Ahad, 22 September 2013

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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

A deluge of depressing headlines

Posted: 22 Sep 2013 12:58 PM PDT


Lest anyone imagine for a moment that all this one-sided spoon feeding only began post-May 13, let me relate my first-hand schoolboy experiences of the rob Peter (read Chinese) pay Paul (read Malay) policy during my secondary school years prior to 1969.

An author said, "There are no hopeless situations; there are only men who have grown hopeless about them."

Yet another wrote, "The nation is bad but not without hope. It is only helpless when you look at it from an ideal viewpoint."

If I seem philosophical, it is because of an overdose of thought-provoking headlines leading up to Malaysia's Jubilee on Sept 16.

Here's a sampling:

"Is Malaysia truly free?"

"Reversing the clock on Malaysia"

"Sarawakians look for a fairer deal"

"Harris also failed Sabahans"

"The Chinese support BN too"

"Federal government must be genuinely inclusive"

"Where do we go from here?"

Except for the last heading, the first six were all gleaned from online publications. Don't expect pungent political analyses from our impotent, or perhaps even emasculated, national dailies.

Life in Malaysia has never been more suffocating in the last half century than now, notwithstanding that the Infernal (sic) Security Act has been repealed.

The ISA was replaced by the no less offensive (pardon the pun) Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).

Malaysians are bracing for new legislation to replace the Emergency Ordinance and the Sedition Act, if the latter is repealed as well.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak is dragging his feet on the pre-GE13 undertaking to do away with the archaic law. Meanwhile, the Sedition Act is liberally and selectively used against the opposition.

An oft-repeated joke goes like this: "One day our country will be free. Which tense is it?" "Future Impossible Tense!"

Read more at: http://www.theantdaily.com/news/2013/09/23/deluge-depressing-headlines 

Ulama Perempuan

Posted: 22 Sep 2013 12:49 PM PDT


(The Nut Graph) - Padahal, ada ustazah yang sewaktu di universiti, mutu kelulusannya jauh lebih tinggi dari sesetengah ustaz yang lulusnya sekadar tahap ala kadar. Akan tetapi, bila selesai pengajian, sesetengah ustaz yang tahap kelulusannya  sekadar cukup makan itu pula yang dengan penuh yakin mengedepankan dirinya atau diangkat sebagai ahli agama yang jadi sumber rujukan banyak pihak.  

SESETENGAH orang akan tertoleh dua kali seperti tersalah dengar apabila mendengar perkataan "ulama perempuan". Dua perkataan yang seperti tidak boleh disebutkan seiringan. "Orang perempuan mana boleh jadi ulama. Kan orang lelaki saja boleh," kata sesetengah orang. Ada yang malah menganggapnya sebagai sesuatu yang sangat bertentangan dengan Islam.


Poster  tayangan Ulama Perempuan

Namun, apakah persepsi ini benar? Mengapa wujud persepsi begini? Apakah benar tidak ada ulama wanita dalam sejarah dan tradisi Islam?

Justeru saya ingin mengetengahkan sebuah gerakan "Pengkaderan Ulama Perempuan" di Indonesia melalui dokumentari saya Ulama Perempuan yang ditayangkan pada 20 Sept 2013.  Sebenarnya filem saya masih belum begitu siap, namun saya tayangkan juga sekadar untuk memulakan perbincangan mengenai isu ini.

Ulama perempuan

Apakah lupa bahawa Siti Aisyah r.a. itu juga dianggap sebagai ulama dan mufti. Ramai para sahabat yang bertemu beliau untuk belajar dan meminta nasihat tentang hal-hal agama.  Begitu juga Rabiah Al Adawiyah, ramai ulama-ulama  besar lelaki yang turut berguru dengannya.

Al-Muhaddithat: The Women Scholars in Islam, buku kajian Felo Penyelidik dari Pusat Pengajian Islam Universiti Oxford, Dr Mohammad Akram Nadwi, mengemukakan 8,000 perawi hadith wanita yang selama ini tidak pernah diwar-warkan pada umat Islam, sehingga hampir seluruh umat Islam menyangka bahawa perawi hadith mestilah hanya orang laki-laki saja.

Sekali lagi, seluruh umat Islam seperti terlupa bahawa perawi hadith yang penting dan utama ialah Siti Aisyah r.a.


Al Muhaddithat: The Women Scholars in Islam

Tahukah anda bahawa mengambil air sembahyang itu ialah hasil dari perawian hadith seorang wanita, iaitu Rubiyya Muawidh ibn Afrah?  Menurut Dr Muhammad Akram, Rubiyya merupakan perawi hadith yang hebat, yang banyak dipetik oleh Bukhari, Muslim dan Ibnu Majah.

Read more at: http://www.thenutgraph.com/ulama-perempuan/ 

Chin Peng obituary

Posted: 22 Sep 2013 12:40 PM PDT


Chin Peng, centre, at the Baling peace talks in Malaya, 1956, which came to nothing.  

(The Guardian) - The 1989 a peace agreement included a provision for Chin and his comrades to return to his native country, which was never honoured. He went into exile in southern Thailand, travelling to Singapore to lecture at the university. His application in 2000 to return was rejected by the Malaysian high court after five years; his appeal failed in 2008, on the grounds that he was unable to prove his citizenship through documents long lost. 

The ethnically Chinese, Malayan political activist and guerrilla leader Chin Peng, who has died aged 89, fought both with the British and against them. For his exploits during the second world war he was appointed OBE, and after it he led the abortive communist campaign to take over Malaya.

Chin was the last of the major guerrilla commanders who fought colonialism in Asia after 1945, a group including Sukarno in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, Norodom Sihanoukin Cambodia and Aung San in Burma.

When Malaya gained independence from Britain in 1957, and six years later merged into today's Malaysia, Chin continued his struggle for communist control of the new state from exile until a peace agreement was signed in 1989. At this point the Malaysian government flatly refused to allow him to return, a ban which has been extended to his remains.

Chin Peng (his nom de guerre) is said to have been born in 1924 in the Malayan state of Perak. His birth name was Ong Boon Hua and his father was an immigrant from China who set up a bicycle business. He took to politics at the age of 13, joining a new ethnic-Chinese society set up to send aid to China in its fight against Japanese aggression. His first role was to lead anti-Japanese activity at his school. At 16 he became a communist.

In 1939 he transferred from his Chinese-language school to an British Methodist one, but left after six months to escape British domination and become a full-time revolutionary. To evade local British authorities he moved to Kuala Lumpur, the Malayan capital, in July 1940. When he attained full membership of the Communist party a year later, he was already serving on a number of party committees in Perak as well as party labour organisations.

