All posts by Gertrude

About Gertrude

I am a little left of centre 21st Century person. What all that means you'll discover as you read my blog!

Will Johor voters set the trend to choose change?

Seriously, what kind of politicians/political parties use a convicted former prime minister to lure crowds on the campaign trail in the hope of winning votes and describe it as “the people want BN”?!

What kind of former prime minister shows such a blatant and brazen disrespect of the judiciary and snubs the courts which convicted him of abuse of power, criminal breach of trust and money laundering by strutting around engaging in politics on the technicality that his sentencing has been stayed?

Worse still, what kind of a convicted former prime minister thumbs his nose at an official request by the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat — the highest law-making institution in the country — to attend a Dewan Rakyat session to explain his comments on the 1MDB issue and dismissively explains that he would give a response on another date?

What kind of prime minister is it who is unable to back the Speaker to enforce his authority to discipline the disobedient convicted former prime minister by suspending him or referring him to Parliament’s rights and privileges committee?

What kind of prime minister is it who says nothing of the issue and lets the convicted former prime minister off the hook? The Speaker is able to throw out of the assembly a DAP MP who asks pertinent questions but is unable to stand up to a convicted former prime minister?

What kind of politicians woos the adviser and head of a political party who were facing criminal charges in court to fell a legitimate government with the mandate of the people in the name of the Malay-Muslim cause and never once proved its majority?

What kind of a politician allows himself to be sworn in as prime minister, aided by vested interests, and like the convicted former prime minister, walks around and goes on the campaign trail as if he did no wrong?

What kind of prime minister holds himself ransom to his party leaders who are facing corruption charges in court, absolves the culprit in Azamgate, and says nothing when his party leaders dissolve state assemblies and call for state elections?

What kind of leaders signs memorandums of understanding with the incumbent unelected unconstitutional government for paltry reforms that are yet to be realised only because they are afraid to form honest alliances with other opposition parties because it would mean that one party will have to surrender its party’s leader’s personal ambition to become PM?

What kind of leaders allows themselves to be seen with royals for the photo opportunity of implying that they have the latter’s endorsement once an election is announced? What kind of leaders apparently are so frail of heart that they do not have the conviction of their beliefs and service to the people, and the courage to say an emphatic “No” to lobbying vested interests?

What kind of government leaders make “working visits” to constituencies facing an election to lend support to their candidates? Did these leaders get there on government funds or their own? They justify their actions by spinning a spiel that when they attended the government function they said nothing of politics, but then changed their clothes and demeanour and drove in their private cars to attend the political function. Even if the trip was partly funded by the government, isn’t that an abuse of government resources?

These are some of the major monkey tricks incumbent leaders have and are playing since the Sheraton moves. The point is whether the voters in the Johor state elections buy into the narrative these political players say and play, or can see through it. We will know tomorrow.

In the Umno strongholds — mainly in the rural constituencies — it’s a forgone conclusion that Umno will win. The question is whether they will have a majority and that depends on whether they make an impact in the Malay-majority urban seats where the majority of the Malays are.

Urban Malay voters need to understand that no matter which coalition/political party wins a majority, the basic needs of the B40 group will be taken care of. That aside, the voters need to consider other criteria in choosing their representatives.

The list above simply shows the current calibre of incumbent politicians. But the Johor state elections present Johor voters with an array of choices, including new candidates without the baggage of the past.

Tomorrow, we will know if the majority of urban Malay voters have bought into the spiel the incumbent politicians are mouthing or whether they will choose change — for a corruption-free, service-orientated, constitution-upholding politics.

Urban Malay voters and non-Malay voters need to forget about the disappointments of the past, especially with Pakatan Harapan’s short stint in government. They have to look at the choices before them and see which party or coalition can form suitable alliances that will best take them into a better future.

If they choose well, Malaysia has hope and we can look forward to the next general elections. If they choose the same old, same old, we can resign ourselves to goons in government.

Tomorrow we will know.

Minnows may dominate — if voter turnout is high

Former Johor Umno chief Mohamad Khaled Nordin claimed today that a dominant Umno in a BN coalition would offer political stability as there would be less bickering among coalition partners.

There may be less bickering simply because Umno would be calling the shots! Coalition partners would have no choice but to go along with Umno unless Umno chooses to accommodate them when it suits their purposes.

