If Pakatan Harapan knows what's good for them, they'll pay attention to a survey which shows that they have a very slim lead over Muafakat Nasional, which is increasingly favoured by many population segments in the country. In other news, the Dewan Rakyat Speaker says MPs have nothing to fear but fear itself in declaring their assets (unless they're dodgy?), while Anwar Ibrahim is calling for PKR members to stop talking about his little tiff with Azmin Ali.

Sit up and listen, Pakatan

Word on the street is ...

Things are not looking too rosy for Pakatan Harapan.

A survey of almost 2,000 Malaysians done by think-tank Emir Research shows that support for the ruling coalition may be waning, while that of the new Umno-PAS (and perhaps MIC and MCA, too) pact, Muafakat Nasional, is on the rise. The results of the survey show that Muafakat was popular among respondents who are Malay, Bumiputera, rural and younger, as well as those who earn lower incomes.

Here’s the breakdown: 53% of respondents who are Malay and Bumiputera preferred Muafakat, while only 33% chose Pakatan. A significant 14% said they preferred an independent candidate.

All’s not doom and gloom, however, as Chinese (64%) and Indian (52%) respondents preferred Pakatan over Muafakat. And while Muafakat came out tops in most categories, Pakatan did hold the edge in others.

Muafakat led the way among rural respondents (58%), while urbanites preferred Pakatan (48%); those aged 31 and younger preferred Muafakat (42%) while those aged over 50 would choose Pakatan (49%). Those earning RM3,000 and below would vote for Muafakat while those in the middle- and higher-income bracket would choose Pakatan.

The split isn’t surprising. Those leaning towards Muafakat are those that most feel the pinch of hard times, those that didn’t live for very long under Barisan Nasional administrations and those that resonate with Muafakat’s brand of identity politics.

Overall, Emir Research says, Pakatan held the slight advantage: Factoring in a margin of error, Pakatan had between 38% and 44% of support while Muafakat had between 35% and 41%.

This slight advantage was perhaps indicative of the same survey’s government satisfaction index, with respondents giving the ruling coalition a distinctly “average” rating. On a scale of zero to one in terms of satisfaction, the ruling coalition polled a score of 0.58.

So, does this mean Pakatan will be in trouble the next time a general election rolls around? Perhaps. Surveys are notoriously unreliable. Look at what happened in the US elections in 2016. Pretty much every survey had Hilary Clinton pegged as the winner. And we all know how that ended. 

But Pakatan should, at the very least, take this survey as a warning and strive to improve. And one way of gaining support in the polls is to ensure such things as government satisfaction indices go up. 

And one last thing: Emir Research may call itself an independent think-tank, but it’s run by Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff, a Bersatu supreme council member. If you can’t trust your own people telling you something is wrong, who can you trust?

Don't worry, be happy

No need to worry lah.

Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof has moved to soothe the nerves of MPs who are afraid the declaration of assets would put them and their families in danger. The Dewan Rakyat Speaker says there is no evidence that any danger would come from declaring assets.

He basically says the move should not be thought of as one that puts them and their families in danger, but one necessary to create transparency and combat corruption. 

Ariff was responding to a statement by Segamat MP Edmund Santhara Kumar, who was labeled the richest MP as of March, with assets of more than RM130 million. You see, Santhara sent his wife and children overseas (of course, we don’t know where) before GE14 because he feared if he won the Segamat seat and BN retained power, he would be arrested.

The plan was for them to stay abroad a year. However, he and his wife still believe it’s not safe for the children to return, some 18 months after Pakatan swept into power, all thanks to this little thing that is the asset declaration.

Santhara says he has been receiving all sorts of requests for proposals and business ventures thanks to the fact that people now know how much he is worth. He’s been turning them down, of course, but some of those he’s denied have gone so far as to threaten to kidnap his family.

You may be wondering how Eddie amassed his loot; the guy is the founder and ex-CEO of Masterskill Education Group, which is today known as Asia Metropolitan University. To be fair, Santhara says he is still all for declaration of assets for MPs – though the PKR man can’t actually say otherwise since this was a Pakatan initiative.

But, as we’ve said before, just declaring assets isn’t enough. The ‘how’ and ‘where from’ are as important as the ‘how much’. For example, in the UK, all MPs need to disclose any kind of financial or non-financial benefits they receive that could reasonably be considered to influence their actions as MPs. Check out the level of detail they go into.

Meanwhile, Ariff says meetings of parliamentary select committees and special chamber proceedings would be streamed live starting next year. The move, he said, was to ensure accountability in these proceedings.

Bravo! We’re all for this new transparency and accountability thing Pakatan has going here. 

Silence is golden

We really don’t know what to make of Anwar “I so desperately want to be PM” Ibrahim’s latest statement.

The PKR prez says party members should stop making statements about the rift within PKR cos “the people are getting bored”. Instead, members with grievances should take it through the proper party channels, such as the disciplinary board.

While we can’t disagree that people are getting bored with this whole Anwar-Azmin Ali battle for power and control, there are those who are watching intently (and PM Maddey Mohamad, we really, really believe, is one of them). You see, this is the man supposedly on the cusp of becoming our next exalted leader, so we wanna know what’s happening.

After all, if he can’t even run his own party without any drama, how will he be able to run a whole nation? So, does he want all these public statements stopped because people are getting bored, or does he fear the more party members issue statements, the more people find out just how wide these fissures really are, thus ruining his support base among the rakyat?

Anwar’s statement comes on the back of a call earlier from the party’s Putrajaya branch chief for Azmin to be sacked. Onn Abu Bakar thinks the PKR No. 2 deserves the boot for recent statements critical of Anwar. Side note: a bunch of Reformasi veterans are also calling for Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin to be sacked for her critical statements about Anwar.

But Anwar has more than just party problems to worry about, of course. Having been accused in a police report of sexual misconduct by one of his former officers, Anwar spent some 90 minutes or so in Bukit Aman being questioned.

Anwar is by no means a stranger to Bukit Aman, having thrice been accused of funny stuff with his staff, since the late 1990s. And 90 minutes is probably the least amount of time he’s spent at the federal police headquarters.

But it is, at the very least, the most inopportune time for him, what with fighting with Azmin, fighting fires within the party (thanks to Azmin’s considerable support), and wondering just when the hell one Dr Mahathir Mohamad is going to hand over the reins of the country to him.

Bits and bobs

A number of things happened yesterday that didn’t quite warrant full sections of their own but were important or interesting enough to be included in brief at least. So, here they are:

  • Moneybags minister Lim Guan Eng says Malaysia still intends to file criminal charges against Goldman Sachs over the 1MDB scandal despite reports the firm was to reach an out-of-court settlement with the US Department of Justice. Go Ahead. Make our day.
     
  • The Malaysian Aviation Commission is unhappy that the Transport Ministry has mooted a proposal to merge it with the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia. Kinda makes sense, no? Why have two agencies looking at civil aviation in Malaysia?
     
  • The Federal Court has ruled that BN’s Ahmad Hamzah can keep his Jasin MP-ship. Phew! No need for another by-election.
     
  • Speaking of by-elections, the Election Commission will meet Monday to decide the important dates for polls in Kimanis.
     
  • And how’s this for some cool news? Superstar American singer Katy Perry wore a gown by Perak-born Khoon Hooi, one of the few internationally-recognised Malaysian designers, to the annual Jingle Ball holiday concert.

“Polls? Nah ... they're for strippers and cross country skiers.”

- Sarah Palin -

IN INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • Exit polls have PM Boris Johnson’s Conservatives heading for a win at the British polls. Follow the results as they come in and get the reactions from BBC here.
     
  • The US House Judiciary Committee is expected to approve two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump later today (that’s Thursday in America).
     
  • Meanwhile, the US is reported to have reached a deal “in principle” with China to end the 17-month trade war between the two countries.
     
  • Greta Thunberg is not gonna like this bit of news. After hours of talks, European Union leaders are still at odds over whether to commit to a 2050 climate goal.
     
  • The traditional Thai massage has been added to Unesco’s “Intangible Cultural Heritage” list. How’s that for a happy ending? 

ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER

This weekday newsletter is brought to you by Trident Media, a group of Malaysian journalists with 60 years of combined media experience in four countries across TV, print and digital media.

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Trident Media · Seksyen 35 · Shah Alam, Selangor 40470 · Malaysia

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