Full article – Change, but change meaningfully

Change, but change meaningfully

By Hafidz Baharom

It was an awkward week when you have a prime minister saying that a government linked investment company did not achieve it’s objective of furthering the Bumiputera agenda. Mostly because he was talking about Khazanah Nasional Bhd, which I’m not sure if it even had the duty of furthering a Bumiputera agenda.

That being said, yes – the Board really needs to explain how on earth a venture into women’s lingerie was considered a good deal at RM80 million. But more importantly, I also have this question playing in my head – which lingerie company actually lost money and shut down.

Was it Sloggi? Was it Wacoal? Was it Triumph?

I would have added Victoria Secret to that list, but from what I’ve seen in Malaysia they don’t sell their lingerie in their stores here. And for those further wondering how yours truly knows these brands, well, I’m observant at the malls. That, and I used to do the household collective laundry growing up.

However, when you vacate the entire Board of Directors and then place the prime minister and a member of his cabinet on the Board, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Yes, it is a government linked investment corporation, but so was 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

They had a board with political patronage as well, a combination of politicians and corporate sector individuals – it still did not bode well. Thus, we need to ask – why involve politicians at all in these investment corporations?

Surely after mentioning that there was enough talent in the Pakatan Harapan rank and file, as well as its close corporate allies, there are enough people to take those posts and be professional about it?

There must exist a separation of government and business to avoid patronage and nepotism, and remove the risk of conflicts of interests. It must be said that government linked corporations as well as their investment corporations – Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), Khazanah Nasional, and even the Employee Provident Fund (EPF) – should be hands off from political influence. This is especially important for the PNB and EPF because these are the future savings of all Malaysians.

One of the excuses put forward is this is how the companies have been run since the time of their establishments. Well, I am pretty sure the Malaysian population voted for this government to change things that were awry to begin with, yes?

After all, for many years pass we heard Pakatan lawmakers facing the accusation that their leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as a former Finance Minister made the decisions that they opposed. And for those same years, Datuk Seri Wan Azizah would stand up and say “if it was bad, why not change it?”.

The same question now applies to Pakatan Harapan. Why not change decisions that do not tally with their internal beliefs of reducing the power of the prime minister and even going further and removing every single thing they opposed when they weren’t in power?

Why do we still have a debate on child marriages when some 40 plus year old has been in love with a girl since she was 7, and subsequently marry her at the age of 11?

How could you promise the EPF deductions for wives from their husbands account without even noticing the law wouldn’t allow it?

Why is it more important to have a constitutional guarantee to the internet, when we haven’t even held anyone responsible for the telco leak ages ago?

Is it more important to remove LGBTs from serving in the government, or is it more to retain talent and reward it without thinking about what goes on in someone’s bedroom?

How is it that we can cancel public transportation projects and yet, still go about reconsidering the want for a third national car company, forcing people to pay for petrol, maintenance, road tax, car insurance and even the tolls which are supposed to be abolished in stages?

There are a lot of things still pending for this government and while we do want to give them some leeway for being new at their current jobs, the ideas being generated are outdated, avoiding, and some are just silly. Do we really need to debate black versus white shoes when we need education reform on a higher level?

Whatever it is, I do hope this government bucks up soon because the supposed changes promised to their supporters is slowly becoming sillier by the day.

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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”

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.

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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”!”

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”

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.

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?”

Brain fart: Ugh, Malaysians *rolls eyes and sigh*

You have to ask yourselves whether the next generation will be up to scratch.

It is a changed world, with paedophiles grouping together and sharing kiddie porn on Telegram, while kids begin to get into awkward situations that borders being born with a lack of self preservation.

In the last few months, Malaysian kids have found themselves incapable of even using escalators – something the general population has been using for the past four decades and more. Continue reading “Brain fart: Ugh, Malaysians *rolls eyes and sigh*”

Brain fart: On Orlando

I’m starting a new series of articles called “Brain farts”. They are raw, unedited, unscripted writings on current topics.

The mass murder of over 50 Americans in a gay bar located in Orlando is shocking, and should be condemned by the highest level. The actions of the alleged shooter, Omar Mateen, calling 911 and declaring his actions in the name of the Islamic State, makes it an act of terrorism. Of course, it is also an act of homophobia as well.

Can homosexuals be homophobic? Of course they can. Continue reading “Brain fart: On Orlando”

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”