Rabu, 4 September 2013

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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News


Call for more tweaks in subsidies, reforms

Posted: 04 Sep 2013 10:59 AM PDT

http://www.btimes.com.my/articles/20130904232853/pix_middle 

(Business Times) - REACHING TARGETS: Moody's says fuel price hike a positive step but more adjustments to Malaysian govt fiscal plan needed

THE fuel price hike is a positive step but more tweaks in subsidies and other fiscal reforms are needed if the government is to address its overall fiscal deficits.

Global rating agency Moody's Investors Service Inc said the lack of additional reforms would place the government's fiscal targets "increasingly out of reach".

The government announced a 20-sen increase in RON95 petrol and diesel prices on Monday as it seeks to maintain a full-year surplus in the operating budget, while keeping this year's overall fiscal deficit under four per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

Moody's, which has forecast Malaysia's current fiscal deficit at more than four per cent of GDP, pointed that significant adjustments to the fiscal framework that broaden the tax base and reduce the subsidy burden have been largely absent since 2008.


Read more at: http://www.btimes.com.my/articles/20130904232853/Article/ 

11 tahun negara dalam hutang

Posted: 04 Sep 2013 10:52 AM PDT

http://www.sinarharian.com.my/polopoly_fs/1.198770.1378336359!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_490/image.jpg 

(Sinar Harian) - Keputusan mengurangkan subsidi itu, jika dibaca melalui kenyataan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, nyata tidak berkait dengan kenaikan harga minyak dunia atau jumlah minyak yang dieksport Malaysia setiap tahun.

RAMAI orang meluahkan rasa geram, mengapa kerajaan perlu kurangkan subsidi petrol dan diesel sedangkan harga minyak dunia tidak meningkat mendadak, dan Malaysia pula adalah negara pengeluar minyak.

Tetapi keputusan mengurangkan subsidi itu, jika dibaca melalui kenyataan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, nyata tidak berkait dengan kenaikan harga minyak dunia atau jumlah minyak yang dieksport Malaysia setiap tahun.

Apa yang jelas, keputusan kerajaan mengurangkan subsidi minyak buat pertama kali dalam tempoh dua tahun ini adalah bagi mengurangkan defisit dalam belanjawan negara yang mencecah 4.5 peratus daripada Keluaran Dalam Negara Kasar (KDNK) tahun lalu.

Itu adalah tahap yang dianggap agak membimbangkan oleh pakar ekonomi dan pelabur luar, menyebabkan Fitch Ratings pada Julai lalu menurunkan prospek ekonomi Malaysia daripada stabil kepada negatif.

Mengikut pakar ekonomi Barclays Plc di Singapura, Rahul Bajoria, pengurangan subsidi petrol dan diesel adalah langkah positif dan tanda pentadbiran Najib mula mengakui terdapat masalah berhubung kedudukan kewangan Malaysia.

"Mereka mula bergerak ke arah yang betul. Lebih banyak perlu dilakukan," menurut Bajoria seperti dilaporkan Bloomberg, kelmarin.

Menurut majalah perniagaan Forbes pula, Malaysia, sebagai pengeksport minyak dan gas, telah mendapat keuntungan daripada harga minyak dunia yang semakin tinggi, namun kenaikan kos petrol dan diesel di dalam negara serta kewangan kerajaan yang semakin lemah memaksa kerajaan mula mengurangkan subsidi kerajaan.

Jika dilihat kepada statistik, Malaysia mencatatkan defisit bajet secara berterusan sejak 11 tahun lalu.

Graf defisit bajet kerajaan Malaysia di laman web Index Mundi, iaitu laman web yang mengumpul data ekonomi dan sosial daripada agensi bertanggungjawab di negara seluruh dunia, menunjukkan sejak 1988, bajet kerajaan mencatat purata defisit 2.89 peratus daripada KDNK dengan 2009 mencatatkan rekod terburuk, iaitu defisit 6.70 peratus daripada KDNK.

Berbeza dengan orang biasa yang akan dikejar bank atau ah long, jika hutang tidak dibayar dalam tempoh minimum yang diberikan, kerajaan sesebuah negara boleh beroperasi dengan defisit sederhana buat beberapa tahun kerana pemberi pinjaman tahu kemungkinan untuk sesebuah kerajaan tidak membayar hutang adalah rendah.

Tetapi, sama seperti perbelanjaan harian orang biasa yang berhutang kad kredit atau rumah, jika dibiarkan terlalu lama, hutang yang bertambah itu akan hanya menyumbang kepada lebih banyak defisit; bermakna kerajaan terpaksa mengeluarkan lebih banyak wang untuk membayar kadar faedah bagi hutang asal hingga menyebabkan kelembapan ekonomi.

Mengapa subsidi minyak perlu dikurangkan? Bandingkan dengan orang biasa yang perlu mengurangkan perbelanjaan harian dalam beberapa aspek hidup untuk mendapat lebih wang bagi membayar semula hutang.

Cuma bezanya, bila kerajaan mengurangkan perbelanjaan, kesannya dirasai oleh rakyat. 

Four Umno Youth Leaders To Contest MT Posts

Posted: 04 Sep 2013 10:51 AM PDT

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(Bernama) - Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said four leaders have been named as candidates for Umno Supreme Council (MT) posts in the party elections next month.

They are Umno Youth vice-chief Datuk Razali Ibrahim, information chief Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican, economic bureau chairman Datuk Sohaimi Shahadan and new media unit chairman Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz.

"We give unanimous support to the four candidates. I urge all the youth delegates who will vote for the Supreme Council seats to give them solid support," he told reporters after chairing the Umno Youth committee meeting at Menara Dato' Onn, Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) here Wednesday.

He said although the four are Umno Youth official candidates, the others keen to contest the MT seats would be considered.

Four leaders who offered to contest the Umno Youth vice-chief's post are Perak Youth chief Khairul Azwan Haron, Umno Youth Exco member Lokman Noor Adam, Tenom Youth chief Jamawi Jaafar and Lengong Youth chief Mohd Iruan Zulkefli.

LoyarBurok: How to choose a spouse, ADUN, or MP

Posted: 04 Sep 2013 10:25 AM PDT

http://www.fz.com/sites/default/files/styles/1_landscape_slider_photo/public/choose_2.jpg 

The 13th general election is finally over. The people have chosen. What's left now is for all the elected representatives to get to work and to prove how worthy they are of the people's votes. It's also up to us to hold them accountable to their duties. After all, if all things fail and result in irreconcilable differences, a separation or divorce can be an option like any other relationships. 

You would do this for the many other things in your life, but why should you expect less from our politicians?

Lim Ka Ea of Loyar Buruk, Fz.com
 
OVERHEARD at a wedding reception at the Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur: 
 
Mrs RaviSingham! Are you still seeing that Monica? I saw you flirting-flirting with Mary at the bar. Talking and laughing only. What's going on?
 
SinghamWe're just talkinglah, Ma. Are you flirting with Aunty Tina? Both of you seem to be talking and laughing all the time. What's going on, huh? Huh?
 
Mrs RaviYou don't be cheeky and don't think I haven't noticed you poking and sending those x-o-x-o nonsense to Angela, Pamela, Sandra and Rita on Facebook. So naughty only. 
 
Singham: Huh? What the… I don't know what you're talking about, Ma. Honestly!
 
Mrs RaviYou added me to your Facebook three years ago. Remember?
 
Singham: But, but… I thought I've blocked you?!
 
Mrs RaviWho do you really think Erica is?
 
A long and uncomfortable silence ensues as Singham vaguely recalls receiving a friend request from someone called Erica a couple of months ago. 
 
Mrs RaviBoy, now tell me honestly, when will I get to hold my first grandchild?!
 
Singham gulps and wipes the sweat already forming on his forehead. Before he figures out a way to appease his mother, he makes a mental note not to poke any random girls on his Facebook account ever again. 
 
Singham: Aiyah, Maaaa. Monica is nice but she hates children. She seems to think that they're rental toys to be dressed up and then sent back with a refundable deposit. 
 
Pamela's fun but she's so self-centred, as if the whole world revolves around her. Angela, umm… she thinks she's so damn pretty and desirable, she can get away with anything.  
 
Mrs RaviWhat about Rita and Jessica? I saw photos of you on vacation with them. Separately-separately some more. 
 
Singham:  Aiyah, Ma. Relaxlah. Marriage is a big thing. I want to find the right girl. Can't just simply pick one, right?!
 
Mrs RaviTell me, what type of girl are you looking for? Don't be so picky only. 
 
Singham: I don't know, Ma. (Sighs) 
 
OK, OK, if you must know, I guess she must be pretty. Fun, but got her head screwed on right. A good cook. Independent. Not the needy and manipulative kind. Ah yes, funny of course. And doesn't take herself too seriously. 
 
Hmmm… what else? Someone who likes her food? But not fatlah. Kind, caring and intelligent. Neat but not obsessively anal?  Modest but yet confident. Respects the environment and loves animals. Honest. 
 
Mrs RaviYou know Erica is taken, right? (Winks)
 
 
The thought of him poking "Erica" just a couple of weeks ago sends Singham into a state of nausea. 
 
Yes, if only a bachelor's life was as easy as Mambo Number Five
 
Picking the right gal is probably harder than picking the right shade of tie to go with your pink Ted Baker shirt and brown Steve Madden brogues. Yet, we tend to take our time trying out as many styles, colours, designs and silhouettes before we eventually settle for the one we will be proud to display and put a signature on (we're not even talking about fashion anymore).
 
We've been investing much of our time flipping through the pages of magazines, pondering over the choice of watches, shoes, restaurants, cars, bags, gadgets, vacations and gifts. We weigh the options, look at their merits, compare their values and finally make the decision we believe will serve our interest best. 
 
Once a year, some of us read the profile of unknown men (and women) who get handpicked by different magazines to become Men (or Women) of the Year (secretly, some of us think that we're better than the picks, especially those LoyarBurok fellas) and we instinctively put on our judgment cap as opposed to a fedora. 
 
We agree that to be picked as Men (or Women) of the Year, you've gotta have that something, theje ne sais quoi – not just the looks and goods but also some sort of criteria that gives each individual that extra edge; creativity, entrepreneurship, sportsmanship, leadership and, of course good looks never seem to hurt (damn them!). 
 
Two years ago, UndiMsia! carried out a project called the Laporan Rakyat. No, it's not an opinion poll on whether Julie Woon is hotter than Yvonne Sim. It's a scorecard that invites respondents to rate their state assemblyperson and member of Parliament. (OK, we've seen that same disappointed look (and yawn) many times. Sorry, we're immune to it.)
 
We ask the respondents a series of questions ranging from: 
 
* Are you a registered voter?
* Who are your Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (ADUN) and member of Parliament (MP)?
* Describe your ADUN and MP in 50 words.
* What is the most important thing your ADUN and MP have done which has positively affected you and your community?
* Is it easy to meet your ADUN and MP?
* Do they know about the issues in your community? Do they solve the issues?
* Do they discuss these issues with your community and make a decision together for your community?
* Have they fulfilled their promises and pledges during the previous elections?
* Are you happy with their performance? 
 
