Who’s dying to be a Datuk?

On my last trip back to Kuching in August, a conversation about datukship cropped up among two friends over breakfast in a kopitiam.

Call it gossip if you will (aha, men also gossip too). It was about a mutual friend, already in his 70s, known to be longing for a datukship but somehow it eluded him.

The explanation was that there were those in authority who felt that our friend would not be able to carry the title, not because he was underserving, but due to his brash personality and odd behaviour in public.

That’s enough of the kopitiam gossip, lest I turn into a gossiper myself. I am penning this subject here because of the many interesting reactions to a similar article I wrote a few days ago in a national news portal.

It was about the Christmas cards I’ve received from politician friends in which I commended those who signed off humbly with their first names without adding their honorifics and exalted positions.

I also mentioned the example of the late chief minister, Tan Sri Adenan Satem, who in his last Christmas greeting in 2016 humbly wrote from “Adenan, Jamilah & family”. There was no “Tan Sri Datuk Patinggi … Chief Minister, Sarawak”. No honorific, none of the usual VIP air and no public display that he was a class above others.

As one who places simplicity and humility high on my score card, I have to say that Adenan’s personal touch and humility should be emulated by all politicians. A leader who does not lack self-esteem is not bothered about status and self-importance.

Some might think that I’m harping on a trivial issue. I can agree that everyone has an ego and there is nothing wrong about being status-conscious or feeling good about posturing yourself as a VIP publicly. The question is: Do you need to?

If you are a politician, that does not work for me. Remember you have pledged to be a servant of the people when you sought elective office. So stay humble and your constituents will keep on voting for you, I’m sure. Failing which, I would advise such politicians to start learning how to fly a kite.

In case there are people reading this who are dying to be a datuk, here are some thoughts which I would like to share with them.

It is a fact that our society has become very status conscious, so much so that some would resort to unscrupulous means, including dishing out several hundred thousand, if not millions, in bribes just for an ego-boosting title.

There will have to come a time when we have to acknowledge that this “datukships for sale” is for real, even if it embarrasses the government or those empowered in awarding the titles.

Ask former minister and now Senate President Datuk Seri Rais Yatim. Several years ago, he was the first minister to publicly allege that people were buying state titles from the rulers. This was never denied to this day.

How low would some stoop just to put the honorific “datuk” in front of their names? Many will also probably insist that they are addressed as “datuk” in public. After being awarded the datukship, they would ensure that their friends insert congratulatory messages in newspapers in order to let the whole world know their ‘achievements’. In all likelihood, these datuks are the ones paying huge sums to advertise and congratulate themselves.

Later, they must surely and proudly place the official crest on their luxurious vehicles and drive around with their noses stuck up, so as to get the same ego boost in public.

I must also pose. Why must we take shortcuts to be acknowledged as somebody important?

Those who have attained notable achievements, have made immense social contributions, or are leaders in their professions or respective fields of expertise do not have to buy recognition.

These are the genuine and deserving recipients of awards and honours from the government and rulers.

Finally, in case you are unaware, many datuks have been charged with corruption, money laundering, organised crime, gangland murders, online scams and drug-related offences. These are the characters who have rendered the datukship cheap and meaningless.

So, are you still dying to be a datuk? If so, good luck. I hope you will find real contentment and true happiness with an ego boosted into the size of an ostrich egg, Datuk.

For me, just call me Francis.

– New Sarawak Tribune

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

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Of Christmas cards, politicians and ego

Christmas Cards | National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society


COMMENT As a Christian, I normally receive more Christmas greetings from friends and associates than on any other festive occasion during the year, including Chinese New Year.

Gone are the days of the physical Christmas card but whether it’s the virtual or e-card, the message of hope, peace and joy of Yuletide is there. To me, that is still a Christmas card, honouring the traditions of the occasion that mark an important part in the lives of Christians.

I’m particularly delighted to receive Christmas greetings from non-Christian friends. It warms the heart to know that those of other faiths remember you during Christmas and that they also share the joys of the miraculous birth of the Saviour with all Christians. This is the true meaning and spirit of Christmas.

This is not to dampen the Christmas mood but I am compelled to mention this. 

To controversial preachers like Zakir Naik who had proclaimed aloud in recent years that Muslims are not permitted to wish Christians “Merry Christmas”, please know that even your fellow Muslims in Malaysia pay no attention to your hate preaching. 

This includes the Yang di-Pertuan Agong who has never failed to send his Christmas greetings to Malaysian Christians.

As in previous years, the majority of Christmas greetings this time around also came from politician friends. Aha, most are personal friends but they are politicians, so here’s a little thought which I would like to share with them and with all politicians who bother to read this.

On Christmas Day, a friend posted on Facebook the 2016 Christmas message of the late Sarawak chief minister Adenan Satem. Accompanying the message was a photo of Adenan and his wife, Jamilah Anu, standing in front of a gigantic brightly lit Christmas tree.

I have this peculiar habit of paying attention to the way politicians sign off their greetings. To me, it says a lot about their state of mind and, more glaringly, about the attention they pay to position and status.

Everyone has an ego but when politicians display it, it somehow reflects badly on them. Boosting one’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance is not a particularly favourable trait of a politician, in my book at least.

So how did Adenan sign off in his 2016 Christmas message? A very simple and humble “Adenan, Jamilah & family”. There was no “YAB Tan Sri Datuk Patinggi…, Chief Minister, Sarawak”.

Adenan had the personal touch which is sadly left wanting in many politicians today. He did not bother with his many honorifics or his position behind his name. A leader who does not lack self-esteem is never bothered about self-importance.

This was Adenan and this is why he is still very much revered and loved by Sarawakians. Christmas 2016 was also his final Christmas message. Adenan passed on 17 days later on Jan 11, 2017.

As examples, let me mention two Christmas cards I received from politician friends which I would describe as humbling, personal, favourable and fitting to the occasion.

One came from Tourism Minister Nancy Shukri and the other from Sarawak Assistant Tourism Minister Sebastian Ting.

The federal minister signed off as just “Nancy Shukri” with no “YB Datuk Seri”. Why, everyone knows she has a datukship but who cares how many titles you have before your name? I don’t. I am also aware that Nancy is not a minister who is status-conscious and that is a plus point for me in a political leader. So well done, Nancy.

Ting did a pretty well-thought greeting with just a few lines extending his best wishes for Yuletide. He did not even sign off with his name as his photo in the card was enough to tell all who he was. I thought that was cute and smart. No name, no “YB Datuk”, no nothing – now that’s a Christmas card!

Sebastian Ting

I feel a little awkward for this critique of another greeting card but I will mention no name. It came from another minister with his full titles and his position. What is noteworthy is that he is a Christian.

Many might think that I am dealing with a trivial issue here. That is understandable for most. VIPs could have reasons why their many honorifics must show in their greeting cards. That has to be respected.

It’s just that I happen to put simplicity and humility on top of my score sheet. Like I’ve said, having an ego and the need to feel important is not wrong. But that would be showing that you are a class above many others. That does not work for me, especially if you are a politician.

Psychoanalysis of ego is “the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity”. It’s a trap which we should avoid.

We all know that outgoing US President Donald Trump has an ego the size of an ostrich egg. But what has happened to the most powerful man on the planet today? Don’t be a Trump.

I believe I will be receiving fewer greeting cards from politician friends after this, probably none at all for the forthcoming Chinese New Year in February. Haha.

But if you are a big shot (if you think you are one) and if your name is Joseph, I would love to receive one from you, signing off as simply from “Joe & family”.

That will make my day.


FRANCIS PAUL SIAH is the author of ‘Hijack in Malaysia: The Fall of Pakatan Harapan’. Obtain autographed copies from 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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Christmas and the holy sacraments

I read with interest a letter written by a Kuala Lumpur Catholic in a national news portal on Dec 18. The letter was written by Carmelo Ferlito who signed off as the CEO for Centre for Market Education.

The letter was one of a kind as here was a Catholic challenging the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, the Most Reverend Julian Leow, on his decision to cancel Christmas services in the archdiocese due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, as a Catholic myself, I feel that Ferlito meant well in his disagreement with the archbishop. I am also glad it was published for public consumption. This is rare as such reports normally appear only in Catholic publications.

There is the unwritten rule that Catholics belonging to a certain parish or archdiocese must exercise loyalty and obedience to the serving bishop or archbishop.

For example, as I am a parishioner of St Joseph’s Parish, Kuching, in the Kuching archdiocese, I am duty bound or owe my loyalty, allegiance and obedience to Kuching Archbishop Simon Poh. Although this was never meant as a doctrine, I am mindful of such an obligation pertaining to my faith.

In modern times, leaders of the church are also more broadminded and able to accept criticisms of their decisions by parishioners. In fact, some bishops have encouraged Catholics to speak up when they feel it was pressing to do so.

Why, even Pope Francis has regularly sought prayers from his flock, mindful that he is only human and bound to make mistakes.

In his letter, Ferlito questioned Leow for suspending Christmas masses and depriving Catholics of receiving the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

He wrote: “Around the world, churches are fighting against restrictions from their respective governments, while in Malaysia, we find ourselves in the peculiar situation in which the suspension of masses is decided and prolonged by the archdioceses and not the government.

“Without downgrading the risk posed by the rise in Covid-19 infections, as a Catholic, I ask His Grace the archbishop: “What do we hold most dear? Can we really live a true life without sacraments for the fear of the virus?”

The Catholic definition of a sacrament is an event in Christian life that is both spiritual and physical. The sacraments presuppose faith and, through their words and ritual elements, nourish, strengthen and give expression to faith.

I think it is Ferlito’s deep faith that places such importance and reverence for the sacraments. That must be applauded.

However, the archbishop must also have valid reasons to announce there would be no sacraments and masses for Christmas in the Kuala Lumpur archdiocese.

