At a ceramah on Saturday night on mainland Penang, it looks apparent that Mahathir’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) is trying to make its presence felt in mainland Penang, especially in the parliamentary seats of Tasik Gelugor and Kepala Batas.

The ceramah was jointly organised by PKR and PPBM at Dewan Panorama in Taman Tun Dr Awang in Butterworth, which falls within the Tasik Gelugor parliamentary seat and the Teluk Air Tawar state seat – both held by Umno.

Taman Tun Dr Awang, where about 2,000 people live, consists of 10 five-storey blocks of low-cost flats, which had just received a coat of paint after lying in a shabby state for years – something this blog had highlighted on a number of occasions. In the event, the project to paint the flats was finally undertaken by the Penang Public Works Department, according to a project signboard near the flats, and today the flats look more presentable.

For years, the area has been a planning mess with structures all over the place and an under-used multi-million “fishermen’s jetty”. Traditionally, it has been an Umno stronghold under the Tasik Gelugor parliamentary seat, previously under Nor Mohamed Yakcop, at that time the minister of finance II.

So I was curious to see what the response was going to be like. In the event, about 150 turned up for the ceramah – close to 100 inside the hall, and others – a bit ‘shy’ (I spotted a civil servant among them) – standing outside the hall, even though the hall was less than half full.

Who were the speakers that night?

  • Mustafa Kamal Ahmad, PKR coordinator for the Teluk Air Tawar state seat
  • Muhammad Zahid Md Arip, PBBM spokesperson, former vocal critic of Anwar Ibrahim
  • Marzuki Yahya, PBBM supreme council member and Penang PBBM liaison chair, formerly Penang Perkasa, believed to be a Mukhriz man, formerly an Umno liaison member
  • Mohd Shariff Omar, PBBM Penang election machinery coordinator, Tasik Gelugor PPBM division chief, former deputy agriculture and agro-based industries minister I, former Penang deputy chief minister, and former Tasek Gelugor MP (1999-2008)
  • Rosli Hassan, Amanah coordinator for the Sungai Dua state seat
  • Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, PKR secretary general

According to a local PKR strategist, the PPBM could end up contesting in the Kepala Batas and the Tasik Gelugor parliamentary seats – both previously contested in 2013 by Pas (then representing Pakatan), which lost to Umno by majorities of 4,176 and 3,042. Mahathir himself will be visiting Sungai Dua within Tasik Gelugor on 23 April, indicating the party’s interest there.

Within Tasik Gelugor parliamentary constituency, Amanah may contest in the Permatang Berangan and Sungai Dua state seats (both previously contested in 2013 by Pas, which lost to Umno by 1,621 and 357-vote majorities. PKR is likely to contest in the Teluk Air Tawar state seat, where it had lost to Umno by 840 votes.

Within Kepala Batas, the PKR strategist said Amanah is likely to contest in Penaga, previously contested by Pas. PKR is likely to contest in the Bertam and Pinang Tunggal state seats, where it had previously contested. Umno’s winning majorities in 2013 in these three seats ranged from 1,500 to 1,700.

One PPBM speaker said if Pakatan won GE14, they would make sure that the air force base in Butterworth would not be relocated, as had been reported some time ago. He questioned the logic of the proposed relocation, saying the new site for the base could be only about 10km away. The only logical conclusion he could think of is that the present site sits on valuable prime land along the coast of Teluk Air Tawar that could be slated for high-end property development.

PPBM should go one step further and promise to stop all swap deals, which hinder a proper evaluation of both sides of the deals and complicate the regulatory assessment and approval process. By now, many of us are familiar with these types of controversial swap deals, and the experience hasn’t been good.

One more thing, I wish ceramah speakers would stop talking about the various cash handouts by Pakatan states. Remember, what opposition parties can distribute in cash handouts can easily be exceeded by BR1M handouts or pre-election goodies by the BN. In the larger scheme of things, such handouts barely make a dent on the burden many feel from the higher cost of living and rising debt.

Instead, Pakatan, if it is serious about real change, should talk about the failure of the neoliberal economic model – the income and wealth inequality, the burden of household debt, the removal of subsidies, the GST – and how it intends to tackle these.

Why have house prices soared across the country – including the Pakatan states of Selangor and Penang? And what are the parties going to do about it if they come into power? Same goes for healthcare and education costs.

Offer an alternative vision of society, something concrete, that is fairer to ordinary people and imposes less of a burden on them. How are the parties going to protect and improve the environment – more green spaces – and ensure genuine sustainable development?

Allow people to assess which model or vision is better.  Otherwise, it is all hot air that doesn’t excite or inspire people to “vote for change” that could end up more of the same.

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23 COMMENTS

  1. Latest on Bloomberg:

    The battle over the repayment of 1MDB bonds may be coming to an end.

    Malaysia has reached an agreement to pay Abu Dhabi $2.5 billion as partial debt settlement for embattled government fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd., according to a person familiar with the matter.

    Under a deal that’s expected to be announced Monday on the London Stock Exchange, Malaysia will pay Abu Dhabi $1.2 billion before the end of this year, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the information isn’t yet public. Malaysia will also assume the coupon obligations for two dollar bonds issued by 1MDB and co-guaranteed by Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund International Petroleum Investment Co., the person said.

