Suddenly, everyone believes there is God…

Malaysiakini

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

COMMENT This is a true account.

During my stint in Sibu in the early 80s, I came to know this timber tycoon quite well. He was a friendly and generous soul, well known in the community for his involvement in many voluntary and charitable organisations.

He was also a Datuk and a senator, a well-respected personality who had served the Sibu community well in his public life.

One or two years after I was transferred back to Kuching, my then Sibu colleague informed me that the Datuk had suddenly passed away. Cancer took his life at a relatively young age. He was only in his early fifties.

It was a departure from this world that the man was unprepared for. It was agonisingly painful for him to let go.

“With all the money I have, still no medicine could cure me and I could not be saved”, my friend related this as one of the Datuk’s final lamentations.

This is not really an extraordinary tale as we must have heard similar accounts now and again.

Those who have it so good in life will want to live forever. Why not? They deserve to enjoy life for as long as possible after all the toil and sweat they have put in to acquire their wealth and fortune.

I am relating this little story here to serve as a reminder to all of our mortality, the super affluent and wealthy in particular.

Death and time spare none. Neither a disease.

When you are stricken with a deadly disease like cancer, your millions and billions will not save you.

So do the right thing while you can. I hope the Umno politician who considers RM2 million pocket change is reading this.

Today, the whole world is fighting a mysterious disease – the novel Covid-19. It is a war which we are not winning, not yet.

Truly, a disease spares no one. Prince Charles (photo) has been infected. His 93-year-old mother, Queen Elizabeth II, is under quarantine in her palace.

Movie stars Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, were among the first renowned personalities to publicly make known their infection.

Back home, our Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Raja Permaisuri Agong are also under quarantine after seven of their Istana Negara staff were found to be Covid-19 positive.

A silver lining from this pandemic has to be the spiritual awakening of many. All of a sudden, many seem to have discovered something for the very first time – a relationship with God.

I am sure that we would have noticed that of late, more and more people are turning to God for a kind of salvation, one that they suddenly realise only the Heavenly One is able to grant.

I have been receiving powerful and consoling prayers on social media, Facebook and WhatsApp in particular, from friends who have never mentioned to me about God at all in the past. Seriously, not even once.

Just after dinner last night, I received four beautiful “prayers” from four FB friends who hardly contacted me at all or only during festive occasions, much less talk about God and prayers.

Two sent me loving prayerful messages; one included a nice video of a soothing prayer in songs.

What was a big surprise to me is that one of them, as he had told me years ago, was a lapsed Christian who does not attend church services or receive the sacraments anymore.

For many, God and prayers used to be such boring subjects. They are not exciting, so monotonous and not sexy.

Suddenly, all of them want to believe there is God. Suddenly, believing in God isn’t that dumb anymore?

A few days ago, I shared this reflection with friends on my contact list:

Under the heading, “A fact of life or is it?”, I wrote: “From the many messages of prayers and exhortations of having faith in God, even from those who never ever talk about God, it must be a real blessing that Covid-19 is upon us.

“Suddenly, there is a God… for many unbelievers. Alleluia”.

Some friends responded but this one summed it up best.

“We all know from personal experiences that people (nine out of 10) only look for God when they are in despair. When the sailing is smooth, God is conveniently forgotten. Of course, it’s a fact”.

It’s also a good sign that we have also become the people who pray. Even Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin recited a long prayer on national television the other day.

No one, including atheists, should underestimate the power of prayer.

Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and those of other faith consider prayer a powerful intercession. Muslims are also exhorted to pray five times a day. That is how important prayer is to those who believe there is a Heavenly One.

deep in prayer - Josh.org

But to say we pray for this and that is the easy part, no matter how deep in prayer we are or how long we pray.

Yes, we pray but what other actions do we take to help ensure that our prayers will be answered. Sincere, genuine action from the heart is necessary too.

Next time we say we pray for this and that, let us ensure our prayer is accompanied by our deeds.

Not to do so will be hypocritical on our part.

To fellow Malaysians, since many of you believe there is a God who will deliver salvation to mankind, it is the time now to give, give and give. The days when you have been taking should be over. Show your faith in the One Above with sincerity, love and compassion from the heart.

Above all, remember this. All your earthly wealth and fortune will not go with you when you leave this world.

We come naked, we will go naked.

Malaysiakini

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at sirsiah@gmail.com.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak) | Leave a comment

Audacious And Outrageous, But Will The Coup Coalition Pull It Off?

Audacious And Outrageous, But Will The Coup Coalition Pull It Off?

SARAWAK REPORT

  • 23 March 2020

From the moment GE14 upset the applecart for the top dogs in Malaysia those former players began scheming over how to overturn their loss of untrammelled power.

How could anyone have imagined otherwise since the show of democracy in the country had never been more than a fig leaf for a one party dictatorship by a closed circle of businessman politicians and crony establishment? They weren’t going to allow democracy to suddenly take charge without a fight.

The Harapan leadership ought to have been more wary, but instead they set about governing as if there was no threat to an uninterrupted five year term – as if Malaysia was a safely established democratic country, where politicians do not expect to be bought.

The leadership was soon caught up with rivalries and transition issues rather than focusing on the clear and present danger represented by the extreme tactics most likely being considered by wealthy former kleptocrats, who were desperate not only to evade jail, but to grab back power.

As if they were no threat whatsoever, the likes of Najib were soon being allowed to abuse bail in every conceivable way: attending parliament and rabble rousing round the country armed with cash. It became increasingly clear they were stalling their trials by every means available to their unscrupulous lawyers, at least some of whom ought to have been in the dock themselves.

Part of the problem was that the old establishment remained connected to much of the ‘deep state’ management of the country – allies within the judicial and bureaucratic classes, who still needed to be brought over to act on behalf of the wider public rather than their former patrons.

Above all there was a weakness, with two camps at the heart of government and one leader reluctant to be a lame duck for the next. The reform programme stalled without firm direction and commitment and the situation presented just the opportunity needed for that class of privileged actors used to getting their own way to bulldoze their way back into office – by whatever means.

There should be no surprise that the tactics were outrageous, audacious and utterly blatant. Behind the coup coalition are a band of power-mongers, who operated for three generations on the principle that money and the right rewards can buy just about anything in Malaysia.

Sarawak Report got a flavour of the jaw-dropping bravado back in 2015, when Najib arranged for his allies in Thailand to arrest a 1MDB source, Xavier Justo, forcing him to sign a confession that the site had ‘forged’ all its evidence on the billion dollar thefts from 1MDB.

Later in the year, Najib illegally sacked his Attorney General, who had pursued investigations on the thefts and appointed a ‘yes man’ who willingly chose to believe a farrago of nonsense, including ludicrous and clearly unsubstantiated claims that the stolen money was a Saudi ‘donation’.

The same prime minister then brought in extreme ’emergency’ measures and ‘fake news’ laws, all designed to protect his cover-ups and persecute critics.

All this was supported by those who have teamed up as his remaining allies after the election: his UMNO colleagues, PAS leaders and perhaps even more significantly a coterie of tycoons who had benefitted from the previous regime.

Not for nothing was the malcontent deputy PKR leader Azmin Ali spotted at a quiet rendezvous in London with the leading businessmen ,Vincent Tan, within weeks of the GE14 result. Not for nothing did he spend a family holiday with Najib’s cousin Hishamuddin. A whole class of businessmen and politicians from the old guard was deeply vested in supporting a return to ‘normal’ and reaching out to the likes of Azmin.

Likewise, much of the ‘aristocracy’. The delay and reluctance of the previous Agong to call Mahathir to the palace post GE14 was seen by all and acted as a reminder of how Najib in particular has worked hard to sweeten the royal families towards BN by encouraging opportunities for them to make vast wealth from their positions.

Post-GE14, adjustments to the arrangements of the Forest City development were not pleasing either, for example, to the Sultan of Johor (who coincidentally called ‘PM8′ to his palace just days before the coup). Nor have other recent challenges to the planned destruction of public gazetted forest lands been pleasing to other royal families, who have traditionally stood to make their cuts from such arrangements.

Given the opportunity presented by the Azmin/Muhyiddin plot to choose an alternative to PM7 the Council of Rulers and the Agong clearly took it.

The leaders of PH had allowed themselves to rival after both Bersatu and PKR found themselves challenged by Azmin and Muhyiddin’s wide-ranging plotting, when they ought to have held together against the real threat. Defectors were drawn over by the rebels partly by greed for the opportunities of office, partly through confusion and deception but also owing to lack of leadership within PH.

Did they think beyond the plot?

As a result, Malaysia’s first ‘people’s election’ is now the victim of yet another brazen and audacious bid to rewrite history by the super-wealthy and super-powerful who consider themselves above all laws and able to get away with anything they choose.

However, extreme and outrageously audacious gambits can also fail, especially when the perpetrators don’t think beyond their raid. Stealing an Old Master may be a tough order, but it is nothing to compared to the challenge of getting rid of it uncaught.

These political plotters, who have done nothing for the past two years except work on how to destabilise the government and snatch back power, have shown themselves blind and deaf to the wider crisis they walked into and to public opinion, which has moved beyond their feudal attitudes and expects the will of the voting public to be respected.

The hotch-potch of present ministers, who owe their positions in ‘PM8’s bloated and unconfirmed government purely as reward for defection and betrayal, are glaringly unfit for purpose and already squabbling among themselves. Few have measured up to the task of leadership in the eyes of an angry public, if observations on social media are any guide.

Particular fury is vented against Azmin Ali's family and their seemingly autistic approach to public opinion - including a wife who boasted on Facebook about visiting a Royal Baby in an expensive suit in the middle of the Covid 19 lockdown.

PHOTO CAPTION Particular fury is being vented against Azmin Ali’s family and their seemingly autistic approach to public sensitivities as they flaunt unexplained wealth – including a wife who boasted on Facebook about visiting a Royal Baby in an expensive suit in the middle of the Covid 19 lockdown.

Malaysia faces financial meltdown with the ringgit closing today, Monday, at RM4.45 to the dollar. It cannot afford to reach the RM4.5 margin call benchmark, but who seems to know or care about that problem with an unelected finance minister struggling at the helm?

This ex-CIMB chap is reportedly close to people who ‘count’ again, like Najib and the Sultan of Selangor – a royal who apparently seeks to ban the term ‘backdoor’ government to describe the political coup conducted by ‘PM8′. But he is not backed by a single popular vote as he makes decisions about the finances and taxes of the country.

As for the Economics Minister, Malaysians are weary of a man who has been for years too busy plotting to do a proper job:Is offering to let people use up their pensions the best idea to help hard pressed Malaysians from the unaccountably wealthy Economics Minister? If so, it has gone down badly.

Is offering to let people cash in their life’s pensions the best idea to help hard pressed Malaysians so far from the unaccountably wealthy Economics Minister? If so, it has gone down badly.

The unconfirmed cabinet of ‘PM8′ may indeed boast the support of many in the establishment, but without proving his numbers he has no confirmed legitimacy from the supreme body of parliament and time is not endearing this administration to the people whom MPs represent.

It is a government formed against the expressed wishes of the sovereign electorate, who when last consulted voted for a different set of parties with different manifestoes to run Malaysia.

Parliament has been postponed (on grounds of dubious legitimacy) for two whole months already. There are fears the pandemic health crisis could be exploited to delay that further with all manner of ’emergency’ measures to protect the ‘PM8′ administration from testing the strength of its support.

Every day that goes by is showing up the failures of competence of a coup coalition representing a raft of conflicting agendas with just one goal in common – the pursuit of wealth and power through the abuse of public office.

Will Malaysian people let them get away with it?  They didn’t last time. ‘PM8′ has yet to achieve a safe sale for his Grand Master – it is still sitting like a hot potato in his hands.