The Japanese invaded Malaya in December 1941, when he was the junior member of the triumvirate running the Perak state committee. His two senior colleagues were arrested by the Japanese early in 1943, leaving Chin in charge. He went back to Kuala Lumpur in a bid to contact the CP central committee, which appointed a new state secretary for Perak in his place – but the new man was arrested as well, leaving Chin in charge at the age of 19.

It was down to him to make contact with a British commando unit operating in Perak in September 1943. Japan was now the enemy and Chin adopted the view that my enemy's enemy is my friend; but the easy defeat of the British in Malaya, culminating in their worst-ever surrender in Singapore in February 1942, had convinced him that they could be driven out in their turn.

For his dangerous work for British forces he was not only appointed OBE (later rescinded), but received two mentions in dispatches. When Lai Tek, secretary general of the Malayan CP, was unmasked as a double agent for the Japanese and the British, Chin was elected to replace him: he was the senior survivor of the party leadership after Lai had betrayed it to the Japanese. He was now 20.

Read more at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/22/chin-peng 

Follow Penang’s lead with lawmaker funds, Putrajaya told

Posted: 22 Sep 2013 12:26 PM PDT


Zairil Khir Johari said the Penang government's decision is the right step towards promoting a mature democracy and national reconciliation after the 13th general election last May 5.  

(MMO) - Putrajaya should emulate Penang's move in providing development funds directly to elected representatives on both sides of the aisle, two opposition parliamentarians said today.

First-term MPs Steven Sim Chee Keong and Zairil Khir Johari said the Penang government's decision is the right step towards promoting a mature democracy and national reconciliation after the 13th general election last May 5.

"This should be emulated by all state governments in Malaysia and definitely by the federal government. This year, a total of RM185.5 million was allocated for all 222 parliamentary constituencies. This equates to around RM835,000 for each constituency. Unfortunately, opposition MPs have no power to manage or approve any project using the allocation. This is clear discrimination towards opposition MPs and in violation of democratic principles. It can also be seen as an insult to the rakyat in opposition areas," they said in a joint statement.

Yesterday, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng announced that the state government would set aside an annual allocation of RM40,000 for each opposition assemblyman to finance small development projects in their areas, starting next year.

National news agency Bernama quoted him as saying that the allocation was discussed and approved by the state executive council last Wednesday, and will be part of the state's 2014 budget.

Lim added that the state government had initially invited opposition benchers to become state executive councillors to give them a platform to serve and receive allocations, but claimed that the state's offer was rejected.

Sim, who is Bukit Mertajam MP, and Zairil, who represents Bukit Bendera, said today that the state's decision was evidence that the Penang state government does not "play politics" and is serious in pushing for national reconciliation.

The DAP elected representatives said it is only right for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to extend the same treatment to opposition MPs so they can fulfil their responsibilities as legally-elected MPs.

"We also hope the prime minister will take this opportunity to act rationally and set aside narrow political interests to make way for maturity of the political process in the country," they said.

Previously, DAP's Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj had filed for a judicial review of the government's RM220 million development fund for federal constituencies.

The funds were allocated at a rate of RM1 million to each federal seat but were managed directly by Barisan Nasional representatives and without the knowledge of Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers.

The bid was, however, rejected by the Federal Court in January.


Forget merging, solve people issue first

Posted: 22 Sep 2013 11:15 AM PDT

(Bernama) - The proposed merger of Gerakan, MCA and the Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP) is not a solution to restore Barisan Nasional's (BN) glory, said acting Gerakan president Chang Ko Youn.

Instead, he said, all BN component parties should help the government to address the issue.

"Why the need for a merger? The important thing is for all BN component parties to play their role by restructuring BN and making it (BN) a strong machinery through discussion and to make changes," he added.

He was speaking to reporters after opening the Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory Gerakan State Liaison, Youth and Wanita annual delegates conference at Menara PGRM here last nigt.

Chang said the important thing was to focus on how the BN component parties could address issues raised by the people.

"Issues raised by the people, like on transparency, governance, delivery system, all this must be settled, including on crime, high cost of living and the quality of live in the urban areas," he added.

He said the new elected line-up of Kuala Lumpur Gerakan leaders should draw up a new strategy aimed at restoring the party's strength.

Meanwhile, Lau Hoi Keong was elected as the Federal Territory Liaison Committee chairman after beating Dr Wong Ruen Yuan while Calven Loke Wai Hoong was elected as the Federal Territory Gerakan Youth chief after beating Simon Sim in the party's state election yesterday. 


Election Commission took orders from Putrajaya, Ambiga tells Bersih tribunal

Posted: 21 Sep 2013 11:10 PM PDT

Muzliza Mustafa, TMI

Bersih co-chair Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said the Election Commission (EC) acted under the instructions of Putrajaya when it should have acted as an independent body.

Ambiga, who was the last witness at the Bersih People's Tribunal in Subang Jaya, stressed that the EC had taken a partisan approach when making statements.

"EC acted like they were under Putrajaya's control. I have problems with the commission for their failure in giving proper explanations on the issues surrounding the electoral roll and others under their purview," she said today.

She added that the commission did not say anything when election-related issues cropped up.

"They failed to fulfil their responsibilities to investigate political violence and other serious allegations during GE13," said Ambiga.

She told the tribunal the EC's sole responsibility was election matters. "If they have not got it right, it just shows their lack of empowerment," said Ambiga.

"It's like their hands were tied."

Among the issues brought to the tribunal's attention was how the electoral roll did not tally with the data kept by the National Registration Department, the indelible ink, and phantom voters as well as postal voters.

Ambiga said the EC had failed Malaysians on the indelible ink issue.

"They cannot do this and give wishy-washy answers. They are just letting it fade away and hope everybody will forget all about it.

"Many questions were not answered. This is not right.

"EC should be the one advising the government, not following their orders," said Ambiga.



Extremism in the name of Islam and Malaysian Muslims

Posted: 21 Sep 2013 10:51 PM PDT

When asked whether violence such as suicide bombing is justified to defend Islam from its enemies, 5% of the Malaysian Muslims surveyed said it is 'often justified', 22% said 'sometimes justified', 12% said it is 'rarely justified', 58% said it is 'never justified', while 3% indicated that they did not know or refuse to answer.

Joshua Woo, New Mandala

The Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project recent report on Muslims values towards extremism which was based on its face-to-face interviews conducted in 11 countries makes for interesting analysis. 822 Malaysians participated in the survey. 522 of them identified themselves as Muslim. When asked whether violence such as suicide bombing is justified to defend Islam from its enemies, 5% of the Malaysian Muslims surveyed said it is 'often justified', 22% said 'sometimes justified', 12% said it is 'rarely justified', 58% said it is 'never justified', while 3% indicated that they did not know or refuse to answer.

In 2010 Malaysia had 28.3 million citizens of which 61.3% identified themselves as Muslim. This is 17,347,900 people. If the Pew Research Center's sample was representative of Malaysian Muslims, then the survey results would be the general view of Malaysian Muslims. If we then extrapolate the survey results, the following propositions could be made:

  • 867,395 Malaysian Muslims think that violence such as suicide bombing is 'often justified' to defend Islam from its enemies.
  • 3,816,538 Malaysian Muslims think that violence such as suicide bombing is 'sometimes justified' to defend Islam from its enemies.
  • 2,081,748 Malaysian Muslims think that violence such as suicide bombing is 'rarely justified' to defend Islam from its enemies.
  • 10,061,782 Malaysian Muslims think that violence such as suicide bombing is 'never justified' to defend Islam from its enemies.
  • 520,437 Malaysian Muslims do not know or refuse to answer the question.

There are at least 3 important observations to be made from the above propositions.

First, about 6.7 million Malaysian Muslims, which is 39% of total Malaysian Muslims think that violence can be justified to defend Islam. If among the 520,437 who refused to answer the question because they were either afraid or embarrassed to reveal their inclination for the justification of violence to defend Islam, then the actual number would be higher. This suggests that close to half of Malaysian Muslims think that violence such as suicide bombing can be justified to defend Islam from its enemies. An important caveat, this does not mean that those who think so would actually participate in violent acts or sign-up for suicide bombing mission. As highlighted by sociologist Charles Kurzman,

"Sympathy for Islamist terrorism rarely translates into Islamist terrorist activities… This sort of symbolic endorsement does not translate into support for revolutionary goals or potential collaboration with terrorism.[i]

Kurzman likened this to the popular cultural icon of Che Guevara, "For decades, left-leaning American and European youths have taped Che posters to their dorm-room walls without lifting a finger to overthrow capitalism." Likewise, Muslims' inclination towards the justification of violence in defence of Islam does not necessarily lead them into extremist activity.

Second, this observation redirects our attention to the United Malays National Organisation's (UMNO) [ii] relation with Islamic extremism since the 9/11 terrorist attack in America. Lest we forget, the planning of the 9/11 attack took place in what is now known as the 'Kuala Lumpur al-Qaeda Summit'. In his study on Malaysia's connection to international terrorism, Joseph Liow noted that ever since the 1990s, "There were already indicators that Malaysia was proving to be a reliable transit point, if not an actual haven, for international Islamic militants long before the September 11 attacks."[iii] In a recent press statement, Datuk Mohamad Fuzi Harun, the director of Malaysian police's counter-terrorism special task force, revealed that Malaysia "was used as transit to a third country, fund-raising as well as recruitment of new suicide bombers." There were no less than 10 international terrorist groups operating in Malaysia since the 9/11 attack.[iv]

Malaysia being a fertile ground for Islamic extremism is partly caused by the Islamisation agenda of UMNO. As Liow has commented,

To be sure, the Malaysian government's operational actions against Islamic "extremists" and "radicals" are but one dimension of a complex relationship between religion, the state, and Malaysian society today. At the same time that the government is identifying and clamping down on extremists and radicals… the regime has encouraged, facilitated, and enhanced the role of the Islamic religious establishment in Malaysian society, the judiciary, and public life in general… [T]he regime has permitted—indeed, facilitated—a remarkable degree of penetration by the conservative Muslim clergy of the institutions of the state.[v]

Gordon Means similarly observed,

For jihadi militants, Malaysia was a land of opportunity but not where militants could enjoy tacit government sponsorship or a safe sanctuary. What Malaysia had to offer the Al Qaeda network was its climate of politicised Islam within a Muslim-majority population, its visa-free immigration to citizens of Islamic countries, its excellent worldwide communication linkages, and its advanced banking system that included a well-developed sector of Islamic banks.[vi]

Both Liow and Means have shown that the UMNO-led government has played an important role in enabling, though not outright and formally encouraging, extremism in the country by way of sanctioning religious revivalism and Islamisation. Patricia Martinez has cautioned that such political dealing with Islam exposes the country to "the danger in playing catch-up with fundamentalists and militants" to be the authority that define Islam for local Muslims. The government will always be in the losing end as "Southeast Asian Muslim ummah in the periphery of the Islamic world, many (but certainly not all) Muslims perceive everything in the heartland of the Middle East as authentic and best, and thus receive fundamentalists and militants as more pious when they adopt the idiom, language and culture of the heartland."[vii]

Third, this report highlights the urgency for Muslims to re-look into the rhetoric of "enemies of Islam" used arbitrarily by members belonging to right wing  ethno and religio centric groups such as UMNO and Perkasa. If violence is perceived as justifiable to defend Islam from its enemies, then there is a serious cause for Muslims to discern over the criteria required for one to be categorised as such.

The on-going controversy over the word 'Allah' is a good example; should Christians be categorised as 'enemies of Islam' simply because they use the word 'Allah' in their religious observation? The highest Islamic authority in Malaysia, the Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM), certainly thinks  so, as seen in their disseminated Friday sermon dated 30 August 2013 in which Christians are called 'musuh Islam' (Malay: 'Enemy of Islam'). One of the reasons JAKIM persistently forbids Christians from using the word 'Allah' is due to the allegation that such usage places Allah as one of three gods.[viii] This is another manifestation of UMNO-linked organisations' flirting with extremism and their lack of discernment when it comes to other religions such as the concept of Christian Trinity.

JAKIM's view goes against more than 400 signatories comprising Grand Muftis, Islamic scholars, and Muslim leaders around the world who endorse the document 'A Common Word Between Us and You'. To these signatories, Islam and Christianity are founded on the common ground of monotheism. As stated in the summary of the document provided by the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Jordan:



Mahfuz: Pas sedia berdialog dengan Umno isu rasuah

Posted: 21 Sep 2013 07:32 PM PDT


Irwan Mohammad Zain, Astro Awani

KUALA LUMPUR: Pas bersedia pada bila-bila masa untuk berdialog dengan Umno atas isu-isu melibatkan kepentingan negara terutama berkaitan isu rasuah, kata Naib Presidennya, Datuk Mahfuz Omar.

Mahfuz berkata, isu rasuah perlu diberi perhatian oleh pemimpin kedua-dua parti kerana ia melibatkan kepentingan negara dan rakyat.

Katanya, bukan hanya Pas, malah Pakatan Rakyat juga bersedia untuk berdialog dengan Umno dan Barisan Nasional (BN) jika melibatkan isu rasuah.

"Dalam soal nak berdialog dengan Umno ini saya nak tegaskan bahawa kami (Pas) sentiasa terbuka dan bersedia pada bila-bila masa jika ia melibatkan isu yang menyentuh kepentingan negara terutamanya isu rasuah.

