It was a movement to topple the second most-hated dictator of the South East Asia. Tens of thousands would march on the streets of Kuala Lumpur chanting “Undur Mahathir, undur!” and the infamous “Reformasi!” after Anwar Ibrahim was summarily expelled from UMNO and denied a chance for the premiership over reasons Mahathir himself claims to have forgotten or something to that effect.
Leading this group of demonstrators was Anwar’s most loyal lieutenants, Azmin Ali, who was his Principal Private Secretary in the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office. With Anwar still in jail, Azmin is the most favourite choice for Pakatan’s Prime Minister-designate amongst the younger generation.
Or that was what we all thought would happen.
Suddenly, the 92-year old Mahathir manoeuvred his way into being accepted as the Prime Minister again if Pakatan wins the next general elections. DAP and the anti-Azmin camp inside PKR namely Wan Azizah’s camp accepted the nonagenarian but this was rejected by several opposition-friendly NGOs as well as Selangor’s PKR.
Several hints on social media platforms and insiders’ information of Anwar’s opposition to Mahathir being designated as Pakatan’s Prime Minister warranted an article by The Star’s Joceline Tan. The writing is all over the wall – REFORMASI is dead.
In a move seen to insult Mahathir, Azmin offered his Gombak parliamentary seat for Mahathir to contest in in the next general election, an offer rejected outright by the latter.
A leopard never changes its spots – and true to his character, Mahathir announced that he will deal with dissenters quietly – a reminder of his 22-year reign of terror.
Just like Anwar whose colour of underwear was made public for going against Mahathir, Azmin now finds tales of his sexual trysts being made public. We are reminded of the time Anina Saadudin’s steamy WhatsApp messages were made public after falling out with Mahathir’s inner circle.
Anything Azmin is now being attacked, therefore it’s going to be interesting to see how the champion of Reformasi will now go against the man he has been fighting against for the past 20 years.
If he fails, it would be Mahathir’s masterstroke – for killing off the Reformasi movement from inside and finally making it his own Reformasi where dissent can never be tolerated.
Welcome to Mahathir’s Reformasi – or Dictatorship 2.0 as we know it.
Mahathir’s return to politics in 1973 was watched closely by other races, in particular the Chinese and Indians. His meteoric rise to the Deputy Prime Minister’s post in 1976 was of grave concern by many. His imminent Premiership caused a large number of migration by Malaysian Chinese. Despite the economic growth in the late 1980s through 1997, some 42,000 Malaysian Chinese opted to work elsewhere. This number includes some 14,000 Malaysian Chinese who were working illegally in Japan in 1993 (Shimada, 1994).
”If citizenship is conferred on races other than the Malays, it is because the Malays consent to this,” wrote Mahathir in his book ‘The Malay Dilemma‘.
“The Chinese and Indians coming from countries with vast populations are less concerned about good behavior and manners. In their lives, nobility, which is always associated with breeding, was totally absent. Age and riches are the only things they defer to,” he added.
Calling for reforms such as the mandatory use of tamper-proof scales, Mahathir wrote of scales that can be used to shortchange customers and said, ”The small-time Chinese retailer is adept at this practice and unscrupulous enough to use it as a weapon in competition.”
Mahathir was the ultra-Malay to many including the Malays themselves. Fears of race clashes haunted the voters during the run-up to the 1982 General Elections. I remember being sent to Mimaland in Gombak with Datuk Latt Shariman (President, E-Sports Malaysia) on polling day in case something bad happens. It was the first General Elections under Mahathir and it was called more than a year before the then-mandate ended. Public rallies were banned citing ‘security’ reasons and only indoor gatherings and house-to-house canvassing were allowed (Lim Kit Siang, 22 March 1982).
Even though Malaysia’s economic growth peaked at 8 percent in the mid 1990s, it was mired in scandals involving the practice of cronyism and nepotism. Lim Kit Siang wrote that Mirzan, Mokhzani and Mukhriz Mahathir – acted as companies’ directors, and that according to searches the DAP had made at the Registry of Companies at the end of 1994, Mirzan had interests in 98 companies, Mokhzani in 48 companies and Mukhriz in 67 companies (Lim Kit Siang, 16 June 1998). Compared to the 213 companies his sons were directors in back in 1994, 488 is the number of companies Mahathir, daughter and sons are directors in as at end of 2016 (Wakeup Malaya, 6 January 2017).
The calls for Mahathir to resign in 1998 for practising nepotism and cronyism culminated in the sacking of Anwar Ibrahim as his deputy in September of the same year, accusing the latter not only of being a tool for George Soros’s attacks on the country’s financial system but also for leading a morally-corrupted life. Lim Kit Siang and other Opposition leaders were quick to embrace Anwar, acccepting him into their fold when it was just a year earlier that the late Karpal Singh had made mention of allegations of sexual misconducts against Anwar in a Parliamentary sitting – a scene not much different to Lim Kit Siang’s immediate acceptance of Mahathir after decades of mudslinging the latter.
Anti-Mahathir demonstrations were held almost daily and then held every Friday afternoon at the National Mosque. These demonstrations were quelled using brute force. The ‘Reformasi’ movement was born, and the likes of theatre-practitioners such as Jo Kukathas were seen on the streets and interviewed by Maria Ressa saying “Enough is Enough” to Mahathir. Anwar and several other pro-Reformasi and UMNO leaders critical of Mahathir were arrested without trial under the ISA including current DPM Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Parti Keadilan Rakyat, then known by its acronym ADIL, was born out of hatred towards Mahathir, with the aim of toppling him and installing Anwar Ibrahim. The 1999 General Elections saw how Mahathir suffered a pyrrhic victory, losing grounds in Kelantan and his homestate of Kedah, while losing Terengganu to PAS. Mahathir-loyalists such as Ramli Ngah Talib, Megat Junid Megat Ayub and Sanusi Junid lost their seats. That was the beginning of the sounding of the death knell for Mahathir’s virtually unchallenged reign. During the UMNO General Assembly of 2002, he announced his resignation from party posts as well as Malaysia’s Prime Minister.
Ever since then, with the more open administrations of Pak Lah and Najib Razak, Mahathir became one of the targets of the Opposition in their blog posts, press statements as well as ceramahs.
In June 2012, Mahathir’s newly-made best friend even suggested that Mahathir is tried for his part in the BNM Forex scandal, hinting Egyptian Hosni Mubarak’s imprisonment as a comparison (Lim Kit Siang, 3 June 2012).
But all is forgotten and forgiven now, even when Mahathir admitted that his apology was only customary and not sincere. Despite veiled objections from Anwar and Azmin Ali’s camp, Mahathir was named at a Pakatan convention as their Prime Minister of choice albeit interim. This underscores the fact that the leadership of Pakatans parties do not trust the younger generation to lead the coalition as the position of the elders and powers that come with the position, may be undermined by the younger ones.
The signal of dissent is clear. Azmin only attended the convention for a while, not waiting for the announcement to be made while Karpal Singh’s daughter, Sangeet Kaur Deo, has hit out at Pakatan which probably is suffering from a dearth of capable young leaders. Even Mahathir once quipped that Anwar, who is 22 years his junior, may be too old to become a Prime Minister.
On Facebook, we are seeing people in their 40s and 50s voicing out their concern over Pakatan’s choice of Prime Minister, alarmed that the monster they have put behind them, could very well jump out from underneath the bed and into their lives again.
But it does not stop Mahathir from wanting to become the Prime Minister. He once hinted that he may have to consider becoming the PM again, underscoring the fact that he does not trust anyone else.
Wan Azizah may be blind to the fact that Mahathir had once denied the Premiership to her husband and went as far as making sure Anwar went to jail to keep him out of the way, while Lim Kit Siang is only friends with Mahathir because he needs the Malay votes to ensure Pakatan’s seats are sustained after the departure of PAS from the now-defunct Pakatan Rakyat.
Will Mahathir be willing to step aside for Anwar Ibrahim or whoever else younger who would be more acceptable to the younger and middle-aged generation aware of his antics? I doubt. But as Sangeet mentioned above, it will be a return to Mahathirism, an era of abuse of power, cronyism and nepotism that the Reformasi movement was totally against.
Somehow, it seems that the Reformasi movement has become a tool for what it was totally against – ushering Mahathir into the premiership and welcoming again abuse of pwer, nepotism and cronyism.
Recently Kluang Member of Parliament Liew Chin Tong slammed Minister of Defence Hishammuddin Hussein for denying that an army camp was being built in Paloh, a state seat in the latter’s constituency of Sembrong. Liew Chin Tong implied that the army camp is being built for political purposes.
“This proves that Barisan Nasional (BN) is using these army camps to increase voters in constituencies that it won with thin majorities in the 13th general election,” Liew told a press conference last week.
He said the inclusion of the army personnel in Paloh would increase the electorate by over 1,000 voters.
“In Paloh, DAP lost only by a few hundred votes and these new voters will result in another BN win,” he added.
The fact is that while members of the Malaysian Armed Forces swears its allegiance to the Yang DiPertuan Agong, His Majesty’s Government (the Government-of-the-Day), and the Country, each member of the Malaysian Armed Forces are free to vote for whom they are politically-inclined to support. Therefore, having a military camp/base does not guarantee you any solid support for votes. I had written at length on this issue of allegiance in a recent blog post.
Perhaps it would be good for Liew Chin Tong to admit that he won Kluang against the Barisan Nasional in 2013 because of the presence of a huge army camp, namely Kem Mahkota, that houses the 61st Royal Artillery Regiment as well as the 881st Regiment, Malaysian Army Aviation.
Come to think of it, out of the 89 Parliamentary seats won by the then-Pakatan Rakyat during the 13th General Elections four years ago, at least 18 parliamentary constituencies have major military camps/bases in them. That is 20 percent of the total of parliamentary consituencies held by the Pakatan candidates. Here is the list that I have compiled:
Let us take for example the Lumut Naval Base which is under PKR. That base alone had 14,231 registered voters while PKR’s Mohamad Imran Abd Hamid won 40,308 votes. Why didn’t Barisan Nasional win there?
Perhaps Liew Chin Tong should also inform all Malaysians that out of the 18 constituencies with major military camps/bases that was won by the Pakatan back in 2013, eight seats were won by the DAP. That is 44 percent! Despite being the other “Malay” party within the Pakatan, PKR managed only seven seats or 38 percent. PAS could only get three then but one of those seats, Shah Alam, is now firmly under Khalid Samad of Amanah after he betrayed his oath to remain in PAS if nominated as a candidate and would divorce his wife if he jumps ship. Shah Alam is the home of a major Royal Malaysian Air Force base – Subang.
Pakatan and its supporters should just stop politicising the Malaysian Armed Forces. As towns and cities are developed, old camps and bases are no longer strategic nor conducive to be inhabited. How could Pakatan, advertising that it is all for rights and stuff, allow military personnel to live and work in deplorable and antiquated conditions? And as development creep into their surrounding areas, military bases are no longer of any strategic value. I have addressed this issue in a posting of mine and so has my friend Danny Liew in his recent posting.
So, wouldn’t DAP now like to offer a piece of land in constituencies held by it for Hishammuddin to build military bases or camps?
I don’t know why Arul Kanda’s presence at the opening ceremony of the UMNO General Assembly is made a fuss. So did Khazanah Nasional Bhd managing director Azman Mokhtar, Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) group chairperson Abdul Wahid Omar, CEO Abdul Rahman Ahmad and Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) CEO Lodin Wok Kamaruddin.
It has always been a tradition for CEOs of Government-linked companies to be invited to the opening ceremony to listen to the UMNO President’s speech where it always touches socio-economic concerns. Even President of BN component parties are invited. In fact, among those who attended the final UMNO General Assembly with Mahathir as President were MCA’s then-President Ong Ka Ting and also PPP’s M Kayveas. So, what is the big deal?
Not too long ago, an archnemesis of the Opposition attended DAP’s Convention. There, those who swore to spit on his grave lined up to smile, bow and shake hands with the man they all had wanted to send to prison for being a corrupt dictator.
Behind Mahathir in the screen capture above is the very man who used to go around the country calling the former a PEROMPAK (robber).
Of course, now Mahathir is forgiven. All the RM100 billion according to both Lim Kit Siang and Barry Wain that Mahathir squandered have been forgotten, all in the name of politics. And in the name of politics, all those with past sins are forgiven the moment they work hand-in-hand with Pakatan.
Arul Kanda, President of BN component parties, all sat with the rest of the guests an delegations. Mahathir, however, was given a seat on the stage with DAP’s central executive committee members.
So, is Mahathir a DAP member? Maybe, Malaysiakini can answer this question.
His Royal Highness Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah Alhaj, the Sultan of Selangor from my observation is a calm and very private person. He rarely makes any statement or gives interviews to the media except during his birthday celebration. Only once in a blue moon would Sultan Sharafuddin voice out his concern, especially during the Kajang Move, because it was affecting the efficiency of His Royal Highness’s state government. The Sultan had also expressed his concern over the rudeness of the Opposition and its supporters towards the late Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak during the Perak constitutional crisis of 2009.
The latest episode involves the adverse reaction by DAP’s Zaid Ibrahim to the Sultan’s statement on Mahathir’s remark on the Bugis people. The statement was made as part of an interview with The Star for this year’s celebration of the Sultan’s birthday. In his Twitter postings, Zaid said that when some Rulers play politics, they must know the consequences. Do not think there is no price for partisanship.
What earned Zaid the wrath of many was when he also Tweeted a warning to Sultan Sharafuddin saying the Sultan should be careful with his words (as) no one is immune when (the) country burns.
That is typical of Zaid, when he displays the usual non compos mentis character. Often displaying his republican attitude, Zaid suits well in the DAP – a party known historically for its rash behaviour when it comes to respecting the Rulers Institution. It is also well that he is a Malay, from Kelantan, as it would appeal to the fence-sitting Malays in Kelantan who are politically torn after the departure of PAS from Pakatan Rakyat effectively ending the coalition.
The late Karpal Singh once petitioned to sue Sultan Sharafuddin’s late father, Almarhum Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Alhaj, in 1987 over a speech by Sultan Salahuddin to the Selangor branch of the Ex-Servicemen’s Association saying that he would not pardon drug traffickers in Selangor. The petition was rejected on the grounds that there was no lis. In 2009, Karpal Singh had intended to sue Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak for appointing Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir as the new Menteri Besar, replacing DAP’s choice Nizar Jamaluddin. Karpal was found guilty of sedition in 2014.
Since gaining some grounds after the 2008 general elections, the DAP has time and again displayed its disrespect to the Rulers Institution by not abiding by the dress code at state assembly openings. One good example is of DAP’s Gwee Tong Hiang who was the Johor state assemblyman for Bentayan who did not wear a songkok at the state assembly opening. The late Sultan of Johor, Almarhum Sultan Iskandar Ismail was not amused.
“Two days ago someone here tried to be a hero by refusing to dress accordingly. If he wants (to differ), then get out of here now!” the late Sultan chastised. Tong Hiang, unfortunately, was not present then.
The DAP had wised up since then. Seen as a Chinese chauvinist party, such rude behaviour turned them into punching bags of the Malays, especially those from UMNO who had a feast turning the DAP into cheap meals. The DAP quickly recruited liberal Malays into its fold, including Zaid, to do their dirty jobs for them. This keeps the heat off the Chinese in DAP, but pit Malays against Malays.
What the authorities should realise is that such behaviour displayed most recently by Zaid Ibrahim sends the wrong signal that it is alright to reject Malay traditions including respect for the elders and the Rulers to the younger Malaysian who, at their age, would be mostly anti-establishment by nature. If this goes unchecked, it would certainly give birth to more Zaid Ibrahims.
The authorities should take cue from Sultan Sharafuddin.
“I am aware that Zaid had long been making false and incorrect accusations against me. He is a politician and a former minister whom I understand is against the royal institution. My advice to Zaid is simple, do not forget where you come from,” the Sultan said.
For two decades DAP’s Supremo, Emperor Lim Kit Siang, fought to bring to justice those responsible for the loss of RM30 billion (RM45.25 billion in today’s terms) through foreign gambling exchange by the Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) back in the early 1990s. The greed of those responsible saw the BNM increase its trading volume to USD50 million lots (RM74.46 million or RM205.65 million today) compared to the market norm then of USD5 million (RM7.45 million or RM20.56 million today) to USD10 million (RM14.90 million or RM41.12 million today), amounting to billions of Dollars per day!
BNM’s maximum exposure in the foreign exchange markets then reached as high as RM270 billion – three times the country’s GDP and more than five times the country’s foreign reserves at the time!
Imagine what would have happened had we lost all that! But imagine what RM30 billion then could have done to arrest the massive fall of the Ringgit from RM2.4765 to the USD on 1 April 1997 to RM4.88 to the USD in early January 1998.
Now Lim Kit Siang plays innocent saying he has nothing to do with wanting a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the BNM Forex scandal. Is it because he and Mahathir are good friends now? Or is it because Mahathir’s involvement means that the DAP has lost one of its Malay political mules?
If I recall correctly, it was Lim Kit Siang who mentioned that Mahathir has to answer for the Forex loss, and that if Pakatan captures Putrajaya, he would re-open the BNM Forex scandal. He even asked if (former Egyptian President Hosni) Mubarak got life imprisonment, then why should Mahathir go scot-free?
Has Lim Kit Siang forgotten all the above? If he has, has he gone senile due to his age? If he has problems retaining his memory, then I don’t think he ought to contest in the next general elections.
Whatever it is, the biggest winner would be Anwar. Not only does he get to see his jailor jailed, but he won’t be lonely anymore.
It is no surprise that the recent DAP CEC election has retained some 90 percent of its line up. Despite being a dinosaur and having manouvered the DAP through its mother-of-all-U-turns by working with arch-nemesis Mahathir Mohamad, Lim Kit Siang emerged victorious with the most number of votes. His son, Guan Eng, despite being charged on two counts of corruption, came out third and was returned as the Secretary-General of the party.
Returned after being missing for a term is Selangor’s Ronnie Liu who is famous for trying to stop the authorities from raiding brothels and gambling dens in Selangor before DAP came into power. The ousted included the man who is the symbol of cleanliness, moderation and a corrupt-free DAP – Tan Seng Giaw.
And as for its multiracial image, only two Indians and one Punjabi were elected but not one Malay made it to the Top 20 – again, but former DAP Pahang Chairman Tengku Zulpuri Shah bin Tengku Puji was appointed Vice-Chairman. He is the sole Malay in the CEC line-up. Christopher Ross Lim, the Chinese man masquerading as Malay going by the name Zairil Khir Johari, made it at No. 19. He was born a Chinese and remains a Chinese.
Only 54 percent or 1,356 delegates attended the CEC elections out of 2,514 delegates in 2013. This shows that the support for the Lim Dynasty is waning. They can bask in party glory now but whether that will translate into actual votes especially in Pulau Pinang remains to be seen. With only 450,000 registered members, DAP relies more on its propaganda to win over the masses, who of late are drowning in flood waters and overwhelmed by landslides due to the over-development of the hills and reclamation works in Pulau Pinang.
And to appease the spirit of a dead man, the three-year dead Karpal Singh managed to get 43 votes, more than any of the Malay candidates. How Karpal could still get votes baffles me.
This sums up the image of the DAP – rotten to the core.