Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The easy - and ideal - solution to who should be Anwar Ibrahim’s deputies

One DPM from Sabah, One DPM from Sarawak

Mont Kiara, 29 Nov: I read with great interest NST’s speulation on who Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim will likely name as his two deputies. Umno Deputy President Mohanad Hassan seems to be NST’s favourite. (Read HERE

Not mine. 

If I were Saudara Anwar, I’d appoint one DPM from Sabah and one DPM from Sarawak. 

This would make my Unity Goverment all-inclusive. This will put this nation back on track as envisioned by our forefathers in the Malaysia Agreement 1963. This may also set a template for future Cabinets. For example, if one day we have a Sarawakian as PM, one DPM will be from Semenanjung and the other DPM from Sabah.  

Mohamad Hassan, or Tok Mat Hassan as he is ondly called, was a corporate man before joining the big-time politics. He’s got the making of a Finance Minister. 

My good friend Rais Husin, the researcher and a senior member of the Bersatu party until just before the GE, has been promoting Rafizi Ramli, Anwar’s No 2 in PKR, as MOF. But I disagree. Rafizi had a hard time even explaining his actual worth after declaring his assets just before the general election. He is also quite vengeful (read HERE) and I’d avoid any trait that might lead to a repeaat of 2018 when the MOF was said to have gone on a witch-hunt. In my opinion, the Education portfolio would be ideal for Rafizi. It is a very important portfolio, in case you think it’s “beneath” Rafizi. Our future depends on the kind of education policies the Anwar administration dishes out.. 

Johari Ghani, the former MOF 2 under the Najib Razak administration, is also a favourite for MOF position. I agree but - and it’s oe big BUT - he will forever be bogged down by his (guilty by) association with  the 1MDB scandal when he was the second MOF. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Why the King will pick Anwar Ibrahim as PM10

Nov 23: The 16th Yang DiPertuan Agong has probably seen more political drama than all his predecessors combined. Since assuming the throne in Jan 2019, Sultan Abdullah has witnessed the very short and rocky reigns of three Prime Ministers: PM7 Dr Mahathir Mohamad, PM8 Muhyiddin Yassin, and PM9 Ismail Sabri. He has had to deal with all kinds of antics from them, too, some outrightly disrespectful.

Tomorrow, after consulting his brother Rulers, the YDPA will be naming the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia, a task that has fallen squarely on his shoulders after none of the coalitions that contested Saturday’s general election could garner a simple majority to form the federal government.

PM10 will be the fourth PM on Sultan Abdullah’s watch!

As I see it, the King has been left with no choice but to appoint Anwar Ibrahim as PM. 

Here’s why:

As of yesterday, the King had a choice: Anwar or Muhyiddin. But then Muhyiddin had to tell the world that he had rejected the King’s advice that PH and PN set aside their differences and form a unity government for the sake of the nation. I had expected this from Muhyiddin and said so in my tweet as soon as Mat Hassan, the Umno Deputy President, floated the idea in the media.

PH + PN to form govt is wishful thinking. Won’t happen. Unless Muhyiddin is willing to be one of Anwar’s DPMs. Plus, BN will make a weak Opposition. Good try, Tok Mat.

Muhyiddin’s outburst has been described as rude, arrogant and disrespectful of the Agong. I honestly don’t think the King will - or can - bail out Muhyiddin this time around. He has bailed out Muhyiddin too many times in the past. Read Does a government that disrespect the Agong deserves the respect of the Rakyat? (Three times the King bailed out Muhyiddin) 

To try and bail out Muhyiddin again this time will really be risking the wrath of the people.
In the unlikely event that ALL the MPs from Barisan Nasional, Warisan, GRS and GPS interviewed by the King were to tell him that they do not support Anwar to be the next PM, the fact remains that Anwar’s coalition Pakatan Harapan has the most number of seats in Parliament in the general election. The Agong knows this and knows very well that he can appoint Anwar as PM of a minority government.

But I did say “in the unlikely event …”... 

Chances are some, perhaps a good sum, of those MPs have told the King why Anwar, not Muhyiddin, has their support as the next PM. Which will make the task for Sultan Abdullah a little easier.

In the King we trust.

Read also:

Monday, November 21, 2022

22 Nov 2022, 2 pm

21 Nov, 2 pm: The King has granted Zahid Hamidi 24 hours to decide if the coalition he leads, Barisan Nasional (winner of 30 seats in the GE15), is going with Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Harapan (82 seats) or Perikatan Nasional (73 seats) to form a government that will rule for the next 5 years. 

If Zahid goes for PH, they will have just enough seats - 112 in total - to rule. On the other hand, Zahid + PN = 103 seats, which means they’ll need GRS and Sabah’s GPS to make up the number to form a government.

Either way, both PH and PN need Zahid to form a government. Suddenly, Malaysia needs this most-maligned man of the most-maligned party to move on. Zahid is facing multiple charges for money laundering, mismanagement, etc. All politically-motivated, of course, he’s maintained that from the start. Me, thinking like a PAS leader, seeing how close the so-called Islamist party is to taking over this country, I’d say that maybe this is the Almighty’s way of punishing us for not even adhering to the most basic legal doctrine.

Innocent until proven guilty, right? 

In my previous postings, I have laid out two things Anwar Ibrahim must NOT do IF he does become Prime Minister of Malaysia. 

The first is don’t go on a witch-hunt. Read HERE

The second is not to give Lim Guan Eng, the DAP  chairman, any Cabinet post. He was made Minister of Finance hy Tun Dr Mahathir Mohanad in 2018. He has had his chance and I think he failed miserably. You may disagree.

Now, the third thing Anwar must NOT do if he becomes PM is, if I may, to include Zahid in the Cabinet. In fact, Zahid should not be given any role in the new goverment until he has cleared himself of all the charges he’s facing in court. In the event that the courts find him guilty beyond any reasonable doubt, Zahid will have to face the music. Rule of law. 

