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The sinister conspiracy behind the finance crisis January 28, 2009

Posted by Sverre in : Malaysia, Political economy, World politics , add a comment

The conspiracy has been found. As always we can rely on Malaysia’s perceptive grand old man, Mahathir Mohamad to see through the smoke screen of western economics and discover the hidden threads that are being pulled. And this time he has returned to a good old classic:

The jews did it

8. The current financial crisis which is destroying the economies of the U.S. Britain and in fact all the countries of the world is due to manipulations of banks, financial institutions and the monetary system by Jewish supporters of Israel. (chedet.co.cc)

And why is this interesting? Because this isn’t just some random crackpot blogger. This is the man who led Malaysia for just about three decades and has been seen as one of the more prominent moderate voices of the Muslim world. This is the man who crossed the IMF and handled the previous finance crisis in ’98 in his own way. This is a man many still listen to.

How the financial crisis helps Israel is still somewhat unclear to me.

The finance crisis: How can the US Congress do nothing? September 30, 2008

Posted by Sverre in : Political economy, World politics , add a comment

The finance crisis certainly took a turn for the unexpected today when the US House of Representatives turned down the $700 billion rescue package proposed by president Bush. Of course it was controversial for USA to consider this in the first place, given that they have been the largest driving force in pushing the International Monetary Fund to try and discourage other governments from doing the same in times of crisis. Wall Street seems to have expected them to go through with it this time though, as the news brought the biggest plummet in stock prices in American history. So how could they possibly risk the crisis getting even worse?

There are a lot of different reasons, possibly as many as the 227 congressmen that voted against. Here are a few. Off the top of my head I’ll try to point to a few. (more…)

Yes, Tun Mahathir – we can fault the BN concept and governance September 21, 2008

Posted by Sverre in : Malaysia, World politics , add a comment

In this post on his blog chedet.com, former Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir Mohamad, of whom I have previously written quite a bit asserts his claims that the recent election losses by the Barisan Nasional coalition have been caused by loss of confidence in the BN leadership rather than because of genuine support for the opposition.

His analysis is for the most part sound. It makes sense that people would vote for a genuine opponent rather than a utopian third party candidate if what they wanted was to punish the BN. I believe he is right that at least a good portion of the opposition votes were the result of BN disillusionment. I do however think he underestimates the genuine support in Malaysia for reform, and most importantly I think he is mistaken with regard to his final point:

14. We cannot fault the BN concept and governance. We have to look elsewhere for the loss of confidence in the party.

For reasons I have discussed at much more length earlier, there are several things that make me believe that the very UMNO (and BN) system is unsustainable in the long run: (more…)

Anwar Ibrahim returns to the Malaysian parliament August 29, 2008

Posted by Sverre in : Malaysia, World politics , 2comments

Anwar Ibrahim, former “crown prince” of the Malaysian government party UMNO – for many years convicted to exile form Malaysian politics, is now set to return to the Malaysian parliament after winning the by-election in his home constituency of Permatang Pauh in the Malaysian state Penang (Pulau Pinang). He fills a parliamentary seat left open by the withdrawal of his wife. The election came as no surprise to anyone, but is extremely significant, as it shows an Anwar who is back on his feet and once again leading the opposition after being removed from power by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (you can read more about that in the post “Sex, Lies and Capital Controls” from this blog).

To many, Anwar Ibrahim’s arrest and conviction on charges of corruption in 1998 was seen as a decisive victory by then prime minister Mahathir. Likewise, it was by many (my self included) seen as a decisive crackdown on the call for democratic reform by the power of Malaysian autocracy. Anwar’s real return to politics this week turns that short term victory into a long term setback. Not only has Anwar personally been able to return to a position of leadership, but his political ideas of “reformasi”) are still alive, represented by his party Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Justice and are now strongly represented in the parliament. Strong enough to take away the parliament 2/3 majority that the government coalition Barisan Nasional (of which UMNO is the most prominent member) has held since the country’s independence in 1957. (more…)

10 year anniversary celebrated with new sodomy charges – Badawi learning from his master? August 7, 2008

Posted by Sverre in : Malaysia , add a comment

Today, BBC reported that Malaysia’s former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim was once again charged with sodomy (gay sex), a very serious offense in Malaysia.

It’s been 10 years since the great power struggle between Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim, then Prime Minister and deputy in Malaysia. In 1998 it ended with Anwar being accused of sodomy, arrested, expelled from the party and the parliament. He was cleared of those charges by the court, but convicted for corruption after trying to pressure the police to drop the investigation. I live in Malaysia at the time, and like everyone else around me, didn’t believe much in the charges. At least the part about sodomy.

Anwar was released from prison in 2004, and earlier this year had his ban from political activity lifted. Then he went on to lead his party to their best election ever, for the first time breaking the 2/3 majority of the Barisan Nasional coalition that has ruled Malaysia since the country’s independence from Great Britain.

Mahathir Mohamad resigned after 22 years as Malaysia’s Prime minister in 2003, at age 78, and finally handed the reins over to his successor, Mohammad Badawi. Although few expected drastic changes in Malaysia, there was at least a hope that Badawi might gradually move Malaysia in a less authoritarian direction.

In this previous post I presented a paper I wrote on the struggle between Mahathir and Anwar and how the interplay between domestic politics and international economy forced Mahathir to desperate action. Is what we’re seing now, 10 years after the events described there, a case of history repeating itself in a slightly less dramatic way? Is this Badawi’s counter-move to the serious threat posed by an Anwar that once again has the winds of politics in his sails? (more…)