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”

How will the “hudud bill” play out?

For those not in the know, there is a private members bill called RUU 355 currently brought up by the Islamic conservative party (PAS) in Malaysia’s parliament.

It raises the stature of the Sharia Court to be on the same level as the Malaysian civil courts with regards to the level of punishment it is able to dole out. 100 lashes, RM500,000 fine, and also 30 years in jail.

This bill, raised by PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, has now been deferred from being debated to the next parliamentary session in March 2017.

The bill has faced brickbats from both government and opposition lawmakers – in particular, the non-Muslim lawmakers whereas Muslim lawmakers have hedged themselves into being non-committal on direct answer to the point that Schrödinger would be proud.

Continue reading “How will the “hudud bill” play out?”

Lawmakers, government are also a wastage in public resources, Nur Jazlan

I refer to Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Nur Jazlan’s words that using the authorities to maintain public order in a street protest is a waste of funds. 

It is rather ironic, considering the number of ridiculous investigations being conducted by the authorities which includes how raising a middle finger is now being investigated for “outraging someone’s modesty”. 
But more to the point, if we are talking about a waste of funds in governance and such, there is a lot to talk about in terms of both public and private institutions. Let us start with the most obvious.
According to the compilation published on iMoney.my, public is paying RM16,000 in salaries, RM1,200 for a drivers allowance, RM1,500 for entertainment allowances, RM1,500 for travel allowances, RM900 for telephone allowances and RM200 a day for each of the 222 lawmakers in our current government. 
The prime minister gets an add-on of close to RM23,000 a month, deputy prime minister gets RM18,000 monthly, and the head of opposition close to an additional RM4,000 respectively. All of which is above and beyond the allowances and salaries they already get. 
Considering the costs above, isn’t it considered a waste of public resources for the obvious redundancies? For example, why does everyone get a RM200 allowance for coming to parliament and doing their jobs? 
Plus, why do they need a car if they’re based in Kuala Lumpur when they can use public transport like the rest of us?
Furthermore, isn’t traveling also part and parcel of a lawmakers duty? On top of that, do we really have to fund MPs phones?
In addition to all of this, parliament sessions in Malaysia have been less than 100 days. This is even highlighted on Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong’s blog, dated November 14, 2014. He had asked for more days for parliamentary debates in 2015, from a mere 61 days to 80 days. 
You read that right, our lawmakers are sitting in parliament and debating less than a third of a year, and God knows what else they do with their high monthly salaries and allowances when they aren’t yelling at each other in the Dewan Rakyat. 
As a result, the entire process of lawmaking has been delayed to the point that even now we have yet to have any amendments regarding anti corruption, the use of the AES system, and even the vaping regulations.
In fact, with only so few days to debate acts of law, how exactly is the government going to amend 18 laws for the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) by this year end, as mentioned by Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, earlier this year in March?
To cut it short, since lawmakers and ministers are all inefficient and not working to actually make laws as a measure for “wasting public resources”, should we not in the same mindset just shut down our government?
Of course not.
This is because value in having a democratic government, just like the freedom of expression through street protests, that cannot and should not quantified. 
You cannot measure it in man hours, productivity figures, contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) or even the gross national income (GNI).
So if Nur Jazlan truly wishes to talk about the wasting of public funds and start measuring matters relating to governance and efficiency in government, then he should do so to the utmost importance without bias.
And if we do so, then I am certain such a feasibility study will show that our entire lawmaking process, the civil service and even the multiple government agencies would all rationally be said to be wasting public resources, which we can do without. 
Thus, perhaps he should look to his own cabinet ministers and even the government as a whole. Start by cutting the bloat from there while raising the salaries for the cops who have done their duties admirably, instead of looking to stifle democratic rights over cost concerns. 