Until then, he’s the legitimate leader of a coalition that now happens to be key to the formation of our next government. 

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Respect the mandate


Pakatan Harapan          82 seats

Parikatan Nasional       73 seats

Barisan Nasional          30 seats

GPS                              22 seats

GRS                               6 seats

Warisan                          3 seats

*Two seats to be contested at a later date due to candidates’ demise 

Malaysia, Nov 20: While we slept, yes while the nation slept, Perikatan Nasional chairman Muhyddin Yasin told the nation that his coalition, which had garnered the second largest number of seats in the GE15, had secured “a letter with instructiions” from the Palace to form a new government.

I don’t know about you but I felt that this was not right. The image of the Yang Dipertuan Agong despatching such a letter in the dead of night to Muhyddin (or Mahiaddin) and not Anwar Ibrahim, whose coalition had won the largest number of seats at the election, just doesn’t sit well.

But that was what Muhyiddin @ Mahiaddin claimed to have happened. Around midday, the former PM posted a tweet about a meeting he had just had with the leaders of two other coalitions, GPS and GRS, purportedly to discuss the formation of a government.

In the meantime, Anwar, the only one who can claim that his coalition has more than one-third of the Dewan Rakyat (PH won 82 of the 220 seats contested, which works out to 36.9 per cent; PH won 73 or 33.1 per cent) has not gotten any “letter with instructions” from the YDP Agong. 

How come?

Article 43(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution provides that the YDPA shall first appoint a PM who is a Dewan Rakyat member who in his judgement is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Dewan. Read The Prime Minister’s appointment after GE15.

No one coalition managed to cross the 112-seat threshold to form a simple majority in Parliament and that’s why we are having an impasse now, where no one party or coalition has enough numbers to form the next government. 

But common sense, and perhaps even fair play, dictates that the leader of the coalition that won the most number of seats - and that would be Anwar not Muhyddin - would be the most likely to command the support of the majority of the members of the Dewan Rakyat. The King ought to give him the first shot, no?

So why did Muhyddin jump the gun? I had no answer to this chap sitting across my table during breakfast at McD here in Ampang.

“I slept at 4am, sir. What time did our Agong give this Muhyiddin the haha letter?”

The Palace will have to respond sooner or later to this developing crisis. Don’t let gilakuasa politicians take the nation for a ride again. Listen to the people’s wishes. Respect the voters and their choice. Respect the mandate.

We the people are waiting, watching. So much have been stolen from us lately. Will one more mandate robbed even matter? 

Or would it be the straw that finally breaks the camel’s back?

Friday, November 18, 2022

What Anwar Ibrahim must NOT do if he becomes PM

Nov 18: We’ve all almost forgotten the so-called Council of Eminent Persons, created by Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 2018, supposedly to advise a Cabinet lacking the experience in governing a nation. 

The Council was supposed to expire in 100 days, help the Pakatan Harapan coalition which had defeated BN in the GE14 fulfill its manifesto promises, and after which Dr M himself would hand over the premiership to Anwar Ibrahim. None of the above happened.

Dr M appointed his most trusted, Daim Zainuddin, as head of the CEP. Billionaire Robert Kuok, Zeti the former Bank Negara governor, KS Jomo the economist, and former Petronas chief Hassan Merican were the other eminent persons. Their reign saw a spate of resignations of top government and corporate leaders, including in government-linked companies, many suspected of being close to the previous government led by BN.

While the CEP is not responsible for every departure, they have been linked to the resignation of several top leaders including the governor of the Central Bank, the Chief Justice, and the President of the Court of Appeals. In the case of the latter two, the CEP had summoned them to a meeting where council member, Daim effectively sought their resignation. … Speculation was also rife – as was reported by Singapore’s Straits Times – that the council requested the top management of Khazanah Nasional, Malaysia’s strategic investment arm to resign. Days later, the board members of the entity handed their undated resignation letters en bloc.

There was so much fear, uncertainty and doubt among the civil servants, investors, and the general public as a result of the CEP's "shadowy" modus operandi . Cronies liked the CEP for the opportunities that suddenly came their way but sone of us started to liken the Council's reign to the Spanish Inquisition, where thousands were executed and hundreds of thousands prosecuted during the 15th century to maintain Catholic orthodoxy. 

A rather excessive comparison, of course, but you get the idea of the kind of witch-hunting and politics of fear and personal vendetta that took place in 2018. We neither needed nor deserved that, and certainly not a repeat after tomorrow.

If his people's prayers are finally answered and Anwar becomes PM after the results are known tomorrow night, I hope the Saudara will honor his words and pursue reconciliation with all parties so that the nation can finally focus on doing everything necessary to get back to its feet. No mindless witch-hunt and vendetta, let the young take over and the old retire gracefully, and don't even think of staying as PM for two terms, let alone twenty-two years.

Selamat Mengundi Semua!

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Enough of politics of fear and vendetta

Rafizi says will punish MACC chief after GE15

Kuala Lumpur, 17 Nov: This is the problem with politicians like Rafizi Ramli: you cross him a bit and -he's all hell-knows-no-fury-like-a-woman/man/bapok-scorned and threatens to punish you once he comes to power. 

His threat to go after MACC chief Azam Baki after the Malaysian Anti-Corruption-Agency once Pakatan Harapan wins the GE15 this Saturday smacks of the same kind of politics - of fear and vendetta - that Malaysians witnessed and subsequently rejected after the last general election. 

It is also arrogant, brattish. 

So the MACC raided Invoke's office. So what? Two days before nomination day, the MACC said Umno president and Barisan Nasional chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi would be brought in for questioning over the RM9 billion littoral combat ship affair. Azam was accused of interfering with the elections. Read Why bring up Zahid and LCS now?: Waytha 

So, the MACC should stop investigating graft just because the general election is around the corner, is it?

