Letter to the Media – Analysis or propaganda?

 

By Hafidz Baharom

I read the letter from Liew Chin Tong lambasting analysts as being biased and justifying a Barisan Nasional victory with a main question – who is he trying to convince?

He is correct by saying that if Pakatan Harapan should win over 50 percent of the Malay vote, they would win the next general election. Yet, herein lies the problem – Pakatan Harapan does not have that vote.

And here is something he is perhaps less keen to admit, his side lost a lot of Malay votes when it dumped PAS, while their replacements PPBM and Amanah are not yet gelled together nor gained the momentum of membership to take on both PAS and Umno.

Thus, if anything, his analysis is biased towards not counting the fact that PAS supporters will be the kingmakers in the next general election.

And we saw this immensely during two showpiece gatherings by the Opposition supporters, both Bersih and the Anti-Kleptocracy rally – both of which did not have the numbers to impress even if you had compared it to the lesser Blackout 505 rally.

The word on the ground is that the Malays are now divided three ways between PAS, Umno and Pakatan. Even giving each an equal share of the Malay votes, it would be a 33 percent split among them.

Yet, Liew believes Pakatan can secure an additional 17 percent from PAS or Umno, while somehow maintaining the waning non-Malay vote, which is also another concern.

He has forgotten that there is also fatigue enough to end up stopping people from voting altogether due to the teaming up with PPBM, mostly due to the disapproval of Tun Mahathir Mohamad being the leading voice in this campaign.

While media was keen enough to point out that this has affected mainly Chinese voters to the point of forming Facebook groups, it may in fact be symptomatic among all Malaysians, especially the youth population.

This can be seen by how 40 percent of youth voters are not keen to even register themselves. Thus, Pakatan hosting voter registration rallies on a monthly basis if not weekly, focusing on malls and markets, hopefully nationwide.

But more to the point, it is the hypocrisy of lambasting analysts for having a point of view. Are things so dire in the outlook that Pakatan and Liew need to convince voters by hitting out at any analyst who says otherwise?

Has this become the new propaganda tactic by the Pakatan coalition, to the point that any analysis giving a contrary viewpoint to what is done by their own internal polling and sponsored research institutes must be discredited to stop voters from leaving them?

Isn’t that interestingly desperate?

Yes, people are unhappy with the way things are run, but if Pakatan was so convinced that they had the 50 percent Malay votes, it certainly doesn’t show. In fact, I would say that the Malay vote will be fractured between two major parties – PAS and Umno.

This is because Umno managed to secure the Malay voters more recently for standing up for Jerusalem and Palestine, while DAP supporters discredited the move by laughing at the thought of us leading a peacekeeping mission by insinuating it was a military challenge against Israel.

At the same time, PAS inching their promise to strengthen sharia law through RUU355 further consolidated their support base and even some of Umno’s own fence sitters. Additionally, the recent headscarf row in both hotels and stewardesses, are also infiltrating the Malay voters.

If Liew was serious about somehow winning the Malay vote, these are issues of support among the group of voters he’s trying to cater to – shifting further right religious conservatives. Which is perhaps why Amanah’s women decided to support a ban on “Despacito” on public radio.

Liew once predicted a Malay tsunami which would happen in the next general election. The major problem with his viewpoint is that he believes that the voters from PAS are still in his corner. Either that, or he believes that PPBM and Amanah has managed to retain those votes given in GE13.

Both assumptions are very, very misleading. Therefore, if Liew and Pakatan believes that he can somehow secure 50 percent of the vote without the oldest Malay Opposition party in the country that brought them the crowd in all their gatherings, the rural votes and even stopped them from voting the Budget bill in parliament, then perhaps it is not the analysts who are blindly justifying their points.

Perhaps it is instead, Liew and Pakatan itself.

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Muharram, Hijrah and seeking refuge

With the upcoming celebration of Awal Muharram, it is important that we recall this event in a historic situation.

As a Muslim, we were told that the Hijra – the move from Mecca to Medina, was one that was ordained by God Himself in order to avoid religious persecution.

Religion teaches us that this was not the first exodus in the Abrahamic faith, as a similar fate took place between Moses and his people being expelled from Egypt by the Pharaoh.

Though to be frank, Muhammad did not have to wander the desert but started his community in Medina and united tribes, wrote a constitution and expanded the teachings of Islam from this city which became the first Islamic establishment.

If we were to relate that in current standing, Muhammad literally immigrated to a nation, set up a legal code and even became the chosen leader of the city state by allowing all to practise their faiths while also combining mosque and state into one central organisation.

He was also an illiterate migrant with no wealth of his own, and instead married into wealth. All he had was his reputation as an honest man and a hard worker who survived abuse for a different faith in his own homeland simply by the recognition of his uncle as a renowned trader.

And here was Medina, willing to accept him and his followers with open arms without a concern over their wealth, their faith, their education level, or even their culture brought about from a central city like Mecca. And obviously, nobody in Medina at that time feared they would lose their jobs, I personally hope.