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak) | Leave a comment

So Sorry For Sarawak

A Sarawak Report COMMENT

Scenes this week as PKR local followers agree to follow their MPs and march out of the party - who knows where?
  • Scenes this week as PKR local followers agree to follow their MPs and march out of the party – who knows where?
  • 17 March 2020

The early results coming in from Sarawak’s small constituencies were a sign of the sea-change achieved at GE14, as PKR candidates won a clutch of unexpected victories in hard to win rural seats.

The party, and others besides, had worked tirelessly to support these candidates and voters had shown their own enthusiasm for Reformasi and thirst for change by pushing back against the almost overwhelming advantages given to the ruling parties by a largely autonomous regime run for the benefit of the Taib family and their cronies.

It was an exciting development and at grass roots level folk across Sarawak started to hope they could make real changes with the next state elections and force the government to do more for the native peoples, who had been described as squatters as their lands as they were pillaged by the ruling cliques who’d enriched themselves from egregious abuses of power and office.

All Sarawak PKR needed to do now was to pull themselves together, get working on the ground and build cooperation with their coalition allies, namely DAP and any independents willing to work with them. Their leaders gained government positions – like Baru Bian, Minister for Public Works – which ought to have further enabled positive action and organisation.

Two years later, however, they had done nothing to prepare the party for the looming state election.  Instead, they had descended into a mess of quarrelling factions with an isolated leadership at war with the party’s national HQ and speaking to no one much but themselves and, of course, the clique of plotters around the deputy PKR leader, Azmin Ali.

How could such a neglect of duty towards their hopeful electorate have come to pass?

Sarawak Report can testify the signs were there from the start. Humility, forgiveness and patience comprise the Christian philosophy of these mainly Dayak leaders, however it seems a culture of rivalry, petty squabbling and lasting resentments was every bit as powerfully ingrained.

The previous state election of 2016 had descended into a ferocious rivalry with the urban DAP as the two parties squabbled over which was going to lose in seats that plainly neither was going to win. The pointless, bitter fighting had naturally served only to weaken both parties in the eyes of voters – infighting ALWAYS does.

Two years on, as the new PH coalition got to work and sought to organise its duties in Sarawak it was plain that this lingering and debilitating animosity remained. The local chapters of these national political allies continued to harbour corrosive suspicion of the other – indeed, as one DAP leading light bemoaned only too prophetically to Sarawak Report during those early months:

“We feel PKR are more friendly to the GPS people than they are to us, we find we cannot get along”

But this was by no means the only pointless battle consuming the attention of these local PKR leaders – successfully distracting them from the doubtless more tedious duties of party organisation and policy formation.

Within days of the election victory a key PKR organiser from the small inner circle who ran the local Sarawak Party was announcing to Sarawak Report:

“You realise we are Azmin’s men?  We do not support Anwar”

The implications of this partisan factionalism have now been fully played out, but they were obvious from the start. The attitude of Sarawak PKR’s leaders from the moment the PH government took office was that they were ‘against’ the national leader of their own party and were prepared to act as devoted and unquestioning supporters of Azmin Ali, wherever that might lead.

Questioning these PKR Sarawak’s leaders not long before the eventual coup that has now led this group to support a coalition of parties they came into politics to oppose and passionately campaigned against at the election, Sarawak Report asked how they could justify their blatant commitment to a PKR rebel, who was plainly willing to ditch every party promise and join extremist PAS and corrupted UMNO?

The response consisted mainly of knowing smirks – apparently Sarawak’s local PKR leaders had imagined it would turn out differently with Azmin succeeding Dr Mahathir as the leader of the PH coalition, with excellent rewards for ‘Azmin’s men’ in store.

How had these former land-rights campaigners and reforming idealists reached this place?

Bitterness and Resentment

The answer is actually quite simple. Back in 2011 there had been two dynamics that sealed the loyalty of Sarawak PKR ‘s leadership to Azmin Ali, a loyalty he would proceed to ruthlessly exploit to forward his own opportunist agenda to usurp his boss or do whatever else it took to become No 1 politically in Malaysia.

The first dynamic was that Azmin had been entrusted by his then trusting party leader to manage the finances and organisation for elections in the East Malaysian states. Azmin therefore controlled the money PKR Sarawak received, which focused the minds and loyalties of grateful local leaders.

The second dynamic that unfurled during the course of 2011 was that PKR HQ in KL for a while lost confidence in the ability, energy and commitment of the leadership of the local Sarawak party and started to consider if certain persons should be replaced.

When the issue became open there was not surprisingly an angry and defensive pushback on the part of Baru Bian and his allies which, thanks to various representations succeeded with the party leadership, meaning he and his coterie were retained after all. They proceeded to perform abysmally in 2011 compared to DAP and equally abysmally in the elections of 2013 and 2016, but did not care to blame themselves.

The resentment generated by those aborted moves back in 2011 would have been better put aside – that’s politics after all and serving the people should come first.

Indeed, Anwar, who was considered most responsible for those second thoughts about the Sarawak team, himself suffered two five year terms in jail, owing to a very great extent his own political rival Dr Mahathir. Yet, Anwar had found the resources to bury that hatchet for the sake of the win of 2018.

Not so with Sarawak PKR, where such pragmatic and spiritual forgiveness was not forthcoming.  To the contrary, the local leadership apparently never let go of their resentment over that perceived betrayal of their ‘right’ to lead the party in Sarawak and powerful suspicions lingered that it was just a matter of time before Anwar moved against them once more

One strong reason for the ongoing bitterness, Sarawak Report contends, was that it was ruthlessly encouraged by an interested party behind the scenes. Azmin Ali had in fact been key to the deliberations that had seen the near dismissal of the Sarawak PKR leadership back in 2011. However, just as he later sought to take advantage of the jailing of his boss to seize control of PKR, he was happy to shift the blame.

After such a string of poor electoral performances by Sarawak PKR it could not have been hard to stoke the fears of another move to re-energise the leadership with new blood.  And Azmin, as he has now amply demonstrated beyond the circle of those who know him well, has all the qualities of ruthless ambition and lack of conscience needed to reach the top.

