Malaysia's 14th General Election

beetlemaniac

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
#1
Election day has been fixed on 9th of May 2018. The two main parties involved are Barisan Nasional (BN - National Front) which has been the ruling party in Malaysia for the past 50 years, and the Pakatan Harapan (PH - Alliance of Hope) as the strongest opposition party. Malaysian politics has been going through very interesting twists and turns as of late. The leading figure of the opposition party, Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, was the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia and the longest running one - his term spanned 22 years. He's already 92 years old and doesn't seem to show any signs of slowing down, really. Even after stepping down as Prime Minister, he still continued to be in the limelight, and his opinions would often reach the first pages of the local newspapers, especially if they were disparaging some politician or other from his ex-party.

Some background on the ruling party. BN is made up of a group of sub-parties, each of which are focused on a specific ethnicity as indicated in their names: UMNO (United Malays National Organisation), MCA (Malaysian Chinese Association), MIC (Malaysian Indian Congress), and a handful of parties which represent the indigenous populations of East Malaysia as well as other minor parties.

So as you can see, the politics in Malaysia for the past 50 or so years, of which the ruling party has been steadily holding power, has been very racially focused, and in fact, the media still does describe voter populations by race as a convenient way to size up any particular constituency. On the 1969 elections, the ruling party had lost its two-thirds supermajority in parliament, and that had led to what has been widely said to be orchestrated racial riots on May 13th 1969 which triggered the institution of martial law and the establishment of an interim body to govern the country. The other time that the ruling party had lost its supermajority (which means that it does not have the right to pass amendments to the Constitution) was during the 12th and the subsequent 13th General Elections, when the opposition had a landslide victory of sorts.

This election, which will be Malaysia’s 14th, has been framed as more personality-oriented than previous elections. The two personalities representing the two parties mentioned above are Najib Razak (BN) and Mahathir Mohamad (PH - mentioned above), both of whom are notorious in their own right. Najib Razak is the current Prime Minister and the head of UMNO which is the lead party in BN, representing the Malay who are the majority race in Malaysia. He’s the eldest son of the second prime minister Abdul Razak Hussein. Since he took office, he's been implicated in two major scandals being associated with a Mongolian woman whom was murdered and pilfering 2.6 billion ringgit from government coffers (also known as the 1MDB scandal). The money scandal is detailed in this documentary by the ABC below:


It's quite clear that Najib is quite a shameless character, and seems corrupt to the core. His wife, Rosmah Mansor has also been disparaged by many as a power-hungry woman who controls her husband behind the scenes.

The leader of the Opposition coalition however is a somewhat more “colourful” character, with a bit more nuance in his admittedly ideologically-driven thinking, at least during his years in office. Mahathir, now 92, is a person who is something of a legend and is still loved by many. Just an aside, I attended the same secondary school as he did (Sultan Abdul Hamid College), and my ex-schoolmates and I do share a certain fascination and awe for this man. He was known to be a highly disciplined and autocratic leader who ruled by decree. He brought rapid modernisation and urbanisation to the country, especially to the capital city. However, this development came at a cost. This requires some explaining: he was responsible for further entrenching a preference for the Malay by instituting policies of affirmative action for this group because of his belief that they were of lesser capability than the Chinese businessman and the Indian trader and needed encouragement and support to thrive - he’s even written a book about it, called The Malay Dilemma. This excerpt provides the gist on why I feel Mahathir is ideologically driven:

https://www.wikiwand.com/en/The_Malay_Dilemma said:
In the preface of the book's first edition, its British publisher casts doubt on the accuracy of Mahathir's assumptions and facts. Mahathir has been criticised for the lack of documentary evidence to buttress his many arguments and conclusions. Bakri Musa states that his assertions and assumptions were based on his personal observations and experiences, with no empirical data to support them.
This ideology led him to "nurture" a Malay capitalist class which was mostly made up of his close associates, friends and family. These cronies received many very large contracts to develop the country's infrastructure, like the North-South Highway. Along the way, he met with resistance from the Judiciary when he wanted to institute some controversial amendments to the constitution, which culminated in the sacking of the Head Justice and some other judges, and subsequently installing judges who were sympathetic to him. By making this unconstitutional change at the highest ranks of the judiciary, he has allowed the executive branch of government to have almost total control of the government. He had also neutered the monarchy which used to have a say in bills that were passed in parliament. Now the head monarch has barely any power over the executive. In the case of Malaysia, the Federal Government is made up of three branches, the executive, the judiciary and the legislative.

It doesn't stop there. During his term as Prime Minister, Mahathir had a very ambitious and bright Malay by the name of Anwar Ibrahim as his deputy. However, in what seems to be a power struggle between these two figures, Anwar who had tried to make some reforms to Malaysia's monetary policy was sacked by Mahathir for crossing the line. Relations between Anwar and Mahathir were reportedly getting strained during the 1990s. The strain reached its peak during a period in early 1997, when Mahathir had given Anwar reign over the government as acting prime minister while he took leave for a 2 month vacation:

https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Anwar_Ibrahim#Financial_crisis said:
During the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis Anwar, as finance minister, supported the International Monetary Fund (IMF) plan. He also instituted an austerity package that cut government spending by 18%, cut ministerial salaries and deferred major projects. "Mega projects", despite being a cornerstone of Mahathir's development strategy, were greatly curtailed.

Although many Malaysian companies faced bankruptcy, Anwar declared: "There is no question of any bailout. The banks will be allowed to protect themselves and the government will not interfere." Anwar advocated a free-market approach to the crisis, including foreign investment and trade liberalisation. Mahathir blamed currency speculators like George Soros for the crisis, and supported currency controls and tighter regulation of foreign investment.

[...]

In what the Sydney Morning Herald termed a "blatantly political fix-up", Anwar was arrested on 20 September 1998. He was subsequently charged with corruption for allegedly interfering with police investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct made against him. While he was in police custody in 1998, Anwar was beaten by the then Inspector General of Police, Rahim Noor. Rahim was subsequently found guilty of assault and jailed for two months in 2000. He made a public apology to Anwar and paid undisclosed damages. In April 1999, following a trial, Anwar was sentenced to six years' imprisonment. Two months later, he was sentenced to nine years' imprisonment, which he was ordered to serve after he completed his six-year sentence for the sodomy case.

His trial and conviction were widely discredited by the international community. Amnesty International stated that the trial proceedings "exposed a pattern of political manipulation of key state institutions including the police, public prosecutor’s office and the judiciary" and declared Anwar a prisoner of conscience, stating that he had been arrested in order to silence him as a political opponent. Many world leaders, including US Vice-President Al Gore, called for his release from prison.

His conviction was overturned by the Malaysian Supreme Court and Anwar was finally released from solitary confinement on 2 September 2004.
Anwar was further implicated in several sodomy cases where he was accused of homosexuality, which was basically a set up to defame him, by none other than Mahathir. Further along the line, after Mahathir stepped down, and Anwar had gained freedom, Anwar started the Parti Keadilan Nasional (PKN - National Justice Party) and began his second foray into politics. He was joined by both his wife and daughter who both have been fielded as candidates in previous elections. Along the way, Anwar was again indicted for sodomy during the Najib administration (the current administration).

It's interesting to see the forces in play here, and to connect what I've learned about geopolitics from SoTT to what's happening in my country, Malaysia. It would seem that Anwar was taken in his early years by the IMF line and had support from senior US officials, while Mahathir tried hard to stop this foreign influence from getting ahold of the country's economy. In any case, it gets more interesting further on as politics has a way of making strange bedfellows...

[to be continued]
 

Mr.Cyan

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#2
Thanks beetlemaniac for the rundown on the "forces" battling in the next Malaysian general election. It is indeed a crucial one for the country considering all the developments over the last 4 years; and lets see how this one goes.
 

beetlemaniac

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
#3
Thanks beetlemaniac for the rundown on the "forces" battling in the next Malaysian general election. It is indeed a crucial one for the country considering all the developments over the last 4 years; and lets see how this one goes.
It does seem quite uncertain what the outcome will be, but here's an American media perspective on the events:

 

Mr.Cyan

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#4
Just read an article that I think accurately summarizes the state of affairs in Malaysia currently leading up to the election:

In this GE14, I hope you vote for justice

In this GE14, I hope you vote for justice

Let me ask you the most difficult question ever: what is wrong with Malaysia?
Chances are you couldn’t answer me immediately. It’s not because you couldn’t think of any, but because there are just too many to think of that you don’t know where to start.
You could feel something is wrong, but you might not know what to say.

Corruption
You may say “corruption”. You lament how we have become one of the most corrupt countries in the world. We also have the biggest financial scandal in the history of the human civilisation.
The government’s “Cash is King” philosophy has gone too far. How is it that after the US Department of Justice’s 136-page report that detailed the diversion of US$1 billion worth of government funds for personal use, that MO1 could still be cleared of all wrongdoing?How is it that the person holding the highest public office in the country could treat the 1MDB fund as his “personal bank account” to purchase high-end real estate, artwork, and various luxury goods? It must appear incredulous to most of us when our attorney-general said that the prime minister had no knowledge of the funds that entered his private bank account. The stench of 1MDB had spread around the world. Singapore, United States, Switzerland, Australia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Luxembourg, and UAE had investigated into the scandal.

1MDB is not all. There are also the scandals of Felda, Mara, Tabung Haji, Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT), and the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) that today remained unsatisfactorily handled by the government and authorities. Besides these “hard” corruptions, we also have “milder” corruptions like vote-buying or soliciting, cronyism and corruption of values. All these pale in comparison to the mammoth of 1MDB.
When our country’s reputation had plummeted so drastically, surely then, “corruption” is what’s wrong with this country.

'Growing the economy'
Or, you may say “economy”. The prime minister will always remind you that the government had been successful in growing the economy at five to six percent every year. The prime minister had also asked you to not blame GST for the rising cost of living; instead, one should thank the government for introducing GST that saved the Malaysian economy.

But you and I know that GST has been the worst economic punishment on ordinary Malaysians since Independence.
The analysts will never tell you that many SMEs have closed down because of GST and many Malaysians who are already poor are forced to starve. Every individual is forced to put aside an extra RM1,300 a year because of GST. To many, that could mean their grocery purchases are cut by half, their children dropping out of school and start working, and their sick grandmother will have to wait longer to get her diabetic medication.

The one-off band-aid of BR1M is insufficient to make up for our thinning wallets. All we can do is to laugh helplessly when we look at the omen of RM42 billion collected in GST matching precisely to the RM42 billion debt incurred by 1MDB. Is this a joke? Our wages are below the living wage, house prices are “severely unaffordable”, inequality one of the highest in the region, and our children are more stunted and vulnerable than the children of Uganda and Zimbabwe. Surely, you may say: what’s wrong with this country is the “economy”.

Unjust laws
Or, maybe, you may say “unjust laws”. You say that the prime minister had not fulfilled the promise to do away with laws that trampled on human rights. He started off with bold promises: to abolish Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960, repeal Sedition Act 1948, review Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 and to review the Police Act 1967. Financial Times called him a “born-again liberal” - but they called it too soon.
The Sedition Act was used aggressively against his political opponents, who included a huge array of individuals, from opposition leaders like Tian Chua, Khalid Samad, Teresa Kok, Rafizi Ramli, Nurul Izzah Anwar, RSN Rayer; academicians Azmi Sharom and Dr Aziz Bari; journalists from Malaysiakini and The Malaysian Insider; and even cartoonist Zunar.


Whilst the ISA was indeed repealed, it was replaced with the Security Offences (Special Measures) 2012 Act (Sosma), which Human Rights Watch called “more repressive and retrograde” than its predecessor. Worse, the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 that replaced Section 27 of the Police Act 1967 curbed the right to peaceful assembly with its most famous victim: Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad (photo). The yellow Bersih T-shirt was also banned.


The Official Secrets Act 1972 was also used to classify the most crucial documents for 1MDB. Rafizi Ramli was convicted and given 18 months’ jail for disclosing an incriminating page of the auditor-general’s report on 1MDB. Human Rights Watch called this conviction an “unprecedented” attempt to “intimidate whistle-blowers into silence”.
Most of all, the prime minister had in his tenure introduced the most draconian laws, including the National Security Council Act and the Anti-Fake News Act, which were unanimously criticised around the world. These laws are ambiguous as they are wide. They provide the government with sufficient authority to repress dissent and free speech - even capable of suspending remaining democratic vestiges of the country.


Surely then, you may say, that “unjust laws” are what’s wrong with this country.


Deteriorating institutions
But maybe, you may say “institutions”. That today Malaysia’s deteriorating institutions are what is wrong with this country. Every arm of government today is centralised under the thumb of one man, and any dissent will lead to unceremonious dismissal or forced resignation

At the height of the 1MDB investigations, attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail (photo) mysteriously stepped down for “health reasons”. Later reports revealed Gani Patail’s initial intention of bringing charges against the prime minister for 1MDB - so we connected the dots in this mystery. His replacement, Mohamed Apandi Ali, subsequently cleared the prime minister of all wrongdoing - until today we are left to wonder what “no evidence” meant.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigation was also shut down. A police chief was put to retirement, members of the parliamentary committee into 1MDB were “promoted to the cabinet to silence them.

This is fairy-tale hell.

One of the worst offenders of institutional bias is the Election Commission (EC). Our electoral integrity is one of the worst in the world. Partisan and ethnic gerrymandering, malapportionment and dirty election tactics seem to be the driving principle of the EC. When we asked for “one person, one vote”, they replied: “depends on who that person is.”

Our indelible ink could be easily washed off with soap but the stain of EC’s dirty tactics get deep under our skin. Surely, “institutions” is what’s wrong with this country.

Education
Or maybe - you may say “education”. You may get emotional when we talk about how bad our schools are. Or how our universities are still ranked outside the top 100s.

Our graduates could barely speak good English, nor do they have the necessary soft skills employers require. Just when we thought our universities require more attention and assistance, they became the first victims of the prime minister’s austerity budget - a whopping 20 percent budget cut for education.

Freedom of expression of our university students, local and abroad, are constantly curtailed, either openly or by officers and men of the Special Branch, who live on taxpayers’ money. No political expressions are allowed, except those aligned with the establishment.
In schools, political indoctrination is the order of the day. History textbooks are biased and uncritical as they are more intent in creating a loyal and subversive generation than one that is able to think for themselves.

But we don’t even have to go that far. Today only 12.4 percent of the workforce has a university degree. At the bottom income quintile, it is only five percent. Half of the urban poor children don’t go to school and three out of 10 of them don’t own a single book.

Interestingly, despite difficult conditions, these poor children had performed outstandingly in their results. This shows that our children are doing all they can to succeed, but are thoroughly let down by the government.

Surely, you may say, “education” - the bedrock, the backbone of every society - is what’s wrong with Malaysia.

Injustice is felt
I may be mistaken. You may say other things, like “healthcare”, “religious freedom”, “crime” and many others.

Or maybe, you may say nothing at all because you are simply overwhelmed. But even when no words are uttered, our conscience could still detect the grave injustice perpetrated by those at the top.

Injustice is hard to define, but everyone feels it when it happens. On May 9, your vote is a vote of self-defence against an unjust government.

I feel injustice. Do you feel it too?
 

Mr.Cyan

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#5
It has been a historic day for Malaysia; personally I never thought this would be possible in my lifetime. We truly live in interesting times. The party ruling for 61 years has finally been decisively kicked out.

An article that best sums up the situation:

After six decades in power, BN falls to ‘Malaysian tsunami’
After six decades in power, BN falls to ‘Malaysian tsunami’

May 9, 2018. This is the day Malaysians experienced the power of the ballot.
Anger towards the current administration had brought them out in large numbers to cast their votes in the historic 14th general election.

Few Malaysians would have thought they would live to see this day – the defeat of the formidable Umno-led BN/Alliance which had held unbroken power for 61 years.

This is the first time the country has witnessed a change of government since independence from the British in 1957.

Malaysia is probably the only country in the world, apart from a handful of communist states, to have not undergone a regime change.

Pakatan Harapan's victory is even more remarkable because of the gerrymandering, the numerous attempts by the Election Commission to frustrate the opposition campaign, and the holding of the election in the middle of the week, which most likely resulted in a lower voter turnout.

The rout of BN was made possible by a Malaysian tsunami – a tide which comprised not just the major ethnic groups in the peninsula – Malays, Chinese and Indians - but also those in Sabah and Sarawak.

At the end of the day, the redelineation, which BN pushed through weeks before the election, backfired.

Voters, frustrated with various issues, made a beeline at polling stations nationwide to reverse the efforts by BN and its functionaries to steal this election.

More importantly, this election witnessed a swing among the Malays in favour of the opposition despite the scare-mongering and race-baiting.

With this, Malaysia has taken the first step of becoming a normal country.

A normal country in which two or more coalitions would vie for power. A normal country where power now resided with the people, and not politicians. A normal country in which race and religion would not be an unalloyed obsession.

Now the hard work begins. No one should be under the illusion that a new government would be able to reverse the rot that had taken root for decades.

For a country that is so divided, it would take time to heal the wounds, and for Malaysians to rebuild the trust for one another and for the many institutions that have failed them.

Credit must also be given to those in BN such as Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, Umno Treasurer-General Salleh Said Keruak and BN strategic communications department director Abdul Rahman Dahlan who were gracious in accepting defeat, emphasising that the voice of the people was paramount.

Similarly, supporters of Harapan must also be gracious in victory.

May 9, 2018, is also a reminder to all politicians not to take the people for granted. It is a reminder that it is the rakyat who are their masters, and the politicians have been elected to serve, and not lord over them.

It would be wise for the incoming government to remember this.

Congratulations, Malaysia. At last, power to the people!
 

Mr.Cyan

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#6
Just more thoughts on the election, as im still trying to wrap my head around it.

Malaysian's for 6 decades have been divided through politics according to race to religion. A very effective form of control from a ponerised government, that pits one race against the other, and also one religion against another - the old British colonial formula of divide and rule. Many citizens questioning this over the years, have been jailed under various un-just laws. The government has 100% control over all media, and all institutions including the police, armed forces, judiciary and the election commission. The Opposition (then) only had social media to air its views.

The election process itself was heavily in favor of the government with gerrymandering, & vote-buying heavily prevalent, and the announcement of the election on a day during midweek, and not the weekend where it normally was scheduled before. They even delivered a lot of ballot papers late at overseas embassies; and even denied the right to vote at the embassy for the almost 500,000 Malaysians living/working in Singapore, insisting that they all had to travel back home to vote (since there were only 13 or 14 Million eligible voters, the number of citizens/eligible voters living in Singapore makes a big difference). The previous government were also masters at ballot box rigging, with various irregularities occurring in previous elections during the counting process, electricity blackouts etc. They were all acts of vindictiveness, and a sense of disdain for the citizens, thinking that their rule will be forever and they have the "country in the bag". Despite all these odds, they lost. I think being as ponerised as they are, they probably just cant fathom it with their wishful thinking.

To top it all off, the new government will be now led by the former PM Mahathir Mohammad ( not sworn in yet), who at 93, criss-crossed the country to campaign and galvanize Malaysia. His energy and speeches during his campaign, and his energy levels just defied belief at times. The impossible truly happened, and Malaysians did it peacefully through the ballot box. The realm border, truly does bring interesting times.
 
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Mr.Cyan

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#7
One more article on the election:

Our nation is reborn
Our nation is reborn

There are no words to describe what has just happened. Nothing anyone can say or express can capture the emotions that millions of Malaysians feel today. Perhaps the tears that fill our eyes, that fill my eyes… might begin to reveal something of the intensity we all feel at this moment as we lift grateful hearts and hands to Almighty God.
Our nation is reborn! It’s a new day. We have been given a second chance.

Who would have thought such a thing was possible? All the polls, both foreign and local, said Najib Abdul Razak would cling on to power, that he had all the power of the state on his side, that the warlords in his own party were with him, that his cash would keep him king. And yet he fell with an earth-shattering thud.

Najib will now join the ranks of the Marcoses, the Soehartos, the Mubaraks, the Mugabes of the world, despots defeated by the people they spurned and took for granted.

Our people have shown their true colours. They came out in the millions. Standing in long lines in the hot sun, you could feel the potency of their determination, their resolve to defy the chicanery of corrupt and dishonest officials. They’ve rejected the politics of race and division and sent a clear message that they will no longer tolerate corruption and the abuse of power.

The sense of freedom is already palpable. Just watch national television and other media adjust to the new reality. It’s going to get really exciting and interesting as freedom takes hold.

Mahathir, man of the moment

Dr Mahathir Mohamad is the man of the moment. They poked fun at him, said he was too old. They cut his picture out of election posters. They tried to make him out to be a lackey of others. Not content with that, they threw money at us; they threw threats at us, but there was no stopping Mahathir or the people who stood with him.

Millions of ordinary citizens sensed in him the leader they had longed for and he rose to the occasion with grace, sagacity and leadership. Whatever wrong that was attributed to him before has been erased; he is now our prime minister and he carries with him all our hopes for a better nation. As I wrote earlier, he was not just a former prime minister trying to make a comeback but an idea whose time has come.

He did not stand alone, of course. This victory would not have been possible without the DAP and PKR in particular, and men like Lim Kit Siang and Anwar Ibrahim who kept the flame of freedom and hope alive during dark times. Anwar, in particular, paid a huge price and will forever be remembered as the man who launched ‘Reformasi.’ His plaintive cry for change decades ago finally brought down the walls of tyranny. We will very shortly join his family in celebrating his release.

Many others like the indomitable Rafizi Ramli, the late Irene Fernandez and the late Karpal Singh also sacrificed much to make this victory possible. We owe an immense debt of gratitude to such men and women who refused to give up, who were willing to pay any price for freedom.

And then there are the men and women of Bersih and the millions who marched with them… the list goes on. It’s a story of many pulling together as one, of Bersekutu Bertambah Mutu (Unity is Strength).

A second chance

Now the hard work of rebuilding our nation begins. There is so much to do, so many things to set right. It won’t be easy setting right years of destructive policies, repressive laws, division and disunity. But we have in Mahathir and his team of experienced and committed leaders, men and women who have been tested by adversity and proven by trial. And they have the support of the people.

Pakatan Harapan has already set forth its agenda for change – clean and trustworthy governance, the repeal of repressive laws, an end to corruption and economic policies that truly serve the people. This is what the people want. It’s not an impossible task, especially given the massive mandate that the people have given them.

I asked Mahathir recently whether he had given up on his dream of Bangsa Malaysia and he told me that he still carries it in his heart. Now, at last, the nation is ready for it; I am confident it will be one of his legacies to the nation.

This is also a time for healing the land and binding up the wounds of division and distrust. Let justice be served without vengeance or malice.

I hope Umno/BN will now use its time in the wilderness to cleanse and reform itself and come back to life again as a strong, credible and honourable opposition. It owes that much, at least to the nation. For our democracy to thrive, we need a strong opposition.

Stand on guard

More than anything else, let us remember that it’s not just Mahathir’s victory; it’s our victory. We, the citizens of this great land, have spoken. We’ve sent a message that we will not be bullied, bribed, intimidated, cheated or disrespected. A sacred trust, a solemn compact has been forged between the government and citizens – that the government exists to serve the people, to seek out their good and to strive to make our country the best nation in the world.

We must now stand on guard for our nation. In the final analysis, for a democracy to flourish, the people themselves must be the custodians of their democracy, defenders of their freedom. Power invariably corrupts even the best of us; we must never again give power to anyone without watching them closely and holding them accountable. We made that mistake before; we cannot afford to make the same mistake again.

Hold your head up high, Malaysia

History is often punctuated by momentous and dramatic events. This is Malaysia’s moment. At last, we can again hold our heads high among the nations of the world. There is every reason to believe that, in time, we will emerge as one of the truly great nations of the world. Nothing less will suffice.

And let the word go forth that freedom and democracy have found a new home, a new people to champion its cause. Let struggling and oppressed people everywhere take hope that nothing is impossible, that freedom will triumph in the end. And it can be done without foreign troops, foreign interference or violence.

Rejoice, my beloved country, rejoice!

DENNIS IGNATIUS is a former ambassador.
 

beetlemaniac

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
#8
The saga of the unlikely political bedfellows continues...

Anwar Ibrahim, the previously sacked and thrown in prison deputy prime minister of Malaysia has been officially pardoned of his charges for sodomy - the title of the article is a little misleading, I think, as the feeling I get from local reporting tells me that Anwar is ready to work with Mahathir Mohamad in the new administration, after spending some time with family and to travel and speak on issues related to Islam and governance.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/15/world/asia/anwar-ibrahim-malaysia-pardon.html said:
Now Free, Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim Attacks System That Jailed Him Twice

The opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim after being released from custody on Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital. “The most significant lesson one can learn from prison life is the value of freedom,” he told reporters.CreditAhmad Yusni/EPA, via Shutterstock

By Austin Ramzy
May 15, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Twenty years ago, burning from his dismissal as deputy prime minister of Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim unleashed a protest movement against his mentor, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, calling him insane, senile and unfit to lead the nation.

Today, the two men, after years of bad blood and the imprisonment of Mr. Anwar, have retaken their places at the top of Malaysian politics: Mr. Mahathir is prime minister once again, at age 92, and Mr. Anwar, newly pardoned by the country’s king on Wednesday, is waiting to inherit the leadership.

This time, they have done it under the banner of what had been Malaysia’s opposition, the Alliance of Hope, which decisively swept away the government of Najib Razak in national elections last week by accusing him of epic corruption and vowing reform — and the reinstatement of Mr. Anwar’s political career.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Mr. Anwar, 70, newly free after five years of detention, vowed that ending the influence of politics over the country’s justice system would be a priority.

“We must stop this once and for all,” he said. “The most significant lesson one can learn from prison life is the value of freedom.”
He has twice been deprived of his freedom, both times in what was widely seen as political manipulation coming from the leadership of the governing party, the United Malays National Organization, or UMNO, which at one point included Mr. Mahathir, Mr. Anwar and Mr. Najib among its top ranks.

Mr. Anwar had been a top deputy to Mr. Mahathir, who was prime minister from 1981 to 2003, and was seen as his likely successor. But after a falling-out between the two in 1998, over how to respond to the Asian financial crisis, Mr. Mahathir fired Mr. Anwar as deputy prime minister.


King Muhammad V of Malaysia, left, met with Mr. Anwar and his wife, Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, at the Royal Palace on Wednesday.CreditNational Palace/EPA, via Shutterstock

He began his protest movement against Mr. Mahathir and UMNO, and was quickly arrested and convicted of corruption and sodomy. Human rights groups and his supporters say those cases were trumped-up at the behest of Mr. Mahathir, who after the arrest publicly condemned Mr. Anwar, saying, “I cannot accept a man who is a sodomist as leader of the country.”

Mr. Anwar was released in 2004 and elected to Parliament in 2008 after the five-year restriction on his return to politics expired. That year, he was again accused of sodomy under a British-era law that human rights groups say is archaic. That case was also seen as being manipulated by his political rivals, including Mr. Najib, who became prime minister in 2009.

After years of suspension and legal jeopardy, he was sentenced to five years in prison on a sodomy charge in 2015. Originally scheduled to leave detention in June, he instead walked free on Wednesday morning.

He left Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital in Kuala Lumpur, the capital, where he was recovering from shoulder surgery, at 11:30 a.m. along with his wife, Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is to become deputy prime minister.

Mobbed by well-wishers, the two got into a vehicle together to travel to the royal palace, where they had an audience with Malaysia’s king, Sultan Muhammad V, who made it official: Mr. Anwar had been fully pardoned, lifting a statutory five-year ban on his political activity and allowing him to pursue elected office quickly.

The ouster of Mr. Najib last week marked the first time UMNO had been out of power since Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957. Many voters said they were upset about reports of widespread corruption, including accusations of the misappropriation of billions of dollars from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, a state fund he once led.

Mr. Najib and his wife have been barred from leaving the country, and Mr. Mahathir said he would be investigated. Officials accused of covering up the scandal have stepped down or were suspended in some of the first official acts of the new government.

On Tuesday evening, the government released the executive summary of a 2016 report by the country’s Auditor General, a ministry, which Mr. Mahathir said Saturday would be declassified. While the contents of the report had been previously reported, the release showed the new commitment to transparency on the case {this is the 1MDB case where Mr. Najib and his cohorts had swindled billions of government money}. The Auditor General’s website was down most of the evening, apparently from high traffic.


Supporters of Mr. Anwar in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday. While he is now free, much more must happen before he could become prime minister.CreditMohd Rasfan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

While Mr. Anwar is now free, much more must happen before he could become prime minister. First, he must become a member of Parliament. Dr. Azizah has said in recent months that she could step down and allow him to run for her seat in a by-election, just as she did in 2008.

“I am overjoyed with his release,” said Maria Chin Abdullah, an advocate of government reform who was elected to Parliament last week.
“The nation is ready to enter into its democratic reformation,” she said. “We certainly need someone like Anwar to help heal this nation and unite the various parties.”

Mr. Anwar gave little indication of when he might return to office. He said that he planned to first travel and give lectures at universities around the world.

“I think I have a small contribution to make to show that the voice of reason and moderation in Islam is paramount, and, No. 2, that Muslims can also be counted upon to ensure that there is freedom and justice for all citizens,” he said.
Mr. Anwar said he had forgiven Mr. Mahathir for turning on him two decades ago.

“He supports the reform agenda,” Mr. Anwar said. “He has facilitated my release. Why would I harbor any malice toward him?”
Despite Mr. Mahathir’s autocratic past, many of his former rivals have said they believe Dr. M, as the physician turned politician is informally known, is a changed leader, more concerned with polishing his legacy than amassing power.


But he and Mr. Anwar must still show they can cooperate, said Terence Gomez, a professor of political economy at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur.

“Is this an alliance where these two men are comfortable with each other? I don’t think so,” he said. “They came together because of the common need to get rid of Najib. Having succeeded in doing so, now comes the difficult part of reinventing their relationship to one that is truly workable.”
 
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Mr.Cyan

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
#9
Looks like the "cleansing" of the nation has begun...

Apartment and houses linked to former PM were searched, and this is what they discovered:

Astounding! Condo search nets 284 luxury handbags, 72 bags of cash, jewellery

Astounding! Condo search nets 284 luxury handbags, 72 bags of cash, jewellery

ASTONISHING HAUL! Seventy-two bags of cash and jewellery as well as 284 boxes of high-end designer handbags.

These make up the list of items seized by the police from two condominium units linked to former premier Najib Abdul Razak in the upmarket Pavillion Residence in Kuala Lumpur tonight.

The haul was so enormous that Bukit Aman commercial crime investigation department director Amar Singh Ishar Singh could not provide an estimate of the value.

He told reporters that the items were seized in connection with the ongoing police investigations into the 1MDB scandal.

"This is the result of our search in one of six premises.

"There were 72 luggage bags filled with items including jewellery, other valuables and cash of various denominations," he said.

All the seized items were earlier taken down using shopping trolleys, and loaded onto five police trucks, which left the scene at around 2.15am.

Quizzed on details of the handbags, Amar said it included luxury brands Hermes and Birkin.

When asked on the value of items seized so far, Amar said he was unable to provide an estimate as police have yet to make their detailed calculations.

"We have seized the bags. We know they contain cash and jewellery.

"Exactly how much cash I will not be able to say or exactly how much jewellery.

“But the number of jewellery is rather big," he added.

As for the owners of the units involved, Amar only said one of the units belonged to a "Tan Sri" and declined to reveal further details.

Amar also added that the police have completed their search of the luxury units here.

On the ongoing search at Najib's official residence in Jalan Langgak Duta, Amar said police were still unable to crack the safe said to be locked for the past 20 years.

Najib is accused of having received US$731 million in allegedly misappropriated 1MDB funds.

US$620 million of the money he allegedly received was returned to accounts allegedly controlled by 1MDB-linked businessperson Jho Low.

Najib has denied any wrongdoing.
 
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