Khamis, 12 September 2013

Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

Asian academia faces language block

Posted: 11 Sep 2013 03:17 PM PDT

Malaysia, as a country that was once partly Anglophone, and where English was once spoken well, has to make a choice sooner or later. While it remains the case that we cannot deny or neglect the importance of Bahasa Malaysia as a tool for nation-building, Malaysia's future -- like all other countries in this globalising world -- lies beyond our shores as well.

Farish Noor, NST  

GLOBAL LINGUA: Scholarly works that are not in English are not able to penetrate the international arena

THE debate over the teaching of the English language continues, not only in Malaysia but also in many other countries across the world. While the form and content of the debate has been shaped by domestic political considerations and agendas, there are some pressing realities that we cannot escape from; and one of them is the simple fact that English remains the most commonly used language in global academic circles.

In order to circumvent the somewhat heated temperature of the debate here, allow me to offer some observations based on my experience teaching in some other Asian countries. In countries like India and Pakistan, the teaching of English remains a serious concern for many students, parents and educational institutions that wish to give Indian and Pakistani students a fighting chance in the ever-changing global economy. For many of the new industries that have emerged, including information technology, the working knowledge remains English - despite the linguistic nationalism that is articulated and foregrounded by some politicians and activists there.

One country that I have come to know rather well by now is Indonesia, where I routinely travel to do research as well as to teach. It has been my honour, and pleasure, to meet a wide range of Indonesian academics, who have become my colleagues and friends for more than a decade now. Equally rewarding has been the experience of supervising more than a dozen Indonesian post-graduate scholars, who have done their doctoral theses under my supervision.

It is no exaggeration on my part, I feel, when I say that the Indonesian scholars and students I have met and known are among the best academics I have come across. Indonesia today produces some of the best work in the humanities and social sciences, and in all honesty, I have to state that the quality of work I have seen in Indonesia matches the work I have seen in countries like France, Holland and Germany, where I have also worked and taught in.

However, there remains one stumbling block that hinders Indonesia's rise as a major centre for teaching, research and knowledge-production, and it is the fact that an overwhelming majority of the works produced by Indonesian scholars today is in Bahasa Indonesia. And, despite the fact that Indonesia's population numbers almost a quarter of a billion souls, Bahasa Indonesia is not widely known, spoken or read beyond the shores of Southeast Asia. It has always seemed grossly unfair to me that Indonesia's academic presence is not known or felt wider, but the sad fact is that English remains the dominant language of academia in both the social sciences and the hard sciences.

Those of us who live and work in the academic field are even more acutely aware of the power of English as the language of knowledge and power today. In any academic discipline, be it in the humanities or the hard sciences, access to the latest theories and developments in the field are crucial.

And, for this, books and journals are vital, for the latest theories are to be found in the journals that are circulated between universities or online. A simple cursory search on any online search engine will tell you that an overwhelming majority of such journals are now in English.
 We, who live and toil in the postcolonial world, are thus caught in a dilemma of sorts, for we are torn between our own linguistic-nationalist needs and the equally compelling need to be realists and pragmatists. In the past -- at least up to the late 19th century -- German and French were also important languages in the academic field, but no longer. (Honestly, ask yourself: when was the last time you read a journal article in French or German? Or, if you did, was it not translated into English?)

Read more at :

Indonesia’s woes are Asean’s problems

Posted: 11 Sep 2013 03:02 PM PDT

As investors see ASEAN as a whole, Indonesia's market jitters could affect its neighbours. Other ASEAN economies also rode the wave of loose United States monetary policy. With this wave ending, they might also suffer. 

Efforts to solve the current problems could twin with the goals of Asean community and economic integration.

Simon Tay, 

Some fear that Indonesia is heading for a crisis. Growth in the second quarter dropped below 6 per cent. Deficits in both the current account and trade widened markedly. The rupiah fell some 10 per cent last month to its lowest level against the US dollar in four years.

Investor confidence is shaken. The estimate is that a staggering US$4 billion (S$5 billion) in capital has recently flowed out of the country.

If there is a crisis, the entire region should be concerned. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is building its Economic Community by 2015 and Indonesia is some 40 per cent of the region's economy.

Investors see the region as an interconnected whole and the past crisis shows how quickly and quite indiscriminately contagion spreads. Indonesia's ASEAN neighbours should watch their economic woes carefully, as they, too, rode the same wave of growth in recent years.



The good news, though, is that fears about the crisis in Indonesia are overstated. Corporate balance sheets seem healthy. Flexible exchange rates can absorb shocks.

Even as the rupiah drifts downward, there is no need to panic. Indonesia should not try to prop up the currency and, given its relatively low levels of foreign reserves, it has no real capacity to try.

If there is extreme financial and currency volatility, the macro-economic conditions are more supportive than before.

The Chiang Mai Initiative's Multilateralization (CMIM) mechanism provides for currency swops and others — especially Japan and China — would extend assistance to deal with the fluctuations.

A crisis can be avoided. There are, however, no easy and quick solutions to bring back the boom.

Normally, a weaker currency would help push up exports — but not in this case. Indonesia's main exports, like coal and palm oil, face weak demand and generally low prices as China's growth has slowed and the resource boom has ended. For manufactured goods, its still-developing industrial sector cannot generate big foreign-exchange receipts.

Even as steps are being taken to staunch the financial problems, expect higher inflation, interest rate hikes and slower growth. Looking ahead, it will be tricky to find the right balance in raising interest rates to control inflation while avoiding further slowdowns in growth.



However, recent appointments of top policymakers offer hope. Finance Minister Chatib Basri and Bank of Indonesia Governor Agus Martowardjojo are both highly-rated and credible choices.

Since their appointments in May, policy-making has noticeably improved. Jakarta has cut fuel subsidies and raised interest rates to tackle inflation. The government's 2014 budget also aimed to reduce the budget deficit. They offer hope that there is political will and sufficient expertise to do what is necessary, however painful and difficult.

This has not always been the case. During the boom, policymakers and the legislature refused to take reform seriously. Instead, they made nationalistic and protectionist rules. Political in-fighting and corruption scandals, too, distracted from economic issues.

Even today, some in Jakarta seem to be in denial, pointing to external factors as the sole cause of current problems.

Others are distracted by preparations for next month's APEC Summit and, even more, next year's presidential elections.

Yet reform is critical to boosting competitiveness and regaining investor confidence. Many issues are long recognised, such as infrastructure gaps and energy subsidies. Others are problems emerging from the boom, like the rapidly rising wages and expectations among workers.



Read more at : 

Healthy competition to ease impact of price rises

Posted: 11 Sep 2013 02:50 PM PDT
Fuel price hikes lead to transport charge hikes; transport charge hikes lead to consumer goods price hikes; and consumer goods price hikes lead to seething discontentment. These are the phenomena that we have to face.

The problem is, the government must ensure that the price hikes are justified while making the greatest effort to stop unreasonable price rises.

Soong Phui Jee,

Pan Malaysian Lorry Owners Association's (PMLOA) announced a 15% increase in transportation charges to alleviate the burden and cost pressure of lorry operators. Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), however, reminded lorry operators that the collective decision to increase transport charges by 15% might have violated the Competition Act 2010.

The Competition Act 2010 is meant to prohibit anti-competitive trading and activities, to ensure a healthy competition on price, improve the quality of goods and services, as well as provide more choices for consumers.

The country's business community is still unfamiliar with the Competition Act 2010 and there are even many questions about it. Like the PMLOA, the common practice of many organisations is to announce a flat increasing rate after having internal negotiations. But such a move has now raised a question: Is a collective price rise a violation of the Competition Act?

The answer is yes, unless if the operators have obtained immunity under the Act.

Even so, the operators may still announce price rises respectively based on the needs of the free market. In such a way, they can then bypass the constraints of the Competition Act.

Any price hike measures could bring butterfly effect and affect people's lives in varying degrees. Therefore, how great the impact of the recent fuel price and transport charge rises would be? Particularly when the value of ringgit is low, would it lead to another wave of inflation? The people are worried.

The people are equally concerned about how the government would use the money saved from fuel subsidy cut to expand the social safety net and reduce the impacts of fuel price hikes on low-income earners.

