Looks as if we have a new set of human rights activists in town. Mahathir and his former cabinet ministers are speaking out against the Sosma arrests of Khairuddin and Matthias Chang.

Well and good. Yes, Sosma is an undemocratic law as it allows detention without trial, but so was the ISA, which we campaigned hard to get rid of. The ISA was used during the Mahathir administration, and most of the figures in this press conference were in power then except for Razaleigh who was an outcast post-1987 and served as president of the opposition Semangat 46.

It is tragic that Mahathir has emerged as the main critic of the BN. Everything that Mahathir says about Sosma could just as well have applied to the ISA, which was used to detain critics and dissidents. The former leaders gathered in the video mentioned Khairuddin and Matthias; but notice, they didn’t say a word about the jailed Anwar, widely seen as a political prisoner.

The larger issue here is that, to many observers, this looks like an attempt by one group of former Umno-BN elites, with their own set of business cronies, to replace the present elites, who have fallen out of public favour, with a more acceptable public face (perhaps Razaleigh?). This more acceptable face would then deflate and divert the forces in society seeking real, meaningful change – witness the people power we saw at Bersih 4. In 2003, it was Mahathir’s choice Abdullah Badawi who was the rallying point that was used to deflate the Reformasi movement while Anwar languished in prison.

Today, as Anwar once again languishes in his cell, can we pin our hopes on someone like Razaleigh? He might be a more acceptable face, more acceptable than Muhyiddin, who is too closely associated with the Najib administration, which appears to have gone overboard in more ways than one.

But Razaleigh lacks grassroots support. Will he however enjoy a surge in popularity among Malaysians longing for change just like Abdullah Badawi did in the 2004 general election? But then, will Razaleigh be equally beholden to the power-brokers in the establishment who may put his name forward now?

As we saw in the last general elections, the majority of Malaysians want real change, not pseudo change that perpetuates the crony-capitalistic corrupt neoliberal system we have now. Many made the mistake of putting their faith in Abdullah Badawi, only to be bitterly disappointed with unfulfilled promises and extinguished expectations.

No doubt, the former leaders’ statements today have now piled on the pressure on the Najib administration ahead of a possible no-confidence vote (if it sees the light of day).

But do you trust these former leaders to promote a more democratic system with people-centred policies? Or are they more interested in removing Najib so that Umno-BN can perpetuate its rule?

We can thank Mahathir for being open and crystal clear about his intentions. He wants Umno to remain in power. For him, it is just get Najib out of the way, thank you very much, so that Umno won’t lose the next general election and we can return to (crony capitalism) business as usual – and maybe Mukhriz can move up.

(Isn’t it amazing how history repeats itself? In the 1990 general election, shortly before his death, an 87-year-old Tunku Abdul Rahman went all out in the election campaign to unseat Mahathir from power and replace him with Tengku Razaleigh. Today, a 90-year-old Mahathir is going all out to remove Najib from power – and who will take Najib’s place then? Razaleigh? Muhyiddin?)

Just be cautious where these guys are taking us. Sure, we can use them, as a matter of strategy, to press for the repeal of bad laws like Sosma and maybe to stem the outrageous corruption we see around us – just as they are using the people (they admit they need the support of the people) to further their own agenda.

At the end of the day, the majority of Malaysians want real change; the former leaders and power-brokers and business cronies don’t – or at least, not the type of far-reaching changes the majority want.

After all, these former leaders were in previous administrations that set in motion the train of events that led to the undermining of our institutions of government and the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few in Putrajaya. Look where we are today.

What do you think?

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22 COMMENTS

  1. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign feared backlash from labor groups, particularly the AFL-CIO, following President Barack Obama’s decision to improve Malaysia’s human rights standing in order to help push the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

    Clinton Labor Outreach Director Nikki Budzinski warned fellow senior campaign staff in July 2015 that AFL-CIO leader Richard Trumka would be mobilizing the union against the move and that Clinton should be ready to answer labor questions about TPP and Malaysia’s human rights record, according to emails Wikileaks made public on Monday.

    “Obama just readjusted Malaysia’s tier on the human rights list in order to move TPP thru with Malaysia attached. Trumka will likely be putting out a statement today blasting this,” Budzinski wrote. “I have heard that we will soon be asked to weigh in given the Secretary’s role at State and as a Presidential candidate. Wanted to provide this heads up. Let me know if I can help or you have questions.”

  2. How Malaysia’s prime minister has stifled critics, opponents, and the press

    Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak has been embroiled in controversy since last summer. In early July 2015, news broke that he received nearly $700 million—into his personal bank accounts—that could be traced back to the debt-laden government investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). This week, an attorney general he appointed cleared Najib of any wrongdoing in the matter and declared the case closed.

    The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission is seeking a review of that action. Skeptics of Najib have questioned the (some say unbelievable) explanation given by the attorney general: that the huge sum was simply a personal gift from Saudi royals.

