Rabu, 11 September 2013

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Pondering Tamil schools in Malaysia

Posted: 11 Sep 2013 12:39 PM PDT


Where did the early Tamil school teachers learn about curricula, pedagogy, etc.? Where do current Tamil school teachers learn the same things?


About 2 months ago The Star reported that the Deputy Minister for Education, who is also an elected Member of Parliament and a leader of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), announced that 13 Tamil schools will receive RM20 million in total under the Action Plan for the Future of Tamil Schools in Malaysia (PTST), to upgrade "classrooms, canteens, sports fields, fences and safety."

I've not reviewed the PTST action plan. I decided that before I review it, I should assemble some thoughts and questions about Tamil schools in Malaysia. This is my first attempt to do so.

Please indulge me. Before you read further, name 5 Indians in Malaysia. They don't have to be alive, it doesn't matter if they're long dead. Just name them. Now ask: which of them was most likely educated in a Tamil school in Malaya/Malaysia?

My experience of Tamil schools

My brother was 2 years older than me. When my parents sent him to Standard One in the local, national school, I wailed daily. I too wanted to go to school. But I was too young. I was so miserable I became sick. What were my parents to do?

Kindergarten was not an option. At that stage in its history, our little town in Johor had no kindergartens.

As usual, it was my mother who came up with a solution. She reminded my father that he was the chairman of the board of the local Tamil school. She implored him – and if you knew my mother you'd know that's not too strong a term – to send me to Standard One in the Tamil school.

I was an "auditor," i.e. one who attends without being on the register and gets no credit.

The Tamil school was in town. It met on the top floor of a dilapidated wooden shop which certainly would have failed a fire and safety inspection. Below it was an Indian barber shop. The schoolroom was actually the meeting place of the Indian Association – of which my father was also the elected chairman.

I can only recall one teacher and one classroom, so the school must have been in its infancy. I think my father's decision to send me to the Tamil school was an abuse of his authority.

In any case, my health and my self-esteem were soon restored. Self-esteem? Well, I showed them! As the youngest in the family of four, I made it clear once again that I could get what I wanted!

As it turns out, I was the top student in my class.

Though only 5, I could read and write in Tamil before I was 'enrolled.' This was because my mother included me when she taught my brother at home while my father was at work. In the evenings, when my father was home, he would teach my brother English, and I would join in as well.

After one year at the Tamil school I was moved to the national school. I suppose tongues wagged in the community because the chairman of the board didn't send his own children to the Tamil school. (We continued to study Tamil at home.)

I don't know how the Tamil school eventually moved into more appropriate buildings, how a headmaster was appointed, teachers were selected and hired, etc.

I just know that about 20 years later the Tamil school headmaster became chairman of the local branch of the MIC. He also wrote and sold short stories to the  Tamil Nesan newspaper, to supplement his meagre income. I don't recall any other Tamil school teachers.

Tamil/Indian teachers and teacher training

There were many Tamil teachers in the national schools which I attended. The national schools also had Anglo-Indian, Ceylonese, Malayalee and Telugu teachers.

In 1976, after sitting for the Form 5 MCE examination the previous year, I applied to Teacher Training Colleges (TTC) in Malaysia, although I was sure I would be offered a place in Form 6.

I learned later that I was not accepted for teacher training because my results were "too good for TTC" and wise administrators had decided I should go to Form 6 instead. I suppose they thought I was likely to eventually qualify for University admission.

If you've read any history of schools in Malaysia, you'll have heard of Kirkby.

Read more at: http://write2rest.blogspot.com/2013/09/pondering-tamil-schools-in-malaysia.html 

How Meritocracy Entrenches Inequality

Posted: 11 Sep 2013 12:24 PM PDT


Meritocracy, defined as a system that rewards according to ability or achievement and not birth or privilege, may be unfair precisely because it is blind to differences of class, wealth and social status.

Singapore Armchair Critic 

In a move that took many industry players by surprise, American regulators recently opened a probe on the hiring practice of JPMorgan Chase in China. Ongoing investigation seeks to establish if the investment bank's recruitment of the offspring of high-ranking and influential Chinese officials aka "princelings" – one of whom is the son of a former banking regulator, the other the daughter of a now-disgraced railway official – was a quid pro quo for coveted business deals, prohibited under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

What's the fuss about, you may wonder. Isn't the hiring of relatives of powerful politicians and well-connected persons of that ilk a time-tested and pervasive practice that extends far beyond China?

Going a step further, you may even, like New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin, defend such hiring decisions in a matter-of-factly manner:

… given that many of the children of the elite have some of the best educations and thriving networks of contacts, it is hard to see how businesses are supposed to not seek them out, let alone turn them away. As hard to defend as the phrase may be, it is a reality of life, "It's not what you know, but whom you know."

Being well-connected, of course, doesn't mean a new hire is "unqualified." The children of political elite who are educated in top universities are the norm and not the exception. However, by arguing that the princelings are being hired on their own merits and by dressing up their inherited advantages as a "reality of life," Sorkin has conveniently glossed over the modus operandi of meritocracy.

Meritocracy Unraveled

The fallacies of Sorkin's argument may be illuminated by our local debate over meritocracy. First of all, the need to revamp the concept by adding adjectives to it is, in itself, telling of the pitfalls of meritocracy. For instance, "fair" meritocracy connotes that meritocracy can be unfair; "compassionate" meritocracy underscores how meritocracy may breed a sense of self-entitlement or elitism; "unfettered" meritocracy implies that meritocracy itself has to be restrained.

How is meritocracy unfair? Kenneth Paul Tan explains in "Meritocracy and Elitism in a Global City,"

Meritocracy, in trying to "isolate" merit by treating people with fundamentally unequal backgrounds as superficially the same, can be a practice that ignores and even conceals the real advantages and disadvantages that are unevenly distributed to different segments of an inherently unequal society, a practice that in fact perpetuates this fundamental inequality. In this way, those who are picked by meritocracy as having merit may already have enjoyed unfair advantages from the very beginning, ignored according to the principle of nondiscrimination.

Meritocracy, defined as a system that rewards according to ability or achievement and not birth or privilege, may be unfair precisely because it is blind to differences of class, wealth and social status.

Under Singapore's education system, for instance, the concentration of good schools in well-to-do neighborhoods and the greater means affluent families have for tuition programs clearly afford the rich an edge over the less so (Donald Low, "Good Meritocracy, Bad Meritocracy"). This is to say that between two equally intelligent children, one from a poor family and another from a rich background, the former has a lower chance of gaining entry into good schools.

Such a passive blindness to differences in the name of meritocracy already aggravates inequality. What is worse, however, is a policy that actively reinforces inherited advantages. A fine example of this is the preferential access to schools given to children of alumni. No wonder experts have found that Singapore's education system has the proclivity to stifle intergenerational mobility.

Meritocracy, therefore, may be unfair and perpetuate inequality in two ways: (1) by simply disregarding class, wealth or status differences on the principle of non-discrimination, and (2) by deepening differences through discrimination against the less privileged.

If life is one big competition for resources, (1) is akin to inadvertently giving the rich and privileged a head start in the race, whereas (2) is like deliberately installing obstacles in the way of the disadvantaged.

How does meritocracy that purportedly reward in accordance with one's ability degenerate into a system that recompenses based on one's birth and wealth?

This has to do with how meritocracy is defined in a society and who defines it.

From Meritocracy to Nepotism and Elitism

The hiring practice of investment banks currently under scrutiny again proves illustrative.

New York Times reported that JPMorgan initiated a program called "Sons and Daughters" in 2006 to impose proper standards when hiring relatives of China's ruling elite on a separate track. However, the program subsequently went awry:

… in the months and years that followed, the two-tiered process that could have prevented questionable hiring practices instead fostered them, according to the interviews as well as the confidential government document. Applicants from prominent Chinese families, interviews show, often faced few job interviews and relaxed standards. While many candidates met or exceeded the bank's requirements, some had subpar academic records and lacked relevant expertise.

