Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Anwar has bought Harapan time

S Thayaparan

“Like Caesar, he is surrounded by enemies, and something's underway, but it has no face, yet everybody in the loop knows.”

– Oliver Stone’s JFK

COMMENT | For those of us Malay and non-Malay who do not want to see our country slide into a theocratic stupor, Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister of this country has bought us some time.

It remains to be seen how much time Anwar has to realise his Malaysian dream that he talks about so seductively in the press, which needs to be forged by not only realpolitik but with firm leadership made difficult by the fact that Pakatan Harapan does not have a strong mandate.

This is not so much a unity government but rather a compromise government because Perikatan Nasional has upended the establishment.

The establishment considers Anwar and Harapan (rightly so) the moderate centre-right coalition that would maintain the status quo, instead of the far-right ethnonationalist PN which would turn this country into a theocratic cesspool, thereby pitting Malaysia against its various Southeast Asian neighbours, and drawing Western proxy state actors further into this country.

Anwar not only has to deal with the sheathed (so far) daggers amongst his coalition partners but also balance the expectations of the Harapan base who some have already canonised him as the messiah who would save this country.

Within this coalition government are political operatives who have a great animus against everything Harapan stands for and are embroiled in inter-party power plays which would infect the governing of this country.

They will not be blamed because there would be a mendacious theocratic opposition who blame Harapan and Anwar specifically for failures made by people who want to derail Anwar’s reforms agenda and who are most probably aligned with them.

PN chairperson Muhyiddin Yassin said, “PN will play a role as an authoritative opposition to bring the voice of the people to Parliament and ensure the integrity and corruption-free governance of the government is in line with caring, clean, and stable (PN) principles.”

This is a cunning strategic move and is indicative of how virulent the opposition Anwar would have to endure. PAS is really calling the shots in PN and everyone knows it.

Now, they can tell their supporters that they would rather not be in a pro-Jewish, commie-loving, anti-Islamic government headed by someone who was not only convicted of sodomy but was also corrupt. Why in that order I will never understand, but there you go.

PN working in concert with people inside the Harapan government will attempt to draw Anwar and the DAP into countless culture wars and portray Anwar as a race traitor because of who he chooses to align with.

The DAP is going to have it extremely rough. For years, the running dog narrative they used against the MCA is going to return to bite them in their behinds like it did when they were briefly in power.

Now, nobody can blame Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the power dynamic in Harapan coupled with Umno and charlatans from Borneo is going to be extremely difficult to navigate the political terrain to strengthen the secular and democratic safeguards of this country.

PN chairperson Muhyiddin Yassin

Malay vote

PAS now has the perfect “Malay” opposition unconstrained by the needs or wants of the non-Malays. This is exactly the position they want to be in, as a vox populi of the Malay right unencumbered by any notions of multiculturalism and egalitarianism.

This is why PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan says this - "This is to respect the trust and mandate of the majority, especially the voters who chose PAS and PN during the 15th general election.”

The majority here is the majority of Malays who bought into the anti-DAP, pro-Jewish propaganda used against Harapan and Anwar.

Keep in mind the Sheraton traitors were motivated by the fact that Harapan when it had brief power, was losing the Malay vote.

This was why someone like the disgraced Azmin Ali was talking in the press about being unapologetic about the bumiputera agenda - "We must be brave and not hesitate in fulfilling our promises, especially on the Malay and bumiputera agenda, which is an integral part of the national agenda.

"We must do so without feeling apologetic or fearful of the criticism of others," he said in March 2019.

Yes, Anwar in his first presser assured that Malay rights and Islam would be protected but this will never be enough for the likes of PN.

What PN wants is to dismantle secular and democratic norms (PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang has more or less said this in various ceramah) and would cajole Anwar to do the same.

What they desire is that Malay rights trump non-Malay rights and this could mean anything from Islamic sensitivities when it comes to certain economic sectors and the tightening of our social spaces in deference to Malay preoccupations. Nobody wants to hear this now, but this is the game plan.

To counter the political insurgency of PAS, what is needed is not political bromides and ridiculous propaganda like “Bangsa Malaysia” but rather effective policies on the economy and the environment.

The two are not mutually exclusive and should centre around the kind of policies that include entitlement programmes that favour the poor, young, and disenfranchised of the Malay community, which would necessitate strong federal-level engagement in the rural communities.

Also important (and PN knows this) is electoral delineation and various other electoral arcana, which need to be addressed to curb the unfair weightage of voters and the gerrymandering which favours political groups whose agenda is anathema to democratic norms.

Furthermore, term limits on political operatives need to be addressed.

However, the two most important apparatuses that need a strong presence in positions of power are the state security apparatus and the vast religious bureaucracy because these would be the front lines against extremist strategies.

Keep in mind that PN with its extremist strategies wants a confrontation with the state security apparatus because it makes them martyrs in the eyes of the base and sympathetic would-be voters especially if the economy and environment are tanking.

We need leadership in state security that understands the threats we are facing and sublimate the decades-long racial and religious indoctrination.

In other words, “our boys” understand the regional implications of coddling extremism in this country but can also balance democratic ideas and norms, such as free speech and freedom of assembly. Both of which are political strategies and require strategic federal political responses.

Reform agenda

Meanwhile, the vast religious bureaucracy has to be trimmed, with the money going to underappreciated civil servants who could play a direct part in the reform agenda and this includes not only underpaid personnel of the state security apparatus but the civil service, teachers, doctors, municipal council workers who find themselves on the front lines as they did during the Covid pandemic.

Nathaniel Tan was right about Harapan needing a narrative but what it needs is a Malay narrative because the non-Malay polity is not the target or should be of Anwar's cabinet.

In rhetoric and policy, Anwar has to get Harapan to commit to a Malay-centric reform agenda that does not marginalise or demonise the non-Malay community.

Why spend money on religious programmes when money could be spent on improving infrastructure, healthcare, and education for rural Malay communities?

PAS and PN are gloating that they are a strong Malay opposition and who knows, sometime soon, they could be joined by Umno/BN.

What they are missing is that the Malay demographic who for so long voted for Umno changed their vote to Bersatu and PAS.

The funny thing about people switching their votes is that their votes can switch at any time. The first time is difficult but once done, they could be persuaded to change their vote again.

Anwar as the prime minister of this country should be honest, not only about his Malay-centric agenda but also about the disparate groups within Harapan.

Do not gaslight the public thinking that the echo chambers will guarantee political power. This did not work in the Sheraton Move and it will certainly not work now that the “Malay” opposition has come to fruition.

Harapan needs to be honest, especially when dealing with racial and religious issues, choosing battles that need to be won especially when it comes to secular and democratic guard rails but not be baited by PAS and PN to always demonstrate Harapan's racial and religious bona fides.

