Friday, May 3, 2013


The Kuala Lumpur skyline in 2013 (courtesy of

Malaysia is at a critical crossroads, after fifty-six years of independence. Its historical struggle for freedom from British colonial rule has now morphed into a growing struggle to be free of the Barisan Nasional government, a neocolonial-like construct of racially structured political parties, cleverly dividing and ruling a nation.

Reeking with corruption, its abuse of power has gone on for too long. It has lost its way in a political jungle of its own creation by incessantly amending the Constitution; pushing through dubious laws to reinforce its power; crushing judicial independence; permitting arbitrary arrest and detention without trial; disregarding police brutality and custodial deaths; encouraging corrupt crony capitalism; allowing the flight of illicit money; ignoring the serious economic consequences of a ballooning national debt; and stifling dissent, freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, and other fundamental human rights. Yes, the country needs a change of government. It’s the only way to genuine reform, rule of law and democratic governance.

It was not always so in the first twelve years of independence, when the then Alliance coalition government was made up of the “Merdeka generation” of leaders who had a broad, inclusive nation-state view and a value system, so different from the current ethnocentric Barisan Nasional regime.

Barisan Nasional turned its scales of justice logo into a symbol of unbridled greed  (courtesy of Aliran)

Malaysia is predominantly Malay, but it has one of the most diverse societies in the world. This ethnic diversity has enriched its cultural and social fabric and strengthened its economic footing. And yet, its very diversity has generated serious ethnic tensions and divided the population, owing to unfair policies. The Barisan Nasional (BN) government has increasingly infused ethnicity into national politics, based on an elastic interpretation of the meaning and status of the inter-ethnic “social contract” which emerged in 1957 when Malaysia became independent.

Umno supporters throwing a public tantrum
Dominated by the United Malay National Organisation (UMNO), the BN government continues to shore up its support among the Malay majority by implementing affirmative action for the Malays and insisting that the social contract and Ketuanan Melayu (Malay dominance) are immutable and literally carved in stone. In practice, this has translated into systemic corruption, nepotism and cronyism, which has enriched only the anointed few in UMNO.

Such ethnocentric politics has polarised a multicultural society and subverted nation building. It has now reached a tipping point. The time has come to dismantle racial politics by voting out Barisan Nasional at the ballot box and eliminating outdated political pygmies, before the country is irreparably damaged politically, economically and environmentally.

The status quo must give way to twenty-first century political thinking and nation-building that will embrace a Malaysian Malaysia, free of ethnic bias, religious bigotry and impenetrable mindsets. Such an opportunity for nation-building will present itself on 5th May 2013 when the nation holds its thirteenth general elections, arguably the most anticipated and contentious elections ever.

Nation-building requires a strong constitutional foundation which will support the many pillars of democracy: free and fair elections; judicial independence; the rule of just law; separation of powers; commitment to human rights, equity and social justice; honest, efficient, transparent and accountable governance; a free press; an ecologically sustainable economy; universal, equitable, quality health care; and a sound, progressive education system.

Malaysia is a federation of fourteen states, with a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy. The Constitution was designed to embody the supreme power of the land and provide for the rule of law and a judiciary, separate from and independent of control by parliament and the executive. It aims to limit arbitrary, excessive use of power by the temporary holders of political office and wielders of power. But the BN government has for decades subverted the Constitution by repeatedly amending it at will to serve its own political ends, exploiting its two-thirds majority in parliament.

Queen Elizabeth greets Najib Razak in Bersih yellow on 14 July 2011 

The benefits of elections are not always assured. Elections can strengthen democracy or undermine it. Credibility and legitimacy in elections will depend on whether they are conducted in a clean and fair manner on a level playing field. Opposition parties must be free to organise and campaign without fear. Politicians, election officials, the bureaucracy and institutions must be held accountable to the voting public. Voters must feel safe from intimidation and be confident that the ballot is secret. Only then will they enjoy equal opportunity to participate in and influence the democratic process. Only then will the result of the elections be accepted without protest. But if protests are made, they must be peaceful.

There is no doubt that political donations, particularly from corporate entities, will undermine and corrupt the electoral process. And yet in the period building up to the elections, the BN government and the Prime Minister himself, in desperation, have blatantly resorted to handouts to various groups, on the incredibly flimsy excuse that this represents government aid for the poor and needy, not bribery. Poverty and need have suddenly become more visible to the government just before a general election! The prime ministerial bargain, “You help me … I help you,” deserves a place in our history books!

250,000 Malaysians rallied to demand clean & fair elections on 28 April 2012.
They were violently dispersed  with nearly 1,000 canisters of tear gas, water cannon &
Umno thugs disguised as policemen.

Bersih, a coalition of concerned civil society groups, has made legitimate demands of the Elections Commission to secure clean and fair elections. The response has not been very encouraging, confirming the general perception that the Commission is manipulative and pro-government. The national mood before the impending general elections is understandably sombre and anxious, reflecting fears and suspicions that the electoral process leading up to the polls has not been clean or fair, following reliable reports of irregularities, such as gerrymandering and the illegal registration of unqualified voters, including foreign workers and other phantom voters.

In almost every country, people distrust their governments and are eager for change. The 2012 Trust Barometer study by Edelman, one of the world’s largest independent public relations companies, has pointed to a severe breakdown in government trust globally. In Europe, less than 50% of citizens in Ireland, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, Poland, Italy, France and Spain trust their governments. Only 52% of Malaysians trust the Barisan Nasional government.

Imperious couple: Najib & Rosmah
The study also shows that there is a growing public conviction worldwide that elected representatives have grown too remote, too arrogant, too corrupt and too closely associated with corporate interests to serve the common good. It confirms that incestuous cronyism between government and private enterprise increasingly raises suspicions of corruption.

People in most countries are increasingly aware of corrupt practices involving private enterprise and state bureaucracies. In its 2012 assessment of 176 countries, based on a new upgraded methodology, where the new Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) scores range from 0 to 100 (0 being most corruption and 100 being corruption-free), Transparency International indicated that Malaysia’s score was 49 with a country ranking of 54, together with Czech Republic, Latvia and Turkey. One very telling indicator of corruption was the result of a question asked of companies in Malaysia: “During the last 12 months, do you think that your company has failed to win a contract or gain new business because a competitor has paid a bribe?” Fifty per cent answered “Yes”, the highest score among the 30 countries surveyed.

Transparency International Malaysia expressed the view that a 50% response may indicate that corruption in the public sector is systemic and in some areas institutionalised. It also indicated the need to reform the political arena to reduce monetisation of politics, strengthen law enforcement institutions, uphold the rule of law, overhaul the Official Secrets Act, introduce a Freedom of Information Act, enforce transparency and accountability in public procurement, and improve whistleblower legislation.

Underemployed semi-literate youth called Mat Rempits
The BN government has politicised education and penalised and handicapped generations of schoolchildren because of their poor grasp of the English language, now a global language. Meritocracy has been abandoned and mediocrity or worse floods the country. The ambitious and talented flee across the causeway and Singapore thrives on our brain drain.

Medical education has been hijacked by the Ministry of Higher Education and farmed out to third rate medical schools in distant lands. Such medical graduates frequently fail to qualify for professional registration, but will swell the ranks of government medical services. The profession of medicine has been betrayed by the government’s policy of privatising health care. Medicine is a vocation. When government policy makes medicine a business, doctors will be forced to become businessmen.

There is widespread discontent across the country, deep concern for the future, and a strong desire for change. The political bottom line is that the people of Malaysia can no longer tolerate a government that first serves itself and its cronies and is incapable of mustering the necessary political will to reform itself.

The rakyat wants change. Business as usual and political accommodation are no longer acceptable options. A fat, corrupt and arrogant Barisan Nasional government is eminently replaceable. Let’s do it.

Dr R.S. McCoy was born in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, in 1930. He received his primary education at Pasar Road School, Kuala Lumpur, and continued his secondary education at the Victoria Institution, Kuala Lumpur. He was among the first group of students to be admitted to the University of Malaya in Singapore when it was founded in 1949. After his graduation, he worked at the General Hospital, Kuala Lumpur, for ten years, during which time he obtained his Membership of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, London in 1963. In 1965, he joined the Assunta Hospital as a consultant and nine years later continued his work at Pantai Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur. He retired from practice in February 1996.
Dr McCoy is married to Susheila and has two sons, Stephen and David, and a daughter, Ruth. A life member of the Malaysian Medical Association who served as its president in 1995, Dr McCoy is a founder member of Malaysian Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (MPPNW) and founder president of its successor organisation, Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility (MPSR). He is also a founder member of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), a federation of 62 national physicians' groups and has been its chairman since 1989. He was Co-President of International Physicians for the Preventive of Nuclear War (IPPNW), a federation of 62 national physicians' groups representing 200,000 doctors world wide and dedicated to the elimination of nuclear weapons. Dr McCoy was a member of the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, a group of seventeen distinguished and eminent persons from 12 countries appointed by former Australian Prime Minister, Paul Keating to propose practical measures for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Winds of Change ~ excellent article by Mark Baker in 'The Age'

Anwar Ibrahim addresses a crowd (estimated at 200,000) at Stadium Merdeka on 12 January 2013 (Vincent Thian)

In January last year, Anwar returned to the austere chambers of Kuala Lumpur's High Court for the conclusion of his second trial on charges of sexual misconduct. He arrived to find the court registrar and her deputy in tears. "We will pray for you, sir," they whispered to him. The women, like many of Anwar's supporters, were convinced the charges were politically motivated and that his conviction was inevitable. The accusation that Anwar had had sex with a former male aide was raised just months after the opposition scored big gains in the 2008 national elections and as Anwar prepared to return to parliament in a by-election.
Before the mutiny : Anwar plays Fletcher Christian to Mahathir's Captain Bligh (AFP, 1997)

The relationship between Malaysia's longest-serving prime minister and his deputy fell apart in the aftermath of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. As finance minister, Anwar had committed to austerity measures suggested by the International Monetary Fund to rescue the battered Malaysian economy. But Mahathir claimed the cause of the problem was a conspiracy by global financiers and backed a slew of lavish bailouts for failing Malaysian corporations, including his son's shipping company. Anwar also upset Mahathir by moving to tackle widespread corruption in the government and embracing political and social reform, as many Malaysians cheered the unrest that brought down the Suharto regime in Indonesia in May 1998.

Mahathir abruptly sacked Anwar that September. Three days later, police used tear gas and water cannon to break up the biggest protest rally in Malaysia's history as more than 50,000 people took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur in support of Anwar. Malaysia's reformasi movement was born.

Read this well-researched and highly instructive report by Mark Baker here.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Things that resemble overfed maggots have been stirring within Umno. The hidden hand of Mahathir can be seen behind fractious factional splits (he’s not exactly a subtle despot). He is rumored to be quietly funding ultra-rightwing Malay rights groups like Perkasa. Indeed, the Malaysian billionaires’ club has rallied behind Brand Najis, mainly to protect their own vested interests.

In our jubilation at the prospect of seeing a Pakatan Rakyat government with Anwar Ibrahim as PM, we have overlooked a particularly influential segment of society – the moneyed, privileged class (in effect, the Sadduccees, for those biblically inclined). 

These are the ones who live comfortably insulated from the nitty-gritty world in their gated cities and superluxury condos. Most have benefited from lucrative contracts or clever investments made during the Mahathir era – so they were never too bothered about silly things like the ISA, OSA, police harassment, tear gas and water cannons. 

So why should they bother now? One despot behaves pretty much like another – whether his name is Herod Antipas, Constantine, Napoleon Bonaparte, Mahathir Mohamad, Saddam Hussein, George Bush, or Najib Razak. In any case, despots are known to throw lavish parties – they’re certainly funkier hosts than semi-ascetic leftwingers like Nik Aziz, Karpal Singh and Lim Kit Siang. As Hindraf co-founder P. Waythamoorthy recently declared: "It doesn't matter whether Rama or Ravana rules, so long as Indians get a fair share of the money." 

Most despots have blood on their hands (or they wouldn’t qualify as despots, would they?)

You and I may rankle and rant at the idea of a moral degenerate ascending to power as PM – but morality, as the privileged class knows full well, is all so very... relative, isn’t it? No vegetarian, non-violent contemplator-of-navels ever attained the world-conquering status of a Genghis Khan, as far as I know. So why make such a big fuss about a few billion ringgit vanishing into this or that offshore account, a few troublesome mistresses snuffed, a dozen greasy Indian heads bashed in by police truncheons, and a few hundred loudmouths locked away in dungeons of iniquity?

Well, I see these turbulent days as the build-up to a quantum shift into a whole new octave of being wherein our hardwired survival programs and reptilian fear conditioning will no longer apply. If you’re a devout Muslim or Christian you’ll probably call it Khiamat or Judgement Day. A Hindu might think of it as the end of the Kali yuga and the arrival of Maha Avatar Kalki (or perhaps the conclusion of the 7th manvantara); while a Buddhist may anticipate a Maitreya incarnation that will facilitate planetary enlightenment.

The more eclectic and esoterically inclined will call it the dawning of the Aquarian Age, the advent of the Water-Bearer - who symbolizes dissemination of true knowledge, leading to the decentralization and democratization of sovereignty and power.

In short, Ketuanan Rakyat as preached by Anwar Ibrahim.

Astrologer Stella Woods reports that Pluto moved into Capricorn on January 26th, 2008 – and will remain there until 2024. She believes “there will be a backlash and rebellion against [authoritarian] control, with people refusing to conform, leaving the system and insisting on the ethical use of power. 

Scandals and corruption in government and large corporations will come to light and the reputation of many of our cherished institutions will be tarnished. In fact many old forms of government and ways of doing business are likely to disappear altogether.”

Go on, Pluto, move your ass, good dog!

[First published 22 October 2008]