Jumaat, 6 September 2013

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The 'Allah' case at a glance: Part 2

Posted: 06 Sep 2013 11:52 AM PDT


Indeed, the problem will continue to persist. But the government knows and has the answer. It only needs the political will and goodwill to put matters to rest. All 14 component parties of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition except one have distanced themselves from this highly divisive and irregular policy.

Bob Teoh, mysinchew.com

Allah is just a word in the Semitic languages to refer to the English word God. Languages like Malay borrow this loan word from Arabic. Thus, whether it is in the Malay language Qur'an or the Malay language Bible, or Alkitab as it is known, the word for God is Allah.

But it is more than just a word. The government and the religious establishment are perceived by non-Muslims, especially Christians, as taking all available means to stop them from using this word. This makes Malaysia the only Muslim-majority country to make it an offence for non-Muslims to use the Allah word as well as a slew of other common Arabic words like doa (pray), iman (faith), and nabi (prophet).

'Allah' is a shared word among People of the Book, a centuries-old common heritage. Only in Malaysia do we refuse to understand this.

But, as the Kuala Lumpur High Court judgement on The Herald Case pointed out, the battle over the Allah word is not about Islam as the religion of the Federation or the Sultans' authority over it but whether the government can lawfully prohibit non-Muslims from using the Allah word.

Writing on his blog following the Herald judgement and subsequent fire-bombing of churches, Dr Mahathir Mohamad said:

"This controversy actually began when I was Prime Minister. The Cabinet at the time held the opinion that its use in the Bible is a sensitive matter. Sensitive matters such as this cannot be resolved by simply referring to the law."

According to the Herald judgement, "A mere statement by the Home Minister that the exercise of power was necessary on the ground of national security without adequate supporting evidence is not sufficient in law."

Mahathir also sees a hidden Christian agenda for wanting to use the Allah word.

"Perhaps the word 'Allah' is to equate Christianity with Islam so it is the worship of the same God. With this, acceptance of Christianity by Muslims can be so much easier. This translation is incorrect. In fact, the word 'Tuhan' should be used for God."

Like Mahathir, others have also suggested that Christians should use Tuhan to refer to God. However, this is flawed advice. The Bible often refers to God, especially in the Old Testament as the LORD God. In other words, this would have to be translated as Tuhan Tuhan. Not only will this sound silly, it is also bad grammar.

In Malay, a repetition of a noun renders in from a singular to a plural. In other words, Christians worship many gods; making it into a polytheistic religion; God forbid, nothing can be further from the truth. Let there be no confusion over this. The Bible is explicitly clear on the one-ness of God. This is clear in the Old testament book of Deuteronomy 6:4 and in the New Testament Gospel of Mark 12:29.

The fear of conversion out of Islam, especially to Christianity, is understandable. But the hysteria whipped up by the religious establishment and the ultra right wing is wholly unsubstantiated. The fact remains that the opposite appears to be true.

In Sabah alone there were 117,579 conversions to Islam from 1970 to 2009, according to official statistics.

Yet lies are repeatedly spread about massive conversions of Muslims to Christianity. Take for instance, the Mufti of Perak. His allegations have even riled some Muslims to the extent that the Sisters in Islam was prompted to issue a press statement on 6 November 2006 to refute his allegations.

It would not be right to put all the blame on Dr Mahathir. He was not the only Prime Minister to ban an indigenous language Bible. His successor, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, banned the Bup Kudus, the Iban Bible, while in his capacity as acting Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister. According to a research paper by Tsunashima-Miyake, Ikuko in early 2003, the ban was imposed on the Iban Bible by the Ministry of Home Affairs but was withdrawn within two months.

Indeed, the problem will continue to persist. But the government knows and has the answer. It only needs the political will and goodwill to put matters to rest. All 14 component parties of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition except one have distanced themselves from this highly divisive and irregular policy.

There is no reason for one party to hold the whole nation to ransom any longer. Thirty three years is long enough for people of other faiths to carry this cross. The present generation of believers don't even know the genesis of this plague but they inherit the pain all the same. It's time to bury past mistakes. It's time to bring forth reconciliation. Therein lies the redemption of our nation.

This is an extract from 'Allah' – more than a word (2010 Zomiky Media) used with permission.

'Disappointed' Musa leaves MyWatch

Posted: 06 Sep 2013 11:41 AM PDT


(The Star) - PETALING JAYA: Former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan, who has left as patron of crime watchdog group MyWatch, has told his former colleagues that he was disappointed over the misuse of the NGO by "certain people".

MyWatch adviser S. Gobi Krishnan said Musa left after learning that some people were allegedly using MyWatch for their personal gain.

"He has since formed a new non-governmental organisation named Malaysia Community Crime Care Association.

"I spoke to him before he left and he said he was not happy with the misuse of MyWatch," Gobi Krishnan said yesterday.

"I feel it can be salvaged and I intend to correct the wrongs done by one or two people. It is a good organisation except for a few bad hats," he said.

The street shooting of MyWatch chairman R. Sri Sanjeevan on July 27 was an execution-style attempt that triggered much fear among ordinary people and became a national issue.

Sanjeevan, 29, was hit at a traffic light junction in Bahau, Negri Sembilan, and is currently recuperating at the Serdang Hospital.

Doctors successfully extracted the bullet after 18 days. He had earlier developed a critical blood clot in his heart and lungs.

Police have yet to interview him.

Commenting on his earlier statement that Sanjeevan's shooting was related to drug gangs, Gobi Krishnan said he received the "credible information" recently.

"It ruled out police involvement in the shooting, as claimed earlier by certain parties.

"My duty is to alert the public ... I am just telling things as they are," he said.

Musa was not available for comment despite attempts to reach him.

Meanwhile, Federal CID director Comm Datuk Hadi Ho Abdullah said the police would investigate Gobi Krishnan's recent revelations.

"We will explore all angles but the investigation is still ongoing. It is a long process but we are not at liberty to disclose any information pertaining to the investigation," he said.

Malaysia names politician as its new envoy to RI

Posted: 06 Sep 2013 11:38 AM PDT


(Jakarta Post) - "Posting in Jakarta for a Malaysian diplomat is like parachuting him or her into big storm"

In an odd turn of events, Malaysia named a seasoned politician as its new ambassador to Indonesia, a posting much to the chagrin of career diplomats.

Former Pakatan Rakyat (PKR) politician Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohamed Hashim, who won a parliamentary seat in Bayan Baru in 2008 but later quit the party to become an independent MP, was named Malaysia's top envoy to its giant neighboring country.

"We have decided to appoint him and are now in the process of informing the Indonesian government," Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman told Star Online and other media at the Foreign Ministry's Hari Raya (Idul Fitri) open house in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

Generally, Indonesia has appointed former national police chiefs or military generals — the present Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia Herman Priyatno is a former Indonesian Air Force chief — rather than career diplomats as its envoys to Malaysia.

Given the large Indonesian population in Malaysia, the posting comes with many issues such as drug smuggling, border disputes, illegal logging and non-documented immigrants.

Zahrain used to be a close aide of Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. Malaysian government has frowned upon Anwar's regular visits to Indonesia, the second biggest democracy in Asia.

Many diplomats and analysts see this appointment as a political move: but it is a double edged sword. On the one side Najib wants to reward Zahrain for his defection from the opposition to the ruling UMNO party and for his help to achieve the 2013 election victory. But by appointing Zahrain, Najib is sending a signal to Anwar's Indonesian friends that a close aide like Zahrain abandoned Anwar.

All these years, Malaysia's career diplomats struggled to manage relations between the two countries. Activists, politicians and the media in both countries frequently exchange barbs on several issues. Also the Malaysian ambassador must face angry protests in Jakarta frequently.

"Posting in Jakarta for a Malaysian diplomat is like parachuting him or her into big storm," one top Malaysian diplomat told The Jakarta Post after end of his tenure.

More than 2.5 million Indonesians live and work in Malaysia, while Malaysia is one of the biggest investors in Indonesia.

Bilateral trade between the two countries in 2012 surged to US$23.52 billion, a slight increase from $21.40 billion in 2011. In the first six months of this year, two-way trade reached $11.65 billion. 

Transparency International – Malaysia terminates sec-gen Josie Fernandez’s membership

Posted: 06 Sep 2013 11:37 AM PDT


(NST) - KUALA LUMPUR: Transparency International – Malaysia (TI-M) has terminated secretary-general Josie Fernandez's membership following its 7th Executive Committee meeting on Monday.

Its president, Datuk Akhbar Satar, said the exco deliberated at length on her show-cause letter reply, which was issued on Aug 16.

"With careful consultation with its secretariat in Berlin (TI-S Berlin), the exco unanimously agreed that it would be in the best interests of the Malaysian Society for Transparency and Integrity to terminate Fernandez's membership with immediate effect in view of her actions and conduct, which the exco deems to be against the interests of the society," he said in a statement earlier.

He said the termination was decided based on Article VIII: Suspension and Termination of Membership Clauses (3) and (4).

It is learnt that following the exco meeting on May 24, which saw Akhbar elected as the president, Fernandez had been unhappy, as she had also contested the post.

