Sunday, November 23, 2014

About the Prime Minister’s ‘2K’


Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak made a most interesting comment today about Umno members requiring ‘2K’ -- knowledge and kemahiran (skill) -- to be able to win back the support of the urban voters.

Actually, this has been a problem that the ruling party -- in the beginning the Alliance Party and, later, Barisan Nasional -- has been facing since 35 years ago back in 1969.

Even 35 years ago the urban voters have been voting opposition, or, more accurately, have been voting anti-establishment, which is more or less the same the world over.

Take Thailand as an example. The anti-government protest was mainly in Bangkok while the rural population supported the government. And the same happened in Jakarta, Manila, Hong Kong, and so on.

So Malaysia is no different and in 1969 the Alliance Party realised it was losing the support of the urban population when it formed Barisan Nasional and brought the opposition parties such as PAS, Gerakan, PPP, etc., into the ruling coalition.

In 1969, the Alliance Party almost lost Perak and Selangor, and it did lose Penang and Kelantan. In 1974, after Barisan Nasional was formed, it would have lost Selangor if not for the fact that Kuala Lumpur was turned into Federal Territory and hence Selangor was saved from falling into the hands of the opposition since the loss of Kuala Lumpur to the opposition no longer affected Selangor.

Urban voters are hard to please, the world over. This is because urban voters are more affluent than the rural voters so they do not need the government as much as the rural voters do. Therefore, to attract the support of the urban voters, Umno can no longer play ‘kampung politics’.

This is what the 2K should be all about. Umno must have the knowledge and skill regarding what the urban voters expect and how to live up to those expectations. Because of the Internet and other modern and efficient modes of communication, politics the world over has become more sophisticated. The voters, especially in the urban areas, are now better informed.

So the Prime Minister is correct in saying that Umno has to become more knowledgeable and skilled if it wants to win back the support of the urban voters.

Much of the political strategies of the past no longer apply to the urban voters. The expectation of the urban voters is very high and unless Umno can manage these expectations the next general election is going to be an uphill battle.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

BR1M was a promise Barisan Nasional made to the voters


There are some in Umno and many in the opposition who feel that the BR1M program is immoral and smacks of bribery and should be ended. If so then what good are election manifestos and election promises if we do not deliver on these promises?

I would like to remind these people that the BR1M program was stated in Barisan Nasional’s April 2013 election manifesto, which goes as follows:

For the entire populace, schooling aid of RM100 per child and the RM250 1Malaysia Book Voucher scheme help alleviate expenditure, while the BR1M assistance for households earning below RM3,000 and singles earning below RM2,000, has provided much welcome relief.

In the next FIVE years, we commit to:

- Gradually increasing BR1M up to RM1,200 for households and RM600 for singles while maintaining it on an annual basis;

- Increasing 1Malaysia Book Vouchers to RM300 & Schooling Aid to RM150;

So it was clearly stated that BR1M will not only be implemented but will be increased over five years from 2013 to 2018 when the next general election is expected.

This was what the Prime Minister promised the voters and since Barisan Nasional won the election and is still in power then it is the duty of the Prime Minster to make good this promise.

Are election manifestos and election promises merely a means to fool or trick the voters into voting for you and once you win the election you renege on these promises? Is this the mark of a responsible Prime Minister and government?

The voters voted for you because of what you promised to do if they voted for you. So we have to be very careful about breaking these promises. Promises have been made and promises must be delivered. And BR1M is one of the promises that were made.

And this is one very crucial issue that the Umno General Assembly must discuss next weekend. Do we want the Prime Minister to end BR1M? And if he does end it, is Umno prepared to face the risk of losing votes in the next general election?

We must seriously consider this point and not get emotional due to the call from the opposition, which is being echoed by some in Umno, that the BR1M program should be terminated. If we do terminate it after promising it in the April 2013 election manifesto Umno may suffer a backlash from the voters.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What we need to discuss in the Umno General Assembly


Political parties are all the same. In the run-up to each general election, they will reveal their most impressive election manifesto and make all sorts of promises to the voters.

Then, once the election is over, the manifesto will be quietly and conveniently forgotten until the next election, when most likely a rehashed or modified version of the last general election’s manifesto will again be presented to the voters.

Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat are both guilty of not honouring their election promises, or at least not all their election promises. The truth is not all these promises can be honoured because some of the promises made are impossible to achieve. They were made just to make the manifesto look impressive.

Nevertheless, to be fair, some of these promises can be delivered. But it requires great political will to deliver them. And not all will be popular with the voters or with the grassroots supporters of the political parties.

Umno will be having its General Assembly at the end of this month. It is now about 18 months since the last general election of May 2013 and we have maybe three years or so to go before the next general election.

I would suggest that the Umno General Assembly focus on Barisan Nasional’s election manifesto that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak presented on 6th April 2013. Umno should do a post mortem on how much of these promises have been delivered and how much more needs to be done and how it can be achieved.

The test of the pudding is in the eating, as US President Bush said. Hence when Barisan Nasional faces the voters in three year’s time or so, it will need to impress the voters as to how much of its promises have been delivered and whether whatever promises it makes in the coming general election can be taken with any credibility.

If I want to go through the entire list of promises made in April 2013, and dissect what have thus far been achieved, I will need to write a 20-page thesis, or longer. Instead, maybe you can read the complete verbatim version of the Barisan Nasional election manifesto (in the link below) and see what has thus far been delivered and what more needs to be done.

And this, I strongly believe, is what the Umno delegates should be analysing and debating on in the General Assembly next weekend. The confidence of the voters in how Barisan Nasional keeps its promises would be one way the coalition could continue getting the support of the voters. There is no other way that Barisan Nasional can convince the voters that the coalition is worth voting for.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Is the criticism of Najib sincere?


Ex-Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has yet again criticised Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak regarding BRIM, which Dr Mahathir calls bribery.

While some may be of the opinion that giving aid to the needy through BRIM is not the right way of doing things, none have offered their alternative proposal on how the people should receive aid and which they may consider the better way of doing things.

Soon after the 2013 general election, Dr Mahathir accused the Prime Minister of pandering too much to the Chinese and of not giving enough attention to the Malays, who form the backbone of Umno’s support.

Now, when the Prime Minister introduces BRIM, which goes to the needy, and hence benefits the Malays since more of them are amongst the needy group, the Prime Minister is accused of an attempt to bribe the people.


This is a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

I am sure the Prime Minister will be open to suggestions and if anyone, Dr Mahathir included, has a better idea on how aid can be given to the people this new and better idea can be adopted to replace BRIM.

Criticising is one thing and surely Malaysia as a democracy can tolerate criticism, even against the Prime Minister. But it should be constructive criticism where we also offer alternative views on how to improve what we view as weaknesses in the present system.


Oleh SSK

1. HAMPIR semua akhbar di Sabah pada Khamis menyiarkan laporan penafian Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) menghalang sambutan perayaan Krismas dalam kawasan kampusnya.

2. Saya hairan kenapa cerita ini tiba-tiba timbul sehingga pihak UMS terpaksa membuat penafian. Rupanya, ia dimainkan oleh segelintir puak yang terpengaruh dengan fahaman extreme.

3. Cerita tersebut menjadi viral menerusi media sosial sehingga menjadi bualan ramai dan mencetuskan polemik, sedangkan soal larangan itu tidak pernah berlaku pun.

4. Ia bertambah hangat apabila cerita tersebut tersebar beberapa hari selepas kumpulan yang mendakwa sebagai aktivis pelajar dari Semenanjung, dilarang daripada mengadakan pidato di universiti berkenaan.

5. Apabila dua cerita ini dikaitkan, maka bertambah sensasi lagi kontroversinya.

6. Menurut penjelasan Naib Canselor UMS, Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Harun Abdullah, pihaknya tidak pernah melarang penganjuran sambutan Krismas.

7. “Pihak universiti dengan rendah diri menafikannya dan menyifatkan ia sebagai salah faham. Cadangan sambutan Krismas telah awal mendapat kelulusan dan pihak UMS sendiri turut menyediakan bajet untuk pelaksanaannya,” demikian penjelasannya.

8. UMS turut menyokong hasrat pelajar yang inginkan penganjurannya dibuat secara meriah dengan melibatkan komuniti setempat seiring dengan usaha merakyatkan universiti.

9. Justeru, UMS memberi pilihan sama ada sambutan diadakan di luar kampus bagi memudahkan kehadiran lebih ramai pengunjung, katanya.

10. Dengan penjelasan UMS itu, kita berharap ia menjadi noktah kepada cerita yang tiada kebenaran itu.

11. Inilah bahaya menyebar berita yang belum ada kesahihannya. Ia boleh memesongkan fakta dan pemikiran jika tidak disekat.

12. Sebenarnya soal tidak membenarkan rakyat Malaysia meraikan perayaan agama masing-masing sepatutnya tidak timbul. Ini kerana kebebasan meraikan perayaan agama termaktub dalam Perlembagaan Malaysia. Tidak boleh dipertikaikan.

13. Tetapi bagi puak yang terpengaruh fahaman extreme, mereka sanggup melakukan apa saja. Hanya untuk mencapai agenda sempit, memecahbelah kesatuan dan perpaduan.

14. Kita di Sabah sebenarnya tidak berlaku hal seperti ini. Kita saling hormat-menghormati antara satu sama lain. Tahap perpaduan begitu subur.

15. Jika ada pemikiran sedemikian, ia timbul kerana ada segelintir yang terpengaruh dengan fahaman extreme dan perlu disekat.

16. Kita di Sabah sudah biasa amalkan budaya hormat menghormati. Hubungan kekeluargaan antara kaum berlainan agama bukan sesuatu yang ganjil. Saya sendiri `celebrate' perayaan Krismas dengan kalangan ipar yang beragama Kristian.

17. Justeru, kita kena pupuk fahaman tolak ansur dan persefahaman yang diwarisi sejak sekian lama di Sabah. Sebarang pemikiran extreme tidak harus dibiar menular ke sini, kerana ia menjejaskan keharmonian di sini.

18. Kita perlu tegas dalam memerangi pemikiran yang tidak selari dengan orang Sabah.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

What the voters need to be told


Two days ago, an opposition portal reported that 1MDB lost RM670 million for year-end 31st March 2014 compared to a profit of RM878 million the year before, a swing of RM1.5 billion. It also reported that this loss was against a backdrop of an increase in revenue from RM2.6 billion to RM4.3 billion.

While 1MDB’s assets grew from RM45 billion to RM51 billion, its debts increased to RM42 billion from RM36 billion previously, reported the portal -- which also questioned how much of this increase in assets came from asset revaluation, meaning only paper gains?

The criticism or attacks against Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak by the opposition social media is quite expected. Even if 1MDB reports a positive performance they will still ask, “Why are the profits so low; why not higher than that?”

The concern, however, is not about the attacks from the opposition, which will still attack the Prime Minister never mind what he does and how well he performs. The concern is the attacks by Umno leaders themselves, past and present, in particular from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Daim Zainuddin.

Tun Daim even said that if Najib is not careful 1MDB might result in his downfall.

One thing that is very clear is that Tun Daim’s (and Dr Mahathir’s) comment was aimed at the Umno members, not for the consumption of the opposition supporters (who will still not support the Prime Minister even if Tun Daim says positive things about Najib) and it is targeted for the coming Umno General Assembly.

Basically, those in Umno opposed to the Prime Minister hope that this will set the stage for an orgy of Najib-bashing during the Umno General Assembly. Hence Najib needs to nip the move in the bud by explaining the financial results of 1MDB so that it becomes a non-issue and no longer needs to be the main focus of the assembly.

If the Umno General Assembly gets bogged down by issues such as 1MDB, that will distract the delegates from the more important issues such as how can Umno reform from within to give the voters more confidence to throw their support behind Barisan Nasional come the next general election.

This is what is going to determine Umno’s future and make it still relevant. And there are enough positive things that Najib has done, but which are not being highlighted, to convince the voters that Umno is moving in the right direction.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Najib's task ahead of him


Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has asked the entire Umno Selangor leadership to step down so that Umno Selangor can be revamped and to make way for new faces to take over the leadership.

Mahathir added that amongst the current Umno Selangor leadership not a single candidate is suitable to take over as Menteri Besar in the event Barisan Nasional manages to win back that state in the next general election.

This is actually the issue of the chicken and the egg. It is not so much who is suitable to be the Menteri Besar if Barisan Nasional manages to win back the state. It is how can Barisan Nasional win back the state if Umno Selangor does not have the proper leadership?

The ball is now in Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s court. Najib must not fear of being decisive. There are many issues that need a strong hand to tackle and the problem in Selangor is just one of many.

With three years or so to go before the next general election, time is not on Najib’s side. Many issues that have been raised by the opposition are not really that difficult to explain to the people.

The problem is while the opposition has the advantage of the social media and online news portals, the silence from the Prime Minister’s Office is giving the impression that what the opposition is saying is the truth.

The 2008 and 2013 general elections were basically a media war. The opposition was successful in its media campaign while the government was not. And this is what we shall see in the next general election as well.

We need to hear more from the Prime Minister. Najib must not be scared of speaking out and of replying to the many allegations against the government. Malaysians need to see that Malaysia has a strong prime minister and not what the opposition plus some of those in Umno allege.

And the first thing that Najib can do to show the country that he is in charge and is decisive is to revamp Umno Selangor in preparation for the coming general election.