Archive for August, 2015

Post-Bersih 4: The Morning After

The 58th Merdeka Celebrations had been on the grandest scale ever in the nation’s history – with some 400,000 Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region, age, gender or even party politics in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu coming out freely and voluntarily, without any monetary inducements, in the past two days to give real and true meaning to “Merdeka”!

With today’s official Merdeka Day celebrations in the various states, let us ensure that Merdeka Celebations, like Malaysian nation-building, shall be inclusive to embrace diverse themes which make plural Malaysia full of such promise to be a great nation – whether “Sehati, Sejiwa”, “Bersih 4” or “Bersih, Cekap, Amanah”.

What lessons in Post Bersih 4 – “The Morning After”? Read the rest of this entry »


Three things we learnt from: Bersih 4

by Mayuri Mei Lin, Aizyl Azlee and Kamles Kumar
Malay Mail Online
August 31, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 31 — Despite the rumours and threats of a police crackdown after Putrajaya persisted in banning its signature yellow T-shirts and branding it illegal, the two-day rally by electoral reform group Bersih 2.0 ended at the stroke of midnight last night with little incident.

The 34-hour rally that kicked off at 2pm Saturday which drew tens of thousands of government dissenters into the capital city’s streets demanding the prime minister’s resignation, was a mammoth demonstration of civil disobedience, possibly the biggest of all the assemblies in the Bersih series.

Bersih 4 was allowed to run its course—in Kuala Lumpur at least, though those held simultaneously in Kuching and Kota Kinabalu ended prematurely—but was still laced with missteps and will continue to fuel debates that the rally will not change Malaysia’s electoral system nor its parliamentary practices.

However, here are the three takeaways from the Bersih 4 rally: Read the rest of this entry »

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Huge Anti-Government Protests in Malaysia Continue For a Second Day

Nash Jenkins / Kuala Lumpur
30th August 2015

Large Crowds Are Gathering to Demand the Ouster of Malaysia’s Prime Minister
Malaysia’s Anti-Graft Agency Says the Millions in Prime Minister Najib’s Accounts Are ‘Donations’

Saturday’s massive but harmonious anti-government demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur continued overnight and into Sunday morning as historical numbers of Malaysians gathered in the streets of the capital to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak.

“It’s what we need to do for the prime minister to hear our voices and realize we don’t need him anymore,” Abdul Muiz, a 26-year-old businessman in a plastic Guy Fawkes mask, told TIME early Sunday. “I think it’ll stay peaceful — the object is peaceful revolt, since we’re a peaceful nation.”

The marathon rally is expected to last until midnight on Sunday, which will mark the beginning of Merdeka Day, the anniversary of Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s masses protest against corruption

Aug 30th 2015 | KUALA LUMPUR | Asia

A grand day out – Large but orderly marches keep the pressure on an embattled prime minister

TO LISTEN to the dire pronouncements from Malaysia’s authorities, you might have expected a riot. But the big rally which took place in Kuala Lumpur this weekend, organised by Bersih—an electoral reform group angered by allegations of corruption in government—was a calm and joyful affair. Bersih (which means “clean” in Malay) reckoned that 200,000 marched to the capital’s central square on Saturday afternoon to demand the resignation of the prime minister, Najib Razak; the police pegged the crowd at 30,000. Almost everyone wore Bersih’s signature yellow T-shirts—despite the government’s claim, at the eleventh hour, that they were illegal. One yellow-swathed campaigner waved a sunshine-yellow placard: “You can ban a T-shirt”, it read, “but you can’t ban an idea”.

The rally began at 2pm on Saturday and continued overnight. Parents came with teenage and grown-up children (infants were discouraged). Supporters on Twitter quoted lines from “Les Miserables”, and at least one rally chief tried to lead crowds in some of its tunes. A few campaigners sported bags that read “My prime minister embarrasses me”; one handy protestor had carved a pint-sized model of Mr Najib from polystyrene, which perched on a swing inside a cage. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysians Gather Peacefully to Demand a New Politics

Nash Jenkins / Kuala Lumpur
Aug. 29, 2015

The historic rally in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday drew tens of thousands, but saw no violence

Tens of thousands of Malaysians assembled near Kuala Lumpur’s Merdeka Square on Saturday to demand that Prime Minister Najib Razak step down from office.

The rally, one of the largest demonstrations against Malaysia’s government in recent memory, was the culmination of escalating public hostility toward Najib, especially after The Wall Street Journal reported that his private bank accounts held over $700 million in funds purportedly siphoned off a struggling state investment fund called 1Malaysia Development Berhad. Officials say the money came from private donors to be spent on the last general elections in 2013.

But, on Saturday, the call of the day — and the name of the anti-corruption movement that organized it — was “bersih,” which means “clean” in Malay. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia in second day of protests against PM Najib Razak

30th August 2015

Tens of thousands of Malaysians are expected to protest for a second day in Kuala Lumpur, calling for PM Najib Razak to quit over a financial scandal.
On Saturday, crowds were undeterred by a heavy presence of police who had called the protests illegal.

Protesters are angered by a $700m (£455m) payment made to Mr Razak’s bank account from unnamed foreign donors.

He has denied any wrongdoing. He said protesters were tarnishing Malaysia’s image.

Police estimated 25,000 people participated in Saturday’s demonstration, while Bersih – the pro-democracy group behind the rally – said 200,000 took part at the peak. Read the rest of this entry »


Five things different in Day One of Bersih 4

30 August 2015

Thousands gathered at five points in Kuala Lumpur yesterday to converge around Dataran Merdeka, the iconic field that first witnessed Malaya’s new flag in 1957 and now home to the National Day parade.

It was Day One of Bersih 4, or the fourth rally organised by the coalition for free and fair elections Bersih 2.0. Most turned up in the familiar yellow T-shirt with the words Bersih on it, some with the numbers 3 from the previous rally in 2012, but most with 4 for the current one.

They bravely wore it, although the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) had banned the combination of yellow clothing with the words Bersih 4.

After all, the government had done the same in 2011 for Bersih 2.

Unlike previous rallies, Bersih 4 has been quite different. It was planned for 34 hours and held in at least three Malaysian cities – capital city Kuala Lumpur and state capitals Kota Kinabalu in Sabah and Kuching in Sarawak.

Here are five things that are different in Day One of Bersih 4 from previous rallies. Read the rest of this entry »


At least five Tuns think Najib should step down as Prime Minister – how many Tan Sris are of such thinking?

Yesterday, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Umno needs more leaders and prospective leaders who are likeable and adaptable so that they can suit themselves to the environment and the people to ensure the party’s victory in the next general election.

As a result, I specially went through the 19 UMNO leaders in the 37-strong Najib Cabinet, and it is difficult to find more than one person who might qualify to be “likeable and adaptable” who can save UMNO from doom in the 14GE – the Minister for International Trade and Industry Datuk Mustapha Mohamad, but who is so sidelined from the centre of UMNO power politics that he cannot even save UMNO from PAS in Kelantan state general elections.

Until three months ago, second Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah might have qualified to be a “likeable and adaptable” UMNO leader to win back UMNO support, but he has proved to be so malleable as Cabinet spokeman for the RM50 billion 1MDB scandal (according to Tan Sri Muhyiddin in his last speech as Deputy Prime Minister to the UMNO Cheras Division on July 26, 2015) that he blotted his copybook and his credibility as a honest and trustworthy politician is in tatters.

It is indeed ironic that Najib is now talking about the need to have “likeable and adaptable” UMNO leaders to win back popular support for UMNO in 14GE when in his recent Cabinet reshuffle after sacking Muhyiddin as DPM and Shafie Apdal as Rural and Regional Development Minister, he promoted into the Cabinet or increased their public profile and importance in the Najib government people who are the very antithesis of his definition of “likeable and adaptable” leaders who can win back lost popular support for UMNO. Read the rest of this entry »


The politics of division – a Malaysian rhetoric

Philip George
Aug 28th, 2015

COMMENT Being a politician is like playing a game. This is especially so in developing countries, where politicians have the ability to shape the history of a nation and determine how it may progress in the future.

Therefore, the use of rhetoric by leaders trying to persuade and garner support of the public, so that they may be able to implement their vision, is part of the game. But as the times have changed, so much the rhetoric used to convince the populace who have entrusted their futures and the future generations into the hands of an elected few.

Rhetoric can no longer be used in the same way it has been in the past. This lesson is noticeably being learnt in Malaysia.

With a growing urban population strengthened by the extension of 21st Century media, Malaysia is showing gradual signs of an evolving participatory democracy, vaguely resembling the evolution of the British democracy in the 19th Century. Read the rest of this entry »


Bangkit lawan penzalim adalah wira, kata Mufti Perlis

The Malaysian Insider
29 August 2015

Menjelang perhimpunan Bersih 4 hari ini, Mufti Perlis Datuk Dr Mohamad Asri Zainul Abidin berkata, sesiapa yang bangkit menentang si zalim yang kuat ataupun pengkhianat yang berkuasa, maka dia pastinya seorang wira.

Baginya, jika hanya wanita yang ramai dalam perhimpunan ini, ia memalukan, katanya yang dipercayai merujuk kepada pengerusi Bersih 2.0, penganjur Bersih 4, yang merupakan seorang wanita iaitu Maria Chin Abdullah.