"Kalau kita lihat, isu rasuah ini agak kritikal dan perlu diberi perhatian kalau benar Umno dan BN ikhlas mahu berdialog dengan Pas atau Pakatan Rakyat.

"Isu rasuah ini pada saya dan juga pimpinan Pas yang lain merupakan isu yang perlu diberi perhatian dan kami (Pas) sangat bersedia untuk berdialog atas isu ini," katanya kepada Astro AWANI.

Beliau berkata demikian ketika diminta mengulas isu kerjasama dan dialog antara Pas dan Umno yang kembali hangat diperkatakan dewasa ini.

Mahfuz juga menafikan laporan media yang mengatakan Presidennya, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang membuat kenyataan Pas sedia bekerjasama dengan Umno jika dipelawa.

Sebaliknya beliau menegaskan, Abdul Hadi membuat kenyataan Pas sedia untuk berdialog dengan Umno atas isu yang melibatkan kepentingan negara dan rakyat.

Beliau juga berkata, Abdul Hadi turut menjelaskan pendirian Pas sama seperti yang dipersetujui pimpinan Pakatan Rakyat yang sedia berdialog dengan BN atas isu melibatkan kepentingan rakyat dan negara.

"Dalam sidang media malam tadi, Ustaz Hadi ditanya tentang kerjasama dengan Umno, jadi dia (Hadi) jawab Pas dan Pakatan Rakyat sedia berdialog dengan Umno dan BN atas isu besar yang melibatkan kepentingan negara dan rakyat.

"Kemudian ada wartawan tanya kalau hanya Pas dan Umno macam mana? Ustaz Hadi jawab kalau Pas dan Umno pun untuk berdialog tidak ada masalah, kalau untuk kepentingan negara dan rakyat Pas sedia berdialog dengan Umno.

"Ustaz Hadi tidak sebut kerjasama tetapi dia sebut dialog, kalau kerjasama boleh ditafsirkan lain," katanya.

Mahfuz berkata Pas tetap dengan pendirian yang telah diputuskan dalam muktamar bahawa akan bekerjasama dengan Pakatan Rakyat tetapi sedia berdialog dengan parti pemerintah atas isu melibatkan kepentingan negara.

Pada Sabtu, Agensi Berita Nasional (Bernama) melaporkanAbdul Hadimembuat kenyataan Pas sedia bekerjasama dengan Umno termasuk berdialog jika dipelawa.

Katanya, PAS boleh berbincang mengenai apa sahaja isu dan sejarah membuktikan pemimpin-pemimpin PAS dan Umno boleh berada bersama di atas satu pentas.

Beliau berkata bekas Perdana Menteri Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad dan bekas Presiden PAS Allahyarham Datuk Fadzil Noor pernah bersama dalam satu forum suatu ketika dahulu.


Chin Peng set to “haunt” Parliament tomorrow

Posted: 21 Sep 2013 07:23 PM PDT

Eileen Ng, TMI

Parliament will convene tomorrow for the second time since the general election, and with the spectre of former communist leader Chin Peng hanging over it, many Members of Parliament are bound to raise Putrajaya's refusal to allow his ashes to be brought back and interred.

The presence of several opposition lawmakers at Chin Peng's wake will provide fodder for the Barisan Nasional backbenchers who are bound to raise a heckle and try to link DAP to the communist party.

Party members who attended the Bangkok wake of the former Communist Party of Malaya secretary-general said they were there on their own accord.

Klang MP Charles Santiago said he was in Bangkok for a meeting with non-governmental organisations and took the opportunity to drop by at the Wat That Thong temple where Chin Peng's remains lay.

The Star reported yesterday that the second-term DAP MP was seen kneeling and holding a joss stick at a floral dais inside the air-conditioned hall where the sealed casket bearing Chin Peng's remains was placed.

Together with Santiago were Selangor DAP committee member and former senator S. Ramakrishnan and Aliran exco member Sarajun Hoda. Also seen at the wake, but at a different time, were Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi and PKR Batu MP Tian Chua.

This may not provide the Minister in charge of parliamentary affairs  Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, the peaceful meeting he craves for, after being exhausted with the last meeting.

"I hope the House will continue to be peaceful," he told reporters wearily at a function this week.

Shahidan will also find himself under the spotlight in the wake of reports that his daughter was working for him in a "gazetted government post", a position the administration said should not be held by family members.

Chin Peng's death is not the only issue which has riled up Malaysians.

Equally controversial are the Sri Pristina school issue, Putrajaya's compensation to the two Automatic Enforcement System (AES) concessionaires, the softening of the economy, the Bumiputera Economic agenda and the ongoing Bersih People's Tribunal on electoral fraud.

The spike in violent crime, which includes the murder of Arab Malaysia Bank founder Hussain Ahmad Najadi in July, has culminated in calls for the return of draconian laws to rein in criminals.

Both sides of the political divide are bound to set Parliament alive with these issues.

"While we cannot simply discuss any issues this time because the topic is strictly confined to the debate of Bills, expect MPs to find ways to weave it in, either during Question Time or during the course of the debate," said DAP's Kulai MP Liew Chin Tong.



MEB vs DEB (Bhg 2)

Posted: 21 Sep 2013 07:19 PM PDT

Sesungguhnya dalam negara ini tiada politik yang mempunyai roh sebenarnya. Yang ada hanyalah pemimpin-pemimpin yang bermain politik siapa menang siapa kalah semata-mata. 
Aspan Alias
Seperti yang disebutkan dalam posting yang lepas, satu-satu dasar itu amat wajar mendapat persetujuan dan sokongan dari semua pihak dan semua pihak itu memahami kenapa dasar itu wujud. Rakyat semua kaum dan kawasan mesti terlebih dahulu tahu apa kah nilai atau 'roh' kepada satu-satu dasar yang diwujudkan itu dengan berunding dengan baik dan sejujurnya kerana kita memerlukan sokongan yang kuat dari semua pihak. Malahan kita mahukan kerjasama dan bantuan dari semua bagi menjayakan matlamat dasar itu.

Tetapi jika pimpinan sekarang yang memulakan tindakan berinteraksi dengan semua pihak khususnya dengan kaum-kaum bukan Bumiputra, saya amat yakin bukannya mudah bagi mereka untuk mendapatkan sokongan dan persetujuan itu. Ia tentunya bersebab dan beralasan. Sebab-sebabnya ialah kerana rekod-rekod yang lampau serta pengalaman yang dilalui sebelum ini apabila dasar yang di persetujui ramai itu tidak terlaksana dengan jujur dan berkesan.

