Are Dr M, Shafie still ‘Kawan tetap kawan’ of Harapan?

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FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

COMMENT I like Anwar Ibrahim’s post on his Instagram page on July 3 where he showed a photo of himself with Lim Guan Eng. His caption included the hashtag,#kawantetapkawan (friends will be friends).”

The DAP secretary-general met with the PKR president at the latter’s office in Petaling Jaya that day amid the stalemate on who should be named the prime ministerial candidate of Pakatan Harapan Plus.

Even during this time of political upheavals and uncertainties, I still want to believe I’m certain about something. That is, PKR and DAP will be on the same side as long as Anwar and Lim are in charge of their respective parties.

Anwar is probably on the dot about his ties with DAP and Lim – “Kawan tetap kawan”.

Why do I think so? They have been together since 1998 when Anwar was sacked as deputy prime minister and “Reformasi” started.

That’s 22 long years. After fighting alongside each other for such a long time, and for some periods lingering together in the political wilderness, the understanding, respect, and bond are there.

I don’t expect that bond to be torn apart easily even if “there are no permanent enemies nor friends in politics”.

In the days of Pakatan Rakyat comprising DAP, PKR and PAS, the coalition had also achieved electoral success in the 2008 general election.

DAP took control of Penang while PKR helmed Selangor, two of the country’s most developed states. PAS also regained Kelantan while Perak was momentarily in the hands of Pakatan Rakyat.

For Dr Mahathir Mohamad to sneer at Anwar and his Harapan allies that without him (Mahathir), Harapan would not have achieved anything was somewhat unfair as that was not altogether correct.

What is only true is that the opposition coalition failed to dethrone the federal government.

I would also include Amanah as a stable ally of PKR and DAP, that is as long as Mohamad Sabu is the party president.

When PAS was part of Pakatan Rakyat, it was Mohamad and his less conservative, reform-minded group in the Islamic party which carried the PAS face in the coalition.

With Mohamad and his ex-PAS comrades in Amanah now, I foresee the PKR-DAP-Amanah triumvirate to stay together for some time to come, if not many years ahead.

Now, my most important question for today: Are Mahathir and Shafie Apdal still “Kawan tetap kawan” of Harapan?

Reading Mahathir’s statements over the past weeks, I believe he has burnt his bridges with Anwar and in turn, Harapan.

After his proposal to be the PM candidate was rejected by PKR, it became clear that Mahathir was adamant that Anwar should not be prime minister because “he (Anwar) was a liberal and lacks the support of the Malays”.

Assuming that PKR has supported Mahathir’s quest to return as PM for the third time, if only for six short months, would he be taking the same jabs at Anwar as well?

Or would Anwar suddenly be suitable to be PM only after he (Mahathir) has served six months? I’m sorry to say that does not hold for me.

On that score, I think PKR made the correct decision by rejecting Mahathir as the PM candidate for Harapan Plus.

Mahathir has made too many twists and turns, both in words and action, that his credibility and integrity become questionable.

On Shafie being proposed as the PM candidate, I have been wondering why Mahathir never chose Shafie as the Umno candidate to be the Sabah chief minister during the rotation system of the chief minister’s post in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.

Instead, Mahathir overlooked Shafie and picked Salleh Said Keruak, Osu Sukam and Musa Aman to be chief minister. All three represented Umno when Mahathir was Umno president.

If Shafie was not suitable to be even a state chief minister then, why is he suddenly good enough to be the prime minister now?

Notwithstanding that it was some 20 years ago, an explanation from Mahathir for his decision then would be in order.

Malaysiakini

I have no intention at all to question Shafie’s credentials or suitability to be prime minister. In fact, as a Sarawakian, I would warmly welcome a neighbour from Sabah to be my prime minister. But I doubt that would materialise in the near future.

It is Mahathir who has a lot of explanation to do with his latest moves, some bordering on ludicrosity and even a semblance of senility.

So, to answer the question: Are Dr M, Shafie still “Kawan tetap kawan” of Harapan?

I don’t think Mahathir is interested in the survival of Harapan or Harapan Plus at all. He has already declared that he was unprepared to work with Anwar from now on.

I say, let the grand old man be and move on, Harapan Plus.

I agree with Anwar’s statement yesterday that Harapan should now refocus on their struggle and fight for the people instead of being distracted by the prime ministerial candidate issue.

I also find Anwar’s veiled swipe at Mahathir worthy of mention as the PKR president has been overly diplomatic and respectful of his former mentor for far too long.

