Counting the cost of #1MDB


New Mandala

Still plagued by major financial scandal involving a state wealth fund, is Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak on the ropes? Or will his party, UMNO, be able to ride out the storm like they have so many times in the past?

These are just a few of the key questions in Malaysian politics today and examined by this expert panel.

Featuring John Funston, Ross Tapsell, Miles Kupa (all from the Australian National University), and leading analyst James Chin (University of Tasmania), the panel discusses the increasing polarisation of politics and what it means for Malaysia.

John Funston covers leading party UMNO’s response to the crisis and what it means for PM Najib, while Ross Tapsell examines media coverage and censorship. James Chin turns his attention to the 7 May elections in Sarawak asking whether they offer Najib redemption, and Miles Kupa, a former diplomat, looks at what the unfolding situation means for the Australia-Malaysia relationship.

Listen to the full panel, or individual presentations in the player above and/or below:

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#MH17 Brought Down by Ukrainian Military Aircraft. The BBC Refutes its Own Lies?


Global Research

The BBC has announced the release of a documentary on the crash of Malaysian airlines MH17, which will be broadcast on May 3″:

“On 17 July 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed, killing 298 passengers in the worst air disaster for two decades.

Alarmingly, the devastating crash occurred just four months after the mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. Is this just a coincidence? The cause of the crash has been focus of a host of conspiracy theories, many of which involve Russia, Ukraine and the CIA.

The official investigation report into MH17 flight argues that only a powerful ground-to-air missile could be responsible. Yet, there are eyewitness accounts of other aircrafts seen flying next to MH17 close to impact. To further fuel the conspiracies, Russia and Ukraine blame each other but both countries are unable to provide all the critical radar data from that day.

Family members do not trust the official explanations and there is a long way to go to bring about justice for the victims. This programme tracks down eye witnesses, and speaks with secret intelligence sources to try to sort fact from fiction. Don’t miss this compelling Conspiracy Files unfold to see whether the mystery can be unravelled.” ( See BBC notice here),

In an unusual twist, the description of the BBC documentary not only goes against the official narrative, it also refutes the BBC’s own July 2014 coverage of the downing of MH17.

According to Australia News in a review of the forthcoming BBC production, the Kiev regime is identified as the culprit:

A CONTROVERSIAL new documentary will investigate claims that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a Ukraine fighter jet, instead of a Russian missile. In a new BBC documentary titled ‘The Conspiracy Files: Who Shot Down MH17?’, eyewitnesses will share their accounts of how they saw the aircraft being downed by a nearby fighter jet.

“There are eyewitness accounts of other aircraft seen flying next to MH17 close to impact,” a statement from the BBC said.

 

The report also suggests that:

“The documentary is also set to analyse the possibility that the downing of the jet was a CIA plot to pin the blame on Russia.”

 

The geopolitical implications of these statements are potentially dynamite.

They put Washington on the defensive.

What can we expect from the US State Department and John Kerry:

“Sorry, President Putin, we made a mistake, yeah it was Ukraine which brought down the aircraft and we blamed the Russians, sorry for the economic sanctions, we got our countries mixed up”

Highly unlikely.

Already Britain’s tabloids including the BBC are saying there are SEVERAL THEORIES. According to the Daily Mail, the allegation concerning the role of the CIA:

“was put forward by private investigator, Sergey Sokolov, who claimed that the CIA were helped by the Ukrainian secret service and Dutch security service, to place the bombs on the plane in Holland.”

He said: ‘This terrorist act was a pretext for firstly intensifying sanctions on Russia, secondly to show the world that Russia is a barbarian country and thirdly to strengthen the presence of Nato in Europe, particularly Ukraine.’

In all likelihood, Washington will either remain mum or casually dismiss the BBC documentary, while upholding its ongoing hostility towards Moscow.

While the BBC has announced that the documentary refutes the official story as contained in the latest Dutch safety board report (i.e to the effect that MH17 was brought down by a BUK surface to air missile), we will have to wait for the release on May 3, BBC TV Channel 2 to get the full story, including the innuendos. the conspiracy theories, etc.

It is worth noting that according to former UN human rights chief Navi Pillay in a July 2014 statement “the downing of the Malaysia Airines jet could constitute a war crime”.

Analysis

At Global Research, from the outset we have documented extensively the downing of MH17 by a military aircraft. It is important that the underlying record be fully assessed.

Our archive of 100+ Global Research articles and reports on the downing of MH17. confirms that Malaysian Airlines MH17 was not brought down by a BUK surface to air missile. It was brought down by a military aircraft. This was confirmed in our early reports shortly after the downing of MH17.

Read further…

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Escaping the Digital Media ‘Crap Trap’


The Information

By Jim VandeHei

Digital media companies are caught in the “crap trap,” mass-producing trashy clickbait so they can claim huge audiences and often higher valuations.

Here is how they fell into this lethal trap: They got into the content game to produce news or info they might be proud of, believing they could lure us to read it and maybe even pay for it. They quickly realized it’s expensive to produce quality content and hard to get a lot of people to click on it, much less pay for it. So they deluded themselves that the better play was to go for the biggest audience possible, using stupid web tricks to draw them in. These include misleading but clicky headlines, feel-good lists, sexy photos and exploding watermelons.

And it appeared to work. Traffic spiked. Costs were contained. But revenue never followed because everyone else was doing the same tricks and getting the same spikes—and the simple law of supply and demand drove down the value of their inventory. This dynamic helps explain why Mashable recently laid off so many journalists, BuzzFeed saw its growth miss the mark and many media companies and investors are freaked out.

Here’s the good news: This era is getting flushed away. Some companies feel self-conscious about the trash they are producing. Many others realize it’s simply not a good business model. But the savviest ones see a very cool reason to change: A content revolution is picking up speed, promising a profitable future for companies that can lock down loyal audiences, especially those built around higher-quality content.

Fatal Flaw

In coming years, the revolution will likely demolish much of what we read and watch now. State and local newspapers and TV? Gone. Their models are fatally flawed. General interest magazines such as Time and Newsweek? Gone or unrecognizable shells of their former selves. Traditional TV and cable? Shrinking and scrambling. Clickbait machines such as Gawker, or Ozy, or Mashable? Gone or gobbled up by bigger players.

At the same time, the need for content, especially (but not only) video content, will explode. It will be a mad rush that makes the 1980s’ race to create new cable channels seems like a leisurely stroll.

The pipes for distribution of content are mostly set. Facebook, Amazon, Google and Snapchat will be joined by the savviest traditional media companies such as Comcast and new media players, most notably Netflix, Apple, Vimeo and others.

Those pipes need content. And that content has to attract loyal audiences willing to cough up money to watch it—or more likely watch it, listen to it and read it.

This is why BuzzFeed, Vox, Business Insider, Upworthy, Mashable and so many others are pivoting fast to video content creation, hoping they can turn their big audiences into loyal audiences addicted to videos. It is safe to assume a lot of the content will be clickbait as they try to game the Facebook algorithm for short-term ad dollars. This fad will take a long time to burn off. It’s also safe to assume many will die off in the process.

For all the hand-wringing about BuzzFeed’s business performance this past week, the company is on pace to grow revenues by 50% in 2016, giving it more than enough cash and reason to help lead the transition.

But with time, the demand for loyalty, uniqueness and durability will shift the emphasis to higher quality.

Next Phase

So instead of scale for scale’s sake, the next phase of the media revolution will be creating content of consequence and value. It will continue to be messy but the trajectory for the coming decade is promising. Listen carefully to what Mark Zuckerberg says of late and you can tell he wants quality content, not just quantity, and one day soon will probably want to produce some of it directly at Facebook. Same goes for Snapchat as it expands its content ambitions.

A similar revolution is sweeping through the written word space. Print is obviously dead—the only question is when. But the bigger challenge for those who love writing and reading is that advertising in the digital space is slowing—and the problem gets much worse once most reading is done on phones. It’s simply easier and more efficient to run ads on Facebook or Snapchat, which have bigger audiences and better technology to match readers with things they want to buy or do. And, let’s face it, you can only be so creative with ads on a four-inch screen—a limitation which is more of an issue for traditional print publishers on digital.

We are basically there. I helped create Politico a decade ago—and it still has a newspaper, a magazine and awesome desktop presentation. This continues to have huge value. But, as we think through a new media company or where the puck will be in five years, our focus is only on mobile, social and whatever else is next.

This shift toward mobile and social will force media companies focused on writing and pictures to find ways to get more people to pay for their content. Politico does this with high-end subscription content for professionals. We call it Politico Pro. The Information provides similar expertise in the tech space. But there are other ways to do this.

The creative companies will do this by paying a lot more attention to delivering better information in more efficient ways. They have to think about making people smarter and their lives easier and more enjoyable.

They will stop clinging stubbornly to writing the way journalists want to write and more in the way readers actually want to read. In return, readers will have to pay up and if they need and love the product, they will, and gladly so.

Golden Age

You see this unfolding already: The New York Times mobile site offers a far more enjoyable and efficient way to read the news than its newspaper—and digital subs are rising. Vice hired one of the smarter minds in journalism, Josh Tyrangiel of Bloomberg, and is throwing 150 people at reinventing the nightly and weekly newscast for HBO.

Ken Lerer is right: This is the golden age for content creation.

In all likelihood, the revolutions in video and digital will merge into one: with a new generation of media companies producing content we watch at home, listen to in our car and read wherever on the go. And thanks to technology, all your devices will know what you want, where you are and how to serve up content the way you want to consume it at that very moment.

Just like the Web destroyed the newspaper world; mobile will destroy the desktop world and on-demand video will destroy the TV and cable world. But from the rubble will emerge a much better, more eclectic, more efficient way for all of us to watch, read and listen. It will be brimming with content we can be proud of—and happily pay for.

—Jim VandeHei is the co-founder of POLITICO, a digital media company. He recently resigned as CEO and announced plans to start a new media company with Mike Allen, author of the POLITICO Playbook, and Roy Schwartz, the outgoing chief revenue officer of POLITICO. He is part of a group of advisors to The Information.

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The Status Quo Has Failed and Is Beyond Reform


Yet those who benefit from our status quo (or hope to benefit from it upon retirement) naturally deny it has failed, for the reason that it has yet to fail them personally.


oftwominds

John Hugh Smith

The truth is the usual menu of reforms can’t stop this failure, so we have to prepare ourselves for the radical transformations ahead.
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That the status quo–the current pyramid of wealth and power dominated by the few at the top–has failed is self-evident, but we can’t bear to talk about it.This is not just the result of a corporate media that serves up a steady spew of pro-status quo propaganda–it is also the result of self-censorship and denial.
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Why do we avoid talking about the failure of the status quo? We know it is beyond reform, and we’re afraid: afraid that the promises of financial security cannot be kept, afraid of our own precariousness and fragility, and afraid of what will replace the status quo, for we all know Nature abhors a vacuum, and when the status quo crumbles, something else will take its place.
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We all prefer the comforting promises of vast central states. No wonder so many Russians pine for the glory days of the Soviet Union, warts and all.
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But the central bank/state model has failed, and history can’t be reversed. The failure is not rooted in superficial issues such as which political party is in power, or which regulations are enforced; the failure is structural. The very foundation of the status quo has rotted away, and brushing on another coat of reformist paint will not save our societal house from collapse.
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Yet those who benefit from our status quo (or hope to benefit from it upon retirement) naturally deny it has failed, for the reason that it has yet to fail them personally.
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So we pretend to not understand that all unsustainable systems eventually collapse, and hope that the next central bank policy–negative interest rates, or bank bail-ins or helicopter money–will postpone it.
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But the writing is already on the wall for us to read: these are the tell-tale signs of systemic failure leading to systemic collapse:

 

  • We keep doing more of what has failed spectacularly.
  • What began as emergency measures are now permanent policies.
  • The returns on status quo solutions are diminishing to less than zero.
  • Social mobility has eroded.
  • We have lost social cohesion and shared purpose.

 

But the failure runs even deeper: Our status quo is not only failing to solve humanity’s six core problems– it has become the problem.
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To explain why this is so, I wrote Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform, a new book that’s focused (90 pages) and affordable, i.e. the cost of a latte ($3.95 Kindle ebook, $8.95 print edition).
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Why can’t our status quo be reformed? There are two primary reasons:
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1) Those benefiting from the current arrangement will resist any reforms that threaten their share of the pie–and meaningful reforms will necessarily threaten everyone’s slice of the pie.
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2) Reforms that actually address the structural flaws will bring the system down, as the status quo can only continue if its engine (permanent expansion of debt and consumption) is running at full speed. Once the engine stalls or even slows, the system collapses.
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This is unwelcome news not just to privileged insiders–and the harsh reality is that our status quo exists to protect the privileges of the few at the expense of the many–but to everyone who hopes to benefit in some way from our status quo’s cornucopia of promises.
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So we cling to the dangerous hope that all the promises can be met by some future magic, and cocoon ourselves in an equally dangerous denial that collapse is inevitable. We don’t just want to avoid the decay and collapse of all the happy promises–we want to avoid the responsibility of taking part in shaping the replacement system.
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We all want to wallow in the false security of one form of the old Soviet Union or another. Call it Japan, or the Eurozone, or the U.S.A., or Russia, or the People’s Republic of China–they’re all versions of the doomed Soviet model of central planning, propaganda and supression of anything that isn’t supportive of the status quo, i.e. dissent.
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The truth is the usual menu of reforms can’t stop this failure, so we have to prepare ourselves for the radical transformations ahead. The decay and collapse of our status quo is not the disaster we assume; rather, it is good news for the planet and everyone who isn’t in the privileged elites, as the collapse will clear the way for a much more sustainable decentralized system that is already visible to those who know where to look (crypto-currencies, local community economies, etc.).
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The decay phase of the status quo (i.e. the present) offers us a magnificent opportunity to fashion alternative systems that operate in the shadow of the status quo, making use of technologies such as the Internet. Alternative systems can arise without challenging the status quo; indeed, sustainable, decentralized systems offer open-minded elements of the status quo new models and new partners.
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My own proposal for a replacement system is called CLIME–the Community Labor Integrated Money System. Whether you agree with my proposal or not, the point is that we have to wake up from our propaganda-induced slumber and take responsibility for being part of the solution rather than passively clinging to the problem, i.e. our status quo.
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You can find our more about Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform($3.95 Kindle ebook, a 20% discount thru May 1, $8.95 print edition) on the book’s website. The book is #3 on Kindle short reads -> politics and social science.

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The collective experiment on planet Earth


The most deluded among us believe we are always on the cusp of a final breakthrough.

But there is no “we” to make the breakthrough.

It comes to every person on his own. And it does not arrive as the thrust of an external force, but from one’s own struggle, accompanied by insights for which there is no outside agency to lend confirmation.

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Jon Rappoport's Blog

The collective experiment on planet Earth

by Jon Rappoport

April 21, 2016

(To read about Jon’s mega-collection, The Matrix Revealed, click here.)

When all obsessive group-consciousness on Earth is finished, exhausted, when it admits defeat, then a different era will emerge. But for now, we are in the middle of the collective experiment.

High-flying cloying sentiment, profound dependence on others, covert repression—these are the order of the day.

How long until the collective age is over? A hundred years? A thousand years? The answer is, as long as it takes for every human to realize that the experiment has failed, and why.

The why is clear—the individual has been overlooked. He has been demeaned. He has been grabbed up and drafted into groups. His creative power has been compromised in order to fit in.

The majority of the world still believes in this approach, as if from good…

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Gloomy Don McLean reveals meaning of ‘American Pie’


“I was around in 1970 and now I am around in 2015, there is no poetry and very little romance in anything anymore, so it is really like the last phase of ‘American Pie.’ ”

Gloomy Don McLean reveals meaning of ‘American Pie’ — and sells lyrics for $1.2 million

The Washington Post

April 8, 2015

The music died because Buddy Holly merely wanted what every touring musician wants: to do laundry.

Shoved into unheated buses on a “Winter Dance Party” tour in 1959, Holly — tired of rattling through the Midwest with dirty clothes — chartered a plane on Feb. 3 to fly from Clear Lake, Iowa, to Fargo, N.D., where he hoped he could make an appointment with a washing machine. Joining him on the plane were Ritchie Valens and, after future country star Waylon Jennings gave up his seat, J.P. Richardson, a.k.a. “the Big Bopper.” Taking off in bad weather with a pilot not certified to do so, the plane crashed, killing everyone aboard. The toll was incalculable: The singers of “Peggy Sue” and “Come On Let’s Go” and “Donna” and “La Bamba” were dead. Holly was just 22; incredibly, Valens was just 17. Rock and roll would never be the same.

don-mclean-american-pie-350x350Thirteen years later, Don McLean wrote a song about this tragedy: “American Pie,” an 8½-minute epic with an iconic lyric about “the day the music died.” Now, the original 16-page working manuscript of the lyrics has been sold at auction for $1.2 million.

“I thought it would be interesting as I reach age 70 to release this work product on the song American Pie so that anyone who might be interested will learn that this song was not a parlor game,” McLean said in a Christie’s catalogue ahead of the sale. “It was an indescribable photograph of America that I tried to capture in words and music.”

That photograph was always a little bit blurry. At more than 800 words, the meaning of “American Pie” proved elusive even for a generation used to parsing inscrutable Bob Dylan and Beatles lyrics. McLean has said the song was inspired by the 1959 plane crash, but has been cagey about other details.

“People ask me if I left the lyrics open to ambiguity,” McLean said in an early interview, as the Guardian reported. “Of course I did. I wanted to make a whole series of complex statements. The lyrics had to do with the state of society at the time.”

But what state was that? It seemed like the song’s cast of characters — which include a jester, a king, a queen, good ol’ boys drinking whiskey and rye as well as “Miss American Pie” herself — were meant to represent real people. The song includes references to Karl Marx; Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (or, more likely, John Lennon); the Fab Four; the Byrds; James Dean; Charles Manson; the Rolling Stones; the “widowed bride,” Jackie Kennedy; and the Vietnam War.

What does it all mean? Just what a song about the day the music died seems like it might be about: the end of the American Dream.

“Basically in ‘American Pie,’ things are heading in the wrong direction,” he told Christie’s, as the Newcastle Herald reported. “It is becoming less idyllic. I don’t know whether you consider that wrong or right but it is a morality song in a sense.”

As ideals of the 1960s turned into the cynicism of the 1970s, this feeling was widespread enough to send the song to No. 1 in 1972.

“American Pie is the accessible farewell to the Fifties and Sixties,” Guardian music critic Alexis Petridis wrote in the catalogue. “Bob Dylan talked to the counterculture in dense, cryptic, apocalyptic terms. But Don McLean says similar ominous things in a pop language that a mainstream listener could understand. The chorus is so good that it lets you wallow in the confusion and wistfulness of that moment, and be comforted at the same time. It’s bubblegum Dylan, really.” (Perhaps of note: Dylan’s manuscript of “Like a Rolling Stone” sold for $2 million in June, besting McLean’s measly $1.2 million.)

Forty-four years after “American Pie’s” release, McLean, 69, wasn’t much more positive about the state of the world than he was a generation ago.

“I was around in 1970 and now I am around in 2015,” McLean said, as People Magazine reported. “There is no poetry and very little romance in anything anymore, so it is really like the last phase of ‘American Pie.’ ”

Nor was there romance in McLean’s decision to sell the manuscript. He did it for the dough.

“I’m going to be 70 this year,” he told Rolling Stone. “I have two children and a wife, and none of them seem to have the mercantile instinct. I want to get the best deal that I can for them. It’s time.”

Ahead of the Christie’s auction, McLean did offer some advice to all the budding Don McLeans out here.

“I would say to young songwriters who are starting out to immerse yourself in beautiful music and beautiful lyrics and think about every word you say in a song,” he said.

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“Najib: Quit” Petitioner Azrul Mohd Khalib was hauled in by Malaysian Police


by Azrul Mohd Khalib · 51,245 supporters

Change.Org

Tabahkan hati dan cekalkan semangat! Help fix a broken system and build a better Malaysia!

Azrul Mohd Khalib

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

You might have heard that I was called in by the police yesterday. Let me share with you what happened.

I was asked to present myself at the Petaling Jaya IPD today and met with ASP Lim Chee Koon and Sergeant Selvam from the Department of Criminal Investigations. I was fortunate to have the support of Lawyers for Liberty with Melissa Sasidaran who acted as my lawyer. The taking down of my statement went smoothly. I was unharmed.

Many questions were asked including whether I own the Change.org site (!), if anything that was written is true (?), and if any of you were given or promised an incentive to support this petition (!!). I almost laughed hearing some of those questions.

Like you, many Malaysians are finding their voices and have started to speak out. Their voices express concern and worry for the state of the country today. They speak of concern for the damage that is being done to our country due to the alleged misconduct and a massive loss of integrity, trust and independence.

Citizens of a democratic country shouldn’t need permission to take part in the democratic process. People shouldn’t need to be looking over their shoulder, lowering their voices, worried about whether the government is going to be happy with what they want to say or express.

Especially if it is expressing concern about the way the country is being run, the misuse of public funds and the crushing burden of increasing economic disparity that is being felt by almost every citizen in our country.

The Citizens’ Declaration is one form of democratic expression and it is important and urgent to address the four issues highlighted in that document.

“Governments are like underwear. They start smelling pretty bad if you don’t change them once in a while.”

This one is long overdue and the stink is more than we can bear.

But the need for change must come from Malaysians themselves.

We must not stay silent in the face of tyranny, corruption and dishonour to our country.

We must not stay silent when our liberties and freedoms are threatened.

When we voice our concern about the integrity of the government, it stems from the firm belief that there is a need for better governance, accountability and transparency from the people who are making decisions in the Rakyat’s name. In your name.

The online petition and the Citizens’ Declaration are certainly not seditious in any shape or form. This is what participatory democracy looks like. Something those in power for far too long have forgotten.

Those with the responsibility of governing must realise that taking criticism, even unwelcomed or unpleasant ones, is necessary especially if it is in the best interest of the country.

Unthinking and unquestioning obedience to those in governance is not what is needed.

We should not and cannot be silent. After all, we reap what we sow. Let’s all support reform and change for a better Malaysia.

Keep sharing the petition as widely as possible.

Stay the course. Tabahkan hati dan cekalkan semangat! Demand for a better country and better leadership for Malaysia!

We deserve better.

Watch this video of Mmusi Maimane of the South African Parliament and be struck by how familiar and close to home it sounds
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Mmusi Maimane
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