12 September 2023

Takkanlah kahwin hari ini, esok dah boleh beranak...

Is Anwar increasingly isolated at the top 
or is he really living his dream as PMX?...

There's a taunt in Malaysian politics, “Takkanlah kahwin hari ini, esok dah boleh beranak” (It’s not as if one gets married today, you can already give birth tomorrow) that has become an insinuation of failure to deliver.

Well, it’s been nine months since Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim became the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia (PMX) which is the normal gestation period for humans. Has PMX delivered on his promises in the run-up to office?

It took him 25 years to graduate from a PM-in-waiting to be where he is today. That’s after being sacked as deputy PM (DPM) in 1998, launching the Reformasi movement – a very public arrest – followed by a black eye meted by the then police chief.

A quarter century of going in and out of prison and endless court cases for a myriad of excruciating charges that put his family, the nation and the world at large in a collective anguish until he was conferred a royal pardon in 2018.

Throughout the 25 years before becoming PMX, Anwar had been interviewed by major international media, did the global lecture circuit, featured in documentaries and even had a biopic movie made on his life.

Coping with power...

But is Anwar living his dream as PMX? Is he everything that his ardent supporters had dreamed of since his Reformasi days? How does one of the world’s most famous “victim of selective political persecution” cope with power? Initially, he seemed to have a hard time transitioning from opposition leader to that of head of government.

A few fumbles such as appointing his daughter, Nurul Izzah, as senior economic and financial advisor and claiming it was not nepotism as she wasn’t being paid has been forgotten after she voluntarily resigned. Other missteps may be less easily forgotten such as his concern over losing elections while using a harsh tone in response to a question from a young student on meritocracy in university admission quota system.

Perhaps PMX sometimes forgets that he is not in campaign mode. During the run-up to the six state elections in August, Anwar was seen and heard in all parts of the country while travelling via government helicopter.

Since then, PMX seems to have toned down the rhetoric and was less visible in the Johor by-elections in the Simpang Jeram (state) and Pulai (parliamentary) held over the weekend (Sept 9), both of which are retained by Pakatan Harapan (PH).

Aftermath of Zahid’s DNAA...

PH voters seemed unaffected by the decision of former attorney-general (AG) Tan Sri Idrus Harun to seek a conditional discharge for DPM Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on his Yayasan Akalbudi case. But DAP secretary-general Anthony Loke Siew Fook has said an explanation from the AG himself would be good “… to restore confidence and convince the public of the country’s judiciary system”.

As it is, there is no way of who is telling the truth or that it is merely the PMX’s word against former attorney-general (AG) Tan Sri Idrus Harun that it was the latter who insisted on seeking a conditional discharge for Zahid before his final day in office.

Amid calls by PKR Youth for a special parliamentary session to discuss Zahid’s DNAA, PMX said that “Parliament is not the appropriate platform for deliberating upon court decisions and ongoing legal cases”. But that should be for the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat to decide – not the PM – according to former Law Minister and Perikatan Nasional (PN) chief whip Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan.

Even Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, MUDA’s president and Muar MP, has announced he will pull the party out of the ruling coalition in protest against Zahid’s DNAA – a major upset as the move will deny Anwar a parliamentary majority. The PN Youth wing has further called for a mass show of protest dubbed the Himpunan Gerakan Selamatkan Malaysia (Movement to Save Malaysia) which is reminiscent of Anwar’s own Reformasi protest movement.

PSM and Muda call for debate on Zahid's DNAA

Voices of disappointment...

After 25 years of making campaign promises, could Anwar be feeling isolated and overwhelmed by the demands of being PMX? Did Anwar bite off more than he can chew with the unity government?

Despite the clamour of disapproval with the controversial appointment of Ahmad Zahid as DPM, it was obvious that Anwar needed an ally in his camp (recall that Zahid and Anwar were comrades in UMNO Youth).

As Anwar – with his trusty sidekick Zahid – tries to woo the Malay support that he sorely lacks, will he disappoint supporters from other ethnic groups? Nevertheless, there have been more voices of disappointment with Anwar’s performance as PMX.

Malay language news portal BenarNews reported that Malaysian civil society groups and human rights activists are calling out PMX for breaking campaign promises to review or revoke colonial-era laws in the likes of Sedition Act 1948, the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1994, and the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. Former Malaysian ambassador to South America and Canada Dennis Ignatius has said it many times in social media; “Day by day [Anwar] disappoints and dismays”. –  Niza Shimi 

Even elephant gestation period 
is 22 months, my dear Niza...

Niza Shimi knows it very well that one cannot give birth the next day after the wedding is over. To add to this, Rome was never built in one day, was it? Yet, she is being too naïve to imagine that any government of the day can transform Malaysia into the country that we all dream for in just nine months.

Even with the elephant gestation period of 22 months under former twice premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, we were unable to see much progress. Instead, he quietly gave projects worth hundreds of millions to his own children.

We will wait to hear more of this in the coming court case.It takes time, Ms Niza. Policies need to change. Civil servants need to adjust to the new policies in place. All this takes time – or else – the child will be born pre-mature. Certainly, Niza would not like to see a pre-mature baby being born.