    1MDB and the Malaysian finance ministry will pay the $2.5 billion through proceeds raised from the sale of units Brazen Sky Ltd. and 1MDB Global Investment Ltd., the person said. The two countries also agreed not to pursue legal action before December 2020 as they negotiate the dispute over $3.5 billion linked to the two bonds, the person said.

    1MDB and IPIC were locked in a tussle that spilled over to repayments on two sets of bonds issued by the Malaysian state fund that led to a default in April 2016. The agreement removes a key hurdle amid investigations from the U.S. to Singapore, Hong Kong and Switzerland into money laundering and embezzlement linked to 1MDB.

  2. Regime BN is telling us the price of supporting and voting for opposition?

    The Local Government and Urban Well-being Ministry (KPKT) has scrapped approvals for local government projects in parliamentary constituencies where BN lost.

    This is according to a letter issued by Local Government Department director general Abu Bakar Johar, dated March 17.

    The directive applies for all BP 1 projects, which according to the KPKT website, refers to small scale infrastructure projects at the local council level.

  3. Don’t forget latest ceramah at Penang Heritage Little India Market Street 4pm this Saturday.
    Ambiga will be the main speaker very likely to address the issues faced by Indian community.
    Get your friends to attend.
    After that, can go over to Sik Festival at Esplanade.

  4. Malaysia’s consumer price index rose to an over 8-year high of 5.1% in March. High inflation made worse by the falling Ringgit. Barang Naik regime must address the concern of rakyat suffering from escalating cost of living, else voters will seek alternative in Pakatan for Harapan.

    • Very hard to survive with our low earnings eroded by falling ringgit value. I may have to go to work in Singapore.

      • US, Australia, New Zealand and UK governments have stated recently that they are cutting back approvals for foreign workers and PR applications to keep the jobs for their locals.

        What will happen to many Malaysians who are depending on Singapore jobs if the Singapore government is doing likewise?

        So Surendren should go to Singapore fast before it is too late.

  5. MIC Youth chief C Sivarraajh said Putrajaya would do better helping local Indians who are stateless than Indian national and Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, who has been given PR status in Malaysia 5 years ago as confirmed by Zahid Hamidi.

    MIC should not shift focus from its inability to assist many jobless Indians, many of them have to shuttle daily with inconvenience to work in Singapore.

    • Malaysian Indians, sadly, will soon be a major minority, with the current massive influx of foreigner workers gaining permanent residency in Bolehland.
      Time for my Brothers & Sisters to be wise to support multi-racial non-ethnic based pary for long term survival
      btw, Bro Raj is kind of silent, probably strike 3rd prize 0666 Toto recently 🙂

      • Indian brothers and sisters of Penang can meet at Penang Market Street tomorrow Saturday 4pm for an Indian festive event.

    • PAS will split the Malay votes if there is a 3-cornered fight involving Umno-BN, PAS and Pakistan, giving victory to BN. This is what Umno is relying on, thus deceiving PAS into thinking that it is a kingmaker.

      So it is up to Mahathir to convince the Malays not to vote either PAS or Umno-BN.

    • Kampung Malays cannot relate to 1MDB scandal.
      So Parti Bunga Raya by Tun M must expose the details of the scandal in Felda and Mara in their ceramah.

    • Malaysia’s government emolument, comprising salaries, allowances and financial benefits, may rise to RM184 billion in 2027 from the estimated RM77.42 billion in 2017 due to an oversized workforce, The Edge Malaysia business and investment weekly reported.

      The Edge Malaysia, in its latest April 17 – 23 issue, reported that its forecast was based on the government’s emolument grow rates over the last 10 years.

      “We concede however that our projections are limited by the fact that there is no public data on the public-sector salary scale as well as the demographic structure for an indication of retirement and attrition rates.

      “Based on our modelling, Malaysian taxpayers can expect to pay RM184 billion for emoluments and RM63.9 billion for pensions a year by 2027. The question is, can Malaysia afford such a big bill for public-sector cost?” The Edge Malaysia reported.

      Quoting the government’s annual budget numbers, The Edge Malaysia reported that there were about 1.39 million full-time federal government employees in 2017 compared to some 1.31 million in 2013.

      The Edge Malaysia reported that the number would be larger if contract and casual workers were included. News reports quoted Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani as saying Malaysia’s civil service-population ratio is at one civil servant to 19.37 people versus Singapore’s one to 71.4 and Indonesia’s one to 110.

      • Don’t forget to add the GLC employees running monopolies we are compelled to deal with. And the pensioners.

    • The problem is most Malays even the educated ones cannot understand other languages other than Bahasa, thus being brainwashed by Umno-media like Utusan, Hadrian Metro, TV3, TV1 and Awani.

      • Good news for Indian community, PM inspired by Rajinikanth?

        After four decades, a fresh federal initiative is set to be launched to champion the cause of the Indian community.

        Prime Minister Najib will chart the path ahead for the estimated 1.7 million Indians in the country with a national blueprint for them.

        The last comprehensive economic masterplan for the community, prepared by the MIC in 1974, failed as it was considered to be “too vague”.

        The new 10-year blueprint has specific targets and policies set in place to address the plight of Indians.

        Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/04/20/pms-national-blueprint-to-drive-indian-communitys-progress/#QxYF1u2iRJj7Ddx9.99

      • To really help the Indian community, Najib must allow the Indians to run palm oil estate like the Felda scheme. Do not forget the Indians have core competency in plantation or estate management since the colonial times. MIC, are you listening?

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