PAKATAN’S MANIFESTO & THE REFORMASI IDEALS

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

The Pakatan manifesto for GE14 promises many things and the most welcome ones are the calls to repeal draconian laws, make several commissions directly answerable to Parliament and cut the PMO fat, which is long overdue. Beyond these critically needed reforms, the manifesto is long on populist concepts but short on actionable specifics. The current water crisis in Selangor is yet another reminder of the dire consequences of such cavalier populist policies as Selangor’s free water policy. Is providing cheaper cars the answer to our traffic problems or purely populist? The manifesto proposal to “resolve issue of unilateral child conversion in a harmonious manner” is no doubt well-intentioned but wishful thinking in the current toxic climate without spelling out the clear constitutional and juridical positions on this issue.

Fundamentally, the manifesto lacks three vital changes sorely needed to take our country into a new beginning after sixty years of BN rule, namely: a race-free agenda to unify the nation; a progressive tax structure to redistribute wealth and a truly democratic society.

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CAN A SNAP ELECTION DECIDE THE CM’S INNOCENCE?

CAN A SNAP ELECTION DECIDE THE CM’S INNOCENCE?
Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 20 July 2016

After the asinine and vexatious ‘Kajang Move’ when Pakatan forced a byelection in Kajang in 2014, we now hear the DAP is contemplating a snap election in the entire Penang state. If, as some political analysts have said, that this move is motivated by internal DAP power politics to consolidate the power of the incumbent, then it is certainly asinine and vexatious. And if this is an attempt by the DAP leadership at a so-called “referendum” on the Chief Minister’s beleaguered situation, they should think again…

ALL politicians must be free of corruption

The DAP should know that even if they win a landslide victory at this proposed snap election, it does not decide the verdict of the Chief Minister’s corruption charges. The Chief Minister’s innocence can only be decided by the Malaysian Judiciary. So why burden the electorate with this time and money wasting ploy? Is the entire election campaign going to be a detailed examination of the facts in the CM’s corruption charges? Obviously not…

The question of selective prosecution is a separate issue although it does not rule out the fact that ALL politicians and public servants – without exception – must be FREE OF CORRUPTION whether these cases involve 2.6 billion or 2.6 million or even 2.6 thousand ringgit. To presume – as is implied in the snap election move – that the Chief Minister of Penang is incorruptible is as absurd as the belief in human angels!

Try and argue selective prosecution

The Chief Minister of Penang can certainly try and claim that there is selective prosecution in his case by showing that the prosecutorial policy was motivated by a discriminatory purpose and that similarly situated individuals of a different class or political party were not prosecuted. Nevertheless, the merits of his own corruption case will still need to be examined in court. Needless to say, the Attorney General will elicit cases involving past UMNO Menteris Besar who have been charged to show that there is no selective prosecution.

We can only hope that when and if Pakatan does come into federal power, they will change the system to ensure that the Attorney General is truly independent. For the moment, short of the DAP declaring itself a revolutionary party and will have nothing to do with the bourgeois state, we are stuck with the Malaysian Judiciary – warts and all – at this point in time. In fact there are so many DAP lawyers doing very well in their legal careers I doubt very much that they are about to boycott the Malaysian Judiciary!

No, a snap election for the whole of Penang state will be wasteful, counter-productive and most importantly, will not decide the innocence or guilt of the Chief Minister in his corruption charges.

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?