We also ask the respondents whether they've heard their ADUN and MP speak about crime, corruption, education, employment, environment, freedom of expression, democracy, gender equality, healthcare, public infrastructure, racial unity and prices of food, goods and housing. 
 
To be honest, our findings were most troubling but not entirely surprising. 

Read more: http://www.fz.com/content/loyarburok-how-choose-spouse-adun-or-mp#ixzz2dyetB0L7

At least they agreed on one thing: only in Malaysia is Allah an issue

Posted: 04 Sep 2013 10:12 AM PDT

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/assets/uploads/resizer/FORUM_040913_TMIAFIF_001_540_360_100.jpg 

(TMI) - The forum "Is Allah exclusive to Islam – Law, Faith and Politics" was organised by MySuara.net, an online TV portal yesterday.

In a heated online television discussion yesterday, three Muslim scholars were still agreed on one thing: that the use of the word "Allah" to describe gods of different religions – including the Christian god – is an issue only in Malaysia and nowhere else in the world.

But it still was an issue to two of the scholars as they argued there was an agenda behind Christians using Allah to refer to their god in Malay bibles.

"Christianity is said to be over 2,000 years old. They should have a big vocabulary bank to choose from to refer to God. The fact that they chose Allah was evidence that they have an agenda," argued Dr Khalif Muammar Harris, associate professor of the Center for Advanced Studies on Islam, Science and Civilization at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.

Agreeing with him, another panellist echoed the refrain of some that Christians had used the word to mislead East Malaysians to convert them to Christianity. Making this point was Dr Yusri Mohamad, chairman of the Coalition of Supporters of Islam (Pembela), who wanted the word "Allah" banned in Malay bibles.

"It is a Christian virus in the country. They cannot be faulted for having their own missionaries, but they are propagating the virus of pluralism, that all religions are the same," he said.

The forum "Is Allah exclusive to Islam – Law, Faith and Politics" was organised by MySuara.net, an online TV portal yesterday.

It was moderated by ex-Perlis mufti Dr Asri Zainul Abidin and held as a curtain raiser to Putrajaya's appeal set to be heard on Tuesday.

The appeal is against a 2009 High Court ruling that allowed the Catholic Church to use the word "Allah" in its weekly newspaper, the Herald.

Dr Asri, in his opening comments, said the word Allah was in a Catholic bible he bought in Jordan some time ago.

"They have been using the word a long time ago, and so it's a non-issue in the Arab world," he noted.

But Dr Yusri responded that the word was currently being misused in the Malay bible.

"Yes, the problem is exclusive to Malaysia, but my personal opinion is it cannot be used in bibles. The National Fatwa Council also felt the same.

"The world would not turn upside down for the Christians if they are not allowed to use the word. It is actually not a big issue to them even if the word is banned. It's not as though they don't have an alternative word that will not upset their Muslim friends," he said.

The third panellist, PAS Member of Parliament for Shah Alam Khalid Samad, felt that it was not an issue.

He argued that instead of banning the word from non-Muslim tracts, religious leaders and scholars should instead educate and create awareness on what Allah means to Muslims. 

Read more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/at-least-they-agreed-on-one-thing-only-in-malaysia-is-allah-an-issue 

East Malaysia: primus inter pares

Posted: 04 Sep 2013 09:48 AM PDT

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Race-religion-not-issues-for-Sabah-Sarawak.jpg

The rise and rise of right-wing Islamic politics in the peninsula means that will use federal power to impose their will on East Malaysia. The tragedy is that the good ethnic relations experienced in East Malaysia for the past fifty years will be nothing more than a distant dream.

James Chin, New Mandala 

Last Saturday Malaysia celebrated her 56th year of independence in Dataran Merdeka in central Kuala Lumpur.

Many people in East Malaysia, however, may not be celebrating. Why? 31th August is the date of independence for Malaya but not the Malaysian federation.  The fact is, the federation of Malaysia was proclaimed on 16th September 1963, and the federation of Malaysia is 50 years old, not 56. This simple fact is often ignored by Putrajaya much to the annoyance of East Malaysians.

When Najib Tun Razak became Malaysia's prime minister in 2009, he declared that 16thSeptember is be called "Malaysia Day" and added it as a public holiday in the country. Prime Minister Najib's concession was no doubt linked to the 2008 general elections when voters from East Malaysia helped Barisan Nasional to retain power when voters in the peninsula abandoned the BN.

While recognition of 16th September is welcomed in East Malaysia, the bigger issues for most East Malaysians are the '20 Points' and political recognition that East Malaysia should treated as an equal partner, not merely two of the 13 states in the federation.

Prior to the formation of the federation in 1963, Sabah (or North Borneo as it then called) and Sarawak wanted a set of guarantees before they would agree to form the proposed Malaysia Federation with Malaya, Singapore and Brunei (Brunei was to withdraw at the last minute). Four meeting were held under the Malaysian Solidarity Consultative Committee (MSCC), leading to the Commission of Enquiry, North Borneo and Sarawak (better  known as the Cobbold Commission) and a joint British-Malayan committee, the Inter-Governmental Committee (better known as the IGC Report), was established to ensure these concerns were reflected properly in the new Malaysia Constitution. These set of guarantees, commonly referred to as the 20 Points, gave Sabah and Sarawak a large degree of autonomy in areas like immigration, language, religion, Bornenisation of the civil service and representation in the Federal Parliament.

The autonomy was needed to allay fears of a takeover by Malayans and Singaporeans who were deemed more developed than East Malaysia. In terms of history, culture and demography, there was nothing in common between the peoples of the peninsula and Borneo, other than all were ruled by the British.

Since then, many East Malaysians, especially Sabahans think Putrajaya has not adhered to the 20 points and infact, has purposely breached the guarantees in order to forcelly impose politically on East Malaysia a political framework, essentially an UMNO-led Malay-first political system.

This is clear from the testimonies given at the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) in illegal immigration into Sabah for the past four decades. The RCI has been told numerous times that the highest levels in the federal government, during the Mahathir era, gave thousands of Muslim Filipinos and Indonesians Malaysian citizenship to ensure that Sabah became a Muslim-majority state in less than a decade. From 1970 to 2010, Sabah's population increased by 390 percent! This was to guarantee Muslim political hegemony and ensured that the native Kadazandusun, previously the majority in Sabah, will never be able to politically challenge a Muslim-led leadership, both in Kota Kinabalu and Putrajaya. One witness, a civil servant who issued the Malaysian identity cards illegally, openly told the RCI he saw it as his duty to ensure Muslim dominance.

The same pattern is repeated in the civil service. Despite a promise that, when British expatriate left their positions in the public service after 1963 they would be filled by Sabahans and Sarawakians, it did not happened. Most of the current senior civil servant positions are filled by Malays from the peninsula.

The other big issue that annoys East Malaysians is Putrajaya's refusal to acknowledge the special status of Sabah and Sarawak.  East Malaysia saw themselves as one of three different political entities (Borneo, Singapore, Malaya) that came together to form the Federation back in 1963. This means they were not equal to the states in Malaya, and this was acknowledged in the original first article of the federal constitution that was promulgated on 16th September 1963.  Later amendments were made which lump Sabah and Sarawak as the same category as other states.

Read more at : http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/newmandala/2013/09/04/east-malaysia-primus-inter-pares/ 

Political Philosophy and Power: Democracy in Malaysia

Posted: 04 Sep 2013 08:57 AM PDT

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At times, it seems obvious that we're all equals. But at other times it seems very obvious just how unequal we are.

Consider this – how should I put this delicately? – some people are really really stupid. Some people are really really ignorant and bigoted. You really want a system in which their votes count for the same as yours?

Shaun Tan

This speech was delivered at the Kuala Lumpur Bar Council on the 17th of July 2013.

 

In the synopsis to this talk I ask the question: Nowadays information on politics is everywhere, but where can wisdom be found?

So this is what it's come to on a Wednesday afternoon at the Bar Council, huh? All of you here in this room, listening to a 25-year-old tell you about wisdom.

But what's the difference between information and wisdom?

Well, what would happen if we were to stop watching and reading the news? What would happen if we were to retire into the jungle and live there as hermits for a year? At the end of that year, would we still know anything of value about politics, or would all our knowledge be obsolete? What if we did this for two years, five years, ten? At the end of that period, what knowledge would we have that's still of value?

Political philosophy seeks to provide that knowledge. It provides timeless lessons on power detached from the frenzy of the 24-hour news cycle: lessons that retain their potency even as politicians come and go, and empires rise and fall.

The origin of Western philosophy is illustrated here, with Raphael's famous painting of The School of Athens.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/94/Sanzio_01.jpg 

Raphael's School of Athens

The central figures are Plato and his most famous student, Aristotle. These two men weren't just the quintessential philosophers; they also sought to guide power. Plato was once an adviser at the court of King Dionysius of Syracuse, whilst Aristotle was the tutor of Alexander the Great, probably the greatest conqueror the world has ever known.

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Plato (logic) and Aristotle (experience)

As you can see, Plato is depicted pointing up into the air. He is the lofty thinker: knowledge for him comes from logic, from revelation, and from imagining the abstract ideal Forms of all things.

Aristotle, by contrast, is depicted with his outstretched hand seeming to motion downwards. Whoa, he says, calm down, come down. Aristotle is more down to earth: knowledge for him comes from experience, from empiricism, from gritty conflict and human interactions.

This combination of logic and experience lies at the heart of knowledge in most disciplines. We shall require both in our exploration of democracy today.


***

Democracy as a political system has seen an upsurge in the past hundred years. According to Freedom House, the number of democracies climbed from just 22 in 1950 to 115 in 2010 out of a total of about 200 countries.

Today even regimes that aren't democratic feel obliged to justify themselves in democratic terms. At present the only four countries that don't claim to be democratic are Brunei, Burma, Saudi Arabia, Vatican City.

Even the recent military coup in Egypt is being portrayed by its supporters as a move to safeguard Egypt's nascent democracy against an increasingly undemocratic Mohammed Morsi.

But what do we mean when we say 'democracy'? Because the way we use the term today isn't very straightforward.

In a recent BBC interview our old Prime Minister Dr Mahathir said that 'Asians like to be democratic, but they don't really understand democracy.'.

Well, I suppose we better make sure we do understand democracy, so that next time Mahathir cannot laugh at us.

The term 'democracy' comes from the Greek word demokratia, which was coined from the word demos (people) and the word kratos (power). It literally meant 'people power'. In its most basic form, democracy means a system of government in which the majority of the citizens determine what's to be done.

It's best to start at the beginning. Apparently there were democracies in India even before this, but in the West democracy was invented in Athens around 500 BC.

The democracy then though, was very different from the democracy we have now. First of all, the voting franchise was restricted to free adult males above the age of 20 who were Athenian citizens; women and slaves could not vote.

Most importantly, the democracy then was democracy in its most straightforward form: it was a direct democracy. This meant that citizens would regularly attend debates on every single big public issue, and then vote on them: whether to impose taxes, whether to make a treaty with another city, whether to go to war, what military strategy to use – all sorts of things. Those issues would all be decided by simple majority voting.

