MANIFESTO OF THE 99% – BEYOND BN & PH

Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 24 Jan 2018

The release of the ‘Manifesto of the 99%’ by the Left Coalition provides a stark reminder to the nation of the range of reforms that matter most for a truly just and sustainable future – not whether BN or PH wins the next election. Despite the sanctimonious reproaches by some against #Undi Rosak, PH leaders have consistently failed to tell the nation what reforms they propose that are so different from those of the BN. Let us look at how both coalitions stack up in relation to the big issues facing the nation:

  1. An end to Racism & Racial Discrimination in Malaysia:

Since Independence, the ruling coalition has unabashedly used race-based political parties – UMNO, MCA, MIC – to gain votes and popularity. Initially, PH could argue that they were above this primordial predilection, being made up of multi-ethnic parties. Now they can’t. Their new leader is from the race-pure “Parti Pribumi” party. We presume Parti Pribumi considers itself the “real” champion of the Bumiputeras in contrast to UMNO. Thus, by opportunistically embracing a supposed Malay vote catcher, PH have lost their reformist credibility or, as someone has put it recently, they have sold their soul to the devil.

As a result of this pragmatic arrangement, none of the political parties in either of the two coalitions have paid any attention to the elephant in the room, namely, the racially discriminatory New Economic Policy that was scheduled to end in 1990. Race-based policies have become the norm in this country even though they are the biggest impediment to national unity. So, BN and PH must tell us whether our “1Malaysia” will still be run on racial preference and discrimination after GE14. If not, when will such racial policies end?

The ‘Manifesto of the 99%’ calls for needs-based and not race-based policies. An Equality Act will make racially discriminatory policies a thing of the past and equality will become an intrinsic part of the Human Rights Commission. Are BN and PH committed to such a long-overdue reform?

It is time, BN and PH take human rights seriously and respect all Malaysian citizens irrespective of ethnicity, religious beliefs, gender or sexuality and we can march forward as a nation.

  1. Wealth redistribution to the 99%:

Both BN & PH are competing to see which coalition can outdo the other in neo-liberal policies that offer investors attractive opportunities that they can’t refuse. The big corporations and developers must be laughing all the way to the bank for they seem to have both coalitions in their pockets. The new leader of PH is of course none other than the Father of Neo-Liberalism himself – if that is any claim to fame – for he was the one who sold off our national assets to his crony capitalists from 1981 onwards. The leader of the Opposition called it “piratisation”.

Consequently, in the states under both BN and PH, deforestation by developers goes on uninhibited, highways, tunnels and land reclamation continue unabated without concern for the public commons and the marginalised people living there.

And while we see BN or PH shed crocodile tears over the rise in the cost of living, do we see these coalitions putting forward sound policies to redistribute wealth in this country? Do they propose progressive fiscal policies to tax the top 1% who own more wealth than the bottom 40% in our country? The wealth of the richest 50 Malaysians (top 0.00017%) amounts to nearly RM300 billion when the total government revenue is only RM180 billion! Do BN and PH put forward proposals to regulate financial transactions and to put an end to tax evasion?

  1. A just, democratic and progressive alternative

Do BN and PH promise real democracy instead of these pious commitments to periodic general elections which do not change our lives substantively? When are we going to see term limits placed on office bearers and elected representatives? There are some representatives who have been in Parliament since Independence and still try to claim indispensability. Apparently, there are not enough capable young, women or leaders from marginalised communities in this country who can replace these dinosaurs in Parliament. So what is there in this electoral circus to attract the involvement of young Malaysians?

A just, democratic and progressive alternative calls for a living wage and rights for all workers; a reasonable pension at retirement; affordable and liveable housing; free tertiary education (means tested for the well-off); formal or informal elected local government; commitment to international human rights practices and covenants.

Do we hear a call for the leaders of either coalition to debate these big issues? It is time they did!

It’s high time BN and PH tell us what we are voting for! It’s time they tell us if they subscribe to our ‘Manifesto of the 99%”. If they do not, what are we voting for in GE14?

