Where is Malaysia heading to? Where are the reforms?

When Anwar Ibrahim was sacked from the position of Deputy Prime Minister, the Reformasi movement was borned and Anwar himself became the icon. It was a long journey for him, as it took decades for the movement to achieve electoral success.

In 2008, the Reformasi movement found the light at the end of the tunnel through Pakatan Rakyat (PR). Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) with the Reformasi icon joined forces with Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) and made a historical change in Malaysia’s electoral history. DAP took charge by taking over the Penang state government, PAS leading to form the Kedah and Kelantan state governments, and with the strength of the PR coalition, they have also captured the Perak and Selangor state governments. 

After that victory in 12th general elections, many Malaysians found hope and probability of making positive changes in the government through the new coalition. PR, which subsequently changed to Pakatan Harapan (PH), promised to make massive reforms and continue giving hope to the people. Their performance in the elections have shown good results especially DAP which has been consistently getting full support from the voters. Finally in the 2018 elections, PH managed to form the federal government with none other than the force of political maverick Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, but was later toppled due to political uncertainties. 

Then in 2022, they took control of the federal government again, and this time ironically by joining forces with their all-time political opponent, Barisan Nasional (BN). BN, before the 2022 general elections then, was labelled as a corrupted party that misuse the power of the government, mismanage the country and their leaders should be put to jail. But, Malaysians were told that a PH-BN unity government was for the bigger picture of the country. By hook or by crook, they will need Anwar Ibrahim to be the Prime Minister to reform the country.

Well, of course Anwar managed to climb up to the top position, and later on, the President of UMNO, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was appointed as the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM). Prior to that, it was already known that Ahmad Zahid was charged with 47 counts of graft which includes 8 counts of corruption, 12 counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT), and 27 counts of money laundering. 

After 77 days of trial over a course of 4 years, the DPM was granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) on September 5, 2023. The Attorney-General (AG) of Malaysia uses his power to stop the proceedings on all 47 charges against the DPM, in line with Article 145 of the Federal Constitution and Section 254 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC). Thus, the judge has no choice but to grant the DNAA.

It is a matter of fact that the proceedings have been conducted in a legal way, and the DNAA is sought through legal means. But we can see that in such a high profile case involving a No.2 government official of the country with such a huge sum of money involved, the ongoing court case can be easily stopped. It is questionable, but possible legally.

Let’s not forget that the AG is technically appointed by Yang di-Pertuan Agong, on the advice of the Prime Minister. Since 1980, the AG’s Chambers falls under the placement of the Prime Minister’s Department. And who are the superiors in the Prime Minister’s Department? None other than the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers, Ministers and the Deputy Ministers of the Prime Minister’s Department. In a way, the Deputy Prime Minister is also one of the bosses to the AG.

As to how much influence the PM has over AG, the excerpt from Tun Dr. Mahathir’s memoir, A Doctor in the House tells us. 

“By the time Tun Hussein had taken over as Prime Minister, Harun had been indicted but not yet jailed. I thought Tun Hussein would act strategically and garner political goodwill by not proceeding with the legal action against Harun. Thinking that he would at least be open to the idea, I met with him and suggested dropping the case. Strictly speaking, it should have been the Attorney-General’s decision, but the truth was the entire case was political. And in those days, the Prime Minister has a say in everything.”

– A Doctor in the House – Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

Back then in the end of 1990s, Anwar, being the Reformasi icon, made claims that the AG had interfered in his sodomy trial. He ended up being jailed and the Pakatan Harapan coalition vowed to make reforms if he comes to power. The reforms that were needed include separating the Attorney-General from the executive arm of government. Unfortunately the powers of the AG today still remain the same as it was before.

So, where are the reforms? Where is institutional reform? Has the 1998 Reformasi movement died, or was it never a movement for reform, afterall? Was it just a movement to put one single person into power?

What Is Your Value Towards Time

using time efficiently

Routine or practicing a similar habit everyday may sound mundane or boring to most people. Practicing a same routine daily doesn’t necessarily make you successful but almost every successful people that I know have a routine.

I am honoured to be invited by the Lions Club of Ipoh Athes to their inaugural Self Enrichment Series Talk to share my thoughts about utilising time effectively at home.

Ooi Zhi Yi speaking through Zoom
Photo by @mxkwang

Many thought that I will be sharing about the tools, techniques and methods in scheduling our time, but to me, that is a secondary topic. Once you discover the primary or more important idea about time, then the secondary part comes easy.

Before I share what I think about using your time, let’s look at the routine of some famous and successful people that I found in Google.


Note: There are slightly different versions of each person’s routine, but it is roughly as referenced below.

Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States

6.45am: Works out, read the news, breakfast with the family
8.50am: Begins work just before 9.00am
6.30pm: Have dinner with family, hangout with the children
8.30pm: Read briefing papers, paperworks and writing

Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

7.30am: Wakes up but stays in bed until about 11.00am while having his breakfast, reading newspapers and dictating to secretaries
11.00am: Take his bath and have a walk in the garden
1.00pm: Multi-course lunch with family and guests
3.30pm: Return to work
5.00pm: Nap for an hour and half
6.30pm: Work, bath and prepare himself for dinner
8.00pm: Dinner with guests, where drinks and cigars accompanied the meal. Often they would stay up past midnight. Afterward, Churchill would return to his study and work for an hour before bed.

Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple Inc.

He reminds and reevaluates himself every morning. Looked in the mirror and asks himself, “If today was the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am doing today?”

Benjamin Franklin, Inventor

4:00 AM: Wake, wash, eat breakfast, think about what he wants to accomplish for the day.
8:00AM – 12:00PM: Work.
12:00PM–1:00PM: Lunch while reading or looking over accounts.
5:00PM: Conclude work, finish the day with dinner, cleaning, music and conversation, reflect on the day.
10:00PM: Bed.

The reason I am sharing the routines of these people is to show how different individuals uses their time.

We cannot deny that each of them are successful people, but their success is not determined by how early they wakes up. Benjamin Franklin wakes up at 4am; Winston Churchill stays in his bed until 11.00am.

Spending time effectively is not necessarily all about work. President Obama still puts importance to his family in his daily routine but still performs in his work.

If it is not about maximising your time and making sure you use the time effectively every second, then what it is?


I think we should be clear that nobody in this world waste their time. I believe that all of us, every single person in this world uses our time effectively. The matter is, what do we use it for?

A person who sleeps 12 hours a day uses half of his time to sleep, effectively.

A teenager might be playing online games 16 hours a day, and another might be studying 16 hours a day as well. Both of them are using their time effectively, it’s just using it for a different purpose.

During the sharing session, the audience was asking how can they avoid procrastination and focus in their study or work. My answer is that procrastination does not exist, we only decide to put our value of time towards some other tasks over studying/working.


When we talk about utilising time effectively, many starts to discuss about what tools to use, how do we track our habits and time, and many more technical methods.

But I think what is more important is our value towards time; what tasks do we think our time is worth for.

I’ll use lunch time as an analogy as different people spend different hours for their lunch.

James has an extremely heavy workload in his job that he cannot afford to waste his time for lunch. So he ordered his lunch to be send to his desk, and have it while he is working.

Melissa might be as workaholic as James, but she doesn’t want to get distracted during working on her tasks, so she gets a quick 15-minute lunch break alone, and continue with her work.

Jennifer is a productive person, but he also wants to spend quality time for his lifestyle. He spends a good one hour for lunch with his colleagues or friends while chatting about different topics that are not related to work.

Zack, the entrepreneur, takes a very long lunch, ranging from one to three hours. But she always invites other entrepreneurs, her managers, business partners and influential people over for lunch. During that lunch, they talk about business, plans and the future.

Four of them, James, Melissa, Jennifer and Zack values their lunch time differently, but you can’t say that they are unproductive. Each of them are spending their lunch productively. Whether it is a 15 minute or a three hour lunch, they just value it differently.

It is the same with all parts of our lives, and how we value each of our time.

An adult who is in the rat race may value his or her time to work more than for leisure. But three year old kids thinks that their time is worth playing and have fun all day long.

Once we have identified what our values for time are, it will then be easy for us to put it into utilisation.

Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t think that his time is worth to decide on small matters like what to wear each morning. So he eliminates the time to do that by wearing identical clothes every day.


To summarise all, there is no perfect way in utilising your time. You’ve got to first identify your values, and put priority over scheduling the values into your time.

Find what is important to you, decide what actions and tasks that will help you to achieve your goals and objectives. then prioritise those actions and tasks in your schedule.

It will take some time before the third force rise again

If someone were to ask if I have any favourite ancient war movies with lessons to learn from, “Braveheart” is one of them. A movie that won multiple international awards, it is a fictional story of a man, William Wallace leading the Scottish in the First War of Scottish Independence.

The movie starts with King Edward of England invades and conquers Scotland following the death of Alexander III of Scotland, who left no heir to the throne. By conquering Scotland, King Edward grants his nobleman, or the people who support him with lands and privileges. 

When his wife was murdered by the noblemen, Wallace led his clan and other Scottish clans to wage a war against the English troops while fighting for independence. Wallace managed to secure a couple of victories in battles, while getting more and more supporters until the Scottish nobleman even pledged to cooperate to fight together for the independence of Scotland.

At William Wallace’s final battle at Falkirk, it was when he was disappointed when some of the Scottish noblemen who promised to fight together suddenly turned their back against him because they had been bribed by King Edward. Thus Wallace lost the battle, was caught and sentenced to death for treason.

Don’t you think we are facing a similar situation? Malaysia, at one point of time, was facing a situation when we have no heir to the “Prime Minister” throne when Tun Dr Mahathir did not name any successor after him. This led to a situation when our politics are out of control and uncertain. Different parties and leaders were scattered trying to join and unjoin forces so they could take over the government. 

At one point, we thought we had seen some hope that some leaders or alternative parties could come together to work as a third force to defeat those who are only after power and positions. It seems the third force was winning a little and gaining traction, as though William Wallace had won a couple of battles.

But alas, we just realise that there were opportunists hiding under the coat working along with “William Wallace”, claiming to fight for Malaysia, when they were only after lands and privileges. “William Wallace” started off with great vision and plan, but forgot to be cautious of the noblemen just right beside him that were corrupted by power.

It was then I thought a third force would rise and defeat or at least reduce the greed in politicians. But it did not, it was just one short moment that the third force almost showed up, but it did not. I guess it will take some time before the third force rises again. 

Politics is not an entertainment industry, don’t make too many dramas

The NBA All-Star game has just passed this weekend. For those who are not basketball fans, it is a game where the best of the basketball players from the NBA come together to play a game. These players were voted in to play this game by fans, which means they are popular players, and usually one of the best players in the league. The game is usually among the most watched basketball games as it is filled with star-studded players. 

Afterall, the sports business is part of the entertainment industry, with sports teams earning from various sources of income. Fans are entertained in different ways, some simply love the sports, some keep track of the conflicts, some love the merchandise, some even monitor the personal lives of the sports celebrities. Even trading of players is part of the sports’ showbiz, with many dramas, negotiations, talks, and news covering it. 

As someone who loves basketball overall, checking out the news from time to time; the NBA reminds me of our national politics. 

It is competitive, of course. Teams compete with each other to win championships. Political parties compete with each other to win general elections. 

Sometimes the officials and the management change the games’ rules and regulations to make the sports better. Politicians must keep amending laws and public policies to make the nation better.

Players and teams keep training and developing themselves to make themselves better and subsequently improve the quality of the sports. Political players do develop themselves too, but who knows whether it’s for the sake of the nation or for themselves.

Players were traded or players requested to be traded from teams to teams, sometimes for better wages, sometimes for the sake of winning championships, or sometimes to take up different challenges. There is one player that has won three championships, but all as a player of three different teams. Well, don’t you feel it’s the same here, politicians jumping from one party to another, for benefits, or to form a new government? Don’t you think that some politicians are the ministers despite the different political parties that rule the nation?

The difference here is, we know the sports industry is part of the entertainment industry. We know it wouldn’t harm us in any way. But the political scene is not, it is not supposed to be an entertainment for us. We have to take the political happenings seriously as it affects us in many ways. 

At times, I really hope that the political players can learn more from the sport. It seems that they are doing more for the community and people compared to politicians. They train themselves and fight to make new records, they amend rules and regulations so that the game would be better and fairer. 

In the All-Star game, despite different teams, all the basketball stars come together to promote a good sporting culture. Even in the NBA, there are times that they advocate for the right things such as equality and fairness. 

Our national politics have been shrouded by uncertainties for too long, and yet it doesn’t seem to end anytime soon. The drama and happenings in politics are as exciting as in the sports, but more people are more interested in sports compared to politics. But of course, we do not hope that we have too many dramas in politics, but instead focusing on making the nation and community better.

I hope by using the analogy of the NBA, I can pass a message to those basketball fans in Malaysia that we have to know more about politics, as it is part and parcel of our lives.

We need democratic freedom, but also freedom from interference of other countries

It is a positive note for Malaysia’s democracy when His Majesty Yang di-Pertuan Agong stated that the Parliament session can be convened during the emergency period that we are currently in now.

It is important for the Dewan Rakyat sessions to be held to ensure our political system of checks and balances is practiced which is the basis of democracy and representative government. The Dewan Rakyat is the legislative arm of our government, and the representatives debate on laws and government policies which will be enforced. The august House of the Parliament examines and approves government decisions especially when it comes to spending.

As long as we ensure the standard operating procedures (SOP) and necessary precautions are adhered to in the Parliament when the session is conducted, I don’t think we should have any fear of infecting the Parliamentarians. 

To be sarcastic, the Member of Parliaments are already busy out everywhere, whether it is giving aids to their constituents, attending meetings, discussing political moves, or to a certain extent, not even adhering to the SOP regulations. If they are free and not afraid of doing all these, aren’t they not supposed to be fearful of attending Parliament sessions?

Even if we are afraid of our Parliament representatives being infected, we always have the choice of doing it virtually. Some of the nations in the world have proven that virtual sessions are possible. The United Kingdom’s House of Commons and House of Lords, the lower and upper house are able to conduct their meetings in virtual or in hybrid methods. 

Earlier last year, the youth of Malaysia proved that virtual meetings are possible when they had a Digital Parliament which consisted of 222 young people participating. There is totally no issue of privacy as it is the best when the Dewan Rakyat sessions can be held and available online for Malaysians to witness. Through that way, Malaysians would know more about government policies, and will know if their representative is raising their concerns or not. As a matter of fact, we should make it convenient for people to view the proceedings at any time. There should be more transparency in our democracy.

As a Southeast Asian country, we have to be mindful of our ASEAN Charter which signs to adhere to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and good governance, respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Therefore, it is important when our MPs can start meeting again as soon as possible.

Despite my stand of hoping Parliament can reconvene at any time soon, I personally do not agree when the 89 current and former Southeast Asian lawmakers who are from different countries urge for the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara to reconvene again. 

We must not also forget that in the ASEAN Charter, we must respect the fundamental importance of amity and cooperation, and the principles of sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, non-interference, consensus and unity in diversity. The ASEAN and its Member States must act in the principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of other ASEAN Member States.

The 89 political leaders may be right in their opinions, but I think our country is not facing a problem as huge as we need interference from people of other countries. Furthermore, the political turmoil that we are in now is due to the struggle of power and position of different parties. Now how can we be sure that those 89 Southeast Asian leaders that made the statement have no connections with any of Malaysia’s political leaders whether for now or in the future? How can we be sure that there are no lobbying, deals and negotiations in the process?

They may be sincere in protecting democracy regionally, but when a precedent is set that people from other countries are allowed to interfere in our politics and government, does that mean that in the future they are able to influence our public policies directly as well?

While we need to protect our freedom of democracy in Malaysia, we should also protect our freedom from interference. 

The 18 year olds are ready for politics

The Undi 18 was again brought up to the attention of many young people for discussion when the Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Senator Wan Ahmad Fayhsal allegedly said that  Malaysians are not ready to vote at 18 years old. It happened when everyone jumped on the bandwagon of Clubhouse, initiating and listening to many different types of discussions on the popular platform since Elon Musk popularised it.

Of course, many young people especially those who will potentially become first-time voters were pissed off when they read the headlines or when people shared that specific content of the Youth and Sports Deputy Minister. To be fair, if one would listen to the long-form reply of his answer when he was asked about the Undi 18 efforts, he stressed the need for readiness among the soon-to-be voters. He continued to focus on how important it is for young voters to be ready and informed. He was also implying that young Malaysians are not yet ready to exercise their voting rights and they would need some form of prior institutionalised political education.

In July 2019, the Dewan Rakyat made a historical decision which empowers the younger crowd politically. Majority of the Member of Parliament has passed the constitutional amendment that reduces the voting age of Malaysians from 21 years to 18 years. The Bill received support from 211 MPs out of 222.

I may disagree with the words of the Deputy Minister to a certain extent, but he does make some point though. I remember immediately when the Bill was passed in the Dewan Rakyat, I issued a statement urging the Government to include political education in our education system as a compulsory content. I am more than happy to have a younger group to be empowered with voting rights for Malaysia.

While we may think that younger people need political education, I think that the lack of political knowledge does not only affect the youth. I know and have seen a lot of older people regardless of which age group have difficulties understanding our political, government and voting system. Even the simplest thing such as the difference between Federal and State Governments. 

Political education should be conducted to a wider age group, but putting it into formal education is a good step to begin with, at least if it is implemented, we know that we would have more politically educated Malaysians in the near future. 

The Constitutional Amendment was subsequently passed by Dewan Negara on 25 July 2019 and gazetted in September 2019, I do not think that there will be any changes to the law, but it is only a matter of when.

I think that there is no way on how we can justify whether the 18 year olds are ready for the democratic process or not. There are many 18 year olds that I met that have the ability to articulate about government and politics as well as a politician. And I have also met 50 year olds that do not even know a thing about the government.

If there are people questioning the political maturity of the 18 year olds, then they would have to doubt the political maturity of all Malaysians as well. We cannot have a perfect society that knows everything about government and politics. But it is the government, political parties and leaders to pass the knowledge on to as many Malaysians as we can. 

I believe that the 18 year olds are more ready than ever. The Government and the Election Commission can push ahead and make it possible for them to vote in the next general elections.

Community service should be beyond politics and religion

I have always believed that Malaysians are generally kind people, or that is the culture that we have been brought up with. When there are people who are in need of assistance and help, there are always a flock of people willing to donate and assist. During the festive seasons, there are always Malaysians going out to donate necessities to the old folks home or orphanage. And even in normal times. We also have a lot of non-governmental organisations that are always doing charities and community services for the less fortunate.

There are also some individuals who go all out helping the society as though it is a full-time job to them. Despite all the good deeds that many have done, they are somehow landed in trouble or being criticised especially on social media.

Ebit Lew who has been pretty popular for his efforts of helping people regardless of background and ethnic identity was chastised for converting the Bajau Laut community, which majority of them are already Muslims. He was also criticised for breaking the law by entering the Eastern Sabah Command Zone without permission.

Just a couple of weeks before the Chinese New Year, we have also seen our badminton star Datuk Lee Chong Wei being scolded by cybertroopers in social media for joining efforts with the Bukit Mertajam Member of Parliament, Steven Sim in assisting poor students in his constituency. The cybertroopers who are most likely using pseudo-names in their social media accounts, claimed that Lee Chong Wei should not work together with a DAP MP. They even called for his Datukship to be revoked.

This is how many people are when it comes to politics and religion. People are over sensitive when the person who is helping the community has a political or religious background. We don’t have to bother if somebody wants to help the community in whichever way that they want, as long as it is not against any law. If we cannot do it on our own, then we should at least support and give encouragement to those who are willing to do it.

If the people want Datukship to be revoked, there are so many other Datuk titles that need to be really revoked. We know well that there are so many undeserving people who were awarded titles, and many deserving people did not carry any of these prestigious awards even though they have contributed for years.

A couple of years back, we read in the news that a 21 year-old Datuk was living a lavish lifestyle. That Datuk must have done a lot since he was born to be awarded the Datukship at such a tender age. Then we also know the infamous Datuk who has slapped the young couple in the restaurant.

I have been writing about the negativity that has been caused by power and positions in my previous articles. These awards and titles are part of the powers that are part of the political lobbying tool. Whether any one wants to admit it or not, such awards are in a way under the influence of those in power. 

Coming back to our badminton superstar’s effort; in fact I think that MPs and ADUNs across the political spectrum should instead come together to help our community. We can always have different opinions in public policies and government decisions, but by giving aid and helping the people shouldn’t be in conflict with each other. 

Our Ministerial Appointment process is too weak

Ooi Zhi Yi's article about appointment of Malaysian ministers

The appointment of Ministers, EXCOs and every governmental position have been a questionable issue all the time. In every single cabinet, there are bound to be questions on whether the appointed person is credible and possesses the ability to handle the given role. At times, there is a doubt if there is any horse trading or political bargaining in the process of the appointment. 

We all know that a ministerial position comes with an annual budget of millions of ringgit. Whoever sits in that position comes with massive power as well. With Malaysian ministers usually appointed from the pool of elected Member of Parliaments, they are also the group of people that have the influence that decides who is the Prime Minister, although indirectly. 

As many would also know that the appointment of Ministers in Malaysia is rather simple, the Prime Minister usually has the call to decide, although they still have to consult the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. That is why there are always controversial Ministers that have been appointed throughout the history of Malaysia. 

The current questionable Cabinet member would be the Health Minister, Dr Adham Baba. He was literally made fun of in the social media when he suggested that drinking hot water would kill the Covid-19 virus. And with the Health director-general, Dr Noor Hisham appearing to be the person who is taking up the lead role in combating the pandemic instead of his superior. The latest being Khairy Jamaluddin appointed to be in charge of the Covid-19 immunisation programme instead of the Health Minister. Even some including Liew Chin Tong proposed that Khairy be replaced as the Health Minister instead.

I think the problem here isn’t about who to replace as the Health Minister, instead I think we should change the way cabinet members are appointed. It may require an important constitutional amendment, but I believe that it should be done to enable government positions to be held by competent and capable individuals. First is that we must not allow MPs to take up ministerial positions, they should focus on their role to be lawmakers and representing their constituents to voice out in the Parliament. Second is, we should make the appointment of Ministers a more transparent and credible process.

If we look towards the United States, despite Joe Biden having been inaugurated as the President on January 20th, only 7 out of 23 of his proposed cabinet members were officially appointed as I am writing this article. 

Why is that so? That’s because the proposed list of cabinet members by the sitting President can’t be appointed just because the President wants it. It has to go through a few processes to determine if they are suitable or not.

The nominated individuals will first pass through a series of investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Internal Revenue Service and the office of Government Ethics. 

After that the nomination will be submitted to the respective Senate committee with jurisdiction over the appointed position. The committee hearings will conduct a close examination of the nominee, looking if there is any partisanship and views on public policy. The Senate committees can also conduct their own investigations into the nominees. The committee will then present their findings through Senate debates. Unlimited debates on the nomination is allowed until two-thirds of the Senate vote to invoke cloture. Following a vote of cloture, the Senators conduct a vote to confirm, reject or take no action on the nomination. 

And the amazing thing is that the Cabinet members are not debated and appointed as a whole, but individually. Each cabinet position is debated and appointed individually. Thus, from the President’s nomination, some may get appointed, and some may be rejected.

Imagine when our Ministers in Malaysia are not in a way indebted to the Prime Minister for their appointment, they do not owe the PM a favour. When they are appointed by MPs from different political backgrounds, probably the only favour that they owe is the people that have voted for the MPs. And so, the appointed Ministers will have to pay back by performing to the best of their ability in the Government.

Although there are still loopholes, at least we can reduce horse trading by making political bargaining difficult and a more competent team can be appointed to take up the role. 

This article is published in Kwong Wah Yit Poh in Chinese dated 9 February 2021.

Don’t disguise “women empowerment” to grow political power

perspectives of Ooi Zhi Yi

I believe not many knew about Sabah’s political system of allowing appointment of members of the State Assembly (ADUN), until the recent Sabah political fiasco. Terengganu and Pahang has then subsequently followed suit to appoint members into the State Assembly. 

Penang has also recently proposed to appoint representatives into the State Assembly but only limited to women as to increase the participation of women in politics and governance. 

For whatever reason the Government or those who proposed to implement such a system, I think it is not the right move and it is against the principles of democracy. The whole idea of democracy and election is for the people to elect and bring the candidates that they trust in to represent them in the State Assembly. And not some people that they may not have heard of.

It is also not fair for those who have worked hard to campaign, to meet people, to present their ideas on developing the constituency, to serve the people in order to get elected. Now they will have colleagues who can just wait to be appointed?

No matter how different the appointment system may be in different states, it is just merely to further increase the power of those who are in power. I don’t think that those who are in power will allow their opponents to decide on the appointed representatives.

By having additional ADUNs meaning that the government has to bear additional cost of allowances and allocations. The salary of one representative in Penang is about RM135,000 annually. I believe with this amount we can do even more for Penang instead of giving it out as salaries.

With such appointments, does that mean that in the next round of general elections, there are certain people that do not have to go through the hassle of contesting. They just have to make sure that they please the person who has the power to nominate and appoint them into the state assembly. There will be even more political bargaining and lobbying no matter how one tries to prevent it. The only way to prevent it is to not allow such appointments.

If the DAP is so sincere in advocating for the rights of the women and 30% representatives of women, they should have done so way earlier. In the last general elections, they have only fielded 21% female as candidates.

Chow Kon Yeow has also said that the state has approved a 30% requirement for posts for city councillors and state GLCs. But the MBPP and MBSP has 5 women councillors out of 24 which is only 21%. Somebody must have miscalculated. 

How can you guarantee that the appointment of representatives is truly for women empowerment when you cannot even do it at the simplest way in the beginning? The appointment of councillors is in a way solely in the hands of those in power, and you cannot do that. And you try to fix women empowerment in the membership of the State Assembly which can only be decided by the people. Or are you trying to even control the membership of the State Assembly as well? 

Tsai Ing-wen is not up on the Taiwan Presidential chair because there is a women quota for that position. Countries like Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden did not set any women quota for their Parliamentarians, but more than 30% of those elected are women.

In the end, women empowerment is not about quota, but in our own community whether we believe in and truly advocate for gender equality. When we begin to acknowledge the capability of women as similar to the men, there is no need for any quota in any organization. The true empowerment comes from within our attitude towards gender and not through a set quota.

Well, some claim that the appointed ADUN move is not politically motivated, and these ADUN appointments are to enable them to serve the people. If it is not politically motivated, I wonder why those appointments have to come from a political party. Well, Tan Sri Noor Hisham Abdullah doesn’t have to be appointed as ADUN or MP to serve the people, and so are the millions of frontliners in our nation battling the pandemic.

This article is published in Kwong Wah Yit Poh in Chinese dated 2 February 2021.

We need a Bernie Sanders of Malaysia

Ooi Zhi Yi's article

As I scrolled my social media a day after the Inauguration Day of the President and Vice President of the United States of America, I guess the third person to have caught the attention of the social media world is Senator Bernie Sanders. A photographer captured a photo of the Senator socially distanced from others, with a little grumpy face, sitting on a folding chair on the steps of the Capitol, dressed in a big jacket and brown hippy mittens, arms and legs folded for warmth, with a face mask on. And that photo turned into a meme on social media and shared throughout the world. 

Make no mistake, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were the highlights of the world when they swore in as President and Vice President respectively. They were the talk of the whole wide world last week. As they begin their term of office leading one of the biggest nations in the world, they have made quite a history in different ways.

Joe Biden became the oldest person to assume presidency at the age of 78 years and 61 days, on Inauguration Day; but did not break the Malaysian record with Tun Dr Mahathir serving the nation’s head when he was over 90 years old. Kamala Harris is the first woman with a Black and Asian ethnic background to serve as the Vice President. Both of them have defeated a strong incumbent that was defending their position, although it is not the first time an incumbent President lost their defending bid.

But the meme of Bernie Sanders has ignited me to think thoroughly of what he has fought for throughout his life. Despite having significant numbers of popular support, he was unsuccessful in his bid to seek the Democratic Party nomination as the President in 2016 and 2020. Afterall he is already 80 years old now, nobody knows if he would be able to break the oldest US President record. 

I have to say that I respect the political journey of Senator Sanders which began at a very young age when he was still a University student. From the very start of his political activism days, he has stood firm with his ideologies and what he fought for. And that is what many of the mainstream politicians lack. 

While many may say that politicians need to be pragmatic and realistic when it comes to surviving in politics. It is not that I disagree with it, but pragmatism can come in whether one is pragmatic to solve the nation’s problems or pragmatic to make benefit for ownself. In which I believe that there are people that will agree with me that many Malaysian politicians are pragmatic for their own benefit. They are pragmatic if they will survive to rule the Government, whether they will survive politically in the party, whether they are able to gain practical benefits for their wealth and power.

As a politician, I also understand the strive to grow politically, as it is much easier to execute our ideas, ideologies and plans for the nation if only we have the influence. To do that, we have to expand our power politically. We may have to change our ideas and proposals from time to time to suit what the people need. But it should not be at the expense of our main principles and what we fight for in the beginning.

If you look at Malaysian politicians throughout the decades, one same person can have different stands on issues within just a couple of days. Some practices double standards by not doing what they have spoken for. Member of Parliaments crossing the floor, jumping from one party to another, for the sake of the power of governance.

Bernie Sanders has made a huge impact towards many people with his ideologies and proposals for policies. Although he may not have the opportunity of becoming the President yet, he has inspired many young people to understand more about public policies and what they wanted from the Government. And to stand firm in their principles and what they fight for. Perhaps we need a Bernie Sanders of Malaysia.

This article is published in Kwong Wah Yit Poh in Chinese dated 26 January 2021.