Less than one month after Malaysian PM asked Trump to resign to save America he is himself no longer PM of Malaysia (!)

PM: I asked Trump to resign to save America

Kuala Lumpur (Bloomberg, The Star/Asia News Network)ON FEBRUARY 8 Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that the proposed peace deal between Israel and Palestine announced by US President Donald Trump is “utterly unacceptable” and “grossly unjust.”
The proposed peace plan, dubbed the “Deal of the Century” by Mr Trump, hands the holy city of Jerusalem on a silver platter to the Israeli side in absolute disregard for the feelings of millions of Muslims and Christians worldwide, Tun Dr Mahathir said.
“This deal will only bring more conflict to the region, and will antagonise billions of people around the world,” Dr Mahathir said in the opening speech at the third conference of The League of Parliamentarians for Al-Quds in Kuala Lumpur.

Mr. Trump unveiled his proposal at a White House event last month alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Palestinian officials weren’t consulted on the proposal.
The White House approach leading to the plan has long been criticized internationally for providing Israel with quick wins while making concessions to the Palestinians contingent on a list of milestones.
Mr. Trump’s actions since taking office – including moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing Israeli sovereignty of the Golan Heights – has largely benefited Israel while giving little to the Palestinians, who said the US had given up its decades-long role as a credible mediator in the peace process.

Dr. Mahathir, the world’s oldest government head at 94 years old, has for decades been accused of antisemitism for his criticism and attacks on Jews, whom he has accused of perpetrating a humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories and creating conflict in the Middle East region.

He also said Malaysia will not keep quiet on the oppression of the Palestinians by Israel.
“We are duty-bound and this responsibility is further amplified when powerful nations that had styled themselves as the defender of justice and freedom choose to be silent while the atrocities are being committed.
“In other words, if we too choose to be silent, the blood from the murders and killings of the Palestinians by the Israelis is on our hands as well,” said Dr. Mahathir.
Dr. Mahathir said platforms such as The League of Parliamentarians for Al-Quds, Inter-Parliamentary Union, parliamentary blocs and others, can be more effective if they were to strategize and coordinate their efforts.

Quoting statistics by Peace Now, an anti-settlement watchdog group, Dr. Mahathir said as of Jan 7, Israel has approved the construction of nearly 2,000 new settler homes on Palestinian territories. “Never in the history of nations have countries built settlements in other countries and claim the right to own them. This is a form of conquest based on the strength of a bully.

“According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, more than 12,000 Palestinian children have been detained by the Israeli army since the year 2000 and serving time in the same detention facilities as adult Palestinian prisoners,” he said. He also said humanitarian groups such as Unicef have long documented alleged Israeli violations against Palestinian children, who are prosecuted in Israeli military courts. “It is clear that these detainees are being used by Israel to exchange for Israeli soldiers captured during incidents.
“For all these, Israel should be condemned and punished. Instead powerful countries like the US which talk so much about freedom and the rule of law choose to legalize the illegal. This President Trump has legalized the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem as ‘the deal of the century’,” he added.

Malaysia, yet another major country, takes a turn to the right, and many of its people are worried

Muhyiddin Yassin has been sworn in as the new prime minister of Malaysia. AAP/EPA/Nazri Rapaai

James Chin, University of Tasmania

Muhyiddin Yassin has been sworn in as the new prime minister of Malaysia. Many people were surprised because 94-year-old Mahathir Mohammad, the oldest prime minister in the world, was widely expected to be reappointed for a third time.

Muhyiddin outfoxed the wily Mahathir, because Mahathir made two fatal errors. First, he had resigned, thus creating a vacancy. Second, he made a miscalculation about the king’s discretion. The Malaysian king appoints a person he thinks can command the majority in parliament – it has nothing to do with election results or how many MPs support you. In Australia, it’s called the “captain’s pick”.

The king picked Muhyiddin over Mahathir, and that’s that. The only way now to remove the new government is via a vote of no-confidence in parliament, which will take months.

The new ruling coalition

Muhyiddin’s new ruling coalition consists of three parties: United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Parti Islam Malaysia (PAS) and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM or United Indigenous Party).

UMNO and PAS were the defeated parties in the historic 2018 general elections that produced Malaysia’s first regime change since independence. UMNO had been the ruling party for nearly six decades before losing to PPBM and Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope). Mahathir had established PPBM specifically to beat UMNO, and almost the entire PPBM leadership was ex-UMNO.

Read more:
Mahathir Mohamad crops up again in bid to lead Malaysia – with Anwar on the same side

So now we have an interesting combination. UMNO and PPBM are essentially the same parties with similar ideologies, Malay nationalism, combined with PAS, which wants to turn Malaysia into an Islamic state.

But what about the non-Malay and non-Muslim Malaysians who make up 38% of the population? Don’t they count?

The short answer is no. While the new administration will appoint a few non-Malays to the administration, make no mistake, this is an all-Malay government and its focus is on the Malay and Muslim community.

UMNO is still sore at the Malaysian Chinese and Indian population for voting en bloc against UMNO in 2018, which led it to lose government. Now it’s payback time. Expect more Malay-centric policies that will punish the Chinese and Indians.

Why are people worried?

Many are worried about the direction Malaysia may be heading in the short term.

First, there is concern that corruption trials relating to the infamous 1MDB scandal involving ex-prime minister Najib Razak may now go nowhere. Najib’s wife is also charged with corruption in a different case, along with several other ministers in the last UMNO-led government.

In fact, the UMNO president, Zahid Hamidi, who is facing 47 charges of money-laundering (the legal term for corrupt money), is trying to get a cabinet post in the new Muhyiddin administration. The attorney-general has resigned and his replacement will probably not go after high-profile UMNO individuals now that UMNO is back in government.

High-level corruption was one of the main reasons UMNO was defeated in 2018 and UMNO has not reformed. Now it’s back in government, most people expect “business as usual”.
There is credible fear that Muhyiddin cannot stand up to UMNO as UMNO is now the largest party among the three core parties. UMNO and PAS also have a political pact, which means PPBM will definitely not be able to stop the senior coalition partner if it insists on certain public policy.

Read more:
What Najib Razak’s corruption trial means for Malaysia – and the region

Second, people are extremely worried about PAS. Since its founding in 1951, PAS has advocated the idea of turning Malaysia into an Islamic state. It has introduced huhud (Shariah) law at the state level in Kelantan and Terengganu, but cannot enforce the law because it conflicts with Malaysia’s federal constitution.

Now that PAS is one of the troika in power, will PAS push the new administration to amend the constitution? There is already talk that PAS will get the government to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act, or RUU355. This will indirectly allow for hudud to be implemented.

Third, and perhaps most worrying, the new government has broken the political convention that it always has a significant number of non-Malay voices to represent the diverse population. This government was built purely on the concept of ketuanan Melayu Islam (Malay Islamic supremacy). Non-Malays to be appointed to the new administration will know exactly where they stand – as window dressing.

Where to now for Malaysia?

Despite its racial and religious tensions, Malaysia has always been seen by the international community as a modern, moderate Islamic country with strong Westminster institutions. It was always understood that the political elite would choose the middle path at the end of the day, no matter how heated the politics became.

This may no longer be the case.

If there is a lesson to be learnt here, it is that regime change does not guarantee progress. In May 2018, there was joy that Malaysia had finally joined the club of newly democratising countries via the ballot box. Almost two years down the road we are seeing a complete reversal via an elite game.

If there is one thing about Southeast Asia, it is that the votes of the ordinary people do not matter when it comes to power games. Power here is a zero-sum game and, in this case, the non-Malays and non-Muslims in Malaysia are the losers.The Conversation

James Chin, Professor of Asian Studies, University of Tasmania

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


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