We don't have that sort of system now. What we have are representative democracies. In our parliamentary system that means that citizens only typically vote once every 4 years, and that's to select a legislature and (through that) an executive, who are then supposed to decide on almost all public issues in the intervening period. Policy decisions are supposed to be decided by those with special expertise and with access to special information.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ac/Obama_and_Biden_await_updates_on_bin_Laden.jpg 

The Situation Room

For example, in America, economic policy is decided by the President, the Treasury Secretary, and the Chairman of the Fed. Military strategy is decided by the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. For important covert operations like the one that killed Osama bin Laden, decisions would be made by the President and a close group of advisers. In Malaysia all that is probably decided by Rosmah. Okay, I'm kidding, but I think you get my point – in both countries these kinds of decisions lie outside the ambit of the ordinary citizen, and that's the way it works in most countries around the world that call themselves democratic.

Indeed, the ancient Greeks wouldn't have regarded modern democracies as democracies at all. As Donald Kagan, former Sterling Professor of Classics and History at Yale, notes, 'the Athenians would have been astonished at the claim of modern states to [the title of democracy]'. 'To them an essential feature of democracy was the direct and full sovereignty of the majority of citizens. Government by elected representatives…appointment to important offices, unelected bureaucracies…terms for elective office of more than one year, all of these would have seemed clear and deadly enemies of what reasonable people might understand by democracy.'.

But what's this mean? How did the fact that ancient Athens was a direct democracy affect decisions on public issues?

What this means, first of all, is that there were few secrets. Because everything had to be openly debated and discussed in the Athenian Assembly and then openly voted on, virtually everything became public knowledge. If, for example, the Athenians decided to send a fleet against the Spartans, the Spartans would know about it because they'd have spies within the Assembly who'd report to them as soon as a decision was reached.

This also means that a lot of important decisions, including military strategy, were made by people with no special expertise and with no access to special information, people who were sometimes ignorant and uneducated, people who could be easily influenced by demagogues into making rash choices.

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This book here is the history of The Peloponnesian War. It chronicles the war between Athens (a democracy) and Sparta (an oligarchy) almost 2,500 years ago. It was written by Thucydides, an Athenian general involved in the war, and the man hailed as the father of scientific history. Though written as a history, it's the most powerful argument against democracy I've ever come across and it's helped my understanding of democracy immensely.

In this book Thucydides illustrates the weaknesses of democracy. He chronicles in excruciating detail how Athenian democracy degenerated into mobocracy. In his account of the Sicilian Expedition, he relates how the Athenian people voted in favor of invading Sicily, and forced a general who had strongly advocated against the invasion to command it. Later, when the invasion didn't go well, they blamed the general for it even though it was their idea in the first place. When the general begged the Athenian people to let the troops come back home, the Athenians refused to listen and instead did the exact opposite: they voted to send even more troops and more ships to fight, throwing more resources into an unwinnable expedition. Finally, the Athenian army got surrounded by their enemies and was massacred, and that general was killed.

Historians of the war also relate the aftermath of the Battle of Arginusae.

In this battle, the Athenian fleet defeated the Spartan navy and won a great victory. The Athenian admirals then decided to concentrate on pursuing the retreating Spartan navy and only sent a smaller force to retrieve the survivors and the dead bodies from their ships that had been sunk in the battle. A storm came and the survivors and the dead bodies were lost. When the admirals got home, the Athenian citizens, stirred to anger by rabid politicians, sentenced all 8 of the admirals to death without due process. And so Athens lost 8 of its finest admirals. Without these admirals the Athenian fleet was crippled, and it was crushed by the Spartan navy within a year. The Spartans then captured the city of Athens and celebrated by tearing down its proud walls to the sound of flute music. Thus, Athens, the great beacon of democracy, was defeated and the Athenians were subjugated under a Spartan dictatorship.

The great lesson of the Peloponnesian War that Thucydides tries to convey is that democracy is a really bad idea. It's not that Athens happened to be a democracy and happened to lose to oligarchic Sparta: Athens lost to Sparta because it was a democracy. It was because the Athenian people voted on every issue and no one was held accountable for their collective bad decisions. It was because the people shifted the blame to others instead of looking at themselves. It was because they ignored the counsel of generals who knew war and military strategy, choosing to substitute their own uninformed judgment. It was because they were easily riled by demagogues into persecuting their best men – the only men who could have saved them. In the end it was the people who were the architects of their own subjugation.

Thucydides wasn't the only one who thought democracy was a terrible system. This view was shared by most of the great thinkers of that time. Many of the criticisms they made of democracy are still very valid today.

Socrates in Plato's Republic ranked democracy as the second-worst kind of political system – just one step away from tyranny. He described democracies as anarchic cities where the people are slaves to their desires.

Indeed, Socrates would go on to personify the injustice a democracy was capable of. As the father of Western philosophy, he spent his time talking to his fellow Athenians and provoking them into questioning absolutely everything, including the gods, the way they lived their lives, and the Athenian democratic system itself. Eventually, his enemies got sick of him and had him charged with 'corrupting the youth and disbelieving in the gods of the city'. He was found guilty by the democracy and put to death. In the process, he became history's most famous martyr for free speech, and his death was a powerful indictment of democracy – demonstrating how it could kill people unjustly. Socrates died by drinking poison, but he held to his principles until the end, something that's captured very vividly in this painting.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8c/David_-_The_Death_of_Socrates.jpg 

The Death of Socrates, by Jacques Louis-David

Likewise, Cleon, an Athenian politician, denounced democracy for creating a city of people who would support whoever was the best speaker, regardless of what that person was proposing. Here's how Cleon scolded the Athenians for what he called their 'addiction to argument':

'You like to be spectators of speeches…Good speakers advocating some future course of action are all the evidence you need to judge it possible…you are in thrall to the pleasure of listening, and you sit here more like spectators at the sophists' displays than men taking decisions for their city.'

I think Cleon hits on an important weakness here. There were lots of factors leading to the rise of people like Mussolini and Hitler. But one important factor was that both of them were said to have been very good speakers. They could make lots of people listen to them and support their policies of fascism and brutal nationalism.

Hitler was said to have been such a great orator that he could be speaking to a crowd of thousands and many people in that crowd could feel like Hitler was speaking to him alone.

A few years ago I was at a Malaysian Student Leader's Summit at the Intercontinental Hotel. There was a panel there with Khairy Jamaluddin on it. And you know, KJ is a very eloquent speaker, probably the most eloquent speaker in the whole of BN. At one point a student asked him a question: it was something about why the standard of living in Malaysia is so much lower than in Singapore. KJ replied 'Why do you want to compare with Singapore? We should be kicking Singapore's ass!', and most of the hall cheered and applauded and that was that. The student's question, an important one, was so easily deflected by a childish appeal to a sense of national pride. This was a reminder for me of how modern societies remain vulnerable to the influence of charismatic demagogues, to people who use passion to counter reason.

Probably the most fundamental criticism of democracy though, is this. Democracy is a system that treats people as equals. Rich or poor, smart or dumb, open or bigoted, educated or uneducated, every citizen gets an equal vote, even though, in many important respects, they're not equal. 'How can you have a system that treats people who are grossly unequal as equals?' the ancients would ask, 'That's unjust, in fact, that's crazy.'. You don't hear that very often nowadays because it's not politically correct, but it's still an important question.

At times, it seems obvious that we're all equals. But at other times it seems very obvious just how unequal we are.

Consider this – how should I put this delicately? – some people are really really stupid. Some people are really really ignorant and bigoted. You really want a system in which their votes count for the same as yours?

You really want a system in which the votes of Ibrahim Ali and the rest of his Perkasa idiots count for the same as yours?

Anyone remember that video of that Suara Wanita 1 Malaysia president trying to bully that student at UUM that went viral a few months back?

http://i1.wp.com/aliran.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Sharifah-Bawani-Listen-Listen.jpg?resize=500%2C375 

Well, the scary thing wasn't that president woman, because there are always some crazy people here and there: it was the crowd of students, many of whom cheered and clapped in support even though her speech made virtually no sense at all, especially that bit about chickens and sharks also having problems. Well that wasn't just a small group of students – there were hundreds of them. You really want a system where each of their votes counts for the same as yours?

John T. Wenders, former Professor of Economics at the University of Idaho, described democracy as 'Two coyotes and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch'. Ultimately, a big part of whether you support democracy or not depends on the confidence you have in your fellow citizens. Confidence in their knowledge and intelligence (at least to a minimum level), and most of all, confidence in their values and their basic human decency. If you view most of your fellow citizens as coyotes, you're unlikely to be too hot about democracy.

Well, turns out, many people throughout history were convinced by those arguments against democracy, and so after ancient Greece was conquered by Philip of Macedon (the father of Alexander the Great) in 337 BC, democracy largely disappeared from the Western world until the birth of the American republic around 1789, more than 2,000 years later. Although there are significant differences between democracy in early America and present day democracy (for example only a minority held the voting franchise), this was the prototype.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9d/Scene_at_the_Signing_of_the_Constitution_of_the_United_States.jpg 

Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States, by Howard Chandler Christy

Thus began the great American experiment with democracy. After fleeing persecution and bigotry in Europe, and having to fight for their independence from the British Empire, the last thing the Americans wanted was rule by another tyrant.

But here's the thing: America's founding fathers were great readers of the classics. They had read Thucydides and Plato and Thomas Hobbes – all those great thinkers who wrote that democracy was unsustainable because people are too stupid, too violent, too selfish. The founding fathers didn't ignore the weaknesses of democracy, they learned from them, and they used this knowledge to design a system that was democratic in nature, but which guarded against the weaknesses of the Athenian direct democracy.

What they created wasn't just a democracy, it was something different: it was a republic. It was rule by the people, but it had special checks against the tyranny of the majority, because they acknowledged that the majority could sometimes be wrong. They chose a system of representative democracy, in which elected representatives (who devoted their time to understanding issues and were privy to secret information) made decisions on behalf of the people, and were accountable to them.

They drew upon the Roman and British traditions, as well as the writings of the French political philosopher Montesquieu, and stressed a separation of powers into a legislature, an executive, and a judiciary, and gave the Supreme Court great powers to check the other two branches. In the Bill of Rights, they put liberty at the heart of their law and enshrined freedom of expression, freedom of the press, due process, and private property – all these safeguarded minority rights against the majority. 'The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few', said President Obama in his second inaugural address, 'or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a republic'.

These ideas went on to influence the development of democracy in England, and in other parts of the world, leading to the democratic systems we have now. When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drawn up in 1948, it drew on these ideas too. It's common to think of democracy and human rights as going hand in hand, but they don't really.

Some of you might remember an incident across the causeway 2 months ago when Zainudin Nordin, a Member of Parliament in Singapore, posted up a quote from a book by the author Terry Goodkind pointing out that 'Gang rape, after all, is democracy in action.'. He came under a lot of flak for doing that by politically-correct Singaporeans, but he was largely correct.

http://staticc05.insing.com/images/2c/d9/10/00/pc_600x450.jpg 

The unfortunate Zainudin Nordin

If 'democracy' just means majority rule, well, that means that whatever the majority decides can and should be done. If the majority wants to rape someone then fine. If the majority wants to persecute someone for speaking his mind then fine. If the majority wants to ban minorities from using the word 'Allah', then that's fine too.