Thanks to his multiple manipulations of different factions against his own party’s unity, he now sits as a de facto Deputy Prime Minister over a coalition of his former political enemies, headed by a puppet ‘PM8′ whose life expectancy is, to put if politely, not long.

The blind support of the Sarawak PKR faction had been crucial to the coup. As detailed, it had not been hard for Azmin to convince the impressionable ‘country bumpkins’ over in distant East Malaysia that there was plotting against them or that the lack of confidence in their political skills owed only to Anwar Ibrahim.

Stories about Anwar’s ‘unmentionably evil nature’ told in respectful confidence by Azmin to such favoured listeners were easily believed.

“Apparently the things he does are so awful they can’t be mentioned. But Azmin, he knows all about these things and why Anwar can never lead the party.”

one of Sarawak’s PKR leaders knowingly explained to Sarawak Report. Since Anwar was in jail he could not defend himself over the years that Azmin ingratiated his own patronage.

During that time, Azmin had made a more practical move to take advantage Najib’s political persecution of his boss. PKR had initially passed the leadership of the State of Selangor to Anwar’s long-suffering wife Wan Azizah – used to filling her husband’s shoes. However, Azmin manipulated a different outcome.

Working with the new extremist leader who had just taken over PAS, Hadi Awang, Azmin was able to block Wan Azizah from taking over the pivotal role. Azmin was able to do a deal with Hadi, who refused a woman on grounds of bigotry.

The Sultan of Selangor agreed to grease the wheels and Azmin’s carefully cultivated ongoing relations with these two players have remained central to his continuing future progress.

This meant that from 2014, during the near five years that Anwar was booted into jail a second time, Azmin controlled the purse strings of Selangor, Malaysia’s richest state and used that position to strengthen his position in the party against Anwar and his wife.

Playing with his control of grants he managed to develop devotional support from numerous civil society campaigners, who were to prove vital in backing his campaign to usurp his party leader right until the moment he flipped over to join his other carefully cultivated contacts within UMNO/PAS. Using the same powers of patronage Azmin also  managed to develop dog-like devotion from the leadership of PKR Sarawak.

From this enviable position Azmin made the life of the struggling Wan Aziza, seeking to represent her jailed husband as the leader of their party, as hard as possible. He had access to money to shower on client groups and somehow also seemed to have secured access to private money that enabled himself and his family to live and travel with utmost freedom and luxury.

The distant folk in PKR Sarawak, like so many NGO folk were hugely grateful to have their money issues covered thanks to the generous concern of the leader of Selangor. They were plainly willing to absorb stories about the inadequacies of the ‘difficult women’ seeking to stand up for the jailed party founder and also to take on board the troubled assessment that Anwar was not ‘really fit to lead his party’ going forward. Instead it should be him.

Azmin may have acted pleased that Sarawak Report was able to contrive a meeting between Dr Mahathir and Nurul Izzah in London in 2017. After all, their eventual agreement forged an alliance that ultimately won GE14 and saw Anwar released as the prime minister designate. However, it is a matter of record that he protested behind the scenes and felt outmanoeuvred.

So it was that when Anwar (fresh from jail and receiving treatment for physical injuries) stood as leader once more in the post-GE14 PKR elections, Azmin told him he would challenge him for the top job.

At the final moment he backed down, but told Anwar he felt it was his reward for the ‘hard work’ he had put into leading in Selangor that he should be given a clear and uncontested path to the deputy position. After all, he had the situation sewn up having used his years as the source of funding for PKR to ensure that many of his loyal henchmen occupied key positions in the party.

However, Anwar was not prepared to prevent a rival loyal to him from taking up the challenge. Rafizi could not match Azmin’s entrenched support by that point, however he gave the Selangor ex-chief minister a fright with an only narrow defeat in the unequal battle.

Bumpkins in places like Sarawak were lectured on how disloyal it had been of Anwar not to allow Azmin, who had ‘sacrificed so much’ to be his substitute as leader of Selangor, to get the job unopposed. They felt his ‘justified’ bitterness, his anger and his pain and it confirmed their view of Anwar.The picture of Larry Sng together with Anwar meeting with Governor Taib and published by the Borneo Post has been used over the past year as proof that the PKR leader was 'scheming' against his local party

The picture of Larry Sng together with Anwar meeting with Governor Taib and published by the Borneo Post has been used over the past year as proof that the PKR leader was ‘scheming’ against his local party

Larry Sng

It soon became clear that being ‘Azmin’s men’ involved passive obstruction to the ultimate leadership of the party around Anwar.

It meant being uncommunicative, slow footed, disorganised and unresponsive – much of which came naturally to these folk to whom practical organisation, strategy and policy seemed secondary to waiting on providence and fighting separate battles. That was always the problem with the Sarawak PKR Division from the start.

Therefore, whilst the opportunity to mobilise PKR Sarawak was glaring in the post GE14 period, zero happened. Indeed, any urge for action from the centre was treated as an imposition on the ‘autonomy’ of the local party.

The PKR leadership took a handy leaf out of the despotic play sheet of Taib Mahmud in this respect. Taib had long since done a deal with his KL bosses for a free hand in return for Sarawak’s oil reserves. Taib called it ‘autonomy’ and ‘keeping UMNO out of Sarawak’.

Now, PKR Sarawak grandstanded on the same principle of ‘autonomy’, which in practice meant scheming with Azmin to undermine Anwar’s efforts.  In neither case did the interests of the actual people feature foremost.

Anwar continued to beg for strategic cooperation, organisational planning and evidence of policies for the coming state election. In return there were months of sullen silence, these were Azmin’s men.

There was plenty of mood music to encourage the thesis in Sarawak that Anwar was already a deadman walking to be ignored. Azmin’s friendly NGOs were happy to join the criticism that Anwar was ‘too ambitious’ in pressing for a consolidation of his right as the leader of the largest party assume a post in cabinet and name a date for the agreed transfer of power.

