Is DAP happy to ‘kill off’ PSM’s Jeyakumar?

By Francis Paul Siah

COMMENT I think I’ve read and heard enough over the past few months to have a better understanding of the intense animosity between leaders of Parti Socialis Malaysia (PSM) and certain quarters in Pakatan Harapan, the Perak DAP in particular.

It’s quite clear to me now that many Bersatu, PKR and Amanah leaders are more than happy to accommodate PSM within the opposition coalition for GE14. The main stumbling block is perhaps the DAP leadership in Perak.

Now, my reading could be wrong here and the Perak DAP could accuse me of being bias. I’m prepared to accept that.

But I have a question. Who has been gunning down PSM’s incumbent Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj in the media? Notably, DAP Perak chief Nga Kor Ming and his staunch party ally, Sungkai assemblyperson A Sivanesan.

And it’s not difficult to understand why. Perak DAP wants Sungai Siput back and A Sivanesan is eyeing the seat.

So like babies fighting over their mother’s milk, Nga (photo) and Sivanesan must come up with “grandmother’s stories” to find fault with PSM and Jeyakumar in order to justify their claim on Sungai Siput.

I have never been to Sungai Siput and I concede I do not know the constituency at all. But there is one thing I know for a fact.

Jeyakumar was the only candidate who could dethrone MIC supremo S Samy Vellu from his political bastion while other DAP candidates had failed. Even the DAP’s most popular Indian leader at one time, the late P Patto, could not shake the MIC giant.

Yes, I would give that credit to Jeyakumar. He deserves it.

Since being elected as Sungai Siput MP in 2008 on a PKR ticket, Jeyakumar has been an exemplary legislator. I’ve been told that he is a regular attendee in Parliament and has also been working tirelessly on the ground. As a doctor, Jeyakumar is known for his free medical services in his constituency. Continue reading

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Want to contest? Got money or not?

By Francis Paul Siah

COMMENT | The main reason for the dispute over seats among political parties is that there are more candidates than seats.

The quarrels over seats from both sides occur before every election and at times, it can be so intense that those jostling for seats would unashamedly, stupidly even, bring their quarrels into the public sphere.

It is as if they want the public to judge who is right or wrong. Little do these quarrelsome politicians realise that people are laughing or even sneering at them for their silly public displays of greed for power.

If you want more seats for your party, irrespective of whether you deserve or are worthy of them, isn’t that greed for power?

Leaders of political parties must realise the public, in general, have had enough of such quarrels over seats. They had seen and heard enough during past elections. Sadly, this is now happening again in the run-up to GE14.

I was involved in seat talks among the opposition parties in Sarawak during the 1996 state election and the 1999 general election for the then Barisan Alternatif coalition. I can vouch here that it was not a very pleasant task.

I can recall the many times I asked myself: “What the heck am I doing here when others come to the negotiating table with conditions? A negotiation has to start with a clean slate.”

You see, there is always the political animal within us. We can agree today but after sleeping on it, we change our mind tomorrow. And we would be ready with all kinds of reasons or excuses for our U-turn.

Such indiscipline among politicians must be nipped in the bud.

Seriously, I wouldn’t be surprised to see multi-cornered fights in many seats come GE14 because there are people who are adamant on contesting as they think they are the better candidate. Personal glorification is a normal human reaction perhaps, but one that is totally selfish and lacking the team spirit.

Now, let me be blunt and ask all these wannabe candidates: So you want to contest? Do you have the money? Continue reading

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Why I’m impressed with Rafizi Ramli

By Francis Paul Siah

COMMENT | I like Rafizi Ramli. I must say that I’m quite impressed with him and his work. He is a diligent and courageous person and really works hard as a parliamentarian.

He is also not your typical boring MP but one who regularly comes up with new ideas. And Rafizi does not only talk. He is a doer. He dares to implement his ideas and set his plans in motion.

Lest Rafizi’s detractors and political enemies think that I’m heaping praises on a friend, let me state here that I do not know the young Pandan MP personally. I have not even met him.