Non-Malays would have to be wary of a dominant Umno especially if Umno wins a majority of seats in its traditional strongholds which represent only a minority of the Malays because the majority of Malays are no longer there as they have migrated to the urban areas.

According to the 2020 national census, 75.1% of Malaysia’s population is urban and the remaining 24.9% is rural, which would suggest that the majority of the Malay population has now become urban.

When the reverse was true — when the majority of the Malay population was rural — the state and parliamentary constituencies were delineated in such a way as to give them majority representation. The Malay population distribution has changed due to urban migration but the constituencies have not been redelineated to cater to the change in the Malay population distribution.

As a result, the Malay rural areas are over-represented while the majority of Malays in the urban areas are under-represented. This is the reason why Malay parties can still form a majority on their number of rural seats.

This is also the reason why the Johor state elections are very important in showing if the under-represented Malay majority in the urban areas will come out to vote and choose the party that can best increase their representation and serves their interests.

If Umno returns as the dominant party in the Johor state elections on winning the majority of rural seats, it will be a return to the old Umno dictating politics to appease its over-represented conservative rural minority and it will be old politics all over again.

If however, Umno makes inroads in the urban Malay-majority seats and forms a majority government, there will be tension between rural and urban Malay interests and that would make it as politically unstable as the governments of the last two years unless Umno wins a majority of the urban Malay-majority seats, which is unlikely as many Malay parties are vying for the same seats.

The battle will be in the urban Malay-majority seats — if the urban Malay majority goes out to vote. It will be interesting to see if voter turnout will be high in these seats.

The first hurdle of parties whose candidates are standing for election in these seats is to draw the voters out. The next hurdle is to clearly outline what each party can offer.

After the Sheraton Move and the failures of the past two years, voters may be disenchanted and prefer not to vote. Johor voters need to be told that for the first time in Malaysian history they have a choice to change their destiny.

Pejuang, Muda and Warisan are the new parties they can choose from. They don’t have the baggage that Umno/BN, PKR/Pakatan Harapan and Bersatu/Perikatan Nasional parties come with. If the voters want to start on a clean slate, these are the parties to consider. These parties need to position themselves as such and work hard to engage the voters and present themselves as the best alternative to serve their interests.

The non-Malays, too, have a key role to play in the current political scenario — if they come out to vote. They too must be wooed to vote and not stay at home. Political parties need to clearly present to them what benefits they will gain from voting for them for a new better tomorrow. The parties representing them will have the chance to form a coalition with the Malay-based parties to form a government that truly represents all the people groups in the state.

Khaled who had spoken of a “dominant” Umno in the BN coalition as reported in the media also said that the BN’s approach to Malaysia’s multi-cultural background is “integration, not assimilation”. That may appeal to non-Malays. In practice, however, it may not be encouraged if it upsets Umno’s traditional voters.

The alternative is the new parties. Individually, they may not be dominant but together in a new coalition, the minnows may actually be able to deny Umno the dominant majority.

Towards that end, the new political parties need to work extra hard to convince the voters that they can deliver. Contrary to the pre-election consensus that Johor will follow Malacca in voting for Umno, all the focussed hard work of the new parties may actually pay off!

The most important qualities leaders must have

Tomorrow is nomination day for the Johor state elections and now is a good time as any to suggest a few qualities I believe candidates standing for elections must have.

The first most important quality they must have is to maintain the sovereignty of the nation/state. They must fully understand the Constitution of Malaysia and that it upholds both parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy but that neither influences the other.

Elected political leaders must be acutely aware that their masters are the voters who give them the mandate to lead. They govern on the authority of the mandate of the people and guard that authority without compromising it by putting themselves in a situation where they become beholden to other institutions of authority.

In other words, in a crisis, should they find that they are at a loss as to how to handle it, they should not, in desperation, immediately run to a foreign power like Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates or China or the US or to the Agong and Sultans for help if by doing so they compromise the sovereignty of the nation/state. They can get help — but never at the expense of beholding themselves and the nation to these powerful nations and institutions.

Elected leaders must uphold the sovereignty of the country/state at all costs. They must understand that the federal or state government runs independently and must guard themselves against all interfering influences. The decisions they make must have Parliament’s or the state assembly’s approval first.

Since we are also a constitutional monarchy, elected leaders must understand that the government makes all decisions and the final decisions are presented to the Agong or Sultans who will perform their duties as defined by the constitution. They should not attempt to engage the royals to influence these decisions. Both do not influence the other.

