A few intriguing situations 3

I was ‘pleasantly’ surprised that PM appointed TI Malaysia Chairperson Datuk Paul Low into the cabinet.

Even though I thought that PM might appoint some Chinese from NGOs, i thought the person(s) would most probably come from one of the Chinese NGOs. Some of the Tan Sris in those NGOs must be very disappointed.

I welcome the appointment and hope against hope that Low can do something to tackle corruption, check abuses, and promote transparency and accountability.

Note that I used the phrase ‘hope against hope’. It means that although i hope for this to happen, the odds of it being realised are slim.

This is not to pour cold water on Low.

Remember in 2008, the former PM invited Zaid Ibrahim into the cabinet as de facto Law Minister, hoping that he can reform the judiciary and some archaic laws. What happened to Zaid is now well known and I need not delve further.

I remember what a Minister from Gerakan (now deceased) once  told me  in jest. When asked why certain things were not brought up in cabinet, he answered that it was a case of one mouth against 20 over mouths..His voice was simply drowned in the chorus of  ‘warlords’ and sycophants  in the cabinet.  I myself had a taste of this when I was a lone voice seeking change in CC meetings of a political party, even though what I predicted would happen to the party  if no radical changes were carried out had now happened.

So as a lone voice, in a milieu surrounded by those with their own interest to be considered, I doubt Low can do much to tackle corruption. If  he is given a free hand– mind you,  no one would give him a free hand– most of the politicians inside   Big Brother including most ministers would have to go. That is simply not possible because PM has the party election later this year to think about.

I was also surprised by PM leaving only the Transport Ministry to MCA in case they overturn the decision not to accept cabinet positions. MIC has 4 MPs, and was awarded 2 full ministers. MCA has 7 MPS, but given only one full Minister’s post? That is a real slap on the face. But I suppose MCA has not much of a face left now, ever since it has elected a tainted person  as its president.

So  don’t blame anyone;  MCA can only blame itself,for choosing a president, who is instrumental in pushing through the resolution not to accept any cabinet posts if the party did badly than last time.

This strategy is like a blackmail.. You dont give me this, I will do that.. And like blackmail, this is highly dangerous. Now that it has really done worse, and has to call a EGM to overturn its former decision, the blackmail has actually backfired.

This is also political suicide. If a party which is part of the ruling coalition does not want to be in cabinet and does not want to operate service centres for the rakayt, then how does it expect to win the hearts and votes of the rakyat? By tagging on the coattails of the Big Brother?

The Big Brother might as well do it on its own without having to look after someone tagging at its coattails; it only adds weight to its coat and becomes a burden.

I think MCA  has expected 2 or 3 minister positions to be left vacant for its MPs in PM’s cabinet, as most people expected that the party would eventually make a U-turn and go back to the cabinet. Now even if its new leadership makes a U-turn, there is only one place left. Who fault is that?  Who was the one who gave up three seats even before the fight during GE 13? It is like hanging out a white flag before a battle.

With its poor strategy, it has now painted itself into a corner. There is simply not much of a choice left. Is there?


A few intriguing situations 2

Second intriguing question is that will there be Chinese representation in the cabinet and state excos? This is because MCA and Gerakan have decided not to accept any cabinet positions in view of their poor performance in this election.

To answer this, we must look back and see how effective the past Chinese representation has been. Chinese representation were mainly from Chinese based parties such as MCA, and multiracial parties such as Gerakan and SUPP.

The best gauge would be the community’s reaction to those who are representatives inside. The fact that the community has rejected these parties shows that the representation has not been effective in channeling what the community needs and wants.

The perception among the public is, apart from OTK who went against  Bn culture by digging into  the PKFZ (though he was not the one exposing it), the Chinese ministers are yes men, and are only there for their self interest.

Even the deputy of Dong Zhong, the Chinese educationist grouping, openly stated in newspapers that “better not to have them than to have them inside”. This reflects the views of many.

