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Najib or Anwar?

IN light of the recent Bersih 2.0 demonstrations, and the unjustified crackdown by the authorities, one may be forgiven if one were to be carried away in denouncing the current administration. They handled the demonstrations in an appalling manner, both in the run-up to the actual day and on the day itself. The conduct of the administration is shameful, arrogant, and senseless. The lies that are spewed to cover up the very public acts of violence add insult to injury.

In contrast, the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has cleverly stepped in to support Bersih 2.0. It cannot be denied that Bersih 2.0’s demands, which promote fair play and a level playing field during elections, would end up favouring the federal opposition. And except for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s gaffe in claiming that he could call off the demonstrations, the PR has generally allowed civil society to take the lead in this movement.

The dramatic unfolding of events on 9 July 2011, as broadcast to the world through social media, YouTube and international media, may lead one to conclude that clearly the PR is the better choice for the next elections. However, there is one major obstacle, to my mind: Anwar.

For all intents and purposes, and subject to the court’s verdict in Anwar’s sodomy trial, Anwar is the person put forward by the PR as Prime Minister designate. But is Anwar in reality a better candidate than Datuk Seri Najib Razak to be PM of Malaysia? With respect, I cannot at this juncture respond with a resounding “yes”.

Points for Najib

Grudgingly, I must admit that Najib has made some good moves as PM. The 1Malaysia campaign stands out as an extremely clever move. Yes, 1Malaysia means different things to different groups, but isn’t that part and parcel of the art of politics? And while many may belittle this campaign as nothing but empty talk, I beg to differ. As a practising lawyer, I have observed in the past couple of years an increase in the recruitment of non-Malay Malaysian personnel in the courts. Of course, this is anecdotal evidence, but the observation must be recorded.

Idris Jala (Pic by Joe Faizal @ Flickr)

Idris Jala (Pic by Joe Faizal @ Flickr)

The appointment of Datuk Sri Idris Jala to the cabinet is another outstanding feather in Najib’s cap. Idris comes with excellent credentials, and an enviable track record. I feel safe for Malaysia that someone like Idris is taking a hard look at the state of the Malaysian economy. I am comforted when Idris announces that Malaysia may potentially go bankrupt, because it tells me that at the very least, the authorities know the dire straits we are in. I would be much more alarmed if the authorities keep on insisting that Malaysia is on a fine growth track, and we are poised to be the next Asian economic powerhouse.

Najib has also eased much of the tension between Malaysia and Singapore, and that too is a good thing. Really, we have got to stop the rivalry between our two countries. Singapore can be very beneficial for Malaysia, and Singapore can gain much from cooperating with Malaysia as well. We have got avenues to strike win-win collaborations. Twenty years of demonising Singapore under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s rule is enough. It’s time to move on.

Here’s another reason why I like Najib. He appears to be a man of the world. He does not pretend to be overly religious, or cite the scriptures wantonly. I don’t know him personally, but I suspect that he may have a quiet sip of Chardonnay on some nights. In Malaysia, there are so many politicians who want to claim the moral high ground, either by asserting religious or racial rights. That makes me exhausted. Sure, there would be occasions when Najib, too, would have to play to the gallery. But I imagine our PM is not reading books on political philosophy during his free time. One could imagine him sitting down on a quiet Sunday afternoon with his family watching The Simpsons, and actually appreciating the show.

Points against Anwar

In contrast, Anwar may speak much about unity, but he can never fully explain away his years in the Mahathir administration. Yes, imprisonment (usually referred to by Anwar as “solitary confinement”) can change a person. Nevertheless, I do not buy Anwar’s story of solitary confinement. I imagine the Malaysian prison to be a crowded and unpleasant place, and I imagine that Anwar was given his own cell due to his previous high position. Hence, what he touts as “solitary confinement”, I suspect to be a benefit accorded to him by the prison authorities.

Anwar promotes populist economic policies. He claims that the eradication of corruption would be sufficient to maintain subsidies for the Malaysian economy. I think this is a muddied approach. Yes, we need to install a social net for the poorest of the poor. But why should money saved from the eradication of corruption go towards maintaining subsidies? Why should the subsidy mentality be maintained?

Anwar was in the forefront of the fight to restore the use of Malay language in the teaching of Mathematics and Science. That is subjecting our education system to politics, and that is irresponsible. We are in a global village, and English is the lingua franca. Perhaps the policy to use English could have been better thought out. Perhaps there could be a dual system. And perhaps some schools may be given a choice. Anwar did not discuss any of these options. It appears as if he sensed an opportunity to score some brownie points with the populace, and he took the opportunity. Opportunists do not make great statespersons.

And finally, I sometimes cannot understand Anwar when he launches into his intellectual mode. An old proverb says, “When words are many, sin is not absent.” Have you heard Anwar when he tries to assert his intellectualism? Sure, bombastic words sound impressive. And when someone quotes multiple sources, he or she sounds credible. But in doing so, he or she forgets that 93% of communication comes from non-verbal cues. To me, in Anwar’s case, his words get so much in the way that I cannot sense his heart. And that makes me have reservations about him.

So what is the impact of Bersih 2.0? It has shown me that I have no credible choice in the next general election.


Chan Kheng Hoe thinks the right to vote is illusory when one is offered the choice between the devil and the deep blue sea.

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110 Responses to “Najib or Anwar?”

  1. abc says:

    Mr Chan,

    You can write and talk as much as you want, but please don’t put it up here to torture people.

    Thank you for your attention.

  2. BennyG says:

    […] You only care about individual and do not have any concern with the corruption and the inefficiencies caused by chronic cronyism. Malaysia would [go] down the drain. […]

    • Chan Kheng Hoe says:

      @BennyG: Corruption and inefficiencies are not monopolized by UMNO/BN alone.

      • BennyG says:

        Ha..ha…ha…please share with us the damage done by others and we will compare it to BN/Umno. For me, get rid of the biggest contributor and we tackle the small potatoes later on.

    • ahmad says:

      Dear Benny,

      While I agree that we are struggling with corruption, I submit that the freefall slide of our country is arrested by recent government effort as well as tying a KPI to corruption perception index.

      In 2008, our CPI was 5.1
      In 2009, our CPI free fall to 4.5
      In 2010, our CPI free fall movement is arrested and move slightly down to 4.4

      I am keeping an eye on our CPI for 2011.

      • BennyG says:

        If anyone still believe in government statistics/news, I would like to find out more about why the trust is still there unless that person is intentionally trying to project a positive image of the government.

        • ahmad says:

          Dear Benny,

          Please read the article again, and you will find the the source of the statistics is from Transparency International. To verify, just Google “Malaysia corruption index”.

      • max says:

        In 2008, our CPI was 5.1
        In 2009, our CPI free fell to 4.5.
        In 2010, our CPI free fall movement was arrested and moved slightly down to 4.4.

        Now that four (five?) states (Kelantan, Perlis, Penang, Selangor, ex-Perak) – especially the two major economic contributing states, Selangor and Penang – are in the PR’s hands, could this factor have contributed to the CPI reduction?

  3. Daniel says:

    Firstly, I would like to say that these are valid points, but that the article is skewed. If you were to switch the topic around, namely Points for Anwar and Points against Najib, I reckon this article would be much much longer. All it tells us is that no human is perfect, regardless of whether Anwar or Najib is better, there are two truths at hand. 1, that the people are fed up with the Najib administration and 2, that be it for better or worse, the Anwar administration will be different. If you are in a hole, wouldn’t you get out of it too even if there was a chance of falling into a deeper hole? Either way, if the Anwar administration proves to be worse, the populace always has the option to vote for BN again. This is the best system for the people, with 2 parties vying for power, as absolute powers are always followed by complacency. In a nutshell, it isn’t about a change from BN to PKR, it is about a change from a 1 party system to a 2 party system.

    • Farris Rashly says:

      A very refreshing view on things, I must say. It’s kinda rare to find such an attempt on political analysis so close to being balanced. Many more points for and against could’ve been included, though, to satisfy the biased people who champion their respective politicians or parties.

      Maybe even something more complete, like having a “Points For” and “Points Against” for both candidates in this context would shut the cynics up for once, and let them realise the bitter truth they have to cope with: Blowing out one’s candle is not going to make yours shine any brighter.

      • Andrew I says:

        Close to being balanced, yet you acknowledge the need for it to be expanded. Hello, aren’t you contradicting yourself here?

        If you find this view refreshing, it’s old news by msm standards. Pick up a copy anytime, any day. You’ll never find them blowing out someone’s candle to make someone else’s shine any brighter.

        • Farris Rashly says:

          Yes, close to being balanced, but of course I can’t say it’s perfect, hence the need to expand it. No contradiction there.

          Yes, I find the view refreshing. I see a lot of negativity in the blogosphere nowadays, it’s always about putting down someone and championing another, never about discussing opinions subtly.

          I’m sorry for being daft, but may I know what “MSM” is? At least I can justify your points by knowing what you speak of.

    • ahmad says:


      While I respect that you are fed up with Najib, please kindly refrain from extrapolating your frustration to include other people.

      There are Malaysians who acknowledge BN’s problems but feel content to let Najib lead Malaysia one more term to let his programmes (NKRA/GTP/etc) be tested. This is especially in light of perceived absence of credible choice.

      BN has history of pragmatism and ability to respond to people’s demands. I just finished reading Lim Kit Siang’s book, The Right to Differ. It seemed that Chinese demands for more language/education rights were accepted after the election in 1990.

      Do not brush aside any Malaysian that does not share your view, as everyone has the right to contemplate, reflect, and come to his or her own conclusion as to the best choice out of this mess.

  4. Farouq Omaro says:

    Not overly religious?????????

  5. Meng says:

    The writer totally ignores Najib’s crazy actions and tries to [portray] Najib as good person. I don’t trust this writer. On the other hand, he points out Anwar’s weaknesses, which are not important matters. If he [had written about the bad things Anwar had done in Umno], I would trust him more. [Or the many things wrong in the Pakatan Rakyat that Anwar doesn’t care about.] But nothing like that. […]

  6. noname says:

    Funny you mentioned all the skeletons of Anwar’s past but none of Najib’s past…. what about his Umno Youth days?

    • Tim Law says:

      Correct, correct, correct. Why didn’t you mention Najib’s association with “that Mongolian lady” whose name is not to be uttered, the submarines which can’t submerge, and plenty of other his-stories?

      • Chan Kheng Hoe says:

        @noname & Tim Law: Anwar’s attempt to hijack Bersih, (proposed) populist economic policies and push for use of Malay in teaching Science and Mathematics are very much things of the present, not of the past. Najib’s association with Altantuya, on the other hand, is unproven at best.

        • julian says:

          Unproven at best? Is that the best you can do? I’m surprised you can say that. Did you follow the Altantuya court proceedings and how we have made a mockery of ourselves? if you need to know how flawed the case was, I can direct you to the relevant resources.

        • Mongolia says:

          Najib’s association with Altantuya us unproven at best, you say.

          You can thank the strange way the murder case was handled by the court for that! The whole circus appears to have been rigged so that certain names wouldn’t come spilling out.

          It is by far the only murder case in the history of the country that has no motive established for the murder.

          Mr Chan, you sound more like an apologist for Najib.

  7. Chie Ngu says:

    You are entitled to your opinion but please be aware of the dire situation that the country faces should the current government be allowed to continue. We need a CHANGE as clearly the current government cannot change itself. All the slogans are just a mirage to disguise their actions. The country is going bankrupt, not because of the the populist policies but the deception of a few. Comparing corruption to populist policies, I would rather have the latter. No government that is corrupt will ever survive!

    • m.k. says:

      Spot on! Mr Chan’s article appears to be a public-relations exercise for someone who walked in by the back door carrying very heavy baggage, and whose popularity has yet to be tested.

  8. HC says:

    I agree with you Daniel:

    “…if the Anwar administration proves to be worse, the populace always has the option to vote for BN again. This is the best system for the people, with 2 parties vying for power, as absolute powers are always followed by complacency…”

    We rakyat want to have the option of getting rid of an incompetent and corrupt government, regardless of who they are.

    I am sick and tired of many people, especially those Malaysians of Chinese decent, who keep saying, “Aiyah, what can you do, it’s like that one lah.”

  9. Raymond says:

    It is not Najib vs Anwar, it is Najib (BN) vs a NEW GOVERNMENT, whether it is Anwar or Subramanium as PM. We need a new government simply because the old one is rotten with corruption. The whole system need a change. Your article is totally irrelevant and you don’t seem to understand [the issues] unless you have been commissioned to write this for a purpose. Questioning the past? [Do you not remember] the C4, the Scorpene? 1Malaysia a good move by Najib? And the clamping down on Bersih? Arresting 1,600? His chance of showing 1Malaysia was blown and he showed his true colors on [7 July]. […]

  10. ahmad says:

    I fully agree with KH Chan’s observation above. Politics by nature is muddled, but we have to try to make sense out of it. In my observation, Anwar is a chameleon. He can be a staunch Islamist, a warrior for humanism, proponent of liberals or whatever, depending on his audience. Such an unprincipled politician is dangerous to say the least.

    I agree with Daniel on the need for a two-party system, but I must warn against including PAS in the deal. PAS has always and will always been consistent in their struggle for an Islamic state. According to Jeffrey Lang, an American Muslim, the nature of Muslim society is there is tendency for the extremist to gain ground support. Malaysia is blessed with substantial non-Muslims that act as a counter balance to extremism. Currently we have probably 30% Muslims that are fanatical for the establishment of an Islamic state; 30% on the fence; and 30% that agree to interpretation of the establishment which is most tolerant and progressive compared to other Islamic countries. This leaves 10% who perhaps believe in supremacy of humanism and social justice, but realistically these are few in number and hardly make a dent in Malaysian Muslim public opinion.

    What would happen if the PR comes into power? PKR is structurally weak, and Anwar has his problems, as everybody knows. Furthermore there is lack of support among Malay Muslims for ideals of humanism and social justice – the foundation of PKR. So PKR will lose its prominence in PR very soon. This leave the stage for DAP and PAS.

    DAP represent the minority. PAS, left unchecked, will grow its support from the on-the-fence Muslim, and in the medium term will grow into a strong fundamentalist Muslim party, as per Lang’s observation above. Once that happen, Malaysia will transform from a moderate to fundamentalist Islamic nation. Please read Syed Akbar Ali’s books to understand the ramifications.

    So dear Malaysians, sadly but surely we have to choose between lesser evils here.

    • BennyG says:

      Since the dawn of the internet, I have chosen PAS rather than the moderates of Umno who are full of corruption and cronyism. One thing to note is Umno does not even have one third of the total seats… what makes you think that PAS will have more than two thirds of the total seats, which are required to change the constitution (as Umno has manipulated over the years)?

      • ahmad says:

        Dear BennyG,

        PAS has no corruption because they are not yet in full power. In Kelantan the appointment of Ariffahmi, son in law of the MB, to an important post is an example of cronyism. Please look at Saudi, Pakistan, Sudan and Iran, countries that have greatest semblance to the Islamic State concept proposed by PAS. Are they free of corruption, or they are actually heavily saddled with corruption?

        If we look objectively at the power structure in PAS, we will see that power is concentrated on the top two, the president and mursyidul am. Part of their power – and increasingly so – is derived from their religious aura, and you can easily see that these two can justify any issue with al-Quran and hadith without meaningful opposition from its members. I am worried that the two are becoming mullahs, where their words are considered sacred and law. No prize for guessing the kind of corruption that will happen when such [people] come into power.

        • ahmad says:

          With regard to the seats, yes, I agree that it may not happen post GE13. I am actually talking of medium/long term. What will happen in Malaysia 10-15 years down the road? When PKR become a spent force due to Anwar’s problems and lack of grassroots Malay support? What if PAS insists on its interpretation of official state Islamic policy and does not allow other interpretation to be preached to the mainstream Malay/Muslims? Non-Muslims can’t say that this is not their problem as long as they have properties/shares/stakes in this country. Think of the value if such a scenario were to happen.

          The only way to check against this is to insist that PAS’s highest officials sign an agreement that they will fully respect freedom of speech for all Muslims, regardless of their chosen school of thought or interpretation of religion.

          • AntiReza says:

            I completely agree with Ahmad’s observation. PAS is being used by the opposition coalition just to act as a springboard to gain national exposure. However, they don’t realise the dangerous game they play. PAS by its very nature is not for the democratic politics that we see in modern society. They will always have a supremacist ideology and will force the other religions to pay extra taxes. This is their principle, and no amount of logic or political haggling will convince them otherwise once they attain power.

            Their goal is total domination, not shared control.

    • EH says:

      Let’s say what you fear actually happens – PKR and PAS team up and become very fundamentalist. Are you saying you would rather have a corrupt government that doesn’t really care for its citizens but knows how to put up a good show and keep us imprisoned with the ISA, OSA, SA and PPA and rape and destroy the nation? The question must be how fundamental they will become and how much will they impose their fundamentalism on its citizens? And what safeguards can we put in place so that fundamental liberties will be maintained? It need not be “either/or”. We ought to ask PKR and PAS now how fundamental they will become, and what safeguards they can now agree upon and put in place before we go into the next GE.

      • ahmad says:

        Dear EH,

        What you are proposing is exactly what I have in mind, namely PAS must unequivocally renounce their ties with the romantic idea of Islamic state/hudud etc. And PAS must do it now, before GE13.

        PAS must issue a white paper or written press statement that they will not force their interpretation of Islam upon non-Muslims as well as Muslims – actually more so to Muslims because ultimately Muslims will suffer most under their current narrow view.

        By officially moving to the centre, PAS will become credible enough to lead Malays as alternative to Umno. Please bear in mind that large resistance to PAS is actually from Malays who feel that PAS’s brand of Islam infringes on their chosen way of life. This group may not agreeable to the long list that you mentioned, namely ISA, OSA SA and PPA, yet realise that PAS will only bring more restrictions to their lives. DAP can lead other races with ease as it has been doing all these years.

        Having said that, can PAS change? This is an important question that deserves scrutiny.

  11. Cninese Voter says:

    The question is not whether Anwar is a better choice than Najib. It is who can do worse than Najib. This is the guy who wanted to bathe his keris with fellow Malaysian Chinese citizens’ blood. He also asked a silat group to attack Bersih protesters and threatened to unleash one million Umno thugs to cause chaos in the country. He calls Ambiga anti-Islam without any basis and knowing that it is totally false. […] If one bothers, you will find that this PM says different things to the various racial groups, always making demagogic speeches at Umno meetings. The best test of whether he is qualified to be PM is to ask the question whether any major company in the private sector would hire him in a senior management position. I can safely say none. This applies to the whole top echelon of four or five Umno ministers, too. They have never worked a real job throughout their lives.

  12. Philip Khoo says:

    Isn’t this all a little one-sided? Sure, Anwar has his baggage from his Umno days; doesn’t Najib? One remarkable fact: after 13 years, it appears that all Umno and its supporters can throw at him is sex and sodomy. I had assumed that Anwar would be as guilty as any of them in corruption and money politics; I’m still waiting. For instance, I’d assumed that Anwar had a hand in deposing the PBS government in Sabah back in 1995. I was surprised that Joseph Pairin, in rubbishing the idea that Baru Bian would be allowed to become Sarawak CM, mentioned all sorts of things, but not this.

    More surprising is that this opinion piece did not see fit to mention the Majlis Penerangan Perdana. For all the 1Malaysia, Najib did not even see fit to include the BN: it was Umno, Umno-affiliated NGOs and the Silat groups. It almost appears that while the father created the BN, the son has retreated back into Umno and Umno alone. Indeed, his speech almost sounded like a declaration of war upon the nation: “We will conquer KL”, “We will see who owns this country”. One would have thought that the country belongs to the people, not any political party or group of people.

    As for subsidies, every country in the world has subsidies, whether it’s health, education, agriculture, transportation, broadcasting (BBC), the arts, etc. For instance, some 75% of college students in the US are in public colleges, with subsidised tuition. The US and Europe subsidise agriculture. Norway doesn’t subsidise petrol prices, but it provides cheap and extensive public transport, a state pension, virtually free healthcare, etc. But, to my knowledge, none subsidise privatised infrastructure, such as highways (so if they don’t get the volume, they are paid!), power generation (TNB buys all they can produce whether it’s needed or not!), etc. The question is subsidies for what and to whom.

    Finally, the question isn’t who, but what. What will be best to rebuild the country’s broken institutions? Keep BN?

  13. A Malaysian Citizen says:

    Yes, Malaysians have a difficult choice ahead of them. However, what we are seeing more and more these days is the growing political maturity of the rakyat – if not of the wakil rakyat, on BOTH sides.

    Whatever decision we make, the only thing Malaysians are asking for – on BOTH/ALL sides – is for the electoral process to be as free and fair as possible. If nothing else, this would acknowledge and respect the difficult choices we have ahead of us.

    This is just my personal opinion, of course. But I feel that whatever choice I make come GE13, I would hope that a little respect would be accorded to me, and others like me (ie, Malaysian citizens), in acknowledgement of the depths of thought and consideration we each go through as individuals to make our decision.

    I’m not a fan of either Anwar or Najib, but the GE13 is not about them. It’s about us. Whatever party or individual you support, wouldn’t you want that choice to be respected? A grudging acceptance of people’s choices is one thing, but hateful accusations and name-calling is immature and uncalled for. And this applies to BOTH sides of the political divide.

  14. a is for orange says:

    I think you need to write “Najib or Anwar” part 2. At least you would not sound so biased towards any party or individual. Your article sounds like an orange is juicier than an apple, but you forget to tell us that we can eat the apple with its skin but not the orange. Perhaps part 2 could elaborate more on point for Anwar and points against Najib. Otherwise change your title to “Why Najib and not Anwar”, lest people, like I, are misled. Anyway, thanks for the article.

  15. Loh says:

    I believe the issue is not about Najib or Anwar. It’s beyond both of them. Ahmand had made a very valid point here. How do we know which is of lesser evil until we see both of them in action? We have experienced the current evil for five decades, and they are not repenting but getting worse. This leave us with no choice but to riskily take the other option.

    With another party at the helm, there would be a many reversals of policy or business alignments. Even without going on a witch hunt, I believe there are enough policies to be reviewed. Look what Selangor has done. And this is only a state government, which has their hands tied when it comes to some matters due to Federal Government policy.

    Having a change of hand in the government may not be bad. Rather, it could help improve check and balance, which is very lacking now.

    Talking about extremism, I used to have the viewpoint that PAS members were uncontrollable. But now it seems I’m wrong. Looking at the last few issues, PAS is more accommodating and understanding than Umno or pro-Umno members. I believe the majority of the fanatics lie within our own current government party. This gives another good reason why we need to ‘experiment’ with a new government.

    • AntiReza says:

      The check and balance is a good ideal to strive for — ONLY if you have a reasonable opposition. I still see many cases of bipartisan politics that harms the good initiatives of the ruling government. It is counterproductive when the opposition makes noise just for the sake of making noise and making their opponents look bad. This is what is happening to Malaysia. Just like the Republicans are doing the US, we can end up with a dysfunctional government because both sides are equally strong.

      As for PAS, they are sneaky. I have heard of this term Taqiyya – allowable deception in Islam. I think they use this in many instances to deceive their ‘allies’ that they are accommodating. But, it may all be for show. Look at their policies on gambling and entertainment outlets.

  16. mariati says:

    The article is too superficial, shallow and lack of substance. Just look at the lopsided MSM, the off-centered judiciary, police and MACC. Look at the corrupted walking free, Taib untouched, commissions on Scorpene and other huge projects, the Mr 10% among those in power, inflation, the poor getting poorer, the number of illegals in the country, easily giving PR and citizenship to foreigners, the condoning of zealots who condemn other races and religions, many many more…… please mention all these, Sir.

    We need a change. A change that does not necessarily put Anwar up there. Khalid Ibrahim MB of Selangor can manage the country when PR takes over. Of course, the Malays are not ready for Lim Guan Eng. The new government can rope in many more competent people. Pakatan has them. MCLM can offer their people.

    • Chan Kheng Hoe says:

      @mariati: Unfortunately, as long as Anwar is touted as PM-designate, then the comparison must be made between Anwar and Najib, not some potential candidates who may or may not make it up the party echelon. Let PR declare Khalid Ibrahim as PM-designate, then we can all forget about Anwar.

  17. julian says:

    These arguments would be OK if Najib was like any ordinary politician (if that’s not an oxymoron). But to give accolades to a suspected murderer who hasn’t come out to clear his name, a supporter of racism, one who jails the innocent, a thief of his peoples’ resources etc… […]

  18. mq says:

    This article is so one-sided and the writer clearly does not know what he is talking about! Those “points for Najib” are worth nothing if compared to “points against Najib”.

  19. Citizen says:

    You mention Anwar’s past, but what about Najib’s past as Umno youth leader? […]

    On 1Malaysia: Malaysia has always been a MUHIBBAH country, and labelling it 1Malaysia is a mockery. Were there three or four different types of Malaysia that Najib has managed to make into one? I don’t know what 1Malaysia is! […]

    “Eradication of corruption would be sufficient to maintain subsidies for the Malaysian economy.” Wow, I think even World Bank and IMF would applaud such a suggestion!

    And would you please explain what you describe as “intellectual mode” [that Anwar purportedly launches into]… please provide [more clear-cut scenarios].

  20. Nicholas Ng says:

    However much you like Najib, our country is standing tall with Myanmar, Iraq, North Korea, Cambodia, and the likes that actually endorse someone embroiled in murderous scandals for PM.

    And however much you hate Anwar, don’t just judge a person’s leadership simply by his [or her] oration and what he [or she] preaches. Sure, Anwar’s setting up of a shadow cabinet is a bit slow, and his government’s policy changes are unfulfilled, but the man only has so much time. What more can you do if half your time is spent going to court over trumped-up charges designed to end your political career? I think due credit should be given to him for actually putting up a fight. Don’t forget that without him, there would not be a Pakatan Rakyat.

    • Chan Kheng Hoe says:

      @Nicholas Ng: I don’t hate Anwar. I just think everyone else loves him too much.

      • Andrew I says:

        And we all wonder why, since it has been alleged that:

        1. He is a CIA agent.
        2. He is a Mossad agent.
        3. He is a Chinese agent.
        4. He is a time traveller because of his insatiable sexual appetite (he allegedly had sex in a building that hadn’t been built at the time.)
        5. He is gay.
        6. He is straight.
        7. He’s into voyeurism via video recording.
        8. He is a traitor.

        To sum it up, he pretty much seems to be the devil incarnate. In spite of all the good intentions of those who wish to protect us from this sinner, people seem to love him even more.

        Amazing, isn’t it?

        • BennyG says:


          Very good compilation. I personally do not know him but I still vote him over the angel in BN.

          • ahmad says:

            Andrew & Benny,

            I beg to differ as I think the love for Anwar among Malaysians is highly overrated. A cursory look at list of staunch Anwar supporters during Reformasi ’98 will reveal lots of deserters. I have many friends who were Reformasi ’98 veterans that have admitted their disillusionment with Anwar and his politics.

            While I respect those to support Anwar, please know that there is a substantial segment of the populace that is not supporting him. There is nothing wrong with both camps as we are in a democracy and we can support whomever we love.

  21. Pao says:

    You shouldn’t write with a choice of Najib or Anwar. Most Malaysians know that neither of them is desirable or wanted as the next PM. Malaysians, I believe, have reached the stage where they want to have the right leader to lead them, not one who can buy votes in his [or her] political party to be VP and by default become Prime Minister.

    We have many intellectual and talented young people from both PAS and DAP. Note that I choose to omit PKR as I feel that, with the exception of Nurul and other younger members whose names I may not know, most of those in the current leadership of PKR are Umno has-beens. Who is to say they will not revert to Umno policies once in power? […]

  22. muhammad says:

    What is the use of having a PM that promotes 1Malaysia but does not have the political will to fight for Malaysians? The PM must put his foot down whenever a particular group is extremist. It is useless [to act] only after damage been done […]

  23. master says:

    You write as if the solitary confinement imposed on Anwar was a privilege. […]

    • Chan Kheng Hoe says:

      @master: I don’t think Anwar should have been imprisoned. But given that he was, yes, having one’s own cell is somewhat of a (solitary) luxury compared to sharing a cell with 6 other inmates.

      • BennyG says:

        We believe criminals should be jailed. But the court was so obvious in its intention to jail Anwar regardless of evidence. I would not wish that on anyone including BN MPs. Even giving a BN MP LCD televisions or iPads would not make their lives any better in jail if wrongfully imprisoned.

        • ahmad says:

          Dear Benny,

          I beg to differ on this issue. What is obvious in recent court trials is that Anwar diligently sought all ways to delay the evidence from coming out in the open.

          • Kong Kek Kuat says:

            @ ahmad

            Then maybe Anwar should have been tried in the Syariah Courts, where producing four witnesses is good enough to condemn him. Oh, did I mention that Anwar doesn´t have a right to answer his accusers?

  24. julian says:

    I guess even TNG isn’t prepared for free speech. I suppose my censored comments above were misunderstood as a personal attack on the author thus violating the comment rules. Let me rephrase: the author isn’t stupid but this article is for just missing the point. The point is: would you have Hitler for dinner just because he’s going to offer to do something nice? I call this the “Hitler principle”.


    Thanks for clarifying.

    ~Nick Choo
    Comments Editor

    • Kong Kek Kuat says:

      @ julian

      But Hitler is too easy as an example. Besides, it presupposes that Najib or Anwar is “bad/evil”.

      How about… say Robert Mugabe, or Omar al-Bashir… would you have him over for dinner if he says he will do good? Many will say “no;” but many have said “yes,” because Mugabe can still obviously command an audience with most leaders of the world. And all Omar al-Bashir has to do is to say that he will do good for him to be declassified as ‘acceptable’ for at least a few more years.

      Well, that´s how Umno is still in power, because like it or not, the majority of Malaysians will say “yes” even if it was Muhyiddin who said he will do good. For most Malaysians who do not have the luxury of readily migrating to, say Hong Kong, or the UK, “options” means literally choosing between the devil and the deep blue sea.

      • julian says:

        Hitler is the most objective test for tyranny.

        Respectfully you would be naive if you assumed that leaders who accept Mugabe, like our beloved Mahathir, are representatives of peoples’ aspiration. Such leaders would also find good company in historical stalwarts like Neville Chamberlain and King Edward VIII, who were known Hitler sympathisers.

        Anyway, I’m not trying to explain what people feel or why they feel that way. All I’m saying that if people did the Hitler test, things may become slightly clearer.

        • Kong Kek Kuat says:

          @ julian

          And all I was trying to say is that you would be naive to think that Hitler is so easily identifiable. You don’t think that the devil walks about revealing himself, do you?

          • julian says:

            I don’t understand your question. The identifiability of the forms of Hitler incarnations has nothing to do with whether the test is good or not.

            But, yes, personally I can easily identify the tyranny of the likes of Mahathir and Najib, and this is an easy decision for me to make in terms of whether or not I want to vote them in.

            You mean you are struggling with the simplicity of this test?

          • Kong Kek Kuat says:

            @ julian

            “But, yes, personally I can easily identify the tyranny of the likes of Mahathir and Najib, and this is an easy decision for me to make in terms of whether or not I want to vote them in.”

            And yet Mahathir was in power until he resigned. And UMNO continues to rule with the other ‘component’ parties as its lackeys.

  25. Kong Kek Kuat says:

    Anyone for Khairy then?

    • JW Tan says:

      Lim Guan Eng for Prime Minister.

      Let’s be truly radical, that way something might actually change.

  26. I do think it’s a moot point asking which is the lesser of two evils — Najib or Anwar. I think what really matters is this: that Malaysian voters start reclaiming their right and ability to be able to choose who should govern us whether BN or PR.

    Personally, I would not choose either Najib or Anwar to be PM. However, I would choose even if I had to choose one evil over another, if the choices are limited to just these two individuals and their coalitions, if only to exercise my right to choose. And more importantly to demonstrate to whoever is in power that we will kick you out if you don’t behave and hold public trust honestly and fairly.

    At a dinner lecture in KL once, economic writer Tim Harford was asked about the probability of democracy guaranteeing that people vote in the right leader. His answer? Democracy doesn’t guarantee that we can vote in the right leader. It guarantees that we can kick out the wrong one.

    And in a robust democracy, citizens would have the ability to keep doing that over and over again so that people in power will learn that they have to govern well or they will be kicked out.

    That, I believe, is the most important lesson that Malaysians and our political leaders have to learn. Asking which is better — Najib or Anwar — is inadequate and somewhat misses the point of democracy.

    • ahmad says:

      Dear Jacqueline,

      If we look at matured democracies around the world, we will see that the central issue being debated are bread and butter/economic issues. In this kind of democracy, it is easy to vote other party in and have a two-party system. This is different in Malaysia, where we have issue of religious interpretations being debated as a core issue. So we have different societal dynamics here and must tread more carefully.

      • Kong Kek Kuat says:

        @ ahmad

        And just how carefully must we tread? Maybe we shouldn´t even talk about it, eh?

        But I have to reluctantly agree with you about where we have issues such as religious interpretations being debated as a core subject. But whose fault is it — Islam or UMNO?

        • ahmad says:

          Dear KK Kong,

          The opposite, actually. We should all talk about it.

          As for the fault, the problem lies with “people” who manipulate Islam for politics and gaining power. In fact, institutionalised religion has plagued humanity for long time, and I guess the Muslim is the last to accept the fact that we don’t have to cross swords to make our point in this age.

          For this I have to submit that the first to start this politicising religion is PAS. Umno responded to PAS challenges by legitimising their rule through Islamic intrepretation that is more progressive and in tune with the modern world while maintaining enough links with the past. If you look at the political Islam spectrum, Umno occupies the middle, and PAS occupies the extreme right like the Ayatollah in Iran. Fighting for kepimpinan ulama — similar discourse with velayat-a-fiqf that governs Iran now. Turkey used to be at the extreme left, discarding religion altogether and institutionalising secularism, but now Erdogan is navigating to introduce moderate Islam, not unlike Umno’s kind.

          I must say that I don’t know an answer to our predicament. It’s up to all of us.

          • Kong Kek Kuat says:

            @ ahmad

            Let me see if I got everything you said correctly:

            1) “As for the fault, the problem lies with ‘people’ who manipulate Islam for politics and gaining power.” You mean the likes of Umno, which “responded to PAS challenges by legitimising their rule through Islamic interpretation”?

            2) “For this I have to submit that the first to start this politicising religion is PAS.” You mean those words which are oft repeated, ‘untuk bangsa, agama, dan negara’, are not politicising religion? I actually think that it is worse, because it is also racist and a treason by putting the country after your race and religion. At least PAS is ‘untuk agama’ only.

            3) “Umno responded… through Islamic interpretation that is more progressive and in tune with the modern world while maintaining enough links with the past.” You mean like flogging (regardless of how light or hard) someone for drinking alcohol? Or you mean like banning Muslims from working on premises which serve alcoholic drinks, but using funds tainted with money taxed from those alcoholic premises to build infrastructure and mosques?

            4) “If you look at the political Islam spectrum, Umno occupies the middle, and PAS occupies the extreme right.” Who´s complaining these days, especially if a middle-ground Umno means corruption, arbitrary powers, and institutionalised racism?

            5) With all sincerity from my heart, I think you need to re-learn what is left, right, and centre in politics, because you sound like an Umno-educated lackey when you say that being secular is “extreme left”. You might as well say that anything that is not Islamic is communism.

  27. Prasad says:

    Hey guys, saw this survey on a FB link.. check it out, share your 2 cents worth:

  28. julian says:

    I think it’s dangerous to imagine that elections are the last bastion of democracy and looked at only in terms of kicking out the wrong leaders. Checks and balances that guarantee the independence of the executive, judiciary and legislature, the fourth estate and freedom of the press (or blogs), parliamentary committees, fiercely guarded freedoms of expression for a confident and educated citizenry, etc, are also essential to achieve a strong democracy.

    • Kong Kek Kuat says:

      @ julian

      I´ll drink to that! Finally, someone who makes sense. But I simply cannot agree with you on the ‘fourth estate’ bit.

      In any case, mind you, the purpose of democracy in itself is insufficient guarantee of liberty or a good quality of life. If it is the latter that one values above all else, then, liberty is tradable commodity. A good quality of life doesn´t come about just because you are educated, or that you are free to call Muhyiddin Yassin hodoh in his face. But perhaps, say if I was living in Hong Kong or a Permanent Resident of the UK, where my quality of life has been more or less taken care of, I´d of course be more concern about liberty.

      Your application of a very ‘western’-suggested solution to our Malaysian life is insensitive, and, at best, unhelpful at solving a very Malaysian problem.

      • julian says:

        As a Malaysian I find the hypothesis of “a Malaysian problem” condescending. It presupposes the stupidity of Malaysians, that they are not ready for civil liberties.

        • Kong Kek Kuat says:

          @ julian

          Funny how I feel exactly the same way about people who think that a Malaysian problem is a “hypothesis”.

          Maybe we´ll all die the same because we´re all born the same, eh?

  29. BrighterTmrw says:

    Points for Najib, points against Anwar. What happened? House caught fire before you could finish your article?

    • Adrian Wong says:

      My thoughts exactly. It is obvious where Mr. Chan’s symphathies lie.

      I can guess what Mr. Chan intends to write next – Bersih 2.0 Protesters or The Royal Malaysian Police with the following subtitles :

      – Points for the Royal Malaysian Police
      – Points against the Bersih 2.0 protesters

  30. Rusman says:

    This is a poor comparison. [You should look at] what Anwar accomplished in government, versus what Najib has accomplished in government. What Anwar has said and done about democracy, human rights, religious freedom, versus what Najib has done. What types of corruption are associated with Anwar, versus that associated with Najib. What about Anwar’s wife versus Najib’s wife? Family versus family? Do this and you’ll find shortcomings with Anwar, but I can’t think of any reasonable way for Najib to come close to him in terms of integrity and leadership.

    Regarding language – politicians are defined by their speeches. Anwar can switch his style when he’s in Georgetown and in the kampung. Besides, he has always felt the need to be erudite to show that Malays could be so. Besides, the fact that 10,000 people come to see his speeches means someone is interested.

    The real issue is about institutions. Who do you think is more likely to leave institutions in place that promote governance and accountability and leave less power in the hands of the PM? Clearly not Najib. He’s had ample opportunity and has failed each time.

  31. Aliens509 says:

    In order for this article of yours to be less biased, I think it would be better if you had given us the pros and cons of both Najib and Anwar and let the readers and voters decide which is better. On another topic, I am a strong supporter of the Bersih 2.0 march on July 9 but my only complaint was that Bersih should have told Anwar and others that if they want to join in the march, it’s under Bersih’s banner and not associated with any political parties. It’s about US wanting fair and clean elections, and not about US and all the opposition parties against Umno/BN.

  32. Antares says:

    […] I definitely cannot trust the judgment of anyone who can actually say (on public record) that he [or she] likes Najib, which is a little akin to saying he [or she] likes Mahathir – except Najib arrived on the scene with far more baggage and is currently in a weaker (and therefore more desperate) position than any previous Malaysian prime minister. Not a single utterance that has escaped [his lips] since he first entered politics has inspired confidence or stirred the imagination. Indeed, the man is entirely incapable of a single original idea. Crafty he undeniably is, way craftier than most believe him to be, but entirely lacking in emotional wisdom, empathy and soul warmth. He is, in fact, a classic case of the political Golem – a hollow man. […]

  33. BrighterTmrw says:

    I strongly suggest The Nut Graph take down this article as it fails even the most basic test of impartiality or objectivity. This article would be appropriate in a partisan website, but not in one espousing higher journalistic ideals.

    • Chan Kheng Hoe says:

      @BrighterTmrw: It is an opinion piece. I am allowed to be subjective and opinionated. I am not reporting news, requiring impartiality or objectivity. And your call for opinions which you disagree with to be taken down shows that you are secretly a BN supporter. BN also wishes to take down all opinions that they dislike (recent censorship of Economist a case in point).

  34. Mongolia says:

    I wonder what Mr Chan has to say about Najib’s tacit support for Utusan and Perkasa’s incessant racist attacks on his own kind.

    Oh I know. He’ll say “THAT’S UNPROVEN AT BEST.”

    What an apologist!

  35. lowyatter says:


  36. BrighterTmrw says:

    Dear all, as the author’s post on July 20, 5:55pm states, this is an “opinion piece” which, according to his definition, does not require impartiality or objectivity.

    I thought people read opinion pieces precisely because they want impartiality and objectivity.

    One-sided puffs without impartiality or objectivity are known as advertisements.

    • JW Tan says:

      You are confusing an opinion piece with news analysis. Analysing what the news IS is something which can be done objectively (positively, in the sense that means “to be descriptive”). Interpreting what the news MEANS is inevitably influenced by opinion (a normative view, in other words) where value judgements are imposed.

      I read opinion pieces for the author’s opinion. If I wanted analysis I’d read a good news source, always watching out for where the author blurs from reporting into interpreting.

      • julian says:

        My opinion of this author’s opinion is that of bewilderment at its depth or lack thereof.

  37. mmc says:

    Points for Najib?

    After the window dressing with the Pope, this same man when before an audience of Umno sycophants demanded Christians to respect Muslims before the latter can reciprocate.

    You trust this man?

  38. Will says:

    So to summarize, heads support Najib, tails don’t support Anwar.

    That’s just plain absurdum.

  39. Nikoru says:

    Personally, I have not voted before, but I will vote in the coming GE. I’m fed up with Najib’s administration!

  40. NoMoreHomawks says:

    Doesn’t the author get it? It’s OK to post an opinion here, as long as it’s pro PKR/Anwar.

  41. Ellese says:

    I can never support Anwar for putting self first above country and people during the ’98 crisis. His adoption of [the] IMF contraction policy to the detriment of rakyat will [be] forever etched in me.

    • julian says:

      That’s fair enough. […] What are your views on the state of Malaysia’s competitiveness after decades of Mahathirism compared to, say, Thailand or Indonesia, who did have the misfortune of adopting IMF proposals?

      • julian says:

        […] I would like to pose this question to Ellese:

        To what extent have the issues of arbitrary incarcerations, custodial murders and institutionalised racism and corruption featured in your choice of a leader?

        • Kong Kek Kuat says:

          @ Ellese A

          Yes Ellese, I second both of julian’s questions to you.

          What´s your answer?

        • ahmad says:

          Dear Julian,

          I presume you refer arbitrary incarcerations to the ISA, and institutionalised racism to bumiputera rights under the constitution. I strongly believe given the nature of extremism that still exists in our country, the ISA has an important role to play. Not a single bomb has exploded although our neighbours are troubled with extremism. Why? Because the ISA is being used by the PDRM responsibly to nip the problems in the bud. Even the US has Guantanamo Bay a la the ISA.

          As for bumiputera rights, I observe that more educated Malays have been produced under the government policy, and this is good for our society. The bumiputera started way behind the others when Malaysia began its life as a nation under British imperial policy. Ultimately, these two important policies resulted in peace and stability for our country. The global peace index indicated that Malaysia is ranked at no 19 in the world, and best in Asia even outranking Singapore. Reference:

          As for custodial murders, if you refer to the Altantuya case, I say as the writer said above: Unproven at best.

          As for the corruption, we should all be concerned with our current position, but I see the current leadership has put in place more steps to reduce graft. Most importantly, KPI has been set against an objective target, namely CPI by Transparency International. reference: Reference:

          Malaysians can’t afford to blindly vote for anything but the BN. We must put things in perspective and make our evaluation rationally.

          I see the three PR component parties suffering from these major issues:

          1. Incompatible ideologies – PAS with its Islamic state/hudud dream; DAP with its Malaysian Malaysia; PKR with Anwar PM at all cost.
          2. Undemocratic leadership – who elected Nik Aziz, Lim Kit Siang and Anwar to legitimately speak for the party members?

      • ahmad says:

        For the competitiveness measure, we can have objective evaluation from World Economic Forum Global competitiveness index. The 2010 report indicated the following:

        Malaysia: No 26
        Thailand: No 38
        Indonesia: No 44

        Reference: Page 15

        Besides, here are the corruption perception index of these 3 countries as per transparency international 2010 report.

        Malaysia: No 56
        Thailand: No 78
        Indonesia: No 110

      • JW Tan says:

        Thailand and Indonesia are not the true barometer of success. Why are we not more like our closest neighbour, Singapore? Why are we not in the top 10 of both competitiveness and corruption perception rankings? An even better question to ask – why are we not number 1?

        Aiming to be mediocre is not a good strategy. Throughout the last 40 years that’s precisely what our country aimed for. This mentality needs to change, if we’re going to be able to maintain our level of wealth and success.

  42. T4Cap says:

    When thrown out, one of the personalities immediately went to the Malay heartlands to foment public discord, besides being hand-in-glove with the presently perceived ‘evil’ government as a former minister who was responsible for many reprehensible policies. This clearly shows him as someone who is only interested in his own political prominence. No one who loves his country would foment violent street protests every Friday after prayers, to the detriment of the country’s international image.

    The other personality has many yet-to-be-proven outstanding ‘criminal’ accusations. Besides his performance, he has yet to show any lustre or a direction towards a cleaner administration. Lots of hidden skeletons (if the whispering ‘Net is reliable).

    The choice in the coming 13th GE is not between personalities. It is a choice for a political ideal, a choice for chance to hope that the ruling government would ensure a semblance of justice, transparency, and fair treatment for all Malaysians. That the lot of the citizenry would be improved and raised to a more acceptable level.

    The status quo if maintained spells disaster, not just for the present government but for all.

  43. Char says:

    I remember Anwar from his days as the minister of education. He had some pretty extremist views back then and was all about his race and religion as per Ibrahim Ali. I wouldn’t vote for him ever.

    A leopard never changes its spots. He’s not to be trusted one bit.

    Najib was a lousy minister of defence who screwed up on the job so often it was unbelievable. When someone screws up, you fire him [or her]… but no, instead Najib became prime minister. With scandals and the horrendous handling of Bersih 2.0, he is an epic fail. And of course his wife, as the self-proclaimed ‘First Lady’, please… sit down and do shut up.

    Both are equally bad. Its not a smart thing to vote for one seemingly of a lesser evil. Like I said, I remember Anwar. If these two are our only choices, Malaysia is screwed.

  44. layne says:

    These comments aren’t reflecting us as Malaysians or even the 1 Malaysia concept. It’s never gonna work when there are 2 or 3 different parties fighting with each other in order to resolve the country’s peace. Think about it.

    • JW Tan says:

      I think this is exactly what the country needs. Conflicts should be aired, grievances discussed, potential leaders’ past records analysed and ripped apart for all and sundry to see.

      Disagreement is not disrespect. If we elect a leader who can transcend both Anwar’s and Najib’s failings our country will be the better for it.

  45. zik says:

    Great!! Why don’t we vote Najib again as PM… will that solve your dilemma???

  46. julian says:

    Thanks Ahmad. Do you happen to have numbers the numbers in 1997 and how the respective countries have improved? That would be fairer since that was when IMF came in to “assist”.

  47. Why was the crackdown unjustified?

    • Kong Kek Kuat says:

      @ Gopal Raj Kumar

      If, for example, you only went to school till Standard Six, and then you slapped your educated child who has completed university because he asked you to consult him before you make any decision affecting the whole family […], would that be unjustified?

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