In this instance we see clearly how the definition of "merit" has been reduced from stellar paper qualifications, relevant expertise plus apparent familial connections to familial connections above everything else. The best person for the job need not be the brightest. His or her merit lies in "opening doors," or more explicitly, bringing in business deals, and is rewarded thus.

Now expand this scenario to a society.

Read more at: http://singaporearmchaircritic.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/how-meritocracy-entrenches-inequality/ 

The crime of marginalisation

Posted: 11 Sep 2013 11:55 AM PDT


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

Nicholas Chan, fz.com 

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

Read more at: http://www.fz.com/content/crime-marginalisation 

After 50 years, time to think as Malaysians first, says Nazri

Posted: 11 Sep 2013 11:34 AM PDT


(TMI) - "This is a democracy. You cannot say you cannot stand their presence and call them subversive or anti-Malaysian. They were also elected by the people. If I want them to respect me because I was elected by the people, I must also respect them." 

Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz believes that his contributions to Malaysia pale in comparison to that of Datuk Nicol David or Datuk Lee Chong Wei, both who wield racquets in the country's name.

"I am nothing compared to Nicol's contributions. She has done so much for Malaysia on the world stage," the Umno veteran and Tourism and Culture Minister tells The Malaysian Insider.

Yet the pride that he expresses towards the world squash champion and badminton ace is tempered with pain when he thinks of how some Malay-Muslims feel towards people like Nicol and Lim.

"When they go overseas they fight for Malaysia. Not for China or India. Yet when they come back, there are people who say their community has got no place in this country.    

"That is unacceptable," he stresses with a disgusted shake of the head.

"For the first 50 years we can excuse ourselves for tolerating each other's racial and religious differences. But now we have to start accepting that we are all different and think of ourselves as Malaysians first."

This is the primary reason newsrooms across Malaysia, particularly in the English media, like Nazri, who turns 59 this year.

In a political party that is supposed to be the compass of the federal government but whose leaders often play and rely on the race card, Nazri is a symbol and a beacon.

The English media relies on him to be a balm of rationality and tolerance whenever a fiery rash of extremism suddenly infect Umno members and the Malay supremacist fringe. 

Due to his seniority in Umno and a provocative stint as a law and parliament minister, he is seen as a symbol that all is not lost with Umno — as far as ethnic and religious relations are concerned.

He is in fact, one of the few senior Umno leaders to have declared that he is "Malaysian first".

Yet as we sat down to interview him on what he thought about Malaysia turning 50, it became very apparent that this special quality of his does not bode well for Malaysia.

A Hobson's choice

Nazri credits his upbringing and his father, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yeop, for his broad-minded views of other communities.

His father's last post was as Education Ministry permanent secretary in the then-British colonial administration. Nazri attended English-medium schools whose student population was multi-ethnic.

Both father and son had many non-Malay friends.

He also stresses that his beliefs are not because he's trying to appease his supporters at home.

"People cannot say that I can afford to be liberal because my constituency is mixed. My constituency is in fact 76% Malay. And they are the rural, conservative Malays. But I am still liberal," says Nazri.

It boils down to leadership he says, and a mountain of self-confidence (that he admits with a smile, have also gotten him into trouble). 

"If you don't have this then you run into your cocoon once there's trouble. The Malays will run back to their Malay community, the Chinese and the Indians will run back to their communities." 

Read more at http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/after-50-years-time-to-think-as-malaysians-first-says-nazri 

70% Of English Teachers Not Fit To Teach

Posted: 11 Sep 2013 11:19 AM PDT


(The Star) - Recently, it was revealed that about 70% out of the 60,000 English Language teachers, who sat for the English Language Cambridge Placement Test, performed poorly.

About two-thirds of English Language teachers in the country have been classified as "incapable" or "unfit" to teach the subject in schools.

Education Minister II Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said such teachers had been sent for courses to improve their proficiency in the language.

"The ministry will also consider sending them overseas for exchange programmes to take up TESL (Teaching of English as a Second Language) courses," he said during a dialogue session on the National Education Blueprint 2013-2025 held at the Karangkraf headquarters here yesterday.

Idris, who did not state the number of such teachers, assured that a good portion of them had enrolled in English courses locally.

Recently, it was revealed that about 70% out of the 60,000 English Language teachers, who sat for the English Language Cambridge Placement Test, performed poorly.

On allegations that the Government was sidelining vernacular schools through the blueprint, Idris denied this, saying "all schools were treated equally".

"We do not sideline any party. In fact, the ministry encourages everyone to learn more languages. Be it Chinese, Tamil, French or Spanish, the government will be proud if a Malaysian can master these languages," he stressed.

The United Chinese School Committees' Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong) protested against the blueprint, saying that increasing teaching time for Bahasa Malaysia from 270 minutes to 300 minutes for lower primary and 180 minutes to 270 minutes for upper primary pupils was a move by the Government to eradicate mother tongue education. 

Censorship board told to be prudent with The New Village film evaluaton

Posted: 11 Sep 2013 11:18 AM PDT


(Bernama) - He said LPF should be cautious in making whatever decision as the film was said to have concealed an intrinsic message in glorifying communist terrorists and putting them in better light than members of the security forces during insurgency.

The Film Censorship Board (LPF) should be prudent in evaluating the 'The New Village' film as it has the final say on its screening, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He said LPF should be cautious in making whatever decision as the film was said to have concealed an intrinsic message in glorifying communist terrorists and putting them in better light than members of the security forces during insurgency.

Although the film depicted a love story, the characters featured and the message hidden should be evaluated carefully, he said.
 "I am not supporting any security forces in the film, but the British army is portrayed as being arrogant, but was the communist better than the security forces?" he said after launching the Royal Malaysian Police's Governance Structure and Organisational Design workshop here.

He said LPF should be prepared and responsible for public reaction towards the film if it were to approve its screening.

 "But if the audience give a good rating to the film, then credit should be given to LPF," he said.  

Putting God on Trial

Posted: 11 Sep 2013 11:18 AM PDT


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

Jeswan Kaur, FMT 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BN hijacking national unity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


NS trainees want out of camp

Posted: 11 Sep 2013 11:14 AM PDT


Three dirty pillows on a bed in one of the rooms inside the NS White Resort camp in Balik Pulau, Penang. 

(The Star) - A source told The Star that the camp used to be one of the best NS sites in the country when it was opened about five years ago. "It is now so badly maintained that it can be considered one of the worst in the country now"

A group of National Service (NS) trainees from the White Resort camp here want to leave the programme over deplorable conditions such as insufficient food and broken toilet locks.


One of the trainees' brother, who declined to be named, said that he received a call from his sister on Tuesday night, asking him to pick her up from the camp.

"But, I was denied access after travelling all the way from Perak," he said. "I waited at the office for almost two hours, only to be told that I could not see her.

"She had told me that she could not stand the camp's unkempt condition. She even found worms in her food. It's a miracle no one came down with food poisoning," he said when met at the camp yesterday.

He added that his sister had also complained that some of the toilet doors were broken and could not be locked.

Reporters were not allowed to visit the camp's facilities and were instructed to wait at the office for more than two hours before being told to leave the site.

