Wednesday, February 27, 2013

‘Economic reforms will benefit all races’ | Free Malaysia Today

‘Economic reforms will benefit all races’

G Vinod | February 27, 2013
PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli admits that Indians have specific problems but says that the matter must be addressed in totality.
UPDATED
PETALING JAYA: Structural reforms to the economy would benefit all Malaysians irrespective of racial background, said PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli.
Speaking at a press conference here, he added: “When it comes to free education and healthcare policies mentioned in our manifesto, the Malays and Indians will benefit the most.”
He said this in response to questions on why the Pakatan Rakyat manifesto did not include specific programmes for the Indian community.
Also present were PKR vice-president Tian Chua, PAS central working committee member Dzulkelfy Ahmad and Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong.
Rafizi, however, admitted that the Indians had specific problems that needed attention but insisted that the issue must be addressed in totality.
“And our manifesto must be read together with our Common Policy Framework and the Orange Book,” he said.
Rafizi also explained why the manifesto had specific programmes for the Orang Asal and East Malaysians.
Orang Asal, he said, had land ownership problems that would require reforms to laws governing indigenous land.
“As for East Malaysians, the economic gap between them and West Malaysians is huge. In addition, it is also about upholding their rights as per the Malaysia agreement,” said Rafizi.
Commenting on the matter, Tian Chua said that Pakatan strove to break the racial and religious barrier that has divided Malaysians for long.
“So when we talk about university intake, all qualified will get a place irrespective of your background,” said the Batu MP.
He added that that Pakatan government would continue to uphold the affirmative action but tweak it to become need-based instead of race-based.
On Indians, Tian Chua assured that the community’s problems such as those stateless would be resolved.
“As for our manifesto, rest assured that it is not cast in stone and we are open to feedback,” he sa

Pakatan targets RM49.5b yearly savings to fund programmes

Pakatan targets RM49.5b yearly savings to fund programmes

UPDATED @ 04:01:20 PM 27-02-2013
By Boo Su-Lyn
February 27, 2013
Malaysian Insider 
Rafizi said PR’s economic reforms would be funded entirely by projected operating expenditure savings. — Picture by Choo Choy MayPETALING JAYA, Feb 27 ― Pakatan Rakyat (PR) aims to save about RM49.5 billion annually on federal government procurements and projects in order to finance economic programmes costing RM45.8 billion annually, should it win Election 2013.
PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli told reporters today that the opposition pact would emulate the Selangor PR government that saved 24 per cent on road projects from January to September 2012.
“We’ll save RM49.5 billion, which is 24 per cent of the (RM206.4 billion) expenditure,” said Rafizi, referring to the cost of existing government procurements and projects this year.
Rafizi pointed out that PR’s economic agenda would cost RM45.8 billion, comprising the scrapping of toll payments, the reduction of excise duties, a national housing scheme, teachers’ special allowances, dismantling the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN), and 20 per cent oil royalties
Other initiatives include the Caruman Wanita Nasional scheme, bonuses for senior citizens, a fund for minimum wage, People’s Pioneer Scheme to train school-leavers, 20 per cent contribution to the Armed Forces Fund board (LTAT), veterans’ dividends, an increase of buses in the Klang Valley, free wards at government hospitals, and an increase in welfare aid.
PR unveiled its election manifesto on Monday, promising a complete revamp of the country’s economic approach with the aim of ensuring every Malaysian household draws a minimum monthly income of RM4,000 by the end of its first term.
Rafizi also said that PR would acquire the toll concessionaires in stages, starting with PLUS that would cost RM5.5 billion this year.
He noted that it would cost RM6.9 billion this year to acquire PLUS expressways, but this would bring savings of RM1.4 billion from cutting annual compensation and dividends to the firm, and from an increase in domestic demand as a result of scrapped toll payments, resulting in a total cost of RM5.5 billion this year.
Rafizi also said it would cost RM6 billion annually to provide free tertiary education and to eliminate the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN).
The PKR politician added that PR would reduce private vehicle excise duties by 20 per cent annually for five years starting this year, which would be offset by selling Approved Permits (APs).
“By 2018, when the economy has developed, the loss of RM7 billion (from excise duties) will be offset by economic growth,” said Rafizi.
He also pointed out that the Auditor-General’s 2008 report stated that corruption had cost the country RM28 billion.
“Transparency-International said that RM40 billion can be saved from open tender. So our estimation of RM49.5 billion is not that far off,” said Rafizi.
He also noted that a PR government would collect additional taxes totalling RM4 billion annually, as a result of 7 per cent annual economic growth.
Rafizi said that PR would also reprioritise expenditure by reducing the Prime Minister’s Office’s budget, for example.
“Now the Prime Minister’s Office gets RM14 billion every year, which is almost five per cent. We’ll change this,” he said.
He stressed that PR would reduce fuel prices not by increasing government subsidies, but by restructuring the subsidies to independent power producers (IPPs).
Rafizi pointed out that PR would implement a RM1,100 minimum wage by providing government subsidies of RM2 billion annually to help out employers.
“Only certain companies of certain profitability can enter this scheme, and they must automate and replace foreign workers. After two years, they graduate (from this scheme),” he said.
Rafizi said that the Barisan Nasional (BN) approach of implementing the RM900 minimum wage this year had angered small-medium industries as the federal government did not help the companies cope through subsidies.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

PM's popularity rating continues to slide

PM's popularity rating continues to slide
5:37PM Feb 26, 2013  
Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's approval rating, according to independent pollster Merdeka Centre, has slipped further as the general election approaches.
Of the 1,021 voters polled between Jan 23 and Feb 6, only 61 percent were satisfied with the premier's performance, down two percentage points from a similar survey held last December.
NONE

According to Merdeka Centre, the decline is mainly attributed to a four-point drop in satisfaction among Malay voters, down from 77 percent a month earlier.

Chinese satisfaction with Najib's performance was at status quo at 37 percent, while Indian support dipped one point to 75 percent.
Najib's dissatisfaction rating has increased by two points to 32 percent - making it the highest since he took power in 2009.
Merdeka Centre noted that the survey was conducted following the Jan 12 opposition rally at Stadium Merdeka, the start of the Royal Commission of Inquiry hearing in Sabah, and criticism of the federal government by businessman Deepak Jaikishan and former police chief Musa Hassan.
Low-income group supports BN

Najib's approval rating was at its highest, at 71 percent, in December 2011.
Unsurprisingly, Najib's disapproval rating has increase 10 points, up from 22 percent in December 2011.

Meanwhile, the survey also found that there is a consistent gap between voters sentiments towards Najib's, the federal government and BN.

Less than half the respondents are satisfied with the performance of the federal government (48 percent) and BN (45 percent), which has been relatively consistent over the past year.

A breakdown of voter sentiments towards BN revealed that 62 percent of respondents who earn below RM1,500 were "happy" with BN.
Women more likely to support BN
However, such responses are gradually lower across the income scale, with only 31 percent of those earning more than RM5,000 stating that they were "happy" with BN.

Similarly, those working in the private sector or are self employed are less inclined to be "happy" with BN as compared to those working as civil servants or are not formally employed.

Regionally, voters in the East Coast of Peninsula Malaysia are more likely to be happy with BN, compared to the more urban West Coast.

In terms of race, 60 percent of Malay respondents were "happy" with BN, followed by 52 percent of Indian respondents.

Only 16 percent of Chinese respondents expressed the same.

The survey also found that 52 percent of female voters were "happy" with BN, compared to 38 percent of male voters

‘A question of moral authority’ | Free Malaysia Today

‘A question of moral authority’

RK Anand | February 26, 2013
Like most Malaysians, S Ambiga's patience is also wearing thin over the prime minister's feet-dragging in dissolving Parliament.

VIDEO INSIDE
KUALA LUMPUR: At one point when the prime minister’s rating was up, speculation was rife about a snap polls. But now, the nation is left wondering if the general election would ever be called.
Like most Malaysians, S Ambiga’s patience was also wearing thin. And she warned that each sunset further eclipsed the present administration’s moral right to govern.
The Bersih co-chairperson, without the slightest hesitation, pointed to a lack of confidence when quizzed on the reasons behind Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s feet-dragging.
“We have been waiting for this election for the longest time and Malaysians are truly fed up.
“As I have said before, this ongoing delay would work against the present government, simply because you cannot keep people guessing for so long,” she told FMT in an exclusive interview.
Stressing the importance of the March 8 date, which five years ago witnessed Barisan Nasional suffering its worst ever electoral setback, Ambiga said Malaysians had expected the 13th general election to be held before or around that period.
“We know now that is not going to happen, timing wise,” she added.
Ambiga said that the date was an important aspect despite the prime minister and his Cabinet having until April 28 to remain in office.
“Of course, under the Federal Constitution, Parliament carries on for five years from the date of the first meeting… so they can carry on until April 28, at which time it [Parliament] dissolves automatically.
“But my own view is whether this government has the moral authority to carry on for a long time after March 8… there is a psychological factor with Malaysians in relation to that date,” she added.
Ambiga said she was aware of the reports which claimed that the delay was due to the government transformation programme, candidates list, issues in relation to the manifesto and so forth.
“I am sorry, none of that washes with me. You have been preparing for this election for two years, you cannot say now that you are not ready. That too is not a very good sign.
“So I can only attribute the delay to a lack of confidence… and I think they should get on with it. A lot of Malaysians would be relieved when the date of the dissolution is announced because it means that we can get on with our lives,” she added.
Ambiga also cautioned the Election Commission against pushing the polls further using the 60-day window period from the date of the dissolution as provided by the law.
“I think it would be unwise. We don’t know what operates in the mind of the EC. I hope they would be independent about this, they have not been independent about much before this,” she said.
Najib must stand firm
As for Najib inking the Election Integrity Pledge, Ambiga said while it was commendable that the prime minister had set the tone, he however needed to consider the wordings in the document, especially with regard to ethical conduct.
“Ethical conduct also means the way you run your campaign, the things that you say. Recently, there had been utterances by certain members of Parliament… it looks to me as if they are not really practising ethical conduct.
“So I think this is something that they really need to think about. I was happy when the prime minister signed it [the pledge] because I thought ‘fine,we would now see an end to political violence and we would now see a more professional way of handling the elections, where members of parliament behave better’… but I am not seeing it happening,” she added.
Therefore, the Bersih leader called on Najib to issue a strong statement on political violence, which had become a common occurrence in the run-up to what was considered to be a pivotal general election.
“So for me, signing this pledge is one thing. There are actually many things which the prime minister can say and do from now to show that he means what he says in the pledge,” she added.
In the document, under the words “I am signing this Election Integrity Pledge because”, Najib wrote: “I believe that as the BN leader, I have to set a strong tone. Only a candidate who is deemed to have fought a clean and fair election would lead to a trustworthy government respected by the people.”
Reject racist and sexist politicians
Ambiga also urged Malaysians not to allow racist and sexist politicians to walk though the doors of Parliament as elected representatives.
“I have sat in Parliament and heard the level of the debates, it was extremely low, people shouted at each other a lot. I remember in one session, schoolchildren were there to observe the process. I was thoroughly ashamed that schoolchildren were watching that,” she said.
Although the former Bar Council president did not advocate using the Sedition Act against those who stoked racial and religious flames, she however noted that the law seemed to be invoked on a selective basis and even used against lesser evils.
Once again, she called on the prime minister to stand firm on this as well.
Responding to a question, Ambiga also shared her personal views on Najib’s endorsement of Abdul Taib Mahmud, the controversial Sarawak Chief Minister accused of numerous misdeeds.
“Going by the [integrity] pledge, issues of transparency, good governance, no corruption, I would have thought you would have to choose all your candidates very carefully.
“I think we all know what is in the public domain and if the chief minister stands up to scrutiny on the issues of corruption and abuse of power,” she added.