Personally, I agree that if the representation is not effective, then it really does not matter whether there are Chinese ministers inside, since if they are not effective or dare not speak against fellow UMNO ministers, then they may even be presenting a wrong picture to the whole cabinet.

Even as early as in the 50s, this type of misrepresentation has happened. There was a MCA executive secretary then name Tan Tong Hye (later known as Mohamad Tahir Tan), this is what wikipedia said about him ( and the Tunku too had mentioned this in one of his books):

In May 1954, an UMNO-MCA Alliance delegation composed of Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak and Tan arrived in London to demand for an effective elected majority in the new Federal Legislative Council. The MCA president, Tan Cheng Lock, could not make it because he would not travel by air. He authorized Tan Tong Hye to represent him in the talks. For the trip, Tan was instructed by MCA to hand a memorandum issued by the MCA and Chinese educational bodies opposing colonial education policy over to the British Undersecretary of State for Colonies, Oliver Lyttelton . But Tan did not hand over the memorandum…

Tan did not pass to the British the memorandum of the Chinese education bodies then. Some alleged that he threw the memorandum into a dustbin (source: Malaysia Baru).

One might wonder what would be the course of history if he had passed the memorandum to the British government; would there be a policy more inclined to the aspiration of the Chinese community, noting that at that time, there was no internet and social media from which the British could get feedback, other then from MCA which purportedly represented the Chinese community.

So an ineffective representation may lead to disinformation and misinformation. (What TH Tan did was a form of disinformation to mislead the British, why he did so, there were many theories).

Coming back to MCA’s decision not to accept any cabinet positions since they did much worse than the last round.  In a Chinese forum soon after the GE, a political observer who was a speaker at that forum predicted that eventually MCA would make a U-turn and accept back the positions. To this observer, the whole thing is only a sandiwara.

I agree with that assessment. MCA has now 7 MPs left. Most of these would be very eager to be appointed as ministers, what with all the trappings like body guards, drivers, official cars, hefty salary plus allowances, and you-know-what..

And as MPs who had won their seats despite the tough election, they would think that they deserve to be appointed inside, so as to enjoy the ‘fruits’ of their victories. This is human nature . Liow  must be thinking  of getting a minister’s post to launch his bid for the presidency of the party;  with that comes certain ‘power’ as long as Big Brother is pleased.

But to do that, they need to choose a new leadership fast so as to overturn the resolution that prevent them from accepting cabinet appointment. To do that fast, they need Chua to resign immediately and vacate the post of presidency.

But Chua probably has another plan. He would and want to oversee the transition period (especially the dividion elections) during which he could, as incumbent, place as many allies as possible in positions of influence so as to ensure the ascendency of junior Chua. This is all part of politics of Malaysia; everyone at the helm wants a dynasty, even though nothing much is left off on the table anymore, so to speak . … So he would not budge from his seats unless a EGM is called to oust him. That would not be easy, since you normally require a 2/3 votes to sack a president.

I do not wish to comment on Gerakan, since to all intents and purposes, this party has lost all its roots, a situation I predicted after 2008. It has now left with one parliamentary seat and one state seat in Johor; the 2 seats in Sabah do not count much since those are originally not from Gerakan. I feel sad that a great party which started with lots of promise and foresight  has come to this stage; a lesson to all that once a party has failed to realise what the people want, this will be the result.

A few intriguing situations 1

It is now more than a week after the 505 General election.

A few intriguing situations  have arisen.

The first is of course will the Big Brother do a “Pah Lah” to our PM?

To his credits, PM have campaigned very hard, and he has been well received in many areas. If not for PM, whose rating has been higher than his party, BN would have lost even more.If we take UMNO alone, he actually did better than 308, winning 88 compared to 79 the last time. He also won back Kedah and Perak.

So any attempt to dislodge him, and I am sure there would be such attempts, would not be as easy as in 2008.

I hope he would not veer to the right for that would be  suicidal for UMNO, like what Saifuddin said.  If he veers to the right, by the next election, Big Brother would be voted out. This is because there would be more and more young people coming of age to vote, and more and more would have access to internet and social media.

