Jumaat, 9 Ogos 2013

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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.

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.

Read more at: http://www.thestar.com.my/Opinion/Columnists/Analysis/Profile/Articles/2013/08/10/Bitter-feelings-awakened.aspx 

Apa pula muslihatnya Nurul Izzah dijemput lancarkan buku Pak Lah?

Posted: 09 Aug 2013 11:28 AM PDT


Berbagai persoalan boleh timbul apabila Nurul Izzah disahkan akan melancarkan buku Pak Lah ini. Mungkinkah ia merupakan titik awal percantuman dua entiti sahabat untuk menyerang musuh yang sama? 

Shahbudin Husin

Keghairahan orangramai bercakap mengenai buku Pak Lah, Awekening, The Abdullah Badawi Years In Malaysia dijangka bertambah hangat apabila tersebar berita bahawa pelancaran buku itu di Singapura akan dilakukan oleh Ahli Parlimen Lembah Pantai, Nurul Izzah Anwar pada 30 Ogos depan.

Nurul Izzah sendiri hari ini dllaporkan telah mengesahkan persetujuan untuk menerima jemputan bagi melancarkan buku itu.

Di Malaysia pula, buku ini akan dilancarkan oleh Pak Lah sendiri.

Pada mulanya majlis pelancarannya dijadualkan akan diadakan seminggu selepas Hari Raya Aidil Fitri tetapi memandangkan kesihatan Pak Lah yang tidak begitu mengizinkan, majlis itu dikatakan telah ditangguhkan ke suatu tarikh yang belum ditetapkan.

Pak Lah sebelum ini disahkan mengidap radang pada kakinya dan telah menerima rawatan di Institut Jantung Negara (IJN).

Beliau juga didapati hadir dalam beberapa majlis dengan berkerusi roda. Dipercayai keadaan kakinya yang belum pulih sepenuhnya menjadikan majlis pelancaran itu ditangguhkan.

Dalam bukunya ini, Pak Lah antaranya menjawab beberapa persoalan mengenainya dirinya, terutamanya yang dilemparkan oleh Mahathir selama bertahun-tahun ini, pandangannya mengenai Mahathir yang disifatkannya manusia penuh kontradiksi, mengenai perubahan dalam UMNO, kehilangan majoriti dua pertiga BN dalam pilihanraya 2008, juga mengenai menantunya, Khairy Jamaluddin yang dipertahankannya sebagai tidak pernah campurtangan dan mempengaruhinya dalam urusan kerajaan serta berbagai lagi.

Terbitanya buku ini menjelang pemilihan UMNO pada 5 Oktober depan di mana Khairy Jamaluddin  sudah dilantik menganggotai kabinet Najib sebagai Menteri Belia dan Sukan, sementara Mahathir pula masih kekal mahu menunjukkan pengaruhnya dalam UMNO, tentunya akan menimbulkan pelbagai tafsiran mengenai tujuan dan masa buku ini dikeluarkan.

Mahathir pula ketika ditanya wartawan mengenainya komennya mengenai buku Pak Lah ini, mengambil sikap tidak mahu mengulasnya lagi kerana belum membacanya serta ingin mengkaji kandungannya terlebih dahulu.

Ini merupakan sesuatu yang jarang dilakukan oleh Mahathir. Biasanya beliau tidak melengah-lengahkan untuk memberi ulasan sesuatu perkara yang dikaitkan secara langsung mengenainya.

Tetapi berbeza dengan serangan Pak Lah melalui bukunya ini. Ia seperti membuatkan Mahathir perlu berhati-hati sebelum memberikan sebarang komennya atau barangkali Mahathir dapat merasakan ada sesuatu disebalik terbitnya buku ini.

Khairy Jamaluddin pula, walaupun dipertahankan oleh Pak Lah, turut keberatan untuk memberi komennya atas alasan juga belum membacanya.

