Tuesday, September 27, 2022

PAS' polygamy politics, wakakaka








Muhyiddin expects PAS to set 'cut-off date' with Umno


PAS reaffirmed its commitment to Perikatan Nasional (PN) during a meeting between top leaders of the Islamist party and coalition partner Bersatu last night.

This was revealed by Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin (above, left) today, whose residence was the place of the meeting that was also attended by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang (above, right).

“I have been given the impression that soon, PAS will decide on the party’s direction in PN and whether they will pursue anything with Umno or not.

“They will make a decision. Perhaps (state) a ‘cut-off’ date and timeline that (after which) they got nothing to do with Umno. We’ll leave it to them,” Muhyiddin told reporters in Putrajaya.

Top leaders from PAS and Bersatu met last night amidst PAS' apparent unhappiness with Muhyiddin describing BN as PN’s “main enemy”.

This was uttered by Muhyiddin during his speech at Bersatu’s sixth-anniversary event on Saturday.

In a statement, PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan said it was “unwise and awkward” to label a partner in a unity government as the “main enemy”.

‘No decisions from PAS-Umno meet’

Meanwhile, Muhyiddin said he and Hadi were transparent about their meetings with political leaders from other parties.

For instance, Muhyiddin said he was briefed on Hadi’s recent meeting with Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.


Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (left) speaking with PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang


“(Hadi) said there were no decisions (after) their meeting which lasted half an hour. It’s nice of him to tell me.

“We will let each other know who we are meeting. We don’t hide. (Hadi) said there was no outcome from (his) meeting (with Zahid),” said Muhyiddin.

Muhyiddin said he applauded Hadi’s efforts to unite Muslim parties but he said ties between Umno and Bersatu were unlikely.

He said this was because Umno’s delegates had resolved during the party’s general assembly that they will not work with Bersatu.

Moreover, Bersatu’s attempt to join Muafakat Nasional - an electoral pact between PAS and Umno - had come to a dead end.


Don’t repeat mistakes in Sri Muda floods, says Hisham




Don’t repeat mistakes in Sri Muda floods, says Hisham


Taman Sri Muda in Shah Alam was one of the badly affected areas in last December’s floods.


KUALA LUMPUR: Defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein has asked all parties to do better to help flood victims, stating that last year’s disaster in Taman Sri Muda, Shah Alam, should serve as a lesson to everyone.

Taman Sri Muda was one of the badly affected areas in last December’s floods, with more than 10 deaths recorded.


Central government agencies, such as the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma), were heavily criticised for their delay in helping victims, which was caused by communication problems between related agencies and difficulties entering flooded areas.

Speaking to reporters here, Hishammuddin said that all flood-related information needed to be conveyed directly to responsible parties, including directly to him.


He said such information should not merely be posted on social media, which saw various inaccurate allegations being spread.

“Use existing channels instead of just venting… This involves lives and property. It won’t help us if we only spread (such information) on social media,” he said.

“So let’s fix all the things that went wrong first, and I hope it is a lesson (we can learn) without undoing all the good work we’ve done in the past.

“The important thing is for all parties to work closely with us to provide information. If not directly to me, then to KJ (health minister Khairy Jamaluddin)… If not with KJ, then with my KSU (secretary-general),” he said at a press conference after visiting the Tuanku Mizan Military Hospital in Wangsa Maju.


He was asked about the army’s preparation to face the upcoming monsoon season and how it would avoid delays reported in a FMT article published after the floods.

Quoting a source, FMT reported that the army decided to go ahead with mobilising its resources in Selangor to help evacuate flood victims to temporary relief centres after waiting for a directive from Nadma.

Responding to the report, defence force chief Affendi Buang said at that time, his men had been on standby to deal with the floods for the past two months after receiving “instructions from the top”.

“If the water is rising, I’m not going to wait for anyone,” he said last December when asked if the army had received Nadma’s approval.


Guan Eng’s criticism a sign of insecurity, says Hisham




Guan Eng’s criticism a sign of insecurity, says Hisham


Hishammuddin Hussein has brushed off Lim Guan Eng’s claim that he is among the 10 worst ministers.


PETALING JAYA: Defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein has dismissed his inclusion in Lim Guan Eng’s list of 10 ministers who have failed Malaysia, describing it as a sign of the DAP chairman’s insecurity.

Hishammuddin noted that Lim had repeatedly accused him of being among the worst ministers in the Cabinet, but did not justify his claims.


“In politics, when people issue such statements, it means they are worried about (the work) that we have done. When people ignore us, that means we are not doing our work.

“So I would like to tell Guan Eng, say more. Because I know that he will never say that I am a successful minister even till the end of time,” he said at a press conference.

Last week, Lim said Hishammuddin was among the 10 ministers who had failed Malaysians, citing the RM9 billion littoral combat ships (LCS) project and other defence procurement scandals.

The LCS project came under scrutiny from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) after it said RM6 billion had been spent on the project since 2014 but none of the ships had been completed or delivered.

Hishammuddin was the defence minister in 2013 until 2018 under then prime minister Najib Razak, and was among the individuals who testified before the PAC.

On a separate matter, the defence minister said five army hospitals will be undergoing maintenance and upgrade works, while the armed forces will be buying two field hospital units worth RM47 million.


He also said 19 sick bays, 48 medical centres and 40 dental centres belonging to the armed forces will undergo repair, with funds approved by Putrajaya.

He said these were part of the ministry’s efforts to provide better healthcare for servicemen, veterans and their family members.


Accusing party of extremism, Guan Eng claims a PAS prime minister could break up Malaysia




Accusing party of extremism, Guan Eng claims a PAS prime minister could break up Malaysia




Lim argued that no one from PAS is qualified to hold the post of prime minister, amid the party’s increasingly hardline stance. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

Tuesday, 27 Sep 2022 11:12 AM MYT



KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — Malaysia would cease to exist with a prime minister from PAS, DAP chairman Lim Guan Eng claimed today.

The Bagan MP claimed the Islamist party’s leaders were pushing a racist and extremist narrative that jeopardised Malaysia’s multireligious and multicultural stance by putting Muslims first, based on the latest Facebook post by PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang.


“National unity should be the priority amongst all Malaysians regardless of race and religion, and not just putting Muslims first.

“Worse, PAS has openly stated its ambition of having its own prime minister,” Lim said in a statement.


“A PAS prime minister would break up Malaysia and pose a nightmare scenario for non-Muslims and non-Bumis, since he would not be a prime minister for all Malaysians but only for Muslims,” he added.