Meanwhile, the secretary-general position was replaced by TI-M's new secretary-general, Loi Kheng Min, in the same election.

Fernandez claimed that there were discrepancies in the manner which Loi had been registered as the TI-M secretary-general.

Disagreeing with the new appointment, Fernandez then alleged that RoS' new electronic system was abused to accommodate TI-M's new secretary-general, who was registered at the Putrajaya RoS, and herself at the Selangor RoS office.

In her reply to the Aug 16 show-cause letter, Fernandez said she was the rightful secretary-general by virtue of the RoS declaration as of July 25.

Akhtar said hereafter, Fernandez was prohibited from officially representing the society.

"She is also strongly advised to cease using an email account she created herself ("Transparency International (sec.gen.tim@gmail.com)") or referring herself as the sec-gen of TI-M," he added.

Why are Chinese tourists so rude? A few insights

Posted: 06 Sep 2013 11:35 AM PDT


(South China Morning Post) - Living in China, where the rule-of-law doesn't exist, means everyone has to look out for their own interest. It also means people have little or no respect for laws.

This is bound to happen when ordinary folk are forced to watch their laws being violated every day by their leaders, Chen said, citing the Chinese idiom, shang xing xia xiao, meaning "people in lower class follow what their leaders in the upper class do". 

They are seen as pushy, loud, impolite, unruly, and they are everywhere.

And although destination countries welcome the tourism dollars the Chinese spend, they loathe the chaos and hassle some mainland tourists bring upon their cities and other tourists.

"Why can't they just behave?" people wonder, some aloud.

I have been asking myself the same question in the past months after reporting on the uncivilised, sometimes galling behaviour of some compatriots.

It seems that every time a "rude Chinese tourist" story is published on SCMP.com, it goes straight into the site's top 10 most read articles - one such article even managed to crawl back to the top months after it was posted. So I decided to give the question some serious thought.

I read up on the topic, talked to tourism experts and travel agents and chatted with some of these tourists who are now at the centre of public anger.

It soon dawned on me that the real question to ask is: "Why are the Chinese rude?"

Yong Chen, tourism researcher and post-doctoral fellow at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said most "bad" tourists don't intend to be "bad" or "tourists", they are just being themselves - they are being Chinese.

Education makes a difference

Not every Chinese tourist is a rude one, and educated people are usually better behaved than those who have had a lower standard of education, said Chen.

This could be why middle-aged or older tourists who have been deprived of or received little education during China's politically tumultuous times tend to act more unruly. Many of them do not speak English, and some are not fluent Putonghua speakers. Their knowledge of the destination country and its culture is often at best outdated or non-existent.

This might explain the behaviour of a "rogue" mainland couple who recently visited Hong Kong with a group. They called the police and demanded HK$3,000 yuan in compensation after being made to wait two hours for their coach. The travel agency later said the coach had broken down and accused them of "blackmailing".

Disregard for customs and rules

Jenny Wang, a Beijing-based Maldives travel agent, said uneducated tourists usually turn a blind eye to local rules and customs.

A Chinese man who was recently vacationing at a Maldives resort flipped out after discovering that the restaurant where he wanted to eat was fully booked, Wang said. He yelled threats and slurs at Chinese staff until one member was in tears.

"You cannot reason with these kinds of people," Wang said. "They think they can do anything with their money."

Read more at: http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1251239/why-are-chinese-tourists-so-rude 

Religious leaders in Asean

Posted: 06 Sep 2013 11:29 AM PDT


We once showed the world that Malaysia was a model modern Muslim country. Why can't we do it still?

Zaid Ibrahim, TMI  

In Myanmar in the past year alone, more than 450 Muslims have died and 250,000 have been displaced, losing their homes because of religious-inspired violence. But Myanmar is not alone.

In the eastern part of Java, members of the Ahmadiyya community – a sect that the majority of Muslims do not regard as true believers – were hunted and their homes burnt down. They had to confess to their errant ways and renounce their "false beliefs" if they were to be allowed to return to their homes unharmed.

Indonesian Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali did not find it necessary to defend the right to religious freedom or to condemn the atrocities committed by Muslims against the Ahmaddiya.

Now, the notion that Indonesia is a modern Muslim country is beginning to be questioned by many observers. It is possible that this haven of religious tolerance will become like many other Muslim countries where sectarian violence and internal strife are commonplace.

In Thailand, the war between Muslim separatists and the mainly Buddhist Thais never seems to end, with brutal killings from both sides that invariably cause the loss of innocent lives sparing neither women nor children.

The political issues involved in southern Thailand are much more complex than the problems in Myanmar and Indonesia, but here too there is a lethal mix of politics, race and religion. Indeed, it seems that these three factors play a major role in the Asean region today.

In Malaysia, we fare no better. Although our religious authorities have lately limited their activities to monitoring and arresting Shi'ites and banning concerts and books, there have been enough signs of a growing intolerance that will endanger the wider public space with grave consequences.

The dispute over the use of the word "Allah" shows the lack of willingness on the part of many of Malay-Muslim leaders to lead by example and to exercise restraint, and these leaders appear to have been eager to inflame the situation for political gain.

The demolition of a surau because it was used (just once) as a place for meditation by some Buddhists is an example of high-handed action perpetrated by those in authority to show that they are prepared to be "drastic and uncompromising" when religious matters are involved – but the matter that led to the dispute was actually a small one that could have been easily resolved without drama and public recrimination.

All countries in Asean are pursuing economic growth and we all are in a race to be the richest and fastest-growing economy. And yet, we have paid little or no attention to the violence that will erupt and destroy us soon if we keep doing nothing.

If religious conflicts are not attended to firmly and quickly, and if governments do not make sure that those in charge of security, such as the Police and the Army, enforce the law impartially, then we will see turmoil on a scale unknown to us.

Elements in the Government of Myanmar seem to be encouraging the religious bigotry of the monk Ashin Wirathu, whose vigilantes are roaming the provinces provoking and looking for Muslims as their next victims.

In a BBC interview, Wirathu said that Muslims were dangerous and like attack dogs, and that Myanmarese women were not safe when these Muslims are around. When a Government approves of such hate speech from a community leader, the country will break down sooner or later.

In Malaysia, the Prime Minister must not let his Ministers and Muslim leaders behave like Wirathu. Leaders must not condemn other religious practices and show utter disregard for the rights of others to believe and practise their faiths.

Speech and action motivated by hate must be dealt with promptly by the Police, who must not be seen to be biased. As a country that is quickly developing, Malaysia must set good examples for other Asean countries. Global indices relating to tolerance and community harmony are just as important as those dealing with competitiveness, economic growth and good governance.


Is helping fellow Malaysians racist, Kit Siang’s aide asks Noh Omar

Posted: 06 Sep 2013 11:23 AM PDT


(TMI) - "Is it too much to ask for the same treatment for my fellow Malaysian friends? Is asking for fairness or sharing of wealth with my fellow Malaysians a 'racist' statement?"

Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud, one of DAP's young and upcoming leaders, has challenged former Cabinet minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar to point out how helping Malaysians get a tertiary education could make her racist.

The Umno Selangor state liaison chief and other politicians had criticised the political secretary to DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang after she proposed that an institution like Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) be set up for non-Malays.

"First of all, I did not say that we should open UiTM to the non-Bumis. In the interview I mentioned that we should have something like UiTM for the non-Bumis," she told The Malaysian Insider late last night in Kuala Lumpur.

In an earlier interview with the Malaysiakini news portal, Dyana said a higher learning education institution like UiTM should be set up for non-Malays. She said she felt sorry for her non-Malay friends who were denied the right to pursue their education at higher learning institutions.

"I would like to challenge Datuk Noh Omar to explain to me how wanting to help needy Malaysians, regardless of race is racist?" she said, adding she failed to understand how having a multicultural student community will cause the country to deteriorate.

Dyana pointed out that while UiTM had a noble objective, which is to help needy students, its purpose had changed over the years.

"With minimum student fee, the students are able to enjoy quality education, good facilities and graduate with recognised university qualifications. It was a heaven-sent help for my middle-class family. All four of my siblings were accepted into UiTM.

"However, UiTM does not just accept needy students anymore, they are opening their doors to not just applicants from middle-income or low-income families.

"I remember having a junior that was a daughter of a then minister, driving around in a Peugeot in campus," she said.

She argued that if UiTM was able to provide the same privilege - a good degree with a minimum fee - to students from high-income families, needy non-Malay citizens should also be given the same treatment.

Read more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/is-helping-fellow-malaysians-racist-kit-siangs-aide-asks-noh-omar 

Bersih’s tribunal gets EC tip-offs on likely electoral fraud

Posted: 06 Sep 2013 11:22 AM PDT


(TMI) - From the "thousands of complaints" the Bersih People's Tribunal has received on electoral fraud so far, the surprise has been several "leads" provided by Election Commission officials.

Why this is surprising is because the EC is also being investigated by the tribunal for its conduct in the 13th General Election, said the tribunal's legal team chief, Professor Gurdial Singh (pic, 3rd from left).

