Monday, August 31, 2009

Act three, scene one: President calls for EGM

In a pre-emptive strike the party president has just called for an EGM while supporters of the sacked deputy president are still finalising the resolutions of their motion to be tabled in the EGM that they are planning to hold.
The party president's EGM will have a motion to support the presidential council's decision to sack the deputy president and possibly a motion to support his leadership. In effect, the president's EGM would be a vote of confidence for him.
He seems to be banking on the fact that he needs two thirds of the delegates attending the EGM to support him rather than 1,602 which is two thirds of the 2,402 central delegates nationwide.
If he does not get two-thirds of the attendees' votes, effectively it would be a show of no confidence but would not amount to a vote of no confidence.
Thus if the deputy president's supporters decide to boycott the EGM, it would be a walkover for the president.
What'll happen then? I am not sure, but it will be helluva messy...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Today's chapter: Unseen hands

This episode will be about a former president of the party acting as the unseen hand behind the great Chinese drama unfolding before our very eyes now.
The sacked deputy president can apparently depend on support from his home state of Johore and the state of the former president - Perak.
Unseen hands are said to be guiding the moves by party members and delegates to call for an EGM which is likely to take place next month.
According to the Chinese press, there is speculation that the way out of this mess is for both the present party president and the sacked deputy to "withdraw" from the political scene and allow a senior party statesman to step in to lead the party and repair it in time for the next general election. Word is that the party sifu will be from the Prime Minister's home state - Pahang.
How the dominant Malay party will react to this is not known, but it is pretty obvious that they would rather have a stable MCA than a split one in 2012/13 when the next general election has to be called.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Act two, scene two

Today, the campaign to call for an EGM began when a group of party loyalists who want to "save the party" met and formally announced their intention to get 800 central delegates to back their move.
Will they succeed? Apparently they will.
If that is the case, then the EGM may be held as early as next month.
But will the (sacked) deputy president's supporters be able to convince more than 1,600 delegates to back their motion of no confidence against the party president and also reverse the decision of the presidential council? At this moment, the word is they will not be able to do so.
What will happen then?
The split in the party may be so great and the repercussions so grave that the entire political scene in Malaysia may change - and ironically Pakatan Rakyat will have nothing to do with it and they need not do anything at all except to grab a good seat and watch while the ruling coalition destroys itself.
This wild party will get wilder...

Act two, scene one: The deputy president is sacked

As expected, the second chapter of the great Chinese drama has just been filmed.
Hours ago, the presidential council of the leading Chinese political party decided to follow the recommendation of the disciplinary board and sacked the randy deputy president who had tainted the party's image by "acting" in a sex DVD.
Now, the real party begins....but it's going to be a helluva wild party that threatens to split the leading Chinese political party so badly that it may be hard to stick it back together again.
Watching at the sidelines with great interest and looking rather worried is the leading Malay party whose leaders have been trying so hard to win back support with a series of populist moves. After all the hard work and energy spent, this had to happen and this sacking will have such great repercussions that it even threatens to split the ruling coalition.
It's gonna be a wild party...
The next episode will see supporters of the deputy president calling for the president to be suspended. In fact it has already happened - on Wednesday, several leaders in Perak had called for the president to be suspended.
Then there will be calls for an EGM. The word is there will be enough delegates calling for an EGM to ensure it will take place, but whether the sacked deputy has enough supporters to get a vote of no confidence against the president passed is another story.
We will have to be patient and tune in to watch the next episode as the great Chinese drama takes the Malaysian political landscape by storm.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hopping out

Today the Lunas state assemblyman Mohd Radzhi Salleh hopped out of Parti Keadilan Rakyat to become an independent member of the Kedah legislative assembly.
Suddenly there is talk of other PKR leaders either jumping ship or becoming independent.
On Friday, Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim was ordered by the High Court to pay RM66.67mil to Bank Islam Malaysia for a loan he took to purchase Guthrie shares when he was the company’s CEO in 2001.
Is there some kind of link between these two events? Both involve Pakatan leaders; both would adversely affect Pakatan in one way or another.
Is the Barisan Nasional federal government using everything at its disposal to topple the Pakatan-led state governments?
Perak has already fallen; Kedah is next. And then Selangor?
People may say it is unfair for Barisan to muscle its way in, but frankly what is fair or unfair in politics? After all, politics is all about strategies, machinations and skulduggeries. Who dares wins.
Pakatan leaders should better have their own contingency plans otherwise they may end up as a footnote in Malaysian history.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

All is not Vel yet

Vel, Vel, looks like the Prime Minister has been rather busy of late going for walkabouts, shaking hands and exercising with students.
His latest attempt at showing that he is serious about connecting with the people took place on Sunday when he visited Batu Caves, that hilly bastion of Hinduism. He became the third Prime Minister after his father and Tun Hussein Onn to visit the grandest Hindu shrine in Malaysia.
Not only did he do a little walkabout, but he went there armed with goodies for the Indians.
The problem is this - such encounters of the personal kind work only for a while. The feel-good factor among the Indians will dissipate as soon as the next Indian criminal suspect dies in police custody.
The Indian community has complained for too long that they have been marginalised. It does not help that their leaders had been busy fighting their private political wars and have little time to truly represent them.
And at Batu Caves, noticeably absent was MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, who was in Perak to attend the state's MIC Convention.
While the reason may be valid, observers have read his absence in a negative way with one news portal even suggesting that Najib was distancing himself from Samy.
Najib must realise that winning over the hearts of the people would require sincerity and delivery of his promises. A walkabout here, a handout there and announcements everywhere will not ensure a landslide Barisan Nasional victory in the next general election.
All is not Vel yet.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sane decision, finally

Finally there is someone in power who is in tune with the realities of the cyber world.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who has his own 1Malaysia blog to reach out to young Net-savvy Malaysians, said yesterday that the Government will not censor the Internet.
Such a move would be ineffective and could cause dissatisfaction among the people, he explained.
Najib realises that information travels freely in the developing world of information and communication technology.
“If we put a form of control, the people cannot accept it,” he said.
Thankfully Najib realises that the Internet is the final frontier of democracy and freedom and Governments should not waste their time and money trying to control the uncontrollable.
It is far better for Governments to improve their performance in terms of transparency, accountability and efficiency than to block off their online critics.
And as for the filtering of porn sites to protect the morals of Malaysian kids, there is no need to waste money on some software and make some supplier richer when such filters can be downloaded for free.
Perhaps the decision-makers need to be taught how to download freeware.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Net censorship?

Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim confirmed today that the Government will install an Internet filtering system purportedly to cut access to porn sites.
He was reported to have said that the system is to reduce “Malaysian children’s exposure to online pornography.”
“We will attempt to put in this filtering system because the safety of our children from pornography cannot be compromised,” he told a press conference.
This will make Malaysia the second country in recent times after China to attempt to control access to the Internet.
China's controversial Green Dam project which would have resulted in every PC being installed with Net filtering software has been postponed.
In Malaysia, it appears it is all systems go.The question is this - why is it necessary for the Government to instal porn filtration software costing nobody knows how much when parental filter softwares are already available for free from the Internet?
When I upgraded my Net service to Streamyx recently, my main concern was that my kids would view porn instead of doing their homework.
I asked around and was told to google for parental filters. I did just that and downloaded one of the more popular ones. Filtration of porn sites can be done by any parent for free.
Which raises another question - perhaps the Government wants to filter other sites? Politically-sensitive ones? Anti-Government ones? Blogs that leak information about the corruption of Barisan politicians? What about which is leaking allegations about DAP politicians? Will this be filtered out too?
The point is this - the Internet is where freedom reigns. Governments have found it difficult to control the Net - look at the experiences of authoritarian nations like China and Myanmar.
The Net has enabled citizens, especially those in strictly-regulated societies, to express themselves freely. Liberal discourses in the Net have enabled societies to mature politically and in some instances, Governments have resorted to using the Net to fight back against online detractors and win over the Net-savvy young generation.
What is the purpose of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's 1Malaysia blog? Now his wife has also launched her blog. A carelessly-programmed filter may just block these sites (oops, somebody's head will roll :) ).
Governments must realise that censorship - or filtration - is not the way to go in the connected world of today. The authorities tried to jam Raja Petra's Malaysia Today site; he simply launched a mirror site, and who's laughing now?
A few days ago, I posted an article on the anti-ISA rally and said it could be read as a tactic by de facto Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to divert attention from the problems Pakatan Raykat is facing. A friend e-mailed a reply with an article she had copied and pasted from a newspaper website in which the writer argued that Malaysians marched against the ISA because they believed in the cause and it was their democratic right to do so.
Such differences in opinion are common among bloggers and commentators - the diversity of views is healthy because it leads to a better understanding of the problems we face in Malaysia and perhaps people from opposing schools of thought can find ways to solve them.
Any political scientist will tell you that in the long run, censorship will lead to a Dark Age while freedom of expression will always lead to a new wave of brilliant, fresh ideas. Malaysian leaders must emerge from the Dark Age that they are still stuck in.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Act One, Scene Two

Scene Two of the saga of the Barisan Nasional component party continues with the deputy president aka the man in the sex DVD appearing before the party's disciplinary committee today despite the fact that the complainant had withdrawn his complaint.
It is likely that the no-nonsense disciplinary committee will find him guilty of some charge like violating the party's code of conduct or behaving in a manner unbecoming of a deputy president or something like that and punish him.
His punishment will come in the form of either a dismissal or a suspension.
Chances are the leaders of the party will not take the risk of going all the way and sack him. Therefore the deputy president will most likely be suspended for a year or two.
That action will spark off Act One Scene Three or Act Two Scene One or whatever...
What will happen next? Will supporters of the deputy president make a move for an EGM? Will there be a motion of no confidence against the party president?
Stay tuned.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pakatan diversion

Another rally, another stand-off, another protest, another day in today's Malaysia.
Somehow it has become formulaic - the protestors gather at the National Mosque or Central Market or Sogo and try to make their way to Dataran Merdeka or the Istana Negara.
As usual the Pakatan bigwigs will be there, the Pas and DAP leaders will walk around and hold press conferences and, last but not least, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will turn up riding pillion on a motorbike to steal the thunder and denounce the enforcement officers for violence and excessive force.
The riot police will fire the tear gas canisters and a truck with water cannon will roll in shooting at the fleeing protestors like some kind of giant water pistol. The protestors will run off, wash off the chemical-laced water with tap water and regroup. Such running battles will continue till the protestors get tired and make their way home or to the nearest teh-tarik stall.
The government is trying to spin the story against the Pakatan -inspired protestors saying that the rioting has caused massive inconvenience to plenty of innocent Klang valley residents, it has resulted in millions of ringgit in lost income for thousands of shopkeepers (and Sogo) in the area, it is bad for the tourism industry, and it has caused the people to turn against such methods. Mainstream propaganda newspapers will spin this story for days.
We have seen it all before.
Frankly it seems as if street protests have become part of Malaysian life and I am reminded of the students of South Korea who hold protests regularly. In South Korea, taking part in a protest is considered part of growing up, a rite of passage, a loss of innocence.
It appears as if taking part in protests in Malaysia is evolving into the South Korean model.
A German investor asked me some time back why the authorities are so worked up over street protests.
He said in Germany and other West European countries, such protests are common. The people gather, vent their frustrations, clash with the riot police and they go home.
"It's a way for the people to let off steam. It is actually a safety valve," he said.
Whether the government reacts or reforms is another matter.
Last Saturday's anti-ISA protest - made more theatrical by a pro-ISA faction obviously backed by the powers that be - can be read as an attempt by Anwar and gang to divert attention from their internal problems and show Malaysians that they are still a force to be reckoned with.
Pakatan should learn that holding one too many street protests - just like having too many forced by-elections - can be counter productive and Malaysians may become immune to such rallies and treat them as a circus.
As a matter of fact, many people decided to stay home and watch TV while others simply avoided the blocked-off parts of town on Saturday and shopped at 1Utama instead of Sogo.
When mamak teh-tarik stalls and Ramli burger/hot dog stands start setting up shop at the usual venues whenever there is a street protest, then Pakatan is in trouble.
In fact they are already in trouble. It is better for them to sort out their internal differences and brush up their performance than to take to the streets again and again.