The “Marriage” Between UMNO And PAS Means The Two Parties Are Now One And The Same

The announcement by Acting UMNO President Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan that the party and PAS would form a committee and opposition caucus in Parliament finally confirms—despite years of denials by leaders from both sides—that the two are in an alliance.

Mohamad even went as far as to describe the alliance as a “marriage”. I had declared them “married” as far back as in the Seri Setia by-election in August 2018 after all the “courtship” that emerged after the fall of Pakatan Rakyat. But with the revelation of the deals that PAS leadership took with UMNO involving monetary compensation, it seems that this is less a “marriage” but a commercial arrangement involving a willing donor and willing recipient.

After months, if not years of colluding and enabling each other—UMNO and PAS are now essentially one and the same.

It is unclear what benefit, if any, the new arrangement will bring to the wider Malay community given that both parties have lately seemed more concerned with jockeying for political power, justifying alleged past wrongdoings and attempting to stir communal feelings.

The two parties have only provided tired rhetorics without any clear alternatives, and have whittled down to become more like regional rather than national parties.

Their former leaders, in contrast, including Dato’ Onn Jaafar, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak, Dr Burhanuddin Helmy, Dato’ Ustaz Fadzil Noor and Tuan Guru Dato’ Bentara Setia Nik Abdul Aziz Mat, were towering Malaysians and Malays who upheld not only multiracial cooperation, but also the highest standards of integrity in public life.

The actions of today’s crop of UMNO and PAS leaders, as well as their so-called “marriage”, mean that both parties have turned their backs on the spirit as well as legacies of their former icons.


We Must Learn The Lessons Of Defeat From Semenyih And Cameron Highlands

Pakatan Harapan has suffered yet another by-election defeat, this time in Semenyih.

I congratulate Barisan Nasional on their victory. I also want to thank the Pakatan Harapan team in Semenyih for their hard work and hope that this setback will not dampen their spirits.

This is now the second defeat Pakatan Harapan has suffered and the first time we have lost a seat since the 2018 General Elections.

I have stressed many times that our government will succeed or fail based on our management of the economy, as well as our stewardship of the institutional reform process.

At the same time, the lack of clarity over our government’s goals, vision for the country and who will be its future leadership have also hampered our work. We must remember, we have agreed to the Pakatan Harapan consensus on this matter.

It has also weakened the confidence of voters in us. When leaders have no clarity and when there is no clarity who is leading, the county drifts and the people suffer.

This latest defeat highlights that we cannot afford to be complacent any longer, or avoid addressing the difficult questions and tasks ahead.
Pakatan Harapan’s leaders must tackle crucial questions over cost of living in a substantive manner.

It must also make government more responsive to the needs of the rakyat and combat corruption as well as impunity relentlessly. The promises outlined in our 2018 manifesto must be adhered to and realized as soon as possible.

Reform can and must be people-centred. That is to only way it will succeed.

Cameron Highlands and Semenyih are clear warnings for Pakatan Harapan: we must deliver or be voted out.

It is as simple as that.


European Muslim World Democracy Forum

Last week, I was invited by Syed Kamall MEP, from the Conservatives to be a panellist at the European Muslim World Democracy Forum. My session was on human capital and education looking specifically on women and youths.

I began by talking about how Malaysia’s NEP stabilised its society and helped to create a Bumiputera middle-class.

This middle-class arguably assisted the movement for political change and reform in Malaysia, especially for parties like Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

However, there are certain anomalies that need to be addressed:

The problems that initiatives like the NEP created, such as corruption, but also entitlement.

Also, economic empowerment has not necessarily prevented youths—whatever their faith—from becoming radicalized. There have been countless terrorists, extremists and radicals from middle-class backgrounds.

The first problem can be addressed by continuing to pursue democracy and good governance in Muslim societies. It is wrong to say that these things are in any way inimical to the teachings of Islam.

The challenge is for politicians to win support and buy-in for these principles among Muslim constituents. This is the challenge facing Pakatan right now. But this is not a problem unique to Muslim polities. Look how American voters continuously tolerate corrupt Republican and even Democratic politicians in some states.

This issue hence requires nuance. Progressive politicians must show that good governance will benefit all peoples—both majority and minorities—as well as protect their dignity and status.

But economic justice is just one piece of the puzzle. Radicalisation among educated and middle-class youth often happens not because they feel poor or oppressed, but because they want meaning in their lives.

The key is persuading young people that voting, being in political parties and civil society as well as participating in policy debates can not only improve their economies, but also make their societies more equal, improve their sense of self-worth and genuinely build their nations.

What needs to happen is that the political class has to:
a. Reduce the barriers to entry for politics for younger figures.
b. Recognize that youth-driven political causes like environmentalism and universal basic income must now be in the mainstream of political discourse.
c. Not scoff or trivialise the influence of social media on politics. We must fight against fake news, of course—but also recognize that Twitter, Instagram and Facebook etc. are serious factors in our democracies.

It is certainly not right for European countries to seek to clamp down on immigration or multiculturalism. We live in a world now where every country is being judged via the 24/7 news cycle and social media.

The West needs to live up to its own values—and it must also have confidence in its own civilization. It should not fear what immigrants do to their values: if Western civilization was really that strong, noble, enlightened and tolerant—all peoples who encounter it would embrace it regardless of their background.

I believe this can be the case. Alienation happens—both among Westerners and immigrants—when the West’s leaders engage in hypocrisy, double-standards or fail to live up to their ideals.

This is something that Asia also must live up to—including Muslim societies and also emerging powers like China – look at the situation of the detention of over a million Uyghurs.

We need all societies to remain open and to also be confident of themselves. At the end of the day, this can only happen with both justice at home and justice abroad.

Lessons From The Cameron Highlands By-Election

The Cameron Highlands by-election has come to an end. The results were not what Pakatan Harapan and our supporters wanted. However, the people have spoken and we must respect their choice.

I thank our candidate and the team in Cameron Highlands. I hope that they, as well as the rest of Pakatan harapan, remain unbowed and that they gain second wind.

The alleged use of racial rhetoric by certain quarters during the campaign is highly disturbing. The relevant authorities should investigate and take stern action if the claims are proven to be true. Moreover, Malaysian voters must ask themselves whether the country or any community is truly well-served by such ugly, unscrupulous acts.

Nevertheless, when all is said and done, the ultimate responsibility for the defeat rests with Pakatan Harapan.
The biggest shortcoming was our inability to articulate a vision for a better future for the Malaysians of Cameron Highlands and the rest of the country.

We have yet to show Malaysians why voting for us will lead to a more equitable and inclusive economy for everyone.

Malaysia’s B40s and M40s cannot live on rhetoric and gestures alone—they need tangible benefits.

We have to measure ourselves against the Buku Harapan. Even when we cannot fully implement the policies in the manifesto, it should reflect the philosophy of delivering for the many and not the few.

In the days, weeks, months and years ahead—Pakatan Harapan will need a strong and clear narrative to persuade Malaysians that we deserve to continue in office.

It is a message that we must all support. Pakatan Harapan will fail if we do not speak with one voice.

And we need to start delivering to the people, especially in terms of the economy.

This is all the more crucial as it is clear that UMNO and PAS have now come together. Their “flirtation” has now metastasized into full-blown collusion. They are now basically one and the same.

The Cameron Highlands result should spur Pakatan Harapan to work even harder, especially with the Semenyih by-election on the horizon.


Allegations By WSJ That Najib Pursued A Pro-China Foreign Policy To Cover Up The 1MDB Scandal Must Be Investigated

The Wall Street Journal has alleged that officials from China told their Malaysian counterparts that it would use its influence to persuade other countries to drop 1MDB-related investigations in return for stakes in Malaysian railway and pipeline projects for the Belt and Road Initiative.
It was also alleged that China offered to bug the Hong Kong homes and offices of WSJ reporters working on the 1MDB story.

More worryingly, it was also claimed that “secret talks” were held “…to let Chinese navy ships dock at two Malaysian ports”, although this apparently did not come to pass.

The report also noted that the Prime Minister at the time, Najib Razak had voiced support for China’s position in the South China Sea dispute.

If these allegations are true, it would suggest that the actions of the previous administration had seriously compromised Malaysia’s sovereignty and neutrality to protect certain political actors.

These claims must hence be thoroughly investigated, and stern legal action should be taken against the perpetrators if warranted.

Moreover, the government of the People’s Republic of China must come clean over whether these allegations are true or not. Merely denying by saying China does not interfere in the affairs of other countries is not sufficient.

I also hope that the Malaysian government will take positive steps to defend our legitimate rights over the South China Sea in light of these revelations.


Responding To The Announcement Of The New KEADILAN MPP Lineup

Upon the announcement of the new KEADILAN Central Leadership Council (MPP) line-up, Deputy President Azmin Ali has voiced out that the appointments were not made in the party’s best interests as it would hinder KEADILAN from moving forward.

Earlier in November, during the party’s National Congress, KEADILAN President Anwar Ibrahim had stated that he would incorporate the best talents from across the spectrum of the party including Rafizi Ramli who lost narrowly to Azmin in the race for the Deputy Presidency.

At that time, Azmin affirmed that he was willing to give his full support to Anwar as well as Rafizi to strengthen the party. Azmin further added that he believed that Rafizi had a substantial role to play in order to ensure the party’s leadership was inclusive.

The appointments made by Anwar were made in the presence of the MPP and it took into account all views of the MPP. Undeniably, Azmin and many from his camp had won positions in the recent elections. However, Rafizi not only lost by a narrow margin but won in many divisions. A good leader would make sure to join these forces together.

Among those that were newly appointed, some were openly with Azmin, some with Rafizi and some were not part of either camp. From Azmin’s camp, this includes newly appointed Vice President and Saratok MP Ali Biju as well as Strategic Director Dr Mansor Othman.

Dr Edmund Santhara Kumar, who won as an MPP under Azmin’s camp, was appointed as Deputy Secretary General.

Two other personalities from Azmin’s camp – Shamsul Iskandar, who was the losing Vice President candidate with the highest vote was appointed as Information Chief while Lee Khai Loon, the losing MPP candidate with the highest vote was appointed to the MPP.

To represent the Kadazandusun Murut (KDM) community, Raymond Ahuar was given a position as the Muslim Bumiputera community are represented with Rahimah Majid in the MPP while Dr Christina Liew, a Chinese, is the Chairperson for KEADILAN Sabah.

At the same time, Faizal Sanusi, formerly Leader of PRM Youth prior to the merger with Parti Keadilan, and subsequently KEADILAN Youth Deputy Leader who is not associated with any camp, was also appointed.

The party’s Political Bureau had also cautioned the Women’s wing for announcing the appointment of State Women’s Chiefs prior to the appointment of State Chairpersons. The Standing Order clearly states that the appointment can only be done by the Leader of the Women’s wing after consulting the State Chairpersons and Division Women’s Chiefs.

Ultimately, the rakyat wants KEADILAN and Pakatan Harapan to focus on pursuing reforms and implementing the manifesto now. The time has certainly come for us to make that agenda – particularly on propelling economic growth and creating a more equal economy – our utmost priority.

KEADILAN should certainly be proud of its diverse and capable leadership from all over the nation, both men and women, old and young—as what was reflected in yesterday’s appointment. The party is open to diverse views within the party as part and parcel of democracy but we believe in harnessing that diversity for the good of the country.

Let’s all focus on rallying behind the new leadership lineup and serving the rakyat.

NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD won as a member of the MPP and was appointed as the Organising Secretary for KEADILAN. He is also the MP for Setiawangsa. His bestselling book on the elections, ‘9 May 2018: Notes from the Frontline’ is available in major bookshops as well as online at