Untuk lebih memahami situasi kenapa artikel ini tertulis ialah tentang kegagalan DEB, satu dasar yang dilancarkan setelah melakukan segala pemikiran dan penganalisaan yang terpeninci itu. DEB bukan sahaja merupakan dasar 'social engineering' yang terbaik ia juga merupakan 'instrument' kearah perpaduan nasional yang sangat 'effective' dan boleh diguna pakai dalam tempoh masa yang panjang.

DEB bukan sahaja telah memberikan lonjakan kedudukan ekonomi Bumiputra, ia juga adalah dasar yang juga menguntungkan bukan bumiputra dari awal lagi dasar itu di laksanakan. DEB merupakan penawar yang sangat mujarab untuk memulihkan rasa tidak puas hati diantara kaum selepas kejadian 13 Mei 1969 dahulu.

Bukan Bumiputra lah yang menjadi kontrakter besar-besar dalam perlaksanaan segala infrastruktur untuk kemajuan Bumiputra. Pendeknya semua kaum merasakan nikmat dasar ekonomi baru itu yang bermatlamatkan perpaduan nasional melalui pembahagian kesempatan dan peluang secara 'equitable' diantara semua kaum.

Tiada keresahan diantara kaum-kaum bukan Bumiputra kerana mereka sendiri merasakan nikmat DEB yang dirancang dengan begitu teliti itu. Saya pernah berkerja sebagai pegawai kecilan di satu perbadanan yang melaksanakan pemindahan kekayaan negara kepada Bumiputra, telah berkerja siang dan malam untuk memainkan peranan yang sangat penting untuk menambah pegangan ekuiti Bumiputra, melihat dengan sendirinya bagaimana kejayaan usaha menambah kekuatan Bumiputra dalam bidang industri dan perdagangan.

Ini adalah hasil dari perlaksanaan dasar yang bersungguh oleh semua pihak, Bumiputra sendiri, sokongan dari rakan-rakan bukan Bumiputra serta agensi-agensi pelaksana dan penggubal-penggubal dasar. Maka dengan jelas pegangan ekuiti Bumiputra telah meningkat dengan pantas dari 2.7 peratus pada tahun 1970 kepada 18.4 peratus pada 1983 dahulu.

Dari mula DEB di lancarkan sehingga 1983 kita telah melihat bagaimana kaum Melayu dan Bumiputra telah meningkatkan bilangan mereka dalam bidang perniagaan secara 'organic' dan menjadi peniaga yang berjaya dan bilangan 'rent seekers' dikalangan orang yang bergiat dalam politik susah hendak kita jumpai seperti hari ini.

Perkembangan dan kemajuan DEB itu terbantut setakat itu kerana pentadbiran baru pada tahun lapan puluhan telah mengabaikan dasar yang begitu 'holistic' itu dan tidak lagi berusaha untuk menambah dan menokok nilai tambah kepada dasar yang telah diterima semua dan menampakkan kejayaan yang nyata itu.

Pentadbiran barui pada tahun lapan puluhan lebih berminat untuk mempercepatkan pembangunan secara 'express' dan menganggap DEB yang telah dirancang dan menunjukan jasa itu sebagai dasar yang melambatkan pembangunan negara. Bagi pentadbiran baru semasa itu matlamatnya ialah untuk melihat pembangunan fisikal negara dan mengabaikan pembangunan dalam bidang yang lain seperti pembangunan sikap dan nilai kemanusiaan.

Bagi pentadbiran baru semasa itu, pembangunan fisikal adalah 'nation building' sedangkan hakikatnya pembangunan fisikal itu merupakan sebahagian yang sangat kecil dalam istilah 'nation-building' itu. Maka wujudlah budaya mencari kekayaan dengan cepat dan bermulalah elemen rasuah yang akhirnya tidak dapat lagi dikawal pada hari ini. Kepesatan pembangunan fisikal tidak diselarikan dengan pembangunan moral dan spiritual politik negara itu sendiri.

Semua pemimpin termasuk Abdullah Badawi semasa mula mengambil alih kepimpinan dahulu berkata yang kita mempunyai infrastruktor dunia pertama tetapi masih dengan mentality dunia ketiga. Maka wujudlah masyarakat dan rakyat yang tidak seimbang pembangunan jiwa dan fisikal mereka. Itu sebabnya kita melihat mereka yang berkuasa dan orang disekeliling yang berkuasa tidak merasa malu menunjukan kekayaan yang mereka perolehi dari rasuah dan kuasa itu. Malahan mereka berasa bangga dan tidak merasa bersalah walau sedikit pun dihadapan rakyat yang ramai.

Umno polls: Youth chief contender causes a stir at centre

Posted: 21 Sep 2013 07:02 PM PDT

(The Star) - An Umno Youth chief contender, clutching a copy of the Quran in his right hand, caused a stir when he went into a tirade against the ills of money politics after filing his nomination papers at the Putra World Trade Centre here.

Syed Rosli Syed Harman Jamalullail (pic) took a swipe at incumbent leader chief Khairy Jamaluddin and his line-up and swore he would not give in to corruption nor practise money politics if elected to the post.

The Pusat Bandar Taman Chempaka branch committee member claimed the current Youth leadership did not understand the actual struggle of the Malays.

He added that Khairy had spent 20 years outside Malaysia and was not able to understand the problems faced by the people.

"How can such a person understand the plight of the people?" he asked.

Syed Rosli, 37, drew the attention of the media and the Umno members who had gathered at the nomination centre, but was reprimanded by the working committee as any form of campaigning was only allowed outside the nomination area.

Syed Rosli is among four people challenging Khairy for the post.

The others are Akhramsyah Sanusi, a son of former Kedah mentri besar Tan Sri Sanusi Junid, former Merbok Umno Youth chief Karim Ali and Bukit Setiawangsa Umno Youth branch chief Irwan Ambak.

Asked if the five-way tussle for the post would create disunity within the wing, Khairy said: "The Youth members are wise enough and understand the process of democracy."

He added that there was also a contest for the post at the last party election in 2009 but the movement remained strong.

In that election, Khairy faced off a challenge by former Selangor mentri besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo and then Umno Youth exco member Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, the current Kedah mentri besar.

Umno Youth, together with the Wanita and Puteri wings, will hold their delegates meeting and elections simultaneously on Oct 12.


Umno Youth Head Khairy Jamaluddin's Interview Transcript

Posted: 21 Sep 2013 06:57 PM PDT


(Bernama) - In the upcoming party elections on Oct 12, Umno Youth head Khairy Jamaluddin will be going for a second term as the Youth wing head of the biggest Malay political party in the country.

He shares his views with Bernama on his future vision and mission and matters pertaining to Umno Youth in a challenging and fast transforming political landscape even within the party.

The following is the transcript of the interview conducted with Khairy in his office recently:

BERNAMA: Yang Berhormat (YB), there are four others vying for the Umno Youth head post this time around. Did you anticipate this? What do you think of your chances of defending your position YB?

