Monday, February 29, 2016

Mahathir made the right move to resign from Umno 

Salleh Said Keruak 

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has, for the third time, left Umno, although the first time in 1969 he was sacked by the party President, Tunku Abdul Rahman. This is probably for the best because when one’s relationship with the party or the party leader is no longer tenable then it is pointless for one to remain in the party. 

Furthermore, Dr Mahathir’s actions are hurting the party and for him to remain in the party while at the same time going against the party does not seem logical. If Dr Mahathir wants to continue to attack Umno then he should do so outside Umno. That would be the noble and ethical thing to do. 

I am saddened by this episode, not so much because he has, yet again, left Umno but because of the circumstances behind his resignation. No one can deny that Dr Mahathir did a lot for the country in his 22 years as Prime Minister, although his term of office was not entirely free of blemish. But the events over the last year and his resignation today will be remembered more than the good he has done. 

I wish to take both the good and bad with equal measure and would like to remind the people that although this is a sad part in our party’s history, there were good times as well and we have to take the mix of the two. I realise this matter is not going to end here and that we shall continue to hear from Dr Mahathir. However, I just hope we can maintain some dignity and decorum and not drag the country down to gutter politics. 

And with all sincerity I would like to wish Dr Mahathir the very best for the future. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

In what way is Pakatan Harapan different from Pakatan Rakyat? 

Salleh Said Keruak 

One very interesting point to note in the ongoing public debate between DAP and PKR regarding the removal of two PKR representatives from Penang state government-owned GLCs is that the party decides what happens. 

But that is not the most interesting part yet. It gets even more interesting when Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng says that DAP decides what happens as far as Penang is concerned and the other members of Pakatan Harapan have to comply. 

Not too long ago, PKR’s Rafizi Ramli announced that Pakatan Harapan would no longer operate on an agree-to-disagree basis. This was basically because Pakatan Rakyat, which operated on that basis, found it difficult to agree-to-disagree on various matters and that caused the break-up of the coalition. 

So, to avoid Pakatan Harapan suffering the same fate as Pakatan Rakyat, Pakatan Harapan would operate on a consensus basis, said Rafizi. However, when it comes to Penang, DAP does not operate on consensus but based on what DAP wants. 

Basically, Lim Guan Eng now says that DAP decides what happens in Penang and PKR would have to abide to DAP’s decision. Lim Guan Eng reminds Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali that this was exactly what happened with PKR’s decision to remove Khalid Ibrahim as Menteri Besar. 

Lim Guan Eng more or less confirms that the decision to remove Khalid as Menteri Besar was a PKR and not Pakatan Rakyat decision. So it was not based on consensus but based on agree to disagree. And yet DAP and PKR called PAS a traitor for not supporting the move to oust Khalid and replace him with Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, and later with Azmin Ali. 

It appears like Pakatan Harapan still works on the same basis that Pakatan Rakyat did. As much as they try to impress upon us that Pakatan Harapan is different and is better than Pakatan Rakyat, what actually happens on the ground does not give that impression. So there is no guarantee that Pakatan Harapan will not eventually face the same fate as Pakatan Rakyat.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Verify before you Vilify 

Salleh Said Keruak

The Internet is flooded with both authentic and fake news.

It is impractical and difficult to monitor or control a user’s access to the mass amount of content found online; so it is left to us, the user, to exercise self-censorship and to verify all news shared over our social media feeds.

Last month, there was news on an extortion case said to have taken place somewhere in Sarikei, Sarawak. The alleged case was neither reported nor verified with the Police but the news had gone viral over social media.

Another was the ‘Apai Nyamun’ viral post. The postings claimed, “a few longhouse residents in Bintulu, Tatau and Mukau had been snatched on two separate incidents for their heads and organs, which would be sold”.

Investigations by the police showed that the incidents did not take place and that “irresponsible people are trying to scare the people in Bintulu”.

Irresponsible posts like these can create unnecessary confusion, anxiety and, in some extreme cases, panic and fear among the general populace.

There are ethical and legal implications when one shares unverified news and information online.

There is also the concern of unscrupulous scammers.  Some posts that you like or share over your social media feeds can make Internet scammers richer.

Most of these posts seems harmless – posts that asks you to like and share a photo to win an iPad, or to “like a post if you hate cancer”, for instance.

Thousands of these photos are circulated and while most users think that sharing these posts on their timelines is harmless, there is a negative side to it.

This process is apparently known as “like farming”; a method used by scammers to urge users to like and share fake news or links online to gain more traction for a Facebook page that later, will be sold to marketing companies or worst, used to help spread more profitable scams.

It could also lead to a virus that deactivates your social media account, which later asks for your credit card details in order to activate it. Spreading viral hoaxes makes you susceptible to getting your personal information stolen.

In conclusion, don’t blindly click, like and share things that you see on your newsfeed, without fully understanding the details behind the headlines or the truth about the story. As most social media fraud experts warn, “If it is too good to be true, it’s probably a scam”.

Uploading and sharing unverified news can also land you into trouble, so be careful when hitting the ‘Share’ or ‘Retweet’ button the next time some sensationalised news pops up on your Timeline.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Stop fuelling more harm

Salleh Said Keruak

Just yesterday, I wrote about how politicians should practice caution and be more responsible when issuing statements as it can have a detrimental affect on the stability and economy of the country.

It could also lead to unnecessary speculation and confusion.

Today, it was reported that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said “The country’s “suffocating” politics will lead to national disunity” and that “our internal political problems include corruption and the economic downturn where people become victims and are made to pay the price’.

He added that Malaysia’s world standing was not good given the issues related to the leadership as “our country is under threat because of issues involving the leaders”.

Muhyiddin Yassin is Umno’s Deputy President and his President is the Prime Minister of Malaysia, the leader of our nation.

As a seasoned politician, Muhyiddin is surely well versed with Umno’s constitution, which specifies that a deputy president is to assist the duties of the president and to show his loyalty and support for the party.

His duties is not to undermine or to rock the boat.

His latest speech in Pagoh has somehow raised speculation that this was another one of Muhyiddin’s subtle attempt to discredit and undermine the leadership of his Prime Minister.

I would like to think that it was a speech taken out of context.

But if it wasn’t and the intention was indeed to discredit his President’s leadership, then he lacks the quality of being a team player and a decision needs to be made by either him or the party to stop all speculation about his stand once and for all.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Politicians need to be more responsible 

Salleh Said Keruak 

While some politicians like to gain political mileage by issuing sensationalised statements, they should also practice caution and be more responsible because their statements can have an affect on the stability and economy of the country. 

For example, last night, Parti Amanah Negara (AMANAH) president Mohamad Sabu a.k.a. Mat Sabu said that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak stole RM2.6 billion. Mat Sabu also said that Malaysia is going bankrupt and that Malaysia’s Attorney General is the stupidest in the whole world. 

This comes after PKR leader and Member of Parliament Rafizi Ramli said Tabung Haji is going bankrupt while DAP’s Tony Pua said that 1MDB, too, was going bankrupt, both which have now been proven false. 

Rafizi said if everyone walks in to Tabung Haji at the same time and demand to withdraw their money then Tabung Haji would go bankrupt. I would view this as scare tactics and an irresponsible statement. The truth is if everyone walks in to any bank at the same time and takes their money out there is not a single bank in the world that would not go bankrupt. 

Playing scare tactics to try to trigger a run on Tabung Haji, or on any financial institution for that matter, is not only irresponsible but also tantamount to economic sabotage. An entire country can collapse when you do something like that. People will panic and there would be riots on the streets. Lives can be lost and property destroyed. 

This should not be our political culture and instead even if we are in the opposition we should also have the country’s interest in mind before doing anything. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Happy Chinese New Year 

Salleh Said Keruak 

While Malays say that it is the duty of the non-Malays to understand and show sensitivity to Malay customs, culture, traditions and taboos, it is also the duty of Malays to show the same towards Malaysians of other ethnicities. 

Tomorrow, 8th February 2016, is the first day of the Red Monkey Year and is the 4,714th year of the Chinese calendar. The Monkey is the 9th animal in the 12 zodiac signs. 

According to the Chinese horoscope, the Monkey Year is good for those born in the Year of the Snake, such as Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. The belief is that the Monkey supports and assists the Snake so the year would go by with not much drama. 

Some have prophesised that 2016 is going to be a good year for the Prime Minister, which means it is going to be a good year for Malaysia as well. In light of the economic and political crisis sweeping the world we certainly need such ‘good news’ to give us hope. 

Anyway, I am not saying that you must believe this but there are some who do. What is more important is that in a multi-cultural country like Malaysia we need to know and understand each other and respect each other’s beliefs and look at the diversity of this country as one of its strengths. 

To Malaysians of Chinese ethnicity may I wish you a happy and prosperous new year and may you be showered with wealth and good health. Gong Xi Fa Cai and Selamat Tahun Baru to all Malaysians. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Dr Mahathir needs to get real

Salleh Said Keruak

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said, “There was a time not so very long ago when Malaysia was admired for successfully raising itself from an impoverished third world country into a stable newly industrialised country. No one doubted that its announced intention to become a developed country by 2020 would be achieved.”

I think Dr Mahathir needs to get real. During that same period he is talking about, Dr Mahathir quarrelled with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and launched his ‘Buy British Last’ campaign, plus he quarrelled with US President Bill Clinton, resulting in the Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating calling Dr Mahathir a recalcitrant. Most Malaysians were embarrassed by those events.

When Dr Mahathir decided to move Malaysia away from a commodity-based economy to a heavy-industry based economy, so that Malaysia can become a fully developed nation by 2020, he overlooked one very crucial point. And that crucial point is that Malaysia does not have expertise in research and development that the other industrialised countries possess. So it was an impossible dream if all Malaysia can become is what we would call a bolt-and-nut operation.

Dr Mahathir had depended on the profits from the petroleum industry to finance the plans for 2020. But then in 1986 the oil price plunged by two-thirds in just a few months and this dashed Malaysia’s hopes. It also triggered the stock market collapse, which hit Malaysia as well, and Malaysia had to cancel many projects or scale them down because the country no longer had the money.

Dr Mahathir did not take that possibility into calculation and a decade later in 1997 it happened yet again. So Wawasan 2020 was no longer possible. It was a plan mooted under an ideal situation but 1986 and 1997 proved that there is no such thing as an ideal situation.

Dr Mahathir’s Wawasan 2020 is no longer possible. So he wants to find someone to blame rather than accept the fact that he was wrong and the plan was not really workable. His statement, “No one doubted that its announced intention to become a developed country by 2020 would be achieved,” is merely an attempt to avoid taking responsibility for its failure and to shift the failure to someone else.

As for the rest of what Dr Mahathir said today it is just a repetition of what he has said so many times and cannot seem to stop saying. It is futile to reply to something that sounds like a broken record. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Exclusive: Malaysian cabinet minister tells the Guardian the Swiss attorney general got his facts wrong in US$4bn corruption allegations

The Guardian
By Oliver Holmes 
Tuesday 2 February 2016 

Malaysia has accused Switzerland of breaking protocol and circulating misinformation when its attorney general said last week that billions of dollars had been stolen from Malaysian state-owned companies.

In the most scathing response by a member of the government to date, Malaysia’s Minister of Communications Salleh Said Keruak told the Guardian that “these premature statements appear to have been made without a full and comprehensive appreciation of all the facts.”
Decision to clear Malaysian prime minister 'impossible' to overturn
Read more:‎
“It’s very unusual, and against normal protocol, for a senior official of one country to speak publicly on the internal matters of another country. Yet that is what the Swiss Attorney General has done,” he said.

Najib was himself cleared of corruption in Malaysia a week ago by the country’s attorney general, who said the Saudi royal family was the source of a $681m “donation” to Najib’s personal accounts just before the 2013 election.

While the Swiss attorney general’s office told the Guardian that Najib was not under accusation, the announcement focused intense international pressure on the government just three days after Najib said accusations against him had “been comprehensively put to rest”.

Cabinet minister Salleh told the Guardian that Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber should have first contacted his counterpart in Malaysia.

“Does the Swiss AG normally talk to the media first, and then the relevant authorities afterwards?” he said. Salleh said 1MBD had undergone extensive audits since 2009 and the $4bn figure “simply could not have been misappropriated under such conditions.”

He accused Lauber of inferring that the Malaysian attorney general had been uncooperative “when in fact Malaysian authorities have been waiting to hear from their Swiss counterparts for many months,” he said, referring to case evidence Malaysia has requested from Switzerland.

Malaysia’s attorney general agreed over the weekend to cooperate with his Swiss counterpart.

Salleh also accused Lauber of spreading misinformation for saying Malaysian companies being investigated have made no comment on the losses they are believed to have incurred.

“As anyone following developments related to 1MDB is well aware, the company has issued statement after statement – providing detailed explanations, and a breakdown of its financials - to address questions that have previously been raised about these alleged losses.”

“In certain Western media outlets, there exists a bias that it’s the institutions and governments of developing ‎countries that don’t play it straight, while Western governments do. In this case, the actions of the Swiss Attorney General prove the opposite,” he said.

Asked to respond to Salleh’s comments, spokesman for the Swiss attorney general AndrĂ© Marty said: “As a law enforcement body and judicial authority, the (Office of the Swiss Attorney General) has not to comment on political statements.”

Marty said his office “took note with satisfaction of the reaction of its Malaysian counterpart and of its commitment to fully support Switzerland’s request for mutual assistance.”‎