AnWAR the Composer have a song for political beggars and their bandmaster UMNO

Everybody has heard Baar baar dekho, hazaar baar dekho, where Shammi Kapoor does his naughty Elvis act with the the haughty Shakila, teasing and serenading her at the same time. Ravi, the music director who created that all-time desi rock and roll classic for the film, China Town, exactly 50 years ago, died in Mumbai on Wednesday, four days after his 86th birthday.

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim is finding life sweet these days. Not only is he reaching out to the people in a non-stop tour of ceramahs or political ‘lectures’, they are reaching out to him too.

In Bayan Baru last night, the evergreen politician bowed to overwhelming requests from a 1,500-strong crowd to sing to them, and he promptly belted out Madu di tangan kanan mu PR which is Malay for Honey is within our reach, PR.

“Wonderful as they sang along with one heart and soul,” PKR vice president Chua Jui Meng, who was there, told Malaysia Chronicle.
PR stand for Pakatan Rakyat, the opposition coalition comprising DAP, PAS and Anwar’s own PKR party.

Now or Never

And tonight at a fundraising dinner for his daughter, Nurul Izzah, who is also the Lembah Pantai MP, Anwar has agreed to popular requests to sing the chorus for an Elvis number “It’s now or never”.

Another song packed with meaning for the opposition which has a more than even chance of taking the federal government when the 13th general election is held, most likely in May or June this year.

“It is not just fun and games but a really hectic schedule for all Pakatan leaders. We are not rich like the BN and need do as many fundraisers as we can. It is also a good opportunity to meet up with the people and let them get to know us and what we hope to do for the country and Anwar does this very well. Later this month, when Parliament starts, he will have to work even harder – we all will,” said Jui Meng.

Will Najib and Rosmah follow suit

Tickets have already been sold out. H T Long, a prominent Elvis Presley impersonator, will be performing two songs, Now or Never and Cliff Richards’ Young Ones. Anwar is due to speak at around 10.15pm.

Other speakers include Ambiga Sreenevasan, the Bersih 2.0 co-chairman,  Mat Sabu, the PAS deputy president, and Lim Kit Siang, the DAP adviser. The event will be held at the function rooms in the Thean Hou temple in Kuala Lumpur.

Behind Every Successful Man is a Woman? Let’s Reverse That Saying

Will arch rival, Prime Minister Najib Razak follow suit and begin crooning to voters rather than just peddle his infamous and rather threatening Gua tolong lu, lu tolong gua (I help you, you help me) pitch around the nation.

It used to be said that behind every successful man was a woman. They meant, of course, a wife. It was a clumsy way of recognising women’s contribution within marriage and the part this sacrifice played in helping husbands advance in their careers.

But as we celebrate International Women’s Day, I wonder if it’s not time to reverse the saying. Let’s, in fact, celebrate the role men are now playing in helping women’s rise to the top.

This is not to suggest that the fight for equality has been won. Any glance at the continuing gender pay gap or lack of women in the boardroom or parliament shows how hollow that claim would be.

And while we have seen a transformation in family responsibilities, including more men staying at home to let their wives follow their career, we shouldn’t exaggerate the revolution. The numbers remain very small. And where both parents work, it is women who are far more likely to shoulder the greater burden at home. We have a long way to go until the playing field is level.

It is, instead, recognition that the fight to overcome the barriers holding women back is being joined by growing numbers of men. And the quicker we recruit more to the ranks, the faster progress will be.

It has been the case, of course, from before the days of the suffragettes that far-sighted men have championed the cause of women’s equality. They did so out of a sense of fairness, natural justice or a belief in the dignity of us all as human beings. But this principled argument is now backed by the economic case which shows the stupidity of discriminating against half the population.

It is now clear that businesses or countries which fish in only half the talent pool are putting themselves at a serious disadvantage. This is not just about numbers but also the qualities that women can bring to decision-making. The recklessness which helped spark the global economic crisis might have been prevented with more women at the top of our banks.

All this explains why a growing chorus of senior business figures and politicians, for example, are pressing for a major increase in women in the boardroom. I have reluctantly come to the view that the evidence shows that only statutory targets will achieve these ambitions at the speed needed. But I don’t doubt the genuine desire for change in those countries which prefer the voluntary approach.

Even in those societies – and there are many – with much greater barriers to equality than in the UK, we are seeing an increasing recognition among men of the need to enable women to fulfil their potential. It is easy to see why. Research has shown that women in the developing world re-invest a far larger share of their income in their families than men. It’s been estimated that India’s growth rate would be almost 1% higher annually if the gender labour gap was as small as in China.

So as well as recognising the achievements of women, let’s use International Women’s Day to encourage more men across the world to join the fight for true equality. After all, the result if we succeed is not just a better world for women but a better world for everyone. And that really is a goal worth celebrating.

Najib and his wife Rosmah are fond of music and dancing. So perhaps, Malaysians may soon see a change in trend in the political circuit as the race to win the hearts and minds of the people intensify.

Debate too

Televised public debates between the top leaders of the country’s political parties has already begun, with DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng taking on MCA president Chua Soi Lek earlier this month.

Obviously, the debate that Malaysians want to see the most is between Anwar and Najib. In a recent poll, it was found that more than 70% of young voters want such an event to help them assess and make up their minds on who was the better leader, with finer ideas and plans to take the nation forward.

Despite a second invitation from Anwar’s PKR party, Najib has shied away from accepting. His Umno party’s stance appears to be, it has ruled the nation for 55 years and if any usurper ousted them, it would be high treason!

Such arrogance is unlikely to go down well with Malaysians, and Umno and Najib would be wise to take note of the people’s growing political maturity and insistence on having a say in the fate of their nation.

The Barisan Nasional (BN), particularly Umno, is expected to face problems fielding “winnable” candidates in seats now held by those who had “jumped ship” and are recognised as “BN-friendly caucus”.

Already, BN is finding it difficult to get many incumbent assemblymen and MPs to step down and allow fresh young faces to contest. Now, it encounters a new problem in seats held by the “party hoppers”.

Top on the list is Zahrain Mohd Hashim, a no push-over, whose popularity is on the rise with the coming general election. The Bayan Baru MP is sought for his views on anything regarding his former boss Anwar Ibrahim.

Joining him is Zulkifli Nordin, whose views are also sought on the same subject. The Kulim-Bandar Baru MP is outspoken when it comes to hitting out at his former party – PKR.

Latest to join the stable is Dr Hasan Ali, who “roams” nightly criticising PAS, the party he had placed so much hope to push for his Islamic agenda.

The list continues with names such as Ezam Mohd Nor and several others who had become “turncoats” and found new platforms to continue pursuing their political ambitions.

These people are brave and outspoken in their assaults on Anwar and their former parties, revealing insights that the public had not known before.

They are sought after by the press for any comments that can “dent or create doubts” on their former bosses and parties.

New faces

Umno members in particular, who have been struggling with past party leaders and current incumbent leaders, and who are hoping to be picked as assemblymen and MPs, are now “in a fix”.

With new popular faces on board, not as party members but as “BN-friendly” partners, veteran Umno members are wondering how party president and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak would handle the situation.

Najib had announced that only winnable candidates would be fielded but the term “winnable” to party members is loose and not specific.

A division head from Selangor asked: “How does one rate someone as winnable, and are those assemblymen and MPs who jumped ship winnables?”

“Will Najib field them as BN candidates or BN-friendly Independent candidates in the coming election?” he asked, adding that he himself felt he was still a winnable candidate despite losing in 2008 under the onslaught of the political tsunami.

So, resentment on the ground is real as these party members ponder on their positions as well as the positions of those who had “jumped ship” and are now “media celebrities”. Besides, these people seemed to have no financial problem.

‘Star’ treatment

The way the party hoppers carry themselves and their “star” treatment by Umno headquarters have been the envy of many Umno grassroots members, even the ones holding posts in Umno divisions. There is indeed a sense of deep dissatisfaction.

But how effective are their attacks on their former party leaders have yet to be tested. In the meantime, many Umno members said that nothing much had changed on the ground except for Najib’s own visits and meet-the-people sessions.

“I have attended many ceramah of these party hoppers but the crowds were mostly Umno members, and not the opposition members whom Umno and BN wanted to influence,” said Ramli Idrus, a veteran Kedah Umno member who is a secretary of a division.

“I do not know what plans party president Najib and his deputy (Muhyiddin Yassin) have for them (BN-friendly members), but I think fielding them again would not benefit BN. This is simply because members in that particular Umno divisions where they are fielded may not vote for them.

“After all, the feeling on the ground is not for them but mostly against them,” he said.

With the general election nearing, probably a few more months from now, incumbent assemblymen and MPs are working doubly hard to ensure they are perceived as winnable candidates.


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