Ak57\’s Weblog

Thoughts and opinions on Malaysian news, its people and its culture

Posts Tagged ‘BN

Thoughts on Hulu Selangor By-election, Part 1

As I write this, BN is leading the voting count. Of course once counting is complete I fully expect the losing side to demand a recount (assuming the rules allow it). This by-election had the most effort put in by both sides so far, more than any by-election to date. (Note: I am aware I left out mention of political issues e.g. no corruption, but I have my reasons to focus solely on PKR).

Why PKR needs to win

  • Zaid Ibrahim needs a win to legitimise the important role (post?) he was given when he joined PKR. Remember when he had to cancel a trip to Sabah/Sarawak because some leaders disapproved?
  • Tan Sri Khalid needs a win because his leadership style has made a lot of enemies among party grassroots.
  • Anwar Ibrahim needs a win because the party hoppers that were his close friends hurt his clout among the grassroots. It surprises me when I hear long-time members make disparaging remarks about him. Since late last year there was serious talk that Zaid should replace him in the near future. Such talk only increases the internal squabbles.
  • PKR needs to show that they can run a by-election with the grassroots and leadership that they have. It will affect member morale nationwide.

So if PKR loses, I expect the usual complaints about phantom voters or even so far as declaring the by-election invalid due to the 14,000 voters that had their voting stations moved.

What works in PKR’s favour

  • Use of state govt machinery to get votes. The MB moved his office to Hulu Selangor and for the first time in history, held the weekly State Exco meetings there instead of Shah Alam.

What works against PKR

  • Lack of cooperation between PKR and PAS. Whether this is due to PAS disapproval of Zaid, or just lack of organisational skills of PKR is anyone’s guess. However PAS did state publicly that it was due to difficulty in coordinating with PKR.
  • Lack of strong PKR grassroots. By strong I mean given a task, they will really do it and not just come back later and say they did.

What works in BN’s favour

  • Crazy sums of money to give out. I don’t agree with bribes but I have to say that if their concerts had attendees (PKR had concerts too), and gifts accepted then the blame lies with the electorate. If bribery was the right way to get their vote, sadly that show BN understands them better.
  • Larger grassroots base. Functional or not I wouldn’t know.

I actually hope BN wins, for several reasons:

PKR members (not just elected reps) have gotten too arrogant. They have forgotten that they were handed power in 2008 and need to earn it in the next GE. They should have invested time in defining party culture and developing leadership at every level, not just blindly recruiting and ordering members to volunteer. Our message is good but our grassroots management strategy is weak.

PKR needs to learn that different communities require different tactics to win their vote. For some people all they understand is how to vote based on race or which side gives more money. The only way to change that mentality is by education and 2-3 weeks of ceramah is not enough. This is where strong grassroots come in, if not ceramah then by leafleting. It’s an epic task but it needs to be done.

All 3 ADUNs under the MP seat are BN. Even though they have been crippled by having their state allocations withheld by the Selangor State govt (and given to Exco members Ean Yong and Elizabeth under ADUN Angkat programme), they still matter. The previous PKR MP could not have achieved much because he did not have a strong grassroots or ADUNs to help manage the constituency. The Exco members are too busy to be there for him as regularly as ADUNs. So if Zaid won, by the next GE the BN candidates can say, “You see? You voted for Zaid but he couldn’t help with local problems”.

Win or lose, an MP gets no allocation if he is from Pakatan. Zaid would have to carry the burden of managing a large constituency, raise issues in Parliament and whatever leadership tasks he has in PKR/Pakatan Rakyat. If he loses, he can still help the voters and work on building a strong grassroots for the next GE. It’s only 2 years away. If he wins he has to hope the Exco members are available to disburse funds from the ADUN allocations for him. They are very, very busy people. The pressure to perform as MP will be high, whereas even as a non-MP he could work with the Excos for the constituency, as preparation work for next GE. That is why I see a loss as a good thing.

You could argue that if BN wins, Kamalanathan will use use his allocation to reinforce voter support. But win or lose he can do that anyway. Zaid does not get that option. The fact is that you need money to solve people’s problems.

I learned a lot these past 2 weeks and saw a lot of ugliness on both sides; I’ll try to document it soon.

Written by ak57

April 25, 2010 at 8:55 pm

One Israel =/= 1Malaysia

I wrote this email to a friend a week ago and felt it worth sharing, on this accusation of One Israel and 1Malaysia being the same.

I find this issue to be a bit silly, as though it were brought up to distract the public from whatever Zahrain has mentioned. One Israel was a political alliance formed for an election campaign in the early 80s, no different from Barisan Alternatif in 2004. You could also say that at the time One Israel was trying to present a political alternative that was moderate and not extreme.

1Malaysia looks to me like a feel-good public relations (PR) exercise by the ruling government to win over the hearts and minds of the people, by making it appear as a multi-ethnic and not extreme regime.

They are two different things – a political coalition and a PR campaign. The easiest difference being that any politician whether BN/Pakatan/Independent can publicly say they support 1Malaysia. If I was a Pakatan leader I would say I support 1Malaysia and start a bunch of 1Something initiatives in the Pakatan states. This would confuse the rakyat because they can’t psychologically link 1Malaysia to BN if Pakatan supports it. It is an advantage that PR has – it’s not like the tagline for 1Malaysia is ‘BN Sayangkan Semua’ haha!

I know this won’t happen. Sad to say our PKR party grassroots are not educated enough to understand the logic of supporting the enemy platform to defuse it. Much easier to continue to tar and feather BN and hound them non-stop. Our party foundation is built on hating the enemy.

You know what I found funny? One Israel was a combination of left-centrist Social Democrats, Socialists and a religious party.

Doesn’t that sound a lot like Pakatan Rakyat? Haha!

So One Israel = Political Coalition

If Apco is confirmed to have come up with both campaign titles, the issue that PKR wants to highlight is that an Israeli government linked entity is directing Malaysian government public relations with the people.

Ultimately PKR needs to prove that Apco has Israeli government links. By that I mean the company is currently run by members of the Israeli government. Yusmadi Yusoff alleged as much today (http://malaysiakini.com/news/127181)

Having three members of an advisory council that were formerly working for the Israel government is a weak connection. It demonises Jews and places PKR in the same Jew-hating camp as UMNO. It is like saying any board that Tun Daim Zainuddin sits on is under the control of the Malaysian government by virtue of him being an ex-Finance Minister.

The fact is there are far more Americans sitting on the advisory council than Israelis (or maybe even Jews, but you can’t always tell a Jew by the name alone 😉 ). The member list is at http://www.apcoworldwide.com/content/international_advisory_council/members.aspx

One escape route would be to settle for attacking govt over-expenditure on this foreign company. But Anwar has closed the door on that by saying he will prove the Israel connection, which I’m interested to see.

One Alternatives

One Australia was an immigration and ethnic affairs policy that called for an end to multiculturalism. The fear then was that Australia would lose its identity if more Asians kept coming in. I don’t think the fears have gone away.

I could find no evidence of 1Britain or One Britain online. Perhaps it was an anti-immigration movement under a different name. It might be referring to the British National Party which has a strong anti-immigration platform, so one of their old slogans might have been 1Britain. Or Tian Chua/Harakah could have made it up.

I’m suddenly reminded of a saying that, ‘if you can’t attack a man for his ideas, attack the clothes he wears instead’. Talking about 1Australia, 1Israel or 1Britain (which I consider fiction) without linking it with the 1Malaysia campaign seems superficial. 1Malaysia is not a political coalition or anti-immigration political agenda. Is Pakatan so weak that we resort to attacking phrases? What happened to attacking ideas, principles and actions? One Israel was not even referred to as 1Israel until Pakatan chose to spin it!

In Closing

An MP cannot mislead the House so I have no issue with Anwar being referred to the Special Rights & Privileges Committee if the House votes on it. If Anwar does not produce the evidence then the only valid criticism I can see are:

1)            How much is being spent for Apco’s services? Assuming the figure is high, why is the taxpayer money being wasted?

2)            Why a foreign company instead of a local one?

I’ll admit, these criticisms are not as entertaining or dramatic as what they are alluding to now.

Further reading (http://www.aijac.org.au/review/1999/244/oneisrael.html )

Written by ak57

March 28, 2010 at 7:58 pm

The Fuss Over Jantan and Betina

I was surprised to learn that several Pakatan MPs took offense at Nazri’s usage of the phrases ‘anak jantan’ and ‘anak betina’ in Parliament today. Curious to see what the fuss was about I chose to do some investigating.
Just to clarify, for animal breeders the terms mean:

  • Anak jantan; jantan = male
  • Anak betina; betina = female

Malays also use the terms the following way in reference to men:

  • Anak jantan = brave; strong man; champion
  • Anak betina = coward; weak; American equivalent of ‘pussy’

Betina on its own is also used to refer to promiscuous women (slut), and also I believe to unmarried women who are pregnant. The reasoning for that is that those women behaved like animals by having illegitimate sex, so they should be labelled as such. I don’t recall jantan being used in a derogatory fashion.

Colloquialisms are context-sensitive. I understood the chosen interpretation that Nazri was using and guessed who he was referring to on my first reading.

I read the Hansard and from page 72 – 94 (21 minutes excluding Saifuddin’s speech) this was the sequence of events:

1.    After some discussion/argument with the Deputy Speaker, the Pakatan Rakyat MPs obtained permission to respond to the issue of ‘misleading the House’ brought up by Abdul Rahman Dahlan (Kota Belud), which he had done in response to Anwar’s accusing the government of using alleged Israeli agent APCO to promote 1Malaysia. Saifuddin Nasution (Machang) was nominated to speak.
2.    Saifuddin Nasution stated that the Minister, Nazri Aziz (Rantau Panjang) had referred to the obsolete Ordinance 69 in discussing the limits of Kelantan’s border)
3.    Deputy Speaker asked the Minister to explain
4.    Hatta Ramli (Kuala Krai) and Mahfuz Omar (Pokok Sena) made some jibes at Nazri, ‘that he need not answer now, he can take a week if he likes’ and ‘has he read the obsolete laws yet?’
5.    Nazri responded that he need not fear, because he was ‘anak jantan’
6.    Hatta Ramli asked him to prove that he was ‘anak jantan’
7.    Nazri continued that what he had stated previously was not intended to mislead the House and he was ready to be investigated because all that was needed is to refer to the Hansard. Because he was anak jantan he had no fear. The anak betina on the other side however, were scared of being investigated.
8.    Lilah Yasin (Jempol) remarked that anak jantan ‘plays in the front, not in the back’
9.    Lo’Lo’ Mohd Ghazali (Titiwangsa) accused Nazri of being sexist and asked him to retract the word betina
10.    Siti Zailah (Rantau Panjang) stated that the word was an insult to women
11.    Arguments erupted between Sivarasa (Subang), Lo’ Lo’, Bung Moktar (Kinabatangan), Haji Ismail (Maran), Nazri and the Deputy Speaker
12.    Nazri explained that jantan and betina were references to the gender of animals. The ones standing in front of him were humans, so how could there be a question that he was referring to the human women as betina. Therefore they had no reason to get angry.
13.    Saifuddin countered that meant Nazri just stated he was the son of an animal
14.    Lo’Lo’ asked him to retract the word regardless of his reasons
15.    Nazri said he meant no insult to the women
16.    Zuraida Kamaruddin (Ampang) asked him to retract the word
17.    Nazri explained the Malay saying goes that ‘anak jantan’ are brave and ‘anak betina’ are cowards
18.    Deputy Speaker stated that Nazri had no ill intention
19.    The discussion went back on topic, regarding whether Kota Belud had misled the House and whether he had the right to use the Standing Orders to make the speech
20.    Lo’Lo’ quoted Standing Order 36(4) that states a Member of the House may not used words that are improper or rude. She asked the Speaker to make a ruling on the phrase ‘anak betina’ because it is an insult to all women even if it was directed at everyone
21.    Deputy Speaker stated that the Minister had explained the context of the terms used was bravery
22.    Pakatan MPs continued to ask for the word to be retracted. Arguments erupted.
23.    Bung Moktar retorted that it was just a Malay saying (peribahasa)
24.    Mahfuz Omar accused Puteri UMNO of not having brains, because they had not objected to the use of the word
25.    Ibrahim Ali (Pasir Mas) requested to debate the Royal Address
26.    His request was ignored and the argument continued for 10 minutes. Some quotes:
a.    Zuraida argued that any Malay that understood the meaning of the word would not use it in that manner, and questioned whether any Malay uses ‘jantan’ or ‘betina’
b.    Deputy Speaker reiterated multiple times that the words were used in a different context than what the protesting MPs was referring to
c.    Mahfuz Omar questioned whether betina was ever analogous to coward
d.    Lo’Lo’ and Zuraida demanded that the word be retracted and its usage in any context be forbidden in the House. They had no objection to anyone using ‘anak jantan’
e.    Fuziah Salleh (Kuantan) stated that within context ‘anak jantan’ meant brave, but ‘anak betina’ was sexist
f.    Zuraida later stated that any statement that refers to gender whether lelaki, perempuan, jantan or betina was itself sexist. She did not change her position on anak jantan
27.    Deputy Speaker told the MPs not to misinterpret the words as their meaning and context had already been explained. The argument ended with Ibrahim Ali giving his speech while Pakatan MPs asked the ‘cowardly Minister’ to retract.

Imagine that, 21 minutes spent on this issue. Now who was Nazri referring to when he said betina?

It is clear that as Saifuddin’s speech was in response to Kota Belud’s request that Anwar be referred to the Special Rights & Privileges Commitee (the Commitee), then ‘anak betina’ used in this context likely refers to Anwar Ibrahim. Jempol’s immediate follow-up statement that anak jantan plays in the front, follows that interpretation as Anwar has been accused of sodomy (main belakang, playing in the back). I myself thought betina was referring to Anwar.

But Pakatan is critical of the government stand that Anwar be referred to the Committee if he does not prove his allegations on APCO. So Nazri’s statement can be interpreted as being directed at the whole bloc, which includes men and women. So he just referred to women as betina!

If only Nazri had said ‘anak betina dari Permatang Pauh’ then there would be no misinterpretation and less time would have been spent on the issue.

I see it as a colloquialism to be treated with care. Jantan and betina are not curse words and only betina has a negative meaning attached to it. I don’t believe it is commonly used either, searching online I only found it used negatively in the context of coward and not slut.

Given the evidence I feel that Pakatan MPs were trying to stir up trouble. If the word was slut; prostitute; whore; instead of betina, then the slur is clear. Today I didn’t see Nazri as being sexist, just crass. I would say he is ambiguously sexist at most.

Compare that with politicians like Bung Moktar Radin (Kinabatangan) who made the infamous ‘women leak once a month’ remark, or Badruddin Amiruldin (formerly Jerai) who made the ‘boleh nampak terowong tak?’ remark, both in 2007.

Sexism in Parliament is an ongoing problem, and it remains as long as we have boors as elected representatives. I hope that when there is a change in government that a code of ethics is drawn up to prevent sexist and racist remarks from being uttered in Parliament.

Parliament Hansard 22nd March 2010 (link)
Pakatan to campaign against sexist MPs (link)
Shouting match after motion to refer to Anwar (link)
MP: Anak jantan berani tapi anak betina penakut (link)
Badruddin apologises for ‘terowong’ comment (link)
MPs apologise for sexist remarks in Parliament (link)

Written by ak57

March 24, 2010 at 4:30 am

Arsonists Blacken the Name of Islam

I was shocked to wake up yesterday and read the news about the church bombings. Though I think the media could have used a better word – arson seems more appropriate because when people see ‘bomb’ they start thinking C4 and dynamite. It makes me sad to think that in all likelihood Muslims performed this crime. I cannot think of a group more motivated to do it other than the group that want Allah to be exclusive to Muslims in our country. That’s a large group with many suspects.

Reactions were swift and there were so many, I’ll only list some:

  1. Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak issued a statement condemning the attacks (link)
  2. Selangor Chief Minister Khalid Ibrahim visited one of the churches attacked, condemned the attacks and called for calm (link)
  3. BN Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin also visited a church, condemned the attacks and urged for caution by the public in making statements or taking action following these incidents (link)
  4. The King urged people to remain calm (link)
  5. Cabinet Minister Bernard Dompok stated that actions by irresponsible parties had clouded relations between the races in the country, and called for reflection and prayer (link)
  6. Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein and Information Minister Rais Yatim condemned the attacks (link1 and link2)
  7. The government warned that ISA will be used if necessary (link)
  8. Pakatan Rakyat condemned the church attacks (link)
  9. PKR President Wan Azizah issued a statement calling for tolerance and peace (link)
  10. DAPSY and Selangor DAP issued statements condemning the attacks (link1 and link2)
  11. PAS issued a statement condemning the attack (link)
  12. Pakatan Rakyat asked UMNO to take responsibility for the attacks (link)
  13. 121 NGO groups released a joint statement condemning the attacks (link)
  14. Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan gave frequent updates on the investigation, too many links so I’ll only list one (link)
  15. PM Najib allocates RM500,000 to Metro Tabernacle Church to be rebuilt elsewhere (link)

For the record, the four churches attacked by arsonists were:

  1. Metro Tabernacle Church in Desa Melawati, KL
  2. Assumption Church in Jalan Templer, PJ
  3. Life Chapel in Section 17, PJ
  4. Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in PJ

After reading the reports I can’t help but feel that these attacks were coordinated. The hacking of the Judiciary and Herald websites; the use of motorcycle helmets as bombs; the close timing of the attacks – all of these indicate an organised group at work to intimidate our people and keep our country divided.

What message do these attacks send to non-Muslims in this country? The SMS messages being forwarded around sounded extreme – if you wear a cross you will be beaten; if your car has a church sticker it will be smashed; a church in Kg.Subang torched; cars in Bangsar KL smashed. All lies yet people still forwarded it around.

Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance yet too often we see Muslims practicing bigotry, inciting hatred and curtailing personal freedom. Small wonder then that people are so gullible and paranoid.

It makes my heart weep to know these criminals have created fear of Islam and reinforced fear of Islam in this country. I am glad that leaders from both sides have condemned the attacks and the PM gave the allocation (despite losses of est. RM1+ million by that church).

Hopefully everyone will remain calm and there is no escalation to the conflict. I sincerely hope that Christians understand these acts do not reflect the feelings of most Muslims in this country.

I made the poster above, feel free to forward it around.

Written by ak57

January 10, 2010 at 5:15 am

The Ban on Christians Reading Allah

When I was growing up I had a number of bad experiences with Christian friends trying to convert me. I’ll leave the details for another article but most of the time they would use deception by tricking me into joining their social outings that included prayers, chanting, singing hymns etc. Once the religious nature of the activity was revealed there would be an awkward situation as I excused myself. They did not respect my right to refuse, insisting that my faith was ‘wrong’ and I ‘needed to be saved’. Sometimes we would be friends for years and suddenly they would pressure me to join their faith. I have even seen Christians enter relationships with non-believers for the purpose of converting the other. I’m not making this up.

I don’t care what religion you come from but if the person you are trying to convert is not interested in listening to your preaching then you should just leave him be. Don’t force them to listen or use deception. You can’t expect people to respect your faith if you don’t respect theirs.

I initially found myself conflicted when the Roman Catholic Archbishop as publisher of The Herald went to court to get the right to use Allah to refer to God in the publication. I haven’t met a religious Christian in this country who accepts that we both worship the same God but in different ways. I have also met religious Christians who find the idea of using Allah in that context to be insulting. Obviously Christians themselves are divided on this issue.

What is the issue really? What problems could it cause? I think back to my own bad experiences. If I did not have a strong grounding in my faith, and a group of friends came up to me asking for me to join them in prayer to Allah – I would say yes. If everyone spoke in Malay and someone preached teachings from God I would listen and take it to heart. I would be happily learning about Christianity, all the while thinking it was Islam. At some point my friends would lift the veil and reveal that all that the activities that had been giving me comfort and joy were Christian activities, and Islam isn’t providing me with any of this so I should become a Christian.

So I will admit that I felt a bit uneasy because I wasn’t sure why The Herald publisher wanted to use Allah instead of Tuhan (a generic Malay word for God, used in a monotheistic context).

I soon learned that this use of Allah issue is mainly for the benefit of Sabah and Sarawak where Malaysians have been practicing Christianity in Malay for a long time, where they do use Allah instead of Tuhan. It should be a non-issue then as there is a pre-existing use of the word Allah by the church.

So why is the BN-led Federal Government playing up this issue? Why file a stay of execution on the court ruling? The Home Ministry banned the use of the word by the publisher; the publisher went to court; court ruled in favour of the publisher – it should have ended there. Dragging it out further just continues to reinforce the message that the current government suppresses the rights of Christians, Sabahans and Sarawakians.

I know that Allah is merely Arabic for God. I do support the right of Christians to print Malay bibles and related publications for their followers. Religion should not be constrained by language because it’s easier to understand if it is written in your native language. I myself have an English Al-Quran because I understand English better than any other language, and a trusted fellow Muslim recommended the translation that I have. It should be alright to use Allah in a Malay-medium Christian publication whether in Peninsular or East Malaysia.

But I can’t completely shake off the fear that young Muslims will undergo more subversive conversion tactics such as the one I described. I don’t know if you, the reader, have experienced what I have but I’m glad I did because it helps me understand why many Malay Muslims are riled up about the court ruling and plan to protest today. Without my bad experiences I too would join the many bloggers out there condemning these protestors.

If I had not been exposed to foreign culture, not learned about other religions, and stayed in one town for most of my life then I would be quite narrow minded. It is easy to criticise the mentality of the poorly educated. What I feel the government should do is accept the ruling and allow The Herald to use Allah, and focus on improving religious education at school. Better yet have a Proposition for people to vote on so each state can have its own ruling on this issue. If that is not possible then let the State Assemblies vote on it for their respective states.

Remember, there are many Muslims in this country that don’t use Internet and have a poor command of English which limits their access to television shows and newspapers. Mention of Christians using Allah in their publications is very offensive to them – even PAS is internally divided on this issue.

I have more to say, but I have not been watching this issue very closely and I’m still playing catch-up. I’ll write further on this issue soon.

Written by ak57

January 8, 2010 at 8:06 am

Uncertain Times in Perak

crisis_perak_gloves_webOnce again Perak seems to be undergoing a crisis, and I am uncertain where it is headed. Frankly speaking I’m confused exactly when it started as I have not been paying close attention to what is going on outside KL/Selangor/USA. This seems to be the chain of events:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by ak57

February 5, 2009 at 6:40 pm

Posted in AK57 Comics, Local News, Politics

Tagged with , , , ,

Making sense of crossovers, Part 5: Parting thoughts

As hard to believe as this sounds, I am both for and against the crossover efforts. In fact the only thing that would make me happy would be mass by-elections or fresh general elections. On September 11th, PKR Vice President Sivarasa Rasiah stated that the Opposition would hold general elections 6-12 months after seizing control of the government, so there is hope that the voters will get a say in who runs their government.

The main reasons the Opposition made any headway at all in the five states was the dissemination of information. The mainstream media has its mouth gagged on many issues, so the Internet and sms was used to great effect to spread the word.

However for states such as Terengganu, Sabah, Sarawak and Pahang where the Internet user base and income level is much lower, spreading information is difficult. It takes time to change people’s minds in these states. By-elections would not result in a big swing towards the Opposition.

The only feasible way for the Opposition to take control of the government is via crossovers. I strongly hope that laws are amended so that the Federal government does not have the kind of control it has now over the State governments. Until those amendments are made our democracy will never mature into a two-party system. A mixed cabinet of BN and Opposition MPs would help too.

The BN government has made full use of their Federal control to make life difficult for the Opposition state governments. Let us hope that the Opposition does not do the same once it takes over.

