Thursday, 10 May 2018

The protege toppled by his mentor

Update: 23 May 2018: Is Mahathir a changed man?

As Singapore continues to digest the implications of the election result and as the flurry of revelations continues to pop out of Putrajaya, it is the name of Mahathir that keeps coming up again and again. Of immediate concern is how he will deal with the RM50 billion High Speed Rail contract that Najib signed with Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong in 2016. Mahathir has been talking publicly about mega projects like this. His latest comment – that the project might be ditched – was the clearest indication so far of its likely fate.

How Singapore deals with a resurgent Mahathir will be its biggest international challenge and a good test for the 4G leadership. PM Lee had a symbolic 30-minute meeting with the Malaysian leader on 19 May. Beneath the warm congratulatory messages, the anxiety was evident. Lee’s uncomfortable body language as he walked in to meet Mahathir, his late father’s old adversary, was palpable.

There are signs that Mahathir is a changed man. But he may just go back to his old ways if he sees in Singapore a difficult partner in the expected talks on the rail contract. That is not something Malaysians and Singaporeans want to even think about.


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Malaysia Cabinet members agree to 10% salary cut
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced this at a press conference after chairing the first weekly Cabinet meeting at Perdana Putra on Wednesday

The Cabinet has agreed to cut the salaries of all ministers by 10%, in a move to cut government spending.

"The cut is on the minister's basic salary. This is to help the country's finances.

"This has been a practice of mine. I also did the same thing when I became prime minister in 1981," said Dr Mahathir.


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Advice for Malaysia's new ex-PM

Dear Prime Minister Mahathir, It has been a while since I have seen you personally. It seems you have been well, especially since last week when your upstart coalition won control in Malaysia's first surprising election.

During my two years at Bloomberg's office in Kuala Lumpur, from 1996 to 1998, I regularly attended press conferences you held as prime minister. You once chided me for seeking too many details in your answers. That annoyed me, because when one was based in KL -- as opposed to stopping by to write a quick dispatch, as most Western journalists did -- nuances and details mattered greatly. I'll give you this: You were very available and ready with an answer to almost any question. You didn't hide behind mystique, like Suharto in Indonesia. Look what happened to him!

The time I spent in Malaysia was formative. I have an enormous reservoir of fondness for the country and its rich culture and, yes, awe at its political brutality. As one who watched what went wrong 20 years ago (remember when you jailed your finance minister?), let me offer some advice as your team settles in.


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Anwar Ibrahim released from prison
Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim gestures after being pardoned by the king. Photograph: Lai Seng Sin/Reuters

Malaysia’s former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, jailed for sodomy four years ago, has walked free from prison after receiving a royal pardon.

Anwar’s release is the first big success of the newly elected governing coalition, Pakatan Harapan, led by 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad, which was swept from opposition into power after a shock election victory last week.

At 11.30am on Wednesday, a frail but jubilant Anwar emerged from Cheras rehabilitation hospital in Kuala Lumpur where he has recently been serving his sentence after an operation on his shoulder. He waved to the gathered crowds before getting into a car to go to the National Palace.


Najib 'blacklisted' from leaving Malaysia as angry crowd stands guard outside airport
Members of the public gather around a white Vellfire as the vehicle enters the Subang Airport on May 12, 2018. The people were looking out for former PM Najib Razak

Malaysian authorities barred ousted prime minister Najib Razak & his wife from leaving the country on Saturday (May 12), amid reports that the government was reopening investigations into a multi-billion-dollar graft scandal at a state fund he founded.

The order by immigration authorities came minutes after Najib said in a Facebook post that he & his wife, Rosmah Mansor, were taking a week-long holiday overseas to rest after his thumping defeat in Wednesday's general election.

"The Malaysian Immigration Department would like to confirm that Najib Razak & Rosmah Mansor have just been blacklisted from leaving the country," the agency said on its official Facebook page. It gave no reason.


The protege toppled by his mentor
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks to the press at a polling station during the 14th general elections in Pekan on May 9, 2018. (foto: AFP)

Najib Razak's administration was rocked by allegations that he was involved in the scandal-plagued state investment fund 1MDB, slammed by the US as "kleptocracy at its worst".

But for voters saddled with rising living costs, there may have been economic reasons closer to home for the shock electoral result that wrenched the 64-year-old from power.

The polls on Wednesday (May 9) delivered a historic defeat to Najib which included electoral losses for 4 ministers, in a major political upheaval likely to reverberate deeply across the country's political landscape.

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Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad sworn in after shock comeback victory
Dr Mahathir has indicated he may only serve two years

Mahathir Mohamad has been sworn in as prime minister of Malaysia after his shock election victory, 15 years after he stood down. After taking the oath at the Istana Negara palace in Kuala Lumpur, he told reporters his focus would be on the country's finances.

The former strongman has become, at 92, the world's oldest elected leader. He came out of retirement and defected to the opposition to take on and beat former protege Najib Razak.

His historic win ousted the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, which has been in power since independence in 1957.

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Dr M: Agong has indicated 'immediate pardon' for Anwar

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V has indicated that he would grant an immediate pardon for Anwar Ibrahim. The Pakatan Harapan de facto leader is currently serving a 5-year prison sentence and is scheduled to be released on June 8.

At a press conference in Kuala Lumpur earlier, Mahathir said Harapan would now initiate the necessary procedures to secure the pardon. He said Harapan leaders raised this issue with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong during an audience with the monarch at Istana Negara yesterday.
  • "In the course of our 4-member discussion with the Agong, the Agong had indicated to one of us - (DAP secretary-general) Lim Guan Eng - that he is willing to pardon Anwar immediately.
  • "So, we will go through the proper process of obtaining a pardon for Anwar," he said.
  • "It is going to be a full pardon, which of course, means he is not only pardoned but to be released immediately when he is pardoned.
  • "After that, he will be free to participate fully in politics," he added.

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Ruling party SHOCK defeat as 92-year-old secures VICTORY

Malaysia went to the polls today and Najib Razak’s long-ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) party lost seats in key states that have traditionally been strongholds.

Riding a surge of late support was Mr Mahathir and his Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) party, who have secured the majority of 112 seats needed.

After earlier urging caution, the Election Commission confirmed this evening the opposition alliance had secured victory.

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Malaysia's opposition alliance under Mahathir records shock election victory, topples 61-year-old regime

Malaysia's veteran ex-leader Mahathir Mohamad, 92, won a historic election victory Thursday, in a political earthquake that toppled the country's scandal-plagued premier and ousted a regime that had ruled for over six decades.

In a stunning political upset that took pundits by surprise, Mahathir's opposition alliance ended the long hold on power of the Barisan Nasional coalition, which has been in power in Malaysia since its birth as an independent country in 1957.

The thumping victory capped a dramatic political comeback for Mahathir, who previously ruled the country with an iron fist for 22 years, and came out of retirement to taken on Prime Minister Najib Razak after the leader became embroiled in a massive corruption scandal.

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A new dawn, a nation reborn
Pollsters proved wrong by a tsunami of votes that swept away BN's 60 years of rule, heralding a renewal in national politics

So, a new day has dawned for Malaysia. The people have spoken: they no longer want the Barisan Nasional (BN) to lead the government; they want a new beginning.

After being under the rule of the BN, and its earlier version the Alliance, for 61 years, the majority of Malaysians have decided they want a new captain at the helm – even if the new captain is an old captain.

Or perhaps because he is the old captain – and, therefore, trusted to effectively bring about a renewal, and strong economic growth.

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At 92, Former Strongman Mahathir Is Malaysia's Comeback Kid
Mahathir Mohamad, former Malaysian prime minister and opposition candidate for Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) reacts during a news conference after general election, in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, May 10, 2018. REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin

Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad has never lost an election campaign. He maintained that record and created another one on Thursday when, at 92, he was set to be sworn in as the world's oldest elected leader.

"Yes, yes, I am still alive," a sprightly looking Mahathir said at a 3 a.m. news conference in which he claimed victory over the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition that has ruled the Southeast Asian nation since independence six decades ago.

Mahathir led the coalition as Malaysia's prime minister for 22 years, starting in 1981. As one of the country's most eminent leaders, he was pugnacious, uncompromising and intolerant of dissent, but turned Malaysia from a sleepy backwater into one of the world's modern industrialized nations.

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Mahathir Mohamad makes shock return as opposition wins poll

Malaysia's opposition alliance led by the country's former authoritarian ruler Mahathir Mohamad has won a majority in parliament, ending the 60-year rule of the National Front.

The Election Commission said official results had the opposition so far winning 113 seats out of 222. The Barisan Nasional (BN), or National Front, has so far won 79.

Dr Mahathir's stunning defeat of the ruling coalition means that at the age of 92, he will become the oldest elected leader in the world.

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Malaysia opposition in historic election win

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia’s veteran ex-leader Mahathir Mohammad, 92, won a historic election victory Thursday, in a political earthquake that toppled the country’s scandal-plagued premier and ousted a regime that had ruled for over six decades.

In a stunning political upset that took pundits by surprise, Mahathir’s opposition alliance ended the long hold on power of the Barisan Nasional coalition, which has been in power in Malaysia since its birth as an independent country in 1957.

The thumping victory capped a dramatic political comeback for Mahathir, who previously ruled the country with an iron fist for 22 years, and came out of retirement to taken on Prime Minister Najib Razak after the leader became embroiled in a massive corruption scandal.

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Ex-PM Mahathir is now Malaysia's oldest MP

Dr Mahathir Mohamad has won a resounding victory for the parliamentary seat of Langkawi, Kedah, with 44.4% of the vote.

The 92-year-old leader of Pakatan Harapan (PH) beat Parti Islam SeMalaysia's (PAS) Zubir Ahmad, as well as Mr Nawawi Ahmad from the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN).

Before voting began, he made an impassioned plea to allow him to correct past mistakes.

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Malaysia's former leader set to become world's oldest PM at 92

Former Malaysian leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad is poised to become the world’s oldest prime minister after defeating Najib Razak in a fiercely contested election that put an end to the ruling coalition’s six-decade hold on power.

Mahathir, 92, who was prime minister between 1981 and 2003, led the opposition coalition, Pakatan Harapan, to its first election victory since Malaysian independence in 1957, winning an outright parliamentary majority. He will be sworn in by the king on Thursday.

A euphoric mood gripped Malaysia at the announcement, which many had believed impossible. “We are so happy, such a proud day for Malaysia,” said David Thaiga, 57, who joined others in the street to celebrate.

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Tun M: "We Are Not Seeking Revenge. We Just Want To Restore The Rule Of Law"

In a press conference at 3am Thursday, PH Chairman Tun Mahathir stressed that his new government will not seek "revenge" on Najib Razak, whom he had accused of corruption and abuse of power.

"We are not seeking revenge. What we want is to restore the rule of law," he said when asked whether his government will prosecute the UMNO president.

While speaking to a packed ballroom at Sheraton Hotel in Petaling Jaya, Dr Mahathir, however, added that if anyone breaks the law, including journalists, "they will be brought before the court to be tried", reported Malaysiakini.

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Mahathir: I will be sworn in as PM by palace

Pakatan Harapan chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has announced that he will head to the palace today morning to be sworn in by the Agung as Malaysia's 7th prime minister for the second time around.

"The palace has called us and they have heard of our unofficial majority. The EC (Election Commission) has not officially informed them yet but the palace told us to inform them when we received majority according to our own count," he said at a packed house in the Sheraton Petaling Jaya just now.

"Apart from the EC being slow to announce the results, everything has gone smoothly. Now we have already received the majority and we are ready to be sworn in at the palace later today."

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Mahathir scores shock election win

An alliance of opposition parties spearheaded by Mahathir Mohamad won Malaysia's general election, setting the veteran strongman on course for a return to the Prime Minister's office he occupied for 22 years.

Mahathir's stunning defeat of the coalition that has ruled the Southeast Asian country since independence from Britain six decades ago means that, at the age of 92, he will become the oldest elected leader in the world.

Official results showed that Mahathir's Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) had won 113 of parliament's 222 seats, clinching the simple majority required to rule. Najib's ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN), had 79.

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'Punish' Dr M by electing him again

GE14 represents the best and possibly the last chance to initiate a two-party system which usually symbolises a vibrant, liberal and healthy democracy.

With a star-studded team comprising Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Anwar Ibrahim, Wan Azizah, Muhyiddin Yassin, Lim Kit Siang, Lim Guan Eng, Azmin Ali, Tian Chua, P Ramasamy, Xavier Jayakumar, R Sivarasa, Mohd Sabu and others, there is a big possibility of tipping the balance this time and ushering in a Pakatan Harapan government almost 60 years after Merdeka.

It is no point favourably comparing Malaysia to Singapore where a one-party rule has brought stability and prosperity. Malaysia should, in fact, be unfavourably compared to South Korea and Taiwan which have attained stability, prosperity and a vibrant democracy in a short time of only 30 years despite having major security threats.

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Setting a world benchmark in reclaiming democracy

Malaysians set a world benchmark, a gold standard in how to reclaim democracy against all odds yesterday.

The government coalition that had lorded over a country with various alliances for 61 years threw everything against its citizens for the 14th general election - the judiciary, the police, the universities system, the election commission, its very parliament, race and religion.

Gerrymandering and mal-apportionment saw some federal constituencies with as little as a few thousand voters sit side-by-side with seats that housed more than 150,000 registered voters.

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Mahathir Mohamad wins Malaysia election in historic power shift, shares dive

Mahathir Mohamad won a stunning victory in Malaysia's election, ending the six-decade rule of Prime Minister Najib Razak's party in a landmark shift for the Southeast Asian nation.

Mahathir, Malaysia's longest-serving premier who defected to the opposition to take on Najib, will return to power at the age of 92.

His four-party Pakatan Harapan alliance won at least 112 of 222 parliamentary seats in Wednesday's vote, official figures from the election commission showed.

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Malaysia's currency gets smoked as the country's opposition leader declares victory in the presidential election

The Malaysian ringgit dropped versus the dollar Wednesday after opposition coalition leader Mahathir Mohamad claimed victory in the country's general election.

The ringgit was down 1.38% to 4.0460 versus the dollar.

Reuters reports that 92-year-old Mohamad said his coalition had won enough parliament seats to form the next government. But early polls showed the opposition slightly behind the ruling coalition under Prime Minister Najib Razak. Official results of the election are unclear, and the Election Commission has not yet verified them. 

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5 THINGS THAT CONTRIBUTED TO PAKATAN’S WIN THAT MALAYSIANS NEED TO TALK ABOUT MORE

After more than 60 years of one-party rule, some of you may not have thought you’d live to see the day Pakatan Harapan take office, did you? As Malaysians, we can certainly be proud that we changed things without shedding a single drop of blood. No violence, no looting, no burning of cars, homes or shops, no ugly manifestations of racism.

Here are 5 things that contributed to Pakatan’s win that Malaysians need to talk about:
  • Our electoral process (!?) - Gerrymanderingalleged blackoutsforeign voters, and other alleged hanky-panky aside, the electoral process itself can be said to be arguably better than some other countries because of the level of transparency. 
  • Our Polling and Counting Agents (PACAs) - Can we just give it up for the ordinary Malaysians who volunteered to spend their whole day in schools or wherever your polling station is, to be the polling and counting agents (aka PACAs) on Rabu. Invoke Malaysia announced that 17,594 volunteers had signed up nationwide, as of April. In fact 3 of us from the CILISOS team PACA-ed. Two of us had to travel 2-3 hours away to their assigned stations outstation.
  • Rafizi and INVOKE - Rafizi Ramli is no stranger to the public. Thanks to his exposes, many alleged leakages in the ex-government came to light, including the. All this stuff might have had a hand in opening the rakyat’s eyes where they couldn’t in the pre-Internet age.
  • Parti Pribumi…er… Keadilan - In 2016, a group of Barisan Nasional rejectsleavers, a retiree, and a fresh-faced 24-year-old formed a new party called Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM). As the name says, PPBM upholds the Bumiputra agenda, so people were like, huh not another Umno. Whyyy?
  • WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube - You could say that social media is also one of the factors that contributed to Pakatan’s shock victory. Even right after GE13, people were using WhatsApp and Facebook as a platform to share news – whether good or bad news about whichever party, information was making its rounds. This was a change in the way people consumed information and probably helped to change perceptions, whereas we formerly had only traditional newspapers to turn to.

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Three strategies PH used to pull off a stunning electoral victory

The PH election victory was founded on the ability of its parties to sacrifice their rigid ideological leanings and identity for a larger purpose, writes Ronald Benjamin.

Here are three critical element that helped Pakatan emerge winners in the general election:
  • Using a common logo and struggle - First, there was something distinctive about the kind of political cooperation it forged. PH used a different political approach from the earlier Pakatan Rakyat, which was a loose coalition in which all parties held on to their respective identities and ideologies while working on certain areas of common interest, sometimes uncomfortably as they seemed head on, on an ideological collision cause. For example, Pas’ goal of forming an Islamic state required a corresponding response from DAP. In the end, the coalition collapsed.
  • Connecting to Malay psyche and pride - Second, there was an underlying theme of change to restore the nation’s pride. Such a theme would not have been possible without confronting the BN’s Achilles heel: Najib’s “cash is king’ mantra. Mahathir consistently portrayed Najib and Umno as morally corrupt and willing to buy over anyone to meet its objective. In social psychology, anything that is repeated tends to stay in the subconscious mind of the masses. Mahathir’s strategy to connect to the psyche of the Malay-Muslim community by saying that the the community’s pride was at stake was a political killer blow to BN.
  • Banging on GST and rising cost of living - Third, there was a common and widespread issue: the rising cost of living, with GST being singled out. The high cost of living cuts across all ethnic communities and this was a great opportunity for PH to capitalise on this issue. The broader strategy of highlighting the high cost of living reverberated around the country, sparking a significant Malay tsunami.

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Malaysia GE 2018: Results at a glance
PH is made up of DAP (42), PKR (49), AMANAH (10) & BERSATU (12) Total = 113

Malaysia's Pakatan Harapan (PH) opposition pact scored an upset electoral victory on Wednesday (May 9) over the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

Here's a breakdown of the key results:
  • Parliamentary seats: 222
  • PH: 113
  • BN: 79
  • Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS): 18
  • Warisan Sabah: 8
  • Solidairi Tanah Airku: 1
  • Independent candidates: 3
Key states:
  • PH overcame BN in states such as Negeri Sembilan, Johor, Kedah, Perak and Malacca, while retaining Penang and Selangor.
  • BN also lost Terengganu to PAS, which retained control of its stronghold in Kelantan.
Political casaulties - Prime Minister Najib Razak retained his Pekan seat, but lost eight ministers and 19 deputy ministers, according to a tally by the Malaysiakini news portal. The eight Malaysian ministers who lost include:
  • Transport minister Liow Tiong Lai
  • Health minister Dr S Subramanaim
  • Plantations industries and commodities minister Mah Siew Keong
  • Agriculture and agro-based industry minister Shabery Cheek
  • Finance minister Johari Abdul Ghani
  • Communications & multimedia Salleh Said Keruak
  • Ministers in PM's Department Jamil Khir Baharom & Abdul Rahman Dahlan
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Former National Solidarity Party chief has applied to form new political party
‘We want to form the government’

The people are fed up with government policies and want their voices to be heard, said former National Solidarity Party (NSP) leader Lim Tean.

It was with this in mind, that Lim applied to form and lead a new political party called Peoples Voice.

In an exclusive interview with Yahoo News Singapore at Far East Plaza on Tuesday (8 May), Lim, a 53-year-old lawyer, even made the bold prediction that within a few election cycles, the opposition will be in a position to shake up the political scene and form the government.

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What Tommy Thomas thinks of Singapore's legal system

This speech in 2009 by newly appointed Attorney-General Tommy Thomas is being shared and commented by netizens in Singapore.

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“We are hundred times better than Kiasuland”: Malaysia’s new AG’s comment on Singapore law goes viral

nine-year-old speech by Malaysia’s new Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, in which he slammed Singapore as “Kiasuland”, has been going viral on social media here.

Contrary to speculation that the AG’s remarks comparing constitutional law between Singapore and Malaysia is recent, the AG’s sharp criticism was actually made on 9 Dec 2009 at a public forum in Petaling Jaya. The speech was actually made months after the Perak constitutional crisis, during which Perak’s one-year-old Pakatan Rakyat state government toppled.

Asserting that Malaysia was fortunate to be a member of the Commonwealth nations – since this means it could refer any constitutional disputes with fellow countries who share similar legal systems that originated from the “intellectual home” of Britain – the 66-year-old cited several examples of nations that he considers to have “constitutional courts of respect”.

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“Singapore does not have a constitution”: Malaysia’s new Attorney-General, Tommy Thomas, in 2009

In a speech froom 2009 which focused on where Malaysia's constitutional lawyers seek inspiration and precedents from, the current Attorney-General ("AG") of Malaysia and constitutional expert, Tommy Thomas highlighted the jurisdictions of India, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. In listing these jurisdictions, he made reference to how their constitution and the constitutional courts have developed a robust system over the years.

However, in addition to stating where their constitutional lawyers seek inspiration from, he also stated, in no uncertain terms, that the one place that they never look to is across the causeway.

"The one place that Malaysia's constitutional lawyers never look to is to Singapore. Singapore does not have a constitution. It does not have a constitutional court. It does not have constitutional judges. It does not have lawyers. So I cannot make this speech in Singapore. So whenever we criticize Malaysia, we must remember that it is a 100 times better than kiasu-land." - Tommy Thomas, Malaysia's AG

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Wake Up, Singapore shared Martyn See's post Yesterday at 18:50

"The one place Malaysian Constitutional Lawyers never look to is Singapore. Singapore has no Constitution. So I cannot make this speech in Singapore. Whenever we crticise Malaysia, we must remember that we are 100 times better than kiasu-land." - Tommy Thomas, the newly minted AG of Malaysia

Following the precedent set by the prosecution of Jolovan and John Tan (https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2018/06/06/malaysias-new-attorney-general-once-argued-that-singapore-does-not-have-a-constitution-heres-what-would-have-happened-if-he-had-made-the-same-statement-today/), who merely made the observation that Malaysian Judges are more independent than their counterparts across the causeway, will Lucien Wong, in the spirit of consistency, also charge his fellow AG for scandalizing the judiciary?

Martyn See Yesterday at 18:31 · Will Singapore's AG Lucien Wong, a former personal lawyer to Lee Hsien Loong, prosecute Tommy Thomas for scandalising our judiciary?

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Martyn See Yesterday at 9:31am

Will Singapore's AG Lucien Wong, a former personal lawyer to Lee Hsien Loong, prosecute Tommy Thomas for scandalising our judiciary?

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