Surely, Leow’s top consideration must be the safety of parishioners as the alarming surge in Covid-19 cases in the Klang Valley continued unabated over the past weeks.

I managed to get in touch with Archbishop Poh of Kuching for his comments on Ferlito’s pointers and this was his response.

“I have noted that a few priests in Kuala Lumpur had contracted Covid-19. There will be dire consequences if masses were offered. Imagine the demand on the resources of the church if the whole congregation have to be tested after attending a church service.

“Kuala Lumpur and Selangor are currently red zones unlike in Kuching and other parts of Sarawak where we are luckier in some ways,” Poh said.

The Kuching prelate also revealed that Christmas services will be held in Sarawak but under strict SOPs.

“We have an alternative solution for mass and communion for the elderly and those with medical conditions. For example, we have offered mass at the car park in St Joseph’s Cathedral and this will continue over the Christmas weekend.

“Parishioners on chemo treatment, dialysis, and those with mobility restrictions plus the elderly can participate inside their vehicles at the cathedral’s car park. They will receive Holy Communion in their cars”, he added.

Well, I suppose the bishops everywhere in the country have carefully planned out what to do to ensure that Catholics will still be able to celebrate the joyous occasion of the Saviour’s birth as normal as possible during abnormal times.

Here’s a suggestion for my fellow Catholics. In locations where Christmas Masses are cancelled, we can still attend services online.

As penance for not being able to receive the holy sacrament, why not we do an act of charity this Yuletide by generously donating to needy families, especially those with children, so that they too will be filled with the peace, joy and happiness of welcoming the baby Jesus.

Have a happy and blessed Christmas, everyone.

– New Sarawak Tribune

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

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To hell with PN and Harapan!



COMMENT One is known as Perikatan Nasional (National Alliance), the other Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope). To me, it has become clear that both were established for the specific self-serving purpose of sustaining political careers.

PN is anything but a national alliance; it’s a hastily cobbled marriage of convenience to satisfy a sheer lust for power. And Harapan brings almost about everything to the table except hope.

Both coalitions are heavily fractured and they comprise of undeserving leaders who are unworthy to govern the nation. Their so-called leaders are an indisciplined lot, lack a clear vision to move the nation forward but excel in harping on unity and reforms with no idea of how to achieve those objectives.

So I say: To hell with both! Like many Malaysians, I am not only disappointed and demoralised but furious with the sorry state of affairs before us – never-ending politicking, betrayals and mistrust among allies, temper-throwing leaders with big egos, racial and religious rhetoric continues unabated and the “Me first, rakyat last” policies.

Malaysia is in a dangerous hour. Politicians from both sides are irresponsibly responsible for the people’s restlessness and disillusionment.

Don’t blame the coronavirus pandemic. Even without Covid-19, politicians will still be playing the games they so excel in, at the same time frothing from their mouths hypocritically extolling the virtues of unity and stability.

They talk of changes but unable to change themselves. Both sides expect their opponents to change so that they could have the upper hand. Their political struggle is for themselves, never the people.

They have betrayed the people’s trust and no longer worthy of our support. Not PN, not Harapan. In fact, they deserve our wrath and retribution; so, let’s trust them no more.

In unison, let us tell them loud and clear to go fly a kite. For their years of misdeeds and the pain and sufferings they have caused, that’s not being rude or discourteous but actually gentle and polite lingo.

As we approach a new year, we would normally look forward to gladder tidings but sadly, there is no silver lining ahead – on the political front that is. We can expect it to look gloomy with greater political upheavals as GE15 looms in 2021.

Going rogue

Two key factors stood out for this never-ending political crisis in the country which has also brought us shame and ridicule in the eyes of the international community.

There is a lack of discipline and total disunity within the two coalitions. When allies in the same coalition are not disciplined and disunited, it is impossible to function as an organisation, let alone govern a nation.

Party discipline is dependent on mutual trust, on close cooperation by all members of the team and confidence that each individual will play his or her role.

There is no discipline, even at the top of PN and Harapan. Veteran leaders have also been poor examples of party discipline.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Anwar Ibrahim, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Lim Guan Eng and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah are classic examples.

Mahathir did not consult his allies in February when he resigned as Harapan’s prime minister, only to concede later that it was a mistake. Don’t expect Mahathir to exercise group discipline. He has never heard of it.

Anwar made a last-minute decision on his own in directing Harapan MPs to stand down on the budget vote on Nov 16 in Parliament. Why? He has to protect his image as a caring leader. A leader so full of himself can never be a disciplinarian. If you are not a disciplinarian, you cannot lead. Period!

As Umno president, Zahid said he would not stop Umno MPs from supporting Anwar in his bid to become prime minister in September. A party president allowing his lawmakers to run rogue is a clear sign of zero discipline in the party.

Then, we learn that Lim’s joint statement with Amanah president Mohamad Sabu telling their own coalition that a political reset was necessary and to stop wasting time with PN. Wasn’t that a direct affront at Anwar? Why didn’t they bring up their intentions at the Harapan presidential council meeting instead of issuing public statements? Top Harapan leaders are not talking to each other anymore, is it? Where is the coalition discipline?

