Umno out, but its racial policies still survive

Graphic: The Economist

Graphic: The Economist

Malaysia: still one country, two systems

The Economist

Even as Malaysian politics has been turned upside-down, there has been little questioning of the premise on which UMNO had governed Malaysia since independence: that Malays deserve special privileges.

1Malaysia called for reforms in the name of national unity. It was soon discarded. No one now wants to emulate the man who dreamed it up

Race has dominated Malaysian politics since colonial times.

The “New Economic Policy” helped shape a corrupt system of patronage politics that proved predictably durable.

In many respects Pakatan Harapan marks a break with all this. Voters united across racial and religious divides to support the coalition, which also includes explicitly Muslim and indigenous parties.

But the government is not seizing its opportunity to undo racially discriminatory policies. The coalition hangs together partly because all parties have agreed on a binding principle: that the constitution and its privileges for Malays are supreme. Continue reading


Utusan to lay off half its 1,400 staff

Najib Razak opened Utusan's new headquarters of  three seven-storey blocks in Jalan Enam, renamed to Jalan Utusan, in Kuala Lumpur.

In 2013, Najib Razak opened Utusan’s new headquarters of three seven-storey blocks in Jalan Enam, renamed to Jalan Utusan, in Kuala Lumpur. [13 Sept 2013 – Star photo]

Half the staff and workers at Utusan Malaysia are to be laid off. The troubled Umno-owned newspaper, which is bleeding millions every month, says it has to “rebuild from scratch”.

Utusan Malaytsia front page June 7

Utusan Malaysia today

The company’s group managing director, Datuk Mohd Noordin Abbas, said a Voluntary Separation Scheme would be considered. The work force will be cut, probably by 50 percent from the existing 1,400 staff but the company would need to find the money to fund the lay-offs.

Similar job losses have already taken place at the New Straits Times Press and The Star, where the company announced last week that Star group editor Leanne Goh, together with the chief operating officer and the head of advertising, had taken early retirement. Senior and experience journalists had already been let go since last year at both NSTP and Star.

Continue reading

On Umno’s anniversary, a painful lesson of hubris

The Malay party is in ruins, exactly 72 years after its formation in 1946.

For Najib Razak and Umno, a sombre occasion for a party humbled by hubris on its own anniversary. (Photo: Barisan Nasional Facebook)

By Gobind Rudra
May 11, 2018

As Malaysians celebrate the outcome of May 9 and embark on the long weekend, with not a little trepidation amidst the euphoria, few will spare a thought for the wreck that is Umno today, ruined on the eve of the anniversary of its birth on May 11, 1946. Overcome by hubris, its reputation hangs in tatters around its neck after Wednesday night’s astonishing general election results.

Many present-day Malaysians will fail to recognise the deep significance of May 10 in Malaysian history, however. It was on this day in 1969 that Umno first came a cropper at a general election that ruined the facade of invincibility — a popular movement of the largely urban disaffected turfed out the Umno-led Alliance party in Penang, very nearly in Perak and Selangor, and broke its dominance in Parliament. Continue reading

Tweet tonight to help RTM, Bernama journos

Twitter campaign to push the Cabinet
GerammGeramm urges all media workers and supporters to show their solidarity by retweeting a message from its official Twitter account @MediaGeramm on 9pm (March 3) and noon (March 4) – directed towards the Twitter accounts of communications minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek and prime minister Najib Razak

Cutbacks, unpaid salaries – broadcasting journalists feel the pinch of crony capitalism

In trouble since “privatisation” in an Umno crony deal

Journalists will go on Twitter tonight to campaign on behalf of broadcating staff and contract workers who have suffered cutbacks and unpaid earnings at national broadcaster Radio-Television Malaysia and Bernama TV, an affiliate of Bernama, the national news agency.

The two media houses, both government-owned, have had financial problems. particularly at Bernama TV which, despite its name, was privatised under a typical Umno-Barisan Nasional crony deal.

Tonight’s “Solidarity Media for Media” campaign, by Geramm (the angry journalists movement) will start at 9pm with a tweet urging the prime minister Najib Razak and information minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek to ensure the welfare of RTM and BTV staff.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) it will begin at 12pm, two hours before the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Cost-cutting and journalists' welfare

Cost-cutting and journalists’ welfare

RTM contract workers say they had been unpaid since December. Some have taken to odd jobs, including selling coconuts.

Shabery Cheek has said an administrative error caused the payment problem. The national broadcaster currently undergoing restructuring to prepare for high-definition and digital broadcasting.

» Shabery’s RTM austerity defence off the mark

Bernama TV was unable to pay January salaries until the parent news agency, which owns 30% of the privatised entity, gave a loan to pay salaries up to February.

Bernama is to take over the station from the private owners, Shabery Cheek has announced.

Shuffling it around, but nothing ever happens

Another bailout coming in 2015, just like in 2011?

Another bailout coming in 2015, just like in 2011?

Bernama TV staff on unpaid leave

Last month, Malaysiakini reported that 30 of Bernama TV’s 140 staff had complained to the Labour Department about their unpaid salaries. They had all been told to go on unpaid leave.

The salary problems began late last year, when staff went without pay for nine weeks, taking on odd jobs in the meantime.

A Labour Department officer confirmed a report had been lodged and that arbitration efforts would begin.

Problems dating back to 2009, highlighted by Wee Choo Keong, then MP for Wangsa Maju

Problems dating back to 2009, highlighted by Wee Choo Keong, then MP for Wangsa Maju

“When covering ministers, the media is at the front. Now that Bernama TV has fallen flat, I want to see which minister will come forward,” reads another tweet which mentions Najib, Shabery, and Khairy.

BTV is owned by Bernama TV Synergy Sdn Bhd, which is 33 percent owned by the national newswire. The rest of Bernama TV Synergy is privately-owned.

Who owns Bernama TV?

from Free Malaysia Today, quoting Teo Nie Cheng, MP for Kulai

Bernama TV Synergy Sdn Bhd (BRTV) was set up in 2008 to launch and manage the new 24 hour news channel “Bernama TV”, aired via Astro channel 502.

Its shareholders consist of four companies: Bernama Berhad, 33 per cent; Silver Ridge Multimedia Sdn Bhd, 30 per cent; Standard Code Sdn Bhd, 30 per cent; and Hallmax Entertainment Sdn Bhd 7 per cent.

Blogger Big Dog's comment in 2011

Blogger Big Dog’s comment in 2011

Apparently, Bernama was given the 33 per cent share block in return for giving the exclusive broadcasting rights to BRTV to operate and manage BTV.

Under the Agreement, Bernama will rent out all the equipment (including studio and office space) to BRTV. It will also outsource its Audio Visual staff to continue operating the new TV channel. By doing this, Bernama would be able to generate income from the idle equipment and facilities and will not need to retrench its staff.

However, like many other good ideas in Malaysia, it did not happen as planned. By mid-2009, BRTV owed Bernama the total amount of RM18 million. This is primarily the rental of equipment, office space and the cost of the outsourcing staff.

In a nutshell, Bernama has been funding the operation of BRTV in the following manner: funding about RM1 million monthly to pay the salaries of BRTV staff; spending about RM4 million to RM5 million on a new studio and upgrading of equipment in 2013; seconding about 25 staff to work in BRTV (but under the payroll of Bernama); and paying for many other items including utilities, travelling, equipment rental etc.


‘Unpardonable sin’ by PM’s Office – Kadir

Former NSTP group chief editor A Kadir Jasin has accused the prime minister’s office of “an unpardonable sin” in alluding to “legacy family wealth” in a response to an article in the New York Times earlier this month.

“Unless the PMO makes an about turn and deny ever making a statement to the NYT about Mohd Najib’s so-called inheritance, it stands accused of tainting the memory of that great man,” said Kadir, writing in his blog on Wednesday.

Photo posted at Kadir Jasin’s blog with the caption ‘Tun Razak a frugal man’

“The PMO propaganda machine can do whatever it likes even at the expense of ethics and morality to protect the PM and his wife. But for it to dishonour and disrespect the memory of Tun Abdul Razak is an unpardonable sin.”

Kadir’s comment on the response by the PM’s Office came in the bottom half of his blog posting, which had been about the prime minister’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, and her comments about rising costs and her RM1,200 hairdo.

“I leave it entirely to readers and debaters to make sense of the RM1,200-hairdo. You can credit her for speaking up on behalf of consumers or loath her for the hair raising price she paid for hair colouring,” he said, before going on to the joint statement by Najib’s four brothers. Continue reading

BN media black out Najib’s brothers

Asia Sentinel report on Wednesday


Newspapers owned by Barisan Nasional parties Umno and MCA have blacked out a media statement by Najib Razak’s brothers defending their late father’s reputation for integrity and frugality, Malayakini reports.

The statement had been in response to a New York Times report about purported “legacy family wealth” accounting for lavish spending by Najib’s family.

The four junior sons of the late Tun Abdul Razak, second prime minister, had emailed their joint statement to the largest-circulating newspapers, and to Malaysiakini, Malaysian Insider and business weekly The Edge.

None of the Barisan Nasional-owned newspapers carried any report on the statement, Malaysiakini said.

NOT REPORTED: Utusan Malaysia, Berita Harian, New Straits Times (all owned or controlled by Umno), The Star (owned by the MCA).
REPORTED: Sinchew Daily, Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press.

Continue reading

Under fire, NSTP shifts blame to online media

Quick, quick, find a scapegoat! Blame someone!

So Puad names ‘usual suspects’ Malaysiakini, Malaysian Insider, Free Malaysia Today

[RockyBru photo]

[RockyBru photo]

After being blamed for highlighting recent criticism of Daim Zainuddin in the Mahathir-Najib proxy war, the bosses at Media Prima and New Straits Times Press have now brought out Umno’s usual tool — shift the blame and find another scapegoat.

Once again, online media is being made the punching bag, but this time, Free Malaysia Today is being added to the usual suspects Malaysiakini and Malaysian Insider.

What about Malay Mail Online?

No mention of Malay Mail Online? Like the others, it also doesn’t shy away from political coverage of all quarters. Why leave them out? There’s one diference: the other three “suspects” are not in Umno’s money web of interests. They are independently-owned: Mkini by its founders and backers; Insider by the Edge group of Tong Kooi Ong, and FMT linked to businesman John Soh. Continue reading

Sedition attack on Mariam Mokhtar by online apparel seller

More Umno bullying as attack squads and police show support

An online businessman who claims to be a social media activist has filed a sedition report against an article by political commentator Mariam Mokhtar, published at Free Malaysia Today on Friday.

Apparel seller and Umno thought police?

Apparel seller and Umno stooge?

The man, Zaparudin Abdul Rahim, who sells Korean apparel and knick-knacks with his wife, claims to be chairman of “Semut”, a so-called NGO or rather an acronym for an Umno-inspired harrassment group.

Support from Umno media

In what appeared to be a coordinated attack, he issued a media advisory early in the morning, then conducted a press conference that was attended by the pro-Umno Agenda Daily website, ntv7, and the Umno-controlled goverment media RTM and Bernama, among others – outside the police station in central Kuala Lumpur. Continue reading

Zaid sticks it to Zam (and Anwar)

Former law minister Zaid Ibrahim tweaked Zainuddin Maidin today for announcing he was giving up political blogging, and not sticking by his mentor Mahathir Mohamad. At the same time, he took a sharp dig at Anwar Ibrahim (whose rivalry with Mahathir stretches back two decades), whom Zam had blamed for his being removed as Utusan Malaysia chief editor in 1998.

In a tweet on Twitter, Zaid said: “Come on Zam, be a man, don’t submit if you believe in the cause?” Zaid pointed out that “country was going down” (possibly a reference to current economic problems, a ballooning deficit, and political malaise).

But he also reminded Zam that “to be bold you have to be clean” — a point he was to repeat, about anti-Najib Umno rebels, but possibly also a dig at Anwar of whom it has been said that he had “too much baggage” to be a credible alternative. Continue reading

Standing up to the bullies

The Malaysian Insider
Finally, it comes down to motive. Why did Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan put herself in harm’s way, put her law practice on the backburner, and travel the length and breadth of the country educating Malaysians on clean and fair elections?

Because she believes that if we want a better government, better governance and a country that we can be proud of, then individuals must leave their comfort zones and take a stand.

Her courage and single-mindedness has come with a price, from clowns urging that her citizenship be revoked to the bum parade outside her home.

Utusan turns against Air Asia

Utusan turns against Air Asia

Azran's Tweet sparks a row

Azran’s Tweet sparks a row

Hata Wahari's one-man protest against Utusan

Hata Wahari’s one-man protest against Utusan

Why did AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman Rani react with anger when he saw that now infamous headline in the Utusan Malaysia, “Apa lagi Cina mahu?”

Because he believes, like many Malaysians, that it is offensive for one community to be made racist fodder by a newspaper in the wake of Election 2013.

His decision to speak up on Twitter against Utusan Malaysia’s racism has kicked off a firestorm of attacks from the newspaper and its right-wing supporters in Umno.

He has not buckled and neither have his employers. There is something truly inspiring when individual Malaysians stand up to threats, racism and all the other ills that continue to plague this blessed country.

What Malaysians who stand up for principles or stand up against racism need and deserve is support. Till today, only the alternative media have dared to call out Utusan Malaysia’s bullying tactics.

Utusan Malaysia’s comrades in the mainstream media have been complicit in the Malay language newspaper’s racism by their silence.

It is pointless talking about “We are Malaysia” when all you can offer is silence when someone actually stands up against racism.

Malaysian Insider