Selasa, 17 September 2013

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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

Miss World Organizers Outraged As Govt Submits to Hard-Liners

Posted: 17 Sep 2013 10:54 AM PDT 

(Jakarta Globe) - Outraged Miss World organizers and human rights activists have condemned the Indonesian government for its lack of support for the event, saying the last-minute decision to keep the entire pageant in Bali is yet another example of authorities bowing to religious extremists.

On Monday, the MNC Group, the country's largest media company and the main organizer of Miss World 2013, announced it would move the pageant's grand final, slated for Sept. 28, from Bogor, south of Jakarta, to Nusa Dua in Bali at the request of the government, after the strong urging of Muslim hard-line groups.

Liliana Tanoesoedibjo, the event's head organizer who was forced to find a new venue in the space of four days after spending more than three years preparing for the event, expressed disappointment in the nation's leaders and the lack of effort from religious groups to compromise.

"They [those opposing the event] don't understand what Miss World is about, and they don't want to compromise," Liliana, the chairwoman of the Miss Indonesia group — which is the organizing committee for Miss World 2013 — told the Jakarta Globe.

"Maybe if the government was stronger something could be done, but it's because the government is not strong," said Liliana, the wife of MNC Group owner Hary Tanoesoedibjo, one of Indonesia's wealthiest individuals and a vice presidential candidate for next year's election.

In a statement, MNC said that it had suffered heavy financial losses due to the Miss World relocation, having to rearrange activities at the last minute and moving the accommodations for the 129 contestants, their supporters and family members.

Not deterred

Liliana said the criticism the event had garnered had not deterred her but conceded she was growing increasingly frustrated by those in opposition to the pageant, believing they were using its widespread global attention to promote their own agendas.

"We know that some people are criticizing because they want to be acknowledged in the world. They want to have their own opinion so they take advantage of this event to make their name big," she said, adding "if their motive was right they would want to talk with us."

In the lead-up to the event many religious groups, including the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Islamic People's Forum (FUI), have spoken out, held demonstrations throughout the country and accused Miss World of damaging women's dignity by exploiting their bodies and degrading Islamic teachings.

In response to the negativity surrounding the event and the increasing threats of violence by Islamic extremists, Liliana said it was "sad," because the very reason to hold the competition was to "promote unity and Indonesia to the world."

"We all give the best for Indonesia, we have the passion for Indonesia, we love our country. We don't want to degrade Indonesia," she said, highlighting the benefits the international competition would bring to the nation, especially to the tourism sector and other industries including fashion, as well as promoting social causes.

Miss World is very happy with how MNC has managed the event despite the criticism it has received and the lack of government support, Liliana said.

"In other countries, Miss World is managed by the government, but we have done everything ourselves," she added.

Speaking from Bali, Andreas Harsono, head researcher for Human Rights Watch Indonesia, said the only message the competition is currently sending to the world was that Indonesia was undergoing a "radicalization of Islam."

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NGO staff to be charged for “war crimes” documentary screening

Posted: 17 Sep 2013 10:48 AM PDT 

(TMI) - A Pusat Komas staffer will be charged in court soon over the screening of the documentary  No Fire Zone, which is allegedly based on the atrocities by the Sri Lankan forces in the final days of the country's civil war.

Komas programme coordinator Lena Hendry is believed to have been ordered to present herself at the Kuala Lumpur magistrate's court tomorrow.

Two other coordinators, Anna Har and Arul Prakash were also arrested during a raid by the Home Ministry at the screening of the documentary on July 8 but it is understood that only Lena will be charged under the Film Censorship Act 2002.

In a statement released today, Komas director Tan Jo Hann said, "This is the utmost form of harassment and direct violation of freedom of speech, assembly and association by the Malaysian authorities guaranteed for under Article 10 of the Malaysian Constitution."

The documentary No Fire Zone: In the Killing Fields of Sri Lanka is said to cover the war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan government during the civil war in 2009.

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Majority of Malaysian businesses not GST-ready

Posted: 17 Sep 2013 10:27 AM PDT 

(The Sun Daily) - FMM said local businesses, especially the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), are still adjusting to higher costs of production following the introduction of the minimum wage, the minimum retirement age for private sector employees, increased Employees Provident Fund contributions beyond 55 years and rising costs of transport, including port charges.

As the push for the implementation of the much-awaited goods and services tax (GST) gathers pace, it is found that as low as 5% of Malaysian businesses are prepared for the consumption tax.

According to the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM), local manufacturers are not preparing themselves for GST as the government is still evaluating the pros and cons and readiness of the population to accept the new tax regime.

"We understand that a number of companies do not have any allocation in their annual budget to prepare for the GST," FMM told SunBiz.

A survey by FMM in April 2012 to assess the readiness of businesses in implementing GST showed that over 60% of businesses that responded were not ready for GST. The remaining 40% indicated that they have made some preparations, such as attending seminars and training to familiarise themselves with the GST scheme.

However, the FMM survey noted that multinational corporations would have the least problems adopting GST as they can leverage on the expertise from their global network of offices.

FMM said local businesses, especially the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), are still adjusting to higher costs of production following the introduction of the minimum wage, the minimum retirement age for private sector employees, increased Employees Provident Fund contributions beyond 55 years and rising costs of transport, including port charges.

The federation is of the view that the GST implementation should be deferred as it imposes heavy tax administration burden on industries, in particular the SMEs.

Deloitte Malaysia country GST leader Tan Eng Yew (pix) told SunBiz most businesses are undecided whether to embark on any GST readiness exercise pending affirmative announcement by the government.

Tan observed that less than 5% of the businesses have started getting themselves ready.

He said GST preparation has wide-ranging implications requiring the involvement of people, processes and technology as all these components would be critical for businesses to be GST-ready.

Tan said top of the wish list of businesses is to allow a deduction of all GST implementation cost. Smaller businesses are also hoping that the government will provide free software to assist them to be GST-compliant.

What would be the appropriate GST rate to begin with?

Tan believes it should be 6% to justify a tax system revamp of this magnitude to replace the existing narrow-based service tax of 6% and sales tax of generally 10%.

When it was mooted in 2004, he said, the proposed GST rate was 4% but based on the Performance Management & Delivery Unit's simulation at 5%, it may generate additional revenue of up to RM8 billion.

"We anticipate the introduction of GST will be followed by a reduction in corporate and individual income tax rates, which would make our tax structure more competitive regionally," said Tan.

He added that export-oriented businesses will benefit tremendously since the GST system zero rates all exports of goods and services, thereby enhancing price competitiveness.

For the government, the wider base of GST ensures a fairer tax system.

Meanwhile, FMM said GST will not only add to the tax burden but will also lead to a manifold increase in the volume of administrative work.

"We do not see GST benefiting businesses in the manufacturing sector. We acknowledge that the government has to take steps to reduce the budget deficit. However, introducing GST to deal with the persistent budget deficit may not be the only way forward," it said.

"We are of the view that reducing wastages or leakages in government expenditure, ensuring better value for every ringgit spent and improving efficiency in utilising public funds to reduce the current deficit should be given priority over the introduction of GST, which would hurt the economy, especially given the weak external environment," it added.

The federation said, instead, the government must ensure that the export sector remains vibrant and competitive given the intense competition in global and regional markets.

It added that all forms of help should be given to Malaysian exporters and SMEs to achieve the required cost and productivity efficiency. 

Malaysians Brace for Austerity as Najib Cools Spending: Economy

Posted: 17 Sep 2013 10:17 AM PDT 

(Bloomberg) - Najib went on a spending binge to woo voters before the May election, including smartphone rebates for youths, household electricity subsidies and higher wages for civil servants. He's now focusing government spending on more specific areas, saying public projects with low import content will continue while those requiring more imports will be "sequenced accordingly." 

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak returned to power this year with the help of a spending spree that boosted consumption. Now voters could feel the pinch as he tries to appease a different group: rating companies.

Najib's government raised subsidized fuel prices for the first time since 2010 this month and has said it will delay some infrastructure projects, seeking to contain the budget gap and shore up the current account after Fitch Ratings cut Malaysia's credit outlook to negative in July. It is also considering a goods and services tax in the 2014 fiscal plan due Oct. 25.

The shift toward austerity could cool the domestic demand and investment that kept Malaysia's gross domestic product rising an average 6 percent in the three years through 2012. The country joins Asian emerging markets such as Indonesia in confronting slower growth as they deal with the side effects of spurring local consumption, undermining the region's role as the main driver of global expansion.

"It's payback time," said Santitarn Sathirathai, a Singapore-based economist at Credit Suisse Group AG, who cut Malaysia's 2013 growth forecast to 4.4 percent from 5 percent this month. "Current-account deterioration, fiscal balance deterioration, higher leverage, all these things are the price you have to pay" for boosting domestic demand, he said.

Along with rising national debt and a dwindling current-account surplus, Malaysians have also accumulated Southeast Asia's highest level of household borrowings at 80.5 percent of GDP, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The central bank in July imposed curbs including a shorter maximum tenure for mortgages, saying household indebtedness has expanded by an average of 12 percent per annum in the past five years.

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Sorry Miley Cyrus, no twerking in Malaysia

Posted: 17 Sep 2013 10:06 AM PDT 

The Malaysian government asserts that all people and religious groups have the right to profess, practice and propagate their faiths — as long as doing so does not violate laws related to public order or morality. As far as religious freedom and human rights are concerned, these caveats are crucial. 

Brian Pellot, Religion News 

In our first On Freedom country profile, Brian Pellot looks at the state of religious liberty in Malaysia.

Lamb of God's flock of fans were disappointed earlier this month when Malaysian authorities banned the American heavy metal group from performing in the majority-Muslim country. Why? Because the band allegedly offended Islam by singing about the Quran and Allah in 2005.

Lamb of God is hardly the first American act to stir up controversy in this southeast Asian nation.

Erykah Badu's concert was canceled last year after authorities saw a promotional photo of the singer with "Allah" painted in Arabic above her left breast. BeyoncĂ© scrapped her Kuala Lumpur concerts in 2007 and again in 2009 when members of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party derided her "Western sexy performances." Protesters have demanded the Black Eyed Peas, Avril Lavigne, Gwen Stefani and Mariah Carey be banned from performing locally. Don't expect Miley Cyrus to twerk her way across a Malaysian stage any time soon.

Artistic freedom is clearly restricted in Malaysia on religious and cultural grounds, but what's the overall state of religious freedom in the country?

Malaysia's federal constitution establishes Sunni Islam as the country's official religion but states that "other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony."

Peace and harmony may be a stretch. It's more a system of double standards in which Sunni Muslims are granted some privileges not afforded to religious minorities but are also subject to greater scrutiny and government control over how they choose to worship.

Top government officials have long debated whether Malaysia is an "Islamic state" or rather a secular state with Islam as its official religion. Secular courts serve non-Muslims on all fronts whereas Shariah courts, often stricter and more conservative than their secular equivalents, address religious issues involving Muslims. Parents decide the official religious affiliation of their children, which is recorded on national identity cards and used "to determine which citizens are subject to Shariah law."

Malaysia's constitution bars discrimination against citizens on the basis of religion, but that provision stops short of protecting non-Sunni Muslims. Because the state can "control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam," members of minority Muslim sects, including Shias, are granted fewer religious rights than Buddhists, Christians or other minority faiths. More than 50 Islamic sects are banned as "deviant" and their followers prohibited from assembling or worshipping together in Malaysia.

Read more at:[] 

Patriots, Pretenders & Selective Forgiveness

Posted: 17 Sep 2013 09:38 AM PDT 

UMNO leaders say that the CPM's insurrection against British colonialism was wrong but what alternative strategy did UMNO have to liberate the country from colonial exploitation? Do the UMNO leaders believe that Independence could have been won without the insurrection against the British colonial power? 

Dr Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser

Is there any wonder there is a crisis over public security in Malaysia when our cops are "on the lookout for Chin Peng's remains" being brought back to rest in his homeland?

Is there any wonder there is a crisis of confidence in our leaders' sense of spiritual proportions when they cannot reconcile with our nation's history to allow Chin Peng to return to the land where he was born?


The Quality of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is taught in all religions but the UMNO leaders maintain that Chin Peng and the CPM cannot be forgiven for their past actions during the Emergency. It is clear, however, that the UMNO leaders are certainly capable of selective forgiveness. Let us put all this into perspective…

During the 12-year "Emergency" when the CPM was waging a war against British colonialism, a total of 3,945 security forces, 2,473 civilians and 6,697 insurgents were killed. (Anthony Short, 'The Communist Insurrection in Malaya, 1948-60', 1975: 507) Because of this record, it is argued, Chin Peng and the CPM he led cannot be forgiven.

During the Japanese Occupation of Malaya, more than 100,000 Malayans (mainly Chinese) were killed in the three years between 1942 and 1945. The Japanese killed 5000 Chinese in an operation called "Sook Qing" in just one month in February 1942 in Singapore. During the three years of occupation, 66,000 people were killed in Spore. (Ian Ward, 'The killer they called a god', 1992:319; Paul Kratoska, 'The Japanese occupation of Malaya', 1998:315)

The atrocities committed by Japanese fascism during the Occupation left an indelible mark on those Malayans who suffered the terror of those dark years. And yet we are, quite rightly, prepared to forgive and reconcile with the Japanese even though their authorities have not formally recanted for their fascist and imperialist actions as the Germans have.

Still, my greatest admiration is reserved for the East Timorese, who after years of genocide at the hands of the Indonesians, were prepared to forgive their former oppressors soon after winning their Independence in 1999. Be reminded that from 1975-1999, some 200,000 East Timorese (a quarter of their total population) were killed during Indonesian occupation. President Xanana Gusmao expressed this bountiful resource of forgiveness during his visit to Kuala Lumpur in 2001 when he also thanked Malaysian NGOs for our support and solidarity work for East Timor independence. In contrast, the priority of the UMNO leaders was to support the Indonesian government when we organized the Asia-Pacific Conference on East Timor in 1996!


The patriots and the pretenders

Do our history books extol the patriotic role of Chin Peng and the CPM during the struggle against Japanese expansionist aggression during the Second World War? The CPM-organised Malayan Peoples' Anti-Japanese Army was decorated by the British queen in London after the war, but their contributions have not been acknowledged in our own country.

All over the world, the progressive left democratic alliance were the true patriots who fought against German and Japanese fascism during the Second World War. Can UMNO name any of their leaders who distinguished themselves during that effort to liberate our country from Japanese occupation?

UMNO leaders say that the CPM's insurrection against British colonialism was wrong but what alternative strategy did UMNO have to liberate the country from colonial exploitation? Do the UMNO leaders believe that Independence could have been won without the insurrection against the British colonial power?

My research at the British archives shows that the Malayan Emergency was essential for securing western economic, political and military-strategic interests. With this aim in mind, the British high commissioner had initiated an "Alliance" formula between the Malay aristocracy and Non-Malay capitalist interests, a compromise that continues to this day, to play a significant role.

The colonial strategy against the CPM and the workers' movement can be seen in the fact that the Emergency was declared by the British colonial power in June 1948, while the CPM only launched their armed struggle in December 1948. Against 10,000 Malayan National Liberation Army regulars, the colonial power arraigned 40,000 British Commonwealth troops; 70,000 armed police; 300,000 Home guards, "including aircraft, artillery and naval support…perhaps the largest armed force in proportion to population ever used in a colonial war." (W.J. Pomeroy, 'Guerrilla Warfare and Marxism', 1964).

Anthony Short (UM lecturer, later Aberdeen University) was commissioned to write the official history of the Emergency but his work was rejected by the Malayan Government. Why?

'Bukit Kepong' is screened at every election, but where is Mat Indera in the film when he was the Malay CPM leader who led the assault on the police station at Bukit Kepong?


Communal purpose in CPM portrayal

The truth is that the strategy of the British colonial power and UMNO during the Emergency was to paint the CPM as a purely Chinese insurrection. Thus while 1,000 Malays were detained at the start of the Emergency in 1948, this information was not publicized. Is it therefore surprising that the propaganda film on Bukit Kepong shows the insurgents to be wholly Chinese, when the leader of the CPM assault team was actually Mat Indera?

The proclamation of Emergency also provided the British colonial power with an opportunity to implement measures that were completely against the principles of human rights. In 1948 alone, there were 4,500 arrests, 2,700 detentions and 500,000 were put into concentration camps euphemistically called "New Villages". In 1949, more than 29,000 Malayans were banished to China.

The rest, as they say, is history…

The task for us, the reflective Malaysians, is to painstakingly record the contributions of all true, progressive Malaysians to our blessed homeland. We can leave the stalking of Chin Peng's ashes to our police force. Obviously, they have nothing better to do!

Chin Peng, may you rest in peace…

Wanted- alive but not dead

Posted: 17 Sep 2013 09:32 AM PDT 

It saddens me not because the man is dead but because of the unforgiving nature of my fellow Malaysians even when a person is dead. For whatever he was worth, there is no denying that Chin Peng fought for Malayan nationalism against first the Japanese and then the British. This chapter of our nation's history cannot be erased.   

Major (retired) SM aka Malayan

Chin Peng aka Ong Boon Hua died on 16 Sep 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand. PM Najib announced that the remains of the former CPM secretary general, the late Chin Peng aka Ong Boon Hua would not be permitted to be buried in Malaysia. This was echoed by Tun Haniff Omar, Datuk Zahid Hamidi and others.

It saddens me not because the man is dead but because of the unforgiving nature of my fellow Malaysians even when a person is dead. For whatever he was worth, there is no denying that Chin Peng fought for Malayan nationalism against first the Japanese and then the British. This chapter of our nation's history cannot be erased.  

History has proven that the West will work with anyone, Commies included, if it serves their purpose! The Brits and Yanks were working hand in glove with Russia and likewise with the MPAJA/CPM during WW2. To the West, Commies can be allies at one point of time and enemies on another day. So after WW2 the MPAJA/CPM was deemed a threat by the Brits because it was getting in their way and Chin Peng was branded a traitor.

Though it had Maoist leanings and appealed mainly to the Chinese, the CPM was not short of Malay cadres. In fact, it had a large number of Malays in its hierarchy in its heydays. The 10th regiment consisted mainly of Malays particularly from Kelantan. So in actual fact the CPM represented various races.  

So what picture does Chin Peng paint to you and me? Is he a patriot, nationalist, or a traitor and murderer? There are characters in our nation's history who fit into Chin Peng's dilemma like Hang Jebat, Mat Indera, Ibrahim Libya and to a lesser extent Raja Petra Kamaruddin, to name a few. Are all these people deemed traitors? I don't think so! It seems ironic that a man who was once wanted physically dead or alive at a point in history is not wanted anymore even in ashes!

To me the only decent thing to do and to put the matter of Chin Peng to rest would be to rest him in peace in his birthplace. Not forgetting that the remains of two of Asia's most wanted terrorists, Dr Azhari Husin and Nordin Mat Top who murdered innocent people were brought back from Indonesia and buried here in Malaysia. When incidents like this happen, a question all too often always pops up in my mind. Is the government now behaving like the West that I mentioned earlier?    



Giving While Living

Posted: 17 Sep 2013 09:15 AM PDT 

Where is today's Loke Yew? 

Our new age billionaire boys do not have the human touch in their branding. They believe in the American version of branding with expensive billboards, advertisements, F1 tracks, print on football jerseys and long list of mindless brand building strategies. 

