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Psychopath on the loose?

Posted: 09 Aug 2013 02:34 PM PDT

Another point is that after GE13, many people in this country seem to think that using a gun is a suitable way to settle their grouses. Either that or there is one superior mastermind planning the whole thing by awaking his sleeper agents/assassins in the whole country as a form of sabotage against the nation.

Selena Tay, FMT

No one knows who is the mastermind behind the recent shooting spree. The victims are too diverse in background and location to qualify as the work of a serial killer.

In every crime case, three vital issues that need to be looked into and investigated are: motive, means and opportunity.

The killers have the means and opportunity but what about the motive? Could it be business rivalry or personal vendetta? Those who got shot seems to have no enemies but then they must have enemies unknown to them or it may be a case of mistaken identity.

Nevertheless, these killings have got to stop before the nation becomes known as a crime capital or crime hub. In our era of instant news, this news will spread instantly across the world.

"The ease with which these criminals obtain guns is a very worrying factor indeed. The police must quickly identify the source of weapons in order to cut off their supply," said Ustaz Idris Ahmad the PAS MP for Bukit Gantang in Perak.

One has to take note that all these shootings except for the one involving the high-ranking customs officer occurred after the 13th general election which has again been won by BN.

What impression does this give of BN then? Do the criminals think that they should do everything now as Pakatan Rakyat may win the 14th general election? There is definitely something wrong somewhere when this crime wave surfaced only after GE13.

Another point is that after GE13, many people in this country seem to think that using a gun is a suitable way to settle their grouses. Either that or there is one superior mastermind planning the whole thing by awaking his sleeper agents/assassins in the whole country as a form of sabotage against the nation.

Whether the shootings are the work of individuals with personal grudges or the work of a single mastermind, the whole nation has taken a knock as people are now living in fear of being the next victim as they go about their daily errands.

This columnist though is of the view that there is an insane psychopath masterminding this mayhem and his intention is to sabotage the nation's economy just for the thrill of it.

This psychopath character is not unusual in the genre of spy thrillers in books or in movies but this time it is happening for real in this country.

Public enemy No 1

PAS state assemblyman for Changkat Jering in Perak, Nizar Jamaluddin also opines that the shootings are the work of a psychopath.

"These shootings are planned by this psychopath for reasons best known to himself but I am worried that the government will use this as an excuse to bring back the Emergency Ordinance (EO). However I believe that our police especially the Special Branch is smart and efficient enough to nail this mastermind," said Nizar.

Definitely this psychopath is shrewd and cunning and so far he or she has managed to outwit the police. It must be said that all psychopaths have extraordinary intelligence and are experts in planning and execution.

The police have their work cut out for them and all manner of intelligence gathering must be employed to nab the mastermind. Certainly this person intends to notch up many killings as a form of taunting the police.

He must be stopped at all cost as each successful killing will only embolden him.



One Man's view of the world and a thousand faceless men: Singapore's cadre system

Posted: 09 Aug 2013 11:37 AM PDT 

Lee's book is totally silent on the mechanism that maintained his tenure and influence over Singapore, an issue that is much alive in the local blogs, the Peoples' Action Party cadre system, something that political commentators domiciled within Singapore are very hesitant to discuss. Very much part of Lee Kuan Yew's pragmatic approach to solving problems.

Murray Hunter

The 'modern father' of Singapore Lew Kuan Yew, who is also the father of the current prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, launched his latest book "One Man's View of the World" recently. In this forthright and frank book Lee gave his views on major powers and regions of the world, often with scathing remarks about Singapore's neighbors and past Chinese leaders. What more, this book has been endorsed by former US Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz.

The book is full of interviews made by Lee's editorial team. They were defensive of his past actions and policies, yet very critical of others, not even sparing the daughter of former prime minister Goh Chok Tong who migrated to Bradford UK with her English husband. What was even more valuable for future historians was his candidness about the afterlife and total pragmatism behind what actions he took during his tenure of influence over the island nation.