The "leads" provided by the EC officers have been investigated by lawyers and the findings will be presented when the tribunal sits from September 18 to 22.

Gurdial said the tribunal is also tasked with finding out whether the EC had acted fairly and independently in carrying out their tasks in the polls on May 5.

Gurdial, who is also Professor of Law at the Law Faculty of the University of Malaya and Director of the Centre of Excellence for Biodiversity Law, said the leads were just a few from "several thousand complaints" on election malpractices the tribunal had received since June.

The tribunal was mooted in response to the public outcry and concerns of electoral fraud and irregularities in Malaysia's 13th general election.

Bersih's Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan had said that the tribunal may not have any legal standing but will serve as a "moral force" to publicly expose electoral fraud.

"These complaints have come from various sources - observers from political parties, the public and also election petitions from both sides. They have identified themselves by names and contact," Gurdial told The Malaysian Insider today.

A team of 30 lawyers will collate all the information and investigate then follow-up on the complaints.

Read more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/bersihs-tribunal-gets-ec-tip-offs-on-likely-electoral-fraud 

No time for extra BM lessons

Posted: 06 Sep 2013 11:19 AM PDT


(FMT) - The two schooling sessions in Chinese vernacular schools will not accommodate the extra hours for Bahasa Malaysia.

The Education Ministry's proposal to tack on extra hours of Bahasa Malaysia classes for vernacular schools has received mixed reaction from independent educational groups.

Dong Zong president Dr Yap Sin Tian asked how prolonging school hours would be possible, given that most Chinese schools have two schooling sessions.

"Right now, Chinese schools are already running on the maximum amount of hours possible. When a school session ends at 1pm, another session starts immediately.

"So if the government wants to propose this, it is impossible to implement now. You cannot allocate more time," Yap told FMT.

He said the government should look into constructing more Chinese schools before implementing such a proposal.

Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had acknowledged the issue of two schooling sessions this morning, and said this was why the government would study the proposal thoroughly before implementation.

"We will implement it through several phases. It won't be at once. We will find the way to accommodate students and teachers, as well as parents," he said, when unveiling the National Education Blueprint 2013-2015 this morning.

Meanwhile, Tamil Foundation president S Pasupathy welcomed the proposal, saying that the NGO believed improving Bahasa Malaysia among vernacular school students was a noble cause.

"If the government wants to add school hours, we are perfectly okay with that. Just don't add Bahasa Malaysia classes at the expense of mother tongue classes," he told FMT.

He said the schools' greatest fear was that mother tongue classes were shortened to accommodate the Bahasa Malaysia classes, as was the case when the now-abandoned English for Science and Maths policy was introduced.

Read more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/09/06/no-time-for-extra-bm-lessons/ 

Is it luck or brains?

Posted: 05 Sep 2013 05:56 PM PDT

Even the British did not know that one day Malaya would become an important asset to Britain when they decided to colonise the country more than 200 years ago. The prosperity that the country experienced was by sheer accident and luck and not due to clever planning. However, on hindsight, it appears like the British were very clever whereas they were not really that clever.


Raja Petra Kamarudin


Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

1. The Government has withdrawn subsidy for petrol by 20¢ or roughly by 10% of the pump price. Businesses are already talking about raising the prices of goods they sell. They say that they have to pass on the price increase to their customers.

2. How does the price increase affect business? That depends on how much oil including transport cost enters into their business or products.

3. Assuming oil makes up 10% of the input into their products or services. This will mean 10% of 10% -- that is 1%. It is a percentage in terms of increase in cost, which most businesses can easily absorb. There need not be any increase in prices of their products or services.

4. Of course some products or services may have 50% or more of fuel needed. For example transport business. Even here the fuel needed is not 100%. There are other costs to bear. The increase in cost should therefore not be 50%. It should not be even 10%. It should be only 5% or only slightly more.

5. Malaysians must accept prices to increase over time. It is not possible for prices to remain fixed over long periods of time. Generally incomes have also been increasing. Surely part of the income increase must go towards paying for the increase in cost of living.

6. Government I think should monitor the effect of fuel price increase on major industries. This is essential to prevent runaway inflation due to profiteering.

7. I think it is imperative that subsidies be reduced. But it should be done slowly so as to allow people to adjust.

8. It is difficult to regulate subsidies so that only certain deserving people or industries enjoy it. We know of people who sell subsidised petrol to other countries even. Still the idea of regulating subsidies should be considered.

9. The Government's excuse for reducing subsidies on petrol is in order to reduce deficits. But this alone cannot help. Government need to be more prudent with regard to its expenditures. They should be properly budgeted for. Giving money for people in order to help them financially is good. But the Government needs to be more selective. I notice some of the BR1M receivers spot new cars and decent houses. If the Government wants to give money it should be to the really poor. It is not good to make the people too dependent on the Government. It should be noted that most socialist and communist countries have failed simply because revenues do not increase when people are not productive. Paradoxically it is at the time when people are not productive and revenues are low that Government needs to dole out more BR1M and subsidies.

10. I am no expert in this matter but I do hope that some Government people might read this.


One thing I have always said, and which I will repeat, is that Malaysia is over-regulated.

We regulate what people are allowed to think. We regulate what people are allowed to believe. We regulate how people are allowed to dress. We regulate what people are allowed to do. We regulate when people are not allowed to eat and drink. We regulate what books people are allowed to read and movies people are allowed to see. We regulate what flag people can fly and now even want to regulate when it is compulsory to fly the flag.

Hmm… the list is starting to get very long. Maybe I should just list down what people are allowed rather than what people are not allowed. That would be a much shorter list. So what is it that people are allowed?

As Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said (which he 'borrowed' from Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew), Malaysia practices 'guided democracy'. Hence the government has to regulate what people can and cannot do. And there are more things people cannot do than what they can do.

The other thing that is very regulated is business. Monopolies, quotas, permits, price controls, etc., are imposed in Malaysia (which means the need for subsidies as well). And the government thinks that this will make life better for Malaysians. Actually, it may be better that the government allow a free-for-all. Let competition reign. Let it be the survival of the fittest. Every one should be allowed to set up a business and compete for their market share. In this way the consumer may even get a better deal.

Once upon a time Malaya's economy was resource-based. It was just luck that Malaya had a lot of tin, and due to the Industrial Revolution in Europe they needed a lot of tin.

The Industrial Revolution saw mass migration of the rural population to the towns and cities -- who looked for work in the factories that were mushrooming all over Europe. In the past, 80% of the population was rural and people grew their own food. So they were mostly farmers. But with the urbanisation of the rural population, food now needed to be 'imported' to be able to feed this exploding urban population. Hence tin for food canning purposes became crucial and this benefited Malaya.

Later, however, other forms of packing were introduced and which reduced the dependence on tin. Furthermore, with the opening of roads and railways, fresh food could be transported over large distances and across state boundaries and this too meant that food no longer needed to be canned or preserved.

Hence development and technology meant that Malaya's domination of the tin industry declined and the final collapse was triggered by the Maminco tin fiasco of almost 30 years ago. The tin industry never recovered thereafter.

The next money earner for Malaya was rubber. This, too, was sheer luck and due to circumstances rather than clever planning.

At that time the British were growing cocoa in Ceylon. Then they experienced a crop blight, which permanently contaminated the soil, and this triggered a collapse of the Ceylonese cocoa industry.

The British planters were forced to look for a new place to plant cocoa and because Malaya's climate was similar to Ceylon they decided to shift their plantations to Malaya. Large cocoa plantations were opened up in British Malaya.

Later, Brazil overproduced cocoa and this resulted in a collapse of the cocoa prices so it was no longer viable to plant cocoa since the production price was higher than the selling price.  

Brazil also planted rubber but on an ad hoc and disorganised manner. The British then smuggled some rubber seeds out of Brazil and after experimenting in Kew Gardens in London they found a better way to plant rubber trees. They then introduced rubber plantations to Malaya to replace cocoa.

Soon rubber became the second money earner for Malaya and with the exploding car industry the demand for rubber escalated. Now, of course, the use of synthetic materials has overtaken rubber mainly because synthetic materials are better.

I would not say that Malaya's economy was cleverly planned. It is just luck that certain things happened in other parts of the world that benefited Malaya (the Korean War being one more example). If there was no Industrial Revolution or Ceylon did not experience a crop blight or Brazil did not overgrow cocoa or the British had never colonised Malaya (and Malaya had remained under the Dutch) and so on, Malaya would have never become important to the British because then Malaya would not have contributed to 30% of the British economy.

What then would have happened to Malaya if not for all these lucky breaks? This is the famous 'what if' question, which no one can really reply. But I suppose Malaya would not have seen the 1950s boom that it saw and maybe the Communist Party of Malaya would have succeeded in its struggle and today Malaysia would be just another tin pot Communist regime because the British would not have bothered with what happens to the country since the country is not important to British economic interests.

