Tag Archives: Sabri

The kind of leaders not to elect

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim is going ahead with the debate with Umno adviser and former prime minister Najib Razak which is scheduled for May 12. Once again he went along with Najib’s request to hold the debate after the fasting month although Anwar’s side had no issue with having it during the fasting month.

The bigger issue is: Why is Anwar having a debate with a convicted prime minister on the national political stage? According to his recent statements, he explains it as being nice in accordance with his religious beliefs. That is understandable but is it ethical professionally?

Let’s say if one was a head of department in an organization where it’s CEO has been found guilty of embezzling funds from the company and is removed and one then becomes vice-president and meets with the previous CEO at some function, of course, one needs to be nice to him. But would the new VP in his right mind ever engage the convicted CEO in any official capacity when that could open up the possibility of bringing the latter back into the company in any influential position? If the vice president did that it is very likely that he would get demoted if not fired!

Being nice should not be confused with justifying the bending of the rules especially when it involves someone in or vying for public office.

Unfortunately, that is what we have been seeing since Najib’s time. Najib, Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin, current prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and now Anwar all seem to have bent the rules in the name of Malay dominance, unity and religion. None seem able to recognize that what they have done or are doing is wrong. Najib is in denial of his responsibility in the 1MDB scandal; Muhyiddin and Sabri do not see anything wrong in seizing the premiership without proving their majority; Anwar is ready to engage with a convicted criminal in a debate that will turn out to be a PR opportunity in Najib’s favour.

Did Anwar get the go-ahead from his party and his partners in Pakatan Harapan to engage with Najib and the court cluster leading Umno? Is this ethical?

How can the people trust such leaders? By their own actions, these leaders have disqualified themselves from any position in public office, much less the position of a prime minister. What is there to say they will not bend the rules again for their convenience in order to remain in power?

The people need to be wary of such leaders. In the next general election, we should not elect them or their parties. We really should give other leaders a chance to emerge and lead the nation according to the rule of law — not according to political, religious and personal expediency, which, in effect, means doing as you please and getting away with it!

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.

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.

Historic MOU? At what price?

The MOU signed by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob with Pakatan Harapan (PH) is touted as historic and no doubt it will be if the reforms are actually delivered. But at what price?

Firstly, the Sabri government remains an unconstitutional government because it hasn’t proven its majority in the Dewan Rakyat and signing an MOU with it is simply legitimising an unconstitutional government. I’m befuddled as to why MPs are willing to overlook this fundamental requirement to establish a legitimate government of Malaysia to make a deal outside of the Dewan Rakyat to get reforms.

Both Sabri and his predecessor, Muhyiddin Yassin, ignored the need for a confidence vote to prove their majorities and opposition MPs raised a hue and cry over it. But, now, they have gone silent. A proven majority legitimises the government but opposition MPs are closing their eyes to it and instead are making deals with an unconstitutional government for “democratic reforms” with no mention of a confidence vote. Doesn’t anyone see the irony in this? Selling out a fundamental constitutional right of MPs in exchange for other reforms that we are not sure the Sabri government can deliver according to the timeline or at all isn’t shortchanging Parliament?

Secondly, the MOU smacks of insincerity on the part of the opposition. PH wasn’t representing the entire opposition — just itself. It was not inclusive of other opposition parties and they have expressed the sentiments of being sidelined.

Another indication of its insincerity is evident in one item on its list of parliamentary reforms — equal funding for government and opposition MPs but not to the opposition MPs who didn’t sign the MOU. Why would Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim not seek equal funding for all opposition MPs? He is leader of all the opposition not just PH and all the opposition parties backed him to be prime minister when Muhyiddin Yassin resigned. But he reciprocated in the this way.

Why was PH willing to estrange its opposition allies and split the opposition to sign this MOU?

Perhaps, Anwar has realised that he may never become PM as long as he is in the opposition and feels the need to form new alliances to achieve his goal. Hence, his friendliness towards the Sabri government as Anwar has the support of the former’s party president Ahmad Zahid and party adviser former prime minister Najib Razak both of whom are his chums. Whether that relationship will benefit him is left to be seen. But one thing is certain. If he is pally with these two who lead the court cluster of Umno MPs facing criminal charges in court, it is likely he will drive other allies away who want to have nothing to do with the kleptocrats. The premiership will still elude him.

Unless, the brazen stubborn refusal to hold a confidence vote and the MOU are part of a larger behind-the-scenes conspiracy to prevent former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his candidates from returning to a position of influence in the government.

It is hard to understand why Sabri and Muhyiddin refused to hold a confidence vote. Their argument that the constitution doesn’t spell it out is a no-brainer. The spirit and intent of the constitution demand it and surely they know it?

Both, perhaps, know what a majority of MPs know. A confidence vote will topple them firstly. Secondly, the opposition under Anwar’s leadership will not get the desired majority. There’s no one of stature in the government to take over, except for Zahid and Najib, but they are too tainted by corruption scandals to win a majority. The next best candidate would likely be Mahathir or a candidate he endorses. The fear is that he might win because he has support from the government side to give him or his candidate the majority.

Muhyiddin and now Sabri evidently don’t want this possibility to be played out with that specific outcome. The question is why? Why are they willing to transgress the constitution just to keep Mahathir out? In the absence of a rational explanation from them as to why they refuse, one can only surmise that the conspiracy theory is true.

