For my son, when he grows up, this site will be my legacy for him. The decisions his mother and I made for him, to understand them, to learn from them and to lead a life without prejudice and to succeed in it on his own merit.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Extras For The Referrers

DBKL - a local government representing 1.454 million but voted by none.
By romerz

Two days ago, a story carried by Malaysiakini had me reading in disbelief. A housing developer had cried foul after being overcharged on three instances by it's joint-venture partner Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL).

1. RM142,245/- for a 10 square-feet guardhouse.
2. RM299,560/- for six pieces of schematic drawings.
3. RM903,360/- for two lifts.

Full report HERE if you are a Malaysiakini subscriber or you can watch the allegations by the irate housing developer below.

Now this is not strange as cheating occurs from time-to-time in the business world, even between partners but this is different because it involves DBKL.

DBKL is a local authority which administrates Kuala Lumpur city centre and other areas in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur. This agency is under the Federal Territories Ministry of Malaysia. Executive power lies with the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur who is appointed every three years by the Federal Territories Minister since local government elections were suspended in 1970.

What is so odd with that?

Well for starters it means that the residents of KL have less rights than other Malaysians. Unlike other Malaysians, people residing in the federal territories of KL, Putrajaya and Labuan do not get a second vote, they do not get to choose a state government. They only get to vote for members of parliament, 11 in the case of KL, 1 in Putrajaya and 1 in Labuan.

And by the way, nobody in Malaysia gets to vote for the local authorities which have such a direct bearing on their daily lives. All Malaysians lost the 3rd vote in 1970 whilst KL people lost their 2nd vote as well in 1974.

According to WolframAlpha computational knowledge engine (2004 estimate), KL's population is 1,454,000 and DBKL's budget for 2009 is RM2.09 billion. And this budget does not have to be scrutinized by representatives of a legislative assembly voted in by KL residents!

Let us take in comparison Penang, a state of approximately the same number of residents as KL, with a state budget of RM477 million for 2009. Now in Penang, this RM477 million budget had to be submitted to the state legislative assembly comprising of 40 representatives elected by Penangites to deliberate, amend or pass and scrutinize the RM477 million budget.

I make this comparison because as a Penangite, I would be furious if my government did business in such a high-handed manner which smells of "cheating and corruption". I would definitely weigh this exorbitant charges as a negative against them when I next have to choose representatives of my state assembly, of course taking other things into consideration.

Unfortunately KL residents have no such rights. They have to swallow such behavior from DBKL since DBKL and it's mayor is only answerable to the FT Minister. Effectively 1.454 million KL residents have to hope that the single FT Minister will do the right thing for them!

The intention behind the creation of the FT of Kuala Lumpur was because then KL contained all the instruments and institutions synonymous with the capital of Malaysia. With the creation of Putrajaya as the administrative capital in 1999 and with all administrative branches of the federal government having moved there, all is left of KL as the capital are Instana Negara, official residence of the king, and parliament house. Except for these two areas and some pockets of federal properties, is there any further need to keep Kuala Lumpur as a federal territory?

Isn't it about time some rights are restored to KL people so that they can have a bigger say as to how they are governed locally, how their local taxes are used and the direction of the city they live in should go?

But let us not kid ourselves. Nothing that changes the status quo where a few ruling elites have so much power and access to so much money can come about unless the UMNO/BN federal government is booted out of office long enough so that all the democratic rights Malaysian used to enjoy since independance can be restored.

Make no mistake, our rights to choose the future for ourselves and our country is surely being eroded by successive UMNO/BN governments. This is why we have to vote out UMNO/BN from their excesses of power and corruption, even if it is in a state by-election as N11 - Permatang Pasir.

These arrogant ruling elites do not understand democratic rights, human rights, or just simple rights to co-exist peacefully. All they know is they must hang on to power by whatever means possible so they can continue to rob us.

Well it is our patriotic duty as Malaysians to stop them by whatever means possible and counter them at every step of the way! And the next step is N11 - Permatang Pasir, so I earnestly hope that the good people of Permatang Pasir will not let our country and all it's inhabitants down.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Not Getting Justice

A few good men.
By romerz

If the mystery letter pertaining to Teoh Beng Hock's case is genuine then there are at least some good men left within the MACC. In fact I believe that there are many good men still left within the MACC, the PDRM, civil service and other government Institutions. Most are decent honest working people worried about feeding their families.

Unfortunately they are led by others with power over their livelihoods, those who rub shoulders with the ruling elites and had aided and abetted the ruling elites to plunder the country over the years, maybe even benefited from these widespread plundering themselves.

But that will be for a future posting.

Instead I would like to reproduce the mystery letter in it's original form and provide an English translation for my readers. You decide for yourself if it is genuine or not. In any case, the magistrate presiding over Teoh Beng Hock's inquest had ordered the PDRM to investigate further on the letter.

Here is the English translation.

Corrupt practices, misconduct and abuse of power by Senior Officer of MACC Selangor
Respectfully, we would like to refer to the matter above.

We, officers in MACC, feel duty bound to expose the wrongdoing and corrupt practices by a senior officer of MACC – Deputy Director (DD) of MACC Selangor, PKPj I Hishamuddin Bin Hashim. He is related to the cases of Teoh Beng Hock and bungalow house at Section 17, Shah Alam, owned by Dato’ Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Bin Toyo.

2. For the information of YBhg Tan Sri/Dato/Tuan/Puan, DD is indeed involved directly with the investigation of misappropriation cases involving Selangor exco YB Ean (Adun Seri Kembangan). DD’s involvement is not only at the level of official instruction, but he actually instructed specifically MACC officers to try to uncover any possible wrongdoings by the current Selangor state government. He acted so because of his collaboration with Khir Toyo to bring down the Selangor state government. Due to his overzealous approach, hence the death of Teoh Beng Hock. There are a few questions arising from the circumstances of Teoh Beng Hock’s death that concern us MACC officers. We all suspect DD to be responsible for the death of Teoh Beng Hock based on the following facts:

i) DD has instructed all MACC officers involved in the operation not to implicate his direct involvement in the case. In fact, he is the one giving direct orders in the operation and other operations in MACC Selangor. Actually he fears his involvement will compromise his collaboration with Khir Toyo.

ii) The chemistry department has detected finger prints and DNA traces of a mysterious male at the two frontal sides of Teoh Beng Hock’s waist belt. According to our knowledge, DD has his unique interrogation technique, i.e. he would hold the belt of the person under interrogation, lift him/her a few times and shake him/her.

iii) The process to extract DNA samples from MACC Selangor officers was conducted in two sessions. In the first session, DD ran away to avoid having his sample taken. However, DD was said to have given his DNA sample in the second session under dubious circumstances, i.e. he gave his sample in his room while all other MACC officers, including the MACC Director, gave their samples in the meeting room together openly. Why did DD give his DNA sample hidden in his room? Is the sample given by him indeed belong to him? We the MACC officers are curious because none of the DNA samples collected matches that of the mysterious male. We suggest that DNA sample of DD be taken again under the watch by trusted people.

iv) We have gotten information that DD has instructed his subordinates to erase fingerprints found at the window where Teoh fell to his death. This is proven as the police has failed to find any traces of fingerprints new or old at that window. The question is, why did DD give that instruction?

v) Based on the information we obtained, we suspect DD did not punch out when he left office on 16 July 2009 at 6.10am. This is critical because it would be evidence that DD was the last person to have seen Teoh. The question is, why did you not punch out when he usually does so? For the record, he is a person paying attention to his punch card.

3. For the information of YBhg Tan Sri/Dato/Tuan/Puan, DD is very influential in the investigation operations in Selangor, or even the whole Malaysia. In MACC Selangor alone, he is the most important person to decide whether or not a case is to be prosecuted, even though such power is supposed to be in the hand of the Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP). Decisions made by him favor his own interests or his cronies’. It is no surprise that he has been helming the investigation unit of ACA/MACC Selangor for more than ten years, i.e. since the Selangor state government under Barisan Nasional (Khir Toyo) and until the current Selangor state government. He has been promoted in quick succession from Grade 41 to Grade 54 within 16 years without reassignment and remained in MACC Selangor until now. According to ACA/MACC department policy, an officer who has been promoted or served for more than 5 years in a state will be reassigned to another location to avoid him from being involved in local corruption problem. One of the reasons that he has not been reassigned elsewhere is that he has been tasked to “take care” of interests of Dato’s Seri Khir Toyo in Selangor. Because of this, to reciprocate, Khir Toyo has to “take care” of DD’s interests in Selangor.

4. Due to his comfortable position in ACA/MACC Selangor from then till now, he has been involved with various corrupt acts and abuse of power. Among the corrupt acts and abuse of power by DD that we have detected/investigated are as follows:

i) Closing the case of Khir Toyo involving approval of a road construction project, which is the most expensive, spanning Bendang at Sekinchan, for a distance of 20.5km, at a price of RM92.5 million to the contractor who was almost blacklisted – Meram Holdings. According to JKR assessment, the cost of the road should not exceed RM50 million. The subcontractor running the project is Cabaran Wangsa, owned by Pua Kim An, who was once the landlord of Khir, while the other director of the company, Ahmad Tarmizi Tajjeury, is Khir’s crony, and he got 100 acres of land giving him a profit of RM20 million.

ii) In possession of assets beyond his means, including:

a. Owns a few houses for rental, including one two-storey luxurious terrace house which was purchased at a very attractive price from Pemaju Kumpulan Lebar Daun Development Sdn Bhd, as a result of closing the case of investigation against Group Executive Chairman, Dato’s Noor Azman @ Noor Hizam bin Mohd Nurdin. The case was investigated by ACA Selangor a few years ago and he owned a few more houses. As a smokescreen to the public and his subordinates, he has been living in the government quarters at Kg. Atap, Kuala Lumpur.

