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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

Najib’s first 100 days (of inaction)

Posted: 16 Aug 2013 08:00 PM PDT

Tay Tian Yan, Sin Chew Daily

Najib's first 100 days have just slipped by quietly. There wasn't a policy report from the government on the occasion of Najib's first 100 days, nor any announcement made on the plans to be carried out after the first 100 days.

Making a hoohah over the first 100 days is what any newly elected government will do. The goal is to mark up public acceptance and morale while breathing a new lease of life into the fledgling administration.

Of course, there must be some real meat at times, more like a kind of window dressing that has to be done than shunned.

At least members of the public can get a glimpse into which way the government is headed to.

But this time, it is apparently absent.

There are several reasons for this.

The number of parliamentary seats won by BN in the last GE has shrunk; Chinese electorate support was dwindling and Selangor was not won. Such lacklustre performance was way below Najib's expectations and has dealt a certain blow on the PM.

And the 1Malaysia concept and economic/political transformation programme he was selling hard failed to boost his prospects or be positively received by the voters.

The confidence he showed during the early days of his second term was overly optimistic indeed, as the true tests of his administration prove to be more challenging than anticipated.

With MCA staying out of the Cabinet, the original Cabinet structure has been disrupted. To gain back the support of Chinese voters will be even more taxing than ever.

Because of this, the morale of the ruling team will remain at the "recuperative" stage for some time, and this explains why the government has yet to come up with any major announcements or manoeuvres while the PM himself slips into a very low key, seldom showing up in public.

While undergoing the healing process, the ruling coalition is also trying to explore public acceptance trends, changes in the political climate as well as how it should move on hereafter.

A second factor is that Umno party elections are just around the corner. There is a host of unpredictabilities, particularly in view of the unprecedented direct elections which will see 145,000 casting their ballots instead of just some 2,000 in the past.

Change of guards is very likely to happen given the fact that it will be highly unlikely for anyone to try to sway, or foretell the election outcome.

And this will have a bearing on any future government plans.

Instead of modifying announced plans in the future, why not just wait until the party elections are over before making public any government endeavours?

Sure enough with the undercurrents running wild beneath the surface, certain quarters within the party, especially the conservatives, might prowl on the opportunity to create some issues.

Any plan announced prior to the party elections could become the targets of vicious assaults, which could even turn the table around.

With the conservatives gaining in momentum, it is advisable to keep the tone down, and this explains the inaction of the more pragmatic and moderate factions within the party.

If Najib were to carry out any new and comprehensive projects, he'd better wait until after the October party elections.

The question is, as the government has remained hushed for the past 100 days, the society outside has been in a state of chaos throughout these 100 days.

Over the past few months, serious crimes were on the rise and Malaysians started to feel very insecure.

Racially and religiously sensitive incidents took centre stage one after another, while economic prospects remained listless, growth forecast adjusted downwards, ringgit, commodity prices and consumer confidence suppressed.

Malaysians are awaiting government solutions that will effectively combat crime, mend religious and ethnic rifts and reinvigorate our economy.

Time may not be on Najib's side. To stay out of the doldrums post-election, Najib must not allow himself to be bogged down by the party elections. He must rush out some truly effective action plans to fix the country's problems.


A religion of reasonableness

Posted: 16 Aug 2013 07:48 PM PDT

Bob Teoh, Sin Chew Daily

We are at our crossroads half a century after the formation of Malaysia. With the nation so divided by race and religion, there's nothing to celebrate really, as we approach Malaysia Day on September 16. The latest controversy being the alleged desecration of a surau in a Johor hotel by a group of Buddhist tourists from Singapore.

We have a choice how to react to potentially explosive controversies such as this. Our choice may point to a hopeful and comforting prospect in the midst of difficulty – our own silver lining.

Dark clouds immediately formed when someone recently anonymously uploaded a 85-second clip on YouTube provocatively entitled "Surau dijadikan tokong?" (A surau turned into a temple?).

Citing the Qur'an, Johor Islamic Religious Council (MAINJ) adviser Nooh Gadut was reported to have said "If a surau is found to have hosted other religious activities, it can be demolished based on Surah At-Taubah verse 107."

The Buddhist Maha Vihara Chief High Priest of Malaysia K Srï Dhammaratana has issued an apology on behalf of the Singaporean group.

The 45-year-old owner of the hotel had been arrested for four days under the Penal Code for "injuring or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class".

"I have no intention of hurting anyone's feelings. My intention is to show that Islam is universal and tolerant," said the Singapore-born Muslim.

Meanwhile, the leader of Perkasa's youth wing, Irwan Fahmi Ideris said, "Whatever reason given by those responsible for permitting the surau to be used by non-Muslims is something that is unacceptable."

He wanted stern action to be taken against the resort management to protect the sanctity of the Islamic prayer room.

But Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim) has called on Johor religious authorities to refrain from drastic measures in reaction to a surau being used by non-Muslims for alleged worship activities.

"The original purpose of the surau was for prayers and can still be used. There was no malice intended by all parties, though there may have been some misunderstanding," said Abim secretary-general Mohamad Raimi Ab Rahim. He said there was no need for the surau to be demolished.

"This is a sensitive issue and we shouldn't be too harsh. There are a lot of external factors to be considered and we can take this opportunity to educate people about Islam instead," he said.

The Council of Churches Malaysia secretary-general Reverend Herman Shastri also called for moderation.

"There is no need to blow the issue out of proportion which in the end continues to feed religious polarisation in the country," he said.

Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz chipped in that the country should move on to other matters, observing that a group representing the Buddhists in Malaysia had already issued an apology.

As a community of faith that Malaysia truly is, it's better we choose a religion of reasonableness. Indeed every cloud can have a silver lining and there's hope, which lies on choices we make. Malaysia is fifty years old this year as a nation. Nazri is right, let's move on.


Give the police a break

Posted: 16 Aug 2013 12:14 PM PDT 

It would seem that in this country, if you want to draw public attention to the "seriousness" of the matter in question, then many police reports are lodged - either that or a public figures gets involved, forcing the police to investigate the matter regardless of its merit.

Zaid Ibrahim, TMI 

There are many things in Malaysia that you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the world.

Besides the famous "No contest for No 1 and No2" dance in Umno, the other equally well-known but no less absurd phenomenon is the lodging of police reports by members of the public who are not even remotely connected to the matter in question.

When Karpal Singh said something about the constitutional powers of the Sultan of Perak, droves of Umno-related groups lodged several hundred police reports. Karpal is now on trial for sedition.

Every time someone does not agree with something that has taken place in the public sphere, he or she lodges a police report, whether it's about dog washing, beauty contests or even a surau not being properly constructed or used.

It would seem that in this country, if you want to draw public attention to the "seriousness" of the matter in question, then many police reports are lodged - either that or a public figures gets involved, forcing the police to investigate the matter regardless of its merit.

The latest incident by Umno Youth prompted the involvement of no less a person than Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin himself.

When a DAP leader from Sarawak said something against the Barisan Nasional government, not only was a police report lodged but the minister declared that what had been uttered was seditious in the extreme. I call this the Lodging of Reports, Malaysia-style.

This is not, however, a funny matter. It has become ridiculous and needs to stop. It's true that for the police to act or investigate any criminal matter, there must first be what is known as the First information Report.

This is true of other Commonwealth countries too. The difference is that in these countries, people do not rush to lodge police reports about matters that are already in the public domain or have been widely reported in the media. People are assured that if it constitutes a criminal act, then the police will act accordingly.

After all, the police on their own volition can commence the investigation if there appears to be a violation of the law. They do not need anyone to lodge a report since they can initiate the preparation of the first report themselves.

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