Ambition was made a dirty word against Anwar on behalf of the very people whose reform agendas were being blocked by an elderly man of the past. On the other hand, Azmin’s own ambition to leapfrog the man who gave up ten years of his prime of life to do jail for his principles was being treated as if it was perfectly acceptable.

Shifting Standards

When evidence suddenly emerged that it was not necessarily Anwar who practices the ‘unmentionable’ acts so liberally whispered about by Azmin’s God fearing supporters, but rather allegedly Azmin himself, it proved again only too easy for the groupies to accept the counter-version of the story.

The ‘dirty video’ released by an angry former aide to Azmin was described a plot by Anwar to defame Azmin and stymie his rightful progress. Supporters agreed it could also be a deep fake – proof of Anwar’s nefarious tactics to prevent Azmin and his men as the better inheritors from the transition government.

And still, zero continued to have been done over months and months in terms of organising PKR Sarawak onto a state election footing or developing and promoting policies for those people who had voted for those PKR MPs and their aides, who were now enjoying the ministerial life.

Meanwhile, a frustrated Anwar had upped the tension with a move that gifted Azmin’s men with the ‘proof’ they needed. The PKR leader took up the offer of the maverick businessman cum politician Sng Chee Hua and his son Larry, who held one independent seat, to join PKR and bring their financial muscle to help mobilise the moribund local party machine.

The Sng family have a dirty business reputation in Sarawak in timber and gambling. Larry is married to the daughter of a hated local chancer Ting Pek Khiing, the logger of the Bakun Dam and a Mahathir crony of years gone by. Neither are amongst the ‘Big Six’ crony companies wedded to Taib Mahmud and Larry Sng having acted a political favourite in the past had walked away from BN by 2013.

However, resentment and suspicion lingers on against the Sng family’s past and present intentions towards the Dayak. When they joined PKR through a deal with Anwar (adding their single seat in Julau) it provided just the cause celebre required by Azmin’s men to justify open defiance in Sarawak.

No longer did the rebellious PKR leadership need to explain why they were failing to cooperate or support their party leader. Larry Sng was ‘Taib’s man’, it was explained, now infiltrated by Anwar to undermine and divide his own party.

Whether or not Sng is indeed Taib’s plant or deep cover agent is yet to emerge. However, what is certain is that Azmin himself successfully used the alliance to divide the Sarawak PKR party himself, in order to further his own political cause and ultimately that of Taib as well – given that Azmin and GPS have now seized power through a joint coup against the voters of PKR.

The fury over Sng and deep suspicion that Anwar was priming him to take over as a Chinese leader of Sarawak PKR ruptured the local party in pro-Azmin and pro-Anwar factions, which finally saw three key MPs joining with Azmin to break away from the party altogether and assist the present coup coalition of the unconfirmed ‘PM8′ (to whom Azmin acts as deputy).

Advice by well-wishers like Sarawak Report that the party would do well to unify and focus on the real enemies of corruption and cronyism around Taib were met with virulent attacks over the presence of Larry Sng. Thanks to Larry Sng, Azmin was able to lead PKR Sarawak by the nose.

The Sarawak defectors from PKR are now supporting Taib’s party GPS within a Malay Muslim supremacist coalition that militates against the equal rights of Sarawak people. The bogus autonomy deal done by GPS as its price for joining such a coalition has put Taib’s own daughter in the coup coalition cabinet in charge of all the resources offered back to ‘autonomous’ Sarawak.

Supporting all this willingly are the moo cows from PKR Sarawak who were thus courted and seduced into becoming ‘Azmin’s men’.  Although, faced with the enormity of the outcome, the former leader Baru Bian has stepped back from his colleagues and taken a stand as an ‘Independent’ MP. This week he led his local party followers in an angry exit from PKR where electoral oblivion surely awaits them.

Inevitably, Anwar has now been forced into making the very promotion these Dayak leaders feared. With just three remaining supportive sitting local MPs, two Chinese*, PKR has now conducted a vote and appointed the winner to be the leader of Sarawak PKR – Larry Sng. So far, Sng has at least proven loyal to the party as has Miri’s Michael Teo.

Two ex-PKR Sarawak MPs now sit as ministers in the coup coalition as their reward for the vital role they played in disrupting their party and assisting the Azmin betrayal against the voting public.

They may enjoy the trappings of their temporary office, but in the process PKR Sarawak have sadly let down themselves, their voters and their country by acting like rural bumpkins and village rivals, instead of remembering the great and fundamental values of their faith: patience, forgiveness, humility and putting others (their voters) before their own vanities and greed.

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak) | Leave a comment

What, Muhyiddin? Still politicking during this pandemic!

Malaysiakini

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

COMMENT While most of us are concentrating on how to get through this difficult time of the Covid-19 outbreak, and ensuring that we and our loved ones stay safe, it seems that politicians are still engaging in their favourite past-time – politicking.

What is most demoralising and sickening is that the top man in the country, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin himself, seems to be setting the worst example. He is still playing politics at this time of national and global crisis.

In my previous article here, I’ve said that this is not the time to write stinging political articles as politics of any kind must surely be furthest from our minds.

The recent politicking of the prime minister has forced my hand to pen this.

This is the time for national cooperation and togetherness where each and every one of us should be on the look-out for one another to ensure that we all get through this pandemic, hopefully unscathed.

Politically, this is also the time for national reconciliation and healing. Malaysians have no time for politics and want opposing politicians to work in unison and concentrate 100 percent of their time and energy on tackling the pandemic.

And what did our prime minister do? More than 1,000 Malaysians are Covid-19 positive with eight fatalities (as at 7pm on March 21) and Muhyiddin could still find the time to sack his Bersatu secretary-general.

What is this, Mr Prime Minister?

Don’t expect me to be nice and charitable with my words here; no, not with our so-called leaders who have their priorities all wrong.

Let me tell you this, dear Muhyiddin. At this time, no one bothers about Bersatu or politics. This is a crisis facing all of humanity, not just Malaysians, so please do your job and quit politicking.

Why? Are you more concerned about your political survival as Bersatu will be having its party elections next month and the secretary-general, who is not on your side, must be sacked?

This is all about you, yourself, Muhyiddin Yassin, isn’t it? What about Ahmad, Ah Seng and Muthu, fighting for their lives in the ICU?

Dear Muhyiddin, there are a million and one issues now which require your immediate attention since you are the prime minister.

You have to be on the pulse of the pandemic, every single detail of it, every single day. It is very important too for the government to instill confidence in the people that it is on top of this fight. Anything less will not do.

Here are examples of our concerns. Yes, we should all “stay at home” with the Movement Control Order (MCO) in place. But what about the homeless, those who have no place to go home to?

Isn’t this the perfect time to gather real data of Malaysians who are homeless? With the Army out to assist the police, ostensibly to chase people home, what about conducting a census of the homeless, along the way? The homeless are still loitering on the streets; they have no choice. Are their lives not worth saving too? We want to know.

Then, what help can we offer those from the B40 group and the daily wage earners? They still need to feed their children. What about the stranded university students too who can’t make it home? Is the government helping them out? We want to know.

It has been reported that one million Malaysians may be jobless after this is over. When this will be over is still clouded in uncertainty. What are your plans to tackle this, Muhyiddin? We would like to know too.

And what about getting enough Covid-19 test kits urgently? There are not enough. Many with cough and flu have been merely treated for the common cold or sore throat because not enough testing kits are available. So far, we haven’t heard of any resolution to this issue.

Why is the price of face masks suddenly triple? Who allowed such a hike to take advantage of the situation, causing more difficulty and pain to a suffering citizenry? We want to know too.

Then, what about the welfare of our good medical staff who are the first responders and front-liners? Already, 24 of them had contracted the virus and two are in ICU, fighting for their lives?

So far, we have not heard much on these scores from the authorities, except from one dumb ‘warm water’ health minister, whose only public advice this past week is exactly what it was – dumb! It was so dumb that I don’t even bother to know the name of this so-called health minister.

 Noor Hisham Abdullah

But I must salute Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, who must surely be working overtime now, for his daily updates on the outbreak. Well done, Dr Noor and staff at the ministry and in our hospitals and health centres.

There are many, many more concerns and questions which demand answers. The list is simply too long to pen here.

My main point is: Stop politicking, Muhyiddin and get down to do some serious work. Show some leadership and shoulder real responsibility, for a change. Malaysia could not afford a mediocre prime minister at this time.

Also tell your cabinet members to stop playing politics too.

According to Anwar Ibrahim, your Home Affairs Minister, Hamzah Zainuddin, was among Perikatan Nasional leaders who have been busy trying to woo PKR lawmakers instead of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.

Are your ministers following the bad example you have set, Muhyiddin?

Image result for muhyiddin yassin

Did you realise that it was a slap on your face as the prime minister when the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong had to go live on national television on March 20 to advise Malaysians what to do during the CMO period? Clearly, this was the job of the prime minister, not the king.

This pandemic is real serious, it is a matter of life and death. We are at war with a virus.

During this unprecedented crisis, Malaysia needs an extraordinary leader with the energy, zeal, determination and resolve, not an ordinary, mediocre one.

Seriously. I have my doubts that Muhyiddin is the right man to lead the nation through this pandemic.

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FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at sirsiah@gmail.com.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak) | Leave a comment

Sarawak PAS chief seems to be different from the PAS breed

Malaysiakini

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

COMMENT At a time like this, most of us are hardly in the mood to read stinging political stories. For writers, including me, political upheavals couldn’t be further from our mind – but what about a “feel good” political story?

It’s also a break talking 24/7 about the Covid-19, which has created innumerable negative vibes more than anything else.

Since PAS is now back in the federal government under the Perikatan Nasional coalition, more than 40 years after it left BN in 1978, the party has to be taken more seriously. PAS is also in charge of several states today.

This piece is about the Sarawak PAS chief in my home state, where PAS has zero elected representative and is unlikely to make much headway in the foreseeable future.

I have not met Jofri Jaraiee (photo, above), the Sarawak PAS commissioner, in person but I do know that he is a diehard PAS man. Well, for the past 10 years, at least. 

Since we first connected a decade ago via email, I’ve known Jofri as a PAS member. He was the Miri PAS chief then, and still is today.

In 2015, he was appointed the Sarawak PAS commissioner, possibly in recognition of his commitment to PAS ideals and loyalty to the party.

Jofri had contested in several elections, both state and parliamentary, but never won. On record, PAS has never won a single seat in Sarawak.

Even during the years when PAS was part of Pakatan Rakyat, Jofri was never given a “safe” seat, so a victory was next to impossible.

PAS is indeed relatively small in Sarawak. I do not have any record of its membership base. What I do know is that when you have a diehard party man like Jofri helming PAS in Sarawak, the party is here to stay.

I also believe that a religious-based political entity will be around for a long time. Founded in 1951, PAS is almost 60-years-old. Political ideologies may divide Malays and Muslims, but Islam unites.

At the mention of PAS, the stigma surrounding the Islamic party, its religious bigotry and fanaticism, in particular, put Sarawakians off.

It is a fact that any Islamic-based party will find it difficult to make any headway in multi-religious and multi-cultural Sarawak, where its diversities are wholesomely celebrated and perpetually honoured.

As a Sarawakian, I believe Jofri is very much aware of that.

This is probably why he has refrained from talking about religion in most of his public statements.

Jofri has religiously been sending me his press statements over the past 10 years, most of which sans Islamic doctrines.

This week alone, I received two statements from the PAS chief.

The one on March 16 was an advice to the public to stay indoors and a call to the Sarawak government for school holidays to be extended for as long as it is necessary, given the Covid-19 outbreak.

On March 18, I received another statement from Jofri, this time urging his fellow Sarawakians to learn and work from home using ICT facilities.

“In the age of globalisation, the advancement of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is becoming more and more important for every human being. “Human and ICT are inseparable and essential today,” he noted.

The PAS commissioner also said that distance education offered by universities abroad should also be extended to schools using an online system for students to continue learning, without going to school.

I thought that these were good and relevant suggestions from Jofri. And the best part of all – nothing about religion.

Indeed, over the past decade, Jofri’s statements were all concentrated on social issues, including local Miri City Council’s teething problems, which he brought up regularly.

Another of Jofri’s recent statement was his objection to EPF’s proposal to raise the full withdrawal age of the pension fund to 60 from 55.

He rightly argued that “the EPF also has to think of those who choose to retire early, before 55, and that there is no guarantee that a member will live up to 60 to enjoy the fruits of his labour”.

The PAS leader said that age 50 or 55 are considered the most conducive time to retire and this is when the EPF savings are needed most.

As an EPF contributor, I concur with him.

And hey, Jofri is also the editor of news portal Sarawakvoice.com, which publishes in Bahasa Malaysia and English.

So far, the Sarawak PAS chief has struck all the right chords in my book. Jofri seems to be a different PAS breed from the one we are only too familiar with.

To us, Sarawakians, I think that we are okay with all politicians as long as they stay clear of religious bigotry and racial extremism.

Let me also state here that this is only my observation of Haji Jofri Jaraiee from a distance, as I do not know him personally.

It’s possible that the views from a Sarawak politician who knows the PAS commissioner could be very different.

For now, I say to Jofri – keep on sending me your press statements. I read all of them.

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FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at sirsiah@gmail.com.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak) | Leave a comment

Like Mike Pence to Trump, Anwar is loyal to Mahathir

Malaysiakini

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

COMMENT The Dr Mahathir Mohamad-Anwar Ibrahim relationship has always been an interesting subject for writers and will likely remain so for a long time to come.

Our historians will surely record the duo’s unique, long and difficult ties spanning over 40 years for posterity and our students, decades down the road, are likely to take a deep interest in the lives of these two most important and flamboyant political leaders in Malaysia’s modern history.

Of late, I have been watching closely the American 2020 elections where Donald Trump is seeking his final and second term.

As I observed Vice-President Mike Pence on the campaign trail rooting for his boss, I’ve also noticed a distinct similarity between Pence and our own Anwar Ibrahim.

I believe that the Anwar of the Pakatan Harapan era has always been patient and loyal to Mahathir. He has changed from his rebellious days as deputy premier in the 1990s.

Recently, I watched a live feed of Pence speaking at a campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada. The vice-president was in his element, declaring his unwavering support for Trump and listing his achievements of the past three years in the White House to the roaring crowds.

Pence is noted as a man with a calm and cool demeanour.

A polished speaker on the campaign circuit does not need to raise his voice, scream or shout to endear himself to his audience. The substance of his speech speaks for itself.

Perhaps, this was why Trump chose Pence, a former Indiana governor, as his running mate in 2016. Trump needed a calm presence to balance out his boisterous campaign style and outrageous statements.

Three years in, Pence has grown into the fiercely faithful deputy, displaying undivided loyalty to his commander-in-chief at every step of the way.

You need a personality like Pence to tame the “monster” in Trump, as some Republican acolytes put it.

Should the Trump-Pence ticket win four more years in November, Pence could well make a bid for president in 2024. From a relatively unknown state governor thrust into national politics just three short years ago, Pence surely knows his place for now. Patience and loyalty are the hallmarks to be well-preserved.

Anwar might have missed his chance to be prime minister for now but to Malaysians, the PKR president and Mahathir are still considered the key personalities to watch in Malaysian politics, for as long as they are still around.

Although Muhyiddin Yassin has out-manoeuvred Anwar via the backdoor, snatching the position of the eighth prime minister in the process, Anwar can be assured that the majority of Malaysians are behind him on this score.

In GE14, Anwar was the anointed eighth prime minister, not chosen by Mahathir or Pakatan Harapan but by the majority of Malaysians.

This is the people’s mandate and any attempt to deny Anwar the premiership should be rightly met with the people’s wrath in some forms of resistance.

I doubt Muhyiddin and his Perikatan Nasional (PN) government will have it easy in the weeks and months ahead. Already, we have heard voices of discontent against the new prime minister from some senior Umno warlords.

Looking back at the 22 months of Harapan rule, Anwar has done well in the face of countless devious manoeuvrings against him, the latest being his move to give Mahathir the space to decide when to step down at that fateful Friday evening on Feb 21.

Two days later, the dreaded Sheraton Move was set in motion with Mahathir and Anwar being outplayed by traitors from within Harapan.

Nonetheless, like Pence to Trump, Anwar has projected himself as a Harapan faithful, fiercely loyal to Mahathir, publicly at least, and the coalition. Pence stood by his president, Anwar stood by his prime minister.

Like Pence’s personality, Anwar is now seen as more calm and cool, wisely choosing to avoid arguments and prefers to diplomatically defuse tension at meetings. He has to be seen as a leader, at the same level as Mahathir, and stand above everyone else in the room.

And it is good that Anwar has continued to do so in recent days, even after Mahathir started talking down to him, saying that “Anwar is impatient to be prime minister” and “the Malays don’t support Anwar’s liberal stance nor his multi-racial PKR party”.

I consider Mahathir’s remarks unnecessary against an already wounded lion in Anwar. The old maverick has now made it known publicly that he has no love for Anwar.

But all of us remember it was Mahathir who first went to see Anwar in court to extend an olive branch in 2016 and visited him in the hospital many times later before GE14.

It was Mahathir who came “begging” from Anwar for help, not the other way round.

This time, I believe Anwar when he stated two days ago that his patience is legendary and that he has been loyal and respectful for Mahathir, even up to this day.

Mahathir can say all he wants today, including that he desired to continue the fight but I’m not sure how many pay serious attention to him now.

As for Muhyiddin Yassin, I doubt he can sleep soundly at night, despite having reached the pinnacle of his political career.