The Heat Malaysia – A Civil War Imminent For PKR

A civil war imminent for PKR?By Hafidz Baharom

May 23, 2016 8:00 AM

News has now leaked that PKR’s own heralded whistleblower and secretary general Rafizi Ramli is about to expose graft within their own stronghold of Selangor headed by Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali. Apparently, there have now been allegations that demands of cash and women when dealing with the state government.
At the same time, jailed PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has sent out a letter from prison calling the Citizen’s Declaration “flawed and inconsistent” with his idea of reform – for those who may not recall, PKR’s Azmin and Rafizi both signed the document.
Of course, apparently the letter is now said to have been a “private matter” or an internal one for PKR, even if it involved a declaration that involved every opposition party, a few non-government organisations and even some members from across the political aisle.
At the same time, the declaration has now garnered over a million signatories, right before the letter from Anwar was leaked. Perhaps there is a correlation between the two, perhaps not.
PKR President Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail had not signed the document, argued by Rafizi to the media as a “safety valve”, just in case the party suddenly found itself no longer supporting the declaration.
Thus, it needs to be asked; is a civil war brewing between factions within the PKR?
At the same time, there are intra-party issues after what happened between the party and allies DAP in Sarawak which may or may not blow over.
But let’s be frank, the Pakatan Harapan no longer has a leader that could guarantee party unity, which was perhaps why some people went to the Citizen’s Declaration launch with placards asking Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed to be made interim Opposition de facto leader.
There would be too much strife between DAP and PKR, internal politicking within the latter as well as the total lack of recognition for Parti Amanah Negara’s ability to rally the Muslim vote. 
However, if a PKR civil war is true and happening, then there truly is a very likely chance that the Opposition will see itself too fractured to get themselves united towards the common goal of forming a proper functioning shadow cabinet, or even winning a general election in the next two years for that matter.
With all that is happening these days – from floods being dealt with ad hoc policies, national audit reports detailing continued leakages from government agencies and more recently, the blocking of anyone who has been critical of the government to leave the nation – one would have expected some suitable reaction by a united opposition calling for better governance.
Unfortunately, we will be stuck between a rock and a hard place, between a rather impertinent government and an Opposition which is unable to coalesce into finally becoming a single entity which would have a chance to run Putrajaya in give or take the next decade.
Chances are, the impertinent one will live on for another two elections simply because the Opposition is stuck in a see-saw of politics – they are unable to control themselves from spiralling out of control whenever they get too close to power.
You could call it arrogance, a total lack of ability in gelling together or just the fact that each and every individual political party within Pakatan Harapan believes at one point or another that sharing power without the ability to rule by a defining majority would be unacceptable.
So, where do we go from here? Can we still expect a united opposition simply for the fact to take over Putrajaya, regardless of how united they are in the past and the future?
Can we simply settle with them for the simple fact that we want to get rid of Umno and Barisan Nasional, regardless of how they run the Federal Government, even if it includes alleged blatant demands of cash and women with the hypocritical call of ending corruption?
I think the Malaysian public should know exactly what they are voting for thoroughly. 

Why Ali Tinju’s actions were racist

In the last week, Mohd Ali Baharom – better known as Ali Tinju – decided it was necessary to take a stroll down to DAP Headquarters and hand over a memorandum. 

The contents were as he says to ask for Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to go on leave while investigations continue regarding his bungalow purchase. 

Lim is also DAP’s Secretary General. 

Now, the call for Lim going on leave has been brought up by multiple people – within the DAP, Hakam chief Datuk Ambiga Sreenivasan and even those on the opposite political aisle –  heck, even me. 

And yet, only Ali Tinju’s actions are racist for a simple reason. 
On the handing over of the memorandum to the DAP, Ali insisted on only a Chinese accepting the document – because a Malay DAP member was already waiting to greet him on site. 
Thus, if it was a political move by the red shirted morons, then it would’ve been acceptable for Edry Faizal – the Malay DAP guy – to accept the memorandum. 

But no, apparently Ali was adamant that it be accepted only by a Chinese. 

Now, I’m not sure what proper rationale there is in this move. But then again, by Ali’s own actions, there is only one logic. 

Perhaps only a Chinese guy can touch pigs without having to perform a cleansing ritual. 

Well, that would explain it rather well. 

Ali’s actions are racist. They have always been racist against the Chinese Malaysian community since his kicking out of the veterans club which performed their “assinine” show in front of Ambiga’s house ages ago. 

And he was again stoking hatred at the Low Yat riot where videos were taken of his speech which were of even better quality than the one which Loh Gwo Burne took a long time ago. 

You didn’t have a question of “looks like me, sounds like me, but not me”. 

Yet no charges were allowed by the Attorney General then. Why? Lack of evidence. 

Thus now, with Malaysiakini having a video of the event, perhaps our Attorney General will finally take action against Ali not only for inciting racial hatred, but also for threatening to burn down a building. 

Last I checked, arson threats were in fact a serious crime. 

So we leave it to the DAP to file their police reports. And we leave it to the Royal Malaysian Police and also the Attorney General’s Chambers to prove that these institutions are both acting independently and professionally. 

Because if not, there is only so much the Malaysian people can accept. 

And if the rot of political patronage has indeed tampered justice then we will all be looking at a nation that will be in for one hell of a revolution come 2018. 

Leaders, humble pie and lamb stew

In 2014 during the hype over removing Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim as Mentri Besar of Selangor, I attended a forum by then Pakatan Rakyat over the need to remove him at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH).

The panelists were DAP’s Tony Pua, PKR’s Rafizi Ramli, activist Hishamuddin Rais and PAS’ (now Amanah’s) Hanipa Maidin. Continue reading “Leaders, humble pie and lamb stew”

Did Penang allow land to be sold to an offshore company?

In Malaysian parliament currently, Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan and his Barisan Nasional (BN) counterparts from Penang dropped even more bombs on the current Taman Manggis land controversy.

All this comes after the ejection of the state’s chief minister and Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng from the hall, followed by the exit of all MPs from the DAP and also the MP of Sepang.

Continue reading “Did Penang allow land to be sold to an offshore company?”

Should the Free Anwar billboards come down?

I do believe the question is a valid one, now that the police have taken down the billboards. Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed believes that the police does have the authority to take down billboards approved by local councils if the content is political.

This is actually true.

In fact, it goes back to Selangor’s decision in 2010 not to allow 1Malaysia billboards for the very same reason – that the 1Malaysia message was a pro-government gimmick.

And personally, it was a gimmick that lacked substance – similar to these billboards by the PKR.

But let us do a comparison for the sake of argument.

Continue reading “Should the Free Anwar billboards come down?”