On top of that,  the urbanisation of suburbs and suburban-isation of sub-suburbans would lead to more people to vote against bad governance, corruptions and extremism.

In other words, as the country progresses , there will be more and more centrist voters who want change, and unless change can be delivered to them, they are likely to vote for opposition.

He should hasten his transormation program, tackle corruption with more resolve, and perhaps appoint liberals like Khairy into his cabinet, to counter the influence of the old gurads led by the Old Horse.

If, instead,  he goes the path of the Old Horse, he would lose even more, and Malaysia can say bye bye to the smaller component parties, like  Gerakan, MCA and MIC, since these parties actually depend on the Big Brother to get votes for them.

So I hope Big Brother realises this. Otherwise, it will be booted out GE14.

Gerrymandering and the winner

“To those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.”           ― Barack Obama


A few days before the voting, I met a foreign friend for tea. He asked for my opinion. I told him that the urban sentiments were against BN.  However, because of gerrymandering, BN would still win, although in my heart, I had hoped for  a PR victory .

I predicted that PR would still win big in  Penang but PR would lose Kedah, because of the less than good performance of the state government.. I also predicted that the margin would be 122 for Bn and 100 for PR. That is why i was not as disappointed as many others who voted for change.

Rome is not made in a day, to take consolation on this.  Another consolation is the moral victory for winning the popular votes.

(courtesy of malaysiakini)popular votes

Many times in this blog, I mentioned about the uphill task to win for PR. I spoke about the gradient being less step, but it is an uphill task nonetheless to overthrow BN. Again, this is because of gerrymandering, which more than anything else, had given BN victory.

PR’s winning margin in Seputih is more than 51,000. In PJ Utara, it is more than 40,000.   There are so many other examples all over Malaysia.

Unless we do away the unequal distribution of voters, PR has to win more than 55% of popular votes to win an election.

This is the stark fact.

It was not like that before. Before a constitutional amendment some time in the 80s I think, there was a clause that the biggest and the smallest constituencies must not differ more than 15%.  I think it was Dr M who amended the clause.

So the most important thing to do is to make sure that the next constituency redelineation  ( which is before the next GE) is done in a less lopped sided manner.

One good trend that emerges from this election is that Urban Malaysians are now less racial. More Chinese are voting Malay and Indian candidates from PA and PKR and even DAP, and more Malays are voting for Chinese and Indians Candidates from PKR and DAP< more Indians are voting for Malay and Chinese candidates etc.

This is the real 1Malaysia, PM should note this.  PM should also take note of what President Obama said about being the president of all.

DR M is now seen to be trying to use the race card to put the blame on PM, and galvanised the right wing forces to try to push PM out.

In this election, if there is a winner, it is actually Dr M. His son gets to be a MB of a State. This was despite his son losing the fight for Ketua Pemuda post during the last UMNO election.  With this position, he is now within striking distance of the main crown, presidency of the BIg Brother.  As long as BN is in power, the weaker the position of PM, the bitter   better it is for him to play divide and rule.(and the more bitter Malaysians will be)


Why BN lost the urban votes

In an earlier article,  by way of simple mathematics, I have shown that at there are in fact more Non Chinese Malaysians voted against BN than Chinese Malaysians in the just concluded 13th General Election.

It is true that the Chinese has voted as a bloc, with an estimated 80% for BN. But at most, because they are a minority, they can cause only a ripple, maybe a small wave, but never a tsunami.

It is because of the other urban Malaysians, such as the urban Malays in Batu, Shah Alam, Puchong , Lembah Pantai, Wangsa Maju and everywhere else, who voted against BN that has resulted in the mini tsunami.

The reason that Chinese is more visible  as a bloc is because  Chinese Malaysians predominantly reside in urban areas . Urban sentiments are  against BN, for reasons which I will touch on below,  resulting in most Chinese voted for Opposition. But in rural areas like Kedah, I was told many Chinese voted for BN.

Now that election is over, PM has mentioned about national reconciliation.

