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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

Conservatives vs liberals in PAS

Posted: 31 Aug 2013 12:40 PM PDT 

(FMT) - "While political observers brand the consequences of 2008 as a political tsunami, I would for one describe it as nothing more than the revitalisation of liberalism in Malaysia. This has unnerved the conservatives, particularly those in PAS." 

The "two-party system" which took shape after the 2008 general election  triggered a rise of liberalisation values in Malaysia's political, social and religious scenes, says a former state PAS leader here.

This trend in turn has unsettled the conservative movement, which consist of Islamic clerics, academicians, as well as social rights activists, said, Mohammed Hafiz Nordin, who was once the Penang PAS Youth head here.

"While political observers brand the consequences of 2008 as a political tsunami, I would for one describe it as nothing more than the revitalisation of liberalism in Malaysia. This has unnerved the conservatives, particularly those in PAS."

"For decades, Malaysia remains a peaceful country of multi-ethnic and multi-religious composition. We respect each other but now, we see the liberals as forsaking our social contract by demanding that we adopt policies which appear to be forcing us (conservatives) to make more concessions."

Among those was the apathy shown towards allowing non-believers to use a "surau" (Islam place of worship) to meditate at a resort in Johor, Hafiz said.

PAS is a party which prides itself in the constant struggle of Islam, therefore it should not subscribe to any efforts to liberalise or reform its own religion.

The values and convictions of Islam is for eternity, Hafiz said in an interview.

"Islam is perfect, so why must some parties spin it for political gains?"

PAS is split

Hence, there is now a split in PAS, between the conservative movement of clerics and the liberalism faction of technocrats and professionals, who may be unduly influenced by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, he claimed.

This has led to a phase of uncertainty in Malaysia's political future. In the last election, it showed that Barisan Nasional was canceled out by Pakatan Rakyat in the urban areas, whereas in the rural states, it was the opposite, he said.

Fast forward to today, the conservatives are leaning more towards regaining ground for what they see as the "loss of their rights" while the liberals retort back by branding such groups as extremists, he explained.

Read more at: 

I for Idiot is for Bush? Why look that far?

Posted: 31 Aug 2013 12:06 PM PDT 

(TMI) - I is for Idiot and unlike established artist J Anu, there is little need to lob that label on former US president George W. Bush when there are enough politicians in Malaysia who have doctorates in idiocy.

The artist was forced to explain the concept behind his artwork after a mosquito Muslim group lodged a complaint, saying that the painting insulted Islam. In fact, the government yesterday demanded the piece be withdrawn from the Selamat Hari Malaysia exhibition at Publika Kuala Lumpur.

Anu said the artwork was in reference to Bush's adventure in Iraq.

But really, why look thousands of miles away for an idiot? Malaysians are spoilt for choice at home.

Look at Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz (pic). He enjoys that work of fiction called Tanda Putera and tries to pass it off as historically accurate and well-researched. Never mind that the director of the film herself conceded that she took artistic licence with the events surrounding the race riots of May 13, 1969.

Nazri yesterday offered the discredited Umno version of the riots, saying that it was sparked by a few Chinese individuals.

"The Chinese community as a whole is not responsible for what happened in 1969, only the individuals, they are the ones who should feel guilty," he said.

Well, well, what magnanimity by the minister. Today, most Chinese should be at peace and sleep easy. Because Nazri has singled out only a few Chinese for starting the riots.

But idiots never stop when they are on a roll. So this is what Nazri added: "Why should the present generation of Chinese be troubled by it now? It is a historical fact that the riot was sparked by Chinese just like Nazis killed thousands of Jews during the Second World War."

Yes, Chinese, why be offended? The minister has only blamed you for the blackest episode in Malaysian history.

Nazri's comments are precisely why many right-thinking Malaysians have been wary of Tanda Putera.

There was more than a suspicion that Umno politicians, Malay nationalists and the intellectually-challenged at Utusan Malaysia would use the movie as fodder to continue demonising the Chinese and the Democratic Action Party (DAP).

Let us not forget a few facts. The movie is funded by the Umno-led government and the plan was to screen it before the general election, with the hope that it would boost patriotism among Malays.

But most of the Cabinet ministers vetoed the plan, fearing that it would hurt Barisan Nasional's chances with the Chinese voters.

