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.