b. Owns a Petronas petrol station located at the left side of Federal Highway at Km 8.6 – Km 8.7, Section 1, Federal Highway, Shah Alam 40000 Selangor (near the Melati roundabout, in the direction of Klang from Shah Alam), registered under the name of his elder brother. The petrol station has just started operation this year (2009), and it is built on part of the land of a Chinese cemetery. He managed to obtain the land to build the petrol station as a result of his power as well as due to the Khir Toyo administration in Selangor.

c. Owns a few plots of land around Shah Alam, where one of them is believed to be beside the new SACC Mall, registered under the name of the wife of a driver in MACC Selangor, Abdullah b Azim, she being a full time housewife in her late 30s.

iii) Caught in adultery with a junior officer of the rank of Investigator called Nor Azlina bt Mustafa at the lake side of Shah Alam Lake in early 2009 by two police officers. He in turn showed his authority card and informed the police officers that he and the Investigator were in an operation and hence let off by the police. After a few intimate incidents with the Investigator, the affair is known by many, including his wife. The action taken by the department is to reassign the Investigator to MACC HQ at Putrajaya. This action is not effective as Azlina is still seen with DD at the Selangor office.

5. This letter was written to uphold integrity and challenge injustice, in the MACC specifically and Malaysia as a whole. We at the MACC can no longer stand to observe this behavior which is approved by higher-ups. We at the MACC have exhausted our options in looking for a department/institution/NGO which can bring forward this issue so that appropriate action can be taken.

6. We the officers in MACC are greatly appreciative and thankful to you all for bringing up this matter to the people and the relevant authorities so that there will be an organization/NGO that can take the appropriate action or independent investigation until the matter can be brought to the cabinet. The matter is very important because it involves the integrity of an officer serving in a department charged with enforcing law on crimes related to human integrity. DD is now working very hard by instructing his subordinates to do witch hunt on PKR which governs Selangor state now, with the hope that PKR will fall in Selangor and his secrets will be safe. For your information, DD is fearful whenever news of Dato’ Seri Khir Toyo appears in the media and he is fearful that if Khir’s case will expose his own case.

7. Our hope is, there will be party which is courageous to voice out our information here so that our action attracts the attention of authority and just action can be taken against him and put him to justice. We ourselves are not capable of taking action against him because he has “cable” (connection) to the top.

8. Cooperation from YBhg Tan Sri/Dato/Tuan/Puan is very much appreciated and hopefully your action will bring out more information exposing people without integrity so that MACC and its officers are clear of corruption.

Thank you very much.

We who follow instruction,
MACC Officers

PM Najib, these honest people are crying out to you and the cabinet in the hope that you really mean what you say about reforms for your party and government. If you even meant a little of your people first, action now slogan, for god sake's order the suspension of the MACC DD and haul Khir Toyo's sorry ass to face you and your disciplinary board.

Failure to do so will only tell me that you are still playing the old politics of lip service selfish intent but without substance!

Less powerful Malaysians have placed their trust in you so show me the beef!!! Show me that you mean what you say otherwise we will clash again and again until the next GE!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

It's The Idealogy Not The Forms

Remove it!
By LIM MUN FAH/Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE/Sin Chew Daily

Removal has become a recent hot topic and even former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also believes that not only the requirement to state one’s race in official forms should be removed, but the requirement to state one’s religion should not be retained, too. It is not a difficult task. It just depends on whether the government is willing to do so.

Dr M was right. Because we can distinguish race just by names, and all Malays are Muslims.

Therefore, the removal of the requirements to state one’s race and religion is in fact merely a change in form. Essentially, the distinctions of race and religion will not change because of this.

But we have to wait for a long 52 years even for such a minor change. It shows how difficult it is to achieve racial integration.

Therefore, we dare not to hope that such a small step will be a big step for “One Malaysia”. We understand that the racial and religious relationships are complicated and incisive. Moreover, they have been mixed with evil political struggles.

After the 8 March general elections, politics has become an integral part of our lives. Over the past one year and five months, every one of us has inevitably involved in the political game between BN and Pakatan Rakyat. In the political struggles between right and wrong, as well as between democracy and non-democracy, we could not help but excitedly waved flags and shouted, or condemned both in speech and writing.

Perhaps, this is a normal phenomenon as the people desire to end the “authoritarian political era” and establish a “democratic era”. To put it in a modern way of saying, this is the so-called throes of democracy, an inevitable process for a democratic politics.

However, under the confused and uncertain political atmosphere, evil motivated politicians also take the opportunity to rise. They constantly create the threat of “internal revolt and foreign invasion”. They deliberately stir up racial and religious issues to worsen the polarisation phenomenon. They make the phenomenon to be reflected not only in economy and education, but as well as in cultural affairs that leads to greater mutual suspicion and distrust among different racial groups.