After the results of May 5, with the mantra in Umno and the government being "punish the Chinese for voting for Pakatan Rakyat", there is now little concern about the film upsetting the Chinese community.

Indeed, the prevalent mood seems to be to hammer the community at every turn, in the style of the schoolyard bully.

Read more at: 

A review of ‘Tanda Putera’, a film that takes liberties with the truth

Posted: 31 Aug 2013 12:02 PM PDT 

An elderly Chinese gentleman in the audience walked out halfway. My one regret is that I could not do the same. 

Erna Mahyuni, MMO 

For Merdeka, I watched Shuhaimi Baba's docu-drama "Tanda Putera". Fourteen other people were in the cinema at GSC Paradigm Mall in Petaling Jaya at 11.30am.

I am unsure if any of them enjoyed the film, though an elderly Chinese gentleman in the audience walked out halfway. My one regret is that I could not do the same. The heart of "Tanda Putera" is the friendship of the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, played by Rusdi Ramli and Zizan Nin respectively.

Sadly, neither of the actors was up to the mark, but more on that later.

To call this revisionist history would be too kind. "Tanda Putera" is a poorly written, abysmally researched train wreck that makes our local soap operas look like arthouse films.

What amazes me is that it cost RM5 million to make this schlock.

Let me first start with the writing. The dialogue is cringe worthy and I am unsure if it is properly representative of the times. At a critical juncture, an aide described civil unrest as a 'tension' situation. Oh my bahasa.

There is no proper use of narrative in the script. Flashbacks are dumped into the film willy-nilly (possibly to keep the audience from sleeping), nonsensical subplots and completely superfluous characters abound with the last half hour dedicated to the deterioration of Razak's health.

What Shuhaimi attempts to do is paint her impressions of the era and for the first time in film, address Umno's favourite bogeyman: May 1969.

The problem here is that "Tanda Putera" makes no attempt at nuance. There is no balance; it is a limited and unabashedly prejudiced view of history, painting Malays to be put-upon, virtuous and generous people who have to put up with the ungrateful Chinese so easily swayed by the evil Communists.

To top off a horrid script, we have an ensemble cast with the collective expressiveness of IKEA furniture. Rusdi Ramli's attempt at 'method' acting consists of him speaking in an unconvincing 'old-time' accent where he pronounces 'rahsia' (secret) as 'reh-sia' and having just two expressions. Either he is smiling with teeth or looking constipated. Like Keanu Reeves, for Rusdi there is no in-between.

Zizan Nin as Ismail fares no better. His forced camaraderie with Rusdi comes across as a parody of bromance, with a total absence of chemistry. A third of the film is just long, awkward dialogues where both men conspire to keep their wives (and the whole nation) in the dark about their respective health conditions.

The biggest travesty about Shuhaimi's script is that it paints two of our greatest statesmen as pompous idiots who do not trust their wives.

Read more at: 

Pakatan's unity talks may offer a safe deposit for Najib's Prime Ministership‏‎

Posted: 31 Aug 2013 11:54 AM PDT 

The unity talk could also mean a possible checkmate on Mahathir's hands on our nation's affairs. No wonder Mukriz Mahathir made his chest-thumping reaction like; "But after losing in the election petitions, he is making this offer. We cannot accept this". Yes, of course, his father will not be able to accept this. Perkasa will not accept this too if they have their way. 

Kuo Yong Kooi 

Unity talks is probably one of the most positive political news that the silent majority Rakyat has ever heard since the end of the last general election.

The initial skeptical response from some Umno quarters are just basic ego chest-thumping exercise of some typical politicians. Every politician would like to have the luxury of a last say and an upper hand over all matters.

There are many possible benefits of the roundtable talks. The opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has highlighted in his pre-Merdeka olive branch speech that the country is in an urgent need to address the deteriorating economy, racial and religious harmony, law and order issues.

If the roundtable talks is conducted in an open, free, frank and practical manner, it can tackle the multiple ills that our nation is facing at the moment. The country is in such a state of disarray on many areas that Umno alone will not be able to tackle the problems posed.

The unity talk could also mean a possible checkmate on Mahathir's hands on our nation's affairs. No wonder Mukriz Mahathir made his chest-thumping reaction like; "But after losing in the election petitions, he is making this offer. We cannot accept this". Yes, of course, his father will not be able to accept this. Perkasa will not accept this too if they have their way. 

If Najib is working positively with Pakatan, the forces that support him in Umno might have greater strength in resisting Mahathir's marching orders from the background.

The unity talks also give hope for our nation to heal the current racial and religious rifts that might take us down the path of self-implosion. This is probably the last hope for a positive change or a turn around before we descent into an uglier scenario that might put our country back a few decades.

If in a hypothetical scenario where Najib loses his Umno presidency in the coming party election, the Parliament might still be able to uphold Najib's Premiership with the support from the Pakatan camp and others who thinks that the country is going in a wrong direction. The "others'" support can come from parliamentarians that are from East Malaysia, MCA, MIC and Gerakan.

The Umno delegates who are for Muhyiddin Yasin (if he intends to run for the top post) will have to think twice before voting him in as the new Umno president. This might not necessarily guarantee him the position of the Prime Minister of the country.

Someone in the Parliament can put a no-confidence motion on Muhyiddin if Najib is sidelined. If the the motion of no confidence sails through, a conscience vote can be called in parliament to determine who enjoys the confidence on the floor of the parliament.

We must also remember that there will be some liberals within the Umno ranks like Tengku Razaleigh who are able to lend support to Najib's Prime Ministership vote on the floor of our parliament, if push comes to shove.

This is a tectonic shift away from the tradition that Umno president is automatically the country's prime minister, instead the representatives of the people voted in a prime minister through a conscience vote on the floor of our parliament. That will be a sign of a maturing democracy for our country.

Some political pundits have predicted that talking with Pakatan will weakened Najib's position in the run-up of the Umno party elections.

On the contrary Najib might have the upper hand if he manages to come out with a positive working framework with Pakatan before the Umno party elections.

The Umno delegates would have to think hard on the likelihood of changing the tradition of the presidency's automatic Premiership of the country if they want Muhyiddin as their head.

However if Umno decides to re-elect Najib as the president of Umno, then the prime minister's post is his and he will be able to secure the tradition of the Umno president's automatic Premiership of the country.

Najib now might have an opening to secure his Prime Minister's position by choosing to accept the offer of a roundtable talks with Pakatan.

Some Pakatan supporters might think that the unity talk is a bad move by Anwar Ibrahim. My question to those who opposed to this idea is what if our country descent into chaos like Egypt and Syria?

The frequent racial and religious rows are clear signs indicating to us that we are going towards that direction. Would that dead end direction help our country mature into a democracy?

When it is no longer cricket

Posted: 30 Aug 2013 05:47 PM PDT

In fact, more than 70% of the Umno members at that time were teachers, writers, newspaper editors, poets, intellectuals, etc. They were well-read people who only wanted what was best for the country. They were not tainted by thoughts of the New Economic Policy or Deng Xiaoping's ideology such as 'to get rich is glorious'. And their leaders were those from the elite community.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

There are many positive and negative stories in the media today regarding this most important day in Malaysia's history, Merdeka Day. Of the many, I have decided to pick up the report by Martin Vengadesan, Rahmah Ghazali, Rashvinjeet S. Bedi and T. Avineshwaran, which was published in The Star.

This report quotes a few people whom I personally know. 

Reading through this report it sounds more like a story about Tunku Abdul Rahman than a story about Merdeka. I suppose in a way it is and that is why I have titled my piece "When it is no longer cricket" (meaning when it is no longer done or when it is no longer acceptable).

Even though those interviewed in the report below (both from the ruling party as well as from the opposition) sing the Tunku's praises, you may have noticed that no one from PAS has been quoted. This is because if you were to ask a PAS leader regarding his or her opinion of the Tunku, you will not get positive feedback. The PAS people will condemn the Tunku for being a bad Muslim who drinks and gambles.

Hence people's opinion of the Tunku would depend on your religious position. Liberal Malays and non-Malays (such as those quoted in the report below) would say nice things about the Tunku while conservative Malays or fundamentalist Muslims would have the opposite view.

I want to also say something about the Tunku, which none of those interviewed touched on. And this something is regarding why the Tunku is a great man, if you go by what those quoted in the report have to say about him.

I think I am slightly qualified (I said 'slightly') to comment because the Tunku was a personal friend of our family. My late parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc., all knew him. And the Tunku was in England when my father was there and when my father married my mother and soon after that I was born.

Why is the Tunku such a great man (and many, other than maybe the PAS people, will agree that he is a great man)? Why is he non-racial, liberal, fair, just, and so on, as what they all say?