KHAIRY: This is a positive development and indicates that Umno leaders including the vice-president and the head of the respective party wings are open to any contest and are ready to be taken on.

Speaking on the chances...Wallahu a'lam (God knows) but firstly I have a track record and experience to show and have contributed to the party's struggles; starting with three terms in Youth Exco, first as an ordinary member, then as vice head and the last four years as the Umno Youth Head. If I'm returned, it will be my fourth term with Umno Youth.

Secondly in my role as the Minister of Youth and Sports, I bring forth Umno Youth's vision through programmes and planning and thirdly I know all the division Youth heads and have established networking with the members of the youth wing.

However, I do not take lightly the challenge from contenders. I view seriously any challenge even from non-Youth Exco or Division Youth heads. I respect anyone who offers himself for the Umno Youth head post.

Therefore, I leave it to the delegates to decide. I'm only responding to the battle cry that first and foremost wants me to ensure the young voters remain within Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN), secondly to help the government realise the aspirations of the new Malay generation and in the bigger picture the Malaysian generation.

This is why it is vital for the Umno Youth head to be in the government to work in tandem with the government policies.

BERNAMA: YB, do you think the delegates owe you a mandate for you to continue for a second term? What are the undertakings that you have yet to settle YB?

KHAIRY: I'm hopeful that the delegates will return the mandate to me as leading this wing is not an easy thing. We have a membership touching 650,000 and this calls for an experienced leader. I'm not belittling the background or the experience of the contenders but as far as I'm concerned Umno Youth needs a leader who knows how to look after a wing that is also a pillar of the party.

They must have the background of a branch and division youth head. They need to have the hands on experience in running the organisation, and a vision to lead a big organisation.

I hope that the delegates will look into all these, especially the fact that a good party administration is vital. The Youth head's position is equivalent to the Vice President's post, with the incumbent playing a role in the party's administration, party's political bureau and the Supreme Council (MT).

On the undertakings that I have yet to settle, is winning back the younger generation. I started these four years ago and it is a continuous process with the focus being taking care of the needs of the youngsters - employment, housing , education, loan and entrepreneurship.

Youths nowadays want to see solutions for their woes and don't want to hear rhetoric.

And speaking of youths within party, there are no training modules yet for members, something that we could not avoid due to time constraints as we are pre-occupied with the task of winning over the hearts of youths. So, in future I'm planning to come up with a new training module for Umno Youth leaders to ensure we have a clearer cadre programme that not only identifies the second liners but also prepares them to take on any role competently at every level of the party.

Winning over the youths and training them for future undertaking will help create a more dynamic youth power of the future.

BERNAMA: YB being the son in-law of former Umno President and Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Pak Lah), your detractors lamented that in the 2009 party elections you had an upper hand due to this family relationship. YB, this time around do you believe that you can prove your detractors wrong and that you can stand on your own?

KHAIRY: Firstly, I would like to clarify this, at the 2009 party assembly Pak Lah was already the out-going party president. Therefore, at that time I had no advantage of being the party president's son-in-law.

I was in a three-corner fight then with Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo and Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir under circumstances that I can only describe as hostile.

Yet, the delegates gave me the mandate as the Umno Youth Chief. This time around, this perception no longer haunts me.

BERNAMA: If you're elected again, what is YB's mission and vision for the next three years and subsequently the 14th General Election (GE14)?

KHAIRY: The training of members and winning over the hearts of youths as I have said earlier is also among the strategies to ensure BN's win in GE14.

My own study on the GE13 outcome indicates that among the Malays in the 21-30 age group, we can still compete with the opposition in winning them over.

This is a good sign for Umno, and also goes to indicate though we may not have won a big majority but our efforts have paid off.

Yet, the challenge ahead is to ensure that we will be able to convince those between 30-40 and the new voters. Those who are 17 or 18 years old today, those who have finished their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), waiting to enter universities, are among the ones that we have to convince by focusing on issues.

Another thing that I have to work on is winning over the fence sitters. I'm confident with the approach that we have taken to convince them, that does not penalise or snub them for being critical on the government or pro opposition.

We have to get to their hearts and answer many of their queries...shed light on current issues regardless on subsidies, the National Higher Education Loan Fund (PTPTN) and on the promises made by the opposition.

My approach is not by antagonising anyone, or through rhetoric but finding the solution for the woes of the younger generation and this is where I want to see intellectual engagement.

BERNAMA: If you win this time, will this be your last term as the Umno Youth Head?

KHAIRY: After two terms, I will leave voluntarily when my mandate expires although I will be 41 then and still eligible to contest. What is important to me is that, I have to set a good example.

Without setting a timeframe to exit, then one will not be able to groom new leaders to take over.

If I'm to leave as a successful Youth leader, I have to groom six to seven second liners with one of them replacing me as the Umno Youth chief.

BERNAMA: Umno Youth has nominated four new names to contest the Supreme Council seats. By fielding this new and young faces at the party's Supreme Council, will this suffice to reflect the efforts to inject young blood into the party?

KHAIRY: Yes, this is part of the process of injecting young blood and rejuvenating the party. And my sincere hopes are that the delegates will give their wholehearted support to them, though this time around we have fielded four of them.

I hope that the four will succeed as this will indicate that the party has accepted the rejuvenation process not only within the youth movement but also in its higher echelons. And this process will only happen if young blood is injected into MT.

If there is no voice of the Youth in the MT, apart from the Umno Youth head, there will be no one to highlight the views of the Youth and also their reaction if we are to do something, I feel the voice of the Youth leader will be drowned.

With four or five representatives from the younger generation, our voice will be heard.

BERNAMA: Regarding Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's article entitled "Umno Dahulu dan Sekarang" (Umno Now and Then) that claimed the present Umno only advocates self interest and no longer fights for the race, religion and the motherland prompting Malays to lose faith on Umno. Is there any truth in this or is it just one's perception only? And what is being done by Umno to improve the economic position of the Malays and help them to compete with the other races?

KHAIRY: I'm of the opinion that this is an unfair observation on Umno. Umno is still fighting for the Malays and the party is sincere in empowering the Malays.

Recently, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak outlined the major agenda in empowering the Bumiputera economy. This is solely an Umno agenda undertaken by an Umno-led government.

Just because a few Umno leaders have made use of their party positions for their own self gains, it is unfair to penalise the whole party. We have to see the party in the bigger picture.

If Umno is out of touch with the Malays, definitely Umno would not have won more seats in GE13 and definitely more Malays would have crossed over to the opposition.

The fact that the Malays have given their wholehearted support, it is now time for Umno to implement its plans. When speaking of the Malay agenda, there have been great plans yet their implementation had disappointed the Malays.