We want leaders who will ensure that they are never held accountable to any authority other than the people. That is the most important characteristic candidates standing for election must have. Such leaders can be trusted to uphold the sovereignty of the state/nation and will not sell or compromise it for money or power.

The second most important quality they must have is knowledge. They must have the mental capacity to understand and learn very fast the modern concepts of governance, transparency and accountability. When issues are discussed in the public discourse, they must be able to quickly recognize the issues that are of concern to the people and respond immediately.

We don’t want leaders like the prime ministers we have had in the past two years who prefer to maintain silence rather than engage the people. Elected representatives must engage the citizens; that’s the only way we know what they are up to.

The third most important characteristic candidates standing for election must have is ability. They should first know what their jobs entail and have the skills to do them. We don’t need leaders who are clueless about what they are supposed to do despite the number of advisers at their disposal. And, we won’t need a bloated Cabinet to get the job done.

If we have able leaders, taxpayers’ money will be put to good use. Such leaders will also know how to make the Cabinet do its job and won’t be wasting time and taxpayers’ money on unnecessary overseas trips while the country is still not out of the woods with regard to the pandemic.

There are many other qualities people may want of our representatives. For me, these three are the most important. I hope those who are nominated tomorrow to stand for election will have the qualities the people want.

What Sabri’s 2020 census bumi figure doesn’t tell

The recently announced results of the 2020 census require clarification and elaboration in two areas. The first is in the announcement by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob that the bumiputra population has increased to 69.4% from 67.4% in 2010.

Sabri did not break down the statistic to show the percentage of the Malay population and the non-Malay bumiputra population which is largely made up of ethnic East Malaysians, many of whom are Christians. Neither did he reveal if the increase in the bumiputra population was general or uneven between the two bumiputra groups.

Giving such details will provide a truthful picture of population trends in Malaysia. Beruas MP Ngeh Koo Ham said yesterday as reported in Malaysiakini that the detailed numbers for each ethnic group should be disclosed as it was important for the implementation of government policies.

“The various native groups in Sabah and Sarawak should be classified separately as their needs are different from the Malays in Peninsular Malaysia,” Ngeh said in the report.

“The Malays in the peninsula would like to see sufficient funds allocated for matters related to Islam as they are Muslims. However, the majority of the natives of Sabah and Sarawak are non-Muslims and they would like a fair and proportionate amount of funds to be allocated to matters related to their religious faiths.”

In presenting the details of the 2020 census, Sabri also said that the bumiputeras make up the highest percentage with 69.4 percent, followed by the Chinese (23.2 percent), the Indians (6.7 percent), and others (0.7 percent).

The 2020 census also showed that Malaysia’s population has increased to 32.4 million people, compared to 28.3 million in 2010.

Ngeh also questioned if the 2.6 million non-Malaysians in the country, as stated by the 2020 census, and which he said make up 8.3 percent of the population, was considered as bumiputra. If the “others” category comprises 0.7 percent, how are the 2.6 million non-Malaysians (or 8.3 percent) accounted for?

“If the ethnic group’s composition stated by the premier includes the whole 32.4 million people, then almost all the 2.7 million foreigners are classified as bumiputera, which is clearly unacceptable,” he said.

Ngeh wanted a clarification from the Prime Minister who at that time was on an official visit to Brunei and we are yet to hear of a response from him.

These data that Ngeh wanted clarified are important for the public to know but the PM doesn’t seem too interested in giving the correct picture or is taking his time about it while we are still waiting to know.

Other statistics that are of concern and which have a direct bearing on the current political situation are the rural and urban population figures. The urban population has risen from 70.9 percent in 2010 to 75.1 in 2020 and the rural population has dropped from 29.1 percent in 2010 to 24.9 percent in 2020.

These figures suggest that in both 2010 and now the Malaysian population is urban rather than rural. If this is the case, why are there more rural parliamentary constituencies than urban ones?

This would explain why there are more MPs representing the rural areas than the urban areas and why they can form a majority representing bumiputras but this representation may be a minority and not a majority as they claim to be and why this minority is conservatively rooted in rural ways.

Such a delineation of parliamentary constituencies may have been necessary before the urban migration of rural folks but they no longer apply if the majority of the rural folks have now become urban. Delineating parliamentary constituencies may be necessary now to give the majority of the population in the urban areas more say.

These are issues that a federal government must address but we are yet to see the kind of leadership necessary to get such jobs done at the helm of the Malaysian government in the past two years.

When parliamentary constituencies are delineated to give more representation to the majority urban population, the conservative minority will be unable to dictate politics.

It is extremely urgent that a responsible and competent government that represents the majority is installed which accommodates and serves Malaysia’s changing landscape.

The significance of Hadi’s ‘dialogue’

PAS president Hadi Awang’s recent “dialogue” with representatives of Afghanistan’s Taliban government raises a very important question: Was it sanctioned by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob?

If it was, then it raises even more pertinent questions. Has the prime minister recognized the Taliban government? If so, why was there no announcement that Malaysia recognizes the Taliban government?

According to Hadi’s political secretary Syahir Sulaiman, the “dialogue” was arranged by the Foreign Ministry of Qatar upon a request from Hadi’s office and held in Doha during Hadi’s visit to that state last week.

Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah had earlier said that Malaysia was not in a hurry to recognize Afghanistan’s Taliban government and was still awaiting the UN’s decision on the matter.

So, with what authority did Hadi in his official capacity as the Special Envoy to the Middle East, which is a position with ministerial status, conduct the “dialogue”? Because he held the session in his official capacity as a minister in the Malaysian cabinet, it appears as if the Malaysian government recognizes the Taliban government, which is known for torture, discrimination against women and minorities, and a harsh form of Islamic discipline.

Is the Sabri government contradicting itself? One minister says something and another does another? Sabri needs to clarify Malaysia’s stand on recognizing the unelected Taliban government.

In defending Hadi’s action, Syahir had argued that a “dialogue” does not imply recognition since “the whole world, including the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), US and China have been engaging with the Taliban government through multiple channels of dialogue”.

Syahir, however, has failed to mention that the above were directly-involved negotiators in seeking a settlement in the Afghan crisis whereas Malaysia isn’t. Putrajaya was never such a player and certainly does not have the stature of the US or China to dialogue with the Taliban to bring about a resolution.

Hadi’s “dialogue” is clearly a serious breach of protocol and one that Sabri must address. Unless there’s a political motive. With the Johor state elections coming up, Sabri may want to win more votes from the conservative Malay electorate who may be pleased by the government’s efforts at unifying the ummah.

Hadi himself has gone on the offensive and labeled the anti-Taliban sentiments as Islamophobia. If this is politics in view of the Johor elections, it is dangerous politics, using religion to get votes at the expense of good governance.

Not surprisingly, the opposition parties have remained silent on this issue. Again, perhaps, for political advantage. They don’t want to be seen as being anti-Islam and drive the conservative Malay vote away from them.

Hasn’t anyone thought of treating the voters as equals and simply explaining correctly to the voters that this is not an anti-religion issue but one of respecting the stand the country takes in international relations and that that is good governance?

How to achieve political stability …

Politicians who think politics will ever be calm and stable are dreaming! So, when they make statements claiming that they and their parties represent political stability, is it true or just another effort to justify unconstitutional conduct?

Recently, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakub, said in response to Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin and PAS president Hadi Awang’s statement that their parties’ support for the federal government was “conditional”, that political stability was important for the country as without it there might be another political turmoil that might affect the economy.

Strange for him to say that when it is obvious that the political climate since he took over the role of premiership has been unstable from Day 1 because Sabri’s party, Umno, has held the threat of pulling out of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government he leads, over his head. Now, Bersatu and PAS are doing the same.

When Umno couldn’t get what it wanted from the federal government, it turned its focus on the states. In Malacca, instead of facing a no-confidence vote in the state assembly, Umno played politics and dissolved the state assembly with the Yang Di-Pertua’s blessing. In Johor, despite a one-seat majority, it dissolved the state assembly and as in Malacca paved the way for state elections.

Is this not political instability? Umno has expressly stated it wants to wipe out Bersih and be the majority government in Johor as in Malacca and now there will be state elections in Johor. If Umno wins in Johor, it is likely that general elections will follow. All this isn’t political instability?

We have been drifting along in political instability since Muhyiddin got himself sworn in as the prime minister but he can’t see it. He thought he had the support of the majority until the Malacca state elections last year when Bersatu won only two seats despite contesting all the seats.