Such evil political means meant to create cleavages and hatred is not a good sign but harm for democracy. But these politicians will never disappear. They will never withdraw from the political arena just because the government has removed the requirement to state one’s race and religion in official forms.

The most effective way to deal with these extremists, we must start from our own to sincerely carry out a self-reflection, remove the inner evil and teach the extremists a lesson by votes.

The removal of the requirement to state one’s race and religion in official forms is only the first step for integration. More importantly, political leaders must remove extreme thoughts and racial prejudice in their minds. They should learn from Indonesia to remove all law articles and policies that are not conductive to racial harmony and unity!

Let’s remove all the bad things! Can we do that?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Receiving Bad Doing Good

Justice may be delayed, but it can never be denied
Raja Petra Kamarudin

More than 13 years ago, a judge wrote a ‘surat layang’ or ‘flying letter’ very similar to the anonymous letter from an unknown MACC officer that surfaced a couple of days ago. This judge’s name is Justice Dato’ Syed Ahmad Idid Bin Syed Abdullah.

(You can read more about the man here but unfortunately it is in Bahasa Malaysia:

Anyway, the bottom line is, this brave man exposed the corruption and abuse power in the Judiciary but decided to do so anonymously by way of ‘surat layang’ or ‘flying letter’. However, instead of investigating the corrupt judges mentioned in that ‘surat layang’, they investigated the writer of the letter.

They searched high and low for this judge (it could only have been a judge who wrote that letter since so much ‘intimate’ details that only a judge would know were in that letter). Dato’ Ramli Yusuff (now himself in trouble) was put in charge of the case and eventually he managed to trace the letter to Justice Syed Idid. Justice Syed Idid had in fact camouflaged his writing by using ‘bazaar’ language but the police still managed to trace the letter to his desk. They confiscated his computer and proved that the letter had been written on his machine.

On 1 July 1996, Justice Syed Idid was forced to resign. Nothing happened to those judges he accused. More than a decade later, the ‘Lingam Tapes’ surfaced to support what Justice Syed Idid had written in that letter. But, still, no action was taken against those corrupt judges, until today.

Can you see the dilemma that government officers or whistleblowers face? If you point a finger at those who walk in the corridors of power or serve those who walk in the corridors of power it is you who will get into trouble, not those people you accuse.

Malaysia Today has thus far published 12 Statutory Declarations, six by police officers and another six by civilians. The civilians are all Chinese. The six police officers have since all been hauled in by Tatatertib (the Police Disciplinary Board) and would probably be ‘retired’ from the force for the crime of ‘misconduct’. Some may even be charged and sent to jail for various imaginary ‘crimes’. And some of those six Chinese civilians have had to leave the country because there are bullets with their names on them.

That is the fate of the 12 whistleblowers that have fingered the IGP as the ‘Don’ behind the Chinese Mafia that controls the pan-Malaysian drugs, prostitution, gambling and loan shark syndicate.

In my case last year, I too signed a Statutory Declaration. And I signed it in the Kuala Lumpur High Court. I also got my lawyer to write officially to the prosecutors in the Altantuya murder trial with a copy of this SD attached to that letter. This was no ‘surat layang’ or ‘flying letter’. This was a legal document signed in the High Court and officially handed over to the government through my lawyer.

Even before they could establish whether what I had declared in that SD is false or not, the very next day the IGP and AG announced that I had signed a false SD and that action would be taken against me. Bukit Aman then hauled me in so that ‘my statement could be recorded’. In short, it was an interrogation session.

I challenged the police to charge me for the crime of signing a false declaration, as what the IGP and AG had publicly announced. They would then have to prove I had committed such a crime by rebutting my SD with the truth. I never denied signing the SD. My name and signature are on the SD. I even got my lawyer to officially send them a copy. So the issue of whether I did or did not sign the SD does not arise. It is whether what I signed is a lie or not.

But how do they prove what I had signed is false unless they rebut what I signed with the truth? This means the court would have to ‘revisit’ the Altantuya murder trial. In short, we would get a second bite of the cherry, which is what we actually wanted.

Realising I had laid a trap and that they had unwittingly walked into it, they dropped the ‘false declaration’ charge and instead charged me for ‘criminal defamation’. In a criminal defamation charge it does not matter whether what I signed is true or false. The truth of the matter is not material to the charge. They only need to prove that I did sign the SD and that is enough to send me to jail. And I never denied I had signed the SD. So that means I am going to jail for certain.

But they can’t charge me for criminal defamation. This is because Rosmah Mansor does not work for the government. She was, at that time, just the wife of the Deputy Prime Minister and this is not a government post. In fact, even the Prime Minister’s wife is not a government post like the First Lady of the United States.

So the charge is defective because the crime of criminal defamation does not apply to Rosmah Mansor. It does not even apply to the husband and wife Lt. Kol. team who the law would classify as ‘on a frolic of their own’. But I was still charged for three counts of criminal defamation anyway and I was made to face those three charges in court in spite of the charges being defective plus mala fide to boot.

Two weeks later, P.I. Bala also signed a Statutory Declaration and we all know what happened to him. They kidnapped his family and forced him to go to the police station. The next day he signed a second SD to retract everything he said the day before and thereafter he disappeared.

Such is the fate of the whistleblower. So, who dares come forward to reveal the truth while at the same time revealing their identity? And that is why the MACC officer chose to send a ‘surat layang’ or ‘flying letter’ about the goings-on in the MACC and the corrupt acts of the head of the Selangor MACC.

Nevertheless, in the Justice Syed Idid case, it took more than ten years for the truth to finally surface in the form of the Lingam Tapes. More than ten years later Justice Syed Idid was proven correct although his career had to suffer when he was forced to resign in 1996. It may also take many years for the truth of what I signed in my SD plus what the MACC officer said in his ‘flying letter’ to be proven true as well. However, finally, the truth does surface and no one can escape the truth.

Today, the people behind the death of Teoh Beng Hock may walk free. But one day the truth will surface, whenever that may be, just like in the Justice Syed Idid affair.

Justice may be delayed, but it can never be denied.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Another Way To Say We're Wrong

So who has ‘Misunderstood’ the ISA?
By Farish A. Noor

It is now being claimed by some that the Internal Security Act has been ‘misunderstood’ by a significant section of the Malaysian public, and if only they can be made to ‘understand’ it they would come to realise that it is after all a good tool that ought to be kept in the coffers of the state.

That such a claim can be made today is interesting, for at least it makes the concession that there are enough Malaysians out there who reject the manifold uses and abuses of the ISA so as to warrant the call to have it abolished, or at least so radically revised that it cannot be abused further. However we are left with the question: Who, exactly, has ‘misunderstood’ the ISA? The Malaysian public or the politicians who run the country?

Lest we forget, let us remind ourselves of what the ISA is all about. The ISA document describes exactly the sort of security threat that it is meant to deal with, and it identifies these threats as military and pseudo-military threats to the nation. It regards as dangerous groups that accumulate and distribute arms, uniforms, banners and flags. In short it is a law that was and is designed to deal with para-military and militia threats to the country that may come from underground terrorist groups or hidden armies that have been set up with the purpose of conducting war against the legitimate state of Malaysia.

Over the decades however we have seen countless Malaysian citizens of all walks of life rounded up under the ISA, ostensibly for the sake of public safety and security. Journalists have been detained ‘for their own safety’. Academics, activists, social workers, religious leaders, students and politicians alike have been the victim of this law. It is for this simple reason that the Malaysian public now feels that the interpretation of the ISA law has far exceeded its limit, and that it has been abused for politically instrumental ends.

Proof of this comes in the form of the many Malaysian politicians who today stand as members of Parliament or the various state assemblies of the land, who were themselves victims of the ISA in the past. If indeed these politicians were real threats to national security, would they have been elected by the Malaysian electorate? The fact that they were voted to represent the people means that the people at least do no see them as security threats, so who does?

This brings us back to the question of who exactly has ‘misunderstood’ the ISA. There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that the Malaysian public wishes to see blood and mayhem in our streets. Most Malaysians would agree that if some nutter wishes to fly a plane into the KLCC complex or plant a bomb in Parliament such a lunatic has to be apprehended immediately in order to save lives.

But what the Malaysian public objects to is when laws such as the ISA are interpreted at whim by politicians who take liberties with its meaning and import, and when laws such as the ISA are used as the most convenient tool to silence the legitimate political opposition in the country.

Furthermore we all know that the ISA remains as an odd colonial relic from the past, which has been discarded or replaced with laws that are more just and humane in many other postcolonial societies. Yet in Malaysia today – a country where moral policing has become normalised and where a woman is about to be whipped for drinking beer – the ISA is but the tip of an iceberg of routine state control and policing that has gone too far.

Malaysians all want a safe and stable country where everyone can live their lives in ease and safety, but perhaps the time has come to reject not merely the laws but rather the abuse of the law that allows for detention without trial for people who have neither armed themselves or formed guerrilla groups to threaten the Malaysian nation-state.

Unless and until the powers-that-be understand this simple fact that ought to be evident even to a child, we would argue that it is the ruling elite who have ‘misunderstood’ the ISA and what it is meant to do. And for that reason, one understands why Malaysians from all walks of life now want us to move on from the despotism of the past and to discard such laws that have been abused for so long, too many times.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The National Script We Like To Have

The NEP is over. We need a New Deal

1. Thank you for inviting me to address you. It’s a pleasure to be here, and to learn from you. You have asked me to talk about Najib’s First 100 Days, and this lecture is in a series called Straight Talk. I shall indeed speak plainly and directly.

2. Let me begin by disappointing you. I am not going to talk about Najib’s First 100 Days because it makes little sense to do so.

3. Our governments are brought to power for five year terms through general elections. The present government was constituted after March 8, 2008 and Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s tenure as Prime Minister resulted from a so-called “smooth transfer of power” between the previous Prime Minister and himself that took a somewhat unsmooth twelve months to carry out. During those months, Najib took on the de facto leadership role domestically while Abdullah warmed our international ties. The first 100 days of this government went by unremarked sometime in June last year.

4. Not only is it somewhat meaningless to talk about Najib’s First 100 days, such talk buys into a kind of political silliness that we are already too prone to. It has us imagine that the present government started work on April 2 and forget that it commenced work on March 8 last year and must be accountable for all that has been done or not done since then. It has us forget that in our system of parliamentary, constitutional democracy, governments are brought to power at general elections and must be held accountable for promises made at these elections. It leads us to forget that these promises, set out in election manifestos, are undertaken by political parties, not individuals, and are not trifles to be forgotten when there is a change of individual.

5. It is important that we remember these things, cultivate a more critical recollection of them, and learn to hold our leaders accountable to them, so that we are not perpetually chasing the slogan of the day, whether this be Vision 2020, Islam Hadhari or 1Malaysia. As PR Professionals, you would see my point immediately. Slogans without substance undermine trust. That substance is made up of policies that have been thought through and are followed through. That substance is concrete and provided by results we can measure.

6. Whether or not some of our leaders are ready for it, we are maturing as a democracy. We are beginning to evaluate our governments more by the results they deliver over time than by their rhetoric. As our increasingly well-educated and well-travelled citizens apply this standard, they force our politicians to think before they speak, and deliver before they speak again. As thinking Malaysians we should look for the policies, if any, behind the slogans. What policies are still in place and which have we abandoned? What counts as policy and who is consulted when it is made? How is a proposal formulated and specified and approved before it becomes policy, and by whom? What are the roles of party, cabinet, King and Parliament in this process? Must we know what it means before it is instituted or do we have to piece it together with guesswork? Do we even have a policy process?

7. The mandate Najib has taken up is the one given to Barisan Nasional under Abdullah Badawi’s leadership. BN was returned to power in the 12th General Elections on a manifesto promising Security, Peace and Prosperity. It is this manifesto against which the present administration undertook to be judged. The present government inherits projects and policies such as Islam Hadhari and Vision 2020. If these are still in place, how do they relate to each other and to 1 Malaysia? How do we evaluate the latest slogan against the fact of constitutional failure in Perak, the stench of corruption in the PKFZ project and reports of declining media freedom? What do we make of cynical political plays on racial unity against assurances that national unity is the priority?

8. It is not amiss to ask about continuity. We were told that the reason why we had to have a yearlong ‘transfer of power’ to replace the previous Prime Minster was so that we could have such policy continuity. The issues before the present BN government are not transformed overnight with a change of the man at the top.

9. Let me touch on one issue every Malaysian is concerned with: security. The present government made the right move in supporting the establishment of the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operations and Management of the Police in 2004. Responding to the recommendations of the Royal Commission, the government allocated the PDRM RM8 billion to upgrade itself under the 9th Malaysia Plan, a tripling of their allocation under the 8th Malaysia Plan.

10. Despite the huge extra amounts we are spending on policing, there has been no dent on our crime problem, especially in the Johor Bahru area, where it continues to make a mockery of our attempts to develop Iskandar as a destination for talent and investment. Despite spending all this money, we have just been identified as a major destination for human trafficking by the US State Department’s 2008 Human Rights Watch. We are now in the peer group of Sudan, Saudi Arabia and North Korea for human trafficking. All over the world the organized cross-border activity of human trafficking feeds on the collusion of crime syndicates and corrupt law enforcement and border security officials. Security is about more than just catching the criminals out there. It is also about the integrity of our own people and processes. It is above all about uprooting corruption and malpractice in government agencies, especially in law enforcement agencies. I wish the government were as eager to face the painful challenge of reform as to spend money. The key recommendation of the Royal Commission was the formation of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission. That has been shelved.

11. Royal Commissions and their findings are not to be trifled with and applied selectively. Their findings and recommendations are conveyed in a report submitted to the King, who then transmits them to the Government. Their recommendations have the status of instructions from the King. The recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Police have not been properly implemented. The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Video clip might as well not have been conducted, because its findings have been completely ignored. Both Commissions investigated matters fundamental to law and order in this country: the capability and integrity of the police and of the judiciary. No amount of money thrown at the PDRM or on installing CCTV’s can make up for what happens to our security when our law enforcers and our judges are compromised.

12. Two Royal Commissions undertaken under the present government unearthed deep issues in the police and the judiciary and made recommendations with the King’s authority behind them, and they have been ignored. The public may wonder if the government is committed to peace and security if it cannot or will not address institutional rot in law enforcement and the rule of law.

13. The reform of the police and the judiciary has been on the present government’s To Do list for more than five years.

14 I want to reflect now upon where we stand today and how we might move forward. We are truly at a turning point in our history. Our political landscape is marked with unprecedented uncertainty. Nobody knows what the immediate future holds for us politically. This is something very new for Malaysians. The inevitability of a strong BN government figured into all political and economic calculations and provided a kind of stability to our expectations. Now that this is gone, and perhaps gone for good, we need a new basis for long-term confidence. No matter who wins the next General Election, it is likely to be with a slim majority. Whatever uncertainty we now face is likely to persist unless some sort of tiebreaker is found which gathers the overwhelming support of the people.

15. We need to trust less in personalities and more in policies, look less to politics and more to principle, less to rhetoric and more to tangible outcomes, less to the government of the day and more to enduring institutions, first among which must be the Federal Constitution.

16. We need an unprecedented degree of openness and honesty about what our issues are and what can be done; about who we are, and where we want to go. We need straight talk rather than slogans. We need to be looking the long horizon rather than occupying ourselves with media-generated milestones.

17. Those of us who think about the future of Malaysia have never been so restless. The mould of our past is broken, and there is no putting it back together again, but a new mould into which to pour our efforts is not yet cast. This is a time to think new thoughts, and to be courageous in articulating them.

18. Such is the case not just in politics but also in how the government manages the economy. In a previous speech I argued that for our economy to escape the “middle income trap” we need to make a developmental leap involving transformative improvements in governance and a successful reform of our political system. I said the world recession is a critical opportunity for us to re-gear and re-tool the Malaysian economy because it is a challenge to take bold, imaginative measures. We must make that leap or remain stuck as low achievers who were once promising.

19. We are in a foundational crisis both of our politics and of our economy. In both dimensions, the set plays of the past have taken us as far as they can, and can take us no further. Politically and economically, we have arrived at the end of the road for an old way of managing things. The next step facing us is not a step but a leap, not an addition to what we have but a shift that changes the very ground we play on.

20. This is not the first time in our brief history as an independent nation that we have found ourselves at an impasse and come up with a ground-setting policy, a new framework, a leap into the future. The race riots of 1969 ended the political accommodation and style of the first era of our independence. Parliament was suspended and a National Operations Council put in place under the leadership of the late Tun Razak. He formed a National Consultative Council to study what needed to be done. The NCC was a non-partisan body which included everyone. It was the NCC that drafted and recommended the New Economic Policy. This was approved and implemented by the Government.

21. The NEP was a twenty year programme. It had a national, and not a racial agenda to eradicate poverty and address structural inequality in the form of the identification of race with occupation. It aimed to remove a colonial era distribution of economic roles in our economy. Nowhere in its terms is any race specified, nor does it privilege one race over another. Its aim was unity.

22. The NEP’s redistributive measures drew on principles of social justice, not claims of racial privilege. This is an important point. The NEP was acceptable to all Malaysians because its justification was universal rather than sectarian, ethical rather than opportunistic. It appealed to Malaysians’ sense of social justice and not to any notion of racial privilege.

23. We were devising a time-limited policy for the day, in pursuit of a set of measurable outcomes. We were not devising a doctrine for an eternal socio-economic arrangement. Like all policies, it was formulated to solve a finite set of problems, but through an enduring concern with principles such as equity and justice. I happen to think it was the right thing for the time, and it worked in large measure.

24. Curiously, although the policy was formulated within the broad consensus of the NCC for a finite period, in our political consciousness it has grown into an all-encompassing and permanent framework that defines who we are. We continue to act and talk as if it is still in place. The NEP ended in 1991 when it was terminated and replaced by the New Development Policy, but eighteen years on, we are still in its hangover and speak confusingly about liberalizing it. The NEP was necessary and even visionary in 1971, but it is a crushing indictment of our lack of imagination, of the mediocrity of our leadership, that two decades after its expiry, we talk as if it is the sacrosanct centre of our socio-political arrangement, and that departures from it are big strides. The NEP is over, and we have not had the courage to tell people this. The real issue is not whether the NEP is to be continued or not, but whether we have the imagination to come up with something which better serves our values and objectives, for our own time.

25. Policies are limited mechanisms for solving problems. They become vehicles for abuse when they stay on past their useful life. Like political or corporate leaders who have stayed too long, policies that overrun their scope or time become entrenched in abuse, and confuse the means that they are with the ends that they were meant to serve. The NEP was formulated to serve the objective of unity. That objective is enduring, but its instrument can come up for renewal or replacement. Any organisation, let alone a country, that fails to renew a key policy over forty years in a fast-moving world is out of touch and in trouble.

26. There is a broad consensus in our society that while the NEP has had important successes, it has now degenerated into a vehicle for abuse and inefficiency. Neither the Malays nor the non-Malays approve of the way it now works, although there would be multiracial support for the objectives of the NEP, as originally understood. The enthusiasm with which recent reforms have been greeted in the business and international communities suggests that the NEP is viewed as an obstacle to growth. This was not what it was meant to be.

27. It was designed to promote a more equitable and therefore a more harmonious society. Far from obstructing growth, the stability and harmony envisaged by the NEP would were to be the basis for long term prosperity.

28. Over the years, however, and alongside its successes, the NEP has been systematically appropriated by a small political and business class to enrich itself and perpetuate its power. This process has corrupted our society and our politics. It has corrupted our political parties. Rent-seeking practices have choked the NEP’s original intention of seeking a more just and equitable society, and have discredited the broad nation-building enterprise which this policy was meant to serve.

29. Thus, while the NEP itself has expired, we live under the hangover of a policy which has been skewed from its intent. Instead of coming up with better policy tools in pursuit of the aims behind the NEP, a set of vested interests rallies to defend the mere form of the NEP and to extend its bureaucratic sway through a huge apparatus of commissions, agencies, licenses and permits while its spirit has been evacuated. In doing so they have clouded the noble aims of the NEP and racialized its originally national and universal concerns.

30. We must break the stranglehold of communal politics and racial policy if we want to be a place where an economy driven by ideas and skills can flourish. This is where our daunting economic and political challenges can be addressed in one stroke. We can do much better than cling to the bright ideas of forty years ago as if they were dogma, and forget our duty to come up with the bright ideas for our own time. The NEP, together with the Barisan coalition, was a workable solution for Malaysia forty years ago. But forty years ago, our population was about a third of what it is today, our economy was a fraction the size and complexity that it is now, and structured around the export of tin and rubber rather than around manufacturing, services and oil and gas. Forty years ago we were in the midst of the Cold War, and the Vietnam War raged to the north. Need I say we live in a very different world today. We need to talk to the facebook generation of young Malaysians connected to global styles and currents of thought. We face global epidemics, economic downturns and planetary climate change.

31. We can do much better than to cling to the outer form of an old policy. Thinking in these terms only gives us the negative policy lever of “relaxing” certain rules, when what we need is a new policy framework, with 21st century policy instruments. We have relaxed some quotas. We have left Approved Permits and our taxi licensing system intact. We have left the apparatus of the NEP, and a divisive mindset that has grown up around it, in place. Wary of well-intentioned statements with no follow-through, the business community has greeted these reforms cautiously, noting that a mountain of other reforms are needed. One banker was quoted in a recent news article as saying: “All the reforms need to go hand in hand..Why is there an exodus of talent and wealth? It is because people do not feel confident with the investment climate, security conditions and the government in Malaysia. Right now, many have lost faith in the system.”

32. The issues are intertwined. Our problems are systemic and rooted in the capability of the government to deliver, and the integrity of our institutions. It is clear that piecemeal “liberalization” and measure by measure reform on a politicized timetable is not going to do the job.

33. What we need is a whole new policy framework, based on a comprehensive vision that addresses root problems in security, institutional integrity, education and government capability. What we need to do is address our crisis with the bold statecraft from which the NEP itself originated, not cling to a problematic framework that does little justice to our high aspirations. The challenge of leadership is to tell the truth about our situation, no matter how unpalatable, to bring people together around that solution, and to move them to act together on that solution.

34. If the problem is really that we face a foundational crisis, then it is not liberalization of the NEP, or even liberalization per se that we need. From the depths of the global economic slowdown it is abundantly clear that the autonomous free market is neither equitable nor even sustainable. There is no substitute for putting our heads together and coming up with wise policy. We need a Malaysian New Deal based on the same universal concerns on which the NEP was originally formulated but designed for a new era: we must continue to eradicate poverty without regard for race or religion, and ensure that markets serve the people rather than the other way around.

35. Building on the desire for unity based social justice that motivated the NEP in 1971, let us assist 100% of Malaysians who need help in improving their livelihoods and educating their children. We want the full participation of all stakeholders in our economy. A fair and equitable political and economic order, founded on equal citizenship as guaranteed in our Constitution, is the only possible basis for a united Malaysia and a prerequisite of the competitive, talent-driven economy we must create if we are to make our economic leap.

36. If we could do this, we would restore national confidence, we would bring Malaysians together in common cause to build a country that all feel a deep sense of belonging to. We would unleash the kind of investment we need, not just of foreign capital but of the loyalty, effort and commitment of all Malaysians.

37. I don’t know about you. I am embarrassed that after fifty years of independence we are still talking about bringing Malaysians together. I would have wished that by now, and here tonight, we could be talking about how we can conquer new challenges together.

* This talk was delivered on July 10, 2009, at HELP University College, Damansara, Kuala Lumpur to a gathering of PR Consultants. I was asked to address the topic “Najib’s 100 Days”

Written by razaleighhamzah