Friday, January 31, 2014

Sabotager to Saviour

So, in 1982, Anwar felt that Umno had become too soft over the years and people like Suhaimi cannot put the Chinese in their place and is too compromising with the Chinese and so on. 
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim is not a “skilled” enough politician to handle Barisan Nasional’s (BN) political onslaught, PKR’s Rafizi Ramli said last night as he defended his party’s decision to field Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in the coming Kajang by-election.
Speaking at a forum here, the chief engineer of the Kajang move said that while the embattled Khalid is known to be a popular technocrat, he was less stellar in his role as a politician.
“We all know in Pakatan Rakyat (PR), attacks based on racial politics and religion must be countered with political games as well,” the PKR strategic director told a forum discussing the by-election here.
“Although we have high respect for his administrative prowess, we have to also call a spade a spade: Khalid is not a skilled and experienced politician to face Umno’s racial and religious political games.” (The Malay Mail)
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Rafizi was backed in the forum last night by political activist Hishamuddin Rais, who claimed that Anwar would be a better choice as a mentri besar, particularly as he would be able to better articulate the pact’s position on issues regarding race and religion.
“If Anwar becomes an MB in this federalism system, then he will enter as MB into the conference of rulers, talking about land, religion,” said Hishamuddin.
“Who else has better authority, better skills, the credibility, and international stature to say that we do not agree with the ‘Allah’ issue and land?” (The Malay Mail)
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Those are the comments by Rafizi Ramli and Hishamuddin Rais, both friends of mine and Old Boys of the Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK). Those are their views regarding Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim.
Now allow me to give you my view. But this is going to be a very long story indeed.
Pemodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), which was launched on 17th March 1978, can be said to be amongst one of the more successful unit trusts. It was actually the brainchild of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
Khalid Ibrahim was appointed the General Manager and then the CEO of PNB from 1979 to 1994. For 15 years, Khalid expanded PNB to what it is today. And that was when I first met Khalid, more than 30 years ago.
But first, let us talk about Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
My father was a participant in the First Bumiputera Economic Congress of 4th June 1965. Contrary to what many believe, the move to improve the lot of the Malays was not the result of the 13th May 1969 race riots. This is what some politicians would like you to believe. That is not true at all. It started before that and 69 Resolutions were passed at that Congress.
Because of this Congress, on 15th June 1965, the Deputy Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, announced the formation of Bank Bumiputera, later called BBMB. It was headed by Mohd Raslan Dato’ Abdullah as Managing Director and Tengku Razaleigh as Executive Director.
Tengku Razaleigh also headed Pernas, which was set up in November 1969, and Petronas, which was set up in September 1974.
When Tun Razak died in 1976, Tun Hussein Onn took over as Prime Minister and Tengku Razaleigh was offered the post of Deputy Prime Minister. Tengku Razaleigh, however, declined the offer and told Tun Hussein to offer the post to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad instead. Tengku Razaleigh said he wanted to focus on his unfinished business of running the various banks and institutions that had been set up barely a few years before that. He was prepared to wait until Dr Mahathir took over as Prime Minister and then be would become the Deputy Prime Minister.
Of course, when Dr Mahathir took over as Prime Minister in 1981, he did not appoint Tengku Razaleigh as his Deputy as promised but instead appointed Tun Musa Hitam. But that is another story and a story I have already written about many times before.
If there were three people who needed to be credited with playing a prominent role in improving the lot of the Malay community it would be Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Khalid Ibrahim. But not many Malaysians, especially those amongst the younger generation, are aware of all these developments over that decade from 1965 to 1975.
Okay, now back to the issue of Khalid and PNB, the unit trust agency that he headed since its inception.
In the beginning (in 1978/1979, when PNB was first set up) many of us refused to invest in the unit trusts that PNB launched. By then, of course, I was already a staunch PAS supporter and the reason we boycotted PNB’s unit trusts was because PAS and ABIM (which was headed by Anwar Ibrahim) told us that these unit trusts were haram.
So we steered clear of the amanah saham that PNB launched because we believed that the profits we would be making was dirty money. This was what PAS and Anwar had told us and as good Muslims we did not want to make haram money.
I admit, however, I eventually did invest in these amanah saham and I was glad I did so because that was the money I used to send my daughter to the UK to study and much later, in 2009, was the money I used to buy my home in Manchester. Without that money I would have not been able to give my daughter a UK university education or own a house.
So PAS and Anwar actually condemned the government’s efforts to teach the Malays to invest their money in unit trusts so that many years in the future they would be able to educate their children and buy homes for themselves and so on.
I am glad I listened to Khalid Ibrahim by investing my money in government run unit trusts instead of listening to Anwar and boycott these unit trusts. And because of that both my daughters received a UK university education and I now own a fully paid home in Manchester.
