads also gives Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak a respite from the barrage of personal attacks he has been under from the ruling Barisan Nasional’s right wing. the outcome of the vote, the paper said, local businesses would be the biggest winner. It cited Sate Kajang Haji Samuri – the No. 1 satay brand in the country – as an example.
Whatever issues Anwar’s decision raises, strategically it settles the problem of a nagging internal party dispute, repositions him politically and resolves the issue of a popular but tight-fisted chief minister who has come under fire for refusing to spend money on infrastructure projects.
“Anwar will tackle national issues using a state platform,” said a longtime United Malays National Organization political operative. “I think he is going to give UMNO real trouble. It is a good move for the Oopposition, but it has put UMNO on the back foot. I think as Selangor Chief Minister he will give Najib a tougher fight.”
Although the decision was a surprise, it has been percolating since before last May’s general election, when some elements of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition were already pushing to replace Khalid, who has clashed with PKR party chief, Azman Ali, over a number of issues, including state contracting.
Khalid responded to the brewing challenge by leading the opposition coalition to a smashing victory based on his corruption-free stewardship of the state; the Pakatan Rakyat took 77 percent of the vote while the BN got just 23 percent.
Anwar, despite his leadership of the PR coalition, is said to have been frustrated because he lacks a platform to influence national politics and leading the coalition in parliament was not a sufficiently commanding arena. As chief minister, he would attend the Malaysia Conference of Rulers, where he can interact with the country’s nine sultans, who play a role in amending the constitution.
It would also give him a forum at the National Land Council, Finance Ministry and other key meetings with the federal government chaired by the prime minister. In the past, Anwar has shined in such gatherings, in contrast to Najib’s performance in front of key civil servants and ministers.
How do we spell G-O-D?
MB Selangor KhalidIn any case, the decision to push Khalid aside was triggered in early January when religious authorities in Selangor seized hundreds of Malay-language bibles using the word “Allah” in reference to the Christian God. The issue has been boiling for months if not years, and appears to have been manufactured entirely by UMNO strategists, since Christians in the east Malaysia states of Sabah and Sarawak have been using the word to denote God for more than a century, as have Christians across the Middle East and Indonesia.
The states of Selangor and Penang in particular have become the focal point for a push by UMNO over the primacy of religious law, according to political observers, who say that despite Khalid’s reputation for running a clean and efficient state government, he didn’t push back sufficiently against the decision to seize the bibles.
“This religious police issue is exactly where Anwar should speak out,” the UMNO source said. A Malay political analyst agreed, saying Khalid has found it difficult to control religious officials who are constantly on the backs of Christians, Hindus and other minorities.
The opposition has grown concerned that it could lose ground in the next general elections in 2018 over the religion issue. Anwar figures he is the best person to resolve this. While that may not be true, he is certainly more decisive than Khalid.
“Make no mistake, the Allah and seizure of bible issues is not end of the story,” wrote Kim Quek, a PR kimquekstrategist. “It is the beginning of a determined conspiracy built on race and religion to restore the hegemony of UMNO. It will go on and on until UMNO feels that its political supremacy is secured. Selangor government’s impotence to deal with what could have been a minor incident if promptly nipped in bud, has already caused widespread dismay among non-Malays for failing to protect minority rights. Imagine the consequence of similar incidents of greater magnitude and frequency hereafter.”
Wild card scenario
Khalid’s careful stewardship of the state’s contracts apparently also caused friction in the coalition because it meant that companies linked to the opposition Democratic Action Party as well as Anwar’s PKR were frozen out, whether the contracts were above-board or not.
“Khalid is a good administrator but he doesn’t believe in spending money,” said another political analyst. “So he has a healthy cash surplus in the state coffers but in the outer areas, there is little infrastructure spending. That has been a source of frustration for the DAP and PKR who want contracts where they can, all UMNO-style, make some money for their politics. The DAP are also frustrated that the Chinese find it difficult to start sin businesses like massage parlors, karaoke and betting joints.”
kajang-signpostOne senior Malaysian political observer added a wild card, saying the Selangor post could also be linked to a complex game being played out over so-called unity talks that have been going on for several months between the opposition and the government. One of many stumbling blocks to forming a unity government would be the likely demand that Anwar, as leader of the opposition in parliament, be given a senior cabinet post or even some kind of co-prime minister’s job by Najib, which is thought to be out of the question from the Prime Minister’s side.
“If Anwar is in the Selangor post that problem is out of the way,” said the observer. “This move seems linked to the unity talks as a way to help the process along.” As chief minister he would no longer be in parliament and would not be part of a possible unity government cabinet.
That is a questionable scenario, others say, pointing out that Anwar has pledged to retain his Penang area seat in the national Parliament, which presumably would keep him in the leadership there as well.