But human rights opposes this. It draws a line in the sand. It says there are some things you cannot do. It says that some rights are so precious and so fundamental that they should be protected even if the majority decides to infringe them.

It's no coincidence that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drawn up in the bloody aftermath of WWII and the Holocaust, in which millions of people, many of them minorities, were massacred. It was because the drafters of the Declaration realized that, whilst democracy was important, so too were specially-protected human rights, and in modern democracies there's a calculated tension between the two.

And so when we use the term 'democracy' today, it doesn't just mean 'majority rule'. It has become something far more complex. It means majority rule, but majority rule through representation, and with checks and protections for fundamental rights in place. It is comprised of different, and often conflicting, elements, and it is, I think, a better system of government because of this.


***

But how does democracy fare in the Malaysian context? How does it interact with political Islam? How does it function in a country as religiously and ethnically diverse (some would say 'religiously and ethnically divided') as Malaysia.

In this book, World On Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability, Yale law professor Amy Chua helps to answer those questions. This is a disturbing and iconoclastic book, a work of rigorous scholarship, and it's contributed a great deal to my understanding of democracy in the region.

https://ebooks-imgs.eb.sonynei.com/ebooks/product/400/000/000/000/000/036/866/400000000000000036866_s3.jpg

In short, the prognosis is worrying. Professor Chua observes that rapid democratization can be very dangerous in countries with market-dominant minorities.

What do you think she's talking about here when she says 'market-dominant minorities'?

She's talking about the Chinese in Malaysia, who are a minority, but who control a disproportionately large portion of the wealth in the country. And this isn't something you find only in Malaysia, you also find this with Chinese diasporas in Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, and the Philippines.

Increasing democracy in these countries can be dangerous, because the majority ethnic group, the Malays in the case of Malaysia, may feel resentful at the disproportionate wealth of the Chinese minority. Their different ethnicities will make this worse, because it's not, for example, the same as a poor white guy looking at a rich white guy in America. In that scenario, that poor white guy may think that he's not so different from the rich white guy. He may think that maybe one day if he works hard and works smart he can be just like him. In the Malaysian context, it's a bit harder. The poor Malay may look at the rich Chinese and think that they're very different. They look different, their skin is a different color, they have different customs and religions, they might not even speak the same language. He may well conclude that no matter how hard or smart he works, he'll never be just like that rich Chinese. He may view the other ethnicity as alien.

Where can this feeling of resentment lead? Sure, most of the Chinese may deserve to hold that large share of wealth: they may have worked hard and smart for it, they may have earned it with their initiative and ingenuity, and their country may have benefitted a great deal from their enterprise.

But, as we saw even from the time of Thucydides, human nature is not always fair. It can be selfish and violent and shortsighted, and when members of an ethnic majority look at the wealth of a rich minority that they feel alienated from, there can be the temptation to take it all away. They might just decide, hey, since this country is democratic and we, the ethnic majority, comprise most of the votes, why don't we just pressure our politicians to take all that minority's stuff and redistribute it to us instead? In this scenario, the majoritarian side of democracy becomes favored at the expense of checks and human rights. Combine this with political Islam, in which an extremist form of Islam is exploited by demagogues to justify persecuting those who are different, and you have a recipe for great atrocities.

So what's the solution to this problem? Well, some prominent Chinese families decided to oppose democracy, developing a symbiotic relationship with local despots: the despots kept the majority at bay and in return the families provided (usually financial) support. Chinese elites in the Philippines propped-up the kleptocratic Marcos regime. Chinese tycoons like Bob Hasan and Liem Sioe Liong helped finance the despotic Suharto regime in Indonesia in exchange for special favors and government contracts.

You see something similar in Malaysia with the support the ruling party enjoys from Chinese tycoons like Francis Yeoh of YTL and Vincent Tan of Berjaya. Indeed, this can sometimes extend to direct complicity in repression. Some of you might remember that The Sun newspaper was once quite vocal and objective compared to other Malaysian papers. However, when it was bought over by Berjaya it became much more subdued and biased towards the ruling party.

Professor Amy Chua's solution is to endorse schemes like Malaysia's NEP, arguing that its affirmative action policies reduce resentment by leveling the wealth disparity.

To an extent I can see where they're coming from. These solutions aim to reduce the discrepancy between political and economic power.

So are these people right? Should I, as a Chinese Malaysian, oppose democracy in Malaysia and throw my support behind the authoritarian BN government? Should I endorse the NEP? What do you think? Tough call, huh?

By the way, there are parallels between this dilemma and the Arab Spring. In December 2010, the self-immolation of a young Tunisian man triggered a wave of democratic protests across the Arab world, and revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria. And the US government, which had been calling for democratization for years, suddenly had no idea what to do, as was seen from its confused reaction. The Americans were apprehensive because they had been rather deplorably propping-up those Middle Eastern dictators for decades, and now, with this rapid democratization, they were afraid of what the Arab people might vote for, and feared the rise of Islamic extremism.

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7015/6444263899_da45aaaa82_o.jpg 

Protestors in Egypt's Tahrir Square

Well my answer to the Malaysian dilemma is this. The thing about supporting authoritarianism and policies like the NEP in Malaysia is that they aren't really solutions because they're not sustainable; they don't solve the problem, at most they only delay the reckoning.

The NEP may seem to ease the resentment of the Malays for a while, but what we find in Malaysia is that over time these affirmative action policies create a 'crutch-mentality' among many Malays; many have come to rely on the government for handouts instead of learning to compete, and so grow increasingly incapable of improving their economic status, leading to greater frustration in the long-term.

Supporting an authoritarian strong-man may seem to keep the threat of violence at bay, but it doesn't go away: it simmers under the surface. Meanwhile, an authoritarian government finds it easier to get away with corruption and cronyism and squanders public money instead of using it to improve the country. The BN government also deliberately stokes racial and religious tension to rally support, whilst often prohibiting reasoned discussion on important issues. It severely limits civil society by restricting peaceful protests, gatherings, public forums, and independent media, such that for many years the only outlet was Islamic extremism. The long-term effect of this is that poverty and racial and religious tensions get even worse. The threat of violence may be delayed for a while, but you pay heavily for this borrowed time. The Americans tried this bargain by propping-up dictators in the Middle East, and extremism in the region rose. Some Chinese-Indonesian tycoons tried this for decades by propping-up Suharto. They thought with their money they could control Suharto, and Suharto could control the resentment of the pribumi Indonesians. When the racial riots broke out in 1998, they found out just how in control they really were.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/09/Great_Tycoon%2C_by_Oscar_Motuloh.jpg

Indonesian pribumi rioters burn a portrait of Liem Sioe Liong and his wife pillaged from his house during the 1998 riots

I had the pleasure of talking to Professor Amy Chua when I was a student at Yale, and during our conversation I put all that to her. She said she hadn't realized those complications. I asked her if she could think of a more sustainable solution to this problem. Professor Chua is an exceptionally careful and meticulous scholar: she said she didn't have an answer, and that she would need to do a lot more research before she could come up with one.

I think that democracy is difficult and messy and complicated, but the alternatives, at least in Malaysia, are unsustainable. I think Winston Churchill was largely right when he said 'Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried'.

I think our best hope lies in a country that's more democratic, but which also has strong protections for fundamental rights. It lies in a country where those from poorer backgrounds are given help (primarily through education) to compete with others, in a way that empowers them instead of coddling them. It lies in a country where people are free to debate and discuss the most important issues and work out solutions instead of burying them and leaving them to fester. Such a country will require the richer Chinese minority to actively engage with national problems, to realize that they have a stake in the country too, and to resist throwing money at problems to try to make them go away. There's a Chinese saying that 'nothing is a problem if money can solve it'. It's sometimes true: money can certainly get you out of certain difficulties. But to take it to an extreme, and to think that money can be substituted for the hard work of dialogue and engagement and nation-building, is a grave mistake.

Aristotle wrote that if you assume a wise and benevolent government, a dictatorship is better than a democracy. I think he's right.

Throughout history however, it seems an immutable rule that 'absolute power corrupts absolutely', that those with too much power almost always abuse it. Because of this there are very few governments that are wise and benevolent, and certainly very few that, upon attaining overwhelming power, remain wise and benevolent for very long.

 

Aristotle, empiricist that he was, recognized this. If you assume a wise and benevolent government, he wrote, a dictatorship is better than a democracy. But a corrupted dictatorship is worse than a corrupted democracy. And since actual governments tend towards corruption and abuse, in reality it is democracy that ends up being better. In this way Aristotle arrived at a qualified defense of democracy.

 

Ultimately, I support democracy in most cases because I share this deep mistrust of people who are given too much power over others, and modern democracy has the most effective checks against such power.

 

There are other reasons too. The ancients warned that democracy can descend into mobocracy; instigated by charismatic leaders, the people can make terrible decisions and persecute minorities. All that remains true.

 

However, it's also true that, whilst Athens lost to Sparta in The Peloponnesian War, modern representative democracies have tended to win against dictatorships when they fought. It's also true that the rights of minorities have been better protected under modern democracies than under authoritarian regimes. And it's also true that democracies tend to be more prosperous and better at encouraging creativity and innovation.

 

Modern democracy is a concept perpetually in tension with itself, with its own conflicting elements. It will remain a sound system of government so long as people remember that it's supposed to be that way.

Thank you.

 

(MTadmin - footnotes were left out due to formatting problems)

 

 

 

KPRU: Biar PETRONAS Lapor Kepada Parlimen Sebelum Laksana GST (with English and Chinese ...

Posted: 04 Sep 2013 08:35 AM PDT

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRmZu0V1hG1gBeIo6w-hCnhGtMfce_gs53Uq2AxUA8vmPRbrAGB 

Langkah ini bukan sahaja penting bagi mempertahankan kepentingan PETRONAS daripada terus dicekik oleh kerajaan dan terpaksa menyerahkan keuntungannya kepada kerajaan tanpa ketelusan, malah ia dapat menjawab persoalan mengapa harga petrol tidak diturunkan apabila harga minyak mentah pasaran antarabangsa mencatatkan penurunan.

KPRU

Pada 27 Ogos 2013 lalu, Petroliam Nasional Bhd (PETRONAS) mengumumkan bayaran dividen sejumlah RM27 bilion kepada kerajaan pada 2013, iaitu berkurang 3 bilion berbanding dengan RM30 bilion yang disumbangkan pada tahun lepas.[1] Ini bermakna, pendapatan kerajaan akan menurun memandangkan PETRONAS yang merupakan penyumbang terbesar kepada sumber pendapatan kerajaan mengurangkan sumbangan dividennya.

