The issue is institutional reform

The issue is not whether Latheefa is good or not. The issue is not whether the prime minister has the prerogative to appoint.

The issue here is that PH and PM have promised institutional reform.

The most important institutional reform as I see it is to decentralize the power of the PM’s office so that power does not concentrate on one person and just one person alone. PM is just the First among equals, in the Westminster parliamentary system. It’s not presidential. Even in US presidential system, all important appointments may be made by the president, but they have to go through the vetting processes of Congress. So there is a check and balance in place.

If All powers are to be concentrated in just one person , in our case the Prime Minister, what happened during Najib’s watch will happen again. The pm will be so powerful that he can do anything to pilfer the national coffer, he can sack anyone anytime like in 2015. There will not be any checks and balances anymore

So to let one person and one person alone to make all the important appointments, without even going through the cabinet, is inviting trouble and going back to the old days where we have seen the failure of our institutions to exert a check and balance on the pilferage of 1mdb funds.

The priority is institutional reforms as promised in the manifesto in the last GE. There must be a change in law to allow all important appointments to go through parliamentary select committee. In the mean time, even when the new laws are not ready yet, the spirits of institutional reform must be adhered to, and pm must be seen to be pursuing a path of reform instead of going back to the old days.

The future of Malaysia to remain as a true democracy hinges on this.

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Who wins in a trade war?

 

On the surface, in a trade war the importing country will have more to gain than the exporting country. So we may assume that US has more to gain than China since USA imports far more goods from China than the other way round.

So if USA were to impose 25% tariff on all Chinese imports , China cannot reciprocate on the same amount of goods that it imports from USA, simply because it imports far less than its exports to US.

But if you delve deeper, it’s not so simplistic .
Many of the USA imports from China are essential and intermediate goods for its own farms and industries. Car parts, electronic components etc are just some of the intermediate goods that USA imports. To keep manufacturing , US industries have no choice but to keep importing, despite the 25% tariff. The end results: consumers and industries in USA are paying for the tariff and that is leading to inflationary pressure on its economy.

It’s not so easy just to source from other countries like Vietnam or even japan or S Korea. Vietnam simply has not reached the technological level to produce goods as sophisticated as those from China. Japan n Korea are too expensive, even with the 25% tariff taken into consideration. It will take several years for Vietnam to be able to replace goods manufactured in China and by then, Trump would no longer be around.

So a full scale trade war hurts USA equally if not more even though China exports more than it imports from USA, at least in the short term of two to three years.

The danger in a trade war is that often it leads to military conflict. A war between China and USA will be catastrophic for the whole world.

shadow sparring?

In my opinion, in his haste to get back to Parliament, contradicting his earlier stand that he would take it easy while waiting for his turn, Anwar  has created certain uncertainties which can destabilize the new PH government. 

As a Parliamentarian, he will be in position to seek and form alliances with UMNO and east Malaysian politicians and introduce a vote of no confidence in Parliament  IF DrM does not see eye to eye with him for whatever reasons. Even though formation of this form of unholy alliance with UMNO and associated is remote, it will be hanging like a sword of Damocles over PH, thus destabilizing the new government. 

The new government needs support, given that many of the new ministers are very inexperienced and still need time to settle in. 

If he is sincere to see institutional reforms being carried out, he should not be in a hurry to get back to Parliament. He should keep to his earlier promise. The best support to the new government is to wait for his turn, play less politics and persuade Rafizi to drop the bid for deputy president of PKR.

While he is busy trying to get back to parliament, big names in UMNO are abandoning the big brother. Perhaps DrM’s associates think like yours truly, and thus trying to weaken UMNO  so that the sword of Damocles can be rendered useless. 

I see all these as shadow sparring of the two.

Say no to a divisive survey

politics has to be realistic especially in Malaysia’s setting

I am against participating in the online survey about UEC. I don’t know who started it but the survey is potentially divisive and not good at the moment.

For the record, I am all for the recognisation of UEC. I think Chinese independent schools provide an extra option for Malaysians and education should be about letting people choose the best option for the academic development of their children.

I think because PH won the election, the expectation is very high among the various groups that voted for them.

