Updated: "To quote Stephen King, 'To fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, shame on both of us.'" '- Time to move beyond Dr Mahathir by Terence Fernandez/The Star
Puchong, 28 May: Muhyiddin Yassin's move to sack his own party's founding chairman is nothing short of sensational. The only other time this was done to Dr Mahathir Mohamad was in 1969 when Tunku Abdul Rahman, then the PM and Umno president, kicked him out of the party. But 51 years ago Mahathir was relatively a nobody. He wasn't even a Member of Parliament, having lost in the general election of that year. Today, the year of his own Wawasan 2020, Dr Mahathir is not just the country's only two-time Prime Minister or the oldest man in the world to ever be a PM of a free country, the Old Man has the media, billions, and the DAP solidly behind him. To sack such a man - who clearly wants to be our PM for the third time - must take more than just courage; perhaps even a death wish.
But sacked him Muhyiddin did!
One's immediate concern now is the fact that the Tun is without a party. He can try and form a new party. There would still be a lot of followers as Dr Mahathir at 95 is still a big draw for young and old, Malays and non-Malays alike.
But to form a new party takes time.
A better idea, one political observer mentioned to me, in jest or otherwise I couldn't tell, is for Mahathir to join one of his old partners in Pakatan Harapan. Preferably the DAP. No, forget PKR and Warisan. It must be DAP. After all, the Old Man has nothing but good things to say about the DAP these days.
Now, just imagine if the Old Man decides to join DAP. That would be far, far more sensational than his sacking today.
TTDI, 28 Ramadan: While we were extending our short doa for Muhyiddin, Dr Mahathir Mohamad was promising "very big trouble" for his successor and his 'back-door' government. The two-time Prime Minister said the Opposition (Pakatan Harapan) would seek to oust Muhyiddin Yassin at every turn. The Opposition will reject all bills that Muhyiddin brings to Parliament. "If everything he brings to Parliament is rejected, how does he continue?" he told Reuters in a Zoom interview.
Muhyiddin's reply (I'm guessing):
I am fasting
But Ramadan will end soon and Muhyiddin will need to respond to the threat. He will not take it lightly. This is an angry Mahathir, one who is not as "helpless" as when he brought down Pak Lah and then Najib. Unlike then, today's Mahathir has the media, the billions, and the DAP solidly with him.
If it's any consolation, Mahathir is not a threat to Muhyiddin only. Anwar Ibrahim, the rightful Opposition leader, the two-time (and two-timed) former future Prime Minister, should be feeling even more insecure and threatened by the Tun's recent antics. Before the Reuter interview, Dr M had held a press conference after Monday's one-day Parliament and spoke on behalf of the Opposition. The zoom press conference was attended by DAP and Warisan leaders together with remnants of Bersatu.
Anwar's absence/exclusion stuck like a sore thumb and he knows it.
Anwar: Pakatan secretariat will lay down "a few rules we should follow"
"Muhyiddin has done a goood job. If my view could represent the people's feelings, brother, then the people have no complaint against the Prime Minister. He is calm, displays great administrative skills and delivers results at the end of the day despite all the political ruckus around him. I never thought I'd say this, but I have only praises for him!" - Mr D from Sentul, KL
Puchong, May 20: You don't get calls like this one everyday, to hear someone singing praises for the Prime Minister, any Prime Minister. But this morning, after listening to Mr D, I realised that we actually have heard very little, if at all, badmouthing Muhyiddin Yassin. Much of the 'ruckus' comes from his former political bedfellows, mostly those who lost plum jobs and mighty positions after the so-called Sheraton Move (which landed Abang Din the unenviable job as Malaysia's 8th Prime Minister), and their faithful followers. Their drama, mainly, is about their fear of the death of democracy, their perceived betrayal of the Rakyat's mandate, or their resentment towards a so-called backdoor government that has no support of the majority (which was set straight in their red faces at the one-day Parliament sitting two days ago).