He argued that no one from PAS is qualified to hold the post of prime minister and cited a laundry list of what he deemed to be the party’s increasingly hardline stance.

He said that Hadi has issued many negative remarks about non-Muslims and non-Malays by asserting that they should not hold senior Cabinet posts, and unfairly blaming them for threatening Malay political power though the top government positions are held by Malays or Muslims.

Lim accused Hadi of repeatedly spreading “lies” about Pakatan Harapan, using English in Malaysia and even cultural practices like Oktoberfest and Bon Odori.

The DAP politician claimed that PAS is pushing its extremist narrative as a cover for its alleged failures to tackle the current economic problems and corruption challenges.

“This is the reason why Kelantan has become the poorest state in peninsular Malaysia after more than 30 years of PAS’ rule.

“Deprived of economic opportunities, Kelantanese are forced to migrate to other states and Singapore to seek job opportunities, whilst Kelantan suffers from poor crisis management in floods, bad governance and cannot even provide clean piped water to its citizens,” Lim claimed.

He also demanded the other ruling parties and coalitions to explain their silence in the face of Hadi’s remarks, and named MCA, MIC, Gabungan Parti Sarawak and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah.

“Why has MCA, MIC, GPS and GRS kept an unholy silence and continue to support a racist and extremist PAS in government?

“To date neither MCA, MIC, GPS nor GRS have publicly stated that they oppose PAS in government and their ambition to put one of their own as prime minister?” he asked.

In a speech on August 20, Hadi had said corruption stemmed from those who reaped profit through illegal means. He said the majority of those involved in ruining the country’s politics and economy were non-Muslims and non-Bumiputera.

He said it had reached a point that “these people” ended up controlling the country’s economy and using their money to taint politics, the administration and judiciary.

Bukit Aman had since summoned Hadi for claiming that non-Muslims and non-Bumiputera were at the root of corruption in the country after 28 reports were submitted against the Marang MP.


Zahid claims character assassination bid on Najib will backfire on BN enemies in GE15





Zahid claims character assassination bid on Najib will backfire on BN enemies in GE15




Zahid accused BN’s political foes of tarnishing the former prime minister’s reputation through character assassination. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Tuesday, 27 Sep 2022 3:48 PM MYT



KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — Enemies of Barisan Nasional (BN) celebrating the imprisonment of Datuk Seri Najib Razak will sing a different tune once the general election rolls around, Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi predicted today.

The Bagan Datuk MP accused BN’s political foes of tarnishing the former prime minister’s reputation through character assassination, but added that their attempt is failing with public support for “Bossku” still going strong.


“They hoped that the name of Najib Razak would be ‘killed’ after imprisonment, but ‘Bossku’ is still being talked about by the people to this day.

“This has led to BN's enemies to continue in their mission to commit character assassination against ‘Bossku’ even though Najib is in prison.


“But we are all confident that such malice will never work because they overlooked the central aspect of ‘Bossku’,” Ahmad Zahid said in his latest Facebook post.


He claimed that there were many Malaysians who still remember Najib’s contributions to country, adding that there were others who are beginning to know the “truth behind truth” of the Pekan MP’s jailing.

Najib has been serving time since August 23 when a five-judge panel at the Federal Court upheld his conviction, RM210 million fine and 12-year prison sentence for embezzling RM42 million belonging to government-owned SRC International Sdn Bhd.

Ahmad Zahid claimed that BN’s enemies would often resort to character assassination to “kill” their rivals’ reputations.

But he said their attempts to “kill” Najib by making fun of his “Bossku” moniker and using “merpati” or pigeon instead as a code name for the high-profile convict would not succeed.

“As previously explained by Najib, the true meaning of ‘Bossku’ is the people. The real ‘Bossku’ beneath the term's definition is the people.

“Therefore it is impossible for BN's opponent to get rid of ‘Bossku’, which in reality are Malaysian themselves,” the former deputy prime minister added.


Only Dr Mahathir can convince ex-IGP Abdul Hamid to contest in Rembau, says GTA leader





Report: Only Dr Mahathir can convince ex-IGP Abdul Hamid to contest in Rembau, says GTA leader




Yesterday, it was reported that Abdul Hamid's name was mentioned as a potential candidate for GTA in GE15. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

Tuesday, 27 Sep 2022 10:18 AM MYT



KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA) wants former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador to contest on behalf of the coalition, in its bid to spring a surprise in Umno’s stronghold Rembau.

Negri Sembilan GTA deputy chairman Mohamad Jani Ismail told Malay daily Utusan Malaysia that only Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad can persuade Abdul Hamid to be the coalition's front man in Rembau in the 15th general election (GE15).


He said that the matter has been brought up to the coalition’s top leadership for consideration.

"I gave my view to Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir (GTA Deputy Chairman), if GTA wants to win and return to save the country, Abdul Hamid is the man.


"There is indeed an effort towards that (make Abdul Hamid a candidate) but the only one who can 'persuade' him is Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad alone.


"If asked for my personal opinion, it is indeed my wish for Abdul Hamid to contest in the Rembau parliamentary constituency," he was quoted as saying.

Mohamad Jani also reportedly admitted that it is hard to shake off Umno’s support especially when its party’s deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan is rumored to be the candidate for Rembau, replacing Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

However, he said that with a towering figure like Abdul Hamid as its candidate, GTA may stand a chance.

"If you want a candidate, just put me because I am the leader of Pejuang Negri Sembilan, but there is someone more powerful and that is Abdul Hamid. Our goal is to win.

"For Rembau and the country, the services of individuals like Abdul Hamid is indeed needed.

"He is not a member of Pejuang but GTA gives space to all, including leaders of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), professional bodies and certain individuals with big names," he was reported saying.

Yesterday, it was reported that Abdul Hamid's name was mentioned as a potential candidate for GTA in GE15.

Abdul Hamid, who lives in Rembau and is now active in agriculture in Kampung Panchang, reportedly has a good relationship with Dr Mahathir.

During Pakatan Harapan's (PH) stint in the federal government, both Abdul Hamid and Dr Mahathir were in the office as IGP and prime minister, respectively.


PAS would control Malaysia, destroy Pakatan if it had RM90m, says Abdul Hadi





PAS would control Malaysia, destroy Pakatan if it had RM90m, says Abdul Hadi




Abdul Hadi insists the integrity of PAS leaders remained intact despite claims that the party had received funds from Umno before the 2018 general election. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

Tuesday, 27 Sep 2022 2:17 PM MYT



KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — PAS would have taken control of the country if it had RM90 million in its coffers, party president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang said.

