Monday, July 30, 2007

Zam the "Goblok"


Zam detested everything western. He said that the public should be wise in identifying the websites of goblok (Indonesian slang for “stupid”) bloggers, who are willing to be tools of others to destroy the nation, said the Information Minister.

“These writers do not have an Asian mentality but lean towards a Western thinking because they were educated overseas.

“Thus they assume that the Western style of democratic freedom is better. The goblok writers only have their own interests at heart and should be ignored,” he said yesterday.

For your information, the minister received his professional journalism fellowship from the University of Michigan, US. Does that qualify him as a western educated 'goblok' too?

The minister should lose his tie and suit, a popular formal western attire. Please do not let us find you dining and holidaying in London as well.
Do you want us to believe that UMNO style of democracy, which is a mixture of populism, racism, political Islam and feudalism, is better than the western system?

Kayveas Credibility Test

At a press conference, Kayveas was quoted as saying that the PPP would leave the BN if it was not permitted to contest the seats it held in the 1960s. He was reported to have made the statement on Saturday, the eve of the party’s 54th anniversary.

He denied making such threat. "All I did was make a request that the party be allowed to contest for seats it used to hold. It was a friendly request, short of begging. Never at any time did I issue an ultimatum to the Barisan Nasional."

Kayveas is 'requesting' for 7 parliamentary and 12 state seats and the mayor of Ipoh position. But some in the BN who knew him understand that Kayveas is merely fighting for his own survival when being told earlier this year that his seat of Taiping will be given back to Gerakan.

Gerakan's Tan Lian Hoe, who is the MP of Bukit Gantang, is now the BN division head of Taiping.

If PPP is not given what it wanted and Kayveas did not pull out of BN, he is set to lose his own credibility which may spell the end of PPP.

Will Najib or Pak Lah let this happen?

Najib said it was unlikely that PPP president M. Kayveas meant for the party to leave the BN in such circumstances.

In Muar, Umno vice-president Muhyiddin Yassin asked the PPP to withdraw its ultimatum to pull out of the coalition.

In George Town, Umno vice-president Mohd Ali Rustam said the PPP was free to go if it so chose.

MCA vice-president Dr Chua Soi Lek said Kayveas' remarks were “uncalled for”.

Gerakan acting president Dr Koh Tsu Koon said Kayveas’ purported threat was not a positive or constructive approach.

Friday, July 27, 2007

PM to Decide on Syariah Courts vs. Civil Courts Issue

Any further action on the judiciary’s call for Parliament to resolve the question of jurisdiction between the civil and syariah courts lies in the hands of the Prime Minister, de-facto law minister Nazri Aziz said.

The PM is expected to consult his component parties' leaders before coming out with a decision soon.

He was asked if the Government would take up the call by the Federal Court in re Latifah Mat Zin on Wednesday.

Bar Council chairman Ambiga Sreenevasan said there have been an increasing number of family disputes affecting Muslims and non-Muslims that overlap both jurisdictions.

“This decision brings about some certainty (and with that less anxiety and anguish to Muslims and non-Muslims) as to where parties may go to pursue their legal remedies,” said Ambiga, in commending the court for emphasising the importance of acting in conformity with the Federal Constitution.

While clarifying some issues, she said the Federal Court had noted there could be situations where there may be matters outside the jurisdiction of both courts, resulting in no available remedy in either court.

“This has to be comprehensively addressed either by the courts or by Parliament as suggested in the judgment.”

It is timely that the prime minister act on the matter to fill up the legal lacuna which affects the jurisdiction of the courts e.g. syariah and civil. However, any proposed amendment must seek to protect the original spirit of the federal constitution which respects the role of religion especially Islam but remained secular in essence.

It will be a trying time for the non-Muslim leaders in BN to decide on the amendment. This is a duty call for them to prove that they are loyal Malaysians and respected the spirit of federal constitution.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Civil Courts vs. Syariah Courts - Parliament to Decide

Parliament must resolve the jurisdiction tussle between the civil courts and Syariah courts, which has become more serious over the last two decades, the Federal Court said.

Justice Abdul Hamid Mohamad said that after 50 years, these provisions needed to be reviewed and updated to meet the present circumstances, as the courts’ function was to apply the law, not make or amend it.
“These are not matters that the courts can solve as the courts owe their jurisdiction to statutes.
“It is for the legislature to step in, to decide as a matter of policy what should be the solution and legislate accordingly,” he said.

Justice Abdul Hamid also said until the problem was resolved by legislature, the only way out was if in a case in the civil court where an Islamic law issue arose and fell within the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court, the party raising the issue should file a case there for determination of that specific issue.
He said that decision should then be applied by the civil court in determination of the case.

However, he said this would only apply if both parties were Muslims.

Justice Abdul Hamid said the problem would arise if one of the parties was a non-Muslim. Such an application could not be made to the Syariah Court as he or she would not be able to commence or even put up his or her defence.

However, with the politicians tendency to politicize Islam it is left to be seen if they can evaluate the legislative need objectively. Any legislative amendment must safeguard the position of the civil courts as the highest courts in the country and not otherwise.

Recently, the deputy prime minister announced that Malaysia is an Islamic State and not a secular state. His interpretation was politically motivated. Secular is seen as a western jargon which is not acceptable to Muslims, he reckoned.

Except for MCA, the other component parties in BN did not strongly object his statement. His statement has caused rumblings amongst Malaysians who are keen to protect their secular lifestyle.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Threat to Democracy

As expected, popular web-writer, Raja Petra or RPK, was taken into police custody for questioning today. Harris Ibrahim smsed me from Dang Wangi and told me to 'please walk with RPK'.

We will walk together for democracy. We will work together to ensure that a hegemonic force will not destroy our nation's democratic structures.

This is the second time in less than 2 weeks a blogger has been taken into police custody on flimsy accusations. Most pundits can help but to concur that the ruling regime is trying to shackle the blogging community, long seen as a threat to their political dominance.

Gerakan's leader Dr Toh Kin Woon wrote in Malaysiakini, "The recent arrest of Nathanniel Tan, a blogger and the call by Umno to the police to take action against ‘Malaysia Today’, a much visited blog by Raja Petra Raja Kamarudin, reflect the growing trend towards stifling dissent in our country."

However, the ruling regime did not consider similar action to be taken against members of their party who had uttered racist, chauvinist and threathening remarks which could have sparked social unrest at the party's annual meeting last year.

Recently, the number two leader of the party declared that Malaysia is an 'Islamic State', which is itself a seditious statement which does not augur well in keeping a peaceful and harmonious inter-ethnic relations in the country.

The federal constitution, the supreme law of the land, was created with the spirit of protecting the rights of all Malaysians regardless of religion. Although it recognised and respected the role of religion in the society and the influence of Islam, the federal constitution is a secular document.

The interpretation of 'secularism' here does not mean the absence of religious values but all Malaysians of various faith can seek for a fair justice to be dispensed to them without being subjected to the values of any religion.

Some politicians have tried to usurp the spirit of the federal constitution although it is clear that an amendment must be made if Malaysia is to be declared an Islamic state.

In the mean time, all Malaysians must respect the position of the constitution.


Politicians who are becoming tyrants of democracy must be REJECTED!

Monday, July 23, 2007

After Nat Tan, Raja Petra is Next?

A few days ago, my friend told me that UMNO would not know how to face the election without first ordering a crack down on the bloggers. His statement came a few days after Nat's four days remand.

Umno has filed a police report against political website Malaysia Today for allegedly publishing disparaging remarks against the King and Islam. The report was filed at the Dang Wangi police station by Umno information chief Muhammad Muhammad Taib this afternoon.

He claimed that the postings and articles (on July 11) were disrespectful to the King and Islam. According to him, they had the potential to create unrest in the country and strike fear in the people. It is 23rd July today, did the articles created unrest, after almost 2 weeks they were published? Nope, Malaysians are peaceful people.

However, many bloggers believed that the dawn of the crackdown has begun and this menace must be stopped. Otherwise, politicians can even get away with tearing apart the spirit of the federal constitution by using threats and coercive measures.

Forum on Islamic State

As reported by Bernama, the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak proclaimed on 16th July that “We have never, never been secular... we are an Islamic state.”Subsequently, as reported in Malaysiakini, the Internal Security Ministry has confirmed that they have given a directive to all mainstream media not to publish any news on the issue of Malaysia being an Islamic state.

Publications Control & Al-Quran Texts Unit senior officer Che Din Yusof said, “Yes, we have given the directive to all mainstream newspapers. Islam is a sensitive issue. They cannot publish any news on whether the country is secular or Islam.”However, he said newpapers can still publish statements from Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his deputy Najib Abdul Razak on the country being an Islamic state.“Reaction from political parties and the public cannot be published especially the negative reactions,” he said.

In light of the seriousness of the above two major development on a 'democratic', multi-racial and multi-cultural Malaysia, and the reluctance of other BN component parties to pick up the gauntlet (MCA did pick up the gaunlet, see my post below), the DAP is organising a public forum to discuss the above issues:Panel of

Distinguished Speakers

- Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader
- Ambiga Sreenevasan, Malaysia Bar Council President
- Malik Imtiaz, Human Rights Lawyer
- Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, PKR Treasurer
- Rev Dr Hermen Shastri, General Secretary, Council of Churches*
- Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General to DAP

* To be confirmed

Venue: KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly HallDate: 25th July 2007 (Wednesday)Time: 7.30 pm

MCA is Standing Up As a Political Party

Umno Youth has asked its Barisan Nasional partner MCA to cease its public campaign to declare Malaysia as a secular state. “Saya beri amaran kepada pemimpin MCA supaya berhenti membuat kenyataan sedemikian. (I am giving a warning to MCA leaders to stop making such statements).

“I would like to stress that I’m not a naive leader and allow this matter to continue. Amaran saya (my warning) is to stop making (such) statements,” said Hishammuddin Hussien according to Berita Harian (as reported by Malaysiakini.com)

MCA did not take the warning lightly. The Sin Chew Daily quoted MCA Youth chief Liow Tiong Lai as “warning” leaders of BN parties that MCA reserves the right to retaliate against any disrespectful remarks against the party.

“All component parties are equal partners and if any BN leader blatantly issues this or that warning, then MCA can reciprocate,” he said without directly naming Umno.

MCA vice-president Ong Tee Keat said the party has a right to express its opinions and views on any national issue. “Under the Federal Constitution, MCA has even the right to defend its position and these rights cannot be denied by anyone,” he added.

MCA Federal Territory liaison chief Tan Chai Ho described the statements as “destructive and extremist”, and said Hishammuddin’s warning was a “stab in the back” for the Chinese Malaysian party.

I fully support the MCA leaders' statements on this issue. All Malaysians have the right to defend the sanctity of the federal constitution. Our constitution upholds Malaysia as a secular state and this position must be respected by both Najib and Hishammudin.

The Minister of Education has shown his extremist side again by issuing threats and warnings.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Norizan Bakar Cried Unfairness

From the print version of The Sun, sacked coach of Malaysian football team Norizan Bakar said that he should not be blamed for the team's shameful performance at the Asia Cup.

He said, "I think it's unfair. I've tried to do my level best with the talent that Malaysia has."

However, he admitted that there were problems related to the team's preparation.

Norizan should understand that these problems were part of his coaching failure too. And Malaysians should be made to foot the bill for a talent like him.

We deserve better.

Dr M: Ethnic Malays Have Frittered Away Opportunities

Reported in Bloomberg, ethnic Malays have blown the opportunities given to them under the country's 36-year-old affirmative action policy and still need preferential treatment, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said.

He added "The Malays have not responded to the efforts made by the government and because of that, the disparity remains. When you're coming up from behind to catch up, you have to run faster, you have to make more effort.''

Dr Mahathir is hinting that it may be difficult to dismantle the affirmative policy without causing the Malays to slip further. What is obvious is the government did not try to change the mindset of the Malays. Programmes should be aimed at making them more competitive instead of over dependence.

Some ethnic Malays failed to develop their own business expertise, choosing to sell to other races the government contracts set aside for them, or auction specially allocated permits to import cars, Mahathir said.

Still, pursuing the policy risks angering local Chinese and Indians, he said. Without it, Malays, who account for about 60 percent of the 27 million population, may struggle, he said.

"There's more than enough headway given to the Bumiputeras now,'' said Maznah Mohamad, a senior research fellow at the University of Singapore. She adds "The NEP has been reduced to a kind of charity scheme. That is not good for any economy.''

Malaysia is at the crossroads. It must decide now which path to take so that the country does not go through a downward spiral.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Najib, Don't Politicize Our Constitution

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister and UMNO Deputy President Najib Razak said Malaysia is not a secular state, but an Islamic state driven by the fundamentals of Islam.

His statement:

"Islam is the official religion and Malaysia is an Islamic state, an Islamic state that respects the rights of the non-Muslims and we protect them," he said when asked to comment on concerns that Malaysia was moving from a secular government to an Islamic State and whether is Malaysia is one.

"I want to correct you (reporter), that we have never never been a secular state. Secular by Western definition means separation of the Islamic principles in the way we govern the country.

"But we have never abdicated from those principles. Malaysia have been always been driven by, and adhere to the fundamentals of Islam ... so your (reporter) premise is wrong," he said.

After spoken to several people, most of the pundits opined that Najib needs to find something to distract attention away from the controversy he was caught in at the Altantuya Shaaribu murder trial.

A prominent BN politician told me that Najib is trying to pick up a fight to enhance his profile especially when the fight is on Malaysia's Islamic status.

Najib is obviously playing with fire here knowing that his statement is tantamount to a political challenge against the spirit of the federal constitution which is the most sacred law of the land.

The prominent leader added that we should not attack Najib over the statement because this is what he wanted to create, a fight which will help to uplift his profile knowing that Islamists will leap to his defence.

Nonetheless, several people have responded:

Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan:

"Malaysia is a secular state, not an Islamic state. The law is clear about this whereby the supreme court in a 1998 case decided by Lord President Tun Salleh Abbas stated clearly: we are a secular state and the civil court administers secular law.

"Certainly, Islam receives special treatment in the Federal Constitution but that does not mean Malaysia is an Islamic state.

"It does not follow from the provision in Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution that we are an Islamic state in the legal term.

"Going back to the time of our founding fathers and the Reid Commission report, it is clear we were not meant to be an Islamic state. Taking this position today is contrary to our consititutional history.

"We believe there is a misunderstanding that can be resolved by looking closely at the constitution."

International Islamic University Malaysia lecturer Prof Dr Abdul Aziz Bari:

"Malaysia is not a secular state because Islam has been put as the "religion of the Federation" by Article 3(1).

"But, it is acceptable to say Malaysia is "an Islamic nation with its own interpretation." Given the sensitivities and ignorance of both Muslims and non-Muslims, such is understandable.

"Because, even for a country like United Kingdom, with good policies, orderly system and humane laws, it can be Islamic in that sense."

Universiti Teknologi Mara lecturer Prof Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi:

"Malaysia is never secular but at the same time, it is not an Islamic state. We are neither here nor there.

"We walk the middle path. But this is not something we should be ashamed of. Instead, it is a pride.

"Malaysia was always promoting Islam. In line with this, it is clear that Malaysia was never neutral on the issue of religion.

"But we have never emphasised on ideological purity. We are not a theocratic state.

The constitution is the supreme law of the nation. So, it does not permit a conclusion that we are a full-fledged Islamic state.

"To me, there is no need to adopt a black or white agreement. There are shades of grey. We are a hybrid state. Our system are all mixed.

"We are a Muslim nation whereby Muslims are in control, but not in the legal way. "And actually, there is no prototype or ideal model of an Islamic state in the world. Not even Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, as they do have customs which have nothing to do with Islam."

MCA Youth chief Datuk Liow Tiong Lai:

The Federal Constitution's tenet has always been that Malaysia is a secular state, and not an Islamic state.

Although the official religion is Islam, the people can practise other religions.

Najib's statement that Malaysia is an Islamic should not be taken literally but in a general sense that it is an Islamic country, where the majority of the population is Muslim.

Malaysia is an Islamic country, which has a Muslim majority population and which is a member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference; it is not an Islamic state which practises theocracy.

Opposition Leader and DAP member of Parliament for Ipoh Timur Lim Kit Siang

Najib's statement is a unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional revision of the fundamental principles of nation-building agreed by the forefathers of the major communities on the founding of the nation.

It is agreed that while Islam is the official religion of the federation, Malaya and later Malaysia is not an Islamic state, whether of the PAS or Umno variety.

Tunku said at his 80th birthday celebration organised by the Barisan Nasional in1983: "The Constitution must be respected and adhered to. There have been attempts by some people who tried to introduce religious laws and morality laws. This cannot be allowed.

"The country has a multi-racial population with various beliefs. Malaysia must continue as a secular state with Islam as the official religion."

Dr Farish Noor:

"The comments made by the Deputy Prime Minister would suggest a totalising discourse that fails to take into account the pluralism that is at the heart of the Malaysian nation and nation-building project. When he states that ‘we have always been driven by our adherence to the fundamental principles of Islam’, is he referring to the entire Malaysian population that includes not only Muslims but also Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and peoples of other faiths? Or by the term ‘we’ is he referring to the oligarchy of Malay-Muslim elites who man the helm of UMNO and the ruling National Front alliance that governs the country?"

As a Deputy Prime Minister, Najib is a leader of all races. He must ensure that his statement does not mislead the public. The spirit of the federal constitution today remained secular although Islam is accepted and recognised as the federal religion. The recognition is purely symbolic and to respect the majority people of this country who are muslims.

Malaysians must celebrate the country's strength in diversity and not otherwise. This exclusive statement seeks to disunite than to unite, which is a pity because we are celebrating the 50th year of our national independence.

What is obvious is it is Najib the Politician at work and he is hoping that his statement will shore up his popularity. This is a cheap gimmick and a dangerous one too.