Rafizi says the MACC and Azam are political tools for "hidden hands". Well, I think the one time when MACC was really made a political tool of the government was when Latifah Koya, who was Rafizi's comrade then, was made MACC chief by PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. 

I hope there will not be a repeat of that once Pakatan Harapan wins the polls.

Nobody loves the MACC but it has a job to do. Azam Baki was part of the MACC team that was responsible for helping bring down the Najib Razak administration over the 1MDB affair. Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed, who was Azam's immediate boss then, had stuck his neck and paid the ultimate price (Abu Kassim suggested charging Najib with SRC-related crimes in 2015). 

Monday, November 14, 2022

With KJ as Umno’s next poster boy, wither Tok Mat Hassan?

KL, 14 Nov: When things were falling apart for Umno after 2018, party insiders started touting the likeable deputy president Tok Mat Hassan as its future  president and, by extension, a potential Prime Minister of Malaysia. 

Such talk has become less audible these days. Tok Mat’s move to contest in the parliamentary seat of Rembau in the GE15 was met with, at best, a lukewarm reception at natuional level. On the contrary, Khairy Jamaluddin, the 3-term Rembau MP who grudginly made way for Tok Mat’s parliamentary ambition, is now being bandied about as Umno’s next “poster boy” after Ismail Sabri. KJ is contesting the Sg Buloh parliament, a seat won by Pakatan Harapan in the last election.

Wither Tok Mat Hassan?

It may be too soon to tell. Umno’s infighting in the run-up to this Friday’s polls is unprecedented. KJ’s bold admission that he wants to be PM is causing a lot of anxiety among supporters of the bigwigs and warlords in Umno. Political rivals are rubbing their hands in glee: Hamzah Zainuddin of Bersatu warned KJ that Uno will cut him into pieces after his I-want-to-be-PM declaration. KJ’s “good friend” Rafizi Ramli from Pakatan Harapan has predicted a bloody death (politically, that is) for the 46-yer old as a result of his outburst. Kerana mulut badan binasa, or so says the Malay adage.

But KJ shouldn’t care. Caretaker PM Ismail Sabri has given his blessings to KJ. “He’s qualified (to be PM),” the Bera MP, a Vice President in the party, said. Ismail is going to be in Sg Buloh to help with KJ’s campaiging. If Umno wins the election and rule once again, he has promised to make KJ a “senior minister”. 

Ismail has not made the same kind of promise to Tok Mat, even though Tok Mat is more senior in the party than KJ or even he himself. 

Wither Tok Mat?

It does not help that Rafizi Ramli’s Invoke has got to say this about Tok Mat’s parliamentary dream: Rembau is NOT safe

If Rafizi is proven right and Tok Mat fails to defend the Rembau seat that KJ had held since 2008, it should be the end of the road for him, for sure. The only consoloation is that it has happened before. In 2013, Melaka chief minister Ali Rustam decided to pursue his dream of becoming a Cabinet Minister, only to lose to Shamsul Iskandar of PKR in one of the biggest upsets ever. Read Chinese didn’t appreciate me.

Ali Rustam, when asked about his political future after the crushing defeat, said, “Time will tell”. Well, time has told.

Tak dapek den nolong doh, Tok Mat.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Anwar Ibrahim a tool of DAP, really?

Damansara, 13 Nov: In his quest to become Prime Minister for the second time in 2018, Dr Mahathir Mohamad had to bring himself to do two things many had thought impossible and unthinkable: the first was to embrace Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the former DPM he had incarcertated and accused of sodomy 20 years earlier; and the second to eat humble pie and kow-tow to the DAP, the party that he had for decades labelled as an anti-Malay spectre so that Umno and he would continue to get the god-fearing Malay-Muslims votes, especially in the kampungs

Dr Mahathir even went public to say that I now realise DAP is not chauvinist at all. When he became PM, he made Lim Guan Eng the Finance Minister and turned his charms full on to become the love of the lives of the likes of Hannah Yeoh and Tony Pua. There was no happy ending to that short-lived fairy tale, as we all know, and the DAP is back in Pakatan Harapan, solidly behind Anwar Ibrahim once more. Dr Mahathir, for his trouble, has now lost all rights to trample on the DAP although he still takes pot-shots at Anwar as the country prepares to go to the polls this Friday.

Today, howevert, Dr Mahathir’s former party Umno, his own Pejuang and Bersatu, the party that got the nonagenarian his ticket to premiership it the last GE, are still playing the same old rhetoric that DAP is an anti-Malay, Chinese chauvinist party. And that a vote for Anwar is a vote for DAP.

In its editorial yesterday, Harakah Daily, the organ of the so-called Islamist party PAS, openly called DAP a Chinese chauvinist party that is anti-Malay and anti-Islam. PAS is accusing Anwar for being a tool of the DAP. Read Alat DAP: Untuk apa Anwar menafikan? 

The funny ting is PAS and DAP were coalition partners together with Anwar’s PKR in the 2008 and 2013 general elections. In the GE15 on Nov 19, PAS will be hiding behind the Perikatan Nasional banner. PAS knows that many, including God-fearing Malay-Muslims, will not vote for its candidates if they stand using the PAS logo and banner.

For PAS and Malay-Muslims who still fear the DAP, perhaps the words of the great man Dr Mahathir himself, when he saw the light in 2018, would bring them comfort:

“I am the one who started the labelling of DAP as a Chinese chauvinist party. But when I got closer to them, I found that they are not Chinese-only like MCA. DAP is multiracial. They have Malays and Indians as well. The image I created of DAP was not really true. In their meetings they speak Malay, the national language … Their song is also in Malay”.

As for Anwar being the “tool” for DAP, let’s sit back and think rationally for just a bit. Hasn’t Anwar been the only Malay leader who has been able to keep the DAP as part of his coalition for the last two decades or so?

Fact is fact: Anwar has been and still is the only Malay leader who can rein in the DAP.

No other Malay leader within or outside DAP can claim to have that ability or will be able to do so after this Friday. Not Ismail Sabri, not Muhyiddin or Azmin Ali, not Ahmad Sabu or Hadi Awang. Not even Dr Mahathir. 

Friday, November 11, 2022

Welcome back, Tony!

Friday, 11 Nov:  Got a text from Tony, an old friend who had spent the last four years trying to make something out of his life in Indonesia. He's back for the GE15, hoping that his vote will help change the country of his birth - the only country he calls his home - for the better. Not for himself, he says, but for his children. 

We all share that hope, don't we? We also have shared frustrations with both the excesses and the shallowness of those who call themselves leaders. From Tony's a tweeter account, I stumble upon a recent posting by my old lawyer Malik Imtiaz: 

"If you're voting, and you should be if qualified, think about the future, yours and the young around you. Vote for a future for the country. Please, it's the only home many (of us) have." 

Exactly a week before you and I go to the polls and decide where we want this country to go: back up or further down.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Not just clean but BN candidates for this GE must be holy, says Ma’il

Oct 26: A divine 10 for Ismail Sabri, the caretaker Prime Minister, for his bold asssurance to the Malaysian electorate that his party’s candidates for the 15th general election will not just be clean but clearner than clean, holy even! 

Don’t laugh. Ismail actually said it: for the first time religious authorities will be engaged to help probe the background of those nominated by Barisan Nasional to stand on the Nov 19 polls. “Who knows, maybe there are candidates who got married (secretly) in Siam (Thailand). Or have failed to pay alimony or child support ..” he said. READ: BN candidates have to undergo vetting, including by Religious Dept

Traditionally, political parties will assure the people that they will vet their candidates with the help of PDRM, MACC, CID, BNM, EC and some other short-forms that authorities in this country love to use but never the religious authorities. Ismail has risen the bar to heavenly heights!

Thing is, with all the vetting that they had done on one another through the years, corruption and wrong-doing involving politicians continued almost unabated. And the amount of money involved has risen from paltry millions to billions. 

So a word of caution to my fellow voters: Don’t get your hopes too high with this “religious authorities vetting” promise. 

It’s safer to assume the caretaker PM’s statement as an attempt to try and justify the huge allocation that his government was proposing to give to JAKIM and Co in the national Budget 2023 tabled by the Finance Minister just before the dissolution of Parliament the other day.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Rishi Sanuk and Khairy Jamaluddin

Kuala Lumpur, Oct 25: I don’t know about you but when news of Rishi Sanuk (42, Stanford and, with an estimated net worth of RM4 billion, wealthier than the British royals) as Prime Minister-designate of Britain came out,  Khairy Jamaluddin came to mind. 

KJ is 46, went to Oxford, and although not richer than our royals (but then again, who is?) has gone through the harsh Malaysian political mill - and survived. He took on Zahid Hamidi for the Umno presidency in 2018 after the Barisan Nasional’s defeat in the GE earlier that year, proof that he is poltically fearless. And even after many older members had jumped the sinking Umno-BN ship then, Khairy did not abandon his party.

On the contrary, it would seem now that his own party is trying to frustrate his progress ahead of the 15th general election. The Rembau MP for three consecutive terms has had to grudgingly make way for Mat Hassan, the Negri Sembilan Umno chief (and a PM potential if Umno wins the Nov 19 polls). Mat Hassan could have picked another parliamentary constituency but, no, he had to choose Rembau [Rembau Raid leaves KJ with precarious fate] leaving KJ with one of the  unsafe seats in the state. 

You can’t blame an outsider like me for suspecting that someone (in his own party) is trying to set KJ up to lose r[Don’t sabotage KJ if he’s picked to stand in Kuala Pilah, former MP tells party members].

But like one faithful follower of Malaysian politics told me, Khairy may even win Lembah Pantai if Umno sends him there. The health portfolio entrusted to him during the pandemic has showcased his competence as a Cabinet minister and endeared him to the general population. Ismail Sabri, who clearly believes he will resume his premiership after GE15, has vowed that KJ will continue to be his Health Minister if he is still PM after Nov 19.

But that was before Rishi Sanuk. And before Zahid Hamidi made the promise of having three Deputy Prime Ministers if BN-Umno wins. In other words, if Ismail Sabri does become PM again after GE15, he can actually appoint someone younger than him as one of his three DPMs. Cannot lah all three DPMs older than the PM himself, right?

P.S For the record, Tun Razak was Malaysia’s youngest PM. He was 48 in 1970 when he succeeded Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Voting for a stronger Ringgit/The old house in Holland Park

Pic file: Holland Park

18 Oct 2022: Whose house this? is a posting I did in 2010, quoting a now-defunct blog Another Brick in the Wall (the blogger, like me, is suffering from a writer’s block at Thick as a Brick), about how our wealthy politicians were spending Malaysian taxpayers’  money on properties abroad. This was long before 1MDB, when the most corrupt among our corrupted would claim they only stole, at worst, tens of millions and not hundreds of millions, let alone billions. 

Why am I ressurecting this old posting of mine? Well, this morning a colleague alerted me that the article was being actively shared in whatsapp groups. Everybody wanted to know, whose house is that? It must have something to do with the coming general elections, I was told. So I contacted Brick, who’s 12 years older now and, therefore, can claim to suffer from memory lapses like some old politicians do. “I don’t remember,” Brick said, “but the house must belong to someone close to the nonagenarian.” 

That’s the thing about bloggers. Hardly anyone make them immediately accountable for what they post. People are only interested in suing them to stop them from exposing them and, in the case of our authorities, in shutting down their blogs so they’ll stop barking at their political masters. Which was what happened to Another Brick. 