He also said PAS would have destroyed Pakatan Harapan (PH) if it had access to such funds.


“With RM90 million, if it really existed, it would have been easier for PAS to destroy PH, which spends a lot of money on social media to spread lies far and wide without faith and principles due to the diversity of its members.

“PAS is also unable to organise social media in reply because it is too expensive, let alone to propagate slander, deceit and falsehoods.


“Even the excessive amount of RM90 million cannot pay for the multitude of sins,” said Hadi in a posting on his Facebook page today.


He further defended his party members, saying that only genuine PAS members know what true sacrifice entails because upholding Islam requires sincere donations and money that is halal and blessed, while elected PAS representatives are required to tithe a portion of their income to the party.

Abdul Hadi’s Facebook post on an alleged RM90 million donation was in response to a police report that was filed against him by DAP’s Seri Delima assemblyman Syerleena Abdul Rashid and Jelutong MP RSN Rayer on September 9, alleging corruption, money laundering and tax evasion.

This had followed the release of a video, in which Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown purportedly “confirmed” her claim that Umno had allegedly given PAS a bribe of RM90 million to secure the party’s support in the 14th general election (GE14).

Abdul Hadi, in his Facebook post, asserted that there would be no “leaks” if PAS really had that amount of money.

“So, if there was a donation of RM90 million, it would have been spent holistically and not wasted.

“In fact, if invested, the turnover would have been more than RM900 million,” he said.

He also said that the majority of PAS members are not rich, with only a few wealthy people contributing to the party, and even so, donations did not reach RM1 million.

“Many among the rich are not ready to contribute because they do not believe that PAS can win and form the government.

“However, PAS could compete in elections thanks to the donations of its members across the country, including in Sabah and Sarawak, and most of them contested in Umno constituencies.

“Suddenly, PAS was able to capture three states and be in government by inviting Umno, Bersatu and other parties to come together and overthrow the fragile PH government,” he said.

Last night, Abdul Hadi posted a video on his Facebook page indicating that the integrity of PAS leaders remained intact despite claims that the party had received funds from Umno before the 2018 general election.

He said PAS had cooperated with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in its investigations of the state governments of Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah, which are led by PAS.

He also claimed that he told the MACC to investigate the mentri besar and executive councillors in the three states and arrest those suspected of criminal behaviour.


Gombak voters lose final bid to reinstate suit against Azmin after Federal Court dismisses leave application




Report: Gombak voters lose final bid to reinstate suit against Azmin after Federal Court dismisses leave application




The voters had previously filed the suit against Gombak MP Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali on November 27, 2020, for alleged deceit and breach of fiduciary duty as their MP. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Tuesday, 27 Sep 2022 1:33 PM MYT



KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — Ten Gombak constituents have failed in their bid to obtain leave from the Federal Court to reinstate their lawsuit against Gombak MP Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali for alleged deceit and breach of fiduciary duty.

Malaysiakini reported that a three-person bench chaired by Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed unanimously dismissed the voters’ leave application.


The other Federal Court judges were Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat and Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang.

Lawyer Yohendra Nadarajan who represented the voters was quoted as saying the ruling was made on the grounds that there were no new or novel issues of law from the matter which needed to be ventilated.


The constituents were seeking to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision on April 13 allowing an appeal by the Gombak MP to strike out the legal action.


They had filed an application for leave back in May after a Court of Appeal three-member panel led by Justice Datuk Yaacob Md Sam ruled in favour of Azmin and struck out the voters’ lawsuit on April 13.

Previously, the voters filed the suit against Mohamed Azmin, who is a senior minister and minister of international trade and industry, on November 27, 2020, for alleged deceit and breach of fiduciary duty as their MP through the “Sheraton Move” that caused the Pakatan Harapan government to collapse in February the same year.

In their statement of claim, the voters sought, among others, a declaration that Mohamed Azmin, as the Gombak MP, had breached his fiduciary obligations, deceived them during the elections in the constituency and also breached the representation made to them.

They also sought damages including aggravated or exemplary damages, interests, costs and other orders deemed fit by the court.

On March 12, 2021, Mohamed Azmin filed an application to strike out the suit claiming that the suit did not disclose a reasonable cause of action and was frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of court process.

He contended that the suit violated his fundamental right to freedom of association as provided under Article 10 Clause (1) (c) of the Federal Constitution.On June 30, 2021, the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed Mohamed Azmin’s application to strike out the suit, prompting him to file an appeal to the Court of Appeal.


Malaysia 18th most peaceful nation but…




Malaysia 18th most peaceful nation but…



Malaysia has done well in the latest Global Peace Index. It occupies a spot on the top 20 most peaceful countries in the world in the annual index of the Institute for Economics and Peace.

Malaysia is placed 18th, up from its 23rd ranking in 2021.

We all know that Malaysia is a peaceful nation, although tensions do simmer. And Malaysia practices a foreign policy of cooperation and friendliness with all other counties.

The Global Peace Index (GPI) ranks 163 independent countries and territories after analysing which nations are the safest and most peaceful, which are most dangerous, which have an absence of violence and which have a fear of violence.

Although such indexes may not be perfect, they do give a reasonable idea of the situation.

The annual GPI, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), evaluates a total of 23 indicators under three broad categories.

The first is whether a country is involved in internal and international conflicts; the second is an evaluation of the level of harmony or discord within a nation, looking at such areas as political stability, crime rate, terrorist activity and violent demonstrations. The third category evaluates the level of militarisation of the country.

And which country tops the GPI 2022? Iceland has remained at number one position for 15 years in a row. Occupying the second spot is New Zealand, a position it has held since 2014. Ireland beat Denmark to take third spot. Austria is ranked 5th.

For the fifth consecutive year, Afghanistan is at the bottom of the ranking – at 163 – as the least peaceful country, followed by Yemen, Syria, Russia and South Sudan.

Apart from the lives lost, bodily injuries and damage to property, we should shun violence because it also shatters the economy and our livelihoods. For instance, the IEP says that in the ten countries most affected by violence, the economic cost of violence averaged 34% of GDP in 2021 compared with 3.6 % for the ten least affected countries.

Although Malaysia has done well at 18, Singapore is way ahead at number 9. Malaysia’s best ranking was in 2019 when it was placed 16th.

Malaysia ranks better than the United States (129), China (89), India (135), the United Kingdom (34), Indonesia (47), Vietnam (44), Cambodia (62), Thailand (103), Philippines (125), Saudi Arabia (119) and Pakistan (147).

So, despite our racial and religious tensions, we should be proud that we are a peaceful nation. This is not so much because of the government or political leaders – at least not in recent years – but largely due to the attitude of ordinary Malaysians.

All of us – whether Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazandusun or Orang Asli; whether Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian or of some other faith – want to live in peace and get on with our lives as well as we can.

So, deep down, the ordinary Malaysian – who is not interested in proving that his race or religion is special but feels that all of us are creations of the same God or cosmic event and that we all share the same fate on Earth – is established in peace.

This is something we should nurture, especially in our schools – whether national, vernacular or Islamic.

Malaysia, in fact, can do better, and become an example to other nations for the simple reason that we have diverse ethnic and religious groups with diverse cultural mores and taboos living together. As such, there is a constant interplay of these diverse cultures and beliefs and attitudes in our lives.

Our conflicts or tensions almost always have roots in some of our overzealous race or religion-minded politicians, in some leaders of race or religion-based NGOs, in some intolerant religious leaders and in the unhealthy mix of religion with politics.

Whether we’d like to admit it or not, racism is at play in Malaysia. As many have pointed out, there’s institutional racism.

The 2022 theme for the UN’s International Day of Peace is, “End racism. Build peace”.

UN secretary-general António Guterres says the theme is to remind us of the many ways racism not only poisons people’s hearts and minds but also that of institutions and social structures, thus eroding peace.

He says: “Racism robs people of their rights and dignity. It inflames inequalities and mistrust. And it pushes people apart, at a time when we should be coming together, as one human family, to repair our fractured world.

“Instead of fighting each other, we should be working to defeat our true enemies: racism, poverty, inequality, conflict, the climate crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We should tear down structures that sustain racism, and lift up human rights movements everywhere. And we should drown out the vicious voices of hate speech with a united and sustained cry for truth, understanding and mutual respect.”

Every right-thinking person will agree with him.

Malaysians need to work hard to ensure our nation remains peaceful, and that factors causing tensions, suspicions and fears are reduced, if not eliminated. How do we do that? One way is to emulate the nations that are right at the top of the ranking.

Let’s take Iceland. Among other things, Iceland is very well-governed. Corruption is low, laws are enforced fairly and justly, the civil service is competent and Icelanders trust both their institutions and their fellow citizens. Also, income inequality is very low and it’s the third best country in the world to retire in.

It has a business-friendly environment and respects the rights of everyone, with equitable distribution of resources. Also, Iceland does not have a standing army, and policemen don’t carry arms.

According to the report by IEP: “Qualities that make it (Iceland) the most peaceful nation on Earth include low crime rates, robust education and welfare systems, fair pay for workers, and virtually non-existent tension among the economic classes.”

Now, we can certainly learn from this. We should, for instance, narrow the income inequality gap, have fair pay for workers, and respect the rights of all citizens equally. Iceland shows the importance of having a good education system and a welfare system that helps the poor and old.

Importantly too, Iceland demonstrates the importance of governance and Malaysia needs a government that is competent, visionary, fair and just. Iceland, just like other nations ranked right at the top, practices transparent and inclusive governance.

The level of transparency and inclusiveness in Malaysia’s governance certainly needs urgent improvement. And institutionalised racism has to go.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), when institutions are perceived as fair and effective, they are respected and govern how people within societies interact.

“However, when institutions are seen as ineffective, exclusionary or corrupt, they can rear grievances and conflict.

“Inclusivity and the building of effective and legitimate institutions is critical in preventing relapses into violent conflict and producing more resilient states and societies. Successful and sustainable institutional reform restores core governance functions and generates equitable service delivery.”

SIPRI notes that poorly governed security and justice sectors are often drivers of insecurity, criminality and violence and that the most impoverished citizens are often those who suffer most frequently from predatory, abusive or corrupt security and justice actors.

“Marginalisation, inequality and exclusion of certain societal groups from power and opportunity can trigger grievances and perceptions of injustice. In turn, this may result in conflict or relapse into conflict and hinder positive peace and sustainable development. States that have avoided regression back into conflict have had either inclusive political settlements, or inclusive behaviour by the party that prevailed in the conflict, resulting in less divisive societies after a conflict.”

SIPRI says inclusion of diverse perspectives – gender, age, socio-economic class and ethnicity – into governance and equitable access to resources can strengthen state legitimacy and social cohesion.

Are leaders of political parties and political and religious-minded NGOs, and even some senior civil servants, willing to drop their self-interested or race and religion-focused perspectives and prioritise making Malaysia more peaceful and an example for others?

***

kt comments:

Israel?



The church linked to Abe’s killing, Japan’s political turmoil


al Jazeera:

The church linked to Abe’s killing, Japan’s political turmoil


Controversy erupts after assassin blames Shinzo Abe’s killing on his ties to a ‘predatory South Korean religious cult’.



Hak Jaa Han, widow of Sun Myung Moon, sits beside his coffin during a funeral service for the late founder of the Unification Church, at the CheongShim Peace World Center in Gapyeong, about 60 km (37 miles) northeast of Seoul, South Korea, September 15, 2012 [File: Lee Jae-Won/ Reuters]

Published On 27 Sep 202227 Sep 2022



Shinzo Abe was not his assassin’s preferred target.

Investigators say Tetsuya Yamagami, who fatally shot Japan’s longest-serving prime minister on July 8, had initially wanted to kill the leader of the Unification Church — a South-Korean religious sect that the 41-year-old blames for his family’s financial ruin. But the COVID-19 pandemic got in the way.


KEEP READING


Hak Ja Han Moon, who has led the church since the 2012 death of its founder — her husband Sun Myung Moon — had stopped coming to Japan following pandemic-related border closures.

In a letter Yamagami sent to a blogger a day before shooting Abe with a handmade gun, he wrote that it was “impossible” to kill Hak Ja Han Moon. And although Abe was “not my original enemy”, the 67-year-old politician was “one of the most influential sympathisers” of the Unification Church, he wrote. “I can no longer afford to think about the political implications and consequences that Abe’s death will bring,” he added.

The brazen killing in the city of Nara, as Abe was delivering a campaign speech, shocked Japan, a nation where political violence and gun crimes are extremely rare. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida quickly declared that he would hold a state funeral for Abe while the Japanese public handed his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) a sweeping victory in an upper house election held just days after the assassination.

But the grief quickly gave way to anger amid growing media scrutiny of the church’s extensive ties with Abe and the LDP, and alleged abuses, including claims of forced donations. Kishida has, meanwhile, seen his approval ratings plunge from 63 percent at the time of Abe’s assassination to about 29 percent in mid-September, raising questions over the prime minister’s political future.