When Dr Mahathir took over as Prime Minister in 1981, he realised that the days of Malaysia's resource-based economy were gone. Malaysia could no longer depend on tin, rubber, palm oil, etc., to pay the cost to develop and run the country. It needed to become an industrialised nation like Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Hence the introduction of HICOM as his Heavy Industries Policy soon after Dr Mahathir took over as the Trade and Industry Minister in 1978 and the Look East Policy after he became Prime Minister.

Dr Mahathir had foresight. But whether his methods were correct is another matter and which is open for debate. He knew that thus far Malaysia had been lucky and had prospered mainly due to circumstances beyond its control. To move forward Malaysia had to reduce its dependence on resources and build up its heavy industries.

And Dr Mahathir pursued this agenda with a vengeance and sometimes with drastic results.

Maybe Dr Mahathir believed in 'collateral damage'. Maybe Dr Mahathir believed that to fry the egg you must first break the shell. Nevertheless, he did cause much damage and break many shells in propagating what he felt was the best way forward for Malaysia in its transformation from a resource-based economy to an industrial-based economy.

Malaysia went into territories where even angels feared to tread. Shipping and ship building. Automobiles. Railways. Highways. Even tourism. And the toll to win the war to industrialise was very high indeed.

Today, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has inherited much of these headaches. How Najib is going to take Malaysia forward is something only he knows. Or maybe he does not know how. Only God knows then.

Should Dr Mahathir have done what he did (or done it the way he did it)?

Even the British did not know that one day Malaya would become an important asset to Britain when they decided to colonise the country more than 200 years ago. The prosperity that the country experienced was by sheer accident and luck and not due to clever planning. However, on hindsight, it appears like the British were very clever whereas they were not really that clever.

We may need to wait another generation to analyse what Malaysia want through over those 50 odd years from the mid-1970s to, say, 2020. Then we will know whether Dr Mahathir was actually a genius or whether he bungled big time.

As they say, geniuses are never appreciated in their lifetime. Even then people will be very divided as to whether that person was or was not brilliant. People have mixed feelings over Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher as well. Some say they were idiots and others say they were brilliant. I suppose it will depend on which aspect of their career you are measuring them.

One thing we have to agree is that the direction has already been charted. So we cannot turn back the clock or change direction without too much trauma and damage. We need to make the best of whatever situation we have found ourselves in and see how to move forward. And if we can focus on that rather than on unproductive issues that are keeping the country in a rut then there may yet be light at the end of the tunnel.


As ‘Allah’ appeal nears, JAKIM calls for ‘holy struggle’ among Muslims

Posted: 05 Sep 2013 04:44 PM PDT


(MMO) - Just days before the "Allah" row returns to court, Islamic authorities today slammed their opponents for deigning to challenge for the use of the term, and called upon Muslims to unite in a "holy struggle" against enemies of the faith.

In today's Friday sermon read out at mosques nationwide, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) also laid claim to a list of words asides from "Allah" that it purports to be exclusive to Muslims and prohibited to non-Muslims.

"It is only natural in life, something which is renowned and staunch will always suffer from threats and attempts to shake its superiority," said the sermon uploaded online.

"Such as the position of Islam and its adherents today, threatened from every corner whether in social, jurisprudence or faith, including the use of the word Allah."

Last month, the local Catholic Church failed to strike out Putrajaya's appeal against the 2009 landmark High Court ruling that upheld Christians' right to refer to God as "Allah".

The appeal will be heard on Tuesday next week.

JAKIM stressed today that the ultimate goal of the group, which it failed to name, is to confuse Muslims and put every religion on equal terms, which will then lead to a "sea of apostasy".

"The words Allah, solat (prayer), tauhid (oneness of God), Rasul (messenger), Kaabah, Haji (holy pilgrimage) are the rights of Muslims which cannot be invaded by any quarters as it will affect the thoughts and belief of Muslims," it added.

Non-Muslims are barred from using up to 35 other Arabic terms, besides "Allah", in every state except for Penang, Sabah, Sarawak, and the Federal Territory.

Malacca has reportedly banned the most number of Arabic words and phrases compared to the other states.

In Selangor, the Non-Islamic Religion Enactment 1988 (Control of Propagations Among Muslims) listed 25 words that cannot be uttered by non-Muslims either orally or in writing, including "Allah", "firman Allah" (God's decree), "solat" (daily prayers), "Rasul", "mubaligh" (missionary), "mufti" (cleric), "iman" (faith), "Kaabah", "Qiblat" (the direction in which Muslims pray), and "Haji".

Non-Muslims are also banned in Selangor from using 10 other phrases such as "subhan-Allah" (Glory be to God), "insha-Allah" (God-willing), "astaghfirullah" (forgive me God), "masha-Allah" (God has willed it) and "Allahu Akbar" (God is great).

Non-Muslims found guilty of using the words may be fined up to RM3,000 or jailed for up to two years, or both.

 Read here at : http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/as-allah-appeal-nears-jakim-calls-for-holy-struggle-among-muslims 

Justice without equality

Posted: 05 Sep 2013 04:33 PM PDT


If you disapprove of any injustice, do not keep quiet. Your silence encourages evil people like Bekir and Taib to continue plundering. When you are reluctant to criticise the inept syariah courts, the moral police and religious institutions, they neglect their responsibilities. 

Mariam Mokhtar, FMT 

Although the circumstances are different, both Shahnaz, the ex-daughter-in-law of Sarawak's Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, and the majority of Sarawakians have two things in common – the link with Taib and the fact that, for decades, all have suffered abuse in silence but are now fighting for justice.

Shahnaz A Majid, the former wife of Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, used to be part of the elite circle swarming around Taib. With private jets, yachts, unlimited cash reserves and homes around the globe, Taib and his scion want for very little.

Most companies treat the people as their main resource, but Taib thinks differently. His main asset is the country of Sarawak. He treats it like his personal fiefdom, to do as he pleases. The people are only useful in that they are a source of cheap labour and votes. In certain areas, the people are a hindrance as they make valiant but futile attempts to slow Taib's rape of the interior.

Taib has buried the last of the ancestral heartlands under several man-made lakes. Like a man possessed, he converts virgin forest, with their diversity of flora and fauna, into a mono-culture, with oil palm stretching into the horizon.

He has stripped away the country's riches just as he has robbed the indigenous Sarawakians of their dignity and self-respect.

The treatment meted out to Shahnaz is no different. Revealing details about the breakdown in her marriage was like reliving her torment twice – once in the past and again in court. It is humiliating for her to describe the physical and mental abuse, and the display of Bekir's infidelity, in public.

Shahnaz filed for divorce at the Kuala Lumpur Syariah High Court in February 2011. The reasons she gave were irreconcilable differences and the denial of sexual intimacy (nafkah batin) for 12 years. Apart from RM100 million in compensation, she has also sought RM300 million of the marital assets, accumulated in their 19 years of marriage.

Malaysians were given a glimpse into Bekir's worth. In court, it was alleged that he was a director of 150 companies and had stakes in 51 companies. The equity in 21 of these companies amounted to RM1 billion.

Bekir's salary, in the year 2000, was RM2 million. Today, he is probably earning more. His allowances for car, travel, entertainment, flights and hotel accommodation, were borne by the various companies.

The list of assets for Bekir runs like the latest government slogan – 'endless possibilities', his bank deposits are around US$100million. An EPF witness said that Bekir had about RM1.4 million saved in the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), more than 400,000 units in the Amanah Saham Nasional (ASN) and he had RM6 million in his current account at CIMB and over RM3 million in a fixed deposit.

System fails women and children

In an earlier testimony, Shahnaz, said that Bekir had around RM700 million deposited in banks in Luxembourg, Switzerland, Jersey and Hong Kong. She listed seven luxury cars, thousands of hectares of land in Sarawak, land in Bukit Tunku in Kuala Lumpur and shares in 15 companies including Cahaya Mata Sarawak and Sarawak Cable Bhd, to be declared as joint property.

In London, he owned a RM60 million terrace house and an Aston Martin. She said she wanted a trust fund of RM40 million so her son could continue his education.

Anyone going through the list will be disgusted at Bekir's hoard, most of which is alleged to have been at the expense of the ordinary Sarawakian. One political pundit said, "Like father, like son. Both the financial abuse and the domestic violence."

Sarawakians of modest means must save and scrimp to provide their children with a decent education. The most deprived, like the Penans, have few schools at their disposal. Where transport links to schools in rural areas are poor, girls, who hitch rides on timber lorries, risk being raped.

The long list of Bekir's properties is an insult to Sarawakians. Other news sites allege that Taib's cronies and family members obtained Native Customary Rights (NCR) land by dishonest and fraudulent means, before reselling them for millions of ringgits. Taib's family have houses littered around the world, and yet the deprived Sarawakians have run-down shacks to call home.

There are many parallels between Shahnaz and the average Sarawakian. The circumstances may be different but both were treated shabbily – abuse, beatings, humiliation and threats.

Shahnaz may not be destitute, but like many Muslim women, she has found that getting justice in the syariah court is a battle.

Women who have experienced the syariah court system know that men will evade summonses, so they can avoid a court appearance. Court schedules are fraught with delays and postponements. The men try to avoid paying maintenance to the wives and children, and also for the child's education.

