As Najib sways between China and US, many Malaysians seek real change

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Donald Trump and Najib Razak - Photograph: mysinchew.com

The emergence of a two party system is key: any ruling government will then be kept on its toes as it will realise it can be replaced in future general elections, writes Ngu Ik Tien.

Former Aliran president Francis Loh has written a critical analysis of the recent influx of Chinese investments in Malaysia and its implications for Malaysian politics.

His main concern is that these investments will help a corrupt regime to persist and prolong the phase of the ‘middle income trap’ in Malaysia. This informative article also provides a comprehensive summary of various views and perspectives of politicians, top government officials, developers, and economists about this rapid influx.

Francis’ concern is valid in view of the sense of denial by the Malaysian government over the 1MDB scandal all this while.

The 1MDB controversy resurfaced internationally during the prime minister’s recent official visit to the United States. Headlines in several US-based media depicted Najib Razak as the “scandal-hit” Prime Minister.

The trip also sparked another controversy among the American media as the Malaysian premier and his delegation chose to stay at the Trump International Hotel, which some criticised as a possible conflict of interest.

There is little doubt that the ruling Malaysia government – in particular, Najib and his supporters – will extract as much political mileage as possible from this official visit to the United States. Najib is expected to reiterate that 1MDB is a “non-issue” and that his official visit to US on Trump’s invitation supports that contention.

To help to counter this, Anil Netto feels that Siti Hasmah, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s wife, is enjoying a surge in respect among many Malaysians and may be a more effective card for the opposition to mobilise support. See also the videos in his piece.

Over the last few weeks, the Rohingya tragedy has shocked the global community including many concerned Malaysians. Aliran, in a press statement with the Penang Stop Human Trafficking Campaign, has condemned the inhuman treatment of the Rohingya and other minorities in Rakhine state in Myanmar.

Aliran president Prema Devaraj believes the killings in Myanmar serve as a warning to the Malaysian government and all politicians that they should refrain from politicising religion, ethnicity and nationalism in the country as it may result in sowing the seeds of hatred and intolerance among Malaysians.

On 31 August, Aliran wrote a Merdeka message to reflect on the current situation of Malaysia. We lay out the challenges that we are facing, namely corruption, religious chauvinism and extremism, and toxic politics. Aliran believes that stronger democratic and independent institutions can help to provide the necessary checks and balances and improve the current disheartening landscape. 

Many other issues and topics have been covered in the Aliran website over the last two weeks including a report on the destruction of Ulu Muda (with audio and video reports), an important water catchment area in Kedah.

Also on the website is an anecdote about Aliran’s encounter with former Bank Negara assistant governor Abdul Murad Khalid in 1999. Murad recently testified before a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Bank Negara’s forex losses.

Benedict Lopez, meanwhile, has urged the government to form a national health service, similar to the UK’s, which can be funded using GST revenue.

We encourage you to access our website and read the articles that have been uploaded. We would love to hear your views and comments.

Finally, the general election is just around the corner, and Najib is trying to gain as much brownie points as he can to ensure a Barisan Nasional victory. We have consistently urged the rakyat to use their votes wisely. For our country to mature and for democracy to flourish, we need real change.

The emergence of a two party system is key: any ruling government will then be kept on its toes as it will realise it can be replaced at the next general election. The Barisan Nasional, having never lost power at the federal level, is perceived by many to have grown arrogant, often choosing to ride roughshod over legitimate dissenting views. A new government at the next election will surely put an end to such overconfidence.

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