“The Unification Church is not so much regarded as a religious organisation, but rather as a predatory cult in Japan,” said Koichi Nakano, professor of political science at the Sophia University in Tokyo. The LDP has “outraged” the Japanese people just as if “ties with a notorious criminal organization had been revealed,” said Nakano.

Church or cult?


Officially known as Family Federation for World Peace and Reunification and disparagingly called “the Moonies”, Sun Myung Moon founded the Unification Church in South Korea in 1954. The self-proclaimed messiah was a staunch anti-Communist who advocated conservative family-oriented beliefs. Famously, he oversaw mass weddings at which he had matched thousands of couples, sometimes by pairing photographs of people who had never met before.

Experts say the church’s right-wing beliefs helped it expand overseas during the Cold War.

Moon became good friends with Nobusuke Kishi, who served as Japan’s prime minister from 1957 to 1960 and was Abe’s grandfather. It was Kishi who helped found the church’s political arm, the International Federation for Victory Over Communism in Japan in 1968, according to Japanese media. After gaining a foothold in Japan, the church treated its followers there like an “economic army”, a former senior member told the Reuters news agency, raising money by collecting donations and selling “spiritual goods” such as expensive ginseng tea or miniature stone pagodas.


In the case of Yamagami, Abe’s killer, relatives say his mother, a devout follower, donated some 100 million yen ($692,000) to the church, a large part of which came from a life insurance payment from his father’s death by suicide. The donations bankrupted the family and Yamagami, described by his uncle as “extremely smart” and “hardworking”, had to abandon plans to go to college.


The Unification Church is well known for its mass weddings, with some couples matched simply by photo [File: Kim Hong-Ji/ Reuters]



Moon Sun Myung, the founder of the Unification Church, drinks a toast with his family members during his 91st birthday party in 2011 [File: Jo Yong-Hak/ Reuters]


A group of lawyers representing victims of the church’s “spiritual sales” in Japan said the religious group has been linked to some 30,000 complaints involving losses of 123.7 billion yen ($856m) since 1987 and that the church has used the funds raised in Japan to build and seed a multi-billion dollar business empire spanning the globe.

According to Britain’s Financial Times, Moon founded a conglomerate called Tongil Group in South Korea in 1963, and its affiliates now operate ski and golf resorts, a defence company, a chemicals group, a car parts business and a newspaper. In the United States, the church’s business interests include the conservative Washington Times newspaper, the New Yorker Hotel in New York, the True World Foods seafood wholesaler and a vast property portfolio, it said.

Despite the complaints over its fundraising practices in Japan, the church continued to find favour among LDP politicians, with whom it shared conservative values, including opposition to LGBTQ rights.

Investigators say it was a video message that Abe had sent last year to an event hosted by a Unification Church-affiliated group, the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), and attended by Hak Ja Han Moon that prompted his killer to consider switching his targets. In the message to the UPF, Abe had praised Hak Ja Han Moon and thanked the group for its “focus and emphasis on family values”.

Japanese media, meanwhile, have alleged that the church, which now has about 100,000 active followers in Japan, has directed its members to help elect LDP candidates. A former follower told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper that she had volunteered in campaigns to help elect Abe ally Koichi Haguida in order to “save” Japan. Five former followers also told Reuters that church officials had instructed them to vote for LDP candidates who opposed gay rights.

“The nexus of right-wing politicians and a right-wing Church that both oppose gender rights, LGBTQ rights and want to turn back the hands of history on social developments involving the family have sparked anger,” said Jeffrey Kingston, professor of history and Asian studies at Temple University in Japan. “Their conservative dogma does not enjoy public support.”

‘No shocking links’


In a bid to address the growing outcry, Kishida reshuffled his cabinet, ordered LDP legislators to sever ties with the church and announced a new programme to help those experiencing trouble with the group. This includes offering legal aid for those who are seeking the return of their donations.

The LDP also carried out an internal survey that found nearly half of its 379 national legislators had ties to the church. It said some 96 of the legislators reported attending events organised by the church or its affiliates while 29 said they had accepted donations from the group. A further 17 said they had received election support from church followers who volunteered in their campaigns.

Kingston said a thorough investigation of the allegations of the church’s activities in Japan was necessary.

“Its extensive and longstanding political role has been kept obscure until the assassination,” he said. “It is in the public interest to thoroughly vet the organisation and its role in politics and whether it is in compliance with regulations covering religious organisations.”

The church has denied supporting any particular political party and said it does not give political guidance to its members. It did say, however, that its political arm, the UPF, has courted Japanese legislators and most of them were from the LDP because of shared values.

A spokesman for UPF, Kajikuri Masayoshi, also told NHK he did not understand the furore over ties between the two groups. “Our relationship is just normal. In most cases, they sent congratulatory telegrams or did interviews with our magazines. I think there were no legal or ethical problems,” he said in late August.

With Japan preparing to hold Abe’s funeral on Tuesday, some analysts said they expect the outcry to blow over.

Masaki Nakamasa, professor of philosophy at Kanazawa University, said he believed the links between the Unification Church and the LDP were “not so strong”.

Attending church meetings in order to gain election volunteers does not make the legislators believers, said Nakamasa, who was also formerly a member of the church.

“It is really hard to turn conservative Japanese politicians into devoted Moonies,” he said, adding: “After the memorial service for Abe, the media and the net opinion will lose interest, because there are no real shocking links between Abe and the Unification Church.”


SOURCE: AL JAZEERA


Ukraine receives U.S. air defence system

The Star:

Ukraine receives U.S. air defence system

Monday, 26 Sep 20222:09 AM MYT




FILE PHOTO: Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses Ukrainians about the prisoners of war (POWs) swap, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv Ukraine, in this handout picture released September 22, 2022. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS



(Reuters) - President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an interview broadcast on Sunday that Ukraine had received sophisticated air defence systems from the United States.

It was the first acknowledgment that Ukraine had received the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS), long sought by Kyiv and whose shipment was approved by Washington late last month.


"We absolutely need the United States to show leadership and give Ukraine the air defence systems. I want to thank President (Joe) Biden for a positive decision that has been already made," Zelenskiy said, according to an English-language transcript of the interview.

"But believe me, it's not even nearly enough to cover the civilian infrastructure, schools, hospitals, universities, homes of Ukrainians."

Zelenskiy also thanked the United States for HIMARS and other multiple rocket-launching systems enabling Ukraine to advance against Russian occupying forces.

Ukraine has staged counter-offensives this month to free from occupation large swathes of territory in northeastern Kharkiv region. It has also made advances in the south.

Russia describes its seven-month-old incursion into Ukraine as a "special military operation" and denies it targets civilian sites.

***

kt comments:

Why the rapture over air defence systems from the United States (basically a defensive measure) when Ukrainian military have been said to make gains in the Eastern provinces, pushing the Russians back and out of Ukraine?

Zelenskiy  was also noted to have berated Israel for not handing over air defence equipment as expected.


Grounds of judgment for Zahid's acquittal in VLN case

 






Grounds of judgment for Zahid's acquittal in VLN case


Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was acquitted of all charges in regard to the foreign visa system (VLN) corruption case last Friday.

The High Court judge in Shah Alam, Mohd Yazid Mustafa, ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove a prima facie case and its three key witnesses were unreliable.

On the grounds of judgment, the judge argued that the prosecution had failed to show any evidence - such as CCTV footage, Touch 'n Go transaction slips and phone logs - to prove that Zahid had received millions in bribes from Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB).

Mohd Yazid compared it to Rosmah Mansor’s case, where cheques were produced and multiple witnesses such as bank cashiers were called to testify.

However, in Zahid’s case, those involved or who had knowledge of the sources of funds only had their statements recorded but were not called in as witnesses.

The judge also questioned the veracity of the ledger where UKSB officers had recorded transactions.

The inconsistent testimony of the UKSB officers was also cited as a reason for their unreliability as witnesses.

For Malaysiakini’s previous detailed summary of the judgment, click here.








DAP leaders mum over Liu’s remarks on amendment to party constitution




DAP leaders mum over Liu’s remarks on amendment to party constitution


Loke Siew Fook (left) says DAP will ask the Registrar of Societies to approve the amendment to the party’s constitution, which Ronnie Liu has described as ‘undemocratic’.


PETALING JAYA: DAP leaders have remained reticent over a party central executive committee (CEC) member’s criticism of DAP’s move to amend its constitution.

On Sunday, DAP approved a motion to amend its party constitution so that elected representatives who do not toe the party line on fundamental issues would automatically lose their membership.


However, yesterday, CEC member Ronnie Liu said the decision suggests that DAP may no longer be democratic, adding that only the Registrar of Societies (RoS) can save the party from “deteriorating into an undemocratic entity”.

When contacted, several party leaders declined to comment on Liu’s remarks.


“Get Loke to comment,” one CEC member told FMT, referring to party secretary-general Loke Siew Fook.

Another CEC member said “no comment”, while other leaders simply blue-ticked the queries.

FMT has reached out to Loke for comment.

DAP had moved to amend its constitution to safeguard the party from what it called a “loophole” in the anti-hopping law, in which MPs sacked by their party do not have to vacate their seats.


Loke said the party will file an application with the RoS to update the party’s constitution, hoping that the amendment could be implemented before the next general election.

In a Facebook post, Liu said if the amendment had been in place in the past, he would have already been removed from the party since he had been vocal about various issues, such as the leadership of Dr Mahathir Mohamad when Pakatan Harapan was in power, the arrests of 12 people over links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC).

The Sungai Pelek assemblyman said that with the amendment, the CEC will have the right to issue any directive targeting any elected representative.

“God save DAP,” he said.


Muhyiddin's hatred for Umno has always been clear - Puad







Muhyiddin's hatred for Umno has always been clear - Puad


More Umno and PAS leaders have come out to dismiss Perikatan Nasional chairperson Muhyiddin Yassin’s declaration of BN as the coalition’s main enemy in the upcoming 15th general election.

Taking to Facebook, Umno supreme council member Puad Zarkashi said there was no need for Muhyiddin to publicly declare war against BN and Umno as the Bersatu president had already made his hatred known through past actions.

“PAS, on the other hand, has shamed him with their public declaration of Harapan, not PN, as the main enemy.

“The truth is he (Muhyiddin) hates Umno. He colluded with Dr Mahathir Mohamad to form Bersatu. The reason was to kill Umno in GE14,” said Puad.

“That’s why there’s nothing to be surprised about. Muhyiddin’s hatred for Umno was clear in the Sabah, Malacca, and Johor state elections,” he said.



The former minister said this in response to Muhyiddin’s statement on Sept 24 that all PN components - Bersatu, PAS, Gerakan, Star and SAPP - have agreed to declare BN as their primary nemesis.

Cowardly Bersatu

Further, Puad dismissed Bersatu as a worthless enemy.

“Not only are they supported by many frogs, but they are also afraid to push the button. Bersatu is barely hanging on to the sides, riding on PAS’ sympathy.

“Bersatu dares to fight Umno because of PAS. Will Bersatu dare to face BN without PAS, just like how BN dares to enter a straight fight?” he said.

Separately, PAS central committee member Nasrudin Hassan said Muhyiddin’s move has made Bersatu more of an opposition party even though it is in government.


PAS central committee member Nasrudin Hassan


Nasrudin in a statement said there is nothing wrong with opposition parties to criticise ruling parties as part and parcel of democracy.

“However, as part of the ruling coalition, do not have an opposition mindset. Don’t slip up to point fingers or make an unguarded speech to declare each other as enemies.

“On the other hand, foster closer ties to build the nation and maintain harmony for the people,” said the former Temerloh MP.

Nasruddin, who is also the Islamiah Dakwah Foundation (Yadim) chairperson, stressed that nation-building and harmony has been the basis of PAS’ agenda to unite the ummah.

While top leaders from both Bersatu and Umno have rejected any form of GE15 cooperation, PAS leaders and members, including at the party’s annual gathering last month, insisted there is room for negotiation between all three parties against Harapan.



Nasrudin stressed that PAS will only declare a party as an enemy once it is seen to be “extreme” and opposes the agenda of strengthening Malay-Muslim rule in Malaysia.

“It is from that point that PAS declared Harapan to be its enemy, not BN.

“Therefore BN is a political cooperation partner and a component partner in the current administration,” he said.


Monday, September 26, 2022

Ismail Sabri to remain as PM if BN wins GE15: Mahdzir


theVibes.com:

Ismail Sabri to remain as PM if BN wins GE15: Mahdzir



No discussions on Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s candidacy, says party vice-president



Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid says there has been no discussion to nominate party president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as a prime ministerial candidate for the 15th general election. – The Vibes pic, September 26, 2022


PUTRAJAYA – Umno had never discussed placing its president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as a prime ministerial candidate for the 15th general election (GE15), said party vice-president Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.


Mahdzir, who is the rural development minister, said a previous Umno meeting had already decided that Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob would remain as the 10th prime minister if Barisan Nasional (BN) won GE15.