I welcome that. Yes,  this is the time for reconciliation and healing, but to do so, first of all, we must stop all racial rhetoric and the blame game, and sit down and analyse why BN has lost so much of ground in urban areas.

I will name a few below :

1. 1Malaysia and Perkasa. While there was initially high hope for PM’s 1Malaysia vision, it was very fast negated by the rise of right wing extremists in UMNO in the form of outsourced NGO Perkasa.

While  ordinary people would be hauled up for small offences, big wigs in Perkasa go scot  free and was perceived  to be given a licence to utter racist and extreme views.

The free hand given to Perkasa and its patron negates whatever PM’s effort to push for 1Malaysia , which is a pity of course.  In the minds of many urban people, 1Malaysia  has just become  a slogan to be uttered loudly whenever there is a government event or in the presence of government leaders.

Thus, to many urban people, the best result this time around is the defeat of the racists such as Ibrahim Ali and Zulklifli Nordin, both of whom are seen to be linked to Dr M.   The fact that they lost in predominant Malay areas showed that even Malay people do not buy this type of extremism anymore. Their defeat should be something for BN and UMNo to reflect deeply and  seriously.

While BN accuses others  of being racists, they should look at the mirror at themselves, and see why the likes of these racists were being fielded and aided. It is akin to acknowledging  that BN supports extremism.   On top of that, there is Utusan which time and again carries extremist views but nothing was done to curb it.

While heads of some  component parties of BN did come out with statements to condemn Perkasa and Utusan every time they utter  something extreme, they were seen to be inert in stopping these extremist views  even  with their so-called internal  channels to PM and BN supreme council. Their inertness was interpreted as total subservience to  UMNO’s hegemony.

If they are seen to be subservient, then how do they be effective to  represent the interest of urbanites, given that their seats were mainly in urban areas?  To the urban people, these component parties have  totally lost relevance by their inability to moderate such extremism and double standard.

Race based politics is on the way out. To those who have access to internet, race is no more an issue. The  internet community is  actually those who reside in urban and affluent suburban areas. The urban tsunami can therefore also  be seen as the Tsunami of the Internet Community.

BN needs to be be more farsighted and look beyond race.. BN should really consider disbanding each individual component and merge into one big multiracial party without harping on Malay rights and support those who utter extremist religious views.

2. Perceived failure of the institutions.  While the Police maintains that crime rate has come down, urbanites are troubled by reports of robberies, snatch thefts(some resulting in deaths), which have become so common that many victims did not even bother to report such instances. Even Malaysians’  Mall going culture was at one time threatened by reports of robberies occurring in shopping mall car parks.

The anti corruption agency MACC lost the trust of the people with  cases such as Teoh Beng Hock unresolved.  Teoh’s death epitomizes unfairness and injustice  when no one was held responsible. Teoh became a martyr of sort, and in letting the culprits go unpunished, people lost all trust not only in  the agency, but the ruling parties  as well.

While many small fries were hauled up to court for corruption, the perception remains that those with big influences go scott free. While it is true that even a Tun is being charged for corruption, people’s perception is that one swallow does not make a spring.

Other institution such as Judiciary and Election Commission were perceived to be pro establishment, and I need not go into details.

Such perceived failure of these institutions results in anti establishment  sentiments among those  people who have access to internet and those who use social media, either with smart phones or computers.

Any perceived unfairness, whether true or exaggerated, becomes viral. One such example was the ‘listen listen listen’ video, which became viral among the internet community in a short time.  That personality in that particular video has come to epitomise the ruling coalition– the arrogance of the Big Brother , and the inertness and subservience of rest of the component parties.

3. The rising cost of living. Many urbanites are struggling to survive, with the cost of living escalating faster than the increments  in their income.

This alone would not be so bad, but when these people see how those with connections benefited from government projects, and the massive corruptions and extravagance taking place, they became disillusioned. On the one hand, they have to tighten their belts, on the other, they see how government funds are being wasted on projects such as the National feedlots Centre.  This creates massive amount of discontent.

Again, the abuse and wastage were shared via internet and social media , and from internet , via words of mouth. Again,  this discontent becomes viral, spreading much faster than even an epidemic.

It is not coincidental that these internet savvy groups are mainly those who reside in urban and suburban areas, cutting across ethnic lines.

These are the people who are responsible for the tsunami, not any particular ethnic group.

also published in: the malaysianinsider

Mathematically not a Chinese tsunami

Many people are disappointed with the results of GE13.

Even though PR has won 51% of the popular votes, it has only 89 seats against 133 seats of BN. This is of course because of the gerrymandering that gives rural seats much more say in determinig which party would prevail in a general election.

Immediately after the election results were known, I wrote on my facebook:

The results showed more of a urban rural divide. Lim Kit Siang’s margin showed that he won not only Chinese votes, but from other races as well. Tian Chua would not have won Batu,a mixed seats with Malay majority, without Malay support… 

To prove my point and that PM’s assertion about  a Chinese tsunami is wrong, we should resort to scientific method, and do this mathematically.

There are 13.3 millions voters for GE 13, out of which 29.68% or 3.94 millions are Chinese Malaysian voters.

Assuming the turnout of the Chinese voters are the same as the general population which is 80%, the number of Chinese casting votes would be 3.15 millions.

Assuming that 90% of the Chinese voted for PR (this is actually improbable), that would be 2.83 million votes.

But PR received more than 5.62 millions votes, which means that even if 90% of the Chinese voted for PR, they comprise of only 50% of the support that PR receives.

At a more realistic 80% Chinese support for Opposition, PR would get 2.5 million votes  from the Chinese ethnic group only.

The fact that it received more than 5.62 million total votes means that more than 3.1 millions votes are from non Chinese Malaysian.

The tsunami against BN is more an urban tsunami than putting the blame on  any particular ethnic group. This  is clearly reflected that in 2 of the  most urbanised states, Selangor and Penang, BN lost more ground than before.

If not for Sabah and Sarawak, and to a lesser extent Johor and the gerrymandering,  BN would have lost this GE13.

………also published in Malaysiakini and TheMalaysianInsider

Vote wisely and calmly

Tomorrow is the Big Day.

So far, from the surveys of both Umcedel and Merdeka center, the 2 coalitions are running neck to neck. This is the first time that the result of a GE in Malaysia cannot be predicted.

In the past, no matter whom we voted, the outcome was always the same. BN has always been returned to power. Then, the  votes of the rakyat could only determine how many opposition voices were elected to Parliament, but the outcome was always same.. One party always won.

This is the first time our votes can make a real difference.

Do we want a change? Do you want a two party system that will bring better check and balance? If so, the choice is clear.

Come out to vote. Report any anomalies to the election agents or representatives of the various parties. But never go into any argument or be instigated to become angry.

Always have sober minds. Dont be tricked into any confrontation. But keep your eyes and ears open.

I also appeal to both sides not to play any tricks. The whole run-up, especially in Penang, was one-sided. The amount of money spent in Penang  by you-know-who has been excessive. As a former Gerakan member and CC member of that party, I felt both sad and ashamed that the party leadership has sunk to so low, as to be perceived  to be associated with all these excessive vote-getting activities.

The party which advocates a’ fair and equal society’ as its ideology  is now seen to be associated with unfair and heavy handed tactics.  In any case, its leadership should have come out and denounced such vote buying activities and put a stop to it.  By failing to do so, it is now seen to be assocaited with all these unfair and unequal tactics, which are actually against the election rules and the spirits of democracy.

All these will actually cause a backlash against them.

I appeal to all Gerakan members, if you still believe in the party ideology of fighting for a fair and equal society, come out and vote for change.  Only through change can the party goes back to its original path.

Penang people, and I am from Penang, are game for free foods and shows and lucky draws. BUt they are not cheapskates. I dont believe their votes can be so easily bought. The mammoth crowds in Esplanade reinforces this.

So, people of Malaysia, vote wisely but calmly.

Your vote can really make a difference to your children’s future this time!