Kedah Pakatan Harapan GE14 Manifesto Outlines 10 Thrusts

Kedah Pakatan Harapan GE14 Manifesto Outlines 10 Thrusts

PENDANG — Kedah Pakatan  Harapan (PH) Manifesto for the 14th General Election (GE14) launched in Bukit Jenun near here tonight outlines 10 main thrusts containing 10 pledges within 100 days if the pact leads the country.

The essence of the manifesto themed ‘Our Dreams to Prosper Kedah Together’ was read by the chairman of the manifesto committee Datuk Johari Abdul.

Also present at the launch was state PH chairman and PPBM deputy president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Tun Mahathir.

The ten thrusts comprised providing basic amenities and public housing, prioritising the people’s welfare and health, strengthening religious values, boosting the quality of education and human capital as well as empowering women.

Empowering youth, sports and non governmental organisations, intensifying agricultural and fisheries development, spearheading economic growth, reforming the state’s management and governance, and preserving the environment.

Meanwhile the 10 pledges that the pact promised to fulfill in Kedah within 10 days if it wins the general election are to overcome the problem of water disruption; provide funeral donation for all races and religions within 24 hours; evaluate the involvement of politicians in the Kedah Football Association (KFA).

In addition, establishing a chronic diseases fund and dialysis centre; setting up a special women’s fund; drafting one family, one home; opening a Youth Town; promoting domestic agriculture; introducing a mobile syariah court and establishing a task force to resolve land issues.

Earlier before the launch, a ceramah was delivered by state DAP chairman Tan Kok Yew, Pakatan candidate for Pendang parliamentary seat Wan Saiful Wan Jan and candidate for Sungai Tiang state seat Abd Razak Khamis, among others.

BERNAMA

 

First published for Malaysian Digest , 21 April 2018

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It’s balik kampung for PH’s Pendang candidate

It’s balik kampung for PH’s Pendang candidate

LANGKAWI: It was with mixed feelings of shock, nervousness and gratitude that PPBM rookie Wan Saiful Wan Jan received news he would be contesting in the Pendang parliamentary constituency.

“When they first told me I would be contesting in Pendang, I was caught off guard,” he told FMT.

“But I did tell them right at the beginning that if I were to contest, it would be better if I was given the chance to go back to Kedah, my birthplace, and repay the kindnesses the people there have shown me.”

Wan Saiful, who is PPBM’s deputy chief strategist, was born and bred in Alor Star, just 30 minutes away from Pendang. His candidacy for the seat was confirmed last Sunday, when the list of PPBM candidates for Kedah was unveiled in Langkawi.

He claimed that Pakatan Harapan’s campaign machines were strong in Tokai and Sungai Tiang, the two state constituencies inside Pendang, and said this fact had eased much of his anxiety and nervousness about going to the ground.

Pendang is largely rural and many of its people are padi farmers and rubber tappers.

Wan Saiful is a political scientist and the founder of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, which he served as CEO before joining PPBM. So there’s the question of whether someone who is used to addressing urban audiences would be comfortable before rural crowds.

He shrugged off the concern, saying he had always mixed with people from a wide spectrum of society.
He added that he had never liked to hear people implying that rural folk were less sophisticated than urbanites.

He also said he would not have a problem adjusting to the rural setting of Pendang. “I am not a Bangsarian, nor am I from Damansara Heights. I was born in Alor Star. I have relatives in Alor Star, Langkawi and Perlis. Balik kampung is something normal to me.”

He said the concerns of rural and urban folk were not too different.

“In both Tokai and Sungai Tiang, I can say that the general concern among the people is the rising cost of living.

“In Tokai, the challenge is how to ensure the price of padi matches the efforts put in by padi farmers. As for Sungai Tiang, which is home to many rubber tappers, the low price of rubber is something they worry about daily.

“These are issues the central government can help address if there are policies specifically to help those in agriculture.”

He noted that the Pakatan manifesto promises to pursue such policies.

“My task is to meet the voters and convince them that the PH manifesto is good for them. I hope that the voters, especially those who support PAS, will realise that any vote that is not for PH is a vote to help Najib Razak and Umno remain in power.”

He claimed that he would have the advantage if he had to face both Umno and PAS candidates because the votes of those not supportive of Pakatan would be split between his two rivals.

He is also banking on the popularity of Pakatan chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his son Mukhriz because they belong to his party.

“Mahathir’s presence will help our campaign in Pendang,” he said. “And we also have the influence of Mukhriz. Many voters feel that he was treated unfairly when he was forced to step down as Kedah MB. He was one of the few Umno leaders then who made it clear that the GST places a burden on the people.”

Wan Saiful described himself as “merely an instrument” in Pakatan’s hopeful march to victory in the coming polls.

“I hope voters can help ensure that Mahathir become prime minister again,” he said. “It would be great if, in the two years before we achieve Vision 2020, that vision is achieved by none other than the man who initiated it.”

Pendang was where the late Fadzil Noor, the PAS president until his death in 2002, broke Barisan Nasional’s winning streak in 1999.

In the last election, Umno’s Othman Abdul defeated Mohamad Sabu, who contested as a PAS candidate, by 2,638 votes in a straight fight.

First published for Free Malaysian Today , 18 April 2018

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Key Malaysian opposition party suspended ahead of election

Key Malaysian opposition party suspended ahead of election

Malaysian authorities ordered former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s political party to temporarily disband on Thursday in a blow to the opposition ahead of expected general elections.

The Registrar of Societies said the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia failed to submit adequate documentation related to its registration and asked it to do so within a month or be permanently deregistered.

Elections are due by August but Prime Minister Najib Razak is widely expected to dissolve Parliament on Friday to pave the way for a vote next month. Support for Najib’s ruling coalition has dwindled in the last two elections and in 2013 it lost the popular vote for the first time.

Pribumi party official Wan Saiful Wan Jan called Thursday’s order “an abuse of power by a regime that is desperate to stay in office.”

“We will continue to fight this abusive regime,” he said. “This action provides even stronger evidence that they must be removed if we want bring back integrity into our institutions.”

Mr. Najib has been engulfed in an international financial scandal involving the 1MBD state fund that he set up in 2009 and that went on to accumulate billions of dollars in debt. The U.S. and several other countries are investigating allegations of cross border embezzlement and money laundering at the fund.

The U.S. Justice Department says at least $4.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB by associates of Mr. Najib and it is working to seize $1.7 billion taken from the fund to buy assets in the U.S.

Mr. Najib, who denies any wrongdoing, has fired critics within the government and muzzled the media since the scandal erupted three years ago.

Analysts expect Mr. Najib to win a third term due to infighting in the opposition, unfavorable electoral boundary changes and strong support for the government from rural ethnic Malays.

First published for The Hindu , 5 April 2018
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“Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani has forgotten his own constituency?”

“Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani has forgotten his own constituency?”

MEDIA STATEMENT BY WAN SAIFUL WAN JAN, DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF STRATEGY AND POLICY BUREAU, PPBM

*Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani has forgotten his own constituency?*

Kuala Lumpur, 3 April 2018: The UMNO-led Barisan Nasional government has failed to manage the country’s coffers to the point that the health of Malaysians are at risk, especially low-income families in Kuala Lumpur. I sighted a copy of a letter sent by Jabatan Kesihatan Wilayah Persekutuan to District Health Officers inTitiwangsa, Kepong, Cheras, Putrajaya dan Lembah Pantai. This letter stated that UMNO’s budget cut meant that patients with diabetes in these areas can undergo only one HbA1c test this year. The gold standard is four per year.

According to the latest National Health and Morbidity Survey, almost one in five Malaysian adults has diabetes. This is worrying and makes regular monitoring all the more imperative. HbA1c is a test to determine if their diabetes is under control. It should be done every 3 months, or four times a year. If regular monitoring is not undertaken, patients face increased risks of kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and blindness.

We have a two-in-one Minister of Finance, namely Prime Minister Datuk Sri Najib Razak and Titiwangsa MP Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani. But under them our national debt has skyrocketed, so much so that the welfare of common people are now at risk. This includes the people in Titiwangsa itself, in addition to Kepong, Cheras, Putrajaya and Lembah Pantai. Have they been so busy colluding with each other in the cover up of various national scandals that they have been unable to manage our country’s finances properly? I urge them to reveal fully all the services have they reduced or cancelled as a result of their failure in financial management.

For more statements from Wan Saiful, please see www.facebook.com/wansaifulwanjan

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Voters, politicians can end race politics, forum told

Voters, politicians can end race politics, forum told

POLITICIANS from Malay parties Umno and the opposition Bersatu, as well as the largely Chinese DAP, came to the conclusion at a forum last night that ending race politics would take time and it had to be the effort of both voters and political parties.

Bersatu’s Wan Saiful Wan Jan, who left think-tank Ideas and recently joined the party, said the change should start with political parties, and in a Malaysian context, had to start from a Malay party as the ethnic group formed the majority of the country’s population.

National political discourse has also long been shaped around the position of the Malays.
“(The agenda must come) from a Malay party. It is the same with Chinese and Hindu nationalists. The change must come from themselves.

“So if you really want to see the end of race politics, or a change in direction where we can actually debate policy (instead of race politics), it is really crucial for people like Shahril Hamdan and many others in Umno Youth now to quickly rise up the ranks.

“That’s the only way we can have healthier politics in Malaysia, but that would take time,” said the Bersatu strategy and policy bureau deputy chairman at a forum with about 200 urban young adults in Kampung Attap, Kuala Lumpur, last night.

Umno is Malaysia’s ruling Malay party and linchpin of the Barisan Nasional coalition, which has ruled the country since independence. Bersatu, in the opposition pact Pakatan Harapan, is also a Malay party.

Umno’s Shahril, the party’s Youth wing exco member, was also a panelist, along with DAP Socialist Youth vice-chairman Lim Yi Wei.

Wan Saiful hailed Shahril as an emerging leader in Umno, noting that the older generation in the party would find it hard to do away with race politics.

Shahril pointed out that voters themselves had to understand the Malaysian landscape and not form opinions based on what they were familiar with.

“The problem with us and and those of our background is that we socialise or work with the Bangsar, Hartamas types. That’s really not representative of the rest of the country,” he said, referring to affluent suburbs in Kuala Lumpur.

“Yes, there is some hope that more and more people in the future will vote past racial lines. But in particular states, there is still a clear trend (of voting along) Bumiputera and non-Bumi lines.

“Passionate debate (on policies) is not happening yet. People still vote based on sensationalism and favouritism,” Shahril said, adding that ending racial politics was a “two-way street” that involved voters “incentivising” politicians.

DAP’s Lim, meanwhile, said race politics could only end if everyone stepped out from their “bubbles”.

The two-hour forum, organised by public affairs and political risk consultancy KRA Group, saw active participation from the young adult crowd.

Shahril, being the only pro-government representative against two opposition representatives on the panel, ended up being evaluated by forum participants.

Daniel Teoh, 27, from Petaling Jaya, who works as a translator, said while the discussion was good, he felt like Shahril was guarded and could have been more frank.

“There are things they can’t say and I think that it is okay because it is part of their party discipline, particularly Shahril (from Umno).

“I think he tried his best to sell a really bad product and he was doing his best,” said Teoh.

Engineer Shazmin Ghazali, 36, who lives in Pantai Dalam, said Shahril from Umno was impressive as a thinker and speaker, but this did not change his view about the ruling party.

“My view on Umno has not really changed. I still believe that reform can only happen if BN becomes the opposition,” said Shazmin.

Strategy executive, Alia Astaman, 25, from Bangsar, said Shahril did his best to relate to the urban crowd, but his affiliation with Umno also made it difficult for him.

“I think he is capable of becoming a leader in Umno if he can find enough people who think like him and who are progressive like him. Then he can go somewhere. Otherwise – we’ve seen this happen before – young, bright politicians just end up toeing the line when they go up the ranks.

“(Shahril himself) said you have to toe the party line. As soon as you say that, you are admitting that your integrity is compromised. You have already accepted that these are the rules of the game and you have to play the game to win the game. So, I think it was a bit disappointing,” Alia said.

Like Shazmin, Alia also said a change in federal government was due.

“As Wan Saiful said, until we can (change) government at least once, democracy is not complete because we are always afraid of first-time change,” she said. – March 27, 2018.

First published for The Malaysian Insight , 27 March 2018

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RUN-UP TO GE14: What does the Cambridge Analytica exposé mean for GE14?

RUN-UP TO GE14: What does the Cambridge Analytica exposé mean for GE14?

THE big question being asked in the US and globally today is whether Facebook should be blamed for a data breach that allowed Cambridge Analytica (CA) to harvest 50 million user profiles to help the Trump campaign.

With the UK data analytics firm confessing in an exposé by Britain’s Channel 4 News that it has also done work elsewhere in the world, including Malaysia, the big question here should be how are big data analytics being used in our upcoming general election?

But first, what did or did not happen in the last general election in May 2013?

Following the expose last Tuesday, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) deputy chairman of strategy and policy Wan Saiful Wan Jan pounced on the issue, calling on the prime minister to “come clean” on whether Barisan Nasional (BN) had used the data firm’s services in the 13th general election (GE13).

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has denied any involvement with CA, turning the tables on PPBM instead, saying it was the party’s deputy president who had engaged with the firm in GE13 when he was in Umno.

The PPBM deputy president is Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir. He was much credited for BN regaining control of Kedah from PAS in 2013 and was made menteri besar — a post he held until 2016 when he resigned following a “mutiny” by Kedah Umno leaders against him.

The PMO is not alone in making denials.

Mukhriz has denied that he had used CA and called the PMO’s statement “misleading” and an “attempt to divert attention from the possible use of illegal campaign tactics as admitted by CA for BN”.

The PMO, however, claimed that a representative of SCL Group — the parent company of CA — “confirmed to the government that the CA’s advice on GE13 was provided personally to Mukhriz” and that the representative “reported directly to Mukhriz”.

The PMO did not name the representative.

The SCL Group Southeast Asia head is Azrin Zizal, who is known to be an Umno member. It cannot be ascertained if he is still a member.

Azrin has been keeping a low profile since the CA operations were exposed by Britain’s Channel 4. Until a few days ago that is.

Azrin has now decided to come out in the open and accused Mukhriz of “lying”.

He issued a statement: “Mukhriz said CA worked for BN this again is not true”. The 2013 election advice for Kedah “was provided to Mukhriz personally”. He added that “at no time has CA or its parent SCL Group ever worked for or been paid by BN or any part of the government of Malaysia.”

Azrin’s statement is in tune with that of the PMO.

Mukhriz is sticking to his earlier statement and has accused Azrin of “clearly lying” and “his claims that BN’s win in Kedah and my subsequent appointment as MB was all his doing is absolutely delusional”. He, however, admitted that he knew Azrin who had served with him when he was deputy international trade and industry minister.

Mukhriz was also quoted by Malaysiakini as saying that Azrin “should be reminded that it was CA themselves who claimed in their website that they helped Kedah BN. I never admitted to knowing anything about it.”

For the record, PPBM president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who was deputy prime minister and deputy Umno president at the time of GE13, has also denied that BN had anything to do with CA.

“I was the BN election director then, and we never heard anything about it,” he said in an interview with The Edge last week.

Adding to the list of denials, Petronas has come out to deny a claim that it paid over US$2 million (RM7.82 million) to CA on behalf of the federal government to influence voters in swing constituencies in Sarawak and Sabah.

The national oil company issued the denial last Wednesday in response to an article on the Sarawak Report news portal on March 20, which claimed that Petronas was used as a front to channel the money to SCL Group in 2014.

Apart from the SCL Group representative who “opened up” to the PMO, CA itself had also trumpeted its “expertise” for Kedah BN via its website.

But there are a number of doubters who wonder whether CA had actually done work in Kedah.

Among them is Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani of Universiti Utara Malaysia, who told The Malaysian Insight he believed the CA’s methods of using data and profiles of social media users to craft election messages would not be relevant in a state like Kedah, which is mostly rural.

He was quoted as saying CA’s methods would have had more impact on urban voters, and pointed out that the more urban seats in Kedah, such as Alor Setar and Sungai Petani, were won by the opposition. Hence, “I doubt CA was really involved in the election in Kedah”.

So, was CA merely boasting?

One thing is for sure: CA has the capability to access personal data and work “wonders” with it.

Like targeted marketing, for example, involving a bombardment of specially crafted messages for different groups of people. For political purposes, this can be used for moulding voters to vote for a particular candidate or party (read: its paymaster).

The firm can send targeted ads based on survey behaviour and online profiles. This includes content which might be fake.

That was how The Straits Times of Singapore described it in reporting on the recent public hearings by the parliamentary Select Committee for Deliberate Online Falsehoods.

Dr Shashi Jayakumar of the Rajaratnam School of International Studies, speaking before the committee, labelled CA as a “hired gun” that now “has a presence in polls-bound Malaysia where it is thought to be hired by people involved in the coming elections”.

Putting GE13 aside and whether CA was involved in Kedah or anywhere else in Malaysia, analysts do not see the controversy having a big impact on political parties in GE14, save for providing opportunities for leaders on both sides of the political divide to hit out at each other to gain some political mileage.

So it is GE14 we should be worried about. Will CA or anybody else with its kind of abilities be employed by political parties to sway voters’ decisions in their favour?

Who will monitor the situation and ensure that does not take place?

Already, our elections have been accused of not being “fair and clean”, what with the disputed voters’ roll and redelineation exercise, among other things.

This election will be most closely scrutinised. That’s a given.

Is the Election Commission up to dealing with a massive problem created by sophisticated technology in the frightening event that it really comes into play? — The Edge Malaysia

First published for The Edge Malaysia , 26 March 2018

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Wan Saiful: Najib must explain if he manipulated GE13 and assure Malaysians he will not use manipulative tactics in GE14

Wan Saiful: Najib must explain if he manipulated GE13 and assure Malaysians he will not use manipulative tactics in GE14

*MEDIA STATEMENT BY WAN SAIFUL WAN JAN, DEPUTY CHAIRMAN STRATEGY AND POLICY, PPBM*

20 March 2018

*Najib must explain if he manipulated GE13 and assure Malaysians he will not use manipulative tactics in GE14*

Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak must explain if he used Cambridge Analytica to manipulate voters in GE13 and whether he is using unethical manipulation techniques in the upcoming GE14.

Cambridge Analytica claims on their website that they helped Najib win GE13. The website of CA Political, a company related to Cambridge Analytica, says they “supported Barisan Nasional (BN) in Kedah State with a targeted messaging campaign highlighting their school improvements since 2008. Barisan Nasional won Kedah back from Pakatan Rakyat in the 13th General Election and walked away from a successful campaign. With wins in 21 out of 36 state seats and 10 out of the 15 parliamentary seats in the state, BN enjoyed a landslide victory.”
(see https://ca-political.com/casestudies/casestudymalaysia2008)

Cambridge Analytica is a company mired in scandal for alleged unethical manipulation of personal data for electoral gains. They have been accused of extracting the personal data of up to 50 million Facebook users without consent, for use in the American presidential campaign to help Donald Trump by targeting adverts to specific users in a manipulative way, exploiting their “inner demons”.
(see http://bit.ly/2pn9wjA)

Cambridge Analytica’s investor include Robert Mercer, a billionaire known for his financial contribution to Donald Trump’s right-wing campaign and other American right-wing organisations. Steve Bannon, a former key adviser to Trump and a person notorious for his right-wing views, was on the Board of the company.
(see https://ind.pn/2pl5vvW)

I was shocked to learn about the relationship between Najib’s campaign with Cambridge Analytica. This raises a question in me, on whether Najib and UMNO used tactics similar to the American notorious right-wing movements and people like Steve Bannon. Electoral manipulation is grossly unethical and detrimental to our parliamentary democracy. I hope that Najib did not intentionally bring Cambridge Analytica into Malaysia to exploit racial sentiments and create racial divide here, for his short term political benefits.

As head of the GE13 election observation team that was appointed and accredited by the Election Commission of Malaysia, I witnessed how the environment was set up to favour UMNO and Barisan Nasional. Following inputs from the 300 observers I had on the ground, I concluded that GE13 was only partially free and not fair because of how the environment was conditioned way before polling day itself. Now, this revelation about Najib and UMNO’s involvement with Cambridge Analytica makes a most worrying read.

Najib should immediately explain how much was paid to Cambridge Analytica in GE13 and what was the exact nature of their work for UMNO. More importantly, no matter how desperate Najib is to stay in power, he must not resort to divisive and unethical tactics of manipulating right-wing and ethnoreligious sentiments in Malaysia. Do not let your desperation to stay in power destroy the future of this country and our parliamentary democracy.

For more statements from Wan Saiful, please see www.facebook.com/wansaifulwanjan

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Do you even understand Unicef report, Wan Saiful asks Mahdzir

Do you even understand Unicef report, Wan Saiful asks Mahdzir

He says the education minister’s response is typical of how the federal government reacts to problems faced by people.

UALA LUMPUR: PPBM has slammed Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid for hitting out at a United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) report which compared malnutrition and stunted growth among children in low-cost flats in Kuala Lumpur with the situation in Ghana.

The party’s deputy chairman of strategy and policy bureau, Wan Saiful Wan Jan, said Mahdzir’s reaction to the report was typical of how the federal government reacted to problems faced by the people.

“When a minister in charge of our children’s education denies the findings of independent research by international bodies like Unicef, then we have a problem.

“It is unbelievable that he merely denies the findings using the excuse that his ministry had never received any report from teachers about the problem,” Wan Saiful said in a statement.

The Unicef study on urban child poverty and deprivation had revealed that the prevalence of underweight and stunted children, aged below five, living in low-cost flats in the capital was double the city’s average. It also said the number of overweight children was six times higher.

The study also found children were suffering from wasting — a gradual decrease of the body’s weight, resulting in a person becoming thinner than normal.

The report also noted a high occurrence of obesity, even when compared to countries with the same level of economic wealth as Malaysia.

“For instance, nearly 13% of our children, aged five to 19, are obese, higher than Hungary (11%), Turkey (10%) and Poland (9%).

“In terms of stunting, Malaysian children are worse than Ghana, despite Malaysia’s GDP per capita being six times higher,” the report said.

Following a question from Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar in the Dewan Rakyat, Mahdzir had said there had been no reports from teachers about students going hungry in schools.

“I don’t know how Unicef could come out with such a report and compare us with Ghana. We can see ourselves that there are no children who are malnourished or have stunted growth.

“This is because we have the supplementary food programme that provides for students in need, in both rural and urban schools.

“We also carry out surveys and so far have not found any students going hungry. No such cases have been reported by teachers,” he had said.

Wan Saiful asked Mahdzir if he had even tried to understand the report’s findings.

“About 97% of households surveyed said that high food prices prevented them from preparing healthy meals for their children and over 50% of households did not have enough money to buy food in recent months.

“This means the government’s ‘supplementary food programme’ is neither effective nor complete. Lack of nutrition goes beyond the school meal programme.

“The findings furthermore point to the biggest problem of cost of living and low salaries as parents cannot afford to even buy healthy food for their children even if they wanted to,” said Wan Saiful.

He said Pakatan Harapan (PH), in its manifesto, aimed to introduce a social safety net, with a particular focus in providing targeted assistance to the B40 lower-income group as well as ensuring that basic food and nutritional needs are met.

“We acknowledge the problem rather than deny it as we are committed to providing solutions,” Wan Saiful added.

First published for Free Malaysia Today , 15 March 2018
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Wan Saiful: PAS not fighting evil anymore

Wan Saiful: PAS not fighting evil anymore

PETALING JAYA: PPBM’s new strategist, Wan Saiful Wan Jan, has accused PAS of deviating from its purpose of promoting good and preventing evil.

Speaking to FMT, he said PAS’ softening of its opposition to Umno was one indication that it was no longer imbued with the Islamic spirit of “enjoining the good and forbidding iniquity”.

“I think PAS has forgotten the essence of ‘amr bi al-ma’ruf wa-nahy an al-munkar’ and I hope it will find it back,” he said.

Wan Saiful was, until recently, a life member of the Islamist party. He is now PPBM’s deputy chairman for strategy and policy.

He once openly criticised PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang for his alleged failure to ensure that the party remains strong in Malaysian politics. But he told FMT that was not the reason he left PAS. Instead, he said, he began feeling he no longer belonged in the party when he noticed that “progressives” were losing their space in it.

At the 2015 PAS muktamar, progressive leaders in PAS were all but wiped out in party elections and subsequently left the party to form Amanah.

Wan Saiful, who previously headed the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, a liberal think tank, said some people were still having trouble coping with his decision last month to join the Malay-based PPBM.

“We need to have a healthy discussion on discarding race-based parties,” he said. “This is not yet the right time because the moment we talk about ethnicity and religion, Umno leaders will immediately say we are trying to remove special privileges.”

The immediate priority, he said, was to get Malaysia back on track.

“Getting the country back on the right track is why I decided to become politically active again. I chose PPBM because it’s the perfect platform from which I can reach the Malays.”

He said the Malays needed to be convinced that institutional reform would be good for them, as would improvements in education, healthcare and governance.

“The Malays are conditioned to believe that any change is detrimental to them,” he said. “The narrative from Umno is that the Malays will go astray without Umno. The Malays should be more confident than that. They existed before Umno. Umno is a vehicle and even without Umno we can progress.”

Wan Saiful also spoke on the goods and services tax (GST), which Pakatan Harapan (PH) plans to abolish if it wins GE14, saying he hadn’t changed his mind about its desirability.

“I have always been consistent on the GST. I really love it as it forces the government to be more accountable. For once, citizens are demanding accountability.”

He said the introduction of a consumption tax like GST should be made in parallel with a reduction in personal and corporate tax and with the idea of making the government more efficient.

However, he added, the government was still losing money.

“We have come to this situation because of the Umno-led administration’s failure to manage the introduction of GST properly.

“The time has come to think of abolishing it. The promise made by PH comes after listening to the people speak of their needs. The priority is to help the people.

“So whatever my ideals are, I have to recognise the fact that people are suffering. I cannot be selfish and think only of what I want when millions want something else.”

Wan Saiful once said the government should not allow former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s political interference to get in its way of administering the country.

So how does he feel about being a member of Mahathir’s party?

“It is sad when someone who is supposed to enjoy retirement is forced to come out of retirement to save the country,” he said.

“Why is he coming back to take the brickbats? He doesn’t have to. With someone like Mahathir coming out of retirement to do the things he’s doing, it’s embarrassing for people like me not to step up and follow in his steps.”

He said he wouldn’t want to fall into Umno’s trap of focusing on Mahathir’s past to the point of forgetting about the serious problems the country was facing. These problems, he added, were so great that a retired statesman had to come back to solve them.

“We should focus on solving today’s problems and preparing the country for the future,” he said. “Many are fixated on Mahathir’s record. I think I will let them continue doing that while I am more keen to focus on what will happen in the future.”

First published for Free Malaysia Today, 14 March 2018
Click here for original source

Wan Saiful hits out at Bung Moktar for linking obesity to prosperity

Wan Saiful hits out at Bung Moktar for linking obesity to prosperity

KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 — Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) strategy and policy deputy chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan hit out at Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Moktar Radin today over his statement that the high obesity rate in the country was due to economic prosperity.

In a statement on his Facebook page, Wan Saiful said Bung Moktar and other Umno MPs were “lacking in class and intellect”.

“His remark that Malaysians are fat and therefore prosperous is simply ridiculous and shows how detached Umno has become from the hardship faced by common people like you and me,” he said.

Wan Saiful said Malaysia, labelled the fattest country in Asia, was currently facing a major health crisis that was straining its resources.

“More importantly, the World Health Organisation’s report pointed out (the) issue of malnutrition amongst children. As an MP, he should ask himself why this is happening, instead of making ridiculous statements like this.

“The report indicates that Malaysians do not have access to healthy and wholesome food. This forces them to resort to unhealthy, convenient food that are not nutritious”, he added.

Wan Saiful also took a swipe at the dietary options available to top Umno politicians over their consumption of expensive food items, which he claimed was out of reach for most Malaysians.

“Bung Moktar needs to spend some time walking in the shoes of the rakyat instead of shooting off his mouth and making a mockery of parliament. We need better people in parliament,” he said.

Bung Moktar’s statement was in response to Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s comment that that the rakyat was suffering.

“The Opposition leader says that many do not have the opportunity to work and lack a healthy diet ― but I think this is fake news.

“There is no such thing. What I see is that our nation is blessed with abundance of food,” Bung Moktar said when debating the motion of thanks on the Royal Address in the Dewan Rakyat today.