Thursday, January 03, 2019

There's no alternative

For better or for wore, this is our only viable choice for now and for some time to come.

People are fond of saying, "The people who voted you in can vote you out just as easily". Quite a few people who are disappointed with Pakatan Harapan for failing to fulfill some of its promises have said variations of this statement.

The problem with this seemingly logical statement is that it's just not true in the context of Malaysian politics at this moment.

In order to vote a party (or a coalition) out of office, you will need to vote for some other party. The question is "which other party?".

If you are not happy with Pakatan Harapan, who are you going to vote for instead? UMNO? PAS? MCA? MIC?

As if any of those parties are even a serious consideration. The harsh reality is that we don't have an effective opposition in this country. So there is really no choice because the alternative is far, far, far worse than PH.

Let's say you are not happy that PH is merely watering down repressive laws instead of abolishing them. So what do you do? Do you vote instead for the party that likes to use repressive laws?

Let's say you are not happy that PH has been slow in charging people for stealing public money (e.g. 1MDB). Do you vote instead for the party whose leaders stole that money?

You don't quite like the idea of Anwar becoming PM? Do you prefer Zahid?

Let's say you are unhappy with the state of the Malaysian economy and you declare that if the government doesn't get its act together, you will move to the USA instead. That's all fine and dandy if moving to the USA was an option you had. What if the USA was not an option? What if the only alternative available to you was Somalia?

Would you prefer to move to Somalia?

Let's face it, we don't have a choice but to vote for PH because the opposition parties are so useless, they do not even merit any consideration.

Is this a good thing? Of course not. It's better to have a strong opposition to keep the government on its toes and in check. But if we had to have a one-party system (instead of two), I'd most definitely prefer Pakatan Harapan over Barisan Nasional any day of the week. 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

PTPTN issue doesn't resonate with a lot of people



Pakatan Harapan has had to back down (or delay) from fulfilling its promises on several items in its manifesto.

Some unfulfilled promises may make people really angry. The one about PTPTN is not one of them. The only people angry about this are the PTPTN borrowers who chose not to pay back their loans.

It's hard for the average working stiff, struggling to make ends meet, to empathize with people who don't pay back what they owe.

For most of us, if you borrow money (to buy a house, to buy a car, to pursue further education), you have to pay it back. You can't just say, "Nope, I don't want to pay".

Yet so many PTPTN borrowers say just that, which is why it has over RM40 billion in liabilities. That's not millions, mind you but billions. It's mind-blowing to think about how many people must have decided simply not to pay back their loans.

Don't expect common folks to sympathize or empathize with deadbeat loan borrowers. You borrow the money, you pay it back. Simple as that.

How to achieve stability in PH

There's no denying he played a key role in Harapan's victory in GE14

There are some analysts who claim that Dr M didn't play as big a role in GE14 as some people think he did. I totally disagree. It was Dr M who proved to be the tipping point. So it is true when he says Najib would still be in power if not for Bersatu joining Pakatan Harapan.

But what is also true is that Najib would still be in power if PKR were not part of PH. It is also true that Najib would still in power if DAP were not part of PH. Repeat that sentence with regard to Amanah and Warisan.

The reality is that the various component parties in PH all need each other to form the majority in parliament.

Is this a good thing? In some respects yes because there is some form of mutual assured destruction if any one party decides not to play nice with the others. This mutual assure destruction forces everyone to behave reasonably in order to preserve the coalition government.

But it doesn't make for a very stable government. Any single party could bring down the government should it decide to leave. Which means every single party is actually a kingmaker. A party full of kingmakers doesn't make for stability in the long run.

So what needs to happen for there to be more stability in PH? One scenario calls for PKR, DAP and Amanah to among themselves get at least 112 seats in Parliament. These parties could still continue to work with Bersatu and Warisan but crucially, they don't need them. If the likes of Bersatu and Warisan start to exhibit UMNO-like behaviour, for example, they could be booted out and the coalition government would still hold.

This is stability. And it is achievable in GE15. At last count this trio has 103 MPs among them. They just need another nine more than they've reached the magic 112 number. Very doable and desirable too as it would keep Bersatu in check and ensure it doesn't morph into UMNO 2.0.

A team of rivals

Trouble brewing?
There could be a lot of turbulence in PKR in the coming months and years. It is in that unique situation where the president's deputy is also his rival.

That was the case with Dr M and Anwar in the 1990s remember? And look how that ended up.

It's very clear Azmin feels by now he has outgrown his role as Anwar's trusty lieutenant. Rafizi is content to play that role but not Azmin.

Will he challenge Anwar someday? Or might he actually quit PKR for Bersatu as some rumors and news reports suggest?

Who knows. Anything is possible in politics. Who would have thought it was possible for Anwar and Kit Siang to team up with Mahathir to oust Najib.

I consider myself a pretty savvy political observer -- and my comments published in newspaper columns and books over the years have proven to be quite accurate -- but just a few years ago if you had asked me if it was possible that Dr M would actually join the opposition and work with Anwar to try to defeat Najib, I would have said "Never in a million years".

So, anything is possible although it would be hard to imagine Azmin actually quitting PKR and joining Bersatu. That is really quite a stretch. What is more likely is perhaps some formal leadership challenge within PKR at some point. Perhaps when it comes closer for Anwar to take over as PM.

Does Dr M encourage this? Well, he did give Azmin a very powerful economic role despite the fact that he already had a capable finance minister. Why did he do that if not to bolster Azmin's credibility and gravitas? And why would he want to do that given that Azmin is not from his party? Hmmm... imponderables!

One thing you can be sure of though. Azmin may be savvy but Anwar is no novice in politics. If the rest of us can see what's happening, surely he sees it much better than we do and I'm sure he has plans and maneuvers in place in the eventuality of a challenge from Azmin.

It will be interesting times for PKR next year. Expect a lot of fireworks.

Let Nurul Izzah be



Mujahid's open letter to Nurul Izzah asking her to reconsider her decision to quit all her posts is downright embarrassing. Why try to convince her to change her mind in such a public manner?

If you are close to her and her family, why not speak to her privately and try to convince her directly? Why do this through an open letter?

On that note, lots of people were also wondering why Nurul Izzah and Rafizi decided to make so public their lunch with KJ? Instagram and all?

What point are they trying to make? Who knows.

And why did Nurul Izzah quit in the first place? Lots of speculations but she didn't say why and has made it clear she doesn't intend to.

That being the case, let her be.