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?”

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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”

Federalising Penang is political

Federalising Penang is political
By Hafidz Baharom
To understand the recent idea to federalise Penang, I would have to take you back to the Malaysian timeline. 
It has nothing to do with “helping all races”. The move to federalise Penang is an old school Umno tactic to deny administering a state by the DAP. 
And it did not start with this new idea of making Penang a federal territory. 
It started, all the way back to 1969, all towards 1974. 
See, in the 1969 general election, the DAP almost took control of Selangor state, which led to the 13 May incident. 
I know, this has been played to death and even used for political ammo, but one of the larger effects was the need to keep Selangor under “Malay” (read:Umno) control. 
This was achieved by carving out Kuala Lumpur from Selangor by 1 February 1974, and making it a the first Federal Territory. 
Of course, they used the excuse of wanting to make it stand out in the world. 
And in August/September 1974, they held the first election after the state of emergency. Selangor no longer saw a DAP threat to run the state, since Kuala Lumpur and all its seats were no longer affecting who would run the state. 
What happened in Selangor, the federalising of territories, is what is being done to Penang even now, in order to stop the DAP from continuing its victory streak in Penang and running it as a state government. 
I’m actually surprised nobody has yet to bring it up. Maybe it’s the racist tinge of the issue, maybe it’s the reminder of May 13, or maybe it’s the fact that nobody wishes to see it as so. 
But there it is. 
There. I’ve said it. Back to your regularly scheduled programming. 

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. 

The Heat Malaysia – PAKATAN REPEATING GE13 MISTAKES IN S’WAK

The new Pakatan Harapan seems set to repeat the very same mistakes that took place in the last general election, though this time the coalition cannot blame it on PAS.
Reported in the news over the weekend, both DAP and PKR are expecting to clash against one another in five state seats come May 7 — Tasik Biru, Mambong, Simanggang, Bukit Semuja and Mulu.
Adding to this, the PKR is avoiding any seats contested by PAS, the very member it kicked out of Pakatan Harapan to favour Amanah.
Thus, the first question to raise is simply what is going on?
Does the PKR still have ties with PAS that it will not deny, much to the criticism of its allies in the new alliance? This question has been raised before with the continuing members of the Islamist party still serving as part of the Selangor government.
Secondly, why are PKR and DAP contesting against one another?
While it is true that both Sabah and Sarawak are not the same as the politics we have here in the peninsula, it is still a necessity for the three parties — DAP, PKR and Amanah — to strategise and show a united front for both states and federal levels.
This is contrary to what is happening in Sarawak right now.
Historically, the Sarawak Pakatan Rakyat was the first blown to smithereens compared with that on the peninsula, when the state DAP chapter decided that PAS was deviating from the common framework the three Opposition parties set up.
A three-way split in votes — two in favour of the individual opposition parties — could sabotage the win for the pro-government parties.
To have PKR and DAP butting heads now, brings back the memories of how the contests for seats during the last General Election showed the questioning public whether there was a problem between the then Pakatan Rakyat allies.
It shows us watching that perhaps the concept of an alliance is not exactly gelling as well as anyone hoped for the national opposition parties.
And we cannot exactly call these “teething problems” because they’ve practically coexisted for two general elections (somewhat) — a decade already and tripartite ties have existed even before that under the Barisan Alternatif dating back to 1999.
Thus, perhaps it would be good for everyone for the Pakatan Harapan to come out and explain just what is going on in Sarawak as a united front. Because right now, it truly reads that there is perhaps a different concept of unity coming out from each party.
It is a necessary question to ponder right now, especially with a general election coming up in two years and we may see such shenanigans come up again. Till then, these questions need to be answered.
Even with a common framework, is there a common organisation structure among DAP, PKR and Amanah for Pakatan Harapan?
Will they be looking towards introducing such a common framework in the future, in order to come up with a proper shadow cabinet now, or even next year, or even ever?
Will Pakatan Harapan be ensuring that there will be no seat clashes among themselves for seats contested on either state or parliamentary seats in the future, or will we see the same issue raised again in Terengganu and Penang — which was what happened in 2013?
These three questions are important in order to ensure that the path towards a Pakatan victory come 2018 is even possible, to remove the excuses questioning their ability to govern (still no shadow cabinet till now) on a federal level or even to not cause petty power struggle issues to cause the loss of entire states.
And no, you can’t use the governance of one state to compare running an entire country, dream what you may.
Simply put, regardless how poorly Najib does, until there is a proper, united coalition by the Opposition parties, they may continue to dream of remaining with that label for another decade — harsh as that is. 

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. 

So who is ultimately responsible?

The DAP today came out with documents refuting allegations of wrongdoing with the Taman Manggis land issue, citing  documents noting the decision by  the former Gerakan led state government had in fact stopped the empty plot from being developed. 

Thus now, the onus goes back to the Penang Barisan Nasional coalition to answer why this land for public housing was undone thus leading up to the sale of the plot to KLIDC. 

It is an extremely tangled web right now. 

Why was the land for cheap affordable housing undone?

If the Barisan Nasional coalition had any clue to this being the case and failed to inform their Strategic Communications Director Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan, then somebody’s about to experience one hell of a private lecture which one can only hope will be laced with profanity. 

But more than this, the issue still stands in which affordable housing needs to be redefined by all – from federal and state level politicians to the developers involved and the people who buy these properties. 

With a median salary not even breaching RM2,000, how can a home be considered affordable at RM400,000 as a ceiling price if it means paying a bank RM1,000 plus a month to service a loan?

At the same time, Malaysians need to have a serious think as to what a home consists of and whether or not fiscal responsibility dictates reproductive responsibility as well. 

We are no longer a society in the 1940s or even 1960s where we can have dozens children and still afford a balanced life and offer the next generation all the opportunities they are entitled to. 

And there are facets of society who still do not understand this. 

Just yesterday, Sinar Harian placed an article of a former religious teacher with nine children begging for donations for his eldest child who is in Egypt completing his/her studies in medicine. 

A few months back, The Malaysian Insider also carried yet another piece on how a family with a baker’s dozen of kids was struggling to cope in Kuala Lumpur even while earning tens of thousands of ringgit and living in an affordable housing project. 

If we truly want to have a proper discussion about housing, we must first talk about responsibilities.

Sure, the government has a responsibility based on Maslow’s pyramid of needs. In such a way, the federal government and all states have kept their end of the bargain. 

But when it comes to affordability, there is a proper need to look back at the figures and statistics involved – median wages, family sizes, cost of living even – before determining the size, design and even location of affordable housing. 

These factors are all seriously lacking in all government initiatives on both state and federal levels. 

Congratulations to the DAP led state government for putting it back to the BN. But now, can both state and federal government get back together to discuss the main issue that triggered this uproar?

It is the fact that housing is a problem that needs political intervention on both sides to make it work. At the same time, there is a need to educate families to consider costs and realities. 

Enough of the politics. 

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”