Sementara orangramai merasakan buku ini akan menghangatkan kembali perbalahan antara Mahathir dan Pak Lah yang pernah tercetus sebelum ini, nampaknya ia kini memasuki episod yang lebih menarik apabila Nurul Izzah, anak kepada Ketua Pembangkang, Anwar Ibrahim akan melancarkan pula buku itu di Singapura.

Read more at: http://shahbudindotcom.blogspot.se/2013/08/apa-pula-muslihatnya-nurul-izzah.html


The case of the missing ‘mushroom’

Posted: 09 Aug 2013 11:26 AM PDT


The notice asking 'Have you seen this mushroom?' tells of the 'missing' Tunku Pavillion, last seen in 1997 and now a symbol of the people's loss of the Merdeka Park to development. 

(The Malay Mail) - The park referred to in the posters is Merdeka Park — also popularly known as Tunku Park after the country's first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman — which was demolished in the late '90s. Long forgotten, this park has become the focus and symbol of a protest against the proposed multi-billion Warisan Merdeka development.

Like notices for a lost pet, the "Missing" posters come with a photograph but instead of a cute little dog, the picture is of a mushroom-shaped concrete structure, with details such as its birth date, April 20, 1958; height 11 feet 8 inches and weight 1,957 kilogrammes.

"Merdeka Park Mushroom, a 56-year-old concrete parasol from Kuala Lumpur, was last seen in 1997, standing at the park near Stadium Merdeka and Stadium Negara."

The park referred to in the posters is Merdeka Park — also popularly known as Tunku Park after the country's first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman — which was demolished in the late '90s.

Long forgotten, this park has become the focus and symbol of a protest against the proposed multi-billion Warisan Merdeka development.

Hoardings now enclose the space where Merdeka Park used to be and these mock "Missing" posters are pasted on it and even tacked onto nearby trees with the message: "Have you seen this mushroom?"

The word mushroom and the picture of the mushroom structure are a play on Tunku which sounds like the word for mushroom in Cantonese and Mandarin.

There is a particularly striking black-and-white poster which shows a raised fist grabbing a mushroom, with the slogan "Ruang ini untuk cendawan, bukan hartawan" (This space is for mushroom, not property tycoon).

These creative posters are the work of a small group of citizens who have taken to street art and art installations in the form of pop-up parks in their quest to reclaim the historical Merdeka Park.

Fahmi Reza, the graphic designer behind the posters, said they are intended to remind people of the park's history and the lost public space.

A man looks at the striking poster of a raised fist grabbing a mushroom on a poster-covered wall, with the slogan 'Ruang ini untuk cendawan, bukan hartawan' (This space is for mushrooms, not property tycoons).A man looks at the striking poster of a raised fist grabbing a mushroom on a poster-covered wall, with the slogan 'Ruang ini untuk cendawan, bukan hartawan' (This space is for mushrooms, not property tycoons)."The 'Missing' poster is to highlight what happened to the mushroom," he said of the posters which have been up since July 28.

"I've been researching, trying to find out what happened to it. When I asked around, the mushroom was last seen in the late '90s," said the Kuala Lumpur resident who is now in his thirties.

"The wall that we dubbed the Merdeka Wall is where we put people's old photos, show old memories of the park... what's left is old photos and memories," Fahmi said, saying that his parents often brought him to Tunku Park when he was young.

"The wall can be seen as a memorial to remind people that there used to be a park and what the park was like," he said, adding that these were photos from personal collections.

"There's not enough green space in the city... now they're taking away the second oldest park in the city to give way to build an office building without the consent of citizens of the city," he said.

An architect, who only gave her name as Foo, expressed her concern over how the nature of the neighbourhood would be changed with the Warisan Merdeka project.

"By having a 118-storey tower and high-end condominiums, the concern is not just the project, but because it will affect the immediate surrounding," the architect said, pointing out that the area had a low-density population.

She also expressed worries that the schools and stadiums in the area would one day go the way of the park and be replaced by development, referring to the Bukit Bintang Girls School which was torn down to be replaced by Pavilion, a shopping mall.

The 32-year-old Petaling Jaya resident contrasted Malaysia with Europe, saying that people visit the continent to experience its carefully preserved heritage.