Without doubt, the people's appreciation for their Prime Minister is due to his Administration's prihatin handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. Lim Kit Siang tries to pin the blame on Muhyiddin (Covid-19 woes due to 'Sheraton Move' and ensuing political turmoil- Mkini, May 20) but he spits at the sky, as the Malays say it, and he ends up with phlegm and mucus on his own face.
If anything, the so-called Sheraton Move saved us from a socio-economic failure that had seemed inevitable - even if there had been no pandemic - because we had too many nincompoops in the government. We shudder too, Kit Siang, to imagine the disastrous outcome for the country if we had to depend on the political leadership of the PH government to guide us out of the pandemic when the PH leaders themselves, Kit Siang and son included, couldn't even get their act together after coming to power in May 2018.
In any case, I was listening to the FM yesterday while waiting for the azan to break my fast. It dawned upon me that this particular station had been replaying the same doa during bukapuasa (without announcing to the listeners who the doa reciter is). Most people heard this doa the first time when their Prime Minister addressed them on the 8th day of the Movement Control Order, when he told us that we could win this.
Muhyiddin is not expected to have an easy time, with his enemies (who now include two-time PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad) working hard to fail him at every chance, from inside as well as outside PN. But for getting us out from the worst of the pandemic safe and sane, I agree with Mr D that the Prime Minister deserves a tip of our hat. I'm not good with prayers but here's my doa for Abang Din's - and his loved ones' - safety and well-being. Amin.
Puchong, May 15: If you are looking for alternative take on Malaysian politics that's provocative but not fake, I suggest you give the Third Force a shot. Their news sense these days is quite spot on, right down to the selection of pictures accompanying their articles, I must say.
Take their take on the warning issued by Home Minister Hamzah Zainuddin against perpetrators of fake and seditious news:
The article is in Malay but a picture, they say, tells the story. And in this case, the story is about the sorry state of our social media so infested by fake and seditious news. Since 2018 (which happened to be the year Bersatu-led Pakatan Harapan took over the government), the Bersatu sec-gen said fake news has become "so rampant" among our Netizens. And he warned that he was in no mood to compromise with anyone who "deliberately tries to trigger provocations or threaten public safety and security".
The Third Force included the full brief statement by Hamzah:
It would be hard to call it a coincidence that the statement was issued about the same time with the release of 73-year old media personality Patrick Teohfrom police remand for allegedly insulting the Crown Prince of Johor.
Since Hamzah was part of the government that pushed for the Anti-Fake News Act in 2018 (scrapped in Dec 2019 by the PH government) a lot of people will be wondering if he's going to propose for a similar legislation to deal with the issue. I'm not trying to be provocative here, but I'd wager all my salary during the MCO that the Home Minister would do it.
Puchong, 16 Ramadan/May 9: While those guys up there are playing yet another episode of their ugly, filthy games of throne, the real folks down here are struggling to bring food to the table and keep a roof over their heads.
Unlike those up there, who don't have to worry about basic needs, the men in the street are losing their battle. Businesses are struggling to survive and when they are forced to shut, and more companies are being forced to shut, workers lose jobs.
And more folks will lose their livelihood if those political scumbags, to borrow lawyer-activist Matthias Chang's word, don't start caring for other than themselves. The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) says the country is looking at a 13 per cent unemployment rate as a result of Covid-19, the Movement Control Order (Phase 4 ending May 12), and the global economic fallout.
The Malaysian Institute of Economic Research says that's about 2.4 million Malaysians who can - and want to - work but will not have jobs! (As in February, according to our Department of Statistics, our unemployment rate was 3.3 per cent or around 525,000 people).
I hope Human Resources Minister M. Saravanan stays clear from the scumbags' ugly, and filthy games of thrones. Someone has to deal with the unprecedented unemployment mess. And, YB, please don't pooh-pooh the MEF's numbers (or MIER's) like your predecessor did when he was in power (and when he wasn't sitting on the Human Resources Development Fund people to sue some poor journalists for reasons best known to himself and a particular advisor of his).
Like it or not, retrenchment is going to be part of this so-called, post-pandemic new normal.
The thing is, what do we do about it?
First and foremost, ensure that workers who are retrenched get fair compensation as provided for under the employment laws. That money will buy food on the table and roof over their heads and, yes, open up new opportunities for them. Provide the environment for every employee to re-skill, up-skill and be redeployed (and make sure the retrenched don't spend their retrenchment money unwisely). The HRDF was created for this purpose (not for suing journalists), with employers contributing 1 per cent of their wage bills for employee training, retraining and the sort of contingencies like the one we're facing now.
Start a retrenchment fund. And, like the MEF says, help businesses stay afloat. Handouts are welcomed, we're not shy to say. The current subsidies aren't going to cut it. The Federation of Malaysian Manufactures (FMM) says three-quarters of respondents in its survey feel that the wages subsidy given by the government isn't adequate to retain employees. Eight our of 10 of the companies surveyed say they will have to lay off at least 30 per cent of their workforce.
These past few months, I've seen hundreds of my fellow journalists lose their jobs. Most of them got their compensation and learned new craft (like driving Grab) to survive while some joined forces to start news portals (like Bebas News) to keep their passion for journalism alive. The saddest bit is when a publishing company has to fold permanently, as in the case of Blue Inc. which was for years the home of Malaysia's glossy magazines. That was an example of a total loss. I would rather companies lay off some workers (and fairly compensate them) in order for their business to survive the current challenges (with the remaining of the workforce) and to thrive (and to hire) again in the forseeeable future, as in the case of, perhaps, Media Prima.
TTDI, May 6: A lot of people are jumping with joy over news that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating the award of projects worth RM30 million to supply the Health Ministry with equipment related to Covid-19. They say here is proof that this new government, which they called the "backdoor" government, is corruptible to the core.
Former advisor to former Pakatan Harapan PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad went one up on everyone else: Why did this PN government, which is a Malay-Muslim government, award those contracts to some Chinese businessmen?
I am jumping with joy, too. But only because this is proof that our graft busters are alive and kicking (ass) again. For nearly two years during the Pakatan Harapan rule, the MACC was headed by Latheefah Koya, a lawyer but more importantly a senior Pakatan Harapan politician. And for those nearly two years, the MACC was really focusing only on cases that involved political rivals of Pakatan Harapan and the one issue that helped the coalition bring down Najib Razak's BN in 2018: 1MDB.
We should be happy because the real graft busters are back!
It will stick even more if there are elements of politics to spice up those stories even further. And, with PNB, unfortunately, there has always been a lot of politics at play. Even when it was making good money.
Tan Sri Zeti
A still-blogging former CEO of a public listed company says head must roll. He thinks Zeti Akhtar Aziz, the PNB chairman, should "head for the door and take her last elevator ride down from the iconic Jalan Tun Razak building" instead of waiting to be sacked.
If the former central bank governor goes or is told to go, it won't come as any surprise to the market, or to Malaysians, who have been witnessing a series of sackings of GLC leaders appointed by the PH government soon after it had come into power in May 2018.
#stayathome Day 45, May 2: To say that just anyone would make a decent Minister of Finance after YB Lim Guan Eng would be an insult to Tengku Zafrul Aziz, but his handling of the unprecedented challenges posed by Covid-19 and the Movement Control Order deserves, at the very least, a little tip of the hat.
Latest, his plea with his former fellow bankers (Zafrul was CIMB group CEO before PM Muhyiddin Yassin plucked him away for his corporate comforts to be the nation's Finance Minister) to forgo accrued interest for the six-month moratorium that the Government had provided for to help manage the wage earners' financial burden caused by the pandemic.
The Opposition ought to be happy - the Pakatan Harapan secretarial council had asked Zafrul yesterday to order banks not to charge accrued interest during the moratorium. I doubt their own MOF when they were the government would have done it, but that's just my opinion.
Zafrul will have to come through again and again before we, the ever-hard-to-please Malaysians, would admit he's any good.
Here's another opportunity to prove his mettle, this time courtesy of Socso: