March 23, 2017


by Lim Weixiang

A solid black Facebook profile picture in protest of Malaysian elections.

Many Malaysians on Facebook have been changing their profile photo to an all-black picture, as a form of protest against widespread irregularities in how the Malaysian General Election was conducted yesterday. Even some Singaporeans have jumped on the bandwagon to show their solidarity for their Malaysian counterparts.

In all likelihood, the effect of the silent protest on Facebook on events in the real world will be negligible, but it does reflect the growing importance of Facebook as a political tool.

Over the last two days, news, videos and pictures of alleged electoral fraud have showed up repeatedly on Facebook news feeds.

There is this article published on Thursday alleging that BN was trying to ferry over 40,000 Indonesian plantation workers from East Malaysia to the mainland to vote for them. Also, a video parodying the suspicious blackouts at the GEs has also been making rounds.

Malaysians clearly have no qualms about making their discontent known. There seems to be many allegations of unfairness in this GE, although MSM has yet to verify them. All we have are two very different sides to a story, and too many a secret swept under a rug.

by Daniel Yap

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak warned via TODAY that if Johor fell into opposition hands, the government’s “big dreams for Johor would simply disappear”, including, apparently, the fast-growing Iskandar project.

With RM100 billion already projected to be invested by 2015, and outcomes for locals looking generally positive so far, Iskandar Malaysia has been a big bargaining chip for both sides of the political divide.

First reactions (especially looking at TODAY’s headline – “Big plans will disappear if BN loses Johor: Najib”) may be that PM Najib is threatening to hamstring Iskandar if the government loses the state. While threats of withholding development from opposition seats are not new on either side of the causeway, this isn’t exactly such a case.

PM Najib described what he called the “Johor way” – the ruling Barisan Nasional’s “moderate and accommodating” style – as the reason for Johor’s success (ST, Najib touts ‘Johor way’ for Malaysia, Apr 30). He jumped on recent divides in the opposition Pakatan Rakyat camp to push the point that PR would be unable to maintain good race relations in Johor, which in turn would lead to failure in the state.

But it may be just a political ruse. Reports in the media maintain that PR draws a diverse crowd in Johor, and a recent seminar organised by UMNO-run Johor stoked anti-Christian sentiments.

Moreover, TODAY reported previously that Iskandar would stay on track even with the opposition in Johor.

He also discounts the “Singapore way”. Isn’t Johor’s success at least partly driven by Singapore’s? Because the overflow of industry and demand from her neighbour, Johor simply needs to keep the doors open to let the money flow in. Success in the state may really be beyond the control of both BN and PR.

Where’s our thanks, then? Not that we expect it, really, since having Johor and Iskandar as a release valve for our red hot economy has great benefits for Singapore as well, but hey, a little credit where it’s due, please.

But here’s Najib’s only nod to Singapore on the night – he compared the island’s lack of “Chinese schools” with Johor as  proof of his party’s commitment to the Chinese. Thanks.

by -
0 168

by Daniel Yap

In the heat of Malaysian election fever, Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim dropped a few comments about what might be in store for Johor should the opposition somehow win the state.

Specifically mentioning Singapore investors, he stated that it would not be “business as usual” if his coalition won Johor. Of particular interest is the Iskandar region, where some 300 Singapore companies have already set up operations and investment.

Anwar spoke about changes in terms of greater transparency, and “interest and participation” for locals when it came to Iskandar. Transparency is a welcome thing, although it was still unclear how his party planned to help locals benefit more from Iskandar.

Either way it seems a small thing – a response to some scaremongering by the ruling Barisan National (BN), who said that the loss of Johor to the opposition could hamper the progress of Iskandar. Malaysia’s opposition, as far as we know, has been good for businesses in the states that they currently rule, in particular Penang.

But with Singapore’s pseudo-hinterland of Johor having been a BN stronghold for donkey years, the hurdle of a PR victory in the state still needs to be crossed before we start to worry about what Anwar is really going to do there.