Philippines Revival Of Sabah Claim An Attempt To Distract From Duterte’s Badly-Bungled Covid Response

It appears that the Philippines is continuing with its illegal and fantasy-driven claim on Sabah. Its Foreign Secretary, Teodoro Locsin Jr has recently announced plans to reactivate the country’s so-called “North Borneo Bureau” while claiming that “Sabah is ours (the Philippines)”.

Make no mistake, Sabah is and will remain an integral part of Malaysia. The Philippines revival of its “claim” is a desperate attempt to distract its public from the monumental failures of the Rodrigo Duterte administration, including its badly bungled Covid-19 response.

Nevertheless, it represents an affront to Malaysia’s sovereignty and dignity which cannot be ignored.

Secretary Locsin’s actions are nothing less than an attempt to interfere in our country’s democratic processes, especially given that Sabah is undertaking state elections at this very moment.

They are moreover a breach of the ASEAN principle of non-interference in the affairs of member states. It is unfortunate that they are engaging in such divisive actions at a time when Southeast Asia ought to be standing together in the face of attempts by certain superpowers to divide our region and turn it into a battleground for their geopolitical rivalries with each other.

While it is right for Malaysia to not entertain the Philippine claims, our government must also consider a stronger response if the latter does not cease and desist from its wild rhetoric.

As the saying goes: “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” There is a danger that this might become a reality if we fail to take active steps to put a stop to the Philippines’ aggressive attempts to delegitimise Sabah’s rightful place as part of Malaysia.

The Philippines actions are not that of a friend. The Malaysian government must do much, much more than it has done so far to protect our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD
CHAIR OF PARLIAMENTARY DEFENCE AND HOME AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE
SETIAWANGSA MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

Rosmah’s Trial Exposes How Corruption Impacted Education In Sabah And Sarawak

There have been a number of shocking revelations emanating from the trial of Rosmah Mansor in relation to the solar hybrid energy to schools in Sarawak project.

This includes claims from a former aide of hers that a special team of cybertroopers was set up with a monthly budget of RM100,000 to protect her online reputation.

Rosmah is alleged to have solicited RM187.5 million and receiving RM6.5 million in bribes in the project.

The allegations unavoidably give rise to disturbing questions about how the culture of corruption that existed under the previous Najib Razak administration has impacted on the state of education in the country—especially in the East Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah.

Funds that ought to have gone to helping as well as providing opportunities for the youth of those states are now alleged to have been squandered for the interests of the elite. Is it no wonder that our education system in general continues to lag behind other countries and hence stunt the country’s potential?

Moreover, the recent Veveonah Moshibin controversy in Sabah suggests that not only do East Malaysian students face numerous challenges in terms of facilities and infrastructure, but also in the form of ignorance, bad faith and outright prejudice from the current Perikatan Nasional government.

Expecting a resolution to these problems from the administration of the day is perhaps a remote prospect when one considers how it is essentially a confederation of vested interests—many of whom were voted out of office during the 2018 General Elections—brought together for the sole purpose of arrogating power to themselves.

Malaysian voters—especially those in East Malaysia—can and must judge for themselves which coalition is better placed to ensure the well-being of their future generations.

NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD
KEADILAN PARLIAMENTARY EDUCATION SPOKESPERSON
SETIAWANGSA MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

Lessons For KeADILan And PH From The Slim By-Election

The Slim by-election has taken place. I congratulate both the winner and his competitors as well as the constituency’s voters for the successful exercise.

Nevertheless, the results were not what we, the combined Opposition of Malaysia, would have liked. The fault does not lie with the candidate which was run—he tried his best against difficult odds.

However, the Slim bye-election is cause for all Malaysian Opposition parties—especially KEADILAN and Pakatan Harapan (PH)—to seriously reflect and consolidate, especially in terms of strategy as well as approach.

But it cannot be denied that the Independent candidate that was backed by the Opposition was still defeated by a party whose leaders are facing criminal charges in court and who are part of a “backdoor” government that is increasingly fractious as well as unstable.

Indeed, the candidate selected by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s PEJUANG party was not only defeated in Slim, but with a majority 5-times higher than in 2018 (i.e. 10,945 votes compared to 2,183) in a seat that us almost 75% Malay. This was despite claims by some PH politicians and analysts that Tun Dr Mahathir’s presence was absolutely necessary to swing the Malay and other voters, that no one else could do it.

What’s more concerning for the Opposition is that the BN candidate polled 13,060 votes, i.e. more than the combined total of UMNO and PAS’ 2018 votes (12,430). Moreover, BN reportedly won all polling stations in Slim—including those which were predominantly non-Malay.

The PEJUANG candidate this round got 2,115 votes compared to BERSATU’s 6,144 in 2018 (when it was still with PH). This suggests that large swathes of Opposition-leaning supporters stayed away from the ballot boxes or went to BN, which is also worrying.

It is true that Slim was a BN/UMNO stronghold. Moreover, the late incumbent was popular and the candidate UMNO ran to replace him had worked closely with him in the past. Voters may have been swayed by other local factors.

But it is also a fact is that PEJUANG ran a campaign that was largely devoid of issues or a message beyond expecting voters to back them simply because of who they are and who their Chairman is. This is an entitled attitude and a recipe for disaster.

When GE15 comes, PH certainly cannot go to voters offering nothing but relitigating the feuds of the last decade, whether it is the 1MDB scandal, the issues that confronted the federal government we led from 2018—2020 or the “Sheraton Move.”

I am not saying that these points are irrelevant, but it cannot the only things that we run on. And PH certainly should not be aligning itself with other parties who cannot see or understand this.

“Kleptokrat”, “Kerajaan pintu belakang” and “pengkhianat” will not be slogans we will win the next General Elections on. Not on their own.

The fact is that PEJUANG did not offer a compelling economic message to the voters of Slim. The party could not persuade them that their lives and livelihoods would improve if they voted for their candidate. There was no vision, no hope or promise for the future.

And that is why the PEJUANG candidate lost. This is the mistake that PH must avoid in the next election.

Of course, we don’t have to shy away from exposing the abuses and lack of legitimacy of the current government. But this cannot be in the absence of a plan for bettering the economic prospects of Malaysians, especially in light of the devastating Covid-19 pandemic.

The heavy defeat at Slim can be a turning point for KEADILAN and PH—but only if we learn the right lessons from it.

The Government Must Protect Our Credibility In The South China Sea

Our Foreign Minister, Dato’ Seri Hishammudin Hussein must be more careful and precise in his pronouncements moving forward.

The South China Sea dispute is an international issue. As such, statements by our leaders on this matter will likely be scrutinised not only domestically but on the world stage as well.

Hence, not only is Malaysia’s territory and sovereignty at stake, but also its reputation and credibility.

Also, the current government must continue to address the fundamental question of how Malaysia can defend its rights in the waters.

While diplomatic approaches are ideal, Malaysia’s leaders must show that it is serious in defending its national sovereignty.

NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD
CHAIR, PARLIAMENTARY SELECT COMMITTEE FOR DEFENCE AND HOME AFFAIRS
SETIAWANGSA MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

All Parties Have Stated Their Positions , Focus Should Be On The Rakyat

The Opposition should not be focused on positions but on defending the interests of the rakyat in these difficult times.

We should not be trying to relitigate the past but focused on the future. Still, it cannot be denied that Pakatan Harapan’s victory in the 2018 General Elections was not the sole work of any one individual or party.

It was a collective effort, borne by the sacrifices of many, which came to fruition because of the support of the people of Malaysia.

The rakyat backed us because of our Buku Harapan manifesto as well as our pledge that a transition of power would take place. That is what defeated UMNO-Barisan Nasional. That is why KEADILAN won 47 seats, DAP 42, BERSATU 13, AMANAH 11 and our ally WARISAN 8 in that election.

Again, we should not be preoccupied with questions about who our next Prime Ministerial candidate should be. Each party, including Pakatan Harapan has stated its position. The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament has also been named. These facts should be respected.

The crucial thing is for the parties in Opposition to concentrate on working to hold the government accountable for its actions as well as to ensure that there are wise policies in place to facilitate an economic recovery.

We were sent to Parliament to make sure that Malaysians have the jobs, education, aid and opportunities they deserve.

NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD
KEADILAN ORGANISING SECRETARY
SETIAWANGSA MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

The Challenges Facing Pakatan Harapan (Part 1)

There are many paths for Pakatan Harapan to choose. However, I do think there are three mistakes that we need to avoid.

1. Harapan cannot wait for PN to implode

First, we cannot rely on Perikatan Nasional (PN) imploding.
Coalitions of expedience (which is what PN is) as opposed to coalitions based on principles (which it certainly is not) stay together only when their components believe that the alternatives are worse for them.
The individuals who brought about the downfall of the first Harapan federal government bolted because they would have been the “biggest losers” had the alliance succeeded and carried out the Buku Harapan manifesto.
Don’t get me wrong: the country and its people would have profited handsomely had Harapan gone the distance – but the cabal behind the “Sheraton Move” would have been left out in the cold and so that is why they went off to form PN.

The PN’s main proposition – the only reason why it was formed and why it is sticking together right now – is power. Even the so-called Malay-Islam agenda is secondary to power, as those who even actually believe in it convince themselves that to implement the agenda, one has to have power by any means necessary.
So, while concerns about its infighting and disunity are valid, PN will likely hold together until the 15the general election – if only to ensure that Harapan doesn’t get back into power.
There will be passive-aggressive statements or social media posts, even open arguments or disputes about seats. But they will stick together if it means holding on to the levers of incumbency.
Their components will be willing to accept any compromise, bear any indignity and even start acting like a proper coalition – all to stay in office. Make no mistake: they will do anything to stay in power.

2. PN cares nothing for the rakyat

But when it comes to governing justly and for the many? No – because that would be the antithesis of their existence.

If they really cared about the rakyat, the architects of PN (below) would have stayed in Harapan.

What does it tell you about their priorities that they have just started working on a Covid-19 related temporary relief measures bill – which will only be tabled in Parliament in July?

Singapore got theirs sorted by April 2020.

But when it comes to appointing PN-connected individuals to GLC posts? Well, look who has the bandwidth all of a sudden!

3. Harapan must offer a better future for Malaysians

That leads me to the next mistake Harapan could make: believing we can win without good policies.

Certainly, calling PN to account for the Sheraton Move and their failings in office – especially during the Movement Control Order (MCO) – will be a major issue during the next general election.

But that cannot be the only thing Harapan brings to Malaysian voters.
As I have argued before: we didn’t win the 2018 general election on the back of the 1MDB scandal alone. We were going up and down campaigning about fighting kleptocracy. I am sure many Malaysians don’t even care or understand the word. Buku Harapan was what Malaysians desperately needed at the time and it played a major role in our victory.
The world and our country are, of course, very different places right now. But I strongly believe there are two important sub-lessons here: one positive, the other negative.
The positive is that we can come up with substantive policy ideas while in the opposition. Harapan’s achievements in government, including reducing the voting age to 18, have and will change the country forever.
The negative is that it shows what happens when we abandon our principles and policy lodestar.

As history will show, certain senior Harapan leaders have rubbished the Buku Harapan. Some even made it their mission to do the exact opposite.

We must never repeat the same mistake: failing to live up to our manifesto and getting distracted by other things.