Natesan Visnu 

The 'giving while living' philosophy was pioneered by Chuck Fenney through Atlantic Philanthropies (AP). The organization went on to invest in area of ageing, children & youth, population health and reconciliation & human rights. Fenney was inspired by Andrew Carnegie's essay on 'the gospel of wealth'. Andrew believes that the wealthy should redistribute their surplus wealth in an appropriate manner that would benefit the society in general.

Carnegie explained that by donating to charity, it does not guarantee that the charity organization would redistribute the funds wisely. He views that by donating to charitable organization, it does not improve the condition of the poor. He firmly believes that the nature of the charity should create new opportunities to the beneficiaries.

Carnegie put his philosophy into practice by providing grants for public libraries. He believes the libraries are tools for people to better themselves. To ensure that his 'gift' will not go into waste, he urged for the municipalities to establish a taxation system to support the operating cost. He created a foundation to continue the efforts after his death. It is truly a simple yet effective system to enhance the poor.

Carnegie also established Carnegie Corporation of New YorkCarnegie Endowment for International PeaceCarnegie Institution for ScienceCarnegie Trust for the Universities of ScotlandCarnegie Hero FundCarnegie Mellon University and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. All the organization involved in philanthropic activities for betterment of mankind in various field of education, human rights, arts, etc.

Fenney with his philosophy of 'education equals opportunity' and 'giving while living' has distributed grants worth 2 billion for medical and educational facilities. AP invested 1 billion in Northern Ireland funding for research facilities inUniversity of Limerick and Dublin City University. AP also funded 4 million for Hue Central Hospital in Vietnam.

Why do billionaires like Fenney and Carnegie care so much for advancement of human civilization? Warren Buffet stated 'We're hoping that America, which is the most generous society on Earth, becomes even more generous over time.'  The American billionaires club has taken the initiatives for the future of human civilization by developing programs to empower the poor. Gates and Buffet visited India to talk about The Giving Pledge to the Indians.

If the wealthiest person in the world has taken so much effort to combat poverty, why are there poor people? Why do the African children never get enough food? Why do Indian children live in the slum? Why are children and women killed mercilessly in wars? The ultimate answer is the politics of the country. The failure of the political system and greed leadership are the key components of failure of a nation. Africa, India, Syria and the list of troublesome countries should blame the political system and leadership for their downfall as a nation and society.

Echoing on the political system and leadership theory, the Scandinavian countries have proved their success as nations and their people continue to live harmoniously. Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway are in the top 20 list for happiest country in the world. Scandinavians have definitely developed the system to ensure the people of the country are cared accordingly. One of the key components for a happy country is the efficiency of social support for the people.

Blessed with natural resources, a multi-cultural society, emerging economy and colorful people; we are not happy as a nation. The social support system has not played a significant role in empowering the society. Apart from BR1M program, the Malaysian government has not provided 'tools' to empower the people of Malaysia. Echoing on Carnegie's philosophy, the government should develop programs to empower the people, not give charity. On that note, the BR1M program is charity, not a tool to empower people.

One of the 'tools' that is clearly required is an efficient education system. The recent launch of the education blueprint has sparked much debate among the public. Comparing the Malaysian education blueprint and Finnish education system, our blueprint has many loopholes that need to be fixed. On that note, studying the Finnish education system and adapting the early year's education programs will definitely benefit our education blueprint.

For Malaysian billionaires, 'giving while living' should inspire the billionaire boys club to use their surplus wealth to enhance our community. We have billionaires with football clubs, F1 team and spending millions for branding and marketing. We do not have billionaires that spend millions for libraries, universities, research facilities, etc.

I remember a talk by Yasmin Ahmad on branding and she said it's the human touch that makes the brand. But our new age billionaire boys do not have the human touch in their branding. They believe in the American version of branding with expensive billboards, advertisements, F1 tracks, print on football jerseys and long list of mindless brand building strategies.

In the past we had Loke Yew donating his wealth to build various schools in Kuala Lumpur. He founded the Victoria Institution (VI) with Thamboosamy Pillai and donated a huge sum for Methodist Boys School (MBS). Loke Yew made a $500,000 loan interest free to Hong Kong University in 1915.

The 'China pendatang' donated his wealth for education and our current leadership failed to recognize the Chinese contribution dated from 1900s. The top politicians and businessmen are mostly from VI and MBS. The Victorian spirit initiated by Loke Yew is no longer there in modern Malaysia. We have 'educated' leaders and businessmen but not 'learned'. Loke Yew would have been a very disappointed man if he was alive today.    

'Education equals opportunity', echoing the thoughts, the Malaysian government should develop a comprehensive education system that would benefit the rural folks in Sabah and Sarawak. The recent article by Baru Pian has highlighted the issues with education in rural areas. The education blueprint should aim to empower the rural kids.

The billionaires and millionaires kids go to the best schools. The poor kids go to the average schools. The disparity in education would cripple the future of this country. The politicians, policy makers and entrepreneurs have the wealth and power in their hand to make a difference. Make that difference and empower the poor kids. 

Things You Probably Don’t Know about Sabahans & Sarawakians

Posted: 17 Sep 2013 09:10 AM PDT

If many West Malaysians already think filling the 'Melayu/Cina/India/Dan Lain-Lain' box is a pain, it is something more resented by East Malaysians. With 32 ethnic groups and Muslims who do not identify as Malays, these boxes are hard to tick. 

Lay Chin Koh, The Dilated Pupil 

They are our brothers and sisters from Sabah and Sarawak, but do we really know them? With Malaysia Day approaching, I ask several Sabahans and Sarawakians about things other Malaysians may not know about them – some amusing notes, some random points, and other facts they really wish those in Peninsula Malaysia would remember. One thing that all of them brought up was that Sabah and Sarawak never "joined Malaysia" - as many Malaysians always say - and that the two, along with Singapore and Malaya, formed the Federation of Malaysia as equal partners on September 16, 1963.


  • They are irritated that their fellow Malaysians do not know Sabah and Sarawak were once independent countries themselves. Therefore they were not joining 'states' in the way other Peninsula states are, but rather 'states' as in sovereign territories. Therefore when Malaysia advertisements frequently emphasise the 'Malay, Chinese, Indian' mix as a point of national unity, that leaves East Malaysians understandably peeved.
  • It is common to find Malay-sounding names and even 'bin' and 'binti' in the names of people who are not Muslim. Don't assume things based on names or surnames, West Malaysians! Intermarriages are pretty common, says Jaswinder Kler, who works for an NGO. "It is normal to have families with Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and even pagans in the mix. Everyone gets together, everyone's happy."
  • Many Sarawakians think food in Peninsula Malaysia is a bit too spicy. They like their spice, but in a more balanced way – food with sweetness and sourness, with a tinge of spice. "Personally I have had to suffer every time I eat at the mamak stalls there, before my stomach can acclimatize to the food. Chili here and there! Sayur pun ada kari kah?", says journalist Dennis Wong. He adds though, that Sarawakians love nasi lemak from West Malaysia, as he thinks its much better there.
  • Some folks from West Malaysia still actually think that some Sabahans and Sarawakians live on trees, which annoys them to no end. One would think the questions would come from foreigners, but they come from fellow Malaysians, and it still happens.
  • East Malaysians take pride in the fact that they are of various ethnicities and tribes who can live with each other peacefully. Homes in Mukah, the Melanau heartland, for example, often have two kitchens – one halal and the other, non-halal. "No big deal," they say, as they have been living like that for centuries. Malay stalls operate inside Chinese-owned coffee shops, next to the other stalls selling non-halal food, and it's no cause for hysterics.
  • The highest peak in South East Asia does not belong to Mount Kinabalu, but Hkakabo Razi in Myanmar. Shock, horror! It seems that many Sabahans have known it was only the fifth highest mountain in South East Asia for some time now.
  • Kuching in Sarawak is not named after cats, despite what tourism brochures say. Kuching was named after a small tributary that no longer exists – Sungai Mata Kucing – which refers to the Dimocarpus longan growing in the area. Cat in the Sarawak Malay language is called pusa, not 'kucing'.

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‘Malaysia Named Second Most Dynamic’

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 05:18 PM PDT

(BT) - Malaysia has been ranked the second most dynamic country in Asean after Singapore by the Grand Thornton Global Dynamism index (GDI) 2013, after scoring best in key areas such as business operating and financing environment for growing business.

Datuk N.K. Jasani, the independent assurance tax and advisory firm's managing partner, said Malaysia also provides good financing environment as it scored the highest in Asean for access to medium-term capital.

The GDI, now in its second year, ranks 60 of the world's largest economies on their dynamism, drawing on both economic and business survey data. It marks each economy across five key areas of dynamism to produce an overall score.

The index ranks economies by how much their business growth environment improved in 2012. The 2013 index evaluates where countries stand in relation to one another with regards to their dynamismlevel.

According to Grant Thornton, dynamism is defined as a combination of factors that highlight countries' growth potential. It refers to the changes in an economy over the past 12 months which are likely to lead a fast rate of future growth.

In the GDI 2013, Singapore scored 61.9, the highest in Asean, followed by Malaysia with 59.5 and Thailand, 56.4.

Jasani said Malaysia is ranked 13th globally by the GDI in terms of global position, which is a major improvement of 11 places from the year before. Australia is at the top position, followed by Chile and China.

He added that Malaysia is performing strongly in key areas such as economics and growth (eighth spot), labour and human capital (11th) and financing environment (16th), compared with the other countries.

"We have climbed to rank eighth on economics and growth, boosted by higher gross domestic product (GDP) and consumption growth. Our real GDP growth is ranked ninth in the world," Jasani said, adding that Malaysia's position in labour and human capital has gained 13 places and ranked 11th globally.

He said the country has moved up seven spots in the financing environment ranking to 16, thanks to improvements in the corporate tax burden and access of firms to medium-term capital.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's labour productivity growth has risen six notches to 12th spot in the world, Jasani said in a statement.  

Anti-Shi’a Sectarianism Spreads to Malaysia

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 04:54 PM PDT

"Shiism could be regarded as a 'poison' that can destroy the harmony and security of the country as what is happening in some other countries, including Iran, Iraq and Pakistan," Wan Zahidi said, BBC Monitoring reported, citing a report in the Malaysian paper, Berita Harian, one of the country's oldest papers.

The bitter sectarianism that has been engulfing the Middle East appears to be spreading to parts of Southeast Asia.

Mufti Datuk Wan Zahidi Wan Teh, a radical Islamist in Malaysia, called for cutting all ties to Iran because of its adherence to Shi'a Islam.

"Shiism could be regarded as a 'poison' that can destroy the harmony and security of the country as what is happening in some other countries, including Iran, Iraq and Pakistan," Wan Zahidi said, BBC Monitoring reported, citing a report in the Malaysian paper, Berita Harian, one of the country's oldest papers.

The report added that Wan Zahidi said Malaysia should emulate Morocco is severing ties with Iran, and said that "The Shiite teachings must be blocked, just as we restricted the spread of Communism in this country some time ago."

The radical Islamist reportedly made the remarks at the Islamic Center in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend, which was holding a seminar titled "Facing the Shiite Virus."

Wan Zahidi is known for his controversial comments and claims. Earlier this year, he made global headlines when he issued a fatwa declaring that participating in beauty pageants was forbidden (haram) for Muslim women. As a result of the fatwa, four Muslim women were forced to drop out of the Miss Malaysian contest.

Wan Zahidi's comments and the anti-Shi'a conference seem to reflect a growing anti-Shi'a trend in Malaysia, which is over 60 percent Islamic and about 20 percent Buddhist.

Last month, a minister from the Prime Minister's Department told reporters that Shi'a inside Malaysia were not allowed to propagate their religion.

"It is not wrong for them to practice Shia Islam, just like it isn't wrong for Malaysian Chinese to practice Buddhism," the minister said at a press conference. "But they can't spread the ideology to the local Muslims, who are Sunnis."

Reports in the Malaysian media have also said that persons in possession of Shi'a religious materials had been arrested and faced up to two years in prison along with fines.

There has always been a degree of sectarianism in Malaysian society, although this could be increasing because of increased Iranian immigration to the country as well as the growing sectarianism in the Middle East.

Recent years have seen an influx of Iranian nationals into the Southeast Asian country. According to one estimate by the Middle East Institute, more than 100,000 Iranian nationals are living in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur alone. The MEI report also noted that many Sunni Malaysians have chosen to convert to Shi'ism voluntarily. This is especially controversial among Malaysian religious authorities.

Indeed, the BBC Monitoring report quotes one participant at this weekend's seminar as saying he had been tricked into worshipping Shi'ism for six years but had since converted back. The individual said the Iranian Revolution in 1979 had been particularly influential in convincing him to adopt the Shi'a faith.

Zachary Keck is Associate Editor of The Diplomat.


Retract statement, Rayer tells Chang

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 04:47 PM PDT

(The Star) - A state assemblyman has threatened to sue Gerakan acting president Datuk Chang Ko Youn if he does not retract a statement that Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng favoured only the rich and the well-connected in Penang's government policies.

Seri Delima assemblyman R.S.N. Rayer gave Chang 48 hours from yesterday to retract the alleged defamatory statement.

Chang had also allegedly stated that Lim had made decisions without the approval of his state executive councillors and the state planning committee.

Rayer claimed Lim had performed better than his predecessor, Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon.

He singled out the Kampung Buah Pala issue, where the former residents were each compensated with a double-storey terrace house, and a recent illegal hill clearing where a prominent developer was charged in court for his action.

"I hope Chang would act gentlemanly and retract his statement," Rayer said at a press conference here yesterday.

Rayer said he would also file a complaint with the Penang Bar committee against lawyer Ranjit Singh Dhillon, who is the committee's criminal law chairman, for allegedly meddling in DAP's matters.

This followed reports that Ranjit had asked DAP national chairman Karpal Singh to declare his assets over allegations that Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had given him RM50mil to bribe judges and prosecutors.

Ranjit had reportedly also hit out at DAP over its alleged failure to submit the original letters from the 500 delegates who purportedly confirmed that they were not attending the party's elections here last year.

"He is not a politician. He is not authorised by the Bar Committee to speak to the press on politics," Rayer said of Ranjit.


Forgive Chin Peng, let him be buried back home, Putrajaya urged

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 04:15 PM PDT

(MM) - Adopting a softer approach, PAS and PKR pleaded today with the Najib administration to soften its stance and let exiled Malayan communist leader Chin Peng be buried in his Sitiawan, Perak hometown.

PAS central committee member Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (pic) told The Malay Mail Online he disagreed with the late communist's ideology, but said the government should acknowledge the contribution of the man born Ong Boon Hua, to the country's struggle for independence from colonial British rule and put into perspective.

"If we are able to forgive and forget the atrocities of the Japanese as well as the British, why aren't we able to magnanimously forgive Chin Peng?" Dzulkefly asked.

"The Japanese plundered even worse, and so did the British... There is a need to rewrite the history of our struggle for independence and put in perspective all those who struggled and contributed in their respective ways," added the director of the PAS research centre.

Chin Peng died on Malaysia Day yesterday in Bangkok, Thailand, in exile.

The Bangkok Post had reported the 88-year-old's death was due to old age.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said yesterday that Putrajaya would not allow Chin Peng to be laid to rest in Malaysia, calling him a "terrorist leader that waged war on the nation".

Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar also said that security has been heightened at borders and entry points to prevent attempts to smuggle Chin Peng's remains into the country.

PKR vice-president N. Surendran reminded Putrajaya that the Malaysian government had signed a peace treaty with Chin Peng in 1989 that allowed members of the now-defunct Malayan Communist Party (CPM) to return to their homeland if they laid down arms.

"It's wrong of us as a nation to go back on the terms and spirit of the agreement," Surendran told The Malay Mail Online.

"He's dead now, surely we should be magnanimous," added the Padang Serai MP.

Yesterday, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang said it was time to "move on" from the past and noted that it was Chin Peng's wish to have his ashes returned to his birth place in Sitiawan, Perak.

"Whether one agrees or not with his struggle, his place in history is assured," said Lim.

In a statement yesterday, former CPM chairman Abdullah CD said Chin Peng had loved Malaysia very much.

"He had the wisdom and courage to bring peace to our country," said Abdullah, who had remained a close comrade and friend to Chin Peng over the years.

"We fought to death to defend our country against foreign aggressors. Together we mustered the courage to fight against evil forces and injustices in society," he added in the statement representing several peace villages formed in Southern Thailand after

Chin Peng, who was then the CPM secretary-general, had led a violent 12-year insurgency from 1948 to 1960 against British colonial rule and continued his battle even after Malaya achieved independence in 1957, and after Malaysia was formed in 1963.

Malayan Communist guerrilla fighters had burned villages, orchestrated assassinations and attacked police stations before the military force provided by British Commonwealth nations forced his movement into the jungle.

The violence left more than 10,000 people dead and led the British to isolate and resettle more than 400,000 Chinese in "new villages" to cut Chin Peng's presumed base of support, US daily, Washington Post reported today.

Chua Tian Chang, another PKR vice-president, also said today there was no reason for the government to prohibit Chin Peng's ashes from being brought back to Malaysia.

"Why do we have new villages? We have ISA (Internal Security Act). We have the Emergency Ordinance. We have Rela. We have Rukun Tetangga. All these things, have one way or another, to do with the movement led by Chin Peng," Chua told The Malay Mail Online.

"We cannot erase all this and come into a historical vacuum," added the Batu MP.

The Kumpulan Aktivis Mahasiswa Independen (KAMI) said yesterday that they were willing to make arrangements to bring back Chin Peng's remains.

"He is still an independence fighter for students and the youth, especially in KAMI," the student group said in statement yesterday.

"Tunku Abdul Rahman himself acknowledged Chin Peng's contributions, but why are those who took up arms not getting the honour they deserve?" it added. 


Have a heart, Karpal tells Putrajaya on Chin Peng

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 04:08 PM PDT

V. Anbalagan, TMI

DAP national chairman Karpal Singh (pic) said Putrajaya should allow the ashes of Chin Peng to be buried in his hometown in Sitiawan, Perak.

"The government must be magnanimous after his death. They did not allow him to return during his lifetime," he said in response to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's statement that Putrajaya would not entertain any application by Chin Peng's family members to bring back his body to Malaysia for burial.

Chin Peng, who would have been 90 next month, died in a Bangkok hospital yesterday morning.

Karpal said once a person was dead his past was irrelevant.

He said it was a well-known fact that Chin Peng was born in Sitiawan although he had lost his birth certificate while escaping from the British during a raid.

"He was definitely born in Sitiawan and there is no doubt about that. This could have been proved from available records and witnesses like family friends," he told reporters after attending the sodomy appeal of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in Putrajaya.

Karpal said politicians, historians and individuals judged Chin Peng differently but it could not be denied that the communist leader had expedited Malaya's attainment of independence.

"He fought the Japanese with the British, and later the British," he said.



No way Chin Peng’s remains can return to Malaysia, says former police chief Hanif

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 04:02 PM PDT

Lee Shi-Ian, TMI

"We don't owe Chin Peng anything. He caused Malaysia and its people a lot of harm which resulted in more than 10,000 deaths and untold misery for the families of those who died," said former Inspector-General of Police Tun Hanif Omar (pic) in dismissing calls for the remains of the former Communist Party of Malaya leader to be brought back to Malaysia.