"It's really interesting in Malaysia, how we keep demolishing our monuments. One day we will be a city without soul," she said, pointing to the recent bulldozing of the city's infamous prison Pudu Jail to make way for wider roads and other projects.

"In Europe, master planning is actually centred around public space," she said, saying that planning in Malaysia was done the other way round, with 'leftover' bits designated by the government as public spaces.

Mooza Mohd, 25, said most of the grassroots movement behind the Reclaim Merdeka Park campaign were initially "strangers."

"We're just people who love parks and public spaces," the drama facilitator said.

The group came up with the idea of setting up a "pop-up park", a temporary public space of sorts with real grass patches, Mooza said.

She said they will continue to set up the park every Saturday for the whole of August.

"It's important for people not just to protest but actually realise their dreams or their needs for parks," the Bangi resident said.

The "pop-up park" is also intended to raise awareness about how public spaces are grabbed from the people, Mooza said when lamenting the lack of well-maintained parks for communities.

She said that "regular citizens" are blocked from having their say on how the city is shaped, adding that the shots are called by those with financial and political influence.

Parks are generally seen as having no value with no prospects of generating a profit, she said, suggesting that this had led to the lack of public spaces.

On July 9, several local dailies reported that the developer of the Warisan Merdeka project could start construction work in Kuala Lumpur's heritage area within three months, as it was in the last stages of fulfilling Kuala Lumpur City Hall's (DBKL) requirements before getting the green light.

Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor had last month said Warisan Merdeka would bring new life into the "dead" heritage area, giving his assurance that its heritage value will be kept intact.

Government-linked firm Permodalan Nasional Berhad has formed a wholly-owned unit, PNB Merdeka Ventures, to carry out the project which is said to cost RM5 billion.

The project — which will include a 118-storey tower, a four-star hotel and two blocks of 40-storey condominiums — will see Stadium Merdeka and Stadium Negara being retained as heritage sites.

Warisan Merdeka will also be the tallest structure in the country once completed, eclipsing the iconic Petronas Twin Towers.

A man looks at the wall plastered with old photographs featuring the mushroom in Tunku Park and also a poster saying 'Kembalikan Taman Tunku' (Return Tunku Park). A man looks at the wall plastered with old photographs featuring the mushroom in Tunku Park and also a poster saying 'Kembalikan Taman Tunku' (Return Tunku Park).


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.

Read more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/common-denominator-in-the-rise-of-school-indiscipline-and-street-crime-ravi 

Shooting incidents spark fears of gangland war

Posted: 09 Aug 2013 11:20 AM PDT


Too Pek being taken for treatment at the Penang Hospital. 

(The Star) - The three shooting incidents, including the assassination of a 37-year-old scrap dealer believed to be associated with Gang 36, which occurred over a span of 24 hours, has spawned speculation of a gangland war.

K. Veerappan was shot when he stopped the BMW 530i he was driving near a traffic light in Anson Road at 11.50am on Thursday.

It bore the registration number WVK 3636, which was believed to symbolise the gang's number.

A motorcyclist rode up next to the car and the pillion rider whipped out a pistol and fired 14 shots, 10 of which hit his neck, cheek and abdomen.

His body was found slumped and his white shirt drenched with his blood.

The driver's seat side window was shattered by the gunshots.

George Town OCPD Asst Comm Gan Kong Meng said Veerappan had had three previous drug records, adding that the car he was driving belonged to his 38-year-old friend who lives in Lebuh Macallum.

"Forensic policemen recovered 14 9mm-calibre bullet casings at the scene. Two machetes wrapped in newspaper were found in the car's rear passenger seat," ACP Gan said.

Before Veerappan's shooting, a gunman fired at least six shots at a businessman's bungalow in Jalan Utama. No one was injured in the 1.15am incident which is believed to be a triad's warning to the businessman.

Only his 29-year old son, his daughter-in-law and a maid were at home at the time of the incident.

ACP Gan said the businessman, in his 60s, who is presently abroad, had lodged a police report last month after receiving an extortion letter containing six bullets.

"His daughter-in-law and maid found glass fragments from the window on the floor and bullet marks on the walls.

"Based on the CCTV footage, the gunman fired randomly from outside the house," he said.

ACP Gan said the businessman had also received a text message in Chinese demanding that he deposit money into a local bank account.

"We are checking the mobile phone number from which the SMS was sent and also the bank account which has since been frozen.

"We are investigating the case under Section 39 of the Firearms Act and also Section 506 of the Penal Code for criminal intimidation," he said, adding that police had not ruled out the possibility that the case could be gang-related.

The third shooting occurred in front of an entertainment outlet in Jalan Datuk Keramat where a 43-year-old bouncer was hit in the left thigh at 12.30am yesterday.

A gunman fired seven shots but only one hit the victim nicknamed Too Pek (Stupid in Hokkien).

The bouncer is believed to be one of the top leaders of the Si Lian (Four Tyres) also known as the 04 Gang.

It was learnt that Too Pek had just gotten out from his BMW when the unidentified assailant on a motorcycle shot him.

"Despite being hit, he managed to make his way into the outlet to seek help from his friends. He was later sent to the Penang Hospital where he received outpatient treatment.

"Two foreign cleaners were questioned by the police after they were spotted sweeping up the seven bullet casings which were later recovered from a dustbin," said a source.

Gangland rivalry linked to the drug trade is also believed to be behind three other shootings – in Parit Buntar, Perak; Batu Kawan, Penang; and Air Keroh, Malacca.

A factory van driver N. Jeevandran, 26 was gunned down while leaving his house for work at Taman Seri Semarak, Parit Buntar on July 31. He had five previous criminal records and was was detained under the Restricted Residence Enactment until the Emergency Ordinance was repealed in 2011.

On May 12, S. Kannan, 37, and G. Suresh, 28, were killed and two others were seriously injured in a shooting at the Bukit Tambun traffic-light junction. They had just left a relative's wedding when two assailants on a motorcycle pulled up to the vehicle and fired multiple shots at about 10.30pm. Both deceased had criminal records.

Police believe the killings could be related to the shooting of S. Sara-vanan, 39, at Air Keroh in February.

Saravanan, who had travelled from Butterworth to stand trial for a robbery case, was gunned down moments after leaving the courthouse. 

Why MCA must rejoin the Government

Posted: 09 Aug 2013 11:16 AM PDT


In Malaysia, Malay or Muslim demogogues—especially from UMNO  and Perkasa—have escaped prosecution despite making blatantly racist remarks. The Government, however, has been quick to act against those on the fringe or from other races. MCA should make it a point to get the Prime Minister to promise that the Public Prosecutor will be given a free hand to charge anyone—anyone—who violates the Race Relations Act. 

Zaid Ibrahim 

The call made by the Chinese business community and NGOs for MCA to rejoin the Cabinet is not surprising. If MCA is to have any future it must rejoin the Government, but party members must also do more than what they have become accustomed to doing. In the past, they delivered allocations to Chinese schools and representated the Chinese community in business and educational issues. A few of their top leaders held Cabinet posts and this  enabled them to dish out some contracts to the  Chinese towkays. The lower-rung MCA operatives held positions in local councils, which gave them some leverage with grassroots members.

MCA needs to and can do more. Its Deputy President's statement that rejoining the Cabinet would allow the party to be more vocal on issues that are relevant to the Chinese community is frankly hard to understand. You can be vocal without holding Cabinet posts, and you certainly don't become a part of the Cabinet just to be vocal. You join the Cabinet to implement policies that you believe are essential for your community and the country. If MCA were to rejoin the Cabinet, it must do so for the right reasons. Being vocal without having the ability or willingness to implement key policy issues will reduce MCA to being like just another NGO: vocal, but essentially helpless.