To therefore compare human gestation to the Madani government under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (PMX) is like saying much more had been achieved during the leadership under two former prime ministers in 33 months with all its Spanish fly and Doraemon jokes.

Give Anwar the full term...

Yet, most of us civilians allowed the duo – Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob – to complete the full term.This was despite the public anger against Perikatan Nasional (PN) which had its beginnings after the Sheraton Move, allegedly spearheaded by both PAS president Tan Sri Hadi Awang and former PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali and backed by Muhyiddin and some recalcitrant UMNO leaders.

In fact, people in the likes of Niza should give PMX and his government the full term to do what need to be done since Muhyiddin had turned down the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong’s (YDPA) offer to him to form a unity government with Pakatan Harapan (PH).

Unlike others such as Tan Sri Lim Kit Siang, PMX was in the government for several terms. His final position was as finance minister-cum-deputy prime minister (DPM) when he opposed his then boss Dr Mahathir who wanted to use public funds to bail out his son and the cronies.

Even without watching the biopic movie produced by Zunar now showing on Netflix, Niza would have known from following the news through the years that Anwar would have become the PM. Instead, all sorts of allegations levelled against him were bizarre. If Anwar were a spy for the US, China and Israel all at the same time, he must be a super spy. Yet, there were many who believed in the lies.

For that reason, PMX was bashed up by a former inspector-general of police (IGP), imprisoned twice, and during this time, we saw how jailed former PM Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak committed the biggest scandal in the world in Malaysia. Is that not enough for Niza to stomach? The country is RM1.5 tril in debts but people’s woes – especially those in the B40 income group who are mostly the Bumiputera – were not addressed adequately to lift them up from the poverty cycle.

Even when PAS was in government, both states of Kedah and Kelantan did not receive assistance in terms of allocations to solve the water woes. Now, allocations have been given to all three states, including Sabah. The question now is whether the money is going to be used fully to solve the water woes? Based on record, former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin had handed over a cheque for RM600 mil for Kelantan to solve the water woes. Where did the money go?

I would not go on to respond to Niza’s arguments point-by-point, but suffice for me to point out that PN Youth wing’s Himpunan Gerakan Selamatkan Malaysia (Movement to Save Malaysia) and a number of websites such as BenarNews are nothing new but mere copycats of what had been done in the past. If these people want to go on the streets while people across the country are celebrating Malaysia Day, it is their prerogative. But they will have to face the consequences. – Stephen Ng

How bangsa Johor stops the spread 
of racism and radical Islamist...

Opposition Perikatan Nasional’s “green wave” finally came to a screeching halt in the southern state of Johor. In spite of low voter turnout and controversial acquittal of UMNO president Zahid Hamidi, who is also the deputy prime minister, the people of Johor have decided to return both Pulai parliamentary seat and Simpang Jeram state seat to Pakatan Harapan.

Bad weather contributed to low voter turnout – only 47.33% turnout in Pulai and 60.85% in Simpang Jeram – raising an initial alarm that Pakatan Harapan could lose the seats. Pulai’s turnout in the November 2022 General Election was 70.96%, meaning a drop of voters from 117,303 to 78,453. A third – 38,850 voters (33%) – did not vote this round due to various reasons.

In Pulai, Pakatan Harapan candidate Suhaizan Kayat won with a 18,641-vote majority by polling 48,283 votes against rival Perikatan Nasional’s Zulkifli Jaafar, who managed to capture only 29,642 votes. To save face, the opposition quickly declared victory by claiming it has successfully reduced the late Salahuddin Ayub’s majority of 33,174 votes.

In the Nov 2022 national polls, Salahuddin captured 55.33% or 64,900 votes. Back then, rivals Barisan Nasional polled 31,726 votes (27.05%) and Perikatan Nasional grabbed 20,677 votes (17.63%). Retaining Pulai, Pakatan Harapan has increased its popular votes from 55.33% to 61.55%. Even though the opposition had lost, its votes have also increased from 17.63% to 37.78%.

This means Barisan Nasional, who is now a partner of Pakatan, saw its supporters split for Pakatan and Perikatan – Pakatan’s popular votes increased by 6.22% and Perikatan’s has jumped by 20.15%. Still, the opposition’s gain isn’t significant enough to change the Johor landscape. The result actually mirrors the 2018 General Election, when Salahuddin similarly won 63.81% of the popular votes.

Essentially, for every 6 Johoreans who voted for Pakatan Harapan, only three voted for the rivals. This means about two-thirds majority prefers Pakatan-led Unity Government. Pro-opposition fanatics have claimed that Pakatan’s reduced majority vote (18,641 from 33,174 votes) and Perikatan’s increased votes (20,677 to 29,642 votes) as proof that they have lost with dignity, whatever that means.

Manipulating numbers, instead of looking at the percentage, has been the favourite pastime of the opposition. It’s actually a humiliation that Perikatan could only increase its votes by 9,000 despite its top commander – Kedah Chief Minister Sanusi – bragging that not only the twin by-elections will open the floodgates for the Opposition to break into Johor, but also the green wave will sweep into Singapore.

If the result of “urban” Pulai parliament seat does not convince you that the green wave (derived from Perikatan’s largest coalition party – Parti Islam SeMalaysia or PAS) has failed to breach Johor, perhaps the “semi-rural” Simpang Jeram will. In the Saturday’s polls, Pakatan retained the seat with an increased majority (3,514 from 2,399 votes).

More importantly, the state constituency populated with more rural Malays than Pulai has a higher turnout of 60.85% than last November’s national election (54.72%). Nazri Abdul Rahman of Pakatan Harapan secured 13,484 votes (an increase of 15.6% votes) in Simpang Jeram, defeating Perikatan Nasional’s Dr Mohd Mazri Yahya, who scored 10,330 votes (an increase of 12.47%).

Obviously, there has been a greater swing of rural Malay votes for Pakatan Harapan than Perikatan Nasional, destroying the opposition’s hope and wet dream of fooling the Johor Malay folks with racial bigotry and religious extremism. In short, regardless whether it was a lower turnout (Pulai) or higher turnout (Simpang Jeram), Pakatan has won more than 50% of the votes.

There are three ways to decipher the results. First – the ethnic Chinese voters, most of them working in Singapore and are largely Pakatan Harapan supporters, did not return to vote. This means most of the Malay voters had voted for Pakatan instead of the Opposition. If this is true, it also means that even the conservative Malays in Johor have rejected Perikatan Nasional.

Second – the ethnic Chinese voters came out in droves to vote for Pakatan Harapan, whilst the Malay voters did not bother to vote. But if this is true, it means the Johor Malays were both angry and disillusioned with extremist beliefs and behaviours demonstrated by leaders of Perikatan Nasional. They reject racist bigot Muhyiddin Yassin and religious extremist Hadi Awang.

Third, both Chinese and Malays communities preferred to stay at home instead of voting, leaving the ethnic Indian as kingmaker. Because Pulai and Simpang Jeram are ethnically-mixed seats, non-Malay voters must turn up in full force to balance the dissatisfaction among Malay voters based on last month’s six state election results. However, the low turnout suggests otherwise.

Like it or not, the northern Malays and the southern Malays do not see eye-to-eye about radical Islamist. Johor, thanks to its proximity to neighbouring Singapore, is more progressive, moderate and liberal than Kelantan, Terengganu, Perlis and Kedah. The green wave hits its first roadblock in Negeri Sembilan and has subsided when reaches Johor.

To make matters worse, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad appears to have jinxed Perikatan Nasional left, right and centre. Fast losing his ability to think strategically and logically, the 98-year-old racist had predicted that the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) will “win big” if elections were to be held in 2022. Of course, UMNO “lost big”, winning only 26 seats.

Mahathir, who lost not only his own stronghold Langkawi but also his deposit, then predicted that Perikatan Nasional will easily win 5-1 in the August’s six state elections. The result was 3-3, where both Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional keep their respective three states. Less than 24 hours before the polling in Pulai and Simpang Jeram, he made another dumb prediction.

The former premier claimed that Johor would be as small as the state of Perlis if Pakatan Harapan were allowed to stay in power and sell land to foreigners. He begged Johor voters to punish the unity government through the ballot box. Hilariously, he told non-Malays not to fear Perikatan Nasional – even though the minorities are being suppressed and bullied.

Bangsa Johor listened to Mahathir’s twisted arguments and happily voted against his advice. But the old man was not the only problem that contributed to the opposition’s defeat. Former backdoor PM Muhyiddin, who is Perikatan Nasional chairman and president of Bersatu (Malaysian United Indigenous Party), unilaterally issued a “political fatwa” that it would be “haram” or sinful to vote for Pakatan Harapan.

Besides pretending to be more pious than “ulamas”, Muhyiddin has even spread lies and fake news that the Anwar-led unity government would redraw the boundaries and reallocate parliamentary seats in a redelineation exercise that will increase the number of federal seats from 222 to 300. Hence, he argued that the opposition must win Pulai federal seat to deny the federal government ruling coalition a two-thirds majority.

Again, Bangsa Johor was not impressed over Muhyiddin’s religious rhetoric. In fact, it was an insult to the intelligence of the Johor people to be compared with insecure Malays in the northern part who have been scammed into believing that the Malays are losing power. His wish to get 90% Malay voters to vote for Perikatan Nasional did not materialize.

Desperate for a state as Bersatu’s power base, Muhyiddin hoped that Johor – his birth state, where he served as chief minister for nine years up to 1995 – would swing. The plan to use Pulai and Simpang Jeram as a referendum to reject the current federal administration has backfired. Rather, Bangsa Johor decided to use the twin by-elections as a referendum to reject Perikatan Nasional. - FT

Syed Saddiq lack of maturity in thinking is becoming evident, as he appears unable to distinguish between principles and the well-being of the nation.Criticizing and insulting those who once aided him, labeling them as lapdogs and hypocrites, reflects a lack of principles and ingratitude.His current actions seem more akin to attempting to exert pressure on the government rather than setting a higher moral standard, making it reminiscent of what Zahid is accused of doing. - Kamsiah Haidar


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