This will be a trying time, especially for those of us who fear the direction of the country and who have not bought into the personality cults and propaganda.

It is also an exhilarating time because coalition politics actually means that politicians have to compromise and make deals which ultimately means that a bigger pool of interests could potentially be satisfied.

Some people have said that Anwar is a political chameleon. Irony, like revenge, is a dish best served cold.

Anwar has to appeal to a broad spectrum of potential voters while appearing to satisfy specific interest groups. This could be a game Anwar plays well, provided he has the support he needs and the messaging is on point.

There are positive paths this country could take but it all depends if Saudara Anwar is not easily spooked.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. Fīat jūstitia ruat cælum - “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”

Anwar must always trust his own judgment, be very careful of his close advisers

Anwar must always trust his own judgment, be very careful of his close advisers

EVEN as his predecessor Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has shot down the idea of plotting a clandestine “Langkah Tropicana” meeting with PAS – lamenting that he could not even see his friends anymore without being linked to a move to topple the government – Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim still has to take that assurance with a pinch of salt.

The dust has yet to fully settle – envy, hatred and vengeance – are lurking everywhere. The Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman has to be very careful of his surroundings; in the words of German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900, “the man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies but also to hate his friends”.

It is not that we don’t believe in MCA president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong’s claim that it was merely a coincidence that he happened to be at the Tropicana Golf Club to have a dimsum brunch with two Chinese entrepreneurs when he bumped into “the ninth PM and (only) exchanged some greetings” (as per his Facebook post).

Former minister in the prime minister’s department in-charge of religious affairs Datuk Dr Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri said it best when he cautioned Malaysia’s 10th Prime Minister (PM) to “be careful with bad advisors as the Prophet SAW reminded leaders that (if these people) can lift you up, they can also orchestrate your downfall”.

Dr Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri

“When God wants good for the leader, then he will be him with a true and sincere helper. If the leader forgets or becomes complacent, he will be given a caution. If the leader remembers, help will surely come his way,” penned Zulkifli in a Facebook post, citing one hadith from the Riwayat Abu Dawud (verse 2,932).

“On the other hand, if God wills something other than that (evil) to the leader, He will surely make him an evil helper. If the leader forgets and is negligent, no warning will be given, and (even) if he remembers, no help will be accorded to him.”

As with previous PMs – starting with Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin – Zulkifli said he had from time to time conveyed appropriate advice to them as both a source of wisdom and guidance.

As the Tambun MP-elect is in the midst of finalising his Cabinet list, he must be not let his judgment be swayed by lobbyists but to always stick to the original principle of his struggle which is to put Malaysians first regardless of their skin colour or creed (unlike one of his predecessors who openly claimed to be Malay first and Malaysian second).

Anwar must remember that despite compromises being inevitable given he now has an unenviable task of leading an unprecedented and untested unity government system in Malaysia’s 65-year history, he must endeavour to live up to all the pledges he made during his 15th General Election campaign in the run-up to the national poll on Nov 19.

Back to the issue of having bad advisers by one’s side, Anwar can definitely pick a chapter from the “fourth-floor boys” episode which not only caused the downfall of the Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s administration but was described by UMNO supreme council member Datuk Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi as having triggered a big-time decline of UMNO.

In a Nov 22, 2018 interview with Malaysiakini, Puad said stories of how these advisors controlled the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) soon became campaign fodder for the opposition and Abdullah’s influential predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Dr Mahathir had handpicked Abdullah, who is affably known as Pak Lah, after he stepped down in 2003. However, following a fallout, Mahathir launched a series of scathing attacks on Pak Lah and this intensified after the 2008 general election, forcing Abdullah to relinquish his post to the now incarcerated Datuk Seri Najib Razak. – Nov 27, 2022

Negri Sembilan Ruler proposes PM no longer appoint members of judges’ nomination panel

Negri Sembilan Ruler proposes PM no longer appoint members of judges’ nomination panel

Negri Sembilan Yang di-Pertuan Besar Tuanku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir chairs the 260th meeting of the Conference of Rulers at Istana Negara, November 29, 2022. — Bernama pic

Wednesday, 30 Nov 2022 5:32 PM MYT

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 — The Negri Sembilan Ruler today proposed the removal of the prime minister’s role in appointing members of the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC), a panel which nominates prospective new judges.

Stressing the importance of ensuring the independence of enforcement agencies and the judiciary from external influence in carrying out their duties, Negri Sembilan Yang di-Pertuan Besar Tuanku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir said the current process of appointing judges in Malaysia has weaknesses that can be improved.

The Negri Sembilan Ruler noted that the JAC currently plays the role of proposing judicial nominations and said the JAC membership was critical to ensuring it is capable of presenting the name of judges with integrity and of a high calibre.

The JAC has nine members, four of whom are the most senior judges in Malaysia, while the remaining five are individuals appointed by the prime minister.

“To ensure the JAC is free in carrying out its responsibilities, I propose that the appointment of the five JAC members not be made by the prime minister. Instead, be given to several other institutions such as the Malaysian Bar, the Sabah Law Society, the Advocates Association of Sarawak and Parliament Select Committee.

“With such a method, the JAC membership will be more balanced, and will not carry the interests of any quarters,” the state Ruler said today in his speech in conjunction with his chairing of the 260th meeting of the Conference of Rulers which was held both yesterday and today at Istana Negara.

The Negri Sembilan Ruler also proposed for the JAC structure to be re-evaluated, following discussions with the government, existing JAC members, professional legal bodies and other relevant institutions and stakeholders.

“If all these are carried out, I am confident the JAC will be capable of carrying out its responsibilities more effectively and resulting in the selection and appointment of judges in Malaysia being from individuals who are of noble character, transparent and just,” the Ruler said.

Among other things, the Negri Sembilan Ruler also urged the new federal government to cultivate the “spirit of togetherness” among multireligious, multiracial, and multicultural Malaysians.

“I hope there will be no more leaders who raise racial or religious issues with the intention of inciting the public,” the Ruler said.

The appointment of judges of the superior court — judges at the Federal Court, Court of Appeal, and High Court — was one of the issues discussed by the Conference of Rulers.

The Judicial Appointments Commission Act’s Section 5(1) provides for the commission’s members to be nine individuals, including the four top-ranking judges in the country, and a Federal Court judge appointed by the prime minister.

The remaining four are to be eminent persons also appointed by the prime minister — after consulting the country’s three professional bodies for lawyers (Malaysian Bar, Advocates Association of Sarawak and the Sabah Law Society), the country’s attorney general, and a state attorney general.

The JAC’s functions include selecting suitably qualified persons who merit appointment as judges of the superior court for the prime minister’s consideration.

But after the JAC goes through the process of selecting suitable candidates for judges and submitting its report to the prime minister, the prime minister can request for two more names to be selected and recommended to him for his consideration when it comes to the top four judicial positions and for vacancies for judges at the Federal Court and Court of Appeal level, based on the JAC Act.

After accepting any of the recommended candidates, the prime minister then advises the Yang di-Pertuan Agong over their appointments to the positions.

In 2018, the Malaysian Bar’s then president George Varughese proposed that the government carry out reforms on the judiciary by setting up an independent JAC under the Federal Constitution that will be tasked with making “recommendations directly to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong”.

The Institutional Reforms Committee (IRC) in 2018 had said it planned to recommend changes to the JAC’s composition and judge selection process, pointing out that the submission of names to the prime minister and his right to request more names in a way enables him to reject candidates.

Johor Sultan, Jokowi And United States – The 3 Recognitions For PM Anwar That Forced Muhyiddin To Accept Defeat

Johor Sultan, Jokowi And United States – The 3 Recognitions For PM Anwar That Forced Muhyiddin To Accept Defeat

Even after Anwar Ibrahim has been officially sworn in as the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia on Nov 24, former backdoor PM Muhyiddin Yassin refused to accept defeat. While the nation was celebrating the strengthening of the local currency – Ringgit – and the new confidence in the stock market, the sore loser held a press conference to undermine the new administration.

Insisting he had the support of 115 MPs before the 2pm deadline given by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) on Tuesday, Muhyiddin childishly complained to the reporters – “There were 73 MPs from Perikatan Nasional, 22 from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), 6 from Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), 1 from Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat (KDM), and 10 from Barisan Nasional,”

It was quite astonishing that the thick-skinned man did not feel rude and traitorous at all in questioning the decision of the nine Malay Rulers, who approved the swearing in of Mr Anwar just nine kilometres away from his Perikatan Nasional office in Publika. Muhyiddin had even challenged the new PM to prove that he has the majority support of Member of Parliaments (which Anwar gladly accepted).

His challenge is both hilarious and shameful. Has Muhyiddin, who is too ashamed to even use his given name – Mahiaddin – forgotten he himself did not dare prove his legitimacy throughout his 17-month as Malaysia’s first backdoor prime minister? Has he forgotten how he locked the Parliament under the pretext of fighting Covid-19 to avoid a motion of no confidence against his regime?

If indeed Perikatan Nasional chairman Mahiaddin had the support of 115 MPs as claimed, why not publish all the names to prove it? Otherwise, even prisoner Najib Razak can claim he had 200 MPs who supported him as the prime minister. In reality, power-crazy Mahiaddin failed to scam King Sultan Abdullah with his dubious collection of statutory declarations (SD).

Muhyiddin must have missed the memo that statutory declarations are useless with the newly introduced anti-hopping law. As Barisan Nasional chairman, Zahid Hamidi has publicly announced that any such declarations signed by Barisan Nasional MPs were invalid. Muhyiddin was trying his dirty trick again, the same way he scammed the Agong (King) back in March 2020.

On the eve of Muhyiddin’s swearing-in on March 1, 2020, Mahathir had claimed to have 114 votes. The former prime minister had even pre-emptively published the list of 114 MPs who supported him as the next prime minister, along with a letter to the Palace (more than 112 minimum seats required to form a simple-majority government in the 222-seat Parliament).

Muhyiddin, however, failed or refused to publish a list of Members of Parliaments allegedly supported him, but was sworn in by the monarch anyway. His legitimacy was being questioned when he locked the Parliament under the pretext of fighting Covid-19. During his 17-month regime, the former backdoor PM had never dared hold a motion of confidence to prove his legitimacy.

Yes, not only Mahiaddin Yassin is a traitor who had betrayed his own friends and allies in the democratically-elected Pakatan Harapan government, he is also a disgraced scammer who throws tantrums after failed to scam the King for the second time. He did not dare publish the list of MPs claimed to support him in 2020, and again does not have the balls to do so today.

The best part was the incredible flip-flop about joining a unity government decreed by the Malay Monarch. Initially, Muhyiddin arrogantly and rudely rubbished the royal decree, only for his lieutenant Hamzah Zainudin to announce that they would join, but was quickly declined by Muhyiddin again, before PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin expressed his party’s desire to join, and then shot down again.

Finally, Mahiaddin reluctantly conceded defeat on Friday (Nov 25) after repetitively said he would not accept Anwar’s appointment as prime minister. Why did he suddenly admit defeat? As the news splash around the world, the message of congratulations started pouring in for the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia from the international community.

From neighbouring Singapore to the United States, and from Australia to the Arab world, not to mention from Japan to Europe, the legitimacy of Anwar Ibrahim as Malaysia’s new prime minister is being recognized. He even received a call from Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his first press conference as PM. Heck, Anwar even answered Erdogan’s call while having it on speaker for all Malaysians to witness.

This is called international politics – recognitions that Muhyiddin failed to get during his 17 months as backdoor PM from March 2020 to August 2021. When he snatched power from the legitimate Pakatan Harapan government, his regime was not recognized by the United States – there was no message of congratulation from the U.S. Embassy to Malaysia, let alone Washington.

Muhyiddin tried to suck up to Joe Biden, congratulating him on Nov 7, 2020 on being elected the 46th President of the United States. The backdoor Malaysian leader had hoped for Biden to reciprocate with a message – any types of message – that could be used as a recognition of his regime. But there was none, and Biden probably didn’t care or didn’t notice.

Like it or not, a recognition from superpower like the United States is of utmost importance because it would lead to more recognitions from other Western nations. At 5:18pm on Nov 24, just less than 20 minutes after Anwar Ibrahim was sworn in, U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia Brian D. McFeeters tweeted – “Congratulations to Anwar Ibrahim on his election as Malaysia’s 10th Prime Minister.”

Likewise, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the 15th general election as “a demonstration of the power of democracy“. He congratulated Anwar – “On behalf of the U.S., I congratulate the people of Malaysia for their national elections and Anwar for his appointment as prime minister. We remain committed to working with Malaysia to advance a free and open, connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific region.”

The congratulation from Blinken is not merely a recognition of Anwar as the prime minister, but a recognition that he is a democratically- elected leader – unlike Muhyiddin who did it through the backdoor. Without such recognition, a leader is considered a pariah in the eyes of the West. That’s why Ismail Sabri too did not get any congratulatory message from the Western powers.

Besides Washington, it’s essential for a Malaysian premier to also get endorsement from Indonesia because both nations are part of the Malay Archipelago, sharing common historical roots and cultural heritage. Because Malays in the country are considered descendants of the native Malay in Indonesia, a recognition from Jakarta is essential.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was the first foreign leader who congratulated the newly inaugurated Anwar Ibrahim through a telephone call from the Bogor Palace, West Java, on Thursday (Nov 24) evening. Jokowi said – “Representing the government and the Indonesian people, I wish to congratulate Your Excellency’s inauguration as the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia,”

Jokowi also praised Anwar as a renowned figure in Indonesia and respected by the Indonesian people. The Indonesian president said he also believed that with Anwar at the helm, bilateral relations between Indonesia and Malaysia would be more prosperous. He said over the phone – “I hope we could meet soon to discuss ways to enhance our bilateral relations in the economic, border issues, and the protection of our people.”

More importantly, Muhyiddin backed off after Sultan Ibrahim of Johor congratulated Anwar Ibrahim on his appointment, the congratulatory message of which was uploaded to the official Facebook account of the Sultanate of Johor. Similarly, Crown Prince Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim also conveyed his congratulations to the 10th Prime Minister.

Interestingly, the Johor Sultan had never sent any message of congratulation to Mahiaddin, despite the fact that he was the 13th Chief Minister of Johor for almost 10 years (August 1986 – May 1995) – suggesting that even the monarch did not recognize the backdoor prime minister (even though Mahiaddin had conveyed birthday wishes to Sultan Ibrahim for obvious reason).

Ismail Sabri was luckier. He received a congratulation note from Johor Crown Prince when he took over from Muhyiddin in August 2021 as the 9th Prime Minister. But why is a recognition from the Sultanate of Johor so important? Historically, the Johor Sultanate was founded by Malaccan Sultan Mahmud Shah’s son, Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah II in 1528.

Therefore, the Sultanate of Johor is considered the de-facto leader of the nine Malay Rulers in the country. That’s why Johor is the only state where the sultan has its own army. In Johor, it’s the sultan – not the chief minister – who decides when the State Legislative Assembly can be dissolved and who among the assemblymen can become the chief minister.

On May 21, 2018, Anwar Ibrahim, who was released from prison after receiving a full royal pardon from King Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan, had a closed-door meeting with Sultan of Johor. Accompanied by his daughter, Nurul Izzah, Mr Anwar was flown into Johor in Sultan Ibrahim’s private plane to the state. The close relationship is paying off now for Anwar.

Muhyiddin has been rude – even bullied – King Sultan Abdullah of Pahang. His disrespect for the Malay Ruler can be seen when he cheated the monarch in 2020 with a dubious number of statutory declarations allegedly supported him as prime minister. After he became the 8th Prime Minister, he again scammed the monarch into declaring a state of emergency.

When the King decreed that the Parliament can be opened even during the emergency, Muhyiddin and his gang in Bersatu and PAS Islamist party deliberately ignored the royal decree. The backdoor Perikatan Nasional government had even tried to usurp the powers of the Agong by faking the revocation of the emergency laws without the consent of the monarch.

There were basically 3 factors why Muhyiddin had managed to grab power in 2020, but not now. First, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) was on his side. After more than 60 years in power, UMNO has certain influence within all the royal houses. After defeated in the 2018 General Election, UMNO-led Barisan Nasional returned to power by joining Muhyiddin’s backdoor government.

The second factor was Mahathir, the former premier who went against the Malay Rulers to the extent of clipping their wings and removed some of the absolute powers of the Sultans. That explains why Pakatan Harapan, led by Mahathir for the second stint, was not given the chance to prove it had 114 MPs to form the government after Muhyiddin launched a political coup in 2020.

The third factor was the obsession to try a Malay-Muslim government for the first time. After 33 months under Muhyiddin and Sabri administrations, it was a complete disaster to the country. This time, Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan is forming a unity government with Barisan Nasional. The rising influence of Muhyiddin’s Perikatan Nasional is a double-edged sword.

The rise of Malay conservative and extremist led by Muhyiddin and Hadi Awang has triggered the alarm over the Islamic extremism, radicalization and even violence that affect not only the country’s economy, but could also threaten the Malay Monarchs. It’s not rocket science that the Conference of Rulers was concerned about the Iranian Revolution in the country – if the extremists are not stopped now.

Sultan Ibrahim is one of the most liberal and open-minded monarchs, thanks to the proximity of Johor to Singapore. Crucially, he is the most influential among the nine Malay Rulers. You can send a crook into prison. But you cannot win a war against ideology such as the Islamic State propagated by ISIS terrorist groups, or the dangerous religious bigotry and racial extremism spewed by Perikatan Nasional.

Senior BN leaders told MCA to support PN at first - MCA deputy president

Senior BN leaders told MCA to support PN at first - MCA deputy president

MCA deputy president Mah Hang Soon revealed today that unnamed senior BN leaders had told the party to support Perikatan Nasional in the aftermath of the 15th general election.

The revelation comes after PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang claimed that PN has signed statutory declarations (SD) from MCA and MIC backing Muhyiddin Yassin.

Mah (above) in his statement today, neither confirmed nor denied whether MCA's two MPs had signed any SDs supporting PN.

He said the initial advice from the "senior BN leaders" to back the PN was based on BN's "no DAP" and "no Anwar" decision from before the 15th general election.

He said a similar situation had also happened to GPS, which had originally said it would join PN in forming a government with BN.

However, BN denied this, and a supreme council meeting it later held decided at that time to remain a neutral opposition coalition.

At that meeting, Mah said, MCA president Wee Ka Siong also suggested that anyone who had signed SDs supporting PN should withdraw it - a position which BN as a whole adopted.

MCA and BN are now part of the government with Pakatan Harapan.

Muhyiddin and PN claimed they had 115 MPs on their side before Anwar cobbled together a majority in the Dewan Rakyat.

Hadi had cited the alleged SDs by MCA and MIC in an effort to show that PAS was not extremist as non-Muslim parties were not deterred from backing PN.

Anwar’s new challenge: finding a champion for Malaysia’s economy

Anwar’s new challenge: finding a champion for Malaysia’s economy

(From left) Mohamad Hassan, Johari Abdul Ghani, Rafizi Ramli, Azman Mokhtar and Nazir Razak are among the contenders for the finance minister’s post.

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim promised a unity government to stabilise the country. Now he needs to find a finance minister who can steer the economy and help him hold onto power.

His pick must present a budget next month that can shield Malaysia’s fragile recovery amid concerns of a global slowdown next year. Inflation is elevated and the still-weak currency has made living costs untenable for low and middle-income households.

The job, which involves overseeing big projects to boost the economy and setting strategy for Malaysia’s state investment funds, is widely seen as training ground for future prime ministers. Past leaders at times have appointed loyal technocrats or simply taken on the finance portfolio themselves.

There is no reason to pick a political nobody, “except in the case where the prime minister wants to stay in charge”, said Woo Wing Thye, professor emeritus at University of California in Davis who focuses on East Asian economies.

“The finance minister’s job is to identify good projects and have the political standing to be able to push what he thinks to be the right economic stance for the government,” he added.