I think it's important that MCA rejoins the Government, especially if the party can get the Prime Minister's undertaking to listen and act on key issues. On top of the list is for MCA to  do its part to stop racism from spreading its wings in national politics. There is no way we can overcome economic and financial challenges in the future if the country is divided along racial, religious and ethnic lines, so a well-crafted Race Relations Act is urgently required. The law must be there to punish or at least discourage racism and all its ugly ramifications  from spreading. Discriminatory practices must be outlawed. The rights of citizens must be respected, regardless of whether their forefathers came from China, India or Sulewasi. Immediate action must be taken against racist conduct and remarks. Companies and the Civil Service must be open to all races without discrimination, for this is the only way we can progress as a nation.

Read more at: http://www.zaid.my/?p=883 

Perkasa gesa Putrajaya lantik Menteri Pengangkutan dari Umno Selangor

Posted: 09 Aug 2013 11:13 AM PDT


(The Malaysian Insider) - "Berapa sangat yang usahawan Melayu dapat dengan projek MRT? Sistem IT yang digunakan oleh sekolah-sekolaj bernilai lebih RM5blion kepada YTL, apa hasilnya kepada BN?"

Putrajaya digesa melantik segera Menteri Pengangkutan daripada kalangan pemimpin Umno Selangor sebagai "menghormati keputusan MCA untuk tidak menerima jawatan dalam kerajaan."

Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Kebangsaan (Perkasa) menegaskan parti Cina dalam Barisan Nasional (BN) itu tidak lagi mempunyai ahli ekoran majoriti pengundi berbangsa Cina telah menolak mereka ketika Pilihan Raya 2013 pada 5 Mei lalu.

"Bukan menindakkan hak kaum lain dalam kabinet tetapi mereka yang tidak sudi meletak wakil kaumnya bersama BN. Jadi buat apa lagi layan jika orang sudah tak mahu.

"Memang Perkasa bersikap berkecuali sekarang dan bukan nak masuk campur hal BN tetapi demi kepentingan Melayu dan Bumiputera utamakan kepentingan kaum ini terlebih dahulu sebab merekalah yang mengekalkan kuasa BN," tegas Setiausaha Agung Perkasa Syed Hassan Syed Ali (gambar) kepada The Malaysian Insider.

Jawatan menteri pengangkutan adalah status quo MCA, dan kini dipangku oleh Datuk Seri Hisahmuddin Hussein, yang juga Menteri Pertahanan.

Syed Hassan berkata pemberian-pemberian projek mega kepada kaum berkenaan turut mengguris hati usahawan daripada komuniti Melayu Bumiputera kerana mereka adalah komuniti yang terus menyokong kerajaan dan mengekalkan kuasa BN sehingga ke hari ini.

"Berapa sangat yang usahawan Melayu dapat dengan projek MRT? Sistem IT yang digunakan oleh sekolah-sekolaj bernilai lebih RM5blion kepada YTL, apa hasilnya kepada BN?" soal Perkasa dalam kenyataan tersebut, merujuk kepada beberapa projek mega yang sedang dirangka kerajaan.

"Kerajaan BN cukup khuatir jika tak beri perojek-projek besar kepada mereka boleh membuatkan mereka mempengaruhi pengundi-pengundi Cina tidak mengundi BN. Segalanya diberi sehingga mengguris hati usahawan-usahawan Melayu."

Read more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/bahasa/article/perkasa-gesa-putrajaya-lantik-menteri-pengangkutan-dari-umno-selangor 

Najib: Vital to maintain peace

Posted: 09 Aug 2013 11:10 AM PDT


(The Star) - "The basic principle – if we want to be harmonious – is that Muslims must not hurt the feelings of non-Muslims and non-Muslims must not hurt the feelings of Muslims. If you go on the premise on who is right and who is wrong, we will never agree".

Maintain the peace in Malaysia. That is what Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has called fellow Malaysians to do.

"The basic principle – if we want to be harmonious – is that Muslims must not hurt the feelings of non-Muslims and non-Muslims must not hurt the feelings of Muslims.

"If you go on the premise on who is right and who is wrong, we will never agree.

"But if you go on the premise that we should not hurt feelings, then we will be a peaceful country forever," he told reporters during the Hari Raya open house at his official residence here on Thursday.

He also said the goal to transform Malaysia into a fully developed nation was a commitment that spanned the tenure of three prime ministers.

He said the goal to transform Malaysia to become fully developed was a commitment first made by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, supported by his successor Tun Abdullah Badawi and now, to be carried on by himself as the country's sixth Prime Minister.

"The only thing that is constant in this world is change. So, if you don't change, you will be left behind," said Najib.

Umno, he said, was also committed to the process of transformation to maintain its relevance as the country's ruling party although the process might take a long time.

Najib, who is also Umno president and Barisan Nasional chief, said he agreed with criticisms that Umno had refused to reform itself but added that the party had started on its process of change.

"We have started the process by changing the (party) constitution. It may take more than just my time as Umno president. It may require a few generations.

"But for Umno to be relevant, Umno must move with the times so that it reflects the changing values of society," he added.

Change, said Najib, was necessary so that Malaysia remained competitive in the global arena. 

Umno leaders defend race-based policies, say Malays still need help

Posted: 09 Aug 2013 05:44 AM PDT

(TMI) - Several Umno leaders have defended the government's race-based policies saying the Malays were still in need of help.

Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Noh Omar (pic) said the government is on the right track with its race-based policies as Malays were still lagging behind the country's other races.

He said this was despite affirmative measures introduced under the New Economic Policy to address economic and social inequity in the early 1970s.

"The 1969 racial riot was caused by the imbalance in economy among races and therefore, the Malays must be given the edge to compete, to ensure there is a level-playing field," said the former Agriculture Minister today.

He was commenting on former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's latest book, "One Man's View of the World" where he said Putrajaya's race-based policies had seen Malaysia suffer a critical brain drain problem.

"They are prepared to lose that talent in order to maintain the dominance of one race," an excerpt of Lee's book read.

He noted that Singapore had benefited, as "40 per cent of our migrants are from Malaysia."

Noh said the Malays were still in need of help in the field of education.

"Therefore the current system put in place pertaining to education policies especially, has to be continued," the Tanjung Karang MP told The Malaysian Insider.

Noh said Lee's comparison of Malaysia with Singapore's success was flawed as "the republic has an entirely differing socio-economic landscape unlike Malaysia."

Jerlun MP Datuk Othman Aziz said the government's policy is to only "balance the expertise of other races".

"This is so that the Malays can stand on an equal pedestal with the other races in the country in terms of competition," Othman said.

He added that it was natural for Malaysians looking for better opportunities to move abroad but it did not mean the country was doomed in terms of talent.

"If the local expertise serving overseas are reluctant to come back home, those who are already in the country can make up for local needs.

"Anyone would be interested in job opportunities which can guarantee lucrative paycheques, whether or not it is abroad or in Malaysia," he noted.

However, Federal Territories minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said Lee was being unfair in his comments as the government was making amends.



Another religious insult on Facebook

Posted: 09 Aug 2013 05:32 AM PDT

A Facebook page of an assemblyman's assistant shows a roasted pig's head sandwiched by 'lemang' and 'ketupat', with a caption inviting Muslims to enjoy the dish. 

(Bernama) - Another religious insult has surfaced through a Hari Raya card posted on the Facebook page of an assemblyman's assistant, showing a roasted pig's head sandwiched by 'lemang' and 'ketupat', with a caption inviting Muslims to enjoy the dish.

A further search for the posting under the account of 'Alan Tang' found it missing.

However, Alan Tang, assistant to Stulang assemblyman Andrew Chen Kah Eng (DAP) claimed through his latest post that someone had used his identity to upload the insensitive photo and caption.

He further claimed that he received a death threat on his mobile phone about 9am yesterday, from a private number but had ignored it.

He only lodged a report on the matter at the Taman Pelangi police station in Johor Baharu later at 4.30 pm the same day, after he found out about the posting.

Johor CID deputy chief ACP Nor Azizan Anan confirmed that police had received the report and was working with the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission on the investigation.

Meanwhile, MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek expressed his disappointment with the latest incident and said it proved that the younger generations were unclear on the concept of racial and religious sensitivities.

Met after attending Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's open house at Kompleks Seri Pekembar here, he said it was a shame that despite more than five decades of independence such incidents were still occurring to threaten the country's peace and harmony.


Pakatan will hold just fine, DAP tells Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew

Posted: 08 Aug 2013 03:09 PM PDT

Elizabeth Zachariah, TMI

The DAP is not amused with former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew calling Pakatan Rakyat (PR) an "opportunistic and ad hoc group" which will break up or be paralysed if it was given the power to run the country.

In retaliation, DAP's vice-chairman M Kula Segaran (pic) said if PR was just a coalition with no coherent set of ideas, it could not have inspired "so much of hope and confidence among the people".

"I certainly do not agree with Lee's view and I believe the 51% of voters who had supported PR in the last general election too do not agree with him," he said in a statement.

In the May 5 polls, PR won 51% of the popular votes and claimed to have the support of the majority of Malaysian voters.

However, Barisan Nasional won 133 seats – 44 seats more than PR to form the federal government.

"Give us time and we will prove that a future PR federal government will be workable, reliable and stable, one which will bring about a better Malaysia for all," said the Ipoh Barat MP.

Commenting on Lee's observations in his book "One Man's View of the World" that the brain drain issue in Malaysia is caused by race-based policies, Kula agreed, pointing out that efforts by the government to woo back Malaysians from overseas could be too late.

Lee had said in his book, which was launched on Wednesday, that "Malaysia is prepared to lose its talent through its race-based policies in order to maintain the dominance of one race".



Zaid: Racial affirmative action tripping Malaysia

Posted: 08 Aug 2013 03:04 PM PDT

Boo Su-Lyn, MM

Malaysia is deluding itself into thinking it can become a developed nation with the existence of race-based preferential policies, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim (picture) said today.

The former Cabinet minister also noted that "much as you don't like to admit it, Singapore is a success story" and called on Malaysians to examine former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's remarks, instead of summarily dismissing them.

"You cannot isolate a vibrant physical development of the nation without policies based on fair values," Zaid told The Malay Mail Online.

"There's nothing more divisive than discrimination. As long as we ignore that fundamental truth, we'll be deluding ourselves in the long-term," added Malaysia's former de facto law minister.

In his latest book "One Man's View of the World", Lee wrote that Malaysia's brain drain problem was caused by Putrajaya's insistence on promoting "one race" above all others.

Malaysia faces a severe talent flight issue with an estimated 5 per cent of skilled locals exiting the country on an annual basis — with most bound south for neighbouring Singapore.

A World Bank report from 2011 concluded that 20 per cent of Malaysian graduates opted to leave the country, again with Singapore cited as the preferred destination.

The city-state rapidly transformed into a developed nation in less than half a century since breaking away from Malaysia in 1965.

Senior Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders also acknowledged yesterday that race-based policies had contributed to Malaysia bleeding talent, a problem that needs to be solved if the country is to achieve high-income status by 2020.

Zaid, who has batted for both Umno and PKR, said the brain drain was merely one aspect of the problem created by discriminatory race-based policies.

"You don't have the best to lead the country," he said.

"When you don't have the best, you don't always produce the best. Developed nation is when people have the ability to produce the best," he added.

Zaid pointed out that race-based policies in Malaysia have been "hijacked" from their original purpose of being a "safety net to help the Bumiputeras".

He also said that Malaysia has become "very orthodox" as a Muslim country.

"I think I would say that we are not keeping in tune with the more open democratic societies that the world is moving to," he said.

"You don't have a developed country under authoritarian rule. Singapore is authoritarian in some aspects, but by and large it's a free society," added the politician-turned-businessman.

Lee wrote in his book that Malaysia was "relaxed" at one time, noting that the country's first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, used to drink whisky and brandy with friends.

But the elder statesman said that Malaysia has become "much more orthodox" since and that Malaysians now toast each other with "syrups". 


Kredit: www.malaysia-today.net

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