Therefore, Umno's role now is to monitor the implementation of the Bumiputera agenda and ensure its success. In a nutshell, we help only those who deserve and not others including those dubbed as cronies. By this way we will be showing to the people that we are empowering all deserving Bumiputeras and not those who are close to us.

BERNAMA: To ensure that there is no brain drain due to the migration of youths to foreign lands, what are your plans on this YB?

KHAIRY: God Willing, if I am chosen again as the Umno Youth head, next year I'm planning to go for a tour across the world to meet Malaysians residing in foreign lands and woo them to contribute to the nation's development.


Benarkah PAS semakin lemah?

Posted: 21 Sep 2013 06:42 PM PDT

Tahaluf Siyasi perlu kepada pengisian, bukan dikaji semula. 

Zainal Abidin Nor, FMT

Resolusi supaya dikaji semula pendekatan 'Tahaluf Siyasi' (kerjasama atau pemuafakatan politik) dengan PKR dan DAP mencetuskan kerisauan atau sekurang-kurang menimbulkan rasa kurang selesa di kalangan ahli parti di peringkat akar umbi.

Ketua Dewan Ulama PAS Pusat Datuk Harun Taib dalam Multaqa Ulama di Kota Sarang Semut, Kedah pada 14 September lalu meminta Majlis Syura Ulama dan Jawatankuasa PAS Pusat mengkaji semula Tahaluf Siyasi dalam Pakatan Rakyat.

Cadangan atau resolusi untuk mengkaji semula Tahaluf Siyasi ini telah menimbulkan persepsi yang negatif di kalangan ahli bagi memikirkan di mana silapnya kerjasama politik bersama PKR dan DAP selama ini.

Gambaran yang diberi ekoran timbulnya resolusi ini ialah kerjasama ini merugikan PAS dan pengaruh PAS semakin lemah seperti mana yang dimainkan akhbar-akhbar milik Umno dan pro Umno.

Adakah benar pengaruh PAS semakin lemah? Kenapa perlu dikaji semula kerjasama ini? Atau adakah ia sekadar penilaian untuk mencorakkan strategi politik untuk mendepani cabaran masa depan terutama bagi menghadapi Pilihan Raya Umum ke 14 (PRU-14) nanti?

Walaupun PAS mencapai kemenangan yang besar di Selangor dan berjaya mengekalkan Kelantan sejak tahun 1990 tetapi prestasi keseluruhan PAS dalam PRU-13 adalah tidak memuaskan malahan merosot. Dari sejumlah 66 kerusi Parlimen yang ditandingi, PAS hanya memenangi 21 kerusi.

Menurut sumber dalaman, ada segelintir di kalangan ahli dan pemimpin PAS masih menyimpan hasrat untuk terus berusaha ke arah membentuk Kerajaan Perpaduan (bersama Umno-Barisan Nasional) dalam mentadbir Kerajaan Pusat.

Harun Taib merupakan salah seorang daripada mereka. Selain Harun; Nasharuddin Mat Isa serta beberapa pemimpin lain Terengganu cenderong kepada konsep Kerajaan Perpaduan atau UG (Unity Government) ini. Bekas Pesuruhjaya PAS Selangor, Datuk Dr Hasan Ali juga adalah di antara tokoh yang cenderong kepada UG tetapi berjaya disingkirkan PAS dari barisan kepimpinanan.

Timbalan Ketua Pemuda PAS Pusat dan juga Ahli Parlimen Pasir Mas, Nik Mohd Abduh Nik Aziz yang dilihat mewakili golongan ulama muda dalam PAS juga disebut termasuk dalam golongan ini. Maklum sajalah, bagaimana perasaan dilantik sebagai wakil rakyat pada usia yang muda.

Di sinilah terletaknya kelemahan PAS. Masih bercita-cita untuk bermain mata dan bergesel bahu dengan pemimpin-pemimpin Umno yang berfahaman sekular itu.  Mungkinkah kerana ianya tercetus dari keinginan kepada kebendaan dan keuntungan duniawi?

Projek mega

Maklum sajalah, orang-orang Umno sentiasa dikelilingi oleh berbagai projek bertaraf mega dan 'tidur' di atas lambakan wang yang berlimpah ruah. Ini merupakan jalan pintas untuk menjadi kaya raya dan hidup senang lenang.

Ahli-ahli PAS harus menyedari bahawa perjuangan dalam PAS tidak sama dengan perjuangan dalam Umno. Sungguh tidak sama, ibarat langit dengan bumi. Perjuangan Umno bersalut dengan emas dan permata dan perjuangan PAS harus bersikap ikhlas dan mencari keridhaan Allah semata-mata.

Jika ahli-ahli PAS mahu mengejar kebendaan dan keuntungan duniawi yang tidak seberapa dan tidak kekal ini maka tidak ada bezalah perjuangan PAS dengan Umno. Tidak ada bezalah sebuah gerakan Islam dengan sebuah parti politik sekular. Lebih baik masuk Umno, dapat duit dapat projek.

Inilah kelemahan PAS pada hari ini. Kemungkinan sistem pentarbiyyah tidak lagi berkesan. Ahli-ahli PAS tidak mahu menganjurkan Usrah atau menjauhi diri bila ada program Usrah atau sentiasa mencari alasan untuk tidak hadir dalam Usrah, kelas pengajian maupun ceramah.

Pucuk pimpinan harus menumpukan kepada perkara ini.  Malah salah satu resolusi Multaqa Ulama juga menyentuh hal ini iaitu mengajak para ulama PAS melakukan pengukuhan gerak kerja antaranya tarbiyyah, kedudukan kepimpinan ulama yang menjadi tunjang utama kepada parti dan memperkasakan ilmu pengurusan serta kepimpinan.

Ahli-ahli PAS perlu diberi pentarbiyyah semula atau 'rebranding' bagi melakar matlamat perjuangan masa depan. Keimanan dan komitment terhadap perjuangan Islam perlu ditingkatkan.

Usaha ini adalah untuk menghindari hasrat ahli-ahli mahu berbaik-baik dengan Umno dengan matlamat untuk membentuk UG. Tahaluf Siyasi perlu kepada pengisian bukan dikaji semula.

Mursyidul Am PAS Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat menganggap cadangan untuk mengkaji semula Tahaluf Siyasi hanyalah 'memberikan pelampung kepada Umno yang sedang kelemasan'.

Presiden PAS Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang juga menegaskan bahawa PAS tidak melihat sebarang kemungkinaan untuk keluar daripada Pakatan Rakyat, sebaliknya mahu memperkuatkan lagi pakatan politik tersebut.

Kerjasama dengan Umno dilihat sebagai satu usaha untuk merendahkan nilai diri kita sendiri seperti mana tercatat dalam kitab Hidayatul Saalikin yang dikarang oleh Sheikh Abdul Samad Palembang.



Ambiga, Bersih drawn into DAP’s CEC mess

Posted: 21 Sep 2013 01:30 PM PDT


Athi Shankar, FMT

A former DAP branch chairman has raised suspicion on why vocal election watchdog, Bersih and its leader S Ambiga had been strangely muted on the DAP polls fiasco.

Jalan Bagan Luar DAP branch ex-head G Asoghan wants to know why Ambiga had been in switch off mode from the start on DAP electoral process that was marred by irregularities.

He asked whether Ambiga had any conflict of interest that prevented her from rebuking the DAP leadership for failing to conduct a free and fair party election in Penang on Dec 15, 2012.

He said Ambiga had recently claimed that Bersih had an army of supporters demanding for free and fair elections in the country.

Hence, he said Ambiga should by now had commissioned a Bersih team to investigate the party members' allegations of irregularities in the DAP electoral process last year for positions in party central executive committee (CEC).

He pointed out Bersih was supposedly a neutral organisation championing a free and fair polls.

"As its leader, why Ambiga, a torch-bearer of democracy in the country, has been strangely quiet on DAP election fiasco last year that breached all democratic principles?" asked Asoghan at a press conference here yesterday.

He also expressed shock over Ambiga's muteness even on current undemocratic happenings in the DAP, in which party secretary-general Lim Guan Eng had been accused of rushing to hold an internal re-election on Sept 29 without adhering to the party constitution.

Firstly, Asoghan said the re-election should not be held in a special congress, pointing out that such congress shall be held only to address and resolve an urgent arising matter, such as a resolution or constitutional amendment.

He also questioned on legitimacy of special congress given the invalidity of CEC, the party highest decision-making body, since the Registrar of Societies (ROS) did not recognise last year's party election.

"The party is holding a special congress under whose authority? Did ROS sanction it?" asked Asoghan.

He claimed that a re-election should be held as a separate event by itself after being sanctioned by the ROS, and the party branches should be issued a 10 to 12-week notice to make fresh nomination of candidates for the re-election.

He also said the event shall just be a balloting process to elect new CEC members, thus shall not have speeches by party national chairman and secretary-general as stipulated in the notice of special congress.

"There is no CEC. So there is no chairman and secretary-general until after the CEC polls. This is just fresh polls," stressed Asoghan. 



Can we move beyond a racialised society?

Posted: 21 Sep 2013 01:01 PM PDT


The real issue, therefore, becomes a question of how equal treatment does not ignore or violate minority rights in the name of the majority, be it within or across the ethnic divide.

Mohamed Imran Mohamed Taib, todayonline.com 

Last week, IPS and Onepeople.sg released a study on indicators of racial and religious harmony. The results point to a healthy indication of social harmony, particularly within the public sphere. There is no doubt that Singapore has gotten some aspects right in terms of managing racial and religious diversity.

But the task of strengthening our social fabric requires us to dig beneath the surface. The study, which was based on surveys, must be corroborated with deeper insights from the lived reality of Singaporeans in general.

For a start, several findings from the study are a cause for concern. For example, only 60 per cent believed that they could learn from other races, 55 per cent were interested in meeting people of other races, and 50 per cent were interested in understanding other people's customs.

What these revealed is something that we might have been aware of: That the different ethnic communities continue to exist in segregated spheres of comfort with little meaningful interactions beyond what is necessary in schools, workplaces and the markets.


Part of the reason for this lies in the prevalent narrative of "deep fault-lines" derived from Singapore's past encounters with racial and religious riots. Thus, it follows that each community must be kept apart while promoting civic interactions in common shared spaces or the public sphere. Consequently, an over-arching economic prosperity and effective legal enforcement play a role in keeping tensions at bay.

The CMIO model, thus, became the de facto way of dealing with ethnic diversity in Singapore. As a result, social policies are dealt through the prism of racial lenses, which translates into the existence of race-based self-help groups. These groups then continue to derive their legitimacy from national data, such as health and education indexes, which are churned along racial categories.

This forms a significant contradiction in our nation-building process. Despite our professed desire for a unified nation "regardless of race, language or religion", what had transpired for the last four decades was the opposite. Race has become a single most important marker for our social existence. In other words, we have become a totally racialised society.

There is hardly a moment in our social interactions that we are not reminded of our racial identity – from the imprint in our identity cards, to our schooling years to job applications. This invariably leads to a hardening of identity, even as we continuously choose to exoticise the "other" through generalised traits and characteristics. The most tragic consequence for all these is the continuous perpetuation of stereotypes.


Social theorist, Alana Lentin in her 2008 book, Racism, argues that the stereotype is often a basis for discrimination. Where stereotype exists, discrimination is bound to occur.

A personal anecdote illustrates this point. A friend who owns a small business consistently refuses to hire Malay workers because of his view that Malays are generally non-industrious. Could this be a reason why many Malays think that they must work doubly hard to prove their worth and rise up the ladder in their organisations?

In the IPS-Onepeople.Sg study, slightly more than 30 per cent believed that Indians and Malays had to work harder compared to other races to reach top positions in their organisations. There could be a range of explanations. But we cannot deny that this is one issue that has to be tackled.

Stereotypes, intentional or not, often injure a person's worth by reducing one's humanity to a set of fixed and essentialised traits. For some, it may appear harmless to make generalisations on a particular race. But in times of crisis, these very stereotypes can be deadly tools.

When Indonesia faced severe financial crisis in 1998, the ethnic Chinese minority were attacked simply because they were stereotyped as "corrupt, rich and exploitative" of the local communities. The Jews suffered similar fate that led to the horrific Holocaust. In Europe and America today, stereotypes on Islam continue to drive Islamophobic attacks on Muslim communities.

In all of these instances, stereotypes pose the greatest danger to minority groups, particularly in vulnerable situations.


Thus far, Singapore has done well in mostly keeping overt discrimination at bay. It is heartening to note that more than 90 per cent of minorities from the IPS-Onepeople.Sg survey felt no discrimination in terms of public services. But more can be done to stem the problem of stereotypes before it leads to full-blown exclusionary practices.

To do this, one needs to revisit the CMIO model and find new ways to overcome the consequence of categorising individuals in neat categories. A person's identity is much more complex and fluid; it cannot be reduced to a simple marker of how one dresses, what one eats, the festivals one celebrates or the colour of one's skin.

More importantly, there are no defining traits to be found in each ethnic group. There are only human traits and these traits emerge in individuals in a given context. Social problems, too, cannot be attributed to any racial categories. They are primarily political and located in the way we organised our society through policies, institutions and distribution of resources. 

Read more at : http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/can-we-move-beyond-racialised-society 


Kredit: www.malaysia-today.net

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