Anger brewing in Sabah

Commenting on the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the issuance of identity cards to foreigners in Sabah, Ambiga said it was nothing new but the revelations on the process was spine-chilling.
“I understand that people are now trying to suggest that the whole IC issue in Sabah was a result of corrupt immigration officials who were out to make money, and that was all there is to it.
“I would be very careful to draw that kind of conclusion because ultimately we need to answer the question why were they on the electoral roll instantly as well. Clearly there was a plan,” she added.
Ambiga said that the officials were aware of this issue even before the RCI started probing the matter.
“So my question is, what were they doing all these years when they knew the electoral roll had these issues. There appears to be evidence coming out that people were voting with red ICs,” she added.
Reiterating that it was not something new, Ambiga however pointed out that Sabahans were becoming increasingly vocal, despondent and disillusioned over the issue.
“So whether the tipping point has arrived and whether they want to make a difference in this election, is something that we have to just wait and see,” she said when asked if the RCI findings could tip the scales in favour of the opposition.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Launching of Pakatan Rakyat Election Manifesto

Speaking on the Manifesto

Represenatives from PR parties

Goodies for Sabah, S’wak in Pakatan manifesto | Free Malaysia Today

Goodies for Sabah, S’wak in Pakatan manifesto

G Vinod | February 25, 2013
The opposition coalition also announced two second level national oil companies will be set up in Sabah and Sarawak.
FULL REPORT
SHAH ALAM: Pakatan Rakyat today unveiled its election manifesto, giving more “goodies” to the people of Sabah and Sarawak.
The manifesto was launched at the fourth Pakatan convention here.
DAP vice-chairman M Kulasegaran told the nearly 1,000 participants at the Shah Alam Convention Centre that Barisan Nasional had neglected the East Malaysians for far too long.
“Therefore, if elected to federal power, we will set up two second level national oil companies in Sabah and Sarawak. These companies will serve to safeguard the interest of our East Malaysian brothers and provide employment to them,” he said.
Also present were PKR director of strategy Rafizi Ramli and PAS central working committee member Dzulkefly Ahmad.
Kulasegaran, who is also Ipoh Barat MP, said that the Pakatan government would also implement a mammoth highway project in East Malaysia, currently named the Pan Borneo Highway.
“The highway will link Kuching, Kota Kinabalu and Kudat. This is one of our measures to implement infrastructure projects equally in both East and West Malaysia,” he said.
He also reiterated Pakatan’s earlier promise to increase oil royalty from 5% to 20% if elected to power.
On reforms of public institutions, Kulasegaran said the Pakatan government would introduce the National Anti-Corruption Policy, or Debaran, that will be tasked with coming a comprehensive solution to combat graft.
Under Debaran, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) would be given powers to haul up and prosecute corrupt officials in court.
Chipping in, Dzulkefly said that other institutions such as the police force would also be strengthened in order to combat crime.
“We will also set up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission [IPCMC] to monitor the police force,” he said.
Rafizi said the Pakatan government would also deal with the menace of monopoly in the economy by forming the Anti-Monopoly Commission.
He added that a Public Contracts Commission would also be set up to revise and study all public concessions for the benefit of the public.
“We need to ensure that those who control the telecommunications, pharmaceutical and other industries do not form a cartel.
“In addition, we will review our agreements with the independent power producers [IPP] that is costing taxpayers billions of ringgit, on top of the surging electricity tariff,” he said.

Pakatan promises richer Malaysians in election manifesto

Pakatan promises richer Malaysians in election manifesto

UPDATED @ 05:30:31 PM 25-02-2013
By Clara Chooi
Assistant News Editor
February 25, 2013
Malaysian Insider 
Members of Pakatan Rakyat component parties at the Shah Alam Convention Centre in Shah Alam for the launch of the pact’s election manifesto on February 25, 2013. — Picture by Choo Choy MaySHAH ALAM, Feb 25 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) unveiled its election manifesto today, promising a complete revamp of the country’s economic approach with the aim to ensure every Malaysian household draws a minimum monthly income of RM4,000 by the end of its first term.
The pact also enforced its pledge to drop fuel prices and electricity tariffs, scrap toll payments, reduce car prices, free education, as well as increase the ceiling for taxable income to those who earn a minimum of RM400,000 annually, instead of the current RM250,000.
PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli (picture), when announcing details in the pact’s “people-friendly” manifesto, said PR’s focus is on raising incomes by creating better and more job opportunities with higher salaries.
“We want to repair and reduce income disparities here, unlike under Umno-Barisan Nasional’s (BN), where the poor only becomes poorer and the rich, richer.
“Because their economic approach is race-based, with their 30 per cent Bumiputera equity target, while ours is on improving incomes regardless of race,” he said.
Rafizi also outline four main methods in PR’s plan to improve Malaysia’s economy, including a target of creating an additional one million jobs by reducing dependence on foreign labour in stages, creating a smart economy based on principles of justice, reviewing public concessions and ending government monopolies, and reforming the education system.
“With the influx of cheap foreign labour flooding the local job market, some two million jobs are held by foreign workers,” the politician said.
He said PR will slowly slash this number by half in stages over its first five-year term in power, effectively creating an additional one million job opportunities for Malaysians.
The PR manifesto also pointed out that there were presently three million unskilled young workers not being utilised to aid the national economy.
“They are left out from development. Once they leave school, they are unable to seek higher education.
“According to Umno, these youths are called ‘Mat Rempits’, the unemployed and other derogatory names,” Rafizi said.
He said the present education should be blamed for this, adding that under a PR rule, one million school leavers without higher education opportunities will receive training via the “People’s Pioneer Scheme”, which combines employment opportunities with periodic certification of skills up to diploma level.
PR’s manifesto also paid special attention to the country’s military, with a promise of a RM500-million allocation to the Military Veterans’ Small Entrepreneur Fund to assist the participation of ex-soldiers in economic activities.
 The fund will also be responsible for training and mentoring veterans venturing into business.
The government’s contribution to the Armed Forces Fund board (LTAT) will also be hiked from 15 per cent to 20 per cent, to secure the savings of the country’s military, while an additional contribution of five per cent will be administered in a special fund to be used for direct assistance to pensionable and non-pensionable soldiers.
In its bid to ensure a sustainable economy, PR repeated its pledge to halt operations of the Lynas rare earth plant in Kuantan, a key campaign issue for the pact in the coming polls.
“Environmental sustainability is a hallmark of PR’s economic policy.
“Before any project is approved, the people’s well-being will be emphasised,” the manifesto booklet said.
Further to this, PR also pledged to review the implementation phases of Petronas’s multibillion ringgit petrochemical project RAPID in Pengerang, Johor, citing environmental concerns as its reason.
On tax adjustments, Rafizi announced that the income band for personal tax purposes will be revamped to reflect the current economic status of the people.
“The income band will be broadened so that the 26 per cent tax rate will be payable for taxable income exceeding RM400,000 as compared to RM250,000,” he said.

Manifesto Rakyat – Pakatan Harapan Rakyat


Manifesto Rakyat – Pakatan Harapan Rakyat


Download/Muat turun Manifesto Pakatan Rakyat:
Malaysia adalah negara berpotensi besar. Rakyatnya yang bersaudara gigih berusaha. Negara dibina atas landasan agama dan akar budaya diikat oleh muafakat Perlembagaan.

Namun, cita-cita kita direncat oleh elit kekuasaan. Rasuah dan ketamakan membarah. Rakyat dibiarkan dengan kepayahan hidup.

Setiap daripada kita berhak mendapat yang terbaik. Pendidikan berkualiti, negara berkebajikan, peluang saksama dan pentadbiran beramanah menanti kita.

Demi kita, demi rakyat, bersama-sama ubah sekarang untuk melakar masa depan Malaysia.
Pakatan Rakyat
Manifesto oleh Pakatan Rakyat di Shah Alam pada hari Isnin, 25 Februari 2013

In PR coalition, no component party is a “king “, and neither is any a slave.



Speech by M Kula Segaran, DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Ipoh Barat at DAP Cermah at Tawas, Ipoh on Saturday, February 23, 2013

In PR coalition, no component party is a “king “, and neither is any a slave. 




A week ago, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib said that the Chinese are successful because Barisan Nasional (BN) has ensured harmony and implemented good policies since independence.

 “If not for the success of BN leaders in maintaining harmony and implementing good policies, even if we were hardworking and had good business skills, we would never have been successful,” he said so when delivering his speech at a I Malaysia open house in Puchong.

It is obvious that Najib is now playing the gratitude card.
But the Chinese owe BN nothing and certainly do not have to show gratitude and vote BN in the next general election.

Despite having been in power for more than 5 decades, BN government continues to implement discriminatory policies.

Chinese have been able to achieve success in economic, educational and other fields against all odds due to their own hard work.

In fact, it is the BN government that must be grateful to some Chinese who have been giving them the chance for the past 5 decades despite the fact that policies implemented have been unfair and discriminatory to the community.

The Prime Minister recently became the first Prime Minister in history to attend the Chinese New Year open house organized by Dong Jiao Zong but he disappointed the Chinese community when he failed to deliver any pow.

The Chinese community have waited for so long for Unified Examinations Certificate ( UEC)  to be recognized , yet till today BN government is still unwilling to do what ought to be done.

Where the logic is when reputable overseas universities can recognize UEC, yet BN government cannot do so?

Yet Najib has the cheek to suggest that the Chinese should be grateful to BN.

The only conclusion is that either the BN government does not know what the Chinese want or it is still a government unwilling to accord fair and just treatment to the community.

MCA President Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek has been telling the Chinese community that DAP can only be “kings” in Penang and has no say in other places.

Let me tell Chua that unlike BN coalition where Umno is the big master who has all and final say, Pakatan Rakyat component. parties all have equal standing.

In PR coalition, no component party is a “king “, and neither is any a slave.

In BN, it is so obvious that Umno is the big brother while BN component parties are just “in office but not in power”.

Let me tell Chua also PR subscribes to the concept of Ketuanan Rakyat and hence under the PR government, the people are the “kings’.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

FELDA screening of ‘Tanda Putera’ proves movie racist, Ambiga says

FELDA screening of ‘Tanda Putera’ proves movie racist, Ambiga says

UPDATED @ 08:33:46 PM 23-02-2013
February 23, 2013
 
The film is based on events surrounding the May 13, 1969 race riots. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 23 – Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan questioned today the motive behind the recent private screening of “Tanda Putera” to Malay FELDA settlers here, saying this meant the movie was likely racist portrayal of the bloody May 1969 riots.
 On February 18, over 3,000 settlers from the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) programme were shown a surprise preview of the controversial film in what the opposition has alleged was an attempt to “brainwash” them against voting for Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in Election 2013.
“My issue with Tanda Putera is why did they want to show it only to FELDA settlers.

“Show it to all of us. Let us all judge and believe me we will judge it... why only let a select few of people watch it? That shows what the issue is about,” the former Bar Council president said at a forum on racism held at the Civil Servants Golf Club here.

“Tanda Putera” depicts second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and his deputy, Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, during the post-May 13 period.

It was produced by Pesona Pictures Sdn Bhd in collaboration with the National Film Development Corporation (FINAS), which provided the financing together with the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDEC).
Abdul Razak’s eldest son, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, is the current prime minister.
Putrajaya had decided last October to put off the public release of the film indefinitely due to its controversial depiction of the events surrounding the bloody racial riots in 1969.

PR leaders, especially those from the Chinese-based the DAP, claimed the film was intended to stoke racial hatred among the Malay majority in a bid to mitigate the growing support for the opposition.
Observers noted that the possibility for the opposition bloc to form the new federal government at Election 2013, which must be held by June, is high.

Ambiga said such tactic reflects what she described as “institutionalised” racism.
The lawyer, who also co-chairs polls watchdog group Bersih 2.0, added that the roots of racial problems in the country could be attributed to a political system that promotes segregation through the existence of race-based parties.

“It permeates everything that happens in this country,” said the Bersih leader, referring to the various racial-charged incidents that have cropped up throughout the years.

She cited as example the alleged racism instilled through the education system in the form of the Biro Tata Negara (BTN) programmes where instructors had been reported to have told participants that the non-Malays are unwelcome immigrants.

Ambiga added that among the major factors behind the problem is the existence of political interference in the education system – where politicians, instead of educationists, are in charge of the learning institutions.
“What they are doing to our children is a crime,” she said, adding that her schooling children have also experienced the very same system that she claims has caused communal strife in Malaysia.

The former Bar Council president said combating these problems should be one of the chief issues political parties must address in Election 2013 but pointed out that the leadership have remained silent on the matter.
She claimed politicians refrain from tackling racism out of the fear that it would alienate support from their respective races.

Ambiga said the best way to deal with them is to “vote racists and sexists out” in the coming polls, which must be held by June.

“I want a statesman, not a politician,” she said.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Najib's integrity pledge a mockery?

Najib's integrity pledge a mockery?
 
MP SPEAKS Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has presented me with a dilemma.

Is the Election Integrity Pledge proposed by Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M) worth signing when Najib signed it with such aplomb, contempt and cynicism after his four-year premiership witnessed corruption in Malaysia plunging to its worst depths in the nation's 56-year history?

In Najib's four years as prime minister, Malaysia's Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) plunged to its lowest ranking in 18 years, from 56 in 2009 and 2010 to 60 in 2011 and 54 in 2012.

