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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A serious crisis of confidence

Wednesday, 13 May 2009 | malaysiaToday | Raja Petra Kamarudin

Say what you like, Malaysia is suffering from a crisis of confidence. And the longer it takes to solve Perak, and the more Umno manipulates and abuses the system, the harder it will be and the longer it will take to build back that confidence.


Court of Appeal to hear Nizar case May 18

(The Edge) - Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin filed an application with the Court of Appeal today in response to the Court of Appeal's stay of execution order in favour of Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir.

The Court of Appeal has set May 18 to hear the case. Nizar's lawyers also filed a certificate of urgency for the hearing.


Mida reports shows crisis is crippling Perak economy, says DAP

(Bernama) - DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng today asked Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to call for fresh elections in Perak, saying the political impasse has hurt the state's economy badly.

Lim, who is Penang chief minister, said that according to a report of the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (Mida), total investment in Perak in terms of performance had dropped drastically.

The report showed that Perak had dropped from sixth position in 2008 to 10th in the first two months of 2009, he told reporters after Iran's ambassador Mahdi Khandaghabadi had called on him, here.

Lim said that based on the Mida report, Perak only recorded RM32 million in investment this year and lacked behind other states in securing investment, with Johor in first place with over RM1 billion in investments followed by Selangor with RM707 million and Penang with RM685 million.

"This also proves that the political crisis in Perak has affected the state's economic growth and I believe this can be resolved after the dissolution of the Perak state legislative assembly to pave the way for fresh elections," he said.

Lim said only a stable government would be able to ensure economic growth and development in the state.

He also said that the people in Perak had the power to elect and decide on the rightful menteri besar of Perak. "Even if we win in the courts, the DAP's position is to call for fresh elections and dissolve the assembly," he said, adding that the DAP would return power to the people to decide on the rightful menteri besar.

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya allowed a stay of execution of Monday's Kuala Lumpur High Court decision declaring Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin of the DAP-PKR-PAS coalition as the rightful menteri besar of Perak.

With the suspension of the declaratory order, the post of Perak menteri besar has returned to Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir of the Barisan Nasional

(BN) pending the hearing of his appeal against the High Court decision.


In Malaysia, you just can’t separate politics, religion and the economy. The Barisan Rakyat Bloggers and a few of the civil society movements realised, way back in 2006, that Malaysia was heading for a political crisis -- which means an economic crisis as well. Of course, then, we did not know yet when the next general election was going to be held -- but it would have to be held by March 2009, whatever the case may be, unless martial law is declared and parliament is suspended due to civil strife the likes of ‘May 13’ or worse.

In mid-2007, we got word that the general election would be held on 15 March 2008. I must credit YB Ronnie Liu with this information though. It was Ronnie who managed to obtain this information somehow and I decided to trust his source and ran with it.

Of course, with the benefit of hindsight, the general election was instead held on 8 March. So we were off by a week. But, as they say, either you are pregnant or you are not. You can’t be a little bit pregnant.

Nevertheless, Malaysia Today is not a newspaper, as I have always said, and we can’t use mainstream newspaper standards in verifying the information before publishing anything. I trusted Ronnie and if he trusts his source beyond any shadow of doubt then I have to run with the information he gave me. Ronnie could be wrong. Or his source could be wrong. Which would mean then my 15 March 2008 ‘prediction’ would be wrong as well.

What if the general election was held in March 2009 instead, the last possible date that it must be held according to the Constitution? Well, then I would end up with egg on my face and will have to chalk this whole thing up to another insider lead that we trusted which turned out false in the end.

But what was the purpose of revealing the general election date, especially if it were true? The purpose was simply this. We felt the opposition needed a bit more time to get its act together. So, the later the general election, the better. In mid-2007, DAP, PKR and PAS were still squabbling over seats. There were many seats that ‘overlapped’ and in some cases all three parties wanted to contest the same seat. If this disagreement can’t be settled by the time the general election is called, then there would be a danger some seats might see a four-corner fight -- BN versus DAP-PKR-PAS. You do not need to be a political genius to figure out that not only will BN win that seat but some of the opposition candidates might even end up losing their deposit -- like what happened in the 2004 general election when some seats saw three-corner fights because DAP, PKR and PAS all wanted to contest the same seat.

Our purpose in revealing the 15 March 2008 date was, first of all, to frighten the three opposition parties so that they would come to the realisation that there was not much time left and they needed to get their act together, fast, and resolve the seat issue, or else they would get massacred like in 2004. Secondly, we hoped that once we reveal the date then Umno would try to prove us wrong by postponing the general election to a much later date.

I mean, why would Umno hold the general election in March 2008 and then give us credibility by proving us right? Better they delay it and prove us wrong -- in which case they can turn around and say that Malaysia Today publishes bullshit. The general election that Malaysia Today said would be called on 15 March 2008 never happened after all. That proves what they say is all crap.

We were worried they would not bite. They might just ignore what we wrote and go ahead with the 15 March 2008 revelation. And that would mean the opposition would be caught with its pants down and the many overlapping seats would remain unresolved right up to Nomination Day.

That would be disastrous. So we needed a Plan B.

And Plan B was a unity government, which Nik Aziz just said, today, is not going to happen. So, during the fasting month of 2007, we organised a dialogue session between Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and the Barisan Rakyat Bloggers, plus a few civil society movements, in the ‘White House’ at Jalan Langgak Golf.

What if during the next general election -- whether it is March 2008 or March 2009 -- we see a ‘hung parliament’ a la May 1969? What if there is no clear winner and neither Barisan Nasional nor the opposition has a clear majority -- or Barisan Nasional has a simple majority of, say, just one or two seats? Would they, again, trigger another ‘May 13’ to regain power? Or worse, what if the opposition wins, but with just a simple majority of one or two seats? Would that mean another ‘May 13’ will be inevitable and the only prospect ahead of us?

Those were the worries running through our minds. If Barisan Nasional repeats its 2004 performance, well and good. That means there would be no issues as this means the opposition had, again, been wiped out, like in 2004. But chances are we are going to see a surprise. And how to ensure that the surprise would not transform into a shock like what happened two days after the 11 May 1969 general election?

So, discussions with Umno were held. And we saw that only Tengku Razaleigh could be accepted by DAP, PKR and PAS. Any other Umno leader, other than Tengku Razaleigh, would be no go. Very few opposition leaders would be prepared to work with Umno if it was someone other than Tengku Razaleigh.

In fact, DAP was a bit worried about working with Tengku Razaleigh. If Najib becomes Prime Minister, then the Chinese -- who still remember what his father did in 1969 and what he himself did in 1988 with the ‘bathing the keris in Chinese blood’ stunt -- would swing to the opposition. But if Tengku Razaleigh ends up as Prime Minister instead, then the Chinese, in particular the business community, would swing back to Barisan Nasional.

It would not be in the interest of DAP that Tengku Razaleigh takes over. And if Tengku Razaleigh proposes a unity government, as he has, then the Chinese would not require DAP any longer. The Chinese have confidence in Tengku Razaleigh as this prince from Kelantan is perceived as the best man to manage Malaysia’s economy, which is what ultimately the Chinese want to see.

Nevertheless, DAP put the nation’s interest above its party interest. A unity government would weaken the opposition. But it would strengthen the nation’s economy because, not only would we have a man at the helm who would know what to do, but all the unnecessary politicking would come to an end and everyone could now remain focused and get down to the job of running the country and managing the economy.

Well, as they say, the rest is all water under the bridge now. Tengku Razaleigh did not make it as Umno President and Prime Minister, and the unity government never came about. Instead, we have Najib as Prime Minister and the focus of the entire government -- police, judiciary and whatnot included -- is on politics, politics, and yet more politics.

This is most unfortunate. Matthias Chang had already written, time and time again, that the world is about to face a serious financial crisis. In fact, he said we are going to see a total collapse of the entire economic system not later than 2008 or 2009. Many rubbished him and some even said he is a madman. But then they said the same thing about many other geniuses over the many hundreds of years and we now know that these geniuses were just too advanced for their time and that is why they were perceived as madmen.

I trusted Matthias. I still do. No doubt he has a ‘funny way’ of putting his message across. But then so do I. We all do. Maybe that’s why he and I can get along very well -- we are both tau fung. But what if Matthias is right? What if we are about to see the worse economic collapse since before the Second World War? And what if we don’t have a strong government to handle the crisis and are instead locked in political battles and conflicts to the extent that nobody cares about the economy any longer?

Yes, we can’t do much about an economic Tsunami, any Tsunami for that matter. But we are not only talking about an economic Tsunami here. We are also talking about a crisis of confidence. And this is not an external factor beyond our control. This is a self-inflicted wound, which could have been avoided in the first place.

What is going on in Perak is not just about politics. It is also about sending the right signals to investors, in particular foreign investors. Do you know that foreigners no longer want to sign agreements in Malaysia? They would rather sign them in Singapore, a country they trust more than Malaysia. They just don’t trust Malaysian courts.

Even if they do sign the agreements in Malaysia, they will ask for an arbitration clause to be inserted in the agreement so that, in the event a dispute arises, they can avoid Malaysian courts and instead go for international arbitration.

That is the fundamental problem with Malaysia. People just don’t trust the Malaysian courts. In fact, they don’t trust the police and everything related to Malaysia, including the political party in power. How can we ride out this rough patch when we have two battlefronts to fight?

Say what you like, Malaysia is suffering from a crisis of confidence. And the longer it takes to solve Perak, and the more Umno manipulates and abuses the system, the harder it will be and the longer it will take to build back that confidence. Umno may not openly admit it, but they know what I am talking about. Ultimately, however, it is not the superrich Umno leaders who will suffer. It is you and me, the people on the street, the working class citizens, who are going to pay the price of all this political folly.

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