But, who are behind Muhyiddin and now Sabri that they are confidently willing to abandon a confidence vote to remain in government on the grounds of the Agong’s appointment without the validation of the people in the Dewan Rakyat as is required in a parliamentary democracy? Zahid, Najib, or vested interests outside of Parliament?

If these people have got prime ministers in their pockets and these prime ministers are refusing to face a confidence vote on account it, they must be called out because they are compromising the integrity of the Dewan Rakyat and MPs must fight to ensure that never happens.

Hence, PH’s sincerity of motive is questioned. To acquiesce to the position now held by Sabri to prevent a confidence vote and be willing to sacrifice it in the name of reforms? In doing so, PH is failing to do its job of ensuring the independence and integrity of the Dewan Rakyat.

Is the MOU an attempt by Anwar to become PM in the same way Muhyiddin and Sabri became prime ministers? With the support of powerful vested interests, at the expense of Parliament?

Thirdly, the ends do not justify the means. To prevent the exercise of a fundamental democratic process — the confidence vote — is a dereliction of constitutional duty. Political behind-the-scenes machinations are common and some may go as far as to influence the vote in the Dewan Rakyat in the election of a prime minister. But the votes of MPs will render them powerless because MPs vote on behalf of their voters, fully aware they may be punished if they vote against voter interests.

To deprive MPs of that vote even for the sake of much-needed parliamentary reforms is to allow the Dewan Rakyat to be manipulated by incumbent prime ministers and those who support them.

The MOU should have been signed on the condition of a confidence vote. No MP should deprive another of his or her constitutional right to elect a prime minister. It is unconstitutional and compromises the integrity of the Dewan Rakyat.

Now, we have a situation where there will be no confidence vote to test Sabri’s majority and no fear of bringing the government down. Opposition MPs can shout themselves hoarse. The government will let them, knowing fully well their position is secure. The Dewan Rakyat becomes a toothless tiger — thanks to PH.

DAP’s Damansara MP and party national publicity secretary Tony Pua has said that PH loses nothing from signing the MOU. O, really? Well, let’s see if PH parties would lose votes.

Spoilt Sunday

My Sunday was spoilt when I heard that Pakatan Harapan (PH) was planning to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s government on Monday with regard to the latter’s 7-point institutional reform offer.

Sabri’s reason for the offer was to achieve political stability. But who’s causing the political instability? It isn’t PH but Sabri’s party Umno. So, what political stability will be achieved by making a deal with PH? None.

Sabri’s coalition is the only side which will gain from the agreement and it will strengthen the parties in the incumbent government because now PH won’t reject the Agong’s address, or any money bill or the Budget to bring about the fall of the government. It will be smooth sailing for Sabri’s side until the next general elections by which time they would have consolidated their position and enter the elections confidently.

In the next general elections all the Malay-based parties — including Pejuang and Warisan — will get a share of the Malay-majority votes and if the distance between PH and Pejuang and Warisan continues, these Malay-based parties with the support of East Malaysian parties and the token non-Malay parties will likely join forces to form a formidable Malay-majority government. Where will PH be? Out in the cold, on the Opposition bench.

A confidence and supply agreement (CSA) works when it is agreed upon with a minority government. But Sabri’s coalition claims it has a solid 114-vote majority in the Dewan Rakyat. So far, the MOU gives no indication that a requirement for signing it is that Sabri should face a no-confidence vote. A no-confidence vote is non-negotiable and if it is compromised, this Opposition’s intention for signing the MOU deserves questioning.

How binding will the reforms be? Can they be achieved in the next 22 months before the 15th General Elections (GE15)? Some of the reforms have to be tabled in Parliament and may need a two-thirds majority to pass. Can the Sabri coalition achieve it? If the Sabri team’s performance in the last 17 months is anything to go by, can this team be expected to deliver? How many of the reforms will be fulfilled within the short time?

If PH has faith in Sabri, it is simply exposing its gullibility. Sabri’s offer is aimed at preventing a test of its majority in the Dewan Rakyat because it is unsure of its majority and wants to split the Opposition so that it is unable to reject any of its important bills to bring about the fall of the government to form a new legitimate government. PH played into Sabri’s hands. Nice work, PH.

So far, there has been no word from Pejuang and Warisan with regard to the CSA with the government. If they were excluded, PH would be driving the two more progressive non-urban Malay parties away from any future collaboration with them for a comfortable Malay-majority-led multi-cultural, multi-religious truly Malaysian government. This now may not happen in the GE15. Nice work, PH.

If PH thinks cooperation now will elicit future collaboration with Umno or Bersatu especially in the GE15, think again. Will the Umno and Bersatu voters prefer to work with PH or the more like-minded Pejuang and Warisan?

If PH works with Pejuang and Warisan to form a government, it would have the chance to introduce the reforms as part of its manifesto. It would strengthen Parliament as a PH initiative instead of a seeming sellout to an unconstitutional Sabri government.

Why PH has capitulated to the Sabri and his predecessor Muhyiddin Yassin’s culture of wheeling and dealing for personal and party gain to obtain parliamentary reforms is puzzling. Wouldn’t it be better to form a government and legislate the reforms according to constitutional processes?