Feb 20, 2009

Tun Mahathir : It’s gutter politics

Former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir says that there a lot of dirty politics currently in Malaysia. He believes that the circulation of Bukit Lanjan assemblyman Elizabeth Wong’s semi-nude photographs was politically motivated.

CAMBRIDGE (Britain): Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad believes that the circulation of Bukit Lanjan assemblyman Elizabeth Wong’s semi-nude photographs was politically motivated.

“In Malaysia now, we’re seeing a lot of dirty politics,” the former Prime Minister said in response to claims that she was a victim of a political smear campaign.

He added that a lot of things were happening in Malaysia which was related to politics.

“This is bad because it’s so easy to take pictures and get people into trouble,” he told The Star after giving a talk on “Malaysia At The Crossroads” at Cambridge University on Wednesday.

Dr Mahathir added that whether Wong would eventually resign depended on her party although she had offered to do so.

Feb 13, 2009

Tun Mahathir : Country needs to increase people’s income to boost economy

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad wants Malaysia to be like Singapore and find its niche.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 12 — Be like Singapore and find your niche.

That is what former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad wants Malaysia to do.

He cited Singapore as a country that not only found its niche in financial services, but had managed to increase both its gross domestic product and the income of its people to reach a developed nation status.

“Since their separation from Malaysia, every year they (Singaporeans) increased their wages but remained prosperous, although not so now,” he told Malaysia's Business Times in a recent interview.

He said that Malaysia too needs to increase income so that the economy will benefit.

“The main thing is to increase the income of our people so that the economy will rise through higher consumption of local products,” he said.

Dr Mahathir also said this cannot happen overnight.

He said Malaysia first needs to find out what kind of business or industry it can excel in and work on increasing efficiency through more automation and innovation, “so we can have less labour cost but higher wages”.

Dr Mahathir also gave his take on how the government should tackle the current economic crisis.

In response to people saying that the government was too slow to act, he said it needs to plan carefully before it can act.

He said that before dispensing money, the government has to carefully study the multiplier effect the money would bring to the economy.

“It is not just giving money here and there... giving it to this school or to this area, that area... that is not the way. We have to structure the whole economy and structure which part needs support.”

He said that during the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis, when he was the prime minister, daily meetings to discuss economic data from all sectors took place.

“Every day we would sit down, from morning to 1pm, to study the economy. We had all the data, all types of consumption data from electricity to restaurants... so that we know what the economy is like. We must have all the data regarding this crisis, the causes, then only can we plan on how to use the money.

“Just because it is called pump-priming, so we just give money?” he asked.

“The leadership must be knowledgeable and understand what really needs to be done and can't simply expect civil servants to help overcome this problem. The leadership has to tell them and unless things change, you will lose the next election.”

Last week he told the Star newspaper that the government is capable of allocating RM35 billion for the second stimulus package if it wants to.

“(It) is 5 per cent of gross domestic product,” he said.

The Employees Provident Fund alone has funds worth some RM250 billion, he told reporters at a forum on the global financial crisis.

Corporate leaders from various industries had said that the first stimulus package worth RM7b was not big and effective enough.

Dr Mahathir also advised corporate leaders to be very careful in exercising cost-cutting measures, especially in cutting wages.

“When people have less purchasing power, people will buy less and this would have an effect on the economy on the macro scale,” he said.

Feb 11, 2009

Malaysian government faces more bruising electoral tests

The Barisan Nasional coalition has been humiliated by the loss of two by-elections since putting in a dismal performance in general elections last March, and will be looking to prove it can claw back public support.

IPOH, Malaysia : Malaysia's government on Tuesday was preparing for further political challenges, as two electorates fell vacant shortly after its controversial power grab in northern Perak state.

The Barisan Nasional coalition has been humiliated by the loss of two by-elections since putting in a dismal performance in general elections last March, and will be looking to prove it can claw back public support.

The votes are also a chance for the Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance to re-assert itself after the loss of Perak, which triggered calls for opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to quit.

The new Barisan Nasional leadership was sworn into power in Perak on Tuesday, despite objections from the Pakatan Rakyat, which lost its narrow majority when it was hit with four defections.

Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, the Paktan Rakyat's chief minister in Perak who has rejected an order from the state's sultan to quit, reported for duty at the government building on Tuesday before being turned away by police.

"As far as we are concerned we are still the government. There is no document, no proof that we are not. We will continue doing our usual daily jobs," he told reporters at the official residence he still occupies.

Mohammad Nizar said the opposition would take legal action in the state's High Court to back its claim that it remains the legitimate government.

He said it was too soon to say whether he would contest one of the by-elections - for a national parliamentary seat in Perak, which was made vacant when an opposition MP died of a heart attack.

The other vacant seat is for the state assembly in Kedah, in Malaysia's far north, where the opposition legislator quit citing threats to his family.

"At this point, the raw public mood appears to be setting the Barisan Nasional an uphill task" in winning back the Perak seat, The New Straits Times said in an analysis on Tuesday.

The coalition has been undermined in past by-elections by internal rivalries and poor candidate choices, and Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi indicated it would make a concerted effort for the new contests.

"We should start our preparations now. We have to work very hard to win these seats," he said, according to the official news agency Bernama.

The opposition said the special votes would be a test of the Barisan Nasional's popularity and its conduct in Perak, where public protests greeted the installation of the new government.

"(It) will be an important referendum for the core question in Perak... let's see the people's verdict," Sivarasa Rasiah, vice-president of Anwar's Keadilan party, which is part of the three-member opposition alliance. - AFP/de

Feb 5, 2009

Sultan says 'no' to dissolution, MB Nizar calls it a coup

Sultan Azlan Shah has decided not to give his consent to the dissolution of the Perak state assembly and has ordered Mentri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin and his state executive council to step down with immediate effect.

PM Abdullah arrives at Istana Kinta in Ipoh. He joins Najib and all 28 BN state representatives as well as the three Independents who are already inside the palace. They will be sworn in by Sultan Azlan Shah to take over the state government.

IPOH, Feb 5 — Perak plunged deep into crisis today after Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin refused to resign on the orders of Sultan Azlan Shah, desribing the situation as a coup by Barisan Nasional, while the Umno-led coalition prepares to be sworn in as the new government.

Umno leaders, including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, are already gathering at the Istana Kinta here, even as Pakatan Rakyat leaders seek a last-minute reprieve from the ruler.

"We are not rejecting the decision of the Sultan. We are pleading to ask for the dissolution of the assembly.

"The Sultan told me that BN has 31 to 28 but I told him that was inaccurate as three have vacated their seats.
“I asked for consent to dissolve to protect the rights of the people,” he told reporters at the official residence of the MB here.

He said the Sultan had asked him to resign, and he told the ruler he would not.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the PR alliance of Pas, PKR and DAP fully supported Nizar, and wanted the matter “returned to the court of the people”.

“BN has twisted it as if we are committing treason. But we are merely pleading.

“The leadership council of Pakatan will seek an audience with the Sultan,” he told reporters at the same press conference.

Pakatan Rakyat leaders were earlier locked in an emergency meeting following Sultan Azlan Shah’s refusal to grant a dissolution of the Perak state assembly and his order for Nizar to resign.

This decision to not to resign will lead PR on a collision course with the Sultan, whose decision has been greeted with immense criticisms even on his own website where visitors have been expressing their disappointment.
It is understood letters have been sent by fax to the MB's and all state executive councillors, asking them to vacate their offices.

The police have also set up road blocks around the state secretariat here.

Many offices have also closed early for the day, with employers asking their staff to go home early.

It remains unclear if a planned public rally tonight will go ahead but Barisan Nasional leaders are already going ahead with plans to form the next state government.

Earlier, Sultan Azlan Shah announced his refusal to give his consent for the dissolution of the Perak state assembly, and asked Nizar to resign in a statement carried by national news agency Bernama.

And if Nizar refuses to resign, the post will be declared vacant.

This will pave the way for BN to form the next state government.

The office of the Sultan of Perak, in a statement, said that after meeting all the 28 BN assemblymen and the three independents, the Sultan was convinced that Nizar had ceased to command the confidence of the majority of the state assembly members.

"If YAB Datuk Seri Ir Mohammad Nizar bin Jamaluddin does not resign his post as Perak menteri besar together with the members of the state executive council, the posts of menteri besar and state executive councillors are considered vacant," the statement said.