  1. PH has destroyed the Opposition Coalition

Apart from the similarity in basic policies of BN and PH, many Malaysians who had hoped for and helped to build the Opposition coalition since the Eighties are disgusted at the way the Opposition Coalition has been callously destroyed since the so-called “Kajang Move”.  As a result, there is no one-to-one choice in the vote anymore but three-cornered and even multi-cornered fights in GE14. The name calling and general kurang ajar attitude by PH leaders against other Opposition leaders are unwarranted and serves only to disappoint former Pakatan Rakyat supporters.

Thus, besides telling us what your reformist policies are, explain to us how you have allowed this disastrous situation for the Opposition to arise in which our votes will be rendered effete in a 3-cornered or multi-cornered fight. PH should not try to blame it all on PAS because they had already made clear their intentions in constituencies such as Sg Siput and Hulu Langat where PAS is not in the picture.

So how can you blame the disaffected voters for wanting to spoil their votes? Instead of chastising these disenchanted Malaysians as if they have not thought this through, why not debate these big issues in public? With the release of this ‘Manifesto of the 99%’, we call on voters to challenge the candidates to gauge their stand on these big issues so that we know which candidate to support in any constituency. Malaysians who want real change can then vote for candidates who endorse this manifesto. POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

PH DAUGHTERS UPHOLD DIGNITY WHILE THE MEN PAWN THEIR INTEGRITY

Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 9 Jan 2018

What a breath of fresh air to read Sangeet Karpal’s statement on Pakatan Harapan’s endorsement of BN 2.0 with Malaysia’s infamous autocrat as their “interim Prime Minister”:

“The fact that the opposition had no one else to choose to be prime minister showed the coalition’s lack of long-term strategy… Mahathir will be PM all over again, introducing the rebirth of Mahathirism. The focus should always be on policies and principles (not personalities) and leaders must be groomed to ensure continuity. Will we be open to working with Najib one day, should desperate circumstances demand?” she asked in a statement.

Sangeet also said that Mahathir’s apology over the Internal Security Act (ISA) and other wrongdoings during his tenure as PM was done half-heartedly:

“This is not about forgiveness. This is about accountability. Persons in positions of power should be held accountable for their actions…Equally, he should be investigated too, especially since the opposition has vowed to revamp the Attorney-General’s Chambers once in power, there should be no double standards about who should be investigated.”

She pointed out that the leaders in the opposition had remained silent in the face of Mahathir’s recent hollow “apology”. Sangeet added that DAP had always been the voice against abuse of power, freedom of the press, independence of the judiciary, sanctity of our institutions and other issues, ending her statement with:

“DAP, I can’t hear you…”

Now, how spot on is that? Does Sangeet’s statement not represent the quintessential Karpalian spirit and give us hope in human dignity? Why has the challenge to speak truth to power and to uphold the family’s dignity been taken up by some daughters and not others?

Another dignified daughter, Nurul Nuha

On 14 September 2016, the second daughter of Anwar Ibrahim, Nurul Nuha Anwar did precisely that – she felt she had to uphold her family’s dignity by demanding that former PM, Dr Mahathir apologise for ‘trumped up’ charges against her father. Nurul Nuha, 32, said that Mahathir should own up for his accusations and other actions that led to her father’s arrest and conviction for sodomy and corruption in 1998:

“As a daughter who has witnessed the countless torments my father went through the past 18 years, my personal wish would be for Dr M to publicly apologise and admit the trumped up charges.”

She suggested that an apology from Mahathir for his past transgressions against his former deputy was a prerequisite before any alliance is formed between Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) and PKR.

Can you blame her for her outburst after seeing the man who had publicly called her father a sodomiser and womaniser and morally unfit to be a leader (and Mahathir’s press conference is still there in Youtube for posterity!) become the new leader of Pakatan Harapan?

The other unspoken question for Mahathir is whether he is prepared to hand over the speculative Prime Ministership to Anwar after the latter’s release since he had previously and publicly stated that Anwar is morally unfit to be the Prime Minister? Is Mahathir now saying that Anwar is morally fit to be PM or is he saying he was wrong when he said that Anwar was unfit to be PM?

Thank goodness for daughters

After witnessing these interventions by Sangeet Karpal and Nurul Nuha Anwar at the critical junctures, I say: Thank goodness for daughters. They have proven that they still have marbles. The men seem to have lost their balls…

I have been told that since her statement, Sangeet has received brickbats from the moronic cyberpoopers who I believe, have been paid to poop all over social media for their political masters. Just ignore them Sangeet like I do. These so-called cyberpoopers are shameless cowards who can’t really read or write. They do not even dare to use their real names when they poop. For sure they will be despatched to the sewage heap of history.

1MDB, FOREX LOSSES – NEVER AGAIN!

By Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser, 4 July 2017

Just as I predicted in the first paragraph of my new book ‘GE14: The Big Issues’:

“Malaysia’s 14th general election will no doubt be fought between a Barisan Nasional coalition that boasts its sixty years of “stable rule” and a Pakatan Rakyat coalition calling on the electorate to “save Malaysia” from the BN’s kleptocracy. There will certainly be plenty of the usual mudslinging on both sides and Malaysian voters will likely be treated to tirades about current scandals including 1MDB, as well as past scandals such as the forex losses, now that the former Prime Minister has joined the Opposition…!”

It is great that Pakatan Harapan will be going around the country to expose the BN’s 1MDB scandal. The rakyat who do not already know about this scandal will get to know about how more than RM40 billion of our sovereign wealth has been squandered by the coalition that has run this country since Independence.

Equally wonderful is the fact that the Barisan Nasional will be going to town about the more than RM30 billion forex losses incurred by Mahathir’s government during the Nineties. The old man may even get a taste of what incarceration feels like if he is found to have misguided the Cabinet and Parliament in the Nineties and squandered so much of our valuable assets.

If Mahathir had not joined the Pakatan Harapan coalition, PH would only have been tainted with the corruption charges against the PH Chief Minister in Penang and the allegations of corruption by PH themselves against the former PH Menteri Besar of Selangor. Worse luck, thinking they had roped in a big fish to trawl for rural Malay votes, PH must now bear the cross for the former kleptocrat’s sins!

Karma chameleon

It never fails to amuse me that the laws of karma work in such a way that ensures that justice will always prevail, even in what too often appears to be so unjust a world. Who would have thought that two decades after the Mahathir administration had frittered away more than RM30 billion of Malaysian tax payers’ money in the forex losses, we would finally have a Royal Commission of Inquiry into this scandal which the Leader of the Opposition Lim Kit Siang described thus:

“Up to now, the government has failed to “come clean” on the colossal Bank Negara forex losses as a result of speculation in the international currency markets from 1992-1994, with the losses cited as ranging from RM10 billion to RM30 billion…The reasons which I had advanced in Parliament in 1994 for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the colossal Bank Negara forex losses remain valid today, and should be the terms of reference of a White Paper… To determine the actual extent of the colossal forex losses suffered by Bank Negara 1992-1994; whether there had been any financial malpractices and abuses in view of the inconsistencies and conflicting explanations about the colossal forex losses; and establish how Bank Negara could incur such colossal losses.”

I imagine the leader of the Opposition must be so pleased that his call for an RCI in 1994 has finally come to pass. Now at least the Malaysian rakyat will be able to get to the bottom of this seemingly bottomless pit of financial squandering under the Mahathir regime.

When will we see a credible RCI on 1MDB?

Certainly, the rakyat also demands a credible RCI on the 1MDB scandal. Unfortunately, Mahathir was responsible for concentrating so many branches of power under the Executive branch of the Government that the independence of the AG chambers and the MACC have now been compromised under the Prime Minister’s Department. Likewise, the Judiciary has not fully recovered from its rude assault by Mahathir after Operation Lalang in 1988 when the Lord President and three Supreme Court judges were sacked. Will it be poetic justice that Mahathir might have to face the judiciary of his own making?