The move of our Prophet from Mecca to Medina to avoid religious persecution, and he open acceptance of the people of Medina to accept him and his followers, are an important one to carry forward today, especially for the Muslim community. It is clear justification that we ourselves must practice the act of open borders when it comes to those fleeing violence and offer them a home.

It is a concept we have practised ourselves in the case of Bosnia, Syria, and hopefully we will extend it to those being persecuted in Myanmar.

But that being said, we should not limit it to just our brothers in religion, but extend it beyond that to the concept of a brotherhood of humankind. It would be shameful to expect us to only take in those who we deem worthy or unworthy, whereas even Christian majority nations have no such clause.

History tells us that migration is an integral part of nations when people are seeking better economic conditions and avoiding persecution.

You can take Muhammad moving to Medina, the Potato Famine causing an influx of Irish immigrants to America, or even the nations protecting fleeing Jews from the Nazis.

And quite honestly, we need humanity to step in before we put faith in God and miracles – and this is something that even our nation and people can do.

We must put stock that Malaysians, just like other people in developed nations, believe in caring for others and not just themselves. As much as we bicker internally over race, beliefs, politics and even class, there is no justification against saving a people – mainly women and children – facing genocidal slaughter in their own land.

We are not a nation of actuarial scientists that probe the cost of life and whether such an amount economically justifies letting people through our borders to avoid dying. Instead, what we must consider is how to make sure that those who do take refuge in our country can live their lives just as well as our own citizens.

We are not a rich nation per se, but I’ll be damned if we can’t even secure people from hunger, thirst, maiming, death from a bullet or even a machete. Personally, I wish we had done this sooner when Cambodia had their killing fields, Vietnam had their war and Indonesia started their communist purge or sectarian violence.

However, we must do this with proper policies and planning, to ensure that we make it a settled issue for times to come as well as to avoid bias in the future. To that end, I urge the politicians to start by coming up with a proper framework on the treatment of refugees and those seeking asylum.

Secondly, recognise the status of refugees and asylum seekers to allow them to seek a living here. And thirdly, in the long run, resolve all issues involving permanent residency and statelessness among our own Malaysians before subsequently looking for the same solution for refugees in Malaysia.

We may not be the richest nation, or the most peaceful, or the happiest, or even the ones with the greatest track record in ending corruption for that matter. But I do hope we can agree that we should at least be a humanitarian one that can support the right to live.

Is our private data really private?

In the middle of last month, I received a phone call from a so-called “Institut Minda Selangor”, which was doing a poll to gauge support for Selangor’s Pakatan Rakyat/Harapan state government.

Now, one would think there would be no problem with just answering a few questions and submitting to a poll, but this is different.

Some details – the phone number I have is a prepaid SIM card purchased from Maxis by my younger brother as a birthday present ages ago. In fact, it could have been close to seven or eight years ago.

And thus, he registered it under his name. It works just fine, other than the fact that the whole “birthday treat” comes in August and confuses me once a year – it’s a good reminder though.

Thus, when the pollster calls up and mentions my brother’s name instead of my own, we do have a problem. You see, only three people would know that this phone number of mine is registered under my brother’s name – myself, my brother, and the telco itself.

So, where would the pollster have gotten the information?

I decided to take this case to Facebook, and as such, the telco provider has given feedback that their system is secure without a breach. However, they couldn’t provide an answer as to how the pollster could have gotten the details known only to three parties, two of which are pretty much secure and would never reveal that information.

Thus, at this point, I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that someone is leaking phone numbers, private information, to pollsters. As to who is doing it, perhaps it can be found out by finding the pollsters since telcos are all convincing that their data handling – from initial registration of buying a SIM card from a kedai runcit or even 7-Eleven, is secure and without a leak.

To those who got the same phone call, perhaps it is time to take note that your data has been sold off to would be pollsters, promoters, and maybe even fraudsters, and perhaps it is time to think about where they got it from.