Like Muhyiddin, Bersatu information chief Wan Saiful Wan Jan also claimed that the party’s alliance with PAS had strengthened political stability in the country. It amazes me that the former CEO of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, can not see the political instability that followed since his party president took over as prime minister!

Either these politicians — Umno, Bersatu and PAS — can not recognize what is and has been unfolding before their very eyes as a result of their actions or they are in self-denial; they prefer not to face the reality before them because then they have to admit they are responsible for the current state of political instability.

Bersatu shouts “political stability” to remain in power but claims its purpose is to ensure the welfare of the people — like previous governments didn’t take care of their political base, the Malay majority.

Umno shouts “political stability” in order to rule by itself so that it can do what it likes like it did when it led six decades of the BN government.

These parties promise political stability but the truth is that they will be unable to deliver it because of the intense in-fighting taking place among Malay-majority parties. As long as their position in government is threatened they will do everything by any means — even if it means compromising the constitution — to get what they want. That is the source of the current political instability and all the parties in the current government are guilty of it.

Politics is characteristically always fluid and sometimes volatile. What controls it from exploding and destroying all the good hitherto achieved is having a good grasp of the constitution and complying with constitutional requirements as written and intended in the constitution.

If all these Malay and Muslim-majority politicians practised politics according to the constitution, we would not be drifting in political instability.

In the last two years, they have proven with three changes of prime ministers that they can not deliver political stability. They should stop deluding themselves and others. The only way to bring political stability back is to vote them out and vote in those who understand the constitution and will stick by it.

Gong Xi Fa Cai 2022!

Drive safe, follow the SOPs and just enjoy family and friends. National and state politics can make us weep, but, judging from the firecrackers that have been going off in the past hour, I think the spirit of the people remains undaunted.

There is hope that the Year of the Tiger may be better. Hope is a good reason to celebrate. So, let’s celebrate and enjoy ourselves!

Happy Chinese New Year Malaysia!

The people have the right to know …

It is imperative that candidates fielded in the coming Johor state elections make their stand very clearly regarding their commitment to upholding the constitution, wiping out corruption and implementing sustainable development in light of climate change.

What the candidates say about these issues will tell the people what to expect from candidates standing for election at the federal level in a general election.

Firstly, will the candidate commit himself/herself to upholding the federal and state constitutions at all cost? This is extremely important because we don’t want leaders who will circumvent the constitution in order to seize or remain in power in the manner in which the previous prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, got himself installed as the prime minister and in a similar way in which the Opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) is keeping the current prime minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, in power.

Both, in my opinion, are unconstitutional because both did not prove they had a majority by facing a no-confidence vote in Parliament before installing themselves as the prime minister. Because they set a precedent, now state menteri besars, instead of facing a no-confidence vote in the state assembly to prove their majority or the lack of it, are — with the agreement of the state head of state — dissolving the state assembly and calling for untimely elections, as in the case of Malacca and now Johor.

Such head of state and head of state government cooperation is political rather than constitutional and the people have the right to know if the candidates standing for election in the state constituencies will ensure that they will NOT give any opportunity to the head of state to influence political decisions.

Constitutionally, the head of state is above politics and the menteri besar must not make decisions in consultation with the head of state under the guise of “advising” the head of state without first proving a lack of a majority in the state assembly, which the menteri besar failed to do in dissolving the Malacca state assembly last year. Likewise, in Johor, no vote of confidence was called at the state assembly but the state government was dissolved.

The people have a right to know if the candidates will play no part in involving the head of state or his representatives in state or federal politics because constitutionally the head of state can not get involved in politics.

The people also have the right to know if the candidate and his/her party will use a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to form pacts and deals to thrust parties or a coalition of their choice into power in the event no party or coalition wins a majority and this is proven through a vote of confidence at the state assembly.

Again, a precedent was set at the federal level when PH signed an MoU with the Sabri government before the latter faced a no-confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat. As a result, there was no proof that the Sabri government was a minority one with which an MoU could be signed.

An MoU is a tool of last resort used by the Opposition to prop up a minority government when no party or coalition gets a majority vote. The process of proving a majority outside of an election is undertaken in Parliament and the state assemblies as is the democratic convention practised by all democracies.

