Posts Tagged ‘DAP’

Malaysia’s “unprecedented” election

April 29, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR – Already dubbed “unprecedented” due to the emergence of Tun Mahathir Mohamad as the first former premier to seek a return to power, Malaysia’s 14th general election will showcase a slew of other firsts.

A record number of multi-cornered fights will ensue for the 222 parliamentary seats that will determine federal power, after so-called third force Gagasan Sejahtera led by Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) on Saturday (April 28) registered candidates in over 150 wards nationwide.

A record 2,333 candidates have been certified by the Election Commission (EC) to run in 222 parliamentary seats and 505 state seats nationwide.

This election will also be the first time the main opposition pact contests under a single logo, in its uphill bid to wrest power from ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN).

Pakatan Harapan (PH), now led by the 92-year-old Dr Mahathir, will campaign under the banner of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), a party that was formed after he sacked his former nemesis Anwar Ibrahim from government in 1998.

This also means that for the first time since it was established in 1965, the Democratic Action Party (DAP) will not use its iconic rocket symbol at the election.

Leaders of the three main factions will all face multi-cornered contests in their seats.

Prime Minister Najib Razak will defend his BN constituency in Pekan, Pahang, which he first won in 1976, while Dr Mahathir emerges from retirement to run in Langkawi, in his homestate of Kedah. PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang will contest in Marang, Terengganu.

The EC refused him entry because neither he, nor his proposer and seconders had entry passes from the EC which had to be applied for in advance.

PKR vice president Rafizi Ramli said that Dr Streram would challenge the decision in court, and accused BN of foul play as candidates in other seats were allowed to enter nomination centres without the said passes.

An ensuing war of words saw a response from not just Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin who is bidding to remain as MP for Rembau – where the Rantau state seat is located – but also Prime Minister Najib Razak.

“This is just instigation when your own candidate is not ready but you blame the police. Enough of this, Rafizi,” the Umno president said on Twitter, accusing the opposition leader of slander for accusing the EC and police of conspiring to hand BN victory.

Both these disqualifications are unprecedented in recent times, say political observers. It is practically unheard of for the EC to ignore a court judgment, while there are no laws regarding entry pass requirements to become a candidate.

Several other opposition candidates were also barred as they were declared bankrupt, but some insisted that recent checks with authorities showed they were cleared.

These disqualifications have made PH’s mission to unseat Datuk Seri Najib even more difficult, seeing as they need another 40 seats to add to their current 72 in order to claim a simple majority.

Recent studies show that despite ebbing Malay support for BN, it is still expected to win comfortably thanks to multi-cornered battles featuring PAS.

“I’m more than 90 years old. There isn’t much time left. But as far as I can, I will try my best with the help of my friends to save our country Malaysia,” said Dr Mahathir on Saturday.

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/malaysia-ge-an-election-of-many-firsts-from-the-start

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Malaysia PM Najib warns the Chinese community against falling for the ruse of a so-called ‘Malay tsunami’

April 23, 2018

Malaysi’a PM tells Chinese voters not to be tricked — Ignore stories of ‘Malay tsunami’ as “Fake News”

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak giving his speech at the opening ceremony of the Kuen Cheng Secondary School Building on Monday.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak giving his speech at the opening ceremony of the Kuen Cheng Secondary School Building on Monday.

 

KUALA LUMPUR (April 23): Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today cautioned the Chinese community against falling for the DAP ruse of a so-called ‘Malay tsunami’ swing of Malay votes to the opposition in the 14th general election.

“I can assure you there will be no Malay tsunami against the government. That strategy, if it works, will only be detrimental to the Chinese community. This is because we need a strong Chinese representation in the government for the Chinese community.

“The DAP strategy (to win the election) is based on (sowing) hatred with an underlying hypothesis that there will be a Malay tsunami during the election,” he said at the launch of the Kuen Cheng High School campus redevelopment in Jalan Syed Putra here.

Elaborating, Najib said the Chinese community currently constituted 23 per cent of the population but had only had six per cent of the MPs in the government, which was not sustainable in the long run and would work against the community.

“MCA and Gerakan have been working tirelessly to support the Chinese community, together with all the others. I can assure you, I always get requests from (MCA president) Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and (Gerakan president) Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong on how we can do more for the community,” he said.

Najib said the government had been constantly solving issues related to the community and had approved the setting up of 10 new Chinese primary schools, three of which have been launched in Johor recently.

“When Chinese schools face a shortage of teachers, we solve it. Many other things … for mutual recognition of university degrees, the government approved the setting up of the Xiamen University, which will be another success story.

“Another success is the New Era (college) which has become a university college. We have also extended the lease period to 99 years for the Chong Hwa Independent High School and I can confirm that the recognition of the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) has been included in the Barisan Nasional Manifesto,” he said, receiving a thunderous applause from the parents and students at the event.

Najib said that the BN government has made countless efforts to deliver transformation to guarantee peace, stability and a harmonious environment, with a predictable and certain future for the people.

“Don’t throw this away. This is a wonderful country to live in. Many good things are going on. But the other side (opposition) has embarked on some very irresponsible and negative perceptions. Least of which, they want to review the contracts with China if they get to power. That is a huge mistake because China is our number one trading partner of US$100 billion in total trade,” he said.

Najib said China, one of the world’s largest economies, was also a  good and reliable friend of Malaysia and such irresponsible claims by the opposition were only seen as silly, very short-sighted and like ‘shooting ourselves on the foot’.

“Please do not support and believe in what they (DAP) are saying to get you to support them. If you do, this would only hurt our economy. Since BN launched its manifesto for GE14, we have received positive remarks from international rating agencies, and even World Bank has projected a better growth for the country.

“We are on a steady rapid economic development and growth. The success story of Malaysia will continue, with everyone playing a role…directly or indirectly. All of you, are a part of Malaysian story. We have achieved a lot, and if you continue to be with the government, we can reach greater heights,” he added.

Najib said the stock market was merely at 800 points when he took the office in 2009, and touched the highest points of 1,870 last Thursday, making it the highest ever in Malaysian history.

“In nine years being a prime minister, the government has doubled the (people’s) wealth through the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange, we have created 2.26 million jobs, ensured a steady economic growth and avoided two recessions when oil prices went down two years ago,” he said.

He attributed this consistent growth to prudent stewardship of the government that practiced pragmatic and inclusive policies, focusing on long-term benefits for the people.

Kuen Cheng High School Campus redevelopment was completed with a total cost of RM100 million.          —

http://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/najib-cautions-malaysia-chinese-community-against-malay-tsunami-ruse

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Najib: Chinese will suffer from DAP’s ‘direct contest’ strategy against MCA and Gerakan

The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: DAP’s “cut-throat strategy” of contesting directly against MCA and Gerakan is a big mistake and bad for the Chinese community, says Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The Barisan Nasional chairman said the strategy, if successful, would only be detrimental to the Chinese community because there is a need for strong Chinese representation in the Government.

“Today, the Chinese constitute about 23% of the Malaysian population.

“But only 6% of Chinese elected representatives in Parliament support the Government.

“This isn’t sustainable in the long run. It will work against the Chinese community,” Najib said in his speech when officiating the redeveloped campus of the Kuen Cheng High School here Monday.

He said the Opposition’s strategy is based on the underlying hypothesis that there will be a “Malay tsunami” against Barisan in GE14.

“But I can assure you, after going around the country, that there will be no such Malay tsunami,” Najib, who is also Prime Minister, told those present.

He said Barisan component parties like MCA and Gerakan have been working tirelessly for the Malaysian Chinese.

“I can assure you that I get requests from (MCA president) Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and (Gerakan president) Datuk Seri Dr Mah Siew Keong on what we can do for the Chinese community,” he said.

Najib later launched the school’s new campus witnessed by Liow, MCA Youth chief Datuk Chong Sin Woon, school officials and others.

On the school’s request to acquire a piece of land located nearby to expand its compound, Najib said he will consider this after the GE14 as Barisan is currently Malaysia’s caretaker government.

“If we have the right results, and I am in a generous mood, we will consider this request after the election,” he said.

TAGS / KEYWORDS:GE14 , DAP , MCA , Gerakan , Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak

Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/04/23/najib-chinese-will-suffer-from-daps-direct-contest-strategy-against-mca-and-gerakan/#Kg5FbKKt92LPFXcI.99

Malaysia Islamist party PAS handing ruling coalition victory on a silver platter: Mahathir

May 18, 2017

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Dr Mahathir Mohamad said history had shown that PAS performed poorly in the elections whenever it went alone but did better when it had strong allies.PHOTO: REUTERS

PETALING JAYA (The Star/Asia News Network) – The decision by the Islamist Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) to distance itself from the opposition will only dilute Malay votes and hand victory to the Barisan Nasional ruling coalition, said ex-Premier Mahathir Mohamad.

“Whether or not PAS will cooperate with Umno, PAS’ participation in the general election still reduces the support towards (opposition alliance) Pakatan Harapan and PAS itself,” said Dr Mahathir, who is now one of the main opposition leaders.

“Pakatan and PAS will lose and Barisan will win. This is actually PAS’ goal.

“It is not for race or religion. It only aims to weaken the Malays,” he said in his latest blog post.

Dr Mahathir, who is Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairman, said history had shown that PAS performed poorly in the elections whenever it went alone but did better when it had strong allies.

He cited several examples since 1959 when PAS fared poorly in the country’s elections after it went without cooperating from other opposition parties.

However, PAS did significantly better when it worked with the Chinese-oriented Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) in 1999 to form Barisan Alternatif, winning 27 parliamentary seats.

“In 2004, when DAP pulled out from Barisan Alternatif, PAS only won seven seats,” said Dr Mahathir, adding that PAS did better when Pakatan Rakyat was formed in 2008 with the inclusion of DAP.