“So far the decision made at the party level is that Ismail Sabri is our poster boy and prime ministerial candidate for GE15.

“As a party vice-president, I can say that there were no such meetings (discussing Zahid’s candidacy as prime minister),” he told a news conference after launching the Second Triennial Delegates Meeting of the Peninsular Malaysia Community Development Department Staff Union here today.

He was commenting on a viral social media statement claiming that Zahid would be made the 10th prime minister if BN won GE15 and that the matter would be discussed at the Umno Supreme Council meeting on September 30.

Mahdzir said the spread of the false statement on social media was aimed at causing divisions in Umno.

Earlier, Zahid, who is also BN chairman, had indicated that Ismail Sabri would remain as BN’s poster boy and prime ministerial candidate in GE15. – Bernama, September 26, 2022


God save DAP, says Liu after amendment to party constitution




God save DAP, says Liu after amendment to party constitution


Ronnie Liu says only the Registrar of Societies can save the party from ‘deteriorating into an undemocratic entity’.


PETALING JAYA: A DAP leader has lamented the party’s move to amend its constitution so that elected representatives who do not toe the party line on fundamental issues would automatically lose their membership.

DAP central executive committee (CEC) member Ronnie Liu said the decision suggests that DAP may no longer be democratic, adding that only the Registrar of Societies (RoS) can save the party from “deteriorating into an undemocratic entity”.


If the amendment had been in place in the past, Liu said he would have already been removed from the party since he had been vocal about various issues, such as the leadership of Dr Mahathir Mohamad when Pakatan Harapan was in power, the arrests of 12 people over links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC).

“I could have ‘died’ many times. With the amendments, one ceases to be a member upon non-compliance of the CEC’s directive (in writing). And the CEC has every right to issue any directive targeting any elected representative.”

The Sungai Pelek assemblyman claimed that if the directive came from the secretary-general it would not even need to be in writing.

“God save DAP,” he said in a Facebook post.

At a special congress yesterday, DAP successfully passed a motion to amend its constitution to safeguard the party from what it called a “loophole” in the anti-hopping law, in which MPs sacked by their party do not have to vacate their seats.

DAP secretary-general Loke Siew Fook said the party will file an application with the RoS to update the party’s constitution, hoping that the amendment could be implemented before the next general election.


DAP is the second Pakatan Harapan component to have amended its party constitution to deal with the “loophole” in the anti-hopping law.

On Sept 18, Amanah amended its constitution so that any MP, senator, or state assemblyman who goes against the party’s decisions would automatically lose their membership.


Malaysia eyeing armed drones from Turkey




Malaysia eyeing armed drones from Turkey


Turkey says international demand for its drones has soared after their impact on conflicts in Syria, Ukraine, and Libya. (Reuters pic)


ANKARA: Turkey said Malaysia and Indonesia had expressed keen interest in buying armed drones from Turkish defence firm Baykar, which has supplied the weapons to several countries after battlefield successes.

“Many Asian countries, especially Malaysia and Indonesia, show great interest in our defence industry products. Agreements are being signed,” Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a press conference in Tokyo.


“We would most gladly meet Japan’s need for drones,” the minister added, on a visit there to attend the funeral of former prime minister Shinzo Abe.

International demand for Turkish drones has soared after their impact on conflicts in Syria, Ukraine, and Libya.


On Sept 21, Reuters reported that Baykar delivered 20 armed drones to the United Arab Emirates this month.


China becomes ‘hothouse’ of intrigue ahead of crucial Communist party congress


Guardian:


China becomes ‘hothouse’ of intrigue ahead of crucial Communist party congress


Swiftly debunked rumours of coups swirl as Beijing prepares to host critical meeting of elite, at which Xi Jinping is expected to be granted a third term



A security guard in front of the portrait of late Communist leader Mao Zedong at Tiananmen Gate in Beijing. Xi Jinping is expected to be given a third term as China’s leader. Photograph: Yuxuan Zhang/AFP/Getty Images



Helen Davidson in Taipei
@heldavidson
Mon 26 Sep 2022 06.54 BST


Purges of senior officials and unfounded rumours of military coups in Beijing have fed into feverish speculation ahead of a key meeting of China’s ruling party next month, when president Xi Jinping is expected to be granted an unprecedented third term.

The jailing of a clique of senior security officials for corruption, followed by days of strange and quickly dispelled rumours of Xi being under house arrest, have fuelled what one analyst called a “hothouse” environment mired in secrecy and suspicion.


Last week, a Chinese court jailed the former vice-minister of public security Sun Lijun, the former justice minister Fu Zhenghua, and former police chiefs of Shanghai, Chongqing and Shanxi on corruption charges. Fu and the police chiefs had been accused of being part of a political clique surrounding Sun, and being disloyal to Xi.

The round-up was one of the biggest Chinese political purges in years, and came just weeks before the Chinese Communist party’s (CCP) most important political meeting – the twice a decade party congress – where the political elite are reshuffled around the various positions of power in the one-party state.

Xi is expected to be reappointed as leader of the party and military commission at the meeting, after he abolished the two-term limit in 2018 and waged a years-long anti-corruption campaign that also targeted many political opponents.

On Sunday state media announced the list of CCP central committee delegates, numbering almost 2,300, had been finalised. Xi’s inclusion on the list further refuted social media rumours that had been swirling since Saturday of a military coup. The unfounded claims – accompanied by unsourced videos of military vehicles and based mostly on mass flight cancellations – were debunked, but not before it began trending on Twitter.

There was no specific mention of the coup rumours on China’s social media, but a Weibo hashtag related to “airports across the country cancel flights” was viewed by more than 200,000 people over the weekend.

Some made fun of the rumours, noting the lack of any evidence of a political takeover on the ground in Beijing.

Drew Thompson, a scholar with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said a coup in China wasn’t entirely implausible, and Xi had reportedly shown concern about the prospect in the past, but the weekend’s rumours looked more like “wishful thinking”. They appeared to originate in accounts associated with the Falun Gong movement, which Thompson said was “essentially not credible”.

“The rumour that Xi Jinping has been arrested has legs because it is such a sensitive political moment in China, and the recent trials (and convictions) of long-serving senior officials creates a hothouse atmosphere,” he said on Twitter.


Chinese president Xi Jinping Photograph: Sergei Bobylev/AP


Thompson, who is also a former US state department official, told the Guardian the Falun Gong media often exaggerated or highlighted their opposition to Xi and the CCP in their reporting. “In this case those themes they have highlighted and reported on for a long time suddenly broke into the mainstream.”

