Thursday, May 30, 2013

BN's First Broken Promise: No Cheaper Cars

Under pressure from the Pakatan Rakyat’s manifesto to reduce car excise duties by 20% annually to lower the cost of car ownership in Malaysia, BN had responded in their manifesto that they’ll do the same before the election.  UMNO President, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak announced that if BN is returned to power, it will “revamp the National Automotive Policy to gradually reduce car prices by 20 to 30 per cent and increasing the competitiveness of the national cars.”

However yesterday, the Minister of International Trade and Industries, Dato’ Mustapa Mohamed, in charge of automotive policies formally announced that car prices will only be reduced after another 5 years and not in the near term.  In effect, the BN Government is telling Malaysians that they can stop dreaming of cheaper cars over the next 5 years, and if car prices were to drop at all, it’ll be after the 14th General Election.

The Minister gave the most beat-about-the-bush answer about how the Government was planning to reduce car prices by claiming that “prices will be reduced in accordance with market forces... with the move expected to enhance the competitiveness and productivity of industry players.”

What “market forces” are we talking about when the real reasons why our car prices in Malaysia are substantially higher than that of other countries are because Government taxes and protection for the inefficient local car companies!

If “market forces” could not bring down car prices over the past 20 years, we would like Dato’ Mustapa Mohamed to explain in detail, exactly why Malaysians should believe him that in the next five years, these same “market forces” will suddenly be able to result in a 20% to 30% drop in prices after 5 years.

Dato’ Mustapa also tried to deflect the issue by warning that “reducing excise duty and car prices in one go would have a serious impact on the industry, which offers 200,000 job opportunities, and could lead to closure of businesses.”  Mustapa also stressed that it would be difficult to sell new cars as the prices of second-hand cars would also drop.

Dato’ Mustapa’s arguments are completely flawed. Firstly, because Pakatan did not seek an immediate removal of all excise duties but a staggered 20% reduction annually over 5 years.  This gradual reduction of excise duties will in effect result in approximately 4-5% reduction in car prices annually.  Hence the impact on the 2nd hand car dealers will be very limited.

Worse, even if BN is only able to achieve a 20% reduction in car prices in 5 years time, the same 2nd hand car problem will arise!

Secondly, Dato’ Mustapa must have failed his economics because a reduction in taxes will not result in loss of job opportunities.  Pakatan Rakyat is not asking the car companies to cut prices which will eat into their profits, which may in turn affect employment in the industry.  Pakatan Rakyat was asking to reduce government excise duties which will have zero impact on the car companies' profits and hence their workers' employment.  On the other hand, the reduction in excise duties will increase real disposable income for the average Malaysian and generate demand and economic activities in other key sectors of the economy.

The Minister even tried to scare Malaysians that cheaper cars will cause the trip from Shah Alam to Kuala Lumpur to take 3 hours due to greater traffic jam, which will then “cause” the construction of more “tolled highways”.  Dato’ Mustapa, who is typically more rational and intelligent, when compared to his cabinet colleagues has seriously outdone himself here.

The ownership of cars in Klang Valley has already exceeded the 1:1 ratio despite the substantially higher cost of cars, is entirely because the BN government has completely neglected the public transport sector over the past 50 years.  Malaysians are forced to buy pricey cars not out of choice, because the BN government is more interested to protect its crony car manufacturers who are unable to compete internationally and to enrich its toll concessionaires with uber-lucrative highway privatisation contracts.

We believe that this breach of a key manifesto promise by BN, prominently highlighted during the election campaign by the mainstream media will only be the first of many broken promises to come from Barisan Nasional.  There is no political will to transform the current crony economy which is suffering from excessive protection, inefficiency and corruption.

Instead, BN will use every excuse to tax Malaysians directly via multiple channels such as car excise duties and the Goods & Services Tax (GST), or indirectly via lucrative privatised utilities or highway concessions. Taxing the rakyat more, while maintaining the existing duties are the only means by which the BN government will be able to continue funding its largesse and excesses.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

MAHB "Liars" Over KLIA2 Fiasco

Pakatan brands MAHB as 'liars' over KLIA2 delay

Ram Anand
12:05PM May 27, 2013

Pakatan Rakyat had demanded that the Transport Ministry and Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad (MAHB) disclose the delay and cost of the construction of the new KLIA2 low cost terminal, which has been delayed indefinitely.

Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua and Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar branded MAHB as "incompetent liars" for saying that the terminal will be completed by June this year in a statement released in March, only to state after the elections that it has been delayed indefinitely.

Pua pointed out that the cost of construction for the terminal - which was initially scheduled to be completed in September 2011 - had already escalated to RM4 billion in 2012 from RM1.7 billion when it was first announced.

"We won't be surprised if the cost reaches RM5 billion by the time it’s completed," Pua said, adding that he would not be surprised if the airport is actually completed only by June next year.

"They are missing the date here by at least six months," he further added.

Apart from demanding for the exact cost and deadline of construction, Pua and Nurul Izzah said that they will also seek a meeting with acting Transport Minister Hishamuddin Hussein in the near future.

“We had tried to meet the previous transport minister Kong Cho Ha several times before, since we raised this issue in 2011, but the meetings never took place. Now we will ask for an explanation from the new transport minister,” Pua said.

'Delay caused by shift in terminal location'

He said that inside sources have informed him that the delay in construction was caused by the shift in the location of the terminal, a decision that Pua had disputed in the past.

Pua had said in the past that the new location for the terminal, which is also in Sepang, is on land that is not feasible and could escalate construction costs.

And he said sources have confirmed that the nature of the land is contributing to the delay in construction.

Nurul Izzah said that the prolonged delay in completing the terminal could also affect the country’s reputation as new low-cost airlines such as Malindo Air were supposed to use the terminal beginning May this year.

They also showed images of the terminal construction taken earlier this month, with only the runway being completed but the terminal still being built.

“We have said in March itself that this project cannot be completed by the said deadline,” Pua said.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Himpunan Kesyukuran Pakatan Rakyat

Pakatan Rakyat akan teruskan bantahan terhadap PRU13 yang tidak bersih dan adil. Pada masa yang sama, kami juga ingin mengucapkan terima kasih kepada pengundi-pengundi kerana telah memberikan sokongan yang cukup hebat kepada Pakatan Rakyat di Wilayah Persekutuan dan Selangor.

Di Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan, Pakatan Rakyat bukan sahaja berjaya mempertahankan kuasa di negeri Selangor, kami telah meningkatkan jumlah kerusi dan juga majoriti yang diperolehi oleh calon-calon kami.

DAP Wilayah Persekutuan dan Selangor akan menganjurkan satu Himpunan Kesyukuran Pakatan Rakyat dengan butir-butir seperti berikut:
Tarikh: 23hb Mei 2013 (Khamis)
Masa: 7 malam
Tempat: Padang Timur, Petaling Jaya (hadapan Amcorp Mall)
Penceramah termasuklah Lim Kit Siang, Nurul Izzah Anwar, Khalid Samad, Zaid Ibrahim, Tamrin Ghafar, Teresa Kok, Teng Chang Khim, Tony Pua dan lain-lain.

Kami juga ingin mengucapkan terima kasih kepada Pihak Polis Diraja Malaysia kerana telah memberikan kerjasama untuk menjalankan Himpunan Kesyukuran Pakatan Rakyat pada 23hb Mei (Khamis) 7 malam di Padang Timur secara lancar.

Pihak polis akan membantu mengawal trafik dan telah mencadangkan supaya para hadirin menggunakan tempat letak kereta yang sedia ada yang ditunjukkan dalam peta di bawah.

Untuk mengurangkan kesesakan jalanraya lagi, kami menggalakkan para hadirin menggunakan sistem LRT Taman Jaya.

Why Declare Assets only to MACC?

DAP elected representatives are prepared to declare assets publicly if the ruling is made an act of law but we are not agreeable to only a secret declaration to MACC

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission's (MACC) Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel has proposed that all elected representatives in Parliament and state assemblies should declare their assets to it every three years, "to ensure integrity in government administration".

In principle, the DAP completely agrees that the declaration of assets by elected representatives of the parliament and state assemblies is a positive move “to ensure integrity”, to increase scrutiny and to curb corruption.

However, given MACC’s complete lack of credibility and its penchance to act as the cat’s paw of the ruling Barisan Nasional government, we cannot agree to the terms to rely on MACC as the sole arbiter of whether an elected representative is living beyond his means.

The MACC has proven over the past 5 years that it is not competent in investigating and uncovering corruption among the ‘big fishes’ entrenched in the ruling party.  Worse, the MACC has been completely impartial in its actions by targetting only Pakatan Rakyat representatives.  The MACC went on a witch hunt in Selangor, seizing files from the state government and raiding the offices of it state assemblymen without basis or justification in the hope of securing evidence of corruption or abuse of power.

The assistant of state executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, Teoh Beng Hock was even hauled up with his rights denied overnight on the 14th floor of the Selangor MACC office over the purchase of Malaysian flags for the amount of RM2,400.  While MACC has closed the files because there was absolutely no case against Ean Yong, Teoh’s life has been sacrificed as a result, having been found dead on the 5th floor of the MACC.  What is most galling is the fact that the officers directly responsible for Teoh’s death have since been promoted for their deeds.

There was also the attempt by MACC to tarnish the image of Selangor Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim just before the Hulu Selangor by-elections.  The then MACC Chief Commissioner, Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan had declared publicly that the MACC had evidence of the Menteri Besar’s corruption.

The cases were so incredulous, where Tan Sri Khalid was accused of corruption because of donation of cattles to local mosques to celebrate Hari Raya Haji as well as petrol claims for using his personal vehicle as the official state car.  The accusations have since been withdrawn, and the MACC has cleared Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim of any wrong-doing.

In fact, Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan was forced to apologise publicly to Tan Sri Khalid for his false accusations which have damaged the latter’s reputation.

It is clear that the MACC, while “independent” on paper, serves only the political interest of Barisan Nasional.  As a result, any declaration of assets solely to MACC is a pointless exercise as MACC will only scrutinise the assets of Pakatan Rakyat representatives and not that of Barisan Nasional.

The elected representatives of DAP are not fearful of public scrutiny and are prepared to declare assets publicly. We challenge the MACC Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel to advice the Prime Minister to require all elected representatives to declare their assets.  And if the Panel finds such a requirement too onerous, it should at the very least require all Federal Ministers as well as State Executive Councillors to declare assets publicly.

All DAP elected representatives have signed an Integrity Pledge on the 11th May 2013 at our National Conference of Elected Representatives, which included a clause for the “public declaration of assets once appointed to executive positions of Government” whether in the Federal or State levels.  I for one, am prepared to declare assets publicly because I know whatever assets that is in my possession is earned honestly without a single sen obtained from the tax-payers’ money via corrupt means.

Anything less that a commitment to a blanket public declaration of assets by the Prime Minister as well as the MACC will prove that they lack the sincerity to tackle corruption, particularly by those in power in this country.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

PM Must Prove He Wil Stop Racism

Instead of a “national reconciliation” pronounced by the Prime Minister on the night of election, what we are witnessing today is the “national aggravation” of race-relations by all UMNO and BN-related machinery, particularly the Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia and Umno’s team of bloggers and cyber-troopers.

The situation, with absolutely no restraint from UMNO President, Datuk Seri Najib Razak himself, is spiralling out of control, worsening race-relations to its lowest ebb in recent decades.

Utusan Malaysia takes a completely racist position when defending UMNO over BN’s worst ever electoral performance in history, placing the blame squarely and entirely on the Chinese community.  The newspaper kicked off its tirade with the inflammatory headline “Apa lagi Cina mau?”.  It has since on a daily basis, inundated its readers with racist quotes from UMNO and NGO leaders chiding the Chinese for being ingrates such as the quote from Dr Mahathir who claimed that “the Chinese has rejected the Malays’ hand of friendship”.

Utusan Malaysia has gone one to attack the CEO of AirAsiaX, Azran Othman who had gone on record to say “I am Malaysian. I am anti-racism. I am disgusted by Utusan’s editorial stance.”  Utusan Malaysia now accuses Azran of being “anti-Malay”, “having forgotten his roots” and an ingrate towards presumably Umno and Utusan, for contributing for his achievements today.  It has become shocking how those who stand against racism are being vilified in the mainstream media owned by Umno and Barisan Nasional.

Now the Umno-owned media are playing up the call to boycott “Chinese-owned” goods and services by Umno bloggers, cyber-troopers and Umno-linked NGOs.  Muslim Consumers Association Malaysia (PPIM) for example, had recently called for consumers to boycott or at the very least buy goods sold by Chinese companies last.

While the new Domestic Trade, Consumerism and Cooperatives Minister, Datuk Hasan Malek has stated that the Government will not endorse such a call, he has at the same time said that it is these organisations’ right to make the boycott call as it is a free country.  Such a lame response to a racist attempt to divide the nation certainly leaves much to be desired.  It is certainly true that people can choose to be racist, but it is the moral duty of the Government to demonstrate leadership by discouraging and rebuking such racist actions and causes.

Pakatan Rakyat call upon all Malaysians to not only frown upon racist calls – whether to boycott “Chinese” goods, or to discriminate against “Malay” companies – but to stand up against racism because regardless of whether the goods were produced by Chinese or Malays or Indians, we are all Malaysians.

Unlike the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who likes to keep his “elegant silence”, Pakatan Rakyat leaders will not hesitate to condemn attempts to divide the country through racism or religious bigotry.  We have proven that in the recently concluded General Election, Malaysians of all races have increased their support for Pakatan Rakyat, and not only the Chinese and we have called for the results not to be racialised.

Hence we call upon the Prime Minister to demonstrate his sincerity in “1Malaysia” by breaking his silence and condemn the racist developments in the country before his reign becomes recorded in history as the one which caused Malaysians to be the most racially divided.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Selangor Voters Snubs Najib's Water "Promise"

In the interest of Selangorians, Datuk Seri Najib Razak must now instruct the new Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister, Datuk Maximus Ongkili to immediately press for the return of the water concessions to the Selangor state government

The battle for Selangor in the last General Election was fought on one crucial platform – the control of water in the state.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak who personally headed the BN machinery in Selangor campaigned vigourously in the state for the people to return BN into government to “solve Selangor’s water crisis”.

Pakatan Rakyat, led by Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim offered his vision for water services in Selangor where the control is returned to the state government, the rights to water to her people.  Pakatan Rakyat has argued vehemently that essential services such as the provision of water should not be conceded to private companies which the sole interest of maximising profits.

We can see the consequences reflected in Subang Jaya today where the residents have been suffering for the 4th day now without water supply due to Syabas incompetence and lack of maintenance.  In the water concession agreement, the obligation of maintaining the treated water reservoirs, as well as replacing broken and old pipes lay completely with SYABAS.  Their failure to fulfil their obligations have caused repeated water shortages all over the Klang Valley over the past few months.

Despite the massive onslaught by BN led by the Prime Minister himself, the outcome of the 13th GE in Selangor has proven Najib’s utter and complete failure in making any in roads in the state.  Not only did Najib not manage to recapture Selangor, BN lost additional 8 seats, allowing Pakatan Rakyat to capture 44 seats and leaving BN with only 12.  In terms of popular support, Pakatan Rakyat Selangor enjoyed a 4% increase in popular votes from 55.4% in 2008 to 59.4% in 2013 confirming that we have won over our doubters in 2008 with our policies and administration.

Datuk Seri Najib’s defeat meant that the people of Selangor has spoken, and that they have no confidence in the BN federal government in resolving the water crisis.  It is also an outright rejection of the mega-project proposed by BN, the Langat 2 water treatment plant which is expected to cost in excess of RM8 billion, inclusive of the Pahang-Selangor tunnel as well as land acquisition costs.

Instead, the rakyat have insisted in no uncertain terms, that the privatised water concessions be returned to the state government.  The people of Selangor have also agreed with the state government that there are other much more effective, efficient and cheaper measures which can be taken to increase the water supply in Selangor. They can also see that the current water crisis is caused by or is manufactured by the BN Government.

Given the urgency of the water crisis in Selangor, and the appointment of a new Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister, Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili, we call upon the Prime Minister to instruct Dr Ongkili to exercise the powers vested in him under the Water Services Industry Act (WSIA) 2006 to enforce the return of the water concessions to the state government.

In fact WSIA 2006 empowers the Minister to make decisions in national interest which cannot be challenged in the court of law.
The determination of what amounts to national interest issues arising from the coming into operation of this Act shall be made by the Minister and such determination shall be final and binding upon all persons and shall not be challenged, appealed against, reviewed, quashed or questioned in any court.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak must accept the will of the people of Selangor to have the water concession returned to the state government.  The failure to do so will mean that the Prime Minister is once again snubbing the needs and demands of the people, making a plain joke of his “people first” slogan.

Khairy vs Zahid - Who's Spinning?

Khairy Jamaluddin says Zahid Hamidi’s “leave Malaysia” statement is the latter’s own opinion while Zahid defends his statement – so who’s spinning?

Newly appointed Home Affairs Minister, Datuk Zahid Hamidi told Malaysians in Utusan Malaysia to leave the country if they are not happy with the outcome of the 13th General Election.  He gave the excuse that Malaysia has inherited the first-past-the-post system from the United Kingdom, which is also utilised in many Commonwealth states.  Therefore he argued that despite Pakatan Rakyat achieving 51.78% of the popular vote, our adopted system allows for a party or coalition with lower popular vote to win 60% of the seats in Parliament.

Datuk Zahid Hamidi is in effect demonstrating his utter contempt and arrogance by telling Malaysians who wants to improve our electoral system and prevent blatant abuses via gerrymandering to leave the country.

In the ensuing uproar, first-term and newly appointed Youth and Sports Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin tried to diffuse the controversy by telling reporters that the “leave Malaysia” comment was the UMNO Vice-President and Home Minister’s personal view.  He claimed that it is not the view of Najib’s administration.

However, at the same time, Datuk Zahid Hamidi came out to defend his article claiming there is nothing wrong with his comments because he wasn’t racist.

The statements by these two Ministers makes a complete mockery of Najib’s “new” administration, and leaves Malaysians completely stunned dumbfounded.

First of all, who is Khairy to claim that the “leave Malaysia” comment is Zahid’s personal comment and not that of the Najib administration?  Did Najib appoint Khairy has his official spokesperson to the extent that Khairy can dismiss outright the comments made by the UMNO vice-president?  Or was it instead, only Khairy’s “personal view” that Zahid’s comments was the latter’s personal view?

It appears that Khairy has been completely discredited because the Prime Minister has himself remained completely silent over the issue. Zahid has on the other hand come out with all guns blazing defending his “leave Malaysia” statement, while ignoring the “personal view” issued by Khairy.

Unfortunately Zahid’s only defence for his statement was that he wasn’t making a racist statement. Zahid obviously doesn’t take the criticisms by Malaysians seriously as we never accused him of making a racist statement here.  We are accusing him of being arrogant and contemptous of the rights of Malaysians to a freer and fairer electoral system.

Malaysians are fully aware that the first-past-the-post system does indeed grant disproportionate allocations of seats relative to the percentage popular vote.  However, the system in Malaysia has been abused by BN to the extent where the gap between the constituencies with the least number of voters such as Putrajaya (15,791) and Padang Rengas (28,518) won by BN, compared to those with the biggest population such as Kapar (144,159) and Serdang (133,139) won by Pakatan Rakyat far exceeds acceptable reason.  One will not find such ridiculous discrepancies between constituencies in other advanced first-past-the-post democracies such as United Kingdom or Australia.

This is the reason why hundreds of thousands of Malaysians have gathered in various cities over the past week to demand a better electoral system, be it a fairer distribution of voters in all constituencies or a thoroughly revamped proportional representation system, or a mixture of both as practiced in certain other advanced democracies.  It is the right of ordinary Malaysians to demand free and fair elections.

Datuk Zahid Hamidi’s continued defense of his comments proves that BN does not believe in free and fair elections and will once again use all necessary means to manipulate constituencies in the next general election.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Paul Low Failed First Test of Transparency

In all honesty, I did not have high hopes for the appointment of Transparency International Chairman, Datuk Paul Low as a new Cabinet Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department to bring about significant increase in transparency and reduction in corruption by the Barisan Nasional (BN) Government.  However, I had hoped that I would be proven wrong.

I had hoped to see a newly appointed “Transparency Minister”, who even if he were to fail in ending corruption, cronyism and abuse of power in the BN Government, he would go down fighting for the cause while he is on the job.

However his interviews with the media today, with The Malaysian Insider and Malaysiakini have left me utterly and completely disappointed.  Barely a day into his new job, Datuk Paul Low has started becoming an apologist for, and rationalising why corruption and abuse of power will be difficult to eradicate in the BN administration.

He said that his job was only to make proposals on changes to government systems, procedures and processes to reduce opportunities for corruption, as well as to strengthen integrity and good governance practices.  Responding to calls for a crackdown on corruption, however, he said has no power on the matter and does not control any government agencies and “will help influence public policies where necessary to reduce corruption, including taking suggestions from MACC.”

He has also told the Singapore Straits Times “I am changing a culture and that cannot be done overnight.”

Datuk Paul Low must realise that he is being appointed as a full Minister, and not some paid consultant to the Government. If he as a Minister, have no powers or is not willing to put his foot down to fight corruption and abuse of power, then who will?  Has our Cabinet appointments been reduced to pretty flower vases offering just “proposals… procedures and processes”?

As the Transparency Minister that Malaysians are going to look up to, Datuk Paul Low must stand up against corruption, cronyism and abuse of power and not succumb to the political shackles of his office.  Datuk Paul Low cannot just tell Malaysians that MACC has the power to investigate Tan Sri Taib Mahmud for alleged corruption even if the latter refuses his cooperation.  Malaysians already know that.

What Malaysians want to see is for our new Transparency Minister to show his teeth and tell the Prime Minister in no uncertain terms that the Government cannot have a Chief Minister so tainted by corruption and countless abuse of power.  Malaysians want Datuk Paul Low to openly ask why the MACC has failed to investigate Tan Sri Taib Mahmud who has accumulated excessive amounts of wealth reputed to be in the region of RM45 billion, as estimated by the Bruno Manser Fund.

What hurts the most is for the President of Transparency International to openly defend the refusal by the BN Ministers to disclose their personal wealth using the same tired and unacceptable excuses sung by these same ministers to date.  Datuk Paul Low said that “if you tell the public your kid is worth RM20 million, you put your children at security risk, it’s not fair” and hence “it was sufficient for ministers to declare their assets to the prime minister.”

Firstly, if even the children of Ministers are not safe under the close protection of the Royal Malaysian Police, what chance does the ordinary Malaysians have in avoiding crime?  Secondly, and more importantly, aren’t the integrity and honesty of Cabinet members paramount to ensuring a corrupt-free nation?  And if the child of the Minister is indeed worth RM20 million, don’t Malaysians have a right to ask where the money come from given that a Minister’s pay will never generate that amount of wealth?

What’s more, if the Pakatan Rakyat state executive councillors of Penang and Selangor can publicly disclose their assets, why can’t the BN Ministers do the same, unless they have something dirty to hide?

Datuk Paul Low’s appointment to the Cabinet was perhaps the only “bright spark” in the “same old” list.  However the spark is being quickly doused before the fire has a chance to lit.  Datuk Paul Low needs to be the champion for fighting corruption and cronyism in the Cabinet, and not become the bag carrier and make-up artist for Najib and his merry men.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Zahid Hamidi's Contempt of Malaysian Voters

Newly appointed Home Minister and UMNO Vice-President is doing his very best to block and jeopardise any possibility of Najib’s so-called “national reconciliation”

In a shocking article published in Utusan Malaysia, completely unbecoming of a Home Affairs Minister, Dato’ Seri Zahid Hamidi tells Malaysians who are not happy with the outcome of the 13th General Election to migrate somewhere else with an electoral system which suits their fancies.

In the article, he said that

Jika golongan ini mahu menerima pakai list system atau single transferable vote seperti mana yang digunakan oleh negara-negara republik, sepatutnya mereka berhijrah ke negara-negara berkenaan untuk mempraktikkan kepercayaan politik mereka.

Dato’ Seri Zahid gave the excuse that Malaysia has inherited the first-past-the-post system from the United Kingdom, which is also utilised in many Commonwealth states.

Malaysia mewarisi sistem politik daripada United Kingdom dan kebanyakan negara Komanwel juga menggunakan sistem first past the post yang mana parti-parti politik yang bertanding di kawasan pilihan raya memilih hanya seorang wakil bagi setiap kawasan pengundian yang mengambil kira prinsip undi majoriti mudah.

Therefore he argued that despite Pakatan Rakyat achieving 51.78% of the popular vote, our adopted system allows for a party or coalition with lower popular vote to win the elections.

Dato’ Seri Zahid fails in his argument on 2 separate counts.  Firstly, while the first-past-the-post system does indeed grant disproportionate allocations of seats relative to the percentage popular vote, our electoral boundaries have been excessively corrupted over the past decades.  The gap between the constituencies with the least number of voters such as Putrajaya (15,791) and Padang Rengas (28,518) and those with the biggest population such as Kapar (144,159) and Serdang (133,139) goes to prove that our electoral system is manipulated to give the ruling Barisan Nasional an unfair advantage.  One will not find such ridiculous discrepancies between constituencies in other advanced first-past-the-post democracies such as United Kingdom or Australia.

The evidence is also clear in the fact that the average size of a constituency which Pakatan Rakyat candidates won had 77,655 voters compared to only 46,510 voters for a typical BN constituency.

Secondly, the fact that we have an imperfect electoral system in place is exactly the reason why the people are speaking up and expressing their disappointment and anger at the system.  It is the reason why hundreds of thousands of Malaysians have gathered in various cities over the past week to demand a better electoral system, be it a fairer distribution of voters in all constituencies or a thoroughly revamped proportional representation system, or a mixture of both as practiced in certain other advanced democracies.  It is the right of ordinary Malaysians to demand free and fair elections.

Dato’ Seri Zahid in his article is in effect denying these Malaysians their rights for a system which will better able to reflect the wishes of the citizens of the country.  Such arrogance and contempt by the newly appointed Home Minister and the current UMNO vice-president points to the fact that UMNO-BN has no desire at all to seek “national reconciliation” post the 13th General Election.

His comments also points to the hypocrisy of the new UMNO-BN government which the Prime Minister has promised to be inclusive and “transformative”.  It is the same arrogance and hypocrisy which has caused BN to lose its 2/3 majority in 2008 and the popular vote in 2013.  Such arrogance and hypocrisy will only lead to one inevitable result in the next general election, that is the rakyat will vote overwhelmingly for Pakatan Rakyat to ensure that no amount of cheating and gerrymandering will stop the tidal wave from sinking the BN party.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Paul Low's Ministerial Appointment: The Test of Najib's Success or Failure

The appointment of Datuk Paul Low as a Minister in Prime Minister’s Department will be the barometer by which Datuk Seri Najib’s new 5 year reign as the premier will be judged.

The Cabinet line up provided many disappointments such as its bloated size, the inclusion of controversial characters with questionable repute.  These disappointment will be dealt with to varying degrees by my Pakatan Rakyat colleagues.

However, Datuk Seri Najib Razak sprung his only surprise with the “bold” inclusion of Datuk Paul Low, who is the current Chairman of Transparency International, as a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.

This “bold” appointment, will in fact decide the fate of Datuk Seri Najib Razak in his second term as the Prime Minister because it will determine if his administration is willing to carry out the far-reaching reforms necessary to ensure a clean, transparent and competitive administration as advocated by Transparency International.

With Datuk Paul Low, we look to seeing an uncompromising stance in the Government’s fight against corruption and cronyism, to uphold the Transparency International’s Integrity Pledge which Najib has himself signed.  The pledge demands that Najib’s administration will “observe the principles of truth, integrity, ethical conduct and accountability, including not accepting or giving bribes or being involved in any way in corrupt practices.”

More generally, the pledge requires that the government “uphold and give priority to the interests of the Rakyat as a whole” as well as “practice good governance and transparency”.

While Barisan Nasional has trampled upon the above pledge before and during the General Election, with the blatant practice of vote-buying and media manipulation, the people of Malaysia still hope to see that the BN leaders have learnt their lesson after clearly losing the popular vote.

The first priority for the BN Government, with Datuk Paul Low acting as a “Transparency Minister”, is to immediately declare that all Government privatisation and procurement contracts will henceforth by awarded via open and competitive tenders with all details and information made in a transparent manner.

In fact all recently concluded procurement contracts, particularly in the defence industry as well as mega-privatisation contracts such as the RM5.3 billion West Coast Expressway, the RM2.2 billion Kinrara-Damansara Expressway, the Penang Port and KTM Bhd which have not been completed or where works have yet to commence, be immediately suspended pending a new open tender exercise.

The measures carried out by Pemandu under Datuk Idris Jala to date to ensure greater transparency have also failed to gain traction with many Ministries openly defying directives to publish the outcomes and details procurement contracts.  Datuk Paul Low must hence wield the uncompromising stick to enforce discipline among the many ministries to cut back on wastages, corruption and cronyism.

At the same time, we expect the new administration to be resolute in carrying out effective investigations against those who are corrupt, regardless of the position these powerful may hold in the Government.  For a start, the new Cabinet must immediately rebuke the Sarawak Chief Minister, Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud for his outright refusal to cooperate with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) because the latter is “naughty”.  The failure to even admonish such behaviour will erase all “positive” perceptions arising from Datuk Paul Low’s appointment.

Most importantly, beyond the expected minimum of just acting against corrupt and opaque practices, we look to Datuk Paul Low to raise the bar of transparency in the Malaysian government by requiring that all Ministers and Deputy Ministers publicly declare their assets as had been done in both Penang and Selangor state governments.  The asset declaration is a critical element to regain public trust of the administration which has been riddled with corruption and abuse of power, contributing to a continuous decline of Malaysia’s rankings in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index.

Pakatan Rakyat will provide the fullest support to Datuk Paul Low to implement all necessary measures to ensure a clean, transparent and competitive government.  In fact Datuk Paul Low can afford to be the “bad cop” in the Najib administration because he will owe no political allegiance to any person or party.

However, we hope that the Najib administration isn’t just trying to have Datuk Paul Low’s impeccable credentials rub off on the former, without real and tangible reforms enforced.  Without such measures by the Prime Minister, Datuk Paul Low will only become a lame duck Minsiter, and his reputation severely tarnished.

The eyes and hopes of all Malaysians will be on the performance of Datuk Paul Low to check the rampant corruption in government.  We will not want to be disappointed.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Selangor Win: Clear Endorsement for Pakatan Rakyat

Pakatan Rakyat’s overwhelming win in Selangor proves the people’s ringing endorsement of our 5 year term in power

Datuk Seri Najib Razak had made the capture of Selangor state his prime objective in the 13th General Elections (GE).  In fact, he made the infamous clarion call last year to “take Selangor back at all cost” and even appointed himself as the Director of Elections for Barisan Nasional (BN) in the state, the first time a sitting Prime Minister is appointed to lead a state election machinery.

Despite the massive onslaught by BN, the outcome of the 13th GE in Selangor has proven Najib’s utter and complete failure in making any in roads in the state.  Not only did Najib not manage to recapture Selangor, BN lost additional 8 seats, allowing Pakatan Rakyat to capture 44 seats and leaving BN with only 12.

If not for the self-inflicted damage of a 3-corner fight between PAS and PKR in Kota Damansara, as well as another involving PSM and PKR in Semenyih, Pakatan Rakyat would have comfortably captured an additional 2 state seats, leaving BN with only 10.  In both these seats, the combined PKR-PAS and PKR-PSM votes overwhelm the votes obtained by BN by 5,783 and 1,423 votes respectively.

The resounding victory by Pakatan Rakyat is a ringing endorsement by the people of Selangor to our 5 years’ in power since 2008 where the state government has rolled out massive amounts of people-centric programmes via “Merakyatkan Ekonomi Selangor” as well as proving our competence in a clean and transparent state administration.

Strong increase in Malay support

What is the sweetest bit of our victory in Selangor is the massive increase in Malay support for the coalition, which has allowed us to significantly increase our seats in the semi-rural belt of Selangor.  PAS has successfully captured the Malay majority seats (% Malays in brackets) of Sabak (79%), Morib (59%), Paya Jeras (57%), Dusun Tua (53%), Tj Sepat (52%) and Taman Templar (51%).  This achievement was inspite of the relentless attacks by UMNO over the issues of race, religion and royalty on Pakatan Rakyat in the Malay heartlands.

DAP received multi-racial support

Similarly, for DAP, it would not have been possible for us to capture the seats we lost in 2008, Kuala Kubu Baru and Sg Pelek without increased support from both the Malays and Indians.  In these 2 seats, the Malay and Indian population comprises of 33% and 21%, 45% and 21% respectively.  The increased in support from the Malay and Indian community has allowed DAP to win both seats with majorities of 1,702 (2008: -448) and 1,972 (2008: -1,572) respectively.

Even in Telok Datuk, where Malays and Indians form 29% and 20% respectively, where DAP candidate won by only a marginal 698 votes, we have successfully increased our majority to 5,391 votes marking a significant increase in both Malay and Indian support.

Large increase in popular support for Pakatan Rakyat in Selangor

In terms of popular support, Pakatan Rakyat Selangor enjoyed a 4% increase in popular votes from 55.4% in 2008 to 59.4% in 2013 confirming that we have won over our doubters in 2008 with our policies and administration.  This result also cements permanence of Pakatan Rakyat Selangor as a highly credible political coalition, and not a “one-hit-wonder”.

Selangorians are discerning

The only blot in Pakatan Rakyat’s Selangor results was the loss of Bukit Melawati by 806 votes, reversing the 297 votes win in 2008 by PKR.  Under such marginal circumstances, the coalition’s past performance in the constituency may have affected the outcome of the vote.

However, this outcome and the narrow losses in several other state and parliamentary seats in Selangor proves that continued clean and transparent policies, and their effective implementation will enable us to win even more seats in the future.


The thumping endorsement from the rakyat for the Pakatan Rakyat state government is a clear cut thumbing of the nose at Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s leadership of the country and the state.  It is also a rejection by the people of Selangor of all races and religion, of BN’s divisive politics of race, religion and royalty.

While Pakatan Rakyat campaigned on a platform based on our track record and our administrative credentials in contrast to BN, BN’s only target of attack was the attempt to sow discord between races and religions.

The contrast in campaign messages and styles can be perfectly encapsulated by the victory of a moderate Khalid Samad of PAS thrashing BN’s Zulkifli Nordin, Perkasa Vice-President who is universally condemned as a racist and bigot.  In fact, we believed that Zulkifli’s candidature has played a crucial role in ensuring Pakatan Rakyat’s victories in Selangor with much larger majorities.

The challenge for Pakatan Rakyat Selangor in the coming 5 years will be to enable Malaysians outside of Selangor, especially in BN bastions to recognise our achievements and to realise that a vote for Pakatan Rakyat will be a step forward for them, and for their children in the next General Election.