    Since the 1MDB news broke, the Malaysian government has tried to stifle dissent and block information to keep the nearly 30 million-strong population in the dark about the ongoing story, and dampen any potential uprising against Najib. Here are some of the highlights:

    ⚬ The trial of dancer Bilqis Hijjas began yesterday (Jan. 28). She’s accused of insulting the prime minister and his wife by dropping balloons on them last year. If the balloons had been unmarked, Bilqis would not likely be in court. But the balloons had the words “justice,” “democracy,” and “free media” on them. In today’s Malaysia, those words can be dangerous.

    ⚬ The attorney general said that, before clearing the prime minister of wrongdoing on Tuesday (Jan. 26), he read reports prepared by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. According to a source at the agency who spoke to Reuters, those reports included something the attorney general ignored: a recommendation to charge Najib with criminal misappropriation.

    ⚬ In late July 2015 Najib fired deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin and four other ministers. Days earlier, Muhyiddin had called upon his boss to better explain the money transfers to the public. Najib also replaced the attorney general at the time, Gani Patail, with the man who just cleared him: Mohamed Apandi Ali.

    ⚬ The whistle-blower website Sarawak Report (based in the UK) has been a thorn in Najib’s side, and access to it from Malaysia has been blocked since late last year. This week Najib’s communications commission also blocked another site, US-based Medium, for posting an article by Sarawak Report entitled “Najib negotiates his exit but he wants safe passage and all the money! Exclusive disclosure.” Here’s that article on Medium and Sarawak Report.

    ⚬ In July 2015, Najib’s legal team was expected to sue the Wall Street Journal for defamation. More than half a year later, it still hasn’t done so. But Najib, or those under him, still take potshots at the paper. In December, 1MDB said in a press release that the WSJ “appears happy to have become a noticeboard for conspiracy theories.”

    ⚬ Local media has been attacked as well. When publications run by the Edge Media Group reported on the 1MDB matter, the company’s publishing permits were temporarily suspended. In 2013 when local publication The Heat likened the extravagant shopping trips of Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor—dubbed “the first lady of shopping”—to those of Imelda Marcos, its publishing license was suspended.

    ⚬ In September 2015 Malaysian authorities arrested Khairuddin Abu Hassan, a critic of the administration, as he attempted to travel to New York and meet with FBI agents. Khairuddin had planned to urge US authorities to investigate suspicious money transfers to Najib that went through California-based Wells Fargo.

    ⚬ When peaceful rallies were planned to call for cleaner government and democratic reform, authorities declared them illegal. That didn’t stop the rallies from going forward, however, with tens of thousands protesting in Kuala Lumpur and elsewhere in Malaysia and abroad protesting in late August 2015.

    So is it working? Even his fiercest critics believe Najib won’t likely lose power before the 2018 elections. Describing the lawmakers protecting Najib rather than speaking up against him, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad told Reuters: “All of them are scared and they look after their own safety. They’re not looking after the party, the nation. It’s about themselves.”

  3. RPK mentioned a few major cash cows that are the underlying cause of the tussle. However, we all know that there are many other equally big cash cows.

  4. These BN old timers live to see that their previous wrongdoing in abusing ISA as been repeated by the current BN generation in the form of Sosma.

    The only way that these old folks could die peacefully is to undo their mistakes by bringing down the present BN regime tha has caused so much hardship to rakyat with price hike and weakening ringgit!

    • Tun M is getting bolder as the authority dare not touch him.
      But Muhyidin and Shafie may not enjoy such immunity, and could be charged under Sosma if they continue to defy Najib.

  5. Don’t forget Mahathir was declared as the greatest [guy in Malaysia] in the Pavarotti Concerrt in KL by his biggest beneficiary Francis yeoh. So he already has the title -The Greatest..

    We could add- the kindest. the most honest. the best . the cleverest and all the superlatives.

    Maybe in his mind Mahathir could be a good kind person -just like Dr Jekyll and Hyde.

    He may suffering from a split personality disorder. When in power -he was a tyrant. Now without
    power – he is a pacifist. I would be sending a nomination to the Nobel Peace committee nominating him for the 2016 Peace Prize.

  6. dr. m has his agenda. mca lee kim sai and lim kit siang were having disputes. lks was sent yo kamunting detention under isa but lee kim sai was asked to go down under oz land for holidays

  7. In 1987, officially, may be more than 100 people were arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA). 16 of them are Opposition Party Leaders, including 10 Members of Parliament were detained for “undermining national security and confidence”. The so called Ex-PM, Dr M left nobody, overall all those against his administration were not left-out from detention.

    During the tenure Dr M, he felt, he is “RIGHT” but most of the Ex-ISA Detainees backgrounds are, Pasar malam hawker, rubber tapper, vegetable seller, saw miller, farmer, pastor, insurance agent and so on, arrested under the ISA for undermining the security of the country. Now from the passage of 27 years, I don’t see those Ex-ISA detainees are “Threat to the Nation” only turn out to be CRITICS AND OPPOSING DR M’S WRONG PERCEPTION and MIS-LEADING.

    Now he is defending those two guys under SOSMA, Dr M’s main intention is to get rid of Najib which he alone could not and therefore, he is camping others to join with him. However, it is not easy to get rid of Najib as he was trained by Dr M. Najib may be soft and dull during his (Dr M’s) reigning but now Najib is in POWER he may use the same tricks as what Dr M used to do.

    So who Messed Up the entire process and nation building?

    Now the much affected one are lower and middle classes incomer.

    We do not know when we can recover all those highly paid costs.

    • Even an environmentalist who were opposed to the radioactive industry in his backyard (remember Asia Rare Earth Metal?) were detained under Ops Lalang. Obviously no one was spared. And Mahathir was hailed as a hero, a progressive leader, a visionary, a liberal, etc. by the general Malaysian pubic right until the Asia financial crisis in 1997. In fact, he was ‘saved’ by the Chinese voters during the !999 general election when his popularity among the Malays had taken a dived due to his sacking and subsequent arrest of Anwar. He later broke his agreement he made with the Chinese (remember the Suqui?) with the claim that he was under threat by the Suqiu group which he accused were using communist tactics against him. He subsequently relinquished him PM position knowing full well that he could not fool the Chinese voters again while at the same time was uncertain about the Malay voters’ sentiment. After his retirement, he reveal his true characteristics by becoming the patron of the Malay rightist group Perkasa besides spewing all kinds of racist remarks which were mainly centered on the superiority of a certain ethnic group. It is therefore foolish to believe that Mahathir’s actions now is due to any sense of nobility in him.

  8. All those old gentlemen are NOT qualified when it comes to calling for human rights and fair democratic laws.
    Maybe they can use the “Old F..ts” term to better describe themselves for senility and forgot their major role in abusing the Internal Security Act when that law is specifically&solely for Communist Terrorist.
    But in this case, we or most of us have to back up these old f..ts or old gentlemen. Only they can make a lot of noise and gets away with it.

    The former prime minister is also calling for another huge mistake.
    Just by removing the current head of govt. will solves all the issues?
    I mean, problems can be resolves by replacing with another empty tin can?
    Isn’t it better to replace the entire federal government for a better deal?

  9. Am with you Anil all the way. Only the naive and innocent cant see the ploy and guise of dr m. They even see dr m as the saviour now !!!

    Yes, we, the majority of Malaysians, will vote for a real change, a change of a new set of government completely, and not changing of faces in BN. Putrajaya badly needs to be overhauled with a new pilot !!!

    P/s Please allow me to say Tengku Razaleigh is useless, what had he done for the past few decades except that on a few occasions he came out of his cocoon and uttered some niceties, that was all. As for Ong Tee Keat, at the last round of MCA ‘s AGM (before he was ousted), he turned round and “shook” hand with dr chua when he saw his chances
    of winning was dim. Please dump all the BN guys as hard as you can, none is good, they are all self seekers !!!

  10. “At the end of the day, the majority of Malaysians want real change; the former leaders and power-brokers and business cronies don’t – or at least, not the type of far-reaching changes the majority want. ”

    “At the end of the day, the majority of Malaysians want real change” – ahhhh, that lovely old platitude.

    Breezy, inane and meaningless – and inaccurate.

    Try crawling out of your little urban bubble and into the heartland of Malaysia, to places you may not even have heard of, or know how to pronounce. THAT is the majority, my friend – you, by any conceivable statistical measure that could be applied, are a minority. (Try it. Apply some measures.)

    The utter shambles called the Opposition means that Dr M is actually the only possible catalyst for your pet word, “change”. Better let that sink in slowly, or resign yourself to a good 10-15 years of Jibby, followed by someone even worse. In the intervening years, you can always drive to the places you can’t pronounce and patronise them by yelling “you will all get it sooner or later, change is inevitable! Change, change, change!”

    The locals will find you breezy, inane and meaningless. And they’d be right.

    • Please check the popular vote received by the BN in GE2013. Is that a majority? It is those who voted against the BN who are in the majority.

  11. The REAL RISK of these pretenders of change is that they give fodder to the current complicit PAS leadership to keep their Mahathir&UMNO hating constituents to deny PAS leadership complicity with Najib.. Its not to divert from the main agenda of change. No one believe these people are for real change..

  12. All of them have interest in UMNO to rule for the rest of earthling life.One after another UMNO PM and their cronies taking our money like diarrhea. It’s flows non stop into their cronies. All GLC company leads to UMNO or UMNO cronies.
    rajraman. When UMNO Politician talk they have mouth diarrhea.

    Malaysian wallet empty since we had to pay for their crazy for Power and $$$ diarrhea

  13. The new ‘magnificent seven’ (including the absent Ling) are like mosquitoes providing annoying buzz to the ear of Jibby, but whether if they are Aedes mosquitoes that could cause the lethal denggi fever remains to be seen.

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