Is Najib fit to become a leader of a multiracial and multireligious country?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Why Don't You Do It Yourself, Muhyiddin?

Umno vice-president Muhyiddin Yassin has chided Barisan Nasional’s non-Malay leaders for failing to explain to their community members the necessity of having and supporting the New Economic Policy. Their fear of losing votes is an unacceptable excuse, he said.

"It is a collective policy that was agreed upon by the cabinet to address economic disparities within the country’s different communities and its aim is to unify."If you are worried that you will lose votes among your community, then perhaps you do not understand the policy’s importance. If the non-Malay communities cannot accept it now, then how was it accepted during (second prime minster) Tun Abdul Razak (Hussein’s) time by other non-Malay BN leaders?" Muhyiddin asked.

How are the non-Malay leaders going to respond when asked why students of other races who did well in public examinations are being deprived of a place in the public university? How are they going to respond when asked why aren't vernacular schools given government funds? How are they going to respond when some well-connected UMNO putras are given thousands of APs which turned them into overnight millionaires? How are they going to answer for UMNO's own creations - nepotism, cronyism and corruption?

Why don't Muhyiddin offer to conduct a training session to these non-Malay leaders to teach them how to respond to these questions convincingly?

With the poorest 10% owning only 1.7% of the nation's wealth compared to the richest 10% holding 37%, how can the minister be so blind not to see that the main problem is intra-community wealth disparity?

Yes, we will suffer the consequences in the next decade due to UMNO's denial syndrome. Please, do not expect others to clean up after you.

You shit, you clean it up.

Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad on NEP

Snippets of his article in Malaysiakini:

It doesn’t need a political pundit to tell the nation that the New Economic Policy (NEP) is the legitimating ideology for Umno’s hegemony and legitimacy - and that the party now has trouble weaning beneficiaries off it.

Paramount to Umno’s consideration is the issue of 30 percent ownership of the corporate equity, as opposed to the twin-prong objectives of eradicating poverty and eliminating identification of race with economic activities.

It is the 30 percent rule for bumiputera participation that has ended in the ‘affirmative action’ being perceived, rightly or wrongly, as a ‘zero-sum’ policy that is working at the expense of other races....

Umno’s persistence of maintaining its own under-achievement, hovering at 18.9 percent corporate equity of the Malay-bumiputera - despite others claiming to the contrary - is mind-boggling and naturally smacks of their ‘sinister’ motive. The measurement, to make it worse, is shrouded in mystery, ending in endless dispute between advocates and critics.

The primary reason why the ‘redistribution strategy’ has failed is due to chronic inefficiencies, leakages, and unbridled crony capitalism and nepotism. Many bumiputera contractors are alleged to be mere rent-seekers (read cronies), spinning the contract out to non-bumiputeras in the infamous practice of the Ali-Baba partnership....

The rent-seeking activities of a few politically well-connected Umnoputras have denied the rights of a bigger pool of genuinely deserving Malay entrepreneurs and corporate outfits, which have to compete in a tilted playing-field within the Malay community.

Going by the UN Human Development Report of 2004 and after 37 years of NEP, Malaysia has become the worst country in income disparity between the rich and poor in Southeast Asia. The report shows that the richest 10 percent in Malaysia control 38.4 percent of economic income, against the poorest 10 percent controlling only 1.7 percent. The Malay suffers the greatest intra-ethnic income disparity.

Giving handouts and continuing rent-seeking activities to non-deserving entities, be they bumiputera or non-bumiputera cronies, and adding cost without increasing productivity in economic activities, can only spell doom for the nation’s future in the face of global competition.

Continuing the affirmative action for the ‘super rich Umnoputeras’ will eat badly into our national resources and produce deleterious knock-on effects on our nation’s integrity and competitiveness. Surely this cannot and must not be assumed forever.

The already capable Malays, after five decades of independence, must no longer be beholden to an ‘affirmative mindset’ that entraps them into an unrelenting ’crutch mentality’ and which prevents them from be truly competent, competitive and enterprising. We must not repeat our mistakes.

Otherwise, it will be ‘the Great March Backward’ for the nation.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Institute of Ethnic Relations - Not Another Institute But Political Will Needed

The 55-member panel of the National Unity Advisory Panel have proposed the formation of an Institute of Ethnic Relations to manage the issue of national unity and integration. They felt that the time had come for a proper institute to be set up to document success stories in the management of inter and intra-racial unity.

This is the first suggestion coming out from the newly appointed panel. What is new? Nothing. Ethnic relations cannot be enhanced by merely setting up more institutions. More public funds would probably be needed to fund the institute. Who will be its members? Probably those who are already in the National Unity Advisory Panel. This is what we called 'recycling'.

Moreover, is the role of the institute to document only success stories? Is the proposed institute aimed at playing an apologist role for the government by spending public's money?

The first proposal of the advisory panel should be to encourage the government to review its current affirmative policy. It is timely we shift the focus of the policy from being race-based to need-based. If the government's intention is to help the poor bumiputera, a need-based policy will not affect this objective.

In fact, a need-based policy will ensure critical and scarce resources are directed to the needy ones. Why should the middle class and the rich continue to benefit from the NEP?

Second, the advisory panel should propose to the government to take stern action against all government policy makers and civil servants who displayed racist behaviour. Action should be taken against those who stoke up racist sentiment.

I am surprised at how shallow the first proposal was. I am sure the advisory panel can do better than this.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

It Better Not be a Space Tourism

"It is not a tourism programme. It has to do with science and education, and to inspire our people to appreciate science and technology," Prime Minister Abdullah Bawadi told both Dr Sheikh Muszaphar and Dr Faiz.

The prime minister said the country was placing its hopes on them. The selected candidate is supposed to help the nation in the mission which will include cancer research at the International Space Station.

I am not too sure if we can pin any hope of the two. Neither of them is a qualified scientist. But we hope that they do not make a fool of themselves by serving 'teh tarik' onboard the mission.

RM70 million is not a small sum of money to send a person into space to do 'teh tarik'. By the way, when are we sending some politicians on a cruise in our very own French-made submarine?

Congrats! There is definitely an element of tourism and excitement thrown in.

A Not So-Public Public Hearing

The second public hearing of the Parliamentary Caucus on Human Rights and Good Governance last night sprang a surprise when members of the media were barred from covering it.

Some 200 people attended and participated actively, with more than 50 queries posed to the 12 panellists, among them caucus chairman and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Az-iz, opposition leader Lim Kit Siang, Permatang Pauh MP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Petaling Jaya Utara member Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun.

Dear YBs, we are sick of all talk and no action. You have had two hearings. Now it is time to walk the talk. What is the remedy to bring down crime rates?

How to ensure that the public and visitors to this country feel safe?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

NEP Beyond 2020

The present government remained recalcitrant over its intention to continue with the NEP in its current distorted form. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Malaysian maintained its position that the New Economic Policy (NEP) was not a cost to doing business.

It is widely known that the policy is being manipulated by the politically connected few to land government contracts worth billions. The manipulation of the policy has created nepotism, cronyism and corruption in the society. Today, Malaysians are still segregated between non-Bumiputeras and Bumiputeras - an act to identify the privileged group who will be treated differently through the affirmative action. Such categorisation has caused a social isolation of other Malaysians who felt that they are second class citizens in their own country.

I have argued that the original intent of the NEP was non-racial. The two main objectives of the NEP were not targetted at any specific race although it was acknowledged that the indigenous and Malay communities formed the largest segment of the poor.

Abdullah said the objective to dissociate race from occupation or social standing was crucial in ensuring long-term unity for the country – given its legacy and racial structure. On the contrary, today the civil service is largely associated with the Malay community.

What is the government doing to reverse the perception? When asked about this dilemma, the government often gave a familiar answer - the non-Malays are not interested to join the civil sector. Likewise, most Malay graduates have refused to seek jobs in the private sector and preferred to work for the government. It is obvious that the government is being selective in the implementation of the NEP.

He said that racial-based riots raged in neighbouring countries while Malaysia was spared the experience. The expansion of an educated and multi-ethnic middle class, thanks to affirmative action policies, has mitigated the risk of mass unrest. This is a most unscrupulous assumption.

Is the Prime Minister suggesting that a certain community will resort to crime and violence if special privileges are not accorded to them? Often the ones who are capable of rioting are the elites of the community who felt that their share of the economic pie is not enough. Most of these people who started the riots are politically connected with racist parties.

Abdullah added great disparities in income and social mobility still exist between ethnic groups. Whereas this may just be another issue in other countries, ethnic-based disparity strikes at the heart of national unity for Malaysia,” said Abdullah. Disparities in income between communities exist but it is time for the government to acknowledge the intra-community income disparity which is widening. The intra-community income disparity will be the roots of major social riots in the future.

When the NEP was implemented, it was understood that the policy will be reviewed and discontinued once more Malaysians have moved out from poverty. Many component parties' leaders accepted the implementation of the NEP because they genuinely believed that the other communities must sacrifice, at least for the next 15 years, to help alleviate the living standards of Bumiputera communities. Many of them have expressed their disappointment that the NEP is being manipulated and perpetuated without a time limit.

Abdullah is right to observe that the most difficult question we must address is to improve equity without sacrificing competitiveness. Many have come to regard Malaysia’s affirmative action policies, widely described as the NEP, as a cost to doing business.

The only way is to seriously looking into upgrading the knowledge and skills of the bumiputeras so that they can compete on equal footing with the rest.

To continue with the present form of NEP is unacceptable. Malaysians may have no choice but to vote for a regime change if this policy is continued.

UMNO is part of the problem created by the NEP. It is, afterall, the party which has the full control of the use of the affirmative instrument.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dr Mahathir defends NEP

Dr Mahathir defends affirmative action?

He said that Malaysia is the best developed country among developing countries despite practising affirmative action policy. In defending the policy which provide advantages to Bumiputeras in areas such as education, economic and job opportunities, Dr Mahathir said that affirmative action if used judiciously could yield good results.

He said in Malaysia there are not only different ethnic groups with different religions but also economic disparity between the races."Economic disparity, if allowed to continue will get worse. Then there will be instability. Disparity always create tension between groups even if they are ethnically the same.The birth of socialism and communism was due to economic disparity...a feeling that they were cheated by capitalists," he said.

It should be noted that during the tenure of Dr M's premiership, the affirmative action or the NEP took a racist slant. The original language used to frame the affirmative action was not racist. It was aimed at eradicating poverty regardless of race and to restructure the society to erase the identification economic functions to race.

These objectives were covertly replaced with the granting of projects, subsidies, grants and other perks to a certain community. Over the years, the only people who gained from the policy were those who had good political connections. As a result, the rich became richer and the poor got poorer.

In the 9MP, the top 20% if the society owned 53% of the nation's wealth. Gini co-efficient which measures intra-community income disparity showed at the widest difference for Malaysia in this region.

The refusal of the government to consider a minimum wage for bottom rung workers proved that the government had all along been too pro-capitalists and ignored the plights of the poorest.

For someone who preached the acsension of Malaysia into the rank of the first world nations, it is surprising that Dr Mahathir still defends the affirmative action. Surely there must be a personal agenda here because the policy was manipulated the worst during his 22 years tenure. He might have invented industrilisation in Malaysia but he should also be credited for creating cronyism, corruption and manipulation of the NEP as an ethno-political tool to enable UMNO to become a hegemonic force.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Is there a Remedy for Revathi?


She was detained by religious authorities for 180 days after applying in an Islamic Syariah Court in Malacca to have her Muslim name and religion changed. Revathi's parents are muslim converts but she was taken care by her Hindu grandmother until she recently married her Hindu husband.

"I did not do anything wrong but they insisted on rehabilitating me to become a Muslim. But I am a Hindu and I choose to remain this way," she said.

"She is a Muslim, so she has to live with her parents," said Tuah Atan, lawyer for the Islamic religious council of Malacca.

Adamant to practice a religion of her choice, "What are they talking about? They have separated me from my child and my beloved husband for six months. Even if I was given a million dollars, I will never follow them," she said.

Revathi's case has raised concern among rights groups about freedom of religious practice which is guaranteed in multicultural Malaysia's secular constitution, although the official religion is Islam.

What is the remedy for Revathi? The government and the society cannot ignore the plights of a person who is not willing to be forced to practice a certain faith.
Picture and story courtesy of www.malaysiakini.com

Friday, July 06, 2007

It is All About Livelihood

It is utterly silly for the Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Bakar to suggest that the MTUC had a hidden agenda when it demanded a RM900 minimum wage and a RM300 cost of living allowance for workers in the private sector.

Rahman said the MTUC was influenced by opposition parties. It this allegation is true, then there is a solid reason for the MTUC members to support political parties which are sensitive to the plights and needs of private sector wage earners.

Who is playing politics here? Obviously the Deputy Minister himself. What we wanted the government to do is to carefully evaluate a legitimate request to set a minimum salary. While corporate Malaysia is doing well (echoed by many BN policy makers), the workers - especially those at the bottom 40% of the wealth hierarchy - should be given a chance to live better and to be able to provide a better future for their family members.

In NST, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress’ (MTUC) only agenda is to protect the rights of workers and bring positive changes to their lives, its president, Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud said.

Rahman's statement proved that he is not performing his duty as a deputy minister of HR. The politician must clarify his statement and apologize to all workers if he was wrong.

The government has been criticized for being too pro-business and forgot about its social duties to serve the poor and the less privileged.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

It is a Waste of Time, Jerai!


Badruddin Amiruldin (BN-Jerai) has a notorious reputation of being both racist and nonsensical. Yesterday, the YB was his usual self again. He expressed concern over the tight-fitting and skin-baring outfits that artistes wore these days, saying this did not reflect the Malaysian culture.

The attire of some singers and actors seem to be made from insufficient material, exposing (skin) here and there, and they are too tight," he said. "Can the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim), Energy, Water and Communications Ministry, Information Ministry and the media discuss guidelines on dress code for the entertainment industry to suit Malaysian viewers?" he asked in a supplementary question.

On the same day, he told Penang Chief Minister Dr Koh Tsu Koon to visit the Kedah Sultan's palace personally to apologise for the traffic jam in Batu Kawan during the football match between Kedah and Perlis. The Sultan had to walk for almost 2km to the stadium and fell sick as a result of that. If the CM is playing the FAM (organiser) and traffic police role to help keep traffic smooth, then he is not fit to become our CM.

Similarly, Badruddin should not waste the parliament's time and our time by mouthing nonsense almost at any opportunity.

We hope the PM will deliver us his promise to create a first world nation. The first thing he should do is to get rid of these fourth class MPs e.g. Badruddin and his 'bocor' buddies.

Remember this face.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

MM Lee Kuan Yew is Right

Singapore's SM Lee said the politicking within the ruling United Malays National Organisation (Umno)means criticism of the project from within the party would continue to be levied against Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. His plans for the special economic zone have been criticised as a 'sell-out' of the country'sMalay majority said observers.

He added: 'It is one thing for the Opposition Party PAS to knock the prime minister down, but when Umno leaders, especially from Johor, hit out in the same vein, potential investors from Singapore must seriously ask themselves when these attitudes will change, and how welcome their investments will be.'

He was already proven right:

Mohamad Aziz Mohamed (BN - Sri Gading) said Singapore does not hold Malaysia’s interest at heart. "The attitude of Singapore leaders is not the same as the people [in both countries] where people could sit together in coffee shops and make jokes as though they are brothers."

"Singapore never stops, although I understand Malaysia’s (prosper thy neighbour) philosophy of wanting a rich and developed neighbour. "Recently the Senior Minister in Singapore said Umno Johor is not interested in welcoming investment in IDR. This is one statement we cannot understand as our leaders have been welcoming investment from all nations, including Singapore," he said.

"But if you follow the sentiments of us Johoreans, Singapore does not want this IDR to develop. They send gangsters to spoil the image of Johor Bahru as though Johor Bahru is the hotspot for thugs and gangsters, causing people to be afraid to invest in Johor Bahru," he added.

"Singapore still think they’re better than our country," said Ronald Kiandee (BN - Beluran) during question time in Parliament today. He said through "chemistry" and "body language", Singapore was seen to have gained the advantage in the talks. "Does the government see this as though they are belittling us ... is the source of this the IDR which will be exploited by Singapore for their economic benefit," he asked in a question to the Foreign Ministry.

With this kind of attitude, are the MPs doing anything positive to prove MM Lee wrong? I would like to prove him wrong by showing that Malaysia welcomes all investors.

A Responsive and Responsible Parliament

Parliamentarians are elected to represent the people and to speak the voices of the people in the parliament. However, in many instances the speaker of the august house has turned down motions to debate issues which are pertinent to the society e.g. crime rates, corruption and others.

In another development, Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang’s motion to debate the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) demand for a minimum wage for the private was rejected by the Dewan Rakyat Speaker. Last week MTUC had simultaneously picketed in 14 locations nationwide after its demands for a minimum wage of RM900 and RM300 in cost of living allowance went unheeded by the government.

In the 9th Malaysia Plan, it was evident that the rich is getting richer and the poor is getting poorer. The huge growing income and wealth gap must be narrowed if we want to avert any future social catastrophe. The workers have helped in the country's development. Many companies are able to announce impressive financial results due to the sacrifice of the workers.

It is impossible and unbecoming to avoit debating and discussing the plight of the workers especially those who are earning barely enough to survive. Many were made victims when they have to resort to borrowing from loan sharks.

With the impending privatisation of health care and the rising cost of living, what can RM650 do?

Many reasons were given e.g. rising inflation and less attractive to FDIs if wages were raised. These are not very good reasons. You and I know that. Aren't you and I should be more concerned about a large segment of Malaysians who are not earning enough to live decently?

Parliamentarians cannot avoid debating this issue in the parliament. It should be a people's parliament and not an elitist club.