Pada 2 September, Perdana Menteri merangkap Menteri Kewangan, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak membuat "pengumuman gempar" bahawa harga diesel dan minyak petrol RON95 dinaikkan sebanyak 20 sen seliter mulai tengah malam hari tersebut. Pengumuman tersebut mengejutkan rakyat Malaysia daripada kemeriahan suasana sambutan Hari Kemerdekaan. Menurut Najib, ini merupakan salah satu langkah rasionalisasi atau penyusunan semula subsidi yang dilaksanakan secara berperingkat oleh kerajaannya. Ia juga merupakan salah satu insiatif menuju ke arah mengukuhkan kedudukan kewangan negara dalam menghadapi persekitaran ekonomi dunia yang mencabar.[2]

Kedua-dua pengumuman tersebut dibuat secara berasingan dan kelihatan tidak berkaitan; pengamatan badan pemikir, Kajian Politik untuk Perubahan (KPRU) pula mendapati keadaan yang sebaliknya. KPRU berpendapat, dalam keadaan ekonomi dunia yang tidak menentu, tambahan pula dengan penurunan pendapatan kerajaan, penurunan eksport negara, kejatuhan nilai mata wang negara dan fiscal defisit yang masih berada dalam kedudukan yang tinggi, serta pertumbuhan ekonomi negara yang gagal mencapai sasaran, pemotongan subsidi minyak ini yang menimbulkan keresahan bercampur dengan kemarahan di kalangan rakyat Malaysia merupakan salah satu langkah bagi mengurangkan perbelanjaan kerajaan di samping mengganti balik pendapatan kerajaan yang berkurangan, memandangkan Presiden PETRONAS, Tan Sri Shamsul Azhar Abbas sebelum ini pernah mengumumkan bahawa PETRONAS berhasrat menetapkan nisbah pembayaran dividen pada paras 30 peratus, di mana jumlah dividen yang diisytiharkan akan berubah-ubah mengikut pendapatannya.[3]Penting sekali, kenaikan harga minyak ekoran penstrukturan semula subsidi ini bakal diikuti dengan pelaksanaan Cukai Barangan dan Perkhidmatan (GST).

Maka, KPRU ingin mencadangkan, sebelum kerajaan Najib dengan tegasnya membawa GST ke Parlimen semasa pembentangan Belanjawan Negara 2014, kerajaan seharusnya pertama sekali meminda Akta Pembangunan Petroleum 1974 apabila Dewan Rakyat kembali bersidang pada 23 September ini, supaya PETRONAS bertanggungjawab kepada Parlimen, bukan sekadarnya bertanggungjawab kepada Perdana Menteri bagi menjamin ketelusan atau transparensi dalam tadbir urus kedua-dua kewangan PETRONAS dan kewangan negara.

Langkah ini bukan sahaja penting bagi mempertahankan kepentingan PETRONAS daripada terus dicekik oleh kerajaan dan terpaksa menyerahkan keuntungannya kepada kerajaan tanpa ketelusan, malah ia dapat menjawab persoalan mengapa harga petrol tidak diturunkan apabila harga minyak mentah pasaran antarabangsa mencatatkan penurunan. Khususnya, dengan mengambil kira kenyataan Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak dalam majlis perasmian Seminar Minyak dan Gas Asia 2013 (AOGC) Pusat Konvensyen Kuala Lumpur pada 10 Jun bahawa industri minyak dan gas menyumbang lebih 40 peratus kepada pendapatan negara ini. Menurut beliau, kerajaan turut menjangka PETRONAS akan menjana RM131.4 bilion kepada Pendapatan Negara Kasar (PNK).[4]

Seperti yang ditunjukkan dalam Jadual KPRU, PETRONAS merupakan pembayar cukai yang terbesar dan sumber hasil terbesar, di mana sumbangannya mencakupi sekurang-kurangnya 30 peratus daripada hasil kerajaan persekutuan.

Jadual KPRU: Hasil Kerajaan Persekutuan daripada Sumber Petroleum 2009-2013

TahunJumlah Sumbangan Hasil daripada Sumber Petroleum (RM Juta)Hasil Kerajaan Persekutuan (RM Juta)Jumlah Sumbangan Petroleum sebagai Peratus Hasil Kerajaan (%)
200963,140158,63939.8
201055,313159,65334.6
201164,893185,41935.0
201266,138207,24631.9
201364,819208,65031.1

Hak cipta © KPRU 2013

Nota: -

2009-2011: penerimaan sebenar

2012: anggaran disemak

2013: anggaran belanjawan

Sumber: Memorandum Perbendaharaan mengenai Anggaran Hasil Kerajaan Persekutuan

Sejak perbadanannya pada tahun 1974, PETRONAS sentiasa dijadikan sebagai "kantung peribadi" kerajaan dan dananya disalurkan bagi menanggung pembiayaan projek-projek kesayangan pihak kerajaan. Sebagai syarikat minyak negara, memang dalam jangkaan PETRONAS mengisytiharkan sebahagian besar keuntungannya kepada kerajaan. Bagi tahun kewangan berakhir 31 Mac 2011, hampir 55 peratus daripada keuntungan bersih PETRONAS telah dibayar sebagai dividen kepada kerajaan, nisbah peratusan ini jauh melebihi purata 38 peratus yang dibayar oleh syarikar-syarikat minyak nasional di seluruh dunia![5]

Namun, butiran-butiran tentang bagaimana hasil yang disumbang itu dibelanja dan digunakan oleh kerajaan tidak ditunjukkan dalam akaun rasmi  atau didedahkan. Berikutan itu, KPRU berpendapat, PETRONAS harus bertanggungjawab kepada Parlimen dan tidak lagi disembunyikan daripada tatapan wakil rakyat, biarpun rakyat Malaysia.

Perbandingan syarikat minyak milik kerajaan luar negara dengan Malaysia

KPRU telah membuat kajian terhadap syarikat-syarikat petroleum nasional di luar negara dan mendapati bahawa syarikat berkenaan seperti Statoil di Norway, Pemex di Mexico, Petrobras di Brazil , dan Pertamina di Indonesia adalah tertakluk di bawah kuasa kementerian berkaitan, bukannya di tangan Perdana Menteri atau Presiden. Statoil di Norway dan Pemex di Mexico masing-masingnya diwajibkan mendapat kelulusan di Parlimen dalam hal pembukaan kawasan baru untuk penerokaan atau membuka sektor tenaga untuk pelaburan swasta. Di Brazil, Petrobras bukan sahaja bertanggungjawab kepada Menteri dan Kongress Kebangsaan, ia juga diwajibkan memberi maklumat kepada Mahkamah Audit Persekutuan. Tambahan pula, bagi menjamin ketelusan dalam pengurusan dan pentadbiran, Petrobras menubuhkan Citizen Information Service (CIS) untuk memberi maklumbalas dan panduan kepada masyarakat awam untuk mengakses kepada maklumat.

Secara perbandingan, PETRONAS di Malaysia hanya perlu melapor terus kepada Perdana Menteri dan beliau diberi kuasa sepenuh untuk meneliti akaun dan keadaan semasa kewangan PETRONAS. Peruntukan dalam Akta Kemajuan Petroleum 1974 ini menyebabkan rakyat Malaysia tidak berpeluang memantau penggunaan kewangan PETRONAS yang diperolehi daripada kekayaan sumber asli negara ini. Di samping itu, keputusan dalam hal seperti pengendalian penggunaan petroleum hanya perlu mendapatkan kebenaran Perdana Menteri dan bukannya dibahas dan diluluskan di Parlimen.

Read more at: http://kpru2010.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/kpru-biar-petronas-lapor-kepada-parlimen-sebelum-laksana-gst/ 

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KPRU: Let PETRONAS report to Parliament before implementing GST

 

On August 27, 2012, Petroliam Nasional Bhd (PETRONAS) declared a lower dividend of RM27 billion to government this year, compared with RM30 billion in the previous year. 

 

This signifies that government revenues will as well decline as PETRONAS being the largest income contributor reduces its payout. 

 

On September 2, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is also the Finance Minister announced that the price of the widely used RON95 and diesel would be increased 20 cents per litre. Pump price rise was indeed sudden. Najib said this is one of rationalization or restructuring of subsidies implemented gradually by the government. It is also one of the leading initiatives to ease country's fiscal situation and to strengthen the financial position in midst of a challenging global economic environment.   

 

The two announcements were made separately and seemed to be unrelated; think-tank Political Studies for Change (KPRU) nonetheless observed the correlation in between. KPRU argues that during such uncertain economic times, together with the decline of government's revenue, the depreciation of our national currency, and a slow growth in economies whilst fiscal deficit remains high, slashing oil subsidies is deemed to be one of the measures to keep government's spending low, and meanwhile replacing the declining government revenue. As the president of PETRONAS, Tan Sri Ahamsul Azhar Abbas had announced earlier that PETRONAS wanted to adopt a 30 per cent dividend payout ration rather than paying a dividend of RM30 bilion consistently regardless of its profit level, oil price hike will soon be followed by the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

 

Therefore, KPRU would like to suggest the government to amend the Petroleum Development Act 1974 for the coming Parliament session which will convene on September 23rd before tabling the GST for the National Budget 2014. This is to ensure Petronas will be responsible to Parliament and not solely responsible to the Prime Minister to ensure the transparency in the governance of finance for both Petronas and the country.

 

This is also crucial not only to defend the interest of PETRONAS from being strangled by the government and forced to hand over its profits to the government without transparency, but this can as well help to answer the question of why fuel prices are not lowered when crude oil price within international market declines. In particular, as we taking into account the fact delivered by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in the opening of the Asia Oil and Gas Seminar 2013 (AOGC) in Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on 10 June that the oil and gas industry accounted for over 40 per cent of the country's income.

 

According to him, the government also expects PETRONAS will generate RM131.4 billion in Gross National Income (GNI).

As shown in the table below, PETRONAS is the largest taxpayer and the largest source of revenue, which accounts for at least 30 percent of the federal government.

 

Table KPRU: Revenue of the Federal Government from Petroleum Resources 2009-2013

Year

Total revenue contributed by petroleum (RM Million)

Government revenue (RM Juta)

Total contribution of petroleum as per government revenue (%)

2009

63,140 

158,639

39.8%

2010

55,313 

159,653

34.6%

2011

64,893 

185,419

35.0%

2012

66,138 

207,246

31.9%

2013

64,819 

208,650

31.1%

 

Since its establishment in 1974, PETRONAS has always been treated as a "piggy bank" of the government to provide funds for pet projects. Being a stste-owned oil companies, Petronas is expected to share a big portion of profit to the government.According to PETRONAS figues, in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2011, the annual payout to the government gobbled up almost 55 percent of its net profits, which was well above the average of 38 percent paid by any other national oil companies around the world!

 

Nevertheless, the information regarding how the money is being spent has never been shown in Malaysia's official accounts and the government has steadfastly refused to disclose any details about that. 