As for Tengku Razaleigh, he did not turn up for the budget vote in Parliament despite an Umno directive to party MPs to do so. Again, do not expect a seasoned personality like Razaleigh to abide by party discipline. Like Mahathir, it’s his way or the highway.

Power first

As for unity, I doubt any politician from both sides believes that “there is more power in unity than division”. Most likely, it’s a case of “power first, then unity”. Most of them could be thinking that “I have to create division in order to attain power; along the way, harp on unity as the struggle”.

Now, Mahathir has teamed up with his old adversary, Razaleigh, to work on a “unity government”. This has to be a stale joke as we have heard that being ridiculously proffered all too often that it has become meaningless.

Some of the younger leaders have also learnt to squabble, lie to their electorate and turn political frogs. To them, they are following the ‘example’ from their seniors to “make hay while the sun shines”.

The more discerning and sincere ones among the younger lawmakers are not given the opportunity to lead while many choose not to rock the boat and put their career on the line. At best, they sit in the cafeteria and issue polite statements, ensuring that they do not antagonise their party warlords.

PN and Harapan will not be able to gain or recover my trust and confidence. Come GE15, I expect nothing to change, no matter which side emerges victorious as long as the same players are still around.

I do not expect to see any significant reconfiguration or re-imagination of our political direction in the years ahead.

So, who can save, re-invent and lead our nation to a position and stature which Malaysia rightfully deserves and belongs?

Probably, that baby isn’t born yet.

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH is the author of ‘Hijack in Malaysia: The Fall of Pakatan Harapan’. Obtain autographed copies from 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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Sarawak Darul Hana it is not!



COMMENT At last, Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg has cleared the air. Sarawak will not change the state’s name to Sarawak Darul Hana.

I wonder why it took the chief minister that long to do so. The issue has been hotly debated for weeks with many Sarawakians expressing their unhappiness and resentment over the purported name change.

Perhaps Abang Jo has good reasons to delay the announcement. Probably, he wanted to gauge the reactions from Sarawakians over the Darul Hana name. And he got the message loud and clear.

Sarawakians are not in favour – in fact, they strongly abhor the mention of the Arabic term – Darul Hana for their home state.

The controversy actually started about a month when PAS sent out a message with the inscription “Sarawak Darul Hana” which caught the attention of netizens.

Almost immediately, the social media went abuzz with many Sarawakians expressing their objections with anti-Darul Hana postings.

In one voice recording, which went viral, a man believed to be a Sarawakian spoke his mind on the matter and why he is unable to accept any attempt to change the state’s name to Sarawak Darul Hana.

He noted with disgust any attempt to categorise Sarawak as an Islamic state which he said was totally unacceptable since the majority of Sarawakians profess the Christian faith.

Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg

“Our homeland has always been known as Sarawak Bumi Kenyalang. It should stay that way. Other states can change their names to Selangor Darul Ehsan, Johor Darul Takzim, Kedah Darul Aman or Pahang Darul Makmur, etc. That’s their right to do so.

“For Sarawak, we prefer that our homeland be known as Bumi Kenyalang, a name synonymous with Sarawak and which is known all over.”

The man explained that Darul Hana means “Home of Peace” in Arabic, stressing that there is no reason for the hornbill state to adopt an Arabic name.

“Sarawakians, including our Malay/Muslim brethren, are not Arabs. We live in Asia, not in Saudi Arabia or the Middle East,” he pointed out.

I must have received the recording several times and other similar postings in various chat groups.

I refrain from partaking in the debate on the issue over the past few weeks as I do not think it was officially endorsed by the state government. 

With the chief minister’s statement on Monday, I’m glad I had exercised patience and did not jump the gun by joining the chorus of unhappy Sarawakians in condemning the name change.

The chief minister told reporters in Kuching: “This issue is being played up by PAS. Whatever PAS wants to say, let them. But there is no attempt (by the GPS government) to use the term ‘Sarawak Darul Hana’.

“PAS has purposely created this issue because they have no other problems with the state government.”

I am glad Abang Jo did not hide his disappointment with the Islamic party, coincidentally an ally of GPS at the federal level.

Explaining further, the chief minister said: “What we have now is only Jambatan Darul Hana and Kampung Darul Hana in Kuching,” adding that it was no easy task changing the state name to Sarawak Darul Hana as this had to go through the state assembly for approval.

Sarawak PAS commissioner Jofri Jaraiee said “Darul Hana” was used during the rule of Sultan Tengah from 1627 to 1657 and the term meant a harmonious and safe place for everyone.

Sarawak PAS commissioner Jofri Jaraiee

To Jofri, let me say this, please do not bring your PAS brand of religious extremism to Sarawak.

Sarawak will never be an Islamic state. Secularism is the norm here and Sarawak does not even have an official religion. We are happy with our way of life and respect the multi-faceted religious practices of all faiths.

I am also glad that five local NGOs have issued a statement stating that the continued use of the suffix “Darul Hana” by PAS could disrupt racial and religious harmony in the state.

The NGOs wanted PAS and other groups to immediately cease using the term “Sarawak Darul Hana”.

They claimed using “Darul Hana” when describing Sarawak was an attempt to change the state’s identity from a secular state to one based on religion.

As I write this, there was a report that two practising Christians from Sabah are suing PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang over the latter’s alleged anti-Christian statement.

“We respectfully state that the defendant has made an unfounded statement and cast aspersions on Christians and/or Christian missionaries.”

Why am I not surprised that Sabahans and Sarawakians consider Hadi’s brand of mixing politics with religious fervour bordering on extremism unacceptable in the Borneo territories.

On record, Hadi has also declared that only a Malay/Muslim can rule Sarawak. It is clear that the PAS chief knows next to nothing about the Sarawak Constitution pertaining to political leadership in our beloved Land of the Hornbill.

Yes, it is Sarawak Bumi Kenyalang, and never Sarawak Darul Hana.

It will do you, Hadi and your party acolytes a great deal of good to bear that in mind.

As a Sarawakian, let me say this – We don’t need PAS in Sarawak. You have next to zero support in our homeland. So, try your luck elsewhere.


FRANCIS PAUL SIAH is the author of Hijack in Malaysia: The Fall of Pakatan Harapan. Obtain autographed copies from 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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Status quo for GPS a right move

No one, not even supporters of Perikatan Nasional (PN), took the recent proposal of a grand coalition of PN-BN-GPS seriously.

If the objective is to foster unity within the governing coalition, I doubt anyone in PN, or any political group, understands the true meaning of ‘unity’. With the unending politicking and upheavals facing us today at the federal level, unity is a big farce in my cynical mood.

There is no unity among our politicians today. This is not an understatement but a fact. I think we have seen and heard enough of the betrayals, squabbles and mistrust among all of them.

I doubt any politician in our midst today believes that “there is more power in unity than division”. Most likely, it’s a case of “power first, then unity”. Some politicians could be thinking that “I have to create division in order to attain power; along the way, harp on unity as the struggle”. Oh, are we not all too familiar with the games politicians are so adept at?

On Dec 11, Bersatu secretary-general Datuk Hamzah Zainudin mooted a “political understanding charter” to form a grand coalition between PN, BN and GPS in the 15th general election. Hamzah said PN-BN-GPS signing a pact would ensure continued cooperation between the three, as well as shore up public confidence.

As a Sarawakian, I am delighted that GPS leaders shot down the idea almost immediately.

PRS president Tan Sri Dr James Masing said that “there is no necessity for GPS to be a formal member of any grand coalition” but backed the idea of “an iron-clad understanding” between GPS and the other parties, that all of them must support each other in any election, including state elections.

“In short, PN and aspirants cannot contest in (Sarawak elections) and vice versa, Sarawak (parties) in any seat in Peninsular Malaysia,” said Masing.

In his response, PBB vice-president Datuk Abdul Karim Hamzah agreed that there was no need for GPS to be a formal member of any alliance, saying that the current arrangement was fine.

“Let the status quo remain,” said Karim.

I agree with Masing and Karim. Politics in Malaya is in one hell of a mess and it would be foolish of GPS to be dragged into it or be implicated in a fashion that does not benefit the Sarawak coalition at all.

As Masing has pointed out, come the Sarawak state polls, GPS expects its federal allies not to stake any claim on state seats.  

Seat allocation for the coming state election is expected to be a thorny issue. I do not think PN allies such as Bersatu or PAS which have chapters in Sarawak will be allocated any seat. Already a state Bersatu youth leader has been fuming that his party was considered as an opposition entity in Sarawak. PAS and Bersatu in Sarawak can continue to dream on — they will not get any seat under GPS.

Karim’s statement could be viewed as wise and practical. It would be foolhardy of PBB, as the backbone of a spirited and strong GPS, to sign any official act with its messy and unstable allies in PN.

A strong and stable coalition should not play second fiddle to one which could break up tomorrow. It does not matter if GPS support for the federal PN administration is viewed as a marriage of convenience. This is politics, after all.

It is also interesting to note that even Umno vice-president Datuk Khaled Nordin is not in favour of the grand coalition mooted by Hamzah. Khaled said the current PN-led government had failed to create political stability, and there was no guarantee the same configuration could ensure political stability after the next general election.

“Malaysia does not need a ‘coalition of coalitions’ because everyone knows that it is a political strategy aimed at borrowing the strength of the biggest party and not to get genuine support from the people,” said Khaled.

I support GPS to remain status quo — no need to join any proposed grand PN coalition. In fact, GPS is already a grand coalition of four parties — PBB, SUPP, PRS and PDP. Just stay put where you are. And do not allow the sneaky and dirty politics from Malaya to infiltrate our serene and peaceful Land of the Hornbill.

Let us, Sarawakians, take care of Sarawak. We know what to do best for our beloved homeland.

 – New Sarawak Tribune

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH is the author of Hijack in Malaysia: The Fall of Pakatan Harapan. Obtain autographed copies from sirsiah@gmail.com.

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

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ROS toying with Pejuang an old trick of the trade



COMMENT Dr Mahathir Mohamad is truly one of a kind. Love him or loathe him, we owe our grand old man due respect and recognition for his unprecedented staying power in politics.

Mahathir has already set world records – the oldest prime minister in history at 94 and the world’s only 95-year-old member of Parliament today.

If he contests the 15th general election due in 2023, he would be 98. Who are we to say that Mahathir will not be prime minister again at 100? Anything is possible.

Fans of American comedy will surely remember one of its greats, George Burns, who cracked at 90 that he has been booked for a show at 100. That’s a most positive look at life and longevity. Burns did live up to exactly 100 (1896-1996). He died after his sell-out New York event, leaving his two children laughing all the way to the bank. He must have wanted it that way too.

I must also grant Mahathir another record – he is probably the first political leader in the world to establish a new party at 95.

The nonagenarian’s new party, Pejuang, is in the news again. Last week, Pejuang, formed more than four months ago, went to court to compel the Registrar of Societies (ROS) to make a decision on its registration.

Those of us who have been involved in setting up new political parties must surely be aware of how the game is played. It is with such notoriety as politics is – to approve or reject is a political decision.

ROS is a unit under the home ministry, and it is the home minister who has the final say on whether to approve or reject applications to form political organisations.

To put it in a fairer and clearer perspective, the directive will eventually come from the prime minister, if the new party is set up by political heavyweights. Pejuang comprises well-known lawmakers including a former prime minister, so a nod from the sitting prime minister is surely necessary.

Pejuang as an opposition party could also be perceived as a threat to the Perikatan Nasional administration of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. In such a case, it is normal for those in power to make things difficult for the opposition. Delaying or rejecting the registration of a party is an old trick of the trade.

Ask the leaders of Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) and why they have to wait 10 long years for their party to be registered. Frowning upon socialism and labelling PSM founders as undesirable elements were mere lame excuses, in my opinion.

Of all people, Mahathir himself should be aware of this old trick of the trade. This is a political decision. The constitutional right of citizens to form associations can be considered a farce in many instances.

Here is my personal experience. In early 1996, I was involved in setting up the State Reform Party (Star) of Sarawak. Everything was in order in the application of the new party.

Former Sarawak Assistant Minister Dr Patau Rubis (the late) was Star’s pro tem president and I, the pro tem secretary-general. Like Pejuang’s case, we waited a few months for the ROS’ decision. It never came.

The seventh Sarawak state election was due later that year (1996) and we wanted to contest under the Star ticket. It was a long and frustrating wait.

Mahathir was then the home minister, and we decided to appeal directly to him. I could still remember clearly the response we received from Mahathir.

He told us not to ‘disturb’ Abdul Taib Mahmud (Sarawak chief minister then) but to allow him to serve one more term as chief minister. Mahathir also promised he would approve the registration of Star the following year.

Left with no choice, we fielded 14 candidates under the common Independent “three keys” symbol in the 1996 state polls held on Sept 7. It was a disastrous outing for Star leaders as we were all defeated; the only consolation was that eight of us managed to retain our deposits.

Mahathir kept his word. He approved Star’s registration on Oct 9, 1997.

From this episode 24 years ago and based on my personal experience, it is indeed disheartening to know that this old trick of the trade is still being played today at the whims and fancies of those in power.

It is clearly stipulated that the right to freedom of association protects the right of all persons to group together voluntarily for a common goal and to form and join an association, be it a political party, an NGO or a trade union.

But do those in power care about such constitutional rights of the citizens? On the contrary, it seems that they find great joy in infringing on this citizen’s right.

Mahathir had declared that Pejuang’s goals were to fight corruption and that other Malay-based parties had strayed from their original paths and have been swayed by money and power.

However shallow that may seem to Mahathir’s detractors, our grand old man and his Pejuang group still reserve their constitutional right to form an association.

I believe Mahathir, who has been through it all knows best how this old trick of the trade will eventually be played out.


FRANCIS PAUL SIAH is the author of Hijack in Malaysia: The Fall of Pakatan Harapan. Obtain autographed copies from sirsiah@gmail.com.

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

Posted in Dr Mahathir Mohamad, STAR State Reform Party | Comments Off on ROS toying with Pejuang an old trick of the trade

Politics of lies and deceptions will never end



COMMENT Did anyone of us actually believe that the current crop of politicians in our midst will ever stop politicking?

If I did, then I have to be the greatest fool to have ever walked the surface of the earth. Politicians, folks, can never stop politicking. It’s their bread and butter.

The politics industry has always been competitive. Yes, it is an industry; politics is a business. Like all businesses, politicians have to compete for customers, fight tooth and nail over them if necessary. (Think of the brawl at Low Yat Plaza last week caused by a dispute over customers. Politicians are like those selling computers and mobile phones fighting for a larger clientele.) Isn’t that a fact?

How many times have we heard politicians, from both sides, telling (pleading, advising or snapping) each other to stop politicking but to concentrate on helping the suffering rakyat and assist the health authorities to flatten the Covid-19 pandemic curve?

What caring and responsible people they must be, but who has been politicking non-stop? Certainly not the people.

Oh, have we not noticed too how political leaders have suddenly become such experts at using the pandemic as a lame excuse/reason whenever they are cornered during political upheavals?

When the Yang di-Pertuan Agong finally granted Anwar Ibrahim an audience in early October, supposedly to prove that he has the numbers to form a new government, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was quick to snipe at the opposition leader: “I was busy attending to the Covid-19 situation while he (Anwar) was at the Istana”.

What was Muhyiddin’s message? Simple. He has been busy working hard for the people and country, unlike his chief opponent who was more interested in politicking and bringing down the government.

But we cannot blame the prime minister as he was probably not aware that sniping at opponents is also a form of politicking. Or was Muhyiddin only pretending as he was among those who called for a stop to politicking.

We do know that even those holding the highest office of the land are also guilty of making silly and stupid statements when they feel threatened, and their career is on the line.

Why, even the most powerful man on the planet, US President Donald Trump, falls in the same category. The White House released a photo of the president working at his desk on his first day at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center where he was receiving treatment for Covid-19. What showmanship!

This was in early October when Trump was fighting an uphill battle for re-election. No surprise that he eventually failed to secure a second term.

We are now in the last month of the year – December. The pandemic aside, 2020 is a year many of us would rather forget – where the political front is concerned.

Pakatan Harapan, a coalition with no discipline and no leadership (as we are now aware), turned out to be a total train wreck dashing the hopes of their supporters. It gave “everything” – the worst of politics there is – to the people except hope. Today, I would describe Harapan as a hopeless entity, seriously unworthy of its name.

The Budget 2021 blunder on Nov 26 in Parliament could prove to be the final nail in Harapan’s coffin. Standing down on the voice vote at the policy stage was a very dumb move and proved to be a total disaster today.

Whatever Anwar’s reasons might be to request Harapan MPs to stand down, they were unacceptable to the majority of Harapan supporters. Indeed, Anwar’s days as opposition leader and Harapan chairperson are numbered as calls grow louder for him to step down.

The Perak coup last Friday is yet more proof that politicians, even allies (in this case, Umno and Bersatu), can never stop politicking.

The toppling of the menteri besar was the worst of the politics of lies and deceptions we have witnessed since the Sheraton putsch last February.

Now, Umno was unable to work with the Bersatu menteri besar which they managed to topple but last night, the party pledged to form a new Perak government with Bersatu and PAS.

Hey, what is going on? These politicians think that the people are idiots, unable to see the lies, deceptions and mistrust among them. Perak is a classic case of self-serving politicians whose sole objective is to ensure the survival of their careers. The people were never in the equation.

We also saw and heard how the Perak DAP chair jumped the gun by declaring that his party was prepared to work with Umno, much to the chagrin of his other DAP colleagues in the state.

Perak DAP chairperson Nga Kor Ming

With the Umno declaration of wanting a Perikatan Nasional state government in power again, the state DAP leader must be left red-faced. His colleagues were right – never ever sleep with the enemy.

Add in the Kedah MB spat with MIC in recent days, and we can expect more senseless and nauseating politicking before the dawn of the new year.

Let me conclude with something light which just came into my inbox. It reads: “I asked a doctor today how long he thinks this Covid-19 thing will last. He responded, ‘How should I know? I am a doctor, not a politician’.”

That says it all, I suppose.


FRANCIS PAUL SIAH is the author of Hijack in Malaysia: The Fall of Pakatan Harapan. Obtain autographed copies from 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) | Comments Off on Politics of lies and deceptions will never end

No more hope in Pakatan Harapan (Part 2)

Last week, I concluded that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim made a wrong call for directing opposition MPs to stand down on the Budget 2021 vote at the policy stage on Nov 26 in Parliament.

I added that the price for Pakatan Harapan (PH) to pay on this stupid move, which the opposition leader labelled a “tactical” one, will be heavy.

A week, as they say, is a long time in politics. It’s now clear from the numerous bloc vote defeats at the committee stages that PH had made a blunder, one that is perhaps unforgivable to their supporters. I put the blame squarely on Anwar.

Many of us must surely have thought that being a seasoned political operative, Anwar would have learnt hard lessons from the many times he had made bad and wrong decisions. Apparently he didn’t. On Nov 26, Anwar miscalculated again.

I don’t think I have it in me anymore to go and fight a war with Anwar as my general. Not when I know that I will likely return home in a body bag, seriously. I have a feeling that this sentiment is shared by a large cross section of PH lawmakers.

It isn’t easy too for PH supporters to recover from the Nov 26 bungle. Like many of them, I am still bewildered up to this day.

