We need to make change happen.

In my great optimism, I hope I didn’t imply in my last post that the opposition coalition of Pakatan Harapan (PH) is set to win the coming 14th general election (GE14). No, that isn’t a prediction I’m making. The odds are still stacked up against any alliance’s ability to seize control from the Umno-led Barisan Nasional.

But, I am saying that GE14, perhaps, is the last opportunity we have in the near future to change the government by popular vote. If BN wins, we can expect Malaysia to go on as it has in the past eight years. If PH wins, we can expect the winds of change to sweep through the government of this country and reforms instituted (not immediately but in time) for the well-being of this nation.

Reforms will constrain corruption and abuse of power and ensure equitable distribution of wealth and fair treatment of citizens. That is the hope we have in a PH-led government. It has been proven in the PH-held states of Selangor and Penang and we can expect it to be replicated in a PH-led national government.

PH was adrift leaderless for a very long time, but with the entry of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Pribumi), a strong leadership has emerged in the PH that has generated a good deal of optimism and enthusiasm and resentment. But, the fact is that PH is now ready to lead at the national level.

Indeed, it is. But, the reality on the ground must be confronted. Rural parliamentary constituencies, though representing a smaller bumiputra vote both in East and West Malaysia, are bigger in number and sufficient to support the incumbency. Only the elections will tell if  Pribumi’s inroads in the rural constituencies of West Malaysia translate to a swing of rural Malay votes to PH.

Another factor is PAS which is hell-bent on going for three-cornered fights which will only benefit Umno. If redelineation is passed by Parliament before GE14, that might also act in Umno’s favour. Umno is still in government and has access to government resources which can be used to turn votes to their side.

From the analyses I have read and the statements of political leaders, there are two ways to beat the system rigged to keep the incumbency.

One is to have an extraordinarily high voter turnout of more than 70%, especially among the Malays and East Malaysians, who are mostly rural. With a higher voter turnout and more voters favouring the PH, there’s a very good chance PH can make gains in the rural constituencies and where there are three-cornered fights.

That’s the reason why I write on the politics of this nation and GE14 — to generate discussion on the issues plaguing the nation and, hopefully, through the discussions, people will vote wisely for the good of the nation and more will vote. More and more voters need to be drawn into the discussions.

People need to be made aware of the options before them and encouraged to vote for change or they will be stuck with the current realities.  They particularly need to know that the likelihood of Umno losing its majority Malay support is happening or already happened. They also need to know that even with Umno possibly without majority Malay support in terms of numbers, it will still hang on to government on the technicality of winning a simple majority of rural and Malay-based rural constituencies.

The only way to end this stalemate is for the Malays and East Malaysians to come out in huge numbers to vote and give PH the mandate to institute change.

That’s the opportunity GE14 offers us. We, the people, have to seize it and make change happen. That’s my point.

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GE14 — a chance to make history!

Once in a while in our lifetimes we get a chance to make history. The coming general elections (GE14) is one such opportunity.

If we vote decisively, we will be able to break Umno’s stranglehold of the government of this country. Make no mistake, I’m not anti-Umno. I’m just against anything or anyone who is so powerful that we have to resort to extreme actions to dislodge them. No one or thing should be so powerful that they can get away with whatever they do without facing the consequences. That is tyranny. Any right-thinking person will oppose it.

In government, tyranny of any kind must be opposed. It is we, the people, who must oppose it and bend the will of insolent might and hold it accountable to the people through the vote. We must demand and ensure that institutions that offer checks and balances to leaders and government are independent and uncompromised and that leaders abide by their decisions. We must do it by the vote. And, GE14 gives us that chance to change the destiny of this nation so that we don’t repeat the excesses of the past and can establish a fair, just and corruption-free government.

Leading the charge to change has been the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) when it was formed under Anwar Ibrahim’s “Reformasi” banner after the schism with the then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Anwar was deputy prime minister then. He was subsequently sacked from office and expelled from Umno.

The Malay vote has been split since then with the urban Malays solidly behind PKR, which went on to form the opposition Pakatan Rakyat with the DAP and PAS. There was a fallout between the latter two and PAS left the coalition. A splinter group made up mostly of the progressive members of PAS  left the party and formed Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) which joined the opposition under the new name of Pakatan Harapan.

PKR under Anwar was the rebel Malay representation against Dr M, who at that time was held responsible for splitting Malay unity. Dr M, however, left Umno over current Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s performance and dealings over 1MDB, to form Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Pribumi) which then joined the opposition PH.

With the inroads Pribumi apparently has made into the rural Malay heartland — the base of the incumbent ruling Malay party Umno — PH is now represented by three Malay-based parties, PKR, Pribumi and Amanah representing urban, rural and progressive Islamic Malays. Together, under the chairmanship of Dr M who is now PH chairman, under the leadership of the very man accused of dividing the Malays, the Malays have reunited.

The differences between the Malays were viciously expressed but it is to their credit that it never sank into a civil war but that they chose to fight it out at the ballot box. Now, in PH, they are a united force and ready for majority rule. Malay support has shifted from Umno to PH.

Until the votes come in, we will not be certain if PH has the support of the majority Malays. The trends seem to indicate so and there’s a huge slim chance that PH will win.

What we are seeing today is history in the making. A golden opportunity has presented itself to us Malaysians to choose a different future from the past. Not that the past was bad. Certainly not. We developed. But we want a future that can be built on the past not be bound by it.

The Chinese and Indians have seen the writings on the wall. In previous elections, they voted for PH parties. They are expected to vote similarly.

The big question mark is the East Malaysian vote. East Malaysian parties are adequately represented in the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN). East Malaysians need to decide if they will seize the opportunity before them to vote for the side with which they will have more leverage than they ever had.

That leverage, however, will only come if they are willing to place their stake in a new government with which they can negotiate for a better future. Their support would mean a comfortable win for PH. That will be the strongest leverage they will ever have for a fairly long time.

Right now, it isn’t clear which way East Malaysians will vote. Their parties in the BN have been silent and those in the opposition don’t seem able to work together.

If the parties can’t make up their mind, the people should do it for them! That would be history-making!

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D M — the necessary prime minister

There has been a fair bit of reaction to the announcement that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is the prime minister-designate in the event the opposition alliance, Pakatan Harapan (PH), wins the next general elections. The mostly negative reaction is from the ruling Barisan Nasional side.

So negative was the reaction that the former prime minister was barred from visiting jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim at the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital on the grounds that,  as a non-family member, Dr M didn’t get permission to do so, according to reports. Frankly, it was just another low in Malaysian politics. As leaders in the same coalition, Dr M had every right to visit Anwar but was stopped by “orders from the top”.

BN bitterness is understandable. No one was able to pull the rug from under Umno as Dr M has. Umno, and consequently the coalition it leads, is floundering. PH taking over the reins of government is now a very distinct possibility, especially now that it has a strong national-level leadership.

It is apparent that the BN can’t handle the possibility of losing and resorting to hitting below the belt. It’s commendable that the 93-year-old Dr M is taking it in his stride, taking all the hits, and still walking with his head held up.

True, there may be other better leaders in the opposition but, apart from Anwar, no one else has the experience of governing a nation that Dr M has. Should PH win the coming general elections, an inexperienced national leadership may be inept in handling the challenges and pressures of running a government. Under Dr M’s tutelage, they’ll learn and get the necessary experience.

As Dr M will only be an interim PM, when he leaves, those who follow can develop their own style of leadership. Until then, Dr M will provide the stability in the transition to a new breed of government leaders. Those who are tenaciously hanging on to the status quo can be expected to give the new leaders a very tough time. A seasoned leader like Dr M would be able to stand up to them while ensuring continuity and stability of government until the younger leaders find their feet and can take over.

I believe PH made the decision to make Dr M prime minister for the sake of the nation. They know their limitations and are appreciative of what Dr M brings to the table.

Dr M also seems able to connect with the rural Malays, something that the Anwar-founded, urban-based Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), which is the leading party in PH, is unable to do. With Dr M at the helm of the opposition leadership, there is a very good chance that the rural vote on which BN has always won can be breached, which means Umno stands a very good chance of losing.

It will be exciting to see if the big turnout at Dr M’s rallies in the rural areas will translate to votes for the opposition. Observing the trends, PH has to make plans for the possibility that the people’s mandate will be thrust into their hands.

For me, at this point in the history of this nation, that’s the way forward!

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It maybe is the time to move forward

As I chatted with relatives and friends over the Christmas period, I said something which hit home as soon as I uttered the words. The words were repeated by someone else and it had the same impact on me. That, I think, is the message I want to share in this post.

The message is: Move forward or on. Perhaps, we have been in the same state for too long and it’s time to take a step forward. It’s time to find a way to change the situation. It will happen when we a take a clear step we know is an act forwards. That’s moving on.

Sometimes, we stay on a plane for far too long, not realising that there are alternatives. Usually, we remain in that situation because we are not ready to take the step that will take us out. It’s only when we take that step, that, somehow, other options open up and we can choose one or two that work best for us.

When we do that we need to be honest with ourselves and others who are involved, too. Sometimes, it’s the honesty that is a step forwards. When we are honest with ourselves we will know what we can and can’t do, and we need to act accordingly. Our honesty then helps others involved to assume responsibility for what they have to do or not do.

Well, this is a short post, but, there maybe something here for someone or some people.

May we all move forward and on!


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Goodbye 2017, hello 2018!

How time flies by! It seems like it was only yesterday when I wrote a New Year’s post for 2017. One year just flew by!

It has been a good year for me. I got back into journalism in a job with a more regular income. Family and good friends got closer. This Christmas was special in that we enjoyed each other more. That was memorable.

I also made a few new friends this year, some good and some challenging and looking forward to seeing us grow in friendship. If some don’t, that’s ok, too.

So, yes, it was yet another good year! Of course, there were some nastiness, but, I guess, that’s life. You need to take the bad with the good! But, what was pleasantly surprising is that I handled them well.  So, I must have grown in managing stress and disappointments better!

To sum up I think the best thing about 2017 is the good health I enjoy. With health, all the above and more can be enjoyed. And, that’s what I thank God most for!

What am I looking forward to in the new year? Lots of fun, a fair bit of travel, more books to read, more friends, an improved garden and a change of government! (More of that in posts to come!)

For 2018, I have also made a minimum number of resolutions, three, actually: First on the list: Go to bed early and have, at least, 7 hours of sleep! I’m an owl! But, I must keep this schedule so that I’m functional the next day and enjoy everything I want and need to do.

Secondly, I’ve decided that I’ve had it with bad relationships and plan to steer clear of them!

Thirdly, I’m going to increase my early morning exercise regime (for which I need to get up early enough after a 7hr sleep!) Need to keep the waistline in check!

Let’s see if I can keep them! Happy New Year, folks. Seize the year and rise up to all the challenges it throws at you!

Welcome 2018!

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You needn’t be alone at Christmas, and Merry Christmas!

One of the most fun things about Christmas is that there is always some party you can attend! There are all sorts of parties. House parties, mall parties, hotel parties, company parties and Christmas-themed parties.

Christmas is a happy time. It is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, of God entering human reality and is accessible to us anywhere for all times. This does not mean that we can ask whatever we want and — like a vending machine, out the answer will be delivered! No, no! It’s a lifelong learning experience of the exercise of faith through all the good and bad that happens to all human beings and, somehow, seeing through it all the reality of that Birth, of Immanuel, God with us.

That is good news! And, we celebrate it with gusto! On Christmas day, we go to church to be reminded of the Person we celebrate and are spiritually recharged. After that, it’s party time! We put aside our cares and take time to spread the cheer of the hope in our midst with others — family, friends and whoever else who wants to rejoice with us!

Christmas parties range from the irreligious to the religious! Some church services even are party-like! There’ll be carolling, singing, drama, dancing (all very appropriate) and a short message. Some people like that. The most common, however, are the house parties, mostly for family, relatives and friends. There’ll be a great deal of mingling, of course, over food!

Some of the house parties may have some spiritual aspects like a prayer over food and some spiritual sharing. Some may do all the praying before the party begins! But, in most cases, the house parties are non-religious and social in nature. In other words, there’s a party somewhere that you can fit right in because Christmas is not exclusive; it is not a Christian-only affair. Christmas cheer is for all. Anyone can enjoy Christmas!

If you don’t get invited to a Christmas party, it is a clear indication that you are not connected to the community. That’s all the more reason, why you need to attend a Christmas party — whether it’s a party or a more religious event like a church service (there are many church services which are very no-nonsense — no tinsel, no glitter, no Christmas trees, no decor, very spiritual, straight and staid, if you prefer that!). Go somewhere and be with people, but don’t be alone!

Go to a party where you know at least one or two people. But, don’t go anywhere which will stress you out! Especially if are feeling the blues around Christmas or going through a difficult time. Go somewhere where the positive vibes will cheer you up. Somehow, it makes things bearable and gives you a gentle nudge to keep going.

If you didn’t get an invitation this Christmas, get to know someone who can take you to one of your preference next Christmas! You won’t regret it!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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If the season gets mad, take time out!

For me the Christmas season is the best time of the year, but for many others it’s a mad season! All that rushing around shopping for presents and clothes and groceries and planning parties and putting up the Christmas tree and decor can drive people crazy and it becomes a very stressful season!

Sometimes, people stop and wonder whether it is worth it. Well, there are people who will tell you that there is nothing in it. This whirlwind of buying and buying and partying is simply superficial crass commercialism and that isn’t the meaning of Christmas.

That’s true. Christmas is celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and being reminded of what that means for us. That is the reason for the celebration and often the celebration can get carried away amid the effort to pack in as much celebration as we can within the season. And that explains the rush and this frenzy to buy and buy and party. Nothing really wrong with it but it can get wearisome and sometimes meaningless.

So, people take time out from the merry-go-round of the season. They’ll say, “Ok, this year we are going abroad for Christmas!” Or, have a quiet Christmas at home. Or, like me, join in with someone else who is busy merry-making!

But, I found a way of enjoying the season that fits well with me. I found it by enforced circumstances rather than by choice! As career and other commitments increased it was harder and harder to meet the expectations of the season and gradually I cut down on all the usual activities simply because I couldn’t handle them anymore.

My friends and family managed them better and I just joined them and became a hanger-on! They did all the work and I turned up on the appointed day and at the appointed time and enjoyed myself! I cut down the presents to the barest minimum, getting presents for only close relatives and friends.

As the pace of Christmas slowed, I found, hey, this is better! I began to enjoy the season and decided to pace out the fun instead of cramming it into a couple of heady hours ofparty ing. Also, perhaps, I was growing older and could cut down on the partying!

I take the season slow! Starting early in the month, listening to Christmas music. Then, I visit the old folks because this is the thing to do in the Catholic Indian community which is my background and one of the traditions I have started to follow as I grow older because it’s a concern we often express: “They (the old folks) may not be around next Christmas!”

Before they go, we visit them. At least, we looked out for them when they were alive! Then, I’ll plan a couple of visits out with friends. In between, do some shopping. And, finally spend Christmas with family.

And, with the stress taken out, it is an enjoyable season. I love it!


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