I was actually invited by a PKR friend to attend Rafizi’s Invoke event last Friday, but I could not make it. Otherwise, I would have seen Rafizi in action for the first time and possibly posed a question or two to him from the audience.

However, watching Rafizi from afar, I feel he certainly deserves the accolades from many who are appreciative of his dedication to duty but more importantly, his sincerity and honesty in living up to his pledge in serving the people.

Those who know the young MP well are saying that he is a man of honour and integrity. I suppose they are right.

I have been watching Rafizi closely since he announced the establishment of his “baby”, Invoke Malaysia, about two years ago.

Honestly, there are not many young politicians in our midst I would bother to take a second look at these days. At least, not in the same fashion as I would observe what French President Emmanuel Macron or Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would say or do.

These two are of the younger set of leaders to watch on the world stage. They are powerful, vibrant and energetic personalities and certainly interesting to watch. Continue reading

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When cash is king, Harapan can’t afford to be cheap

By Francis Paul Siah

COMMENT | Those of us who have been candidates during elections would know how tough staging a run is, especially if you are on an opposition ticket.

Let’s face reality. The biggest obstacle facing opposition candidates is the lack of resources to fund the campaign. When you run out of money in the midst of the campaign, you know that you are doomed.

In an electoral campaign, you cannot depend on luck to win. You have to work, work and work, and ensure that your hardcore supporters and volunteers stay just as focused as you. You cannot afford to slip here as your support base is vital to carry you through.

On top of that, you must have the necessary funds to last the pace. This is where opposition candidates lose out to their BN opponents.

In the 13th general election, one new opposition party in Sarawak fielded six candidates. Their objective was to take on six opponents from a BN party following reports of internal party strife.

I was reliably informed that each candidate was given RM300,000 to mount campaigns and fight for six rural seats.

The results: All six of them were defeated, with three losing their deposits. One immediately announced his retirement from politics after the polls. The president of the new party also resigned.

Now, assuming that each of them really spent RM300,000 – which is a lot of money – and lost, imagine what their BN opponents had to dish out to win.

Who cares about the stipulation in the Election Offences Act 1954 that limits expenditure to RM200,000 for a candidate contesting a parliamentary seat, and RM100,000 for a state seat? I doubt anyone worries about that.

After an election, the candidate is required to file his or her election returns to the Election Commission, failing which he or she would be barred from contesting again.

Seriously, many of us would be curious about the election returns filed by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak after his numerous victories in Pekan, or even Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s returns from his electoral wins in Kubang Pasu in the past.

I, for one, would love to have a peek at their returns and see how much they had actually spent as candidates. But they would have filed their election expenses well below the amount stipulated in the Act. All candidates do the same. I should know.

Talking about election funds, let me get to my point. Continue reading

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak)

MACC, what happened to the Taib file?

By Francis Paul Siah

OPINION I have to thank Facebook for their “See Your Memories” tag. Without the reminder, I would not have remembered an event I was involved in seven years ago, on March 4, 2011.

I would probably have forgotten about the Kuching event, but I have certainly not forgotten my former chief minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud, and the allegations of blatant and legendary abuse of power in his 33 years as Sarawak chief minister.

That day, I led a Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) delegation to the MACC office in Kuching to submit a two-inch thick report to the anti-corruption agency.

The report compiled articles on Taib’s alleged wrongdoings, and we demanded that MACC discloses the progress of its investigations into more than 10 reports lodged against the then chief minister.

My press statement issued on that day read:

“On behalf of MoCS and as a citizen of Sarawak, I submit to the MACC today all the reports of the corrupt practices and blatant abuse of power allegedly committed by Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.

“The said allegations and accusations have been widely reported in the media, notably in many news portals and blogs, both locally and overseas.

“Today, I am putting on record MoCS’s demand that MACC conducts an immediate investigation on the allegations against Taib.

“This demand is endorsed by four Pakatan Rakyat parties in Sarawak, namely DAP, PKR, Snap and PAS. Several NGO groups also concur with this formal demand. Their representatives are with me here today.

“We also demand that MACC updates the public on the status of the reports and complaints lodged by various parties in the past against the chief minister. We wish to know whether MACC had taken any action so far despite the overwhelming evidence put forth by Sarawak Report, Bruno Manser Fonds and a number of other whistleblowers.

“It must be noted that most of the allegations of corruption against the chief minister have documentary proof. MACC owes it to Sarawakians and Malaysians to reveal what it intends to do regarding these serious allegations of corruption and power abuse against Taib.”

It has been seven long years since, and I wish to ask MACC today what happened to the file it opened on Taib.

In a June 9, 2011, report in The Star, the then MACC chief commissioner Abu Kassim Mohamad (photo) confirmed that the commission was investigating Taib over allegations of timber corruption.

“As I said earlier, we are investigating Taib and whatever our action is, we cannot reveal at this moment,” Abu Kassim told reporters at the time.

He was responding to a question on whether the MACC was looking at carrying out a similar action as the Swiss Anti-Corruption Agency, which had frozen Taib’s assets over the allegations.

Now that Abu Kassim has retired, I wish to pose the same question to his successor, Dzulkifli Ahmad. Yes, sir, what happened to the Taib file? Continue reading

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak)

At the very least, Nazri speaks the truth

By Francis Paul SIah

COMMENT | Love him or loathe him, Nazri Abdul Aziz speaks the truth at times. So let’s give that to him, at least.

No, I am not about to defend the tourism and culture minister for his recent “sins” – although I think they are not unforgivable – but rather to dissect the human in this being.

I must say that I personally find the minister rather “entertaining,” for want of a better word, when he gets into a “fit.”

Oh yes, everyone wants to hear and then retaliate to what comes out of his mouth. I’m amused at the attention Nazri is able to garner when he decides to be rude and throws it all out, without thinking of the consequences.

He has created an “earthquake” in the country by just being foul-mouthed and rude. Now, that’s amusing to me, actually quite amazing even.

For the record, the minister has never denied that he has been rude. At least, he came clean on that.

You can describe him as the most “uncultured” culture minister, but I don’t think Nazri cares a damn.

In fact, he seems to take pride in his unruly behaviour, saying publicly that he is a rude person and that he learned how to be rude from Dr Mahathir Mohamad (photo).

Of course, I disagree with Nazri on that. Mahathir has often been sarcastic yes, rude never.

Oh I forgot, Mahathir is a recalcitrant too, as former Australian prime minister Paul Keating once called him. And that’s about it. Continue reading

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak)

S’wak not inoculated from Peninsular religious politics

By Francis Paul Siah

COMMENT | I was shocked and disgusted to hear of the incident outside the Federal Court in Kuching yesterday.

Archbishop of Kuching Archdiocese Simon Poh was heckled as he walked out of the Federal Court in Kuching after the delivery of a high-profile decision.

Earlier, the Federal Court ruled that four individuals who wanted to nullify their status as Muslims cannot do so through the civil courts, and must go to the Syariah Court.

The court has made a decision and all should respect the judgment.

Christian leaders in Sarawak were clearly disappointed, but as Poh had said, “The Catholic Church respected today’s decision as it came from the apex court.”

I have viewed the video of the incident as Poh was escorted out of the building, with groups behind him breaking into chants of “Allahuakbar” (God is great) and find the incident extremely disturbing.

One was even seen standing atop a police vehicle, urging others to continue the heckling against the archbishop.

Although Poh later clarified that he was not attacked, but escorted out of the building to his waiting car by a group of Muslims and friends, it was clear that he was rattled.

I am very sad and greatly disappointed that this is happening in my beloved hometown of Kuching.

I am writing this not because I am a parishioner in the Kuching archdiocese, or because Poh is my archbishop, but as a Sarawakian patriot who detests such acts of defiance and violence in my homeland. Continue reading

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak)