Thursday, May 26, 2016

PKR and corruption

Salleh Said Keruak

“Ex-PKR Youth chief Ezam Mohd Noor has challenged former mentor Anwar Ibrahim to make public the six boxes of documents the latter claims to have containing evidence of corrupt practices by high-ranking government officials,” reported Malaysiakini on 18th August 2008.

In 1998, Anwar Ibrahim announced that he had six boxes of evidence regarding corrupt acts committed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Tun Daim Zainuddin and other key people in Mahathir’s government. For ten years until 2008, however, not a single piece of paper was ever produced, let alone six boxes or even just one box.

Five years later, PKR, again, brought out allegations of corruption. But this time the allegations were against their own people, Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, and the person making those allegations was the party secretary-general, Saifuddin Nasution. Saifuddin, in fact, showed the public one thick file that was supposed to contain the evidence against Khalid.

Because of these allegations, Khalid was forced to resign from his post of Menteri Besar. Khalid then sued Saifuddin, who withdrew the allegation and apologised to Khalid -- instead of showing the court the evidence of Khalid’s corrupt acts, which Saifuddin said he had in his possession. Khalid, however, was not reinstated as Menteri Besar.

Now, barely two years on and new allegations of corruption are being made by PKR’s new secretary-general, Rafizi Ramli, against the Selangor government or leaders in the Selangor government. This time, however, no one has been asked to resign like Khalid was because no names were mentioned in those allegations. Instead, PKR has asked Rafizi to send the evidence to the MACC so that the Anti-Corruption Commission can take the necessary action against the guilty parties

Let us see whether this time there is any evidence and whether this evidence eventually results in certain leaders getting arrested and getting sent to jail. If not then this is just one more false allegation in almost 20 years that PKR makes against its political enemies as well as against its own leaders that it wants to oust.

It has come to a stage that if PKR or any of its leaders make an allegation of corruption against anyone, we can more or less safely brush aside that allegation as one more in so many incidences of crying wolf by people who have nothing better to do.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Statement on latest Wall Street Journal article‎ by Minister of Communications and Multimedia

19 May 2016

1. The Wall Street Journal keeps on making false allegations but attributing them to anonymous sources. This is a cowardly way to avoid being sued.

2. Despite their anonymous sources being proven wrong time and time again, such as their false reports on the new Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, the WSJ continues to make allegations without any evidence.

3. It is no coincidence that all the WSJ's reporting on Malaysia since Tun Mahathir began his Anti Najib Campaign is based on one thing: what they claim anonymous sources and anonymous investigators say.

4. Not once has a name been provided for these sources. If they actually exist, then why doesn't the WSJ tell Malaysians who they are? Otherwise how can they expect anything they write to be believed, after being proved wrong so many times.

5. But we know they won't provide names, because they can't. The truth is that their reporting is based at best on rumours, and at worst on politically motivated lies that they've accepted without proper verification. Just for the sake of another sensational headline.


Friday, May 13, 2016

Let’s not lose track of democracy

Salleh Said Keruak

There is a lot of hype regarding the one million (some say 500,000 and others say 1.2 million) signatures that the ‘Save Malaysia’ campaign was supposed to have received in support of its petition. And it has just been announced that these signatures are going to be sent to His Majesty the Agong.

While in a democracy that is allowed, however, according to the law or the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, there is very little His Majesty can do about this petition -- unlike in the UK where if a petition receives at least 100,000 signatures then it normally goes to Parliament for debating.

While we say that the government must respect and observe the Constitution, those opposed to the government must also do the same thing. And the Constitution very specifically says that the Member of the House who commands the confidence of the majority of the Members of the House gets to become Prime Minister.

In that same spirit if the Prime Minister loses the confidence of the majority Members of the House then he has to step down as Prime Minister. This means not just the Prime Minister but the party that the Prime Minister leads is ousted and the party from the other side gets to form the new government.

Of course, there are ways this can be done and one way would be to pass a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister. For that to happen the Members of Parliament from the ruling party have to cross over to the opposition. Then the government falls. So we will not just be bringing down the Prime Minister but the party in power as well.

Other than that His Majesty’s hands will be tied. There is no provision in the Constitution that allows the Agong to sack a Prime Minister. The Prime Minister’s own party has to do that (like in the case of Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim) or MPs from the Prime Minister’s own party have to cross over to the opposition (like in the case of Perak Menteri Besar Nizar Jamaluddin).

Of course, just to put on a show and give an impression that the Prime Minister has lost support you can always get one million signatures and send these signatures to the Agong. But then the question would be then what? Will you demand that the Agong sack the Prime Minister even though that would be unlawful?

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sarawak is the litmus test for the next GE

Salleh Said Keruak

What we saw in Sarawak yesterday was not just about a state election but also about the general sentiments of the voters. The message the voters in Sarawak sent is more or less the same sentiments all over rural Malaysia, although urban Malaysians may have a slightly different view, as has always been since Merdeka.

Some are attributing the Sarawak state election results due to the low voter turnout. In the last Sarawak state election in 2011 the voter turnout was also 70%, as it was yesterday as well. So how can this have been a major factor?

We must remember in 2011 Barisan Nasional won 77% of the seats compared to 88% this time around. And this was also based on the same 70% voter turnout. So there must be other reasons other than just voter turnout at play here.

One major factor, of course, was the Chief Minister Adenan Satem himself. Even the opposition reluctantly admitted today that they lost to Adenan’s popularity. And both sides of the political divide talk about ‘Team Adenan’, admitting that this was a major deciding factor.

The opposition, on the other hand, had no team. They were terribly fragmented and divided. And while for Barisan Nasional the local Sarawakians were allowed to manage their own affairs, the opposition saw too much meddling from Kuala Lumpur that the voters were no longer sure who was calling the shots.

Voters want to know who will run the state or the country if the opposition wins. The fact that the opposition, whether at state or federal level, does not have a shadow cabinet creates this uncertainty in the minds of the voters. The opposition is not able to set up a shadow cabinet because if they do attempt to set one up there will be utter chaos when infighting and jostling for positions start. And the voters are aware of this.

Let us just admit that Barisan Nasional at both local and federal level ran a good campaign and it paid off. And credit has to go to Team Adenan and Team Najib. And if this continues then we are going to see the Sarawak 2016 success emulated in the next general election as well.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The message from the Sarawak voters

Salleh Said Keruak

No doubt a more comprehensive post mortem needs to be done regarding the Sarawak state election but immediately we can already see that a few factors have contributed to the outcome.

First and foremost we cannot deny that the Adenan Satem factor played a critical role in swinging the voters. One could even probably interpret the Sarawak state election as a vote of confidence for the Chief Minister.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was personally down on the ground and was well received by many voters in the places he visited. In a way this proved the Prime Minister’s critics wrong regarding his popularity.

The launching of the Anti-Najib Campaign by those aligned to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Pakatan Harapan backfired badly on the opposition as was expected. The opposition’s denial syndrome proved that they ignored this very important point at their own peril. Elections are never about one factor but about a combination of factors.

Let this be a lesson to the opposition that hate politics can sometimes be very counterproductive. The voters no longer want to vote against any party based on hate. The voters want to see more tangible reasons such as development, harmony, peace, security and so on.

Barisan Nasional brought all these issues to the voters while the opposition merely played up the hate factor. And for that reason the opposition paid a heavy price. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The factors behind the Sarawak state election

Salleh Said Keruak

Normally, a new leader is assessed based on his or her first 100 days in office. Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem has been in office for almost 800 days and even the opposition has grudgingly admitted that he has done a good job. You can see from the Sarawak election campaign that the opposition has nothing much to criticise Adenan about.

Since taking over as Chief Minister on 28th February 2014, Adenan has introduced many new policies, which are considered very important to Sarawak or to Sarawakians. Most notably amongst them is the ‘Anak Sarawak’ policy that declares equality for all Sarawakians irrespective of ethnicity and religion. There is no longer any ‘lain-lain’ while Chinese born in Sarawak are not classified as ‘pendatang’.

This one issue alone has been a bone of contention for many Malaysians for a long time and Adenan in one swoop cleared up the matter. Another bone of contention that Adenan wanted settled was the recognition of Chinese schools and its United Examination Certificate for Sarawak Foundation education loans and entry to the civil service.

Further to that, independent Chinese schools received RM3 million in government aid in 2014 and RM4 million last year. And this has been increased to RM5 million this year. Sarawak reduced electricity tariff and ferry services rates and the Lanang and Baram bridge tolls have also been abolished while there is no Goods and Services Tax (GST) on Municipal Council Services.

Sarawak no longer issues any timber and plantation licences while Half Occupation Ticket licences have been cancelled or are not being renewed. Over 30 sawmills handling illegal logs have been closed down and 10% of forestland will be turned into national parks. This is how serious Adenan is about forest conservation.

One very thorny issue is native land rights. Sarawak is increasing communal land while at the same time recognises Native Customary Rights land. To achieve this Sarawak is conducting perimeter and individual surveys to bring the land onto the register. The state is also opening up opportunities for the natives to develop their land on a commercial basis. The amendment to the Sarawak Land Code enables Sarawak Bumiputeras to acquire NCR land outside of their own community.

These are just some of the many changes in Sarawak over the last two years since Adenan took over as Chief Minister. Sarawakians are by and large very happy with these ‘reforms’ and most are of the opinion that Barisan Nasional should be given another five years to see what more Adenan could do for Sarawak and for Sarawakians.

Most West Malaysians did not really know who Adenan is because he has always maintained a very simple life and a low-profile image his entire political career. Just two years in office and many, even from West Malaysia, now understand why Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak appointed him the Sarawak Chief Minister. Today, many say Najib could not have made a better choice than that.

It is apparent that Najib is giving Adenan full backing and is supporting the Chief Minister in all his endeavours. Adenan is the sounding board for Sarawakians and the most important thing is that the Prime Minister is listening. That is giving the Sarawak voters the confidence that Najib and Adenan make a good team, one in Federal and the other in the State, and that Barisan Nasional will be able to deliver what Sarawakians want.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Sarawak’s untold story of success

Salleh Said Keruak

In November 2015, the DAP-led Penang state government announced a deficit budget for the fifth year running (FMT, 6 Nov 2015). The deficit, said Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, would, however, be covered by the state’s accumulated savings of RM880 million (Mkini, 6 Nov 2015).

The PKR-led Selangor state government, on the other hand, announced reserves of roughly RM3.5 billion. This, the opposition said, is proof that the opposition is a capable government because the latest figures are a slight improvement from what it used to be pre-2008 before the opposition took over the state.

What must also be noted is that Selangor also announced the largest deficit in the state’s history in its RM2.9 billion budget (The Star, 30 Nov 2015).

The main income for both Penang and Selangor are derived from the sale of land, land premiums and property taxes.

What is seldom talked about is that Sarawak has reserves of RM27 billion. When Adenan Satem first took over as Chief Minister in 2014, he announced a surplus budget.

Only about 25% of the Sarawak’s expenditure is for operating costs while the bulk is for development (Mkini, 7 Dec 2015). In comparison, Selangor spends more than 50% of its expenditure on operating costs while Penang spends 75%.

If success is measured in financials, then Sarawak has proven itself, although Sarawak does not shout about it like Penang and Selangor. And under Adenan the focus of Sarawak is development for the good of the people.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The foundation supports the structure: what BN has and Pakatan does not

Salleh Said Keruak

When we talk about an organisation structure, that can also be equated to a building structure and any engineer will tell you that the strength of the structure very much depends on the foundation. A weak foundation would not be able to support the structure as many a building disaster has proven.

Whether we are talking about a political organisation, business organisation, military organisation, government organisation, etc., it is all the same. We need a strong foundation to support an equally strong structure for the whole system to succeed.

The political turmoil in Selangor soon after the 2013 general election, followed by the break up of Pakatan Rakyat soon after that and the creation of Pakatan Harapan minus PAS, and now the mess in the Sarawak state election, the last two years has shown that the opposition lacks the foundation it needs to succeed and, therefore, it has resulted in such a weak structure that it can never be the alternative government that it claims to be.

When we talk about an alternative, it means an equal and not a lesser choice. Alternatives must be second choices and not second-class choices. In this case Pakatan Harapan is not even a second choice to Barisan Nasional because it lacks what Barisan Nasional has: a strong foundation to support the structure.

The foundation of Barisan Nasional rests on its power-sharing doctrine. In Sarawak, it extends further than that to include allowing the local Sarawakians to decide their own affairs with as little interference from the federal powers.

Pakatan Harapan cannot even decide who calls the shots, those in Kuala Lumpur or those in Sarawak. And this is what has caused the mess in Pakatan Harapan Sarawak. Yes, Pakatan Harapan talks about autonomy when they cannot even give their own party autonomy the way Barisan Nasional does.

Is this the type of government Sarawakians wants to trust their future in? No doubt, as many from both sides of the political divide allege, Sarawak is very important to Barisan Nasional. And, because it is important, Barisan Nasional will treasure Sarawak and will look after it well.

Running a government is not about a game of one-upmanship or, as they say in the west, about who wins the pissing contest. Running a government is serious business. And while Barisan Nasional is very serious, Pakatan Harapan is more concerned about squabbling over seats.