The answer to this question is: because of his upbringing.

You see, many of the early Umno leaders were men and women of breeding. Quite a number were from the royal family or what the Malays would call 'orang istana' (palace people). They were not only brought up in the palace environment but also received a good education, many of them in the UK. Hence they were a very different breed of people.

In fact, more than 70% of the Umno members at that time were teachers, writers, newspaper editors, poets, intellectuals, etc. They were well-read people who only wanted what was best for the country. They were not tainted by thoughts of the New Economic Policy or Deng Xiaoping's ideology such as 'to get rich is glorious'. And their leaders were those from the elite community.

If you had personally known the Umno leaders of the 1950s and 1960s, you can see the glaring difference between those people and the Umno people of today. For example, my own father and grandfather, both who never became Umno members although they were close to the leaders of that time, would be good examples of what the Malays of the 1950s and 1960s were like.

Hence when you reflect on what Malaysia used to be 56 years ago and then you compare that era to the Malaysia of today, you must not overlook one very crucial point. And that point is the Malays of that time were educated in the British tradition and were what we would probably call 'Brown Englishmen'.

Another very important point is that the Malays of that era were also very feudalistic. As much as we may think that feudalism is so yesterday and today we should be talking about liberalism and republicanism, we must not overlook the fact that the old feudal Malays had certain values and standards that the Malays of today no longer possess.

Then came leaders like Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim who did not share these English ideals that the leaders a generation before them possessed. The 'Umno Baru' leaders who came later were all products of a local education. They had no love for Britain or the British tradition. In fact, they hated feudalism plus what they perceived as 'western values'.

And that was when Malaysia began to erode into racism and religious intolerance.

We may be proud of the fact that, today, Malaysian politics is no longer dominated by the orang istana or the Brown Englishmen. We may be proud of the fact that Malaysian politics is now in the hands of the masses and no longer in the hands of the elite. However, while we may be proud of that one fact, we also have to live with the fact that Malaysian politics is also in the hands of the uncultured who have no sense of British fairness and will not care one bit, as what the British will say, even if this is not cricket.


As Tunku saw it: Maintaining the Merdeka spirit for a multi-racial Malaysia

By Martin Vengadesan and Rahmah Ghazali with additional reporting by Rashvinjeet S. Bedi and T. Avineshwaran, The Star

The iconic image of our first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman shouting "Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!" is more than a photograph or a soundbite.

It is living history. The birth of a nation that is still growing. A nation that is both a minor miracle and a lost opportunity. A nation that survived bloody guerrilla wars (the Emergency), hostile neighbours (the Confrontation) and terrifying racial riots (May 13) in its infancy to become a thriving yet dysfunctional entity.

As we celebrate 56 years of the collective blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors and our peers, it seems that a simple love of this land and of each other is what is needed. And surely no one person exemplified that more than our first Prime Minister.

"No matter what we are, we are all Malaysians," our founding father once said. And it was his steely determination and commitment to an inclusive Malaysia that has helped steer our course ever since that momentous moment on August 31, 1957.

"Tunku never backed down in the face of extremism and communalism, something sorely missing today," said Universiti Malaysia's Assoc Prof Azmi Sharom to The Star Online.

"Much has been said about Tunku's jovial and open nature which endeared him to Malaysians of all ethnicity."

"But to me, his strong and principled stand as to what Malaysia represented made all the difference."

Tunku was adamant that this country was a secular democracy and his key reason for this was because we are a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country," he said.

Sharyn Shufiyan, the great grandchild of Tunku Abdul Rahman, passionately believes that Malaysians should embrace the fact that they are Malaysians regardless of ethnicity and religion.

"Even among the Malays, a new ideological trend is emerging. There are some who recognize the redundancy of Malay rights and privileges because elevating the poor should be across all ethnicities regardless," she said.

She said ethnic prejudices exist also among non-Malays.

"Malays are sometimes looked down upon by the Chinese. Unless we start mixing with each other and getting to know one another, we will not be truly united as Malaysians," she explained.

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin is another who draws inspiration from Tunku's vision.

"Apart from the obvious accolade of being the father of Independence, Tunku laid down the foundations for a nation guided by justice, liberty and harmony, so that we could live beyond tolerance and celebrate each other's diversity," he said.

Prof Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia said the spirit of multi-ethnic Malaysia has been deeply embedded into the Malaysian psyche from the very beginning.