Anwar has numerous candidates to consider given he heads a coalition made up of at least four political groups. Here’s a look at the top candidates:

Mohamad Hasan, 66

Mohamad Hasan is the deputy president of Umno, the linchpin of Barisan Nasional that joined Anwar’s government last week. He had a 25-year career in banking and the corporate sector before being elected to public office in 2004. He served as menteri besar of Negeri Sembilan, where he was credited with reducing the state’s debt and boosting economic growth.

Mohamad was the election director for the Umno-led BN and actively pushed then prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob to call for snap elections so it could capitalise on a string of local poll victories.

BN lost significant ground and Mohamad was initially reluctant to join Anwar’s government. Several BN MPs have publicly said he should be one of Anwar’s two deputy prime ministers.

Johari Abdul Ghani, 58

A trained accountant, Johari Abdul Ghani is best known for running fast-food franchise KFC Holdings in the 1990s. He is a long-time Umno member and came to the forefront when he won a seat in Kuala Lumpur in 2013. Three years later, then prime minister Najib Razak named him second finance minister as part of a Cabinet reshuffle.

Even though Najib held primary control over federal finances, it was Johari who spoke publicly about the escalating crisis of 1MDB and its billions of dollars of debt. He has helped buy over Umno’s stake in companies like KUB Malaysia in 2019 to help the party stay afloat after some of its bank accounts were frozen in relation to 1MDB.

Johari lost his Titiwangsa parliamentary seat in 2018 but won it back in last week’s election as he was seen by the majority Malay voters there as a capable administrator.

Rafizi Ramli, 45

Rafizi Ramli was swept up in the “reformasi” movement protesting against Anwar’s sacking as deputy prime minister in 1998. He worked as an accountant with state oil and gas producer Petronas for about six years before quitting to focus on politics with Anwar and PKR.

He was elected to Parliament in 2013 and focused on exposing corruption related to Najib and his government, including 1MDB. His revelations helped fuel public anger against Umno and led to its historic defeat in 2018, though he was ineligible to defend his Pandan seat as he was appealing a jail sentence for leaking contents of a 1MDB audit report. He was acquitted in 2019.

Rafizi returned to the political fray earlier this year. His team swept most of the positions in PKR and he now holds its powerful deputy president’s position.

Azman Mokhtar, 61

Azman Mokhtar worked at Malaysia’s electric utility TNB and cycled through a series of finance jobs before taking the reins of the sovereign wealth fund, Khazanah Nasional Bhd, in 2004. He is the longest-serving managing director of the fund, which is owned by the finance ministry, making him well acquainted with the inner workings of government.

He oversaw the fund’s international expansion and led investments in healthcare, technology and creative industries while formulating deals to invest in an assortment of local companies. From mid-2004 through 2017, it notched average annual compound gains of 9.6%, trailing the 10% return of the KLCI Index.

Azman was regarded as part of Najib’s inner circle, advising him on the economy and capital markets. After Umno’s historic defeat in the 2018 elections, Azman and the Khazanah board stepped down. They had come under scrutiny by Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who became the prime minister a second time and said the fund invested in too many companies.

Nazir Razak, 56

Nazir Razak is the son of Malaysia’s second prime minister, Razak Hussein, and the younger brother of Najib. He joined CIMB in the late 1980s and oversaw its rapid expansion, including a hostile takeover of Southern Bank.

After stepping down as CIMB CEO in 2014, but keeping the chairman’s role, Nazir became increasingly critical of the government’s handling of 1MDB and its impact on Malaysia.

The country needs to “fix our moral compass and deal with our structural problems”, he said in 2016. Shortly after, he took a leave of absence while CIMB probed a US$7 million transfer to his personal bank account from Najib, which had surfaced as part of the scandal. He was cleared and remained chairman until 2018.

Nazir has said he wants to broaden policies that now favour the Malays to also benefit ethnic groups in the lower-income bracket. He is in the mix as many in corporate Malaysia regard him as a known entity who understands what is needed to restart the economy.

Loke Siew Fook, 45

Loke Siew Fook was widely liked by Malaysians across the political spectrum when he was transport minister under Mahathir’s short-lived administration from 2018. That is because he played a big role in renegotiating costly infrastructure contracts struck under Najib’s government and making public transport more efficient.

Holding the powerful secretary-general’s role in DAP – the largest in Anwar’s coalition – Loke is well positioned to get a key Cabinet role. However, DAP is likely to defer Cabinet positions to Malay MPs to ensure the coalition remains stable.

Anwar Ibrahim, 75

The newly appointed prime minister told reporters last week that he is not considering taking the role, at least at the moment. But such decisions can change and, after all, Anwar’s predecessors Najib and Mahathir both took charge of the state finances towards the end of their reigns.

Anwar was finance minister in Mahathir’s Cabinet for seven years and got fired at the height of the 1998 financial crisis after a falling out with his boss over the economy, in particular foreign exchange and capital controls. Mahathir wanted a low interest rate environment with more spending while Anwar advocated a tighter monetary policy with austerity measures.

“Anwar’s minority gov’t is made up of robbers, pirates, gangsters, secret societies, corruptors”

“Anwar’s minority gov’t is made up of robbers, pirates, gangsters, secret societies, corruptors”

PAS president Tan Sri Hadi Awang has branded the unity government of newly minted Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as a “minority government supported by robbers, pirates, gangsters, secret societies, and givers and recipients of bribes”.

“In their (GE15 campaign) speeches, they mention about fighting corruption, robbers and pirates. But when they form a government, they invite these types of people to make up their numbers. How can we accept them?” Harakah Daily quoted Hadi who successfully defended his Marang parliamentary seat in the recent 15th General Election (GE15) as saying.

“We have dignity. We Muslims have to follow the laws of our religion. God’s order is superior to the orders of all the governments in this world. This must be understood,” he told a gathering at the Darul Ummah Mentara Integrated Islamic Foundation Elementary School (SRITI) in Rompin, Negri Sembilan on Monday night (Nov 28).

Earlier, Hadi also belittled Anwar’s unity government as merely “a minority government with minority support” given that “it is dominated by DAP and non-Muslims”.

He further claimed that more than 80% of the Malays (in Peninsular Malaysia) and Bumiputeras in Sabah and Sarawak had voted for Perikatan Nasional (PN) as well as the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) thus creating a “majority-elect legitimate government”.

“At first, it was dominated by Bumiputera Muslim majority. But suddenly, it became a minority government. And we were told to support a minority government,” he pointed out.

He further contended that the so-called minority government is “only” made up of PKR, DAP, Amanah and supposedly UMNO “whereby there was commotion and protest on the UMNO side which indicated that something unhealthy had happened”.

“Some people say it’s true that they have a Kita Boleh! theme. (Apparently) everything is allowed, whether halal (permissible) or haram (prohibited), even cheating is allowed,” lamented Hadi.

“(So) how can we be expected to follow the minority government? Especially when something immoral is happening and more so, we are the majority. (The method is) we need to be patient, we still respect the rule of democracy.”

According to a tabulation by Malaysiakini, of the 148 MPs supporting Anwar as MP, Malays make up the most with 50 being ethnic Malay, followed by Chinese MPs at 43, Muslim Bumiputera from East Malaysia (27), non-Muslim Bumiputera from East Malaysia (16), and Indian or others (12). – Nov 30, 2022

Malay rulers want end to racist, religious incitement

Malay rulers want end to racist, religious incitement

The Conference of Rulers has urged the new government to instil the "spirit of togetherness" among Malaysians.

The Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan Tuanku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir, who chaired the 260th Conference of Rulers today, expressed this in a decree.

"I hope there will no longer be leaders who raise racial or religious issues with the purpose of incitement.

"I urge the new government to seize this opportunity to propel the country to greater heights," Tuanku Muhriz decreed.

The two-day Conference of Rulers came following the 15th general election which saw some political leaders accused of stoking racial and religious sentiments afterwards.

Among others, some detractors accused the government bench of not having enough Malay-Muslim representation.

In congratulating the new lawmakers, Tuanku Muhriz said the new prime minister and menteris besar have a heavy responsibility to bear and their duties must be tempered with the principles of the Rukun Negara.

Tuanku Muhriz suggested that the Rukun Negara be recited from "time to time" at "suitable" events.

"The Rukun Negara recital must be led by elected leaders and not just among the youth.

"This will prove that the government is serious in wanting the Rukun Negara as the guiding principle for Malaysians," he said.

Ex-PAS MP says Malay-Muslims 'dominate' unity govt, not DAP

Ex-PAS MP says Malay-Muslims 'dominate' unity govt, not DAP

The government bench in Parliament is "dominated" by Malay-Muslims and not DAP, according to former PAS lawmaker Khairuddin Aman Razali.

"There are those who said the new government is dominated by DAP. But the numbers dispute such statements," wrote Khairuddin on his Facebook page.

According to his count, there are 73 Malay-Muslims on the government bench.

"There are 73 Malay-Muslims (on the government bench) versus 72 (in the opposition). The 73 Malay-Muslims are responsible for ensuring that the unity government protects Islam, Malays, and the Malay Rulers.

"The responsibility of the 72 from Perikatan Nasional is to be an opposition that will perform check-and-balance," he said.

His numbers appear to be one short for PKR.

His numbers also do not include a Muslim bumiputera MP from Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat (KDM) and one independent MP who is part of the unity government.

According to Malaysiakini's count, there are 77 Muslim MPs on the government bench or 52.03 percent.

Khairuddin (above) was a rising star in PAS and served as plantation industries and commodities minister under prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

He failed to maintain his seat on the PAS central committee during the party election in November last year.

Five months later, he quit PAS and became an independent MP for Kuala Nerus. During the Nov 19 election, Khairuddin failed to retain the seat on a BN ticket.

Of late, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang has been claiming that the federal government led by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is a "minority government" that is "not dominated" by Muslims.

Court awards ex-deputy minister RM350,000 for libel by DAP duo

Court awards ex-deputy minister RM350,000 for libel by DAP duo

Chew Mei Fun (left) successfully proved that she was defamed by DAP duo Tony Pua and Yeo Bee Yin through several publications in September 2017.

SHAH ALAM: The High Court here has ordered former Damansara MP Tony Pua and recently elected Puchong MP Yeo Bee Yin to pay RM350,000 in damages for defaming former deputy minister Chew Mei Fun over allegations she approved the sale of land at an undervalue to MCA.

Justice Roslan Abu Bakar said Chew, also a former MCA vice-president, had proven her case against the DAP duo on a balance of probabilities.

Chew had sued Pua in respect of publications which appeared in Malay Mail and Nanyang Siang Pau as well as on FMT in September 2017.

Yeo was sued in respect of a video published on Facebook and by Nanyang Sian Pau in the same month.

Pua and Yeo had alleged that Chew, who sat on a district land committee, had approved the sale of a piece of land to Selangor MCA below its market price.

In his ruling, Roslan said both publications were defamatory of Chew and that the defences of justification, fair comment and the Reynolds privilege raised by the duo had failed.

Pua and Yeo were ordered to pay Chew RM200,000 and RM150,000, respectively, in damages.

Chew, who was represented by Rueben Mathiavaranam, was also awarded RM50,000 in costs payable by the defendants.

Pua and Yeo were represented by Syahredzan Johan.

Chew, a former deputy women’s development, family and society minister, filed her suit in March 2018.

She was appointed a senator between 2014 and 2017.

At the time the offending statements were made, Pua was the Petaling Jaya Utara MP, and Yeo the Damansara Utama assemblyman.

They had claimed Chew abused her power and put herself in a position of conflict of interest.

However, Chew said she did not sit on the land committee as matters involving land were outside her purview.

She also said Yeo had alleged that the land in question was being used by squatters for dragon fruit farming at the time it was sold to MCA.

Kelantan folk owe RM28.5mil in unpaid water bills

Kelantan folk owe RM28.5mil in unpaid water bills

The current outstanding water bills are an improvement over the RM33.21 million owed at the end of 2021.

KOTA BHARU: Consumers in Kelantan owe Syarikat Air Kelantan Sdn Bhd (AKSB) more than RM28.5 million in unpaid water bills as at Sept 30, the state legislative assembly was told today.

Works, infrastructure, transport and utilities committee chairman Azami Nor said that of the amount, RM18.4 million was current debt owed by domestic consumers.

“As at Sept 30, consumers still owe the company a total of RM28,543,688. This is an improvement from the RM33,212,268 owed at the end of 2021,” he said when replying to a question from Adhan Kechik (BN-Bukit Bunga).

Azami said AKSB had carried out collection enforcement activities in all districts in the state, especially in areas that did not have clean water supply problems this year, and provided collection facilities through banks as well as collection agents.

Replying to a question from Hilmi Abdullah (PAS-Guchil) on free water supply for ‘asnaf’ (tithe recipients), Azami said the state government always helped people in need.

“We have 30 lorries that distributed free water supply to asnaf across the state from April 2020 until July this year, at a cost of RM11.5 million. This is one of our social responsibilities,” he said.

Zahid has right to determine direction of Umno, says division chief

Zahid has right to determine direction of Umno, says division chief

Umno’s grassroots members have no issues with the leadership of Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, says a division chief.

PETALING JAYA: Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has the right to determine the direction of the party, an Umno division leader said.

