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Spike in electricity tariff justified?

Posted: 26 Jul 2013 11:04 AM PDT

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Dr Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser

In my recent title "Damned Dams & Noxious Nukes: Questioning Malaysia's Energy Policy" (SUARAM 2013, p.2), I had warned that the government would surely raise electricity tariffs after the 13th general election. Right on cue, TNB has just announced that there will be an upward review of the electricity tariff. They are justifying this increase by claiming that domestic consumers have been subsidised long enough. Yet who have been the main beneficiaries of the government subsidies?


Subsidising domestic consumers or private businesses?

The energy industry in Malaysia has become mega business and the government has been subsidizing private businesses handsomely for at
least two decades even as it announces attempts to remove subsidies for domestic consumers.

In the mid-Nineties when the IPPs first came into the energy production scene, the industrial sector was Tenaga's largest consumer with 60 per cent of electricity consumption but it was paying the lowest rates averaging 15.98 sen per kilowatt hour. On the other hand, the domestic and commercial sectors were paying 21.5 sen per unit and 23.3 sen per unit respectively. (NST 17.1.96)

But any privatization exercise can only be called a success if the businessmen who bid for the projects succeed in raising financing from the banks through their own credentials. What is evident in the privatization contracts in the energy industry of Malaysia is that many of the crony capitalists (who are strictly speaking, failed businessmen) rely on the Malaysian workers' pension funds, the EPF, through their links with the government. Thus, the Energy Minister Datuk Seri Samy Vellu justified the EPF as the single biggest source of financing for the Bakun Dam project: "Bakun, you see, they need some government help…They need government help to borrow money. About RM15 billion to generate 2,400MW of electricity, which means Ekran needs to borrow from the EPF." (Business Times 23.2.95)


Well-Connected IPPs

TNB used to be the sole electricity provider in the country but after the blackouts and brownouts in 1992, Independent Power Producers (IPPs) were allowed into the industry. They were politically well-connected but devoid of any electric power engineering or generating experience, and the power purchase agreements they signed with TNB allowed them highly favourable terms with take-or-pay arrangements for power generation, i.e. if there was no uptake, the IPPs were paid a capacity charge to offset this. Furthermore, they could pass their cost increases such as any fuel price increase to TNB. But TNB itself does not enjoy such a cost-pass-through formula to help it recover any increases in costs.

In 1995, a single IPP made RM800 million in profits – about half of what Tenaga made with all its national plants! Furthermore, the IPPs do not have to invest in transmission or distribution - the expensive parts of the business. (Sunday Star 1.9.96)

If we compare the generation costs of TNB and the IPPs we will have an idea of TNB's problems. In 1997, Tenaga was paying between 11.8 sen and 15.5 sen per unit of electricity to the five IPPs while Tenaga's cost of generating electricity was less than 10 sen per unit. (Star
20.4.97)

To solve these contradictions, TNB saw the only way out was to raise electricity tariffs and to urge consumers to use more electricity, including drying their clothes with electrical appliances! Either way, Malaysian consumers lost out and the need for energy conservation was put off once again despite the pious declarations at the Rio conference.

Apart from the dice being loaded in favour of the IPPs, the latter also built power stations at sites of their own choice, not where they were needed. Thus, YTL built a station at Paka, Terengganu (where the gas supply comes in) although electric power was desperately needed in
the north and central regions.

The admission of the IPPs into the energy industry and subsequent flip-flopping policies reflect the total lack of planning and well-thought out energy policy.


The Costs of Excess Capacity

Tenaga has been keeping a reserve margin in excess of 30 per cent over the nation's total demand. In fact, this reserve margin was boosted to 42 per cent after the commissioning of two new power plants in 2003. With rising operational costs, including that of excess capacity
maintenance, Tenaga was forced to cut its reserve margin to just below 25 per cent. This move was estimated to save the corporation RM1
billion in maintenance cost a year:

"Tenaga has to bear the cost of managing excess capacity on its own. It pays independent power producers about RM500,000 for every megawatt a year and normally draws less than four-fifths of that power…Imagine how much Tenaga spends to manage about 1,500MW of excess capacity from the IPPs!" (NST 30.8.2003)

There is thus no justification for the Bakun dam which harnesses 2400 MW electricity when the demand for energy in the whole of Sarawak
state was only around 400 MW in 1997.  The original intention was for the electricity produced to be transmitted 665 km to the West coast of
Sarawak and a further 670 km to Peninsula Malaysia through high-voltage undersea cables which have never been tested through this distance anywhere in the world!

The current total energy demand in the whole of Sarawak is only 1000MW so the government has been trying to attract the biggest energy
guzzlers such as aluminium smelters which happen to be the most toxic as well. These environmentally polluting industries are then touted as
part of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE). In fact, hydro-electric power dams and toxic aluminium smelters are all industries rejected by developed countries. None of these countries, especially Australia, wants to have toxic industries in their own
backyard. Lynas is but the most recent example.

But the Sarawak State Government is willing to have these mega projects for rather dubious purposes. The desperate chase for investments to take up the excess Bakun energy AFTER the dam has been built shows a total lack of economic feasibility studies which should have been done long before the dam was built. Is it surprising therefore that many SCORE contracts have been given to companies owned by members of Chief Minister Taib's family?

As long as the full eight turbine capacity of the Bakun dam is not being fully utilized, it will not be economical as the same amount of water is required to run one or all the turbines. It is comical to see the same vacillating suggestion being made every time the government is faced with this conundrum, namely, to resurrect the submarine cables to transmit the surplus power to the peninsula! The recent blackout throughout Sarawak has been attributed to a glitch at the Bakun dam which triggered the state-wide blackout. Has the cost of the blackout been worked out yet?

The Bakun dam project cost has ballooned to well over RM8 billion. At the end of the day, the project will be a yoke around Malaysian consumers' necks and we will have to pay high tariffs to cover the losses incurred by the developer and/or TNB.


More Mega Dams for us to subsidise
But the monstrous Bakun dam is not all that has been dreamed up by the Sarawak state government. The 944 MW Murum dam is soon to be
impounded. Like Bakun, this latter dam project is in violation of international standards on indigenous rights as guaranteed in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), of which Malaysia is a signatory. As with the Bakun dam, none of the studies
related to the projects have been transparent. The affected Penan and Kenyah have stated that they have never been asked for their consent,
as demanded by the UNDRIP. The project developer, Sarawak's state-owned electricity generating company, Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) has not provided indigenous communities with an opportunity to grant or withhold their "free, prior and informed consent" for the project as required by UNDRIP. Even in cases where there was agreement, the resettlement plan was not made known to the indigenous peoples PRIOR to the start of the construction, and they were not INFORMED by access to information about the project's impacts.

The social and environmental impact assessment (SEIA) for the Murum project is seriously flawed.  International standards—including the
World Bank IFC Performance Standards—universally require that the SEIA must be completed during the design phase, before the government approves the project and before construction begins. This was not the case with the Murum Dam Project. The SEIA process only began after construction on the project was already underway.

When the 944MW Murum Dam costing RM3.5 billion comes on stream, the total installed capacity of the two dams will be 3,344MW. The combined cost of the two dams is RM10.8 billion. There are also plans to build more dams - 1,400MW in Balleh, 1,000MW in Baram, 150MW in Limbang and 300MW in Metjawah, among others.

Sarawak's existing capacity to generate electricity (viz. 1,300MW) without the Bakun dam already exceeds the peak demand of 1,100MW.
Electricity generated cannot be stored. Unused power will be wasted. The government hopes that energy guzzling industries such as aluminium smelters will come and take up this surplus of energy…

In such a state of affairs, who is subsidising whom? Don't even mention building noxious nukes!

PERKASA Gabung NGO Bukan Tekanan

Posted: 26 Jul 2013 11:01 AM PDT

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IBRAHIM Ali (tengah) bersama Andy Choy Chee Wau (dua dari kanan) dan U. Thamotaran (tiga dari kiri) pada pelancaran Majlis NGO Antara Kaum Malaysia (Mirac) di Kelab Sultan Sulaiman, Kuala Lumpur, semalam.

(Bernama) - Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) bersama dua lagi pertubuhan bukan kerajaan (NGO) pada Jumaat menubuhkan Majlis NGO Antara Kaum Malaysia (Mirac) bagi membincangkan isu yang membabitkan tiga kaum utama iaitu Melayu, Cina dan India.

Dua NGO itu ialah Pertubuhan Kebajikan dan Amal India Baru Malaysia (Perinnbam) dan Persatuan Cina 1Malaysia (Percisama).

Presiden Perkasa, Datuk Ibrahim Ali berkata, penubuhan majlis itu bukan kerana disebabkan tekanan pelbagai pihak yang melabel Perkasa sebuah parti rasis.

"Penubuhan Mirac bersama NGO Cina dan India adalah platform menyatupadukan kaum di negara ini.

"Penubuhan Mirac ini juga membuktikan Perkasa bukan hanya memperjuangkan Melayu tetapi juga kaum lain dan kepentingan negara," katanya dalam sidang akhbar selepas penubuhan Mirac di sini, Jumaat.

Turut hadir Presiden Percisama, Andy Choy Chee Wau bersama Presiden Perinnbam, U. Thamotaran.

Ibrahim menegaskan, kewujudan majlis itu tidak akan menghapuskan asas perjuangan dan semangat Perkasa untuk memperjuangkan hak orang Melayu dan Bumiputera.

Katanya, majlis itu akan mengadakan perjumpaan sebulan sekali bersama lima pemimpin kanan setiap NGO secara tidak formal, bagi membincangkan isu penting melibatkan kaum dan kepentingan negara.

"Saya juga mengalu-alukan mana-mana NGO yang ingin menyertai Mirac. Mirac akan dilancarkan pada 31 Ogos depan," katanya.

Dalam majlis itu, ketiga-tiga wakil NGO mempersetujui dan menandatangani piagam Mirac, yang antaranya adalah mempertahankan Perlembagaan Negara, menjunjung prinsip-prinsip Rukun Negara, menghormati hak agama masing-masing dan toleransi antara kaum melalui nilai-nilai murni.

Sementara itu, Choy and Thamotharan menegaskan gabungan ini akan menandakan satu "era baru" untuk perpaduan kaum di negara ini. 

Chinese better off after Merdeka

Posted: 26 Jul 2013 10:54 AM PDT

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The Constitution does not preclude the Chinese from being prime minister but it must be with the support of the majority of the people. DAP, by undermining MCA is what causes the Chinese representation in the government to be weak.  Without DAP, MCA is likely to garner more seats in Parliament and in the government.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, NST

WIN-WIN DEAL: Accusations that the Chinese are sidelined politically ignore the fact that it is power sharing that has made this country prosper.

AS more young Chinese grow up without the experience of British rule, they are not able to appreciate their gains upon independence.

They were, therefore, easily influenced by DAP's argument that the Chinese had gained nothing from independence.

They did not see any benefit from the role of the coalition of Chinese, Malays and others upon independence. The believe in the merit of meritocracy, in the ablest and the most qualified taking all.

But under the British, the Chinese were not allowed to go beyond becoming petty traders and shopkeepers in towns and rural areas.

All the big businesses were monopolised by British firms. Companies, such as Mansfield, Sime Darby, Scott and English, London Tin, Straits Steamship Co, giant plantation companies, importers, exporters and trading houses were all British. As for government procurement, all had to be through the crown agents.

Banks, especially those carrying government accounts were all British. Only OCBC and Ban Hin Lee Bank (a small bank) were Chinese owned. They did not do much business with the government.

Upon independence, however, no limits were placed on Chinese business expansion. True, some of the European firms and businesses were acquired by the government, but the rest were either acquired by the Chinese or new Chinese companies replaced the British firms in all areas of business. Chinese companies grew by leaps and bounds.

Agencies and dealerships of imported goods accrued to Chinese firms largely. Banking licences were given to the Chinese. Most government contracts for constructions and services also went to Chinese firms.

Construction and development of housing estates and business premises were dominated by Chinese companies. Independence has clearly benefited the Chinese much.

Towns and cities grew because of the dynamism of the Chinese. Even when government contracts went to Bumiputeras under the New Economic Policy, sub-contracts and supplies went to Chinese enterprises.

So successful were the Chinese under the Barisan Nasional "kongsi" government that they can now venture abroad, buying foreign companies, setting up businesses and undertaking contracts all over the world, especially after Malaysia became better known internationally.

Chinese Malaysians became millionaires and billionaires after making their first million in Malaysia.

The Chinese are not well-represented in the government administration. This is simply because the Chinese see limited opportunities as salaried workers. Even when they join government service, they tend to leave early to go into business. There is a distinct dislike for the uniformed services.

The average income of the Chinese after Merdeka is far higher than the average national income. The poverty rate is also lower than the national rate.

The Chinese have their own colleges and universities. Many of the private educational institutions at all levels are Chinese-owned and this includes private universities. Most of the students in these private institutions are Chinese.

To say that the Chinese have gained nothing from independence and the "kongsi" government in which MCA is the second most senior partner is to deny the reality in Malaysia. We are not practising meritocracy simply because it will create great disparities between the rich and the poor as well as between the different races.

DAP ignores all these and keeps on painting MCA as the lackeys of the Malays. This is racist in the extreme. In the cabinet, MCA leaders sit on the right side of the prime minister. The prime minister is a Malay simply because the Malay party, Umno, is the biggest party in the coalition.

The Constitution does not preclude the Chinese from being prime minister but it must be with the support of the majority of the people. DAP, by undermining MCA is what causes the Chinese representation in the government to be weak.  Without DAP, MCA is likely to garner more seats in Parliament and in the government.

Whatever, the "kongsi" government has benefited Malaysia greatly. It has brought peace and stability without which economic growth and development would not be possible. It is unthinkable for any race, Chinese or Malay, to take everything for themselves, to dominate the economy as well as the politics of Malaysia.

But, nevertheless, DAP believes and strives to make a Singapore out of Malaysia where the Chinese wield political as well as economic power.

Battered, accused of being lackeys of Umno, MCA has gradually lost the support of the Chinese. It is now but a shadow of its former self. And with its weakening, the idea of sharing with the Malays political and economic power has become insupportable.

For more than half a century of independence, the Chinese have shared wealth and power with the Malays. The idea of a Singapore-like Malaysia seems tempting and Penang has shown the way.  

The dilemma for the Chinese is whether to make a grab for political power while dominating economic power or to adhere to the principle of sharing which has made this country what it is today. That is the Chinese dilemma.


 

The Chinese dilemma

Posted: 26 Jul 2013 10:51 AM PDT

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Realising the political advantage of cooperating with each other, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Sir Cheng-Lock Tan and senior leaders of MCA and Umno decided to formalise their cooperation by setting up the Alliance, a coalition of MCA and Umno. 

Despite the fact that the Barisan Nasional supported Chinese education and the use of the Chinese language, the DAP convinced many Chinese that the Chinese, their culture and language are not given proper treatment by the Barisan Nasional coalition. 

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, NST

'KONGSI' CONCEPT: Each side has to sacrifice something so that the other can gain something

IN response to the emergence of a Malay political party,  Umno and its success in rejecting the British inspired Malayan Union, the Chinese community of the 1940s saw the need for a political party of their own to present their views to the British government.

Thus was the MCA conceived and born, led by Malacca's Sir Cheng-Lock Tan. Although it was intended to counter the influence of Umno and protect the interests of the Chinese community, events changed the strategy and role of the MCA.

In 1952 the Kuala Lumpur Umno leaders and the Kuala Lumpur MCA branch leaders decided that in the Kuala Lumpur municipal elections, they should not contest against each other, but instead should support each other's candidates in their respective constituencies.

The results startled them as they defeated almost all the non-racial parties. Realising the political advantage of cooperating with each other the Tunku (Abdul Rahman) and Sir Cheng-Lock Tan, and senior leaders of the MCA and Umno decided to formalise their cooperation by setting up the Alliance, a coalition of MCA and Umno.

The basis of this coalition was the idea of supporting each other and sharing the power gained. Buoyed by the success of the Alliance party in the 1955 elections, in which the MIC had joined, the Tunku looked more kindly at the proposal of Sir Cheng-Lock that citizenship should be based on jus soli (citizenship by being born in the country) and not jus saguinis (citizenship based on the Malaysian citizenship of the father or mother, i.e. citizenship based on blood relation).

The Tunku did not quite agree but he nevertheless decided to give one million citizenships to unqualified Chinese and Indians.

With that the confrontation between the Chinese and the Malays changed into positive cooperation.

It was a classic kongsi that was set up. The essence is an undertaking to share. Sharing involves a give and take arrangement, in which each side has to sacrifice something so that the other can gain something.

As the Malays made up the majority of the citizens they naturally led the Alliance. But the Chinese and Indians were not without adequate power. In any case Malay political power would be mitigated by Chinese and Indians' voting and economic power.

The Tunku saw immediate benefit from the "kongsi" as he believed Malays only wanted to be government employees and the Chinese wanted to be in business. There would be no conflict or tussle between them.

The Indians would fill up the professional posts. He did not foresee the days when government could not create enough jobs for the greatly increased number of Malays.

The kongsi Alliance worked well. But in 1963 Singapore joined Malaysia.

Immediately the PAP tried to gain Chinese support by condemning the Alliance kongsi for being disadvantageous to the Chinese. Malaysians, said the PAP, were not equal. There should be a Malaysian Malaysia where all the benefits should be based on merit alone, with the best taking everything, irrespective of race.

Without saying so in so many words the PAP was inferring that the Malays did not deserve their positions. The best people should rule the country. In the eyes of the PAP, Singapore was ruled by the best qualified people. That they happen to be almost all Chinese is incidental.

In the 1964 elections the MCA and Malaysian Chinese generally valued their cooperation with the Malays. They rejected the PAP and its chauvinistic appeal, giving it only one seat.

The Tunku realised what the PAP was up to and decided that Singapore should not be a part of Malaysia. But the PAP was not done. The remnant of the party in Malaysia set up the DAP to carry on the Malaysian Malaysia meritocratic formula for undermining Chinese support for the MCA.

Harping continuously on the so-called Malay privileges and the unfairness to the Chinese, the DAP slowly eroded the idea of kongsi in the multi-racial coalition of the Barisan Nasional.

Despite the fact that the Barisan Nasional supported Chinese education and the use of the Chinese language, the DAP convinced many Chinese that the Chinese, their culture and language are not given proper treatment by the Barisan Nasional coalition.

The MCA was attacked for not doing enough for the Chinese.


 

Some thoughts on state fundamentalism in Malaysia

Posted: 25 Jul 2013 07:27 PM PDT

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For one can question the state for flawed policies and violations against human rights; but how does one do that when the state enforce or legislate in the name of religion and equates its policies and decisions with "God's laws"?

by Mohamed Imran Taib, Projek Dialog

Things are getting bizarre.

Somehow, Ramadan is the preferred month to display more 'religious neurosis' in the form of an overdrive to flex one's position and power as the "guardians of Islam". Whatever happened to the spirit of Ramadan where one is encouraged to do greater self-introspection and seek peace within through the spiritual exercise of fasting?

Instead, we find more and more browbeating that targets everything, from those who do not observe the fast, to harassing the minority Shi'a community, to threatening Christians against the usage of the word "Allah" to refer to God, and more recently, to anyone who questions a gazetted fatwa as liable to be charged for "insulting Islam".

In Indonesia, such aggressive behavior will be the primary forte of vigilante groups like the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), known for their famous "sweeping" acts in Ramadan. But who needs the FPI when you have state mechanisms to enforce your zeal to earn the badge of being the "defenders of God" and the "gatekeepers of Islam"?

Such is the tragic consequent of decades of state-led ideology of "Islamization" in Malaysia.

Unfortunately, "Islamization" does not mean infusing Muslims with the sublime and universal values of Islam. Rather, it is a form of marriage between the ruling party UMNO's desire to maintain power, and the Muslim fundamentalists' desire to enforce their ideology through a take-over of state mechanisms and institutions.

Democracy compromised

That marriage spells a disaster to development of democracy in Malaysia. State authoritarianism has, ever since, been given a powerful tool to control the masses: religion.

For one can question the state for flawed policies and violations against human rights; but how does one do that when the state enforce or legislate in the name of religion and equates its policies and decisions with "God's laws"? For ordinary Muslims, legal drafts and bills pertaining to religious life are not enacted by elected parliamentarians through the act of parliament; but are primarily "God's laws" that cannot and should not be questioned.

READ MORE HERE

Najib mahu pastikan tiada MP Borneo lompat parti

Posted: 25 Jul 2013 07:14 PM PDT

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Hampir kesemua anggota parlimen Sabah dan Sarawak telah "diurus" dengan baik, masing-masing mendapat habuan.

(FMT) - Seramai 48 dari 57 Ahli Parlimen dari Sabah, Sarawak dan Labuan adalah dari Barisan Nasional (BN). Jumlah 48 ini sekali gus memastikan BN terus memerintah Kerajaan Pusat untuk lima tahun lagi.

Lawatan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak ke Sabah dan Sarawak hujung minggu ini, yang pertama selepas Pilihan Raya Umum ke 13, lebih kepada merayakan "kemenangan" pimpinannya memastikan tiada Ahli Parlimen dari Borneo lari ke pihak pembangkang.

Seramai 48 dari 57 Ahli Parlimen dari Sabah, Sarawak dan Labuan adalah dari Barisan Nasional (BN). Jumlah 48 ini sekali gus memastikan BN terus memerintah Kerajaan Pusat untuk lima tahun lagi.

Hampir kesemua anggota parlimen Sabah dan Sarawak pula dikatakan telahpun "diurus" dengan baik, masing-masing telah mendapat habuan sama ada telah dilantik menteri, timbalan menteri mahupun jawatan-jawatan lain sama ada dari kerajaan pusat atau kerajaan negeri.

Terbaru sekali, Ahli Parlimen Sipitang, Sabah, Sapawi Ahmad telah dilantik sebagai Pengarah Yayasan Sabah.

Satu ketika, Sapawi rapat dengan Ketua Pembangkang Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim selepas penglibatan aktif dalam kegiatan Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM) dulu di Semenanjung dan Sabah.

READ MORE HERE

Kicking the cat

Posted: 25 Jul 2013 05:52 PM PDT

They know they are a failure in life. They know their life is not what they would like it to be. They know they can do nothing about it. So they come to Malaysia Today to rant, rave, scold and mock, and curse the whole world for being the losers that they are.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Life does not always work out the way you would like it to work out. Life is full of disappointments and frustrations. No one can honestly claim that he or she is satisfied with how things are getting along.

The only person not facing any problems is a person who is dead and buried in his or her grave. That is why some people choose suicide rather than continue to face the problems in their lives.

Some people face financial problems. In fact, in Malaysia, many people face financial problems. Credit card debt is very high added to the housing loans and car loans that you have to pay regularly every month.

Do you know that this is the same in the UK? People borrow from lending companies at an interest rate of 30% per month, prompting the Archbishop of Canterbury to declare war on usury with a promise to put them out of business.

The fact that people need to borrow against that exorbitant interest rate shows how hard-up they are and that they cannot qualify for a 'proper' loan because their credit is so bad.

Many people have marital problems, which can include sexual problems and/or in-law problems.

Some have career problems plus they are unhappy with their working conditions and/or their bosses. And for sure many are not happy with their pay as well.

Even if you are paid fair market wage that does not mean you are paid enough. The cost of living is so high that even if you are paid market wage it is still not enough to cover your living cost. Whatever amount you take home you will still be short of money.

And one or all of these problems builds up your frustration and unhappiness. So you need a way to release this frustration. In the US people go for therapy. In Malaysia we do not believe in therapy. A couple of you will go home and kick the cat for therapy. Most of you, though, post comments on the Internet as a sort of therapy.

And that is why we see so many nasty comments posted on the Internet, Malaysia Today being no exception. These nasty comments are posted by people who suffer from some sort of mental problem and who need an avenue to release their frustration.

They know they are a failure in life. They know their life is not what they would like it to be. They know they can do nothing about it. So they come to Malaysia Today to rant, rave, scold and mock, and curse the whole world for being the losers that they are.

Basically, they are not able to accept their failures and acknowledge that they are failures due to their own weaknesses and shortcomings. They need to shift the blame to someone else. And by cursing and swearing in Malaysia Today they can con themselves into believing that they are suffering because of someone or something else.

These people are not interested in an intellectual discourse. They would not recognise an intellectual discourse even if it bit them on their backside. All they want to do is to engage in shouting and screaming and blame the whole world for the miserable person that they are.

And those are people we do not need in Malaysia Today.

 

Man United unveil new away jersey at Osaka

Posted: 25 Jul 2013 05:17 PM PDT

(AFP) - OSAKA (Japan): Manchester United chose a samurai-era castle in the Japanese city of Osaka Thursday to unveil their new away kit, with the gingham check from the city's industrial heritage intact.

The new shirt, featuring the gingham used on last season's home shirt with a bigger, bolder design, was introduced in the grounds of Osaka Castle in the presence of manager David Moyes and United players including hometown boy Shinji Kagawa.

United were to wear the shirt Friday in an away friendly against pink-clad J-League side Cerezo Osaka, the fourth game of their pre-season Asian tour.

"The shirt's large black and midnight navy gingham checks represent Manchester's proud industrial past when the check was produced in the city's booming cotton mills in the 18th century," United said in a statement.

The castle, founded in 1583 by samurai warrior Hideyoshi Toyotomi, has been rebuilt over centuries with its latest full restoration in 1997.

 

After war crime film, Pakatan MPs want Najib to skip CHOGM in Sri Lanka

Posted: 25 Jul 2013 05:09 PM PDT

(MM) - Several Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs want Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to boycott the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2013 to be held in Sri Lanka and sever ties with the country following revelations of alleged war crimes in a controversial documentary.

At a screening of the film "No Fire Zone" at the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in Kuala Lumpur last night, Subang MP R. Sivarasa (pic), speaking on behalf of the group, said atrocities shown committed by the Sri Lankan Army on thousands of Tamil people required a drastic response.

"He must be labelled a war criminal because that's what he is," Sivarasa said after the documentary screening, referring to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Headed by Sungai Petani MP Johari Abdul, the group of PR MPs, formed on July 3 following a special screening of the documentary to parliamentarians, will now seek to deliver a memorandum to Najib urging him to boycott this year's edition of the bi-annual CHOGM in Colombo in November.

"No Fire Zone", a feature-length documentary directed by British film-maker Callum Macrae, debuted in the Palais des Nations in Geneva in late February and was screened during the 22nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

It covers the final weeks of the Sri Lankan civil war and depicts the war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan Army on thousands of Tamil people, including the alleged close-range killing of Balachandran Prabhakaran, the 12-year-old son of the slain Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam leader.

The Sri Lanka High Commission here had earlier sought to prevent yesterday's screening, petitioning the Foreign Ministry and the Censorship Board to stop what it described as a film "based on false and distorted facts."

An earlier screening on July 3 by human rights group KOMAS had resulted in the arrest of three staff members and the subsequent questioning of the group's director, Tan Jo Hann.

Yesterday's screening by rights group Lawyers for Liberty, however, was uneventful but drew a gaggle of 30 officers from the Home Ministry who left after the screening. 

 

Who decides?

Posted: 25 Jul 2013 04:01 PM PDT

So, where do we go from here? The government decides what is wrong and what is right and we are compelled to follow what the government says. However, at the end of the day, we will get punished if we follow the wrong thing because we, and not the government, are responsible for our actions.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

(Bernama) - The Home Ministry will take stern action against individuals including political leaders as well as organisations involved in spreading Syiah teachings in this country.

Its minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said action would be taken if there were reports from the respective states' Islamic Religious Council, non-governmental organisations or the Malaysia Islamic Development Department (Jakim).

"The ministry has also identified and has information on Muslim political leaders who opened the doors to the Syiah movement," he told a news conference after the breaking-of-fast and handing out of Percetakan Nasional Malaysia Berhad (PNMB) business zakat (tithe) to the recipients, here, today.

"If they want to deny (their involvement in Syiah teachings) in their party campaign, go ahead. But they must declare themselves and don't hide behind religious teachings other than the Al-Sunnah Wal Jamaah (Sunni teachings)," he said.

Yesterday, the Home Ministry declared the Pertubuhan Syiah Malaysia as an organisation that has contravened the law under Section 5 of the Societies Act 1966.

Ahmad Zahid said his ministry and its agencies like the Royal Malaysian Police, Registrar of Societies Office and Immigration Department would intensify monitoring of Syiah activities.

He called for cooperation between the ministry, religious agencies and Muslims to curb the spread of Syiah teachings in this country.

On the implications of the banning of Pertubuhan Syiah Malaysia, he said no one could re-use the name for registration as an organisation, based on Section 7(3)(b) of the Societies Act 1966.

*********************************************

Judaism has been through this before. About 2,000 years ago, Jesus was said to have opposed what he considered the religion of Moses that had deviated from its true path over 1,500 years or so.

Then Christianity suffered the same fate. What was originally the preaching and teaching of Christ splintered into so many denominations and sub-denominations, each claiming to be the true followers of Christ that resulted in the 'true' followers killing the 'false' followers for more than 1,500 years.

In fact, during the Crusades, more Christians than Muslims were killed by the Crusaders. It all depended on which Crusade it was because there were different Crusades led by difference kings with different Christian beliefs.

And now Islam revisits the same path that Judaism and Christianity took. About 1,500 years after the birth of Islam, the Malaysian government has defined what is 'true' Islam and what is 'false' Islam and will take action against the followers of 'false' Islam.

There is a Muslim belief (at least some Muslims believe this) that towards the end of time Judaism will be split into 71 groups, Christianity into 72 groups, and Islam into 73 groups -- and that only one each from Judaism, Christianity and Islam will be the true followers of their respective Prophets. The rest will be deviants.

Now, which from the 71, 72 and 73 are true? The Muslims believe that only God will know which ones are true so Muslims are advised to very carefully seek the truth and search for the true Islam lest you mistakenly follow the false Islam and end up in hell.

Christians solved this 'disagreement' over more than 1,500 years by killing those from the other Christian sects that they considered deviants. Hence when Catholics were in power they killed all non-Catholics and when non-Catholics were in power they killed all the Catholics.

In fact, the non-Catholics, who considered themselves Christians, did not consider Catholics as Christians at all. They would classify the two groups as Christians and Catholics -- meaning Catholics are not Christians. And that means Christians can lawfully kill Catholics (and vice versa).

Muslims, however, consider Catholics as Christians, one of the 72 different sects that Islam talks about.

Malaysia officially follows the Al-Sunnah Wal Jamaah or Sunni sect of Islam. And any other sect (not just Syiah) is considered false Islam. And the Malaysian government will take action against those not of the Sunni sect.

However, this applies only to Malaysian Muslims. Iranians, Iraqis, etc., are exempted from this rule. But if Syiah Islam is illegal in Malaysia why are non-Malaysians allowed to practice Syiah Islam in Malaysia while Malaysians are not?

Let us look at another scenario. Gay marriages are a crime in Malaysia (just like Syiah Islam). And foreigners (even Christians) who enter into gay unions are not welcome in Malaysia (Elton John as one example). Hence this anti-gay rule covers non-Malaysians and non-Muslims as well. A crime is a crime.

But the anti-Syiah law (unlike the anti-gay law) applies only to Malaysian Muslims and not to non-Malaysian citizens. This does not give an impression of consistency.

Okay, Muslims believe that Islam will be divided into 73 different denominations towards the end of time. So which one of the 73 is true and which 72 are false? No one knows. Only God knows. But the Malaysian government has decided that it knows what God knows and that Syiah Islam is the false Islam -- in fact it is not even Islam at all.

But then we are told that we have to be very careful and search for which is the true Islam so as to not fall into the trap of following the false Islam, which will result in us being thrown into hell. But the Malaysian government will not allow us to search for ourselves. The Malaysian government will decide for us.

What happens if the Malaysian government is wrong and we follow what the Malaysian government wants and we end up following the wrong Islam?

Well, then it is our fault and we will end up in hell. We must take responsibility for following the wrong Islam. The Malaysian government will not be responsible even though it was the Malaysian government that decided and forced us to follow the official Islam of the country.

In other words, they force us to do something and if we end up doing the wrong thing we will be punished for that.

Mekah is the centre of Islam. But the official religion of Saudi Arabia is Wahhabism, a branch of Sunnism. Wahhabism is quite different from the other branches of Sunnism. Can Malaysians follow Wahhabi Islam since it is a branch of Sunnism?

Wahhabi Islam is a very strict and very uncompromising branch of Sunni Islam. If Malaysia adopts this branch of Sunni Islam then all women, even non-Muslims, need to be covered up, and they cannot drive, and there must not be any entertainment shows on TV, and churches and temples will not be allowed, and if you insult Islam you can be put to death, and so on.

To the Saudis, this is the true Islam. To the Saudis, Malaysia's version of Sunni Islam is false. Hence, to the Saudis, if we follow Malaysia's version of Sunni Islam we are deviants who are following false Islam.

So, to the Wahhabis, Malaysian Muslims are not true Muslims but a whole bunch of deviants.

So, where do we go from here? The government decides what is wrong and what is right and we are compelled to follow what the government says. However, at the end of the day, we will get punished if we follow the wrong thing because we, and not the government, are responsible for our actions.

Not easy being a Muslim, is it? Either way we will all end up in hell.

 

Sex bloggers now fear for their safety

Posted: 25 Jul 2013 02:52 PM PDT

(The Star) - Sex blogger Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee - known commonly as Alvivi - may have to worry for their safety now that they have been released on bail.

The couple's lawyer, Chong Joo Tian, said if any threats were made against them, they will "lodge a police report and seek police protection.

"But this is premature as bail has just been granted," he told The Star Online.

The couple were bombarded with threats after they posted a controversial 'Ramadan' greeting which depicted them eating bak kut teh with the words 'Selamat berbuka puasa' on their Facebook fan page.

