Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Azmin Ali: MB Selangor with no honeymoon period

Now that Azmin Ali is the MB of Selangor, he will be under the microscope from his enemies within the Party, DAP, PAS, BN and finally the rakyat. One should not forget that the Sultan of Selangor would be monitoring him closely as well. After all, he is appointed by the Sultan and his appointment is perceived by many to be extra constitutional.

It is only by performance as a MB that will vindicate him from these accusations. Azmin’s worst enemy will be his own party members. The unprecedented long period of party election has only served to aggravate infighting among the members of PKR. How Azmin reaches out to his enemy within the Party and whether or not he takes care of his own supporters will in a way influence his performance as a MB.

DAP and PAS are not going to give Azmin an easy ride, especially after he reduces the PAS EXCO from 4 to 3. If he gives in too much to DAP, Azmin will be perceived as pandering to the Chinese based party. How Azmin manages his relationship with the Palace will be crucial. The Palace’s support will be his trump card but if he over display the Palace card, it will work to his disadvantage in the long term.

Having work in the state as an EXCO in Johor, one cannot deny that the State Government’s relationship with the palace is crucial if you want to get things done. Although the Sultan is regarded as a Constitutional Head, but often his influence is palpable, especially in running the daily affairs of the state. Any MB who wish to ignore this would have to accept the consequences at his own peril.

Honeymoon is not with Azmin when he has to contend with a lot of state and federal issues that need to be resolved. Time may not be on his side. The six highway crisscrossing Selangor and the issue of the water consolidation within the state are elephant in his room. If he is not firm and at the same time not inclusive towards his own state assemblyman from PR, and the interest of Selangor rakyat, he will be seen to be a lackey of UMNO and BN.

For the water issue, time to resolve is of essence in view of water shortage in Selangor. So there is little room to maneuver, more so that his predecessor has signed a series of agreement with the federal government. For the toll highway crisscrossing the state, Azmin can play for time by holding public hearing in the name of being mesra rakyat. He can always insists on a detailed study of the socioeconomic impact of the highway in Selangor and play for time. After all, acquisition of land is a state matter.

The Bible issue will be a sensitive issue that Azmin needs to address. Since religion comes under the state with the Sultan as the head of Islamic religion, Azmin has to walk a tight rope to balance the state religious authority under the Sultan and taking care of the religious sensitivities of the minorities.

After PR has won big in the 505 election in Selangor, the rakyat has high hope that the PR will implement its state election manifesto. This includes no toll highway, affordable housing and water consolidation. While Khalid has undertaken steps or initiatives to consolidate the water issues, no toll highway and affordable housing seems to be a far-fetched dream to Selangor rakyat.

The plate is full for Azmin. As the richest state, Azmin must maintain the momentum of development to ensure rapid economic growth and adequate state revenue. Much has been written about Khalid’s RM3 billion in reserve. It is unwarranted praise because what Khalid did was to increase revenue collection from land conversion and development charges. This is not difficult because of the property boom. It would be a challenge now that it is anticipated that there is going to be a property slow down.

A perusal of the state budget shows that the development budget for this year is lesser than last year. However, management expenditure has gone up by 20%. Azmin needs to revisit the unwarranted 400% increased of salary of state representatives. It’s unthinkable for the State Speaker to be paid a salary of a Cabinet Minister.  In the state, the speaker of the Dewan is the most leisurely job as PR has more than 2/3 ADUN. How his colleague in Pakatan Rakyat will react when their salary are brought down to earth having enjoy sky-high salary for the last few month?

Khalid was criticized as aloof and do not reach out to his colleagues in the State Assembly. Hence, a lot of PR ADUN claimed they are unaware of the development within the state. Azmin needs to strike a balance of disclosing what the wakil rakyat need to know and at the same time ensuring confidentiality of the state information.