Tambun Umno chief Aminuddin Md Hanafiah said although the party and Barisan Nasional had adopted a “No Anwar, No DAP” stance before the general election, Umno had to “go against the grain” when abiding by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s decree for BN to be a part of the Anwar Ibrahim-led unity government.

“As party leader, Zahid has the right to determine the direction of the party, be it good or not.

“If we refused to listen to the order of the Agong, we still wouldn’t have a government,” Aminuddin told FMT.

Yesterday, Zahid, who is also the BN chairman, said the “No Anwar, No DAP” principle was not applicable post-GE15.

While BN had rejected working with Anwar and PH and Perikatan Nasional lynchpin Bersatu before the general election, he said, the cooperation after the polls was intended to bring about stability and ensuring the welfare of the people was taken care of.

Aminuddin said the Umno grassroots had no issues with Zahid’s leadership and did not feel deceived by BN’s cooperation with PH.

He said that although both the Umno and BN supreme councils had initially decided to remain in the opposition after the election results, a “concession” had to be made to resolve the political impasse.

Shah Alam Umno chief Azhari Shaari echoed Aminuddin’s remarks, saying the decision not to work with Anwar and PH previously was based on the situation at the time. However, he said, the circumstances had changed.

Batu Umno chief Yahaya Mat Ghani also urged all party members to comply with the King’s order to be a part of the unity government, and to refrain from criticising Umno’s top leadership.

“We must close ranks and be united. How else are we going to get through the next five years?” he said in reference to the new government’s five-year term.

Ismail, Hisham in Cabinet can cause disquiet, Anwar told

Ismail, Hisham in Cabinet can cause disquiet, Anwar told

Both Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Hishammuddin Hussein made clear before the formation of Anwar Ibrahim’s unity government that they did not want BN to work with PH. (Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: An academic has cautioned Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim against giving Cabinet posts to former prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob and former senior minister Hishammuddin Hussein, saying it would be politically unwise.

Azmil Tayeb of Universiti Sains Malaysia said appointing the two Umno members would upset Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Pakatan Harapan leaders since both had rejected PH.

He noted that both Ismail and Hishammuddin had made clear before the formation of Anwar’s unity government that they did not want Barisan Nasional to work with PH.

“Giving them Cabinet positions will empower them in Umno and this is the last thing Zahid wants,” Azmil told FMT.

“The prime minister does not need to consider their feelings when forming his Cabinet because he needs to keep Umno in his government. This entails working together with Zahid and his allies.”

Yesterday, a source told FMT the Anwar Cabinet would exclude Hishammuddin and Ismail despite their vast experience in government because of their opposition to cooperation between BN and PH.

Another academic, Wong Chin Huat of Sunway University, said it was still up to Umno’s top leadership or any party in the unity government to propose who among their MPs should be in the Cabinet.

“If Umno wants Hishammuddin and Ismail, I don’t think Anwar will reject them,” he said.

“But if they do not want to appoint those two, why should Anwar risk a crack in his government over two out of 30 MPs from BN?”

Anwar is expected to name his Cabinet line-up this week.

Analyst makes case for having Zahid in Cabinet

Analyst makes case for having Zahid in Cabinet

Appointing Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to the Cabinet will help stabilise the unity government, says analyst Oh Ei Sun. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Naming Barisan Nasional chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as a Cabinet member would help stabilise Anwar Ibrahim’s unity government, according to an analyst.

Oh Ei Sun of Singapore’s Institute of International Affairs said this was assuming Zahid would retain his Umno presidency at the next party polls, which must be held not later than six months after the recent general election.

Oh said MPs from Umno would be more likely to fall in line with Zahid’s wishes if he were to remain president of the party.

“But if he loses that position, his successor may or may not be supportive of Anwar. And if he is not, then Umno could leave the government,” he told FMT.

Oh Ei Sun.

He said PH supporters and civic groups opposing Zahid’s appointment should be asked whether they would prefer a PAS-dominated government instead.

Asked what he thought would happen if Zahid, as a Cabinet member, were to be found guilty of the criminal breach of trust charges he was facing, Oh said Anwar could then ask him to resign.

On whether BN and Umno No 2 Mohamad Hasan might be able to do a better job than Zahid, he said the Rembau MP was “perhaps not as commanding of Umno’s overall position as Zahid is”.

James Chin of the University of Tasmania told FMT he believed that Mohamad, although he could do a minister’s job, would not be appointed to the Cabinet because he was not his party’s president.

Commenting on the possibility of Anwar damaging his reputation for appointing someone facing charges in court, Chin said: “If Zahid is appointed minister and then the court finds him not guilty, then everyone can turn around and say, ‘See? We didn’t make a mistake in appointing him’.

James Chin.

“But if the court finds him guilty of corruption, you can also spin it around and say, ‘We gave everybody a chance and he is found guilty because we did not interfere in the court process’.

“So, as you can see, the spinning works both ways. That is the problem with Malaysian politics. There is too much spin and not much reality.”

However, he warned that Zahid’s appointment would draw negative response from the international community which, he said, was keenly watching the country’s political developments.

The two analysts were commenting on former PKR vice-president Tian Chua’s view that appointing Zahid as a Cabinet member would stabilise the government.

Yesterday, Tian Chua argued that Zahid should be given a ministerial post since he was instrumental in the formation of the unity government, which saw BN agreeing to work with PH. Other coalitions and parties then followed suit.

Diversity of unity government will neutralise risk of all-Malay Opposition, say analysts

Diversity of unity government will neutralise risk of all-Malay Opposition, say analysts

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim delivers a speech to civil servants at the Prime Minister’s Department in Putrajaya November 29, 2022. — Bernama pic

Wednesday, 30 Nov 2022 7:00 AM MYT

GEORGE TOWN, Nov 30 — The coalition government representing all sections of the country should curtail the dangers of a federal Opposition that was almost entirely Malay, according to political analysts.

Universiti Malaya sociopolitical analyst Awang Azman Awang Pawi said that while it was true Perikatan Nasional was overwhelmingly Malay, the community was also well represented in Pakatan Harapan, Barisan Nasional, Gabungan Parti Sarawak, and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah.

From these, he said parties such as Umno, PKR, and Amanah would be able to counter any Malay-Muslim narrative that Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and PAS attempt to propagate.

“Most of the Malays in the coalition government are moderate Muslims and professionals so they are qualified to present more accurate facts and data, more so if they are placed in strategic ministries,” he said.

“This means that the Malay Muslim narrative does not only belong to PN but to the coalition government under Pakatan, which is moderate and progressive,” he added.

Similarly, he said PN also must attempt to portray itself as multicultural if it harboured any ambition of ever winning federal power.

Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) Associate Professor Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani said the 15th general election revealed that most of the Malay support for PN was concentrated in the north and east coast of the peninsula.

“Malays in the west and south were supporting BN and PH,” he said.

“I think by having a unity government with PH and BN, plus other parties, it will later boost the support of Malays to the PH-led government,” he said.

While he said it was not currently a concern that the Opposition was primarily Malay, he acknowledged that PN could be tempted into communal politics in order to remain politically relevant.

According to Senior Fellow of Singapore Institute of International Affairs Oh Ei Sun, divisive communal politics was already the reality in Malaysia.

He said it was not something politicians needed to fabricate, but were actual grassroots sentiments they could exploit for their political agenda.

“There is a huge divide between those who would cling on to racial religious supremacy versus those who would want to see a more multicultural outlook for the country,” he said.

He also noted the wave of Islamisation in Malaysia, but pointed out that this was a global trend stemming from the Islamic revivalist movement and not unique to Malaysia.

Still, Oh believed leaders such as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim may be able to neutralise these threats.

“If Anwar with his experience with Islamist before and now a reformist, if he could bridge this divide, it will be nice,” he said, referring to Anwar’s origins in the Islamic Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim).

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

S’gor speaker singles out Azmin, Harumaini for no-show in state sitting

S’gor speaker singles out Azmin, Harumaini for no-show in state sitting

Ng Suee Lim says assemblymen must be present to field questions to state excos

Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali (Bukit Antarabangsa-Perikatan Nasional) has been called out for failing to attend a single session of the current Selangor assembly sitting that started on November 23. State speaker Ng Suee Lim also called out Harumaini Omar (Batang Kali-Pejuang) for being missing in action. – ALIF OMAR/The Vibes pic, November 29, 2022

SHAH ALAM – Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali (Bukit Antarabangsa-Perikatan Nasional) is one of the state lawmakers who have yet to attend a session in the current Selangor assembly sitting that started on November 23.

In addressing the low attendance today, state speaker Ng Suee Lim singled out former Selangor menteri besar Azmin and Harumaini Omar (Batang Kali-Pejuang) have been missing in action since the sitting started.

“Only 70% out of the 56 representatives attended the current sitting, making it one of the lowest turnouts ever recorded at the state legislative assembly,” Ng told reporters at the sidelines here today.

Selangor lawmakers’ poor attendance also compelled Ng to address the issue of whether state executive councillors (exco) should answer written questions submitted by absent assemblymen during the sitting.

He stated that assemblymen must be present to field questions to exco members.

“I won’t allow exco members to answer questions put forward by absent assemblymen despite those present requesting for the questions to be answered.

“I would like to point out that I don’t want to set a precedent for anyone (assemblymen) to skip the state assembly. If they have any questions for the exco members to answer, they must be present.”

After that, Datuk Teng Chang Khim (Sg Pinang-Pakatan Harapan) (PH) proposed to adjourn the session until around 6pm and his motion was supported by Rodziah Ismail (Batu Tiga-PH). – The Vibes, November 29, 2022

All eyes on second most powerful position, and it's not the deputy prime minister

All eyes on second most powerful position, and it's not the deputy prime minister

Whoever Anwar names as finance minister will decide whether his 'unity government' can live up to its name.

PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli with party president Anwar Ibrahim, and Umno's Mohamad Hasan and Johari Abdul Ghani.

There are signs that the "unity government" led by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim may soon struggle to live up to its name, as speculation mounts over who will be named to helm the finance ministry – arguably the second most important portfolio in the Cabinet, MalaysiaNow has learnt, based on conversations with several Umno and PKR leaders.

This comes as an online campaign using various social media platforms slowly gathers steam among the supporters of PKR number two, Rafizi Ramli, who was thought to be eyeing the post if Pakatan Harapan (PH) came to power.

But for Umno, the lifeline that the party appears to have received by agreeing to join a PH-led coalition government could end if Anwar decides that the finance portfolio will not go to any of its 28 MPs.

"Now, having ignored its 'No Anwar, no DAP' stand, the least that Umno could do in order to salvage whatever credibility it has among its members is to be in the driver's seat of the government.

"In Malaysia, that seat is either the prime minister's or the finance minister's," an Umno MP told MalaysiaNow.

He was likely alluding to Mohamad Hasan's speech at the Umno general assembly in March last year, where the Umno deputy president insisted that the Malay party must be in the driver’s seat in any future cooperation.

"What is important is, any party that wants to work with us must believe in Umno’s ability to be in the driver’s seat. Not a second player who is simply picked up to fulfil the quota, or the number of seats required," Mohamad had said at the party's congress which, among others, decided that it would not make any deal with either Anwar or DAP, the party that currently has the biggest share of seats in PH.

"There is no party or individual who can tell or direct Umno how and with whom we should negotiate to form a government."

Mohamad, better known as Tok Mat, is himself seen as among the top contenders for the finance portfolio, alongside newly elected Titiwangsa MP Johari Abdul Ghani.

Tok Mat was also said to be among the favourites to replace Tengku Zafrul Aziz in 2021, following a coup which saw Umno man Ismail Sabri Yaakob named as prime minister. Zafrul was however retained.

Tok Mat and Johari, the former once a corporate figure and the latter having served as the second finance minister in Najib Razak's government, carry with them decades of financial and corporate experience, dwarfing that of the 45-year-old Rafizi, a former accountant with Petronas.

Long before the election, critics had already begun comparing Rafizi to Johari, with an extract from a TV3 panel discussion on the 2023 budget making the rounds to show how the latter was more articulate in matters of finance and economy.

The footage showed Johari giving an in-depth explanation when asked about the the ringgit's declining value, as compared to Rafizi, whom critics said avoided the question after remarking that it was something that even the finance minister would not be able to answer.

Johari Abdul Ghani and Rafizi Ramli speak in a TV3 panel discussion on the 2023 budget.

Since the early 90s, the finance portfolio has been seen as the last stepping stone towards the prime minister's post.

In 1991, then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad appointed Anwar as finance minister in what was seen as preparation for him to take over the government after serving five years as the education minister – another job seen as a stepping stone to the top office.

Two years later, Anwar was named the deputy prime minister in the clearest sign that he was Mahathir's annointed successor. But the succession failed to materialise following Anwar's sacking in 1998, as well as his arrest and conviction of sodomy.

Since the Asian economic crisis of the late 90s, the finance minister has been viewed as a position more powerful than that of the deputy prime minister.

"In fact, there is no point getting the deputy prime minister's post if Umno does not head the finance ministry," said a BN MP who wanted to remain anonymous.

"A government can run without a deputy prime minister," he added.

The finance portfolio is one of several crucial posts in Malaysia's government structure. For the better half of BN's six-decade rule, the position was given to Umno.

At the heart of its power is its stranglehold on a plethora of critical institutions such as the dozens of Malay economic powerhouses, as well as lucrative government-linked companies.