According to Hanif, Chin Peng and his followers had refused an offer to return to the country within a year of signing the peace accord in 1989.

"When Chin Peng finally applied in 2005 to return to Malaysia, the boat had sailed and there was absolutely no reason to admit him back into the country unless he could prove that he had applied to return within that one-year window, which he couldn't," Hanif told The Malaysian Insider in a text message yesterday.

The former IGP who served from 1974 to 1994 instead called for more focus on those who had fought and defeated Chin Peng and his party, insisting that the families of security personnel who fought the communists should be looked after.

"Chin Peng and his followers refused the chance we gave them to return to Malaysia in 1989 and 1990, so they should be left outside our country. Under the terms of the Haadyai peace accord signed in 1989, we forgave them for their crimes," Hanif said, adding that while he had no love for Chin Peng, he would would have fought for his return so as to honour the peace accord terms.

Hanif claimed that one of the former CPM members who refused to return includes the man who assassinated his predecessor, Malaysia's third IGP Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Hashim.

He said the country did not want the assassin to return without facing murder charges.

Hanif rejected any debate on whether Chin Peng's remains or ashes should be allowed to return to Malaysia. He accused Chin Peng's sympathisers of supporting the CPM's armed insurrection to seize power in Malaysia, adding that they have misplaced loyalties.

Following the Japanese invasion of China in the late 1930s, Chin Peng dedicated himself to the Communist Internationale, an organisation created by communist icon Vladimir Lenin to bring together communists worldwide.

Chin Peng and CPM then joined hands with the British Force 136 to fight the Japanese in Malaya.

Hanif accused Chin Peng of plunging Malaya "into a cruel insurrection" lasting four decades at the behest of the USSR.



Najib’s Bumi Agenda divisive, unnecessary

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 03:48 PM PDT

Najib's newly announced Bumiputera Agenda overturns the New Economic Model (NEM), the Economic Transformation Program (ETP) and the Government Transformation Program (GTP).

By Ong Kian Ming, FMT

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak announced an ambitious and far reaching Bumiputera Agenda on Sept 14, two days before Malaysia Day.

Some of the highlights of this Agenda includes the setting up of a powerful Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Council, the announcement of an injection of 10 billion units of Amanah Saham Bumiputera 2 (ASB2), demands on GLCs and GLICs to increase Bumiputera property ownership and to increase their respective Bumiputera Vendor Development Programs (VDPs), 'carve out' policies to ensure Bumiputera participation in big projects such as the Menara Warisan and Rubber Research Institute (RRI) projects, the creation of yet another Bumiputera entrepreneurship fund entitled SUPERB and the creation of Bumiputera Development Units in all ministries to implement the Bumiputera Agenda initiatives.

This agenda overturns nearly all of the key aspects of Najib's transformation programs, namely the New Economic Model (NEM), the Economic Transformation Program (ETP) and the Government Transformation Program (GTP).

The strategy of the NEM was to use market friendly and transparent affirmative action programs that would focus on the bottom 40% of households in order to narrow disparities between the rich and the poor, the urban and the rural, the Bumiputera and the non-Bumiputera.

Najib's Bumiputera Agenda makes no mention of targeting the bottom 40% that was a key focus of the NEM.

What is more disappointing is the fact that Najib left out any mention the need to target the poor in Sabah and Sarawak, the vast majority of whom are Bumiputera as well as the Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia.

These groups were specifically mentioned in the NEM as well as the 10th Malaysia Plan.

Important structural recommendations made in the NEM were given to Pemandu to monitor and implement under the 6 Strategic Reform Initiatives (SRIs). Najib's Bumiputera Agenda contravenes the initiative to increase competition and liberalise key service sectors by once again restricting the players who take part in the marketplace.

Najib's Bumiputera Agenda contravenes the initiative to reduce the government's role in business by once again trying to influence the policies of the GLCs and GLICs.

Najib would do well to remember that one of the institutions which he named in his speech as a government creation – Bank Bumiputera – no longer exists because of mismanagement and misplaced government lending directives.

He would also do well to remember that the entity that replaced Bank Bumiputera – CIMB – is a Malay-Bumiputera-led organization that has become much more ethnically diverse in its make-up, has expanded aggressively around the region and is seen as a much better run bank with much less government intervention especially compared to its predecessor.

Influencing mega projects

Najib's Bumiputera Agenda contravenes the public service delivery initiative by adding another unnecessary and inefficient layer of bureaucracy that are the Bumiputera Development Units that will be created in all ministries.

This will inevitably slow down the decision making process as policies and plans are constantly evaluated on whether they will achieve the desired Bumiputera Agenda.

These units are totally unnecessary since if each ministry carries out their responsibilities efficiently and transparently, their actions would naturally benefit the majority of the population, most of whom will be the Bumiputeras since they form the 67.9% of the population as pointed out by Najib in his speech.

Najib's Bumiputera Agenda contravenes the public finance reform initiative by promising many billions of ringgit in new spending without a proper evaluation of whether funds in the past were properly spent or not.



‘Revisit position of Islam, Malays in constitution’

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 03:41 PM PDT

A think-tank's CEO says the government is constantly emphasising on Articles 3 and 153 of the Federal Constitution, resulting in policies that are skewed to favour one community. 

K Pragalath, FMT

Institute of Democracy Economic and Social Affairs (Ideas) Chief Executive Officer Wan Saiful Wan Jan today called for the revisiting of the position of Islam and the Malays in the Federal Constitution as it had began dividing instead of uniting the society.

Since Article 153 safeguarded the special position of the Malays and natives in Sabah and Sarawak, and with article 3 stating that Islam was the official religion of the federation, the government had been reiterating that one group was superior and overemphasising on Islam.

In the light of that, the Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had announced on Saturday the latest economic plan, Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Agenda (BEEA), to provide a bigger slice of the economic pie to the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak.

"Hopefully, the articles can be removed in 10 to 15 years," Wan Saiful said when he spoke on how the clauses in the federal constitution affected the balance of power during a forum entitled, "Fifty years of democracy: Has it weakened or strengthened our federal constitution."

Wan Saiful also spoke on Najib's previous economic policy – the New Economic Model – which he said was, "liberalising but not much towards creating a 1Malaysia."

"Najib, through the BEEA, is steering the people towards viewing the government as further moving away from 1Malaysia concept crafted by the PM," he said, while urging the Malays who were not comfortable with Malay-favouring policies to speak up and influence other fellow Malays against it.



Kee’s new book prepares readers for GE14

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 03:36 PM PDT

Book re-energises the people because many have become disheartened when the change during GE13 did not take place.

K Pragalath, FMT

Malaysians clamouring for change must begin their work on the ground now to make their dream a reality, said The Elections Bullshit author Kee Thuan Chye.

"If you want change for a better Malaysia you will have to work for it," Kee said at the review of his book, the 10th in the Bullshit series.

"This book re-energises the people to work for change because many have become disheartened and lethargic when the change they had hoped for during 13th general election (GE13) did not take place," he told FMT.

He has also written a feature on GE13 which stands out from the other polls.

The feature refers to "comrade for change", a loose coalition of common people without political party affiliation and leaders who are grouped together to bring out change.

"They are total strangers but when they speak to one another about change, they become old friends," said Kee.

He said the issues raised during the 13th GE such as loyalty to Barisan Nasional and political violence would return prominently in the next polls.

Kee also told FMT that The Elections Bullshit was his way of campaigning for change.

The book is a 291-page compilation of articles previously published in websites such as Malaysian Digest, MSN Malaysia, Yahoo! Malaysia, Malaysiakini and Penang Monthly.

The book, which hit the bookstores a fortnight ago, is divided into pre-GE 13 to post- GE13 with 49 articles on various issues. It is targeted at the urban, English-educated tech-savvy fence sitters.

Kee spent about six weeks to compile and write the book.

He admitted that his books were unable to penetrate into the Malay-speaking rural areas.



RPK: Anwar has destroyed Bersih

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 03:00 PM PDT

Bersih has been hijacked by the opposition and now appears like it is the fourth coalition member of Pakatan Rakyat, says RPK.

"There are extremists from both sides — Barisan Nasional as well as Pakatan Rakyat. We need to build a centrist movement that includes supporters from both Barisan Nasional as well as Pakatan Rakyat. Until that happens you can forget about ever hoping for change," he said.

Free Malaysia Today Interview

Popular blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin has said that election reforms movement Bersih has failed in its main aim of bringing about electoral reforms in Malaysia.

He said that Bersih had made the mistake of aligning itself with Pakatan Rakyat, and had shown more interest in making Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim the prime minister of the nation.

"The window of opportunity for change has closed. If we want to see political reforms (and hence electoral reforms as well) it will have to be on another platform.

"Bersih is too tainted, and in particular because it is now seen as an Anwar Ibrahim movement. Anwar has destroyed Bersih," he told FMT in an interview today.

The editor of Malaysia-Today blog said Bersih should have remained non-partisan although it was political, adding that support from both sides of the political divide were essential to see electoral reforms in Malaysia.

"If the fight for electoral reforms is merely an opposition effort, and with no support from those in government, then we will never see electoral reforms in Malaysia," he said from the UK.

He also had harsh words for Anwar, saying that the PKR de facto leader was talking about unfair elections now when he himself was part of a political party which had enjoyed the fruits of the system for 16 years from 1982 to 1998.

"Without this unfair election system Umno would have been out of power as early as 1990.

"But Anwar never raised this back in the 1980s when he was in Umno and when he needed Umno to remain in power so that one day he could become the Prime Minister.

"Anwar exploited this unfair system to fulfil his personal political agenda and ambition. Anwar was part of the problem back in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

"Today, Anwar is offering himself as the solution when he is the problem rather than the solution.

"If Anwar had succeeded in his effort to topple Mahathir in 1997-1998 and had become the Prime Minister instead of getting kicked out of Umno, do you think he would be talking about the unfair elections today?" asked Raja Petra.

When asked on what was needed to bring about a change in Malaysia, Raja Petra said the only way was for Malaysians from both sides of the political divide unite to fight for change.

"This is not happening yet. It is still Barisan Nasional versus Pakatan Rakyat. And that is not the recipe for change.

"There are extremists from both sides — Barisan Nasional as well as Pakatan Rakyat. We need to build a centrist movement that includes supporters from both Barisan Nasional as well as Pakatan Rakyat. Until that happens you can forget about ever hoping for change," he said.

Below is an excerpt of the Q&A with Raja Petra Kamarudin:

Could you tell about your involvement with Bersih?

In the beginning, Bersih was an ad hoc and informal movement. I really don't know how the whole thing came about but some of us from the civil society movements, bloggers, etc., — basically activists — got together to plan a movement to fight for electoral reforms (as a first step to political reforms).

Some of us, of course, were 'professional' politicians who had earlier been involved with the reformasi movement and participated, or were behind, the various demonstrations that were organised back in 1998, 1999, 2000, and so on.

That was back in 2007 at the height of the Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad-Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi tussle. In fact, Mahathir had already resigned from Umno and was leading an anti-Pak Lah campaign that criss-crossed Malaysia. If you can remember, Mahathir was attacked with mace at the Kota Bharu airport and I was also there and suffered the 'spill-over' of the mace.

You may not be aware of this, but what we can probably now call 'Bersih 1.0' (since we now have Bersih 2.0, Bersih 3.0 and probably soon Bersih 4.0) was also supported by some within Umno.

In fact, we had a few meetings with the Umno people and I even brought DAP leaders such as Ronnie Liu to these meetings — plus I also brought the Umno people to meetings with a few DAP people. Some of these Umno people have even now joined DAP, Aspan Alias as one example. The Umno people also helped sponsor the BERSIH caps and T-shirts costing thousands of ringgit.

Hence Bersih 1.0 was not entirely an opposition effort, although some opposition politicians may have been involved.

It was, as far as I was concerned, a civil society effort that included activists, bloggers, politicians, and so on, from both side of the political divide. And for about two years from 2006-2007 we had many meetings that included supporters of both the government and the opposition (Pakatan Rakyat did not exist yet at that time).

We even launched a movement (not party) called Barisan Rakyat in early 2008 even before Pakatan Rakyat was formed — which was a coalition of six non-Barisan Nasional political parties from West Malaysia and East Malaysia — to take on Barisan Nasional (we realised that to win the general election we needed people from Sabah and Sarawak as well).

Sadly, though, Lim Kit Siang made a press statement denying that Barisan Rakyat was an opposition effort and soon after that Pakatan Rakyat was launched that involved only three parties and excluded the parties from East Malaysia plus PSM.

You have put up some "fiery" writings about Bersih. What is your general view about Bersih and what is your evaluation on its performance in electoral reform for the country? To what extend can the Bersih movement have an impact on the Malaysian political and electoral system?

To ensure the success of Bersih 1.0, we spoke to some people in government to obtain the consent of Istana Negara for us to hand a memorandum regarding electoral reforms to His Majesty the Agong — then His Highness the Sultan of Terengganu. It took many months of lobbying and behind the scenes negotiations and finally we managed to obtain the consent.

The police had initially classified the planned Bersih 1.0 march as an illegal assembly. However, after we managed to obtain the consent of Istana Negara, the police 'loosened up' and allowed the march (which attracted tens of thousands of people). However, only 10 people would be allowed into Istana Negara to hand the Memorandum to His Majesty the Agong.

On the day of the Bersih 1.0 event, thousands marched to the palace. When we reached the palace gates we received instructions to wait outside. We were told that 'the leaders' were coming and that we had to wait for the arrival of these leaders.

I don't know whose decision this was but we waited anyway. An hour later, Anwar Ibrahim and various PKR, DAP and PAS leaders arrived and 10 of them went in to Istana Negara. Suddenly the whole thing was hijacked and was turned into an opposition event.

From then on the opposition took over and began organising the Bersih 2.0, Bersih 3.0, etc. events.

From that day on Bersih was no longer a civil society effort. It became an opposition movement with no longer any involvement by people from Barisan Nasional or Umno.

Some see the Bersih movement as an effort to topple the Barisan Nasional regime, what is your view? In related to that, how do you evaluate the relationship between the Bersih and opposition political parties, Pakatan Rakyat?

I believe that Bersih should have remained non-partisan although it is certainly political. We need support from both sides of the political divide if we want to see electoral reforms in Malaysia.

If the fight for electoral reforms is merely an opposition effort, and with no support from those in government, then we will never see electoral reforms in Malaysia.

Hence I resent the fact that Bersih has been hijacked by the opposition and now appears like it is the fourth coalition member of Pakatan Rakyat. Even the chairperson of Bersih was handpicked by Anwar Ibrahim — which is a shame really because then Bersih now 'belongs' to Anwar Ibrahim, which was never the original intention back in 2006 and 2007.

If you can remember, in the 2010 general election in the UK, Liberal Democrat fought for political reforms.

That was why I joined the party back in 2009. Conservative agreed to political reforms while Labour only agreed to electoral reforms. Hence LibDem joined Conservative to form the new government although they had earlier said in the event of a hung parliament they would join Labour to form the government.

So we need political reforms. And within political reforms would include electoral reforms. That was what we are fighting for in the UK. That is what Malaysians must fight for in Malaysia as well.

And political reforms would include an end to racial and religious politics, something that ails Malaysia today.

Bersih suffers from an image problem. It now appears as a movement to make Anwar Ibrahim the Prime Minister. Anwar talks about the unfair elections (which is the same problem we are facing in the UK — such as gerrymandering, etc.).

But that was what kept Umno in power when Anwar was in Umno for 16 years from 1982 to 1998. Without this unfair election system Umno would have been out of power as early as 1990.

But Anwar never raised this back in the 1980s when he was in Umno and when he needed Umno to remain in power so that one day he could become the Prime Minister.

Anwar exploited this unfair system to fulfil his personal political agenda and ambition. Anwar was part of the problem back in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Today, Anwar is offering himself as the solution when he is the problem rather than the solution.

If Anwar had succeeded in his effort to topple Mahathir in 1997-1998 and had become the Prime Minister instead of getting kicked out of Umno, do you think he would be talking about the unfair elections today?

My opinion is that Bersih has failed. The window of opportunity for change has closed. If we want to see political reforms (and hence electoral reforms as well) it will have to be on another platform.

Bersih is too tainted, and in particular because it is now seen as an Anwar Ibrahim movement. Anwar has destroyed Bersih.

You are one of the co-founders for the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM). What happen to the MLCM now?

Just like Bersih, the same has happened to the many other civil society movements as well. They are either aligned to Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat. There are no longer any independent movements. Independent movements are not allowed. You are expected to align yourself to either the government or the opposition.

And this was why the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) failed. Malaysians could not accept a movement that does not show loyalty to either Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat.

Until Malaysians can clamour for an independent movement that is not subservient to the political masters, on whichever side of the political divide, then we will never see change in Malaysia because politics is about power, never mind whether it is opposition or government.

And to gain power the ends justify the means — which is why politics is so corrupt.

What is your view on the current political landscape of Malaysia? How do you evaluate the role of civil society and social movements?

2008 was the peak for the opposition. 2013 saw a slight improvement for the opposition over 2008. Many say 2018 (when the next general election is expected) will be the end of Barisan Nasional and Umno and will see Pakatan Rakyat in power.

I do not believe that. I believe Umno will become even stronger although Barisan Nasional may get weaker because of the non-Umno parties. There is too much at stake for Umno to allow the country to fall into the hands of Pakatan Rakyat. By hook or by crook, Umno will do anything required to stay in power. That is the reality.

The only way we will see change will be when Malaysians from both sides of the political divide unite to fight for change. This is not happening yet. It is still Barisan Nasional versus Pakatan Rakyat. And that is not the recipe for change.

There are extremists from both sides — Barisan Nasional as well as Pakatan Rakyat. We need to build a centrist movement that includes supporters from both Barisan Nasional as well as Pakatan Rakyat. Until that happens you can forget about ever hoping for change.

A centrist movement means we need liberalism. Even the opposition is not yet ready for liberalism. But we put the blame entirely on Umno or Barisan Nasional whereas the opposition is equally guilty of the same thing.

How many times do we hear opposition leaders and supporters make statements opposing this, that or the other? Liberalism is a big word. And when you talk about democracy that too is a very wide concept.

To Malaysians, democracy just means voting in an election. General elections may be part of the democratic process but that is not democracy.

Some say democracy means freedom of speech. If democracy means freedom of speech then Malaysia is a democracy because we do have freedom of speech in Malaysia. It is freedom after speech that we do not have.

Then we blame the government for denying Malaysians freedom of speech (or freedom after speech). Are you saying that the opposition allows freedom of speech (or freedom of thought, freedom of choice, etc. — the fundamentals of democracy)?

Can a Muslim girl/woman marry a Hindu boy/man without the Hindu converting to Islam? Can a Muslim leave Islam to become a Christian? Can a man marry a man (or a woman marry a woman)?

Can I dispute the belief that the Quran (or the Bible) is the word of God and publicly say so? Can a Muslim drink beer? Can I make a statement saying that the Monarchy is outdated and a waste of money and that Malaysia should be turned into a Republic?

Can I set up the Malaysian Communist Party (MCP) without getting arrested and getting sent to jail? Can I publicly declare that all religions are nonsense and we should all become atheists?

Now, don't ask Umno. Umno will certainly say no. Ask the opposition. Will the opposition say yes or will they also say no? The opposition has already said no even before you ask them — if you had been following what they have been saying all this while.