Oh yes, “Harapan cannot act as if we are still exposing our necks and still being dragged here and there, breaking up and fighting and then following his whims on the candidate”.

As for Shafie, there is a better chance of him and his party to be “Kawan tetap kawan” with PKR, DAP and Amanah.

Shafie and Warisan could certainly do with some friends and allies at the federal level, post-Mahathir era.

– 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.

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Gov’t extends electricity bill discount to Dec 31 for all domestic users

Malaysiakini

The government has decided to extend the discount period for electricity bills of domestic users across the country for a further three months to Dec 31.

According to Energy and Natural Resources Minister Shamsul Anuar Nasarah (above), this is an extension of the discount previously announced under the Prihatin economic stimulus package in March and the Bantuan Prihatin Elektrik (BPE) in June.

Prihatin and BPE were announced to offset costs, including high electricity bills, during the movement control order (MCO) period which began in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Shamsul said the latest decision meant that “up to 7.66 million domestic users in Peninsular Malaysia will continue to enjoy discounted electricity bills between two percent and 50 percent from Oct 1 to Dec 31 as an extension of the discount announced by the prime minister on March 27 under Prihatin.”

“The extension also applies for electricity consumers with usage between 601 and 900kWj, who began receiving a 10 percent discount under the BPE announced by the government in June.

“Domestic consumers in Sabah and Sarawak will continue to receive discounted electricity bills of up to two percent until Dec 31, which will benefit around 520,000 users in Sabah and 580,000 in Sarawak,” he said in a statement.

The minister added that the extended discount, estimated at RM392 million for the peninsula would be funded by the Electricity Industry Fund (Kwie) while the estimated RM6 million discount allocation for East Malaysia would be borne by the Finance Ministry.

“This brings the total cost of the discounted electricity bills from April to December to RM2.62 billion,” he added.

Shamsul announced in June that domestic users in Peninsular Malaysia would enjoy free electricity from April to June if their consumption for those months were under 300kWh or RM77.

Households with higher consumption would receive a RM77 deduction from each month’s bill.

Meanwhile, it was announced yesterday electricity users will not have to pay a surcharge for their electricity from July until December after the Imbalance Cost Pass-Through (ICPT) surcharge was reduced from two sen/kWh to 0 sen/kWh.

However, the reduction will largely benefit commercial users as the ICPT surcharge, which is determined every six months, was already at zero for domestic consumers in the previous six-month period.

Malaysiakini

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Not for Mahathir to choose our PM

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has regularly denied that he has issues with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. The former has repeatedly responded with more of the same.

Both men have tried to be civil with each other in public, up to last week at least.

But the undercurrents of deep mistrust and resentment between the duo has never been buried since Dr Mahathir sacked Anwar in 1998 as deputy prime minister.

Events of the past two weeks has added more confusion and apprehension to Malaysians at large — they are flabbergasted and at a loss. The political manoeuvres of these two most senior Malaysian political leaders has caused many to lose confidence and trust in their leadership.

First, we heard that Dr Mahathir has turned up at the PKR headquarters in Petaling Jaya to attend a Pakatan Plus meeting chaired by Anwar.

For a brief moment, Pakatan supporters heaved a sigh of relief thinking that perhaps, the two have finally decided to bury the hatchet and put the past behind them.

Then we learned that Dr Mahathir has proposed himself to be the prime minister, even for six months, if Pakatan Plus is back on the throne.

Mahathir-Anwar stalemate pulling Malaysia's opposition pact apart ...

This was opposed by PKR who wanted their party president, Anwar, to be PM9. This impasse over the PM candidate has threatened to tear the coalition apart and that is getting more glaring by the day.

Returning as prime minister for the third time, and at 95, is a sick joke to me. And what is this six months thingy? It is incomprehensible to me and I believe many also find it ridiculous.

With the utmost respect to the nonagenarian, I have to ask Dr Mahathir: “What else do you hope to achieve in six months that you could not do so in your 22 years and 22 months as prime minister?”

Assuming Pakatan Harapan has not collapsed four months ago and that Dr Mahathir went on to serve his full five-year term, he would be 98 in 2023.

Who on earth desires to be prime minister at 98? Possibly, it’s also Mahathir.

The much revered Nelson Mandela willingly stepped down as president of South Africa in 1999 when he was 81. Pope Benedict XVI ended his reign as the Vicar of Christ in 2013 at 83.

I am very perplexed, even disturbed, that Dr Mahathir does not seem to recognise that he is only a mortal being. We are all mortal beings and that means we are destined to die because we are susceptible to death.