 



Badan pemikir Kajian Politik untuk Perubahan (KPRU)

4 September 2013

 

政改研究所:商品及服务税(GST)实行前,让国油向国会报告

2013827日,国家石油公司(PETRONAS)公布将会支付政府300亿零吉的股息, 相比去年减少了30亿零吉。国油支付政府的股息一直以来都是国家的主要收入,这表示国家收入将会减少。92日,首相兼财长拿督斯里纳吉宣布柴油及RON95将会在93日凌晨起价20仙。首相表示调高燃油价格是政府即将落实重组津贴程序的第一个步骤,这也是政府在面对全球经济环境的挑战性所采取的举措,以加强马来西亚的财政状况 

这两个宣布虽然分开公布也看似无相干,但智库政改研究所认为在全球经济不稳定,国家收入减少,国家出口减少,马币贬值,国家赤字攀高,以及国家经济成长无法达到理想。减少汽油津贴能减少国家开支,也平衡了国家收入的减少因为国油主席曾经说过将考虑维持派息的比率为30%,股息将会根据国油的收入而调整。更重要的是,商品及服务税(GST)将会跟着政府调高燃油价来落实重组津贴而实行。 

因此,智库政改研究所KPRU)倡议,在政府还未把商品及服务税(GST)呈现在2014财政预算案前,政府应在923日即将举行的国会会议修改1974年石油发展法令,让马来西亚国家石油公司向国会报告及负责,而不是单单向首相报告负责,以确保国油的财政及国家的财政管理更透明。 

这项措施不只是为了捍卫国家石油公司的利益以便国油的利润可以更透明的处理,它也可以解答为什么在国际原油的价格不断增加下,国家汽油价格反而不下调的问题。特别是考虑到首相曾经提过石油和天然气行业占了全国收入的40%,政府还预计,马来西亚国家石油公司将会给国民总收入(GNI)带来1314亿零吉 。

政改研究所整理了如表下的数据,显示了国油是国家最大的收入来源,占联邦政府至少30%的收入。

政改研究所:联邦政府在2009-2013年所得的石油收入

石油收入

(百万零吉)

政府总收入 

(百万零吉)

石油作为政府总收入的百分比(%)

2009

63,140 

158,639

39.8%

2010

55,313 

159,653

34.6%

2011

64,893 

185,419

35.0%

2012

66,138 

207,246

31.9%

2013

64,819 

208,650

31.1%

Copyright © KPRU 2013

资料来源:财政部联邦政府收入预算备忘录

 

1974年成立以来,国油一直被当着"摇钱树"为政府提供资金,来支付政府的工程项目。作为国家石油公司,国油把公司利润支付给政府是合理的。但截至2011331日的财政报告,国油支付给政府近55%的净利润,这个比例远高于国际平均水平的38 %。 

然而,国油支付政府净利润的细节及政府如何运用这笔资金都没有向民众公开。因此,政改研究所认为,国油应该对国会负责及报告,并给于马来西亚人民及人民代议士交待。 

“Chinese or Malay, what does it matter?”

Posted: 04 Sep 2013 08:26 AM PDT

http://1-ps.googleusercontent.com/h/www.theonlinecitizen.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/423x360xmalaychinese.jpg.pagespeed.ic.hKVuNXg0Wo.webp 

 "We must always remember that Malays and Chinese don't naturally hate each other. It is because we (Chinese) have come to your (Malay) home and somehow occupy a privileged position now. We fight over resources, not because you are Chinese or Malay. My father taught me this history. Therefore we must remember to always be good and help each other. My grandfather came from China and was helped by the Malays. Now, it's our turn to help the Malays." 

Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib, The Online Citizen 

Sometimes, luck has it that you got a really memorable conversation with a taxi driver.

Knowing that I'm heading to a mosque in Braddell Road, the middle-aged driver of a blue Comfort Sonata taxi posed a question: "Sir, you know if mosques take donations? I want to give some money to Malay children."

It's not often that you hear a Chinese man asking if he can donate to a mosque. Curious, I asked him if he wanted to make a general donation or specifically for disadvantaged children. "Can I specify to the mosque that the money is for the children?" I told him yes, but also gave the option of donating direct to orphanages or children's homes.

"But I want to give the money only to Malay children," he insisted. After a short pause, he continued, "My grandfather told me that you must always help the Malays."

The conversation got me curious and as he went on with his story, I cannot but felt a sense of hope for what we can be as a nation. It was unfortunate that despite our professed status as a "multicultural society" (some would call it "multiracial" instead),  we are in fact a deeply racialised people. And this has been the result of at least 4 decades of post-independence racialisation process that struck deep into the hearts of our social policies and national institutions.

"Chinese or Malay, what does it matter?" said Mr Leong Kim Meng who had been driving taxi for many years now. But he will always remember his grandfather's word: "As long as you live, you must help the Malays."

His grandfather was from Hainan. Driven by poverty, he came to Singapore to work as a coolie. Mr Leong recalled how his grandfather had suffered for two years working like a slave without any pay under a Chinese towkay. It was an oppressive condition. Eventually, he brought his 12-year old son (Mr. Leong's father) to stay with him in Singapore. They settled in Pulau Tekong, in a village named Kampung Pahang, which was a settlement linked to the Malay royalty in Pahang. (A civil war broke out in Pahang from 1857-1863, causing mass relocation of the followers of Tun Mutahir to Johor and Singapore.) But it was during the Japanese Occupation that Mr. Leong's grandfather felt deeply indebted to the Malays.

"The Japanese were hunting the Chinese. And my grandfather was caught and hung upside down from the tree. But as they were about to kill him, it was the Malay penghulu (village headman) who pleaded and persuaded the Japanese soldiers to release him. From that day onward, my father swore to help the Malays in return for saving his life."

Read more at: http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2013/09/chinese-or-malay-what-does-it-matter 

Khalid Samad sokong Anwar jumpa Najib

Posted: 04 Sep 2013 12:42 AM PDT

Membincangkan isu negara dan bukannya merancang pembentukan kerajaan perpaduan.

Jamilah Kamarudin, FMT

Ahli Jawatankuasa PAS Pusat Khalid Samad bersetuju usul pertemuan antara Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Razak dengan Ketua Pembangkang Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim diadakan bagi membincangkan isu masalah negara dan bukannya merancang pembentukan Kerajaan Perpaduan (UG).

Katanya, semua pihak perlu menerimanya dengan hati terbuka memandangkan perkara itu boleh menguntungkan rakyat apabila kerajaan dan pembangkang duduk bersama membincangkan dasar polisi negara.

"Sekarang ni perbincangan antara Barisan Nasional (BN) dan Pakatan bukan untuk membentuk UG tetapi mencari dasar bersama yang wajar untuk menyelamatkan masalah yang sedang dihadapi negara.

"Soal UG tiada dalam agenda Pakatan Rakyat kerana majoriti rakyat sudah tolak BN)," katanya dalam sidang media di sini hari ini.

Beliau berkata sedemikian dalam responnya mengenai cadangan Anwar yang mahu berjumpa dengan Najib dan kerajaan BN dalam perutusan Hari Kemerdekaan minggu lalu.

Beberapa pemimpin Umno termasuk Menteri Besar Kedah Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir dan Ketua Pemuda Umno Khairy Jamaluddin bagaimanapun membidas cadangan tersebut dan menggesa Anwar membentangkan isu itu secara terbuka dalam Dewan Rakyat.

READ MORE HERE

 

Who sets the agenda?

Posted: 03 Sep 2013 06:14 PM PDT

So what is the solution then? I am not sure but maybe Anwar Ibrahim who opposed subsidies for fishermen and farmers when he was the Agriculture Minister can enlighten us since he concluded that subsidies for those at the lowest rung of the economic ladder help the rich rather than the poor.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

A good sleight of hand would be one where you do not even see the 'magic' trick. The 'magician' very cleverly makes you focus on one hand while the trick is executed with the other hand. Hence what you see is 'magic'.

Politicians, all over the world, work on the same premise. They, too, perform sleights of hand to make you focus on one issue so that you do not notice the other and more important issue. This can be called WMD or weapon of mass distraction.

Basically, you set the agenda and make everyone focus on a certain issue and not on something else that may be more damaging or embarrassing.

Just look at what has been in the news over the last couple of months. We have the 'minority government' issue, the 'May 13' movie issue, the DAP party elections issue, the canteen in the toilet issue, the 'seditious' Malaysian flag issue, the Buddhists praying in the surau issue, the shooting of the gangsters issue, the Hindu temple issue, the Selangor 'water shortage' issue, the 'illegal immigrants' issue, the Allah word issue, and now the RM0.20 increase in the price of petrol issue (amongst just some of the many issues).

You may not have noticed but all these 'issues' are a 'make-them-look-bad' strategy. It is about running down the other side to make them look bad. At the end of the day, even if these issues never cropped up or are settled, will that make our life better? Will it give us what is more important in life -- a quality of life?

When politicians set the agenda that may not necessarily mean that agenda is in our interest. It is in the interest of the politicians. But they will have to make it appear like it is in our interest. Hence the issue, although real, will have to be slanted in a certain direction to meet this objective.

Let's discuss just one of those many issues, the latest 'hot' issue, and that would be regarding subsidies. Most of us feel that subsidies should be maintained so that prices can remain low. Hence the government pays for the differential in price. We also want taxes reduced or, if possible, removed altogether. Hence the government will pay for everything and we pay for nothing. That, to us, is the ideal government.

But how would the government pay for everything and we pay for nothing when there are no taxes or lesser taxes to collect? Have you not heard that there is no such thing as a free lunch? Someone, somewhere, has to pay for it. There is nothing free in life. So whatever freebies the government gives us must come from somewhere. And that somewhere would have to be the taxes that we pay.

The wage earner will have to pay taxes because their salaries are fixed and documented. Hence there is no running away from taxes. The tycoons and capitalists, however, are able to run away from taxes and just pay a nominal amount, which is far short of their actual wealth or earnings.

Hence the 'poor' pay full taxes while the rich get away with a lot of tax 'savings'. Hence, also, the 'poor' pay more taxes than the rich (percentage wise) and, therefore, it is the money from the poor that pays the cost of the subsidies that benefit the rich.

Take petrol as one example. The 'poor' may have one small car that does not consume a lot of fuel. In fact, it may even be an eco-car (which in the UK would be road tax exempt). The rich, however, own a fleet of gas-guzzlers that may consume more fuel in a day than the poor man's car consumes in a month.

So who benefits from the fuel subsidy? The 'poor' man who owns one car and consumes, say, RM200 worth of fuel a month or the tycoon businessman who owns a fleet of expensive cars that consume, say, RM2,000 worth of fuel a month?

Subsidies have always been a headache for the government since the 1970s. And that was why when Anwar Ibrahim became the Agriculture Minister in the 1980s he REMOVED the subsidies for fishermen and farmers.

Fishermen and farmers are supposed to be at the lowest rung of the economic ladder. If Anwar believes that subsidies can help the poorest segment of Malaysian society, why remove the subsidies? Why not increase the subsidies when fishermen and farmers are so poor?

Well, that is because the subsidies for fishermen and farmers DO NOT benefit the fishermen and farmers. They benefit the middlemen, the traders, the businessmen -- those who buy from the fishermen and farmers to sell to us, the consumers. The fishermen and farmers do not get any richer. The businessmen do. And because of that Anwar removed the subsidies.

Because fishermen get a subsidy for fuel, the cost of the fish becomes cheaper. But the reduced price of fish is not transferred to us, the consumer. In fact, the cost of fish in fishing states like Terengganu is more expensive than in Kuala Lumpur. So the poor people in Terengganu have to pay more for their fish than the rich people in Kuala Lumpur do.

Then there is the problem of fraud. Say the fishermen need RM500 worth of fuel for one fishing trip. They buy RM1,000 worth of fuel at a subsidised price and sell half to the traders at a profit. The traders then sell this black market fuel to the consumers at normal market price (say like factories and sawmills). So the subsidies do not really help reduce the price of fish. It just helps the recipients of the subsidies plus the traders to make money on the black market.

So we, the taxpayers, are merely helping the exploiters of the subsidies to make money. And we still end up paying a high price for the fish we buy. And, to add insult to injury, the poorer the state, the more expensive the fish price. It came to a stage that the people in Terengganu ate chicken instead of fish because fish was just too expensive in spite of the hundreds of millions of our money that the government was spending in trying to keep the price of fish low.

The same occurred with regards to the subsidies for the rice industry. The government spent hundreds of millions in subsidies for the rice industry. The rice farmers, however, remained poor. But the rice millers and rice traders became even richer because now they could pay a lower price for the rice they bought but still sold the rice at a high price to the consumers.

The government supplied fishing nets and fertilizers free-of-charge to the fishermen and farmers to subsidise the fishing and rice industry. A lot of these fishing nets and fertilizers were then sold back to the traders at a reduced price since the fishermen and farmers got them free anyway. The traders then sold them on the market at normal market prices.

Hence the fishermen and farmers made money selling what the government gave them free while the traders also made money selling what they bought at half price at normal market prices. And we, the consumer, still paid a high price for the fish and rice that we ate -- which was even more expensive in poor fishing/farming states like Terengganu.

Subsidies do not always work. Sometimes those who pay for these subsidies (the taxpayers) do not really benefit from the subsidies. The poor pay while the rich benefit from these subsidies. This has been the problem faced by the government for 40 years since the 1970s and was the reason why in the 1980s Anwar decided to end the subsidy policy.

We need to look at a new way in how to help the less fortunate or the low-income citizens. Policies such as subsidised fuel may not really help the less fortunate or low-income population. The more fuel you burn the more money you save. And those who can afford to pay would be those who burn more fuel while those who cannot afford to pay are subsidising them through their taxes.

You may think that you do not pay income tax because your salary is too low. But while you may not be paying income tax you are paying other taxes. As they say, there are two things you cannot escape -- death and taxes. And subsidies, which are paid for from your taxes, are more beneficial to the rich than to the poor since everyone will receive the benefit of these subsidies, the rich included.

So what is the solution then? I am not sure but maybe Anwar Ibrahim who opposed subsidies for fishermen and farmers when he was the Agriculture Minister can enlighten us since he concluded that subsidies for those at the lowest rung of the economic ladder help the rich rather than the poor.

In fact, I remember Anwar replying to the question as to why he wanted to end subsidies for fisherman and farmers. He said: we do not want a nation that survives on subsidies. But then at that time he was an Umno Minister and not the leader of the opposition -- so maybe today he has a different opinion regarding subsidies.

 

‘Al-Arqam cult yet to repent’

Posted: 03 Sep 2013 03:58 PM PDT

(The Star) - HARDCORE followers of the defunct deviant Al-Arqam movement have yet to repent, claimed former Al-Arqam legal adviser Zabidi Mohamed.

"If they have sincerely repented, they would have closed down the movement's welfare home and sent the children back to their respective families," Sinar Harian quoted Zabidi as saying.

Zabidi said that it was questionable if Global Ikhwan Sdn Bhd director Hatijah Aam and her followers had really repented.

This was because former Al-Arqam members were still running Global Ikhwan.

The Saudi Arabian authorities recently deported Hatijah and her followers for allegedly spreading deviant teachings.

Zabidi said that their pledge of repentance before the local religious authorities was a mere survival gimmick.

"They just want to continue with their lives without any more disturbances and threats," said Zabidi.

Former Al-Arqam follower Zaidi Aziz also confirmed that they had to pretend to repent in order to protect the chain of companies under the Global Al-Ikhwan group.

"If the followers of the deviant group had really repented, why would only Ummu Jah (Hatijah) come forward to confess when they should all do it collectively?

"This sends a clear message that Ummu Jah only wants to control Global Ikhwan's finances.

"This is because many subsidiaries of the company are run by followers who still abide by Al-Arqam practices," he said.

> Sexy dangdut singer Zaskia Gotik said that she does not mind weighing 25kg heavier on her wedding day.

The extra weight, however, was attributed to her wedding gown, reported Sinar Harian.

The wedding gown's designer Ayok Dwipanca said that it would be studded with swarovski crystals.

Zaskia is set to marry businessman Vicky Prasetyo.

However, the exact date of the wedding has yet to be announced by the happy couple.

 

Movie version of Malaysian race riot stirs unease

Posted: 03 Sep 2013 03:52 PM PDT

(Reuters) - At a crucial point in the film "Tanda Putera", ethnic Chinese youths urinate on a pole flying the flag of a Malaysian state, setting off events that push the country into a deadly race riot that still haunts the national consciousness four decades later.

The publicly funded movie, which opened recently in Malaysia after a long delay, is stirring up racial sentiment at a sensitive time over its depiction of the ethnic Chinese minority as the aggressors in the violent events of May 13, 1969.

The "bumiputera" system of preferential treatment for ethnic Malays, who make up two-thirds of the population, was born out of the riots and continues to be the number one complaint among the country's ethnic Chinese.

The film, released as Malaysia marked its 56th year of independence and as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak prepares for a possible leadership battle within his party in October, plays on deep-seated fears at a time when Chinese disloyalty has been blamed for the government's depleted majority in May's election.

The predominantly ethnic Chinese state of Penang has advised cinemas not to screen "Tanda Putera" on the grounds that it crosses a line by using public funds to promote hate.

"Because the film is sponsored by the government, the film is effectively the official version of the riots," Penang's chief minister, Lim Guan Eng, told Reuters.

Creative licence should not be used to spread lies that may cause racial disharmony, he added.

That is a charge Shuhaimi Baba, the film's director, denies.

"Historical facts carry many backstories written by different sources on the same subjects," she told Reuters. "Film makers use creative licence to put them together in a story or else they become documentaries."

Lingering tension

The movie — whose Malay title means "Mark of a Prince" — was held back before the election in May for fear of alienating ethnic Chinese. Their votes went to the opposition anyway, sharply cutting the government's winning margin.

Hardliners in Najib's Umno party equated the disaffection of ethnic Chinese with betrayal and the intemperate mood has simmered. Najib's cabinet has only two ethnic Chinese ministers, both in minor posts.

Official versions of the 1969 riots are scant on detail.

About 200 people are said to have been killed in the clashes in and around the capital, Kuala Lumpur, after opposition parties supported by the ethnic Chinese community made inroads in a general election three days earlier.

Shuhaimi's film builds the picture of the looming disaster in a series of heavy-handed scenes, potraying the Chinese mainly as shadowy figures who bring mayhem. In contrast, the Malays show restraint and dignity even as events spin out of control.

"Tanda Putera" makes much of the role played by Abdul Razak Hussein, the deputy prime minister at the time and the father of the current prime minister, in securing peace in the face of personal tragedy.

Shown as strong, self-effacing and principled, Razak has no discernible fault in the film. He hides his terminal leukaemia, finally succumbing to it in scenes at a London clinic.

The film flays foreign correspondents for biased reporting on the riots and gives a nod to the theory that mainly ethnic Chinese communist elements had a hand in the trouble.

Better known for horror movies, Shuhaimi said the question of too much or too little creative licence did not apply in a feature film like "Tanda Putera".

She said she was "now in the midst of getting the film back on screen in Penang". 

 

Police permit required for assemblies, Appeal Court affirms

Posted: 03 Sep 2013 03:45 PM PDT

(TMI) - Public assemblies require police permits as a regulatory condition, the Court of Appeal affirmed today in a majority ruling when dismissing an appeal by five ex-university students arrested in an unlawful assembly in 2001.

Court of Appeal judges Datuk Seri Mohamad Apandi Ali (pic) and Datuk Linton Albert were in the majority. Apandi also said the Police Act was not unconstitutional.

"The restriction to participate in an assembly is regulatory and not prohibitory," he said at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya today.

Judge Datuk Hamid Sultan Abu Backer who dissented said the requirement to obtain a police permit was unreasonable.

All the five were fined RM3,900 in a magistrate's court in 2005 and they had paid the fine.

Apandi, in his 50-page judgment, said there was no merit to the appeal as the Police Act did not prohibit the right to a peaceful assembly and police were duty bound to maintain security and public order.

Hamid said the primary role of the court was to preserve, protect and defend the constitution and judges were guardians of the supreme law.

He said the constitution did not permit Parliament to arm the executive and a public authority with uncivilised power or discretion which may usurp the spirit and intention of the supreme law.

Hamid said in this case there was a requirement under Section 27 of the Police Act to obtain a licence but in that process the police could not refuse to grant the licence.

"They can only place terms to regulate the assembly and licence has to be issued to all without any form of subjective discrimination failing which it will violate article 8(1) of the Constitution (equality before the law)," he said in his 77-page written grounds.

He said freedom to assemble was a right recognised under the Constitution and did not permit any legislation to compromise on that right, except to regulate.

READ MORE HERE

 

Pengguna internet marah Pak Samad ditahan awal pagi

Posted: 03 Sep 2013 03:39 PM PDT

Diyana Ibrahim, TMI

Penahanan Sasterawan Negara, Datuk A Samad Said pada 12.40 pagi tadi mencetuskan kemarahan pengguna di laman sosial, dan kebanyakannya meluahkan rasa tidak puas hati terhadap penahanan itu.

Antara yang berang ialah Ketua Pembangkang, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim yang menyifatkan tindakan polis itu sebagai biadap kerana mengheret Samad pada tengah malam.

"Tindakan biadab! A Samad Said umur 80 tahun diheret jam 12 malam?" Reaksi Anwar dalam laman Twitternya ketika mengetahui Samad ditahan.

Anwar turut menggesa Menteri Dalam Negeri, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi memohon maaf kepada sasterawan negara itu.

Dalam Twitternya, Anwar berkata, menteri dalam negeri  wajib mohon maaf kepada kepada Samad  kerana pada usianya 80 tahun,  beliau dibawa tiga polis pada jam 12 tengah malam ke ibu pejabat polis.

"Tak dapat soal siasat siang hari? Perikemanusiaan?" katanya dalam Twitter.

Tindakan polis menahan Samad turut dikritik rakan seperjuangannya dalam Bersih, Datuk Ambiga Sreenavasan yang juga Pengerusi Bersama Bersih 2.0.

"Pak Samad, Pengerusi Bersama Bersih 2.0 ditahan dan dibawa ke Balai Polis Dang Wangi. Layanan yang mengejutkan dalam menghormati sasterawan negara," memetik dari laman twitter Ambiga.

Penasihat DAP, Lim Kit Siang yang kini berada di Sibu turut mengutuk tindakan polis.

"Penahanan yang dibuat pada polis merupakan satu kebiadapan ia mesti dikutuk oleh semua rakyat Malaysia," katanya.

Manakala seorang pengguna sosial, Radin Shamsulkamar @radins berkata dalam twitternya : "Kalau Pak A Samad Said berjalur Umno, nescaya PDRM tidak akan bertindak semustahil  ini."

Komen twitter itu turut dihantar kepada Zahid Hamidi dan Ketua Polis negara Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.

Zaim Al Amin @zaimhq : "Sasterawan negara berusia 80 tahun dibawa ke Balai Polis pada waktu malam untuk disiasat."

READ MORE HERE

 

PAS tolak kerajaan perpaduan

Posted: 03 Sep 2013 03:21 PM PDT

(TMI) - Ketua Pemuda PAS, Nasrudin Hassan (gambar) menegaskan, PAS menolak kerajaan perpaduan  antara PAS dan Umno seperti yang diputuskan dalam beberapa mesyuarat parti itu sebelum ini.

Dalam kenyataannya hari ini, Nasrudin berkata, perkara itu ditegaskan oleh Presiden PAS, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang dan ia dipersetujui semua Ahli Jawatankuasa Kerja PAS Pusat.

"PAS sememangnya bertegas dalam hal ini dan ia bermula sejak awal," katanya.

Nasrudin berkata, beliau percaya rakan pimpinan PAS yang lain juga akan mengambil pendirian serupa kerana ia dipertegaskan secara bersama sejak sekian lama.

Katanya, ia dibuat melalui  dua siri Muktamar PAS, satu Seminar Politik Khas dan beberapa siri mesyuarat PAS Pusat dan mesyuarat Lajnah Politik PAS Pusat.

"Masih segar dalam ingatan saya, selepas menerima keputusan PRU ke-12 pada 2008 dan meneliti keperluan semasa pada waktu itu, Presiden PAS melalui ijtihad politiknya melontarkan idea kerajaan perpaduan," katanya.

Beliau berkata, ijtihad itu dilontar lima tahun lebih awal daripada versi kerajaan perpaduan berkait dengan Datuk Seri Anwar yang sedang hangat dibincangkan pada hari ini.

Nasrudin yang juga Ahli Parlimen Temerloh, berkata, sehingga pagi ini masih ramai wartawan dan orang perseorangan menghubunginya bertanya pendiriannya mengenai isu kerajaan perpaduan.

Isu kerajaan perpaduan berkumandang kembali apabila Anwar mengesahkan melalui Asia Sentinel bahawa Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Razak menawarkan kerajaan perpaduan dengan PKR.

Namun sehingga kini Najib belum mengesahkannya tetapi pemimpin Umno menolaknya.

Nasrudin berkata, semua pihak patut mengambil pengajaran daripada apa yang berlaku sebelum ini.

READ MORE HERE

 

‘I fought for my country, not for any race’

Posted: 03 Sep 2013 03:16 PM PDT

A Malaysian hero reminisces on his dangerous life as an anti-communist fighter.

Alfian ZM Tahir, FMT

Death, or the threat of it, is nature's way of telling you to slow down, according to Terry Pratchett.

But how was Yuen Yuet Leng to know? He was an anti-communist fighter long before Pratchett began writing his novels. Despite being shot several times and surviving seven assassination attempts, he never slowed down until he retired from the police force in 1984.

He once even defied his superior's order and trekked into the deepest part of the Sarawak jungle for a powwow with the leader of the North Kalimantan Communist Party (NKCP).

Now 86, Yuen spends most of his time reading and relaxing, only occasionally accepting an invitation to deliver a speech at some event or granting a press interview.

During such an interview with FMT recently, he said he joined the police force precisely to fight communist terrorists. The British recruited him into a squad of police trainees composed of 22 Malays, 19 Chinese and 13 Indians.

"When I was a teenager, I was given the chance to go to China to study, and I went. However, I was shocked to see the political situation there. I did not finish my studies and came back to Malaya.

"I was a teacher in Seremban when I applied to join the police."

A few years after completing his training, Yuen was involved in a battle in Grik and was shot in the thigh, buttocks and his back. The bullet that went into the back is still there.

"After the attack I was rushed to a nearby hospital. There was no doctor there, only a medical assistant. They forgot to take out the bullet in my back. Perhaps they didn't even know it was there. There was no X-ray machine then."

He said he came to know about the bullet only in 1982 during a medical check-up. "The doctors were surprised to see a bullet still in my back after so many years," he said, smiling.

Yuen became a Special Branch officer in 1953 and was awarded the Colonial Police Medal in 1957 for his intelligence work, which he carried out at great personal risk. When he was assigned to Sarawak in 1971, he had already attained the rank of Assistant Police Commissioner.

He returned to peninsular Malaysia in 1975 to take up the post of State Police Chief in Perak. Subsequently, he served in Kuala Lumpur, Pahang and Kelantan.

He was moved back to Sarawak in 1981 to take up the post of State Police Commissioner.

During the interview, Yuen seemed to relish his memory of serving as an intelligence officer. He once headed the Special Branch.

A spy in the camp

"Many people don't realise how important the Special Branch is," he said. "It was because of us that the communists were halted. Not many know how hard it was for us to come up with vital information. Many of my men died during dangerous operations.

"When I was heading the Special Branch, no one knew where we were at any one time. Not even my family knew what I was doing. My men and those from other police units did not know one another. That was how good we were."

READ MORE HERE

 

A decade later, still no keys to houses

Posted: 03 Sep 2013 03:08 PM PDT

Homeowners in Taman Alam Perdana, Ijok, claim they have been deceived by the Selangor Menteri Besar, who took over the housing project in 2011 

Anisah Shukry, FMT

At a glance, Taman Alam Perdana, Ijok, appears to be just another low-cost housing area in the city, constructed to meet the growing demands of those unable to afford typical Klang Valley homes.

Blocks of medium-density flats loom over rows of single-story houses and in the middle is a small playground for parents to let loose their children while they swap neighbourhood gossip.

But give it another glance, and one notices how deserted the roads are, how the playground facilities are unnaturally pristine, how not a squeak emanates from the flats nor the houses.

Much like a ghost town, the majority of Taman Alam Perdana, which boasts 1,116 houses and 2,500 units in 25 blocks of flats, have remained unoccupied since construction began in 2002.

Over a decade later, despite construction being complete, 733 terrace homeowners have allegedly neither received their keys nor a Certificate of Fitness (CF).

"The Selangor Menteri Besar and state government has deceived us," frustrated homeowner Isaac Nathan told FMT in a recent interview.

"Abdul Khalid Ibrahim swooped in like a white knight to take over the terrace houses development project in 2011 from private firm LBCN Development Sdn Bhd, when in fact 98% of the project was already complete.

"Now, he is claiming he spent millions of ringgit to rejuvenate the project. How could he have spent so much on an almost-complete project? And why, two years after the state took over, are we still not given the keys?" he asked.

According to a 2011 letter from state firm Permodalan Selangor Negeri Berhad (PSNB), the state government had seized the land consisting of the terrace houses from LBCN to revive the abandoned project and "protect the interests of the homeowners".

But instead of speeding up the development, homeowners found their problems exacerbated as they were unable to view the ongoing construction, pressed for more payment from PSNB, and found themselves in a legal bind with the bank and the former developer.

They were also confused as to why the state government had not consulted them before appointing PSNB to oversee the project.

Meanwhile, the flats development project was taken over by federal government-owned firm SPNB (Syarikat Perumahan Negara Berhad).

Unlike the terrace homeowners, under SPNB's management, the flat owners received the CF and their keys – coincidentally handed to them by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak days before Election 2013 – but were now awaiting for their water and electricity supply to be reconnected.

A SPNB spokesman had told the media last week the flat units should have electricity supply by Sept 2, while Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) had started to install the water meters on Aug 28.

READ MORE HERE

 

Conservative Forces Now Sniping At @khairykj

Posted: 03 Sep 2013 02:14 PM PDT

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-43QkzLMUMKc/UiarWrCwdAI/AAAAAAAAG10/Of7Vl6W-y2M/s320/articlesConservative_forces_sniping_at_Khairy_1024x576.jpg.transformed-746137.jpg

(KL Chronicle) - Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin (pix) may face an uphill task in defending the Umno Youth chief post in October as conservative forces within the party are seen to be undermining him.

Umno sources said former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's latest statement on the admission of youths into the party was yet another subtle attempt to discredit Khairy.

"Mahathir's statement was directed towards Khairy, who is seen by certain quarters as being too liberal in his views concerning Malay rights," said a source.

Mahathir warned the ruling party against youths who may have absorbed "western liberal ideas from abroad" on issues such as equality, human rights and the Western concept of justice.

"If they [liberal-minded youths] join Umno, there is a big possibility that Umno would no longer be a party that fights for race, religion and country, but will be a Western-style liberal party.

"Therefore, if we are to accept them, they need to be told of the true position of Malays," said Mahathir, who urged youths to instead learn Malay politics, as reported by Utusan Malaysia.

Mahathir added that Umno needs new faces in its leadership to help convince people that the party has changed and shed its image that it is corrupt.

The former Umno president's statement also came in the wake of an apparent grassroots support for first-term Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Idris Haron to throw his hat into the ring and challenge Khairy for the wing's top post.

When contacted, Umno Youth exco member Lokman Noor Adam said he partly agrees with Mahathir's views that there is a certain segment of youths, particularly those educated abroad, who adopts an "extremely open and liberal" attitude.

"Based on my experience in Umno Youth, there are students abroad who still possess a very strong Malay identity," he said.

Ariff Yasir Zulkafli, a delegate representing the Umno Overseas Club from Tokyo, had caused a stir during the party's annual general assembly last year when he broke into tears singing a song – Anak Kecil Main Api – which tells the tale of Malays allegedly sidelined on their own land due to internal strife.

While Khairy's efforts to project a more inclusive stance is commendable, Lokman said the party as a whole must strive to consolidate its support base among the Malay community.

"We must try and use various strategies to win a war," said Lokman in reference to outcome of the 13th general election which saw Malay votes split between Umno and opposition Pakatan Rakyat.

Lokman, who is in the running to contest for the Umno Youth deputy chief position, said Umno should not "privatise" its responsibility as spokesperson for the Malays to right-wing NGOs.

He also claimed that DAP's meteoric rise within Pakatan was due to its ability to convince the Chinese community that it is the only party which can "champion their rights" – contrary to its multi-racial stand.

"There is now a leakage in [support for] Umno because there are Malays who have turned away and supported the opposition," said Lokman, adding that Umno should focus on consolidating support from the Malays because there is no way it can be more "liberal" than PKR.

"Even if Umno is to veer towards the middle ground, the liberals will still support the more liberal party [PKR]," he claimed.

Asked whether he supports the rising right-wing voices within Umno, Lokman, however, stressed that upholding the rights of the Malay community is not a licence to oppress or discriminate against others.

Mahathir's apparent dismissal of universal values such as "equality, human rights and the Western concept of justice" within Umno may be seen as slamming the door shut on moderate voices to rise through its ranks.

Umno, as captain of the ruling Barisan Nasional, has powers to steer the country towards the middle ground, or push it to the far right.

It is hoped that this reality will hit home among candidates vying for the various positions; instead of just looking to secure their own political future.

Kredit: www.malaysia-today.net

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