But politics has to be realistic especially in Malaysia’s setting.

just because one third of Malays voted for PH doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to change the core system of the country. Many of them voted because of gst and the rise in the cost of living, more than anything else. This is especially true for the urban Malays.

But even some urban Malays will feel threatened if the govt is perceived to concede to the wishes of the Chinese community in everything. ( note I use the word ‘perceived’which is not the same as the truth- but politics is about perception). Once the support of this group is gone, the Chinese will be back to square one or even worse. It will only encourage the teaming up of all Malay parties.

UEC is now recognized all over the world. Chinese independent schools graduates have more than enough opportunity to further their education or seek employment.

If UEC recognition comes at the expense of altering the nature of independent Chinese schools, then its best to leave things as it is. More importantly, use this issue to bargain for the setting up of more Chinese schools n independent Chinese schools.
The Chinese schools are bursting at the seams as it is.

Mindsets can only be changed gradually. To change mindsets, we should adopt blue ocean strategy. Get the govt to build more Chinese schools and Chinese independent schools. Encourage more non Chinese to study by waiving fees etc. Once this group becomes sizable , it would change the mindsets of the more conservative Malays.

Better late than never

Gerakan has finally made the decision to quit BN.

Since 2006, I have been advocating that the party move out of BN as I have foreseen any association with the racist and corrupt culture of UMNO will drag Gerakan down.

It’s good though a bit late for the party to quit BN now.

Politics should be about the welfare of the people and the country, not about individuals. The world would be a much better place if more politicians can subscribe to this principle.

Perhaps it’s time to revisit my press statement in 2011, when I decided to resign from the party:

Press Statement by Dr Hsu Dar Ren (08-03-2011)

It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my resignation from all my positions in Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia, including that of Central Committee member, FT state liaison committee member, division chairman, branch chairman and ordinary membership.

Parti Gerakan is a party with good ideology to establish a fair and equitable society in Malaysia . It too has many conscientious members who subscribe to this ideology.

Unfortunately, within the framework of BN, where the hegemonic race politics of UMNO predominates, it is impossible for Gerakan to realize this ideal.

In fact, as a result of more than 5 decades of race based politics, the country has drifted so much apart that racial polarization has never been as bad as now . Despite the many decades of trying to work from within, Gerakan is now further and further away from realising its ideals.

Three years after the 308 General election, I sense that apart from rhetoric, there is little change in policies gearing towards uniting the people and providing a fairer and more equal footing for all. I feel that it is now futile for me to try to fight within the system anymore.

I have no intention of joining any other political parties, but I will continue to voice out through writing and blogging on the importance of building a fair and equitable society.

Two tigers cannot share the same mountain.

 

We don’t need to have a PM inside the government and another guy acting as one outside the government

In the past few general elections, I have been advocating change and have been very supportive of the then opposition alliance , held together by the De facto leader.  In my blog posts then, I had said many times that without him, there would not be a Pakatan to oppose BN.

I am also very impressed that he can forget about the past and join hand with his former nemesis DrM to  fight the previous kleptocratic government. In fact, this must be one of his wisest decisions ever made, since without the charismatic and indefatigable DrM, PH would not be able to win, let alone winning so convincingly.  Without DrM’s adroit maneuvering on the night of the election, I don’t think the change of government could have proceeded so smoothly. I also believe that had PH be helmed by any other person, UMNO would not have given up so easily and those in charge would not have given up without resorting to other ‘tricks’, so to speak.

But after Dr M was sworn in, many happenings have led me wonder whether the old wayang kulit master of the 90s  is back. There are many instances to let me think so, and to list some here:

1. On the second day of forming the new government, Rafizi was quoted to question why DrM bulldozed the cabinet appointments. The word ‘bulldozing’ makes the new PM look like a dictator. Is Rafizi just a proxy or is he voicing out in his own personal capacity?

If his intention is to make Dr M look bad, it has the opposite effect. The general consensus is that it made Rafizi  look bad.

Even if we need the freedom of criticizing government, why do it at such an early stage when The whole nation was still in an euphoric mood. There is also the so called internal channel which he could have utilized, given his position as a senior leader of PKR.

Then again  towards the end of May, the same Rafizi was reported to say that Dr M was not the main factor for PH to win GE 14, citing a survey. Why he needed to say this when the general consensus was that without Dr M, PH would not have won nor formed the government? It really gives an impression that someone is trying  to belittle Dr M, and if so, why? Is it because if they can show that Dr M is not the deciding factor, then PKR with its largest number of elected MPs in PH would have the biggest say in deciding cabinet appointments  as well as those in the PH administered state governments.

2.  Dr M’s appointment of Azmin as the minister in charge of economic affairs, despite the fact that Azmin was already sworn in as Selangor MB on presumably PKR’s recommendation to the Sultan. I wonder whether there was any discussion on this? Or is there some truth to the suggestions on social media that Dr M is using  Azmin to balance the influence of the de facto leader? I am curious too whether azmin’s appointment as MB was discussed by the top echelon of PH?

3. Then the appointment of the new MB of Selangor. It was earlier reported that Dr Idris was one of the names nominated as MB , but it was Amirudin who was sworn in as the new MB. It should be a non matter but for the fact that Dr Idris claimed in a PC that Amirudin was not the one endorsed by PH. Dr Idris was also the name announced by Dr Wan Azizah a few days ago. What happened during the last few days? Note that now both DSAI and wife said they supported Amirudin; what else can they say if they want to portray to the public that ‘ all is well and under control’ . As a person who was in politics before, I believe that this incident shows that there are really strong undercurrents beneath the surface calm in PKR.

4. DSAI has been acting as if he is  a senior member of the administration (at least that is the impression I get) by holding meetings and saying so many things to the press  since his pardon.  Just yesterday, it was reported that he urged the Finance minister not to publicly expose the scandals of the previous administration because he claimed that it can affect investor sentiments.

Its strange that he needed to publicly say this. He has been advocating a new Malaysia with transparency. This type of exposure is transparency and will also act as a deterrent. Furthermore, why can’t he call the Finance minister and give the advice over phone? Both have been cooperating since the days of Pakatan Rakyat. Why the need to do this publicly? It gives a perception that the PM in waiting is reprimanding a senior minister publicly. At the very least, it gives an impression of him trying to belittle the FM. The finance minister has now publicly replied that he was asked to do so by Dr M, the present PM. One wonders why are there no channels of communication among the PM and PM in waiting, especially when the wife of the latter sits in the cabinet as the second in command.

In my humble opinion, I think the De facto leader should try to adopt a lower profile, because that was the impression many of us had when he indicated upon his release that he is going to take a rest, go overseas for awhile before considering a return to parliament.

I hope he truly learns his lessons and be more patient. Let Dr M and his chosen team have a free rein to tackle the difficult tasks they are facing,  without interruption or so called advice from PM in waiting.  If he really wants to give advice, do it via PH leadership council, or better still, through his wife who is the DPM.. he could also meet up with Dr M to give his input, since he has allegedly forgiven DrM.

We don’t need to have a PM inside the government and another guy acting as one outside the government.

Remember the Chinese proverb: there cannot be two tigers sharing the same mountain.

 

Boomerang

It is now more than one month after PH, against all odds and predictions, won the 14th GE. PH members and the many of the voters are still in euphoric mood. Many are still in disbelief.  The latter includes the former ruling coaltion which has been in power for 61 years.  They were the only ruling party Malaysians had ever known.

Within a short period of a month, the 14 member coalition is now down to only 4. That is how cruel politics is; no one likes to be on the losing side, especially a side that is now deemed to be so corrupt that any association with it would invoke scorn from the rakyat.

Now in the unfamiliar role of playing opposition, many in the  BN component parties   are now voicing out vocally against what they perceive to be ‘mistakes’ or ‘excesses’ of the new government, only to find that whatever criticism they made against the new government invariably comes back to haunt them.  They either dont realize or are too forgetful that they had made bigger mistakes before, and the excesses of their past masters were astronomical, not to mention the billions of taxpayers’ money siphoned away.

My advice to these minions is to hold their tongues at the moment, wait for at least a few months.. let the new administration settle down andgive them time to learn the ropes.  Actually in the past one month, they have brought back confidence and most importantly ‘ hope’ to a country where no one can deny that corruption was so rampant that if left unchecked, would have brought the country to a point of no return.

 

 

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