Hence what democracy are we talking about? There is no democracy in Malaysia whether Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat rules. They are both opposite sides of the same coin. That is the long and short of it all. And that is why we need a non-partisan civil society movement because both sides of the political divide are the same in denying us our civil liberties and hence are equally not democratic.

Many scholars have reached the conclusion that Malaysia is a semi-democracy regime, are you optimistic that Malaysia will in the near future be able to call itself a democracy country?

We cannot say that Malaysia is a semi-democracy. It is like saying someone is semi-pregnant. Either you are pregnant or you are not. How would you define a semi-democracy? Are you saying I can drink one bottle of beer but not six bottles? Or I can drink as long as I do not get drunk? Or I can marry a man as long as I do not indulge in anal sex? What is a semi-democracy? Either I can or I cannot. Period! Either we are a democracy or we are not. Period!

Bersih (and I mean Bersih 1.0 back in 2007) was about electoral reforms. But that was only the beginning and very small part of political reforms in Malaysia. It was how we would start.

Once we achieve electoral reforms (which has still not been achieved) we will then need to take it to the next level — which is political reforms.

Political reforms will not only involve a strong two-party system in Malaysia but also a strong civil society movement not aligned to any political party, basically a strong third force. But Malaysians do not understand the meaning of a third force.

To most people, a third force means three-corner contests in the general elections — because Malaysians are only capable of thinking in terms of general elections and can't think beyond that.

General elections are not the endgame. General elections are part of the game plan but not the endgame. General elections are just a means to an end. This, Malaysians cannot seem to understand.

Okay, let's say in the 2018 general election Pakatan Rakyat manages to oust Barisan Nasional. What then? Will we see more civil liberties? Will all those 'forbidden fruits' I mentioned above now be allowed? What is forbidden under Barisan Nasional will still be forbidden under Pakatan Rakyat. There will be no change in matters involving race, religion, language, the monarchy, and so on.

In short, it will still be old wine in a new bottle. Malaysia will never become a Republic. Article 153 will still be in the Constitution. Islam will still be the religion of the Federation and 'insulting Islam' will still be a crime (whatever 'insulting Islam' really means).

I still cannot say that Allah does not exist without being sent to jail (unless some religious fanatic kills me first). Sex with another man will still be a crime. Elton John and Shakira will still not be welcome in Malaysia because one is gay and the other is too sexy.

And the list goes on. So what change will Pakatan Rakyat bring that Barisan Nasional will not allow?

Malaysian activists and civil society movements have to think beyond general elections and the two main political coalitions called Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat. Only then can we talk about change.

Until then we will still just be talking about changing the government, not about changing society. And that is not what I mean by change. And Bersih or Pakatan Rakyat cannot bring the type of change I am talking about.

Bersih is just about toppling Barisan Nasional. In fact, it is now even worse than that. Bersih is now about making Anwar Ibrahim the Prime Minister. That was not why we formed Bersih in 2007.

Since then, however, Bersih has been hijacked and has been turned into an 'Anwar Ibrahim for Prime Minister' movement. And that was what made me so angry back in 2010 and the reason why I have been so outspoken since 2010.

Maybe one day, after 2020, Malaysians will wake up and understand where I am coming from and where I am trying to go. I will be past 70 then in the event I am still alive. But we shall have to place our hope in the next generation, my grandchildren's generation, to see this new awakening.

Until then it is going to get worse before it gets better. Hence prepare yourself for a crash landing before we touch dry land again.

My suspicion is that the fight for real change will not come from the opposition. Umno and Barisan Nasional are desperate to remain in power and they know that they are on the verge of losing power. Hence change will have to come from within Umno and Barisan Nasional if they do not want to lose power.

Umno may become more centrist, as will the other non-Umno parties in Barisan Nasional. They will become more centrist out of need and desperation.

And to me it does not matter whether change comes from Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat as long as Malaysia sees change. As politicians will say: the ends justify the means.

Hence as long as we see change it does not matter whether we work with the angel or the devil especially when the devil propagates change while the angel resists change — and even Elton John becomes an issue for the opposition.

I do not owe loyalty to Pakatan Rakyat. My loyalty is to the fight for change. Hence I will support anyone who supports change, even the Communists if need be. After all, is not Che Guevara my idol (which is why I wear a beret plus I have a collection of his T-shirts)?

I have written-off the present generation Malaysians and even the next generation (my children's generation). I am hoping for the third generation, my grandchildren's generation, to bring about this change.

And with the Internet, Globalisation, and so on, this is going to happen ten years down the road, maybe after 2020. Then I can breath my last breathe and go to my grave with a smile of my face because my mission and vision will be complete and my life on earth would not have been wasted.


Mukhriz likely to go for Umno VP post, upsetting party call for status quo

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 02:56 PM PDT 

(TMI) - In the past few days, Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been sending out feelers to party delegates and power brokers: he would like the current slate of Umno vice-presidents to be returned at the upcoming party polls. 

But this neat plan of helping Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein retain their positions is likely to be muddled with Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir (pic, below) almost certain to decide tonight on putting his name in for one of the three vice-presidents' slots.

Sources told The Malaysian Insider that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's son is meeting Kedah party chieftains today and will later make an announcement about his ambitions in the party.

His decision to enter the fray will put Najib in an uncomfortable position. If the current party president stays neutral, it is likely that his cousin, Hishammuddin, could be a loser when votes are tallied.

If his aides and operatives continue making the rounds and indicating that he wants the status quo, he could upset the Dr Mahathir camp.

In recent weeks, bloggers aligned to the former prime minister have been talking up Mukhriz's chances of securing one of the three vice-presidential slots, which is seen as a step closer to being at the top of the party leadership.

The 48-year-old became Kedah mentri besar after winning a state seat in the May 5 general election and pro-Umno bloggers feel that he should take a shot at the vice-presidency or lose out in seniority to other upcoming leaders in Umno.

Others in the running to be vice-presidents are Felda chairman Tan Sri Isa Samad and former Malacca chief minister Datuk Seri Ali Rustam, although the latter is said to have been offered a senatorship and a plum corporate post to withdraw from the race.

Ali was knocked out of the deputy president's race in the last party elections in 2009 after claims of money politics.

But Dr Mahathir has said the party needs renewal and younger leaders, in what is seen as a call to party veterans to allow Mukhriz and those his age to move up in the party.



Judge recused from Anwar’s Sodomy II appeal

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 02:31 PM PDT 

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and wife Datuk Seri Wan Azizah arrive for the hearing of the government's appeal against Anwar's acquittal in the Sodomy II case at the Court of Appeal 

The case has been adjourned to tomorrow, when a new judge will replace Maimun on the Bench and decide on another earlier application by Anwar's lawyers to recuse prominent lawyer Datuk Seri Mohamed Shafee Abdullah from representing the government in its appeal.

Joseph Sipalan, The Malay Mail 

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 17 — The Court of Appeal today recused one of the three judges presiding over the government's appeal against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's acquittal in his second sodomy trial.

The three-member bench, chaired by Datuk Ramly Ali, allowed the application by Anwar's lawyers to recuse Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat on grounds that she would be biased in her judgment.

Anwar's lead counsel, Karpal Singh said it was in the interest of the court to recuse Maimun as she had previously presided over and struck out the opposition leader's defamation suit against ex-Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed in the High Court in 2007.

Karpal argued that Maimun had at that time adopted the 2004 majority decision by a Federal Court that ruled to acquit Anwar of the then-deputy prime minister's first sodomy charge in the late 1990.

But then-Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad, who chaired the Bench then, had taken note of evidence of Anwar's "homosexual tendencies".

"By adopting the judgment, she is bound by it and that would make her biased as a member of the quorum," Karpal later told reporters outside the courtroom, referring to Maimun, after the appellate court decided to recuse her from the Bench.

"The court would also have to deal with the public perception that if she sits on the panel, she would be biased and public perception will be against her sitting on the panel," the lawyer added.

The case has been adjourned to tomorrow, when a new judge will replace Maimun on the Bench and decide on another earlier application by Anwar's lawyers to recuse prominent lawyer Datuk Seri Mohamed Shafee Abdullah from representing the government in its appeal.

It was earlier reported that Shafee's appointment was made under Section 376(c) of the Criminal Procedure Code, which allows the public prosecutor to appoint "proper persons" to be deputy public prosecutors under his control and to exercise all rights and powers vested by the prosecutor.

Anwar claimed in his application that the Attorney-General's Chambers should be able to find another lawyer to represent the prosecution, as Shafee had been involved in previous cases against him.

Ramly indicated the Court of Appeal would likely set a later date to hear the appeal after deciding on Shafee's position as the judges did not think there would be enough time to hear all submissions on the same day.


Perbezaan pengganas PKM dengan Perasuah Negara

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 02:23 PM PDT

Pendeknya kalau di pandang dari sudut nilai dan moral diantara perasuah negara dengan pengganas komunis dahulu, ia tidak lah begitu besar dan jelas perbezaannya. Ia lebih kurang sama tahap nilai dan moralnya. 

Aspan Alias 

Pengerusi Parti Komunis Malaya (PKM) yang di haramkan, Chin Peng, telah mati di Bangkok pada Hari Malaysia, 16hb September 2013. Kematiannya telah menjadikan ahli politik mengambil kesempatan untuk menunjuk-nunjukkan kesetiaan kepada negara dengan membuat kenyataan yang garang-garang terhadap orang yang telah mati dan tidak bernyawa itu.

Ada pemimpin UMNO dan NGO yang dahagakan isu untuk di sebut menggunakan kematian Chin Peng ini untuk menempelkan rasa sayang dan cintakan negara dengan meminta mayatnya tidak dikebumikan di negara ini kerana tindakan parti itu masuk kehutan dan menjadi pengganas kepada negara.

Saya tidak mahu memberikan komen tentang kematian Chin Peng ini kerana dia telah meninggal dunia dan ramai orang tidak sedar pun yang Chin masih hidup sehingga mendapat berita tentang kematiannya pada 16hb September yang lalu.

Saya lebih cenderung untuk memberikan ulasan tentang kenyataan-kenyataan yang 'made belief heroes' dalam UMNO dan beberapa orang pemimpin NGO yang sibuk untuk menunjukkan kesetiaan kepada negara dengan membidas orang yang telah mati itu.

Benar Chin Peng telah membunuh dan menyeksa ramai rakyat yang bertuankan British semasa parti itu masuk kehutan dahulu. Tetapi kita jangan lupa yang keganasan Chin Peng itu tidak ada bezanya dengan parti dan pemimpin yang merosakkan negara melalui tindakan rasuah dan menyalahgunaan kuasa.

Pemberontakan Chin Peng itu menghasilkan kematian banyak tubuh dan jasad manusia tetapi sikap rasuah yang menjahanamkan negara juga telah banyak menindas perasaan dan membunuh jiwa rakyat yang berjuta bilangannya dinegara ini.

Pendeknya Chin Peng telah membunuh tubuh ribuan manusia tetapi sikap rasuah dan salahguna kuasa pemimpin itu telah membunuh keseluruhan sistem kerajaan dan demokrasi negara kita. Rasuah telah membunuh jiwa berjuta rakyat negara ini. Kerajaan yang rasuah dan menggunakan kuasa telah merobohkan segala sistem dan 'fabric' politik dan kenegaraan kita dan itu sangat membunuh perasaan rakyat.

Kadang-kadang kita lupa apabila kerajaan itu rasuah ia akan membawa kekecuhan politik dan minda rakyat. Kelemahan dan kesalahan itu telah diperguna oleh pihak parti politik yang bertentangan untuk mendapat simpati rakyat untuk mengambil kuasa yang sesungguhnya belum tentu boleh membaik pulih budaya rasuah itu. Ada tanda-tanda jika pihak yang lain mendapat kuasa pun belum tentu sistem pentadbiran kerajaan serta politik negara itu akan mampu dipulihkan.

Parti Komunis Malaya telah diharamkan dan pimpinannya telah pun mati seorang demi seorang. Tidak perlu kita jadikan sebagai isu untuk mendapat publisiti murahan kerana politik masing-masing. Tidak perlu di ingati peristiwa lama itu.

Kalau pun kita hendak mengingatinya biarlah kita mengingati bagaimana ahli-ahli parti komunis itu keluar untuk memaksa rakyat memberikan makanan untuk mereka didalam hutan dan mencuri makanan rakyat untuk dibawa kedalam hutan di seluruh negara.

Malaysia to erect wall along river border

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 02:20 PM PDT

(Bangkok Post) - Thailand has expressed support for Malaysia's plan to build a wall and perimeter fencing along the banks of the Kolok River, which separates Malaysia's Kelantan state from Thailand's Narathiwat province.

Thai-Malaysian Regional Border Committee secretary Adisak Prachakittikul said Thailand did not see any problem with Malaysia's plan because the construction would not encroach on Thai territory.

Kelantan state is opposite Narathiwat's Sukhirin, Sungai Kolok, Tak Bai and Waeng districts.

"We believe it will be good for the countries in preventing the smuggling of contraband goods," Col Adisak said.

Col Adisak said Thailand had a similar plan to build a wall and fence along the border to prevent smuggling and other forms of border crime. "The Internal Security Operations Command's Region 4 is conducting an aerial survey to assess the feasibility of a wall and fence on the Thai side," he said.

Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said the construction of border walls and fences is standard international practice.

On Sunday, the New Straits Times newspaper reported on its website that Malaysia's Home Ministry plans to declare areas connected to the 121-kilometre Kelantan border as security zones, to prevent trans-national crime.

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the wall and fence programme should be speeded up, as the problems in Kelantan were worse than in other states.

"The idea was proposed by the state police, and I agreed it should proceed quickly," he said after visiting the Kelantan police contingent headquarters on Saturday.

"I will apply for a special allocation from the prime minister, as he understands the limitations faced by the police and other enforcement agencies.

"I think a long-term solution to the problem is to build a wall and declare the border as a security area."

Dr Zahid said the wall and fence would deter drugs and firearms smuggling as well as stop criminals from fleeing across territories.

He said residents living along the river would not be relocated, but all illegal jetties would be destroyed and more policemen would be assigned to the area.

"I realise the livelihoods of people living along the border will be affected by the proposed plan," Dr Zahid said.

"But we have to stop the smuggling of firearms and drugs and prevent criminals escaping across the border. The country's security must be a priority." 


Malaysia Cites Muslim Peace-Broking Record in UN Council Push

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 02:14 PM PDT 

(Bloomberg) - Malaysia said its track-record as a moderate Muslim nation and peace facilitator makes it well-suited to be chosen as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

The Southeast Asian nation is lobbying to hold the rotating seat for a year from 2015, Malaysia's foreign ministry said in a statement today. A decision isn't expected until the UN General Assembly in October 2014.

Malaysia hosted the first round of formal peace talks between the Thai government and Muslim separatists this year in a bid to stem violence that has killed more than 5,000 people in the past decade. It's also mediating with some Islamic rebel groups seeking autonomy in the southern Philippines.

"If Malaysia is chosen as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, we will show our unanimous support with other member countries in finding a peaceful and lasting solution in world conflicts," Anifah Aman, Malaysia's foreign minister, said in an e-mailed statement today. "The acceptance will allow Malaysia to share its experience in resolving conflicts."

The Philippines launched air strikes against Muslim rebels yesterday as President Benigno Aquino sought to bring an end to a standoff that has killed 87 people and complicated efforts to bring peace to the south. Seventy-one Moro National Liberation Front fighters have died in recent clashes, and 64 have surrendered or been captured, military spokesman Major Angelo Guzman said in a mobile-phone message. 

Read more at : 


Where is my government?

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 10:03 AM PDT

Malaysians for Malaysia, Malay Mail

As a taxpayer of more than 3 decades I am increasingly disillusioned by the present government. I am not able to call them "my" government as they do not support me or my needs. I can very clearly see the Government of the Malays and the Muslims but I am not able to see the government of the Chinese, Ibans, Indians, Kadazans, Orang Asli and the rest of us.

My hard earned tax ringgit are being used to pay the wages of the Malay majority civil servant (in excess of 90 per cent), build numerous suraus in every government building, finance government projects that benefit their rich families and friends, etc. But why are my needs, and those of my sisters and brothers of other ethnic origins and religious persuasions, not supported? It would be good to see a breakdown of tax contribution by ethnicity. It would be no surprise to see that the majority of our taxes are contributed by Malaysians who are ignored by this government.

I see the government speaking up and fighting for Malay and Muslim rights. But why do they not defend my basic human rights? Why are my needs ignored? Why are my rights trampled on by the government? Recently the minister of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry was very quick to act against employers who discriminate against women wearing the 'tudung' (Muslim headgear) as employees. But why is there no similar response to all the ethnic and religious injustice meted out to those of us from different ethnic and religious persuasions?

Are we not also Malaysians? Do we also not have equal rights under our constitution and as human beings? Article 8 of the Federal Constitution was cited by the Minister, which states: "there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground only of religion, race, descent or place of birth in any law relating to the acquisition, holding or disposition of property or the establishing or carrying on of any trade, business, profession, vocation or employment".

Why then does minister Rohani not warn the senior managers of our civil service (JPA) that stern action would be taken against them for discrimination against the Indians, Chinese, and other ethnic groups? Our civil service managers practise a policy of apartheid. In promotion, in appointment of leadership post, in recruitment, etc the mangers of our civil service practise a blatant racist policy.

In recent decades we have seen increasing injustice and bias by this government towards citizens of religious persuasions other than Islam.

For example, why is there not even one prayer room for these citizens in any government department, hospital, etc. Why does the government not actively support, fund and encourage the development and building of Churches, Hindu and Buddhist Temples, etc in the country?

Muslim civil servants actually go for religious training and talks during office hours. Why are religious individuals from other faiths not allowed to organise such talks as well in government departments?

Of course a civil servant should be working when at work, not attending religious talks. That this even happens in government hospitals where over burdened staff are struggling to improve care is unbelievable.

I voted for a government that will support and look after all Malaysians, not just one segment of the population.

Who we actually voted for is our democratic right. What matters is that we as a people have accepted the elected government. The government's responsibility is to meet the needs of all the people, those who voted for it and those who did not. This is the sign of a mature government, not a childish one.

An elected government that only serves a segment of the population does not deserve to be in power and is neither democratic nor of God.

Where is my government has become my lament and prayer. Why are so many of us treated as second class citizens. Why is there no respect and basic dignity extended by our elected leaders to the entire population? Why are we constantly asked to leave our land by our elected minsters?

Why am I pouring out my energy and lifeblood (tanah tumpahnya darah ku) for this nation I love but am not appreciated? When will I be included and accepted?

I no longer believe the present government is one which represents all of the people of Malaysia. They are a government of their rich families and friends. A government that focuses on racial and religious issues and uses them to create disunity so that they can rule and deflect attention from their corruption and failure to support the poor. A government that even fails to get the support of the ethnic group they claim to represent.

Our beloved nation is at a crossroads. Either we descend further into the darkness of racial and corrupt politics and policies that have defined us for the past three decades. Or we move collectively into the light of a nation made up of one people - Malaysians.

A nation where all are respected and treated as equals.

Where the needs of every segment of our people are looked after.

Where the narrow walls of religious and racial bigotry are broken down permanently.

Where all have an equal future.

Where the ethnic/religious persuasions of our prime minister are not as important as the quality of his actions and intentions.



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