We will have to be patient and wait for the laws of karma to work in such a way that we will also have a credible RCI on the 1MDB scandal. Waiting might have to be until the present Prime Minister meets his UMNO nemesis and becomes the hare in the race. If he then joins the Opposition, I wonder if he will be forgiven by the Opposition for his 1MDB indiscretions? Since we have waited more than twenty years for the RCI on the forex losses, let us hope we do not have to wait that long for an RCI on 1MDB!

BN and PH’s unacceptable tolerance of corruption

By now, it must be clear to all Malaysians that there is a pattern of an unacceptable level of tolerance of corruption within both the BN and PH coalitions. If Dr Mahathir had quietly retired, we would definitely not be hearing about this RCI on the forex losses in the Nineties. But he has his own agenda and has chosen to challenge Najib, so he will have to face the consequences and bite the bullet while facing the assault from Najib.

Within PH, PKR Secretary-general Rafizi Ramli recently exposed corruption involving money and “women” for those wanting to deal with the Selangor government. He similarly made the standard proviso that he “MIGHT take action unless…” He said he had received the complaint from a “bona fide person that apart from money, now there are also requests for women when dealing with the state government”.

This is not the first time we have witnessed such a tolerance of corruption by Pakatan leaders in which the alleged corrupt person involved is given a CHOICE of following a course set out by the accusers in the coalition. We saw such a strategy at work during the gambit to get rid of the former Menteri Besar of Selangor Khalid Ibrahim when PKR leader Saifuddin Nasution waved a file of alleged corrupt practices over the Khalid’s head to force him to step down as MB. However, since the day Khalid did indeed step down as MB, we have heard nothing more of the alleged corruption scandals on which his removal was apparently based.

Does the former MB not have to face these allegations of corrupt practices anymore and does he not have to accept the consequences if found guilty? Did the tax payers of Selangor suffer any loss of their state revenue as a result of the alleged wrongdoing? If so, should he not have to pay these back to Selangor tax payers? On the other hand, if the alleged corrupt practices are found to be concocted and untenable, do the Pakatan leaders who were responsible for such irresponsible ruses (including the frivolous Kajang Move) not have to face the consequences of their actions?

After he stepped down as MB of Selangor, Khalid Ibrahim has insinuated that there are irregularities in the purchase of the water assets by the Selangor Government, namely one of the water concessionaires has been offered favourable terms through links to personalities in the Selangor state government. In the interest of Selangor rates payers, this deal should be investigated by an independent inquiry as well.

Urgent reforms in GE14:

1.       Zero tolerance of corruption

So, what does this tell us about the attitude by the Pakatan leadership to corruption? They have shown us that they are prepared to tolerate corrupt practices as long as the guilty ones follow the coalition’s wishes. This is totally unacceptable.

In the reformed Malaysia that Malaysians yearn for, there must be zero-tolerance of corruption. We expect every case of corruption to be reported to the relevant authorities including the police for prosecution and nothing less than that.

Corrupt leaders and civil servants have to be accountable to the people. Furthermore, they have to pay back what they have corruptly obtained from the people and atone for their indiscretion. And this is irrespective of whether the amount of money involved is 2.6 billion in your personal bank account or 2.6 million that you paid for a house.

2.       Public officials charged with corruption must step down until cleared

In addition, any public official charged with corruption must step down while the case is in the courts as a democratic principle and good governance. This principle is not subject to any populist campaign which claims that “the people say the CM need not resign”. Any guilt over corruption charges can only be decided in the courts and not by selected sections of the public.

If this rule is not followed and if MO#1 is finally charged for corruption, this will be a precedent that he can cite to justify staying on in his capacity as MO#1.