Okay, that sounds like a long story but believe me I can make it even longer than that if I want to. But that is not want I really want to talk about today. That is only the introduction or mukadimah. What I really want to talk about is what Rafizi Ramli said last night.
And what he said was, “We all know in Pakatan Rakyat, attacks based on racial politics and religion must be countered with political games as well.”
Rafizi is much too young to remember that Anwar was the one who started this race and religion politics back in the 1970s. Anwar would go around the country telling the people that the Umno people are kafir(infidels). Those who dress like kafir by wearing coats and ties become kafir. Those who ape the kafirbecome kafir.
Anwar would be dressed like an Arab and we too threw away our kafir clothes and started walking around dressed like Arabs. So who was the one who started all this religion politics in the first place? Today Rafizi laments about the problem. Does he not realise that Anwar started this problem in his ABIM days when he divided the Muslims into the kafir Muslims of Umno and the true Muslims of the opposition?
So, yes, Malay politics is now the politics of Islam. And Rafizi is offering Anwar as the solution when he is the problem. Has Anwar ever apologised for labelling all those who dress like kafir and support Umno’skafir politics of nationalism as kafir and then a few years later in 1982 he abandons the Islamists and joins the kafir political party?
Then, when Anwar joined Umno in 1982, he made a bid for the Umno Youth leadership. And his campaign strategy was to condemn Suhaimi Kamaruddin, the then Youth Leader, as being too compromising and not militant enough.
Anwar wanted the Ummo Youth Movement to return to the ‘glory days’ of the 1960s. And what do you think he meant by that? The glory days of the 1960s was when Umno Youth wanted to take back the country from the Chinese. The Malays are now hamba di negara sendiri (slaves in their own country), they argued. And this is because the Chinese have grabbed all the wealth of the country leaving the Malays with nothing.
And why do you think they organised the First Bumiputera Economic Congress in 1965 that I talked about above? It was to address the grievances of the Malays and prevent a possible civil war, which happened anyway four years later in 1969 when the militants won the shouting match.
So, in 1982, Anwar felt that Umno had become too soft over the years and people like Suhaimi cannot put the Chinese in their place and is too compromising with the Chinese and so on.
And with that very militant and anti-Chinese stance, Anwar won the Umno Youth leadership hands down and Suhaimi the Chinese-lover was ousted. And from there Anwar took Umno Youth in the direction of being a party within a party that would make sure that the government does not give in to the Chinese.
So what nonsense is Rafizi talking about? Yes, we do have a problem with race and religion politics but it was Anwar who propagated this and who planted this seed in Umno Youth. And now you are telling us that Anwar has a cure for this disease, which, in the first place, he spread?
Hishamuddin Rais then says, “Anwar would be a better choice as a Mentri Besar, particularly as he would be able to better articulate the pact’s position on issues regarding race and religion.”
Pray tell, what is Pakatan Rakyat’s position on race and religion that they want Anwar to articulate with the Rulers? Do tell us!
Does he want the Rulers to agree that the Malay Bible must be allowed to say that Jesus is the son of Allah? Does he want Article 153 in the Federal Constitution to be removed? Does he want to open up ITM to the non-Malays and entry into the universities based on meritocracy and not based on quota (and the same with government posts, the police and military included)?
We need details. Tell us what is wrong now and what — as the new Menteri Besar of Selangor — Anwar can do about it when he meets the Rulers during the Conference of Rulers.
Anwar was in the government for 16 years from 1982 to 1998. He was also the Deputy Prime Minister for some years and met the Rulers both inside and outside the Conference of Rulers. In fact, I have personally witnessed Anwar phoning a couple of the Sultans. Hence Anwar could just pick up the phone and make a phone call to the Rulers.
Did Anwar articulate his views then when he was the Deputy Prime Minister and successor-in-waiting to Dr Mahathir? And if not, why? And if he did not do that when he was at the pinnacle of power why and how would he do that now when he is merely a Menteri Besar?
This is a whole load of bullshit.
The Malays are better off today because of the First Bumiputera Economic Congress of 4th June 1965 (which my father was a participant in). This Congress that passed 69 Resolutions spawned various agencies, PNB amongst them (which was headed by Khalid). Without all this most Malays would still be fishermen and farmers.
I know that, along the way, some people abused this to get rich through government contracts, monopolies, APs, etc. But that is being done by less than 1% of those Malays who walk in the corridors of power. The other 99% of the Malays are not crooks.
Are we going to condemn all the Chinese just because 1,000 Chinese joined Chin Peng’s CPM army in the jungles? Why should the action of less than 1% of the Chinese be blamed on 100% of the Chinese? There are many more Chinese who did not support Communist Terrorism, as there are many more Malays who did not choose the crooked way to become rich.
The trouble is, Malaysians hate reading. And they hate studying history even more. But if you did read, and if you read history, then you will know that the perjuangan to improve the lot of the Malays started back in 1965 and not after May 13 in 1969.
And it was people like Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Khalid Ibrahim (plus many more, my father included) who contributed to this effort and people like Anwar Ibrahim who tried to torpedo this effort by declaring that what the government is doing is haram and that we should boycott it and not support it.
And today you offer us Anwar as the saviour when it was he who tried to sabotage the whole thing? Pleeeez.
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Can Rafizi give his opinion on this? 