Since I completed this article we have witnessed the use of the Internal Security Act on Raja Petra, Teresa Kok and Tan Hoon Cheng. This scare tactic which appears to be initiated independently by the police begs the question of who is pulling their strings. It is legal for them to use ISA to detain people for questioning, but there are many other laws they could use instead of ISA. Someone must have encouraged them to do so.

The ISA is so strongly linked in the minds of the people as ‘government intimidation’ that I seriously doubt the PM or his Cabinet members were responsible in the case of Teresa Kok and Tan Hoon Cheng. Those arrests made no sense whatsoever. Raja Petra is a special case because people within BN and PKR view him as too outspoken. While what he has said about Islam makes sense to people like me, it upsets many more. I am curious how much attention Raja Petra’s detention will receive in the form of candlelight vigils, forums and so on now that the other two have been released.

Anwar Ibrahim did not meet his September 16th deadline, citing unrest caused by the ISA. He has tried to arrange a private meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss a handover of government, which the PM rightfully denied. I saw a copy of the letter sent – it was vaguely written and mentioned no list of crossovers. The PM must show strength and not give in to unsubstantiated facts (factoid).

On September 17th SAPP pulled out of BN, yet chose to remain independent. It appears they too wish to see if Anwar has the numbers.

Anwar then asked for an emergency session of Parliament for September 23rd, which I assume won’t happen either. He even stated he would see the Agong to seek intervention.

I am patient enough to wait a few weeks until October 13th when Parliament reconvenes. In my view Anwar fixed a deadline and didn’t finish his preparation work. Private meetings with the PM would be part of this work.

BN MPs finding it difficult to reach the Peninsular is not relevant, because they can submit their resignations in writing. Their lives and their families’ lives were always at risk, the usage of the ISA did not change that. Has some form of protection been given to them, or will they be left to fend for themselves like the private investigator Bala after giving his statutory declaration on Najib?

Anwar said he would take over the government on the 16th and he failed, plain and simple. When meeting the Agong was mentioned I knew that it was an act of desperation to save face. I do not doubt that he will take over the government eventually – I just wish he would be more patient.

To date, there is still no evidence of the 31 BN MPs ready to join the Opposition.

Making sense of crossovers

This series of articles tries to analyse the unending efforts of the Federal Opposition to take over the government by getting BN MPs to join them. Their goal is to get at least 31 BN MPs to change their allegiance on September 16th.

Part 1 looks at how PKR grew and the state it is in now, as they are the prime mover of the crossover ‘operation’.

Part 2 discusses the many justifications heard to support the crossovers.

Part 3 discusses the moral and democratic issues and suggested alternatives.

Part 4 describes ways to prevent and encourage crossovers.

Part 5 offers some parting thoughts and views on recent events

Written by ak57

September 24, 2008 at 7:00 am

Making sense of crossovers, Part 4: Strategies to encourage and prevent

The Opposition wants MPs to cross over to their side, and BN wants to halt their efforts. Both sides will do everything possible to achieve their goals, and this article discusses some strategies.

The factoid approach

Factoid (noun) : A piece of unverified or inaccurate information that is presented in the press as factual, often as part of a publicity effort, and that is then accepted as true because of frequent repetition.

– American Heritage Dictionary

The usage of factoids by the Opposition is quite obvious – not long after the March ’08 elections Anwar Ibrahim has repeatedly said that he has enough BN MPs willing to crossover. To date he has offered no evidence, but the constant repetition has caused many Opposition supporters to accept his statement as fact.

Due to the lack of evidence, supporters searched desperately for clues and signs that the crossovers were real. The tabling of a vote of no-confidence against the Prime Minister by SAPP was seen as a silent support of the Opposition, possibly indicative of SAPP crossing over. The various ex-politicians from UMNO and Gerakan joining PKR in the past few months were also seen as a ‘crossover’ of sorts. But no actively serving MP in BN has come out in support of the Opposition.

The power of the factoid lies in how easy it is to repeat to others. Events that are imagined to be evidence are woven into the factoid, further enhancing its credibility. For how many months has the public been subjected to Anwar’s repeated claim that he has the numbers to take control of the government?

In the secret discussions held between the Opposition and the BN MPs, factoids play a role as well. An MP may be told that his compatriots have already ‘signed on’, thereby pressuring him to join the Opposition. In today’s age where phones are tapped, SMS’s traced and the threat of detention without trial looms, the MP may be fearful to confirm the truth about his compatriots. He may even go another route by telling other MPs that certain big names in BN were confirmed to be crossing over, according to ‘reliable sources’, but he himself was not. Whether he is aware of it or not, the MP would be doing the Opposition’s work for them, by spreading the factoid of the signed-on MPs.

Opponents of Anwar Ibrahim tried to use a factoid as well, as can be seen in the allegation by Saiful Bukhari that Anwar sodomised him. To date there has been no evidence that sexual assault of such nature occurred, yet charges were filed and Anwar was forced to undergo a medical examination.

Fans of the sodomy factoid hoped that it would cause Opposition supporters to lose faith in their leader, yet it backfired. Anwar is seen as being under attack once again, as he was previously accused of sodomy in 1998 and served a prison sentence before being acquitted. The factoid served to increase support for Anwar and reduce support for BN, as they are believed to be the masterminds behind the 1998 and 2008 sodomy charges.

The Permatang Pauh by-election spawned another factoid – that the nation completely supports Anwar Ibrahim as the next Prime Minister. As Opposition members put it, “How else does one explain that Anwar won despite BN throwing ‘everything it had’ at the election?”

This flawed argument ignores the fact that it was a safe seat, and that money in elections matters less than the message being spread. On the one hand you have the established leader of the DAP-PAS-PKR coalition promising lower petrol prices and a better economy for all races, and on the other hand you have a man whose campaign focused heavily on pushing their sodomy factoid. Even the most objective would have to say that Anwar’s message was stronger.

All these factoids have helped a great deal in boosting the image of Anwar Ibrahim and the Opposition as being in control of government already, if only the present government would let go. Voters may be influenced to pressure their MP to cross over, and MPs may feel they should so they are not left behind.

