Lessons from Paracels XXXI: Panda-monium Gambit

China’s unsubstantiated claim of the ‘Nine-Dash-Line’

The Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte should seriously consider China’s resolve to get what the new bully-in-the-block desire, ahead of his own domestic politics.

Reuters story:

Duterte says China’s Xi threatened war if Philippines drills for oil

By Manuel Mogato | MANILA

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday Chinese counterpart China Xi Jinping had warned him there would be war if Manila tried to enforce an arbitration ruling and drill for oil in a disputed part of the South China Sea.

In remarks that could infuriate China, Duterte hit back at domestic critics who said he has gone soft on Beijing by refusing to push it to comply with an award last year by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which ruled largely in favor of the Philippines.

Duterte said he discussed it with Xi when the two met in Beijing on Monday, and got a firm, but friendly warning.

“We intend to drill oil there, if it’s yours, well, that’s your view, but my view is, I can drill the oil, if there is some inside the bowels of the earth because it is ours,” Duterte said in a speech, recalling his conversation with Xi.

“His response to me, ‘we’re friends, we don’t want to quarrel with you, we want to maintain the presence of warm relationship, but if you force the issue, we’ll go to war.”

Duterte has long expressed his admiration for Xi and said he would raise the arbitration ruling with him eventually, but needed first to strengthen relations between the two countries, which the Philippines is hoping will yield billions of dollars in Chinese loans and infrastructure investments.

The Hague award clarifies Philippine sovereign rights in its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone to access offshore oil and gas fields, including the Reed Bank, 85 nautical miles off its coast.

It also invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim on its maps denoting sovereignty over most of the South China Sea.

Duterte has a reputation for his candid, at times incendiary, remarks and his office typically backpeddles on his behalf and blames the media for distorting his most controversial comments.

Duterte recalled the same story about his discussion with Xi on oil exploration in a recorded television show aired moments after the speech.

He said Xi told him “do not touch it”.

He said Xi had promised that the arbitration ruling would be discussed in future, but not now.

Duterte said China did not want to bring up the arbitral ruling at a time when other claimant countries, like Vietnam, might also decide to file cases against it at the arbitration tribunal.

It was not the first time the firebrand leader has publicly discussed the content of private meetings with other world leaders.

His remarks came the same day that China and the Philippines held their first session in a two-way consultation process on the South China Sea.

They exchanged views on “the importance of appropriately handling concerns, incidents and disputes involving the South China Sea”, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement that gave few details.

(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Martin Petty)

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President Duterte should be mindful of China’s hard handedness on security and defense. Energy, if of China’s priority in a nation of 1.3 billion people and within two decades, would be the largest economy in the world.

Perhaps he should consider a more diplomatic approach and not risk getting a threat from the President of China. It would worse mistake to openly share on a privacy of the two Asian leaders’ conversation.

It is not clear what President Duterte was trying to achieve.

If in his mind, getting the global attention by going public with his exchange of words with President Xi Jinping and thus attempting to get the international backing in the attempt to reign in the latest addition of world super power, then President Duterte is wrong.

It is unlikely any other super power would stand up for the Philippines if there is a physical conflict with China. Not even the Phillippines’ status one time as part of United States commonwealth.

The Philippines and China recent stand off on the matter of Scarborough Shoal which is part of the disputed area under the latter’s unsubstantiated claim of ‘Nine-Dash-Line’ saw the former not able getting issues resolved.

China unilaterally turned its back on the decision made by the ICJ, after the Philippines took their complaint to the Hague.

The latest development in the execution of twenty men Langley proven China’s resolve for security matters.

New York Times story:

Photo

An honor guard outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing last month. The Chinese government killed or imprisoned 18 to 20 C.I.A sources from 2010 through 2012. CreditWang Zhao/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The Chinese government systematically dismantled C.I.A. spying operations in the country starting in 2010, killing or imprisoning more than a dozen sources over two years and crippling intelligence gathering there for years afterward.

Current and former American officials described the intelligence breach as one of the worst in decades. It set off a scramble in Washington’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies to contain the fallout, but investigators were bitterly divided over the cause. Some were convinced that a mole within the C.I.A. had betrayed the United States. Others believed that the Chinese had hacked the covert system the C.I.A. used to communicate with its foreign sources. Years later, that debate remains unresolved.

But there was no disagreement about the damage. From the final weeks of 2010 through the end of 2012, according to former American officials, the Chinese killed at least a dozen of the C.I.A.’s sources. According to three of the officials, one was shot in front of his colleagues in the courtyard of a government building — a message to others who might have been working for the C.I.A.

Still others were put in jail. All told, the Chinese killed or imprisoned 18 to 20 of the C.I.A.’s sources in China, according to two former senior American officials, effectively unraveling a network that had taken years to build.

Assessing the fallout from an exposed spy operation can be difficult, but the episode was considered particularly damaging. The number of American assets lost in China, officials said, rivaled those lost in the Soviet Union and Russia during the betrayals of both Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, formerly of the C.I.A. and the F.B.I., who divulged intelligence operations to Moscow for years.

The previously unreported episode shows how successful the Chinese were in disrupting American spying efforts and stealing secrets years before a well-publicized breach in 2015 gave Beijing access to thousands of government personnel records, including intelligence contractors. The C.I.A. considers spying in China one of its top priorities, but the country’s extensive security apparatus makes it exceptionally hard for Western spy services to develop sources there.

At a time when the C.I.A. is trying to figure out how some of its most sensitive documents were leaked onto the internet two months ago by WikiLeaks, and the F.B.I. investigates possible ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russia, the unsettled nature of the China investigation demonstrates the difficulty of conducting counterespionage investigations into sophisticated spy services like those in Russia and China.

The C.I.A. and the F.B.I. both declined to comment.

Details about the investigation have been tightly held. Ten current and former American officials described the investigation on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing the information.

Photo

Investigators still disagree how it happened, but the unsettled nature of the China investigation demonstrates the difficulty of conducting counterespionage investigations into sophisticated spy services.CreditCarolyn Kaster/Associated Press..

The first signs of trouble emerged in 2010. At the time, the quality of the C.I.A.’s information about the inner workings of the Chinese government was the best it had been for years, the result of recruiting sources deep inside the bureaucracy in Beijing, four former officials said. Some were Chinese nationals who the C.I.A. believed had become disillusioned with the Chinese government’s corruption.

But by the end of the year, the flow of information began to dry up. By early 2011, senior agency officers realized they had a problem: Assets in China, one of their most precious resources, were disappearing.

The F.B.I. and the C.I.A. opened a joint investigation run by top counterintelligence officials at both agencies. Working out of a secret office in Northern Virginia, they began analyzing every operation being run in Beijing. One former senior American official said the investigation had been code-named Honey Badger.

As more and more sources vanished, the operation took on increased urgency. Nearly every employee at the American Embassy was scrutinized, no matter how high ranking. Some investigators believed the Chinese had cracked the encrypted method that the C.I.A. used to communicate with its assets. Others suspected a traitor in the C.I.A., a theory that agency officials were at first reluctant to embrace — and that some in both agencies still do not believe.

Their debates were punctuated with macabre phone calls — “We lost another one” — and urgent questions from the Obama administration wondering why intelligence about the Chinese had slowed.

The mole hunt eventually zeroed in on a former agency operative who had worked in the C.I.A.’s division overseeing China, believing he was most likely responsible for the crippling disclosures. But efforts to gather enough evidence to arrest him failed, and he is now living in another Asian country, current and former officials said.

There was good reason to suspect an insider, some former officials say. Around that time, Chinese spies compromised National Security Agency surveillance in Taiwan — an island Beijing claims is part of China — by infiltrating Taiwanese intelligence, an American partner, according to two former officials. And the C.I.A. had discovered Chinese operatives in the agency’s hiring pipeline, according to officials and court documents.

But the C.I.A.’s top spy hunter, Mark Kelton, resisted the mole theory, at least initially, former officials say. Mr. Kelton had been close friends with Brian J. Kelley, a C.I.A. officer who in the 1990s was wrongly suspected by the F.B.I. of being a Russian spy. The real traitor, it turned out, was Mr. Hanssen. Mr. Kelton often mentioned Mr. Kelley’s mistreatment in meetings during the China episode, former colleagues say, and said he would not accuse someone without ironclad evidence.

Those who rejected the mole theory attributed the losses to sloppy American tradecraft at a time when the Chinese were becoming better at monitoring American espionage activities in the country. Some F.B.I. agents became convinced that C.I.A. handlers in Beijing too often traveled the same routes to the same meeting points, which would have helped China’s vast surveillance network identify the spies in its midst.

Some officers met their sources at a restaurant where Chinese agents had planted listening devices, former officials said, and even the waiters worked for Chinese intelligence.

This carelessness, coupled with the possibility that the Chinese had hacked the covert communications channel, would explain many, if not all, of the disappearances and deaths, some former officials said. Some in the agency, particularly those who had helped build the spy network, resisted this theory and believed they had been caught in the middle of a turf war within the C.I.A.

Still, the Chinese picked off more and more of the agency’s spies, continuing through 2011 and into 2012. As investigators narrowed the list of suspects with access to the information, they started focusing on a Chinese-American who had left the C.I.A. shortly before the intelligence losses began. Some investigators believed he had become disgruntled and had begun spying for China. One official said the man had access to the identities of C.I.A. informants and fit all the indicators on a matrix used to identify espionage threats.

After leaving the C.I.A., the man decided to remain in Asia with his family and pursue a business opportunity, which some officials suspect that Chinese intelligence agents had arranged.

Officials said the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. lured the man back to the United States around 2012 with a ruse about a possible contract with the agency, an arrangement common among former officers. Agents questioned the man, asking why he had decided to stay in Asia, concerned that he possessed a number of secrets that would be valuable to the Chinese. It’s not clear whether agents confronted the man about whether he had spied for China.

The man defended his reasons for living in Asia and did not admit any wrongdoing, an official said. He then returned to Asia.

By 2013, the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. concluded that China’s success in identifying C.I.A. agents had been blunted — it is not clear how — but the damage had been done.

The C.I.A. has tried to rebuild its network of spies in China, officials said, an expensive and time-consuming effort led at one time by the former chief of the East Asia Division. A former intelligence official said the former chief was particularly bitter because he had worked with the suspected mole and recruited some of the spies in China who were ultimately executed.

China has been particularly aggressive in its espionage in recent years, beyond the breach of the Office of Personnel Management records in 2015, American officials said. Last year, an F.B.I. employee pleaded guilty to acting as a Chinese agent for years, passing sensitive technology information to Beijing in exchange for cash, lavish hotel rooms during foreign travel and prostitutes.

In March, prosecutors announced the arrest of a longtime State Department employee, Candace Marie Claiborne, accused of lying to investigators about her contacts with Chinese officials. According to the criminal complaint against Ms. Claiborne, who pleaded not guilty, Chinese agents wired cash into her bank account and showered her with gifts that included an iPhone, a laptop and tuition at a Chinese fashion school. In addition, according to the complaint, she received a fully furnished apartment and a stipend.

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As such, the Philippines Foreign Minister Alan Cayetano was quick to downplay President Dueterte’s revelation in the latter’s recent visit to Beijing.

Reuters story:

China War Talk Not Serious, Philippine Foreign Minister Says

May 22, 2017, 2:01 PM GMT+8 May 22, 2017, 4:40 PM GMT+8
  • President Duterte claimed China’s Xi threatened war at meeting
  • ‘We hate the sin but we love the sinner’: Cayetano on China

China’s President Xi Jinping wasn’t trying to bully the Philippines at a recent meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, according to the Southeast Asian nation’s top diplomat.

In a speech last Friday, Duterte said Xi had threatened to go to war with the Philippines after Duterte expressed an intention to drill for oil in the disputed South China Sea.

“It is but natural that when you talk about peace and you talk about conflict that the word ‘war’ may or may not come up,” new Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said at a televised briefing in Manila on Monday. “My interpretation of the meeting is that there was no bullying or pushing around.”

Since taking power last year, Duterte has sought to improve ties with China while deflecting criticism at home that he’s failed to assert Philippine claims to disputed territory. China’s claim to more than 80 percent of the South China Sea has prevented the Philippines and Vietnam from exploring valuable oil and gas deposits.

An international court ruled last July that China had no historic rights to resources in waters claimed by the Philippines in a case brought by Duterte’s predecessor Benigno Aquino. Duterte has sought to put the ruling aside in his dealings with China, which has ignored the ruling. That stance has won Duterte $24 billion in loan and investment pledges from China.

‘Common Development’

Cayetano said Duterte only disclosed details of the meeting with Xi because he was “being barraged with comments with what he should do.” He added that the Philippines won’t form a military alliance with China, nor would it try to raise emotions against the Chinese.

“I hate the fact that China is claiming part of the territory of the Philippines but I love the Chinese,” Cayetano said in a speech during a flag-raising ceremony in Manila on Monday. “Why? Because we hate the sin but we love the sinner.”

Without specifying when or where his meeting with the Chinese president took place, Duterte said Xi had threatened to go to war with the Philippines after Duterte asserted his nation’s sovereignty over the South China Sea by citing last year’s arbitration tribunal ruling upholding the Philippine claim.

“Well, if you force this, we’ll be forced to tell you the truth. We will go to war. We will fight you,” Duterte quoted Xi as saying.

When asked to confirm Xi’s comments at a press briefing on Monday, China foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying referred reporters to Cayetano’s earlier remarks.

“We are committed to resolving the dispute with parties directly concerned, including the Philippines, through dialogue and negotiation,” Hua said. “Pending final settlement, we advocate shelving the dispute for common development.”

Officials from both countries agreed to discuss “mutually acceptable approaches” to South China Sea issues during a bilateral consultation in the Chinese city of Guiyang last Friday, according to a joint statement released by the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs.

No Disrespect

Cayetano, who claimed to have been present at the meeting, said he couldn’t divulge the exact conversation between the two leaders but claimed it was meant to “increase mutual trust and respect.”

“There was no language or even tone that would lead any of the two presidents to believe that there was disrespect for them or their countries,” he said.

After hosting a meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders in Manila last month, Duterte said discussing China’s recent actions in the South China Sea would have been useless.

“For those who are peace loving just like me, I don’t want trouble,” Duterte said. “You have to be very careful. Whenever we talk about a buildup it would be useless. It would be useless except for fighting terrorism,” he said, adding that the Philippines intended to ask China for more help to develop its economy.

In a communique released after the summit, Asean welcomed “progress to complete a framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea” by the middle of this year, and recognized the long-term benefits of peace, stability and sustainable development in the region.

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In the final analysis, it is only diplomacy left as the path of resolution for President Duterte to partake. China is very serious about its economic and trading power, in the recent power projection with the ‘One Belt, One Road’ global economic initiative.

China has agreed to enter into dialogue, to resolve the ‘Nine-Dash-Line’ unsubstantiated unilateral claim.

The Document of Conduct (inked 2002)

Despite signing the Code of Conduct with ASEAN in November 2002 where it stated disputed matters amongst signatories should be resolved through dialogue and diplomatic means as per stated under the United Nations Combined Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS), handling China is a complex feat.

China would hold the dialogue on one-on-one basis against a multilateral discourse of parties involved in the disputed areas.

Published in: on May 22, 2017 at 22:59  Leave a Comment  

All for One, One for All

In the landmark US-Islamic Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia hosted by King Salman Ibni Andul Aziz Al Saud, global leaders vowed to come as one to fight against terrorism.

Al Arabiya story:

Defeating terror key message of Arab Islamic American Summit

Saudi King Salman and US President Donald Trump spoke of cooperation between the Muslim world and the US. (AFP)

Saudi King Salman and US President Donald Trump spoke of cooperation between the Muslim world and the US in order to halt terrorism and extremism in the world at the Arab-Islamic-American summit in Riyadh on Sunday.

“We will cooperate in ending terrorism and extremism in all its shapes and forms,” the king said, “Islam was and will continue to be a religion of tolerance and peace.”

Trump said he was “honored to be received by such gracious hosts, King Salman, continuing King Abdulaziz’s legacy.”

“I bring the message of love from the US – that is why I chose Saudi Arabia for the first foreign trip. US vision is one of peace, security and prosperity in the Middle East region and throughout the world.”

WATCH: Donald Trump’s speech at the US-Islamic Summit

“This special gathering may be the beginning of peace in the Middle East and maybe all over the world. We are not here to lecture. We are here to offer partnership, to pursue a better future for us all.”

“Most of the world has suffered from horrific terrorist attacks, but not more than the Arab world. This isn’t a battle between different faiths, sects, or civilizations… but with barbaric criminals.”

WATCH: King Salman’s speech at the US-Islamic Summit

The Saudi king announced a historic agreement with the US to track and target sources of terrorist financing.

Trump said that the “Iranian regime is responsible for so much instability in the region,” and that it “funds arms, trains militias that spread destruction and chaos.”

King Salman also spoke of how “the Iranian regime has spearheaded terrorism since Khomenei’s revolution.”

The Arab-Islamic-American Summit kick started in the Saudi capital Riyadh with more than with 50 leaders from the Muslim world participating.

King Salman on Sunday tweeted that the upcoming Arab-Islamic-American Summit hosting Trump would cement a global anti-terror alliance.

“I welcome my brethren and friends to the Arab-Islamic-American Summit, which will bring  positive horizons for our region and the world, we will cement our alliance against extremism and terrorism,” the king tweeted following a meeting between Trump and Gulf leaders, which aimed at addressing security and defense issues.

Trump meeting with Gulf leaders earlier in the day. (Reuters)

Last Update: Monday, 22 May 2017 KSA 00:36 – GMT 21:36
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Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak spoke about Malaysia’s approach to help eradicate the evil of terrorism through Wassatiyah (‘moderate path’), where dialogue and engagement at the strategic level and rehabilitation at the tactical level.

1. It is always a pleasure to be in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but I am especially glad to be here in Riyadh for what His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has rightfully referred to as this “historic” US-Arab Islamic summit. Our meeting could not be more timely or more necessary, and I am confident that this gathering will renew and re-energise the friendship between all present and produce new roadmaps for cooperation, security and understanding.

2. High on the agenda will be the fact that although the so-called caliphate established by Daesh in Iraq and Syria is diminishing, none should doubt that the threat from terrorists who blaspheme the name of Islam remains high. For the nations gathered here for the summit it may in fact be higher, as fighters fleeing the land they have occupied and despoiled return to their own countries and plot to bring terror to our cities.

3. Few have been spared. In Malaysia we suffered our first attempted Daesh-linked attack last year, and it is only through the determined, heroic actions of our police and security forces that there were no fatalities and further atrocities have been thwarted. Now more than ever the world needs the new partnership to confront extremism and terrorism that His Majesty King Salman proposes we build at this summit, and I thank him for his invitation and welcome the participation of the other states attending.

4. It is crucial that all Muslim countries and leaders make it absolutely clear that there is nothing Islamic about terrorism. Any who say it is have been deceived by false preachers and by those who are ignorant of or misinformed about our religion. Authentic Islam is a religion of enlightenment, civilisation and scholarship, not of destruction and death.

5. The true Islam is a religion of peace, as is shown by the way that for over one thousand years Muslims, Christians and Jews have lived and traded with and befriended each other in the Middle East, just as in Malaysia Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Taoists and others work and play side by side in harmony.

6. To reinforce that the Malaysian Government has promoted the concept of wasatiyyah, the Quranic injunction towards moderation, and I am pleased that our efforts will be further boosted by the establishment of the King Salman Centre for International Peace in our capital, Kuala Lumpur.

7. Saudi Arabia is a true friend to Malaysia, and we were delighted to host His Majesty on his recent state visit, during which Saudi confidence in our economy was shown by Aramco’s announcement of its US$7 billion investment in a refinery project with our state oil and gas company, Petronas.

8. These historic high ties are just one of the reasons that Malaysia fully supports this summit. We are in total accordance with its aims to increase tolerance and coexistence and to enhance security, stability and cooperation.

9. Both at home and abroad, Malaysia is fully committed to fighting the threats of terrorism and violent extremism. As a member of the United Nations, Malaysia has fully supported UN efforts such as the Secretary General’s ‘plan of action in preventing violent extremism’, which calls for intelligence sharing among member states. We are a state party to nine out of 14 international legal instruments concerning counter terrorism, and we are part of the global coalition against Daesh.

10. Malaysia also supports the Centre for Dialogue, Peace and Understanding, an initiative of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation in Jeddah.

11. This strong stance has been translated into reality with considerable practical effect in our own country. We have placed great emphasis on pushing counter narratives through social media, and have founded the Regional Digital Counter-Messaging Centre to combat extremism in Malaysia, Southeast Asia and beyond.

12. We in Malaysia also have considerable experience in rehabilitating people who have succumbed to the siren voices of terrorism. This is something we have pursued because we know we should not give up on those who have been led astray, but could still return to being useful members of society.

13. Our deradicalisation programme has worked with hundreds of extremists, and has had a 95 percent success rate in reintegrating them so that they can return to the mainstream and show that even those who have fallen prey to false and evil ideologies can ultimately reject them, and be a warning, an example and an instruction to others.

14. We are willing and happy to share our experience and expertise in this with all countries at the summit. For just as with my call for a Global Movement of Moderates at the UN in 2010, and our establishment of a foundation to support it in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia will never falter in our efforts to fight for moderation and the true path of Islam, and to say loudly and clearly to the extremists that they do not speak for us.

15. I believe that this summit represents an important attempt to bring ties between the Muslim world and the US to new levels. With even greater mutual understanding, we can work together all the better to fight the ignorance, exclusion and sense of grievance that can fuel violent extremism,

16. We know that President Donald Trump is committed to eradicating Daesh. Under my leadership, so will Malaysia be – as should all Muslim countries at this summit and beyond.

17. We must ensure that the barbarism we see in Syria and Iraq is rooted out. We must show that we stand ready to confront terror swiftly and decisively wherever and whenever it manifests itself. We must never surrender.

18. It is up to all of us at this summit to forge this partnership and prove, once and for all, that there is no clash of civilisations, with the Muslim world on one side and the West on the other. There is only a clash with civilisation, and on that we all – members of all religions – must stand united together as one; firm, determined and ready to act.

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Recently elected United States President Donald J Trump in his landmark speech to the Muslim world, urged radicalisation be stopped.

The BBC story:

Trump urges Muslim leaders to lead fight against radicalisation

Media captionTrump tells Muslim nations to “Drive out the terrorists”

US President Donald Trump has urged Muslim countries to take the lead in combating radicalisation in a major speech in Saudi Arabia.

“Drive them out of this earth,” he told regional leaders in Riyadh, as part of his first official trip abroad.

Mr Trump blamed Iran, Saudi Arabia’s rival, for instability in the region.

His speech is seen as an attempted reset with Muslims after his harsh campaign rhetoric stirred concerns in the Islamic world.

Mr Trump had previously suggested he would be open to creating a database of all the Muslims in the US. And he had also called for Muslims to be temporarily banned from entering the US over security concerns.

But, speaking in the Saudi capital to leaders of 55 Muslim-majority countries, Mr Trump called this a “new chapter”, saying he was not there to “lecture” them or impose the American way of life.

The fight against extremism, he added, was not a battle between different faiths or civilizations: “This is a battle between good and evil”.

Media captionMelania Trump didn’t wear a headscarf, but does it matter?

“A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists, and drive out the extremists”.

But, he added, the countries could not wait for “American power” to act, and had to “fulfil their part of the burden”.

He singled out Iran for criticism, accusing it of fuelling sectarian conflict and supporting “unspeakable crimes” by the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Responding on Twitter, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif mockingly called Saudi Arabia “that bastion of democracy and moderation” and suggested that the US was milking the country for billions of dollars in newly-signed arms deals worth more than $350bn (£270bn).


A tough message: By Frank Gardner, BBC Security correspondent, Riyadh

Tea servers watch US President Donald Trump deliver remarks to the Arab Islamic American SummitImage copyrightREUTERS

Behind the lavish praise heaped on his hosts, President Trump used this speech to deliver a tough message to Arab and Muslim governments: deal with the ideology that fuels terrorism now or live with it for generations to come.

He went out of his way to avoid the sort of inflammatory language he’s more usually known for. His repeated condemnation of Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran will have pleased the Gulf Arab leaders listening.

Unlike his predecessor, Barack Obama, this US president made no mention of human rights or democracy. But he did condemn the oppression of women.

And amongst several cynical reactions to the speech from around the region on social media, some have pointed out that here in Saudi Arabia women are forbidden to drive and there are no parliamentary elections. In Iran, the country accused by Mr Trump of being behind much of the current terrorism across the Middle East, they have just had a free election and women are free to drive.


Analysts said the speech was a change for Mr Trump, who is trying to redefine his relationship with the Muslim world after several controversial remarks, including an interview last year in which he famously said: “I think Islam hates us.”

His highly anticipated address did not include the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism”, which he had used before and is considered offensive by many Muslims. A transcript of the text published on his Facebook page included a mention of “Islamist extremism” and “Islamist terror groups”.

But in his speech Mr Trump said: “That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds.” It was not immediately clear if he stumbled over the word or decided to change the script.


Islamist and Islamic: The difference

  • Islamist: Referring to those who aim to reorder government and society in accordance with Islamic law, or Sharia
  • Islamic: Relating to Islam

Meanwhile, the US and six Gulf states announced a deal to co-ordinate their efforts aimed at cutting off sources of money for extremist groups, including so-called Islamic State (IS).

Media captionDonald Trump sways along with a traditional Saudi sword dance

The countries – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – are involved in the fight against the militants, but have been accused of backing the group and other Sunni militants – most notably in a 2014 email by Hillary Clinton released by Wikileaks.

“The unique piece of it is that every single one of them are signatories on how they’re responsible and will actually prosecute the financing of terrorism, including individuals,” said Dina Powell, US Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy.


The agenda for the rest of Mr Trump’s trip

Mr Trump’s eight-day trip will also take in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Brussels, the Vatican, and Sicily.

The president’s visit has been overshadowed by his political difficulties at home, namely the fallout over his sacking of FBI chief James Comey.

Map showing Donald Trump's first foreign trip - May 2017
  • Monday-Tuesday, 22-23 May: Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, before visiting the West Bank on Tuesday
  • Wednesday 24 May: Rome and Brussels. Mr Trump will meet Pope Francis, then Belgian officials
  • Thursday, 25 May: A Nato summit in Brussels
  • Friday, 26 May: Sicily, for a meeting of G7 members

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It is very important these messages are transmitted and US are standing with the greater Muslim world where terrorism is not only Islamic, it is evil and against all the concepts, perspective and ideology of humanity.

Continuous dialogue and engagement is the strategic way to move forward and preserve the co-existence between ethnicity, faith and nationalism,

On that score, the United States should take a more impartial stand and play a more engaging role to resolve the Palestinian issue, which saw the illegal creation of the criminal state of Israel 69 years ago.

Most the affected Palestinians have lived as refugees for the generation now and the solution for Palestinians and Jews co-exist in peace, is one of the fundamental excuse for the breed in silence of radicalism within the Muslim world.

Now that US and the Islamic world is on the same page against terrorism, it is also the right time for the amicable solution for the Palestinian people is laid on the table.

The brutal suffering of Palestinians under organised state terrorism by IDF since the days of Haganah have not stopped.

In this trip, President Trump would be in the three Abrahamic nations; Saudi, Israel and Vatican. There are more commonalities between the faithful of the three Abrahamic faith lineage than distinction and differentiation.

President Trump could prove to the world and make history by achieving ever lasting peace in the West Asia region, where unended conflict has been ongoing for the past seventy two years.

It is time for All for One, One for All.

Published in: on May 22, 2017 at 12:00  Leave a Comment  

Lambasting the Lion City

There recent economic development with Asia particularly the omission of Singapore at the One Belt, One Road initiative kick-off in Beijing last week gotten Prime Minister Brig. Gen. (NS) Lee Hsien Loong into bad light of criticism, especially in the kiasu perspective of fellow city-state-countryman.

The Straits Times Review story:

Lee Hsien Loong retiring from premiership in shame

written by Admin May 19, 2017

Losing over S$50 billion, getting boycott by China, Singapore having the most expensive cost of living and endangering the country’s principles of meritocracy and democracy, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong committed too many costly mistakes for a rich country like Singapore to bear.

Unfortunately, the son of Lee Kuan Yew has little to prove his worth or justify his S$1.87 million salary too. Since his premiership in 2004, all aspects of the society and economy have taken a beating. Wages stagnating, income gap peaking, job losses piling, poverty reaching worst ever since Independence, return of Tuberculosis/Hepatitis outbreak and the increasing frequency of anarchic train breakdowns – Singaporeans’ complains are fully backed with statistics and actual events with real victims of his disastrous policies in immigration, healthcare, public transport, retirement, education and basically all faucets of government. The Lee Hsien Loong administration is also the costliest in the world at S$53 million a year – excluding MP salaries and bonuses.

Domestic issues aside, Lee Hsien Loong destroyed the diplomatic relations of long-standing allies due to his irresponsible choice of words. Lee Hsien Loong mocked China at a US official dinner in 2013, saying that in China’s most influential city, Shanghai, one just need to turn on the tap to have pork soup or open the window to smoke. Lee Hsien Loong were laughing hard with the white men in US then, mocking his ethnic Chinese roots for having poor record of quality – such amateurish mistake making public closed-door jokes – but Beijing was not laughing for sure.

Lee Hsien Loong’s colonial mentality of white supremacy may sound like an unfair criticism, but the fact remains that Singapore under his leadership has been acting against China. When US want China to back off from the territorial disputes in South China Sea, Lee Hsien Loong volunteered himself and, again, cracked jokes about China saying they are no longer “the middle kingdom”. The Prime Minister of the 719km² island state also told China to give up their claims on the South China Sea and obey his “code of conduct”. Worse, Lee Hsien Loong hijacked the ASEAN agenda to push for fellow ASEAN leaders to act against China.

China later in response in 2016 detained the SAF vehicles at their Hong Kong port, and stated that Singapore should respect the One-China policy as ratified and stop military operations in Taiwan. Again another diplomatic disaster, the Singapore Prime Minister defiantly told China to buzz off.

China has now officially boycotted the most expensive Prime Minister, and the United States could not be bothered with Singapore more than a strategic naval outpost in South East Asia. Despite repetitively acting for US’s interests, the US administration – then under Obama – strategically stayed silent and made zero comments when the China-Singapore dispute drama unfolded. The new US administration under Donald Trump is worse, with the first executive by Trump is to obliterate the Trans-Pacific Pact (TPP). However, Trump is also unlikely to further relations with Singapore and expectedly so, because Lee Hsien Loong has always been dissing Donald Trump since before the US Presidential Election. With the death of TPP and being ostracized from China’s Belt and Road economic plan, Singapore is suddenly no longer in a strategic position linking the East and West – no thanks to Lee Hsien Loong. How did one screw up so badly and single-handedly destroyed a thriving trading port and a former crown colony?

Nobody is asking for Singapore to kowtow to China or be their vessel state – not even China themselves. China understand the position of Singapore very well, and are ready to provide concessions, as they have done so over the past two decades. Telling a joke is fine but when not one that denigrate others. Lee Hsien Loong lacks the sophistication of a statesman, and the tact and craftiness of a diplomat. The real problem lies with himself not realising so – no thanks to the lack of fair criticisms and the greenhouse he created at home with the abuse of defamation lawsuits and the sedition act.

Unlike his father, Lee Hsien Loong is retiring from premiership in shame. While Singaporeans have mixed responses to Lee Kuan Yew’s leadership, most would acknowledge the quality of living had significantly improved. The same cannot be said for Lee Hsien Loong, who weld a similar iron fist but with no favourable report card to prove.

Lee Hsien Loong has since signaled his intention to retire with repeated talks over “leadership renewal”. Unfortunately, the dictator is still undecided over who to take over as the next Prime Minister because every candidate seems like a bad choice. Former army generals Chan Chun Sing, Ng Chee Meng and Tan Chuan Jin are complete leadership wreckage – the three knows nothing about managing finances and are incapable of anything else other than taking orders with the two shuffling ministerial profiles and holding a ministry less than two years each due to mismatch of skills. The only “younger” intellectual left in his Cabinet is probably Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, but karma hit him hard with a sudden stroke. With less than 3 years to retirement, Lee Hsien Loong remains undecided who the “least-worst” candidate among the few can be Prime Minister.

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Missing out on China’s remake of the historical Silk Road with One Belt, One Region where the three main features where is the principle of the seemingly largest trade initiative in history are extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefit .

The Independent story:

S’pore sought formal invitation for PM Lee from China for OBOR forum: Bloomberg

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The Singapore Government had sought a “formal invitation” from China for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to attend the recent One Belt One Road (OBOR) forum in Beijing. The Chinese, however, apparently declined to extend such an invitation, according to a report by Bloomberg.

The forum in Beijing saw 29 heads of states, including several from Asean countries, being invited to attend the event.

OBOR is China’s ambitious plan to rebuild the ancient Silk Road trade route through a network of new ports, railways and roads across the world.

While a few countries did not attend the Beijing meeting, the absence of Singapore’s Prime Minister has focused questions on the relationship between the Southeast Asian nation and the Government of Xi Jinping.

Bloomberg reports (Friday) that “China views Singapore as being less supportive of Xi’s plan because unlike other countries that announced their leaders would attend without requiring a formal invitation, Singapore sought an invite, according to people familiar with the matter.”

“They asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information,” the Bloomberg report says.

The request by Singapore seems to be confirmed by Singapore’s representative at the forum, Minister of National Development, Lawrence Wong.

When asked by reporters on the sidelines of the forum why PM Lee was not attending the forum, Mr Wong would say only that “the invitation was decided by the Chinese”, according to the Straits Times.

“It was the first official acknowledgement that [PM] Lee was not invited,” said the South China Morning Post (SCMP) on Thursday. “In sharp contrast, regional counterparts including Malaysia’s Najib Razak, Indonesia’s Joko Widodo and the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte prominently highlighted their participation in the summit on social media.”

M’sian PM Najib posted his attendance on Twitter

Neither Singapore nor China has given official explanations on why PM Lee was not officially invited, but observers point to recent events which left China wondering whose side Singapore is on.

It all started with “the public exchange of words between Stanley Loh, the Singaporean envoy in Beijing, and the state-linked Global Times newspaper over a report on the city state’s position on the South China Sea dispute during last year’s Non-Aligned Movement Summit,” SCMP said.

It then escalated to the seizure of 9 Singapore military vehicles by Hong Kong last November. This followed remarks made by PM Lee in Washington, DC, during a visit to the White House where he was feted by then US President Barack Obama.

“As President, your personal leadership and decision to rebalance to Asia has won America new friends and strengthened old partnerships, including with Singapore,” PM Lee said during a toast to Mr Obama.

He went on to describe the American leader as “America’s first Pacific President”.

China saw this as Singapore becoming an “ally” of the US.

Chinese officials have also publicly chided Singapore for trying to influence Asean countries to support the International Court of Justice’s decision over the South China Sea issue, an allegation which Singapore has strenuously denied.

“The cooler political relationship between Singapore and China could have ripple effects which influence economic and trade relations,” said Lu Jianren, a researcher at the China-Asean Research Institute at China’s Guangxi University. “Singapore has been less proactive to work with China while many leaders in the region showed greater enthusiasm that they want Beijing to be more involved in Southeast Asian growth.”

Singapore has, however, said ties between the two countries remain “strong”, and observers say that the foundation of their relationship can withstand this temporary spat.

China is Singapore’s biggest trading partner, while Singapore is China’s second largest investor.

The present cold shoulder from China is not the first time that China has been unhappy with PM Lee.

In 2004, just weeks before PM Lee was sworn-in as the country’s 3rd Prime Minister, he incurred the wrath of the Chinese with a visit to Taiwan, although the trip was described by PM Lee later as a “private and unofficial visit”.

During the visit, then Deputy Prime Minister Lee had offered Singapore as an intermediary in the relationship between Taiwan and China, an offer which upset the Chinese.

“The Taiwan issue is China’s internal affair,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue then. “China has never had, nor does it need to have, any country or person to pass messages between the two sides.”

In fact, China was offended by DPM Lee’s visit itself.

“As the deputy prime minister of Singapore, it doesn’t matter in what capacity or what excuse Lee Hsien-loong uses to visit Taiwan, it seriously violates the Singapore government’s promise to support the ‘one China’ policy and damages the political basis of China-Singapore relations,” Zhang told a news briefing.

“It is also unavoidable that it will produce consequences for relations and cooperation between China and Singapore.”

In his first National Day Rally speech as Singapore’s leader, PM Lee explained his visit, and said he “[regrets] that my visit to Taiwan has caused this severe reaction in China which affected relations.”

“This isn’t going to be the last time our relations with a major friendly power are strained,” PM Lee said.

“We strive for good relations with all countries, but from time to time issues are going to arise and big powers have their own interests and will exercise their influence to get their way.  We may be old friends, but when our interests diverge, or even when our approaches to the same problem differ, they have to put their interests first and their approaches first and so must we.  This is a reality of the compelling pressures of international politics and of national interests and we must remember this.”

Straits Times, 2015

But 10 years later, China’s position on an intermediary seemed to have changed as PM Lee’s government brokered a historic meeting between Taiwan’s then President Ma Ying-jeou, and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping, in Singapore.

So, what PM Lee says is right – Singapore, being a small country with limited clout, will always be expected to “toe the line” when it comes to the interests of bigger powers whose position on issues will change according to the prevailing time and tide of events.

Singapore will just have to negotiate and navigate the best possible outcome for its people in such instances.

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The ambitious economic project would transform the global trade and China would be in the driving seat and playing the maestro role in a very large trade belt, both over land and maritime passage from Asia to Central Asia, West Asia and Europe.

Malaysia has stood up and offered very strong interest to be a collaborative partner in the One Belt, One Road project and sees the huge benefits to be gained.

Channel News Asia story:

One Belt, One Road initiative is a game changer for region: Najib

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Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak meets Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on May 13, 2017. (Photo: Jason Lee/AFP)

BEIJING: China’s One Belt One Road initiative is a game changer for the entire region, stretching to Europe and Africa, said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Saturday (May 13) when he met Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Mr Najib is on a five-day working visit to China where he will also attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on May 14 and 15.

One Belt One Road, initiated by Mr Xi, is an ambitious development plan to link Asia to Europe with an unbroken chain of modern infrastructure such as ports and railways, and in doing so, boost trade between countries.

On his part, the Chinese President said Malaysia is an early supporter of the initiative and has become one of the countries that benefited the most, Xinhua news agency reported.

Mr Xi told Mr Najib that China will push for more bilateral cooperation under the Belt and Road initiative.

Since the two leaders last met in November, Mr Najib said many initiatives that were agreed upon by both countries have been implemented or were about to be implemented.

“I agree with you (President Xi) that Malaysia and China are not only neighbours but are trusted friends,” Mr Najib said.

He added that although bilateral relations between Malaysia and China was at the highest level, there was scope to deepen and enhance it further.

Mr Najib later met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang before joining the Malaysian delegation at a bilateral meeting with the Chinese government and both witnessed the signing of three Memorandums of Understanding involving the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry.

image: data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw==

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attend a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 13, 2017. (Photo: Thomas Peter/AFP)

Malaysia’s transport ministry will work with China to develop infrastructure such as railways, ports and airports. Both countries will also cooperate on the mutual recognition of standards and information sharing as well as to encourage the utilisation of local supply chains and facilitate cross-border e-commerce.

China, for the next five years, is committed to import goods worth US$2 trillion (RM8.6 trillion), investing up to US$150 billion and offering 10,000 places for training and studies in China.

The agreement involving the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry was for the export of fresh pineapples to China.

Total trade between Malaysia and China grew by 20.3 per cent to US$29.33 billion, with imports worth US$12.9 billion and exports worth US$16.43 billion.

Source: Bernama/gs

Read more at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/one-belt-one-road-initiative-is-a-game-changer-for-region-najib-8844490

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The critics went on about the Chinese most powerful and influential businessman, teamed up with Malaysia instead pop Singapore for his E-hub initiative.

 

The Straits Time Review story:

Jack Ma chooses Malaysia over Singapore as E-Hub of ASEAN

written by Admin May 21, 2017
 

Founder and chairman of the world’s biggest E-commence company Alibaba, Jack Ma, confirmed on Wednesday (May 17) that Malaysia has been chosen as the preferred e-fulfilment hub in ASEAN over Singapore due to the political bad blood between China and Singapore.

Jack Ma praised Malaysia’s efficiency over their setting up of a Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ):

“Malaysia is very business-friendly and much more efficient than I thought. It took only 10 minutes for him and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to agree on introducing the DFTZ when they met in China in November last year. My team and I thought – is four months possible? We have been discussing it with many European and ASEAN countries.”

The new centralised customs clearance, warehousing and fulfilment facilitywill be completed by the end of 2019 and operate from Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s Aeropolis. According to Reuters, the multi-billion dollar hub will deliver at least S$2.24 billion (RM7 billion) in foreign and domestic investments each year.

Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak also appointed Jack Ma as the country’s digital economy advisor – dealing yet the biggest blow to Singapore’s recent push for a Smart Nation initiative.

Singapore is losing out many trade deals and billion-dollar projects from China due to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s opposition against China. The Singapore PM openly called for ASEAN countries to oppose China’s claims on the South China Seas, and have repetitively made jokes about China’s environment issues e.g. calling their tap water “pork soup” and air “free smoke”. Lee Hsien Loong also allowed US military to conduct surveillance operations on China’s movements in Asia Pacific and refuse to respect the One-China Policy by continuing military operations in Taiwan.

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This has been seen as China expanding its trading opportunities to establishment of stronger geo-political clout, especially both as fast emerging economic and super power status.

It is by far the largest collaboration around trade.

This is one global trade initiative the city-state which was developed as a regional hub for trading and entre-port into the regional hub for financial services would want to mis out when the music stops.

Published in: on May 21, 2017 at 23:59  Comments (1)  

Fake News Fide

Fake news about a Sarawak Dayak Dance Troupe at KLCC Park

The notoriety of viraling fake news especially through social media could cause serious disunity amongst the multi-ethnic and multi-faith Muhibbah Malaysians, generally understanding, tolerant and accommodating of each other which is fundamental feature of the Federation.

Case in point is about a Dayak Dance Troupe from Sarawak, which was asked to discontinue performing in the KLCC park grounds for failure to produce a permit or approval to perform in a public place.

This is as per Dewan Bandar Kuala Lumpur by-laws.

It was believed the group consisting of ten dancers arrived at KLCC Esplanade on 14 May 2017 at 1000am. As they performed their moves, KLCC security approached them to enquire about permit to perform.

Checks on the e mail were made to sought whether a request or approval was made. However, it was non avail.

The security personnel had asked the group to discontinue performing even though they claimed to be practising, for a purported show on one of the tv channels later in the evening.

As there was no approval obtained, the group was advised to seek the necessary approval should they wish to continue their activity. Relevant contact details were provided to the group leader and they proceeded to leave the area.

Conveniently, tweet messages such as featured and blog posting started to viral. No enquiries were made to verify any of these social media postings.

This is conveniently less than two weeks ahead before our fellow Malaysians in Sabah and Sarawak celebrate their Hari Ka’amatan and Gawai respectively.

Malaysians should use social media to foster unity and strength instead of sensationalising fake news and proof the peril of information democracy, which could consequentially build into ill feelings.

*Updated 1900hrs 19 May 2017

Apparently the source of the fake news admitted in his Facebook account the story is fake.

Published in: on May 18, 2017 at 23:59  Comments (1)  

Man about town, Minister of the Crown

Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak should put up 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy as a member of Dewan Negara and seriously consider appointing him as a Cabinet Minister in charge of all development under TRX City, instead of a civil servant.

Prime Minister Najib’s statement today:

PRIME MINISTER NAJIB RAZAK ANNOUNCES NEXT BANDAR MALAYSIA MILESTONES

17th May 2017

1.      Over the past decade, Kuala Lumpur has taken its rightful place as one of the leading capitals of Asia. It is a city that brings together people from different backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures, which attracts tourists from around the world, and increasingly serves as a regional and international business hub.

2.      This is a result of our unwavering focus on economic development, and the significant investments we have made across infrastructure and transport, that together have had a marked impact on Kuala Lumpur. While we can all be proud of the city it is today, I have a bigger vision – of a city that is one of the leading capitals of the world, driving forward Malaysia’s national transformation.

3.      Bandar Malaysia is key to this.

4.      The biggest development site in Malaysia, in a key strategic position in our capital, it will become a new city centre for Kuala Lumpur – a vibrant new community for young people and families to live in, a thriving new centre for businesses both big and small, and a truly exciting new destination for those, including tourists, looking to enjoy the arts, culture and all Malaysia has to offer.

5.      Rather than just office and residential towers, we want Bandar Malaysia to be a catalyst for fast-track economic development and employment, including the new KL Internet City – the key hub of the world’s first Digital Free Trade Zone. We want to create an iconic development to drive tourism. And we want to create a transport nucleus for Malaysia, with Bandar Malaysia set to host the Kuala Lumpur to Singapore high speed rail, MRT lines, KTM Komuter, Airport Express Rail Link and twelve highways.

6.      Given the importance of this project, it is critical that Bandar Malaysia has the right leadership, the right partners and the right ownership structure to ensure that its full potential is realised – to serve the people and the national interest.

7.      To this end, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah – the Secretary General of Treasury – as the Chairman of both TRX City and Bandar Malaysia. He will head a team with overall responsibility for these projects and the monetisation of 1MDB’s remaining real estate assets. Furthermore, in order to ensure that the nation and the people benefit to the greatest extent possible, the Ministry of Finance will retain 100% ownership of Bandar Malaysia.

8.      With these developments, the work of the Budiman Committee – which was established in 2015 to oversee the rationalization exercise of 1MDB – will come to an end.

9.      TRX City and Bandar Malaysia will shortly be announcing a request for proposal (RFP) process, inviting expressions of interest for the role of master developer of Bandar Malaysia. Contrary to some erroneous reports, the termination of the previous agreement is final, and it will not be reinstated. The selection process for the master developer will involve very strict criteria, including a proven track record, speed of delivery, content creation, and the financial capability to deliver a project of this scale. The highest possible value will be sought to ensure that the best deal for the taxpayer is obtained.

10.  I have full confidence that, under Tan Sri Irwan’s leadership, the prospects for and development of Bandar Malaysia will go from strength to strength.

DATO’ SRI NAJIB TUN RAZAK

PRIME MINISTER OF MALAYSIA

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The Old Putra who is a law graduate of the prestigious London School of Economics have extensive corporate experience, mainly in investment banking and international finance, at various institutions in London, Bahrain, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

It befits the role which has been announced to be filled by the Chief Secretary of the Treasury Tan Sri Dr Irwan Siregar. The civil servant has no practical corporate experience except representing the Federal Government in many corporations of strategic interest.

Two days ago, Prime Minister Najib announced that Arul would continue to serve 1MDB.

The Malaysian Digest story:

Arul Kanda Remains 1MDB CEO, To Be Involved In TRX Development, Says Najib

Pic: Bernama

Pic: Bernama

BEIJING: Arul Kanda will continue to remain the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and will also be involved in the development of the iconic Tun Razak Exchange (TRX), Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said today.

“I have full confidence in him,” he said.

Arul Kanda has provided good leadership for the resolution of the rationalisation of 1MDB and “he will continue to be there,” Najib, who is also the Finance Minister, told Malaysian journalists at the end of the two-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation here today.

As far as Bandar Malaysia is concerned, Treasury Secretary-General Tan Sri Irwan Serigar Abdullah would be in charge.

“But, Tan Sri Irwan will be in consultation with Arul Kanda with respect to the future development of Bandar Malaysia,” he said.

-BERNAMA

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The announcement in Beijing is two weeks short of the second anniversary of Arul presenting the ‘Rationalisation Plan’ of 1MDB to the Cabinet and approved.

1MDB financial woes have since been resolved with the successful decoupling of Edra Energy Bhd from strategic investment corporation portfolio and disputes with IPIC is solved with amicable solution.

The notion to appoint Arul is not without precedent. Previously, former Maybank CEOs Tan Sri Amirsham Abdul Aziz and Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar have been appointed Minister in Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Economic Planning under two Prime Ministers.

The slight difference is that both are chartered accountants. However, law trained investment banker Arul had served the board of several corporations under RHB Group, namely RHB Investment Bank Bhd., RHB RHB Islamic Bank Bhd. and RHB Capital Bhd.

The extensive experience and exposure of this Kuala Lumpur-born, Kelantan-raised  and living in Perak when offered admission to the Royal Military College barely at thirteen, the 41 years old man would bring a lot of benefit and input to the Cabinet.

