Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ghost from the Past, When can Malaysia Move Forward?

The fear of Islamization cost DAP strongmen their parliamentary seats in 1999. Today, the same ghost is back haunting the coalition but at a wrong time!

It is important for Pas to understand, comprehend and adapt their political struggle with the current political climate worldwide especially in the Muslim world. Jasmine revolution in the Middle East and Africa did happen not because there wasn't enough Islamic/Hudud laws implemented but partly due to a desire of their people, especially the youths, to enjoy more freedom and personal liberty.

I had met a group of Iranian students and young activists in Portugal in 2009, almost six months before the Iranian uprising. Like any other youths, they had wanted more freedom to enjoy their fashion, music, entertainment and lifestyle. Unfortunately, restrictions from the regime had pushed most of the youth activities underground.

The revolt and uprising in the Middle East was motivated by their people's desire for freedom, good governance, access to opportunities and democracy.

There is a fear that some Muslim leaders in this country do not understand what the youths really wanted. By being too pushy, history is bound to repeat itself.

It is not the time for leaders to quarrel over Hudud. It would have been more productive for politicians to spend hours discussion ways and solutions to ensure our Malaysian economy does not slip into recession, create more jobs for the people, control rising inflation and cost of living, curbing corruption, eradicating racism, stop the abuse of migrants for vote and other unproductive and unnecessary bickering among politicians.

In the next elections, we have a chance to pick those who are interested to serve and govern well and kick out the Mullah wannabees, race champions, crooked politicians and those wasting too much time on race and religion but little else on governance and policy making.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Character Assassinations in Politics - Stop the Madness!

Malaysian politics has been plagued with endless cases of political assassination. Most of the top leaders from both sides had been tarnished with sensational personal controversies. Some of them could have provided movie producers with valuable materials to produce blockbusters.

From PM Najib, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Guan Eng, Mat Sabu to Dr Ng Yen Yen, these leaders had suffered personal attacks and allegations which are potential hazardous to their career and credibility.

We have to put a stop to senseless character assassination. We have had enough of someone's personal life. Our yardstick to measure the usefulness of a political leader should be his/her ability to deliver good governance and service to the people.

Our fixation over controversies, personal attacks and mere allegations are going to distort our attention on the real issues. We want competing politicians to focus on delivering good policies and solutions to the multifarious issues plaguing Malaysia. We should start with the economy, as Jahabar Sadiq rightly put it in his short view.

Last Thursday, another leader Dr Ng Yen Yen got her redemption and justice. This is not a good season for Barisan leaders. Allegations made against opposition leaders are more difficult to stick while Barisan leaders are often on the receiving end when they were made against them. Perhaps, this should send a signal to those who are apt to employ the same strategy on opposition politicians especially Anwar Ibrahim and Mat Sabu to call an end to their sexual allegations game.

In Ng's case, a top advertising director Austen Zecha, a director of TBWA-ISC Malaysia Sdn Bhd and Integrated Strategic Communications Sdn Bhd (ISC), had during an interview with radio station Business FM89.9 on March 18 this year, had alleged that ISC had refused renewal of an advertising contract because the minister, through her agent, had solicited a bribe in respect of it implied that she was dishonest, corrupt and unfit for public office as well as guilty of abusing her power and position as the tourism minister to make a profit for herself.

Zecha found out later, "The fact of the matter is that I have found out since my BFM interview of 18th March 2011 that the person who claimed to be representing the Minister’s interest in seeking half of the new contract’s income in return for ISC clinching its fifth successive year three year contract is, in fact, not who that person claimed to be. In short, there is no valid connection between that person and the Minister. As such, I therefore apologise for having reacted the way I did when there was no basis to conclude that that person was acting on the Minister’s behalf concerning ISC’s recent tender for Tourism Malaysia’s current three year contract."

"In this regard, I am pleased to announce that Dato’ Seri Dr. Ng Yen Yen has conducted herself honourably in so far as this matter is concerned and has graciously accepted my offer to make amends and apologise for my conduct."- (Zecha's apology letter and the Minister statement was sent to Straight Talk by the minister's assistant).

Dr Ng Yen Yen had graciously accepted the apology but had this to say: "Now that the truth has been told, I would like to move forward and not dwell on the irreparable damage that was caused by the defamatory remarks made."

Yes, the damage is irreparable if you are a Barisan leader. Some cynics had claimed that Zecha was paid to make the apology. I personally do not think that this is a fair assumption.

We should treat all allegations and character assassinations fairly and rightly - with a pinch of salt - unless any solid evidence is being tendered. 

We must move away from treating politics like a soap opera. It is time to get serious because Malaysia's problems need a political solution. We need matured and smart politicians to make them. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Zainal Kling: A Spin Doctor Gone Awry

National Professor's Council member Zainal Kling council said that the movement, which included the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), are “traitors” as they had allegedly wanted to form a republic and to unseat Malay rulers.

He alleged that these communists' goal was not to liberate Malaya from British rule, which had recognised the role of the Malay rulers, but to establish a communist country. He added that “all Malay nationalists” had also “joined forces, cooperated and abetted with communist fighters” to establish a republic.

"It is because of this that we cannot accept their struggle as (the communists) wanted to wrest power in a manner which was not legitimate,” he said.

Zainal's allegations are serious and they must be scrutinized to avoid unscrupulous distortion of our nation's history. As an ardent student of history, I hope Zainal's allegations were not driven by any political or personal interest.

He had made some serious allegations:
  1.  Malaysia was never colonised, only Malacca, Penang and Singapore.
  2. British recognized the role of Malay rulers
  3. All Malay nationalists had joined forces, cooperated and abetted with communist fighters to establish a republic
Zainal's allegations may put the Malay rulers in an embarrassing position. First, why were the British allowed almost total control over the economy and raw materials of the nation if this country was never colonised?

In fact, the post-colonial New Economic Policy was introduced to address the economic imbalances caused by the British colonial rule. One of its objectives was to eradicate identification of economic function to race.

If the Malay states were never colonised, then the Malay rulers should be held accountable and answerable for the socio-economic neglect and discrimination of the Malay community. Why make Chinese the bogeymen of Malay's economic distress?

If Zainal is right, the British were the good guys because they recognised and supported the Malay rulers' supremacy. Umno, which was established by a number of Malay nationalists, must be the bad guys because "they had collaborated with communist fighters to establish a republic".

Malay nationalists opposition to the Malayan Union was another testimony of their struggle against the colonial power and to defend the special position of their community.

If Zainal's allegations were driven by his desire to help Umno nail Mat Sabu, he has opened up another controversy for the party. Worse, his statement was made in Putrajaya signalled his political intention.

If Zainal is right, we should only celebrate Independence Day in Malacca and Penang. We should pull out our membership from the Commonwealth and disband Umno.

If not, Zainal's professorship must be reassessed to ensure that he fits the intellectual requirement of the title.
It is time for the Barisan government to employ and engage the right people.

It is the present government and it has all necessary resources to hire the best and to provide the best governance to the people. The lost of popularity of the Prime Minister and his administration is self inflicted.

Why spend millions and get pseudo intellectuals who feed on peanuts?

What had happened to some PhD holders in the establishment? One is trying to push the blame of Bersih 2.0's mismanagement to the police and this one has unwittingly turning Malay nationalists into traitors. 

Bersih 2.0: Is Koh Tsu Koon an Apologist?

Gerakan president Koh Tsu Koon Koon (picture), a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said measures taken by the police during the rally had given the public the “impression” that the government was “too restrictive”, and that this was not true.

"Certain announcements, measures by the police, for example, they have given the people the impression that we (the government) were too restrictive. When the PM offered a stadium and they chose Stadium Merdeka, police said no for whatever reasons.

I am surprised it has taken Koh, a minister in the PM's department, to come out with the truth. The truth to him is the government did not object to the use of Stadium Merdeka but the police did. It was obvious both PM Najib Razak and Minister Rais Yatim had objected to the use of stadiums in Kuala Lumpur including Bukit Jalil and Stadium Merdeka. They had wanted Bersih to hold its demonstration at the Shah Alam stadium instead.

It does not take a Princeton grad to be able to link the decision to the federal government's refusal to recognize the movement and it's planned peaceful demonstration.

If the government was not too restrictive, it would not have arrested activists, politicians and members of public for merely wearing yellow t-shirt. If the government was not draconian, the PSM6 would not have been arrested and charged with frivolous act of treason and other allegations linked to communism (despite the end of cold war more than two decades ago).

Koh's lame attempt to defend the government and his boss is only contributing towards his already irrelevant and ineffective leadership of Gerakan, a self-proclaimed conscience of Barisan Nasional.

Koh should be reminded that consistency is key in building leadership credibility.

What the government should do is to apologize for it's undemocratic and draconian reaction towards a peaceful gathering. I am sure PM Najib does not need a 'credible' Koh Tsu Koon to come to his defence.

The police chief must now come out to refute the allegation made by Koh to ensure that the force did not act unconstitutionally. The police force are public servants and they must act responsibly to uphold democratic values enshrined in the federal constitution.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Mat Indera & Mat Silam

A debate is raging between Umno and PAS politicians on the role of Mat Indera. Was Mat Indera a hero or a ruffian?

Mat Indera played a prominent role in the 1950 attack on the Bukit Kepong police station. The incident was eventually immortalised in a movie played by the legendary Jins Shamsuddin. In the movie, the policemen were portrayed as heroes who fought against the communists.

Mat Indera was allegedly a communist cadre. A book by the Johor government in 2004 names insurgent Mat Indera as a freedom fighter and lists him as a celebrated Johor hero.

Who really is Mat Indera? Apparently, both Umno and PAS want a debate on this issue.

Both parties idolise Mat Silam (historical past) more than what's current and urgent. It is a fact that politicians and their inability to move forward and take the society through a quantum leap are to be blamed for a lack of vision, vigour and good ideas in the country.

Both PAS and Umno should start a more poignant debate and discourse on what form and shade the country should take in the next three to five years. How can Malaysia recapture its lustre?

I am sure politicians in this country should be contented by keeping silent on an allegation made by an Indonesian envoy that Malaysia has lost its lustre.

Both Khairy Jamaluddin and Mat Sabu should put their talents to use by debating on the best ideas and solutions to address the country's economic woes and its fading competitiveness.

It is difficult to accept that politicians are so keen to debate the past but allow the future to slip away from our grasp.

Contentious issues that refuse to go away

Most of the contentious issues that refused to go away, such as race supremacy, basic constitutional freedom and nationhood, are directly caused by the refusal of our politicians to accept a steady change and evolution of a society.

There is little surprise why some ethnic communities are still being considered as migrants - after being here for more than 500 years.

The social lenses they used to view interracial relations, nation-building, fundamental rights and governance are causing stagnation and a lack of direction in the country. Malaysia is a nation without a soul.

Our socio-economic progress and development are based on raw natural resources and not through a synergy of skills, ideas, determination and positive humanistic values. This type of development has a limitation because natural resources are finite but human spirit is not.

A lack of appreciation for humanistic contribution is evident in our political discourse and debate. We debate over who should have more birthrights than others, which is prime evidence of total disregard for diversity and humanistic contribution.

It is sad to note that other countries that had the same destructive tendencies and practices have moved forward and embraced diversity and values beneath the skin.

At the rate our politicians are going about in conducting their business-as-usual fa├žade and the fact that our people condone this behaviour, we can rest assured that more soft and intangible assets are going to flow out of this country.

These assets may not find their reward and worthiness in this country but they are being highly sought after by our neighbours, including Singapore and Australia.

Our politicians' fixation over Mat Indera and Mat Silam is to ensure that we continue to live in a bubble, away from but not safe from reality and the future challenges that await us.

Quo vadis, Malaysia?