Anwar has tried to justify PH’s decision by saying that he did not want to railroad portions of the budget, which was crucial, especially to frontliners battling Covid-19. And neither did PH want to go against the wishes of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

I would take that to mean Anwar was worried what the people would think of him should PH voted out the budget. So it’s true what Anwar’s critics have been saying all along. It’s all about him – Anwar Ibrahim!

Let me say this up straight. A political party or coalition serving the interests and aspirations of one man will never succeed. Not now, not ever!

Many of us will remember clearly Anwar’s claim of a “strong, formidable and convincing” majority in late September that he has to take over as prime minister of a new PH government. More than two months later, it remains just that – an unproven claim. When will Anwar ever get it right?

I am somewhat delighted to have been exonerated by my statement that there is no more hope in PH by two of my fellow columnists in a national news portal.   

One said that “it just seems that both sides are taking everyone for a ride to ensure their political survival”.

It is clear to many that for the MPs, the budget was never about the people but themselves and how to stay in power or to regain power.

Another was on the dot by stating that “PH’s loss of confidence and identity crisis illustrates its own legitimacy. In the budget bungle, PH makes it about politics, not policy”.

It’s obvious now that Anwar’s attempts on damage control are not working. The bloc vote defeats at the committee stages bore testimony to this. Worse, PH has been terribly undermined in the eyes of its supporters and those who believe there is a dire need for an alternative government.

Parliament will sit until Dec 17. I do not expect PH to win any of the bloc votes if they take place. It is a foregone conclusion that the budget will see the light at the end of the tunnel, thanks largely to an insecure and indecisive opposition leader and many spineless MPs under his thumb.

Even if a confidence motion against Prime Minister Tan Sri Muyhiddin Yassin takes place, I don’t think PH will have the upper hand. PKR, DAP and Amanah will be out-manoeuvred again by the shrewder and smarter PN operatives. So, who is less politically savvy (a more polite term for “stupid”)?

As for the current development in Perak, let me warn PH that a “marriage of convenience” with Umno will not last. I am aghast that PH leaders are even toying with the idea in the first place. To me, that is politics without principle and it is filled with deceptions and lack of trust.

In the final analysis, it is my contention that the sooner PH changes its name, the better. People see little or no hope in this so-called coalition of hope.

As far as I’m concerned, PH is as good as dead.

May the nasty truth be told and heard loud and clear – the name, Pakatan Harapan, even stinks.

New Sarawak Tribune

(This concludes the two-part series.)

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH is the author of Hijack in Malaysia: The Fall of Pakatan Harapan. Obtain autographed copies from sirsiah@gmail.com.

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

Posted in MoCS (Sarawak) | Comments Off on No more hope in Pakatan Harapan (Part 2)

This is what happens when you pick an ignorant man to be MB, MIC says after ban remark

Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor said MIC should be banned if the party incited people to break the law. (Bernama pic)


GEORGE TOWN: MIC president S Vigneswaran today slammed the Kedah menteri besar for saying the party should be banned if it is inciting people to break the law, on the back of an issue of a temple demolition and lack of funding for non-Muslim places of worship in the state.

Yesterday, Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor, commenting on the MIC questioning the demolition of a Hindu temple in Kuala Kedah by the city council, said the party was merely trying to gain popularity by inciting others to go against the law over illegally built places of worship in the state.

Vigneswaran said: “This is what happens when you pick an ignorant man to be the MB. We have the right to ask because freedom of worship is enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

“If defending the rights of our community can be considered instigation, then PAS should be banned, judging from the number of demonstrations they have held on international issues and claims of some of them being linked to terrorists.

“PAS is showing its true colours and it is not surprising that the DAP could not work with them because of their arrogance.

“Go ahead, try to ban us and see. But if he (Sanusi) does not manage to ban us, then he should step down as MB,” he said when contacted.

MIC president S Vigneswaran says that if Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor fails in getting the party banned, he should resign.

Vigneswaran said the issue raised by the MIC over the demolition of the temple should have been treated civilly, instead of Sanusi going on a tirade against the party.

“This is what you get when immature people become MB. Does he remember his party president previously vowing not to demolish any temple?” he asked.

Vigneswaran said PAS should realise it was a “nobody” six months ago, prior to the formation of Perikatan Nasional.

Separately, the DAP’s P Ramasamy said Sanusi’s reaction to a simple question over the demolished temple showed the PAS-led government was keen on causing misery among non-Muslims in Kedah.

He said it was wrong to say any group or party, in this case the MIC, was inciting people to break the law or gain popularity when it was just demanding fair rights for ethnic Indian citizens.

“This is simply the wild and careless imagination of Sanusi who has proved to be an ineffective leader in Kedah.

“Indians are upset and angry simply because more temples have been demolished in the state in comparison with the earlier BN and later PH governments.

“If the authorities can demolish temples, some of them more than hundreds of years old, you expect Indians to offer the proverbial other cheek? Sorry, Indians are not the reincarnation of Gandhi.”

FMT has contacted the MB and his office for comment.

Free Malaysia Today

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