At the hike of the Selangor MB crisis, I predicted a month ago that Azmin will finally be the Menteri Besar. Now that he is the anointed successor, Azmin has to answer the call of duty by the Sultan, Rakyat of Selangor, Anwar, Wan Azizah, PKR and PR’s partner. He must prove that he is the boss in Selangor to Anwar and his cronies. With resources at his disposal, he needs to stamp his mark that he will ultimately succeed Anwar and not a puppet MB. His distractor will continue to poke holes in his administration.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Merdeka in a Multiracial, Multicultural and Multi-religious Malaysia

We are happy that all Malaysians celebrated 57th anniversary of Merdeka. Looking back, we have done well especially in physical and economic development. One must admit that it is not easy to govern a multiracial, multicultural and multi-religious country like ours. It is a fine-balancing act of catering to the needs and sensitivities of all races. Unfortunately, not many Malaysians are aware of this or only pay lip services. Hence, race and religion continue to be a hot topic. It is unfortunate that often such extreme views are given a lot of space in media. Hence, it is a bad news of race and religion that seems to get all the unwanted prominence.

All Malaysians must accept the fact that we are entitled to our own freedom of expression, our thoughts and opinions but once this infringes the right of another individual, then we are actually crossing the boundaries of freedom of expression. Anti-Malay, anti-Chinese bashing or any form of religious bias should be history and not a daily-stapled diet of any rightful minded Malaysian.

The economic transformation program launched by the Prime Minister seems to bear fruits. From 2010 to 2014, Malaysia has achieved better economic growth than most other Asean countries. One must not be lured into complacency as Indonesia and the Phillipines are fast catching up with Malaysia. Economic growth must also generate employment, equal distribution of wealth, reducing the income gap between the rich and the poor without sacrificing the environment. While we welcome FDI, Malaysia should continue the policy of economic liberalization, coupled with training of more talents and reducing talent leakage.

We should continue to attract investment that has multiplier effect so that all Malaysians will have a feel good factor. Political, racial and religious rhetoric and tension at times will not help our attempt to attract FDI and also in retaining talents. Of greater concern is the education system where the standards of English, Maths and Science seems to go downhill. While we may be aware of it, but we lack the political will to relook at the whole education system. The standard of education system has not tallied with the nation’s growth.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

PR’s Political Circus in Selangor

There is no clear light at the end of the dark political tunnel of intrigue by the PR Government.  Whatever the outcome of this infighting and political maneuvering may be, PR has definitely lost its moral high ground and the rakyat in Selangor will be the loser. One must not forget in the 308 general election, rakyat supported PR in the belief that they will bring in an era of new politics with fresh faces, more rakyat friendly, less political infighting, less corruption, more transparency and accountability.  On this basis, they were given a ringing endorsement in the 308 general election. Came the 505 general election, the rakyat reaffirmed these endorsements and they won big. While they do not form the central government, they still enjoyed more popular support than BN government.

One year is a long time in politics to see the true colours of politicians. PR has definitely lost the moral high ground when they first came in. We don’t smell fresh air but we smell the stinking political infighting within and between the three PR parties. They have pulled all strings at their disposal just to sack Khalid and install Wan Azizah as the Selangor MB. DAP used to laugh and mock MCA for leaders who are old as compared to DAP where they have young, intelligent, full of ideas and new faces. But when it comes to their own political expediency and survivor, they have thrown all the so-called virtues that they have advocated into the polluted Klang river to support Wan Azizah as the MB.

This is nothing personal against Dr. Wan Azizah. In fact, I admire her for her patience, humility and dedication towards Anwar. But running a fast developing state like Selangor where even a seasoned politican does not last, we are expecting too much from Wan Azizah to perform rather than just be a figurehead puppet. The man behind the throne is obviously the husband. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand this.

So far, only a small section of Selangor rakyat are disillusioned with PR. After all, they felt that the fight for power is common among politician. They have forgotten that when they voted for PR, they were voting for a better alternative than BN. But alas, they voted in a pack of politicians lusting for power and who are willing to sacrifice their principles of which they have shouted for so long. Hence, we cannot blame the rakyat for not trusting politicians. They realised that some politicians have bifurcation of the tongue with split personality. It’s a threatened species of politicians who are willing to go when the time comes without much funfair. Meanwhile, we continue to witness this political circus being enacted in front of us. Don’t be surprise the winner of the day may be Azmin Ali.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Middle path for Malaysia

It is commendable that Star has launched a campaign to promote moderation in a multiracial and multi-religious country Malaysia. After the 308 political tsunami, race and religion became the staple diet of the Malaysia social political landscape. This has obviously raised the political temperature and tension in Malaysia. A lot of NGO, political leaders and religious bodies had jumped on the bandwagon to raise their profile and consolidate their position.