“We are going to die!”

At today’s exchange rate, the said house in Holland Park would cost some RM45.5 million. But a Ringgit today will get us considerably less than it did 12 years ago, not just abroad but also at Mydin or the wet market. That’s because our Ringgit has depreciated phenomenally in recent years. You can’t even exchange your RM for the local currency when you are abroad, that’s how pariah our Ringgit has become. [Read Syed Akbar Ali’s posting 4.72 Ringgit for some grim perspectivee]. 

His detractors like to blame former PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad for this and to a certain extent they may be right. But to be fair, it would take more than an individual or a massive scandal to put the currency in its current state. We need a competent leadership, a competent government, to address all the weaknesses that have caused our money to slide into, and remain in, the gutters. 

Was Ismail Sabri an able Prime Minister and was his government a competent one? Is Tengku Zafrul the Minister of Finance who can haul our soiled butts from the doldrums? Do you have to overthink your answers to these questions?

The coming general election is an opportunity for us the voters to put the right people in government who will put back our house - this nation - in order.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

What’s the meaning of keMerdekaan if …

Damansara, 31 Aug:  I was listening to Prime Minister Ismail Sabri’s Merdeka message on radio as I was driving yesterday. A typical “Keluarga Malaysia” message of good news and great optimism for the future of Malaysia. The PM listed down what his Administration has managed to do for the people so far, including the highest GDP growth in the region and the lowest unemployment, assuring the listener that the nation is on the right track. But typical of official speeches, there was no cutting to the chase: the listener had to endure salutatation after grovelling salutation. To address the King alone must have taken the PM like five minutes, or it seemed that long to me. I adore our King and the Raja-Raja (even when they are not at their best behavior) just as the next Malaysian does but I don’t think the people who live in our palaces would mind if we were to shorten the salutations just a little bit. It doesn’t take away any of their daulat if we decide, for example, to do away with the Duli Yang Maha Mulia honorific each time we merafak sembah the Agong or the Raja-Raja. 

The same goes with archaic protocols like Yang Amat Mulia, Yang Amat Berhormat, Yang Amat Arif, Yang Mulia, Yang Berhormat, Yang Ariff, Yang Berusaha, Yang Berbahagia, etcetera. 

Back to Merdeka …

The number of homes in my gated, multiracial neighbourhood that fly the flag in conjunction with Merdeka Day has been dwindling in recent years. For the 65th Merdeka, despite what the Ismail Sabri administration has done for us Yang Merana , less than a handful of homes proudly display the Jalur Gemilang from their balconies. Unbelievable. 

The rest must be flying the Jalur Gemulang in their hearts. 

Selamat Menyambut Hari Kemerdekaan!!!

Friday, August 12, 2022


Friday: You expect to pay more for valet services at shopping malls and hotels, of course, because it’s convenient, it’s cool (maybe), and you’re lazy. But the sudden increase  in valet rates at some of my favourite establishments around the Klang Valley is rather shocking. Nowhere is it more blatant than the valet at Tropical Gardens Mall in Damansara, as far as I’m concerned. Before the pandemic, it was RM10 for a couple of hours to park your car with the valet. Effective last month, this doubled to RM20! Salaries remain the same, though. You pay RM14 an hour to leave your car at the valet in Bangsar Village effective Aug 1, which is RM2 more than before. It’s a sure sign that not only are things back to normal, some people are back to no good. And some people are as lazy as ever. 

Thursday, July 21, 2022

A good country to go missing

Puchong, 21 July: If you want to get lost, Malaysia is probably the best place in the world to go missing. Why? Because nobody will really notice, not even the police, and people will forget that you’d gone missing as soon as their minds make them forget, which is very quickly. 

The case of the former tv personality Zalina Azman, who has gone missing since Nov last year - yes, it’s almost end-July 2022 now - has gotten sone Malaysians concerned. At least more concerned than they would be if a 10-year old girl of the average Mat goes missing. So concerend that the police had to explain why it took them so long to finally broadcast the news of the missing Zalina. [Not very reassuring, though: if that’s how lonnng it took the police to coordinate efforts with the other government departments, bad news for the missing and the lost. Read Kenapa lambat hebah kehilangan Zalina? Ini penjelasan polis.] 

But, hey, I’m not sitting on the cops, okay? We the media didn’t do much better, actually. I sent a phone message to an editor of a Melayu news portal on Dec 1 last year to tell him that I heard a police report had been lodged about Zalina going missing. He sounded genuinely concerned, this editor,  but nothing in the news every came out of it. If it had, the police would have to come out a lot sooner and tell us that another person - this time a media celebrity - had gone missing in Malaysia.

And we would have forgotten all about it much earlier, too.

p.s Reminds me of Nurin Jazlin, every time someone lodges a missing person report. And, what do you know: the hunt for the killer is still on, or so say our police as reported by our media.

Monday, July 11, 2022

One election, three winners - the joke about Ampang’s PKR election

Bangsar, 11 July: It was probably one of the most bizzarre party elections ever. In a keen fight to pick a divisional chief for Pandan at PKR elections on June 24, Daing Muhammad Reduan emerged the clear winner over six other candidates, including favourites Hans Isaac and Altimet. Daing was later disqualified (read here). In the re-election on June 29, 51-year old Hans, a former actor, beat rapper Altimet by two votes. Such a razor-thin margin shoud trigger an automatic recount but in this case the recount was only done a few days later when Altimet asked for it. On July 9, more than ten days after the re-election, Altimet was declared the new winner (read here).

You can try to explain the process or the principles behind the Ampang elections. Most people, however,  have made up their minds about one thing: that this still has no idea how to conduct a free and fair election. At the next general elections, nobody from PKR should be taken seriously if they were to complain of rigging, lack of transparency or vote-buying.