The Islamist party was not included in Pakatan Harapan, which was formed by PKR and DAP and its breakaway party, Parti Amanah Negara, later that same year.

Newcomers Pribumi suggested that PAS be included in seat negotiations for the next general election to avoid multiple-cornered fights.

However, PAS said that it would never work with DAP and Amanah, but maintained a political cooperation with PKR.

It eventually cut ties with PKR last week, claiming that the party had failed to support its Islamic agenda.

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/malaysia-islamist-party-pas-handing-ruling-coalition-victory-on-a-silver-platter

One U-turn too many by Malaysia’s politicians?

February 2, 2017

Norshahril Saat For The Straits Times

“There are no permanent friends or enemies in politics.” This saying is an apt description of contemporary Malaysian politics.

Within the last couple of years, prominent politicians have moved across the political divide, with members from the ruling coalition joining the opposition, and vice versa. On the ideological front, some leaders are promoting values they once denounced, while others are willing to share the same stage with former adversaries.

However, Malaysians should be concerned whenever their leaders make such political “U-turns”. They must ask whether their leaders’ utterances are genuine – or born simply out of expediency.

Recently, Prime Minister Najib Razak labelled his former mentor Mahathir Mohamad a “U-turn” champion. Indeed, Dr Mahathir, Malaysia’s former prime minister and chairman of the newly formed opposition Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM ), now supports the government’s 1Malaysia People’s Aid (Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia or BR1M) scheme – a programme he once criticised.

Under the scheme, introduced in 2012, the government hands a one-off RM500 (S$160) to every household earning less than RM3,000 a month. The government has promised to increase the payment to RM1,200 before next year, which, coincidentally, is when Malaysians are likely to go to the polls.

Dr Mahathir once considered the scheme a form of vote-buying by Datuk Seri Najib’s government. But now, he has promised to retain it, although with slight tweaks if the opposition forms the government.

Former Malaysian prime minister and former Umno leader Dr Mahathir taking part in the Bersih 5 protest in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 19 demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Najib over an alleged corruption scandal. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Mr Najib has also criticised Dr Mahathir for making a U-turn on foreign direct investment. He condemned Dr Mahathir for politicising the Johor Forest City project, which has attracted colossal investments from China. Under the project, the government will build houses for 700,000 people on artificial islands. Dr Mahathir has accused Mr Najib of selling Johor’s sovereignty to foreigners.

In response, the Prime Minister and Johor’s Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar censured Dr Mahathir because the project was open to all investors, including Johoreans. Dr Mahathir’s comments immediately drew comparisons with his “Look East policy” in the 1980s, when he was prime minister. Then, Dr Mahathir had encouraged foreign direct investment in Malaysia from Asian countries, particularly Japan.

There are other examples of Dr Mahathir’s political U-turns. First, his rapprochement with Mr Lim Kit Siang, a Democratic Action Party (DAP) leader who has, throughout his political career, fought for a secular, race-blind Malaysia, as opposed to the Malay supremacy ideology of the United Malays National Organisation (Umno).

Then, there is how Dr Mahathir now seems open to cooperating with Anwar Ibrahim, his former deputy prime minister whom he sacked. In 2013, when Dr Mahathir was still campaigning for Umno, he was adamant that Anwar was unfit to be the country’s prime minister.

Still, both Mr Lim and Anwar are also not immune from political U-turns.

The DAP’s willingness to cooperate with Dr Mahathir, whom it once accused of being authoritarian, has raised doubts about its principles. Similarly, not only has Anwar consented to his Parti Keadilan Rakyat working with Dr Mahathir, but he has also allowed his wife and daughter to join Dr Mahathir’s rallies.

Mr Najib is himself not above political U-turns. When he assumed power in 2009, he sought to reinstate the country’s multicultural and multi-religious values in line with the Constitution. He introduced the concept of 1Malaysia to unite Malaysians, and then declared that Malaysia practises Islam Wasatiyyah (Moderate Islam).

However, after a poor showing in the 2013 elections, which saw the ruling coalition fail to secure more than half of the popular vote, Mr Najib took a more Islamist-turn. He began to edge closer to the Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), and suggested that Umno and PAS unite for the upcoming elections.

In November last year, the government allowed PAS to introduce a private member’s Bill to amend Act 355, to increase the maximum punishments in syariah courts in Malaysia, ignoring Umno’s non-Muslim partners in the ruling coalition. Mr Najib’s 1Malaysia now seems forgotten.

One party not associated with political U-turns is PAS.

The party has been consistent in championing tougher Islamic laws in the country. The party has never lost sight of this objective, even though it had to take pragmatic steps by toning down its requests at times. For instance, in 2008, PAS leaders called for Negara Berkebajikan (a Benevolent State) instead of Negara Islam (an Islamic State).

Alliances between parties with different ideologies are a norm in modern democracies, although parties from extreme ends of the political spectrum rarely converge.

However, in a situation where politicians make constant U-turns, it calls personal integrity, more than anything else, into question. The danger of allowing such U-turns to be a norm is that sensationalist and populist politics will prevail, where obtaining power is most important, while ideology and principles take a back seat.

It is time Malaysians raise the bar for their politicians, and demand that they explain and address the reasons for their U-turns.

  • The writer is a fellow with ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute. He researches Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia politics.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2017, with the headline ‘One U-turn too many by Malaysia’s politicians?’.
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Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak Tries to Escape 1MDB Scandal, Emphasising Loyalty and Obedience and Attacking Political Opposition as Anti-Muslim and Anti-Malay Chinese Dominated

December 3, 2016

By Sheridan Mahavera
South China Morning Post

After a fractious year triggered by the 1MDB scandal, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak this week moved to consolidate his power within Umno by turning his guns on his mentor-turned-nemesis and stoking racial sentiments among the rank and file.

At the Umno (United Malays National Organisation) yearly assembly this week, Najib attempted to show he still had the party’s backing, despite being at the centre of the worldwide graft probe into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and a very public exodus of party leaders, which included former president Mahathir Mohamad.

During his speech, Najib painted the enemy. He described the next election campaign as an “existential battle” between his pro-Malay party and its allies, and an opposition led by the Democratic Action Party (DAP) – which he characterised as an anti-Muslim and anti-Malay Chinese dominated party. And in an effort to erode any remaining loyalty towards Mahathir, Najib said the former prime minister had been colluding with the DAP and other opposition parties to end Umno and Malay dominance.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir addresses a crowd of thousands of protesters during a rally in Kuala Lumpur in November. Photo: EPA

Mahathir and former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin exited Umno in 2015 after both openly criticised Najib’s handling of the 1MDB affair and questioned a US$681 million (HK$5.2 billion) deposit into the Prime Minister’s personal bank account. Najib maintains that he did nothing wrong and the deposit was a donation from a Saudi prince.

Mahathir, a former Umno president, was once Najib’s mentor. Muhyiddin, meanwhile, was Najib’s deputy through his rise to the premiership in 2008 until 2015. Since leaving Umno, the pair have formed the Malaysian United Indigenous Party (PPBM) and have flagged a potential electoral pact with the DAP and the Opposition Pakatan Harapan coalition, which pits them against Umno and its National Front allies in the next general election. While not due until mid-2018, the next general election could be called as early as next year.

Singapore fines StanChart, Coutts and bars former Goldman Sachs banker for 1MDB-linked lapses

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak arrives at the Umno assembly. Photo: AFP

Mahathir’s show of strength and the rise of the PPBM is a serious problem for the Malaysian prime minister. The PPBM has moved to siphon support from disgruntled Umno members and rural ethnic Malays, who have long been the party’s core support base.

In his speech, Najib repeatedly stressed the theme of loyalty and obedience, noting that Mahathir himself had also drilled the same values into members during his 22-year presidency. He recounted how he stood by Mahathir through two of the party’s biggest crises in 1988 and 1999, when his mentor was forced to deal with his own crop of rebellious leaders.

Umno delegates in front of a painting of current and former party presidents. Photo: AP/Vincent Thian)

Malaysian PM Najib Razak warns of ‘nightmares’ if ruling party loses power in coming elections

“Whose support did he not count on, but on us and the party in those years? He used to be a statesman, but now he has betrayed the party,” Najib told an audience of more than 2,600.

“I am personally very disappointed. He is working with opposition parties DAP, Amanah and PKR, which he once branded as enemies. This is the pinnacle of treachery to the party, the community and the country.”

Najib went on to say the DAP was the leader of the three-party opposition coalition, which is also made up of two Malay-dominated parties.

Protesters at the Bersih 5.0 rally calling for the resignation of Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak in Kuala Lumpur on November 19. Photo: AFP

“If this country falls into the hands of the DAP, which believes in extremist liberalism and dangerous secularism, it is certain that [Malay] rights and privileges that have been defended by Umno will be erased.”

Political scientist Professor Sivamurugan Pandian said Najib’s emphasis on loyalty and obedience was an important move to unify the party in the wake of last year’s divisive assembly. And by propping up the DAP as a bogeyman, Najib stoked racial fears, united disgruntled Umno members around his leadership and diminished whatever influence Mahathir still had over the party.

Is Malaysia’s former PM Mahathir Mohamad next to be arrested over anti-government protests?

“To re-focus members, he is going back to Umno’s core struggle of fighting for Malays and Islam’s survival,” said Sivamurugan, of the University of Science, Malaysia.

While Najib’s speech may have been effective in fusing Mahathir’s image with the DAP’s, and may help to slow the siphoning of support from voters in the Malay heartlands of Kedah and Johor, the threat of the PPBM remains very real for Umno insiders.

1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the company at the centre of a worldwide graft scandal involving Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Photo: EPA

“They [the PPBM] have support, it might not be much but it’s still there because they have followers. So their influence is a worry for us,” Umno supreme council member Ibrahim Abu Shah said.

“Although the PPBM says it is an alternative Malay party, we must show voters that they are actually working to bring down the Malays and the country.”

Another concern is the possibility of a silent faction of PPBM sympathisers growing within Umno, who are reportedly waiting silently before coming out in support for Mahathir at the most critical time – at the ballot box. Umno youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin warned of this, saying PPBM had told its supporters within Umno to stay put instead of coming out.

Mohd Sabri Alwi, from the state of Terengganu, added to the concern over the PPBM.

“This is the enemy in our midst, which we have to identify, for they are in reality working with the opposition. I call on the party to purge these people from the party.”

http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2051325/why-malaysian-pm-najib-razak-playing-race-card

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Malaysian PM eyes snap poll, vows fight to the death

December 1, 2016

AFP

December 1, 2016

© AFP | Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (C) inspects a ceremonial guard of honour during the annual congress of his ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO)

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – Malaysia will hold polls soon, embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak said Thursday, vowing “to fight until the death” and showing no sign of succumbing to calls to quit over a massive financial scandal.

It was the first time the Malaysian leader has signalled he may bring forward polls not due until mid-2018, as he addressed the annual assembly of his ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and called for party unity.

“I know, many can feel the heat … and are waiting for directions to battle in the polls that will be held soon,” he said.

Speaking to some 2,600 delegates of UMNO, which represents the Malay heartland whose support is crucial for any Malaysian leader, Najib promised to uphold Islam and protect the community’s interests.

The party has been in power ever since independence in 1957 and its annual gathering is the country’s most closely watched political event.

“God willing, we will fight until the death and until the last drop of blood,” Najib told delegates, who had earlier greeted him with enthusiastic applause, signalling their support for his leadership.

“Please realise my (Malay) race, do not falter for a moment as we are facing unprecedented challenges,” he added.

Ruslee Bedol, a delegate from southern Johor state, told AFP that UMNO had already started preparing for a vote and said “we expect elections in the next six months.”

Najib is holding on to power despite damaging allegations he took part in the alleged looting of billions in state fund 1MDB.

Najib, 63, and 1MDB deny any wrongdoing.

Najib’s position in the party is secure because he is backed by most of the party’s 191 powerful division chiefs.

The premier has also purged the party of any critics over the 1MDB scandal, which he mentioned only once in his speech.

Last July, Najib fired his deputy, Muhyiddin Yassin, after being criticised over the 1MDB scandal, shook up his cabinet and surrounded himself with party loyalists.

Prime Minister Naji

Malaysia has been seized since last year by the scandal, which has sparked investigations in several countries.

The US Justice Department, which has filed lawsuits to seize assets it says were purchased with stolen 1MDB money, says the fund was pillaged in an audacious campaign of fraud and theft that involved an unnamed top Malaysian official.

A Malaysian cabinet official has since admitted that individual was Najib.

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Malaysia’s Najib warns of ‘nightmares’ if ruling party loses power — Promoting strict Islamic law to hide corruption, slumping economy

December 1, 2016

Thu Dec 1, 2016 | 12:28am EST

Reuters

By Joseph Sipalan | KUALA LUMPUR

Scandal-tainted Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak vowed to fight to the end for Malays and Islam on Thursday, as he called on his ruling party to prepare for elections that are “coming soon”.

Addressing the annual meeting of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Najib set the tone for early polls and warned of “nightmares” if the ethnic Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP) opposition group came to power.

“We pledge to fight to the end and to the last drop of blood, even if our lives are lost,” Najib told a cheering crowd.

“Let us realise, my people, not to falter for even a moment as we are faced with challenges that we have never seen before.”

The prime minister repeated his support for a bill promoting strict Islamic law, called hudud, adding that it would be taking up for discussion by the federal government.

Najib has been buffeted by graft allegations and faced the biggest challenge to his leadership last year after reports that hundreds of millions of dollars was misappropriated from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which he founded.

Lawsuits filed by the U.S. Justice Department in July said more than $700 million of the misappropriated funds flowed into the accounts of “Malaysian Official 1”,  who U.S. and Malaysian officials have identified as Najib.

Najib has denied wrongdoing.

He has shrugged off persistent attempts to unseat him, securing emphatic victories in a state election and two by-elections earlier this year.

But although he retains support of nearly all 200 powerful division chiefs of UMNO’s 3.5 million-member organisation, frustration has been growing over graft and a slumping economy.

Tens of thousands of protesters, undeterred by the arrests of opposition leaders and activists, marched in the capital last month demanding that he step down.

“I know, many can feel the heat at this assembly, and are waiting for directives to prepare to battle in the elections that are coming soon,” said Najib.

Elections must be called by 2018 but Najib may call for polls in the second half of next year, a government source told Reuters.

Concerns are mounting among Najib’s supporters that a new party, led by Najib’s mentor-turned-nemesis Mahathir Mohamad and former deputy premier Muhyiddin Yassin, may split the Malay vote.

Najib was particularly critical of Mahathir, who the prime minister said has abandoned the party by consorting with the opposition and pro-democracy group Bersih, among other organisations.

In a racial charged hour-long speech, Najib warned that Islam will be belittled if DAP came to power and Malays must fear the “adverse effects” and “nightmares” that they may face.

“Because of that, the people should keep choosing us forever,” Najib said.

(Additional reporting by Emily Chow and Liz Lee; Writing by Praveen Menon; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak has expressed support for strict Islamic laws as he seeks to consolidate support of ethnic Malay Muslims at a party meeting this week, as frustration over graft and the economy cloud his prospects for the next election.

Mr Najib has battled calls to resign over the past 18 months as a scandal at his pet project, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), drew the anger of the public, opponents and members of his own United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) ruling party.

A new opposition party, led by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin — who Mr Najib sacked for questioning his handling of 1MDB — is threatening to split the majority Malay vote that has given UMNO victory in every election since independence in 1957.

Ahead of the annual party meeting, Mr Najib said it was the responsibility of Muslims to support a plan by the rival Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party to push for the adoption of ‘hudud’, the Islamic penal code, that sets out punishments like amputation and stoning.

“We want to develop Islam,” Mr Najib said in an interview with a pro-government broadcaster.

“Non-Muslims must understand that this is not about ‘hudud’, but about empowering the sharia courts.”

With rising prices and poor economic prospects for next year, Mr Najib is expected to bank on ethnic and religious sentiment to woo majority Malay voters.

An election is due by 2018.

UMNO meeting to focus on Malay, Islamic interests

Mr Najib said his policy speech at this year’s UMNO meeting would focus on the interests of Malays and Islam.

“This is my speech as UMNO President, so my main audience are UMNO members and the Malays and ‘bumiputera’,” he said, using a term that roughly translates as ‘sons of the soil’, and includes Malays but not members of the ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities.

“It doesn’t mean we don’t care at all about the others, but this is an UMNO assembly.”

Mr Najib faced the biggest challenge to his leadership last year, after reports that hundreds of millions of dollars was misappropriated from state fund 1MDB, which he founded.

He acted swiftly to preserve his position, sacking critics in his administration and closing a graft investigation.

Nevertheless, the scandal clouds prospects for an early election that Mr Najib could call to cement his position, with multiple international investigations going on and a suit related to the case filed by the US Department of Justice.

Reuters

Malaysia’s Defiant Prime Minister: The 1MDB Purge

August 10, 2016
The Diplomat

July 20, 2016 was a dies horribilis for Najib Razak, the embattled prime minister of Malaysia. For over a year, he had been battling accusations of financial mismanagement of the state fund 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and embezzlement for personal gain. Exposés by the Wall Street Journal and the Sarawak Report, an investigative journalism site which is blocked in Malaysia to “maintain national security,” first showed alleged financial mismanagement in the fund. Then came allegations that Najib had over $680 million in 1MDB-related funds transferred into his own personal account. The response of the Malaysian authorities was to investigate the Sarawak Report for leaking confidential government information.

Najib, on the other hand, claimed that the funds found in his personal account were a donation from Saudi Arabia; a portion of that “donation” was used to finance his coalition’s 2013 re-election campaign and the rest was returned to the donor(s). His claim was later corroborated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commissionand the attorney general, Apandi Ali; Saudi Arabia also confirmed that a political donation had been made to Najib. Legally, the prime minister had not done anything unlawful, for there are no existing political financing laws in Malaysia. It appeared Najib has dodged a bullet — but then came the announcement by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) on July 20.

The Defrauding of 30 Million Malaysians

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.On July 20, the DoJ announced that it had filed civil suits to seize assets linked to “more than $3.5 billion in funds… allegedly misappropriated by high-level officials of 1MDB and their associates.” In a press conference, the national deputy director of the FBI said that “the Malaysian people were defrauded on an enormous scale.”

Malaysia’s Defiant Prime Minister

The Justice Department’s Civil Forfeiture Complaints document makes repeated mentions of a “Malaysian Official 1,” who is said to have received $681 million in 1MDB related funds. In addition, “Malaysian Official 1” is also identified as a relative of Riza Aziz in the document. Riza Aziz is identified by name as one of the individuals involved in diverting more than $3 billion from 1MBD; he is also the step-son of Najib Razak. There is little doubt over the identity of “Malaysian Official 1″ — which Malaysian official is a relative of Riza Aziz and also had over $681 million deposited into his account?

The prime minister’s press secretary issued the following statement in response to the announcement from the DoJ:

“Malaysian authorities have led the way in investigations into 1MDB. The company has been the subject of multiple investigations within Malaysia, including by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Auditor General, and bi-partisan Public Accounts Committee. After comprehensive review, the Attorney General found that no crime was committed. 1MDB is still the subject of an investigation by the Royal Malaysia Police.

We note the United States Department of Justice’s civil lawsuits brought against various assets. As previously stated, the Malaysian Government will fully cooperate with any lawful investigation of Malaysian companies or citizens in accordance with international protocols.

As the Prime Minister has always maintained, if any wrongdoing is proven, the law will be enforced without exception.”

The statement made no mention of “Malaysian Official 1″ and that was expected since Najib was not named in the DoJ document.

Still, this revelation brings Najib’s claim about the donation he received and also the findings and conduct of the attorney general and the MACC into question. The DoJ document disputes their accounts of where the $681 million found in the prime minister’s account came from.

Najib has not acknowledged or denied that he is indeed “Malaysian Official 1″ — probably a politically wise move, considering that he is not named in the document and that the suit brought forward by the DoJ only involved the seizure of property and is not a criminal case. However, considering the level of public dissatisfaction over his handling of the scandal since it was first exposed over a year ago and the immense foreign pressure from multiple foreign investigations into 1MDB, could Najib’s position be a jeopardy?

The Purge, Malaysian Style

Since news broke of the corruption allegations implicating Najib in the embezzlement of 1MDB funds, the prime minister has been shoring up support within his party, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), and also his Cabinet. In the immediate aftermath of the initial allegations in July 2015, Najib fired his deputy prime minister and four other ministers. His deputy, Muhyiddin Yassin, had emerged as an unlikely critic of Najib’s handling of the fiasco. In announcing the Cabinet reshuffle, the prime minister said:

“I can accept differences of opinion and criticism as part of the decision-making process. But as a Cabinet minister, differing views and opinions should not be aired in public forums that can negatively impact the perception of the government and nation. It is also contrary to the concept of collective responsibility….The decision to replace Tan Sri Muhyiddin was a difficult one, but I was forced to do so to ensure the Cabinet is a united team.”

On the party level, the purge continued with the expulsion of Muhyiddin Yassin and Mukhriz Mahathir, who before being expelled was ousted as the chief minister of a northern state. Mukhriz is also the son of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad, who has become Najib’s fiercest critic.

Najib also replaced the attorney general, Abdul Gani Patail, who had been heading a probe into alleged financial mismanagement at 1MDB. The official reason cited was Abdul Gani’s ill health, attributed to a kidney ailment, but there have been allegations that the attorney general was on the verge of bringing charges against the prime minister for siphoning off 27 million ringgit ($6.7 million) from a 1MDB linked company. The Sarawak Report reproduced the alleged draft charge sheet. The allegations were denied by the government and the new attorney general, Apandi Ali, who stated that the draft charge sheet was false and it was evidence of a plot to topple Najib.

As a result of the purge, Najib’s Cabinet is stacked with loyalists and he has a party of sycophants who have emboldened his resolve to weather this scandal. These sycophants have been rewarded with Cabinet positions(some promoted) and some have launched attacks on the DoJ’s actions, pledging full support to the prime minister and repeating the mantra that Najib has not been named and has done no wrong. At the recent World Islamic Economic Forum in Jakarta, the prime minister noted that Muslim states:

 ”…..have seen the devastating results of foreign intervention in the Muslim world, often based on incomplete, wrong or partisan information. We must make clear that we reject it. And reject those who, out of political motivation, call for foreign powers to intervene in their own country.”

Considering the timing of his statement railing against foreign meddling based on partisan information, it is difficult not to relate it to the recent DoJ announcement; indeed Najib’s supporters have alleged that the DoJ’s investigation has been based on false partisan information. Najib has ensured that his party is full of sycophants who will not question his authority.

A Fragmented Opposition

Najib has dealt with opposition politicians the same way he has dealt with critics from within: by silencing them. An opposition politician who divulged the contents of a Parliamentary Accounts Committee audit into the troubled fund was charged under the Official Secrets Act 1972 for exposing information without approval. However, political persecution is the least of the Federal Opposition’s worries. The coalition of opposition parties failed to galvanize public support against Najib when news first broke of the $681 million in his account. Ironically, as public anger against Najib grew, the Federal Opposition further disintegrated, continuing the process that began following the 2013 General Elections, which saw the Opposition win the popular vote but not a parliamentary majority due to a first-past-the-post system rife with gerrymandering.

The opposition coalition crumbled in June 2016 due to fundamental differences between the the Islamist PAS and the secular, Chinese-dominated, DAP, two of the three parties that made up the coalition. The Islamist party’s resolute position on introducing hudud, a part of Sharia law which deals with criminal matters, was the bone of contention. The collapse of the coalition has meant that despite the enormous pressures on Najib, the opposition is too weak themselves to oust the embattled prime minister. This was evident in the results of the recent state election in Sarawak and two subsequent parliamentary by-elections. The infighting between opposition parties led to multiple cornered fights which resulted in the splitting of opposition votes and victories for Najib’s coalition.

Strength Amid Scandal

The disunity among opposition parties has been a boon for Najib. Having already rid his own party of critics and facing an opposition in disarray, the prime minister is well positioned to survive this second phase of uproar over the 1MDB scandal. Barring a foreign intervention, Najib appears poised to lead his party and coalition into the next general elections, due before August 24, 2018 . At that time, the inability of opposition parties in devising a seat sharing agreement and a coherent common policy platform will likely lead to the reelection of “Malaysian Official 1.”

Dhirenn Nair is a graduate in International Relations from the University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus.

http://thediplomat.com/2016/08/malaysias-defiant-prime-minister-the-1mdb-purge/

Malaysia’s 1MDB Scandal: Plans for ‘oust Najib’ protests fizzle out

July 30, 2016

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The Nation

Saturday, 30 July 2016 | MYT 4:14 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: Efforts to pressure Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak with public protests today, after the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) released its forfeiture lawsuits in relation to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), have fizzled out.

Despite two meetings since the revelations by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) last week, the 94 civil society bodies that make up democratic reform group Bersih are still at odds over whether another street rally would boost pressure for Najib’s ouster.

And the Pakatan Harapan opposition alliance – which supported Bersih’s past four demonstrations – is also divided over a pledged “political action” now that Najib has refused to step down by the deadline set by Pakatan.

Pakatan, made up of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Amanah Negara, had warned that if Najib failed to vacate his office by yesterday, “then Pakatan Harapan will mobilise the people in a political action” the following day.

“A PKR leader wanted to push for a march from Kuala Lumpur to Putrajaya for July 30, but it’s not possible to organise such an ambitious event in such a short time. Bersih is also still at loggerheads over a rally,” a Pakatan source who was at the leadership meeting that issued the ultimatum told The Straits Times.

DAP organising secretary Anthony Loke said on Thursday that the parties had yet to come to a decision about what action to take.

Instead, PKR and DAP spent the week squabbling over whether to hold snap polls in Penang, where Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who is also DAP secretary-general, is alleging a conspiracy over graft charges linked to the purchase of his home.

Bersih – which brought the capital to a standstill with a protest by reportedly 100,000 people demanding Najib’s resignation in August last year – is set to meet again today.

According to its northern region coordinator, Datuk Toh Kin Woon, there were questions over “what we can achieve”.

Toh, a former state leader in the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, said there were concerns over the ethnic mix as the lack of Malays at last year’s rally was exploited by Najib’s government.

Toh said some activists were also against the involvement of former premier Mahathir Mohamad. Mahathir, accused of dictatorial abuses during his 22 years in power, is spearheading a campaign to topple Najib over claims that about US$700 million found in Najib’s private accounts in 2013 was stolen from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

“But some of us feel, why not, as he still has some influence with the Malay crowd,” Toh told The Straits Times.

The DOJ in its civil suits last week named Najib’s stepson Riza Aziz and businessman Low Taek Jho, a former Najib confidant, as having laundered money out of 1MDB, the troubled state fund controlled by the premier – resulting in a move to seize US$1bil in assets.

Najib has maintained that the money in his accounts was a political donation from the Saudi royal family. He said last week that the US lawsuits were “a civil action… limited to the names mentioned in the DOJ report”.

After Umno’s top leadership meeting yesterday, Najib said no action would be taken by the Malaysian government over the suits, as 1MDB was not directly involved.

While the Umno Supreme Council acknowledged that several individuals were named in the suits, “this means that 1MDB is not directly involved in the complaint. In other words, there are no 1MDB assets in the US”. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network

http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/07/30/plans-for-oust-najib-protests-fizzle-out/

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Malaysia: Dr Mahathir Mohamad announces partnership to form a new coalition, a new political party

July 15, 2016

By Suganthi Suparmaniam, Astro Awani | Published on July 14, 2016 19:30 MYT

Tun Mahathir to form new coalition with Opposition

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today announced that he is partnering with Opposition leaders to form a new coalition.

PUTRAJAYA: Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today announced the impending formation of a new political party, as well as a new coalition body with members of the Opposition.

The new coalition, he said, will operate as a single entity against Barisan Nasional to win the next general election. Addressing a press conference today, Dr Mahathir said the coalition will feature DAP, PKR and Parti Amanah Negara as its component members.

Dr Mahathir said the coalition has yet to decide on a specific name but will move as a ‘supreme council’ to coordinate efforts from today until the 14th general election. “We want to form a new government for the country,” he said, adding that the coalition is an extension of the earlier so-called Dr Mahathir-Lim Kit Siang Declaration.

Present were former Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang, PKR Bukit Katil member of parliament Shamsul Iskandar Md Akin, former Umno member Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan ‎and activist Hishamuddin Rais.

Also present was Pas’ Pokok Sena MP Datuk Mahfuz Omar. However, there was no indication whether Pas would be part of the new coalition. On the formation of a new party, Dr Mahathir said it would be done “as soon as possible.”

He said he would be one of the leaders to helm the party. Asked if former Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and former Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir would be part of the coalition, he said the duo were in support of the group’s agenda and goals.

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today announced the impending formation of a new political party, as well as a new coalition body with members of the Opposition.

Pix by NSTP/MOHD FADLI HAMZAH

Read More : http://www.nst.com.my/news/2016/07/158249/dr-m-announces-new-party-and-opposition-coalition

http://english.astroawani.com/politics-news/tun-mahathir-form-new-coalition-opposition-111024