In a lighter vein, Dr Mahathir reminds me of one of my favourite American comedians, George Burns, who famously cracked that he was fully booked for his shows at 100. Burns actually reached that age in 1996 when he passed on.

In rejecting Dr Mahathir as the PM candidate, Anwar said he was open to appointing the former PM as a senior minister or minister mentor if PH regains the federal government.

Dr Mahathir flatly turned down the proposal and upon realising that he could not come back as PM9, he came up with a stunner by proposing Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal as PM candidate.

This came following a meeting between Dr Mahathir with Amanah, DAP and Warisan on June 25 where it was proposed that the Warisan president would become the PM candidate for Pakatan Plus and its allies.

The “Shafie as PM9” proposal has received mixed reactions. While some described it as Dr Mahathir’s biggest joke to date because they do not see it happening, others have welcomed it, calling it a bout of fresh air.

The plus point of a Shafie premiership is possibly the long-overdue recognition of Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners in the federation. Along with that, the proponents are hopeful that it would bring Sabahans and Sarawakians closer to their fellow Malaysians in Malaya.

However, I have my own views on the issue and questions which need answers. I do not think it is Dr Mahathir’s call on who should be prime minister. He is wrong to exert his influence and will upon the people with his personal choice.

Are we not a parliamentary democracy whereby our leaders, including the prime minister, are elected by the people? Have we forgotten that the leader of the party with the most seats gets to be the prime minister?

It is not for Dr Mahathir to choose the prime minister for us. It is the people’s choice, not that of one man.

So, what did the events of the past two weeks tell us?

Let me put it up straight. Dr Mahathir and Anwar can never be part of the same team, not in the past, not now, not ever. They will never be able to work together. Period!

In fact, I think the time has dawned that we have to let go of Dr Mahathir and Anwar and move on.

New Sarawak Tribune

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune. Feedback can reach him at tribunenew2019@gmail.com

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Why is Mahathir crucifying Anwar?

Malaysiakini

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

COMMENT This is one episode or an incident I must share.

I have a lady Sarawakian friend who is barely interested in politics. Once, she told me that politics everywhere is the same and she isn’t into it at all.

Our exchange of messages was mainly on family, education, food and music – subjects which we all love and care about and definitely worth a meaningful discourse.

The odd times I shared political postings with her, she would merely respond with the nonchalant “thanks for sharing” without any comment.

When Pakatan Harapan achieved their historic GE14 victory, I recall she gave me a mere one-word reply – “Good”.

She did not even vote on May 9 in 2018 as she was in Melbourne visiting her daughter.

Then, out of the blue, she sent me the recent video of Dr Mahathir Mohamad announcing the Harapan Plus proposal to nominate Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal (photo) as a prime ministerial candidate over the weekend.

Below the video, she asked me the first question on politics in all the years I’ve known her: “Why is Mahathir crucifying Anwar?”

I was taken by surprise by her sudden political poser. Apparently, she must have heard that Anwar would be the prime minister after Mahathir stepped down and must be wondering why Shafie’s name was mentioned instead of Anwar.

This is exactly why people, particularly those who have little or no interest in politics at all, are confused and apprehensive about political development in the country.

How they must have dreaded the many unnecessary and bewildering twists and turns made by political leaders today. And all in the name of “power struggle”, with no consideration for the interests of the rakyat at all.

Although my friend did not say it, I could sense that her sympathy lies with Anwar. She is probably aware that Mahathir has done a great injustice on Anwar. In this case, by not handing over power to the agreed and voter-mandated successor of Harapan going into GE14.

Hence, her question: Why is Mahathir crucifying Anwar? A pertinent poser indeed! It is one which many are also asking and searching for the factual narrative.

Only Mahathir knows the answer, but he seems to be giving us erroneous assertions and plain lies.

I would even say that the more Mahathir indulges in his psy-war game, the easier it is to read him.

In an exclusive interview with Malaysiakini recently, Mahathir has stressed that his word is his bond, declaring proudly that “I have never reneged on my promise”. 

That confidence he displayed in his statement has elicited many negative comments on social media.

Mahathir has been vilified to the hilt for many are aware of the many times he promised to do one thing one day but went on to something different the next day.

I would be more respectful to the nonagenarian but many others were not and have described Mahathir as “a man with a forked tongue and not to be trusted”.

In many ways, they were not wrong.

For starters, Mahathir did not keep his word on his two-year term as interim PM. We all heard it was two years. Only Mahathir and some of his Bersatu acolytes were deaf. 

That was the major cause of Harapan’s collapse four months ago.

How could we forget that Anwar was gracious to allow Mahathir to step down after the Apec summit in November at the last Harapan presidential council meeting on Feb 21.

Three days later, on Feb 24, Mahathir abruptly resigned without consulting his Harapan allies. The same day, Anwar, Lim Guan Eng and Mohamad Sabu rushed to his home and pleaded to him not to do so but Mahathir stood his ground.

Now, we are also aware that even the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has failed to persuade Mahathir to withdraw his resignation.

Today, Mahathir has insisted on becoming prime minister again, even for six months. Why, oh why?

When PKR rejected him, he pulled out a rabbit from his magic hat and nominated Shafie. Many could see this act as one to spite Anwar and perhaps even to drive a wedge between Anwar and Shafie.

So, the question again: Why is Mahathir crucifying Anwar?

In this instance, I agree with STAR president Dr Jeffrey Kitingan’s assertion that “it is a plot to not only attempt to bring down Muhyiddin Yassin’s government but to block Anwar from becoming PM if the opposition were to take over Putrajaya”.

It is quite clear for all to see that Mahathir and Anwar can never be part of the same team, not now, not ever. They will never be able to work together. There is too much bad blood between them.

The undercurrents of deep mistrust and resentment between the duo have never been buried since Mahathir sacked Anwar in 1998 as deputy prime minister.

To Susan, my dear friend, I hope I have answered your question in some small ways.

Here is my advice: Stick to talking about family, education, food and music. There are more pleasant and happier subjects than politics.

Politics in this country stinks, and real bad, today. Stay away from the foul odour.

– 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.

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Dr M foretells doom for ‘traitors’, resurrection of ‘cash is king’ in GE15

Malaysiakini

Dr Mahathir Mohamad has predicted that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Bersatu would be vanquished in the next general election and from the rubble, Umno would reclaim the seat of power which it lost after six decades in 2018.

His warning comes in the wake of a growing number of Umno leaders urging Muhyiddin, who is the Bersatu president, to initiate a snap polls.

In a blog post this evening, Mahathir reiterated his decision not to work with Muhyiddin and claimed that his successor-turned-predecessor, Najib Abdul Razak, is hoping to become prime minister again.

“In GE15, Umno will fight against Bersatu, which is now rudderless without the support of Pakatan Harapan.

“Not only will Muhyiddin lose but all Bersatu candidates will be defeated. Therefore, this will mark the end of Bersatu and Umno will reign again with its ‘cash is king’.

“History will remember Muhyiddin’s treachery towards the people who gave Harapan victory (in the last general election).

“I do not wish to be with Muhyiddin and his band of traitors,” added the nonagenarian, who revealed that numerous quarters have advised him to support and work with the current premier.

Mahathir said Muhyiddin also betrayed his allies by plotting with former Umno members who joined Bersatu to topple the Harapan administration.

“Without Harapan, Muhyiddin may have not won (in the last general election) and may not have found the backdoor (to form a backdoor government),” he added.

According to Mahathir, Umno collaborated with Muhyiddin to rescue Najib, who is facing a slew of court charges, from prison.

“We can see that such an effort is ongoing. Far from the promise to topple Najib, Muhyiddin is now working to free Najib from all charges so that he can contest in GE15.

“At that point, Najib will no longer need Muhyiddin because Najib intends to become prime minister again,” he added.

The Harapan government collapsed in February after 22 months in power following Azmin Ali and his allies quitting PKR and Muhyiddin subsequently withdrawing Bersatu from the coalition.

This prompted Mahathir, who is the disputed Bersatu chairperson, to resign as prime minister.

Following a week-long political crisis, Muhyiddin was sworn in as prime minister of the Perikatan Nasional government comprising Bersatu, Umno, PAS and others on March 1.

‘Muhyiddin used DAP to spook Malays’

Mahathir, in his blog post, also reiterated his defence of DAP against the perception that it would cause the destruction of the Malays.

“Although DAP won 42 seats, the party was only given six cabinet positions, the same as Bersatu which only won 13 seats. Furthermore, a Bersatu member was picked as the prime minister.

“It is impossible that DAP can control the cabinet (comprising 28 members) with just six ministers. All the decisions require the agreement of the 28 ministers and prime minister.

“The perception that six ministers can control 22 other ministers does not make sense…,” he added.

Contrary to this, Mahathir said it is the Malays who can annihilate DAP if the home minister de-registered it.

“This power was in Muhyiddin’s hands (Muhyiddin was the home minister during Harapan’s tenure) if DAP was seen as wanting to destroy the Malays.

“But Muhyiddin was more interested in using DAP to scare the Malays so they will join the movement to bring down Harapan in order for him to become prime minister,” he added.

Mahathir is also seeking to be prime minister for the third time through a counter-coup with the support of Harapan and its allies, dubbed Pakatan Harapan Plus.

However, PKR’s insistence that its president Anwar Ibrahim should be made prime minister is threatening to derail the plan.

– Malaysiakini

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Umno deputy president urges PM to call for polls, cites instability

Malaysiakini

Mohamad Hasan has joined several Umno leaders in urging Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to initiate a snap election.

The Umno deputy president said the move is necessary because the federal government is unstable.

“Since independence, Malaysia has never seen such political instability. The current situation makes it difficult for the government to approve critical bills, including supply bills to revive the economy.

“Any effort to revive the economy, create jobs and improve competition cannot happen without a stable government and a Parliament that can provide check and balance,” he added in a statement today.

Muhyiddin is believed to command the support of slightly over half of the 222 MPs but this has never been tested in the Dewan Rakyat.

On May 18, Muhyiddin called for a one-day Parliament session just to fulfil constitutional requirements – no bills were voted on in the sitting.

Parliament is set to reconvene on July 13.

Mohamad elaborated that the country cannot be in a situation where the government is at risk of collapse every few months.

He said only a government with a comfortable majority of parliamentary seats could face the current challenges.

“We are a parliamentary democracy. The real power lies with the rakyat and not (political coalitions) which can be formed according to convenience and political interests.

“Therefore, let the people decide on the future direction of our beloved country,” he added.

So far, several Umno leaders including vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob as well as supreme council members Nazri Abdul Aziz and Mahdzir Khalid have voiced support for a snap polls.

Umno, having consolidated after being defeated in 2018, is expected to win big in the event of a snap election with the opposition in disarray.

– Malaysiakini

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Typhoon in Land below the Wind

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

There is no denying that the two most powerful political warlords in Sabah today are Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal and his predecessor, Tan Sri Musa Aman.

They are the political elite, the top two shakers and movers of Sabah politics. The influence and power they wield over the state’s political landscape, particularly over the past decade, has been immense.

It is as if nothing moves without the chief minister’s knowledge and approval — then, during Musa’s tenure and now, with Shafie at the helm.

Shafie and Musa have both come a long way in politics; along with it emerged the undeniable bad blood between them. It all started when they were both in Umno.
Both were equally ambitious and wanted to move up the Umno hierarchy.

Essentially, this means getting elected to one of the three vice-president slots. Shafie, five years younger than Musa, eventually found favour within the party and became an Umno veep.  For some years, there was calm.

Musa was entrenched in state politics while Shafie was busy at federal level.

Their feud was laid bare again following Shafie’s sacking as a federal minister in 2015 and the formation of Parti Warisan Sabah. Shafie was back to stake a claim to be the supremo of Sabah via his new flagship, Warisan.

He succeeded following GE14 in 2018 but not after an intense tussle over the chief minister’s post.

Fast forward to present day 2020 — a political typhoon is blowing in the ‘Land below the Wind’. A typhoon is said to be deadlier than a hurricane and more damaging than a tornado.

In the centre of the ravaging storm stand, who else, but the two feuding warlords, Shafie and Musa. The tug-of-war between them is expected to be long and arduous and this will have a negative effect on Sabah’s political stability.

When top leaders are engaged in a fierce tussle, we can expect intense politicking down the line. A power struggle is a distraction Sabah (and indeed the whole nation) cannot afford now and Sabahans have to brace themselves for tougher times ahead. Do not expect a government in distress to be of much help to the rakyat.

Following BN and Umno’s fall from federal power in GE14, Musa was charged with corruption and money-laundering over timber concessions in the state.

On June 9, Musa was acquitted of all 46 charges after the prosecution applied to withdraw them. The case did not make it to trial.

On June 19, Yayasan Sabah announced that it has filed a claim to recover RM872 million from Musa over purported “dubious” logging contracts. The foundation’s director Datuk Jamalul Kiram Mohd Zakaria said the board of trustees had filed the suit online with the Kota Kinabalu High Court on June 16.

In turn, Musa denied wrongdoing and issued a letter of demand seeking reparations from his successor, Shafie and two Yayasan Sabah trustees asking them to pay RM1 billion to charity, among others.

Other demands include an unconditional letter of apology. Shafie has responded with a “No” apology and chose to see Musa in court.

Observers are saying that this bad blood between the two has now turned very personal. One claimed that it is all about political vengeance and a fight to the finish is expected.

Shafie and Musa are such enormous figures in Sabah with huge following and it is very clear that in their case, it is impossible for “two tigers to live in the same cave”.

For Shafie, Musa breathing down his neck could not have come at a worst time. As chief minister, Shafie has another front to tackle — to keep his government afloat.

The recent exit of two Upko assemblymen has caused rumours to swirl of an impending collapse of the Warisan-led state administration due to crossovers to Perikatan Nasional (PN).

Upko’s Sugut assemblyman James Ratib and Kuala Penyu rep Limus Jury were the first to withdraw from the coalition, becoming independents supportive of PN.

Sabah is a state synonymous with political frogs and while Shafie is quietly confident that his two-third majority would hold, nothing is certain in politics. We have heard too often that a week is a long time in politics.

Then, one of the chief minister’s key Warisan leaders and state minister Peter Anthony was recently charged with five counts of money laundering involving RM8.75 million.

With horse-trading still ongoing and interested parties trying their luck in snapping up elected representatives, especially those currently without a party, one couldn’t help but wonder how much longer the 64-year-old Shafie is able to withstand the political typhoon fiercely blowing straight across his proud Land below the Wind.

Only time will tell.

New Sarawak Tribune

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune.

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

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Is a snap election the best option?

Image may contain: Francis Paul Siah

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

There is no doubt that there is a general feeling of unease among Malaysians. The unprecedented health crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, the global economic meltdown and the prevailing political uncertainties have taken their toll on the nation and its citizenry.

Thankfully, we are now at the recovery stage of the coronavirus pandemic, described as the worst health crisis to confront the human race in recent times. We are also thankful that the government has handled the crisis reasonably well.

However, it will take quite a while for the economy to recover. This is not only a Malaysian problem but a global one. Meantime, Malaysians will just have to be patient and do their utmost to adjust to the new normal.

Many businesses have shuttered or scaled down, resulting in many losing their jobs and livelihood. The government must continue to help these suffering Malaysians. It is their responsibility to do so.

Of prime concern now is the messy political situation that we are in. The question before us is: Will calling a snap election resolve the political stalemate?

Some do not think so and their concerns are valid.

One, the political parties are so fragmented that no single party or coalition is likely to win an absolute majority. Hence, we will see the same weak government, ruling by a wafer-thin majority. That is possible.

The second worry expressed was the wastage of public funds for a general election. According to the Election Commission, the 14th General Election in 2018 cost RM750 million. Can we afford another RM750 million for yet another election, just two years or so later? Again, this is also a valid concern.

Personally, I advocate fresh polls because I feel it is the only way to restore the sanctity of parliamentary democracy and uphold the sacred constitution that brought about this nation 57 years ago.

Since Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin became prime minister on March 1 with his new Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration, he did not have it easy.

While Covid-19 has offered a reprieve, politicking continued unabated up to this day. With talk that leaders of the ousted Pakatan Harapan (PH) government are now planning a counter-coup, it is understandable for Muhyiddin to get jittery.

Over the past one week, leaders of PH Plus have been meeting to
discuss their comeback plans. Enticing crossovers of legislators from both sides has accelerated.

I don’t think playing the numbers game is healthy politics. It is not the answer in the long term to resolving the political impasse.

It is clear that the Muhyiddin administration lacks the support of the majority of Malaysians. Worse, its legitimacy is also in doubt.

The prime minister himself has acknowledged this, stating that “although this is not the government you voted for, we still care for you” in early April when he announced his first Covid-19 welfare package.

Last week, it became clear that Muhyiddin is looking to seek a mandate of his own and is seriously considering holding snap polls by year-end after tabling Budget 2021.

This was confirmed by PPBM supreme council member Muhammad Faiz Na’aman who said that his party president had expressed wishes to hold snap polls at a council meeting on June 4.

“During the meeting, Muhyiddin said once things become stable, he wishes to hold snap polls as soon as possible.

“We don’t want to be accused of not having the people’s mandate.
“His wish is for snap elections as soon as there is stability in the
country and the party,” Faiz told a news portal.

When the snap election is held, it will be a titanic clash between PN and PH for the first time. We can expect the results to be close, a
victory with the narrowest of margin.

Whether PH Plus has learned its lesson from its collapse in February will then be laid bare. The uneasy distrustful leadership contestation was decisive in leading to its collapse three months ago.

Going to the polls seems to be the only acceptable solution too for those who refuse or are unable to accept the legitimacy of the PN
government.

It is right to demand fresh polls as only a mandate from the people can give legitimacy and integrity to a government. This is what parliamentary democracy is all about.

A counter-coup involving backroom dealings, scheming and plotting by power-crazy and self-serving politicians can never be accepted by all who respect the constitution of the land.

We have witnessed it once. Do not let it happen twice. 

New Sarawak Tribune

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune.

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak)

Electoral candidates must be financially stable

Malaysiakini

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

COMMENT I started off this article with the initial title, “Electoral candidates must be financially independent” but discovered that there is a difference between financial independence and financial freedom.

Students of finance will learn that “financial independence allows you to be self-insured against a financial catastrophe in the case of death or disability, saving you those monthly premiums”.

“Financial freedom allows you to be self-insured against the cost of unexpected expenses and lifestyle upgrades”.

While financial freedom may suit the purpose of this article on political candidates, I opt for financial stability.

In layman’s terms, financial stability means that you are able to overcome all your financial commitments no matter the unexpected difficulties that come your way.

You are still able to support yourself, your family, and those you have vowed to assist in times of need.

Unless you are able to help yourself and your loved ones first, it is clear that it would be next to impossible to help others, meaning your constituents, during tough times.

This is why I feel it is a big plus point for all electoral candidates to be financially stable.

A financially stable politician is definitely a more confident person. In turn, your constituents will have more confidence in your ability to deliver.

Now, let us look at the recent spate of crossovers of lawmakers, notably from the opposition to the government side.

In an attempt to explain why Lubok Antu MP Jugah Muyang left PKR recently to become an independent legislator, PKR president Anwar Ibrahim revealed that Jugah had requested constituency projects but the party, being in the opposition, was not in a position to help.

Jugah Muyang and International Trade and Industry Minister Azmin Ali.

The PKR president said he had asked Jugah to be patient and to wait, but it was not to be.

Apparently, Jugah has waited long enough.

It has been two years since Jugah won the Lubok Antu seat as an independent candidate, polling a respectable 1,059-vote majority in a three-way contest.

Soon after his victory on his electoral debut in GE14, Jugah embraced PKR but remained an ordinary backbencher in Parliament.

Unless you are a cabinet member or at least a deputy minister, there is only so much an ordinary MP receives in terms of remunerations and allowances.

Once elected, the MP will have to set up his service centre and employ assistants to run it.

His monthly expenses will include rental, utility bills, staff salaries, and other odds and ends. It is even more difficult if you are elected to serve a rural constituency.

If an opposition MP depends on his allowances as a lawmaker, it will be a tough ride. Hence, it pays to be financially stable to be an elected representative.

If not, the time will come when your mind begins to wander. You will soon realise that it’s definitely “safer” and easier to work being on the government side.

This is probably the case with Jugah and the two state assemblypersons (photo)from United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (Upko) who crossed over to support Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and his Perikatan Nasional (PN) government on June 15.

Kuala Penyu representative Limus Jury and Sugut representative James Ratib said they decided to leave Upko because they had lost confidence in the party leadership which they claimed is “inconsistent with their struggle and objectives”.

We know that was a lame excuse to turn into political frogs. The main reason is obvious, although none would say it publicly.

They were unable to cope with the financial commitments expected of them as elected representatives. To me, that is obvious. It is normal and not something out of the ordinary.

Had both been appointed as state minister or assistant minister, I can bet they would have stayed on to support the Warisan-led government of Sabah.

For James to stress that his decision to leave Upko was “to safeguard the interests of Sabahans, who still needed the support of the federal government to further develop” is what I would call a “no-brainer”.

It would do him well to be upfront and honestly concede that it would be difficult for him to serve his constituents well without funding from the government.

No, they are all too proud to admit that they are in dire straits financially even when the whole world knows that they are not financially stable.

Why, even the tycoons around us would readily concede that they are facing tough times over this Covid-19 pandemic. There is no shame in that, is there?

No, our lawmakers chose to keep their personal ego intact (at least, they like to think so) and did not seem to mind the negative public perception of them as traitors and turncoats who have betrayed their trust.

So, am I saying that only the rich and well-to-do should offer themselves for elective office? No.

But it will be a disaster for the guy who is broke to run for public office. If he wins, he would probably have to face more miserable and difficult times.

Let’s say my preferred candidate is one who is at least financially stable, able to fend for himself and his constituents, with or without assistance from other sources.

Oh, there are also cases of the rich partaking in politics in order to get richer.

That is a bigger worry for another day.

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)

I can see clearly now – Anwar is Harapan’s PM candidate

Malaysiakini

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

COMMENT | 

I can see clearly now the rain is gone

I can see all obstacles in my

Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind

It’s gonna be a bright (bright)

Bright (bright) sunshiny day … 

Jimmy Cliff, a Jamaican reggae musician, released the Johnny Nash number, I can see clearly now, in 1993 and it became an instant hit.

That upbeat song, the lyrics of which exhorts one to look forward towards brighter days after seeing through the obstacles and dark clouds mirrors what’s going on in Pakatan Harapan today, that is if those politicians inside are able to see what many of us, outsiders, can clearly see.

Oh yes, I can see clearly now that the “rain” is gone – all the obstacles (read traitors and turncoats) inside the Harapan coalition we voted into power in GE14 are now gone – and for the better.

I can see clearly now that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration of Muhyiddin Yassin is shaky as his “backdoor government” clearly lacks the support of the majority of Malaysians. Its legitimacy is also seriously in doubt.

Even Muhyiddin can see that clearly himself as he is now considering the option of calling for fresh elections by year-end, as reported.

I can also see clearly now that PKR president Anwar Ibrahim is the new chairperson of the Pakatan Harapan Plus coalition and that it is very clear to me that he should be the prime minister candidate of the opposition group.

Unfortunately, there is another contender to be PM – Dr Mahathir Mohamad. This is where the dynamics in Harapan turns delicate and tricky.

It is also clear to many of us that Mahathir is now planning a counter-coup with his Harapan Plus allies. To those supporting such a move, they are probably saddened that the choice of the PM candidate remains the sore point.

Early this week, Mahathir made a rare appearance (below) at the PKR headquarters in Petaling Jaya to attend a Harapan meeting chaired by Anwar. Also present was Parti Warisan president Shafie Apdal who was on the PKR premises for the first time.

All later emerged from the meeting declaring that there would be “positive news” from the coalition within a week. 

It soon became clear that the meeting has yet to decide on the PM candidate – the issue continues to stick out like a sore thumb.

Last Friday, PKR, DAP and Amanah leaders met again – this time without Mahathir and Shafie. 

We can guess the meeting’s top agenda after a Harapan announcement that their PM candidate will be revealed coming Tuesday.

There is something which I cannot see clearly – why is Mahathir still keen on becoming prime minister for the third time?

I keep asking myself whether I am blind or is it Mahathir who is blind. I find it difficult to comprehend why a man of 95 is still interested to be the nation’s chief executive, a position he had held for 22 years and 22 months over two different periods of his long life.

And if I have heard correctly, Mahathir only wants to be prime minister for six months after which he would pass the baton to Anwar.

Perhaps there is something Mahathir can clearly see ahead of him which you and I cannot. 

However, I am still uncertain whether I should trust Mahathir’s instincts again and give him the benefit of the doubt after what had happened over the past two years.

What I cannot see, ahead of Mahathir’s moves, has put me in a dilemma. Somehow, the trust and confidence I had in Mahathir prior to GE14 are sadly lacking this time.

Let me be honest and relate this little tale. In April, a Harapan leader, a dear friend, asked me what I thought of the Mahathir-Anwar joint statement where the duo have agreed to set aside their differences and work together again to wrest power from the backdoor government of Muhyiddin.

My initial reaction was sheer disbelief: “Seriously? Mahathir and Anwar together – surely, not again. What a dumb move!”

With due respect, after what happened in February, I had had enough of the Mahathir-Anwar combo. I wanted Harapan to move on and start afresh.

I no longer have faith in the hopeless Harapan that was hopeless in handling power, leaving Malaysians hopelessly in a limbo.

We need leaders who know what they are doing to inspire and bring hope and positive changes to the nation. 

Malaysians need role models around them. Leaders must provide clear directions on how to move the nation forward.

My dream for Malaysia is a fresh start with 222 new members of Parliament. No more Harapan, Harapan Plus or PN. Enough of the same breed of politicians.

Since that is not likely to happen, I am stuck with what is on display before me and will make the most of it.

In Pakatan Harapan Plus, Anwar should be the PM candidate just as he has rightly been chosen to be the opposition leader.

In a recent interview with Malaysiakini, Anwar conceded that some Harapan lawmakers have pragmatic views and want Mahathir to be the premier candidate in order to secure the numbers needed to gain a majority in Parliament.

But realpolitik or not, Anwar, the decision is not yours alone to make. It is also not for the 20-odd people on the Harapan presidential council to make. Ultimately, the position of Malaysians matters.

On this issue of the PM candidate, there is only one name for now. He should be Anwar Ibrahim, love him or loathe him.

That, I can see clearly now.

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)