Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What's Next, Anwar?

I have not written anything about the Permatang Pauh by-election for the last two weeks partly because I got fed-up with all the mud-slinging, name-calling, accusations and counter-accusations; most of which are personal in nature instead of trying to win over voters through policies. (Refer to my earlier posts about even politicians themselves getting fed-up between June and July)

Anyway, now that the result is out, I got to write something about it. If anything, at least I want to put the frontpage of today's Star (pix above), Malaysia's leading tabloid daily, on record. As I have said before, my experience with the archives has taught me to save in my computer whatever is important historically. Not just for myself, but also for the benefit of our future generations and non-Malaysians visitors of my blog.

As usual, I have chosen to reproduce the Star because of its appropriate heading plus a huge photograph of Anwar Ibrahim and his wife Azizah on its frontpage. (Click on the image for a larger view) Most of the government or ruling party-controlled media played down Anwar's victory. The UMNO-controlled New Straits Times, Star's rival, carried a banner headline saying "It's Anwar as expected".

RTM, the government TV station, in its news analysis this morning also described Anwar's victory as "as expected". It even went ahead to say that Anwar's victory was nothing to shout about as his margin of majority was only slightly higher than that of his wife. Azizah, who stood in for Anwar while the former Deputy Premier was in jail and later barred from election, obtained a 13,000+ majority in March this year while Anwar's was 15,000+. The last time he contested while still Deputy Prime Minister in 1995, his majority was 23,000+ which was even more than that of the then Prime Minister.

Following Anwar's election yesterday, there were rumours that he would be sworn-in only next week (September); thus missing the 2009 Malaysian Budget presentation by the Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi in Parliament Friday. However, the Speaker announced this morning that Anwar could be sworn-in tomorrow, in time for the Budget speech which will be telecast live over local TV.

And the Opposition certainly wasted no time. This afternoon the coalition of Anwar's PKR, the Chinese-based DAP and Islamic party PAS informed the Speaker of their choice of Anwar as Parliamentary Opposition Leader, replacing Azizah who resigned as MP on July 31. This means that Anwar will be sitting directly facing the Prime Minister cum Finance Minister who will be presenting the Budget. Previously as DPM, Anwar was seated next to the PM, facing the Opposition bench. What a reversal of fortunes!

However, if you speak to any Opposition supporter, he or she will tell you that Anwar will not be sitting on the Opposition bench for long. This is because Anwar and his supporters have been telling Malaysians that come September 16 (the date which Malaysia was formed in 1963), the Opposition coalition collectively known as Pakatan Rakyat (People's Alliance) would be the government.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) needs 30 government backbenchers from the ruling Barisan Nasional (National Front) to cross over for it to form the government. It won only 82 parliament seats in the March 8 election, described as Malaysia's political Tsunami, as opposed to BN's 140. 'Tsunami' because in the last Parliament, there were only 20-odd opposition MPs. In addition, the opposition also won 5 of Malaysia's 13 states in March.

But events since March 8 had shown that moving a vote of no-confidence against the Prime Minister in Parliament is easier said than done, let alone winning it! After the Budget tabling on Friday, the Malaysian Parliament will take a month-long break due to the Muslim fasting month. Islam is the official religion of Malaysia and normally official functions are minimised during the holy month of Ramadan.

This means that the Opposition can forget about the September 16 dateline if the no-confidence method is to be used. Another possible method is for Anwar to present to the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong (Malaysian King) a list containing signatures of MPs supporting him to be the new PM; assuming he has the number by then as claimed. Even then, the King is not obliged to invite the Opposition leader to form the government. Even then, the incumbent PM may challenge it in court since his 'losing of control' has not been proven in Parliament.

On top of that, it is not easy to get 30 MPs to jump. A few may be easy, but 30 won't be as easy as the BN is still firmly in control. Infact, the Malaysian government is so powerful that one would think twice before jumping. There is the dreaded Internal Security Act or famously known as ISA which allows detention without trail. The government also controls the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) which decides who gets investigated or charged. Then of course, there is the Income Tax thing.

To illustrate my point further, it has been three months since Sabah Progrssie Party or SAPP, a member of the ruling coalition, dropped a bombshell saying it had lost confidence in the Prime Minister and BN chairman Abdullah. At that time, many people thought that would be the end of Pak Lah (the PM's nick name) as an exodus or snowball effect was expected to follow. But SAPP has only two MPs and nobody else followed and even then the duo are officially still BN MPs! Three months later, Pak Lah is still the PM and the no-confidence motion threathened by SAPP has still not been moved! Azizah tried once but her motion didn't even get debated!

Any PR or SAPP supporter reading this may say that I am pro-BN. But if I were pro-BN, I would not have reproduced the Star's frontpage above. I am just a blogger who is trying to be objective and credible. If you read my writings since last year, you would know that I try to be unbiased. But as I have said before my experience as a reporter tells me that no matter how you write, there is always people unhappy.

A true journalist or blogger's job is not to make people happy. We are NOT entertainers. We are writers who hope to establish a name or following for ourselves. There is no greater satisfaction than knowing that people can't wait to read what you write next. Of course, I concede that in this world there may be mercenary writers but I am not one of them. Read my writings from the start and judge for yourselves.

Besides, I didn't say that it is impossible for the Opposition to topple the government or for Anwar to take over as PM. All I am saying is given the present circumstances, September 16 is perhaps no longer a tangible date. The real show will only begin when Parliament sitting resumes in October. Even then, the Speaker can find excuses to block any no-confidence motion if he wants to.

So, Anwar, what's next? By the way, congrats.

(P/S: By the way, to give credit where it is due, I salute DPM Najib who was BN's director of operations for the Permatang Pauh by-election for congratulating Anwar and accepting the decision of the voters. It is a good start to try to win back the voters come next election.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Taking Care of Twins

Yesterday, I surfed the Net after not having done so for over a week; just came back from KL after visiting my son who is studying there.

And as usual, among the first sites I visited was Giuk.Net, our beloved 'From Sabah to the World' portal. The most popular post there yesterday was "How to take care (of) your twins in one shot!" by PapaJoneh. (

The title of his post spoke for itself. It's about how our local blogger friend, PapaJoneh, had to take care of his by now one-year-old twin boys. Normally, I wouldn't bother to read on by clicking on the heading. Not that I'm not your fan PapaJoneh or that I don't like kids, but it's simply that I try to read as many blogs as possible in one day, especially political ones and news portals and time therefore is the essence. I'm sure most of us are choosy of what we read because of time factor.

But something happened during my recent KL trip which made me want to read more about what PapaJoneh had to say yesterday. You see, while in KL my wife and I stayed with my niece (my brother's daughter) who is married to a West Malaysian Chinese. Their situation is just like PapaJoneh and his wife's. They also have a few-year-old elder son and a pair of younger twin boys! Except that their children are slightly older than PapaJoneh's.

Before the KL trip, my wife and I always took for granted the joy of having twins. We did not realise the real implications or the 'pains' or difficulties that parents of twins (what more triplets!) had to go through in bringing them up, especially the first few years. But after spending a few days with my niece (and her twins) we realised how hard it actually is in looking after twins.

For example, when one cries the other also cries. When one is ill somehow the other one also falls ill. And one is always jealous of the other and always competing with each other in vying for their mum's (not so much dad) attention. Even when my niece is driving, both twins want to sit on her lap! Luckily her car had automatic gear and luckily no traffic summons so far!

Now I know why there's a saying that "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Rules The World". But in PapaJoneh's case it's "The Foot That Rocks The Cradle Rules The World!" (See the picture below and you will know what I mean.) How ingenious! Memang kau boleh PapaJoneh!

Below is a picture of PapaJoneh's elder son, Josh, taking a closer look at his two younger brothers, about a year or so ago.

However, my niece said, despite all the 'sufferings', her 'pains' went away whenever she sees her twins playing happily together or whenever they say 'Mummy' or 'Papa'. Although the elder twin is more stingy, he is however protective of his younger brother. One incident that really made me laugh was when the the two-year-old older twin 'scolded' his four-year-old older brother for making the younger twin cry. Just imagine, a two-year-old yelling and finger-pointing at his four-year brother; and yet I didn't understand a single word he said!

My niece said sometimes she finds that all the 'sufferings' were worth-it. The following pictures perhaps explains why....

By the time we headed for home, I had a better understanding of the situation parents of twins are in and better appreciation of their problems, especially those in the lower-income group, with due respect. While at the airport waiting for the flight, I was thinking to myself, what more for parents with triplets! Just then, my wife brought to my attention a news item on the TV at the departure lounge - A woman in Eypyt gave birth to seven babies!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

One Nation Emcees Did Sabah, Malaysia and Borneo Proud

Two months ago, I urged Sabahans to vote for One Nation Emcees since it's our State's own group, although I understand the female singer actually originated from Peninsular Malaysia but studied at UiTM Kota Kinabalu. That was mid-way in the 4-month contest held in Kuala Lumpur.

Last night, my call was vindicated as the group won the 2nd edition of the regional talent quest, Gang Starz, which was telecast live over TV3. Indonesia and the Philippines carried delayed telecast.

One Nation Emcees defeated fellow-finalists from Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. In the early stages of the show, there were also groups from Singapore and Thailand.

And what did they get for their 4-month effort? USD100,000! Plus RM10,000 and a trip to Bali for garnering the most sms votes during the 4 months!

Congratulations guys! You not only did Sabah proud, but Malaysia too. You showed that Sabah Boleh and Malaysia Boleh.

Their victory adds to a growing list of Sabahan winners at the national level. (Infact, in One Nation Emcees' case, it was international level.) Recently, Stacy became the first Sabahan to win the Akademi Fantasia over Astro.

In March, another Sabahan lass Ayu won a cool RM1 million in TV7's One In A Million singing contest. Last year, Ray of Tuaran won the nationwide RTM singing contest. Two years ago, Sabahan band Jiaja won Blast Off also of Astro.

One of my readers/visitors was not too happy that I urged Sabahans to vote for One Nation Emcees two months ago just because it's a Sabah group. What say you guys? Did I have the right to make that call, myself being a Sabahan? Did Kedahans have the right to cheer for their football team which won Malaysia Cup (or was it another Cup?) recently? Anyway, I thank this reader for her comment. She had her right too.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

SAPP 'Safe', for now

The Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) is safe, at least for now.

The supreme council of Malaysia's ruling coalition, the National Front or BN, at its meeting in Kuala Lumpur today deferred any decision on SAPP's fate.

BN chairman and Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said after the meeting that the council needed more time to study in detail the reply given by SAPP. BN had last month given the east Malaysian party 30 days to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against it for threatening to table a motion of no-confidence on Abdullah as PM.

Before the meeting, speculations were rife that SAPP would be sacked or at least suspended from the coalition, if anything at least as a deterrent for other component parties. Political observers quickly linked the no-decision by BN to the August 26 by-election in Permatang Pauh where former Deputy Premier Anwar Ibrahim will be trying a comeback to parliament.

In an immediate reaction in Kota Kinabalu, SAPP president Yong Teck Lee said his party was disappointed with the "no decision" made by BN on the party's position "in view of the Permatang Pauh by-election."

"The coalition has put political interest above that of the people of Sabah.
"We are totally disappointed that the Barisan leadership has again put off a key decision affecting Sabah just in order for them to finish a by-election campaign first," he said in a statement.

Yong said that SAPP's 3-paragraph reply to the Barisan show cause letter on July 29 was simple and clear because it was a "mere reiteration of SAPP's loss of confidence in the Prime Minister."

"What is so complicated that the BN needs to study in detail?," he asked.
SAPP deputy president Raymond Tan, who is against the no confidence against the Prime Minister, declined to comment on the "no decision" saying that he wanted to see what clarification BN was looking at.

My Say: What an anti-climax, after all.

Permatang Pauh - 1st Salvo Fired!

The Nomination Day for the Permatang Pauh by-election is still 10 days away, but the first salvo has already been fired.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is to contest in the by-election caused by the resignation of his wife Azizah, has been served with with notice by the police to appear in the sessions court at 10am tomorrow.

This was according to his lawyer, Sankara Nair.

Anwar has been accused by his former aide of sodomising him. But whether Anwar will be charged in relation to the case remains to be seen.

This would be the 2nd sodomy charge against Anwar, if it takes place tomorrow. Ten years ago he was jailed for the same charge. The coviction was later overturned b a higher court, but not before Anwar had aready suffered a few years in jail.

August 26 it is!

The Malaysian Election Commission has set August 26 for the Permatang Pauh by-election. Nomination will be on August 16, it announced after a meeting today.

The by-election follows the resignation of incumbent Permatang Pauh Member of Parliament, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who won the seat for the third time on March 8.

It was to make way for her husband, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who was the incumbent until the 1999 general election. Anwar, heir-apparent to then Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, was sacked as Deputy Premier on September 2, 1997.

He was jailed for sodomy and corruption in 1998 but the sodomy conviction was overturned by a higher court 3 years ago. However, the conviction on corruption stayed which prohibited him from contesting on March 8.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Two Important Events Tomorrow

Tomorrow, Wednesday 6 August 2008, there will be two important events in the political calender of Malaysia.

First, the Election Commission will meet to fix the dates for the nomination and polling days for the Permatang Pauh by-election; made necessary by the resignation of its Member of Parliament, Datuk Seri Dr Azizah.

The Malaysian Parliament opposition leader (until last weekend) resigned to make way for her husband, former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (top pic). But Azizah will remain President of the People's Justice Party (PKR), presumably until the next party election.

Anwar, the spiritual leader of PKR, was the Permatang Pauh MP until the 1999 Malaysian general election. Azizah took over in that election as Anwar was jailed and disqualified form contesting the year before.

In 1999, Azizah won with almost 10,000 majority votes. In the 2004 election, however, her majority was drastically reduced to just a few hundred votes. In the 8 March 2008 election, dubbed Malaysia's political Tsunami, her majority miraculously jumped to over 13,000!

When Anwar was jailed for sodomy (which was later overturned by a higher court) and corruption in 1998, every Malaysian thought that was the end of his political career. Then, on March 8, he led the opposition (PKR+Muslim-based PAS+Chinese-based DAP) into an unprecedented good showing; denying the ruling BN the much-needed two-thirds majority in Parliament and taking control of 5 state governments.

The by-election is supposed to enable Anwar to become an MP which in turn would enable him to become the Prime Minister, a post which eluded him in 1997 when, despite being heir-apparent, he was sacked by his boss, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Anwar couldn't contest in March as his corruption offence prevented him from doing so until April.

Anwar has repeatedly said he would be PM by 16 September, the date Malaysia was formed in 1963; through the supposedly switching of camps by some BN MPs. In March, the opposition won 82 MP seats and the BN 130. Will he finally achieve his dream, of becoming PM? Only God knows. Meanwhile, another sodomy charge is staring at his face!

The other important political event tomorrow is the meeting of the Supreme Council of Malaysia's ruling National Front (BN). On its agenda will also be two important discussions.

First, the meeting will discuss, of course, the Permatang Pauh by-election. Who will represent BN? What strategy to use? Or should BN contest at all? (At least one BN leader had suggested boycotting the by-election so as not to fall into Anwar's trap.)

Next on the agenda is the fate of Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), a component of the BN. On 18 June, SAPP president Datuk Yong Teck Lee dropped a bombshell by declaring that his party had lost confidence in BN chairman and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

(Bottom picture shows Yong (left) with SAPP MP Dr Chua Soon Bui and party deputy president Raymond Tan (right) at a meeting in June. Tan, also a Deputy Chief Minister in the Sabah State Government, is being seen by most SAPP members as a vallian because of his differing views. He has openly denied Yong's press statements on two occasions since the bombshell. It is also rumoured that he may join another Chinese-based BN component party should SAPP be sacked tomorrow in order to protect his government post.)

He added that SAPP's two MPs will either move or support a motion of no-confidence on Abdullah in Parliament the following week. To cut the long story short, until today that motion has not been moved.

SAPP has however in the meantime received a show cause letter and been given one month to explain its action. That one month expired last week and SAPP has replied.
The BN meeting tomorrow will study SAPP's reply and decide on possible disciplinary actions including sacking from the coalition. In other words, tomorrow is D-Day for SAPP.

Yong has repeatedly said that SAPP was prepared to face any disciplinary action. Political observers however pointed out that sacking is exactly what Yong wants.

"If BN sacks SAPP, they are falling into the trap of Yong. Any sacking will make Sabahans symphatize with SAPP even more and this will translate into votes in the next election" said the observer.

Another observer said Yong, being a seasoned politician, is going for the long-term and has his eyes already on the next election although it may be still a few years away.

"Yong, a lawyer and former Sabah Chief Minister, is shrewd enough to realise that, based on the results of the March 8 election, parties aligned to the BN may not do well in Sabah again. By the next election, the wind of change which blew accross Peninsular Malaysia on March 8 would have reached East Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak) especially in the urban or Chinese areas," the observer said.

Good move, may be, Yong. But in the meantime SAPP members have to, understandably, brace for hard times, especially if the party is sacked from BN tomorrow. To begin with, the positions of its government appointees will be affected. SAPP has a full Minister and an Assistant Minister in the State Government plus many other lesser posts. Yong himself MAY be in trouble too. He MAY have a corruption case staring at him in the face.

Whatever it is, man proposes God disposes. Let His will be done, not ours.

Monday, August 4, 2008

What A Disappointment!

What a disappointment! That's all I can say to describe my feelings for not being able to attend the SBG2 (Sabah Bloggers Gathering 2) in Kota Kinabalu, capital of Sabah, Malaysia on Borneo island over the weekend.

As some of you knew, I have for the past couple of months been displaying the SBG2 logo on my blog. I had also confirmed my attendence to the organisers, together with Mrs Sikmading.

I missed the inaugural SBG last year as I started blogging only one week after the event! So when I first learned about SBG2 a few months ago, I quickly registered. In other words, I was really looking forward to it.

Then, all of a sudden, last Friday I was told by my boss that I had to attend the Sabah Youth Awards Nite at Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort on Saturday! It was an official function (the guest-of-honour was the Governor!) and what my boss said was a directive. Since I did not apply for leave before hand (next time I would), there was no escape as duty comes first.

What was my feelings when I heard what my boss said? If I may borrow the statement from the image above which I obtained from the Net, "Disappointment washed over me, like a god damn Tsunami", although I wish they didn't use the word god.

Infact, I was looking forward to meeting the top Sabahan bloggers, especially Mr Gaman since I have yet to earn a single cent from my blog. I was also looking forward to meeting fellow bloggers who have either generously listed my site in their blogs or are my regular visitors or commentators and of course the organisers especially Jacq so I can personally congratulate and thank them for a job well-done.

Jadi cakap pun tiada guna lah. Main tengok gambar kamu orang saja lah. Apa boleh buat. Lain kali saja lah.

Talking about lain kali, I would like to appeal to the organisers, in view of the success of SBG1 and 2, plus the fact that the number of local bloggers is growing by the day, may be we don't have to wait until next year to hold SBG3. One year is a long time. May be half-yearly lah for a start and if situation demands may be even quaterly eventually. May be we can have one at the end of the year. Sambil celebrate Hari Raya, Christmas, sambil Happy New Year. What say you guys?

In conclusion, although I was not there, congratulations to the organisers for a job well-done. Keep it up! I understand you guys really had an Aramaiti! I am really jealous of those who were there, especially Elphege of TV3 who called me at about 8pm from downstairs of Imperial Hotel to ask me if I was upstairs. When I told him I was at STAR instead, he must have thought I was joking!