Monday, January 31, 2022

Another halal meat cartel?

Who is manipulating the chicken market?

From Murray Hunter

Malaysia is currently undergoing a shortage of chicken due to local production failing to cope with demand. Malaysia’s antiquated and overzealous regulatory approach to the economy is damaging the dynamics of the chicken trade.

Setting a maximum price of RM9.30 per kg over the Chinese New Year and festive season, while controlling imports through selective approved permits (APs) or import licences, is distorting the market to the grave detriment of consumers.

Malaysia’s annual consumption of chicken is nearly 50kg per person, the prime source of protein for Malaysians. This equates to 1.62 million tonnes of consumption per annum, of which 98.4% was supplied by domestic producers in 2019.

Excess domestic capacity supplies 37% of Singapore’s consumption needs.

There are about 25 major producers in Malaysia, which include companies like Leong Hup Holdings, QSR Brands, FFM, Hy-Fresh, and Sum Soon. There are also a host of small and medium producers within the industry.

These companies tend to be active across the supply chain, thus integrating the industry.

The poultry industry has been the bright shining light of the livestock industry. Highly automated and capital intensive, it’s the only sector that produced in excess of national needs, leaving cattle and goat production far behind.

During the pandemic, local producers faced a 30% rise in the cost of production. Corn and soybean meals, which make up more than 60% of production costs, have risen due to the weakening of the ringgit, and the hike in shipping costs.

In addition, supply chain disruptions have led to shortages of feed additives, hindering production.

The temporary Malaysian Family Price Control Scheme, which has pegged a maximum price of chicken to RM8 wholesale and RM9.30 retail (per kg), is squeezing producers profit margin.

Many small to medium producers are suffering heavy financial losses. Without any government subsidies to assist, some producers have switched to the production of other value-added chicken-based consumer products to escape price controls.

Others sell their products on the black market outside price controls.

Last December, the domestic trade and consumer affairs minister, Alexander Nanta Linggi assured consumers the government would allow the importation of chicken as a temporary measure to stabilise prices at the retail level.

Demand for chicken has drastically increased with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, which is outstripping the ability of local producers to cater for immediate demand.

According to reports, 32 companies were granted APs or import permits to overcome the shortage of chicken supply in mid to late December.

According to the agriculture and food industries minister Ronald Kiandee, the targeted source countries were Thailand, China, and Brazil, even though prices from these three countries were higher than sources from other countries, according to industry sources.

Thailand is currently facing a swine fever outbreak which has led to a sudden rise for demand of chicken. China is currently a net importer of chicken. Brazil is also a questionable source, as meat and chicken exports have been banned from most Middle Eastern destinations due to questions over halal integrity.

The high prices of Thai-produced chicken was publicly acknowledged by the director-general of the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS), Dr Norlizan Mohd Noor, the officer responsible for issuing APs for importing chicken into Malaysia.

Mydin Emporium Group managing director Ameer Ali publicly exclaimed his disappointment that no retailers were granted import permits for chicken, even though they met all the requirements from DVS to be granted permits. It is also believed that Tesco also didn’t get a permit.

Granting import permits directly to retailers would have brought price relief to consumers, rather than chicken now having to go through wholesalers that apply their own margins to the product.

Industry insiders complained to the author that granting import permits to companies that were buying at US$2,000 per tonne, and selling onto retailers at RM8 per kg, was not in the public interest when submissions to DVS for import permits were able to source frozen chicken meeting Malaysian halal standards for US$1,300 per tonne.

On Feb 4, price controls will be lifted where prices should be expected to increase dramatically.

These savings could have taken a lot of stress on the market prices over the festive season.

Industry insiders also complained to the author that DVS and the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim).requested meetings with applicants for chicken APs specifying other conditions outside the application process.

This is at a time when many Malaysian consumers are financially stressed and the nation is facing chronic chicken shortages.

Malaysia’s global rank in Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 dropped five positions this year. Malaysia now ranks 62 out of 180, the lowest since the Corruption Perceptions Index was revised in 2012.

A request was made to the director-general of DVS Dr Norlizan Mohd Noor for an interview over the above issue. At the time of writing, no reply was received. Jakim was also contacted, with a reply stating the department wasn’t interested in an interview.

Regulation, bureaucracy and corruption are costing Malaysian consumers.

Murray Hunter is an independent researcher and former professor with the Prince of Songkhla University and Universiti Malaysia Perlis.

Gong Xi Fa Cai 2022


Huawei takes Sweden to court following 5G ban

Huawei takes Sweden to court following 5G ban

The move by Stockholm has significantly harmed the company’s investment in the country, notes the firm

Following the UK in mid-2020, Sweden became the second country in Europe and the first in the European Union to explicitly ban network operators from using Huawei equipment in the buildup of the infrastructure needed to run its 5G network. – AFP pic, January 31, 2022

STOCKHOLM – Huawei said yesterday it has initiated arbitration proceedings against Sweden under the World Bank Group after the Nordic country banned the Chinese tech giant from rolling out its 5G products.

“The Swedish authorities’ decision to discriminate against Huawei and exclude it from the 5G roll-out has significantly harmed Huawei’s investment in Sweden, in breach of Sweden’s international obligations,” the Chinese company said in a statement to AFP.

The company had therefore “initiated arbitration proceedings” under the World Bank Group’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes “against the Kingdom of Sweden following a number of measures taken by the Swedish authorities targeting directly Huawei’s investments in Sweden and excluding Huawei from the roll-out of 5G network products and services in the country”, Huawei added.

Huawei did not specify what damages it was seeking, but according to public broadcaster SVT, the initial sum sought was 5.2 billion Swedish kroner (RM2.3 billion), but it could end up being much higher.

Following the UK in mid-2020, Sweden became the second country in Europe and the first in the European Union to explicitly ban network operators from using Huawei equipment in the buildup of the infrastructure needed to run its 5G network.

Sweden also ordered Huawei to remove already installed equipment by January 1, 2025.

After an appeal from Huawei a Swedish court confirmed the decision by Sweden’s Post and Telecom Authority in June 2021.

The decision strained relations between Sweden and China, with Beijing at the time warning that PTS’ decision could have “consequences” for the Scandinavian country’s companies in China, prompting Swedish telecom giant and Huawei competitor Ericsson to fear retaliation. – AFP, January 31, 2022

Two Johor DAP 'Team B' leaders inform DAP's Zhuge Liang (Team A) their wish to defend seats

Two Johor DAP 'Team B' leaders inform Liew their wish to defend seats

Two Johor incumbent assemblypersons have informed state DAP chief Liew Chin Tong of their wish to defend their respective seats in the coming state polls.

In a joint statement this morning, Tan Hong Pin (above, left) of Skudai and Ng Yak Howe of Bentayan said they met Liew to express their intentions.

According to them, since the dissolution of the Johor state assembly, the media, supporters and public had been asking whether they will get fielded again.

"We thank you for your concerns. A few days ago, we met with Liew respectively and we have expressed our wishes of defending our seats," they said.

The duo said they share the concerns of grassroots members, who hope the party leadership will decide the candidates' list as soon as possible in order to facilitate the election campaign.

They also said in view of the uncertainty in Skudai and Bentayan, they will decline requests for any media interviews "to prevent unnecessary troubles".

"DAP's mission in the upcoming Johor election is to defend the 14 seats the party won in 2018.

"Facing the strong attack from BN, DAP must waste no time and start our campaign," they said.

Johor DAP chief Liew Chin Tong

Defeated in party elections

The Election Commission (EC) will hold a special meeting on Feb 9 to fix the dates for the 15th Johor polls.

On Jan 24, Chinese daily Nanyang Siang Pau reported that five incumbent assemblypersons were uncertain whether they will get fielded by DAP again.

According to the report, the five are Tan, Ng, Ee Chin Li (Tangkak), Cheo Yee How (Perling) and Yeo Tung Siong (Pekan Nanas).

They are deemed as not being in the same camp as Liew.

Tan, Ee and Cheo were defeated in the Johor DAP election last May while Ng and Yeo were elected as state committee members without any important portfolio.

Ukrainian President said that his country’s current problems came from the west rather than the east

Press stunned as Ukraine leader points finger at west

Under the surface is a very different tale of the Ukrainian tensions

  • Campaign to paint Russia as aggressor is huge, but there are cracks
  • Putin placing troops on Ukrainian border is “no different to last year”
  • Ukrainian leader tells journalists that Russia isn’t the main problem, the press is
  • NATO has continuously broken promises made to Moscow, archives reveal

IN A STUNNING and unexpected outburst this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that his country’s current problems came from the west rather than the east.

The fears of a looming war were built on news stories that Russia had troops on the border it shares with the country—but this was not unusual, and there had been a similar assembly of soldiers a year ago, he said.

The truth was that threat level had not changed, he told a press conference this week.

Furthermore, the real threat to Ukraine was not Russia, but the “destabilisation of the situation inside the country” he told journalists.

The cause of the panic was the press itself, Zelensky said.

Correspondents at the event were discomfited. The event was “a slightly surreal encounter” said the BBC’s Sarah Rainsford.

The Ukrainian leader went on to slam the US, British and other Western diplomats who were fleeing the country, as if the much-described war was actually real.

He denied that Ukraine was a sinking ship, but even if they saw it that way, “diplomats are like captains. They should be the last to leave a sinking ship.”


The Western powers appear to be repeating their Taiwan strategy in the Ukraine.

  • Step one is to travel to someone’s territory and alter the status quo until the neighbors react.
  • Step two is to angrily accuse the neighbors of being aggressive and expansionist—even though they literally haven’t left their own territory (unlike the accusers).
  • Step three is to work with the press to mislead the world about which side is destabilizing the situation, and thus justify military expansion.

Ultimately, the aim is to push NATO borders eastwards, justify increased spending on the military, and attempt to further unite the world against communities which the West feels need to be “contained”.


The plan is working. Russia is being universally painted as the aggressor, and military activity from the west is rising. The UK government is sending weapons and troops to Ukraine, and calling on other NATO members to “unite”. The US says it has 8,500 troops ready to go.

On the media front, the message is virtually identical in every outlet: Russia is suddenly being threatening, so the good guys are being forced to respond. US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said the US was committed to helping Ukraine “defend itself”.

The BBC rolled out politician Tobias Ellwood to explain that all the problems are Russia’s fault. (The same man is used by the media as a source of negative comments on China.) The BBC newsroom always “forgets” to mention Ellwood’s background. He served as part of the 77th Brigade, a British army propaganda unit focused on psychological warfare, media operations, and “special influence methods”.

How differently viewers would see the news if they knew the full story: “We are the media, and we are about to showcase the views of a person trained in spreading disinformation via the media.”


Just as the carefully balanced relationship between Taiwan and mainland China has been in place for years, with alternating periods of calm and tension, the same has been true in Ukraine. Russia has regularly placed troops on its border with Ukraine, and vice versa.

As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, the military tensions were a long-term fact of life between the two countries, and the threat level had not changed, despite every Western media outlet saying that it had.

But the underlying issue is this. NATO promised not to expand eastwards. It has done so repeatedly. It is never called out for this.

Yet those exact promises are well documented in history books – in the west as well as the east, as all students of recent European history know. Let’s look at them below.


In 1989 and 1990, Europe went through a massive political earthquake, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and numerous related events. The Western powers and the Soviet Union held a series of meetings to reassure the other that they would not take advantage of the shake-up for purposes of aggressive expansionism.

The Russian side, represented by Mikhail Gorbachev, had to play it straight. The country had large numbers of other urgent issues on its plate, so his argument was simple: Moscow would not move westward – as long as the west would not move eastward. Let the countries in between be.

Gorbachev (seated, middle) talking with West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher (left) and Helmut Kohl (right) in Russia, July 15, 1990. Photo: Bundesbildstelle / Presseund Informationsamt der Bundesregierung.


The buzzphrase that emerged from those discussions was just three words long: “Not one inch.” It came, originally, from the mouth of the US Secretary of State James Baker, on February 9, 1990. NATO, he told Gorbachev, would move “not one inch eastward”.

NATO should rule out an “expansion of its territory towards the east, i.e. moving it closer to the Soviet borders”, the US Embassy in Bonn declared.

America’s national security archive, housed at George Washington University, sums up the meeting thus:

Not once, but three times, Baker tried out the “not one inch eastward” formula with Gorbachev in the February 9, 1990, meeting.

He agreed with Gorbachev’s statement in response to the assurances that “NATO expansion is unacceptable.” Baker assured Gorbachev that “neither the President nor I intend to extract any unilateral advantages from the processes that are taking place,” and that the Americans understood that “not only for the Soviet Union but for other European countries as well it is important to have guarantees that if the United States keeps its presence in Germany within the framework of NATO, not an inch of NATO’s present military jurisdiction will spread in an eastern direction.

The following day, the West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl made a similar promise to Gorbachev: “We believe that NATO should not expand the sphere of its activity.”

Douglas Hurd, the British Foreign Secretary, declared his country would be party to the same promise. In June of that year, his boss Margaret Thatcher, the UK’s “Iron Lady” Prime Minister, made the same pledge to Moscow: “We must find ways to give the Soviet Union confidence that its security would be assured.”


Fast forward to the present day: NATO has spent years declaring itself a “defensive” rather than “expansionist” force, while its actions show itself doing precisely the opposite, year after year.

This diagram published this week by the BBC shows just some of the eastward expansion of NATO since that time.

BBC diagram showed the partial expansion of NATO over recent decades

The “not one inch” promised has been disregarded, with Western diplomats saying that it was never intended to be lasting, and was never put down on paper, anyway.


Coming back to the present day, what is Russia asking for?

  • It is calling on NATO to halt its program of building missile bases in countries bordering or close to Russia’s territory.
  • It is asking NATO to withdraw troops in Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.
  • It is urging NATO to make it clear that Ukraine is not being groomed to join, thus further damaging the 1990 agreement.


Like China, Russia will be painted as the aggressor whatever it does. The western powers will be portrayed as the defenders, whatever they do. But while the press is taking a sharply pro-western angle, academics and the public have a much wider range of views.

“You asserted that ‘NATO is a defensive alliance’. It is not perceived that way in Russia,” wrote Robert Morley, a former staff member of the US National Security Council in a letter to the Economist published today. “Our decision to expand into areas previously dominated by the Soviet Union reinforced the perception that NATO is aggressively pursuing policies detrimental to Russia’s political and security interests.”

Russia’s response “is relatively moderate when compared with the American reaction to Moscow’s effort to establish a military presence in Cuba during the 1960s,” he added.

But while there is little hope that the mainstream media will ever lose its pro-NATO bias, the growth of independent media around the world gives hope that a more diverse, more inclusive set of voices will eventually be heard.

In the meantime, the Western hawks are once more banging the drums of war, but the East, so far, has always shown more patience than expected.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

China says US plans to pay athletes to 'sabotage' Beijing Games


China says US plans to pay athletes to 'sabotage' Beijing Games

US Winter Olympics attire items are pictured in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, US, Oct 28, 2021. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

BEIJING: China's foreign ministry and an official newspaper have accused the United States of planning to interfere with and "sabotage" the Beijing Winter Olympics by paying athletes from some countries to make half-hearted efforts in competition and to criticise China.

The allegations were made a week before the Games start amid tensions between the two superpowers that has included a diplomatic boycott of the event by the United States, which has been joined by several other countries.

Asked about the Chinese allegations, the US Embassy in Beijing on Saturday reiterated a previous position that Washington was not coordinating a global campaign regarding participation at the Olympics.

China Daily, an English-language newspaper run by the ruling Chinese Communist Party's Publicity Department, on Friday evening cited unnamed sources as saying the United States has a plan to "incite athletes from various countries to express their discontent toward China, play passively in competition and even refuse to take part".

In return, it said, Washington would provide a large amount of compensation and "mobilise global resources" to help protect the reputation of athletes who choose to compete passively.

Asked if the Chinese foreign ministry believes the allegation to be valid, a ministry spokesperson told Reuters on Saturday that the report has "exposed the real intention of some Americans to politicise sports and to sabotage and interfere with the Beijing Winter Olympics".

The spokesperson said he strongly condemned the attempts by some Americans to "buy off" athletes and "cause trouble" during the Games, adding that these attempts are "doomed to fail".

A US Embassy spokesman told Reuters by email on Saturday: "We were not and are not coordinating a global campaign regarding participation at the Olympics.

"US athletes are entitled to express themselves freely in line with the spirit and charter of the Olympics, which includes advancing human rights."

The United States announced in December a diplomatic boycott of the Games over what it called China's human rights "atrocities", a move that was followed by allies Australia, Britain and Canada but that does not prevent US athletes from travelling to Beijing to compete.

China rejects allegations of human rights abuse and has repeatedly lashed out against the politicisation of the Games.

In a message to convey greetings for the Chinese New Year festival next week, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told China-based foreign diplomats that China "has the confidence and ability to remove the interference" and turn the Winter Games into an event that promotes friendship and mutual understanding.

‘Bersatu not part of Muafakat as it betrayed Umno during Sabah polls’

‘Bersatu not part of Muafakat as it betrayed Umno during Sabah polls’

Many of its politicians had also defected after GE14, says Datuk Seri Najib Razak

Datuk Seri Najib Razak says that the Umno grassroots members are aware of Bersatu’s betrayal and had resoundingly decided in the Umno general assembly last year to reject any cooperation with Bersatu and Perikatan Nasional. – The Vibes file pic, January 30, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR – Bersatu was not made part of the Muafakat Nasional alliance as the party had betrayed Umno during the Sabah elections, said Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

The former prime minister said although Bersatu had signed an agreement to join MN in August 2020, its coalition Perikatan Nasional had fielded candidates in 17 seats during the polls in Sabah less than three weeks after inking the deal.

Najib, who is also Barisan Nasional adviser, said this in response to “propaganda” by several quarters that claimed Umno was “dishonest” in its political cooperation with other parties.

He claimed PN had also placed six independent candidates in seats contested by BN in order to split votes.

However, he said, BN had managed to win 14 seats in the election, opposed to the 11 won by Bersatu.

Najib also pointed out that many of the Bersatu politicians involved were former Umno leaders who defected after the 14th general election.

“That is why Umno felt betrayed,” Najib said in a Facebook post today.

“Umno was forced to let go of many seats that traditionally belonged to BN and which had the highest chances of winning for Bersatu as part of negotiations, allowing for (Bersatu to take) the chief minister post if our alliance won.”

Yesterday, Bersatu and PAS cautioned that their support for the Umno-led federal government is conditional, and called for their backing to be respected and even further negotiated.

The two PN parties expressed disappointment over political playmaking by certain quarters, following a meeting between them at Glenmarie Hotel here today.

Bersatu president and former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin warned that these undue political manoeuvres hampered unity and risked the nation’s prosperity. Also present was PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang.

Muhyiddin stopped short of naming the parties in question.

He stressed that the two parties’ support for the federal administration is conditional, and ought to be given due respect and negotiated based on the values of integrity, anti-corruption, and welfare.

Despite earlier agreements, Najib said PN had still gone ahead and fought BN candidates in the 17 seats and placed independent candidates in six other seats in Sabah.

Najib also said the chief minister post went to PN, although BN won more seats.

“So are you still going to use the propaganda that Umno had broken its promises and betrayed MN and PAS because it did not proceed to invite Bersatu after realising that we had been betrayed by a dishonest group?” Najib asked.

“Why should we cooperate and be friends with those who have hidden intentions to end Umno forever through various means including bribing our members and betraying us?”

Najib added that the Umno grassroots members were aware of the betrayal and had resoundingly decided in the Umno general assembly last year to reject any cooperation with Bersatu and PN. – The Vibes, January 30, 2022

Analysts tell who will gain if Pejuang, Muda join the fray in Johor

Malaysia Now:

Analysts tell who will gain if Pejuang, Muda join the fray in Johor

While no political party has yet announced a candidate list, many have stated their interest in contesting the Johor state election.

A motorcyclist pauses at a junction decorated with party flags ahead of the Melaka state election last November.

Any arrival on the scene of newer opposition groups like Muda and Pejuang at the Johor state polls will likely cause more split votes for Pakatan Harapan (PH), ultimately benefiting Barisan Nasional (BN), several analysts say.

They said such a situation would also complicate the goal of toppling BN in the state, given that Johor is the birthplace of Umno and still considered its stronghold.

Ahmad Martadha Mohamed of Universiti Utara Malaysia said it would make it more difficult for PH to gain the support of young voters if Muda decides to contest the Johor election.

“Bear in mind that the 700,000 voters registered in Johor also include young voters who in the end may wind up the kingmakers,” he said.

“Not many of the youth support BN, especially in urban areas.”

But while Muda might have a significant impact in the polls, James Chin of the University of Tasmania said many other new parties would also be eager to try their luck.

He said this would only cause more uncertainty for parties looking to defeat BN.

“Having said that, it is still too early to predict what will happen as none of the parties have announced their candidates yet,” he added.

PH chairman Anwar Ibrahim previously said that his pact was open to working with other opposition blocs such as Pejuang, Warisan and Muda.

At the 14th general election in 2018, PH won 36 of the seats in the Johor state assembly.

However, it lost control of the state government after Bersatu’s exit from the PH coalition.

Since the dissolution of the Johor assembly last week, several newer parties have stated their interest in contesting the election to come, with Pejuang saying it would field candidates in 42 of the 56 seats available.

PN, BN’s main contender

Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said BN’s main competition would come from Perikatan Nasional (PN) as its chairman Muhyiddin Yassin is a recognised figure in the state.

But he said it would be difficult for Muhyiddin’s Bersatu to pull off a repeat of its achievements in 2018 as Umno still held sway in Johor.

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, he said a “people’s tsunami” would not likely take place.

“This will also make it hard for PH to match its achievements in 2018, what more pull off a victory in Johor,” he said.

Chin meanwhile said Pejuang might be on shaky footing given that its leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad would be unlikely to participate in the campaign due to health issues.

“Even if Pejuang runs in the election, its election machinery is very limited in Johor.

“So it will be interesting to see who they field. With Mahathir in hospital, the focus will definitely be on the party’s achievements,” he said, adding that in any event, the veteran leader is not particularly popular in Johor.

The Johor legislative assembly was dissolved on Jan 22, paving the way for the fourth state election since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, after the Sabah, Melaka and Sarawak polls.

Genting HK: Why blame me when Zafrul was the lead arranger then, Najib alleges

Genting HK: Why blame me when Zafrul was the lead arranger then, Najib alleges

FORMER Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak broke his silence on the Genting Hong Kong scandal and accused cybertroopers of trying to pin the blame on him.

“We are talking about commercial banks here and the Finance Ministry never interferes in their day-to-day operations. They are free to provide loans to anyone including gaming businesses.

“But if you people are still dissatisfied, then please seek clarification from the then-Maybank Investment Bank CEO who served as its lead arranger for the loans given to Genting HK.

“The lead arranger goes by the name Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz,” he said, in a Facebook post.

Two weeks ago, it was revealed that Genting HK filed a winding-up petition in Bermuda after the bankruptcy of its shipyard in Germany triggered US$2.78 bil (RM11.68 bil) in debt, forcing Asia’s largest operator of sea cruises to be liquidated.

Additionally, a US court has also issued an arrest warrant and ruled that the company’s luxury cruise ship Crystal Symphony would be seized if it docked in Miami. This follows the filing of a lawsuit by Peninsula Petroleum to recoup US$4.6 mil in total unpaid fees for bunker fuel it had delivered to three of Genting Hong Kong’s ships since 2017.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim then urged Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz to explain how Genting HK could obtain RM2.5 bil in unsecured loans from three local banks in 2012.

Yesterday, Zafrul said that providing unsecured loans were not unusual and banks had the freedom to grant such loans based on their risk appetite.

In the case of Genting HK, he added the loans were approved prior to COVID-19, which gravely hurt the cruise operator’s business.

Loans paid off before 2019?

Elaborating on the matter, Najib said that the first loan worth US$600 mil to build the ships was for seven years, from 2012 until 2019, which means it had been paid off in 2019, before COVID-19 started and the company started having problems.

And he claimed that the seven-year loan was secured, which had a collateral attached to it.

“The second US$300 mil loan was only for three years, which was paid back in 2015. Don’t tell me the banks were so generous that it didn’t attempt to seek to recover its loans for seven years until now?

“Anyhow, if there were loans given after 2019, again I was not involved. Trying asking the finance ministers then,” he remarked. – Jan 30, 2022.

Pahang deforestation gone out of hand, transparency urgently needed

Pahang deforestation gone out of hand, transparency urgently needed

Sustainable Malaysia Association has also called for better logging activity management by the state authorities

Stressing that the deforestation situation has gone out of hand, Sustainable Malaysia Association committee member Nor Hashimah Ishak highlights some controversies related to this matter, including illegal durian plantations in what should be a protected forest in Pahang. – Pixabay pic, January 30, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR – A non-governmental organisation (NGO) advocating a balanced approach to development and environmental sustainability has taken the Pahang Forestry Department to task for not being transparent to the public about the state’s forest condition and urged them to do so.

The Sustainable Malaysia Association today also called for better logging activity management by the Pahang authorities, especially in areas such as permanent forest reserves.

Its committee member Nor Hashimah Ishak pointed out that there have been a number of controversies surrounding logging cases in the forests of Bentong last month, but these were only met by denials from the department, leading to public confusion.

She noted that signboards with details of deforestation permits were spotted, showing the affordable housing developments were approved on some forest lands.

Sustainable Malaysia also found that there had been 68 forest-related illegal activities from January to November last year according to the department’s own records.

“The forestry department has to come clean with their data so that the public is informed of the actual condition of the forest area in Bentong, whether it is under threat of deforestation or not,” she said in a statement today.

Stressing that the deforestation situation has gone out of hand, Nor Hashima highlighted some controversies related to this matter, including illegal durian plantations in what should be a protected forest.

“There was also the controversy involving illegal durian plantations at Batu Talam permanent forest reserve that was taking place for decades under the nose of Pahang Forestry Department,” she said.

“Not to mention the deforestation in the vicinity of Tasik Chini in 2019 that has called into question the state forestry department’s effort in protecting the natural ecology and preventing the likelihood of the revocation of the site’s Unesco Biosphere Reserve status gained in 2009.

“These incidents suggest that deforestation in Pahang is widespread and uncontrollable,” she said.

Last month, pictures and videos revealing deforestation and the presence of heavy machinery on-site surfaced online involving suspected logging in Bentong.

Expressing concern, Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia president Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil has called on the Forestry Department to explain on how they had allowed the machinery and lorries to enter the Bukit Tinggi and Lentang Forest Reserves which were not only located next to the Karak Highway but was also a landslide site back in 2015.

Additionally, the floods that swept through the district in December also gave rise to worries about extensive logging, forest clearing at steep hills and lack of soil erosion controls.

The Global Environmental Centre (GEC) claimed that between December 17 and 19 last year, not much of the forest was left intact to slow the massive flow of water, soil, logs and forest debris that washed downstream rapidly. This led to devastation in Karak, Bentong, and surrounding villages and townships, it said

“The muddy water rose so rapidly that many houses were submerged without warning and many were badly damaged as a result of the logs and other debris.

“Logs were also jammed under bridges, blocking the rivers and forcing the water and mud to overflow into the surrounding areas, causing further damage,” said GEC. – The Vibes, January 30, 2022

Govt taking Sabah hanging bridge issue too lightly: state philanthropists

Govt taking Sabah hanging bridge issue too lightly: state philanthropists

Tens of thousands of locals still relying on over 1,000 unsafe structures in state

Schoolchildren of Kg Nelayan Tengah in Sandakan using a dilapidated hanging bridge to journey to school every day. State activists are urging the government to provide for the repairs and maintenance of the numerous hanging bridges across Sabah. – The Vibes file pic, January 30, 2022

KOTA KINABALU – The state administration is taking the hanging bridge issue in Sabah too lightly, and it is time that Kota Kinabalu and the community prioritise the safety and maintenance of these bridges in the state, said philanthropist Anuar Ghani.

The managing director of North Borneo Explorer Sdn Bhd and trustee of non-governmental organisation (NGO) Sabar (Sabah Action Body Advocating Rights) said as much as Sabah would want to have total connectivity with proper roads and bridges, for the time being, hanging bridges still play an important role in rural life.

We need to look into the condition of all hanging bridges in Sabah, which are widely used all over the state, before someone dies, urges philanthropist Anuar Ghani. – The Vibes file pic, January 30, 2022

Many of these bridges are made of ropes and planks, and suspended across rivers.

“It is time that we highlight the issue and give importance to it. The government can appoint a task force that specifically looks into the condition of all hanging bridges in Sabah before somebody dies,” he said.

Speaking at a forum titled Fixing Hanging Bridges: Government’s Job or Ours? organised by Sabah Way Forward and Kupikupi FM live on Facebook recently, the activist stressed that hanging bridges are important infrastructures in Sabah but have been overlooked by the government over the years.

Anuar explained that those living in the Land Beneath the Wind cannot escape from using the hanging bridges due to its current economic state.

He pointed out that it is clear these crossings are vital in remote and not-so-remote areas in Sabah, and have been a necessity and a fact of life for a very long time.

If the Limbahau constituency alone has 20 hanging bridges, and we have 73 state seats, we may well have over 1,460 hanging bridges in the state. It is utilised daily by Sabahans, including schoolchildren.

“We must prioritise (this issue),” he said.

Anuar opined that as a way forward, the first step should be identifying the number of hanging bridges that need to be repaired and the level of maintenance that they require.

He recommended the local district offices identify hanging bridges that have problems and raise the matter with the respective district’s state assembly representative. The assemblyman in turn should raise the issue and request allocations from Sabah’s Rural Development Ministry.

“This is where the government must prioritise the issue of hanging bridges by providing allocation as quickly as possible,” he said.

Anuar said he also believes in taking matters into one’s own hands.

He said other than getting allocation from the government, the district office can approach local NGOs such as 4x4 clubs and other charity foundations that operate in their local areas.

(Clockwise from top left) Moderator Philip Golingai, Parti Bersatu Sabah Datuk Johnny Masitun, NGO Sabar trustee Anuar Ghani, and Persatuan Jangkauan Kasih Pitas (Reach Out) founder Fauziah Stephens at the virtual forum titled Fixing Hanging Bridges: Government’s Job or Ours? organised by Sabah Way Forward and Kupikupi FM on Facebook Live. – Screen grab pic, January 30, 2022

Besides requesting government assistance, the businessman recalled Malaysia’s tradition of community cooperation, better known as gotong-royong, to make working or repairing these bridges a lot more fun.

“Community involvement is very important. We can make it a gotong-royong session; it can be a family outing (activity) – set up a campsite, we enjoy barbecue and a singalong with the villagers. Get the community involved and have fun at the same time.

“Make the activity ‘sexy’. Attract everyone to get involved,” he said.

The forum was conducted following news about a dilapidated hanging bridge in Kg Nelayan Tengah, Sg Manila, Sandakan, which is utilised by schoolchildren daily, that had gone viral.

Meanwhile, founder and chairman of Persatuan Jangakauan Kasih Pitas (Reach Out) Fauziah Stephens urged for the federal government to prepare an allocation specifically to fix hanging bridges in Sabah during the discussion.

Sabah cannot be this poor that we have dilapidated hanging bridges and disconnected villages without road access. We are rich in natural resources like oil, yet it does not show. Sabah is the poorest state in the country.

“The federal government must provide allocation to Sabah that shows justice to the state,” she said, agreeing that Putrajaya should prioritise the condition of hanging bridges in Sabah.

She also hopes that the Sabah Foundation (Yayasan Sabah), which was reported to have recorded its largest-ever profit of RM500 million last year, can make a donation to Reach Out so the body can repair dilapidated hanging bridges in Sabah and conduct other charity work. – The Vibes, January 30, 2022


kt comments:

I posted on this issue almost 3 weeks ago in:

Puad: PAS weakens the Muafakat Nasional

Puad turns 'lame duck' slur on Hadi as Umno-PAS feud builds

It is PAS that acted to weaken the Muafakat Nasional (MN) by joining the Perikatan Nasional (PN) and supporting to the point of being willing to sideline party's leaders who support the Umno-PAS pact.

Umno Supreme Council member Mohd Puad Zarkashi reminded PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang that his party is actually the "lame duck" who ignored the MN charter for the sake of a position in the government.

"Who broke his leg and wanted to swim on his own? Remember that the MN charter was sealed with tears at PWTC

"Actually, it is PAS that weakened MN when it joined PN and played both sides. PAS was carried away because of the benefits of ministerial and federal government positions that PAS has not felt for a long time.

"That is why PAS is willing to sideline two or three of its top leaders who are pro -MN such as Khairuddin (Aman Razali), Nik Abduh (Nik Aziz) and Zuhdi (Marzuki)," he said in a post on his Facebook.

Hadi on Friday had accused Umno of being ungrateful following the latter's reluctance to forge an electoral pact.

Broke its leg

"We saved a lame duck. It broke its leg during the 14th general election... Unfortunately, when it was healed, it wanted to swim on its own. It left us," he said.

This irked Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan who said that Umno had not relied on PAS for its revival.

"For those calling Umno a duck, goose, tiger or whatever, call what you may please.

"Umno remains the largest Malay party and also the biggest party in Malaysia. Our revival is not due to PAS' miracle medicine," Mohamad (above) said in a statement uploaded on Facebook.

Meanwhile, Mohd Puad claimed that PAS knew that Umno rejected PN because Bersatu stabbed Umno in the back and that happened in the Sabah election.

Stabbed from behind

"But PAS doesn't care about that at all because PAS doesn't lose anything.

"The time will come when PAS will be stabbed from behind. There is no political honesty in PN. In Umno, it is better to go solo. Umno does not lose. That was proven in the Malacca election.

"Don't let PAS become a duck with a broken leg. Maybe it will end up with two broken legs because it conspired with Bersatu which is dominated by political frogs," he added.

Kit Siang shouldn't parrot US propaganda on Venezuela - don't be a US stoolie lah, please resign

S Arutchelvan

COMMENT | I truly understand how disgruntled Lim Kit Siang is given the fact that Pakatan Harapan is doing badly in elections lately and very recently PH could not even make its mind on a common logo for the Johor State Election. While I understand his frustration - why bring up Venezuela as an example?

Is Lim singing to the tune of the US and its allies who have embargoed and sanctioned Venezuela as their democratic Government does not want to play ball with the US? Why did Lim use Venezuela as a bogeyman once again just like he did back in 2019?

Lim asserts that Venezuela was one of the richest countries in the world. Venezuela’s extreme dependence on oil income both brought great riches but made the country extremely vulnerable to the collapse of oil prices (like in the 1980s).

The oil boom in the 1950s and 1960s brought significant numbers of Venezuelans from rural areas to the nation’s capital (Caracas) but such urbanization resulted in a large growth of informal settlements in Caracas.

While such oil booms do translate to better wages, the reality of pre-Chavez Venezuela was unaddressed inequality. With the decline of oil prices in the 1980s, some members of lower-income communities had to resort to eating dog food to survive.

In 1989, Venezuelans forcefully attempted to implement neoliberalism and this resulted in a massacre that killed nearly 3000 Venezuelans under this supposed oasis of democracy in the 1980s.

Oil industry

One wonders about the illusion that Lim has about the richness of Venezuela. While the oil industry of Venezuela was nationalized in 1976, the oil industry was acting like a state within a state and the benefits of the industry did not spread to all communities of the country.

With the election of president Hugo Chavez in 1998, Chavez’s government asserted state authority on the Venezuelan oil industry. The revenues of the industry and efforts of Chavez’s government translated in enabling, empowering and enriching the people, by providing healthcare and education, supporting co-operative and workers’ movements, and strengthening Venezuelan cultural identity.

Venezuela had adopted a new constitution in 1999, and conducts elections electronically with strong safeguards against fraud and even have a provision for recall elections (the ability to recall elected leaders, including the President of the Country – Chavez was subject to such a recall in 2004).

The United Nations praised the reforms for bringing Venezuela out of poverty. At the same time, we need to acknowledge that Venezuela is enduring a severe economic crisis and the country does need to break out from the unhealthy dependency on oil.

The country has unaddressed high rates of crime, challenges in shifting to a more workers-controlled economy and high inflation rates.

Lim may need to explore the problems of other countries backed by United States such as Colombia – the deadliest country for trade unionists and workers and a country that is destabilizing Venezuela politically. Perhaps Lim Kit Siang should explain what he meant by Venezuela of Asean?

Humanitarian crisis

Lim’s argument that Venezuela today is facing a humanitarian crisis and with the state facing bankruptcy should be discussed in the right context. The humanitarian crisis is not due to corruption in the government but due to the US-imposed embargo.

They have also blocked Venezuelan money through dirty and inhumane tactics. Lim seems to be reading from the Washington Post rather than realising that the Venezuelan people have continuously given support for reforms and have elected the Socialist government for almost 2 decades now.

Lim is oblivious to the fact that Venezuela has been subjected to economic warfare for years where goods shortages and electricity disruptions are linked to the election period. Moreover, Venezuela has not broken out from a century-old economic dependency on oil. It is intellectual dishonesty to compare the Malaysian situation with Venezuela when the national circumstances are totally different.

Another point that Lim made was that China was once labelled as the "Sick Man of Asia" but again who made up these labels?. When China adopted the capitalist model, the sick man suddenly became a healthy man.

But now since China is becoming an economic powerhouse, they are now threatening the US economy once again. They will soon be labelled “terrorists” of the Pacific. Will Lim also parrot American propaganda then?

It is important that we make comparisons with other countries to put in context the situation in Malaysia, but biased comparisons based on the US imperialist worldview is problematic.

S ARUTCHELVAN is PSM deputy chairperson.

Umno veep Khaled mocks PAS as a ‘serial divorcer’

Umno veep Khaled mocks PAS as a ‘serial divorcer’

Umno vice-president Khaled Nordin said Umno does not want ties with a party that “changes its decisions and stance according to the season”.

JOHOR BAHRU: Umno vice-president Khaled Nordin has mocked PAS as a serial divorcer, for its many failed relationships with other political parties.

Khaled, a former Johor menteri besar, said the Islamic party had entered into numerous “political marriages” with other parties before ending their relationships, something which Umno wanted to avoid.

“In Melaka, they chose to be with (the Bersatu-led) Perikatan Nasional. In Sarawak, they fielded their own candidate,” he told FMT.

Yesterday, PAS reaffirmed its pact with Bersatu for the Johor state elections.

Khaled maintained that Umno could not discuss any cooperation with PAS when the Islamic party seemed to be unclear about its own stand, adding that his party’s “No Bersatu” stance remained.

He said Umno did not want a relationship with a party that “changes its decisions and stance according to the season”.

Umno and PAS are partners in the Muafakat Nasional alliance, but Khaled said “Umno doesn’t want to be a PAS divorcee. This is something they can do at any time”.

He added: “Likewise, PAS can call off its relationship with Bersatu at any time.” For the time being, however, Bersatu has found benefit in its alliance with PAS.

The Johor state assembly was dissolved last week after speculation and calls from Umno leaders for fresh polls. The Election Commission will meet on Feb 9 to decide on the date for the state election.

India takes on China and Russia in a Great Game for Central Asia


India takes on China and Russia in a Great Game for Central Asia

PM Narendra Modi to hold summit with leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan on Thursday – days after they met China’s Xi Jinping

India sees a chance to burnish its great power credentials, experts say, but it has far to go to catch imperial past master Moscow and big-spending Beijing

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to meet leaders from Central Asia on Thursday. Photo: AFP

Until this week the Indian press had been keen to hype up Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s summit with the five Central Asian republics.

So much so that some reports went as far as to claim that the meeting, to be held on Thursday, was a feat that neither China nor Russia – despite their close strategic and economic links with the region – had been able to achieve.

The crowing stopped on Monday, when China’s foreign ministry announced that President Xi Jinping would chair a virtual summit the following day to mark 30 years of diplomatic relations with the five Central Asian nations.

During Xi’s meeting with the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, China pledged to provide 50 million Covid-19 vaccine doses and US$500 million for livelihood projects.

‘The Chinese will always stand by the people of Kazakhstan’, China says

If the Indian press had been trying to burnish New Delhi’s credentials as a power in Central Asia – showcasing Modi’s “political intentions”, as one analyst in the Chinese tabloid Global Times put it – Xi’s pledges were a reminder of how far it has to go.

Still, despite the appearance of having been upstaged by the Xi meeting, Modi’s summit had the potential to be a “game changer”, said Ashok Sajjanhar, India’s former ambassador to Kazakhstan, Sweden and Latvia.

Sajjanhar said ties with the region were not about “one-upmanship” and that greater collaboration with India could help Central Asian countries ensure more balanced relations with other regional powers and benefit from India’s experience in countering radicalisation and terrorism.

“This is particularly significant after the violence and killings in Kazakhstan at the beginning of January this year,” Sajjanhar said, referring to unrest attributed by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to terrorists from Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region. Russia had sent troops to help quell the disturbances.

Russia sent troops to Kazakhstan in January to help quell unrest the country’s president blamed on terrorists. Photo: AP

Analysts said that Modi’s meeting showed Delhi’s growing interest in a region it considered part of its extended neighbourhood and therefore of critical importance.

“India is seeking to increase its engagement with Central Asia to be commensurate with the importance of the region for India,” said Nandan Unnikrishnan, a distinguished fellow of the Observer Research Foundation think tank in Delhi.

Edward Lemon, a research assistant professor at the Texas A&M University in the United States, said Central Asia offered India an opportunity “to burnish its great power credentials” through various forms of political, security and economic cooperation.

“Central Asia has been talked about in India as an opportunity to develop alternative sources of energy and to attempt to encircle Pakistan. But these efforts haven’t got very far,” Lemon said.

Modi visited all the Central Asian countries in 2015, and two years later set up links with the region’s foreign ministries. For this week’s summit, the five Central Asian leaders had originally been expected to arrive as guests at India’s Republic Day celebration on Wednesday. However, the summit was changed to a virtual setting due – according to New Delhi – to the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, India is expected to push for an agreement to hold regular summits with the region every two years. It is also expected to create a secretariat to coordinate the effort.

Issues on the summit’s agenda include defence and security, trade and connectivity, in particular the use of Chabahar port in Iran. Delhi partnered Tehran in building the port to strengthen trade between India and the landlocked countries of the region.

Lemon said the situation in Afghanistan would be high on the agenda, as stabilising the country was key to realising joint connectivity projects. However, Lemon cautioned that concrete outcomes were unlikely.

“While all will reaffirm a commitment to cooperating, little will actually come of it,” Lemon said.

Afghanistan will be high on the agenda at Modi’s summit with Central Asian leaders. Photo: AFP

China’s summit, meanwhile, might have been motivated at least in part by a leadership change in Kazakhstan, said Swaran Singh, professor of international studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University of Delhi.

“Kazakhstan, China’s biggest partner in the region, has seen the end of an era from a pro-Beijing President [Nursultan] Nazarbayev to Tokayev who is seen as closer to Moscow,” Singh said.

Nazarbayev stepped down in 2019 after nearly three decades as president, but had remained head of the country’s security council until last month when the title was stripped from him after fuel price rises triggered unrest in the country’s capital Almaty.

Beijing’s summit, Singh said, was it trying to put its “stamp of credibility” on things.

China’s influence rising

Arvind Gupta, a retired Indian diplomat, said India’s historical connections with the region had been disrupted in recent decades and it now wanted “to restore and revive these links at a time when China’s influence there has grown significantly”.

In recent years, China has become the leading trading partner of Central Asia and many of the infrastructure projects in the region are financed by Beijing.

According to the American Enterprise Institute’s China Global Investment Tracker, since 2013 Beijing has given more than US$17 billion to projects in Kazakhstan, around US$4 billion to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, and US$710 million to Tajikistan.

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan had highlighted the importance of Central Asia, said Gupta, director of Vivekananda International Foundation, a Delhi-based think-tank.

“The return of the Taliban in Afghanistan has enhanced the threat of terrorism and radicalism for India and the region,” Gupta said.

Afghanistan shares its border to the north with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and to the south with Pakistan, including the Kashmiri areas administered by Pakistan but claimed by India.

China’s President Xi Jinping with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Photo: DPA

Competing with Russia?

Gupta said Russia, China and the US were competing with each other for influence in Central Asia.

“China is draining away the region’s natural wealth while Russia is a past imperial master,” Gupta said. “India, on the other hand, can share its vast experience of development as well as its huge market. Regional countries face no threat from India.”

Singh, from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, said that while Central Asian nations often felt caught between China and Russia, they were keen to turn to India as an economic and political alternative.

“From past partnerships, they are aware of India’s potential in varying fields from education to pharmaceuticals, hydrocarbons, tourism, information, cyber and space technologies,” Singh said.

Regional countries face no threat from India
Arvind Gupta

Jessica Neafie, an assistant political science and international relations professor at the Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan, said the summit was an opportunity for Central Asian republics to further trade in the energy sector, both in hydrocarbons and in renewables.

However, Long Xingchun, president of the Chengdu Institute of World Affairs, said Central Asia had traditionally been Russia’s sphere of influence, and India’s influence was still significantly behind China’s.

Long suggested the real reason the Modi summit was being held virtually was because the heads of the Central Asian countries had declined to attend in person.

“But leaders of these nations have agreed to come to Beijing to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics,” said Long. “This shows that although Central Asian countries want to give India face, they will not give India too much face.”

India’s lack of investment in the region and a lack of common borders did not work in its favour, he said.

“The substantive relationship and benefits of cooperation between India and Central Asia are very limited,” Long said.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

The Price For Sleeping With The Devil – Treated Like A Beggar, Hadi Now Accuses UMNO Of Being Ungrateful & Immoral

The Price For Sleeping With The Devil – Treated Like A Beggar, Hadi Now Accuses UMNO Of Being Ungrateful & Immoral

Once upon a time, former PM Mahathir Mohamad had warned Muhyiddin Yassin against working together with UMNO, predicting that the two parties would face problems in the future. Mahathir warned his trusted lieutenant – “You’re going to have trouble with UMNO because UMNO is the bigger party. You are the smaller party and you’ll depend on them. If they pull back, you are finished.”

However, the arrogant and power-crazy Muhyiddin rubbished the warning. Mahathir revealed – “But Muhyiddin said he could handle the problem. I am going to see how he handles it”. Mr Muhyiddin eventually betrayed his allies in the democratically-elected Pakatan Harapan government, and formed a backdoor government with UMNO and Islamic party PAS in March 2020.

The United Malays National Organization (UMNO), defeated in the 2018 General Election, was returned to power as one of governing partners in Muhyiddin’s fragile Perikatan Nasional government. But as predicted by Mahathir, Muhyiddin only survived for 17 months when a group of 15 UMNO rebels, led by former PM Najib Razak and UMNO president Zahid Hamidi, withdrew their support.

Once upon a time, Nik Abdul Aziz, former spiritual leader of Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), warned against working together with UMNO, rejecting any form of unity talks with UMNO because UMNO cannot be trusted. His distrust for UMNO leaders began in the 1970s, when PAS was part of Barisan Nasional coalition. UMNO had betrayed PAS, making the Islamic party a junior partner before dumping it.

However, after his death, arrogant and corrupt PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang ignored all the warnings. All it took for then-PM Najib Razak to break-up the rising star opposition Pakatan Rakyat was RM90 million to bribe Mr Hadi. Using “Hudud Law” as an excuse, PAS announced its decision to sever ties with DAP, accusing the Democratic Action Party of being anti-Islam.

PAS won only 18 parliamentary seats in the 2018 election, but became one of the governing partners in Muhyiddin’s backdoor government. But as predicted by Nik Abdul Aziz, after having toppled Muhyiddin in August 2021, UMNO under Najib and Zahid has already made their moves to not only make PAS an irrelevant junior partner, but is preparing to dump the Islamic party.

Today, both Muhyiddin Yassin and Hadi Awang pay the price for sleeping with the devil. Traitor Muhyiddin, who thought he could control UMNO, had lost his “Iron Throne” in a matter of just 17 months, becoming the shortest serving prime minister in the history. Extremist Hadi, who thought he could piggyback on both UMNO and Bersatu, is about to lose his power very soon.

The best part is, Hadi did not even see it coming when Najib and Zahid strategically dissolved the Johor State Assembly, paving the way for state polls in a game plan to eventually pressure lame duck Prime Minister Ismail Sabri to call for a nationwide snap election. After winning two-thirds majority in the Melaka state election, UMNO is confident of doing the same in Johor.

Before the Johor legislative assembly was dissolved, the previously un-elected Barisan Nasional-led government held 28 seats (UMNO – 14 seats, MIC – 2 seats, Bersatu – 11 seats, PAS – 1 seat) while opposition Pakatan Harapan had 27 seats – DAP (14), PKR (7) and Amanah (6). UMNO Johor believes not only it can grab all of Bersatu and PAS’ seats, but also to capture a significant of the Opposition’s seats.

Mr Hadi was particularly upset and mad because not only he was not consulted before the Johor state assembly was dissolved, UMNO has no intention of sharing seats with PAS, let alone Bersatu. UMNO’s reluctance to forge any electoral pact or alliance with its allies in the state election means it does not have any respect for Hadi or PAS, supposedly its ally in the Muafakat Nasional alliance.

To the Islamic party’s horror, the “greedy” UMNO offered only four state assembly seats to it. Incredibly confidence, UMNO is ready to fly solo in the Johor state election. If UMNO can win big in Melaka, it can certainly win bigger in the friendlier terrain Johor. PAS president Hadi can either take UMNO’s offer or go fly kite with Bersatu president Muhyiddin. After all, beggars can’t be choosers.

Amusingly, Hadi has slammed UMNO for being ungrateful, complaining – “We save a lame duck. it broke its leg during the 14th General Election. Unfortunately, when it was healed, it wanted to swim on its own. It left us. This is immoral and not correct”. He was referring to UMNO being rejected by the people in 2018, and riding on PAS in winning multiple by-elections as the opposition.

In September 2019, a national cooperation between oppositions UMNO and PAS, glorified as Muafakat Nasional under the pretext of Malay-unity, was announced in their desperate attempt to grab power by hook or by crook – including stirring up racial and religion sentiments among the Malays that the Muslims and Malay Rulers have lost power to the “Chinese, Christians and Communists”.

Exactly why is “Goblok” Hadi whining, moaning and bitching now about being played and tricked by UMNO, when former spiritual leader Nik Aziz had already warned against working together with UMNO years ago? What is so immoral about UMNO dumping PAS when Hadi happily worked with Muhyiddin, Najib and Zahid in 2020, snatching power and forming an un-elected backdoor regime?

Heck, both Hadi and Zahid were even kissing and hugging each other when they announced the Muafakat Nasional. What has happened to the so-called Malay dignity and Muslim brotherhood? In truth, Hadi saved the lame duck UMNO primarily because he wanted to ride on UMNO to gain power, the same way PAS rides on Islam religion to hoodwink gullible supporters.

Hadi was also furious when UMNO treated his party like a beggar. He complained to reporters till foaming at the mouth that the Islamic party was not a “beggar” seeking scraps. He actually should be grateful that UMNO was willing to give him 4 seats in the upcoming Johor state election. During the 2018 election, PAS only won 1 out of 40 seats it contested.

Hilariously, the PAS president, in what appears to be a declaration of war, has openly hit the UMNO Court Cluster for triggering the Johor state election. He condemned the tactic as an attempt by some UMNO crooks to escape criminal charges. He said – “We know that the ones responsible for this strategy are the court cluster, those who lost the 14th general election, those who have no positions.”

The Court Cluster refers to a group of UMNO leaders including ex-PM Najib Razak and party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. But in July 2020, it was Mr Hadi who led several top PAS leaders to visit Najib at his home, the same day Najib was found guilty by the High Court of corruption in relation to RM42 million belonging to SRC International (a subsidiary of 1MDB).

In fact, Najib, the world’s biggest crook, was so touched by Hadi’s visit and support that he said true friends would stick together in good and bad times. Hadi had brought along PAS heavyweights like deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan and Syura council member Khairuddin Aman Razali to Najib’s home as a sign of unwavering support.

It’s both entertaining and flabbergasting that only when Najib and Zahid are dumping PAS that Hadi calls the Court Cluster ungrateful, arrogant and whatnot. Actually, the corrupt PAS president should be extremely grateful to Najib, who gave him RM90 million bribes, enabling him to marry young wives and buy Mercedes Benz. Of course, after tasting money, Hadi cannot afford to lose power.

Without UMNO, PAS cannot be part of the federal government after the next 15th General Election because Najib and Zahid will kick Hadi’s party out of the equation. That’s the real reason Hadi is throwing a tantrum and playing the victim card. The snake oil salesman thought he was clever in riding both Bersatu and UMNO, only to be dumped by UMNO unexpected.

Instead of crying over spilt milk, PAS and Bersatu should withdraw their support for the current un-elected UMNO government. The trumpeted Malay-Muslim unity and government has been a scam from the beginning. And the biggest scammer is UMNO, who used PAS to win multiple by-elections and used Bersatu to return to power. Both PAS and Bersatu had been warned, but greed clouded their judgement.

Like it or not, PAS deserves it. There’s a reason why UMNO veteran Tengku Razaleigh called PAS a prostitute. The PAS Talibans will do anything for money. Hadi still hasn’t a clue that UMNO just needed PAS for a few seconds of pleasure, never for a lifetime marriage. It’s not personal, but using each other for the Iron Throne. If it would make Hadi feels better, it’s karma.

Not many moons ago, DAP and PKR also saved a lame duck called PAS. Unable to get out of Kelantan after decades of trying, DAP and PKR nursed and brought PAS to be part of Selangor state government. Unfortunately, when it was offered RM90 million, it bit the hand that feed it and wanted to swim on its own. It left Pakatan Harapan. Now, that is truly immoral, ungrateful, arrogant and incorrect.