Increased funding and power to BN MPs

Sabah and Sarawak are two states that have been publicly targeted by the Opposition for their crossover operation. There is no reason to believe that MPs in other states are not being courted as well, but with the frequently publicised ‘secret meetings’ BN leaders would do well to court their own MPs as well. Increased funding to Sabah and Sarawak, and perhaps some more investment in improving their infrastructure and quality of life would do well to earn their loyalty.

The arrogant attitude shown by BN in the past does imply that they may ignore the Opposition’s claims altogether. By doing so they are missing out an opportunity to secure the loyalty of their MPs.

A public pledge of allegiance

This was attempted by BN in Sabah in August ’08, but was rejected as the Sabah MPs viewed it as insulting. Eventually it took place in early September, with more than 40 MPs from Sabah and Sarawak pledging their loyalty to BN.

It could be argued that such a pledge could easily be revoked by joining the Opposition and saying, ‘I was coerced into pledging’ – so why bother?

Sequestering BN MPs

An agricultural study trip to Taiwan was held in early September for 50 BN MPs. The duration of the trip conveniently put them out of the country on September 16th. The Opposition sent three PKR elected representatives to Taiwan as well, to maintain the ambiguity over the reasons for the trip.

Opposition supporters view this trip as an act of fear by BN, and an opportunity to have secret discussions.

Others saw this as a ploy by BN to see how far the Opposition was willing to go- apparently far enough to send two MPs and a State Exco member over there.

Resignations to the Dewan Rakyat can be submitted in writing. There was nothing stopping the MPs from changing their parties while overseas. However the Opposition had to maintain their factoid by sending people over there, so this action is forgivable.

Removing Anwar from politics

This can be said to be in-progress with the sodomy charges pending a trial. Without Anwar there would be no Pakatan Rakyat and PKR itself would not be as strong.

This is a nation where politicians have been murdered publicly in the past and the results of the investigations were either inconclusive or not publicised – swept under the carpet. Anwar has been a threat to BN since his release from prison, but the lack of harsh action against him indicates he has some form of protection. What that is we will never know.

Replacing the Prime Minister

The people’s faith in the Prime Minister is at an all time low. UMNO could just replace Abdullah Ahmad Badawi with someone else, such as Najib Razak or Muhyiddin Yasin. With a new Prime Minister in charge, perhaps announcing some grand changes such as a reform of the Civil Service or Election Commission, the Opposition would find it more difficult to increase support for their crossover plan.

A major incident

This can take the form of any event that would sway public opinion, and can be used by both sides.

A racial event (riot/hate speech/hate crime) involving Opposition members could cause voters to run back to BN ‘for protection’. BN has always capitalised on the racial divides in our country, and such an event could be engineered or instigated. The same event, if not handled correctly in the media, could benefit the Opposition instead if BN is seen as the cause of it.

Mass arrests could be seen as a clampdown on free speech in this country, and build up tremendous resentment towards the present government. In the present political climate where distrust of BN is high, there is no way for BN to put a positive spin on arrests of Opposition politicians – not without hard evidence.

Opposition supporters are fearful that either of these events would lead to the government declaring a State of Emergency. But they fail to realise that BN is not so foolish as to cripple our economy just to retain their ‘power’. A crippled economy and a drop in foreigners confidence in our government serves no one, not even the purportedly selfish BN politicians.

Back pedalling

The crossovers have a firm date of September 16th set for them. If it does not happen then the Opposition, specifically Anwar, will have to come up with a range of excuses. It could be fear due to a major incident. It could be due to evidence disproving his factoid.

Early on the Opposition stated that all the MPs would crossover at a specific time. If one MP crossed over and some punishment befell him, the others may be too scared. But the problem with the factoid approach is that on September 16th, all the MPs may be waiting to see who takes the first step before committing themselves. If nobody steps forward then we will see the Opposition engage in some face saving exercise. Only time will tell.

Making sense of crossovers

This series of articles tries to analyse the unending efforts of the Federal Opposition to take over the government by getting BN MPs to join them. Their goal is to get at least 31 BN MPs to change their allegiance on September 16th.

Part 1 looks at how PKR grew and the state it is in now, as they are the prime mover of the crossover ‘operation’.

Part 2 discusses the many justifications heard to support the crossovers.

Part 3 discusses the moral and democratic issues and suggested alternatives.

Part 4 describes ways to prevent and encourage crossovers.

Part 5 offers some parting thoughts and views on recent events

Written by ak57

September 24, 2008 at 6:56 am

Making sense of crossovers, Part 3: Moral and democratic issues; Suggested alternatives

It is clear that the pursuit of crossovers by the Opposition has been to gain power. The power to change government policy; to do good for the people; to make Anwar the next Prime Minister. That last reason looks less altruistic than the rest, but serves as a reminder of the cult of personality that is PKR.

There are many Malaysians who are against a change of government taking place by the crossover method. The common argument focuses on morality and democracy.

Subversion of democratic process

Democracy (noun): Government by popular representation; a form of government in which the supreme power is retained by the people, but is indirectly exercised through a system of representation and delegated authority periodically renewed; a constitutional representative government; a republic.

– Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary

The Federal Government of Malaysia follows the Westminster system of government inherited from the United Kingdom. Under this system there is a Head of State (our Agong), Head of Government (Prime Minister) and Parliament consisting of lower house (Dewan Rakyat) and upper house (Dewan Negara).

The Prime Minister is appointed based on the Agong’s judgement that he commands the majority of the Dewan Rakyat. In practice this position goes to a representative from the largest political party. The Prime Minister then appoints his Cabinet ministers from either house. It is even legal under our Constitution to have a mixed Cabinet of Opposition and BN members, though that has never happened.

If the members of the Dewan Rakyat lose confidence in the Prime Minister, they can choose to show this lack of confidence by refusing to pass a vital Bill such as the Budget, or take a vote of no confidence. The Prime Minister can then resign his post or call for general elections.

The crossovers being discussed are of members of the Dewan Rakyat – our Members of Parliament (MPs). They are individually elected by voters in their constituencies during the General Elections.