3.       Make our sovereign wealth fund and Bank Negara transparent and accountable

It is not enough for PH to tell us the details of the 1MDB scandal and for BN to expose the shenanigans of the Mahathir administration which led to the forex losses. The rakyat want to know how the BN or the PH will ensure these scandals never happen again by putting in place strict reforms to make our sovereign wealth funds and Bank Negara transparent and accountable.

Our sovereign wealth fund and foreign exchange reserves must be managed in a transparent manner for the benefit of Malaysian workers, especially their expectation of a respectable pension when they retire and investment for our future generations. Political objectives and capitalist greed must not influence their management.

We want a standard that ensures that international investments of our government, including foreign exchange reserves, sovereign wealth funds, and government-owned such as pension funds, are based on clearly stated policy objectives and investment strategies, transparent and accountable to the people. The opaque operations of the Malaysian governments in managing our international investments is what led to the forex and 1MDB scandals.

We say, ‘Never Again!’

If BN and PH want our votes, they must tell us in no uncertain terms how they will ensure that such scandals never happen again and what specific reforms they will put in place to achieve this – namely, how they will consolidate the rule of law and good governance and how they will step up the efforts against corruption and enhance our policy and regulatory frameworks.

POLICYLESS ‘PAKATUN’ PARTIES

POLICYLESS ‘PAKATUN’ PARTIES
By Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 18 July 2016

In Bolehland, Tun Mahathir announces the formation of a new political party without having to lay out the policies or at least the political colour of this new party. It suffices that he is anti-Najib – that seems to be all you need to be in order to join the Pakatan Harapan coalition. From the fuss that was accorded him in the recent ‘Citizens’ Declaration’ by the Pakatan leaders, it does look as if he might take over the mantle of ‘de facto’ Opposition leader of the new ‘Pakatun’ coalition.

For a former prime Minister who ruled this country with an iron fist for more than twenty years and who set up the trappings of economic and political power that the current Prime Minister now lords over, what are the policies of Tun Mahathir’s new party that are so different from the other parties in Malaysia? That is the question all discerning Malaysians want to know.

Does his new party address all the issues surrounding human rights and democracy and neo-liberal economic policies that he implemented in the Eighties and Nineties? Tun Mahathir has to this day still not apologized to all the victims of Operation Lalang or to the former Lord President whom he sacked in 1988 together with other Supreme Court judges. This plunged the Malaysian Judiciary into its gravest crisis that the country has still not recovered until today. He has also not compared all the financial scandals during his rule to that of the present Prime Minister’s. According to the social scientist Barry Wain, these financial scandals during Mahathir’s rule cost the rakyat close to RM100 billion.

So Tun, It is not enough just to be anti-Najib to try and gain electoral support. Malaysians are wise to this attempt by politicians to ride on the anti-Najib wave without telling us their policies.

Superman’s policies

Recently, we were treated to the spectacle of DAP’s erstwhile “Superman” declaring his views on the China-ASEAN spat over the South China Sea soon after the judgement by the International Tribunal at the Hague. It was only after the outcry from the public that the DAP’s Superman finally met his krypton. For such an important foreign policy statement, one would have expected the top DAP leadership to release a press statement on the issue. Instead they relied on their ‘Superman’ to take on the mantle of foreign policy spokesperson.

For years, “Superman” had played the convenient role of the DAP’s “loose cannon” to be set against the party’s political opponents. He provided ceramah amusement and was feted at party functions. Then Superman began to takeoff by expanding his portfolio. When he unleashed his homophobic aside against a columnist in the online press, the DAP kept a discreet silence although in another situation, the DAP Secretary-General had expressed the party’s position visavis the LGBT community: “When did the state government recognise LGBT rights?” he pouted. (Mkini 2.6.2016)

Again, as a party committed to human rights, one would have expected an unequivocal policy stand by the DAP on the rights of the oppressed LGBT community instead of such a passive and negative denial.

Never Ending (Bumiputera) Policy

On the polarizing issues dividing Malaysians, we don’t hear very much these days from Pakatan politicians regarding the BN’s New Economic Policy anymore. It is as if Pakatan Harapan will continue with this racially discriminatory policy if they ever come into power. Will the Tun’s new party continue with this “Bumiputera Agenda”? If so, how will this square with Pakatan Harapan’s stand on this?

The ‘Pakatun’ coalition should spell out in no uncertain terms well before GE14 whether they intend to have a Non-Racial Economic Policy committed to equality and affirmative action based on need, sector and class. The Malaysian people have put up with this blatantly racial discriminatory policy since 1971 at great cost to the nation’s development and unity.

What progressive fiscal and social policies?

Will the ‘Pakatun’ coalition impose a higher marginal tax rate on high income earners and other taxes on wealth, luxury goods and speculative capital in order to close the income inequality gap? Is Tun Mahathir also committed to scrapping the regressive GST? Will the new Opposition coalition have concrete housing, health and transport policies for the lower income earners that are an alternative to BN’s policies?

Has Tun Mahathir been rehabilitated?

In other words, has Tun Mahathir undergone a dramatic transformation in his conscientization to people-centred philosophy or is he simply stuck in his anti-Najib groove? Do the other parties in the Opposition coalition even care if he has become a born-again democrat with a new commitment to human rights and social justice?

And last but not least, can he even be admitted into the Opposition coalition – never mind lead it – if he still clings on to his prejudice that Anwar Ibrahim is morally unqualified to be the Prime Minister-in-waiting?

HAVE PAKATAN HARAPAN POLITICIANS LOST THEIR MARBLES?

HAVE PAKATAN HARAPAN POLITICIANS LOST THEIR MARBLES?
Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 20 June 2016

Did the Pakatan Harapan (PH) politicians – some of whom have been in politics for decades – not foreseen the results of the two recent by-elections? Any fool who can count could have predicted the results. So what prompted the leaders of PH to insist on splitting the opposition votes? Have they lost their marbles?

  1. Referendum on Najib’s 1MDB scandal

After the hullabaloo over the Citizens’ Declaration to ask for Najib’s resignation, you would have expected that they would make these two by-elections a referendum on Najib. For such a referendum to take place, you would need a one-to-one vote and not a three corner fight. So why did they persist in this charade? Did they not expect the results that logically materialized?

  1. Is Mahathir the new de facto Opposition leader?

Making Dr M the leader of the Citizens’ Declaration was the first serious mistake. This is the Prime Minister who was responsible for the assault on the Judiciary, launching Operation Lalang and so many financial scandals during his rule. He was also the man who slammed Najib for wasting money on the Chinese during GE13 when it could have been better spent on the Bumiputeras. The Citizens’ Declaration put off many justice-loving Malaysians who would have supported a grassroots campaign calling for Najib to resign. It exposed the lack of principles and opportunism of the PH leaders.

And still sticking with Dr M after he had continued his denigration of Anwar (supposedly the de facto Pakatan leader) was a betrayal of Anwar and belied their excitement over Dr M as the new de facto leader of PH. Did the PH leaders really think that Dr M could swing the votes so significantly for Amanah to win the two by-elections? Couldn’t they see that Dr M has little support when he could not even prevent the sacking of his son?

  1. Did the PH leaders expect PAS to stand aside in the two seats?

If the by-elections had been in some other constituencies in which PAS did not stand in GE13, the PH leaders would be justified in putting up their Amanah candidates. Unfortunately, these two seats had been contested by PAS in the last general election and they had a clear stake in these two seats.

Okay, so Amanah wanted to prove they are an alternative to PAS. Is this the way to prove their worth? Well, now they know… The winner in any three-corner fight will be BN – “It’s simple arithmetic – dah!”

  1. Find your marbles before GE14

If we are to avoid three corner fights in GE14, DAP might have to consider apportioning some of their contested seats to Amanah. For Malaysians who have been waiting a lifetime to see the back of the BN, a repetition of the scenario evident in the last two by-elections is not an option. Ultimately, the Opposition will have to back stitch together the Alternative Coalition that took decades to come about and that has been so rudely torn asunder only in recent months.