Notes On The Political Crisis

While Muhyiddin Yassin was sworn in as Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim met KEADILAN leaders.

He revealed that prior to the crisis there was an offer for him to become Prime Minister with the condition that he abandon our political allies in Pakatan Harapan and accepting leaders from UMNO en bloc, including those facing corruption charges in court.

He naturally refused to betray the mandate of the people simply for the sake of obtaining the premiership.

The crisis was caused by a group of individuals who were power-hungry and betrayed the mandate given to us by the people during the 14th General Elections. History will condemn them as having damaged our democracy and as willing to do anything—including manipulating the truth—for the sake of power.

The crisis undoubtedly began with the PH Presidential Council meeting on 21 February 2020. At the meeting, the issue of the power transition between Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar was closely discussed.

When the meeting took place, Azmin Ali allegedly hoped that PH would split. However, the issue was brought under control when Anwar acted to cool things down.

As will be remembered, Azmin was absent from the subsequent press conference. Anwar, reiterated his willingness to give Dr Mahathir the space to run the country. Tun Dr Mahathir also calmly noted that the transition would take place after the APEC Summit, albeit with no specific date or time.

On 23 February 2020, BERSATU held a meeting to decide on the direction of their party. At the meeting, Muhyiddin Yassin was said to have proposed cooperation with UMNO en bloc. As other media reports have stated, Muhyiddin was also said to have expressed willingness to work with controversial or contentious leaders like Najib Razak, Zahid Hamidi etc.

Dr Mahathir did not accept this, feeling that UMNO which was rejected by voters should not be accepted as a bloc, what more with the presence of individuals who had faced corruption allegations while in government.

Azmin’s team meanwhile alleged that all parties would agree with BERSATU’s move to work with UNNO and PAS. After going to the Palace in a hope to seal the deal, Azmin invited political leaders from UMNO, PAS and BERSATU to dinner at the Sheraton PJ Hotel. This “Sheraton Move” will go down in history as an attempt to steal the mandate of the people.

Given the increasingly critical situation, on the morning of 24 February the main leadership of PH sought to immediately meet with Dr Mahathir. Anwar Ibrahim, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Mohamad Sabu and Lim Guan Eng tried to persuade him.

However, after this discussion, Tun Dr Mahathir decided to resign. That the same day, BERSATU announced they would leave PH. Tun Dr Mahathir was appointed interim Prime Minister until a new premier could be appointed.

That evening, the PH Presidential Council held an emergency meeting. Our leaders invited Tun Dr Mahahtir to chair it, but he declined. The meeting unanimously nominated him as Pakatan’s candidate for Prime Minister in accordance with the PH’s consensus and the mandate the people had given to us.

An idea for a unity or non-party government was floated. PH was against this because we felt that it went against the principles of constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. The existence of political parties is crucial for checks-and-balances. Their absence would cast serious doubts about the two pillars of our nation-Constitutional Monarchy and Parliamentary Democracy.

On 28 February, when the other parties switched their support to Muhyiddin, Anwar and PH agreed for Dr Mahathir to be our prime ministerial candidate once more.

The crisis was a severe test for Anwar’s leadership and patience, but he decided to forsake the position for the sake of the nation.

The entire affair has been most upsetting, especially as many of our politicians came across as seemingly not having firm stands or appreciating the mandate given to them by the people.

One fears that the youth will become disillusioned and disgusted with the political games they have witnessed. Whether consciously or unconsciously, our own behaviour as leaders is often the reason why the youth refuse to get involved in politics.

There are many lessons to be drawn from this sad, sordid affair. At the very least, it has shown us who our real friends are.

Moreover, the people will now be able to judge who has truly upheld or betrayed their trust.

Astro Awani’s Consider This Program Debat With Ambiga Sreenevasan

In this excerpt from the 27 February episode of #ConsiderThis on Astro AWANI hosted by Melisa Idris and Sharaad Kuttan, I debate with Ambiga Sreenevasan on whether a unity government or minority government is the best way to solve Malaysia’s current political crisis.

First time Sharaad interviewed me was in 2001 when I was a 19 year old kid who just got hooked onto Reformasi.

Credit: Astro Awani.
Full video: https://www.facebook.com/astroawani/videos/1126734654385391/

Unity or Minority Government? Nik Nazmi debates Ambiga

In this excerpt from the 27 February episode of #ConsiderThis on Astro AWANI hosted by Melisa Idris and Sharaad Kuttan, I debate with Ambiga Sreenevasan on whether a unity government or minority government is the best way to solve Malaysia's current political crisis.First time Sharaad interviewed me was in 2001 when I was a 19 year old kid who just got hooked onto Reformasi.Credit: Astro Awani. Full video: https://www.facebook.com/astroawani/videos/1126734654385391/

Posted by Nik Nazmi on Thursday, 27 February 2020

The Pakatan Harapan Consensus Is The Better Choice Compared To The ‘Non-Party Government’

Not long after the broadcast by PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday, the Pakatan Harapan Presidential Council came out with its own press conference at the KEADILAN Headquarters.
It was officially revealed that Pakatan Harapan – KEADILAN, DAP and AMANAH MPs nominated Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for PM.
Malaysia doesn’t need this the proposed ‘Non-Party Government’ even with the best possible intentions.
This proposed form of government is only ever really necessary during a time of great national crisis, such as how the UK had all-party coalitions or “National Governments” during The World War 1 the Great Depression and World War 2.  
One could argue that Malaysia is facing a “crisis” right now, what with the global Covid-19 outbreak and weakening economy. However, no other country in the world has chosen to meet these challenges by suspending their political processes or expecting their parties to surrender their autonomy to one leader.
The choice conveyed to His Majesty Yang Dipertuan Agong among three blocs of MPs are clear: Anwar as PM, Dr Mahathir as PM or dissolution of Parliament.  There is no consensus on the matter and I believe the option with the biggest bloc of support – Anwar – is worthy of consideration.
Dr Mahathir likes to use the example of Japan, but post World War 2 Japan never had to resort to all-party governments or setting up unaccountable leaders with no checks-and-balances.
Indeed, the only real “crisis” Malaysia is facing currently is the one manufactured by the “Langkah Sheraton” plotters. They are the ones who rejected Pakatan Harapan’s consensus and manifesto. So the urgency for a “unity government” is simply not there. Also, the utility of such an arrangement is questionable.
We must allow our nation’s constitutional processes to take their course. Setting aside “politics” is not going to help improve our economy or ease the distrust between our different communities.
NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD
KEADILAN CHIEF ORGANISING SECRETARY
KEADILAN CENTRAL LEADERSHIP COUNCIL MEMBER
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR SETIAWANGSA

Morning Brief KL: The Sky’s The Limit

I appeared in The Morning Run on BFM 89.9 – The Business Station this morning to talk on challenges and opportunities for KL. Tomorrow is Federal Territories Day.

https://www.bfm.my/podcast/morning-run/morning-brief/kl-the-skys-the-limit

 

Responding To Merdeka Center Polls On Anwar Ibrahim’s Popularity

I read the news that Merdeka Center claims that Anwar Ibrahim’s support among the Malay community is low.

Indeed, polling is an unexact science. I used to trust Merdeka Center – in fact I appointed them to survey Seri Setia and an early survey in Setiawangsa previously.

But this industry needs credibility and independence. The credibility of Merdeka Center was compromised during GE14 as they played a role to advocate the idea that BN can only be defeated through a PH-PAS collaboration. In fact, one of the reasons BN lost was the existence of three-cornered fights.

As late as January 2018, Merdeka Center was still insisting that BN would obtain a two-thirds majority due to three-cornered fights!

In March 2018, INVOKE predicted PH would obtain more seats in Peninsular Malaysia compared to BN.

INVOKE was widely ridiculed. But INVOKE’s prediction was the most accurate of all.

I recorded this in my book ‘9 May 2018: Notes from the Frontline’.

The full book is available here: https://www.gerakbudaya.com/9-may-2018-notes-from-the-frontline.

‘On 7 May 2018, INVOKE released its final survey, that boldly predicted a Pakatan Harapan victory. Pakatan Harapan would win 111 Parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia while Barisan Nasional would win 54 seats.

Pakatan Harapan was ahead in support among Malay voters in Penang, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, but Barisan Nasional had a slim lead in the other states. In the 2013 election, Barisan Nasional had enjoyed a 30-per cent differential over Pakatan Rakyat among Malay voters; this time no state recorded more than a 20-per cent lead for Barisan Nasional.

As Pakatan Harapan enjoyed strong support from the non-Malays, this would enable the coalition to do well in mixed-seats across the Peninsula.

The only glaring misses for INVOKE were Kelantan and Terengganu. It had predicted that the two states would be won by Barisan Nasional but instead were won by PAS.

Rafizi explained after the election:

“Even in the case of Kelantan and Terengganu, it was obvious that fence-sitters resorted to tactical voting in the last week of campaigning; throwing their support behind PAS (instead of Pakatan Harapan) because realistically speaking only PAS was strong enough (as the second party in Kelantan and Terengganu) to defeat Barisan Nasional in those states.

Likewise, the voters knew enough about which party was the strongest to defeat Barisan Nasional in a three-cornered fight elsewhere, that there was a widespread tactical voting (especially among the Malays) throughout the country.”

INVOKE’s optimistic surveys contrasted with other agencies. Barisan Nasional’s private polling was on the other end of the spectrum, having placed them within a few seats of regaining the two-thirds majority in Parliament that had been lost since 2008. This explains the disbelief and paralysis that characterised the response to their election defeat. University academicians prominent in the mainstream media predicted an easy win for Najib Razak and Barisan Nasional.

In January 2018, Merdeka Center announced that Barisan Nasional would win the general election and re-gain the two-thirds majority in Parliament due to three-cornered fights, the redelineation of boundaries and the fractious nature of the Opposition.

‘The opposition’s prospects range from slim to zero as PAS leaders appear keen to prevent a PH victory. PAS seems ready to assist UMNO on the grounds of preserving Malay political hegemony.’

The polling outfit maintained their prediction in April. In their final poll presented on the eve of the election, they recorded the decline in Malay support for Barisan Nasional but concluded it was insufficient for Pakatan Harapan to win Federal power as the lead among Malay voters was still substantial for the ruling coalition.

They forecasted 100 safe seats for Barisan Nasional, 83 for Pakatan Harapan, two for PAS and 37 seats where the margin of error was within three per cent. This included my Setiawangsa Parliamentary seat.’

ASB Needs Improvements To Return To Its Original Aims

Yesterday I described the politicising of the distribution of ASB income as both malicious and ignorant.

But the Government too needs to consider a few improvements to ASB as per its original aims to increase the economic wealth of the Bumiputera community and contribute to national growth and prosperity for the benefit of all Malaysians. The need to improve has existed for quite some time, and did not just come about during New Malaysia.

There are a few facts regarding ASB that needs us to refocus on the poor and middle-class Malays, not the few rich elites.

Nearly 80 percent (7.4 million) of ASB unitholders have units worth less RM5,000 in 2018. A small 0.24 percent has RM500,001 and above.

The B40 and M40 of ASB unit holders have only RM4.1 billion whereas the top 9.15 percent has RM127.5 billion in the unit trust fund.

Thus while nationally our Gini coefficient (the measure of inequality) has improved from 0.513 in 1970 to 0.399 in 2016, but the Gini coefficient in ASB is a staggering 0.84 or highly unequal.

There is a need to consider capping dividend pay out to the maximum allowable investment (rather than basing it on the actual account balance, even when it exceeds the maximum allowable investment of RM200,000). The former benefits everyone, but makes it insanely tough for PNB to properly mark the investments to market, and the latter benefits the richest 10 percent of depositors, who account for something like 60 to 70 percent, if not more, of the ASB fund pool.

One move that could be considered in the medium term is for ASB dividends to be tiered, with unitholders classified as socio-economically in the B40 and M40 groups be given higher dividends than their T20 counterparts. The Singapore Central Provident Fund operates on a similar basis.

This move should not be considered as an attempt to “penalise” or “punish” T20 Bumiputeras, especially if they have been willing and able to save their money as well as support the ASB.

Rather, it is, as noted, to ensure that the ASB becomes an efficient engine to uplift B40 Bumiputeras and give the M40s an added boost when they need it.

The fact is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, wealth disparity is multi dimensional: including between the ethnic groups, but also within each ethnic group— Bumiputeras included.

There is hence no point in having high ASB dividends if it simply makes the T20 Bumiputeras richer while the B40s and M40s cannot catch up.

Loan schemes by banks for Bumiputeras to borrow and invest in ASB should also be reconsidered as there is a concern that it will exacerbate the situation if the global and local market take a further turn to the worse. Banks should not benefit from the losses of the common rakyat.

There’s no use creating or obtaining wealth for the Bumiputera if it is concentrated in the T20, or if such wealth is distributed in a way that dilutes its effectiveness.

Changes are needed to ensure that the wealth that PNB generates will be impactfully and visibly applied, i.e. by moving the B40s and M40s forward.

It also goes without saying that any change will need careful study with careful engagement and communication. More often than not, New Malaysia has not been effective in this regards. This is even more so in such sensitive and emotive issues such as ASB and the Bumiputera economy.

I hope that the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Yayasan Pelaburan Bumiputera and PNB will give this matter careful consideration as we move into the year 2020.

NIK NAZMI NIK AHMAD
KEADILAN CHIEF ORGANISING SECRETARY
KEADILAN CENTRAL LEADERSHIP COUNCIL MEMBER
SETIAWANGSA MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT