2010 Reflection: Year of the BN


(Never underestimate the power of impressions, more so if it was handled by professionals. Image source: http://www.americanprogress.org)

2010 was unfortunately “their” year but they deserved it – they played their cards rights

One of the few best things that BN under Najib did in 2010 (although it was long, long overdue) was getting a new President for MIC but then again, MIC is old news and the old President did not go away with empty hands. He is still around on tax-payers’ payroll. But that is not the main reason why I say 2010 was the year of the BN. Let’s look back on what went wrong for PR and what went right for BN (in no particular order).

Went Wrong for PR

  • Keshwinder Singh of PR jumped ship to BN with a very flimsy excuse. People were getting tired of the “frogs” jumping out from the opposition camp
  • Resignation of Zaid Ibrahim from PKR who went out to form his own political party. Zaid was seen as the independent entity within Pakatan Rakyat to merge all the opposition parties
  • Resignation of Wee Choo Keong from PKR.
  • The “boo-boo” in conducting PKR’s party elections. PKR should have known that it would hit them in the face if they did it the wrong way
  • Banning the 1Malaysia logo despite it been used for years – it was simply stupid and downright childish
  • Sat on the submission of a PR friendly name for the Selangor State Secretary and when it was too late, get so hyped up
  • The hoo-haa on the illegal sand mining in Selangor and how badly the State Government reacted to the accusations
  • PR going all out to defend the criminals with outstanding traffic summons. Sometimes doing something popular does not mean doing something right
  • Start of the Third Force in the political arena which caused the concern that it will create a hung Parliament
  • Lost of the Hulu Selangor seat which was previously held by Pakatan Rakyat to a MIC junior politician (with Samy Vellu still on President’s seat)

Went Right for BN

  • Samy Vellu stepping down as MIC President
  • Khir Toyo (finally) charged for corruption but it was nothing to shout about it
  • Ling Liong Sik charged in the PKFZ fiasco – by then, one of the biggest fish to be hauled up by MACC
  • Najib unveiling NEM to propel the country to be high achievers, promising an interesting future for Malaysia
  • Putting a BN friendly entity to helm the State Secretary seat before PR Government decides to do anything about it
  • Dedicated “instigation” team to discredit the Selangor State Government

But frankly speaking, more damage done to Pakatan Rakyat by Pakatan Rakyat themselves than by BN and so-call NGOs.  If you think about it, some of the hard facts that Pakatan Rakyat failed to capitalised in ensuring continued voters’ support in the next general elections are:-

  • Selangor and Penang under Pakatan Rakyat is doing better than the time it was under BN. There is clear sense of accountability and reduction of corruption under PR than under BN
  • Samy Vellu is not out of the picture – he is still leeching tax-payers’ money in his new assignment (out of the many thousands eligible Malaysians, the Government cannot find no other better person?) and he is yet to be made accountable for the MAIKA fiasco
  • No head up on the PKFZ investigations and prosecution of those had raped millions of tax-payer’s money despite big fishes charged by MACC but who to is going to repay back the millions burned in this project
  • MACC is yet to be very effective – corruption is still riding high in East Malaysia according to reports in the Sarawak Report
  • BN is still weak in management of tax payers money – more so after Idris Jala warned of the high subsidies been paid out to keep prices artificially low. Still remember Tourism Minister RM1.28 million overseas trips?
  • Charge of corruption against Khir Toyo seems too late, too little – what about others?
  • The “Allah” issue – how well unity and integration among Malaysians been in 2010? BN is still consist of race based political parties but PR is more spread out and represents Malaysia as whole better.
  • Politician’s wife interference with the administration tasks and abuse of tax payers’ money (the lady is going on 3 nation trip but on who’s money?)
  • The case of Teoh Beng Hock who died when under interrogation by MACC is yet to be resolved.  He did not commit suicide but there is no homicide as well.

BN played the public relations card very well – they managed to play up PR’s shortcomings and in-fighting, play up the good things that the BN Government have done and at the same time down play the mess that the BN Government has and down play the good things that the PR State Government have done. It is not a big surprise indeed. After all, they had the means (APCO, mainstream media, etc) and the cash to pay for the public relations which would have been expensive. In 2010, PR was certainly at a disadvantage when it comes to the battle of the public relations.

And you can be rest assured that BN will continue to play their upper hands on the war of public relations in 2011 and all the way until they are able to wrestle back the State of Selangor and Penang. What PR can do to counter that and get at least some of the confidence lost in 2010 in 2011? What PR can do to reverse the tables on BN?

Some of the steps that PR can take to improve their image and more importantly, the stand with the cautious voters is nothing new – in fact, we can take the cue from BN for some ideas, for example:-

1. Appoint a professional PR agency / military strategist / professional chess-player to advise PR on how to project a more stable, viable and feasible coalition and how to keep one step ahead of the more experienced, better “armed” BN. Just make sure that the agency’s fees are paid from political party funds instead from the State funds so that integrity of appointment can be persevered and creates no room for scandals.

2. Have proper channel for party members to voice their grievousness without them need to make noise in the mainstream media (where the fact can be presented in advantage of BN), twitters, blogs or personal press conferences. Once the channel has been established, ensure that all comments, critics and suggestions by the members are given its due consideration. For those who have a valid complaint / suggestions, give them the room to make their case – it will be helpful in the long run. For those who been making noise because they just want more position and without any substance, there is no need to tolerate them further – just kick them out from the party to minimize the damage.

3. Have periodic update of the oppositions’ progress of work – similar to BN’s KPI but back it with hard facts and statistics. Periodic updates need to be disseminated in multiple media and channels. Such dissemination of information is not only important to counter BN’s accusations and arguments but also to keep the voters who voted them into power updated on the progress of their representatives. Don’t take voters for a ride – voters know how to read in between the lines too

4. Have a selection committee to vet through candidates and representatives to ensure that they work for the people and is not easily swayed by emotion and personal views. Work closely with the Third Force and NGOs who can provide candidates with the right set of values. Give way to pulse of the local community – one good example, getting the right candidates to be appointed leaders to head Sabah and Sarawak branches.

5. Focus on actual work that benefits the people instead of working to highlight the past wrongdoing of the previous Government. Since 2008, too much time, effort and energy been wasted on digging out the past administration mess instead of moving on and doing a good job for the people. At the same time, the effort of digging up the wrongdoing of the previous administration should be left to the enforcement agencies in the country (if they sleep on this, fire the whole lot after you have become the Government)

6. Be more proactive and ensure that what need to be done to ensure smooth operation of the Government is done as early as possible and with the right procedures. Don’t wait until the BN appoints their own people before deciding to the change the constitution and finalizing your set of lists. After all, making the first move is a good strategy and makes it difficult for attacks to be made.

Frankly speaking, it does not take a genius to make the “dos and don’ts list” for Pakatan Rakyat to get their act together in 2011. There is no assurance that they will win back most of the confidence lost on them over the years since 2008 but who knows, Malaysians are forgiving type and there is a pain in the neck called BN who have not make major changes for the betterment of the country.

We still need the opposition to be strong and viable to provide the alternative option for the country. We have been doing nothing but waste money and precious time, bickering among ourselves instead of focusing on what is more important. For Pakatan Rakyat, 2010 was not their year but who knows what can happen in 2011.

Listen up and start getting things done.

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Political Double Speak

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MACC can truly improve?


This is the question that been asked many times but yet to be answered satisfactorily by the agency itself…

(We don’t have Senapathy – the old man who kills corrupt government officials (in the movie Indian) and even his own corrupt son to weed out corruption from the system. We have MACC but the question is how far it has been effective in “weeding” out the corruption from the system. Image source: http://www.sun2surf.com)

PKFZ mess saw some positive movement in recent days when the former Transport Minister was charged in the court for cheating the Government on PKFZ. One can call it as the “biggest fish” caught todate but until we see the outcome, we will not be hoping for the end of the mess so soon. There are still a lot of big fishes yet to be caught and the judiciary’s decision on those been caught todate is yet to be seen. More importantly, we have yet to know whether we can recover back the tax payer’s money.

I recall the post titled “MACC can improve” where the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board said what is important is for MACC to be given the opportunity and time to prove itself.

I wish could share same the Board’s sentiments on MACC and wish that we can indeed give it the opportunity and time to prove itself.

In the Tamil movie, Sivaji: The Boss, the hero (played by Rajinikanth) uncovers the evidence of undeclared money of the villain and after getting half of it, he informs the Income Tax Vigilance Department who proceed to make a high level raid on the villain’s house together with CBI and the police. Politically, the villain is well connected (he determines who forms the next Government) but despite this, he was helpless with the enforcement authorities make the raid. The enforcement authorities were dedicated in doing their job and they do not answer to their political masters.

In the Tamil movie, Kandasamy – the hero is a tough CBI officer who goes after powerful people without favour or fear. And the strongest support for the hero comes from the very top in the department.

The above is just examples of how enforcement agents should ideally act in discharging his duties. I say ideally because in reality, things are not so smooth sailing as we have not been seeing the proper discharge of duty by enforcement agencies such as the police and MACC when it comes to politicians from the ruling parties. As many of us would say in disappointment, “the big fish is yet to be caught”.

Yes, investigation papers have been opened on politicians like Khir Toyo but what is the good of investigations when it is yet to see the light of the day. Despite the obvious evidence (as uncovered by Selcat), Khir Toyo is still roaming around creating unnecessary problems in Selangor.

What about the purported commission that was paid in defence deals? What about the 60 page document that was submitted to MACC in early January 2009 by the opposition? What about the revelation that has been surfacing on the Sarawak’s Chief Minister’s questionable wealth and overseas properties? How about the revelation that politicians have been sending millions through unregulated hawala system?

I agree that the revamped MACC performed better than the old ACA but the question is “how much” better. Despite the change of name, MACC is still riddled with the handicap that faced the old ACA as well – top of the list, the absence of the power to prosecute. Sadly, MACC at the end of the day still need to wait for the AG’s green light for prosecution.

What is the point of utilising tax-payers’ money, time and manpower in investigations of corrupt acts if at the end of the day, the perpetrator cannot be prosecuted in a court of law? When this happens, how MACC expects people to respect it? How it expects people to give it the opportunity and time to prove itself?

Rather than acting like this old man, we need a proper institution that work tirelessly fighting corruption. We need an anti corruption agency like MACC and we want it to be so effective that anyone would piss in their pants before thinking of committing the slightest act of corruption. We want it to be feared by offenders and well liked by the whistle-blowers. We simply want corruption in this country to end. It is because corruption, if not checked, will cripple the country and create chaos to the people.

But then again, we do not want an agency that only acts against the opposition whilst look the other away on corruption by the ruling politicians involving millions, billions of taxpayers’ money. We do not want an agency that is seen to be certain political party’s stooge (they may not have intended to be one but actions speaks louder than words). We do not want an agency that is feared by whistle-blowers and not feared by those who are corrupt to the core. We do not want an agency where a witness ends up dead after a questionable, late night interrogations.

If MACC can prove us wrong and show (with strong actions, not with empty talks) that it is dedicated to fighting corruption on both side of the political ground and is fearless, then perhaps, we may give it opportunity and time to prove itself.

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Mission to ‘Mars’


Let’s state the obvious…

(Politicians and soiled diapers need to be changed often and for the same reason – cartoon source: http://davies.lohudblogs.com)

We elect politicians into office so that they can be our servants and not to be our masters.

We elect politicians so that they can make the best deal for the rakyat, not to make best deal for themselves.

What is needed at end of the day is accountability and transparency – it is simple as that. We admit that in the course of performing their duties to serve the people, politicians is entitled to certain perks and allowances, depending on the quality of work, of course. The Prime Minister for example can enjoy the escort of the police outriders when he needs to run through the traffic during peak hours (although we wish that he could take the public transport once in a while and see how fucked up the system is).

We are not complaining if things are done by the book.

And talking about doing things by the book, there has been interesting developments in the area of accountability and transparency – one is on the leaked Cabinet papers and the other on the very purpose of Selcat and its direction

On the cabinet papers, they are now going after the one leaked the information:-

Police investigations into the posting of classified Cabinet papers on the Internet will focus more on where the leak occurred rather than who was responsible for making them public, said Home Minister Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

The Cabinet paper is looking at the PKFZ scandal and we been waiting for the many investigations by many parties (MACC, police, cabinet, PAC, etc) to come to an end and get the ‘son-of-bitches’ (words inspired by General George S Patton) who have squandered the millions to be caught and punished severely.

The last thing we need is for the PKFZ scandal coming to a closure without anyone brought out into the open and be accountable. We do not need the loss of millions simply swept under the carpet in the usual Malaysia Boleh spirit.

On the Selcat, it is being attacked from, not a big surprise, Khir Toyo and seems to be in collusion with PAS’ Hasan Ali (increasingly becoming the oddball in the Pakatan Rakyat coalition)

The latest spat over Selangor’s Committee for Competency, Accountability and Transparency (Selcat) shows that there is a power tussle between the Mentri Besar and state assembly Speaker, says Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo.

Once again Khir Toyo is playing the racial card to overshadow the ‘good’ work that Selcat have done to date to uncover the blatant corruption and misuse of public funds during Khir Toyo’s helm at the administration of the state. One must admit that if not for change of state government, the blatant use of public funds would have gone unnoticed.

Hasan Ali said:-

“Investigations which involved degrading methods that affect the dignity of the people being questioned and elements of pressure did not reflect the philosophy of Selcat,” he said in a statement yesterday.

As a result of such tactics, he said many senior civil servants had lost their sense of self-worth and their morale was low.

Hasan Ali may have good points in his argument to improve Selcat but the problem is if many senior civil servants have done their job well and without the inclination to still work for or being pressured by the previous government, we will not be hearing blatant and gross recklessness like this:-

A district officer today revealed that Barisan National (BN) assemblymen under his jurisdiction had misused their state allocations ahead of the March 8 general elections last year.

Earlier Petaling District Officer Datuk Zulkepli Ahmad was at a loss to explain how approval for state allocations for BN lawmakers was given even after the state assembly was dissolved and even after the new PR state government was sworn-in.

There was a clear case of misuse of public funds in both cases – PKFZ scandal and in the findings of Selcat. What is yet to be finalised is the extent and the implications.

In recent developments in both cases, what is being feared is whether the truth will be lost and the guilty ones will get away unpunished, once again. In Malaysia, despite being more developed country and have a developed arms of government and having specialised enforcement agencies like the MACC (previously ACA), we are not much better than some 3rd world countries where corruption rules and no one ends up being accountable or answerable.

It is akin to the mission to Mars – there is a lot of work to be done and change of attitude before we can say we are corruption free country. Otherwise it will be the loss of millions year in, year out.