"One of the most significant platforms he established, almost immediately after Merdeka, as a vehicle for fostering harmony in multicultural Malaysia was the National Art Gallery in 1958."

"He really believed arts and social integration are inseparable," he said.

Pulai MP Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed first heard about Tunku from his father the late Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat who served as Tunku's political secretary in 1965.

"Tunku was a very honest man and did things for the country. He never thought about enriching himself," said Nur Jazlan.

He also doesn't think that any leader could unite Malaysia in the way Tunku did, especially when it came to bringing people together just before the Malaya's independence.

"He never played the race or religious card to unite the rakyat," he said adding that Tunku's biggest contribution was the formation of Malaysia.

DAP national chairman Karpal Singh said Tunku was a leader who treated everyone fairly, regardless of their racial, religious or economic background.

"For me, it is still Tunku Abdul Rahman who was above all. He was one man who was determined to be a leader for all Malaysians,regardless of race," he said.

Pengerang MP Datuk Seri Azalina Othman said despite being a leader of a Malay majority party Umno, the Tunku endorsed multiracial Malaysia and agreed to a coalition government as a means of fostering unity.

"He was the leader of Umno and an example to all Umno politicians. He was not an extremist. If we Umno leaders are racist, we will lose out," she said.

Jempol MP Tan Sri Isa Samad echoes that view.

"It was Tunku who mooted the idea for power sharing which led to a coalition government in our country," he said.

Parti Sosialis Malaysia chairman Dr Nasir Hashim said Tunku was able to foster a united multi-racial Malaya even though the British colonial rulers had earlier controlled the country through a "divide and rule" policy.

"To sustain this vision we must empower the people and revamp the present exploitative economic system to be people oriented," he said.

"To progress we must balance out the uneven development of the country through efficient use of resources, create opportunities, denounce racial policies that create disharmony, and implement poverty eradication schemes, irrespective of race, religion, creed and region," he said.

Malaysia as a nation has taken many steps forward since Tunku took that bold first move but we must be mindful that rapid progress sometimes means that important values get left behind. Our freedom and independence is a flame that must be allowed to shine brightly, not leave us sifting through charred ruins.



MyWatch says cops linked to Sanjeevan's shooting

Posted: 30 Aug 2013 04:31 PM PDT

(WikiSabah) - A month after the attempted murder of MyWatch chief R. Sri Sanjeevan, the crime watchdog is now pointing the finger at police for the shooting.

It was revealed that before he was shot, Sanjeevan received a threatening call and that the telephone number allegedly belonged to a police station in Negri Sembilan.

The caller warned Sanjeevan that he was going to be shot because he had contacted Bukit Aman about rampant gambling activities in the state.

This was revealed by MyWatch adviser S. Gobikrishnan at the Suaram forum, "Worsening Crime: Perception or Reality", at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in the capital city.

Gobikrishnan said Sanjeevan went to the Jelebu police station to complain about illegal gambling activities but they ignored him.

"He immediately contacted Bukit Aman and 15 minutes later he received the threatening phone call," he said, adding that checks showed that the call was made from the Jelebu police station.

Gobi said Sanjeevan then lodged a report with Negri Sembilan police but the case was classified as NFA (No Further Action).

"The reason given was that they could not find the person who made the call," said Gobikrishnan.

This information was given to Federal CID director Datuk Hadi Ho Abdullah at a meeting in Bukit Aman last week which was also attended by Sanjeevan's father P. Ramakrishnan.

"We made a request to him to reopen the case for further investigations," said Gobikrishnan.

Last month, a few days after Sanjeevan was shot in Bahau, Gobikrishnan was called in for questioning by police.

He said instead of asking him questions linked to Sanjeevan's shooting, police were more interested in a tweet which he had sent out.

The tweet read, "underworld did it, under instructions from the enforcers", referring to Sanjeevan's shooting on July 27.

Sanjeevan was shot on that day at a traffic light junction in Bahau by a pillion rider on a motorcycle.

He underwent surgery last week to remove a bullet from his rib cage.

It was reported yesterday that Sanjeevan seemed to have lost his memory after regaining full consciousness.

The Star quoted Sanjeevan's father as saying his son had no memory of the murder attempt nor could he recognise anyone. He also did he know who he was.

Doctors said he was suffering from amnesia most probably because he had been in a coma for 10 days.

Speculation has been rife that police personnel were somehow involved in the shooting. There were also claims that it could have been because Sanjeevan had stepped on too many toes.


Anwar's roundtable talks invite could be a plan, says DAP MP

Posted: 30 Aug 2013 04:25 PM PDT

Sean Augustin,

Raub MP Datuk Mohd Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz said today both the Prime Minister and the opposition leader thought they were smarter than each other.

The duo, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, felt they could outwit each other, he claimed in his blog.
"Only Pak Pandir would rush to a place where even angels fear going," the DAP assemblyman said in reference to a character renowned for his foolishness.
In giving his two cents over the olive branch offered by Anwar to discuss policy issues with the government, Mohd Ariff, better known as blogger Sakmongkol AK47, suggested it was a plan to cut off former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
A peace pact between Najib and the de-facto PKR leader, he explained, is a final solution to the 'Mahathir problem' and would block those who are seeking the Umno presidency and premiership.
"If another person becomes the Umno president, the duo's future would be bleak," he wrote.
Earlier, Mohd Ariff said it was no loss if Anwar's offer was turned down and if Umno was reluctant, Anwar's camp should not be busybodies. 
This is because, Mohd Ariff believes Umno will lose in the 14th general election.
Anwar had yesterday said the opposition is prepared to put aside its differences for the sake of the nation's well-being and called for Najib to convene a roundtable meeting between the Barisan Nasional government and Pakatan Rakyat.
The Permatang Pauh MP said crime, race relations and the nation's shaky economic prospects must remain the concern of both the government and the opposition.
Mohd Ariff, who is the former Pulau Manis assemblyman, also suggested that Najib may have given Anwar the green light to make such a statement and could have already struck a deal to cement their position.
"This way, Najib will know who is against such a project," he wrote.

In N-Day message, Guan Eng paints picture of extremist Malaysia

Posted: 30 Aug 2013 04:17 PM PDT

(MM) - Lim Guan Eng suggested today that Malaysia has strayed from the original ideals of independence achieved 56 years ago, becoming a nation more concerned with racism and extremism than the truth.

The Penang chief minister, in his National Day message, cited the controversial "Tanda Putera" movie as an example, insisting that the movie on the May 13, 1969 riots, contains lies.

Lim (picture) said Malaysia needs to renew its bonds of freedom, justice, democracy and human dignity, which he listed as the core principles and values that had helped the country achieve independence.

These values and principles, the DAP secretary-general added, will also make Malaysia an "exceptional" nation.

"Malaysians may not feel very exceptional when it is more fashionable now to be an extremist and racist than a Malaysian, to propagate lies than celebrate the truth and close our eyes to corruption and injustice," he said.

"However the day will come when it is un-Malaysian to be a racist, a liar and corrupt.

"Malaysians will see through the lies such as those contained in the Federal government sponsored film of 'Tanda Putera', which sows racial hatred and division instead of harmony and reconciliation," he said.

Lim's government in Penang had on Wednesday issued an advisory to cinemas statewide, asking that they refrain from screening the controversial film.

The movie hit the silver screen in Penang anyway on Thursday, following instructions from the Communications and Multimedia Ministry.

According to a Bernama report, Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek had said in his Facebook status that National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS) was asked to ensure that the movie be screened in cinemas in the state as scheduled.

The minister reportedly told Lim and others concerned about the so-called slanderous scenes that could provoke racial hatred to lodge a report with the police and the Film Censorship Board (LPF).

In the aftermath of his latest run-in with the authorities, Lim said today that the state government will focus on giving full attention on what makes Malaysia and Penang exceptional — "a safe, clean, green and healthy state".

"This will be given full attention by the Penang state government beginning with retaining Penang's status as the safest state in Malaysia," he said.

Noting that despite the 10 per cent rise in the crime index in the first four months of this year, this slowed to just 4.4 per cent this month.

"This shows the success of efforts of the police, together with co-operation of the state government and the public to fight crime. Such efforts will not only be continued but redoubled," he said.

"The Penang state government will not disappoint the people but will ensure that the success and prosperity can be enjoyed by all peacefully."


The Great Malaysian Story

Posted: 30 Aug 2013 04:12 PM PDT

It's a bit like the Animal Farm these days. Pigs, cows and dogs have made appearances. The sheep are ever present and can be relied upon to be compliant and blindly loyal. Indeed, this has been a year where we have rediscovered that all Malaysians are equal but there are some who are more equal than others.

Azrul Mohd Khalib, MM

So it's August 31 again and we are able to once more celebrate the independence of Malaya. We will go ooh and aahh at the well-oiled routine of the choreographed performances by schoolchildren and performers, the parade and fly-by of military hardware and uniformed personnel, the reading of the Rukun Negara, the procession of colourful floats and their equally colourful entourages. Another entry in the country's proud story and history.

But for many of us, this 56th anniversary will mark a year that has been characterised by events which have rendered us either into a state of apoplexy, hysterical outrage or lobotomised apathy.

It's a bit like the Animal Farm these days. Pigs, cows and dogs have made appearances. The sheep are ever present and can be relied upon to be compliant and blindly loyal. Indeed, this has been a year where we have rediscovered that all Malaysians are equal but there are some who are more equal than others.

I was enjoying a note written by my friend Zafirah Zeid the other day, who regaled a bit of her secondary school experience at one of the great incubators and bastions of the Malay mind, MRSM or the Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (Mara Junior Science College). My brainier cousins got into MRSM. I instead went to another public boarding school, Sekolah Menengah Sains Selangor. Go SMSS!

Anyway, Zafirah, like many others of mixed ethnicity and heritage, experienced the micro-environment of institutionalised racial supremacy which is nurtured, cultivated and is prevalent in many of the best schools in the country.

This is where you are taught early on that everyone needs to know their place in society and must be placed into a box or category which is acceptable (e.g. Melayu, Cina, India, Orang Asli dan Lain-lain), leaving people like her wondering which to tick and why it even matters. Where do you place Chindians, for example?

And then there is the indoctrination on how it is important for a certain ethnic group to be dominant in all matters, and for all others to acknowledge, respect and kowtow to that fact; how this group must defend itself from real and imagined ethnic and religious enemies; how there is nothing wrong being a racist or a bigot and one should never apologise for it; and learning that to divide is better than to add. Biro Tatanegara lite. Shaping the beliefs, mindsets and attitudes of our future leaders, thinkers and workers but also increasing the possibility of creating young Ibrahim Alis and Zulkifli Noordins of the future. Gives you a warm fuzzy feeling, doesn't it?

This is where the trouble starts. In some of the best schools in the country. Places where we are supposed to impart knowledge, expand horizons and young minds, build bridges and friendships.

I sometimes think that instead of writing our stories and living the future, we are stuck in this time warp of yesterday. We are prisoners of our minds where some of us are still fighting for independence, finding an identity for ourselves, looking at other ethnic communities with dark suspicion or finding ghosts and enemies where there are none.

Perhaps we imagine ourselves to still be in a time when our masters were white, wore pith helmets, and ordered scotch by banging on the table and saying "Hey, boy! Kasi satu lagi, ini macam! Cepat! Bodoh!" (a line forever immortalised in a late '80s drama Tuan Brown).

Only when we wake up from the nightmare, do we find that our masters are now of brown skin, still drink the occasional tipple or two, hiss at things like pluralism and compete to see who is holier by persecuting people of other ethnicities and faiths, and sexual minorities. Maybe we see these masters when we look in the mirror each morning. The players have changed but the game and storyline remain the same.

Our silence allows for a minority to continue to seek and hammer their dominance over everything from national politics and governance of our country to deciding whether the air around a char siew pau seller stall is halal and safe to breathe.

I loathe loonies such as Ridhuan "I-am-so-Malay" Tee Abdullah, his pal Ibrahim "I-am-more-Malay-than-everyone-else" Ali, and old-time favourite Rais Yatim (who cautioned Malay girls against inter-racial marriages, and once stated that women wanting to go abroad should obtain permission from either their company, husband, brother or other family member to protect them from becoming drug mules) but I have to acknowledge that they too are part of the Malaysian story and the fabric of our society.

Much as we want to, we can't write them out or ignore them. If you are not angry yet when these characters open their mouths, you should be. These are the sort of people who are writing our story. Problem is we are allowing them to.

They, and we, are responsible for the Malaysia we have today.

Tunku Abdul Rahman once recommended that we encourage interethnic marriages. I think he had the right idea. The more diversity we see around us and in our families, the less we think of the need to be racially superior or that we are special and somehow divinely chosen.

We must throw away the go-along-to-get-along mentality and realise that a new Malaysia must involve throwing off the chains of racism.

Not everyone can migrate and escape to Australia, Canada or some other country if and when things get ugly or Taliban'ised. Most of us are in this country for the long haul and we are going to be building families and communities together.

The concept of the nascent #SaySomethingNice 17-day campaign that was announced last week is rooted in precisely that. Recognising that there is a need for change and working towards it together. We certainly need more than 17 days but some of us need to start somewhere and this is as good a start as any.

We are now at an existential point in the country's lifetime. We need a new narrative for Malaysia. A new story. One that is not determined on whether the writers are Malays, Chinese, Indians and Lain-lain. But writers who identify themselves as Malaysians, writing as Malaysians, for Malaysians. People who don't give a flying cow what ethnicity a person comes from.

To quote Zafirah's note, we can either conform or refuse.

With luck, our sons and daughters will do what she did: toss the racism and bigotry into the garbage, take the good stuff and walk forward colour blind.

Are we going to write the Great Malaysian Story? Or allow others to write it for us?

Have a great Merdeka weekend!


Aspirations of founding fathers still not achieved

Posted: 30 Aug 2013 04:00 PM PDT

The man in the street thinks race relations were better 50 years ago. 

Alyaa Azhar, FMT

After 56 years of independence, most are of the opinion that the aspirations of our founding fathers for a free, democratic, equal and independent Malaysia have not been achieved.

Mohamad Selan Nasution, 78, who used to work in the private sector, said race relations were good for a couple of years after independence but not any more now because of polarisation.

"Also, the concept of democracy has deviated. If I were to go against the government, that does not make me a traitor because governments change hands," he said.

He said the spirit of merdeka had not been achieved.

"When I went to Indonesia, speaking to a Chinese Indonesian, he was proud to identify himself as Indonesian and not Chinese.

"Do we have that here? Even the Chinese there speak fluent Indonesian," he said.

He added that the current society was not cohesive in nature.

"For example, when people witness a robbery, most of them do nothing about it," he said.

Mohamad Selan also admitted that there was no social justice in the country.

"That's the reason why the Chinese leave. When they apply for government jobs, they do not get it. So they start their own businesses.

"And then the Chinese ask, do we steal from the Malays? I do not think so, because they accumulated their wealth through their own efforts, so I do not see anything wrong with that," he said.

Former teacher Fatimah Yusop, 69, said in terms of equality, the nation was still far off.

"Even bumiputera rights benefit a portion of them and not all," she said.

She, however, admitted that people were freely expressing their views now.

"This is due to the influence of the internet because people cannot speak so freely in the mainstream media.

"In terms of democracy, we are almost there because the number of opposition representatives in Parliament has increased," she said.

Do away with vernacular schools

She, however, criticised the attempts to muzzle the independence of these groups through the use of government machinery.

"We can only call ourselves a true democracy once the opposition forms the government at least once.

"Also, we should have truly national schools. How can we reach the aspirations of our founding fathers when we still have vernacular schools? she asked.

She added that although the United States was a big melting pot it only had one type of school.

Joseph Yeow, 73, said there was still a lot that needed to be done in achieving the aspirations of our founding fathers.

"Before independence, we were united. However, after 50 years, it is sad because everything has gone on racial lines.

"We should not be divided. Because back then, we went to each other's houses and eating together was fine," said Yeow, who used to work in the mining and rubber sector.

He, however, admitted that the country had made progress economically.

"After 50 years if there is no progress, then something is wrong somewhere. Also, our unemployment rate is low compared with the US. So we are not doing badly," he said.

But Yeow lamented on the lack of equality among the races.

"Everyone should get equal rights and things should be based on merit. If someone is hardworking, then he should get what he deserves.

"I am a sixth generation Chinese, why can't I get equal rights?" he asked, citing the bumiputera special rights.

He added that Malaysia should progress as one nation.

"It is my aspiration and it would be the happiest day for me to have a Malaysia for Malaysians, and one Malaysian race.

"I hope that one day, we can have one happy Malaysian nation. I would like to see that before I die," he said.

Yeow also was of the opinion that it was up to the country's leaders for that to happen.

"It is up to the top people if they want a peaceful nation. We are normal citizens, there is not much that we can do," he said, although admitting that the Prime Minister (Najib Tun Razak) has been trying his best.




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