Monday, October 28, 2019

In Malaysia, there's a new storm coming ..

PMiw8: You want to fight, I will give you war.
H20: Bring it on, I'm ready
PMiw8: Good luck, deputy prime minister.

The above is a recent exchange at the lobby of our Parliament between Anwar Ibrahim, still the 8th Prime Minister in waiting, and Umno loyalist Hishamuddin Hussein. It's a brief verbal war "amid big smiles" that will precede the real thing, according to Joceline Tan in her latest column.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Ah, chedet ... he still blogs!

Anwar Ibrahim: Congress "smokescreen" for corruption, inequality 
"Patriotism can be a refuge for scoundrels. They reserve the issue of race because they fear the tough stance I havre against corruption and abuse of power. My interest is to proceed on that score ... I a Malay and committed Muslim and I want Muslims and Malays to succeed. But I am also a leader for all Malaysias." - Anwar (who did not  an invite to attend the Malay Dignity Congress)
After Dr M defends Malay congress, his own Cabinet minister says wasn't race that made it racist 
“The gathering is not the problem but the content. All races, even clans, have gatherings amongst themselves to discuss their problems and how to improve their position and that of the nation. But when it works to create racial hatred and strife, then it becomes racist." - Khalid Samad

Original posting 251019: 
"I attended the congress on Malay dignity because I am a Malay," Dr Mahathir Mohamad wrote in his latest posting The Malay Dignity Congress.  
The Prime Minister hadn't posted anything since early September, one of his longest hiatus from blogging. I read the posting twice, the second time more slowly, almost in tempo with John Mayer's Slow Dancing in a Burning Room playing over and over in this bistro.  
The Kongres Maruah Melayu was held on Oct 6. The controversies that have raged since the gathering have yet to die down and are threatening to rip apart the already-fragile Pakatan Harapan's coalition; hence, I suppose, the Tun's belated response. 
I attended the Congress, too. In fact, just last night my old friend KP, who was having a pre-Deepvali get-together at the National Press Club in Jalan Tangsi, commented on the headgear I had worn at the Congress (see my Instagram and FB). KP said I looked good win the tengkolok, that he didn't care for "all these race politics and rhetorics". For as long as he could remember, he said, we've lived in peace, the Malays and the Indians. "Just make sure the economy and our children don't suffer lah." 
I attended the congress on Malay dignity because one of the organisers said Dr M would be delivering his amanat terakhir (final address). I blogged about my impressions here and here. Quite clearly, I was quite disappointed with the so-called amanat, as were a lot of other Malays who were expecting the Old Man to address more urgent matters related to their (the Malay's) latest fears and insecurities. 
This latest posting by the "I will be labelled a racist for writing this" PM, I must say, is a lot more convincing than the so-called last amanat he delivered at the Congress.
Read it in full, because you are a Malay-sian. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

The man who may be Malaysia's next Minister of Finance speaks up on "threshold bailout"

"Developers build too many high-end homes for the well-to-do"

KL, 241010: They sure don't make our national budgets like they used to. When the economy advisor to the Prime Minister starts taking jibes at his own Government's Budget 2020. you can only guess that not all the proposals in the Budget were thoroughly discussed with everybody that matters (if discussed at all!). And when a dirty word like "bail out" is used, you can't help wonder if someone who's part of the team that made the Budget was trying to smuggle some proposals which shouldn't be there. 
Dr Muhammed Abdul Khalid's quarrel with Lim Guan Eng's budget concerns the proposal by the Minister of Finance to lower the threshold for property prices for foreigners from RM1 million to a mere RM600k. Guan Eng's excuse: developers haven't been able to sell.  The idea became very contentious immediately, largely because developers have the bad reputation of making too much out of house buyers. So-called affordable homes have not been affordable for quite a while now due to greed, corruption and poor planning. The PM had, at first, defended the proposal but Housing Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin's disclosure that the "threshold" was Guan Eng's Ministry's idea and had nothing to do with her ministry led to suspicions. 
Because it was Zuraida, most people paid no heed.  But now the PM's Economic Advisor himself has spoken. And a lot of people tend to take the PM's Economic Advisor a lot more seriously. In fact, some people think Dr  Mo would make a better MOF than Guan Eng any day. I don't necessarily subscribe to that thought, of course. 

Read also:
List out those condos for foreigners, Jo Ghani says

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

From estate to Cabinet to this!

Minister did not consult workers' reps, says MTUC

Puchong, 231010: Trade union leaders are calling M. Kula Segaran names that I don't have the wish to repeat on this blog. Suffice to say that if what the Human Resources Minister really wants is to make enemies out of these hardened fighters for workers' rights, some of whom have worked the estates when Kula was still in school, he's got it coming alright.  
The war of words have already begun. In recent days, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) leaders have openly slammed the first-time Cabinet minister for not consulting them on the amendments to the Industrial Relations Act (Kula arrogant, says MTUC) and, latest, for unilaterally deciding to tap into a national workers' contingency fund to build a colossal facility in - of all places - his own constituency! "Kula has been more than just a big disappointment. He's been very uncooperative ... he acts like a dictator," a veteran trade union leader told me.

I've never dealt with Kula  personally, so I can't say if he's arrogant or just green. He has bad advisors, we were told. But his decision recently to get the HRDF under his ministry to initiate frivolous lawsuits against journalists M. Krishnamoorthy and Veera Pandiyan suggests, to me and many of us in the fraternity, bloody poor judgement on the Minister's part.

Read also:
Court strikes out HRDF suit against journalist
Man sued by HRDF rejects allegations, shows letters on journalist status
In "new" Malaysia, another journalist is sued over a Berlin course

Monday, October 21, 2019

Blaming Mahathir for everything now, including possible trade sanctions

TTDI, 211019: Don't blame Malaysians if they choose to take their Prime Minister's latest remarks [re Mahathir warns of possible trade sanctions on Malaysia amid US-China trade war] with a pinch of salt*. Many have grown so skeptical of the Government. They feel they've been lied to too often these last few months and they are getting really tired of it.  
But sanctions are a serious business and if they are imposed on a country by the US (because China don't make it a practice to sanction others), all of us will be in great trouble. Rather than sanctions, I'd rather we be lied to by the Government because with a lying Government we will at least, over time, be the wiser. There's no getting wiser from sanctions! All countries that have been subject of American sanctions have suffered tremendously. Depending on the severity of sanctions, Malaysia could see a sudden drop in investor flow, capital flight, rising unemployment, runaway inflation, etc. Don't expect tourists to make us their destination (which means our VTAMY 2020 campaign would be screwed). Trade barriers would usually follow sanctions to further cripple the countries that are being sanctioned. South Africa when it was under Apartheid, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Iraq all suffered greatly as a result of some kind of sanctions or other [go h e r e for more examples].  
So if there's any truth in what Dr Mahathir is saying,  the Government must tell us what exactly is the reason for the sanction (because we are a kleptocracy, anti-Semitic, or for discriminating the Chinese and other minorities in the country?) and how it plans to save all of us. 
The people need to know their role. Do they defend the country and leadership or do they back the sanctions? If anyone thinks that's a dumb thing to ask of Malaysians, just look at the response of some of these Malaysians to their country's current predicament, where India is threatening a trade war against Malaysia to retaliate Putrajaya's support for Pakistan over the Kashmir issue. 
One Twitter user describes Tun M's mishandling of India as "anak kecil main api"
Not all Malaysians are backing their Prime Minister - or their own country  - on this issue against India.
On the contrary, there are Malaysians blaming Mahathir for New Delhi's boycott of our palm oil and they are going about it openly on their social media accounts. Sad, but that's the new truth about us.

Read also Dr M: Malaysia could benefit from China-US trade war 

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

From Kg Baru to the jungles: The (so-called) predicament of Malay urban land owners

Kg "Kudis" Baru against KL's skyline

bcc Thurs Oct 8: If I were asked that day (Oct 6) which part of Dr Mahathir Mohamad's address to the Kongress Maruah Melayu was worthy of an amanat, it would be his plea to the Malay landowners NOT to sell their land and properties, especially those in urban areas.  
When the Malays sell their assets in the cities and towns (to non-Malays, developers, the government?), these Malay landowners would then retreat to the suburbs and, with their newfound wealth, buy cheaper land and properties in those suburbs. Then these suburbs become developed and these Malays get offers to sell, and the cycle would repeat. Ultimately, the Prime Minister said, the Malays would end up in the jungles.

Yes, I tweeted that part of his address as I thought it was a damn good advice for the Malays, especially those in Kampung Baru who were under all kinds of pressure from Dr Mahathir's own Administration to sell to their land.  
Turns out I was mistaken ...

So now, if you ask me which part of Mahathir's address to the Kongres Maruah Melayu its worthy of an amanat ....

Monday, October 07, 2019

Amanat terakhir Mahathir

Sumpah Maruah Melayu

"This will be Tun's last address, bro Rocky. Please do come."

Even without such dramatics from the organisers, I would have been interested to attend the Kongres Maruah Melayu that took place yesterday in Shah Alam. The event promised me all sorts of news ingredients that a newsman would be loathe to ignore. Anwar Ibrahim, the PMiw8 (Malaysia's 8th Prime Minister-in-waiting), who is by our Constitutional definition as Malay as PMx2 Mahathir Mohamad, was not going to get an invitation. After some placating by the organisers, the Tun agreed to let them invite Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the Umno president, and Hadi Awang, the PAS president. It would have been awkward if they were not there. And,  no, no xPM Najib Razak. It would have been doubly awkward for the Old Man.

And I wanted to get myself a tengkolok and I thought surely they will have lots for me choose from at an event like the Malay Dignity Congress.  During the Himpunan Ummah aka Muafakat Nasional organised by Umno and PAS last month, which I could not attend, I had asked friends to look for the ancient Malay headgear for me. I was told them that a bestseller at the PWTC, where the HU was being held was one called the Tanjak Dendam Mahathir Tak Sudah so I asked them to please get me that particular tengkolok. Unfortunately, it was sold out. Mahathir sells, whether or not he is there.

Tanjak and tengkolok at the fair

I'm glad I went to the Kongres Maruah Melayu. I was in good company (even though I was sitting all by myself in one of the "cheaper" seats at the back of the hall) - Siti Nurhaliza and Datuk K, Ustaz Hadi, Rani Kulop, Annuar Musa, KJ, Hishammuddin Hussein, Zainal Kling, Syed Saddiq, Mukhriz Mahathir, Azmin Ali and scores of Malay scholars. 

Siti Nurhaliza rendered the evocative Anak Kecil Main Api, a song about the Malays losing out everything in their own land, as Mahathir walked into the packed hall like a bridegroom.

Nenek moyang kaya raya
Tergadai seluruh harta benda
Akibat sengketa sesama kita ...
Bumi dipijak milik orang 

Zainal Kling got the Kongres the kind of controversy it deserved for with his "Malaysia belongs to the Malays" rhetoric. The resolutions tabled by the student reps and one PAS man (on Religion) were as hardline and hardcore Malay as they come. 

Among the resolutions:

1. Sekolah Wawasan in 6 years, abolish all Chinese and Tamil schools
2. Malay Minister of Finance, Malay AG, Malay Chief Minister, Malay DPM, Malay MB, etc
3. Jawi and Khat in the teaching of BM
4. Petronas and Bank Rakyat scholarships for Malays only

But the climax of the Kongres was also the anti-climax. 

A lot of people went there yesterday to listen to Mahathir to talk about - and against - the growing threat against the Malays, their interests, and their special position. Such a threat has been more prevalent, the Kongres heard,  after the last General Election. Zainal Kling and some of those who tabled the resolutions had made direct references to elements within PH itself, especially the DAP.  The organisers had claimed to me earlier that the PM shared the same sentiment. 

Me, well, for a while I did entertain the idea of Dr Mahathir actually expressing  some form of remorse for bringing this unprecedented post GE14 lament on the Malays, years after he had had 22 years to be the PM and so many opportunities  at leaving a lasting legacy other than the Twin Towers and the tolled highways ...

Mahathir did not mention DAP in his Amanat. Not even once.

Flying cars soon but for now have hopper will travel ...

I can understand why some described Mahathir's Final Address as condescending towards the Malays (read Ucapan Mahathir hina Melayu. )  But then, again, what's new? Mahathir has called the Malays names so many times before. "It's his way of motivating the Malays," said one diehard supporter. But even by the Old Man's recent "motivational" standards, I found it distressing when he insisted that our children should be willing to take up the jobs now filled by imported labourers from Bangladesh and the Philippines. Mahathir derided them for being ashamed of those low-paying jobs. "They are ashamed of jobs that pay RM1100 a month. But they are not ashamed of lining up to accept the RM500 saguhati (handout)!" he said in obvious reference to the aid given by the Government (BR1M when the previous government introduced it and renamed BsH after PH took over).

"You tell him to get his children's children to do those jobs lah," an ex-journalist who is about to lose his job shouted at me on the phone earlier today when I told him what Dr M said.

I sent a WhatsApp message to the organiser. "It's far from vintage Mahathir lah, bro." Well, I suppose all that rubbing with the ultras in his new coalition has affected the Old Man's wit, after all.  But the organisers remain stubbornly optimistic. "We will push the Resolutions of the Kongress to be adopted by the Prime Minister. We will." I guess all that Hidup Melayu cries at the Stadium Malawati yesterday have emboldened some Melayu.

But I've held my breath a little too long ....

p.s. Personally, though, I was not entirely disappointed. I got myself a tengkolok at the fair. It's called, aptly, Tanjak Melayu Menyesal Tak Sudah.