UMNO: OVERHAUL OR SINK INTO A GREAT ABYSS

AHMAD Zahid Hamidi, who was until three days ago adamant on staying on to helm Umno, has finally stepped aside to allow his deputy, Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan, to lead the grand old party.

Ahmad Zahid was not seen to take charge after taking over the president’s seat from his predecessor, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.  

His win in the party elections that secured his position is said to be due to three factors: that he is the continuation of Najib Razak‘s leadership (to which we have not seen any resemblance); that he had a strong social media team to bombard members with campaign materials  at the eleventh hour before the votes were cast; and, allegations of vote-buying which had recently surfaced.

The sad bit is that Umno grassroots have been left without direction.  Unlike Pakatan in previous elections, Umno per se did not organise ceramahs to win back the hearts and minds of voters after the loss.  Instead, Zahid’s leadership hung on to a saying by Sun Tzu that the greatest strength is found in silence.

This silence further drove grassroot members and supporters in the Malay hinterland alike towards the arms of Pakatan Harapan (PPBM in particular) and Pas because they are the only Malay parties that are actually doing and saying something.

It is understandable with the comical nature of most of the government’s Cabinet members, staying silent watching the Pakatan-led government crumble due to its own doings is probably the best thing to do.

Umno and Barisan Nasional component party members do not have to do anything much except wait for the moment to give voters the “I told you so” comment. 

But global economic conditions will change, and cabinet members will wise up. You can already see this in the likes of Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad and Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu.

Both are seen to be going on the ground to learn the ropes of their trade. Dr Dzul is streamlining the health policies to continue to make medical treatment affordable for both the people and the government, while Mohamad has formed the Armed Forces Veterans Council, a very much awaited move that has eluded the veterans who would like their voice on how they should be treated, heard.

Other than that, the Prime Minister has his Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) to act as a buffer as well as a damage-control council any time a Minister blurts out not-thoroughly-thought-of remarks.

Umno was left with 54 seats after the previous general election – the single party with the largest number of parliamentary seats.  Fear of being taken legal action against, as well as the seemingly lack of direction from Zahid, saw Umno MPs jump to the other side.

For seven long months Umno under Zahid neglected the Malay strongholds – the kampungs and especially Felda.  

Some 59 percent of Felda voters voted for the BN (UMNO), 24 percent for PAS, and 17 for PH (mainly PPBM). In the kampungs, BN (UMNO) retained 47 percent, 19 percent for PAS while PH garnered 34 percent.

Khor Yu Leng broke this down further in her article (The Edge Malaysia, 17 December 2018) to the states of Johor, Pahang and Negeri Sembilan where the Felda districts are mostly located. 

She found that in the Johor Felda districts, 70 percent of voters chose Umno while in the kampungs, both Umno and PH had 45 percent each.  Pas trailed with only five percent. 

Pas had support in the Pahang FELDA districts and kampungs where it received 35 and 25 percent of the votes respectively, while PH only received 10 and 25 percent. BN received 55 and 50 percent respectively. 

However, both BN and Pas saw a huge decline in support from the Felda youth segments in both Negeri Sembiland and Johor.

With commodity prices declining rapidly and cost of living increasing rapidly, I fail to see the logic of staying silent waiting for the moon to fall into Umno’s lap. 

I seriously do not understand why Umno hasn’t gone into the Malay hinterlands to take advantage of this.

I have always opined, again it is my opinion, that someone difficult to target such as Tengku Razaleigh should have been the Opposition Leader, while Mohamad Hasan look after the administration and management of Umno.  

Ku Li is the president Umno almost had, while Mohamad Hasan’s approach is seen to be welcomed by the voters. Even Ahmad Maslan is consistent in his role as an opposition MP.

It is extremely important for Umno to see what the voters want, not just what it wants.  Without the voters’ approval, there is no way for Umno to make any form of come back. 

This talk of bringing Najib Razak back as the Opposition Leader should be stopped.  His brand is a damaged brand and it is unlikely that the voters other than those in Pekan would like to see him back so soon at the helm of the country. 

An Umno member might disagree, but if you ask any urban voter disenfranchised by Pakatan’s flip-flop policies, Najib is out of the question – at least for now.

Umno also needs to stop fielding heritage candidates like Ku Nan, Nazri Aziz to name a few.  Start looking at the younger generation. We have a great deal of young voters who need fresh political air to breathe in.  If Umno refuses to evolve, it will die.

Talking about young voters, something caught my eye that could be a breath of fresh air — that tea-chat session between Rafizi Ramli, Nurul Izzah and Khairy Jamaluddin. They could be the precursor to a third force.  

In spite of their political leanings, the three are idealists, as are other younger politicians like MCA’s Chong Sin Woon, DAP’s Ong Kian Ming and PKR’s Wong Chen.  

Imagine if they are to form their own party, both BN and PH would have a tough time holding on to their current seats in the next general election. 

This is why Umno needs a total overhaul, do away with the little Napoleons and get idealistic younger candidates fielded.

But before then, send these potential candidates out to the Malay hinterlands and let them engage the voters there.  

But that has to be done now. If Umno chooses to remain silent and wait for the heavens to fall into its lap, be forewarned that the heavens may float up, but they contain masses that may sink Umno into a great abyss from where it will never float to the surface again.

(This article was first published by The Mole)

Lest We Forget The Alliance

I don’t know what prompted the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) to go it all alone in the recent Balakong by-election.

Perhaps, it did not want to be seen as an Umno lackey as it had always been labelled as. But this was the first time that it had contested under its own party logo since the first general election in 1955.

As we can now see, there is a general lethargy among the masses in respect of politics.

We have had three by-elections since the downfall of the Barisan Nasional government and the turnout during the by-elections have been rather poor.

On the 87th day, the Sungai Kandis by-election saw a drop of 18,476 voters compared to the numbers during the 14th general election.

Umno had initially wanted to contest using its own logo but changed its mind. Under the BN banner, the Barisan Nasional saw an 11.49 percent swing compared to 5.84 percent for Pakatan Harapan.

Umno was helped by Parti Islam Se Malaysia (Pas) although the latter still showed a certain amount of distrust towards the former.

There was very little or no involvement at all by MCA and MIC. The majority was reduced by 5,842 compared to 12,480 on May 9.

In the Seri Setia by-election which was held 22 days after Pakatan Harapan’s failure to fulfil its election manifesto promises, Pas saw a 31.01 percent swing for the party, helped by the fact that BN did not contest but assisted Pas during the campaign period.

Pakatan saw a swing 8.02 percent votes against it. The majority was reduced to 4,027 compared to 19,372 during the 14th general election.

MCA, which contested under its own banner against Pakatan, saw a swing of 4.11 percent for it compared to Pakatan’s 7.46 percent.

This means that even with a very much reduced turnout (49.16 percent of the total turnout during the 14th general election), MCA had failed to make a significant impact on the voters.

The philosopher, Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás or George Santayana, once said that those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.  In this case, the MCA had forgotten its own history.

Before the independence of Malaya, both the MCA and Umno were political enemies.  There was already a feeling of discontent among the Malays in the pre-war period over their poor economic position vis-à-vis the Chinese and Indians.

Professors T.H Silcock and Ungku Aziz noted in 1950 that the Malay peasants and fishermen were dependent on Chinese middlemen while Malays worked as messengers in offices where Chinese and Indians were clerks.

However, Umno knew that in order to achieve independence, a long-lasting relationship with other races needed to be forged. It was during the Umno general assembly of 1949 that Onn Jaafar said,

“It is absolutely important for the Malays to obtain closer ties with the other people in this country.  It is time for us to take the wider view than the kampung view. I ask of you, which will you choose, peace or chaos, friendship or enmity?”

Although the grassroots of Umno was against Onn Jaafar’s idea that led him to leave the party two years later, it opened up a door for both the MCA Selangor Branch and Kuala Lumpur Umno branch to work together in the Federation’s first local elections.

Both Umno and MCA competed against each other and against other parties in Pulau Pinang in December 1951.

MCA had only managed to obtain the support from the Chinese while Umno the Malays. It was Datuk Yahya Abdul Razak from the Kuala Lumpur Umno branch who approached Selangor MCA branch chairman, H.S Lee to discuss the possibility of a cooperation of the two parties.

In January 1952, both branches of the two parties announced that they were jointly-contesting the Kuala Lumpur elections.

The Umno-MCA alliance won 10,340 votes while Onn Jaafar’s IMP won 6,641 votes. MIC joined the alliance in 1954.

This alliance went on to win all but one seats in the 1955 general election.  The rest is history.

In the past, MCA relied on the English-speaking, urban-dwelling portion of the Chinese community who make up about 10 percent of the seven million Chinese people in this country.

That 10 percent is now drowned in smugness and disconnect as they now have the DAP to represent them in the Pakatan Harapan government despite how telling it is that the Pakatan Harapan government is not really interested in reforms.

MCA now needs to go down to the rural ground to try and win the voters back.

There is no way that the MCA can do this all alone by itself. It still needs Umno, MIC and even Pas to help it make a breakthrough.

This can only come about with a rebranding of the approach, and the fight for a common good, with the protection for all races remaining intact.

(This article first appeared on The Mole)

UMNO Needs To Revisit Its Past

It has been more than a month since UMNO’s disastrous show in its history of general elections. Although as an individual party UMNO has the most number of parliamentary seats won, it effectively controls two states – a far cry from the grand old party it once was.

As a party, it has failed to show its support for its leadership (I shall go into this a bit more later) it failed to garner the support of the young and first time voters; it failed to retain the support of those who have been its staunch supporters. Most importantly, UMNO failed to remember the reason for very existence.

I sense nothing but trepidation in the first few weeks after the general elections when one by one government institutions come under “reforms”, and then the attacks on the Rulers Institution, namely the institution of the Yang DiPertuan Agong. Hardly any word came out from UMNO’s leadership save for those that came from the normal members.

The strong hands that led to the resignation of two of our nation’s top judges also did not result in strong rebukes from UMNO despite it being a direct interference by one instrument of His Majesty’s government into another.

Of course I am of the opinion that the two top judges are also idiots for caving in and resigning as demanded. It was their job to show the independence of the judiciary and to protect the integrity of their institution, yet they failed miserably to show the example of stewardship to their subordinates as those in charge of that institution.

UMNO is a far cry of what it was back in the late 1970s, let alone what it was in 1946. Losing its power to govern also means that UMNO no longer enjoys the facilities that come with being a government. There have been members who left the party for the other side just because funds are no longer readily available as it was prior to May 9.

Branches find it difficult to hold their annual general meetings because the community halls are no longer available to them. Furthermore, they do not receive sufficient funds to hold their meetings at hotel meeting rooms. They have never had it this difficult and have no institutional memory of how it was before 1981 and Malaysia Incorporated. Members simply do not have the same fighting spirit possessed by their forefathers. What has happened to the ‘unity is strength spirit?

Furthermore, branches were set up without actually soliciting the support of the local residents. You can find that many of the branches are filled with people who are not from where the branch is actually located. How can these people understand the local issues? Branch leadership pays the annual membership fees for fear of being deregistered. How many UMNO members actually go to their respective branch to pay their annual dues?
Which is why at every UMNO General Assembly the Secretary-General would read out the number of UMNO members to-date, not realising that those are false numbers. It would have been almost impossible for UMNO to only get 2.55 million votes, including from non-UMNO members when there are 4 million members!

When the President was attacked from outside and within the party three years ago, hardly anyone stood up to defend him save for a few like Rahman Dahlan, Salleh Said and Ahmad Maslan. There was no ‘defending of the institution of the President’. It was every man for himself. I am of the opinion that members are to defend the leadership of the party when attacked, and change the leadership from within if needed.

How many division actually hold sessions with all members to explain about party policies, how to handle current critical issues after each general assembly? How many members who represented the division members actually attend the general assembly to listen to the speeches and proposals put forth by each state, instead of wanting to get as close as possible to personalities trying to push proposals or hand business cards to them?

There was very little done by UMNO divisions and branches to win the hearts and minds of the community they were supposed to represent. I only see programmes done for their own members.

On the federal level, you see more of UMNO members and members of the BN component parties attending ministerial events than from members of the local community. I chanced upon an event attended by a former federal minister who was lending support to a BN parliamentary candidate in one of my rounds to gauge the election temperature. Of the hundreds who attended, perhaps only a handful – less than 100 were from the local community. The rest were those who were following the former Minister, members of the RELA, police, local council and government officers from an agency the former Minister presided. You cannot gauge how much do the locals actually like the candidate because they were swamped by these extras.

UMNO is also famous for having one-off self-gratification programmes – blood donation, voters registration, skateboarding, free car wash. Unlike with the DAP, there were no follow-ups, no explanation done on why voters should be voting for BN, what a BN victory would mean for the voters.

UMNO’s information machinery at the branch and division levels was also absent. I have never seen any UMNO ‘ceramah’ at any kampung except during by-elections and general elections. Now that UMNO is the opposition, where is this machinery? It has been one month but everyone seems to be busy eyeing for party positions. Pakatan was already at it the moment the results of the previous general elections came out, and they never stopped.

UMNO needs a total overhaul and improvement in terms of mind-set, approach and its constitution. It needs to look at how PAS conducts itself as an opposition party, and its consistency.
In its party elections delegates would have to forget nostalgia. Some have not moved on from the ‘Najib Days’. Wake up. Najib is gone. He has stepped down. He may have been the best Prime Minister and party president but his branding failed. There is no point reviving that.

Instead, UMNO needs to look forward and have an approach that is outside the box. Vote for different people to do different things. The party president should not also be the person who is the Prime Minister-designate. The Prime Minister-designate should also not be the parliamentary Leader of the Opposition. UMNO would be better run if these three people are different people altogether. And top party offices cannot be held for more than two terms.

UMNO also needs to open up to members of other races – not necessarily as members, but members of an appendage: Friends of UMNO, who cannot vote in party meetings, but can run on UMNO ticket during elections. After all, UMNO used to have non-Malay members. PAS has been successful with this approach. There are so many BN-friendly non-Malays out there who do not want to be associated with the other BN component parties (there are only four BN parties left) but support the BN concept.

Talking about membership, UMNO should also allow for direct memberships, approved only at the headquarters level. This would allow for young professionals to join the party without being blocked by branch or division heads. And do away with the quota system if it is still there. As long as a member gets one nomination from a branch (or division for a national-level post), he or she should be eligible to run for any post in the division.

If UMNO is serious about making a comeback, it needs to forget the form it morphed into after 1981. It needs to evolve, incorporating the non-Malays for support, have its leadership subscribe to more accountability. Most importantly it needs to embrace the spirit of 1946 and have members who would not mind sacrificing for the party without ever expecting anything back. It needs to have hundreds of its own Rafizis without the negative aspects, and an information machinery that is aggressively going out there to win the hearts and minds of the masses. UMNO has to become a constructive opposition, with real professionals running and representing the party.

Until then, it can just dream on and wait for another 61 years.

(This article was first published by The Mole)

100 Peratus Kata Pakatan Biasanya Hanya 10 Peratus

Sebentar tadi saya terbaca sebuah mesej dalam group WhatsApp yang dikirimkan oleh seorang bekas pegawai kerajaan. Katanya, hancurlah Barisan Nasional di Pasir Gudang kerana program Khaled Nordin tidak mendapat sambutan.

Beliau sertakan gambar berikut:

Kalau tengok, memang malang nasib Khaled. Kalau saya seorang zombie Pakatan yang tiada berotak (lazimnya memang begitu), saya akan kongsikan mesej tersebut dengan semua kenalan saya yang tersenarai dalam telefon.

Malang bagi mereka dan tidak seperti mereka, saya dilahirkan normal dan cukup sifat. Lantas saya dapatkan kepastian daripada mereka di pejabat Khaled. Dan berikut adalah gambar-gambar yang diambil di program tersebut beberapa minit kemudian:

Gambaran yang diberikan oleh bekas pegawai kerajaan yang menyokong Pakatan itu hanyalah 10 peratus daripada keadaan sebenar. Pakatan suka menjaja cerita dongeng. Mereka yang tidak berakal sahaja yang akan terima bulat-bulat pembohongan mereka ini.

Program ini dijalankan pada hari Selasa malam Rabu. Esoknya hari kerja, dan hari anak-anak bersekolah. Sudah tentu jumlah kehadiran tidak seramai pada malam-malam hujung minggu.

Pun begitu, hampir kesemua tempat duduk telah dipenuhkan.

Para pengundi di Pasir Gudang adalah dari kalangan mereka yang kuat bekerja, tidak seperti para penyokong Pakatan yang hanya menunggu duit BR1M daripada Najib Razak untuk hidup.

Tax? What Tax?

Second Finance Minister, Johari Ghani today revealed that both Jho Low and Riza Aziz have never paid taxes in Malaysia.

Replying to DAP’s Lim Lip Eng in Parliament, Johari said the duo has never declared their income in Malaysia and this the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) cannot tax them.

Opposition supporters jumped with joy upon hearing this, with some asking how can they not be taxed when they throw wild parties frequently. As usual, Opposition supporters know very little about anything else than to whine about everything.

If the duo have a business in Malaysia and earn their income in Malaysia, the IRB would definitely have jumped on them.

Unfortunately, this is not the case as the duo earn their income overseas.

If the Opposition supporters use the Internet to Google for the correct information rather than spending their life reading trash in portals like Sarawak Report, they would have come across this in the IRB’s website:

“Mulai tahun taksiran 2004, pendapatan yang diterima di Malaysia dari luar Malaysia adalah dikecualikan daripada cukai. Dengan itu, pembayar cukai sama ada yang bermastautin atau yang tidak bermastautin di Malaysia dikenakan cukai atas pendapatan yang diperoleh dari Malaysia sahaja.”

And Lim Sian See adds:

Why Jho Low and Riza Aziz do not pay tax in Malaysia?

Simple.

They are not in the country 182 days or more per year and do not earn their income here.

Therefore, they are not considered as TAX RESIDENT in Malaysia and hence do not pay tax here.

Presumably, they will pay tax in the countries where their jobs are or spend most of the time in.

Tax accountants will understand this.

Please ask Lim Guan Eng if he understands the concept of tax residency or not.

LSS.

https://www.oecd.org/tax/automatic-exchange/crs-implementation-and-assistance/tax-residency/Malaysia-Residency.pdf

Second Finance Minister has also issued a statement as follows:

MEDIA STATEMENT

1. I wish to clarify further to my reply to the Segambut MP, YB Lim Lip Eng and Batu MP, YB Tian Chua who recently asked me about the tax file(s) of a Mr. Reza Aziz and Mr. Jho Low and why these two individuals are not paying tax in Malaysia.

2. The tax collection system in Malaysia is based on the simple premise that if an individual or company derives income from Malaysia, that income received will be subjected to Malaysian income tax. While income derived from outside Malaysia and remitted to Malaysia will be exempted from tax. This applies to all individuals or companies without any exceptions. It is important for LHDNM to determine whether the income is derived from Malaysia before income of an individual or a company is subject to Malaysian tax.

3. The initial finding of LHDNM has shown that the two individuals, who were the subject of enquiries by the Opposition MPs in Parliament, do not have income derived from Malaysia in the past recent years and there are no records that they have brought in taxable income derived from overseas into Malaysia. Even if they had brought their income which is derived from overseas into Malaysia, this will be exempt from income tax. However if it is later discovered that any of their income is indeed subject to Malaysian tax, LHDNM has the power to raise assessment against those individuals within 5 years or at any time if fraud, wilful default or negligence is proven.

4. Malaysia has adopted a self-assessment system, where an individual or a company is required to determine and compute their chargeable income and tax liability. The rate of tax applicable is provided under the Income Tax Act 1967 and changes to the rate may be made and announced during the Annual National Budget. Under the self-assessment system a taxpayer will be audited on any declaration of income made. In the case where a person fails to make any declaration, LHDNM has a dedicated team to continuously analyse and identify this and severe penalties will be imposed once LHDNM has ascertained that tax is payable. It is not the practice of LHDNM to tax any individuals or companies based on perceived wealth or rumours of income.

5. Please be assured that LHDNM is ever vigilant in carrying out its duties under the law without fear or favour.

DATUK SERI JOHARI ABDUL GHANI

Minister of Finance II

The BN Government Will Continue To Look After The Welfare And Readiness Of The Malaysian Armed Forces

“The government shall continue to look after the welfare of the Malaysian Armed Forces,” said Minister of Defence, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

He said this in a meet with Royal Malaysian Navy personnel, civilian staff of the Ministry of Defence in Sabah, as well as Armed Forces veterans at the Kota Kinabalu Naval Base here.

Announcing the agenda to build more quarters for the naval personnel, Hishammuddin said that they (the naval personnel) cannot be sent for operations if they worry about the safety and security of their families.

Prior to this, the state government of Sabah offered a piece of land to be developed into 1,700 houses by the Ministry of Defence.  However, the location at Kampung Layang-Layang is not suitable as it is 30 kilometres away from the base.

“I shall announce the housing agenda within the next week or two,” he said.

The event was also attended by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of the Economic Planning Unit, Datuk Seri Panglima Abdul Rahman Dahlan and Chief of Defence Forces, General Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor.

Earlier, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin launched a Petronas kiosk inside the base as part of the welfare initiatives.  Prior to this, personnel working in the base had to travel 20 kilometres to the nearest petrol station.

When asked about a group of Armed Forces veterans who attack the government’s initiatives to help both serving and former members of the Malaysian Armed Forces, Hishammuddin said that this is just a small group of people whose agenda is to serve the seasonal politicking of others.

“This government will not be disheartened by this group.  We have provided a lot more under this government and shall continue to strive for the best for the members of the Armed Forces and its veterans,” he commented.

Datuk Seri Hishammuddin also handed over keys of family quarters to 20 crew member of the patrol vessel KD Selangor.  16-year old Kasih Nuraisyah Ramaddy Ricky, the daughter of Corporal Ramaddy Ricky Ahmad, who scored 7As in her Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3 exam was among thirteen children of Armed Forces personnel who received academic excellence awards from the Minister.

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Hishammuddin congratulates Corporal Ramaddy Ricky Ahmad after presenting an award to the latter’s 16-year old daughter, Kasih Nuraisyah, for scoring 7As in her Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3 exam last year

BN Is Serious About The Security Of Sabah

A ‘Force Demonstration’ conducted by the three services of the Malaysian Armed Forces was held at Kem Paradise near Kita Belud today. 400 personnel were involved in the demonstration of firepower that also saw the involvement of two Boeing F/A-18 Hornet fighters, two Sukhoi Su-30MKM multirole combat aircraft, four BAe Hawk light multirole fighters and helicopters from all three services.

In his speech, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein assures the people of Sabah that the Barisan Nasional government under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will continue to preserve the peace and security that is being enjoyed by the people of Sabah.

“The government will not compromise the security of Sabah. Today’s programme that involves all three branches of the Malaysian Armed Forces proves that we are sincere and serious about it,” he said.

Hishammuddin also urged the people of Sabah to not fall for the irresponsible sentiments of hatred that are being played by the Opposition.

“Their appearance is seasonal in nature and is filled with their agenda. They do not offer solutions like we do, especially in the security aspect of the people of Sabah,” he added.

The force demonstration was also attended by Minister of Communications and Multimedia, Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak; Secretary-General of the Ministry of Defence, Datuk Seri Mohd Radzi Abd Rahim; Chief of Defence Forces, General Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor; Chief of the Royal Malaysian Air Force, General Tan Sri Affendi Buang and Chief of Army, General Tan Sri Zulkiple Kassim.

Meanwhile, Hishammuddin said that the Malaysian Armed Forces shall continue to cooperate and conduct trilateral cooperation with Indonesia and Philippines to face the threat of terrorism.

“For now, we have joint air and sea patrols with our neighbours while joint land patrols will be conducted soon,” he said.

The demonstration today also saw a field hospital being set up where the people of Kota Belud were given free medical and dental treatment.