Archive for March 26th, 2008

“Pace of reforms”? – Abdullah has yet to come to terms with March 8 political tsunami

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has yet to fully come to terms with the March 8 political tsunami which swept away the Barisan Nasional’s hitherto unbroken two-thirds parliamentary majority and power in five states.

He said yesterday:

“The result of the elections was a strong message that I have not moved fast enough in pushing through with the reforms that I had promised to undertake.

“I thank the Malaysian people for this message. Point made and point taken,”

Abdullah’s admission is not assuring enough, as he seems to have missed the whole point of the March 8 electoral verdict – not that he had “not moved fast enough” in reforms he pledged more than four years ago, but that he had hardly moved at all apart from periodically paying lip-service to them.

This is why there can be no political honeymoon for the second Abdullah Cabinet to implement what had been pledged four years ago as Malaysians are entitled to demand that these pledges going back to 2003 and 2004 are implemented without any further delay or hitches.

This is the reason why I had sent an urgent letter to the Prime Minister yesterday on the eight reforms which the new Cabinet should immediately embrace at its meeting today to show that the second Abdullah Cabinet is prepared to respond to the March 8 political tsunami and be on top of the changes demanded by Malaysians, in particular: Read the rest of this entry »


A Truly Defining & Defying Moment!

by Martin Jalleh

The Umno-BN hegemony has come to a sudden halt. The 50-year old political juggernaut has been severely jolted. Its formidable force fragmented. A mean machine has been reduced to a mouse.

The coalition that had used its brute majority to bully and bulldoze its way and will in Parliament, blinked when the Opposition breached its two-thirds majority. It was something that they had not bargained for.

The regime of humbug, hype, hypocrisy, hysterics and histrionics, displayed especially in Parliament, has been humbled, even humiliated. People in high places came hurtling down without knowing what really hit them.

The government of unbridled arrogance of power and brazen high-handedness has been brought low. A haunting silence hovers over the once haughty as their political future hangs heavily against hope. The high and mighty are hushed.

The powers that have dominated, dictated and decided for “the good of the people” have been dented. The BN is left in a daze as to why and how they have been ditched and damned so decidedly. Read the rest of this entry »


What next after this ‘Asian implo-volution’?

by Azly Rahman

(Early notes for a speech at an upcoming Malaysian forum at Harvard University, Massachusetts, USA, March 2008.)

“Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains”
(- Jean Jacques Rousseau)

“Man has no nature, what he has is history” (- Ortega y Gassett)

When I was invited to this gathering of young thinkers, movers and shakers, and public intellectuals, I was writing about hope. The Malaysian Revolution of 2008 was about hope materializing. It was about ‘freedom’ fought and won.

How Malaysian do we want to become? How free do we want to be? How much can we in turn be imprisoned by the newfound freedom?

These, I believe are strange philosophical questions that is peculiar-sounding at a time when the machinery of the previous regime is being de-constructed and dismantled piece by piece after being captured in a revolution that is aided by the force of cybernetic technology.

For those who believe in divine intervention, the revolution or the “Asian implo-volution” (a combination of “implosion” and “evolution”) as I would coin, the event was god’s will carried out by the general will of the people.

The enabling technology of this “Asian implo-volution” is the will of the Internet – of technological determinism.

Are we at a second phase of Merdeka/Independence? Who were we fighting against? If 50 years ago, it was against the British imperialists, who are the neo-colonialists amongst us now? If in the 1950s, we had a multicultural struggle in the form of the “hartal”, are we seeing a similar version of it now in the form of rallies such as of the Hindraf and Bersih? Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia: Change is Long Overdue

By Farish A. Noor

For as long as they can remember, Malaysians have been told time and again that there can only be political stability in the country as long as the status quo is defended. This rather uninspiring message was, of course, delivered by none other than those who were already in power and who had every reason to wish to remain in power for as long as humanly possible. Since it became independent in 1957 Malaysia has been ruled by the same coterie of right-of-centre Conservative-nationalist parties led by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and its allies in the former Alliance coalition and now the National Front. For more than half a century Malaysians were told that this was the natural order of things and that to even entertain the idea of there being a different government was tantamount to political heresy of sorts.

Yet a quick survey of the political landscape of many a post-colonial nation-state today would show clearly that almost every post-colonial country in the world has experienced a change of government, and in many cases this transition has come about without leading to chaos and tumult in the streets. The nationalists of Algeria were eventually kicked out of office after it became patently clear that their brand of conservative nationalism served only to disguise what was really a corrupt mode of patronage politics. In India the Congress party that had for so long rested on its laurels and prided itself with the claim that it was the party that won India’s independence has been soundly beaten at both the national and state level; again for the same reason. Why even Indonesia that suffered under three decades of military rule has made the slow but sure transition to a fledgling democracy of sorts, and the mainstream media in Indonesia today remains the most open and courageous in all of Southeast Asia. So why not Malaysia?

The election results of March 2008 have shown the world that in Malaysia at least race and communal-based voting may soon become a thing of the past. This may have been a protest vote against the lackadaisical performance of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, but it did nonetheless send a very clear message to the government and all the parties in the country. It signalled that the Malaysian public was tired of empty promises and having sweet nothings whispered in their ears, while the government continues along its inebriated pace of mismanaging the country. It also reminded all politicians from all parties that the Malaysian voters will no longer vote along racial or religious-communitarian lines, and that henceforth they will vote for the best candidate who can do her or his job better than the other bloke. Read the rest of this entry »