Facebook and Twitter users of all religions and racial backgrounds immediately castigated the pair on social media.

Many had threatened their wellbeing on Facebook which shared their personal details like addresses, IC numbers, and relatives' details.

A picture of the couple with the caption 'KILL - If you hurt or kill this scum in front of me I will make like I didn't see' was also circulated on Facebook.

The barrage led Alvivi to tweet from their now-deactivated Twitter account pleading for it to stop.

They said the threats were so discomfiting that they were unable to eat or sleep.

"Mercy please," they tweeted.

 

Miss Malaysia may yet be Malay

Posted: 25 Jul 2013 02:36 PM PDT

(MM) - The four young Muslim women who were dropped as finalists of Miss Malaysia World 2013 may yet be allowed to compete following a review by the Federal Territories Islamic Department (Jawi).

Miss Malaysia World official licensee and organiser Datuk Anna Lim (pic) told The Malay Mail she met with Jawi director Datuk Che Mat Che Ali who was looking into the matter after she submitted the particulars of this year's competition.

Lim claimed Che Mat said Jawi was calling for a committee meeting to discuss the matter and could come out with a decision some time early next week.

"The committee may announce it on Monday or Tuesday," said Lim.

"Even if their decision comes in by Tuesday and committee decides to allow it, the girls can still compete."

This year's competition will take place in Indonesia and Muslim contestants will be wearing sarong and parios instead of bikinis. Lim said there would be a greater emphasis on talent and culture.

"The talent segment is based on segments like singing and dancing while the fashion show is a chance for contestants to show off traditional outfits," she said.

Meanwhile, one of the four young women, Sara Amelia Bernard, confirmed that she had also met with Che Mat yesterday.

Sara Amelia said she had issued a statement to Jawi but would not confirm or deny whether it was an apology as she was under a gag order.

 

Redeeming journalism through the conscience clause: Part 1

Posted: 25 Jul 2013 02:04 PM PDT

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It's no point asking journalist and their employers to stick to a code of ethical conduct if such undertaking is not backed up with the force of law. Bad journalists can get away with unethical behaviour while good ones who try to live up to high ethical standards only end up seeing their careers destroyed or prematurely terminated by employers who demand they undertake unethical work.

Bob Teoh, My SinChew

When I suggested the introduction of workplace reform to improve the ethical conduct of both journalists and media owners by incorporating a code of ethics together with the conscience clause as part of their employment contract, it was immediately greeted with skepticism by some.

Such skepticism is understandable given that Malaysian journalism has fallen from grace. Let's face it, we have reached rock-bottom. In the current World Press Freedom ranking by Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, Malaysia has dropped 23 spots to a new low by ranking of 145 out of 179 countries.

Some take comfort that we are, after all, three steps ahead of Singapore. But this is no consolation considering Bangladesh, Libya, Kyrgyzstan, Thailand, Indonesia and Brunei are better off than us. And if that's not bad enough, Myanmar is fast catching up – it climbed 18 spots to No 151, just a whisker behind us.

Industry stakeholders especially journalists, media owners and the regulatory authorities need to redeem the profession at some point and the time is now. I was vindicated when a chief editor, who was present at a media ethics forum last Saturday where I mooted the conscience clause, stood up and said he would consider writing the conscience clause into the employment contracts for his journalists.

It's no point asking journalist and their employers to stick to a code of ethical conduct if such undertaking is not backed up with the force of law. Bad journalists can get away with unethical behaviour while good ones who try to live up to high ethical standards only end up seeing their careers destroyed or prematurely terminated by employers who demand they undertake unethical work.

It's not that Malaysia cannot produce good journalists. Many of those with high ethical conduct have managed to get jobs with CNN, Al Jazeera, Fleet Street and many more have emigrated to Australia. Many who are otherwise good but did make it overseas are buried in unmarked graves together their ethics intact.

The time has come for workplace reform. A mutually agreed code of ethics can be made contractually binding both on journalists and their employers as a term and condition governing their employment. It safeguards and balances the rights and obligations of parties. An employer can summarily dismiss a journalist for fundamental breach of ethics. Likewise, employers can be taken to task for ethical violation. An aggrieved journalist can appeal on grounds of wrongful dismissal or unfair labour practice through the usual process of industrial law.

READ MORE HERE

No ‘DAP Baru’ if de-registered, RoS warns party

Posted: 25 Jul 2013 01:56 PM PDT

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(The Malay Mail) - "It is better for the party to members and leaders to take initiative to save the party rather than false hopes of setting up a new one," Abdul Rahman said when asked about suggestions that the DAP avoid RoS action by holding fresh polls.

The DAP could face a permanent ban as the Registrar of Societies (RoS) has said it will reject the opposition party's application to form a new party if it is de-registered.

RoS director-general Datuk Abdul Rahman Othman was quoted by The Star as saying that the party should not "harbour false hopes" of forming a new party since the body had shun applications to register new parties for the past five years.

"They can apply. But the right to approve it is with the RoS. We did not even entertain 29 applications to set up new parties submitted over the last five years," he said.

DAP leaders have in the past alleged a conspiracy to dissolve the party after the RoS initiated an investigation into purported irregularities in the party's elections last year.

The party maintained innocence but refused to heed internal calls for new elections which drew accusations of a cover-up.

"It is better for the party to members and leaders to take initiative to save the party rather than false hopes of setting up a new one," Abdul Rahman said when asked about suggestions that the DAP avoid RoS action by holding fresh polls.

The move to reject the DAP's application to set up a new party should it be banned will likely prompt opposition leaders to cry bias by highlighting the RoS's quick approval of Umno Baru, the new party formed by then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad after the original Umno was declared illegal by the courts.

Commenting on this, Abdul Rahman said the two cases should not be compared.

"Umno's case involved the court, whereas the DAP's case involves the RoS," he was quoted as saying.

On January 4, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng revealed that there were errors in the tabulation of votes from the December 15, 2012 party elections, which he said were caused by a technical glitch when the results were transferred to a computer using the Microsoft Excel programme.

The amendments resulted in Lim's political secretary, Zairil Khir Johari, moving up from 39th position to 20th ― the last elected position in the party's CEC.

Zairil's votes were re-tallied at 803 compared to the 305 announced earlier.

Vincent Wu, who initially secured sixth spot with 1,202 votes, dropped to 26th as the party claimed he actually garnered only 669 votes.

Although a majority of the party's supporters accepted the explanation, some disgruntled members later lodged complaints with the RoS, claiming that the results were manipulated.

The party has denied the allegation and said it would co-operate with the RoS investigation on the matter.

Abdul Rahman said the investigation was already in its final phase and a decision is expected soon.

The Allah Controversy: An Interview

Posted: 25 Jul 2013 01:21 PM PDT

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The dilemma of thinking, meaning that they have to expand themselves out of the Malay -ness. We should look at the Malays as being able to understand other races rather than being about having to fight other races and exert their Malay-ness to the point of enhancing racism, and producing groups that are ultra-Malays at the same time. These groups do not project the true Malay identity. The peaceful Malay ethos is very different from what we see on the media. 

The writer, academician and columnist for Malaysiakini and Malaysia Today chats with us about the race issue in Malaysia. By Surekha Ragavan
Is there such a thing as an ideal state of unity in Malaysia? 
There is no such thing as an ideal state of unity, it's constantly evolving. Society evolves to the state of ideal when they give and take differences, or when they draw the strength of these differences to bring them together in an evolving and continuous forum of multiculturalism. This must be done through peaceful dialogue and education. The only powerful means to personal and social progress is education.

So education is the answer?
It is vital. We must implement education based on ethics, creativity and a vision that can see the good in human beings no matter who they are. Race is merely a construct; to imagine someone as this race and that race has limitations and dangers.

Are there connections between racism and conservatism? 
These are two very different, difficult concepts to define. Racism is an excess of self-identity, you become ethnocentric and, in the extreme, you go to the point of ethnic cleansing. Conservatism can mean that you conserve your cultural identity and you take pride in the ethics of conserving it.

How much does class have to do with the separation of races in Malaysia?
It has always been about class. The artificial divisions of race are used as a political tool to divide and conquer – it was a British colonial strategy. I think Malaysians are beginning to see that it's not about racial differences but about class. If you look at the protests around the world from Wall Street to the Turkish protest against neo-liberalism, they're always about class.

Is this realisation about class especially prominent post-GE13?
GE13 was the beginning of the coming together of people who do not wish to look at politics based on race. It's about transitioning from the old order to a new one. The old regime is now trying to use their ideas to build a new perspective of their own governance, because after 50 years, you have to move on and look at the reality of what it is. And the reality is that it's a problem of social class.

