Saturday, September 20, 2008

Straight Talk - Only for the Straight Talkers.

Saturday, September 20, 2008
Not the Time for Showmanship
I am a supporter of a two party system. For this system to work, we need political parties from the other side of the fence to gear up their own party reform too. One such party is the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), the second biggest in BN. Ironically, the only thing MCA can claim to represent the Chinese community is by having the word "Chinese" as its middle name. The rest is history.

Since 1969, the party has failed to represent the aspiration of the community. Most voted for the MCA vis the BN only for practical reasons and not by association. Unlike the way UMNO was able to capture the Malay voters' imagination until their own undoing in the recent 2008 general election.

As expected the MCA party election this coming 18th October is going to be another factional event. Already, there loose factions, Chinese Tea versus Whisky, have lined up their battle lines at the divisional and state elections. The verdict was in the favour of the Chinese Tea faction comprised of Dr Wee Ka Siong, Liow Tiong Lai, Ong Tee Keat and leaders supported by the President. This faction is informally known as the "President team".

However, Vice-President Ong Tee Keat's reluctance to endorse any running mate may have irked his 'team mates'. Some even took the liberty to do the reverse - by endorsing Tee Keat! Ong Ka Chuan, president's brother and party's secretary general has done it.

Clearly, Ong is not very comfortable with this move. Why? Stanley Koh of has the story:

On Youth Wing suspension in 2001 and Nanyang's acquisition:

"Recalling a past experience, a party insider said, “Despite objections against Team A's leadership for alleged undemocratic handling of the investigation, several Team A leaders in the central committee voted in support of the report’s recommendations including censuring Ong Tee Keat, rejecting the removal of two youth leaders by the youth EGM and suspending the youth wing over a stipulated period.”

Those who voted in support of the report and suspension of the youth wing (and activities) in 2001 by a central committee resolution included Ong Ka Ting, Ong Ka Chuan, Dr Chua Soi Lek, Dr Ng Yen Yen and Lim Siang Chai. They also supported the party’s acquisition of the Nanyang Siang Pau."

Some interesting dialogue included in Koh's article:

“Dato president (referring to Ling), I think the lawyers know better ... the purpose of the suspension is to settle any dispute arising from within the party or between any organisation. To my mind when I tried to read through (report submitted by Chor), is actually for the good of the party … it’s nothing disciplinary, it is reconciliatory the problem,” Ka Ting defending the suspension order (of the youth wing).

“I disagree with Ka Ting. This is a disciplinary action (suspension of the youth wing), the most severe nature. You’re attacking all the youth in this country … under the MCA banner. This is a very far reaching thing you’ve done,” Jui Meng argued.

Chor in response to Jui Meng said, “Let me explain, actually what I decided to do after conferring with a few central committee members, now because of late, we’ve been, I mean, the party has been brought to much ridicule…especially the youth. I’m not saying, Tee Keat, you’re wrong. No. But true enough, everyday it appears in the papers. I’m thinking how to solve this … so how are we going to bring calm back.”

Supporting the motion to suspend the youth, Soi Lek said, “….if we can restore peace and stability to MCA, MCA youth, I must be very sure, everybody here who loves the party must support this resolution. Let the police do their report ... the police may take five years.”

Defending himself, Tee Keat addressed the central committee, “If I may say a few things, since I am the interested party and I wish that what I’m saying be put on record.” “….since you (central committee) want to suspend the youth wing, my feelings are not hurt ... this is none other than a different form of emancipation of powers and also the provision of the rights of delegates, the youth delegates.”

“What I am trying to say is that you may call in any 3-man or 6-man committee or what have you, just like the peace-keeping force of the UN (United Nations) to oversee the whole process….,” said. Tee Keat.

Sadly, the defender (Chua Jui Ming) is taking on the victim (Ong Tee Keat) for the presidency at the coming party elections. Koh argues that both should avoid fighting among themselves:

"Vice-president and Transport Minister Ong Tee Keat will lock horns with former vice-president Chua Jui Meng, also a former health minister. It does not matter now that both had then shared the same platform and were in the same camp during the Ling Liong Sik-Lim Ah Lek leadership crisis.

Both were against the acquisition of Nanyang Siang Pau spearheaded by Ling and on several occasions, Chua defended Ong, then MCA youth chief, in 2001 against the many “unjust” decisions of the incumbent Ling leadership in handling the infamous “youth chair-throwing” fiasco on August 3, 2001 which led to the suspension of the youth wing.

Sharing some common characteristics like outspokenness and political courage, both are defenders of justice and righteousness. Political adversaries nevertheless agreed on common ground that both are capable of taking divergent views away from the herd-mentality. Both had been politically marginalised by a previous incumbent leader. However, the similarities end here."

Both Ong and Chua could have formed a formidable tag-team making both Change and Reform of MCA their main objective. Unfortunately, Chua has a problem with his ego. He is not someone who can make way for a younger Ong to take helm and support the latter as his no.2. Chua is a man who needs to be in the driver's seat.

Either Chua Soi Lek or Ong Ka Chuan being elected as no.2 will not augur well for Tee Keat and his ambition to reform the party and perhaps take it towards a multiracial route. Both Jui Ming and Tee Keat believe that the party needs to take such route to stay relevant.

Again, what is stopping the two outspoken leaders from working together? Chua Jui Ming's showmanship. It is time Chua to put the interest of the nation above his own. He should go for no.2 and allow for Chua Soi Lek to contest against Tee Keat. Then, endorse Tee Keat as his running mate.
Posted by Khoo Kay Peng at 6:30 PM 0 comments
Friday, September 19, 2008
I Choose to Dream

PM Abdullah Badawi, DPM Najib Razak, Ong Ka Ting, Samy Vellu and many more BN leaders called Anwar Ibrahim a liar when he claimed to have received a majority support from MPs to take over government.

Here, Umno vice-president Mohd Ali Rustam said Anwar was trying to divert the people’s attention to cover his weaknesses and failure to take over the Federal Government by Sept 16 as he had pledged. He said Anwar was just creating “media attention” to get people to talk about him.

“The Government need not entertain him. He should wait for the next five years. It is utter nonsense that Anwar has 30 Barisan MPs.

“If he has 30 MPs, he should march to Parliament with them. He doesn’t even have one name,” Mohd Ali said.

Mohd Ali Rustam formally joins the ranks of Syed Hamid Albar and formally incorporated to the house of dummies. This is precisely what Anwar wanted - to march to parliament with them if only your President and PM is willing to call an emergency session.

With leaders like Ali Rustam, Syed Hamid Albar and Abdullah Badawi, who needs Mr Bean?

That is why no matter how ridiculous Anwar may sound, we still choose to share his dreams that soon this country will see the beginning of better times.

Call us dreamers if you want to but a dream is a start of an aspiration and a movement to make it happen.

I choose to dream. What about you?
Posted by Khoo Kay Peng at 8:44 PM 10 comments
Teresa Kok Released From ISA
I met Teresa Kok a number of years ago at a foreign embassy's function. She was a second term MP at that time. While talking, she gave me her name card and told me to call her anytime if I needed any assistance. This is the real Teresa, ever willing to assist.

Today, I was asked about her release after barely serving a third of her original detention period. I told a reporter friend it shows the government has jumped the gun in arresting her. Shouldn't they complete their investigation first before detaining her?

The use of ISA against Sin Chew reporter Tan Hoon Cheng and sassy MP Teresa Kok has trivialised the legislation which should not have existed in the first place. This is a piece of colonial relic which is both draconian and unsuitable for any democracy. Hence, by releasing Teresa early the government has nothing positive to prove. The damage is already done.

Zaid's parting words as the de facto law minister are damning. He said that he was facing serious problems in making them to understand the need to be fair and just to all. He was spot on. While Tan, Teresa and RPK were detained last friday, real perpetrators such as Ahmad Ismail, Azhar Ibrahim, Khir Toyo and several others were walking free. Utusan Malaysia, a culprit in Teresa's detention, was not cautioned but three other newspapers were given a show cause letter each.

This is selective persecution. More harsh, it is bullying. Leaders of a certain political party have lost any moral sense to continue leading this country. Despite some serious defeats inflicted on a coalition led by them, there is no evidence of some serious soul searching.

Ex-leaders such as Dr Mahathir is not contributing anything positive to the country despite his relentless attacks on PM Abdullah Badawi. He said the country will be alright once Abdullah steps down. Unfortunately, thousands were bought by his revenge laced words.

We are suffering from the behaviour, attitude and mindset of politicians who are trapped in their own time warp. In fact, Abdullah himself is a victim. He cannot control this bunch of politicians. This speaks of his leadership ability. No thanks to Dr M, Abdullah's legacy is now tainted by his ex-boss. He could have been remembered as a Mr Nice guy or a moderate ex-minister of foreign affairs.

This is the kind of attitude and mindset that we want change. Not just Abdullah Badawi. Can Dr M cronies deliver that? We do not want a repeat of Mahathirism.

Hence, I SUPPORT Teresa Kok's intention to SUE the government for her illegal detention. I hope Tan Hoon Cheng can do the same as well. Don't stop at the government, sue those individuals involved too including the ridiculous Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar who seriously need a refresher course on 101 Basic Laws for Dummies.

Syed Hamid should refrain himself from looking at another silly proposal of Race Relations Act proposed by another out of touch minister. Both of them should keep the act to themselves and stop troubling us with another silly suggestion. Can you legislate race relations without first dismantle race based politics?

Both of them should first declare illegal their respective party.
Posted by Khoo Kay Peng at 8:44 PM 5 comments
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Emergency Parliament Session

Anwar Ibrahim has upped the ante: "I have made a formal request to call for an emergency session in Parliament to debate a motion of no confidence against the leadership of Barisan Nasional not later than Sept 23."

He wanted the Parliament to be recalled not later than next Tuesday under the section 11(3) of the parliamentary rules. “The standing orders are quite clear. The PM has the authority to convene an emergency session. All he needs to do is inform the speaker."

“We have given the date for the emergency session. It makes no sense for an emergency session to be held next year. We expect the prime minister to respond.”

Malaysian Insider called it "a master stroke in buying time". The self-proclaimed insider news website opines that the latest action taken by Anwar will "GIVE him the time he needs to work the ground and try and persuade some MPs to abandon BN for Pakatan Rakyat."

It says, "Anwar has been meeting professionals, businessmen, a few former MPs and even members of some prominent Umno families in the past week asking them to join Parti Keadilan Rakyat. He has told a few of them that he has the numbers but was unwilling to share any names of the BN crossovers with them. Some of them have left the meetings - which have taken place at his home in Segambut or at the home of mutual friends - convinced that he does not have 31 BN MPs in his pocket. Others have been willing to give him the benefit of doubt."

Given the website's insider network and connection, it should advice PM Abdullah to accept Anwar's request to convene a special parliament session to debate on the premier's government.
If Anwar is really calling a bluff, this will be a golden opportunity to nail him. Why would Abdullah want to be continuously taunted of being afraid to face his own parliamentarians? It cannot be a master stroke if Abdullah does not allow it to happen and if the PM is convinced of his own support base. Worse, by not responding to the request he is inviting more speculations and rumours. The ball is clearly in his court.

Using the ISA against Anwar should not be an option at all. The government will be accused of trying to hold on to power through sheer brute force.

In a democratic system, such pressure should be expected from a strong opposition. Abdullah and especially Syed Hamid Albar should not even think of using ISA as an option to contain a surging Anwar.

Those who can't take the heat should stay out of the kitchen.
Posted by Khoo Kay Peng at 5:41 PM 5 comments
Now the Police Turn
Deputy police chief Ismail Omar today issued a stern warning against those speculating and spreading rumours of a government takeover.

These speculations are causing instability in the country, he told a special press conference at the federal police headquarters in Bukit Aman this afternoon.

Earlier, Army Chief General Abdul Aziz Zainal called for "stern action" against those inciting racial conflict in the multicultural country, after the government warned tensions were rising.

Today, Ismail Omar warned “The irresponsible rumours have been spread through certain media organisations, short text messaging system (SMS), blogs and internet websites.These irresponsible people have spread rumours that there will be takeover of the government (by opposition).

Is Ismail jumping the gun by sweeping Anwar's claims as irresponsible rumours? Perhaps, PM Abdullah should grant Anwar's request for a special parliament session to help reveal the truth and 'kill off' Anwar's ambition once and for all.

Ismail should be reminded that political rumours and speculations happen in all thriving democracies. In fact, not only oppositions are raising claims about their new found popularity. Veterans such as ex-premier Dr Mahathir are calling for PM Abdullah to be toppled almost daily. His recent call for both MCA and Gerakan to work together with UMNO to topple PM Abdullah is one example.

Ismail said "Everything is as usual and under control and the public can continue on with their lives without worries or fear. The security of the country is stable." Yes, we agree with him. So, my advice to Ismail is to stop sounding like a UMNO politician. Leave politics to the politicians.

He should be more worried about rising crime in the country. Recently, a 16 year old school girl was abducted and murdered. Deteriorating public safety is real, not mere rumours. This is an area which requires undivided police attention.
Posted by Khoo Kay Peng at 5:41 PM 3 comments
Gerakan Referendum
Dr Hsu Dar Ren, a division leader of Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia, has thrown down a gaunlet. He wants the party leadership to hold a referendum to find out if its delegates want to leave or stay in BN.

His reasons:

"It is clear from these two cases (resignation of Zaid Ibrahim and Ahmad Ismail racist slurs) that reforming Umno will be an almost impossible task. Bearing in mind that ex-Gerakan president Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik recently said that the party is like a beggar inside the coalition, and that an ex-MCA vice president said MCA is like a slave, it is clear that the master is not going to listen to the slave or the beggar no matter how much they slog or beg."

"So why are they still staying on? Is it for ideological reasons? For MCA, being a race-based party, staying in a race-based coalition would not be too much of a clash with their ideology. But for Gerakan, how are the leaders going to reconcile their own calls to the members to go back to promoting a "non-racial, fair and equitable society" by remaining in BN? It is rather hypocritical to sing one tune while dancing to another."

What is the good doctor going to do if the party leadership refuses to listen to his call?

He said:

"So far, Gerakan leaders have not decided on calling for a referendum, which they think unsuitable at the moment because the delegates may be too emotional. This sort of thinking will not go down well with the grassroots, who are matured enough to know what is good and bad, not only for the party, but, more importantly, for the people and the country."

"Many of them are already talking about an indirect way of getting the message across if a referendum is not allowed. One indirect way is, of course, to have someone contest against the top leader and, if that someone manages to get a sizeable percentage of votes, it would be a very strong signal that most members want Gerakan out of BN."

Since there is an obvious conflicting statements between Dr Lim Keng Yaik and other leaders in the party, I believe a referendum is the best way for the party to feel the pulse of its grassroots. Any leadership which does not listen to its grassroots will eventually be thrown out.

So, it looks like Gerakan delegates will get a final chance to decide their party's future - to stay in BN and experience a trip into oblivion or take the SAPP way to autonomous. SAPP's President Yong Teck Lee announced enthusiastically, "We are finally free from BN!". It has opened a new chapter for his party.
Posted by Khoo Kay Peng at 5:41 PM 6 comments
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
PM Abdullah Should Refrain From Using ISA
In his press conference today, PM Abdullah Badawi hinted a possibility of taking strong action against his political opponent Anwar Ibrahim. 'He has become a threat to the economy and (national) security," he said.

And when asked what action the government would take against him, Abdullah refused to reveal his cards, saying: "I will not indicate what plan I will take, what I do will be in the best interests of the people and the country."

I agree with the editorial observation of Malaysiakini: "Using the ISA against Anwar would undoubtedly have severe repercussions but such a move would not come as a surprise after three individuals, including an opposition politician, were nabbed under the draconian law last Friday."

Anwar Ibrahim is not a national threat although his recent political moves have threaten to disintegrate UMNO and BN. Abdullah is besieged by internal and external demands to step down as an indirect results.

Our national security is not synonymous with BN's security. I hope the premier is wise enough not to initiate the use of such draconian act on his hugely popular opponent.

On the contrary, the use of ISA against Anwar will have a negative effect on the state of national security. Abdullah has brushed aside Anwar's threat of taking over the federal government as mere lies and mind games. If so, why would he take the threat of Anwar so seriously until it demands the use of ISA?

His statement here, which borders a threat on Anwar's personal freedom, is worrying and serious.

If Abdullah does not want to go down in history as the one who initiates the downfall of BN and UMNO, he should refrain from using the ISA in the midst of very negative public sentiment towards its use on RPK, Teresa and Tan.
Posted by Khoo Kay Peng at 4:59 PM 14 comments
Transition Intact?

The Malaysian Insider headlines scream - "Pak Lah, Najib swap portfolios, transition intact. " In reality, the transition plan looks shaky. It appears that PM Abdullah is facing a lot of internal pressure from his party's supreme council members to hasten the transition of power.

The swapping of portfolios between him and his deputy Najib Razak will not help to abate the pressure he is facing to step down. He might have gotten Najib's consent and commitment to uphold the transition plan but the reality is he has yet to commit to stepping down earlier than June 2010. This is what demanded by factions opposing him staying in power, chiefly Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Hence, the transition looks intact to both Abdullah and Najib supporters but also help to draw up battle lines between his tag team (with Najib) against the Ku Li-Muhyiddin's tag team if Dr M can have his way.

Abdullah said: "I will continue to offer myself as president of Umno and Najib for deputy president."

We should expect a fight for the top two positions at the coming UMNO General Assembly. It appears now that Najib's fate is tied to Abdullah's. Since the 8th March general election, Najib's star power appears to be waning.

His influence and credibility was further eroded at the Permatang Pauh by-election. Najib was the campaign director in an election which saw Anwar Ibrahim return to parliament by a higher majority than his wife, PKR President Wan Azizah, at the 8th March election.

There are several questions left unanswered in this recent portfolios swap:

1) How can the swap help to calm opposing factions in UMNO who want Abdullah to step down immediately?

2) How will the swap help to strengthen UMNO as a party and BN as a coalition?

3) Will the swap enhance the confidence of finance market and help boost investors' confidence?

4) Will this swap appease both Dr Mahathir and Ku Li?

5) Will the swap turn around the fortunes of BN and help to restore other BN component parties?

6) Will the swap blocks Anwar's permanently from wresting power?

7) Will Najib's commitment to the transition plan weakens or strengthens his position in UMNO? He may be considered too lame and weak to ask Abdullah to make way for him to rejuvenate UMNO.

The portfolios swap has put UMNO on a brink of serious power tussle leading to next month's division meetings and the party elections in December.
Hours after the press conference, bickering between Najib and Abdullah supporters have started. I just received a text message informing me of the Malaysian Insider news break:
"Fyi, Najib ppl very upset with Malaysian Insider spin. Please see this when Najib boys have asked to pass on: Friends! Story on Malaysian Insider that Dato' Sri Najib agree (sic) to stick to 2010 plan is NOT TRUE!! It is a 4th floor spin meant to confuse the restless ground. Dato Sri Najib tidak berganjak dari pendirian bahawa bahagian2 tentukan peralihan kuasa. Ini psy war untuk melemahkan semangat penyokong arus perubahan. Please spread the word!
When is Najib part of the movement for change? If he is, can he use his influence to free all ISA detainees who are being detained illegally and unjustly? Can Najib end corruption and racial politics?
Posted by Khoo Kay Peng at 4:11 PM 3 comments
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
The Significance of Sept 16th

Today, I received a number of text messages and anxious calls from friends and colleagues. Most of them asked the same question, "Did Anwar do it?" The answer is still hazy and unclear. But what is for sure today is clearly not his day.

Anwar, in a press conference, claims that he has the number to form the next government but would like to meet up with PM Abdullah to plan for a peaceful transition. Fair enough, I believe since defections are unavoidable it is his responsibility to ensure there is a smooth transition of power.

But Abdullah has rejected the idea of meeting up with Anwar to discuss transition of power. Instead, the premier also challenged Anwar to reveal the names of the alleged Barisan Nasional defectors. Abdullah has missed a golden opportunity to catch Anwar telling a big fat lie. He should have agreed to meet up with Anwar and then expose his intention to negotiate power sharing with him.

By turning down Anwar's request to meet up with him, Abdullah is again conceding more psychological grounds to his opponent. Both are prominent leaders and I am sure none of them is willing to stake it all in this high risk mind game.

I would like to URGE Abdullah to accept Anwar's request to meet up and kill the rumour of defections once and for all. By doing so, he is helping our political situation to calm down and allow the current government to function properly.

Since Anwar would probably missed his Sept 16th deadline, I am sure many of you would not be holding back to call him a failure. However, the reactions from the government over the last few days proved otherwise. I am not sure if Anwar is a total failure. He has definitely employed the right political strategy to get what he wanted for his party.

First, UMNO is surely cracking up and factions are emerging within the party making internal threats more dangerous to Abdullah than external ones. Dr M is making a comeback which is seen as a desperate last minute move to dethrone Abdullah and block Anwar from taking over federal government. According to Ahirudin Attan (Rockybru), both Dr M and Ku Li have teamed up to form the "Dream Team".

Funny, USA's basketball dream team was defeated in the 2004 Olympics. So, not all dream teams are equally potent. Frictions have started to emerge and some voices have called for the mid-2010 leadership transition plan to be reconsidered by the delegates. Others are not happy that the transition was decided by merely two persons.

Second, the government was obviously pushed to the limit and was forced to use the ISA on 3 political detainees - the last straw which broke Zaid Ibrahim's nerve. The highly regarded de-facto law minister Zaid resigned yesterday and his move was a major blow to Abdullah's reforms agenda. Both Abdullah and Zaid were not consulted on the use of ISA. Logically, a law minister should have been consulted on the use of right legislation on the three detainees.

Many who know Teresa, Tan and RPK would laugh at the idea that they are national threats. Teresa and Tan are docile looking women who are anything but a national threat. RPK may occasional bark louder than he bites but has never been involved in any plot to harm the nation.

Third, the sending of 50 BN backbenchers to Taiwan for a field trip has made the BN government a laughing stock. Why only Taiwan if the intention was to a study trip? News reports of BN MPs making abrupt hotel transfer at midnight and wee hours in the morning made Taiwanese proud that we have finally adopted their political tactics.

The fear of Sept 16th materialising is freaking out the ruling party. The more they react the more mistakes they will commit. This is precisely Anwar's game plan. The outcome is a loss of confidence of Malaysian public in their government. Such outcome is going to push away even more MPs from the BN to make a leap of faith knowing that their political career may not last beyond the next general election.

The emphasis given to Sept 16th is symbolic and yet potent to attract and fire the imagination of many people especially East Malaysians. By making the Sept 16th his rally point and a deadline for change, Anwar wants Malaysians to make a psychological leap and break all current socio-political boundaries erected by the present regime.

This date marks the birth of the nation - Malaysia. Anwar's New Malaysian Agenda talks about a new framework for nation building including the abolishment of draconian laws, the New Economic Policy, the promotion of a truly multiracial coalition and others. BN's reluctance to accept the full significance of Sept 16th has irked many parties especially Sabahans and Sarawakians who are seeking for a fairer treatment and a full reinstatement of the 20-point agreement made between them and Malaya.

This renewed awareness has ignited new dynamics, possibilities and energy for Malaysians to push for true nation building, national identity and a just and equitable society. This awareness cannot be simply erased despite the fact that there is no change of government on this date, Sept 16th, 2008.

If you still think that Anwar Ibrahim is a failure, I suggest that you think harder. Since the 8th March general election, Anwar has merely helped to enhance our awareness on the significance of Sept. 16th and what this date holds for all of us. He has succeeded in his objective.

Through this awareness, we are collectively responsible to ensure that this momentum for change is sustained. This movement for change is going to make this nation a better one that it was previously.

This date will strengthen our resolve to fight racism, corruption, power abuse and unfairness in our society.

Is Anwar still a failure?

Posted by Khoo Kay Peng at 9:21 PM 8 comments
Last of the Malaysian in UMNO

De facto Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim has tendered his resignation over the government's use of the Internal Security Act, which allows detention without trial, against three individuals (Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Tan Hoon Cheng and Teresa Kok) last week.

Zaid, who is the former Kota Baru MP, was made a senator and named as minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of legal affairs during the cabinet reshuffle by premier Abdullah in March. His appointment was lauded by many quarters as it was seen as a gesture by the prime minister to put in place judicial reforms.

Zaid lamented, however, that the latest ISA arrests had dealt a blow to his six-month-long task of trying to regenerate the judiciary.The minister also conceded that his views on certain matters do not go down well with his cabinet colleagues.

Seen as a liberal in the party, Zaid has espouses his non-communal views in his book "In Good Faith". Critics sang praises for his views, "Zaid asserts that we should go beyond mere tolerating to embracing and celebrating our differences (“Pluralism and Democracy in Malaysia”). This is the only way for a plural society like Malaysia to survive and indeed thrive."

On justice, he said: “If we continue to put ourselves in reverse gear by departing from democratic principles, we will continue to fall behind other countries.” He added, “Democratic and civil values are not new novel concepts, alien to Malaysians! In fact, strong subscription to these values propelled us to where we are today.”

Zaid Ibrahim is probably the last Malaysian left in communal centric UMNO. His resignation, although may be seen as trivial to leaders of UMNO, is a great loss to the party. He may be the last drop in the reservoir of hope for a change in UMNO.
Selamat Hari Malaysia!
Posted by Khoo Kay Peng at 12:57 AM 3 comments
Sept. 16: Trust Anwar or Abdullah?
I was watching PR's ceramah live online until a permanent distruption at about 11pm. In Anil's blog:

“We have the numbers,” says Anwar. “We are ready.” Pakatan leaders have written to the PM calling for the release of all ISA detainees and for the smooth transition of power. “The process has begun,” confirms a senior PKR leader. “Tomorrow, emissaries are going to try and meet the PM, and if that doesn’t materialise, Anwar will start the process.”

Abdullah's immediate response:

Anwar's claim was immediately panned by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and other Barisan Nasional leaders. Abdullah scoffed at the Opposition's plans, saying it was "a nuisance" and "preposterous." He said the people had become very uneasy with this “naughty” speculation that the government would be toppled.

It does not matter who is telling the truth and who is not. The answer will be out in the open when we greet a new day on 16th September.

Meanwhile, it is more alarming for BN to look deeper into its own coalition dynamics instead of being over worried of a possible threat from PR. If BN does disintegrate, the leadership only has itself to blame for a spate of unpopular and selective measures.

Being leader a governing coalition for the last 51 years, UMNO has lost its sense and sensibility. On the 9th May, I wrote an opinion piece in The Star urging the PM to keep up the pace of reform and hinted that the only way for BN to win back support is by being more people oriented. It has to ditch communal politics.

Of course, there was no reaction to the article. A number of friends called to say that this article contained important messages they wanted to send to the government too. I was glad I helped to convey this message.

The outcome of sticking to status-quo is clear. UMNO is still more interested in maintaining its race centric political dominance. Its priority became clearer when PAS leaked out secret meetings held between its leaders and PM Abdullah Badawi to talk about Malay-Muslim unity. It was clear to many of its BN component parties' leaders what was UMNO's priority immediately after BN suffered heavy casualties in the last elections.

UMNO did not take immediate steps to restore its coalition partnership. After the Permatang Pauh incident, it became clear that the party has made a big mistake by continuing to ignore its multiracial support base but its Malay ground did not grow stronger despite all that communal chest beating and slogan shouting by its leaders.

Now the matter involving Ahmad Ismail, Azhar Ibrahim and lately Khir Toyo has grown large enough to consume UMNO. Its non-Malay support may vanish for a long time. This outcome will not go down well with parties such as MCA, Gerakan, MIC, PPP, SUPP and others who are dependent on the support from minorities to sustain their political relevance.

After the recent ISA detentions, Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar showed us the reality of BN's credibility deficit. The minister has given 3 conflicting statements in less than 3 days. First, he said the detention was for reporter Tan's own safety. Then, he pushed the blame to the police and asked them to explain the detentions. Today, he admitted he signed the detention orders and argued that it was justified when Tan wrote about her 18 hours ordeal in detention.

Syed Hamid Albar is an embarrassment to the BN cabinet and a bad role model to the government. However, PM Abdullah deserves to shoulder some part of the blame for being ignorant and lost in the whole event. Did he approve the detentions? If not, he should immediately suspend Syed Hamid from his cabinet position.

The perpetrators Ahmad Ismail and Khir Toyo remain defiant. Coupled this with UMNO's selective use of ISA to persecute its political opponents and double standards against its own members, it is fair to say that it is going to self destruct.

The reality is Anwar Ibrahim alone could not have destroyed the coalition if it had started on the right foot immediately after the 8th March general election.

A power transition in UMNO, with Dr Mahathir's involvement, is not going to help the party or the coalition.
Posted by Khoo Kay Peng at 12:18 AM 5 comments
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Oppose and Yet Not Oppose
MCA Youth leader and Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai should really make up his mind on the use of ISA. He opposes the use of ISA against reporter Tan Hoon Cheng but was dilly dally when asked about its use against both Raja Petra and Teresa Kok.

What is Liow's stand on ISA? Is he willing to oppose the use of ISA only if he feels it is politically safe to do so. If he opposes the use of draconian law against a commoner or Malaysian, then he should learn to be fair and impartial like his colleague, Zaid Ibrahim.

Zaid has threatened to resign if the government continues to use the Internal Security Act, which allows detention without trial, against political dissidents.

It is either you oppose the use of ISA or you don't. Liow should not be selective in his stand. It is NOT OK to use it on both RPK and Teresa Kok.

I hope more BN leaders will oppose the use of ISA as a tool to silence political opponents.
Posted by Khoo Kay Peng at 8:33 PM 22 comments
"Dream Team"? In Your Dream, Not Mine

According to Ahirudin Attan (better known as Rockybru) in his article in My Paper, a faction within Umno is working overtime to form what one insider (or a spinmaster?) calls "the Dream Team".

It would reunite two of the biggest rivals Umno has ever seen - Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. The team would include Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, Dr Mahathir's son,who will run for Umno Youth chief. Others include Rais Yatim and Muhyiddin.

Rocky's sources said Mr Najib was so worried that he sought an appointment to see Dr Mahathir. They met early this week. There have been no press reports on the meeting, but my paper understands that Dr Mahathir made it clear to Najib that he was "quite committed" to the Dream Team.

I am left wondering why the partnership between Ku Li and Dr M is known as the 'Dream Team'. Ku Li, until now, has been quite rhetorical about his vision to lead UMNO. There is no definite answers to the direction he intends to lead UMNO and BN in the future.
What is his position on the NEP, subsidy structure, civil service, education, BN partnership formula, interethnic relations and others?
If he intends to get the support of Dr M, he should know it does not come cheap. With Dr M behind the scene, it is not known how long this liaison can last. Do you expect the grand old master to simply keep quiet and hand's off to let Ku Li running the entire show without imposing his will?

Already, in his wish list is his son, Mukhriz, nomination as the Youth Chief. Mukhriz is best remembered for his anti-war NGO (Peace Malaysia) which has been quite active in the Middle East. He heads Ansara, a Malay professionals' association. Mukhriz is a staunch supporter of Dr M's legacy in UMNO.

Apart from his occasional political statements on Abdullah's incompetency, I have not really seen anything substantial from Mukhriz.

But we have seen and experienced a lot of Dr M even until today. He simply cannot go away. Malaysian voters had given him the best sent off by returning the BN government with a overwhelming parliamentary majority (92%) in the 2004 general election.

I am sure we will hear a lot from Ahirudin Attan about this "Dream Team". Only that it was my yesterday's bad dream. I am looking for something less scary in the future.

Picture courtesy of bigdogdotcom.
Posted by Khoo Kay Peng at 1:28 AM 9 comments
Saturday, September 13, 2008
BN Consensus Fails!

Only days ago, the BN Supreme Council held a meeting to discuss consensus building and a code of ethics for all members in its bid to control racist and sensitive sentiments in the coalition.

Yesterday, PM Abdullah Badawi and Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar have shown to us that the BN consensus is DEAD.

It is unthinkable for the duo to approve the use of ISA against Raja Petra Kamaruddin, Teresa Kok and Tan Hoon Cheng without consulting the cabinet which is the highest executive body. Did Abdullah consult his other coalition partners, knowing that his action will affect them badly?

Clearly, it is NO longer tenable for the coalition to exists if UMNO continues with its solo act and in the process hurt innocent victims with their action.

I would like to URGE Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar to resign immediately for his total incompetence and insensitivity. This is the same minister who had instructed the police to mount roadblocks when Anwar was present in the parliament causing massive traffic jams throughout Klang Valley.
Earlier, he said that the ISA was used on Tan to protect her 'safety'. This is the most preposterous justification. She could be warned or given police protection. Where is the threat coming from? Why didn't the police arrest the perpetrators who are threatening her safety instead of detaining her under ISA? The use of ISA here shows that Syed Hamid Albar is NOT FIT to become the Home Minister.

DAP should mull a legal action against the government and the police for using the ISA against MP Teresa Kok without a valid justification. MP Teresa Kok has provided exemplary leadership and is a good role model for Malaysian women. At all times, she has acted responsibly in her speeches and parliamentary conduct.

Syed Hamid Albar said today that Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng could be released as soon as today. We want him to RELEASE the two other detainees or charge them in court IMMEDIATELY.

The government's failure in ensuring a just and fair governance has made me change my mind about crossovers. We cannot ignore the possibility of Malaysia turning into a failed nation if this irresponsible behavior from the government were to continue.

We MAY have to support a change of the Federal Government as a last resort to heal the country.

Please, please stop sending smses and emails calling the Chinese to unite against the Malays. THIS IS NOT A RACIAL CHALLENGE. RPK is a Malay royalty. Similarly, we have stood up for him.

This is a CHALLENGE against our DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS and MALAYSIANS OF ALL RACES must stand up to defend our sacred rights.


Focus on getting massive support from all Malaysians, friends of Malaysia and our RIGHTMINDED MPS and Assemblymen who are truly Malaysians to stand on our side.
Posted by Khoo Kay Peng at 3:50 PM 7 comments
Speak Out Against Treachery
PAS leader Mujahid Yusuf Rawa, who was also at the police station, did not mince his words in arguing that Ahmad should be the one detained under ISA and "not the journalist who reported what he had said".

I have called up a few of our Malay MPs and assemblymen for help and assistance. We need you to speak against the treachery against the 3 persons, RPK, Teresa Kok and Tan Hoon Cheng, by our government.

I have asked the diplomatic community to speak up too through my friend in the diplomatic circle.

All Malaysians MUST SPEAK UP against this treachery. The selective use of ISA against political opponents is most despicable.
Posted by Khoo Kay Peng at 1:20 AM 6 comments
Abdullah Badawi's Tainted Hands
The Abdullah's Administration has resorted to the use of a draconian law, ISA, to detain even more people without any valid reason or justification.

Earlier, he told Bernama that the government will not use the Internal Security Act (ISA) without concrete reason, and this was so in the detention of blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin. Detentions under the ISA were carried out only after the government was convinced that there was a threat to security and public order.

What did MP and Selangor Exco Teresa Kok do to deserve an arrest under Section 73 (1) if the ISA Friday? It was clear that Khir Toyo had played up mischeviously the 'azan' issue. Is there any action taken against Azhar Ibrahim, Ahmad Ismail, Khir Toyo and others?

Is Sin Chew Daily News reporter Tan Hoon Cheng a national security threat when she was arrested from her home in Taman Permai in Bukit Mertajam at 8.30pm?

Only an obvious HIDDEN agenda by the Abdullah administration can explain why it took such drastic and unpopular action against the trio - RPK, Teresa Kok and Tan Hoon Cheng.

Since the hidden agenda is NOT A SECRET. We should NOT ALLOW them to GET WHAT THEY WANTED.

Stay calm. Do not go to the street or organise any street protests.

I would like to urge all non-UMNO BN component parties' leaders to demand PM Abdullah to release the trio immediately if they still care for the nation's democracy. The current situation is totally untenable.

Earlier, I told a diplomat that it is ingenious for the government to choose a Friday to detain RPK. This coming weekend is the most crucial for all of us.

We must not fall into the trap laid by our own government. It is supposed to protect the people but it has chosen to protect its own cronies and racist leaders.

This is an act of thuggery.


Please help spread this message to all your friends, through your blogs, text messages etc.

Do not react in any way which may help this recalcitrant government to announce emergency rule.

We deserve BETTER!
Posted by Khoo Kay Peng at 1:00 AM 5 comments
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Khoo Kay Peng
Gender: Male
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Occupation: Strategy Consultant/Policy Analyst
Location: Selangor : Malaysia
About Me
Kay Peng is an economics graduate from the University of Malaya. He pursued his postgraduate master's in International Relations at the University of Warwick, UK. He is a British Chevening scholar. Kay Peng is a corporate consultant and an independent political analyst. He is often invited to speak at various forums, corporate events and workshops. He co-authors the book on "Non-Sectarian Politics in Malaysia: The Case of Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia". His views, articles and comments are carried by many local and foreign news agencies, newspapers, magazines, TV & radio stations. A 'Anak Malaysia', he advocates a non-racial society and a good governance. Contact Kay Peng at kpkhoo at

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Khoo Kay Peng
Kay Peng is an economics graduate from the University of Malaya. He pursued his postgraduate master's in International Relations at the University of Warwick, UK. He is a British Chevening scholar. Kay Peng is a corporate consultant and an independent political analyst. He is often invited to speak at various forums, corporate events and workshops. He co-authors the book on "Non-Sectarian Politics in Malaysia: The Case of Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia". His views, articles and comments are carried by many local and foreign news agencies, newspapers, magazines, TV & radio stations. A 'Anak Malaysia', he advocates a non-racial society and a good governance. Contact Kay Peng at kpkhoo at
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