A source told The Star that the camp used to be one of the best NS sites in the country when it was opened about five years ago.
"It is now so badly maintained that it can be considered one of the worst in the country now," he said. "Clogged sinks and toilets are a daily occurrence here. Even the broken bed frames are not re­­placed."
The source said that the amount of food for trainees had also decreased, adding that in the past, each trainee had received around 125gm of chicken meat for their meal but this had been reduced by a third.
When approached, camp commander Mej Abdul Hamid Man refused to comment and said that the matter "will be dealt with internally".
Meanwhile, Pulau Betong assemblyman Farid Saad urged the National Service Department to immediately take action against the camp.
"I'm very disappointed with the condition of the facilities and equipment in the camp, which are broken and dirty," he said in a statement.
"After seeing the condition of the resort myself, I understand why the trainees are dissatisfied." 

When a bunch of losers talk

Posted: 10 Sep 2013 05:51 PM PDT

For seven general elections you sucked Dr Mahathir's dick and licked Umno's arse. Today, you write an editorial lambasting Dr Mahathir. I think you are 35 years too late. Why repeat what we have been trying to tell you over the last 35 years?


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Using Dr Mahathir's logic

The Malaysian Insider Editorial

Raise your hand if you expected Dr Mahathir Mohamad to have a conscience attack and blame himself and the Barisan Nasional (BN) government for Project IC – that not-so-secret initiative to hand identity cards to thousands of illegal immigrants in Sabah.

Well, if you didn't raise your hand, you are in good company because the former prime minister does not do well before a Royal Commission of Inquiry.

He had an acute case of amnesia when he appeared before the commission looking into the V. K. Lingam video clip in 2007 and there was every chance that he was going to hit the didn't-do-it can't remember-it mode today.

Why? Because the former prime minister does not lose sleep just because millions think he is being charitable with the truth. In his own perverse way, he must always come out on top.

So, going before the RCI in Kota Kinabalu and sticking to his own story, no matter how ridiculous it is, is a win in his eyes.

So let us play along with the Dr Mahathir storyline. He said the government was not responsible for immigrants being given ICs illegally.

And his explanation: "These illegal immigrants may have been issued the identity cards erroneously or it may have been the wrongdoing of certain low-ranking civil servants."

So, according to Dr Mahathir, thousands upon thousands of ICs were accidentally given to Suluks and other illegal immigrants from The Philippines. And this was either through the negligence or crooked ways of some clerk in a government department.

And while this was happening, should we also assume that the bigwigs at the National Registration Department and police were comatose?

Using Dr Mahathir's logic, no blame should accrue to the BN government for anything. Because it is either an accident or the fault of a low-level civil servant.

There is no duty of care for a minister, deputy minister, parliamentary secretary or senator to ensure that a ministry or government agency runs efficiently and is not a nest of corruption. None whatsoever.

So using Dr Mahathir's logic, we can also say NO ONE should blame the government for:

* the spike in crime. The failure of the police to do their job rests solely with the cops, not with the Home Minister or Prime Minister.

* inflated contracts and one-sided privatisation projects. The failure rests with the civil servants at the Economic Planning Unit, and not with the ministers who endorsed and lobbied for the project to be pushed through. Or for the Umno politician who was awarded the contract for loyalty to the party.

* for appointing an unqualified person to be the ambassador to Indonesia. Blame the foreign service official who acted beyond his pay grade and picked the least likeliest candidate in Malaysia for the prestigious job.

With Dr Mahathir and his ilk, it is always the same story: it is someone else's fault. Even with a mountain of evidence, it is always someone else's fault.


That was The Malaysian Insider's editorial today. The Malays would call the editorial menganjing, meaning being sarcastic, because that is the tone of the editorial. I wonder who wrote that editorial because there is no name to it.

Anyway, The Malaysian Insider is trying to suggest that everything wrong with the country is the fault of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad 'and his ilk'. I take it whoever wrote that editorial has not been listening to what we have been saying over the last 35 years or so. And that is a shame because if he or she had been listening then he or she would not have come out with such a silly editorial.

And let me tell you why I think The Malaysian Insider editorial is silly for blaming everything wrong with the country on Dr Mahathir 'and his ilk'.

Barisan Nasional was formed just before the 1974 general election so that Umno could recapture the country that it almost lost in 1969. Gerakan, PPP, PAS, etc., the very strong opposition parties that gave the Alliance Party a run for its money in 1969, all joined Barisan Nasional.

DAP, however, did not join Barisan Nasional. Some say DAP refused to join and others says DAP was never invited to join. This is like the Singapore leaving Malaysia story. Did Singapore leave Malaysia or was Singapore kicked out? There are two versions of this event (just like why DAP did not join Barisan Nasional).

In the first general election that Barisan Nasional faced in 1974, the new coalition garnered 60.7% of the votes and won 87.66% of the seats, the best performance ever since Merdeka. That can be said to be a new Malaysian record and demonstrated how happy Malaysians were with the new coalition called Barisan Nasional after almost killing the Alliance Party just one election before that.

Anyway, not long after that, the 'Malay' PAS left Barisan Nasional in a huff (because, according to PAS, Umno was not sincere about the marriage) while the 'Chinese' Gerakan and 'Indian' PPP stayed in Barisan Nasional.

In the next general election in 1978 (and the Kelantan state election about three months before that) PAS got wiped out and lost Kelantan. Barisan Nasional garnered 57.2% of the votes and won 84.42% of the seats. That meant the people were still very happy with Barisan Nasional.

However, in 1978, we were already opposed to Umno and Barisan Nasional (mainly because we supported PAS, which was now an opposition party). And when I say 'we' here I mean the Malays from the East Coast (where I was living then). But we could not get our non-Malay comrades in the West Coast to join us in opposing Umno and Barisan Nasional. The non-Malays still decided to give Barisan Nasional a landslide victory, much to our disappointment and disgust.

In 1981, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad took over as the President of Umno and Prime Minister of Malaysia. Soon after that, Anwar Ibrahim deserted the opposition and joined Umno.

Then, in the 1982 general election soon after that, Barisan Nasional garnered 60.5% of the votes and won 85.71% of the seats, even better than the 1978 general election before that when PAS got wiped out.

In the 1986, 1990 and 1995 general elections, with Dr Mahathir as Prime Minister, Barisan Nasional continued to perform well. And this is in spite of the creation of Semangat 46 and the creation of Gagasan Rakyat and Angkatan Perpaduan Ummah in the 1990 and 1995 general elections.

We were perplexed. The more we opposed the ruling party, and the more we tried to tell Malaysians as to why the ruling party needed to be ousted, the better the ruling party performed. It appears like Malaysians are both deaf and blind and have a very closed mind and cannot see the truth.

I made up my mind 35 years ago that Malaysians are a lost cause. Malaysians are stupid. Malaysians cannot understand that we need change and why we need change. The 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990 and 1995 election results seem to prove this.

Then came the 1999 general election soon after the Anwar Ibrahim episode and the birth of the Reformasi movement and we were so sure that this time around Dr Mahathir, Umno and Barisan Nasional were going to be history. This would be the end of the ruling party and the beginning of change in Malaysia.

But that did not happen as we had hoped and expected. Barisan Nasional still swept in with 56.5% of the votes and 76.68% of the seats.

Then came the 2004 general election when Barisan Nasional garnered 63.9% of the votes and set a new Malaysian record by winning 90.41% of the seats. We just could not believe it. Why are Malaysians so stupid? Why can't Malaysians understand that there are so many things wrong with the country? Why can't Malaysians see that we need change?

Today, The Malaysian Insider writes that silly editorial blaming this, that and the other on Dr Mahathir. What bloody crap is this?

Where were you 35 years ago? Where were you in 1978? Where were you in 1982? Where were you in 1986? Where were you in 1990? Where were you in 1995? Where were you in 1999? Where were you in 2004?

For seven general elections you sucked Dr Mahathir's dick and licked Umno's arse. Today, you write an editorial lambasting Dr Mahathir. I think you are 35 years too late. Why repeat what we have been trying to tell you over the last 35 years?

So, everything is Dr Mahathir's fault, is it? And who kept Dr Mahathir in power for 22 years and Umno in power for 58 years since 1955? And where were you in 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1995, 1999 and 2004 when we tried to tell you what you are telling us today?

No, whatever is happening in Malaysia is NOT Dr Mahathir's fault. It is your fault. So live with it and stop bitching, moaning and complaining. You made your bed so now lie in it.

And you know what? Barisan Nasional is still going to win the next general election in 2018. And remember that I said that. Losers!


Stop grumbling and find solutions instead

Posted: 10 Sep 2013 04:38 PM PDT

Far too often, we place convenience ahead of conservation. We take for granted that electricity will always flow when we flip a switch. Some of us talk about subsidised petrol as if it is a birthright. Fuel subsidies feed such a mindset. That is a handicap when you consider we may one day have to pay market prices when we refill at petrol stations.

The Star Editorial

WE have choices. We always do. And here is definitely a situation that requires us to decide what to do next: Continue grumbling about last week's fuel hike and its impact, or accept that sometimes our sentiments cannot overturn reality and we should adapt accordingly?

We have grown accustomed to low petrol and diesel prices although oil is a depleting commodity and the world never seems to get enough of it.

The Government's annual bill for fuel subsidies is huge – RM24bil last year – and this makes it hard to narrow the fiscal deficit.

If the deficit is not reduced by a meaningful extent soon, there will be painful consequences for the Government, the economy and, of course, us.

Subsidies are bad if they encourage inefficiency and wastefulness, and if the undeserving enjoy them as well.

All these realities were at the core of the Government's decision to cut fuel subsidies on Sept 2 and increase the prices of RON95 petrol and diesel by 20 sen per litre. It was a way to rationalise subsidies to trim the fiscal deficit.

Naturally, people are unhappy about having to pay more for petrol and diesel, and quick to express worry about the inevitable rise in prices of other goods and services.

Is that all that we can do – complain and fret about the impact of the fuel hike? That cannot be so; we are not as helpless and insignificant as some of us think.

It is time we become disciplined, enlightened and empowered consumers.

We should start by being more conscious and responsible in how we use energy (and not just petrol and diesel, because the demand and supply for the various energy resources are entwined).

Do we jump into the car and drive short distances when we can walk instead?

Do we prefer to move around in our own vehicles although we have the option of car pooling?

Are we careless in our electricity consumption? How often do we think about energy-saving solutions?

Far too often, we place convenience ahead of conservation. We take for granted that electricity will always flow when we flip a switch. Some of us talk about subsidised petrol as if it is a birthright.

Fuel subsidies feed such a mindset. That is a handicap when you consider we may one day have to pay market prices when we refill at petrol stations.

It is best we start learning from now to cope with the fact that energy is a terrible thing to waste.

Also, as consumers, we can strike a blow against profiteering by refusing to be customers of opportunistic businessmen.

If a coffeeshop charges an extra 20 sen for a cup of teh O in response to the fuel hike, why go back there? After all, whether or not to swallow that ridiculous price increase, the choice is yours.


The future of MCA

Posted: 10 Sep 2013 04:32 PM PDT

The discord between Dr Chua and Liow has long been an open secret. However, it has recently evolved into an increasingly intense war of words. The party election scheduled to be held in the end of this year is undoubtedly the catalyst of their worsening relations.

Soong Phui Jee, Sin Chew

MCA two top leaders have came to an open rupture. President Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek's claim that his deputy, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai had put pressure on him to quit as MCA president has angered Liow who later furiously lashed out at Dr Chua for fabricating stories.

The discord between Dr Chua and Liow has long been an open secret. However, it has recently evolved into an increasingly intense war of words. The party election scheduled to be held in the end of this year is undoubtedly the catalyst of their worsening relations.

After suffering a great defeat in the May 5 General Election, Dr Chua had announced under great pressure that he would not seek re-election. In recent days, however, Dr Chua has been actively visiting and hanging around with grassroots members. It seems like he is working hard to make preparation for the party election and showing no sign of retiring.

Dr Chua is excellent at planning ploys and his greatest advantage is good at organising grassroots and winning their support. In the three-corner fight of the party's election on 28 March 2010, Dr Chua defeated incumbent Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and former president Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting, proving his ability in gaining party members' support and the strength of his factional forces. If he really wishes to seek for re-election, it will definitely be the biggest impediment for Liow to move up to the next level.

Liow is one of the MCA's new generation leaders and compared to Dr Chua who is ethically tainted, he is mild-mannered and practical. To win the party, however, strength is more important than image. Liow came from the MCA Youth and of course, his greatest support also comes from the MCA Youth. The youth wing alone, however, is not enough to make him the party president. He must fight for the support of party state leaders, Wanita MCA and sufficient Central Committee delegates to get a chance of toppling Dr Chua, who is deep-rooted.

An unchangeable fact is, the influence of MCA has shrunk today. The severe general election defeat has brought unprecedented and unbearable embarrassment to the party. However, its members did not unite to face the external enemies and learn from their mistakes, but have instead been caught in the quagmire of infighting. Not only the leaders have been caught in the mess, causing the loss of struggling spirit, but the grassroots are also low in morale and confused.

Even worse, the decision of not to accept any government posts made the MCA seem to have exiled and marginalised itself, and became a bit part in an awkward position. It has lost the basic right to speak and negotiate in front of Umno while the Chinese community is walking away from it. Its future is indeed worrisome.

There is nothing to fear about failure, but it is fearful to carry no reflection and reform. The MCA is currently caught in such a brutal political reality. No matter who will be elected the party's president, he or she will have to rectify the badly wounded party. Therefore, the MCA needs not only a good president, but also a president and leadership that can save the party, or it would be hard to have optimistic expectations about its future.


'I'm not a seasonal politician'

Posted: 10 Sep 2013 04:15 PM PDT

RESPONSIBLE REJUVENATION: 'You must have been here during Hishammuddin's time,' Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told Rashid Yusof, Farrah Naz Karim and A. Azim Idris at the end of a fast-paced interview at his Home Ministry office in Putrajaya on Monday. Inviting the New Straits Times journalists to take in the sight of the 12th-floor office, he produced the punchline: 'Have I renovated the place in any way?' The interview, which darted from security to foreign workers -- 'we are working for zero illegal immigrants' -- before settling on politics, made a number of references to Zahid's predecessor at the ministry, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein. Essentially, Zahid was keen to crush thoughts and hints of comparison between Hishammuddin's tenure and his somewhat swashbuckling debut as home minister. Comparisons are inevitable ahead of Umno's expanded elections next month, when both ministers will defend their seats as vice-presidents. Here are excerpts of the interview, where Zahid addressed questions on Umno

New Straits Times

Question:  How does Umno filter frivolous candidacies for top posts and the supreme council leadership,  since the elections will be very open?

Answer: There are certain criteria set, which I don't have to repeat, like the requirement to have served in  the supreme council. Apart from that, you cannot filter a contest. If someone is qualified to register as a  candidate, the system is there.

In the case of the three incumbent vice-presidents, we are working together closely. But, we welcome Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam or Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad to join the race.

The three of us (Zahid, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal) have been assisting the prime minister in specific roles and we have what is needed to strengthen the party and provide continuity in the Umno leadership.

We have to cooperate because we are the product of (Datuk Seri) Najib (Razak).

We were from Umno Youth. We have worked together over the last three general assemblies. Shafie took charge of the Umno clubs, Hishammuddin addressed issues and I handled the media. We were well-coordinated.

Question: There must surely be rivalry for the top-ranked VP post?

Answer: No, because we are not concerned (about) which one of the three positions (that) we get.

Shafie, during a speech in Taping, said anyone else can have the No. 1 and 2 positions and that the third spot is good enough for him.

Yes, we will be happy to be retained as VPs. That is good enough.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the third VP and he became the deputy.

Question: Is it really healthy for the incumbent VPs to make pacts? Don't you think you are shrinking the space for democracy?

Answer: Anybody is free to make pacts. Others going for the post(s) can do so, too. It is not formalising an alliance; it is merely an understanding among us.

Question: What is the mood in Umno right now? It was clearly the biggest winner in the last general election, contributing 89 of 133 seats that Barisan Nasional won. But, it has not projected the persona of a big winner.

Answer: The mood ... I don't really know. How do you study the mood of 148,500 delegates?

But, I am positive that they would like to have leaders who can strengthen the party and are actively implementing government policies.

Question: How do you go about strengthening the party?

Answer: Number one, the party members, in general, are very complacent, partly because the Federal Government still belongs to BN and we are the backbone of the coalition. Even the candidates who lost are complacent because the Federal Government is still under BN.

They are still fighting among themselves. They keep the allocation for the general election just because they were not fielded as candidates and they want to use the money to contest in the party polls.

How can they do that? We have had enough of these so-called warlords.

Question: But, they (warlords) are still there... some of them contested and won.

Answer:That's the problem. This issue has to be arrested as it goes against Umno's ambition of rejuvenating the party.

Question: There is nothing to compel them to call it a day?

Answer: This problem is not just happening in Umno. My friends in Pas and PKR say it is also happening there.

Question: The concept of retirement doesn't seem to apply to these politicians.

Answer: They will when they lose.

Question: Although age is a big factor, some who are 68 or 69 still think they're vibrant with vigour and are young and fit. Why can't they offer themselves?

Answer: I'm already 60. I feel young... at heart.

Question: Regeneration and rejuvenation of Umno seems to be the catchphrase leading up to the party polls.

Answer: I'm very confident of it because at every general assembly election, 40 per cent will be new faces, be it at the divisional or national level.

Question: How did the story about you contemplating the No. 2 post come about, so much so, that you have had to deny it?

Answer: It was a blogger from Sabah who wrote it, when there had not been a single word said on the matter. This was an attempt to put me at loggerheads with Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. He (the blogger) does not know my relationship with Muhyiddin. We have been buddies for a long time.

Don't they know it is not a nomination system? Under this registration system, if I refuse to contest, who can possibly force me to?

Question: So, under the previous nomination system, one was sort of compelled to contest upon getting the required nominations?

Answer: In past nominations, I was encouraged to go for it (No. 2 post), but Najib, whom I had served as political secretary, advised me against contesting and I didn't. It is even more crucial now that the top two posts are not contested.

We need to maintain the status quo, as a split in support for the president and deputy president's posts will weaken the party.

Contesting any posts below that is fine.

Question: What would you say are your strengths that Umno members should consider in voting for the VPs?

Answer: I would say it is my grassroots support because I'm not a seasonal politician. If I have a ministerial programme, I will always meet with the grassroots. I don't meet them only when the election is looming. You can see for yourself those waiting outside my office now; these are unscheduled sessions that I will oblige.

On paper, my appointments would be with about five groups, but those who come through my door every day when I am in the office are more than that.

I have at least 15 appointments with different groups. I never turn them away. It is just a matter of them having the patience to wait for their turn.

Question: You must surely be aware that you have somewhat been the 'flavour of the month' since you came to the ministry.

Answer: That is not my intention or objective. To me, whatever responsibility given to me, I have to translate into very serious action.

When I was in the Islamic Development Department (Jakim), people said whoever was minister in charge of the department would be out after a month. But, when I was there, what did I do? You know my track record when I was there.

I came in as someone without a degree in Islamic studies. I was a banker and I started my career in banking. I injected new elements of modern management into a religious organisation. I did it successfully. I revamped so many departments under Jakim.

However, the mileage is not for me to claim, as I believe it should go to the prime minister because he is the head of government.

'Umno has been daring, proactive'

Posted: 10 Sep 2013 04:11 PM PDT

MOVING FORWARD: Some have suggested that the upcoming Umno election will be stiffer than the 13th General Election. After all, how the party election pans out will have a direct impact on who will administer the country. However, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, who is seeking to defend his vice-president's post, is confident that the members' wisdom will pull the party through. He speaks candidly to A. Jalil Hamid and Yushaimi Yahaya on a host of issues, including matters pertaining to his family ties with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his hopes and aspirations for Umno, which forms the backbone of the country's leadership

New Straits Times

Question:   Is Umno at a crossroads?

Answer:  Not Umno but the country is at a crossroads. Crossroads are  being faced by a lot of countries out there. Some countries have gone through it and survived. Some are still going through it while some have not survived.

From Umno's perspective, it is critical as it is the backbone of the country's leadership. If we look at other political parties instrumental in gaining independence for their countries, only the PAP in Singapore is still around.

While we congratulate ourselves for having survived, we also have to be aware of the challenges faced by parties that have been around for so long. As Umno leaders and members, we must understand that there is a new generation now. The world is borderless.

The gap between rural and urban is so apparent. All world leaders have to face religious and racial squabbles.

Yes, it's critical, but we are grateful we are still being given a chance to move forward. That is why I feel very strongly that the party's wisdom shown since independence will continue to prevail as we have a lot to do after the party election.

You have to be confident of your ability and have faith in Umno. Without Umno, we would not be where we are today. We don't have to be apologetic. In fact, we should be very proud.

Question: The saving grace is that Umno performed better in the last election than in 2008. As one of the major contenders in the Umno election, what are your hopes and aspirations?

Answer: It is not a saving grace. Without being apologetic, I think Umno is strong. We won more states and seats. Despite the allegations of rigging and 40,000 phantom Bangladeshi voters, not a single petition filed by the opposition touched on this.

All that was nothing more than spin. What it means though is that we had won fair and square. If we had been emotional, our country could have been destroyed.

Just compare it to Egypt and Australia. (Don't) change for the sake of change. They changed Mubarak for Morsi in the name of democracy. Now, Egpyt is still unstable. How many people have died? Are you telling me that Egypt is better off? I don't think so. Try explaining that to the families of those who died in the streets of Egypt.

Compare that to Australia, that went through a transition that showed democracy in Australia is quite mature.

Let's compare the two situations -- where do we want to put Malaysia? This is not to scare anyone, but it is happening in front of us.

I think Umno has done very well and now faces the test of a party election. Will we be stronger? That will depend on the maturity of our members now that 150,000 of them can decide.

Question: Your thoughts on the emergence of many challengers to the vice-president's post?

Answer: I have contested many times. Normally, it is worst at the divisional level as it tends to get extremely personal.

I had contested for the Pemuda and vice-president's posts before. What is different now is the number of candidates offering to become vice-presidents.

For the first time ever, there are hardly any personal attacks. I don't see that many cliques or members ganging up. In fact, it could be a lot more intense, what with social media at their disposal.

It used to be chain letters. That was more personal. I remember how Datuk Onn (Jaafar, Hishammuddin's grandfather) was not spared, and neither was my late father (Malaysia's third prime minister Tun Hussein Onn).

The culture of hurling chairs and tables has stopped. Ninety-nine per cent of the branches have had their meetings and they went well.

How can you even resort to money politics? Who can buy 150,000 members? From the transformational aspect, Umno has been daring and proactive. The changes that we have made will only strengthen Umno.

Question: What is causing this new-found maturity?

Answer: I don't know if it is the maturity of the members, or the party, or the leadership, or the realisation that we cannot be lax after the last general election. We have been working hard. Some may not have realised that we are going through a massive reform.

I hope MCA, MIC and Gerakan will learn from this as they have to do some soul-searching themselves.

Question: If you are re-elected, what would be your priorities? Your comments on your family ties with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak?

Answer: I was not appointed a minister just recently. People forget that I was with (Tan Sri) Rafidah Aziz under the international trade and industry ministry. I was with (former Gerakan president Tun Dr) Lim Keng Yaik at the primary industries ministry. I was also with the youth and sports, education and home ministries. I am now handling two ministries, one in an acting capacity.

So, in offering myself as Umno's vice-president, people can assess me from those days. This is not about a position that can be bought or pawned. Umno is not like that.

Members who vote will not base it on what we promise. It may be true for newcomers, but for people like us, who have been in the government for so long, we do not have a place in Umno if people dislike us.

It has nothing to do with being Najib's cousin. When I was leading before this, it was not because Datuk Onn is my grandfather or Hussein Onn my dad.

One must remember that when I was chosen to be in the government previously, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was not my grandfather. When I was helming the education ministry, Pak Lah (former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) was not my father. Lim Keng Yaik was not my cousin. So, why are family ties a consideration now?

It is not about what I am offering. The delegates know their leaders. If they don't, they are not qualified to become delegates themselves as they are leaders at branches and divisions.

Some 150,000 members can decide the party leadership this time around. What would be their considerations? Money? Blackmail? Revenge?

I am not perfect, but Umno's history has proven that when placed in a corner, we will make the best decisions. If the best decision is to not include me, then I am willing to go without a position.

I have done my best. I have led for more than 20 years. It is also the same with Najib. If people don't like him, then just remember what is happening in Syria and Egypt.

If our leaders are not commanding or intelligent, then why would United States President Barack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping visit Malaysia in October? Umno can't be all that bad for the leaders of these two powerhouses to come to Malaysia, can it?

Question: But there are still those who hurl claims of your family ties.

Answer: Alhamdulillah, I have no sex or corruption scandals. I am thankful to Allah if it is only my ties to Najib.

Issues such as leadership performance, family ties, money politics and corruption are not new for all of us. It is not just me -- it is the same for Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (the trio are the three Umno vice-presidents seeking re-election). We have gone through everything. If that is the best they can throw at me, I am thankful as I cannot decide that I am Najib's cousin. I cannot do anything about it.

Question: On calls, including from former prime minister Dr Mahathir, for a no-contest for the posts of president and deputy president?

Answer: I hope there will be no contest for the top two posts as party stability is crucial. I agree with Tun M. This is not a play thing, contesting for fun. Try administering the country and party in the present climate. I do not see the top two posts being contested, alhamdulillah.

At the vice-president level, an additional two or three candidates do not matter, as long as there are no personal attacks, money politics and other unsavoury tactics. I feel that Umno's highest echelon is safe.

The jostling for Umno supreme council posts, however, will be intense. It can have positive effects or the reverse.

We have to understand that this is the first time we are going through an election after amendments to the party constitution. It is impossible to know everything as the grassroots will decide the fate of the council.

Whoever wants to be candidate must go down to the branches. That is us becoming more inclusive. In the context of democracy, Umno fully embodies it. Name me another political party that does this?

The wings must also carry out their responsibilities. Wanita, Pemuda dan Puteri are important as they are the future of the party.

Those who offer themselves as candidates in the wings must have the vision and plan how to bring the young into the party. In the haste of campaigning, don't forget that the leaders chosen must translate their elections into support from people outside the party or we will be in a serious situation come the 14th General Election.

Question: Some were hoping to see new faces in the Cabinet line-up and have suggested that old faces are still there. Your thoughts?

Answer: That's inaccurate. Many old faces are not there.

Khairy Jamaluddin is there. Rahman Dahalan is there. These are new faces. Before that, they did not hold any positions. Can't we recognise that? However, KJ has to deliver. Rahman has to deliver now that he is in the cabinet.

Question: Some are of the opinion that the opposition allows more room for young leaders to come up the ranks.

Answer: The opposition can do whatever they want to. We do not know what will happen when they are given the chance to lead the country. The stakes are higher. The opposition has nothing to lose. They can project new leaders, or even "babies" if they like. Their task is easy. They say the country is topsy-turvy, they say there were 40,000 phantom voters and they will always attempt to discredit us, but as the government of the day, we have to be responsible.

If we want to push young leaders up, they must be responsible leaders. If we give inexperienced leaders the chance, and they abuse it, the country will fall into chaos. Those we project must prove their worth.

On the other hand, we have given the chance for young leaders to grow. The menteris besar of Kedah and Perak were from Pemuda. Khaled Nordin, Idris Haron? I am helming two ministries. The prime minister, too, was from Pemuda. So were Zahid and Shafie.

People accuse us, but the reality is that this is an untruth. Now, we need to find leaders from Puteri. Pemuda has proven itself, as we have menteris besar, a home minister, a defence minister. (Deputy Prime Minister) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was a Pemuda leader himself.


US providing some lethal aid to Syrian rebels

Posted: 10 Sep 2013 04:06 PM PDT

(Reuters) - The United States has begun distributing some weapons to the Syrian rebels, a spokesman for the Syrian Coalition of groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad said yesterday, after months of reported delays.

White House officials suggested in June that President Barack Obama had decided to provide military aid to the Syrian rebels, but in the months since, rebel leaders and US lawmakers have said no lethal assistance has arrived.

"The US is distributing non-lethal aid and … some lethal assistance as well to the SMC (Supreme Military Council)," Saleh told a news conference, referring to the council that oversees operations of rebels loyal to General Salim Idriss.

The United States is providing lethal assistance "because they are sure that the mechanisms that the SMC has established are well tested and they will be sure that the weapons are not falling into the wrong hands," Saleh said.

He apparently referred to Washington's concerns that US arms could end up benefiting radical Islamist groups, such as the al Nusra Front, active in northern Syria.

Saleh's comments at a Washington news conference may be the first public indication that US-provided military goods such as arms or ammunition are actually moving to anti-Assad forces.

One US government source said it was "unlikely" that any US-supplied arms were on the ground in the hands of Syrian rebels at this time, while not dismissing the possibility that such aid was in the works.

Separately, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that Washington was trying to upgrade its support for the Syrian opposition.

"It is ramping up, but I can tell you that many of the items that people have complained were not getting (to) them are now getting to them," Kerry said in a Google+ Hangout interview. He declined to say what military items were arriving.

Planning for strikes

Rebel spokesman Saleh, who is based in Turkey, spoke at a news conference called to urge the US Congress to authorize Obama's proposal for limited military strikes in Syria following a chemical weapons attack on rebel areas outside Damascus on August 21 that the United States has blamed on Assad's forces.

Saleh said rebel military leaders were coordinating with the countries that might participate in a US-led strike.

He said the Supreme Military Council also had a plan to derive tactical benefits from the strikes if they do take place, such as by securing areas that are hit.

The chances of US military action have receded, however, since Russia offered a proposal on Monday for Syria to surrender its chemical weapons stockpile to international control.

Najib Ghadbian, the Syrian Coalition's representative in the United States, said the rebels favored securing Syria's chemical weapons, but the Russian proposal should be amended to include accountability for those who have committed poison gas attacks.

"We will work with the international community," Ghadbian said, but added: "We don't' trust the Syrian regime. We don't trust the Russians."

After two years of balking at directly arming the Syrian opposition, the White House's pledge in June to provide military aid to the rebels, came as the US government said it had proof that Assad's forces had engaged in small-scale use of chemical weapons earlier this year.

Rebel sources recently confirmed receipt of arms such as anti-tank weapons financed by Saudi Arabia, which arrived last month through Jordan.

However, Republican and Democratic lawmakers on congressional intelligence committees held up the covert US effort for a while over concerns that the arms could end up in the hands of Islamist militants in Syria. In late July, lawmakers gave the plan the green light.

Last week, a former senior US official said a limited quantity of American arms had reached the rebels.

In the Google+ interview, Kerry said, "It is accurate to say that some things have not been getting to the opposition as rapidly as one would have hoped."

The CIA, which oversees the covert arming effort, had no comment on Saleh's remarks.

Lawmakers who favor arming the rebels, such as Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham and Democrat Carl Levin, have urged Obama to step up US support for the opposition as part of any plan to take military action in Syria. 


Najib to announce steps to help Malays

Posted: 10 Sep 2013 04:01 PM PDT

By Stuart Grudgings, Reuters

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak will announce measures this week to boost the economic role of majority ethnic Malays, official media reported on Wednesday, signalling a reversal of earlier pledges to roll back affirmative action policies.

The announcement, due on Saturday, comes as Najib faces a ruling party leadership contest next month. It also follows an election in May in which his coalition, in power since independence from Britain in 1957, was overwhelmingly rejected by minority ethnic Chinese voters.

The initiatives will cover equity ownership, business, "human capital" and social and economic development, the state-controlled New Straits Times cited senior officials as saying.

He will also announce steps, the report said, to strengthen state institutions that promote the economic role of Malays.

Abdul Wahid Omar, a minister in the Prime Minister's Department, was quoted as saying there could also be steps to create more opportunities for Malays in the private sector and to boost their ownership of commercial property.

"A recurring issue is the lack of employment opportunities for Bumiputeras in the private sector, especially at the executive level," he was quoted as saying.

Affirmative action privileges were put in place to improve the lot of Malays, who make up around 60 percent of the 28 million population, are historically poorer and traditionally live in rural areas.

Minority ethnic Chinese, about a quarter of the population, are wealthier and still dominate business and the economy.

After he took over the country's top job in 2009, Najib cast himself as a moderniser who would roll back the privileges that have stunted the Southeast Asian country's competitiveness and alienated minorities. He has also pledged to make government assistance more based on needs than on race.

But those plans have largely failed to advance due to stiff resistance from within the ruling, ethnic Umno.

Najib was further weakened by May's election in which the ruling coalition lost the popular vote and saw its parliamentary majority shrink.

The result, contested by the opposition, exposed a deepening divide between Malays and ethnic Chinese and was seen as leaving Najib more dependent on support from Umno traditionalists, such as influential former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

For four decades, ethnic Malays have benefitted from race-based policies ranging from quotas for university admissions to preferential entry to the civil service and guaranteed minimum levels of business ownership.

Critics say the policy has mostly benefitted wealthy, well-connected Malays more than the poor majority, while also contributing to a massive "brain drain" of ethnic Chinese who leave Malaysia to seek opportunities elsewhere.


Eyeing Putrajaya, DAP launches campaign to seize rural Sarawak

Posted: 10 Sep 2013 02:59 PM PDT


DAP secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng told reporters today, 'We want to show that we can make a difference in rural Sarawak.' — Picture by K.E. Ooi

Asked if the DAP expects the campaign to yield results by the next state election in 2015, Lim said the party is now focused on raising awareness and ensuring the success of the project.   

Syed Jaymal Zahiid, The Malay Mail 

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 11 — With Putrajaya in mind, the DAP today launched a campaign aimed at capturing rural Sarawak, the last bastion of Barisan Nasional's (BN) rule in a state that helped keep a weakened ruling coalition in power in the last general election.

The campaign, called "Impian Sarawak" (The Sarawak Dream), will be driven by three key thrusts — rural outreach, which will focus on providing basic amenities like water and power to the state's interiors, study trips and exchange programmes to raise awareness on the dire conditions of Sarawak's rural natives, and fundraising.

"We want to show that we can make a difference in rural Sarawak," party secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng told reporters after the launch of the campaign at the party's headquarters here.

Sarawak and Sabah helped deliver most of BN's 133 parliamentary seats and helped keep it in power after the DAP and its allies in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) nearly wiped the ruling coalition out in peninsula Malaysia.

Despite this, Sarawak, an oil-producing region with a revenue of more than RM4 billion last year, remains one of country's least developed states with most of its population living deep in its interior without access to water, power and education.

"Most of the revenue comes from oil, gas, forestry and land sale. These are Sarawak's natural resources but yet the government has failed its people," said Chong Chieng Jen, who is the MP for Bandar Kuching, one of the many urban seats recaptured by the DAP in the May 5 polls.

Chong said the lack of education opportunities and poverty are among the many obstacles the opposition needs to address and overcome if it is to infiltrate Sarawak's interiors, as most of the voters there do not have the same exposure to politics as their urban neighbours.

"They are poor and maybe BN wants to keep them poor so that they would remain dependent on the government," he said.

In the 2011 Sarawak state elections, PR won 15 seats in the state legislative assembly, with the DAP taking the lion's share of 13 seats. But virtually all of the seats won were urban. The opposition were annihilated in the interiors.



Dr Mahathir nafi tahu Projek IC

Posted: 10 Sep 2013 02:57 PM PDT


Lee Shi-Ian, TMI

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad hari ini berkata, beliau tidak pernah mendengar mengenai "Projek IC" sehingga baru-baru ini dan tidak pernah mengeluarkan mana-mana perintah berkaitan pemberian kad pengenalan secara sembarangan kepada pendatang asing di Sabah.

Bekas perdana menteri yang berpakaian sut kelabu lengkap dengan tali leher merah dan kemeja ungu dan berusia 88 tahun itu mengundang tawa mahkamah yang penuh sesak apabila dengan sinis berkata:"Terima kasih banyak kepada pegawai Manoi Kurup yang memberitahunya bahawa Projek IC juga dikenali sebagai Projek M, M maknanya untuk Mahathir.

"Saya tidak pernah tahu mengenai Projek IC sehinggalah baru-baru ini," katanya ketika memberi keterangan di hadapan Suruhanjaya Siasatan Diraja (RCI) berhubung dengan pendatang haram di Sabah.

Dr Mahathir mendakwa, beliau tidak kisah apabila namanya digunakan, dan berkata namanya digunakan di banyak tempat dan beliau digelar perkauman dan seorang ultra.

"Saya tidak pernah peduli dan kisah mengenai perkara itu," katanya dan menambah tidak pernah memberi sebarang arahan kepada bekas Ketua Menteri Sabah, Tan Sri Harris Salleh atau mana-mana individu merujuk kepada pemberian kad pengenalan kepada pendatang asing.

Mahkamah Tinggi Kota Kinabalu hari ini dikawal lebih ketat daripada biasa dengan jumlah pengunjung lebih ramai sejak RCI bermula, apabila tersebar mengenai saksi ke-209 RCI ialah saksi paling terkemuka. Polis memeriksa lebih 140 orang yang memasuki ruang mahkamah dengan alat pengesan logam.

Ramai yang lain, kebanyakannya penyokong Dr Mahathir menunggu dengan sabar di luar mahkamah. Tun Siti Hasmah Ali, isteri Dr Mahathir adalah yang pertama masuk ke dalam mahkamah kira-kira jam 9.24 pagi sebelum perdana menteri paling lama berkhidmat itu memasuki mahkamah, beberapa minit kemudian.  



Awaiting Justice in Malaysia

Posted: 10 Sep 2013 02:31 PM PDT


Malaysia needs a genuinely independent oversight body that has the power to investigate cases on its own. This body must be accountable to Parliament and the public, and be given enough resources to investigate claims thoroughly and promptly. 

Isabelle Arradon, wsj.com

When P. Karuna Nithi died in police custody in Negeri Sembilan, central Malaysia, on June 2, the local police chief immediately denied any "foul play." But then the autopsy showed 49 injuries on Nithi's body. Most of the injuries were bruises apparently caused by a blunt object to the chest and limbs, according to the autopsy report cited in media.