“Memalukan bagi sesebuah masyarakat ataupun pihak jika tiada wira lelaki yang muncul, sebaliknya hanya wanita yang berani tampil bersuara dan bertindak,” kata beliau yang lebih dikenali sebagai Dr Maza. Read the rest of this entry »

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Interview: Malaysia’s Politics Amid the 1MDB Scandal

The Diplomat talks with Bridget Welsh about Malaysia’s corruption scandal and its implications for the country.

By Prashanth Parameswaran for The Diplomat
August 28, 2015

Bridget Welsh is a Senior Research Associate of the Center for East Asia Democracy of National Taiwan University, an Associate Fellow of The Habibie Center and a University Fellow of Charles Darwin University. She has written extensively on Malaysian politics among other issues in Southeast Asia.

She recently spoke with The Diplomat’s associate editor Prashanth Parameswaran about a high-profile corruption scandal – known as the 1MDB scandal – which implicates Malaysia’s current prime minister Najib Razak and could have profound implications not only for the country’s embattled premier, but its politics and economics more generally. An edited version of that interview follows.

Let’s start by talking about the scandal itself. There have been allegations that Najib had mismanaged funds linked to the debt-ridden state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Some have called the 1MDB scandal the biggest financial scandal Malaysia has experienced in its history. What is your view on how we should understand its significance?

The 1MBD scandal is the most serious scandal to affect Malaysia’s leadership directly, as it involves inadequately explained and accounted for funds deposited into Najib’s personal bank account alleged used for a deeply flawed general election in 2013. While charges of corruption, embezzlement and abuse of power have occurred before – particularly in the scandal-ridden administration of Najib – and have been tied to efforts to maintain political power and secure wealth by those in power, this scandal raises broader concerns about the integrity of Malaysia’s political institutions and the leadership’s economic governance. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib Razak, patrician premier mired in scandal

David Pilling
Financial Times
28th August 2015

Accusations swirling around the prime minister have transfixed Malaysia, writes David Pilling

This weekend tens of thousands of Malaysians will pour on to the streets of Kuala Lumpur to shout the name of their prime minister, Najib Razak. They will be coming not to praise him, but
to bury him. Among the most popular chants is likely to be “Tangkap Najib”, or “Arrest Najib”.

Now 61, with receding grey hair, neatly trimmed moustache and bespoke suits, Dato’ Sri Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, to give him his full title, can seem a dapper liberal with progressive views on economics and racial harmony. “Najib is the best hope for moderation and reform,” says Sholto Byrnes, senior fellow at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies.

Yet there is another side to Mr Najib, who has been prime minister since 2009, says John Malott, a former US ambassador to Malaysia. The real man, who at 23 became the youngest parliamentarian in his nation’s history, is, he says, neck-deep in the racially divisive, money-soaked politics of the United Malays National Organisation, which has governed
continuously for nearly six decades. The “fake, Najib”, he says, is the product of millions of dollars spent on slick public relations. Read the rest of this entry »

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All about the issues, not yellow, words or numbers

The Malaysian Insider
29 August 2015

Before 6pm yesterday, one of the best jokes in Malaysia was in the form of a riddle. It went like this: why did the chicken cross the road?

Because Tun was on this side.

But after 6pm yesterday, the better joke was that wearing anything yellow with “Bersih 4” was now illegal.

One specific colour, one specific word and one specific number.

Of course, this isn’t the first time such a ban has been gazetted. It happened for Bersih 2 way back in 2011. People ignored it then, people will ignore it now. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia Braces for Protests Against Prime Minister Najib

Wall Street Journal
Aug. 28, 2015

Malaysian police were bracing Friday for what is expected to be a massive weekend protest in Kuala Lumpur against Prime Minister Najib Razak’s management of the economy and the growing debt problems at a state investment fund.

Authorities said the planned protest is illegal while the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, a government agency, said in a statement it would block websites promoting or encouraging the demonstration, which is set to begin near Merdeka, or Independence, Square in the center of Kuala Lumpur on Saturday. The government also announced that it was against the law to wear yellow T-shirts in support of the rally.

The moves reflect Mr. Najib’s growing resolve to stay in power after it emerged that nearly $700 million was deposited into his bank accounts shortly before 2013’s national elections. Last month he sacked then-Deputy Premier Muhyiddin Yassin after Mr. Muhyiddin called on Mr. Najib to explain the worsening situation at the investment fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB. Mr. Najib also promoted four members of a parliamentary committee investigating 1MDB to the cabinet, meaning they could no longer stay on the panel. The following day, he replaced the country’s attorney-general, who was also involved in an investigation into 1MDB, ahead of his scheduled retirement date in October. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia political crisis poised for street showdown

Michael Peel in Bangkok and David Pilling in Hong Kong
Financial Times
August 28, 2015

Malaysia’s growing political crisis is on the brink of a showdown as tens of thousands of protesters prepare to pour on to the capital’s streets in an effort to topple Najib Razak, the scandal-hit prime minister.

The mass demonstration this weekend known as Bersih — or “clean” — is aimed at forcing the premier’s resignation, after it emerged that unexplained payments of almost $700m were made into bank accounts in his name.

The country’s anti-corruption commission has said the money was from unspecified Middle Eastern donors, rather than Malaysian state coffers. But critics claim the transactions are linked to huge debts run up by a state investment fund, whose troubles some see as emblematic of the misrule of the premier’s long-dominant United Malays National Organisation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia braces for major protests against PM Najib Razak

BBC News

Thousands of Malaysians are set to protest in the capital Kuala Lumpur and elsewhere, calling for Prime Minister Najib Razak to step down over a financial scandal.

He has faced public anger over a $700m (£455m) payment made to his bank account from unnamed foreign donors.

It was discovered last month during a probe into alleged mismanagement at the debt-laden state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Mr Najib has denied any wrongdoing. Read the rest of this entry »

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Final hours for Najib to decide whether he is warring against his own people, when Malaysians come in peace to the Federal capital, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu to reaffirm the Malaysian dream of freedom, justice, solidarity and national unity in Merdeka Proclamation 1957 and Malaysia Proclamation 1963

Sad and pathetic that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, should be struck by xanthophobia, the irrational fear of the colour yellow, second time in five years.

The first time was during Bersih 2 of 709 (July 9, 2011) and the second time the last-minute ban by the new Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Home Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, of the use of yellow with the words Bersih 4 in whatever form.

This does not reflect a self-confident people-oriented democratic government but a government in deep panic wobbling on the last legs of popularity, credibility and legitimacy.

No wonder the nation’s history of almost six decades has never seen a government more fractured, an UMNO more fractured and a country more divided! Read the rest of this entry »

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What Malaysians want is for Najib to break his silence on the RM2.6 billion “donation” scandal which has hogged both national and international news

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak has finally broken his silence over the Bersih 4 rally, criticizing organisers for timing the demonstration in a way that it would clash with the Merdeka celebration.

Najib could have made the Bersih 4 rally an outstanding part of the Merdeka celebrations, especially if he is ready to make an appearance at the Bersih 4 rally and have a dialogue with the Bersih 4 organisers and principal supporters on the state of democracy, economy and nation-building 58 years after Merdeka in 1957.

But what all Malaysians want from the Prime Minister is for him to break his silence on the RM2.6 billion donation scandal in his personal bank accounts, which had hogged both national and international news.

In the past two months, Malaysia have repeatedly made international headlines – but for all the wrong reasons which are either most unedifying to the nation or prejudicial to the good name and standing of Malaysia in international circles. Read the rest of this entry »


Information Department Director-General Ibrahim Abdul Rahman should be sacked as an example that civil servants should not play the irresponsible game of their UMNO political masters to spread lies to incite race and religious sentiments and hatred

The Information Department Director-General Datuk Ibrahim Abdul Rahman should be sacked as an example that civil servants should not play the irresponsible game of their UMNO political masters to spread lies to incite race and religious sentiments and hatred to try to perpetuate UMNO hold on power in Putrajaya.

In his FaceBook yesterday, Ibrahim shared a faked message which I was supposed to have made at a press conference at the DAP headquarters with DAP Acting Chairman Tan Kok Wai (MP for Cheras) and the DAP National Organising Secretary Anthony Loke (MP for Seremban), all donning the Bersih 4 T-shirts, declaring “Ini peluang kami untuk menumbang PEMIMPIN MELAYU DI BUMI MALAYSIA”.

This is a total lie as I never said or intended any such nonsense, as can be testified by the press corps who attended the DAP press conference on Bersih 4 rally on Wednesday, 26th August 2015.
Read the rest of this entry »


What exactly are you waiting for?

— Kenneth Cheng
The Malay Mail Online
August 27, 2015

AUG 27 — If there is anything still worth salvaging for the ever sinking Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, It was undisputedly clear that all has been gone down the drain yesterday.

It seemed out of desperation and utter stupidity, he proclaims that Malays would be bastardised if UMNO is not ruling Malaysia anymore.

While the statement is not what the writer hopes to discuss, but he can’t help but feel amused because the Malays he has come to know in Singapore turned out just fine.

In fact the confident, faithful and gentle Malays that the author befriended in Singapore are everything that is antithesis to the term ‘bangsat’.

And every Malaysian should feel ashamed of the designation used by the unprimed-ministerial Prime Minister. Because neither any Malays nor any single human whom refuses to support his government are bastard. In fact the very word should only be confined in the realm of Game of Thrones, instead of being applied by politicians for his own political agenda. Read the rest of this entry »

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