If he has a conscience, it will surely prick him for his treachery even as he waits anxiously for the blessing and endorsement from Mahathir for his government, which may never come.

As it stands today, it is quite obvious that the “wounded” Anwar remains the key leader who has the sympathy and support of the majority of Malaysians. Even the non-Anwaristas could see that a clear injustice has been done to him, being stabbed in the back by his own friends.

That’s a vindication for him for his “godlike” patience and loyalty to Mahathir, his Harapan colleagues and the people.

Like many, I hope to see better days ahead for Anwar.

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FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at sirsiah@gmail.com.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak)

Sarawakians unhappy, but GPS has the right to back PN

Malaysiakini

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

COMMENT Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) should be contented and happy with its cabinet representation in Muhyiddin Yassin’s Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.

The Sarawak ruling coalition was amply rewarded for supporting the new prime minister, and rightly so.

As expected, PBB got the lion’s share of cabinet posts among GPS parties as it is the backbone of GPS, led by PBB president and Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg.

PBB legislators are also a disciplined lot, unlike those in Umno. PBB Members of Parliament who were not selected as ministers did not display their displeasure or angst publicly. They remained calm and cool and kept their disappointment to themselves.

That wasn’t the case with Umno. Bung Mokhtar Radin, Azalina Othman, Ramli Mohd Nor and Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, who did not get into Muhyiddin’s already bloated cabinet, openly took the new prime minister to task. A very disappointed and angry Tajuddin, the flamboyant Pasir Salak MP, even challenged Muhyiddin to dissolve Parliament.

Why should anyone be surprised by the antics and fiery outbursts of some Umno MPs? They can never change. They will always believe that it is their God-given right to lord over others, conveniently forgetting that just 21 months ago, Malaysians clearly rejected them by voting them out of power.

On Feb 29, when it became clear that GPS was throwing its support for Muhyiddin and PN, I was very disappointed, like many Sarawakians.

It was supporting a backdoor government, which came about via a treacherous plot to seize control of a democratically-elected government. This is something which people find difficult to come to terms with, and Sarawakians are no exception.

In the first few days of the Sheraton putsch, Abang Johari (above) had declared the coalition’s support for Dr Mahathir Mohamad to continue as prime minister.

Then, Sarawakians were taken by surprise by the sudden switch to Muhyiddin on the day before he was appointed prime minister by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

It is true that the 18 MPs from GPS were the kingmakers in the recent political turmoil. The faction supported by GPS could stake its claim to the premiership and the federal government.

In defence of Abang Johari and his coalition

While I share the unhappiness and resentment with my fellow Sarawakians on the GPS move, in retrospect, however, I must also defend Abang Johari and his coalition for backing Muhyiddin and PN.

Let’s look at the political alignment objectively. We must remember that going into GE14 in 2018, the four parties in GPS were part of the BN coalition.

They were on the side of Najib Abdul Razak and Umno. Pakatan Harapan was the enemy. Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang and Mohamad Sabu were their political opponents.

In war, either you kill your enemy or be killed. It’s the same with politics.

Both GPS and Harapan parties are now preparing for a bruising state election tussle. Leaders from both sides have been on the campaign trail, lashing out at each other as expected of political opponents.

In short, GPS and Harapan were and still are enemies. Nothing has changed.

That being the case, what is so wrong about GPS declaring its support for a PN government? This is politics after all. Surely, all of us are familiar with the adage that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

Duty of GPS is to fight and kill off Harapan

It must be emphasised that the duty of GPS is to fight and kill off Harapan. And GPS did so by supporting PN. This is as normal a political move as it gets. GPS leaders will surely be deemed fools if they support their political enemy, Harapan.

No, I would not consider GPS leaders as traitors for backing a PN government or even agreeing, eventually, to a PN Plus GPS government.

They simply took advantage of the situation, which was within their right to do so. Many would have done the same.

GPS was not responsible for the Sheraton putsch in the first place. The traitors within Harapan, namely Bersatu and a certain PKR faction, were the ones who betrayed the coalition and caused the collapse of the Harapan government. GPS was never involved in the evil, treacherous plot at all.

The only traitors from Sarawak are the three PKR turncoats. I don’t even wish to mention their names again, never mind that one of them later returned to support Mahathir. It was too little too late.

Two of them are now deputy ministers. Yeah, let them bask in glory in their newfound positions. I’ll be watching how long and joyful their treacherous ride will be. Traitors who betrayed the people’s mandate will eventually be punished.

I urge my fellow Sarawakians to send the trio packing into the dustbin of history, come the next election. Let us not waste our sacred votes on liars, cheats, traitors and men without conscience.

Harapan leaders spent most of their 21 months in government politicking, shirking their duties and responsibilities as public servants in the process.

Don’t blame GPS for this sorry state of affairs in the previous federal government, which they had no role in. We must be very clear about this.

If we accuse GPS leaders of lacking in principle and treachery by supporting a backdoor government, then what about Sarawak Harapan’s attempted concession move to work with GPS in the state polls in exchange for their support to form the federal government again?

In this case, Sarawak Harapan leaders could also be said to be lacking the moral fibre for expressing their willingness to work with GPS in return for a favour.

We know only too well that in the quest for political power, decency, integrity and conscience are all conveniently thrown out of the window. Most politicians are guilty of the same.

My defence for GPS to tie up with PN is solely based on a matter of principle, irrespective of my inner feeling of disappointment. Harapan was and still is the enemy and never an ally of GPS.

Sarawakians unhappy or disillusioned with GPS could kick out the governing coalition in the coming state election. The power is in our hands.

Let both GPS and Harapan leaders learn their lesson and that is, at the end of it all, never forget that politicians are only servants of the people and voters are their masters.

In the meantime, we have to accept GPS’ decision, for it is the only sensible and logical one for them to make at this stage of the game.

Tell me, which politician is not interested in power, being part of the government and to be a minister?

I sense a deafening silence to my poser.

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FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at sirsiah@gmail.com.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak) | 1 Comment