In any case, congrats Altimet. That is, if the election committee does not order another re-electiona week or two from now. Nine votes, after all, is still razor-thin by any standard.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Altimet-ly, hard work pays off for Hans Isaac the Ampang boy

Hans-ups Altimet by two votes in PKR Ampang re-election - The Vibes

The Kita Budak Ampang story (watch the You Tube) has a happy ending for Hans Isaac, after all, at least for now. After two years of walking and talkng the grounds of Ampang in the hope of convincing the PKR members there that he is their best candidate for branch chairman, the celebrity businessman made the cut yesteday by beating Altimet, another big name in the entertainment business, in a tight re-election (read PKR disqualifies Ampang chief Daing Muhammad, fresh polls June 29). 

Party insiders believe this hard-earned victory opens up a lot of possibilities for Hans: he could even be fielded as a PKR candidate at the next general elections.. If party big boss Anwar Ibrahim also believes that Hans has what it takes, that is. And if you ask me, it’s hard not to believe in Hans if you know what he’s had to go through to take on the bigwigs in Ampang and within his party. Especially how he’s set out, tirelessly and almost single-handedly, to help and motivate the Ampang constituents during the pandemic. 

It has only been two years since Hans set his sights to becone a politician in Anwar’s party and look at how far he’s come. Imagine what this 50-year old newbie can do in the years to come to help mend our broken politics - and dreams.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Malaysian journalists told once more they’re just NOT good enough!

The Hadiah Kajai is deemed as one of the highest awards that the long-suffering Malaysian journalist can expect to win locally. Last weekend at the Malam Wartawan Malaysia, however, there was no wiinner. According to the Malaysian Press Institute, which organised the MWM where dozens of “lesser” awards were given out, its esteemed panel of judges unanimously felt that nobody had met the criteria set for Kajai. In other words, no Malaysian journalist was good enough. 

Not good enough for the MPI (or its panel of judges, MPI would insist), that is. Many of my colleages and I would beg to differ, We are of the opinion that the best article submitted to the MPI for the awards, no matter how weak or pathetic the standards of the competition was, ought to be awarded the Kajai. “The best of the worst”, if you like. Becaues telling all those editors, sub-editors, writers and reporters that none of them and none of their articles met the MPI’s standards is a great insult. Unkind.

MPI’s standards (oh, sorry, the judges’ standards) must be so damn high.

Congrats to all the winners of those lesser awards. May our journalism standards improve for next year’s Malam Wartawan Malaysia and the years to come so that we can have a Kajai winner every year.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Thick prick in the wall

After all these years, some bloggers are still considered by the authorities as a nuisance. The blogger behind the popular site called Another Brick in the Wall must have been one big pain in the ass (either to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission  or the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia. If you click on the site’s link (ABITW is still on my blogroll, for now) you won’t be able to open the blog because it has been blocked. Yes, blocked by the MCMC or the Ministry. 

We were more amused then irritated by the move by the authorities to make the blog “disappear”. Because it is such an primitive way of dealing with the digital media. It makes the Ismail Sabri admin look stupid. They ought to be thrown back to the Stone Age.

To read stuff written by this so-called enemy of the state, simply click HEREHe now goes by the name Thick as a Wall.

Don’t let the crooked hijack our courts

If some Dick implicates me in the court of law for receiving (or paying) bribes, I hope you won’t be a dick, too, and believe every word said under oath as gospel truth. Desperate people will do anything to get out of the hole they had dug for themselves and let somebody else fall into that hole. 

This could be the case facing Anifah Aman, whose name was the latest to be mentioned in the ongoing corruption case involving former Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi. One David Tan Siong Sun, an “admin manager” with Ultra Kirana Sdn Bd, testified that he delivered money to the former Foreign Minister. Details told to the court about the ‘transaction’ are sketchy, however.

Anifah has come out publicly to deny this. “I have never met David Tan nor have I received any monies from him or UKSB,” he said in a press release yesterday. “I am willing and able to assist any investigations by authorities on this to clear my good name.” [Read the story, find out who UKSB is, h e r e.

Here’s the thing: we are getting a lot of such (so-called) revelations and allegations in our courts these days. Anifah isn’t the only one who feels he’s been defamed in court. Just the other day, a witness in the same case claimed that Health Minister KJ also received money. Former PM Muhyiddin Yasin and former Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal were implicated, too. 

Some people think that because something is said in court it must be true. We know from history that that’s horse shit. Crooks will swear on the Quran or the Bible and lie through their teeth or throw other people under the bus to avoid jail or save their master. When it fits them, they will even claim to be senile and say they can’t remember.

How the media report this kind of manipulation of our courts of law is important in order to ensure that justice is done (at the very least, to ensure that their readers stay smart and are not hoodwinked). Prosecutors and judges, too, must draw the line so that crooks don’t get to use the court of law to pursue their own interest and narrative. That’s crucial to ensure that justice is seen to be done.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Living with Covid-19

When I tested positive for the coronavirus last Thursday, I even got a pat on the back. “Welcome to the club!” Such is life, we have come to embrace the once-feared Covid-19 and accepted it as part of life, a nuisance that refuses to go away. Two years after Malaysia’s initial lockdown, we know exactly how we are supposed to deal with it. Having been fully vaccinated (am due for my second booster anytime now), I suffered only mild symptoms during my quarantine and am lucky to recover without spreading the virus to loved ones. Lest we forget, the virus is still killing people out there. If there’s anything Covid-19 has taught me from March 2020 till now, it’s of 1. How pathetically little the governmennt knew about how to deal with the virus then (and how still little it knows about everything else now) 2. People don’t change: we are back to our pre-Covid bad habits.

Stay vigilant, stay safe and thank you for the well-wishes

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Whoever helms Axiata next may hasten Malaysia’s long-delayed 5G takeoff


KL, 7 June:  A few names are being bandied about to replace Izzaddin Idris, who stepped down end last month - suddenly or otherwise, depending on who you talk to -  as the president and group CEO of Axiata Group in the midst of a mind-boggling opposition against a government-initiated scheme to roll out 5G. Mind boggling because Axiata, which owns Celcom and Tune Talk, is effectively linked to the Malaysian government itself.

One of the contenders to replace the seasoned Izzadin, I was told, is Shazalli Ramli, a name all too familiar with the industry. Shazalli is credited for making Celcom a trendy regional telco powerhouse. He also  made that famous comeback to the government-linked corporate world late in 2020 - expectedly or otherwise, again depending on who you’d want to believe  - after the fall of the vindictive Pakatan Harapan government. Shazalli is currently chief of Boustead, which has just announced a seven-fold increase in first quarter profits the other day.

Mohd Idham Nawawi, the current CEO of Celcom, is also being considered for the post, if you believe the gossips. Idham cut his teeth in Axiata and would be seen as a natural replacement. He was made Celcom chief in 2018, before Izzaddin came into the picture.

Industry observers generally think either man will augur well for the Government’s plans to roll out 5G through its single wholesale network enabler DNB, an MOF company. The nation has lagged far behind its own original plans on 5G due to unexpected (or no) opposition to the government’s 5G plans by its own telco GLCs. 

For the recored, Ralph Marshall, the man who helms DNB, had played a big role in the rollout of Maxis, the traditional rivals of Celcom. And Izzaddin’s departure last month, some said, had something to do with the opposition by the telcos against DNB. Wallahualam. 


Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Probe the security company, not just the guard

Bangsar, 17 May: Good to hear that the Kuala Lumpur CID will now investigate a skirmish involving a security guard and journalists from The Vibes. Whether or not there was a criminal element in the incident should be decided after a thorough investigation has been carried out. It is only fair to both parties. Read The Vibes journalist's assault reclassified, investigated under Penal Code: CID Chief.

The investigation into the case, I hope, will focus on the security company that hires the guard involved in the "assault/harassment" of the journalist. if you'd seen the clip on the incident, the said security guard was behaving extremely emotional. That is not how you expect a security guard to behave under tense circumstances. Begs the question if he was properly trained by the security company that hired him. 

Security guards, like the police, are armed. While in PDRM we trust, the same can't be said private security firms who might cut corners for profits. 

Read also Wong Chun Wai's Fashion Police Foibles

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Forget Tesla, give us our 5G now!

KL, 12 May: By now, it's fair to assume that nobody knows exactly when - or if ever - our proposed 5G network will be completed. It could take two or 22 years. If the government is not careful, it will not take off ever! Read Telcos stall on deal with DNB.

I'm not being dramatic. Consider the facts: we made Langkawi the testbed for out 5G rollout at the end of 2019, before Covid-19 took over our lives. Since then, very little progress has been made. The government set up Digital Nasional Bhd to oversee the roll-out. Good. But opposition from a handful of telco companies, who wanted control of DNB or an alternative to DNB, stalls everything. To appease the telcos, the government bent backwards and even offered them a combined 70 per cent ownership of DNB, which effectively give them the control they had asked for. 

But as of today, they are still not pleased. Only TM and Yes have subscribed to DNB's single wholesale network but the two won't be enough.

Did the government allow those telcos to hold the entire nation to ransom? It does look that way, although the telcos would have you believe that they are justified for still being unhappy. Well, I can tell the telcos and PM Ismail Sabri this, too: We - the people - are pissed off. We have put up with so much rubbish for too long and these people continue to take us for granted. We want cheap and efficient 5G, and we want it now!

The government has nobody to blame but itself if this whole saga continues and we, the nation, gets left behind as a result. Ismail Sabri should take inspiration from history. Imagine if governments of yesteryear gave in to opposition to all those developmental projects it had planned, from the North-South Expressway and a new international airport in Sepang to building an administrative capital in Putrajaya and the bridge for Penang. Malaysia would still be backward now if that had been the case.  

Other countries are already talking about 6G and even 7G but we're getting all excited about the prospects of Tesla investing in Malaysia

Sunday, May 01, 2022

The longest Ramadan

RAMADAN is coming to an end, the month of May is here (Happy Workers' Day!) and I've done exactly three postings this year, probably the lowest output by this blog since 2006! Many of you, Dear Readers, were wondering if I was OK. Thank you for always enquiring about my well being and the state of this blog. Rest assured, I wasn't resting on my laurels. On the contrary, I've been busy working hard - on dreams and other stuff. Said stuff includes work, ie The Mole (which enters its 11th year soon), The Vibes and Getaran (where I'm advising), and the National Press Club (as President). Last Friday, Zainul (Petra News CEO), Terence (Vibes and Getaran's editorial head honcho) and I recorded our first socio-political podcast which we're calling The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (probably available on Spotify this coming Monday (check us out h e r e). 

Just before the start of the Holy month, I climbed Mount Kinabalu after months of training and has since been back on my bicycle for short night rides around Kuala Lumpur. Am planning to scale the Mulu Pinnacles in Sarawak in June, peer into the Gunung Rinjani volcano in Java after that, and rent a motorbike to ride around Italy with friends before winter. I've resumed running and although I've struck out marathon from my to-do list, we've registered for a trail run in Janda Baik. Anapurna base camp by January 2023? 

At times I feel like I'm rushed to tick the boxes on my bucket list. Age is catching up and friends around you are dying one by one. But I hope it's just another round of mid-life crisis. How long does mid-life last, anyway?

A question I often hear lately is, "Will the general elections be held this year?" 
My response has always been, "No, it won't happen this year". 

Haha. Of course I don't have the answer to that question. Prime Minister Ismail Sabri may call for the general elections anytime before May next year but whether he does it soon or later won't make much difference to me or to the average Malaysian if things remain status quo. This is not to say that Ma'il can' t make a difference. He can if has the will to. For a start, do a Cabinet reshuffle now. Get rid of ministers who haven't been performing and those who scandals await them. He is in a position to bring back GST and undo the damages that the witch-hunting PH government did between May 2018, when they won the GE14, and the Sheraton Move, when their in-fighting let the BN back into the nation's driving seat. Abolish the mandatory death penalty, adopt a minimum wage policy, launch an all-out war against corruption starting with the top (politicians), the relevant authorities (the AG's Chamber, the MACC, the police, judiciary), clean up and strengthen the Bumi insitutions, and give back whatever is owing to Sabah and Sarawak. Not too much to ask, right?

This blog I started in 2006 has seen the GEs of 2008, 2013 and 2018 and I can't say we look forward to the next one. Fatigue has set in quite a while ago. We saw the fall of Barisan Nasional after a 60-year rule only to witness its foes squander a chance to take this country to the next level. The momentum for change, I dare say, is gone. At least where my generation is concerned.

If there's anything to hope for in the 15th general election, it's the difference that the 18-year olds, voting for the first time, will be making. Or want to make.

If these young ones are no better than us, it will be SSDD all over again: Same Shit, Different Day. The ringgit's sick, the economy languishing, employment sucks and our future remains uncertain. Don't blame Covid19. Even without the pandemic, we were already sliding down a slippery slope. We have ourselves to blame. We allowed the same people (politicians) whom we had accused of screwing us up to do the same things for this nation hoping that they will give us different - and better - results. 

The same with this blog. Here I am resolved (again) to return to blogging regularly, to do my bit in exposing the bad and the ugly in our society with the hope that I could contribute to improving our collective lot. So, yes, in a way I am about to go back doing the same thing and hoping for different results. But I shall have faith and not give up.

Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir Batin. 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

The real reason(s) why Hasni Mohammad lost his Johor MB post to Onn Hafiz

Bangsar, Thu 17 March: Re Onn Hafiz Ghazi, the new Menteri Besar of Johor, I wish people would stop talking about how young he is. Because 43 is NOT young. Najib Razak was 23 in 1976 when he was made deputy minister and became the Menteri Besar of Pahang at 29. Shahrir Samad, who made such a big fuss about the manner Onn Hafiz was brought in to replace incumbent MB Hasni Mohammad, was just 30 in 1980 when he was made Deputy Finance Minister and was a good decade younger than Onn Hafiz today when he became FT Minister in 1983. Onn Hafiz, born 2 March 1979, had just turned 43 and that, brothers and sisters, is not young. Sure, he’s a baby compared with 96-year old Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad but why is the Tun still around and threatening to be still relevant come the next general election? Anwar Ibrahim is 74 and that’s old but when he became the Deputy PM in 1993 he was only 46. More perspectives: Sanna Marin, the PM of Finland, is 37; Jacinda Adern, the Kiwi PM, is 41; and Justin Trudeau was Onn Hafiz’s age in 2015 when he became PM of Canada. 

So the new MB of Johor is not young, OK? If you ask me, I’d say he’s about the right age to lead the State. But is he the right person to lead Johor? Time will tell. If he is going to kow-tow to every whim and fancy of the palace, then he isn’t the right dude to lead but he would probably last longer than Hasni  Mohamad, who was MB for just a little over two years (Feb 2020 to March 2022). 

Umno president Zahid Hamidi said he will address the issue of the appointmet of Onn Hafiz as Johor MB at the party’s general assembly tomorrow. That will be a great exercise in futility. In other words, the explanation may be relevant if you are a party member with interest (and the majority of Umno memberi are without interest or benefit, for that matter). Tomorrow, I bet you my last ringgit, Zahid will tell the assembly to support the Johor Sultan and the Ruler’s choice of an MB. Not just because Zahid and Sultan Yem are good, old friends but because Zahid knows better than to try and usurp the authority of the Istana in this matter. 

Read Know Your Place and learn what Zahid and the Umno leaders already know.

What I’d like to know is what Hasni Mohammad, the former MB, did not do for the palace or for the State that warrranted him to be replaced despite his party’s huge victory at the Johor state elections. If that was really the reason for his short stint, as some would want you to believe.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Why a Premier for Sarawak won't save the forests, empower the natives or stop the thieves

Feb 17: The Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim played it well, welcoming the move to change Sarawak's chief minister as "an overdue recognition of equal standing with peninsula". You don't hear it from anyone else  they are either too afraid to comment on anything that has to do with MA63, or too dense to. And that is how Anwar Ibrahim, the 3-time ISA detainee, proves to be still relevant in local politics today. 

But before the politicians in Malaysia's Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak get carried away, do read the Opposition leader's support in its entirety. 

Anwar says he's hoping that the amendment to the title will also mark the beginning of the return of the rights and interests of the people of Borneo under MA63 to them.“Beyond this title change we must respect and honour the agreement and promises that are part of MA63. Otherwise we continue to make only cosmetic changes, which for the people of Sarawak and Sabah is unacceptable.” 

Yes, the change in name from CM to Premier or Assistant Minister to Deputy Minister will be mere cosmetics if it's not followed up with changes that will require the leaders in Sarawak and Sabah to start doing some soul-searching, followed by great sacrifices. 

As far as politics is concerned, the players from those two states don't need their so-called cousins from West Malaysia to teach them. They have had their fair share of baggage, corrupt leaders, chief ministers who didn't need fancier titles to steal from the people and the states' rich resources. They still do. Sarawakians need more than those fancy titles the politicians are seeking to change their lot and that of their children's.

The easy - and ideal - solution to who should be Anwar Ibrahim’s deputies

One DPM from Sabah, One DPM from Sarawak Mont Kiara, 29 Nov: I read with great interest NST’s speulation on who Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim...