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Malaysian election decoded

Tim Newton

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Malaysian election decoded | The Thaiger

by Tim Newton

Don’t be under any illusion what has just happened in Malaysia. The country hasn’t been freed from the bonds of a corrupt and draconian long-term government and about to soar into a new era of democracy, growth and prosperity.

That a 92 year old former premier, who nurtured both his current deputy Anwar Ibrahim and the ousted PM Nazib Razak, can win an election is more an indication of the country’s problems than a prospect of new hope.

The current Malaysia, along with its political corruption and ethnic tensions, is as much Mahathir Mohamad’s fault as anyone else’s. His riding into history as the saviour of modern Malaysian politics is proof that Malaysians have a very short memory. Or perhaps they were just THAT desperate to get rid of Najib Razak, who never quite shook the stain of the IMDB corruption scandal.

A quick history. Anwar Ibrahim was Malaysia’s deputy PM and finance minister who has been credited, and lauded, for steering Malaysia through the 1997 asian financial crisis. In 1998 Newsweek magazine named Anwar the “Asian of the Year” but later that year things became very prickly between Anwar and Mahathir just before the UMNO General Assembly. (UMNO was the main party in the Barisan Nasional coalition that held sway in Malaysian politics for six decades.)

“At the General Assembly, a book, “50 Reasons Why Anwar Cannot Become Prime Minister”, was circulated containing graphic allegations of homosexuality, as well as accusations of corruption against Anwar. The book was written by Khalid Jafri, an ex-editor of the government-controlled newspaper Utusan Malaysia. Anwar obtained a court injunction to prevent further distribution of the book and filed a lawsuit against the author for defamation. Police charged the author of the book with malicious publishing of false news. The police were instructed to investigate the veracity of the claims.”

Malaysian election decoded | News by The Thaiger

He ended being tried in 1998 in what has internationally described as a ‘political fix up’. What was really happening behind these dramatic and salacious allegations? Anwar was pushing for a polite and respectful transition into the top job but Mahathir (who had already been Malaysia’s PM for 17 years at this stage) would have nothing of it and threw his deputy under the political bus.

Mahathir isn’t the new start that Malaysia craves and needs. Neither is the battered and bruised Anwar, who at 70 years of age, has born the brunt of the excesses of brute force and political expediency of his former, and now current, Prime Minister. He has a lot of past political baggage.

At this stage a royal pardon has been sought and, reportedly, granted, to release Anwar from jail. Anwar would still have to contest a parliamentary by-election (which he would easily win) and then, THEN, his former mentor/foe/friend/conspirator-to-topple-Najib has to step aside and allow Anwar to be the Malaysian PM.

This long political saga is a long way from being over but no one should believe that this is anything other than a power grab by an ageing ‘disruptor’ and political expediency-over-integrity for Anwar.

SOURCES: The Thaiger, Wikipedia

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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 360 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now CEO and writer for The Thaiger - Website, Radio, TV, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. He presented for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue and provides stories for Feature Story News as the south east Asian correspondent.

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World

The stakes are high, the deliberations continue – Parliamentary Brexit vote

The Thaiger

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The stakes are high, the deliberations continue – Parliamentary Brexit vote | The Thaiger

Call it Super Saturday, call it Deal or No Deal, call it the most important day in recent UK history. Today (Saturday) the UK House of Commons will gather on a Saturday, the first time for decades. Golf games have been postponed, polo sticks will have to gather dust and the cleaner’s been told to come back on Sunday.

Earlier this week, British PM Boris Johnson did the near impossible and secured a new Brexit deal from the EU. The EU shocked everyone by throwing out the controversial Irish border backstop and replacing it with an alternative plan, after months of saying that Theresa May’s deal could not be changed. Moreover, the EU leaders seem happy with the deal and have been waxing lyrical about the scruffy British PM they all dreaded negotiating with.

But it’s not going to be easy. Some PMs have already tabled amendments that could make Johnson’s run of success fall short of a finish line. Opposition MPs will put forward proposals to scrap Brexit or schedule a second referendum.

So how is the crucial, and historic vote, going to roll?

It’s far too close to call. PM Johnson doesn’t have a majority in Parliament and his Northern Irish allies, the DUP, who he needed to pass legislation, have already said that they won’t back the new plan. Meanwhile, his opposition MPs are lining up to criticise the deal. And there’s serious concern that the arch-Brexiteers in his own Conservative party will vote against the deal too.

Bottomline, if MPs don’t vote for this deal then they can’t be certain that Brexit will be delayed, despite the fact that Johnson is legally obliged to request a Brexit extension if no deal has been agreed by 11 pm on Saturday night. Last month, opposition MPs passed legislation that binds the British to this commitment. Mr. Johnson says he will comply with the law but reminds his opponents that this decision relies on the EU still having to unanimously agree to it.

But, if the deal passes, the UK finally leaves the EU. Johnson would probably hope to capitalise on his success and call for a general election soon after. His poll ratings are good at the moment, and you’d think they would improve after delivering Brexit.

If the deal goes down, Johnson requests the extension and it’s approved, then we get into the nasty election where both sides will tear each other apart, adding more to a polarised community that may take decades to recover from this folly.

And if the EU refuses an extension, then all hell breaks loose.

Has it all been worth it?

Anyway, bring on Super Saturday as the deliberations continue.

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Thailand

Points deduction system for drivers to be introduced mid-December

The Thaiger

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Points deduction system for drivers to be introduced mid-December | The Thaiger

The point deduction system, for traffic and road infringements, is tentatively scheduled for activation for motorists and motorcyclists in mid-December. It is hoped that the system will help reduce road fatalities and injuries on Thai roads.

The deputy commander of Highways Police Command says that every licensed driver will be given an allocation of 12 points. Each time the driver commits a traffic law violation, points will be deducted. When there are no points left, the driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days, after which the driver or motorcyclist will have to undergo training administered by the Land Transport Department to get their licence back, and another 12 points.

Those who don’t attend the training, however, will have their licence returned after 90 days, but with only 8 points.

Points to be deducted differ, depending on the offence. Offences are divided into four categories:

• One point deduction

Using a cell-phone while driving; exceeding the speed limit; not wearing crash helmets for motorcyclists; not wearing seat belts; not giving way to emergency vehicles, riding on the sidewalk and not stopping for pedestrians on zebra crossings.

• Two points deduction

Running a red light; driving on the wrong side of the road; reckless driving; driving while his/her license is suspended and drunk driving.

• Three points deduction

Organising or promoting street racing without permission; hit-and run; driving while under the influence of narcotics; driving while under the influence of alcohol exceeding 150mg per ml.

• Four points deduction

Driving under the influence of alcohol exceeding 200mg per ml, drunk driving in a way which may cause serious injuries or death to the other people; driving in a manner disregarding the safety of the other people or causing trouble to other people.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Pattaya

The body of an unidentified foreigner found floating south of Pattaya

The Thaiger

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The body of an unidentified foreigner found floating south of Pattaya | The Thaiger

A fisherman has recovered a body, thought to be a foreigner, from the Gulf of Thailand off Sattahip.

Na Jomtien Police were notified of the body by 24 year old Teerapong Boonwat, a fishing boat captain plying the waters around Sattahip, south of Pattaya.

Mr. Boonwat had recovered the body found floating near Koh Ped (Duck Island), about three nautical miles from the Sattahip shore. Police and emergency responders rushed to the scene near Amparam Temple.

Police report that the male body appears to be a foreigner aged around 40 years old with a beard and little head hair. He was wearing a white T-shirt, long jeans and black sneakers.

No identification was found on the man. It is believed that he had died at least 7 days before his body was found floating in the water. The police didn’t state if there was any signs of foul play or the condition of the body.

Police are investigating the incident and reviewing missing person reports to establish identification.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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