Meanwhile, members of the public should recognise the fact that there are great drawbacks in the existing fuel subsidy mechanism as everyone, regardless of rich or poor, can enjoy the same subsidy benefit. Consumers, particularly high-income earners, have then lost the reason to save. As a result, fuel consumption grows, as well as the government's financial burden.

Today, the phasing out of fuel subsidy has been a decided policy and the people must face fuel price rises someday, if not today. In fact, if the fuel price rises were not halted because of the general election held in May this year, the government would have long adjusted the prices.



Malaysians expect a shadow cabinet

Posted: 11 Sep 2013 02:39 PM PDT 


A shadow cabinet makes it easier for the people as well as journalists and others to find appropriate spokespersons from the opposition coalition in a policy debate. For example, the shadow education minister should be responding at length to the new Education Blueprint right now, but because there is no shadow education minister, Pakatan leaves it to individual MPs to respond. 

If no PR leader responds convincingly, there is no one to blame and they can trundle along until the next election…

Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM advisor 

Prior to the 2008 general election, Pakatan Rakyat could be forgiven for not presenting the country with a shadow cabinet because of the hastily cobbled coalition. After the 12th general election, there was no excuse for Pakatan not to have a shadow cabinet.

Since then, Pakatan's response to the call for the coalition to form a shadow cabinet has never been coherent.

The 13th general election has come and gone and still they do not present us with a shadow cabinet.

Their response seems to be that it is their prerogative not to have to form a shadow cabinet. This is the negative "away from" rather than the "towards" response we would expect of a prospective ruling coalition that more than 50 per cent of the Malaysian electorate had voted for in the 13th general election.

And we would have thought that any prospective prime minister would want to promote a shadow cabinet to showcase Pakatan's better quality leaders and policies compared to Barisan Nasional's and through its performance, to give Malaysians even greater faith in an alternative to the BN.

One can guess at the reasons for Pakatan not wanting to commit to a shadow cabinet. The most likely reason is the fear of disgruntled leaders within the coalition creating fissures should they not be chosen or unhappy parties which expect more portfolios.

Thus, they have faceless committees instead of a shadow minister who is accountable to the people.

Another reason is that Pakatan is reluctant to commit to policies that, in their calculations, might cost votes, for example, the annulment of the New Economic Policy; cutting the arms budget; amending the Education Act; an alternative energy policy; a progressive fiscal policy, etc.

So do we have to expect the same fuzzy logic at the 14th general election?

How long can Pakatan go on in this fashion, expecting to come to power through the disaffection of Malaysian voters with BN and forever postponing the expectations of the rakyat for a credible shadow cabinet?

Accountability and transparency

The people expect accountability and transparency from the government and they also expect the same from the government-in-waiting.

Democratic governments exist only to safeguard the rights of the people. Parliament is meant to ensure that the government fulfills the responsibilities entrusted on it by the people.

A shadow cabinet has to systematically monitor the cabinet in office, to shadow each individual member of the government's cabinet.

In a parliamentary democracy, members of a shadow cabinet are appointed to a cabinet position if and when the coalition wins the election and forms the government.

A shadow minister is also expected to have close connections with stakeholders in the relevant fields. This enables him or her to know the sector really well and to apply pressure on the government to solve various problems.

A shadow cabinet makes it easier for the people as well as journalists and others to find appropriate spokespersons from the opposition coalition in a policy debate. For example, the shadow education minister should be responding at length to the new Education Blueprint right now, but because there is no shadow education minister, Pakatan leaves it to individual MPs to respond.

If no PR leader responds convincingly, there is no one to blame and they can trundle along until the next election…

Thus, the existence of a shadow cabinet brings higher accountability in our parliamentary system of democracy by forcing the opposition coalition to focus on specific areas and present solutions to the people in a satisfactory manner.

Most of the time, issues relating to corruption are raised by Pakatan leaders without their having to offer solutions or alternative courses of action.

The most obvious case is in the defence portfolio. We will never fail to hear of corruption scandals being raised by Pakatan regarding defence procurements, but what are Pakatan's alternative proposals for the defence budget?

When Pakatan forms the next federal government, will we have more arms fairs, more arms procurements minus "commissions"? Or will Pakatan divert more of the arms budget into social services? This is what we want to hear from the shadow minister for defence.

Malaysians expect similar alternative policies for every ministry by the shadow cabinet. The most urgent alternative policy that Malaysians would like to see is a repeal of the New Economic Policy as well as a new Education Policy that promotes real integration, real fairness and is totally committed to excellence.

Through constructive criticism and prudent debate, the opposition can not only win the hearts of the people but also contribute to the development of the country.

An effective and well-informed opposition party is essential for the success of any parliamentary democracy. A fully functioning shadow cabinet can offer such benefits.

It is time for Pakatan to face up to this challenge by naming their shadow cabinet because Malaysians expect one!

The crime of marginalisation

Posted: 11 Sep 2013 11:55 AM PDT 

Crime of violence with a penchant for brute force like racketeering, kidnapping, murder, extortion, drug/human trafficking, tend to be the workings of those whom have the least to lose, those on the lower rungs of society.

Nicholas Chan, 

A WEEK or so ago, it was like Christmas for the concerned citizens and crime enthusiasts of Malaysia. 
The Home Ministry officially released a list of 49 groups alleged operating as criminal gangs and announced the banning of their existence under the Section 5(1) of Societies Act 1966. 
Such a public disclosure of not just the name of the gangs, but their zone of activities, demographics and even the numbers of members they have is unprecedented for Malaysia. 
Ops Cantas swiftly followed as a major clampdown exercise, and as of Sept 7, it has already nabbed 4,806 suspects for involvement in criminal activities.
Historically, the only similar approach of formally banning criminal organisations was in 1890, when the Straits government of British declared all Chinese secret societies to be illegal with the Societies Ordinance and give them six months to wind up their enterprise. 
In hind sight, it is déjà vu, as it appeared that our police force only sprung to action after a spate of gang-related murders rocked the nation. The British too, only recognised the threat these secret societies posed after the massive Penang Riots in 1867 and their deep involvement in the Larut Wars.  
However, such high-handed approach only resulted in a short period of outward calm and was said to have a more malignant effect of driving the society members underground, turning them from Chinese communal bodies into violent criminal gangs .
Unlike many, I do not look at this public shaming of criminal gangs with awe and wonder. Instead, the statistics is highly worrying and I sense another historical déjà vu. 
Among the 40,313 individuals suspected of involvement in gang activities (as provided by the Home Ministry), 28,926, or 70% of them are of Indian origins. Gang 36, Gang 04 and Gang 08 were named as the most notorious of all the criminal gangs and they are majorly dominated by the Indians, although Gang 36 was said to be backed by Chinese funders. 
It would appeared that gone were the days of Chinese domination of the underworld, when the most revered of gangs has a Chinese rhyme to their names, like the Sio Sam Ong of Penang and Long Fu Tong of Kuala Lumpur.
Outlanders in their own country?
To understand this déjà vu, one would have to go back to the origins of the secret societies in Malaysia, tapping into the sentiments of Chinese immigrants that arrived in Penang as labours, or coolies since the 1800s. 
Secret societies arise because these people had no protection or anyone to represent their interests under the British rule which has hardly any officer that speaks Mandarin or any other Chinese dialects. 
The secret societies, which unite the Chinese immigrants mostly by their provincial origins or dialects, came into existence to provide mutual aid and protection to their own kind in a foreign and potentially hostile land. 
The secret societies or the kongsis (which means "company" in Mandarin) is a creation of necessity and circumstances rather than convenience for those that are politically and socio-economically disadvantaged and marginalised. They are more than just criminal organisations; they are the governing, economic and welfare entity for the fast-growing Chinese immigrant community.
In the present day, as the Chinese slowly gained solid social and economic footing and moved away from the life of crime, it would appear that the Indian community has taken up the mantle. And they do it in disproportionately large numbers despite being the smallest among the three major ethnic groups of Malaysia. 
Stories have it they are succeeding the originally Chinese gangs as the Chinese could no longer get recruits for their ground level operations. These organisations are fast-growing and fearless (to the extent of spray painting their symbols on the wall of a police station as a declaration of war), not unlike the brazen Chinese secret societies during the British days.
If it is indeed déjà vu, then it would be a sad and worrying trend. 
This implies that a substantial portion of the Indian community, like the Chinese immigrants in the 19th century, felt like they are staying in a foreign land, with little glimmer of hope for protection and success unless they stick to each other. 

Read more at: 

Putting God on Trial

Posted: 11 Sep 2013 11:18 AM PDT 

How does BN expect national security to remain intact when it decided to put God on trial, literally, creating psychological unrest for Malaysians irrespective of their religious beliefs?  

Jeswan Kaur, FMT 

The Catholic Church hopes its prayers go answered next month when the Court of Appeal decides whether weekly publication Herald has legal 'blessings' to continue using the word 'Allah'.

The Herald, a weekly publication of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, is published in four languages and has been using the word 'Allah' as a translation for God in its Bahasa Malaysia-language section, catering to East Malaysians in the peninsula, since September 1995, but the government argued that 'Allah' should be used exclusively by Muslims.

The Herald filed a suit against the Malaysian government in December 2007 after the government threatened to revoke its printing permit if it continued to use the word 'Allah' in the Malay section of the newspaper.

Although it was the Catholic Church that brought the suit against the government, other Christians and even the Sikh community came out in support saying that the word 'Allah' should not be exclusively for Muslims, pointing out its long usage in Malaysia and other countries.

The then Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar signed an order prohibiting the Herald from using the word 'Allah' in its publication.

But the High Court in 2009 allowed the Catholic Church to use the word 'Allah' in the Malay edition of the Herald, which prompted an appeal from the government.

All out to end the Herald's use of the word 'Allah', the government is clinging to the defence that the Home Minister banned the use of the word Allah in the Catholic Church's weekly publication on the grounds of national security and public order.

Putrajaya's lawyer Suzana Atan told the Court of Appeal two days ago that the prohibition was ordered as it touched on Islamic religious sensitivity.

"In this country, Allah is a sensitive word," she said.

How does uttering 'Allah' by the non-Muslims threatens national security unless flames of racial tension are already being stoked by certain quarters?

Trying hard to reverse the 2009 High Court order that was in favour of the church, Suzana told the Court of Appeal that the ban was actually a pre-emptive measure by the minister as the word caused a lot of confusion among Muslims and Christians as it had a different meaning to both religious groups.

"The Christians believe in the Holy Trinity while for Muslims, Allah is the only God," she said.

Until then, it is wait and see whether justice prevails next month when the Court of Appeal comprising three Muslim judges deliver the verdict in this long-standing battle that sees the BN government all out to deny the Catholic church and other non-Muslims their right to use the word 'Allah'.

BN hijacking national unity

While the Court of Appeal heard submissions pertaining to the 'Allah' issue, the ultra-Malay wing Perkasa led by its founder Ibrahim Ali sang religious songs and waved banners with cries of 'Hormat Islam' (respect Islam) and 'Takbir Allah' (God is Great).

Both Perkasa and Perkida supporters also wore T-shirts bearing the words 'Allah: Just for Muslims. Fight No Fear'.

Perkasa vice-president Zulkifli Noordin also joined the fray, urging Muslims to defend their religion.

How does BN expect national security to remain intact when it decided to put God on trial, literally, creating psychological unrest for Malaysians irrespective of their religious beliefs?

Lawyer Suzana tried to convince the Court of Appeal as to why the government was right in its move to ban the use of the word 'Allah' by the Herald, saying it was to protect national security and prevent chaos.

But then when groups like Perkasa utter damning words against non-Muslims and threaten them with bloodshed should the latter touch on issues pertaining to Islam, why does the BN government not see this form of harassment as a threat to the country's peace and harmony?

Why does BN continue to afford politicians like Ibrahim one too many opportunities to denigrate the non-Muslims of this country?

Is it therefore wrong to deduce that both BN or more precisely its dominant arm Umno and Perkasa harbour the same dream, that of turning Malaysia into a single-race nation?



0 ulasan:

Catat Ulasan


Malaysia Today Online

Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved