By hook or by crook politics of patronage

Patronage politics is not new. It has been going on for some time, particularly if we look at rural areas of the predominantly Malay diaspora. You can even draw the scene to be similar to that seen in “The Art of Killing” – an Indonesian documentary regarding those who carried out the anti-communist purge in the country ages ago.

That said, is it right to advocate doing exactly that for a Malay political party, openly, during their annual general meeting?

Or, should we let this reality continue to be cloaked behind closed doors and just ignore it?

The first question we have to ask ourselves is why does patronage politics or political bribery pretty much exist even now?

Is it because the population does not know any better? Do people not know that accepting cash for their votes is wrong and unethical?

Or perhaps because they are poor and believe – rationally or irrationally, that they deserve the bribe money they receive, that it is owed to them anyway?

The only way to deal with any of these questions, of course, is to look into political and electoral expenditure laws and regulations.

This is where it is important to enforce two parts when it comes to bribery – the ones who offer, and the ones who take it. Unfortunately, the focus continues to be on those who offer rather than the ones who receive.

But then again, would you really like to see hundreds of people in a kampung be sent to jail for accepting RM150 or even RM200 in exchange for their votes?

Plus, how would you prove that they even voted as they were bribed to do so, since votes are secret with no way to trace it, or even with it being a breach of privacy?

Or even more so, how would you look at candidates offering cash, without a single idea of what to add on to regulations in the long run?

Can there be an immediate disqualification and appeal process during the campaigning period, or do you have to wait until they win as what we saw in Cameron Highlands?

On top of this, how long will it be until those who have not filed their electoral expenditure are declared to void their seats, rather than just a fine and a police report as highlighted by the Electoral Commissioner?

Shouldn’t the election be voided, rather than just a fine and a police report?

Furthermore, are personal donations and monies collected from the public accounted for into the campaign funding for a single candidate, or does it just go directly to the political party? Is this dealing transparent and open for public scrutiny?

Why not?

The only reason patronage, by hook or by crook politics work is because there is no transparency whatsoever when it comes to political donations and expenditure, nor is there any move to push for the accounts of each individual politician to be scrutinised either by parliament or having an avenue for such information to be accessed by the public.

Or to make it short – where is the Freedom of Information Act that would allow the public access to each individual politician’s accounts?

The moment this comes into play, where a Freedom of Information Act would compel regulators like the Registrar of Societies, Parliament and even individual politicians and linked companies to disclose the information involved, it would end the ability of politicians to play patron.

Political party divisions, branches and even ministries and government linked agencies would all have to disclose whatever is requested for public scrutiny, and with a thriving media platform, harp on whatever is seen as excessive, or even news worthy.


After Buku Harapan, #UndiRosak most valid option

After Buku Harapan, #UndiRosak most valid option


By Hafidz Baharom


After reading the so-called Book of Hope marketed by Pakatan Harapan as their manifesto for the upcoming general election, I have to say that it leaves us truly no choice other than to spoil our votes.

Continue reading “After Buku Harapan, #UndiRosak most valid option”

From plastic bags to quinoa, is #undirosak still the immature and brain damaged ones?

From plastic bags to quinoa, is #undirosak still the immature and brain damaged ones?

By Hafidz Baharom

In the last two weeks, this has been the campaigns leading up to the 14th General Election. It was initially to call us using the #undirosak hashtag as “immature, brain damaged, treasonous” and even going so far as “committing suicide”.

Since then, we have learned that our largest apolitical critic being the chief of the Coalition of Free and Fair Elections (Bersih) is joining politics under the PKR banner and allegedly offered a “safe seat”.

Thus, the clean is now clearly about to get muddy.

Continue reading “From plastic bags to quinoa, is #undirosak still the immature and brain damaged ones?”

Did BN really meet 97.6 percent of their 2013 manifesto?

A very interesting article in Utusan today. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak told a crowd that Barisan Nasional met “97.6 percent” of their 2013 Manifesto – the Janji Ditepati document from 5 years ago.

I’ll do a point by point analysis and update this soon. However, I do hope that the prime minister made the claim from a proper analysis and not just another lie. Hopefully, the Barisan Nasional media machinery will go into detail on this claim.

For those who don’t remember the 2013 Manifesto, you can look it up on The Star to remember. Continue reading “Did BN really meet 97.6 percent of their 2013 manifesto?”

Time to say “No”!

Reading Naomi Klein’s “No Is Not Enough” is an eye opener to just why we need to move on to a policy battleground rather than just the acceptable “mud wrestling” spectacle that is Malaysian politics.

The book. Currently being placed on a very messy table

Klein points out something that is similar to Malaysia in what happened to Hillary Clinton – while she did win the majority vote, Donald Trump won 2,600 of the 3,000 counties in America.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Continue reading “Time to say “No”!”

Us and Israel, a love hate relationship

Us and Israel, a love hate relationship

By Hafidz Baharom

We have been against Israel since Tunku Abdul Rahman declared them persona non grata in 1965. However, we have been on and off again trying to establish relations with Israel since the 1990s, dependent on whatever happens in their relationship with Palestine.

Thus, having Israelis come to Malaysia, even to attend a United Nations (UN) conference will earn you brickbats when you are the government. In the most recent case, an Israeli delegation made its way into Kuala Lumpur for the UN World Urban Forum (WUF9) which was held two weeks ago.

Thus, what has somehow become a matter taken advantage of by Pakatan Harapan, is truly after the fact that it had happened. It really is an easy target to whack anyone about voicing an anti-Israeli stance. I would know, I have done it before for a column on a now defunct online portal in February 2012.

Continue reading “Us and Israel, a love hate relationship”

Why Pakatan is freaking out over #UndiRosak

Why Pakatan is freaking out over #UndiRosak

By Hafidz Baharom

There have been so many parables over Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional that I have pretty much lost track of which one actually tells the tale properly.

Initially, it was a mere story of Pepsi versus Coke, and both of hem might trigger diabetes and make you lose your leg. And from there it has moved on to fruits A versus B, Bakery A versus Bakery B and even McDonald’s versus Ramli burger selling stalls and food trucks.

To myself personally, I’d rather look at it now and see Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional more akin to Samsung and Apple – and I’m sure tech enthusiasts might see this and experience a lightbulb effect.

The parable is simple, Apple runs on Samsung chips. And both models using the same batch of chips burst into flames due to a defect. Both have sued each other for copyright infringement, both openly mock each other in ads, and both evolve over time. Continue reading “Why Pakatan is freaking out over #UndiRosak”

Letter to the Media – Analysis or propaganda?

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. Continue reading “Letter to the Media – Analysis or propaganda?”

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”