No party or coalition can declare at a press conference it has a majority or failed to get a majority and then use that to justify taking over a government or calling for elections. It must first be proven through the parliamentary/state assembly process. First, the largest minority coalition will be called to face a no-confidence vote. If it fails, the next minority coalition faces the vote and it goes on one after another. If it is proven that no party or coalition has a majority, then the Opposition has the moral grounds to enter into an MoU with a coalition of its choice and prop it up as a minority government of the day.

In the Malaysian case, that parliamentary process was bypassed and an MoU signed with an unconstitutional government, hence making the MoU unconstitutional as well.

The people have the right to know if this infraction of parliamentary procedures will be repeated.

The MoU can also be abused. In a recent report in Malaysiakini, it was stated that election watchdog Bersih had called out Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg and other Gabungan Parti Sarawak leaders for using their position to campaign by announcing projects or allocations, officiating at government events, and signing state government MoU for projects.

The people have a right to know if such MoUs will not be entered into by the candidates and that the spirit and letter of the constitution will be strenuously upheld.

The last two issues have been much discussed in the media so I’ll just mention them here.

Secondly, the people have the right to know if the candidates will expose every act of corruption in the state without fear or favour. Can the candidates promise to work towards instituting policies that give no room for corruption?

Thirdly, the people have the right to know if the candidates will ensure sustainable development practices so that the state is well-prepared for natural disasters.

If the candidates address these issues, and their responses are well-received by the people, it may encourage a higher voter turnout by people truly hopeful of a better future. And, that may work out in the Opposition’s favour, not just in the Johor elections but in the general elections as well.

Why PH shouldn’t be afraid of an election

What was accomplished by yesterday’s special parliamentary session held to discuss the recent flood disaster? Apart from Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob pointing fingers at the Selangor government for failing to galvanize immediate rescue efforts and Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders pointing to Cabinet ministers for failing to provide federal-level crisis leadership (both points of view, by the way, are valid), what was achieved?

At the end of the debate, there was no motion or bill tabled and put to a vote to give a stamp of approval to the government’s national policy on managing and preventing floods. So, what was the point of the parliamentary session?

All the points that the Cabinet ministers made could have been made when the floods occurred from Dec 17 to 19 during the parliamentary session which was ongoing at that time. Why didn’t the government make its defence then and, instead, chose a more expensive way of doing it by calling for a parliamentary session a month later?

I suspect the reason for the delay was that Sabri and his Cabinet ministers were unable — despite their numerous advisers and government staff at their disposal — to move their personnel to issue press statements in swift responses to the crisis and keep the people informed of what they were doing. The government behemoth, perhaps, was just too much for Sabri and his ministers to move to act swiftly? Hence, the need for more time to prepare their defence and for an opportunity to present it to the public — through a parliamentary session.

If it were a public relations exercise and nothing more, then, Sabri stands accused of trivialising Parliament and reducing the august assembly to nothing more than a glorified press conference. The Dewan Rakyat Speaker, too, must be held responsible for not protecting the sanctity and independence of the House and acting as an appendage of the executive.

Sabri may think he has won in the public relations war to win support. But, he needs to keep in mind that the voters in urban areas and especially in Selangor, which has the most number of Malay urbanites, can not be so easily fooled as the B40 group which forms the bulk of his support base. The latter trustingly may believe whatever their leaders say but the former know better.

While many urbanites in Selangor may still be angry with the state government for failing to provide a swift response to the floods last December, they would be able to see through the Sabri government’s charade. As long as the Sabri government keeps covering up incompetency, people will be able to see through it.

And as long as the Sabri government is kept going, we can expect more such failures in government. This time, only PH is to be blamed for supporting this government through the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) PH signed with it.

PH goes all out to criticise the Sabri government but will continue to support it. PH’s reluctance to break up the MoU is understandable. It would trigger a general election and, after the lashing it got in the Malacca and Sarawak state elections, it evidently isn’t confident it can deliver the votes to form an alternative government.

PH is so scared of a whipping in an election, it has offered a “commitment of stability” to the Johor state leadership to prevent state elections. Like the MoU, this commitment will only give the state government unfair advantage over the opposition. It may give the PH time to recoup but what guarantee is there that it will do better in a future general election than one now?

In a comment piece in Malaysiakini today, Setiawangsa MP and PKR chief organising secretary Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad discussed the various ways his party can win back the support of voters. He targets the Undi18 voters who may be more aligned to PKR’s progressive policies than other parties. He then suggests that PKR develop a viable policy on climate change and demonstrate an uncompromising commitment to full responsibility for the welfare of the people and national interests.

Nik Nazmi’s ideas are worth considering. If the people see that their politicians are serious about putting their interests first, they may back them despite their past failings. The way the Selangor state government — which is PH-led — manages the state is crucial. If it clearly puts into place the ideas Nik Nazmi suggests and delivers, it will be an example of good government and may continue to get the support of the people.

The first half of this year is not a good time for any election because of the omicron threat. If Johor goes ahead with state elections, the people may not be pleased and may take out their frustrations through the vote.

It’s thus best for opposition parties not to negotiate with any government. Opposition parties should be prepared for any election. If they develop a realizable manifesto with emphases on a clean government and climate change, and demonstrate a commitment to competency, professionalism and multi-culturalism, they should take the calculated risk of facing any election at any time. Urban voters, which is the opposition parties’ political base, can think for themselves. They should be allowed to make their choice at a time that does not burden them.

How S’ngor govt can man up and win back the people

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has called for a special session of Parliament on Jan20 as an extension of the fourth session of the 14th Parliament to discuss long-term flood management and flood aid following the recent floods that took the lives of 54 people, the highest flood death toll so far.

I’m puzzled as to why Parliament must be called to discuss a natural disaster that is now over and which the people suffered through alone without government help. For two days when floodwaters filled up homes in Taman Sri Muda, Shah Alam, Selangor and residents found refuge on their roofs, their plaintive cry was, “No one came!” For two days they had no help and no food. The government was nowhere to be seen. Now the Sabri government wants to discuss this debacle of government failure in Parliament?

The Sabri government probably thinks that a parliamentary session on the flood issue may make them look good, conveying the message to their voters that they are doing something about solving the problem. Well and good, except for the fact that the incumbent government probably won’t last long enough for it to put into place a comprehensive flood mitigation plan in the country.

Could an underlying motive be to expose the Pakatan Harapan (PH)-controlled state government in Selangor, which ultimately must also assume responsibility for failing to provide a swift rescue response in the flooded areas and immediate aid?

If Sabri has thought through the decision to have a special parliamentary session on the flooding fiasco, he would realize that it would also expose the federal government’s paralysis in taking control and implementing a swift disaster response. MPs are going to expose each other’s failures and what good would come out of that?

The Selangor state government would likely be most exposed because the state government is best positioned to provide immediate aid to the people in the face of a disaster. It might be an attempt by the Umno-led government to make the opposition look bad.

But, it can be preempted! The Selangor state government must quickly shift into damage control mode. The first thing to do is to face the people. They may resort to throwing brickbats at it. Take it like a man. After all, the state government is at fault.

Honestly tell the people where the mistakes were. But, more importantly, show them your dead seriousness in identifying the problems and in finding solutions so that when a natural disaster happens, its effects will be manageable.

Don’t be like the Perikatan Nasional (PN) and Sabri governments who keep silent in the face of a crisis and appear only to feel important giving aid after the disaster and using it for photo opportunities, and driving around in black convoys!

Beat them to the game! Not by bribing and giving aid — the latter is necessary in the face of a disaster — and political out-manoeuvering but through good, responsible government. The Selangor state leadership has a number of good people. Selangor Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari should sit down with them and discuss a practical and viable comprehensive statewide river management plan to mitigate the effects of floods and prevent water cuts.

A task force should be set up to identify the problems in river and rain management and suggest solutions, which must be enforced strictly. From the data gathered, a water consultant may need to be hired to develop a statewide river and rain management plan and the setting up of a swift first responder network to provide immediate rescue in the face of a disaster.

Once the planning is complete, hold a press conference and tell the people that mistakes have been identified, and list out the immediate practical steps the state government is undertaking to address the issue. Show them proof of the early steps taken and tell them of the long-term plan.

The people may still be angry but they will take note of the state government’s hard work and effort to prevent a repeat of the Dec 22-23, 2021 flood fiasco, and may be appeased. The state government may still win their support.

But, all this work must be done and the press conference held before the parliamentary session on Jan 20. PH MPs will be in a stronger position to counter the criticisms of government MPs who, because of the Selangor state government’s practical efforts at water and rain management, may lose the grounds to mount an attack on PH MPs.

The Selangor state government must act fast, if it wants to win back support from the people.