Claims take years to settle, but the father knows that when the child reaches 18-years-old, he will no longer be responsible for the child's education.

It is common knowledge that many Muslim women give up halfway through their syariah divorce claim because it is stressful, expensive and time-consuming. The system fails these women and their children.


The ‘Allah’ case at a glance: Part 1

Posted: 05 Sep 2013 03:36 PM PDT

Bob Teoh, The Malay Mail Online

Following a High Court decision on 31 Dec 2009 to allow Herald, the Catholic weekly, to refer to God as Allah in its Malay language edition, ten churches and a Catholic school were attacked.

So, too, were a few suraus, a Sikh temple and a Catholic girls' school. Only one of the churches firebombed or attacked was extensively damaged and rendered unusable.

The rest suffered just superficial damage. But the fact remains they were attacked mindlessly.

The attacks sent shock waves through the nation and set race relations back by a few generations. All because of one word—Allah.

In 1980, the Umno-led Terengganu government became the first state to enact laws to control or restrict the propagation of other religions among Muslims. It decreed a list of 25 Arabic words and 10 phrases that are deemed exclusive only to Islam. One of these words is 'Allah'. Other states followed suit.

The following year, the Alkitab or the Malay language Bible which uses the word 'Allah' was banned under the old Internal Security Act 1960 (now known as SOSMA 2012) on the basis that it is a threat to national security. This ban came five months after Dr Mahathir Mohamad became Prime Minister on 16 July 1981.

Subsequently, the Alkitab was allowed restricted use in churches only, but otherwise, the ban remains in force even till today.

But the Customs and Home Ministry continued to confiscate not only the Alkitab but also other Malay language Christian publications at entry points at ports and airports as well as from general bookshops.

This caused considerable losses to importers as well as an acute shortage of the Alkitab and other Bahasa Christian publications.

The confiscations were not made under the ISA nor the respective state Islamic enactments but under the Publications and Printing Presses Act 1984.

One gazette or cabinet decree after another continued to be issued to prohibit use of the Allah word by non-Muslims.

All of them serve only to reinforce the prohibition on usage of the Allah word for the past three decades.

Such gazettes actually contradict the Cabinet decision of 1982 where the Alkitab, or the Malay Bible, containing the word 'Allah' itself is not banned but restricted to Christians.

Things came to a head a few years ago, when the Home Ministry imposed a condition on the annual printing permit for Herald — The Catholic Weekly — in its Malay edition where it is now prohibited from using the Allah word.

After prolonged disputes over its printing permit, the Titular Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur as publisher of the Herald took the matter to court for a ruling on the constitutionality of the prohibition.

As soon as the High Court allowed the Herald to proceed with its case, seven state Islamic authorities decided to intervene on the basis that the matter involved Islam and the Malay rulers, therefore, the civil court has no authority to hear it.

The court rejected this intervention on the basis that the hearing had nothing to do with Islam or the Malay rulers.

It was all about whether the government made a bad decision in law or was acting unreasonably when it imposed a condition on the printing permit of the Herald to prohibit it from using the Allah word in its Malay edition.

The case involved Federal law and not state legislations.

When the court ruled against the government on 31 Dec 2009, it sent shock waves through the nation.

The attack on churches followed but died down as quickly as it had started, leading some to observe that the outrage was either stage-managed or not as threatening to public order as initially presumed.

In any case, there was no unanimity among Malays and Muslims. PAS as well as Keadilan supported the right of Christians to use the Allah word. Even Umno Youth favoured allowing Christians to use the Allah word.

Meanwhile, the government immediately filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal against the High Court judgement. Two similar cases are also in the courts over the use of the word Allah.

One is brought by Sidang Injil Borneo (Borneo Evangelical Church) Sabah over confiscation of their Bahasa Christian education publications from Indonesia while it was on transit to Sabah in 2007.

The other is brought by Sarawakian Melanau Bumiputera Christian, Jill Ireland, for confiscation of her audio CDs containing the Allah word also in 2007 at the Sepang LCCT airport. Both cases are part-heard.

Out of the two million Christians in Malaysia, the majority are Malay speaking pribumis or indigenous peoples from Sabah and Sarawak who use the Alkitab as their Holy Bible.

They would continue to refer to God as Allah no doubt. They know of no other word for God than Allah.

In addition, history, liturgy, etymology and theology favour the use of the Allah word as there is no substitute available.


Lim’s Malay political secretary branded a traitor for suggesting a UiTM type college for ...

Posted: 05 Sep 2013 03:18 PM PDT

Rita Jong, TMI

The young Malay political secretary to DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang is being called a traitor to her race - all because she proposed that an institution like Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) be set up for non-Malays.

Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud has been heavily criticised by several quarters for even suggesting the idea, and has been labelled as "a Malay who does not know her history" by Umno leaders.

Umno Selangor state liaison chief Datuk Seri Noh Omar said Dyana Sofya has also been used by DAP and that she should understand the philosophy behind the setting up of UiTM which was founded by Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara).

He also urged the young girl to read up on how DAP was set up with the help of PAP in Singapore.

"She should understand the background of DAP. Tunku Abdul Rahman himself was willing to exclude Singapore from Malaysia.

"The 'Malaysian Malaysia' slogan by PAP was clearly against our country's principle.

"She made a racist statement. She does not know her history and hence, she has no patriotic spirit. UiTM is clearly protected under Article 153 of the Constitution. This is our right. Don't question it," he told The Malaysian Insider when asked about Dyana Sofya's suggestion.

He said Malays had sacrificed a lot for other races, for example the Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) which has set a quota for non-Malay students to enrol in the college.

Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah echoed Noh's sentiment.

Saifuddin, who was also the former Higher Education deputy minister, said UiTM's objective was clear, that was to help Bumiputera students, especially those from rural areas.

He said this privilege should not be questioned, as there were 19 other higher learning institutions, which were open to other races with no entry quota limitations.

"Leave UiTM be. This university needs to play a role in helping Bumiputera youths. We don't see a need to open UiTM to other races.

"Some people said that the small group of non-Bumiputera students who entered UiTM would affect the Malay students' excellence. This, however, has no scientific evidence.

"There are many other institutions which focus on one race and still be successful, for example, Kolej Melayu Kuala Kangsar and Kolej Tuanku Kursiah. Both have excelled despite the dominance of Malay students," he said.

Saifuddin also said Malays had never questioned other non-Malay parties in setting up colleges or universities for themselves.

UiTM former vice-chancellor Tan Sri Ibrahim Abu Shah also took offence with Dyana Sofya's suggestion and said that Bumiputera students were still lagging behind compared to the achievements of other races.

He said the Malay students ratio based on critical learning fields was still low, hence UiTM was set up to bring a balance of expert workforce in Malaysia

"If UiTM accepts non-Bumiputera students, our country will deteriorate as there would not be an understanding between races in Malaysia.

"I don't see a need for this," said Ibrahim.



‘Usno Baru has own agenda’

Posted: 05 Sep 2013 03:08 PM PDT

Usno Baru chief Dulli Tiaseh slams Sabah Umno deputy chief Salleh Said Keruak for alleging that the new party had nothing to do the original struggle.

Luke Rintod, FMT

Newly-registered Usno Baru or United Sabah National Organisation said Sabah Umno should not be unduly worried by Usno Baru's inception in Sabah.

Usno Baru president, Dulli Tiaseh, when contacted by FMT today, said Usno Baru did not wish to compete with Sabah Umno.

"Usno Baru has its own agenda…It is sufficient if the people of Sabah know that Usno Baru has been successfully registered and the Usno spirit resurrected," he said.

Tiaseh was commenting on Sabah Umno liaison deputy head, Salleh Said Keruak, who reportedly said the advent of Usno Baru poses no threat to Sabah Umno's popularity and that it had nothing to do with the original Usno.

Dulli, 57, however, lambasted Salleh, saying that contradictory to what Salleh believed, the new Usno would continue the struggle of previous Usno's leaders like the late Mustapha Harun.

"We wish not to compete with Salleh. It is enough if the people know Usno is here again for them," Dulli said reminding Salleh that majority of the Usno Baru lineup were former original Usno members.

"As a proof that we were formerly original Usno members and wanted to continue its struggle, even the Registrar of Societies (ROS) compelled us that at least 60% of our pro-tem lineup were Usno's members, and this we proved with our original Usno membership when we lodged our application five years ago.

"We have our "sijil asal ahli Usno lama" and in fact more than 80% of our pro-tem have them.

"So it is pure nonsense when Salleh argued that our struggle has nothing to do with the original Usno," Dulli said adding that currently Usno Baru has only 36 members including 13 as supreme council members.

Salleh reportedly said: "We are not worried about or concerned over the registration of United Sabah National Organisation.

"Sabah Umno is solid and gained landslide support from the people, winning almost all allocated state seats (for Umno), except Klias, in the recent general election."

Dulli said that top of his agenda now is putting in place the party's administration and management before embarking on a membership drive.

"We are having lots of brainstorming right now," he said disclosing his party would for the time being operate from an office in Putatan near the state capital.



Ex-IGP Musa leaves MyWatch

Posted: 05 Sep 2013 03:05 PM PDT

The former IGP has formed a crime prevention NGO, Malaysia Community Care Association, with reason for his departure from MyWatch unknown.

P Ramani, FMT

Former IGP Musa Hassan has left the crime prevention NGO MyWatch and the reason for his departure to form a similar NGO – Malaysia Community Crime Care Association (MCCCA) – is unknown.

However, a MyWatch official told FMT that the NGO had been allegedly used by certain quarters as a front for their personal gains.

As such, MyWatch is having a meeting this morning where the pro-tem committee will be discussing on the NGO's structure and revisit its vision and mission on combating crime in the country as the direction of MyWatch was unclear.

Musa's departure also saw the majority of MyWatch members crossing over to MCCCA, with former MyWatch secretary-general V Ravindran informing FMT that his leaving MyWatch to join MCCCA as a committee member was due to his being sidelined in several MyWatch matters.

The former IGP helmed MyWatch after its patron R Sri Sanjeevan was shot in an attempted assassination in his hometown Bahau at Negeri Sembilan in June.


English ‘must pass’ subject from 2016

Posted: 05 Sep 2013 02:59 PM PDT


Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin also said that vernacular schools will receive equal support as public schools from the government.

(FMT) - Muhyiddin also said that English teachers will be made to undergo the Cambridge Placement Test (CPT) to gauge their knowledge in the language.

English will be made a mandatory passing subject for all students sitting for their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) from 2016, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also Education Minister announced today.

He said the government has placed emphasis on English to strengthen students' grasp of the subject, with an intention of producing a globalised generation.

"English will be given emphasis and as announced earlier this year, it will be made a compulsory passing subject for SPM students by 2016," Muhyiddin said today during the launch of the National Education Blueprint (PPPM) 2013-2025 here.

"To realise this, the ministry is currently in the process of increasing contact hours (between teachers and students) in classes so deeper immersion in the English language for the students," he added.

Muhyiddin also said that English teachers will be made to undergo the Cambridge Placement Test (CPT) to gauge their knowledge in the language.

"The first batch of 5,000 teachers have participated in the training by the British Council. Nine thousand English teachers will undergo the same training in October," he said.

Along with English, Muhyiddin said that the government will continue to place strong emphasis on the Malay language to uphold unity and national identity among the people.

"To strengthen both languages, the PPPM has highlighted a few initiatives. Among those are to improve the Malay curriculum in vernacular schools.

"For students who are weak, additional classes will be conducted outside schooling hours and this will not affect teaching time and their other classes," he said.

'More hours in vernacular schools'



New education target: World class students

Posted: 05 Sep 2013 02:49 PM PDT


The national education blueprint launched today also aims to create students with richer school experience.

(Bernama) - Students with world-class knowledge and skills, strong moral values and capable of competing with their peers from other countries are among the major impacts envisioned by the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025.

According to the Malaysia Educational Blueprint 2013-2025, launched by Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin today, students will also learn in an environment where the fundamental belief is that all students can learn and all students can succeed.

"Students will have a richer school experience, both academic and non-academic, so that they can excel in life. Students will have a greater say in shaping their learning experience," it said.

Its impact on the teacher is that it will develop the world-class capabilities needed to facilitate desired student outcomes and gain more enjoyment and fulfillment from their jobs.

"Teachers will have the support they need to succeed and will enjoy better working conditions, performance-based rewards and enhanced pathways and will be immersed in a culture of collaboration and professional excellence," according to the blueprint.

Meanwhile, school leaders will become excellent instructional leaders and act as agents for change and enjoy closer support and enhanced services from federal, state and district education officers.

"They will have the support and resources they need to guide their schools effectively," it said, while ministry officials will receive targeted support, training and resources needed to fulfill their new roles and responsibilities.

They will work in a collaborative and transparent environment and will receive greater operational flexibility and accountability.

The blueprint said parents will see tangible and sustained improvement in the educational experiences of their children.

There will be increased transparency around a school's performance and priorities, and parents will be constantly kept in the loop as to how their children are performing at school, both in terms of achievements and areas for development.

"Parents will have better understanding of how their children are developing and how they can help them improve and also have more opportunities to provide input into their school's improvement strategies," said the blueprint.


Below are the highlights of the Education Blueprint;

The Education Ministry:

- aspires to ensure universal access and full enrolment of all children from preschool through to upper secondary school level by 2020.

- aspires for Malaysia to be in the top third of countries in terms of performance in international assessments, as measured by outcomes in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) within 15 years.
- aspires to halve the current urban-rural, socio-economic and gender achievement gaps by 2020.
- aspires to create a system whereby students have opportunities to build shared experiences and aspirations that form the foundation for unity.
- aspires to further maximise student outcomes within the current budget levels.
- has identified 11 shifts that will need to occur to deliver the step change in outcomes envisioned by all Malaysians, which each shift to address at least one of the five system outcomes of access, quality, equity, unity and efficiency.
- is to increase compulsory schooling from six to 11 years, starting at the age of six years supported by targeted retention programmes.
- is to launch the Secondary School Standard Curriculum or Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Menengah (KSSM) and revised Primary School Standard Curriculum or Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah (KSSR) in 2017 to embed a balanced set of knowledge and skills such as creative thinking, innovation, problem-solving and leadership.
- is to lay out clear learning standards so that students and parents understand the progress expected within each year of schooling.
- is to revamp the national examination and school-based assessments in stages, whereby by 2016 at least 40 per cent of questions in Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) and 50 per cent in Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) are higher-order thinking questions.
- by the end of 2013, is to build academic and career counselling services into the secondary school timetable to help students make better informed choices about the various education pathways on offer.
- by 2025, is to ensure that Orang Asli students, other minority groups and students with physical or learning disabilities go to schools with the facilities and equipment needed to create a conductive and supportive learning environment.
- from 2016, is to ensure that English is made a compulsory subject to pass for SPM.
- by 2025, is to ensure that every student is encouraged to learn an additional language in the move to equip them well for entering the workforce in a globalising world.
- will focus on building up its cadre of Chinese, Tamil and Arabic language teachers to ensure that the supply of teachers matches student demand, besides expanding the provision of other important languages such as Spanish, French and Japanese.
- from 2013, is to ensure that the entry bar for teachers is raised to be amongst the top 30 per cent of graduates.
- from 2013, is to ensure that teachers enjoy a reduced administrative burden so that they can focus the majority of their time on their core function of teaching, with some administrative functions moved to a centralised service centre or to a dedicated administrative teacher at the school level.
- by 2015, is to ensure that all schools meet basic infrastructure requirements, starting with Sabah and Sarawak.
- is to ensure that the Trust School model is expanded to 500 schools by 2025, including by alumni groups and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as potential sponsors.
- will publish an annual report on the progress made against each initiative outlined in the blueprint.
- will undertake a stock-take at key milestones in the blueprint journey in 2015, 2020 and 2025.

6 Tips to Combat the Price Hike on Fuel (without Buying a New, Fuel-Efficient Car)

Posted: 05 Sep 2013 02:40 PM PDT


Obviously, spending money to keep your car in tip-top condition and buying a more fuel-efficient car are some of the things you could do to save money. But not everyone has the funds to do so over the short term. 

Ching, imoney.my 

It's been coming for a while, and now, it's finally here.

On 2 September 2013, fuel prices in Malaysia rose considerably due to the reduction in subsidies by the Malaysian Government.  As a result, both RON95 petrol and diesel now cost 20 sen more for every litre – which is an approximate 10% jump compared to the previous prices.

Whilst there's no faulting the Government's intention (which is to strengthen the nation's fiscal deficit position by reducing fuel subsidies), there is no doubt that the price hike would affect the lives of Malaysians.  For those who drive a long way to work or live on shoestring budget, that additional hundreds of Ringgit to fork out on fuel every month could even lead to drastic changes in lifestyle.

Nonetheless, the new fuel price is now a reality; and if this is affecting you in a big way, you will need to react accordingly to help ease the increased financial burden of owning and driving a car.  Obviously, spending money to keep your car in tip-top condition and buying a more fuel-efficient car are some of the things you could do.  But not everyone has the funds to do so over the short term.

In this article, we'll explore some viable methods the Malaysian public can adopt to combat the recent price hike on fuel, without spending additional cash from your wallets:

1) Drive Less Aggressively

Everyone knows that aggressive driving (such as rapid acceleration and braking) uses more fuel, but what you may not know is that it could decrease your fuel efficiency by a whopping 33%!  According to the US Department of Energy, aggressive driving at highway and in town reduces your gas mileage by 33% and 5% respectively.  To put it in Malaysian context, you'll be burning off RM24 for every 35-liter tank of RON95 petrol simply by driving with too much aggression on the North-South Highway!

What to do        : Drive safer

Your Potential Saving    : Up to 33%


Malaysia Risk Tops Philippines on Najib Budget Gap

Posted: 05 Sep 2013 01:47 PM PDT


Najib seems to be heeding those warnings with his decision to raise fuel prices, which drew a positive response from bond investors. The yield on Malaysia's 3.48 percent ringgit-denominated notes maturing March 2023 fell 12 basis points, or 0.12 percentage point, to 3.97 percent this week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. 

(Bloomberg) - Malaysia's default risk climbed above that of the Philippines for the first time as Prime Minister Najib Razak seeks to avoid a debt-rating cut, while his counterpart pitches for upgrades.

Contracts insuring Malaysian bonds against non-payment rose 63 basis points this year to 141, compared with an advance of 33 to 139 for its lower-rated neighbor, according to data provider CMA. Malaysia's 10-year ringgit yield jumped 44 basis points to 3.92 percent, 16 basis points higher than the rate on similar-maturity Philippine notes, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Najib announced fuel price increases on Sept. 2 for the first time since 2010 to curb subsidies that have strained the budget, after Fitch Ratings cut its outlook on the nation's A-rating to negative from stable on July 30. Philippine PresidentBenigno Aquino is the only contender in Southeast Asia for an upgrade as Moody's Investors Service placed its Ba1 ranking on review July 25, signaling an increase to investment grade.

"Malaysia's creditworthiness is deteriorating and the country needs to address its fiscal and structural problems," Nicholas Spiro, London-based managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy and a former consultant at Medley Global Advisors LLC, said in a Sept. 3 interview. "The Philippines is a lower investment-grade credit whose strengths have become more apparent."

Rising Debt

The premium investors pay on Malaysia five-year credit-default swaps over those of the Philippines reached 10 basis points on Aug. 23, the most in CMA data going back to 2004. The cost was lower as recently as three weeks ago. The Philippines won investment-grade status this year from Fitch and Standard & Poor's after cutting its budget deficit.

Malaysian government notes handed investors a 0.3 percent return in 2013, compared with 7 percent for the Philippines, the best performance among Southeast Asia's five-biggest economies, according to indexes compiled by HSBC Holdings Plc.

Najib is facing rising debt levels as he seeks to attain developed-nation status by 2020, in addition to slowing economic growth and a shrinking current-account surplus. Fitch cited the country's indebtedness and lack of budgetary reform for the rating outlook cut in July, saying Malaysia risks a downgrade in 18 months to 24 months unless it improves the fiscal position.

'Warning Messages'

The prime minister is aiming to lower the budget deficit relative to gross domestic product to 4 percent in 2013, double President Aquino's goal, while Malaysia's debt-to-GDP ratio is 53.3 percent, compared with 51.5 percent in the Philippines.

"I am more bullish on the Philippines," Sacha Tihanyi, a Scotiabank strategist in Hong Kong, said in a Sept. 4 interview. "The ratings agencies have been sending warning messages implying that without fiscal consolidation, Malaysia may be on the road to a ratings downgrade."

Najib seems to be heeding those warnings with his decision to raise fuel prices, which drew a positive response from bond investors. The yield on Malaysia's 3.48 percent ringgit-denominated notes maturing March 2023 fell 12 basis points, or 0.12 percentage point, to 3.97 percent this week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

He announced plans on Sept. 2 to bolster the nation's finances that included a delay in some state-building projects that have high import contents in an effort to stem the current-account shrinkage. Strengthening the fiscal deficit position is vital to sustaining the economy's resilience and enhancing public and investor confidence, he said, helping halt a selloff in 10-year debt over the past two weeks. 

READ MORE AT : http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-05/malaysia-risk-tops-philippines-on-najib-budget-gap.html 

In Umno polls, race is for vice-presidencies, supreme council seats

Posted: 05 Sep 2013 01:37 PM PDT


(TMI) - The real race in this year's Umno polls is for the three vice-presidencies and a seat in the supreme council with the top two positions almost certainly retained by party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Party insiders attribute the crowded race for these posts to the possibility that the next party election three years down the road could offer a new leadership before the country's 14th general election.

"Everyone is preparing for a leadership change in the next polls, so they have to position themselves now," an Umno warlord told The Malaysian Insider in Kuala Lumpur.

Nominations for the various posts are on September 28 while the party elections are slated for October 19. The party general assembly is in early December.

"Najib and Muhyiddin might stay on for the next general election but after that, it will be the ones who are vice-presidents and supreme council members to take charge of the party," the warlord added.

Another warlord said this was reflected in the challenge to the three incumbent vice-presidents - Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal - who have confirmed they are defending their posts by forming alliances.

Their challengers are Tan Sri Isa Abdul Samad (pic) and Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, with Datuk Seri Musa Aman the only one who has yet to openly declare his candidacy.

Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir is also said to be weighing his options in the vice-presidential race where almost 150,000 members are set to vote in top office bearers, following voting amendments.

Prior to the last party election and amendments to its constitution in 2009, only some 2,500 delegates had voting rights.

Hishammuddin had said alliances were part of a growing awareness by members to strengthen Umno by banding together to put the interests of the party ahead of individuals.

"As Umno vice-president, the cooperation among myself, Zahid and Shafie has always been very close… if it is beneficial to the party, then it should be continued," Hishammuddin had said.

Forming alliances will enable the candidates to leverage on each other's strength and support, but it will not guarantee them a win.

Kedah Umno secretary Datuk Othman Aziz said being part of a group will not guarantee a win as members look for visionary, reliable and trustworthy leaders that can lead the party into the next phase. 


Mukhriz Mahathir: Will he? Won't he?

Posted: 05 Sep 2013 01:31 PM PDT


Mohsin Abdullah, fz.com 

IT seems there's a "big move" to get Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir to vie for the Umno vice presidency.

Said an Umno insider:"I wouldn't say there's a movement. But there certainly is great effort to pressure, so to speak, Mukhriz to take a shot at the VP slot." And the "pressure" is exerted by supporters of the Kedah menteri besar.
"His supporters want him to contest naib presiden. Their campaign line is Umno needs new blood, young leaders," said the insider. But the man himself is said to be undecided and still mulling the idea.
Years ago, there was something called the "Menteri Besar Club" factor in Umno elections. It was a pack actually, "invincible" and unofficial'. Something not cast in stone.
Anyway under the MB Club pact, all menteris besar from Umno would decide the one among them who should go for the vice presidency. Once decided, all menteris besar would throw their weight behind the candidate of choice using all their resources to ensure victory. 
But the MB Club is no more in existence in the party. Not long ago there was talk of a "revival" but nothing came out of it. Therefore to state the obvious, Mukhriz, should he decide to contest the VP race, will not have the advantage of being supported by a powerful political pact. 
Still supporters are saying he can bank on the reputation of his father. Dad is none other than Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, former PM, former Umno president.
"Yes Tun is still influential in Umno and respected even in government. Definitely the Mukhriz campaign team will use that," said the Umno insider who is quick to add: "When Mukhriz contested the Ketua Pemuda position in 2009, he came in third behind (the winner) Khairy Jamaluddin and (Datuk Seri) Khir Toyo .
At that time, anti Pak Lah sentiment was high in Umno following the dismay performance of the BN in the 2008 general election. Mahathir was hitting Pak Lah really hard as well as whacking Khairy who is Pak Lah's son in law.
In not so many words, what the insider is driving at is this. Even at a time when many in Umno were listening and taken up by Mahathir's onslaught against then PM and president (Tun) Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Mukhriz cannot or rather did not win. And cannot better former Selangor MB Khir Toyo. 
"So this," said the inside, "Mukhriz must take into consideration in making his decision with regards to the VP contest," while admitting that many in Umno still listen to Mahathir.
Whether Mahathir will campaign directly for his son is open to speculation. The fomer Umno president has not commented on the possibility of his son contesting. At least not in public although detractors "believe" Mahathir  wants his son to be one of the vice presidents of  the party he led for 22 long years.
The Mahathir factor apart, supporters of Mukhriz say the Mukhriz who lost the Umno youth fight in 2009 and the Mukhriz now is different. The Mukhriz now, they say,  is more politically matured compared to four years ago and has won the May 5 general election.  

Anwar Ibrahim & Reformasi: From the eyes of an ordinary citizen

Posted: 05 Sep 2013 10:42 AM PDT


Moving forward post 13th General Election, we ask ourselves again, where do we go from here? The natural question now is whether Anwar should make way for the formidable line up of fresh and younger personalities in PKR and Pakatan Rakyat whom clearly have been gaining their own strong following.

Anas Alam Faizli

"No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens but its lowest ones." (Nelson Mandela)

Growing up, I remember sifting through my father's collection of old newspaper clips. One reported that a certain persona by the name of Anwar Ibrahim was about to join UMNO. That paper clip was from 1982.

Many in Anwar's circles and followers at the time viewed him as their next hope for a leader that could strongly challenge the government. Needless to say that move to join UMNO was not welcomed by many; my mum, a member of JIM included. In 1996, while tabling the budget in Parliament – an annual event where I await with bated breath for him to introduce a new vocabulary – a practice he was famous for – Anwar was surprisingly spotting noticeable breakouts.

Mum responded "Baru nak matang lah tu… (he is probably just about to mature…)." The consternation she felt then remained.

The financial crisis a year later shook most of the tender South East Asian economies, while Anwar was at the pinnacle of his political career. I did not really understand my parent's remark then about how Anwar would soon "get it". I soon did.

I watched 2nd September 1998 unravel on television while I was on campus down south. I will never forget that moment; sitting down dumbfounded trying to gather my thoughts.

From then onwards, keeping track of Anwar's ceramahs around the country, news and developments, became daily affairs. Anwar's famous: "Ini adalah konspirasi dan fitnah jahat untuk membunuh karier politik saya" –  echoed in mind every day.

More arrests were subsequently made in that period, under the draconian ISA. The late Fadzil Noor then lead a coalition of political parties and NGOs known as GERAK. GERAK held massive protests to free Anwar. The Reformasi movement then gathered momentum, initially as an Anwar-specific cause.

But what it evolved into was something far greater. It united all opposition, NGOs and Islamic movements and revolutionised to become something bigger. Amidst major differences, opposition parties then realised that there existed transcendental values that they all fiercely subscribed to – such as justice, liberty, and freedom. This realisation had major uniting capabilities. Activists made up of PRM, ABIM, JIM and men who left UMNO then decided to form ADIL, an organization which eventually graduated to become the Parti Keadilan Rakyat that we know today.

At the height of it all was Sunday 20th September 1998, where the largest ever demonstration took place in Dataran Merdeka, under the Reformasi umbrella. The crowd that had gathered at the National Mosque for Anwar's landmark Reformasi speech, rallied on to Dataran Merdeka for another speech, then on to Jalan Raja Laut and ended up in front of EPF.

The energy and conviction I felt and witnessed being among the crowd at the time reminded me of our next-door neighbour. Only five months prior, Indonesians ousted their own President Soeharto.

Malaysia had never witnessed such resolute. But the important thing to note is that it was not all for Anwar alone. It was a show of deep unhappiness towards the grave injustices that the government seemed to be able to inflict against someone as high up as the deputy premier. What then was left for the ordinary rakyat.

We finally realised then how deep and structural were the extent of the government's tentacles controlling the country's police force, state media and the entire judicial system.

That very same night, balaclava-clad commandos stormed into Anwar's private home and roughly seized him. Nine days later, he made his first public appearance with a black eye. Malaysia had just witnessed the death of democracy.

What happened after, we all knew and followed. Anwar was put on a controversial trial, found guilty, and sentenced to 9 years of imprisonment. How could the once number two Malaysia, be politically imprisoned, brutally beaten, and emotionally vilified to beyond any human extent, I wondered. Anwar Ibrahim became Malaysia's most controversial prisoner of conscience.


Reformasi breathed new life into Malaysian youth of the 1990's, at a time when youthful zeal and activism spirit had diluted in favour of material wealth and pleasure. This was a contrast from the youth of the 70s, whose idealism were more pro-poor, intellectually-driven, and in line with the spirit of merdeka, fitting of a recently liberated nation. It is a mass movement that was manifested by rakyat from all walks of life, whose birth was spontaneous, honest and pulsing of the rakyat's aspirations. It still very much is; it belongs to everyone, within and out of political parties, young and old.

Fifteen years on, Malaysians have perhaps experienced an unconventional politically maturing process witnessing Anwar and our Reformasi. We inherit a Malaysian with various realities to embrace; a rigged election system, highly racially sensitised plural society, a government who has overbearing control over all economic, judicial and social aspects of the country, and spatially and demographically unequal standards of living, amidst many others. It is not easy to change status quo, a system that has deeply entrenched for the past 50 years. Not easy, yet not impossible.

The Man Who Triggered Reformasi

The Reformasi movement was borne out of the struggles of many political personalities, without whom it could not have materialised as it did, too many to credit without risking injustice. This piece is not about Anwar Ibrahim, as many will easily be led to believe, but it is about the man who triggered Reformasi.

A revolutionary varsity student leader in his UM days, Anwar later co-founded one of the pioneering civil society organizations of late 1970s Malaysia, known as Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM). His tendency to highlight the plight of the poor and vulnerable, and criticise the government vocally booked him a 20-month stint ISA stint in 1974 after the Baling incident.

Post 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution, Malaysia felt the heat from the rise of Islam in the global scene. We witnessed for the first time the proliferation of Islamic-based civil society organisations. This proved a bonus to PAS, whom at the time was welcoming home waves of new young professionals from abroad who embraced the idea of new dynamism in the party. It helped raise the party's profile amongst foreign-trained barristers, doctors, engineers and economists, posing a significant challenge to UMNO's political hegemony.

Anwar Ibrahim seemed like the viable solution and heir for Tun Mahathir and UMNO; a man seen and known for his sound Islamic principles and honorable background, coupled with remarkable literacy in occidental thought and philosophy. Anwar was about to become an influential political figure, climbing the political ladder up to some of the most important positions in a country; as the finance minister and the deputy Prime Minister. Known to be neither unwavering under pressures of corruption nor compromising to cronyism, he had a political career that was not easy to bring down. That fateful September, the sky fell down onto him in a political and economic saga that forever scarred the face of Malaysian political history. But not all was lost. As widely remarked, cleaning sewage water is almost impossible when swimming in it; rather it has to be done from outside the gutter. The man probably needed to learn that. A lesson that he had been paying dearly since.

Building Blocks Towards A New Age Reformasi

In November 1999, Malaysia saw the nascent opposition force leading to the 10th General Election known as the Barisan Alternatif. For the first time in history, the opposition garnered the highest ever votes from the Malays. That record had never been challenged even up to this day. Barisan Nasional was salvaged by Chinese and Indian voters, which perhaps at the time were probably politically and economically unready to seriously challenge status quo.

In 2004, Barisan Nasional (BN) turned the tables in a landslide victory. Re-delineation exercises had allowed for substantial gerrymandering, winning BN 24 out of 25 new seats, and more than 90% of the parliament. The retirement of Mahathir, who then already made enough anti-fans for himself, too ushered in fresh support for UMNO and Barisan Nasional. It was a personal struggle for me to believe that change was ever going to be possible in Malaysia.

The period before the next 2008 General Election saw the opposition making significant headway, building a forte. Anwar too was already a free man, and was beginning to truly attempt to unite the various parties to form a formidable opposition that the government had no choice but to reckon with. The introduction of needs-based policies also attracted significant new interest especially the non-Malays into its stable. It's only fair considering the vast new inequalities that were emerging from decades of favoritism-based policies, leakages and misappropriation of resources.

Leading up to the 2008 12th General Election, the waves of change was felt even earlier on. I actually took unpaid leave to come home for the voting and campaign period – from an overseas posting at the time. The opposition won five states and formed Pakatan Rakyat which includes PKR, PAS and DAP. Call for change had begun to creep up from the rakyat from all walks of life to show its teeth.

Knocking down the incumbent ruling party off of its comfortable two-third parliamentary majority was by no means a small feat. It prompted five years of the government launching various "transformative" efforts on the part of the government. As a result, we are now entering supposedly the next phase of growth with endless possibilities. Pun very much intended, if I may. Sure, we are building more highways and train tracks. Yet what is lacking is arguably the required political will power to undertake the softer and real transformation we so badly need.

That very same period provided the opposition time to reorganise and work with their differences to productively form a coalition with its own development plan, its own manifesto and its own budget proposition. It was the first time ever Malaysians could critically compare alternatives to these documents proposed by the government.

Rejuvenating Reformasi

Moving forward post 13th General Election, we ask ourselves again, where do we go from here? The natural question now is whether Anwar should make way for the formidable line up of fresh and younger personalities in PKR and Pakatan Rakyat whom clearly have been gaining their own strong following. Is the way forward now a post-Anwar Ibrahim era, which entails institutionalizing and strengthening of the underlying political system? Better structure will allow for the natural development of a continuous pool of talent and leadership, but is it enough?

Strong leaders have historically proven to be the ultimate source of unification to bring about waves of change that ripples above and beyond those laid out by an institution or system. That kind of strong leadership was the only way substantial malay votes in 1999 could have shifted, a two-thirds majority for the government in 2008 could have been denied, and a game-changing 52% mandate onto PR for 2013 could have been witnessed.

Anwar Ibrahim too is now a different man. From a youthful varsity leader, to a charismatic Islamic leader, to a Deputy Prime Minister, and even down to being an inmate, Anwar's bruises could have not been only physical. The wisdom and maturity could not have been without blood, sweat and tears.

Two general elections passed after his release and Anwar stuck to his guns. But to claim ownership of the Reformasi movement can only mean one thing; that he steps up to the presidency post of the party himself, to make reality the reforms that he himself had envisioned for the country. Time is ripe for him to take the mantle, step up the challenge again, be democratically elected and rise up as the President of Parti Keadilan Rakyat. It is the implicit hope of the Rakyat, for him to articulate his vision for Malaysia particularly on his young and future masses.

Anwar Ibrahim triggered Reformasi. Now he needs to rejuvenate it too.

*Anas Alam Faizli is an oil and gas professional. He is pursuing a post-graduate doctorate, co-Founder of BLINDSPOT, BANTAH TPPA and tweets at @aafaizli


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