Manufactured consent, false democrats and other disturbing stories.

Governing a country is a complex thing. Somebody’s always bound to be unhappy. In a democracy, that somebody too has a right to be heard. In mature democracies, with a system in place that respects individual liberties, he would be heard.

In a country that gives democratic practices the barest lip service, that guy is often dismissed. Such is the case in Malaysia. One guy can be safely ignored.  Even ten, or a hundred. But when thousands of people take to the streets in a gesture of defiance, that too in an Internet age where there are more Malaysians wired than there are voters, it takes a very different resonance.

It has to be dealt with in a more effective way. The bumbling bureaucracy that was the Malaysian Government was slow to wake up to the Internet reality and it cost at least one prime minister his job. But our present PM has woken up to this rude reality.

Witness the “cendawan lepas hujan” proliferation of the cybertroopers. Some serious money exchanging hands there, though even the smartest of these cybertroopers can’t convincingly defend a flawed system put in place by a political outfit hell-bent on preserving its hegemony. 

The public opinion that Dr M so totally silenced is now no longer silent. To quiet the cyber activists, one has to shut down the Net, and is that possible in 21st century Malaysia? Nak mampus?

So the war has undertaken in a more subtle manner. Subvert the people’s thinking via cyber propaganda. That’s happening now. Has been for a few years. The bogeymen have been identified.

1) Bersih

2) The LGBT Community

3) The Chinese turning Malaysia into Singapore

4)  Jews/Israel

5) Anwar Ibrahim

These bogeymen are essentially fear-inducing social control mechanisms that the powers that be uses to   keep its citizens in check. Outward show of brute force and intimidation is counter productive and for a PM allegedly committed to “reforms”, no longer tenable. Every time, they arrest somebody for a politics-related offence, vigils and support groups emerge. Civil disobedience is bloody tiresome isn’t, fellas? Now you thugs actually have to earn your pay…hehe.

So they have to go the “cheong hei” way of influencing opinions. That requires brains. Money can buy some brains.

Now some of you may contend that the fear mongering is too ridiculous to even work. Lemme tell you this; if you feel that way, you are NOT the target audience. Anyway, if you are an urban, middle-class, private sector employed voter, their messages are not for you.

The messages of fear is directed at the heartland; the traditional vote bank that Umno/BN had always retained. The rural vote is important, never mind that a majority of Malaysian voters now are urban. Malapportionment and gerrymandering happened through the decades we gave BN continuous mandate to rule.These measures ensured that your one urban vote is worth just one sixth a rural vote.

They sweet-talk the kampung, Felda/Felcra folks, kow tim the tuai rumah in the longhouses of Sabah/Sarawak and they are set. While delivering the goodies, the veritable poison is poured into the ears.

If that is not enough, form 30 NGOs. Throw a press conference or two. Threaten and shout some half-hearted right-wing drivel. These days, hatchet jobs are better when outsourced. Hence your Perkasa, Pekida, Petty Traders Association, KIMMA, P***mak…and other garden variety mofos.

Whether they win this campaign or not, depends on how well Malaysians are informed, and how badly they want change. The signs are all there.

Even the PM has been labelled a false democrat in Canadian journo Mark Mackinnon’s scathing indictment of world leaders. Wisma Putra is predictably apoplectic.

“What??!! All this GTP,ETP  bla bla bla and he dared say we are a false democracy?” must be the refrain on that hill in Putrajaya.

But tell me, what do you call an administration that:

– Dismisses Bersih as just a political move to unseat the government despite the clearly stated claims of the movement for electoral reform
– Turns a blind eye to countless custodial deaths and allegations of police brutality 
– Denies the public its freedom to assemble in a place where Merdeka was first shouted.
– Ignores allegations of impropriety in public spending by govt institutions despite consecutive Auditor General’s report.
– Conducts selective prosecution and prosecution via two arms of the law (MACC and Attorney General’s Chambers)
– Denies the public access to information that is of public interest via the Official Secrets Act.
– Scraps the much-reviled Internal Security Act and still continues to keep ISA detainees in Kamunting, deprived of their right to fair trial.

I could go on…but you readers perhaps have your own list. Bottomline here is, accountability and a respect for the citizenry is sorely lacking. And its not about to change unless the citizenry itself starts to get down n dirty, and fix this flaw-ridden boat that is Malaysia.

That’s the only boat we have. 


Karma is a Bitch!

Here’s Ali Rustam, the swaggering UMNO powerbroker, chopped at the knees, done in by another more ambitious, powerful than him. That’s the prevailing thought anyway.

No sympathies here. This is one of the uglier faces of UMNO. I don’t think many people forgot how he rudely told off the PPP folks at a dinner where he was the guest of honour in Malacca, in 2007. He told them to get out of BN. “We don’t need you”, or something to that effect.

In fact this money politics thing ain’t new. Back two years ago when Isa Samad won his VP race with the highest votes, only to be suspended from UMNO in an ignominous manner after the Disciplinary Board found him guilty of vote-buying, there were rumblings that Isa was made scapegoat.

Even then Ali Rustam’s name resurfaced. But he escaped it somehow. Now’s his time. Still, I don’t think this guy will take it lying down. And I’m not alone.

This might lead to a serious rift in UMNO, hell, the party might just implode.

Which might not be a bad thing for the country after all.

I’ll tell you why I’m this cynical.

You see, word has it that there are many people (read Ali Rustam supporters as well as the Umno grassroots) who are pissed off at the way Ali Rustam was singled out for punishment at this particular time.

The inference is, “Everybody’s doing it, so why pick on him?”

So, they are basically admitting that rampant corruption, vote buying, graft, bribing in cash and kind, are all a normal thing in UMNO.

This is the kind of leaders who are going to safeguard “kedaulatan raja-raja” and “ketuanan melayu”.

A guy with all kinds of baggage on his head (allegations of graft, cover up, murderby proxy)  is poised to become the Prime Minister.

The three VP contenders come with their own issues. Muhyiddin aligned himself firmly with the DPM by calling for Pak Lah to get out.

Now the fallout from Ali Rustam saga may result in the Umno delegates deciding to vote Mat Tyson in protest. (You all know how he got that moniker, right?)

Imagine Mat Tyson gets voted in as deputy president of Umno.He will automatically be DPM of Malaysia, by next month.

So, we would have a hen-pecked PM with allegations of murder and shady defence deals hanging over his head.

And a DPM who,

1) Ran away with  2 million ringgit (or Aussie dollars, not sure) to Australia and got caught for it. When questioned he said he speaka no English.

2) Spirited a sultan’s daughter to Thailand to get married, while he’s stilll married.

3) Backhanded the same daughter a few years later at an airport, in public.


Let us Malaysians just dig our own graves and jump in it.

Cos the one party that still runs the country, is populated by vultures.

Halfhearted efforts that’s losing steam…

There are a lot of big news taking up prime space of most Malaysians’ consciousness these days.

There is the Gaza obscenity that has the entire world in an uproar, but with an emasculated United Nations, pretty much nothing could be done, apart from our innefectual calls for American product boycott and marches

Back home there is this Kuala Terengganu by-election that DPM Najib is at pains to tell us, doesn’t indicate the support BN enjoys in the country. He’s worried, that much we can see.

Worried enough to use their champion shit-stirrer Ezam, late of PKR, to start a smear campaign against Anwar. Hey man, it takes no rocket science to know that Anwar is neither an angel nor Malaysia’s salvation.

But that doesn’t make you smell very nice either. Nobody likes a snitch. Especially a snitch that comes out with dirt only during elections and by-elections.

It’s an insult to the people of Kuala Terengganu. And it ain’t helping the BN candidate either. It seems to me that the BN camp is botching their own efforts willfully. Either that or Najib is intellectually-challenged.

Neither hypothesis bodes well for BN.

The state’s decision to close down the DAP bilik gerakan is just stupid, whichever way you look at it. This, in a town where everybody is saying the Chinese may form the deciding block of voters.

The thousands of cops stationed at Kuala Terengganu now have logistics problems to settle. The city can’t really cope with their presence. I wonder at the strength necessary…and how those boys are housed. Those cops need a roof over their heads too, don’t they?

I always ask this question whenever I come across the SB types and riot cops, and usually am greeted with black looks. I ask the same question of KT-visiting cops now?

“Ada overtime ka?”

Razak Baginda Walks…

Yup. This morning at the Shah Alam High Court, political analyst Razak Baginda walks out a free man after being acquitted of the charge of abetting in the murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaaribuu.

Kpl Sirul Azhar and Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, the two principal accused in the brutal murder that has rocked the nation for the past two years, have been told to enter defence.

Full court report here.

Thank You Elviza, for the heads up.

Now, although Razak was actually crying buckets after the judge’s ruling, I’m willing to bet that he will shut up after this. The prize? His freedom and his life. Enough motivation for any man to zip his lips.

I still maintain what I said in The Invisible Man back in June. Razak did not have the clout to order those two police commandos to kill. They would not have taken orders from him.

But now that these two have to take the stand and defend themselves, can we Malaysians expect to finally hear or see the Invisible Man? I don’t know. This is a high stakes game and the proximity of the case to the Deputy Prime Minister is enough to make anyone break out in cold sweat.

This is also a case that has a lot to do, I feel, with RPK being in Kamunting. The great Malaysian soap opera has just passed the cliffhanger episode. The coming season promises to be far more interesting, with two lives hanging in the balance and the folks who supposedly ordered the kill, nearer to getting away with the C4 Murder.

Bravo Bolehland!

Valuecap, policy flip-flops and our money

The Story: The Malaysian government is pumping RM10 billion into buying undervalued stocks in Bursa Malaysia. Announced by PM-in waiting and Finance Minister Najib Razak on Tuesday.

Who/What is Valuecap? This is what I picked up from the Khazanah Nasional website.

Valuecap (Valuecap Sdn Bhd)

Established in 2002, Valuecap is a fund management company which was created to invest specifically in the Malaysia equities market. Owned jointly by Khazanah, PNB and KWAP, Valuecap’s key mandate is to undertake investments in equities listed on Bursa Malaysia on a portfolio basis, based on superior fundamental investment research.

The Edgedaily is cautious in its examination of the issue. Note these paragraphs.

Valuecap, which was set up in 2002 to add liquidity and volume to the market, has met these objectives, according to Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, whose brainchild it was.

While analysts are in agreement that the market as a whole is undervalued and therefore presents opportunities for equity investments, several points should be clarified.

The first is whether Valuecap’s record of its return on investment matches the EPF’s benchmark. There is not much public information about Valuecap’s investment activities. However, currently, Valuecap is believed to have about RM4.9 billion worth of investments in 70 companies. And it has been reported that since its inception to September 2007, Valuecap has paid out a total of RM135 million in dividends. Better public disclosure will help to ascertain whether this passes the standard tests for financial performance.

A check with the registrar of companies shows that it is in the black and has assets of RM7.5 billion. So Valuecap has some value. But what is the return that EPF will get on the RM5 billion?

What the Trade Unions and the Opposition pols think about the whole thing, as Malaysian Insider reports it.

Md Nor Yakcop the second Finance Minister is optimistic about it.

Anwar Ibrahim said this.

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the additional money was merely 1 per cent of market equity and would have no impact on the bourse which has plunged by more than 37 per cent this year.

It “serves no logical purpose other than to prop up some companies in the stock market,” he told reporters in Parliament.- Malaysian Insider.

The public’s view, as stated at Malaysiakini’s Vox Populi.

For perspective, this is an old press statement from EPF.

EPF Denies Involvement With Valuecap Sdn Bhd

The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) denies reports in today’s newspapers (November 20, 2002) which associated the operations of ValueCap Sdn Bhd with the EPF’s investments and two other state-run funds.

The EPF wishes to clarify that it has not appointed ValueCap Sdn Bhd to manage the EPF’s investment fund. The EPF also denies that its involvement in the KLSE is to shore up the stock market. The EPF’s investments are not used to bail out ailing companies.

The EPF invests in companies with sound fundamentals, long-term growth potential and competent management. The EPF is always prudent and professional in its approach when investing members’ savings. The Fund ensures that the investments are safe, not exposed to high risks and gives reasonable returns to its members for their retirement.

Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Investment)
Employees Provident Fund

Date: 20 November 2002

I reproduced the statement above simply to juxtapose the differing position on this matter (bailing out ailing stocks) just 6 years ago.

Another thing to note is that EPF is a shareholder of KWAP (Kumpulan Wang Persaraan) which is in turn a shareholder in Valuecap. So the pumping in of RM10 billion is essentially from EPF to its own company twice removed, or something like that.

Here’s something I’d like to know though. Who will decide which undervalued stocks to salvage and which will be allowed to die when the excreta hits the fan big time next year?

It’ll be nice to have some transparency in this matter. Especially since word has it that Md Nor Yakcop was the guy who lost us RM4 billion almost overnight during the 1998 crisis.

We deserve answers don’t we? Especially since many more of us can claim to be affected, as the EPF contributors surely outnumber the number of taxpayers.

If things go bust, then will the govt use policies like raising the age of eligibility for withdrawal, so as to stop paying out. The sums we have individually are surely minuscule enough not to affect EPF’s liquidity, but I don’t put it past the authorities to gamble with our money, and then lose it, and then lie to us about it.

This is Malaysia. Transparency is a new kid that everyone in power looks at very suspiciously.

So I call on civil society to scrutinise this and play the role of pressure group to ensure we ordinary Malaysians are not raped, again.