Category Archives: The Malaysian Insider

What is a ‘back-door’ plot to overthrow the government?


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What is a ‘back-door’ plot to overthrow the government?
By Zan Azlee

In many countries, conspiracies and plots to overthrow the government are serious crimes. I agree because it is undemocratic to overthrow an elected government.

Depending on what is involved, a group of people (or an individual) could be charged with treason for doing something like that.

So when the Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said a group of members of parliament were plotting to overthrow the government, I took it seriously.

I thought that things were getting dangerous and I imagined all kinds of scenarios, including violent coup d’etat the likes of those in South America and Middle East.

What scary “back-door” tactics were going to be used by this gang of rogue MPs? To be honest, I was afraid how this would affect the lives of all Malaysians.

Then I heard the accusation of what this “back-door” tactic was. Apparently, a group of MPs were planning to sign a statutory declaration (SD).

They were going to declare in the SDs that they would had no confidence in the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

This took me by surprise. How did Zahid equate this to being an undemocratic and a “back-door” conspiracy or plot to overthrow the government?

Several Cabinet members have even been vocal that this is undemocratic because the only way to change the government is through a general election.

But isn’t it stated quite clearly in the Federal Constitution that MPs have a right to hold a vote for no-confidence in the prime minister’s leadership?

And with that vote of no-confidence, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong can remove the prime minister or dissolve Parliament and call for fresh elections. That is quite constitutional, to say the least.

And if we’re already looking at the legalities of it, isn’t the legal system in Malaysia based on precedence through previous court cases?

Remember the 2009 Perak assembly saga? After the elections, there was a flip-flopping of assemblymen defecting and crossing over from one party to another.

This resulted in the Pakatan Rakyat-led state government to call for a dissolution of the assembly. But, the opposition Barisan Nasional fought its claim for the government in court.

And the court ruled that the defections and crossovers would hold. Hence BN grabbed the state government from Pakatan Rakyat.

Would that not mean that there is already a precedence that a claim for the government could be made through legal means instead of through a general election?

Now I’m thankful that this “back-door” conspiracy or plot to overthrow the government does not involve violent means and I am no longer afraid.

But, I’m still unsure of how this intention to sign an SD to declare no confidence in the prime minister may be considered undemocratic and a “back-door” plot to overthrow the government.

Oh well.

[This article originally appeared at The Malaysian Insider]

A matter of public interest and public office


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A matter of public interest and public office
By Zan Azlee

When one gets elected to public office, it means that nothing is personal or private anymore, especially things that are considered conflicts of interest.

These are all matters of public interest because the public has the right to know if the person they elected into public office is abusing his or her powers or not.

What can be considered matters of public interest? Several things like those related to honesty, integrity, responsibility, transparency – well, you get the picture.
So when the public calls for transparency by an elected government official, say for example, to declare his or her cash and assets, it should be allowed.

The reason it should be allowed is because due to public interest, people deserve the right to know if a person in public office has abused his or her power to earn wealth undeservingly.

A person in public office would be given a salary to do his or her work. However, being in public office would put a person in a privileged decision-making position.

Bribery and corruption can be a very tempting vice if someone is in public office. And there should be a good check and balance system to ensure this doesn’t happen.

Hence, we have the media, the opposition and independent bodies that monitor those in public office so that the public will be duly informed if any wrongdoing takes place.

The reason for making the assets of a person in public office public is so that if there are exorbitant amounts of money being made that don’t tally with the income, it would be a cause for investigation.

Of course, having an exorbitant amount of money doesn’t make a person a criminal. There are many ways to make a lot of money legitimately.

If it were made legitimately, like a business income, inheritance or any kind of investment, then it would be no problem at all. It’s the abuse of power that shouldn’t be the way.

Money in exchange for favours and advantages would be considered wrong and a form of bribery. But of course, we do understand the existence of lobbying and political donations.

Technically, forms of revenue like that are considered legal and allowed. However, transparency should still play a main role so that the public is clear.

From an ethical point of view, it can be argued that who the donors are and how much they each contributed would be in the interest of the public.

Then at least we would know the stand of the party and also the issues that they support. That would give us enough information to make adequate decisions.

This is how I see it anyway. I don’t know how the rest of Malaysians feel. Is the way democracy practised in Malaysia and also the matter of public interest different in this country?

[This article originally appeared at The Malaysian Insider]

Is this the end of the line for the 1MDB probe?


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Is this the end of the line for the 1MDB probe?
By Zan Azlee

It isn’t difficult for the public to see how the Cabinet reshuffle by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Tuesday can be assumed as a strategic move for him to continue to stay in power and silence his critics.

The game of perception doesn’t seem to be a top priority in Malaysian politics these days (yeah… it’s always about perception of honesty, sincerity and transparency, isn’t it?). I guess it doesn’t matter what the public thinks.

But the issue of the day hasn’t changed and that is the questions and allegations surrounding the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal. What has changed is the influential people who have been critically vocal about it being dropped from their influential positions.

Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail has been removed from his post as the attorney-general. Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, who have been very critical about 1MDB, are no longer in cabinet.

Muhyiddin had given a press conference on Wednesday morning. But it was a tame affair and he stressed that he was still an Umno member and will toe the party line when the time comes. No news from Shafie.

Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, who was the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) investigating the allegations of 1MDB, has been made deputy home minister. He has stepped down from his position as PAC chief.

The funny thing is that Nur Jazlan had, a few weeks earlier, been asked by reporters of his thoughts of the rumours speculating that he will be called up and appointed as a member of the cabinet.

Nur Jazlan was reported to have said that he was more interested in finishing the committee’s investigation of 1MDB rather than entertaining the thought of being appointed to a Cabinet position. He wanted to prove his ability as chairperson.

Oh well, flip-flopping and non-committal tendencies are rife in politics. There’s nothing you can do about that (again the perception game comes to mind). The question now is how will the investigation on 1MDB progress from here?

Now that Nur Jazlan has relinquished his post in the PAC, he has also announced that all further proceedings by the committee will be halted until a new line-up is announced at the next Dewan Rakyat sitting.

Sure, vice-chair of the PAC, Tony Pua, has said that technically, the committee can and will continue with its investigations. He has been vocal all this while. But look what happened to him. He is barred from leaving the country.

The media’s role? Let’s see. The Edge was the one that sparked widespread interest in the 1MDB scandal, and they have been suspended from publication for three months, a decision that could be an intimidating factor for other media organisations.

It looks like all the stops are being pulled. Every game in the playbook is being used. Everything that can be done to stop any further delving into what happened to 1MDB is being done. So is this the end of the line.

]This article originally appeared at The Malaysian Insider]

Are we allowed to ask what happened to 1MDB?


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Are we allowed to ask what happened to 1MDB?
By Zan Azlee

Malaysia is being plagued by one of its biggest scandals and it is even getting significant attention from the international community. You know it – the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

Sure, it’s a difficult issue for a lot of people to understand, me included. Complicated financial transactions and business negotiations can confuse a lot of people, even the experts.

But as the case develops and more media agencies cover the unfolding story, people understand it better and better. And when people start understanding it better, the more questions get asked.

It is a simple check and balance that is afforded to the people via a system called democracy. And that isn’t as complicated to understand as the 1MDB scandal.

Of course it is very clear to everyone that investigations are underway and that no accusations are being brandied around, as that would be defamatory and wrong.

But what can and should be accepted is the act that people have the right to question as to what has happened to cause such a stir in the first place.

And these people include the public as a whole, opposition politicians, the media and whatever authorities or investigating party that is given the responsibility to do so.

At the end of the day, it is the public’s money and hence, that makes the case of public and national interest, and as the government of the day, that means they need to answer.

One step is already correct – that investigations have been launched by the authorities to find out the truth as to what has happened. Of course, it has to be perceived as independent.

What shouldn’t be happening is for those who ask the question to be subjected to persecution and intimidation, as is what seems to be happening now.

It is surprising to see how those who have raised questions pertaining the 1MDB scandal have become subjects to investigations themselves.

How come the people who are the most vocal calling for the government to answer are the ones who are as if being put on trial and even being barred from traveling outside of the country?

How is it that news organisations are being threatened with legal action for asking for answers that the public has a right to know? Isn’t that the natural responsibility of their existence?

How is it that those who are supposed to be giving the answers to the questions are the ones who are accusing those who are questioning of having intentions to destabilise the country?

Of course it doesn’t help that the government is being perceived as not wanting to give straight and transparent answers to all the questions that is being asked.

Actually, the mechanics of it is very simple to understand. Those who are in government serve the people and when the people ask questions, they need to provide the answers.

Now, doubt exists in the action that has been taken by those in government and so the questions are asked. Isn’t that simple and valid?

So who is it in this whole chain of events that is really the cause of the de-stability of the country? Is it those who asked the questions or those who refuse to answer?

[This article originally appeared at The Malaysian Insider]

It seems like a happy Raya this time around


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It seems like a happy Raya this time around
By Zan Azlee

There has been a little bit of progress this Hari Raya Aidilfitri in Malaysia. There was no call from the ignorant Muslims to not wish non-Muslims Selamat Hari Raya.

There has been no uproar over a certain brainless and insensitive couple who would normally eat Bak Kut Teh and wish people happy Ramadan.

We somehow have managed to silence one very vocal Chinese Muslim lecturer who doesn’t know anything but to spew out hate and negativity.

(See… it works when you stop giving attention to people like them!)

Of course, we had one small recurring incident where a stupid teacher in a school had made a remark that non-Muslim students need to drink in the toilet. But everyone showed their disgust.

As for me, I celebrate Hari Raya like I’ve always done since I was little. It would be together with my family that consists of Malays, Chinese, Indians, and a couple of Mat Sallehs.

They practice a variety of religions. Some are Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Taoist, Hindus and definitely a few agnostics and atheists too.

And all this sure adds up to a lot of problems!

First there is the noise. Everyone talks and for the uninitiated, it can get quite confusing. There would be people speaking in English, Cantonese, Malay, Mandarin and whatever else.

Then there is the food. There’s just too much variety of it! There’s the halal kind, there’s the non-beef kind and there’s the vegetarian kind. Everybody gets equal opportunity to eat.

Thirdly, we don’t really know what celebrations we are actually celebrating. It gets confusing when we all celebrate everything from Chinese New Year to Deepavali and Ching Ming.

And, the younger generation who are still under ten years old get all their greetings confused. They don’t know when to say Maaf, Zahir dan Batin or when to say Kong Hei Fatt Choy!

But one thing is for sure, we all really have a freaking good time celebrating together. Not a single thread of animosity exists between us. Well, we are blood family anyway.

Sure, there are bigger problems that we are facing. Malaysia has so far never seen such scandals and controversies as big as the 1MDB scandal.

And it seems that one by one, more corruption accusations are coming out such as the MARA real estate purchases in Australia and the old polymer notes scandal.

The economy as at a low point. The value of the Ringgit has been at an all time low. Cost of living is high  and petrol price flunctuates so much it isn’t helping the country’s revenue much.

But at least these are problems that does not involve race or religion (I’m going to excuse the MARA one) and just affects the entire Malaysian community.

And these problems, while they may be big and intimidating, should not be unsolvable when we are united as a people and as a country.

So to every single Malaysian, have a blessed and happy Hari Raya.

[This article originally appeared at The Malaysian Insider]