Random Links 236 ("Wah So Much Edition")

Grace under fire

By the time the call for boycotting the Mainstream media especially papers like the Star started, I had already given up on the paper anyway.  Okay, maybe if I needed to check on some sales I’ll have a glimpse. So, I wonder whether allow this piece is a "prodigal son" moment for the so called people’s paper. On a more personal note, Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail whom I’ve met in person only once is truly a gracious person with an amazing story written and still in writing!

… Born in 1952, Dr Wan Azizah received her early education at the St Nicholas Convent School, Alor Star.

“I was there from Standard One to Form Five. I really enjoyed my school years. It was an English-medium school then, and the nuns taught us manners, how to be a wholesome person, to think and talk well, and to have minds of our own,” she recalls.

Being brought up in a Catholic school, she heard the Lord’s Prayer regularly and can still remember it verbatim. And she proceeds to recite the whole prayer, “Our Father Who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name…” while smiling at this writer’s surprised look.

… Dr Wan Azizah had the support of family, friends, and many young people of the Reformasi (reformation) movement sparked by Anwar’s arrest.

“Nurul Izzah was my strength,” she recalls. “She took time off from college to be with me. It was tough but we plodded along. Meanwhile, the core members kept the movement alive.”

Dr Wan Azizah is also deeply religious.

“She wakes up at 4am to pray, seeking fortitude and guidance,” says the family friend. “That’s the source of her inner strength. Otherwise, I think it’s difficult to survive in politics with all the pressure. That’s why some people say that Wan Azizah is Anwar’s greatest asset.”

… Elizabeth Wong, who is now part of the new Selangor State Government Exco, was Dr Wan Azizah’s parliamentary aide for two years.

“I look on her as role model. Some people say she is just Anwar’s proxy, but she held the party together all those years while Anwar was in prison (1998-2004) and has evolved into an accomplished politician.

“Her softness is her strength. She does not believe in the aggressive approach, but she is very firm on principles, people don’t see that side of her.”

Latheefa says, “Kak Wan conducts meetings in a very democratic and consultative manner. I think it’s because it’s in a woman’s nature. She asks everyone what they think, and we can give our input into party decisions.”

She adds that Dr Wan Azizah is down to earth and easy-going: “We can talk about anything with her. There’s no high and mighty ‘I am the Leader’ aura about her.

Selangor MB Responds To NGO Criticisms

The formation of the new state governments have been more exciting than any drama on TV (then again I don’t watch TV any more :-) ) But how the new governing leaders respond to criticism and a critical eye is noteworthy. Many of us are not blind to what Bob highlights in this short sentence.

A bit of a change compared to the previous administration whose default reaction was to ridicule critics and then subsequently ignore them.

Anwar or Ku Li? The race is on

RPK really has a way of firing up the imagination for the days ahead :-) No wonder so many return to his site again and again.

Crossing the rubicon, Part 1

Crossing the rubicon, Part 2

Listening to Tommy Thomas speak is an engaging experience. His Part 1 and 2 keeps one on the edge of their seat. Let me highlight what caught my attention.

… In my opinion, however, the most important reason why 51.3 percent of the popular vote was cast for the opposition in the peninsula was the repugnance of these voters for the hubris displayed by Umno after holding continuous and unbroken power since 1955. In this sense, Malaysia is not unique. The PRI in Mexico, the LDP in Japan and the Congress Party in India all suffered similar fates after lengthy uninterrupted power. Power not only corrupts, it also breeds arrogance.

… The heavy hand of government in dealing with the Hindraf march and the detention of their five leaders under the dreaded Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) completely alienated the Indian community, inspired the Chinese community who quietly supported Hindraf in their own way and ironically, from Umno’s perspective, did not drive droves of Malay voters to Umno as the traditional protector of Malays when they are threatened. The Malay electorate was more sophisticated, and more understanding of the plight of the hardcore poor Tamil citizen. Makkal Sakthi (people power), inspired by Cory Aquino’s movement that toppled the brutal and corrupt Marcos regime in the mid-1980s, was the rallying cry at all opposition ceramahs.

… Without doubt, the greatest millstone around Abdullah’s neck was his son-in-law, of ‘Khairy Chronicles’ notoriety, who was blamed, rightly or wrongly, for every action or inaction of the prime minister. In the short space of four years, he became the most hated man in Malaysia, earning epithets like Rasputin and budak nakal.  The term ‘kitchen cabinet’ literally meant in Malaysia, the premier’s son and son-in-law deciding matters in his kitchen.

… Without doubt, the greatest star of this general elections was Anwar Ibrahim, who skillfully galvanised the frustrations felt by the three major communities in West Malaysia and brilliantly exploited the underlying tensions in contemporary society. Additionally, Anwar acted as the glue that held PAS and DAP together, ensuring that the opposition avoided three-cornered electoral contests, and the voters always presented with a stark choice between a Barisan Nasional candidate and one from the three-member opposition coalition.

Anwar charmed the Malay heartland into accepting that NEP is not the only economic option open to them, and that its abuses were all due to Umno’s greed. His energy recorded heights never seen in Malaysia at the ceramah across the nation which he cris-crossed on numerous occasions during the election campaign. Rather than engaging him, Barisan Nasional dealt with Anwar by two principal methods: ignoring him and demonising him: both failed miserably. The sustained attack against Anwar by the mainstream media on the final days of the campaign not only failed in its objective: it backfired and resulted in thousands of undecided voters opting for the opposition. Anwar’s restrained conduct after the elections marks him as the nation’s prime minister in waiting.

… Even if technology is very much an urban phenomenon, rural voters were rapidly educated on issues raised on the internet by their urban relatives, usually their children. The Barisan Nasional’s principal failure was to rely wholly on the discredited mainstream media and, by default, conceding the internet to the opposition. Because content matters to the more discerning Internet user, Barisan Nasional’s failure to engage in debate and discussion proved fatal.

… one questions the medium to long term stability of Abdullah’s government. Abdullah must demonstrate firm and decisive leadership in the coming months to avoid the perception that he is a hapless, helpless skipper of a boat (which may result in support for Tengku Razaleigh) or a captain of a sinking ship (which may lead to defection to a Anwar-led coalition). In either scenario, his prime ministership is vulnerable.

… The expectation of the Malaysian public must not be let down, and, if that means Nik Abdul Aziz, Abdul Hadi Awang, Mustapha Ali, Lim Kit Siang, Lim Guan Eng, Karpal Singh, Anwar Ibrahim, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and R Sivarasa, among others, having to meet regularly to give proper and effective leadership to the five states, so be it. Otherwise, the same electorate will ditch them in 2012/3.

… The leaders of Barisan Nasional always blamed inflation on increasing oil prices which are beyond the control of any single nation. There is some justification for that argument. However, it does not tell the whole story. It must never be forgotten that Malaysia is a net exporter of petroleum.

… Only time will tell whether the 12th general elections was a one-off phenomenon or represents the beginning of the end of race based political parties

… Can we dare to hope that the racial rubicon in Malaysia has been crossed, and the emergence of voters thinking as Malaysians.

… At the minimum, the 2008 elections represents a watershed in Malaysian politics. The climate of fear evaporated and May 13 was not relevant. For Malaysians who aspire a true two-party system alternating in power, there is hope in the future. Malaysia will hopefully join the ranks of mature and functioning democracies in Asia like India and Japan when a Barisan Nasional government will be replaced by a Barisan Alternative government which in turn will be replaced by a Barisan Nasional in successive general elections. Dare we hope!

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