NONECompare this with the country's 23rd ranking in the first TI CPI in 1995, 37th in 2003 when Dr Mahathir Mohamad stepped down as prime minister after 22 years of authoritarian and corrupt rule and the ranking of 47 in 2008, after five years of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's "Mr Clean" premiership.

It is incontrovertible and undeniable that corruption under Najib's four-year premiership is the worst under any prime minister in the nation's 56-year history.

Apart from being worse than the Mahathir and Abdullah eras, no one has ever suggested that corruption under the first three prime ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Abdul Razak Hussein and Hussein Onn were ever more serious than under their successors.
Questionable presence of Taib Mahmud
What makes a meaningful signing of TI-M's Election Integrity Pledge even more questionable is the presence of the Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, who has put Malaysia on the international radar of anti-corruption campaigns.

This was especially so after the allegations in the ground-breaking and explosive report by the Swiss-based NGO Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) last September, which estimated the assets of Taib Mahmud's family at US$21 billion (RM64 billion), with the wealth of Taib himself put at a whopping US$15 billion (RM46 billion), making him Malaysia's richest man and outstripping tycoon Robert Kuok, who has US$12.5 billion.

NONENajib not only failed to show any seriousness or commitment in the battle against corruption by setting up a royal commission of inquiry into the BMF report to clear Taib's name, and, even more important, to vindicate Malaysia's reputation. He as good as directed the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to leave the BMF report alone by publicly dismissing its allegations of grand corruption against the Sarawak chief minister.

If the Sarawak chief minister was present at Najib's Election Integrity Pledge signing ceremony yesterday, why was the Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman, another Barisan Nasional leader who has put Malaysia on the world radar in international anti-corruption campaigns, absent?

In my speech in Parliament on the 2013 Budget last October, I had spoken about the "test of the trio" as to whether there is real political will in the Najib administration to combat "Grand Corruption" by VVIPs, in which I had named Taib, Musa and Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail.

But there was only complete silence from Najib on the "test of the trio" in the battle against "grand corruption" in Malaysia.

What credibility and legitimacy could Najib's signing of the Election Integrity Pledge inspire and generate when the 66th Umno general assembly last December was such a dismal failure as far as fighting corruption and ensuring election integrity in the 13th general election are concerned?

A month before the this Umno general assembly, China's outgoing president and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) general secretary of the Hu Jintao warned at the 18th CCP Congress that corruption could trigger the collapse of the Party and the fall of the state.

This theme was taken up in the first speech of the new Chinese Communist Party leader, Xi Jinping, who denounced the prevalence of corruption and said officials needed to guard against its spread or it would "doom the party and the state".
China improves in checking grant, but we regress
There was more reason for Najib than for Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping to give priority to the grave problem of corruption as in the last two decades, for China had been making measurable progress in the battle against corruption while the reverse was the case for Malaysia.

In fact, if the trend of China's improvement in the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) in the past 18 years (1995-2012) and Malaysia's regression continues unchecked, China will be placed in a better position than Malaysia in the TI CPI in being internationally regarded as being less corrupt in less than five years.

But the 66th Umno general assembly only provided further evidence that although Umno and the BN have become synonymous with corruption in Malaysia and the four-year Najib premiership, Najib is only good at mouthing anti-corruption slogans but totally lacking the political will and commitment to root out corruption, especially grand corruption involving political and government leaders.

NONEThis was why the Umno general assembly presented the sad spectacle of Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman successfully performing the "disappearance" act despite valiant efforts by the media representatives on a look-out for him to respond to demands by Sabah Umno delegates that Musa explain the scandal of the RM40 million "political donation to Sabah Umno" that involved him and the Sabah timber trader Michael Chia.

There was also the spectable of the backing out and silence of Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, coupled with the failure of Najib to respond to the serious allegations of integrity on a RM100 million defence ministry project in 2005 raised by businessman Deepak Jaikishan, which implicated the prime minister's family and which is also related to the high-profile and long-running Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu murder case.

It was also at this Umno assembly that some Sabah Umno delegates told online news portals that although they fully supported Musa, they were in the dark about the RM40 million "political donation" to Sabah Umno and they wanted Musa to personally explain the issue.

However, there were also Sabah Umno delegates who dismissed the controversy on grounds that the RM40 million donation was pittance compared with the millions Umno dished out during elections - with one Sabah Umno delegate revealing that in the Putatan constituency in his home state, Umno would have to spend up to RM6 million during the election.

NONEWith 26 parliamentary constituencies in Sabah (and Labuan) and at the average of RM6 million per constituency, the total election expenses would exceed RM150 million at the parliamentary level - which would more than double when the election expenses for the state assembly constituencies are taken into account.

With Umno-BN spending at least RM300 million in Sabah, another RM300 million in Sarawak, and similar election expenditures for the 165 parliamentary seats and 441 state assembly seats in the 11 states of the peninsula, we are looking at the Umno-BN coalition spending billions of ringgit in the GE13 to retain power and recapture two-thirds parliamentary majority at the federal level, as well as regain the four Pakatan Rakyat states of Penang, Kelantan, Selangor and Kedah, and maintain its unconstitutional rule in Perak.

With Umno-BN set to spend billions of ringgit in GE13, what is the use of Najib signing TI-M's Election Integrity Pledge? I will discuss with Anwar Ibrahim and Hadi Awang whether, under these circumstances, there is any purpose in our signing the TI-M Election Integrity Pledge.


LIM KIT SIANG is DAP national adviser and the MP for Ipoh Timor.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

GENOCIDE OF TAMILS IN SRI LANKA’



GENOCIDE OF TAMILS IN SRI LANKA’

Round Table Discussion

By: The Malaysian Parliamentary Caucus on Human Rights Monitoring in Sri Lanka and Tamil Forum Malaysia

Date: 19 Feb 2013 Tuesday

Time: 9.30 AM to 1.00 PM (lunch at 1.00PM)

Venue: Parliament House, Kuala Lumpur




OBJECTIVE OF RTD:

1. In view of the impending resolution on Sri Lanka at the UNHCR in March 2013, this RTD is called to build support and obtain consensus in order to persuade the Malaysian government to vote for the resolution. It may be noted that Malaysia abstained from voting during the 19th UNHRC in

2. At the Universal Periodic Review of Sri Lanka in November 2012, 99 countries made 210 recommendations; Malaysia was not one among them. As Malaysia is a voting party, this RTD is pertinent to gather inputs to further the cause of international justice.

ISSUES TO BE DISCUSSED:

1. The so-called reconciliation by the incumbent Sri Lankan government is but mere attempts to pull the wool over the eyes of the international community. The constant denials even in the face of hard and heart-rendering and explicit documentary evidence as exposed by Channel 4, the UN Panel of Experts report, the verdict of the Dublin People’s Tribunal and the reliable reports of International Human Rights Groups is very worrisome, to say the least.

2. To allow the hypocrisy of the Sri Lankan authorities is tantamount to allowing for the perpetuation of blatant lies in the face of truth. This display of hypocrisy ought to be condemned by all nations who hope to expound international justice, including Malaysia.

3. The massacring of its own people by Sri Lanka is alarming, astonishing and outrageous to say the least. It is a model never to be emulated and the perpetrator punished according to International laws.

4. The U.N. for its part, censored an internal memo showing how top officials recognized the failure of the world body’s Human Rights Council when it came to seeking accountability for Sri Lanka’s killing of an estimated 40,000 civilians in 2009.

5. Whilst it is commendable that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had established a Panel of Experts to look into the conflict and its aftermath, I am afraid this is insufficient. One of the recommendations of its 2011 Report was for the Human Rights Council “to reconsider its May 2009 Special Session resolution regarding Sri Lanka, in light of this report.”

6. That session, which was called by the European Union, had been hijacked by Sri Lanka’s allies, and ended up praising the Sri Lankan government, rather than condemning its atrocities.

7. A second recommendation asked for the U.N. to conduct “a comprehensive review of action by the United Nations system during the war in Sri Lanka and the aftermath, regarding the implementation of its humanitarian and protection mandates.” Ban Ki-moon then established a follow-up panel to do just that.

8. The second panel’s conclusions were released on 14 November 2012. The panel found that “the United Nations system failed to meet its responsibilities, highlighting, in particular, the roles played by the Secretariat, the agencies and programmes of the United Nations country team, and the members of the Security Council and Human Rights Council.”

9. The published report included several parts that were blacked out. Inner City Press published the same document, noting how the blacked-out parts are readable by a simple copy-paste.

10. The UN Panel of Experts wanted the UN to press for an International Investigation of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity. It becomes a basic necessity for the human rights respecting world to press for this demand to deliver justice to the voiceless victims.

11. The Charles Petrie report of November 2012, also speaks of an unpublished report of the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide. Malaysia should support its civil society which has been demanding the publication of this report.

12. Malaysia should also request the UN Secretary General to use Article 99 of the UN Charter and appoint an International Investigation team.

13. Ladies and Gentlemen, the U.N.’s credibility would be undermined if it continues to choose not to intervene. The U.N. is after all supposed to be an impartial and respected international body.

14. Failure to intervene would expose the sores of politicization and selectivity that eat and erode the UN Charter‘s promise of equal treatment to all nations – large and small.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO REFER THE PRESIDENT OF SRI LANKA TO THE ICC?

1. Sri Lanka is not party to the statute.

2. The ICC only has jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity, the crime of aggression, and war crimes under the following circumstances:

a. If the state is party to the Rome Statute. (Sri Lanka is not party to it.)

b. If the alleged crimes have been committed in a country, or, if the crime was committed onboard a vessel or aircraft which is party to the statute. (All alleged crimes have occurred in Sri Lankan territory).

c. If the alleged individuals are nationals of countries party to the convention. (All possible members are either Sri Lankan or American. Because neither country is party to the convention, the ICC does not have any jurisdiction.)

d. If Sri Lanka requests the ICC investigate such crimes which may have occurred due to its own inability to do so.

e. If the alleged crimes committed are referred to the Prosecutor by the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations. (Any such move by any member of the United Nations Security Council would be blocked by either China or Russia. Both are permanent members of the Security Council. Due to our close diplomatic ties and due to their own internal considerations these two countries would not go ahead with any such investigation.)

The latter point was clearly apparent when Russia opposed any discussion of Sri Lanka on the UN Panel report at the Security Council on the 18th of April.

THE CALL BY MS. NAVI PILLAY TO SET UP AN INTERNATIONAL PANEL OF INVESTIGATION.

1. United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay has sought to dispatch ten Special Rapporteurs to Sri Lanka to assess the implementation of the recommendations by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).

2. This is in addition to last year’s visit of three officials from the High Commissioner’s office to Sri Lanka. Hanny Megally and Oscar Solera are the two officials who came to Sri Lanka in September last year.

3. However, it is learnt that the government of Sri Lanka has turned down the latest request to send Special Rapporteurs from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Instead, the External Affairs Ministry has insisted that Ms. Pillay should visit the country first to see for herself the progress being made in the post war area.

4. According to authorities, “It is the initial stand. First, a team of officials from her office arrived in the country and held talks with all the stakeholders. They came here to do the groundwork for her visit. We stick to that stand. It is impossible to endorse further missions by special rapporteurs,”.

5. Ms. Pillay had also sent a strongly worded letter to the government, criticizing the procedure adopted in the impeachment of former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.

6. The UNHRC adopted the United States-sponsored resolution on Sri Lanka in March, last year. According to it, the High Commissioner is required to submit a report to the next session of the UNHRC regarding the progress on the implementation of measures outlined in the resolution.

WHAT MALAYSIA CAN DO:

1. All efforts must be concerted and continuous.

2. More NGOs and individuals can be urged to support the Memorandum.

3. Perhaps an ASEAN stand can be looked into as well.

4. Malaysia could take the lead in influencing the other Muslim countries on the need to have a human rights respecting world and also to highlight the problems faced by the Muslim minorities in Sri Lanka.

5. Malaysia can speak out against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC on the unkept promises made over the years to treat the minorities with dignity.

6. Malaysia should join the countries demanding International Investigations in Sri Lanka as all locally available mechanisms have failed and rendered toothless by the present regime. What is notable is the February 4th 2013 Independence Day speech of its President who announced that there would be no concessions given to the Tamils, thus ending all speculations of greater autonomy and power sharing with the Tamils.










Half truths and semi-lies | Free Malaysia Today

Half truths and semi-lies

Stanley Koh | February 20, 2013 
 
Believe it or not, MCA once had the gumption to provide an articulate critique of the NEP.

COMMENT
Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, according to George Orwell.
Hence, when Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak told the World Economic Forum that the non-Bumiputera community did not oppose his government’s affirmative action policies in favour of Malays and other natives of Malaysia, he raised eyebrows even among some leaders of his Barisan Nasional coalition.
News reports quoted him as saying: “By and large, the non-Malays in Malaysia, the non-Bumis, don’t actually oppose affirmative action. But what they want is the way you implement the policy should be done in a more transparent way.”
One could, of course, interpret this as an admission that there had in fact been consistent and persistent opposition to this controversial policy.
Barisan Nasional has been holding on to this policy for more than 30 years – and particularly doggedly during the prime ministership of Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Has it been a disastrous failure? Has the nation become more divided rather than more united? Has the policy fuelled greed and corruption while making the Bumiputeras even more dependent on government patronage rather than more confident of their ability to compete in the marketplace of business and employment?
An ever-increasing number of Malaysians are inclined to answer “Yes” to these questions, if we go by commentaries on the more respectable blogs and news portals.
It seems that more and more Malaysians are becoming aware that our politicians are long on rhetoric and short when it comes to substance.
MCA’s true stand
Indeed, even senior BN member MCA has often – but only in the past – questioned the effectiveness of the New Economic Policy.
For example, a memorandum circulated among the party’s leaders in 2005 gave a list of the adverse effects of the NEP. We quote it here verbatim:
Agriculture and smallholders and estate workers gained little from the poverty eradication programmes as they were systematically denied fair access of land.
Petty traders received no government assistance while large development expenditures were given to Malays.
Low-cost housing, hawking facilities, and stalls were not allocated to non-Malays.
Non-Malay small businesses tend to be subjected to political, bureaucratic control and harassment for things like taxi licences, micro-credit facilities, factory sites, trade licences, import permits, and even applications for utilities. Since small businesses tend to be run by families who are generally not well educated, they have little means and knowledge on how to circumvent the bureaucracy. As a result, they resort to bribery and corruption.
District development machinery took upon itself to implement NEP, thus denying much needed funds to villages. This exacerbated the poverty among the non-Malays.
While large foreign companies were not subjected to the NEP rule, large domestic companies were forced to sell their 30% below market value. In cases where foreign ownership was shared, they were allowed to sell their equity at fair market.
NEP was deliberately distorted to apply to select companies to reserve senior positions for the Bumiputeras.
Privatisation projects went without tendering exercise and excluded the participation by non-Malays. This is a clear violation of the constitutional rights of non-Malays.
The practice of making developers allocate at least 30% and some even up to 70% of the houses to the Bumis led to price distortions. Often these quotas were not fulfilled, resulting in further holding costs. On top of it, discounts of 7% must be obliged to Bumis. Developers were requested to restructure their equity when applying for planning approvals.
Employment in the public sector did not reflect the racial composition of the country.
Racial considerations in the recruitment, promotion exercise, training opportunities overriding meritocracy, ability and seniority became universally adopted.
Non-Financial Public Enterprises (NFPE) which operate as commercial enterprises were treated as an employment domain for the Malays.
Chinese schools were not given equal treatment as the national schools in terms of funding allocation and teaching resources.
The quota at the tertiary level also meant that when Bumi quota is not filled, other races are denied entry also just to maintain the percentage.
Teaching of history almost obliterates the contributions of the non-Malays. Discriminatory acts are often found in classes.
It may surprise today’s MCA detractors that the party could be so honest with itself and so daring in its criticism of a BN policy.
But that was in 2005.
Today, under the presidency of Dr Chua Soi Lek, MCA is in constant denial and is never shy of heaping praise on BN for its policies even if the community it is supposed to represent continues to suffer discrimination.
Stanley Koh is a former head of MCA’s research unit. He is a FMT columnist.

Hero's welcome for Nurul Izzah at UM forum

Hero's welcome for Nurul Izzah at UM forum
 
Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar was given a hero's welcome at a Universiti Malaya forum yesterday after she was dropped from speaking at the event as a result of government pressure.

Attending the forum yesterday afternoon as a member of the audience, Nurul Izzah walked into the lecture hall and was greeted by cheers and loud applause from the floor as she proceeded to take a seat in the front row.

NONEThe hall was packed with the crowd filling the walkways as well as the back of the hall.

The afternoon session of the forum was was originally slated to feature Nurul Izzah, together with PAS vice-president Husam Musa as well as Deputy Higher Education Minister Saifuddin Abdullah and Hulu Selangor MP P Kamalanathan.

After courting the displeasure of the Prime Minister's Office and the Higher Education Ministry, the afternoon session of the day-long forum, organised by the Universiti Malaya Centre for Democracy and Elections (Umcedel), was replaced with a session by academicians.

The speakers were Umcedel researchers Shaharuddin Badaruddin and Thock Ker Pong as well as UM professor Mohammad Abu Bakar, with Umcedel director Mohammad Redzuan Othman moderating the session.

During the question-and-answer period, Nurul Izzah ended up on the stage after a student insisted that she answers a question on Pakatan Rakyat's ability to govern, given the diverse ideologies of its component parties.

"If I don't allow her (on the stage), the students may run amok," quipped Redzuan, who is also UM's Arts and Social Science Faculty dean, before inviting Nurul Izzah to the podium.

Opposition has matured

She then explained that unlike the 1969 general election where PAS and DAP could not get along despite the ruling coalition losing its two-thirds majority in Parliament, the Pakatan Rakyat coalition had made significant progress in establishing consensus following the 2008 general election.

"It is a political process for any coalition, it isn't automatic. What is important is for the component parties to have consensus on the constitution and a common policy framework.

"It has now entered the fourth year (of the Pakatan coalition) and the people can judge for themselves," Nurul Izzah said.

She said there would be differences within Pakatan, with each party being an equal partner and none being dominant.

NONENurul also posed a question to the panellists, asking whether it would work against the BN if Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak debated with her father, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, or if space was granted to the opposition to air its manifesto on television.

Shaharuddin's view was that it could go both ways, with the possibility of the government being perceived as being more open or the opposition's message could resonate well with the people.

"There are risks if the government is more open. But I imagine if Najib and Anwar were to debate, this would capture international attention and boost Malaysia's reputation," he said.

Added Redzuan, in reference to the Najib's excuse for refusing to debate with Anwar: "For your information, Kenya just had its presidential debate, and it looks like Kenya is ahead of us. But in Malaysia, debating is not our culture."

Mohammad Abu Bakar, who once moderated a live debate between PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub and Umno supreme council member Saifuddin Abdullah that reportedly had an audience of 2.7 million, speculated that the ruling coalition may feel that debates impacted it negatively, which was why no more live debates were allowed.

Mohammad also addressed the question of defections. He believes that while the BN and Pakatan would ensure that their candidates are loyal, defections remained a real possibility because the ideological glue is weak on the part of all parties.

"There is a lack of ideology among the people and among political leaders. Therefore, without an ideological barrier, movements among parties are likely," he said.

'Scared of ghosts'

After the forum, several students approached Nurul Izzah to shake her hand, while others posed for photographs with her.

NONESpeaking to the media later, the Lembah Pantai MP expressed disappointment over the government's interference with the forum, noting that BN leaders were also slated to speak.

"This should not happen. It contradicts with the prime minister's promise of transformation, especially at the campus level... people can evaluate themselves. It is not about propaganda. We must respect (universities) as institutions of learning," she said.

Also addressing the media later, Redzuan said the forum today proved that the government's concern was unfounded.

"This is an academic event. There should not be any obstruction, especially now when university freedom is being boasted about. This is an academic matter and politicians should not interfere.

"You have seen today that there was no problem, no provocation, no touching on racial matters. Sometimes we worry about ghosts that do not exist," Redzuan lamented.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Chinese owe BN nothing

The Chinese owe BN nothing
 
COMMENT Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, the vendor of half-baked spin, was at it again a few days ago when he said the Chinese owed their success to the BN.

At a 1Malaysia open house, he said BN formulated good policies and ensured there was harmony in the country and an environment that "allowed the Chinese to make a good living".

Najib had the cheek to say this.

dong zong cny open door 170213 05He of course wants the Chinese to be thankful to BN and therefore vote for the coalition in the coming general election. But his half-baked spin completely ignores the other side of the story.

For instance, the Chinese also owe it to BN that they became second-class citizens in their own country because of BN's discriminatory policies - and, let's not forget, practices.

As a result, the Chinese have to work harder to succeed. To get places in Malaysian public universities. To have their children score the highest number of As and still not get accepted to do, say, Medicine, in these institutions. And therefore be forced to send them overseas at a much higher cost.

The Chinese owe it to BN that they were compelled to leave Malaysia to seek fairer opportunities overseas, some never to return, and thereby contributing to a huge brain drain for which Malaysia is now paying the price.

Many who are now settled overseas may indeed be thankful that they left, but I'm sure Najib is not looking to them for gratitude. Some of them won't be eligible for voting, anyway, having taken citizenship in their countries of adoption.

The Chinese also owe it to BN that to take on business projects of sizable proportions, they have to pay kickbacks - some to BN bigwigs themselves, some to their cronies.

Impossible to rise to highest echelons

The Chinese owe it to BN that they find it virtually impossible to rise to the highest echelons of public service - in the judiciary, the military, the police, the universities, the civil service. Not because they don't have the merit to fill these positions; in fact, they do, which therefore makes it even more unjust and painful.

Can Najib name a single Chinese vice-chancellor in a Malaysian public university? Can a Chinese person become inspector-general of police or admiral of the fleet or chief justice?
Najib should note that despite the barriers, the Chinese accepted their lot. And many Chinese - for whatever warped or bewildering logic - actually supported BN throughout the times they were marginalised!

br1m 2.0 launch by najib razak janji ditepatiNajib should watch what he says in the run-up to the general election, especially if he is hoping to win Chinese support for BN.

As it is, many analysts believe that about 70 to 80 percent of the Chinese are not in favour of the ruling party. If he wants to win at least some over, he needs to say the right things. More than that, he needs to do the right things. Although even then, one wonders if it might not be too late.

Many Chinese still remember what he reportedly said in 1987, on the eve of Operasi Lalang at the Umno Youth rally in the TPCA Stadium. As the Umno Youth chief then, he displayed ethnocentric gusto in unsheathing his keris and announcing that it would taste Chinese blood.

It might have been an act of foolish bravado, but it still resonates among some Chinese today. Considered together with the video that is making the rounds again of his address to the Umno and Malay NGOs audience at Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) a few days after Bersih 2.0, in which he said, with much tribal sound and fury, "We will show them whose country this is!" Many wondered if the leopard had changed its spots.

For all his talk of 1Malaysia, Najib is still an ethnocentrist at heart.

He has said he will meet the Chinese educationist group Dong Zong to discuss its demands in regard to Chinese education. In all likelihood, he will agree to meet some, if not all of them, as a last-ditch measure to win Chinese votes. He might well declare the government's recognition - finally - of the United Examination Certificate (UEC), a dream the Chinese educationists have been pursuing for the longest time.

Be wary of Najib's sweet talk

If this consequently prompts Dong Zong to endorse Najib and BN for the coming general election, it could sway a good number of Chinese votes in the direction of BN. Then, like they did in 1999 when they saved Dr Mahathir Mohamad's bacon by strongly supporting his coalition when the Malays were swinging away from him, they could hand BN a victory... and, who knows, maybe even a two-thirds majority, which is what Najib desperately covets.

azlanHowever, this is going to be a crucial general election. It is the one time when real change for the country can come about with a change of government.

The Chinese need to consider carefully about giving their vote to BN. They need to consider the long-term effects of another BN victory. They need to weigh the possibility of real reform in the event of BN being booted out and a new coalition taking over that could bring positive change.

They need to be wary of Najib's sweet talk and his gifts. If he gives them government recognition of the UEC, more independent Chinese schools, whatever, they might want to just accept these politely, say thank you and think of voting according to what they think is right.
Dong Zong, on its part, should remain neutral and not take a stand by endorsing BN. For if it does and Pakatan Rakyat wins the general election, it would find itself in an awkward position.

The Chinese have a big role to play now in this coming general election. Najib can say anything till he is blue in the face, but they have to weigh the truth or lack of it in what he says.

Above all, they must not forget about the corruption that has been rampant under BN rule for decades. And the rent-seeking. And the slow growth of our GDP since 1980 in comparison with South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, etc. These affect the whole country, not just the Chinese, and are therefore all the more important.

When it comes to the crunch, the Chinese must vote for only one thing - a better Malaysia.


KEE THUAN CHYE is the author of the bestselling book ‘No More Bullshit, Please, We're All Malaysians', and the latest volume, ‘Ask for No Bullshit, Get Some More!'