Curtain behind the shade Part 1

Special Branch officers were once looked upon as the backbone behind the police force.  Every citizen of this nation respected and fear them.  Special Branch officers were well trained and knew what they have to do. Investigation work were thorough and nothing was left to imagination. Even their superiors were investigated without favour if there are traces of evidence to support their wrongdoings. They safe guarded their uniform with pride.  And these officers had only MCE qualification.  Equivalent to SPM today.

Today Special Branch officers are make to find the best Bomohs in the world, abduct young virgins for their blood, used as sex tools, deposit sinful money overseas for politicians, act as gossip whisperers and cover up trails of money laundering. If told to investigate serious stuff, most time these Special Branch officers do not know what to do and had to use their imagination and creative brain to create one.  Given the opportunity Riza should use these creative creatures to the fullest in Hollywood.

Today lunatics would not be running around if Special Branch officers did their job.

Today's curtain behind the shade is about three public figures who are women.
Nazri was an ambitious man.  He was smart and calculative. At the same time he knew when to draw the line. His first step towards his dream of becoming PM after Mahathir was Marina.  But things did not go down well as planned when Marina became serious and wanted Nazri to marry her.  To avoid the marriage Nazri created a bad boy image of himself to Mahathir.  Things got worst when Mahathir caught Marina and Nazri naked together in London.  Till today Marina still has lingering love for Nazri.

Elizabeth Wong and Tian Chua became lovers when she was exco in Selangor.  She too became serious and wanted to marry Tian Chua.  But Tian Chua think otherwise.  So he got Helmi Malik a young horny guy to court Elizabeth.  The rest is history as everyone knows.  Today Helmi is married to an Indonesian woman and still gets regular allowances from PKR.

To kill an ambitious woman with few weaknesses one has to trend carefully especially if the mother is a tough nut to crack but a father who can be used.  The people behind the scheming took two years and millions to see result.  It came to fruit when Rafizi was roped into the scheme last year.  So today the mother has resign to her fate and the daughter's future hangs in the hands of those taking the helm of Selangor in the near future.



Thursday, January 30, 2014

Kajang Folks please use your brain

No Democracy and Good Governance in PKR, only Cloak and Dagger Stuff

by Nathaniel Tan@http://www.malaysiakini.com
COMMENT For years I defended Anwar Ibrahim. For years I defended PKR. I defended and I defended, until the day came where it became impossible to defend the indefensible. People always like to speculate whether people change their positions due to money. In all honesty, I think that’s a healthy speculation.
After yesterday’s article, more than one person asked about the profits I made working for the Selangor government. I had a good run, and earned a similar amount as the people I went to school with, for the three years I was with Selangor.
In the middle of last year, I was informed my services would no longer be required. They did not explain why at length (except perhaps to hint that I was costing too much), and I did not really ask or pursue the matter. My last day of work was around November 2013, and I have not had any professional engagement with them since.
Given the abrupt dismissal, perhaps people would have been less surprised if I had turned on Abdul Khalid Ibrahim instead of Anwar Ibrahim.
In any case, let’s get to it. Many people are throwing about words like ‘tactics’, ‘strategy’, ‘Mahathirism’, ‘racial and religious incitement’, ‘strengthening Pakatan Rakyat’, etc, etc.
I’ll spend a few words on all those later, but for my money, they have nothing to do with the most important implication of what is going on.
The murky game of cloaks and daggers
To me, the real problem pivots on how Anwar and his associates are running PKR in a manner that is completely bereft of transparency, accountability and democratic principles.
Let’s carry out a simple thought exercise: How did the decision to carry out the Kajang plan come about? I don’t know, do you?Many have speculated (myself included), many claim it happened one way or another, but the truth is: nobody outside the nebulous ‘inner circle’ has any idea.
PKR has a large supreme council that is mostly democratically elected, and a smaller political bureau. Can we say with confidence that members of both were given an opportunity to voice their opinions, much less be made fully aware of what was going on? Are there official minutes perhaps, that we might refer to?
Beyond PKR, there are the leaders of PAS and DAP, and there are the representatives of the Selangor State Assembly – all democratically elected as representatives by party members, and by the rakyat. How many of them had a say in the decision that would so heavily influence who would be the number one person in the Selangor state government? Were there broad consultations among party leaders, elected representatives, and (God forbid) the rakyat? Or was it presented to the world as a fait accompli?
The day Lee Chin Cheh (left) resigned his seat in Kajang, someone theoretically in the top 10 ranking of PKR leaders messaged me, saying: “I guess I’m always the last to know. Sigh” If he or she is the last to know, what more the rest of us?
This is the latest – and by my reckoning the last straw – in a culture of cloak and dagger politics within PKR that for too long now has circumvented transparency and democracy in favour of whispered deals made in backrooms that no one is privy to.
I suppose it was stupid of us to expect democracy from a party whose ‘de facto leader’ has no democratic mandate whatsoever. These issues have not been the focus of public attention, but in my mind, the implications of this style of politics continuing to spiral out of control is the most significant factor in the entire crisis.
‘The bigger picture’
All these years, I felt that despite these problems, it was important to maintain unity in order to fight the bigger enemy: UMNO. It’s a sad day when you turn around and realise that the people you’ve been fighting for have come to live and breathe so deeply the culture you thought you were fighting against.
Over the years, I have spent countless words trying to fight cynicism against politics, and speaking out against armchair critics who seem fueled mostly by self-righteous anger, and who never seem to get their hands dirty.
I did this because, like so many others, I wanted to concentrate on the big picture. I desperately wanted a Malaysia free of UMNO. On Tuesday, I realised how far some politicians would go in abusing and manipulating this desperation.
For too long now, I think Anwar, PKR and Pakatan have become convinced that they can get away with murder, because they believe those of us who hunger for change simply have no other options.
They assume we truly, truly will vote for Pakatan (and Anwar) no matter what, as long as no alternative (like another party, or say, Khalid) exists.I had always thought there was a limit as to how far they would go. It would appear not.
Talking cock
Alarm bells should start ringing when politicians say things that don’t make sense, and expect you to believe it.
At some point in ‘The Life Of Pi’, a pair of Japanese gentleman are presented with two different stories, and are asked: which story do you prefer? The question was not which do you think is true, the question was: which do you prefer?
Too often we believe what we want to, not what the facts suggest. It is a struggle to be objective, but it is a struggle well worth undertaking.
The first story
Let me try to present, as objectively as I possibly can, two stories that might explain what is going on.
The first has been articulated most popularly by Rafizi Ramli – a man whose sharp intelligence is reflected crystal clear in the politically savvy tone he used to make his argument.
This story suggests that we are on the edge of a crisis; that forces linked to former Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad are looking to dethrone Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, and instigate an era of unprecedented racial and religious strife.
This story has it that in order to take Putrajaya, it is imperative that Anwar be a state assemblyman of Selangor. That is all that Rafizi claims at this point, but I think it is not too much of a stretch to assume that he means that Anwar must become the Selangor Menteri Besar in order to effectively use Selangor as a “launchpad” to take over Putrajaya.
It is nothing short of comical to think that Anwar has some other role to play as a state assemblyman alone.
This story also has it that “option is key” – that somehow the ability to chose between Khalid, Anwar and someone else does not represent potential instability, but is rather some kind of ace up PKR’s sleeve against the UMNO leviathan.
Given the process that needs to be carried out in order to change the Menteri Besar, the Palace dynamics and the uncertain position that PAS will take, it seems to me that this move will actually create great instability all around, where once the only instability existed was those perpetrated incessantly by party leaders.
There is also a warning about Selangor becoming Kedah, despite the fact that while Pakatan lost Kedah in the last elections, Selangor increased its seat count by eight times more than any other state government that gained more seats in GE13. Other people allude to reasons that they “can’t talk about” things behind the scenes that we “wouldn’t understand”.
If we were really privy to all the discussions and the real reasons, I personally don’t think we wouldn’t understand; it’s more like we wouldn’t approve. That’s why we haven’t been made privy to them, and are served in their place steaming piles of horse manure.
The second story
Now let’s try another story. In this story, Khalid runs the state in a way that makes the people happy, but makes politicians unhappy. The last thing I want to do is make things up out of thin air. To elaborate on the previous statistic – in GE13, Negeri Sembilan increased its state assembly seats by one; Penang did the same. Selangor increased its seats by eight.
People love to yell until they’re blue in the face, saying that this or that is what the public really thinks, but this hard statistic is nevertheless incontrovertible. It does not prove conclusively that the public is happy with Khalid, but there are more statistics that provide statistics that suggest the opposite (which is quite remarkable, considering Khalid’s complete deprioritisation of public relations work).
Recently, in a poll by The Star, Khalid was top choice for Menteri Besar, obtaining nearly the same number of votes as the next two candidates put together (Anwar and Rafizi).
I could be wrong, but was there a Merdeka Center poll some years back where Khalid was shown to be a more popular leader than Anwar? If so, I can’t imagine it made Anwar feel too good.
The part where Khalid makes politicians unhappy I think goes without saying – sometimes for perfectly valid reasons, reasons I myself have experienced and been frustrated by. Are they reasons enough to remove him? For my money, not by a long shot.
In any case, Khalid probably thinks it is beneath him to defend his record (can you imagine anyone else in his position maintaining the relative silence that he has?), so I won’t presume to do it for him.
In this story, the most important thing about Khalid is that he does not easily accede to party wishes. If you ask his detractors, this applies to questions of policy (though I cannot think of many such policies). If you ask his supporters, this applies to how the party wants the state to be a bigger “resource” for party activities.
If you ask a cynic, he or she would say, all the PKR people want is their fingers in the jar that Khalid has kept so tightly closed. Is it all just about the money? To say so would probably be a disservice to the varied members of the ‘Anwar for Menteri Besar’ team.  Or, is it mostly about the money?
I suppose you will have to look as objectively as you can at the things they are saying. If they make sense to you, then the answer is ‘no’. If they do not make sense to you, then the answer is ‘yes’.
Feudal Politics and UMNO DNA
People like to say that PKR is like UMNO but they seldom go into specifics. In what way does it or does it not resemble UMNO? I think PKR is most like UMNO in that it is an extremely feudal party.
The most efficient and traditional feudal boss is Azmin Ali (a man who perhaps stands to gain the most from a debacle in Kajang), while Anwar’s feudal style leans more towards playing people off on one another, thus making himself as indispensable as possible.
Feudal politics cannot exist unless there exists money, resources and power to dole it out. The Selangor Menteri Besar can dole out a lot. Opposition Leader? Not so much. ln fact, little.
In the latter story, perhaps this latest ploy is also consciously or subconsciously motivated by a desire to stay relevant – to inspire followers who are losing faith, energy or both, and to do so at any cost.
PAS and DAP
It appears thAT PAS is divided. Its newly-minted Youth Chief has taken a hard stance, which I can appreciate, while the rest of the leaders may once again be bullied (for the “bigger picture”) to go along for the ride. Why they keep letting PKR do this to them? I do not quite understand.
Meanwhile, motivating some quarters in DAP is the belief that someone like Anwar can relieve some of the pressure they are feeling due to the Allah issue. If they think Anwar has the magic bullet that will bring us closer to actual solutions on this issue, I fear they will be sorely disappointed. However, this is merely an opinion of mine, for which insufficient space for elaboration exists.
The grass is always greener on the other side, and I think it will be too late by the time the delusions clear, and people realise exactly what they threw away when they replaced Khalid.
Enough Politics of Fear
We believe what we want to. Sometimes this leads to idolatry. Inside so many of us lives a burning yearning for change, and a pining for shining heroes to make that change real. These are completely understandable yearnings; but if we let them compromise our objectivity and our judgment, then we shall be forever lost.
I was saddened to see Lim Kit Siang use May 13 as some sort of bogeyman after so many years of berating MCA for doing exactly the same thing.
If you read Rafizi’s admittedly eloquent, beautifully crafted defence with greater care, you will see significant strains of the same politics of fear: we must do this because of the UMNO threat; we must do this because without Anwar, Selangor will crumble like Kedah; we must do this because only Anwar is a light strong enough to fight the oncoming dark.
Scary words, but the facts quite simply do not seem to bear them out. Every one of us will have to choose in this free marketplace of ideas which stories make the most sense, and every one of us will have to live with the consequences of our choices. At the end of the day, as always, we will get the government we deserve.
It’s been a difficult time, but there is no point in living unless we truly believe that for every closed door, a window opens. All we have to do is to find it.

To all Malaysians

                                                                    Gong Xi Fa Cai

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Need a smoothie after the kajang sate

Are you in support to dissolve the Selangor State Assembly?

                                            
Now that Anwar Ibrahim has announced that he will stand as a candidate in Kajang by-election (although he somewhat was reluctant to state that he wanted to be the MB of Selangor) I want to ask PKR and PR, have you all THOUGHT about the scenario I am about to write? 

The Selangor State Constitution says (like any other State Constitution in Malaysia) as follows: 

i) The Sultan may appoint an ADUN as the MB who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the assembly - Article 53 (2); and, 

ii)if the MB ceases to command the confidence of the majority, unless the Sultan dissolves the assembly at his (the MB's) request, the MB must tender resignation of his exco - article 53(6). (meaning, the state government would resign paving the way for an election).

Hmmm....another Perak in the making? So, Khalid tenders his resignation. 

The Sultan asks why would you want to resign since there is confidence in you? What would Khalid's answer be? Health reason? Because Anwar or Azmin want to be MB? The Sultan than would say "you think the MB-ship can be passed like some toy is it? The Sultan might just say "tell me frankly, actually they don't want you anymore, right? So, if they don't want you, that would mean you don't command the confidence of the majority anymore. If so, are you requesting me to dissolve the assembly? If not, please tender the resignation of your exco.

In the Perak case, the Federal Court has decided that the Sultan has the power to ask for the MB's resignation. 

So, if the above happens, a whole new State election is in the pipe huh? Awesome isn't it? As if we the voters have nothing bloody better to do.

Art Harun
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To Putrajaya via Shah Alam – the maturing of Anwar Ibrahim

Many people - including pundits - will think that it is a climb down for Anwar to be Menteri Besar, says Wong.
Lee Myung-Bak was mayor of Seoul (2002-2006) before becoming President of South Korea (2008-2013).
 
Mahmood Ahmadinejad was mayor of Tehran (2003-2005) before becoming President of Iran (2005-2013).
 
George Bush Jr was governor of Texas (1995-2000) before becoming President of US (2001-2009).
 
Bill Clinton was governor of Arkansas (1983-1992, 1993-2001) before becoming President of US (1993-2001).
 
Mah Ying-Jeou was mayor of Taipei (1998-2006) before becoming President of Taiwan (2008- ).
 
Chen Shui Bian was mayor of Taipei (1994-1998) before becoming President of Taiwan (2000-2008).
 
Jacques Chirac was mayor of Paris (1977-1995) before becoming President of France (1995-2007).
 
Joko Widodo, the currrent Governor of Jakarta (2012-) and the former Mayor of Surakarta (2005-2012) is now a popular hopeful for President of Indonesia in the 2014 election. 
 
 
THESE are not coincidences. In presidential system, chief executives of subnational government command more resources and opportunities to showcase their ability to govern than senior national lawmakers. 
 
The logic is the same for Malaysia, even though we are a nominally a parliamentary system. Given our dysfunctional Parliament, the Parliamentary Opposition Leader carries less weight than perhaps a powerful BN backbencher in the eyes of the Speaker and Ministers. As a matter of fact, the much desired two-party system cannot possibly happen if there is no healthy room for the opposition to perform. Had the Pakatan Rakyat won a landslide in 2013, the Barisan Nasional or any new opposition parties would not be able to compete competently even if they want to. To begin with, the Parliament meets so shortly that a Parliamentarian had only 2 hours 32 minutes on average to speak and be heard in 2012.
 
Given the concentration of power in not just the executive, but in the Prime Minister's hand, the two-party system can only happen when different parties capture different tiers of government. Despite our centralised federalism, state governments still have considerable power and resources to compete with the federal ruling coalition. 
 
Through policy and institutional reforms, from longer maternal leave, water subsidy, releasing lands to the needy, no-plastic bag policy, smoke-free policy, SELCAT and other legislative committees, freedom of information enactments, to baby steps in reviving local elections, opposition state governments in Kelantan, Selangor, Penang and Perak have shown Malaysians how governance can be different. As a matter of fact, the most important change of the 2008 Political Tsunami was not the denial of the BN's two-thirds majority, but the opposition running an unprecedented five states.
 
If Anwar wishes to return the wind to the sails of Pakatan Rakyat since a disappointing nine months since GE13, Selangor is a good point to restart the coalition's vision. The opposition is in dire need of showing more wonders as the electorate are not satisfied with just a continuity of what they had since 2008. They want more and better. Anwar is therefore being realistic by putting himself in Shah Alam before eying Putrajaya.
 
Many people - including pundits - will think that it is a climb down for Anwar to be Menteri Besar. This is only because few UMNO leaders have risen from the ranks of state leaders to become national leaders after PM Abdul Razak. The post of Menteri Besar or Chief Minister is often seen as the peak of a B-League UMNO leader's career, as if the Prime Minister must come from the rank of federal ministers. But amongst early UMNO leaders, Onn Jaafar was Johor's MB (1947-1950) and Abdul Razak was Pahang's MB (February-June 1955). Even Najib spent four years as Pahang's MB (1982-1986) before going to the federal level. However, after Razak, Muhyiddin Yassin is so far the only former MB/CM who did not have a gigantic father and yet made it to the top.
 
This perception that Federal Ministers are A-League and MBs/CMs are B-League was arguably spread to the opposition in 1990. Tengku Razaleigh's S46 made a deal with PAS to concede to the latter the MB posts in Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah and Perlis should the Angkatan Perpaduan Ummah (APU) take these states. Tengku Razaliegh positioned himself as the Prime Minister to be with no spare position in the event of a near-miss. He languished in the political wilderness when S46 lost every seat west of the Titiwangsa Range and S46 was marginalised by PAS in his home state where the pact won by a landslide. The demise of S46 can be arguably attributed to the lack of a power base in a winner-takes-all political system.
 
When Anwar built the opposition pact in 2008 – which became Pakatan Rakyat within three weeks after GE12 – like Ku Li, he did not plan to be a state chief in the event of a federal upset. The same happened in 2013. This is starkly different from DAP and PAS top guns who contested both federal and state seats to prepare for all possibilities. The difference of a more realistic attitude is huge. Benefiting from astute and popular chiefministership, PAS kept Kelantan under Tok Guru Nik Aziz and DAP has made Penang its impenetrable fort under Lim Guan Eng. The two states instead provide a base of gravity for the rest of the party. 
 
It should be noted that the idea of Anwar leading Selangor was actually raised by Liew Chin Tong in 2005 when the opposition was still recovering from the near wipeout in 2004 – surviving in only 10% of federal constituencies. It would have given a boost to the opposition and a two-step strategy to power would also appeal to more skeptical voters.  Now DAP's top strategist but then a nobody, Liew's idea was not taken seriously by anybody in the party. Having interviewed Tengku Razaleigh then for my PhD thesis, I was illuminated by Liew's insight to see clearer the winner-takes-all nature of our political system and its implications.  
 
It's great that Anwar has finally learned to be realistic. The resignation-by-election route – used by PKR in Permatang Pauh in 2008 and Penanti in 2009 – would probably irk many voters who see arrogance in PKR as it seemingly takes voters' support for granted. They should perhaps not miss a greater benefit from the democratic stand point – by having the Pakatan Rakyat supremo to head Selangor, Anwar will have to bear full responsibility for the successes and failures in the governance of Selangor. Unlike in the case of Khalid, no one can pull Anwar's legs in the name of party leadership. If Anwar fails to take Selangor better than Khalid does, he should really just retire. If he does better than Khalid, we know regime change in Putrajaya would truly mean a better tomorrow.
 
 
Attached to Penang Institute, Wong Chin Huat is a political scientist by training and a political activist by choice. He believes that like it or not, we are witnesses to history. We can choose to shape it or be shaped by it.



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