Khamis, 14 April 2011

Signs BN may resort to Egypt-type tactics to win Sarawak, warns Pakatan

Signs BN may resort to Egypt-type tactics to win Sarawak, warns PakatanAmid growing signs Malaysia's ruling regime may be the latest to topple after running the country for 5 decades, the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition warned Prime Minister Najib Razak not to try any "Egyptian" or "Tunisia-like" attempts to thwart the will of the people.
They accused his government of blocking online news portals ahead of a fiery election verdict on Saturday, measures that despots Hosni Mubarak and Ben Ali resorted to in the final days of their empire.
"Malaysia prides itself on being a modern democracy and an open economy. Yet fear of an upset win can cause the BN leadership to extreme measures. It is highly suspicious that with just days to go to the balloting of the Sarawak state election, sites like Malaysiakini and Sarawak Report have hacked," Subang MP Sivarasa Rasiah (right), who is also a member of the PKR's political bureau, told Malaysia Chronicle.

"PKR demands to know what the Minister of Information and Communications, Rais Yatim, is doing about this. Our news portals are being attacked and yet the Cabinet and the ministry are not doing anything to help? Our country's reputation as a democracy is being challenged but nothing is being done. The people both inside and outside Malaysia will surely want to why - and is it deliberate?"
So far, Malaysiakini has come back up briefly after being down for almost the whole day on Tuesday, while the UK-based Sarawak Report is still unstable.
Worse to come
Indeed, the quickest barometer of a country's well-being - the stock market - has fallen despite a slew of grandoise visions pronounced by Prime Minister Najib Razak on Tuesday. He has taken care to promise to unveil another batch of "good" economic news on Friday when the results of several small and mid-sized tenders for government jobs will be announced.
The FBM KLCI benchmark index fell 18.08 points to 1,525.92 on Tuesday. In early trade on Wednesday, the benchmark index was down 7.80 points to 1,518.12 at 9.30am. Stock market officials were happy to link the softness to a regional slide due to heavy losses on Wall Street.
But while government-back funds may come in later to prop up the index, the prognosis from both the market as well as from the politicians is gloomy.
Many believe the worst is yet to come and predict a possible coup d'etat if Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim wins Sarawak with his Pakatan coalition.
"Jail is not unlikely especially when you have the police hyping up the Omega watch issue. The authorities are trying to tar Anwar as a promiscous criminal, yet Najib is heaping praises on someone like Taib Mahmud," PKR vice president Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.
"The thing is Taib has actually less to lose than Najib. He is old and most of his wealth is already taken offshore. It is Najib who is the one with everything to lose - the premiership and the Umno presidency."
Misgivings grow among Umno members about Najib's performance
Indeed, there are already deep misgivings amongst Umno members about the way Najib is running the country and the style and methods he is adopting.
The ruling party has 3 million members, the majority of whom are normal working-class Malays with decent upbringing and morals. It is the warlords and chieftains and worst of all - the elite at the very top - who have disregarded all ethics and scruples in their rush to finish off Pakatan and cling to the power that they have become accustomed to.
Even Anwar himself has accused his former colleagues in Umno of "having lost their way". The BN mantra of "who else is there" apart from Najib and Muhyiddin to rule Malaysia no longer sells.
Malaysians including Umno members now laugh openly when they are asked this question. Many Umno members even dare to openly say, "if only Anwar was still with us...".
But Anwar has long been chased out and to ensure that his popularity can never grow within Umno again, the party's elite including Mahathir Mohamad, Daim Zainuddin, Abdullah Badawi, have to ensure that he is cut off - one way or another.
Political and economic watchers believe Najib and his cohorts will resort to foul means. And because of them, Malaysia is now in a very precarious position and investors know it, they said..
"The writing is on the wall. No amount of fancy public relations can paper over the fact that privately, no major financial house will recommend Malaysia as a good haven. In fact, their recommendation is to sell down because the risk of a major struggle is for sure," the director at a large stockbroking house told Malaysia Chronicle.
Najib's tactical blunder
74-year old Taib Mahmud has ruled Sarawak for 30 years. It is the largest state in Malaysia in terms of land size and natural resources that include petroleum and high-grade timber. Yet Sarawak remains the poorest of Malaysia's 13 states, while Taib is one of the richest men in the world.
His family has been accused controlling a business empire running into billions of dollars through 49 firms spanning 8 countries.
Accustomed to such power, Taib has refused to step down - not for a few years at least, he has said. So powerful is he that even Najib, who promised Sarawakians that Taib would soon resign, had to beat an embarrassing retreat.
“I have discussed with the Sarawak Chief Minister and he has agreed to have a leadership change in Sarawak,” Najib told some 1,000 people at a BN event on Sunday. “Believe me, at the right timing, this will be done.”
“I would like to urge the youths here — your time will come. When I step down later, in a few years, I want to see your generation support those who will assume my power and build Sarawak so it will become truly developed and truly luxurious in the future,” Taib told a rally on Monday.
Hate for Taib and disgust for Najib
The contrasting responses raised eyebrows and sparked a flurry of counter-accusations and "spin" from Najib's minders, as they rushed headless-chicken-style to sheld him from the fallout of a Sarawak debacle.
Leaders from Umno, MCA and other components leapt out to blame the Pakatan for the latest twist, deflecting attention with accusations that leaders such as DAP's Lim Kit Siang, Karpal Singh and PAS' Nik Aziz were also "old".
"It is not a question of age but whether you overstay your welcome. The Pakatan mentors remain relevant because they can still contribute better than even the young can. They also have on their side wisdom and integrity - sadly, two qualities that no one would credit Taib or Najib with," DAP MP for Beruas Ngeh Koo Ham told Malaysia Chronicle.
Many seasoned watchers had already warned Najib was making a huge tactical error in going to Sarawak to try and show off to the country and Umno that his perceived 'personal popularity' could overcome the people's dislike for Taib.
The Malaysian PM did not reckon for the huge disgust he has attracted from the public for his own scandals and his open vendetta against Anwar.
Malaysians have been growing more and more uncomfortable with the slew of gutter tactics he has deployed to suppress Anwar - from sodomy charges to the latest sex video scandal, which may have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.
And hated though he may be by the Sarawakians, Taib's political tentacles reach far and deep in the land he has ruled since he was 45.
- Malaysia Chronicle

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