He would equally be very useful as a participating member at the forum for Federal Government’s strategic decision making and drive the EPU and ICU of the Prime Minister’s Department, as well as TRX City.

Arul would unlikely be interested in politics. Just like Amirsham and Wahid, he would prefer to remain as a professional whilst serving in Prime Minister Najib’s administration.

Hence the appointment at present time would actually add value to the Government, way ahead of the much anticipated 14GE. One area which his extensive turnaround experience could provide is the custodian to the transformation program of ETP and GTP.

Using Wahid as a model, Arul could just serve for the duration of a senatorship term which is three years.

He would also complement Cabinet Ministers such as Minister of Finance II Dato’ Seri Johari Abdul Ghani, MITI Minister Dato’ Seri Mustapha Mohamad and Minister in PM’s Department Dato’ Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan up at arms in Parliament against the Opposition on economics and finance matters, in the likes of Tony Pua, Rafizi Ramli and the lot.

It seems that the right strategic decision is to get the man about town who has proven to be a strategic asset, as part of Prime Minister Najib’s strategic decision making team.

Published in: on May 17, 2017 at 23:59  Leave a Comment  

Incorrigible ignominious

It would be impossible to describe a stubborn man who simply refuse to see things except from his own personal vision, on a personal agenda and ridicullously obsessed about it, all and in sundry.

NST story:

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says he has not and will not apologise to his former deputy Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. File pix.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has revealed that he has not and will not apologise to his former protégé-turned-enemy and now ally, incarcerated opposition leader, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

In an interview with Australian broadcast agency SBS World News, Tun Mahathir said this is because he has never asked his detractors to apologise for criticising him.

“We have all said nasty things about each other. I don’t ask people to apologise for calling me all kinds of names and accusing me of all kinds of wrongdoings.

“What happened is in the past and we can’t be apologising for something that happened in the past,” he was quoted as saying.

Anwar was Tun Mahathir’s deputy until they had a falling out in 1998, an event which sparked protests by Anwar supporters calling for political reform in the country.

He was imprisoned on charges of corruption and sodomy shortly after, though Anwar claimed he was innocent and that the charges were politically-motivated.

The former Umno man was released from prison in 2004 and went on to lead the opposition coalition, but was jailed again in 2015 on separate sodomy charges and is currently behind bars serving a five-year sentence.

In Sept last year, the two nemeses met face-to-face, under friendly circumstances, for the first time in 18 years – but the reunion has been described as a political ploy which “demonstrates the depth of their political opportunism and desperation”.

Aside from Anwar, Tun Mahathir has also showed support for the DAP and its advisor, Lim Kit Siang, who has been one of the former premier’s harshest critics for decades.

When asked who will be named prime minister should Pakatan Harapan win the upcoming 14th general election, Tun Mahathir responded by saying “party infighting” has prevented the opposition pact from uniting and discussing the issue.

“It is divisive. The moment you name a (candidate for) prime minister, there is going to be a lot of unsatisfied people who may sabotage the new opposition coalition.

“So it is better for us to name a prime minister (once) we win. It becomes irrelevant to name a prime minister now and then we lose,” he added.

It is believed that Tun Mahathir was referring to Anwar’s party, PKR, which recently lost an ally, Pas, which ended its ‘tahaluf siyasi’ (political cooperation).

Pas’ Syura Council decided that the move was necessary in order to defend the party’s Islamic agenda, aside from accusing PKR of breaking many terms of its conditional cooperation, including failing to support Pas in its Islamic agenda, and working against it in two by-elections last year.

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His interview to Aljazzera is so misleading and wrong on so many counts. He said “If you refuse to see evidence, then I cannot help you”.

Yet, he is someone who refused to see evidence presented in his face which proven him wrong.

Firstly, Attorney General is not compelled to reveal the investigation of any papers forwarded to the Attorney General’s Chambers to the public.

Secondly, there is no need to list down the corrupt and abuse of power practices which he is involved, under his watch or having the knowledge but did not stop the rot throughout his administration of 22 years as the Prime Minister and UMNO President.

Example is the rape and plunder of Bank Bumiputra a few times, which started with the deception of Hong Kong businesses and careless disbursement of funds through Bumiputra Malaysia Finance. That led to the brutal murder of Assistant General Manager A Jalil Ibrahim in 1983.

Thirdly, Bank Negara Malaysia had a negative capital of RM30 billion a quarter of century ago, due to negligence of the central bank gambling into forex market.

The negative capital provided the opportunity of rogue money traders such as George Soros to attack and manipulate the Ringgit, till had a serious adverse effect on the nation’s economy, financial, capital and debt market and triggered a recession.

Fourthly, the Malaysian Government had to bail out many corporations.

Fifthly, the fact that the authorities never pushed for all of his wrongdoings through the proper channel and procedures like being charged and submitted to trial is about his stature as a Statesman. The window of consideration that he is very old and it is unfashionable to trump an OAP as an accused in a criminal court, is being manipulated by him.

Sixthly, he interference into Judiciary is incredible and became a landmark case amongst the Commonwealth where a Lord President was sacked and five other Supreme Court Judges were adversely affected in 1988.

Seventhly, Dr. Mahathir the past two  and a half years conspired and used Neo Con Jewish controlled media to rubbish, manipulate information, lie and slander Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak’s administration and him personally.

Eighthly, in his obsession to oust Prime Minister Najib, the nation and global confidence towards Malaysia as the 17th globally most important trading nation has been adversely affected.

An example is about Malaysia’s economy going bad to due mismanagement of the economy, over-borrowing and kleptocratic practices, which many times almost flushed several trade deals and projects, which are impetus to the economy.

Ninthly, Dr. Mahathir’s accusations without proper verified facts and in fact, some fabricated information and documents about strategic investment corporation 1MDB has yet to be proven otherwise.

Yet, he still harp on it despite one by one evidence are being unravelled against to his charge, attacks, allegations and slanderous remarks.

Bloomberg story:

Saudi Arabia Says Donation to Malaysian Premier Was Genuine

April 15, 2016, 10:22 AM GMT+8 April 15, 2016, 5:59 PM GMT+8

Saudi Arabia said a large donation to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was “genuine,” providing some clarity on the source of the funds amid reports the money came via a Malaysian state investment company.

Saudi authorities were aware of the donation and it came without strings, Malaysia’s official news agency Bernama reported, citing Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir. He was speaking to reporters in Istanbul on Thursday after meeting with Najib during the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation summit.

“It is a genuine donation with nothing expected in return,” Al-Jubeir was quoted as saying. “We are also fully aware that the attorney general of Malaysia has thoroughly investigated the matter and found no wrongdoing. So, as far as we are concerned, the matter is closed.”

The Saudi comments follow earlier reports by media including the Wall Street Journal that the money came instead from entities linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd., the debt-ridden state fund whose advisory board Najib chairs. 1MDB, which is selling assets to pare its debt, is the subject of various probes both at home and abroad into its finances.

‘Exhaustive Investigations’

“This confirms what the prime minister maintained all along, and what multiple lawful authorities concluded after exhaustive investigations: the funds were a donation from Saudi Arabia,” Najib’s press secretary Tengku Sariffuddin said in a statement Friday.

Najib is facing his biggest political crisis since coming to power seven years ago amid questions over the $681 million that appeared in his accounts before the 2013 election, which the ruling coalition, in power since independence in 1957, won with its slimmest margin yet. Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali in January closed the door on a graft probe of Najib, clearing him of wrongdoing over the “personal contribution” from Saudi royals.

The premier returned $620 million in August 2013 that was not utilized, Apandi said, without specifying what the rest of the funds were used for. Najib has maintained the funds were not used for private benefit.

Najib allegedly received millions of dollars in his personal accounts between 2011 and 2013 from the Saudi finance ministry and two men identifying themselves as princes from the Middle Eastern nation, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported late last month.

Former premier Mahathir Mohamad, the country’s longest serving leader who governed until 2003, has waged a public campaign to get Najib out of office. The feud has grown increasingly acrimonious as Mahathir attacked the prime minister over the financial scandals and his economic record.

“This also proves that the wild allegations pushed for one year by Tun Mahathir Mohamad and his Anti-Najib Campaign are completely false,” Tengku said.

***************

Tenthly, Dr Malahathir refused to accept Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubair’s explanation on their position about the “USD681 million donation and its genuine donation and do not expect anything in return”. This also include the refusal to accept the close association with the Saudi Monarch demonstrated by conduct when his Majesty King Salman Al Saud’s state visit to Malaysia two months ago.

He conveniently makes no qualms about making seditious remarks which include lying about “(His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan) Agong is under house arrest”.

That is not withstanding the fact he continuously propagate the false notion about “(Prime Minister) Najib would be arrested if he sets foot in United States or United Kingdom”, since over 18 months ago.

We could go on and on this. However, Dr. Mahathir has been harping so many allegations against Prime Minister Najib without him once ever personally made a report with the Police and MACC but instead getting his minions to offer their heads to be slaughtered for wrongful allegations.

That is a classic impossible game of an incorrigible ignominious.

Published in: on May 14, 2017 at 23:59  Leave a Comment  

It is in the numbers, ad volarem 

There is no better way to tell a story but based on facts. Like, presenting it with numbers and the right interpretation.

An quick example is that many people are trying very hard and adamantly to highlight that Barisan Nasional (BN) votes obtained in the last GE did not warrant the mandate of forming the Government by the people.

Taking into argument is that BN only obtained 47.4% of votes casted.

However, the Constitutional Monarchy democratic system practiced here in the Westminster styled ‘First-Past-The-Post’, where number of MPs shall be the determining factor for His Majesty Seri Paduka Yang DiPertuan Agong to invite the party with most MPs in the Dewan Rakyat to form the Government.

GE results

BN’s best performance in GE was in 11GE, where the coalition of 13 parties controlled over 90% of Dewan Rakyat seats. Even that, BN only obtained slightly less than 65% of votes casted.

The last Parliament saw despite obtaining a little over 47% votes casted BN got 60% of the seats of Dewan Rakyat, which is 54 seats majority over the combined Opposition MPs.

BN lost 3% votes casted in the 13GE which only translated to 7 seats lesser in the Dewan Rakyat compared to the previous GE on 8 March 2008, dubbed ‘Political Tsunami’.

Of course the upcoming 14GE would be a very interesting to watch, considering since a year ago when BN and Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak were at their lowest ebb, BN won handsomely in the Sarawak State Elections and Sungei Besar and Kuala Kangsar twin by-elections.

Many are still bent that BN won because the opposition votes split between PAS and PAN.

However, grieving widow and housewife Datin Mastura Yazid obtained 2,032 votes more than the aggregated votes of all her opponents. The previous BN MP Allahyarham Dato’ Ir Wan Khairil Anwar got 1,082 votes majority in 13GE.

YB Budiman Zohri’s 2,289 votes majority over the aggregated opposition votes is much improved compared to Deputy Minister Allahyarham Dato’ Noriah Kasnon’s 399 votes majority at 13GE.

This is not withstanding the fact that former BN Chairman and UMNO President for over 22 years Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad actively campaigned for both PAN candidates, despite the fasting month challenges.

Datin Mastura, then a widow in grief, never left her home during the entire campaign. She won purely on the effectiveness BN machinery.

So, a year has past and the political landscape somewhat changed more favourable towards BN and PM Najib’s advantage, with its own merits and many politically challenging issues such as 1MDB is no longer as prickly as what it was exactly a year ago.

The demerits on the Opposition side is also glaring. The ‘rebellion’ within DAP where 2MPs and 4 ADUNs quit, the break away between PAS and PKR, PKR’s internal fighting and teething problem which somewhat quickly developing worse for the new-kid-on-the-block PPBM.

DAP strategist Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong in his ‘Black Swan’ outlined these backbiting issues for the Opposition:

There are certainly challenges for the Opposition to overcome in order to precipitate change.

First, while there are serious discontents among the Malays, the Opposition must stand for something inspiring and visionary, and not depends solely on the anger against Najib as forward strategy. The Opposition must stand for more than just removing Najib. The economy and the well-being of the people should be the number one priority.

Second, the coming together of Bersatu and the Pakatan Harapan parties, namely Parti KeADILan Rakyat, Parti Amanah Negara, and Democratic Action Party, is a reconciliation of unlikely former foes. Who would imagine Dr. Mahathir and Anwar Ibrahim forming an alliance nearly 20 years after their very bitter fallout in 1998. But the coming together of the once political father-and-son can unleash huge energy if handled properly. After all, both Mahathir and Anwar are positive leadership figures compared to Najib, and they each appeal to some segments of the Malay electorate.

Third, to present a common agenda for Mahathir’s audience and DAP’s supporters is another challenge. If Mahathir and Bersatu go on a racial campaign, it will depress the support of non-Malay voters, which in turn creates a lose-lose situation for the entire Pakatan Harapan coalition. Likewise, the regime’s attack on Mahathir and Bersatu is that they are associated with the DAP. The presence of DAP can also depress the support for Bersatu and other Malay-based parties like PKR and Amanah if the Opposition is unable to break out of UMNO’s racial playbook, and articulate new narratives that can bridge all groups in a larger vision.

Fourth, PAS as UMNO’s “new friend”, as Zahid Hamidi calls them, is a reality, and the sooner a clear line is drawn between the genuine/official Opposition, Pakatan Harapan, and the pseudo “third force” of PAS, the better it is to condition the voters to vote along the line of those “for Najib”, and those “against Najib”.

Fifth, the ultimate challenge for the newly re-aligned Pakatan Harapan that included Bersatu, is that Najib could just exit the scene and take out the raison d’être of the Opposition and the anger in the community.

If this is to happen, can the Opposition survive this unlikely but not impossible Black Swan?

*************

Taking all that and other factors into consideration, the matrix would translate into a projection which is mathematically possible to do so.

That is not withstanding PM Najib’s administration in keeping up the boost of the ‘Feel Good Factor’, in the run up and continuous implementation of the SEA Games, 60th Merdeka celebrations and Special SEA Games.

It is on top on the many trade deals recently clinched with the super active Prime Minister Najib visits to China, India, Germany and reciprocity of King of Saudi and Bahrain and Crown Princes of Qatar and Japan.

Malaysian economic transformation plan (ETP) growth

The Malaysian economy has seen growth and sharper incline, since Prime Minister Najib launched his economic transformation plan and the various strategy, to drive the nation towards a high GNI nation in the impelementation and ad valorem of the Vision 2020.

The strategic economic agenda for the Malays and Indians, which are part of his economic transformation plan to bring Malaysians to the high income status, is a strategic boost.

In the final analysis, is in the numbers and directionally, it is plausible to plot a bullish projection.

Published in: on May 13, 2017 at 12:30  Leave a Comment  

The enemy of the people

It is a very good reminder for the Malays who the majority of Malaysians to understand the extend of the political threat against them by the minority, in the 71st celebration the party which emancipated them from the chains of being colonised, underdevelopment, undereducated and destitution.

Black Swans in Malaysian Politics

Liew Chin Tong

I would like to thank Mr Tan Chin Tiong, Director of Yusof Ishak – Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, for the invitation to speak at this excellent institution, of which I was a visiting research fellow in 2006. I would also like to express my appreciation to my friends Dr. Lee Hock Guan for arranging this visit and Dr. Ooi Kee Beng for chairing the session.

I last spoke here almost nine years ago on 23rd April 2008, a month or so after the great Black Swan back then – the political tsunami on 8th March 2008. Since then, there has never been a dull moment in Malaysian politics. We have experienced a Black Swan after a Black Swan.

For instance, just a year ago, who would have expected Dr. Mahathir Mohammad to become among Opposition leaders working hard to push UMNO to become the Opposition.

Just as I was giving the final touch for this speech yesterday, there was the news that Prime Minister Najib Razak had appointed his cousin who is also Defense Minister Hishamuddin Hussein to be the Minister with Special Functions in the Prime Minister’s Department.

This gives rise to a new Black Swan question: does this mean Najib will step down as Prime Minister before the next general election? Should that happen, we will have to grapple with a new set of conditions and scenarios. If he doesn’t, there is already a new power equation in which Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi is being sidelined, but Zahid may not take it lying down.

To put things in context, let me bring you to late November 2007. As someone born and bred in Kuala Lumpur, I was offered, and reluctantly accepted a challenge to contest a parliamentary seat in the unfamiliar ground of Penang. The two seats available to me to choose from, namely Bukit Bendera and Jelutong, were both Barisan Nasional incumbent seats, which DAP stalwarts Lim Kit Siang and the late Karpal Singh lost in the 1999 general election.

No one expected me to win. Even fewer thought the change of government in Penang was possible. At best, some observers noted that there was a possibility of denying Barisan Nasional’s two thirds majority in Penang.

Only during the campaign period that we noticed some signs pointing to the possibility of winning Penang. What we didn’t expect was that the Opposition parties had enough numbers to form state government in Selangor, Kedah and Perak late in the night of 8th March 2008.

I was probably one of the very few who somehow had some inklings of what were to come. Apart from the surveys and polls I came across, I recalled a conversation at a private lunch meeting involving 10 core leaders of Penang DAP on 10th February 2008, three days before the dissolution of Parliament. Lim Kit Siang asked us “to prepare for the unthinkable”; partly due to the fact that he noticed ethnic Indian voters were in such restless and discontented state – a situation that had never happened before.

Fast forward to 2017. While many pundits would like to think that Prime Minister Najib Razak is in a strong and unassailable position, they may have chosen to ignore the fact that there has never been such restlessness and discontents among Malay voters recently. Herein lies the contradictions and the possibility of Black Swan events.

Let me be clear here. I am not suggesting that a change of government will be a walk in the park. Far from it. However, the stake is very high for Najib and UMNO, and they will do whatever it takes to keep UMNO in power. That will mean some very intense months ahead until the next general election.

My point is that Najib and UMNO are vulnerable, and therefore susceptible to Black Swan events.

The largest Malay swing in favour of the Opposition thus far happened in the 1999 general election as a result of Anwar Ibrahim’s sacking by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in September 1998, which sparked the reformasi movement. An irony indeed.

As a comparison, the 1999 wave was mostly urban, when the rural sector was still fairly large; and UMNO machinery was largely intact, albeit losing some UMNO Youth leaders to Anwar’s side. Then, the civil service was in support of UMNO. Even then, UMNO suffered significant loses and was largely saved by overwhelming support of non-Malay voters.

In both the 2008 and 2013 general elections, Malays who voted for the Opposition were mostly urban voters. But today, discontents among Malays can be felt among UMNO’s vote banks such as civil servants, Malay women, and even FELDA settlers.

The Quiet Front

How to describe the mood among Malay voters today?

I recalled during the 2008 campaign, the Sun newspaper front-paged an interview with my opponent Mr. Chia Kwang Chye, who was then the powerful Secretary-General of Gerakan, a Federal Deputy Minister, and the incumbent for three terms.

“The Quiet Front” was the headline in which Chia told the newspaper he sensed troubles, as voters and traders he met a particular local market were very quiet and passive. I went to the same market with Lim Guan Eng around the same time with a hugely different reception: the traders carried Guan Eng on their shoulders as if he had won the election, and the entire market welcomed us with overwhelming enthusiasm.

I also remember reading about the 1996 Australian election when, it was said, voters “were waiting for Paul Keating with their baseball bats”, just to finish him off politically.

Such is the mood I detect today. Many Malays whom I came across told me that they and their friends were just waiting for the election to teach Najib a lesson, “kita tunggu sahaja pilihanraya datang”.

My view is that the sentiment against Najib in the Malay ground is beyond repair. What you see in the mainstream media, be it a newspaper or TV news, does not tell the whole story on the ground.

The challenge for UMNO is how to deal with Najib, and whether the antipathy is just against Najib the person or UMNO the party. Recent allegations of corruption in “guardian” institutions for the Malays, such as FELDA and MARA, will certainly aggravate the situation.

Take my constituency as an example. I commissioned Merdeka Centre, an independent polling firm, for polls survey in February 2013, a month before the last General Election, when I was deciding whether to contest in Kluang, and once again in August 2016.

In February 2013, the satisfaction of Malay voters in Kluang with the Federal Government was at 72%; and satisfaction of the same group with the performance of Prime Minister Najib was at 78%.

In August 2016, only 39% of Malay voters in Kluang were satisfied with the Federal Government while those who were not satisfied were at 56%. And only 42% of the same group was satisfied with Najib as Prime Minister while 50% was not.

The situation in Kluang is widespread in other similar constituencies in Johor, and elsewhere, among Malay voters. An important point to note, this was before Mahathir’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia was officially formed in September 2016.

How did we get here?

The question is, how did we get here?

Najib and Barisan Nasional received only 47% of votes in the 2013 general election, but continued to rule thanks to the process of gerrymandering of constituencies, heavy use of money, and abuse of government machineries for campaign purposes, and by “planting” multi-cornered battles in Sabah and Sarawak to split votes.

Despite such abuse of power and blatant disregard for the law, of the 133 parliamentary seats Barisan Nasional won in the 13th general election, 60 were garnered with a vote share of between 40.6% (in Mas Gading in Sarawak) and 55.8% (in Johor Bahru). A further 33 seats were won with a vote share of between 56% (Batu Sapi in Sabah) and 60.9% (Parit Sulong in Johor).

I admit that not all Opposition seats are safe. Thirty-eight opposition seats were won with a vote share of between 47.4% (Alor Setar in Kedah) and 55.8% (Pasir Mas in Kelantan), of which 5 were with less than 50% votes. A further 18 seats were won with a vote share of between 56% and 60%.

However, if there is a net swing of 10%, it means that BN would lose 93 of its 133 seats. This is not impossible in a “gelombang” or a wave of voters’ swing, a scenario such as the one we witnessed in the 2008 general election.

Of course, based on the last election results, 56 of Opposition’s 89 seats could also be lost, if there is a net swing of 10% to go the other way.

As I mentioned earlier, many pundits and some politicians have argued that Najib would still win, because they think the rural voters will still be with him. It’s not really true. Let me explain this.

There are actually very few rural seats left in the Peninsula, if we go by the idea of rural areas as we usually imagine – that is a far-flung place, cut off from communications with the wider world. Sorry to disappoint you, but those are the images you are likely see in some nostalgic-style TV advertisements during Hari Raya, Chinese New Year or Deepavali celebrations.

The reality is this: UMNO won 88 seats in the 2013 general election, of which 14 were from Sabah, and one from Labuan, which a Federal Territory seat. Of the 73 seats on the Peninsula, 30 or so are seats which are “built and designed” for UMNO. The remaining 40 seats are up for grab.

Most of UMNO/BN marginal seats are in the following clusters:

• Southern Kedah/Northern Perak/Mainland Penang;

• Southern Perak/Northern Selangor

• The Karak Highway Belt

• Melaka/Northern Johor

• Southern Johor

What are these seats, then? Most of these seats are semi-urban areas which have a town and surrounded by some villages with less than half an hour’s drive to the towns. In these semi-urban constituencies, most of the youth and adults are working outstation, residing in larger cities in the Klang Valley, and Singapore. Often these are seats with Malay majority voters but with a sizable number of non-Malays.

In fact, according to the Statistics Department, 65% percent Malays live in urban areas, while slightly more than 70% of the national population live in urban areas.

The semi-urban areas in West Coast Peninsula are likely to determine the outcome of the election. They are far from “rural” as most observers and politicians would like to think of them. Also, the current Malay discontents are even enveloping FELDA areas which are deemed fixed deposits and rural, a stronghold for UMNO.

In short, much as the Opposition is vulnerable, Najib is walking on thin ice, too.

Regime’s strategies

What are Najib’s strategies to survive?

It is not that Najib doesn’t understand the precarious position he is in. I supposed he has resigned to the fact that UMNO would not be able to win an outright mandate in the coming election. Hence, he had been trying to break up the Opposition, as soon as the 2013 general election concluded.

There were even attempts by Indonesian Vice President Yusof Kala to broker deals between Najib and Anwar Ibrahim, between June and August 2013 which Anwar rejected.

And, since then, Najib’s strategies included:

• Putting Anwar Ibrahim behind bars, hence depriving the Opposition its Prime Ministerial candidate and unifying figure;

• Luring PAS into forming a de facto alliance with UMNO on the pretext of promoting hudud legislations; and

• Portraying the Opposition as a DAP/Chinese dominated alliance.

However, in his grand scheme to win by default, Najib did not anticipate that:

• The Opposition survives despite Anwar’s imprisonment;

• A sizable number of PAS leaders had formed Parti Amanah Negara in September 2015 to continue the struggle, and many in PAS still disagree with their top leaders’ collusion with UMNO; and

• UMNO would split in 2016, and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia would be formed to join Pakatan Harapan.

Broadly, even without Najib at helm, UMNO is weaker than in the 2013 election for the following reasons:

First, since independence till the 2004 general election, UMNO ruled through an extended coalition of Alliance/Barisan Nasional, and governed with a substantial support from the non-Malays. But the comfort of buffers formed by BN component parties in Peninsula eclipsed since UMNO made a right turn – becoming more visible in its claim of Malay supremacy – in July 2005 with Hishamuddin waving the kris at UMNO General Assembly, which caused massive defeats of MCA, MIC and Gerakan in both the 2008 and 2013 general elections. UMNO dug further in since 2008 to push the racial line in the hope to expand Malay support but achieved very little.

Second, as UMNO is incapable of expanding its support base since 2013, collaborating with PAS becomes an attractive option. UMNO hopes that by colluding with PAS to divide the society into a battle between Muslims and non-Muslims, the UMNO-PAS de facto alliance would win enough seats between them to form the next government. However, as an unintended consequence, such a move further alienates non-Malay voters in the Peninsula, as well as majority of voters in Sabah and Sarawak.

Third, while Najib the man managed to command more support among Malay voters compared to UMNO the party in the 2013 election, the situation has changed. Najib is now a burden to UMNO due to the 1MDB mega scandal, and unpopular economic policies such as GST, fuel hike and cuts to basic amenities like health and education. Angry UMNO leaders and members have formed Bersatu and this new Malay party is making inroads to areas previously inaccessible to the Opposition.

In short, UMNO under Najib is on a narrowing path with a much smaller base than ever. If Najib is still perceived as strong, it is because the Opposition is seen as weak and disunited. Najib is not strong on his own merits but only survives in a vacuum.

What’s ahead?

The known knowns are that Najib is not popular, and there are serious discontents among the Malays.

But there are certainly challenges for the Opposition to overcome in order to precipitate change.

First, while there are serious discontents among the Malays, the Opposition must stand for something inspiring and visionary, and not depends solely on the anger against Najib as forward strategy. The Opposition must stand for more than just removing Najib. The economy and the well-being of the people should be the number one priority.

Second, the coming together of Bersatu and the Pakatan Harapan parties, namely Parti KeADILan Rakyat, Parti Amanah Negara, and Democratic Action Party, is a reconciliation of unlikely former foes. Who would imagine Dr. Mahathir and Anwar Ibrahim forming an alliance nearly 20 years after their very bitter fallout in 1998. But the coming together of the once political father-and-son can unleash huge energy if handled properly. After all, both Mahathir and Anwar are positive leadership figures compared to Najib, and they each appeal to some segments of the Malay electorate.

Third, to present a common agenda for Mahathir’s audience and DAP’s supporters is another challenge. If Mahathir and Bersatu go on a racial campaign, it will depress the support of non-Malay voters, which in turn creates a lose-lose situation for the entire Pakatan Harapan coalition. Likewise, the regime’s attack on Mahathir and Bersatu is that they are associated with the DAP. The presence of DAP can also depress the support for Bersatu and other Malay-based parties like PKR and Amanah if the Opposition is unable to break out of UMNO’s racial playbook, and articulate new narratives that can bridge all groups in a larger vision.

Fourth, PAS as UMNO’s “new friend”, as Zahid Hamidi calls them, is a reality, and the sooner a clear line is drawn between the genuine/official Opposition, Pakatan Harapan, and the pseudo “third force” of PAS, the better it is to condition the voters to vote along the line of those “for Najib”, and those “against Najib”.

Fifth, the ultimate challenge for the newly re-aligned Pakatan Harapan that included Bersatu, is that Najib could just exit the scene and take out the raison d’être of the Opposition and the anger in the community.

If this is to happen, can the Opposition survive this unlikely but not impossible Black Swan?

(End)

**********

Liew is the DAP MP for Kluang.

It is clear the Chinese Chauvinist DAP strategists are planning for a ‘Black Swan’ attack against UMNO, the mainstay of Barisan National in the upcoming 14GE.

This also very much validated Raja Petra’s story about Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia Chairman Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is the donkey ride for Emperorissimo of Chinese Chauvinist DAPlandia Lim Kit Siang to power.

UMNO leaders and strategists should take heed of the five points highlighted by Liew as the weakest links within the Opposition and instead maximise them to be the noose, for the gallow which fit all four parties in the upcoming GE.

They are also worthy to put  Dr Mahathir and Lim to the political gallow as well.

Liew’s unqualified opinion is not actually substantiated with facts. An example is the twin by-election in Sungei Besar and  Kuala Kangsar ten months ago, where UMNO candidates handsomely won bigger majority over aggregated votes the Opposition obtained.

Despite the challenges that UMNO faced when Dr. Mahathir openly attacked Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak a little over two years ago and all the effort to manipulate and hoodwink members against their President, the party remained intact.

his Majesty the King wouldn’t accommodate Tun Dr. Mahathir at arms with the Opposition, particularly his nemesis for 49 years Lim Kit Siang and DAP

On the hand, it is DAP which is facing turmoil upon Lim Kit Siang forging working relationship with an arch enemy of half a century, openly proclaimed 6 March 2016 when ‘Deklarasi Rakyat’ was launched.

The recent exit of six Yang Berhormats (two MPs and four ADUNs) and several Branch Chairmen is very apparent that the rebellion of the grassroots against Lim & Co. dictatorship.

Many Dr Mahathir’s sympathisers amongst the Malays actually abandoned him from this juncture, for the raison d’être of the treachery against the Malays and principles what the nation stood for.

Never the less, the Dr. Mahathir plus Opposition threat should not be taken lightly.

In the two interviews just aired over Bernama TV and TV3 to commemorate UMNO’s 71st anniversary, Vice President acting the role of Deputy President Deputy Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi outlined a few interesting points.

“UMNO should remain relevant to continue to the serve the nation, in the spirit of nationalism”. He also added that UMNO had always been engaging the stakeholders, especially the Malays.

What could also be noted is that the Opposition constantly manipulate facts and information and without the exception of extending fake news to hoodwink the rakyat. And they are very effective in their information dissemination and propaganda.

The fact is that these efforts are very costly to the nation. They rubbish the Government in sweeping strokes instead of leaders where in many times, somewhat affected international confidence on Malaysia as the 17th most important global trading nation.

That is where they are no longer the Opposition but instead, enemy of the people.

Published in: on May 11, 2017 at 00:02  Comments (1)  

The Pope and I

Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak and His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI at the former’s official visit to the Holy See in 2011 (Photo from Loyar Burok blog)

Foreign Minister Dato’ Seri Panglima Anifah Aman’s address at the innauguration of the Malaysian Chancery at the Papal State:

INAUGURATION REMARKS BY THE

HONOURABLE DATO’ SRI ANIFAH AMAN, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

AT THE

INAUGURATION OF THE EMBASSY OF MALAYSIA TO THE HOLY SEE

EMBASSY OF MALAYSIA TO THE HOLY SEE

9 MAY 2017

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Good morning and Bongiorno. It is a singular pleasure for me to be here this morning and to welcome all of you to the Inauguration of the Embassy of Malaysia to The Holy See. Selamat Datang!

2. I am honoured to be here to officiate the Chancery of the Embassy of Malaysia to The Holy See.

3. Malaysia is a developing nation and is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural country. Since its formation in 1963, Malaysia has had one of the best economic records in Asia, with its GDP growing at an average of 6.5% per annum for almost 50 years.

4. Malaysia has also delivered in all fronts, particularly on its economic growth and social development. It has exceeded the expectation of the developing world.

5. Today, Malaysia has a newly industrialised market economy, ranked third largest in Southeast Asia and 29th largest in the world. We are also a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations also known as ASEAN.

6. To ensure that the country continues to progress and uphold its “Tiger Economy”, there has been continuous new approach and policies undertaken by the leaders over the years to ensure its economy continues to grow further, ensuring incremental development in the country.

7. In 2009, the Honourable Dato’ Sri Najib Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia, initiated the Government Transformation Programme or GTP and Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

8. GTP and ETP are programmes aimed at ensuring Malaysia and its citizens continue to prosper, living in peace and harmony through the economic and social development Roadmap.

9. It is also against this backdrop that in 2011, Malaysia established bilateral diplomatic ties with The Holy See.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

10. Malaysia established diplomatic ties with the Vatican on 27 July 2011. Following the establishment of diplomatic relations, the Government of Malaysia accredited the Malaysian Ambassador in Switzerland to The Holy See.

11. On 25 November 2015, we made the decision to establish an Embassy of Malaysia to The Holy See, with residence in Rome. His Excellency Bernard Giluk Dompok was appointed as the first resident Ambassador to The Holy See.

12. The establishment of diplomatic relations with The Holy See signifies our commitment to enhance the existing mutual ties between both countries, particularly in religious issues, as well as to promote better understanding in religion. This is in line with Malaysia’s initiative of the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM).

13. Malaysia strongly believes on the need to practice moderation as the fundamental element to foster greater integration, ensuring peaceful coexistence through the rejection of extremism that undermines the universal values of religion.

14. Through the establishment of a resident embassy based in Rome, we are able to participate and contribute to worldwide dialogues on various regional and international issues, particularly on promoting religious understanding, education, poverty eradication, migration, as well as on climate change.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

15. One of the biggest challenges in today’s world is to fight extremist groups which are growing regionally and internationally. Extremism is a cancer to the world, as it creates chaos and political instability in a country.

16. We have witnessed in the media the aftermath and chaos caused by the deeds of extremists. There is nothing to gain out of such deeds. In fact, the suffering of innocent people is indeed sad and inflammatory.

17. I must say that eliminating hatred and anger, emotions commonly used by extremists groups for their ends, is crucial to ensure peace and harmony. In this connection, the demand for moderation is even more relevant and needed today than in previous times.

18. Malaysia is a strong advocate in the promotion of moderation as a way of life and as means to resolve misunderstandings in society through dialogue and education.

19. Malaysia’s efforts to promote moderation has gained recognition with the country seen as a model of a modern, dynamic and progressive nation rising up to the challenges of a multicultural society.

20. Malaysia also welcomes future collaboration with the various Pontifical councils, international organisations and non-government organisations in hosting dialogues and seminars aimed at promoting better religious understanding in the near future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

21. It is against this backdrop that we are gathered here today. The Inauguration of the Chancery of the Embassy of Malaysia to The Holy see is a first step towards introducing our presence here today.

22. This event brings together diverse stakeholders to be connected with each another and I am positive that there will be many future collaborations with Malaysia in the various political, economic and social-development issues of mutual interest.

23. On that note, I thank you all for taking your valuable time off to be here today with us to witness the historical Inauguration of the Chancery of the Embassy of Malaysia to The Holy See.

24. I wish all of you a productive day ahead.

Thank you.

***** END *****

During the visit of Prime Minister Najib to the Holy See on 27 July 2011, Malaysia agreed to establish a diplomatic representative office to formalise better relationship between the two nation.

It was a landmark visit after Fourth Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s inaugural visit to the Holy See nine years earlier, because Prime Minister Najib and the Head of the Catholic Church then His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI inked the agreement for embassies to be established in both nations.

Now that Malaysia has established chancery in the Vatican City, Prime Minister Dato’ Srì Mohd. Najib Tun Razak should extend the invitation for Head of the Catholic Church His Holiness Pope Francis to do a state visit.

Eighteen months later, the Vatican State appointed His Excellency Joseph Marino as the Apostle Nuncio to Kuala Lumpur.

Apostle Nuncio Joseph Marino presenting his credentials to His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agong XIV

It is timely for Wisma Putra to deliver the invitation to the Holy See for Pope Francis to reciprocate the visit by two Malaysian prime ministers.

There many global issues that the two nation could work together, be it social economic or geo political. Example is the effort to uplift and taking societies out of poverty level and trap.

Malaysiakini story in 2015:

Papal visit will boost relations with Malaysia

1 comments     V Thomas     Published 16 Feb 2015, 7:40 am     Updated 16 Feb 2015, 7:42 am

Recently, Pope Francis made a visit to the Philippines and celebrated an open-air mass which was attended by an unprecedented 5 million of the faithful, a record for any papal visit.  Pope Francis’ popularity can be traced to his humble demeanour, openness and for his championing the cause of the downtrodden, women’s rights and for those sections of society that have been discriminated against.

Pope Francis’ statements are observed closely and his pronouncements on international issues are given much consideration, more so than his predecessors.

The Argentine pope has cultivated a friendly image with the global audience, and is well liked by world leaders and religious heads.  He is a popular pope and many nations are keep to invite him to visit their countries.

As such Malaysia could invite Pope Francis to visit the country in the near future. Malaysia has a large community of Christians in both West and East Malaysia, and the pontiff’s visit will be very meaningful and significant.

It has been 57 years since Malaysia gained independence and no pope has visited the country although Malaysia has established diplomatic relations with the Vatican, and Pope Francis is represented here by the Papal Nuncio.

Presently, relations between Christians and Muslims are a bit frayed over some issues and the pope’s visit could mend relations and bring back amity and goodwill between the two communities. The East Malaysian Christians could be longing and expecting a papal visit now that the Pope has visited a neighboring country, the Philippines in January.

Additionally, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is pushing forward his concept of moderation as a means to resolving various international issues, and with Malaysia’s election to the UN Security Council for the 2015-2016 term the moderation concept could become the centrepiece of Malaysia’s policy.

Pope Francis’ endorsement of Malaysia’s moderation concept could add weight to Malaysia’s voice and final greater acceptance as he is the leader of a global community of more than a billion Catholics.

Malaysia has much to gain from a Papal visit, more so during the present time when there is a need to repair and foster good relations among the country’s diverse communities. Unlike the Dalai Lama’s meeting with world leaders which arouses China’s criticism of the Tibetan leader, Pope Francis has always steered clear of political issues during his travels.

Further, it will be good if the federal and state governments could declare Good Friday a public holiday.

Presently, only Sabah and Sarawak observe this. Some states in West Malaysia, which have a larger number of Christians such as Penang and Selangor as well as Kuala Lumpur, could begin this process.

The government has been magnanimous in granting public holidays for some minor festivals and it is hoped that in the same goodwill spirit Good Friday, too, could be declared a public holiday. Good Friday, which this year falls on April 3, if declared a public holiday will be a boon to Christian students and workers to attend church services.

Read more: https://www.malaysiakini.com/letters/289395#ixzz4gg7T2Mdp

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Both leaders are also bent on ‘building bridges’ and resolution through friendship, dialogue ad taking the moderate and middle path. Prime Minister Najib advocates strongly the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM), for the policy and practice  of inclusion towards the betterment of societies.

His Holiness Pope Francis interpreted the title ‘Pope’ means “Builder of Bridges”.

Prime Minister Najib advocated the important to remain moderate in his reminder to Malaysians in his Wesak Day address, that interfaith harmony is paramount to ensure stability in the nation.

The Malay Mail Online story based on Bernama report:

Interfaith harmony important for nation’s future, says Najib

SHAH ALAM, May 10 — Malaysia’s future depends on continued political and social stability which, in turn, hinges on interfaith harmony among Malaysians, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

He noted that the existence of interfaith harmony was premised on mutual understanding and mutual respect.

“This is among the intrinsic values that we need to propagate and strengthen,” he said at a tea reception marking national Wesak Day celebration here today.

Najib said the country’s founding fathers and all the others had not only laid the foundation of the constitution but also the values and political basis for generations of Malaysians after them to forge interfaith harmony.

This, he said, should be applied towards greater unity among all Malaysians, he said.

Among those in attendance at today’s event were Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and Malaysia Buddhist Association vice-president Sit Chan Liang.

In the course of the speech, Najib praised Buddhists who gathered for the reception for remaining silent as the Muslim call to Asar prayer was heard.

“This is an example of how we show mutual respect. You gentlemen who profess Buddhism showed respect to the Azan (calls to prayer) which is very close to the hearts of Muslims.

“I thank you for showing respect to other religions,” he said to applause from the crowd.

Najib reckoned that Malaysia was unique thanks to its links to the great civilisations of Asia that existed in the Malay Archipelago, China and India.

Malaysia, he said, had benefited from all the teachings, learnings, values, cultures, religions and languages from such great civilisations.

Najib said he had just undertaken a successful visit to India, and in not more that 24 hours he would be in China for another visit.

“All these visits cannot be successful without us being the model of a country that is united in diversity,” the prime minister said.

He said that Malaysia commanded the respect of many countries throughout the years as it was an exemplary nation in many respects.

“We do not have the tension, conflict, violence that other countries are undergoing,” Najib said, adding that Malaysia was viewed by many as a land of peace and harmony.

Meanwhile, in scenes repeated across the country, devotees thronged temples such as the Buddhist Maha Vihara temple in Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur to mark the occasion.

Despite the erratic weather throughout the day, they continued to come from as early as 6am to offer prayers at the 123-year-old temple.

Neoh Lik Hoey, 38, a temple volunteer for more than 10 years, said this year’s celebration was upbeat and vibrant despite the lack of space due to one of the main buildings undergoing reconstruction.

Wesak Day is the most important day in the Buddhism calendar. It marks the birth, enlightenment and passing of Gautama Buddha on whose teachings Buddhism was founded.

Buddhists commemorate the auspicious day by, among others, fasting and eating vegetarian food, offering prayers, giving alms to the needy and donating blood as well as indulging in self-reflection and supplication. ― Bernama

See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/interfaith-harmony-important-for-nations-future-says-najib#sthash.iG0s3vkb.dpuf

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Malaysia, where Islam is defined in the Federal Constitution as ‘Religion of the Federation’, would be very honoured to receive the state visit of a very progressive Head of the Catholic Church.

His Holiness Pope Francis is an extension of Pope John Paul II’s policies and practice of inclusion and making friends.

Bernama.com story published by The Sun Daily:

Pope Francis anointing Archbishop Emeritus of Kuala Lumpur Anthony Fernandez as a Cardinal (photo by The Star)

Archbishop Fernandez’s appointment a true honour, recognition for Malaysia: Najib

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak (pix) has congratulated Archbishop Emeritus of Kuala Lumpur, Anthony Soter Fernandez for his appointment as a cardinal by Pope Francis.

“Congratulations to his eminence Rev Archbishop Anthony Soter Fernandez for being appointed as a cardinal by the Pope.

“Archbishop Fernandez’s appointment is a true honour for Malaysia and recognition of our multi-cultural society,” Najib said in his latest Twitter account today.

Fernandez, 84, is Malaysia’s first ever cardinal to be named by the Pope in Vatican City on Oct 9.

He is among 17 new cardinals elevated to the second highest rank within the Roman Catholic hierarchy. — Bernama

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Prime Minister Najib already expressed his appreciation on behalf of the nation for the appointment the Archbishop Emeritus of Kuala Lumpur Anthony Fernandez as a Cardinal by Pope Francis, which is a landmark ascension of a Malaysian in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

His Holiness Pope Francis state visit to Malaysia is also to strengthen the Vatican’s recognition of Malaysia. The visit of the custodian of St Peter’s Basilica would add the warm feeling just like when the custodian of the two holy mosques state visit two months ago.

Published in: on May 10, 2017 at 19:30  Leave a Comment  

Bersekutu, Bertambah Mutu

Jata Persekutuan Malaysia tertera, “Bersekutu, Bertambah Mutu”

Kerjasama politik antara UMNO dan PAS semakin menjadi nyata, terutama apabila pemimpin tertinggi kedua parti Melayu ini makin memilih mencari persamaan berbanding pertentang, demi kepentingan orang Melayu (menurut Perlembagaan Malaysia), ugama Islam dan ummah.

Ini memberikan gambaran bahawa kedua parti ini semakin matang lebih mengutamakan isu strategik bagi orang Melayu, pengingkatan ugama Islam dan kepentingan negara membatasi agenda politik dan tafsiran sempit.

Ianya bukan menjadi rahsia lagi kerana pemimpin kedua parti Melayu ini secara berterusan mengadakan pertemuan dan berdialog, termasuk mencapai kesepakatan dalam isu yang menjadi kepentingan sejagat orang Melayu dan Islam, sebagai ugama Persekutuan Malaysia.

Sebelum ini, Presiden PAS Dato’ Seri Hj Hadi Awang dalam ucapan penggulungan muktamar parti minggu lepas di Kedah, berterima kasih kepada Kerajaan Persekutuan (yang ditunjangi UMNO) kerana memberi laluan untuk mengusulan pindaan bagi menambah baik undang-undang jenayah Syariah di Dewan Rakyat.

MP dikalangan UMNO mempertahankan pindaan RUU 355 dalam debat apabila ditentangi Pembangkang, termasuk MP PAN dan PPBM.

Hakikatnya, kerjasama antara UMNO dan PAS bukan setakat isu-isu sejagat Melayu dan Ugama Islam.

Dua ciri terpenting tersebut adalah pendefinisian Persekutan Malaysia sebagaimana termaktub dalam tiga Artikel pertama dan Artikel 160 Perlembagaan Persekutuan, akan membawa lebih besar kesan positif strategik.

Mempertingkatkan kepentingan Islam, secara tidak langsung membawa kebaikan kepada 52% daripada warga Malaysia, yang terdiri  dari orang Melayu. Sekiranya diambil kira orang Bukan Melayu yang berugama dan mempraktiskan Islam menurut Sunnah Wal Jamaah, maka jumlahnya akan lebih besar.

Penyatuan jati dan ampuh orang Melayu akan bermakna lebih banyak pembangunan sosio ekonomi, termasuk yang bercirikan Islam seperti sistem pelajaran ugama Islam yang lebih holistik, hub makanan dan perkhidmatan halal dan menurut syariah dan sistem kemudahan patuh syariah yang lebih holistik.

Apabila perbalahan antara orang Melayu terutama isu mengenai Islam dikurangkan dengan drastik, maka lebih tumpuan untuk membangunkan Islam dalam memajukan negara kearah lebih progressif dan hubungan antara etnik dan antarabangsa yang lebih moderat.

Ini secara strategik akan memaparkan kebijaksaan orang Melayu untuk maju dan progressif dalam keadaan melaksana tuntutan ugama tanpa mengambil atau menafikan kaum dan penganut ugama lain.

PAS ditubuhkan pada tahun 1951 daripada serpihan golongan ugamawan parti nasionalis. Ianya menjadi Pembangkang kepada UMNO, terutama kawasan majoriti Melayu semenjak Pilihanraya Persekutuan pertama tahun 1959.

Perdana Menteri II Tun Razak Hussein berjaya membawa PAS bersama dengan UMNO apabila Barisan Nasional ditubuhkan pada tahun 1953 mengganti Parti Perikatan dan kedalam Kerajaan pada tahun 1974. Namun PAS menginggalkan BN pada tahun 1977.

Pertentangan UMNO dan PAS memuncak dalam pemerintahan Perdana Menteri IV Dato’ Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad selama lebih 22 tahun. Malah, Dr. Mahathir lebih bersifat hostil kepada PAS atas pelbagai alaban dan tidak berusaha untuk mendekatkan jurang antara kedua parti Melayu dan penyokong.

Malah, dalam tempoh pemerintahan Dr. Mahathir, perpecahan antara orang Melayu termasuk pergaduhan makin serious. Ini ternyata apabila berlaku peristiwa berdarah Memali pada November 1985 dan pemimpin PAS antara yang ditangkap bawah ISA dalam ‘Operasi Lalang’ pada Oktober 1987.

Pendekatan lebih lembut Perdana Menteri VI Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak menampakkan hasil dan menerima timbal balas positif.

Kenyataan/ucapan rasmi Perdana Menteri Najib walaupun atas kapasiti Presiden UMNO/Pengerusi BN adalah berpaksikan kerjasama demi perjuangan memartabatkan Bangsa Melayu dan kepentingan Islam.

Kejayaan strategik adalah kemenanganan bagi Bangsa Melayu dan ini akan menjamin kestabilan Malaysia dalam mengorak langkah merealisikan target untuk negara berpendapat tinggi.

Ini, sebahagian dari beberapa dasar transformasi negara, ekonomi, pentadbiran awam dan warga masa depan.

Maka kebjiksanaan perintis Perserkutuan Malaysia amatlah tepat, “Bersekutu, Bertambah Mutu”.

Published in: on May 8, 2017 at 23:59  Leave a Comment