To put it simply, in practice:

  1. Voters vote for their MP in the elections
  2. The total MPs that are elected are tallied up and the majority party is determined
  3. The party that holds the majority is presumed to have control of the government
  4. The Prime Minister is selected from the majority party and appoints his Cabinet members
  5. The MPs may call for a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister
  6. Voters who want change of government vote for the party they support in the next election

The voting process is how the people exercise their power over the government, satisfying the definition of democracy. That is what happened in March ’08 – an unprecedented number of people were tired of BN and voted for the Opposition.

The excuse given by the Opposition is that voters select an individual candidate based on personal capability and character, not party. As such the candidate is free to make independent choices based on what serves the constituency first. So if the candidate feels he is unable to perform his duties by virtue of being in the wrong party, he should feel free to cross over.

This is an academic point of view.

This excuse ignores the fact that not all voters have the luxury of getting to know their candidate. In the fast paced life we live in today, many find it impossible to make time to attend speeches or look at the candidate’s track record. Ideally the voters would get to know all the choices and arrive at an informed decision.

The reality is that countless voters voted based on party, not individual. The rights of these voters need to be respected, and that is why crossovers are viewed as a betrayal of the voter. It is not fair for the academics to point at these voters and say they were wrong to vote based on party.

There are voters who voted for an Opposition candidate solely because they wanted Anwar Ibrahim as Prime Minister.

There are voters who voted for a BN candidate solely because they wanted the rights of their race to be protected.

There are voters who voted for an Opposition candidate solely because they had lost faith in BN.

There are voters who voted for a BN candidate solely because they did not trust the Opposition.

Do their votes not count? How they choose to vote is their right, and no-one should question their reasoning.

The moral argument

When one talks about morality, it is important to realise that right and wrong depends on the point of view taken. Coming back to the crossovers that are expected to occur:

1. It is immoral because it betrays the voters who voted primarily based on party. It also betrays the party members who supported the MP’s rise to power. The MP is viewed as a representative of the party first.

2. It is moral because by virtue of being elected the MP has the confidence of his constituency and can choose to serve another party so long as it benefits the constituents. The MP is viewed as a representative of the constituents first.

Given that both points of view are true, advocates of either view are not wholly right or wrong. Yet they behave as though they are morally superior to their opponents. Talking about morality is time-wasting at best. If you are a voter and your MP is crossing over, ask yourself these questions:

1. Is the MP’s party that you voted for still the party you wish it to be?

2. Is the party that the MP is crossing over to one that you trust and share ideology with?

3. If the crossover will cause a change of government, do you have faith in the leaders of this new government?

Suggested alternatives

We have seen that the act of getting MPs to switch parties to force a change of government is a subversion of democratic process. Regardless of whether you view it as moral or immoral, the voters did not get a say in it. What follows are a number of suggested alternatives.

Ask MPs to step down and have by-elections

An election is the only way to confirm that voters in a given constituency want change. This is the best alternative because it does not raise any democratic or moral issues and helps legitimise the formation of a new government by the Opposition. However it is not feasible for a number of reasons.

Any MP who steps down is barred from being a member of the Dewan Rakyat for five years (Federal Constitution Article 48 Clause 6). Not only would this be a political setback for some, but their income has to be considered as well. If they have been fulltime career politicians, they may not be able to enjoy the same level of income by seeking employment elsewhere.

So you would be asking the MP to sacrifice their status in their constituency and money. It is true that they would gain goodwill by doing this act of charity ‘for the nation’, but goodwill does not put food on the table and fades altogether very quickly. How many politicians out there would take such a personal loss to serve others?

The Opposition cannot be seen giving them money to make up for the loss, or making them Senators so they can still enjoy their privileges. It would be interpreted immediately as a bribe.

The election process is still viewed by the Opposition as corrupt, so they would not trust any by-election. In the March ’08 elections Sabah and Sarawak voted almost entirely for BN. It was only six months ago, so how much of a swing could be expected? Crossovers are the safest way for the Opposition to seize control of these constituencies.

Get voters to sign petition of endorsement/condemnation

While not as strong as asking MPs to step down, this alternative can show the public whether the crossover is supported by the voters in that constituency. It helps pressure the MP in making a decision on whether to make the leap or publicly state he won’t.

Call for a vote of no-confidence

The Opposition had tried to push a motion of no-confidence for debate in Parliament on July 14th 2008 but it was blocked by the Speaker of the House. Such a motion if passed would not even have resulted in a vote, yet it was blocked. On the day itself the Parliament House and roads surrounding it were put under heavy guard by the police, even to the extent of placing barb wire.

Parliament will reconvene in October, so there is still a chance for a no-confidence motion to be made.

Component parties leaving BN

If component parties such as MCA, MIC and Gerakan left BN they would still retain their independence and not be seen as opportunists jumping to the Opposition. Their supporters could still remain loyal as the party had not joined the ‘hated Opposition’. Once the BN coalition becomes smaller it would no longer command the majority in Parliament and the Prime Minister would be forced to resign.

SAPP would most likely be the first to do this, as they publicly showed a lack of faith in BN in June.


If it were another country, waiting for the next election would be the norm. However the present government has a history of using existing draconian laws to clamp down on freedom of speech – not to the extent of military rule, but just enough to create fear in the majority. It has made no effort these many decades to foster a strong Opposition.

In practice we live under a one-party system which is in dire need of change. The moral issues with crossovers still remain, and as a nation we will never know how acceptable crossovers are to us until the next election. The power to change the government should always rest with the voters and we must strive to keep it there.

Making sense of crossovers

This series of articles tries to analyse the unending efforts of the Federal Opposition to take over the government by getting BN MPs to join them. Their goal is to get at least 31 BN MPs to change their allegiance on September 16th.

Part 1 looks at how PKR grew and the state it is in now, as they are the prime mover of the crossover ‘operation’.

Part 2 discusses the many justifications heard to support the crossovers.

Part 3 discusses the moral and democratic issues and suggested alternatives.

Part 4 describes ways to prevent and encourage crossovers.

Part 5 offers some parting thoughts and views on recent events

Written by ak57

September 24, 2008 at 6:47 am

Making sense of crossovers, Part 2: Justifications

The March ’08 election results took everybody by surprise. The Opposition never expected to seize control of five states and was totally unprepared. They had been conditioned by events in the past to have no faith in the Electoral Commission and electoral process. But in recent years uncontrolled media such as the Internet helped expose acts of corruption endorsed the ruling party. BN was seen as being corrupt and self-serving.

Voters voted against BN, not for the Opposition. Instead of realising this, the Opposition felt they had the mandate of the people and were it not for the ‘corrupt electoral process’ they would have seized the nation. So they embarked on a quest to seize control by getting BN MPs to switch parties. PKR has been the prime mover of this quest, with PAS and DAP giving silent support of this course of action.

Never mind the fact that these BN MPs are the same MPs that have been hated all these years. Never mind the fact that an overwhelming number of elected representatives in the Opposition are new to politics and unaware of the responsibilities of an MP or ADUN.

When you are part of a group and the leaders do something you disapprove of, you may fall into a state of cognitive dissonance. “I am part of a group of good people and everything we do is right. Yet my leaders are proposing something I know is wrong. Both points of view can’t be right!” To stay in the group one has to believe the leaders are right, and the best way of doing that is by convincing others.

So justifications were needed to ensure that Opposition supporters are still part of the morally superior bloc they claim to be. The diehards repeat it to everyone out of blind devotion, while the fence-sitters repeat it to everyone to convince themselves they are with the right group.

Here are some of the common justifications:

1. To rescue Sabah and Sarawak

Sabah and Sarawak have been suffering economically for decades, despite being our main sources of petroleum exports. Sabah in particular has been accepted as a ‘permanent’ BN state due to the immigrant population outnumbering the locals – immigrants who always vote for BN. The people living there have long been exploited and ignored by their politicians, and the promise of the Opposition to better their lives is an attractive one.

But how would you explain a crossover of Sabah MPs, when come next election the voters will vote BN again? Four years is too short to make the grand sweeping changes that people imagine the Opposition to be capable of.

2. To make it easier/possible to govern the opposition states

Ronnie Liu (DAP – Pandamaran) highlighted this fact in a ceramah. He said that state governments had their hands tied when it came to simple tasks like constructing a hospital or a post office. Too much money and power is concentrated in the Federal Government, so much so that winning the state did not accord that much control after all.

It would seem that our nation has been structured in such a way that a political coalition must control the states and the federal government in order to effectively govern the people. This seems like a good argument, but to what extent is it true and why is this message in particular not widely spread?

It could be because this justification only emerged after a few months of governing, so it could not contest against the earlier, more popular justifications.

3. To fight cronyism and corruption

This caters to the long standing tradition of the Opposition of exposing corruption. However there is a big difference between exposing corruption and fixing it. We are living in a nation saturated with corruption, and too much exposure can cause a serious collapse of systems within the government.

To be effective in the long term, the Opposition has to slowly make changes to the way things are run. But it promises swift change. It is the equivalent of rushing to build a house on a foundation infested with termites.

4. Because the majority of the nation supports it

This justification is used by the diehard haters of the electoral process in the country. Their view is that as long as most of the states support the Opposition, the others should fall suit. Apparently votes belonging to voters in the ‘losing team’ don’t matter.

If the electoral process was as corrupt as they claim, BN would not have allowed five states to fall into Opposition hands.

5. Because UMNO leadership is in disarray since the election

UMNO has had a lot of infighting and finger pointing to try and explain their loss to themselves. They are another victim suffering from cognitive dissonance. For so long they had been unbeatable and now they had lost so much overnight it is almost impossible to accept. This internal conflict shows a weak leadership.

But what about the leadership of the Opposition, is it strong? The Pakatan Rakyat coalition of DAP-PAS-PKR has no constitution, or agreed-upon guidelines for governing the nation. PKR in particular is suffering from its cult behaviour and undefined culture, having a large number of newly elected leaders unclear on what their party ideology is.

6. Because BN might sabotage Pakatan Rakyat

Some members feel that BN may try something drastic in order to hang on to their power. This drastic action may be an assassination, detention without trial, perhaps even a racial riot. Yes, we have draconian laws in this country. But our nation’s public image is a top priority for the ruling government, thus they try their best not to invoke them.

They have used media control to limit the information that reaches the masses, but the Internet has been used to get around this control. BN can’t censor the Internet – that is viewed internationally as the act of a totalitarian regime.

Despite the demonisation of BN they have not initiated mass arrests of Opposition members or shot them. Since Anwar was freed from prison he has been a threat to them, yet no action was taken against him. Since March ‘08 the entire Opposition was a threat, yet still no action was taken. Any drastic action runs the risk of street demonstrations, with the threat of escalation leading to a State of Emergency. In our globalised economy we cannot afford to invoke Emergency Rule, which would cripple our economy for years.

All that BN allegedly has done since the election is create a sodomy case against Anwar and arrest Perak politicians on fake corruption charges. Not the hard-lined action that supporters of this ‘sabotage’ idea are expecting.

How does being in fear of a BN controlled government justify courting BN MPs? To put it another way, it is like telling them, “Please sir, we’re scared you’ll lock us up, why don’t you join us so we can be sure we are all friends?”


More often than not, the Opposition does not communicate their goals to the people very well. Actions are taken and decisions made but the reasoning is unknown. In explaining and rebuking some of the justifications for crossing over, it is hoped that you have a better understanding of the arguments of the Opposition.

Making sense of crossovers

This series of articles tries to analyse the unending efforts of the Federal Opposition to take over the government by getting BN MPs to join them. Their goal is to get at least 31 BN MPs to change their allegiance on September 16th.

Part 1 looks at how PKR grew and the state it is in now, as they are the prime mover of the crossover ‘operation’.

Part 2 discusses the many justifications heard to support the crossovers.

Part 3 discusses the moral and democratic issues and suggested alternatives.

Part 4 describes ways to prevent and encourage crossovers.

Part 5 offers some parting thoughts and views on recent events

Written by ak57

September 17, 2008 at 12:18 am