Other analysts like Sinocism author, Bill Bishop, said he thought the rumours were “BS” but the “inherent opacity” of the CCP mechanisms easily fuelled their spread.

The party congress is a secretive process of power distribution, with the most senior positions not announced until the final day. Government control of the domestic narrative and crushing of dissent has intensified in recent weeks as the meeting approaches.

Xi has been absent from the public eye since he returned to China from the SCO Summit in Uzbekistan last weekend. Observers said he is likely to be quarantining.

“I think the fact this rumour spread so far, and was considered plausible enough to analyse is really a reflection of an underlying shortcoming of Chinese governance,” said Thompson.

“It really is a story about the opaqueness and the uncertainty around high-level Chinese succession. If you look back through history, to 1949, succession between top leaders has been fraught. Hu Jintao was the first successful transition of power where no one was imprisoned or died … Xi Jinping has created an entirely new paradigm where no successor has been identified, which raises questions about what would succession look like if it was unplanned or uncontrolled?”

China’s government has not responded to the rumours, but public security authorities were among those posting under the hashtag “the truth about large-scale cancellation of flights across the country”, disputing the significance of the cancellations which they said was normal for the pandemic.

The party congress begins on 16 October. The event, in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, is closed to the public but is the most important date on the CCP’s five-year political cycle. There is speculation that Xi could further consolidate power with the promotion of stronger allies to senior positions, and that the party will resurrect the “people’s leader” title, not used since Mao Zedong.


RIP unity unicorn, killed by racially-inclined politics




RIP unity unicorn, killed by racially-inclined politics



From Ibrahim M Ahmad


A sense of unity among Malaysians has been elusive in recent years, with the experience of genuine unifying national moments increasingly rare.

Sports gave us many such moments in the past. Unity was especially apparent in team sports, seen both in the makeup of the teams doing battle and spectators urging them on from the stands.

Malaysia’s football, hockey and badminton teams gave us many memorable moments between the 1960s and the early 1990s.

Who could ever forget the hockey World Cup squad of 1975, the football team qualifying for the Moscow Olympics in 1980, and badminton heroes bringing home the Thomas Cup 30 years ago in 1992? Sadly, I struggle to remember anything more recent than those.

National schools, universities and colleges of that era formed the backbone of that unity, as reflected both in their teaching and student populations.

These days, however, sports and educational institutions have themselves become breeding grounds for racial and religious tensions and intolerance, joining the political arena, the business community and workplaces as venues of divisive racial politicking.

Unity appears to be like the mythical unicorn, something so highly desirable, but which seems to have vanished completely from our national conscience.

Malaysians of different ethnicities and religions have retreated into their respective communes, with communities co-existing in tenuous relationships.

The blame for this unfortunate state of affairs must fall squarely on our leaders, most of whom secured their positions in government along racial and religious lines and have gone on to govern by perpetrating “divide-and-rule” policies.

The latest, no doubt, has been the reaction which followed the KL Mufti’s edict telling Muslims that Islam prohibited them from extending their condolences to non-Muslims using that ubiquitous phrase, “rest in peace.”

That advice was immediately defended by the religious affairs minister without consideration as to what impact it would have on national unity.

Many similar instances of intolerance have cropped up over the years. There is no need to list them here. Suffice to say that they arise because those in authority invariably respond only in a way that resonates with their base.

The reality is that modern Malaysia is shorn of statesmen. There is no one with any ability or desire to rise above partisan politics and offer himself as leader of all Malaysians, irrespective of race, colour or creed.

Instead, we have political parties and leaders more interested in preserving their positions of power.

Umno was once the bulwark that held Malaysia together; nowadays it cannot even find a leader to hold the party together, with the rift between president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob widening with each passing day.

The two have been at loggerheads as to when the 15th general election should be called, with Ismail doggedly resisting Zahid’s push for early polls.

Ismail is likely to continue holding out, having told the party’s supreme council that pollsters’ forecasts point towards a hung parliament. The prime minister can now also claim that a majority in his cabinet opposes holding the elections before year end, repelling relentless pressure from Zahid’s faction to hold one immediately.

Despite his “Keluarga Malaysia” slogan, Ismail will struggle to position himself as leader of all Malaysians. He cannot even claim to be leader of Umno.

On top of that, neither MCA nor MIC can guarantee him enough support from the Chinese and Indian communities to ensure that Barisan Nasional sweeps to power, as it used to do almost effortlessly prior to 2008.

Neither is Ismail assured of support from his present governing coalition partners post GE 15.

With multi-cornered fights expected for Malay votes, tensions are already brewing between Umno and Muhyiddin Yassin’s Bersatu as well as Hadi Awang’s PAS. Both Bersatu and PAS are expected to wage war with Umno in the lead up to the elections

Whether scars from those battles will heal sufficiently, allowing them to govern jointly again, remains to be seen.

Another scenario may see Ismail cozying up to a more unlikely ally in Loke Siew Fook’s DAP.

That alliance will undoubtedly face resistance from both sides. Umno has a long-standing “No Anwar, No DAP” policy hurdle which Ismail will need to overcome. It seems that a similar internal conflict is simmering within DAP at the prospect.

As it stands, Umno will have to massively over-achieve to improve on the 38 seats it currently holds in the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat. Even if it secures sizeable support from the 56 seats on offer in East Malaysia, Umno faces an almighty struggle to ensure that BN collects at least 112 seats for control of the lower house.

Although currently boasting 90 seats, enough to make PKR president Anwar Ibrahim a candidate for prime minister, the opposition Pakatan Harapan coalition is still caught in a tight spot.

Once thought capable of uniting Malaysia, Anwar’s allure has waned considerably within the coalition and even in his party.

Recent events also mean former prime ministers Dr Mahathir Mohamed and Muhyiddin can no longer expect widespread support from Malay voters let alone the rest of the electorate.

With existing coalitions expected to fall short of the required majority and given multiple internal conflicts, leaders of the posses of elected members of parliament will once again resort to horse-trading to secure enough support to form the next government.

That means Malaysians can expect behind-the-scenes shenanigans among political parties, unlikely pacts and possibly even undesirable partnerships.

More memoranda of understanding are likely to follow. Some will be willingly disclosed to the public while others may be locked away only to see the light of day as and when disputes arise.

That is the cloak and dagger world of 21st century Malaysian politics.

Sadly, what all of this means is that the long unsighted Unity Unicorn may have already died. If so, then rest in peace, dear Unity Unicorn.

We can expect it to be same old, same old, after the general election.



Ibrahim M Ahmad is a FMT Reader.