However Lee's book is totally silent on the mechanism that maintained his tenure and influence over Singapore, an issue that is much alive in the local blogs, the Peoples' Action Party cadre system, something that political commentators domiciled within Singapore are very hesitant to discuss. Very much part of Lee Kuan Yew's pragmatic approach to solving problems.

The People's Action Party (PAP) was conceptualized out of friendships between Lee Kuan Yew, Goh Keng Swee, and Toh Chin Chye during their education in Britain. In 1954, with the help of trade unions that represented the Chinese educated majority, a left leaning nationalist party the PAP was formed. With the help of Lim Chin Siong and Fong Swee Suan the party would appeal to the Chinese educated working class and create a broad base of support. The PAP started out as a mass mobilization party based upon a Leninist model. Much of this model is still intact within the party today.

The PAP is well disciplined and cohesive, with extremely powerful machinery on the ground. Leadership is very much 'top down' through an instituted cadre system. This has been partly kept to prevent any future hostile takeover attempts. A potential cadre must be recommended by a member of parliament, and then the candidate is interviewed a number of times by a committee appointed by the Central Executive Committee (CEC), which will include 4 to 5 ministers and members of parliament. There may be up to 1,000 cadres in the party today, however this exact number is kept a secret. A cadre has the right to attend the party conference and vote for the leadership every two years.

Consequently, political power is centered in the Central Executive Committee, headed by the Secretary-General, the head of the party, who is usually also the Prime Minister. There is a very strong overlap between CEC members and cabinet ministers. Twelve members are elected by the cadre and six are appointed. Any outgoing CEC member must recommend a list of potential candidates to fill his/her position for the CEC. The CEC looks after the Young PAP, Women's Wing, selects cadres, and parliamentary candidates.

Ordinary party members are screened before they can join the PAP. Potential members must demonstrate some involvement in community before memberships are approved. Lee Kuan Yew did not want a mass party with populist demands, and also wanted to avoid the problems of 'quanxi' within the party. Party members are basically unpaid volunteers, serving their MPs on branch sub-committees, and help mobilize support during elections.

By international political party standards the PAP is very small, maybe 15,000 members, with a small central administrative machinery. There is a small HQ executive committee that oversees the daily administration of the party, i.e., maintaining party accounts, memberships, overseeing committees work, publications, and branch coordination.

Like Lee, the major ideology of the PAP is pragmatism, meritocracy, multiculturalism, and communitarianism. The PAP is pro-economic intervention through fiscal policy and government enterprise involvement, within a generally free market backdrop. The party strongly rejects the concepts of Western liberal democracy, citing a philosophy based upon 'Asian values' as the guiding principles of social development. Perhaps one of the greatest concerns of the PAP, reflected in the way it is structured and leadership is institutionalized, is the issue of succession, where it is believed that succession is the root of stability. Formal and informal rules and norms, and procedures guide who can and who cannot stand for party and public office.

Singapore's cadre system is partly responsible for the countries success story, but at the same time is an albatross around the Government's neck, arguably responsible for the 'groupthink' culture many local blogs are critical of in contemporary Singapore society today.

Since 1963 the Singapore Government has turned the island from a sleepy backwater into one of the world's most vibrant economies. Although nobody can fault the ruling party which has governed Singapore for more than 50 years of abandoning its responsibilities, many wish that it would tackle these responsibilities with some heart and connect emotionally with the people.

Times are rapidly changing in the island republic. There is genuine disenchantment with rising prices, the influx of foreign workers, competition for jobs, crowded public places, rising home prices, rising cost of education, and the widening income gap in Singapore. There is even some feeling among Singaporeans with the migration of foreign professionals, they may descend to becoming second class citizens within their own country. Migration will be expected to continue as the local Singapore population is aging. Today it is not uncommon to see the old and infirm waiting on restaurant tables, clearing rubbish in the streets, or even scavenging into rubbish bin. Singapore's GINI index has declined from 0.433 in 2000 to 0.465 in 2010 and is similar to many African and South American countries. Social ills like erosion of trust, crime, obesity, teen pregnancy, mental health and drug addiction, is more closely associated with income inequality rater than low average per-capita income. Consequently the electoral landscape is quickly beginning to change, where the PAP will not in the future be returned to power uncontested on nomination day due to the failure of opposition candidates to nominate for election.

The scrapping in of the PAP's preferred candidate Tony Tan for president in 2011 showed that there is a growing proportion of the Singapore electorate that wants a change to the PAPs heavy handed style of government and more scrutiny. However one of the issues that may hinder any further decline in the PAP's fortunes is that there is currently a lack of any credible opposition in Singapore as an alternative government.

From another paradigm, Singapore could be seen as the domination of one group over another. Most of the leadership has been drawn from the Baba Chinese community, a group cultured in Malay and "Colonial British". Babas strongly hold family values, community cohesiveness, and tend to respect authority. This is in contrast to the Southern mainland Chinese migrants to Singapore who fled oppression, and tended to oppose authority. Singapore has been run more in the manner like a British Colonial administrator would have aspired. Thus patriarchal leadership with neo-Victorian values is not something the migrating Chinese accepted openly. Singapore has seen many campaigns, incentives, and deterrents to achieve the values of the Baba class.

One of the major legacies of Lee Kuan Yew was the authoritarian style of leadership and the fear it invoked into the Singaporean psych. For decades Singaporeans were expected to fall in line with what leaders expected without question, as they were told that this was best for them. The bounds of what couldn't be done were clearly set, i.e., not to criticize leaders, not to discuss 'sensitive' issues, or not to give alternative opinions. If these boundary crossings were noticed, harsh penalties would be applied to those that crossed them. The strong control of Lee Kuan Yew was the dominant driver of society, and the state itself also had the responsibility of being the 'agent of change'. This to some degree squeezed out small private businesses as an alternative engine to growth of the Singapore economy. This persona of authority and control still exists today.

Singapore Government ministers appear to be disconnected with the people who elected them. They have become so concerned about running Singapore from an elite bureaucracy, trusted to make the best decisions for the country to protect and improve the livelihoods of its citizens. However as they live in some of the choicest real estate in Singapore and have rewarded themselves with some of the highest salaries in the world, they have become out of touch with the struggles and plight of the common people of Singapore.

For Singapore to prosper in the long term, and for Singapore to maintain the unique system of government that has evolved, with all the good, and perhaps less of the bad and ugly, the PAP needs to re-evaluate itself for the future and decide whether it is a broad based political party, or just the extension of one man and an elite group that has ruled over Singapore for the last 50 years?

Under the present structure of the PAP, it will be impossible for the party to reform itself from the grassroots and allow new ideas to reach the top. The ability of people to rise through the ranks of the party with new ideas is heavily restricted. The Lim Chin Siong legacy saw to that. The very way the PAP has sought both meritocracy and stability has become its 'Achilles heel', paralyzing the ability to adapt to changing Singapore, where ironically the country has been so successful in adapting to outside factors of change while being so internally rigid. The cadre system itself prevents change, as the selection process is a closed system selecting only same minded people to the leadership, subjecting government to the risks of groupthink. The challenge of change brings uncertainty and with this comes insecurity about the continuation of a successful paradigm of government that has served Singapore so well in the past.

Lee Kuan Yew had dominated Singaporean politics, economy, and society since the 1950s. The family has influenced affairs in Singapore for over 50 years, much longer than any other political family in the region. His eldest son, Lee Hsien Loong became Prime Minister in 2004. Lee Hsien Loong's wife Ho Ching is CEO of Temasek Holdings. Lee Kuan Yew's youngest son Lee Hsien Yang is the head of Singapore Telecom. The Lees have achieved their positions on merit and are genuinely an exceptionally talented family. Officially, the reason given for this is by former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong is the small talent pool in Singapore. Both the political and business sectors appear incestuous in Singapore, but due to the 'city-state' nature of the country, there appears to be little in the way of any solution to this. When the opportunities rose under Goh Chok Tong's Premiership in the mid 1990s, no moves were made to check the power of the Lee family. There is no doubt that the Lee's legacy is embedded in Singapore and its influence will last decades. Just how and when this influence will begin to dissipate remains to be seen.

However, the cadre system within the PAP is an issue within Singapore society that will never get the time of day as an item of national discussion.


One thousand faceless men have allowed one man's view of the world.

Bitter feelings 'awakened'

Posted: 09 Aug 2013 11:35 AM PDT 

The two Tuns have never enjoyed much political chemistry but Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's remarks about Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in a book about Abdullah's administration may reopen old wounds.

On hindsight, it seems like Abdullah and Dr Mahathir simply do not have political chemistry. During the Team A-Team B debacle in Umno during the 1980s, Abdullah was in Team B whereas Dr Mahathir was in Team A. 

Joceline Tan, The Star 

TUN Dr Mahathir Mohamad looked sweet in his pink baju melayu when he turned up at the Prime Minister's open house on Thursday. The former premier has been a prominent and regular guest ever since Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak moved into the top job.

But his mood this year may not be as sweet as his pink outfit.

Everyone is bracing for his reaction to the reported commentary by Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi published in a new book titled Awakening. The book is a collection of 37 articles by an array of contributors and edited by American Prof Bridget Welsh and Prof James U.H. Chin from Malaysia.

Dr Mahathir has held his tongue so far but pro-Mahathir bloggers have begun lashing out at Abdullah, the authors and even his son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin who had nothing to do with the book or comments.

It was obvious that none of the critics had read the book because one of them claimed that Abdullah was the author while another accused an anti-government non-governmental organisation of being behind the publication.

Another blogger said the book was timed to stir up things ahead of the Umno election.

But that is Umno politics for you; it is never short of conspiracy theories.

Abdullah's comments actually stemmed from an interview he granted the editors of the book while the publisher is quite an established company albeit left-leaning in nature.

The title of the book, was evidently a pun that was as much about Abdullah's attempts to open up the social and political space as it was about his habit of dozing off at inopportune moments when he was prime minister.

But Awakening will probably awaken and reopen old wounds between the two Tuns.

"It's not going to improve their relationship," said ISIS chief executive officer and director Tan Sri Dr Michael Yeoh.

The last couple of years have seen Dr Mahathir ease off his successor.

Even die-hard Mahathir supporters or what some call the mati-mati sokong Mahathir gang had ceased their attacks.

One reason is that Abdullah has kept a low profile since his retirement in 2009. He does not blog, he is not on Twitter and he has given his successor space and support. He attends his share of public functions where he smiles a lot and says pleasant things.

It says a lot about the man, actually. He may not have been the best man for the prime minister's job but he is without a doubt a gentleman, who has kept his word not to interfere in Najib's administration. He was said to be delighted when his son-in-law, whom he is known to refer to as "my Khairy", was appointed to the Cabinet after May 5. But neither did he make a fuss when Khairy was left out in the cold after winning the Umno Youth leadership.

But beneath the genial demeanour, Abdullah felt hurt about being blamed for the 2008 political tsunami and also that he was forced out of office.


However, it seems like nothing had rankled him as much as Dr Mahathir's attacks on Abdullah's family.

He said it was "hypocritical" of Dr Mahathir to say that his businessman son Datuk Kamal benefitted during his time in office.

He also defended Khairy and wondered if those who had criticised and forced Khairy into the wilderness were happy that they had broken his rice bowl.

Welsh, who is based in Singapore, had also strung together a collection of articles on Dr Mahathir around the time of his retirement but it attracted little attention and compared poorly to later efforts such as Barry Wain's biographic tour de force, Malaysian Maverick. The Abdullah book is not exceptional either but it will probably sell well thanks to the publicity on the interview with Abdullah.

Journalist-publisher Datuk A. Kadir Jasin said the only surprising thing about Abdullah's comments is that it is coming so late in the day.

"Tun Mahathir has commented significantly on Tun Abdullah. It was a matter of time that Tun Abdullah would say his piece," said Kadir.

Besides, said history expert Dr Neil Khor, the opinions expressed by Abdullah are hardly new.

"All the hurtful things have been said before by one party or the other. But it is Pak Lah's comments about Umno that are interesting, about how he failed to reform Umno from within.

"He must have seen the writing on the wall. He is not the master of the ground but he saw that the ground had moved. Having said that, Umno is in a stronger position now than during his time but it is still struggling to cap ture the middle class and the middle ground," said Dr Khor.

On hindsight, it seems like Abdullah and Dr Mahathir simply do not have political chemistry. During the Team A-Team B debacle in Umno during the 1980s, Abdullah was in Team B whereas Dr Mahathir was in Team A.

Throughout the 1990s, Dr Mahathir was grooming Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who quickly overtook Abdullah as the numero uno in Penang Umno.

Abdullah's career path has often been a case of being in the right place at the right time. But his relations with Dr Mahathir headed downhill almost from day one of his administration.

Hari Raya is a time to forgive and forget, to let bygones be bygones. Whether the two Tuns have forgiven each other, only they can tell. But it is clear they have yet to forget what went wrong between them.

But the word is that Dr Mahathir may not be as interested in the Abdullah book as he is in the just launched book One Man's View of the World, by his old nemesis Lee Kuan Yew. Dr Mahathir's guns may be aimed outwards rather than inwards.


Common denominator in the rise of school indiscipline and street crime

Posted: 09 Aug 2013 11:22 AM PDT 

The change was in the criteria that candidates to these leadership positions had to meet. From the 1970s, teachers were promoted to headships not on the strength of their performance as teachers, but based on their political connections. If they were active as ketua cawangan, setiausaha cawangan, etc they would be first choice for promotion. 

Ravinder Singh, The Malay Mail

There is a common denominator in the rise of school indiscipline and street crime. In both cases, there are rules and laws to be obeyed by children and adults respectively. Rules and laws remain pieces of paper until and unless they are enforced. To enforce the rules and laws, you need disciplinarians and no-nonsense leaders at the helm. In schools these are the head teachers and their superiors. In society they are the heads of police stations and their superiors.

In the '50s and '60s we had such leaders in both the schools and the police force. These disciplinarian, no-nonsense leaders were in those positions based on merit and proven track records. They did a fine job of ensuring that school rules and laws were properly enforced. So we had well disciplined schoolchildren and a good, law-abiding society. This is not to say there was zero indiscipline or crime, but things were kept strictly in check by nipping lawlessness in the bud. 

Then began the change that has brought us down to where we are today. The change was in the criteria that candidates to these leadership positions had to meet. From the 1970s, teachers were promoted to headships not on the strength of their performance as teachers, but based on their political connections. If they were active as ketua cawangan, setiausaha cawangan, etc they would be first choice for promotion.

Similarly, meritocracy was not just put in the back seat, but even thrown out of the window, in the promotion/appointment of other government servants to positions in authority.

When you put pilots in the cockpit who have not gone through the rigorous training that is needed to ensure the planes keep flying safely, and mediocre aircraft engineers and technicians to maintain the aircraft, you can expect disaster after disaster. The disaster from a plane crash is very much more easily seen than the disaster from not enforcing school rules and laws in society. The former disaster happens immediately and is very visible; the latter takes root, grows slowly and since it is not nipped in the bud, years later matures into an ugly head.

The ugly head becomes the focus of society as it impacts on society negatively. But why and how it came about is not looked into as its roots are by now very remote and out of mind. Is it less important to ensure that strict discipline is maintained in schools than ensuring that airplanes are serviced by competent engineers and technicians? The disaster from hundreds of thousands of undisciplined schoolchildren becoming adult members of society each year is greater than that from a plane crash.  

What we have in both the schools and the police are people who are not disciplinarians. In the schools, disciplinarian head teachers should be able to handle firmly not only the students, but also the teachers and parents. They should be able to get the parents to co-operate with them to maintain discipline, or else take the undisciplined children out of the school. In the police, the heads at each level should be able to keep those under them in a straight line. Here, another element comes in also — corruption. An unclean head cannot keep the rest of his house clean. But who is to see that the heads are clean? It is not that the police are poorly paid. A sergeant, at the age of 50+ can draw a salary of RM4,000. This is good pay for a non-graduate. The scale goes higher with the ranks.

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