Sunday, May 10, 2015

Best candidate to Replace Najib? What about Anwar Ibrahim?


Written by Zaid Ibrahim
UMNO president and Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak is about to be replaced by his enemies in the party.
Whilst spending my weekend in a small Japanese village near Tomakomai in Hokkaido, Japan, I received a call from an UMNO source that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was meeting UMNO bigwigs including Tun Daim Zainuddin, Dato’ Seri Nazri Aziz and Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed in Italy to discuss handing over the premiership to Muhyiddin.
I don’t know if this meeting will ultimately result in Najib being replaced, but I just don’t approve of this kind of surreptitious move to replace elected leaders. I don’t know how reliable my source is, but I hope this is not part of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s plan to change the leadership.
The Prime Minister should be replaced only by a recognised and legitimate process as is usual in a parliamentary democracy. Either there is a change of party leadership, and hence the premiership, or there is a vote of no confidence in Parliament against the Prime Minister. There is no other legitimate way.
I believe that there must be a debate in Parliament about the Prime Minister. If there has been any misconduct or misfeasance in his handling of the 1MDB affair, then let the accusers put forward their arguments in the Dewan Rakyat and allow Members and, through them, the Rakyat to consider the matter before putting it to a vote. A secret meeting in Milan is not the democratic way.
Even without such shenanigans, Malaysia is in deep distress because we have leaders who are corrupt. Corruption is the biggest problem we face, and there seems to be no one out there who is willing to help weed out the problem
Stop defending corruption
Dato’ Seri Nazri Aziz
1MDB is a case in point. The crazy thing is that the Prime Minister’s “boys” are defending allegations against him by saying that during Dr Mahathir’s days, things were no different. Please spare us that nonsense. Just because corrupt practices happened before is no excuse for corruption to be accepted now.
A government-owned business can suffer losses and even huge losses, and we should not make too much fuss if it is a normal business with the usual clear and transparent accounting processes. Losing money is a risk in doing any kind of normal business—“normal” meaning that everything is done above board with no hanky-panky.
1MDB, unfortunately, is not a normal business. It has no comprehensible business plan—at least, nothing comprehensible to the Rakyat—other than acquiring public assets at huge discounts. We know that the company was able to borrow billions of ringgit and at the same time some alleged “outsiders” were able to instruct company directors to transfer vast sums to their secret accounts.
The general accusation is that, amongst other things, 1MDB is no more than a vehicle designed to siphon money from the public purse into private pockets. If this accusation is true, then the Prime Minister has been grossly negligent in his handling of the matter and should step down.
What negligence? Well, the Prime Minister did not instruct the Auditor-General to perform a forensic audit. In fact, he should have retained one of the major international auditing firms to perform an independent audit since the 1MDB controversy involves the flow of funds to and amongst many countries.
Former Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi did the right thing by asking PwC to audit the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) and it was through that investigation that the Government and the Rakyat came to know what happened (although no big fish has been convicted).
Najib’s failure to order the investigation in this case is a serious dereliction of duty that shows he is not interested in making a clean breast of what actually happened.
There are many other reasons why Najib should step down and you can write a book about them. But this is no excuse to resort to undemocratic means – however convenient they might seem – to put up a new leader.
Why? Because then there is nothing to prevent the new person from doing exactly the same thing as Najib in some other future scandal.
The replacement must be someone who is fundamentally different from the present crop of leaders in terms of integrity and honesty, otherwise we might as well keep Najib on the throne.
Najib's replacement must have the courage and will to reform Umno
Mustapa Mohamed (first left)
UMNO and the Barisan Nasional have failed to tell us what criteria they are looking for in the new leader. As far as we are concerned, it’s just a case of musical chairs and the new leader will then have to pay off whatever “political debts” are owed by stealing an even larger portion of the national pie.
This, the people do not want. It’s time the Rakyat made known their distaste for corrupt leaders.
There are many reasons why Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah should be our Prime Minister, and you can also write a book about them too. The most important reason for me is that I believe he is an honest leader. He is not corrupt and he will stem systemic corruption in the country. No one currently in the top echelon of UMNO even comes close to him.
They tried to connect him to the Carrian-Bank Bumiputra scandal of the late 1980s but he succeeded in clearing his name in the London courts. No other UMNO leader has been brave enough to clear his or her name in courts outside Malaysia.
The Malays, for their part, will want a Malay leader who protects their privileges. Muslims will want a leader who protects Islam. Non-Malays will want a leader who protects their business interests as well as their culture and education.
But no one will get what they want if leaders are corrupt. Corruption destroys everything. Malaysia will not progress. No transformation will succeed, regardless of what Dato’ Sri Idris Jala tries to tell you, unless corruption is curbed.
To clean up the country and to have enough money to care for the people, public institutions including the police must be cleansed of corruption. We have so many large scale rip-offs involving Government funds that it is no longer a laughing matter.
Let me quickly remind you of some of them since the 1980s: in 1983 the Bank Bumiputra scandal involved more than US$1 billion filling the pockets of high public officials. The Perwaja Steel scandal involved US$800 million although the protagonist, the late Tan Sri Eric Chia, was acquitted.
In 2005, Bank Islam reported a loss of close to RM500 million and ran up more than RM2.2 billion in non-performing loans due to poor management. Then we have the MAS saga where the airline lost millions of ringgit because political appointees kept getting sweetheart contracts. We also had the RM12 billion PKFZ scam, and to this day PKFZ is still trying to make a viable business out of itself.
Time magazine quoted Morgan Stanley economists saying that Malaysia lost more than US$100 billion due to corruption – excluding 1MDB – and for this reason, the people need a leader who is committed to making the fight against corruption a central policy of the Government.
I am not talking about feel-good statements about transparency, open tenders, good governance, ethical administration and all that nonsense we keep hearing from Najib.
I am talking about a leader who is willing (I believe) to limit the operation of the Official Secrets Acts to matters of state security; who will not tolerate corruption in the civil service; and who will not allow contracts for cronies.
Ku Li the better option than Muhyiddin
Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah
Anyway, Tengku Razaleigh will not jail you for sedition if you ask questions and protest peacefully about the GST. In fact, I believe he will compel members of the Cabinet, including himself, to disclose their wealth to the public.
We won’t find any other leader alive today who is willing to do this. Is there anyone in the top hierarchy of UMNO who can commit to fighting corruption all the way? Is there anyone in UMNO or the Barisan Nasional who will start open tenders again for big projects? There is no one.
So let’s get this country moving again. I urge Dr Mahathir to support a movement for Tengku Razaleigh to be made Prime Minister. If he were to do this, Dr Mahathir will always be remembered for saving this country.
Tengku Razaleigh represents our last chance of restoring democracy and to bring back the visions of Tunku Abdul Rahman of a united, free and peaceful Malaysia—and also to save Dr Mahathir’s Vision 2020.
I urge the Opposition to be united in supporting Tengku Razaleigh as Prime Minister although they naturally want one of their own leaders to be Prime Minister.
This can only be achieved by a general election, so let Tengku Razaleigh set the foundation for a clean election, for deep reforms in public institutions and bring back the climate of togetherness in our country.
Let a neutral leader like him set the framework for a good government. Then, the party that has the largest number of seats can pick their own candidate for Prime Minister.
Everybody wants to be Prime Minister but let’s remember one thing: the leader who is only interested in using the country’s wealth to benefit his family or to protect himself is useless to us.
It’s about time we found a leader who will put the country first.
It’s hard to find such a leader but I believe Tengku Razaleigh is close to that ideal choice. He is with UMNO but not tainted as others are. The moment to demand a clean leader is now.
Let’s start by telling our leaders that honesty and integrity are important factors in the next Prime Minister of Malaysia. It’s hard to imagine; but we will never be a world-class country if the Prime Minister, once selected, can to plunder the nation’s wealth with impunity. -

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