It is understood that a candidate for the MB's position has already been proposed to the Sultan, who has given his approval.

Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi is also expected to meet the Sultan at 6pm today to confirm the formation of a new state government.

A mammoth gathering has been planned tonight, originally to be held at the MB's residence, but which has apparently been shifted to the Perak Stadium.

Earlier, the Sultan concluded a busy morning of talks with both Nizar and Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Najib Razak in a bid to break the political impasse in the state.

He met Najib twice before summoning Nizar to his palace as well.

"Signs are good," Nizar told reporters as he left the palace.

But Najib was equally optimistic that the Sultan would rule in his favour and allow BN to form the state government.

In his second audience with the Sultan, Najib brought along the 28 BN state legislators and the three independents backing the coalition to see the Ruler to make his case for a new government.

"A second audience with the Sultan was arranged. It was attended by all 27 Barisan state assemblymen and Datuk Nasarudin Hashim, who has returned to BN, together with the three state representatives who left their parties and are now supporting Barisan.

"All of them pledged their support to Barisan, and the person to be appointed as the menteri besar later, before the Sultan," he told reporters before chairing the state Umno liaison committee meeting.

He said the final decision now rests with the Sultan.

Najib added that BN would respect and abide by the Ruler's decision, even if meant the dissolution of the state assembly to enable fresh state elections to be called.

Nizar's Pakatan Rakyat government has filed a suit to declare three state seats vacant after their representatives turned independent. The three — from Behrang, Changkat Jering and Jelapang — have thrown their support behind BN, which also accepted back the Bota assemblyman who had defected earlier.

Pakatan Rakyat had hoped this move would persuade the Perak Sultan to accede to a request to dissolve the 59-seat assembly and pave the way for snap polls.

Earlier, Najib was granted an audience with Sultan Azlan Shah this morning a day after he declared BN has enough support to form the state government.

Najib was seen entering Istana Kinta here around 10am accompanied by Bagan Datok MP Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi and other BN officials.

The cheerful-looking Najib and the state Umno deputy chief Zahid left the palace about 30 minutes later.

When met later Najib said that he had informed the Ruler that BN has the majority in the state assembly and intent to form the new state government.

He added that the Sultan had expressed his wish to meet all 31 BN supporters in the assembly before the decision on the new state government can be made.

"We will respect whatever decision made by the Sultan as it is his discretion," Najib told reporters at the state Umno building.

The deputy prime minister, who is also the Perak BN chairman, announced yesterday the coalition now enjoys the support of 28 of its assemblymen and three independents in the legislative assembly with 59 members.

The state BN's success in toppling the PR government would give legitimacy to Najib's leadership as he is slated to take over the premiership by the end of March, after suffering a blow with the defeat in the Kuala Terengganu by-election.

Tun Mahathir : Not Good Idea To Bring People Of Poor Quality

Umno’s action of accepting those accused of corruption will tarnish the party’s image, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said it was not a good idea for Barisan Nasional (BN) to gain majority by bringing in people of poor quality.

He said this when ask to comment on the move by four assemblymen in Perak who left Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and DAP.

Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi (PKR-Behrang), Osman Jailu (PKR-Changkat Jering) and Hee Yit Foong (DAP-Jelapang) who is also state assembly deputy speaker have declared their intention to become independent representatives while Datuk Nasaruddin Hashim (Bota), who recently joined PKR, has returned to Umno.

Following this, the Pas-PKR-DAP alliance's majority in the 59-seat state assembly drops from 32 to 28 while BN's seats rose from 27 to 28.

Wednesday afternoon (4 Feb), Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Najib Tun Razak said in a press conference that BN has enough state assemblymen to form the next government as the three independent have vowed to support BN.

Dr Mahathir said: "Two people are accused of corruption. If you bring in corrupt people before they are found not guilty that is not going to improve the quality of the party. You want to accept people who want to jump into your party you need to know the quality of the person also."

Jamaluddin and Osman have been charged with corruption and their cases are still pending in court.

Dr Mahathir also warned that if they were found by the court to be innocent after joining BN, people would say that there was manipulation of justice. (Bernama)