Unfortunately, after the 505 general election, the issue of race and religion has reached a boiling point. It is time to raise a red flag. Hence, the Star campaign  is timely and hopefully should create greater awareness that maintaining the peace and prosperity is the responsibility of all Malaysians. In the name of democracy, freedom of expression and transparency, leaders have thrown caution to the wind. In fact, it is a sad day for Malaysia that after 57 years of independence, all of us live in our own racial and religious silo. 

Maybe it is a dream to think of Malaysia living in the early 60s and 70s where race was never a consideration in our daily lives. Today, it does matter. Not only race, but religion. It is this growing intolerance of diversity in the multiracial country that cause alarm among us - the Allah issue, political leaders and NGOs advocating a single stream of education purportedly to promote unity are example of how the nation has not progressed despite our physical development.

In the 50s like many children at that time, I was sent to English school, the Batu Pahat High School. Even up to University days in University of Malaya, we never look at each other through the tainted lense of race or religion. We embrace each other and friends despite the differences in race, culture and religion and political inclination. We are the true 1 Malaysia. Even until today, the MU medical faculty year 1973 yearly reunion is a multiracial turnout of doctors who have passed their prime of life.

This new phenomenal of intolerance among Malaysians is a reflection of a small section of Malaysian leaders who are unable to accept that Malaysia is a multiracial country with diversity of race and religion. It is these intolerance and difficulty to accept the diversities that caused race and religion to be a permanent feature in our daily life. Maybe peninsula Malaysia should look out to Sabah and Sarawak to understand the degree of tolerance and acceptance. There’s no denial that Sabah and Sarawak has greater level of acceptance of race, religion, languages and culture.

All level-headed Malaysians should stand up to be counter that they want to see Malaysians irrespective of race and religion pursuing a middle path. There is no loser. Everybody is a winner. Everybody’s voice will be heard. There is no need to threaten your fellow Malaysians just because his views, race and religion is not in tandem with yours. There is no need to label anybody as pendatang or intruders and there is no need to stroke the fire of hatred by threatening to burn religious books of prayer. One must not forget that for every action, there must be reaction. Hope Star campaign will achieve its desired result. We are all Malaysians, we should always be sensitive that we have a role to play to maintain the peace and harmony in this beautiful country of ours.

Monday, August 18, 2014

PR Selangor Crisis

It looks like it is not game over for Khalid and that he will cling to his post until this November. The crisis and the mess created in Selangor is a glaring example that PR is not an alternative to BN.

During the GE, PR leaders sing praises of Khalid as an excellent, clean and accountable leader. Then came the Kajang move where Anwar failed to realize his dream of becoming MB before ultimately hoping to become the PM. The dirt is now poured on MB Khalid and knives are out for his throat.  This is a contradiction to the praises they sing about him before the GE.

It goes to show that PR leaders are not as honourable and honest as what they claimed to be. In the long rule of BN in Malaysia, BN never had a crisis like what we saw now in Selangor. 

The crisis in Selangor clearly demonstrates that PKR is a one-family show. Anwar from being an unelected leader in the Party decided that he could have a puppet in the form of his wife as an MB. The wife is not a reluctant politician as she makes up to be. No wonder people do not trust politicians, whether from the government or the opposition.

PKR and DAP leaders talk about democracy, fairness, concerned for the welfare of the Rakyat. It is only fair that since Khalid is sacked from PKR, the EXCO members from PKR and DAP who have openly opposed him should resign as an honourable exit as EXCO. Clinging to the job will only negate all the claims about transparency, accountability and integrity. Don't treat Rakyat like fools. While the Sultan has given a lifeline to Khalid and he claimes that he has the majoriy support of the assembly, Khalid should now move to show he has the support of the state assembly. It will probably be a hung assembly unless some PKR or DAP Adun decides to crossover to BN. PAS with 15 members, UMNO with 12 plus Khalid being an independent, assuming that he does not join any of the 2 political party will be pitted against PKR, which has 13 and DAP with 15 seats. The role of the Sultan becomes more important in a hung dewan. In a scenario like this, the most honourable way to resolve this issue is to hold a snap state election to let the rakyat decide. Then only you can resolve the political crisis created by Anwar in Selangor. If the Selangor crisis is prolonged, there is no doubt that the Rakyat will suffer.

Thank God Anwar is not the PM.

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As a concerned MCA member, I am trying my best to help in the process of rebuilding and repositioning of the party.

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