READ MORE HERE: http://azlyrahman-illuminations.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-allah-controversy-in-malaysia.html 

Intellectual Revolution: The Necessity of the Thinkers and the Revolutionary Minds

Posted: 25 Jul 2013 01:11 PM PDT

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By reason of fear and reprisal, persecution and state violence, some scholars, instead of embarking on ground-breaking enterprise and earth-shaking endeavor would rather avoid the great possibility of offending the powers that be and instead leave their country of origin and hesitantly exile themselves to other lands that is more tolerant and appreciative of their talents, potentialities and bright ideas.
 
Jose Mario Dolor De Vega - Philosophy lecturer, Polytechnic University of the Philippines  
This humble paper is an affirmative response to the lucid and scholarly essay of Ms. Natalie Shobana Ambrose's "Empowering our thinkers", The Sun Daily, July 12th.

Though I overwhelmingly concur to her general proposition, I beg the indulgence of the reader that I may be allowed to adumbrate and elaborate on the various theses that she laid down.

Indeed, "throughout history, the most dangerous people to any regime have not been the thugs, thieves or murderers but rather the thinkers and the intellectuals. For centuries governments have crafted laws limiting the opinions and vetoing findings of studies from being publicised or rubbishing theories that do not fit with their agenda. So much so modern academics find that they constantly self-censor or thread far away from what is deemed sensitive or controversial subjects as a form of self-preservation and survival."

Said dangerous people, namely the thinkers, the intellectuals, the iconoclasts, the mavericks and independent observer has always been the irritating thorn to any regime, especially a state that is perceived to be unjust, unfair and perverted.

More often than not, said regime's program to neutralize these individuals is to either eliminate them or silence them by sending them to the dungeon or by banishing them altogether from the territory of the said country.

Another vicious method being resorted into by these kinds of regimes is to enact laws that stifle, delimit, impede and denounce the unorthodox opinions of the said intellectuals.

Added to this is the Macheviallian act of the said regimes of harassing, questioning and denying the very position of these intellectuals whose radical views do not subscribe or follows the "official" program of the state.

These evil regimes also forced the thinkers and the independent observers to conform to the state-sanctioned policy.

Some, gave in due to pressure, hence instead of pursuing their research and project up to its conclusion; they engage in an internal conflicting act of censoring themselves, editing their work, doctoring their data, altering their findings and worst, some even decides not to proceed with their endeavor at all.

The reason is plain and simple: they have to engage in all these preposterous and ridiculous means for purposes of self-preservation and survival. 

This is a shame!

As the writer contended:        

"This missing voice is a great tell-tale of how authoritarian a government is and how much or little such talent is valued in the society. We see this throughout the world – talented academics who would rather bypass the red tape of taking on local issues as study topics instead embark on ground-breaking research in other lands so as to not rock the boat back home.

"Malaysia has not been spared in this respect. Not only have we lost bright stars to other lands by limiting the very essence of their work, we have also inevitably dumbed down our thinkers through fear, bureaucracy and threatening their livelihoods.

"Malaysia is going through fascinating transformation both socially and politically. In the last 10 years, the change has been profound. Yet so little study has been done amid all the political cacophony, and the Malaysian academic voice has been rather quiet. We have to ask the question why."

Comment:

By reason of fear and reprisal, persecution and state violence, some scholars, instead of embarking on ground-breaking enterprise and earth-shaking endeavor would rather avoid the great possibility of offending the powers that be and instead leave their country of origin and hesitantly exile themselves to other lands that is more tolerant and appreciative of their talents, potentialities and bright ideas.

This is a tremendous loss to the native land of the said researcher and a big goldmine to the adopted country.

Why?

This is a clear case of brain drain to the country of origin and as already noted; a gold mine to the new country or sanctuary.

The one that will benefit from the product of the intellectual labor and academic insights of the said scholar will not be his/her own native country but the nation that is presently adopting the said researcher.

This is not a new phenomenon, when Socrates was condemned to death unjustly by the stupid mob, his student Plato cannot bear the thought to stay in the city that killed his teacher so he decided to leave Greece for a while.

The same is true of Aristotle, when his student Alexander the Great dies, he also decided to leave Athens, saying thus that his act of leaving is his way of "saving the Athenians from sinning twice against Philosophy."

The writer's question is totally in point: why is it that despite the fact that Malaysia is going through a fascinating transformation both socially and politically in the last 10 years wherein the changes has been so rapid and utterly profound; ironically so little study has been done amid all the political cacophony and why the Malaysian academic voice has been rather quiet?   

This is irony of all ironies, indeed!

It is beyond dispute that it is the author herself that squarely answered her own query.

Undeniably, the local bright stars are leaving the country due to the lack of equal opportunity, unfair policy, unjust government selection program, social injustice and the stupid conception of the state of affirmative action.

Added to these list of grievances and complaints is the irrefutable fact that "we have also inevitably dumbed down our thinkers through fear, bureaucracy and threatening their livelihoods."

This is a shame!

Again, we return to the perennial social evils of the problem, namely: the act of the state in belittling, mocking, irritating, questioning, and harassing the thinkers through fear, bureaucratic brouhaha and economic blackmail.

Not added to this is the state's act of political persecution such as dismissing the academic from the university or college, suing the said lecturer, teachers or professor and engaging in a character assassination of the said intellectual by using the vast powers of the government to disrepute the integrity of the thinker and put into doubt the product of his/her labor and scholarly work, when the only fault of the said academic is that his or her work is critical of the government or run counter to "the official line" being promoted by the state. 

For those who decided to stay and confront bravely the perverted system of corruption, they must also face the full wrath of whole state machinery.

This is precisely the reasons why the thinkers and intellectuals had not taken advantage of this hotbed of potential study topics and areas of possible research.

Imagine an academic that will write a thesis which title is: How could the BN form the government when they are only voted 49% of the population?

Will the government accept that kind of research?

And what do you think will happen to those intellectuals who had undertaken the said studies? How are they going to be treated?

The answer is: either they are dismissed from their posts, or their contract will not be renewed or perhaps they will see themselves at the dock appearing before a court answering some silly and flimsy charges or their books will be ordered to be banned or they may die accidentally or they may disappear mysteriously or they may struggle economically to find some sponsor or funding that will going to support their work.

I concur with the writer that the problem I feel lies in space. The exact term being use in political science is the so-called "democratic space".

Again, the bold questions posited by the writer are highly in point:

Is there a space where people are empowered to provide evidence-based critique?

Comment:

Yes, there is a certain degree of "space", but here's the caveat: be ready and be willing to face the repercussions and consequences of your intellectual actions.

A true thinker and a genuine intellectual that proceeded to present an unorthodox work to the public must be ready and utterly prepare to hear the following idiotic and preposterous charges:

a. "if you don't like it here, leave!"

b. "go back to where you came from"

c. "what more do you want, ingrate?"

All of these are the price that an intellectual and a scholar have to pay and confront bravely in order to his or her quest of pursuing the truth and consequently spreading his or her ideas and thoughts to the public and the world!

"It seems far easier for a foreigner to write a book, article, thesis on Malaysian issues than it would be for a local. If we don't agree with their findings – we can rubbish it as not correctly understanding Malaysia since they are an outsider. Of course the other argument is that Malaysians are too emotionally embroiled to carry out such studies. Perhaps there is some truth to it but that is not a good enough reason to leave a gaping hole in research work by local thinkers."

Comment:

On the Question of Empowering the Intelligentsia?

The great Russian novelist, Maxim Gorky said that the existence of the intellectuals is necessary in any form of society.

In my view, an intellectual has no nationality, because genius is universal. Nonetheless, I concur with the author that a community must produce its own thinkers and intellectuals before the world claim him or her.

Therefore, the Malaysian academic must rise above their "emotional embroidery" and carry out their studies --- against all odds and regardless of the adverse consequences --- whatever they may be.

To quote the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:

"I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions."

The Role of the Intellectuals

Professor Noam Chomsky said that "it is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies."

To quote from my article:

What is an intellectual?

According to Wikipedia, an intellectual is: a person who uses thought and reason, intelligence and critical or analytical reasoning, in either a professional or a personal capacity and is:

1. a person involved in, and with, abstract, erudite ideas and theories;

2. a person whose profession (e.g. philosophy, literary criticism, sociology, law, political analysis, theoretical science, etc.) solely involves the production and dissemination of ideas, and

3. a person of notable cultural and artistic expertise whose knowledge grants him or her intellectual authority in public discourse.

Based these definition, an intellectual is a person or an individual who is involved or is engaged in creating erudite ideas (whether abstract or not) and making some theories.

The primordial duty of the intellectual is to disseminate ideas. He or she is of notable culture and held some artistic expertise which standing gives him/her a sense of intellectual authority in public discourse.

Who are the intellectuals?

There is no iota of doubt that the intellectuals are the philosophers, the teachers, the writers, the poets, the artists and the like!

The French existentialist philosopher and Marxist revolutionary, Jean Paul Sartre pronounced that the intellectuals are the moral conscience of their age. He passionately believed as he himself lived his life the way he wrote and taught that: the task of the intellectuals is not limited by merely observing the political and social situation of the moment, but undeniably to be involved and engaged actively in all of society's issues and concerns. Finally, he also maintained that part and parcel of the duty of an intellectual is to serve as a voice of the marginalized, the oppressed, the idiots, the exploited, the lowest members of the society and indeed to speak out—freely—in accordance with their consciences.

Professor Noam Chomsky, like Sartre also subscribes to the belief that a true intellectual must not be silenced nor cowed. They must always stand for the truth and condemn all the injustices and inequalities in the world.

Hence, on this ground, an intellectual is not only a member of his/her community, but a citizen of the world. This is in conformity with Professor Foucault's concept of the universal intellectual!

Are they necessary for one society?

Answer:

Yes, indeed! The intellectuals are truly necessary and indeed important in one society or political community. Their ultimate function is to serve as the critic of their society's malaise. It is not an exaggeration to state that the intellectuals are precisely the eyes and soul of the community. ("The Significance of Social Sciences in Education, the University and the making of the Intellectuals", Etniko Bandido Infoshop, May 5, 2012; "Creating students of substance and character", February 3, 2013, The Star)

I completely concur with the author that "for a Malaysian though, embarking on potential research topics within the range of race relations, governance, electoral process, human rights, security, migration history and the likes is best left untouched. The retribution is not worth the contribution to the academic discourse – and this happens in a country where we enjoy "democratic comforts".

The writer then listed her suggestions and what she perceived is the antidote the pressing problem that she saw in the Malaysian society and its academe.

"Malaysian intelligentsia needs to be empowered – both from the inside and out. How though?

"First, our universities, research institutes and think-tanks should be given the mandate to be neutral – not just on paper but also in accepting and engaging in research and study findings that are pertinent to today's Malaysia, even if it makes the politicians uncomfortable. Of course this should be done within the confines of the analysis being transparent and evidence-based."

Comment:

Indeed, universities, research institutes and various think-tank academic groups must be given mandate, not simply for purposes of neutrality, but most importantly for objectivity.

Our duty is to let the university as free as possible to discharge its social function of creating intellectuals who are critical thinkers that will lead to their being civic-minded and responsible citizens.

The quest to unravel the varied and complicated truths of the social dynamics of one's society demands that said institution are not shackled by bureaucratic intervention and governmental reprisal.

The universities must be given their independence and autonomy to conduct their own independent research and academic undertaking without thinking of whether the result of their project will please the powers that be or not.

Definitely, the said venture must be done "within the confines of the analysis being transparent and evidence-based". Besides being transparent and evidence-based, said endeavor must also be daring and courageous to make public the product of the said work --- whatever its findings are.    

"Information should be readily available and funding provided with no swaying strings of political positioning attached. This of course is the ideal, perhaps then we should first, start with undoing the politicisation of administrative posts if genuine change is to happen. Also there needs to be a paradigm shift that thinkers are not traitors but rather people who can contribute knowledge to informed decision making. It is also important for thinkers to be actively engaged with decision makers without bias, reducing the gap between the different levels of society."

Comment:

Let me highlight the various problems listed by the author, namely:

1.   the inaccessibility of the information;

2.   said information is inaccessible because of lack or deficient funding;

3.   lack or deficient funding due to political machinations and attachment of political positioning;
4.   the politicization of administrative posts;

5.   the tendency for the thinkers to be tagged or called or be accused of being traitors; and,

6.   the necessity for the thinkers to be actively engaged with decision makers without bias.

In fairness to Malaysia, these problems or dilemmas or imbroglios and conflicts are not exclusive to them! 
Universally, intellectuals have face and confronted all or some of these issues, yet they are not a reason and they are not an excuse for the intellectuals to abandon their duty and betray the people's trust! 

The author is correct for demanding a paradigm shift to the powers that be for them to change their view of thinkers.

However, despite the existence of all these problems and challenges that a thinker and/or an intellectual must confront, he or she must resigned to the fact and be prepared that he or she may be tagged or called or be accused of being a traitor, radical, a danger, a menace, etc.

That is the price one has to pay for being an intellectual.

"Second, the public should demand for such high standards in academics and thinkers, only then will our intellectual movement be reliable and powerful enough to support reforms in a peaceful manner. Such public support is important for an intellectual revolution to take place."

Comment:

I agree that the public should demand for a high standard in academics and thinkers, yet the process should not end there. The intellectuals, the academics and the thinkers themselves must also demand recognition, support and solidarity from the public.

The duty of the intellectual is to study his or her society and everything about it, then craft it into a public discourse for the public's consumption for their eventual acquisition of higher knowledge, which the thinker hope will lead to the development of the political consciousness and maturity of the people as a whole and all these in the end, if we combine will make the people and the general public responsible citizens, not only of their community, but of the whole world.

The obligation of the public is to listen to the intellectuals and the thinkers with regard to the latter's view of their society. Besides listening, the people must also act upon the suggestions, studies and programs laid down by the intellectuals.

The intellectuals are researching and studying for their society and the people must study and act accordingly on the said social research to further enhance the validity, accuracy and veracity of these social realities.

The creation of a just society is not only the function of the thinkers; the people themselves must also contribute to attain the said goal.

The intellectual and the masses must forge a dialectical and symbiotic relationship! Undeniably the former serves as the social vital element, while the latter acts as the instrument of the social nucleus!

Why? The intellectual or thinker is nothing without the people and the people will not develop maturity and consciousness that would utterly be necessary in order for them to cultivate their civic-mindedness, sense of community and responsible citizenship (both locally and globally) and corollary to this, the people themselves will be powerless without the helping hand and enlightened guidance of their thinkers, academics and intellectuals!

In theoretical terms, the intellectuals and the masses are theory and practice. They must unite to form a single collective whole! It is only on this way that an intellectual revolution shall ensue!    

"Third, the intelligentsia themselves need to restore the confidence that the academic world is untouched by political rhetoric and not governed by fear. Start by reinstating critical discourse and continue by measuring your worth not in local currency but of international standards. Allow students to be involved in substantive debate and empower the younger generation with academic freedom – start within the confines of your own classroom."

Comment:

One way to restore the confidence of the intelligentsia to the academe is for the government to allow more universities to be independent and autonomous.

The court's ruling on the Universities Act is a welcome development, but still a lot more is needed to be done.

As I've stated then in my article:

I APPLAUD the ramifications of the decision by the Court of Appeal in upholding freedom of expression.
Section 15(5)(a) of the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 restricts students from "expressing support or opposing any political party".

The court said this provision was in direct contravention of the Federal Constitution, by virtue of the fact that it violates the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.

Justice Hishamuddin Yunus said he "failed to see how a student who expressed support for or against a political party could bring about an adverse effect on public order or morality".

I think he said it well.

If we were to limit the sociopolitical exposure of our young to prevailing conditions and social milieu, we would be doing them a disservice.

Instead of creating critical-minded and civic-oriented citizens, who are responsible, bold, dynamic and proactive, we are moulding apathetic, lazy and passive people, who by virtue of their inadequacy and being puerile, cannot contribute to society.

Universities should be the breeding grounds for reformers and thinkers, and not an institution to produce students trained as robots.

A true democratic society is not afraid to allow its citizens to enjoy and exercise their rights to the maximum, so long as the citizens themselves use those said rights intelligently and responsibly.

Universities gear students to become independent and critical-thinkers so that they can become responsible members of society and cosmopolitan citizens of the world. ("Universities and University Colleges Act: Breeding grounds for reformers", The New Straits Times, November 9, 2011)

It is my firm and ardent view that a great way to reinstate critical discourse in the university is to offer compulsory the subject of Philosophy and other Humanities subjects to all our college and university students nation-wide.

My core suggestion to the Malaysian educators and policy makers is for them to support and encourage the Liberal Arts programme.

Why? What is the importance of this subject/programme for the advancement of critical public discourse?

As I said then in one article:

THERE is no doubt that the subjects of Liberal Arts education, such as Philosophy, Ethics, Logic, Sociology, Anthropology, etc, - the Humanities as a whole - is the branch of knowledge that specifically deals with the study of what makes us human.

Hence, the value and importance of a Liberal Arts education.

In the words of Michael Roth, President of Wesleyan University: "Liberal learning introduces them to books and music, the science and philosophy that form disciplined yet creative habits of mind that are not reducible to the material circumstances of one's life (though they may depend on those circumstances)... The habits of mind developed in a liberal arts context often result in combinations of focus and flexibility that make for intelligent, and sometimes courageous risk-taking for critical assessment for those risks." A Liberal Arts' education is the source of critical thinking. Critical thinking is the capacity to think independently beyond the ordinary conception of prevailing reality.

Its mind is reason; while its heart is humanism. The precise utilisation of critical thinking will undeniably lead our students to the joys of critical analysis which in turn will certainly give them the philosophical tools necessary and pertinent for the conscious and bold exercise of complex insights.

In the words of Chris Hedges, "The capacity to think is the only bulwark against any centralised authority that seeks to impose mindless obedience. There is a huge difference, as Socrates understood, between teaching people what to think and teaching them how to think."

It is in this exact sense that I overwhelmingly subscribe to the contention advanced by Professor Azhari-Karim of Universiti Sains Malaysia Penang ("Arts on the losing end" - NST, May 9).

He said, "One way is to teach Philosophy once again. This subject has been long absent from the curriculum for undergraduates. The idea is to refocus attention on the Arts and Sciences as being in the very rubric of knowledge and re-emphasise the philosophy of knowledge as a starting point for all academic pursuits." 

This is in conformity with the argument of Ganesan Odayappen ("Education is beyond race and politics" - NST, May 2,) of Kuala Lumpur who said in his letter: "When we talk about educating a nation, we must understand clearly what it means, how it is going to be achieved and its objectives. A nation which is striving to be a developed one needs tremendous human intellect and knowledge." 

A Liberal Arts education is absolutely necessary for the continuous progression and development of a country. There is no shadow of doubt that this type of education, which centres on humanism and universal reason, is truly beyond race, politics, religion, sex, gender, cultural background and other discriminatory categories.

Humanism is the study of being a good man in the truest sense of the word; while the central aim of a Liberal Arts education is to further cultivate and harness the humanity of Man's humanism. ("Nurturing Critical Thinking", The New Straits Times, May 11, 2011)    

"Most importantly, do not hide behind the protection of the Chatham House Rule (When a meeting, or par thereof, is held under the rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.) – use it sparingly so that your work is exposed for the betterment of the country."

Comment:

I would like just to add that a true academic and intellectual is a brave soul. He or she must not be afraid to pursue the ultimate conclusion of his or her studies and projects and he or she must be prepared to be mock, ridicule, antagonize and even ostracize.

The same thing happened to Einstein, Galileo, Tesla, etc. they were isolated, persecuted, hounded, mocked, etc., but where are they now? Hence, just be brave and carry on with your studies.

The intellectual is like the individual which Friedrich Nietzsche said "has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."    

"It's a long road ahead yet one that is vital and necessary in our democratic process. Malaysia in this instance pales in comparison with the vocal scholarly voices in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. It's time we studied ourselves, our communities, our societies, our politics, our beliefs, our history and our democracy without fear – who better than someone with local knowledge, who better than a Malaysian?"

Commentaries:

Yes, it may be a long road ahead for the Malaysian academia, yet to paraphrase a Chinese saying: the first great step on a long journey begun with the first step itself.

The March of Reason must continue at all cost…
 
 
Jose Mario Dolor De Vega
Philosophy lecturer, Polytechnic University of the Philippines 

Sarawak Reenacts Independence from Britain 50 years Ago

Posted: 25 Jul 2013 01:01 PM PDT

The last white Raja says goodbye.  

Many, if not most Malaysians are unaware that Sarawak was indeed, if only for a short time, a fully independent state before it entered into the Malaysia Agreement to form the Federation of Malaysia along with Sabah, Malaya, and Singapore, which formally came into effect on 16th September 1963, the actual birthdate of Malaysia. 

Murray Hunter

Last Monday was the 50th anniversary of Sarawak independence from Britain. Although it isn't a gazetted public holiday, local newspapers over the preceding week highlighted the upcoming reenactment of the independence ceremony, in which the last British Governor, Sir Alexander Waddell, formally handed sovereignty over to Tuan Haji Openg, the first Yang di-Pertua (Governor of Sarawak), on behalf of the people of Sarawak.  

The ceremony, forgotten in the past, appeared to be a pointed reminder to the national government in Putra Jaya that elements in both Sabah and Sarawak are demanding a more assertive approach to the governance of their own affairs.

The British took over the role of protecting Sarawak in 1888, formally becoming a colony in July 1946. On 22nd July 1963 Britain granted Sarawak full independence, where it became a sovereign state in its own right.

Many, if not most Malaysians are unaware that Sarawak was indeed, if only for a short time, a fully independent state before it entered into the Malaysia Agreement to form the Federation of Malaysia along with Sabah, Malaya, and Singapore, which formally came into effect on 16th September 1963, the actual birthdate of Malaysia. Sarawak's status, like Sabah's within the Federation was defined by the 18 Points Agreement, which gave Sarawak (20 points in Sabah) sole responsibility in governing many aspects of its territory.

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There is a sentiment in many quarters within Sarawakian society that the state's rich and diverse history has been lost in favor of the 'national Merdeka' narratives dominated by the stories of the independence movement within the Malay Peninsula.  As a consequence, Liberation Day, as independence from Britain is called in Sarawak, has become a forgotten annal in Malaysia's history.

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After the last planning meeting for the Liberation Day ceremony, Sarawak Resource Planning and Environment Minister (Datuk Amar) Haji Awang Tengah Ali Hasan told the media at a press conference that the facts sounding this day should be featured much stronger in national history curriculum, as this event had great significance, marking the beginning of the state being ruled by Sarawakians themselves.

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This reenactment ceremony occurred at a time where there is a growing sentiment within Government to tackle planning and development more within local paradigms, in contrast to just following national agendas in the past. Just how independent and "Sarawak-centric" future development policy shapes up between Kuching and Putra Jaya will be interesting to see over the next couple of years.  

Photos courtesy of Haji Adil Haji Kiprawie

 

Sabah RCI:PBS shown Umno forms as part of dubious IC give-out

Posted: 25 Jul 2013 12:48 PM PDT

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(WikiSabah) - Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) officials were shown Umno application forms by sources who claimed that the forms were part of the clandestine mass issuance of illegal identity cards.

PBS vice-president Radin Malleh testified to the royal commission of inquiry on illegal immigrants in Sabah that he had himself seen those forms, which included a photograph and a thumbprint.

He said the informant, whom he met sometime between the years of 1994 to 1999, also showed him Persatuan Bugis forms which were allegedly used for the same purpose.

"The informant showed me forms with pictures and thumbprints, and I assumed it was true, that they used the picture and thumprint to make blue ICs," he said.

However, to a question by Sabah Law Association representative Yunof Maringking, he stressed that he was "not implicating Umno or Persatuan Bugis" in the illegal mass issuance of ICs.

"I just saw the forms said to be used to give pictures and thumbprints. I'm not sure if they were used to get the ICs, but according to that source it was," he said.

He said that his sources claim that this was part of one 'Ops Gembleng' which allegedly involved a group of National Registration Department (NRD) officers who were placed at "specific districts" for the purpose of issuing ICs illegally.

'Declarations backdated'

He testified that Ops Gembleng was also alleged to have involved the backdating of false declarations (sijil akuan) declaring foreigners as Sabah-born for the purpose of issuing illegal ICs.

"Some say they are born in Tenom or in Rundum, when these people probably have never been to Rundum, and these declarations were backdated to 1987 to obtain ICs," he said.

Radin, who was then PBS secretary-general, said that he had also received a letter via post, which included 12 alleged fake ICs and a list of NRD officers said to be involved in Ops Gembleng.

"(The list) was real. Between 1995 and 1996, the names listed were arrested by the police and detained under the Internal Security Act," he said.

Asked by conducting officer Jamil Aripin, Radin, who is now Sabah Rural Development Minister, admitted that he cannot verify the information he received but believes that the sources are authentic.

"One of them was a medical doctor from Kampung Air... He is a Sabahan Indian. He told me of a Muslim Indian national who received an IC within a few days of arriving.

"He convulsed into tears when he told me. I asked him why, since that person is his Indian brother, but he said: "But I am Sabahan and he is depriving me of my opportunities," he said, urging the RCI to call the doctor as a witness. 

Kredit: www.malaysia-today.net

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