List of items to be applied GST

Items to be removed from the Zero Rated GST Schedule

Tariff Code Item
0301.92.00 Eels (Live)
0302.47.00 Swordfish (Fresh or Chilled)
0302.74.00 Eels (Fresh or Chilled)
0303.26.00 Eels (Frozen)
0303.57.00 Swordfish (Frozen)
0304.45.00 Swordfish Fillets (Fresh, Chilled or Frozen)
0304.54.00 Swordfish
0304.84.00 Swordfish
0304.91.00 Swordfish
0307.51 Octopus (Live)
0307.51.10 ?
0307.51.20 ?
0307.52.00 ?
0307.59 Octopus
0307.59.20 ?
0709.99.10 Sweet corn (fresh or chilled)
07.10 Vegetables (Frozen)
0710.10.00 Potatoes (Frozen)
0710.21.00 Peas (Frozen)
0710.22.00 Beans (Frozen)
0710.29.00 Others (Frozen)
0710.30.00 Spinach (Frozen)
0710.40.00 Sweet Corn (Frozen)
0710.80.00 Other Vegetables (Frozen)
0710.90.00 Mixed Vegetables (Frozen)
07.11 Vegetables (Frozen)
0711.20 Olives
0711.20.90 Olives in Brine
0711.40 Cucumber and Gherkins
0711.40.90 Cucumber and Gherkins in Brine
0711.51 Mushrooms
0711.51.90 Mushrooms (Agaricus) in Brine
0711.59 Other Mushrooms
0711.59.90 Other Mushrooms in Brine
0711.90 Other vegetables/mixed vegetables in Brine
0711.90.10 Sweet Corn in Brine
0711.90.20 Chillies
0711.90.30 ?
0711.90.90 ?
0804.10.00 Fresh dates
0804.20.00 Fresh figs
0804.40.00 Fresh avocado
08.06 Grapes (fresh or dried)
0806.10.00 Fresh grapes
08.09 Apricots, cherries, peaches (including nectarines), plums and sloes, fresh
0809.10.00 Apricots
0809.21.00 Sour cherries
0809.29.00 Other cherries
0809.30.00 Peaches including nectarines
0809.40 Plums and Sloes
0809.40.10 Plums
0809.40.20 Sloes
0902.10 Green tea in immediate packings
0902.10.10 ?
0902.10.90 ?
0902.20 Other green tea
0902.20.10 ?
0902.20.90 ?
0910.20.00 Saffron
0910.99 Other spices
0910.99.10 ?
9010.99.90 ?
1517.90.61 Margarine
1517.90.67 ?

On the Big Gay Iftar

Seems the brickbats are out for the hosting of the Big Gay Iftar by the Campaign for Equality and Human Rights Initiative (Pelangi) which took place last week.

Before I say more, let me just point out a few things – I am gay. I have been officially out since 2008 (you can find that piece in The Star) and even came out again in 2010. Thus, I do have a bias when it comes to attending events such as this one.

The idea for a Big Gay Iftar, in itself, is not original. In the UK, it is hosted annually in London, and for 2017 will be on June 17. It is when the Islamic community in London have an iftar event for the LGBTQ+ community, and this year it apparently takes place in a churchtakes place in a church.

Continue reading “On the Big Gay Iftar”

On “gender confusion” and homosexuality

On “gender confusion” and homosexuality

By Hafidz Baharom

I honestly didn’t want to write on this topic, but it seems that Malaysia is backtracking on whatever progress it has made towards understanding the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community thus far.

It started with the fact that a non-government individual shared a picture of a Jakim roadshow planning to head to each and every public university to espouse the evil that is the so-called LGBT agenda a while back.

The fellow also shared a slideshow by one imam who said that LGBTs were caused psychologically and environmentally – something that even a UK Liberal Democrat candidate has said was due to hormones in tap water.  Continue reading “On “gender confusion” and homosexuality”

Hannah Yeoh and Christianity

This column was published Sunday May 21, 2017, on The Malaysian Insight

I’M actually surprised Hannah Yeoh is getting into trouble for talking about her devout Christianity. I remember watching her Facebook video where she talks of referring to the Bible to settle family arguments, during the 2013 campaign or earlier.

But the flak she is getting over her book is this; if anyone who reads her book is a Muslim, it is a constitutional breach because some consider it propagation. Yet at the same time, if those who read her book are non-Muslim, it’s fine. Continue reading “Hannah Yeoh and Christianity”

Thoughts on green energy

When we talk about renewable energies and a green future, what pops up in your mind? Is it the wind energy farms that cluster the countryside?

Or maybe we are talking about solar panels on multiple buildings and public facilities, perhaps even the rooftop of KL Sentral station, similar to what one would see on Blackfriars station in London?

Do we see people sorting their trash according to what can be recycled? Maybe even looking towards product packaging which is easily recycled?

Do we see people sorting their waste in restaurants, at a local Starbucks, where plastic cups are emptied of liquids similar to what you will find in a Pret A Manger?

What about food, for that matter? Do we see a boycotting of restaurants that waste too much, a fine for those who waste too much, even during the upcoming Ramadhan buffets?

Do we see ourselves becoming like the Swiss, where each garbage bag of trash requires a sticker that will be attached to a cost paid to local councils? Continue reading “Thoughts on green energy”

On Thaqif, and why kids will still suffer

I heard what happened to young Thaqif, and quite honestly I was totally indifferent. It may seem cold hearted, but in retrospect I believe that this wasn’t something new.
I am well aware that my sexual orientation would mean me never having a biological child of my own, or even the laws of this land not allowing me to adopt. I will never know the tiresome act of parenting while trying to earn enough to get by on a day-to day-basis.  Continue reading “On Thaqif, and why kids will still suffer”

Some updates

Yep, I’m now a columnist with theSun. Every Monday. The latest piece talks about education and racism, which alludes to the lack of multicultural unity as well as our own initiated racial segregation based on class and chasing merit.

But what do I know. I just write and read. 😛

Have a read on it here.