For Nithi's family, who say they saw blood coming out of his head when they identified the body, the denial of foul play was difficult to accept. They suspected that he had died after a police beating. But while Nithi's family, Amnesty International and others have called for an independent investigation into his death, the authorities have yet to publicly commit to do so. The autopsy listed his cause of death as "fatty liver."

Nithi's tragic death raises difficult questions. Reports received by Amnesty International suggest that Malaysia has seen a shocking number of deaths in policy custody in recent years, many as a result of torture or other ill-treatment. The Malaysian Parliament has recorded more than 230 deaths in custody since 2000, and the number is growing.

According to official government figures, nine people held by the police died in the entirety of 2012, while 12 people have already been reported dead as of June 2013. Those found dead had been suspected of a range of crimes, not just violent ones—but like Nithi, who was arrested for alleged domestic violence, the majority of deaths in custody since early 2012 were Malaysians of Indian descent.

In recent weeks, a string of deadly shootings and other violent crimes across Malaysia has sparked an intense debate about the efficacy of the country's police force. In response to the turmoil, government hardliners have called for the return of draconian colonial-era laws that prioritize stability over human rights. But the human rights of criminal suspects cannot be sacrificed for law and order, not least when the police's own conduct towards detainees is still so questionable.

In an open letter this July, Amnesty International and the rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) urged authorities to go beyond paying lip service to the issue and put in place concrete mechanisms to end police abuse. Yet it's not clear if the National Front government is taking seriously the alarming rise of deaths in custody.

For example, in June it announced plans to establish centralized police lockups in state capitals, and permanent coroner's courts. This would keep criminal suspects out of the smaller local jails where monitoring abuses is more difficult and establish a new system of accountability when inmates die. Facing mounting public outcry, Prime Minister Najib Razak also announced a new task force, led by the Inspector General of the Police Khalid bin Abu Bakar, to establish measures to prevent further deaths in custody.

But the government has established similar task forces at politically opportune moments in the past, only to accomplish very little afterward. The Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission, a body established in 2009 to handle public complaints against government bodies including the police, has not been given enough resources for its broad mandate, nor has it investigated any past cases of custodial deaths. And notably, the new task force does not have power to investigate past cases of deaths in custody. 

Malaysia needs a genuinely independent oversight body that has the power to investigate cases on its own. This body must be accountable to Parliament and the public, and be given enough resources to investigate claims thoroughly and promptly.

The proposed coroner's court must be fully independent and impartial, with wide investigative authority so as not to rely exclusively on police-supplied evidence. Likewise, police must strengthen procedures around arrest, in particular the systematic gathering of data like the detainee's time of arrest, place of detention and the identity of the arresting officers. Granting Malaysia's Human Rights Commission and other independent inspection panels regular access, including unannounced visits to all detention facilities, also would go a long way toward preventing human rights violations against detainees.

 Read more at : http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323595004579064560176938696.html 


PAS Besut calon Nik Amar lawan Mat Sabu

Posted: 10 Sep 2013 02:09 PM PDT


Hasbullah Awang Chik, TMI 

(TMI) - PAS Besut mencalonkan Timbalan Menteri Besar Kelantan, Datuk Nik Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah untuk mencabar penyandang jawatan timbalan presiden Mohamad Sabu dalam pemilihan parti itu tidak lama lagi.

Resolusi PAS kawasan itu sebulat suara supaya Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang dikekalkan sebagai Presiden PAS bagi sesi akan datang.

Muktamar tahunan PAS kali ke-59 akan diadakan pada 22 hingga 24 November ini bagi memilih kepimpinan baru sesi 2013-2015.

Pemilihan kali ini turut mendapat perhatian daripada Mursyidul Am PAS, Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat yang mengeluarkan kenyataan bahawa timbalan presiden harus dipilih dari kalangan ulama.

Dengan pencalonan Nik Amar oleh beberapa kawasan membuktikan saranan Mursyidul Am itu diambil kira oleh setiap kawasan bagi pemilihan PAS akan datang.

Nik Amar sudah mendapat layak untuk bertanding sebagai timbalan presiden PAS dalam pemilihan akan datang.

Dalam pada itu, PAS Besut turut menamakan tiga calon untuk merebut jawatan naib presiden iaitu Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, Salahuddin Ayub dan Datuk Mahfuz Omar.

Pengaruh Mursyidul Am dijangka memberikan impak besar dalam pemilihan kepimpinan PAS tidak lama lagi.

Media melaporkan pada Sabtu lalu, Nik Abdul Aziz berpendapat Abdul Hadi patut dikekalkan sebagai presiden PAS dan timbalannya pula dipilih di kalangan ulama.

Katanya, semua pemimpin PAS perlu mempunyai ciri ulama, namun apa yang membezakan mereka adalah ilmu agama yang dituntut.

Kenyataan Nik Abdul Aziz sekali gus memberi isyarat kepada pewakilan supaya jawatan presiden PAS itu tidak dipertandingkan. 


Bersediakah Umno melakukan transformasi?

Posted: 10 Sep 2013 02:01 PM PDT


Apa yang menimbulkan kemusykilan ialah sikap pucuk pimpinan tertinggi parti itu. Apakah mereka benar-benar bersedia menerima proses transformasi dalam parti itu atau ia hanya sekadar retorik?

Berapa ramai Ketua Bahagian veteran atau yang telah lanjut usia menyatakan kesediaan berundur dan memberi laluan kepada pemimpin pelapis?

oleh Musli Oli, FMT

Pemilihan Umno pada Oktober depan merupakan pemilihan pucuk pimpinan terakhir sebelum Umno menghadapi PRU14.

Sungguhpun penggal parti Umno akan berakhir dua tahun lebih awal sebelum penggal kerajaan berakhir, namun dari pengalaman lalu, pemilihan parti akan ditunda untuk elakkan perpecahan sebelum hadapi pilihan raya umum.

Ringkasnya pemilihan tahun ini adalah pemilihan terakhir parti itu memilih barisan kepimpinannya sebelum menghadapi PRU 14. Pendek kata, ia adalah peluang terakhir memilih bakal-bakal pemimpin untuk menggalas tanggungjawab meyakinkan rakyat untuk terus memberi sokongan kepada kerajaan yang ditunjangi Umno.

Sejak sokongan yang merudum pada PRU 2008, parti Umno, di bawah pucuk pimpinan baru Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak berusaha memperkasa Umno dan menjadikan parti itu lebih menarik terutama kepada golongan muda. Dalam ucapan pertama sebagai Presiden, Najib laungkan slogan,"Berubah atau Rebah". Ia kemudian diikuti dengan mesyuarat agung khas cadangan pindaan perlembagaan parti yang termasuk mengubah kaedah menentukan pemimpin dengan menghapuskan sistem kuota.

Selain itu, jumlah perwakilan juga lebih ramai dan menyeluruh. Harapan Najib, bila jumlah itu bertambah ia lebih mencerminkan hasrat lebih 3 juta ahli Umno berbanding hanya 2,600 orang sebelumnya.


Usaha Najib mentransformasi Umno mula membuahkan hasil dengan sokongan yang meningkat kepada parti itu berbanding 2008. Kerusi Umno bertambah daripada 79 kepada 88. Sungguhpun begitu, persoalan dibangkit, apakah transformasi bakal berlaku dalam Umno?

Apa yang menimbulkan kemusykilan ialah sikap pucuk pimpinan tertinggi parti itu. Apakah mereka benar-benar bersedia menerima proses transformasi dalam parti itu atau ia hanya sekadar retorik?

Berapa ramai Ketua Bahagian veteran atau yang telah lanjut usia menyatakan kesediaan berundur dan memberi laluan kepada pemimpin pelapis?

Sana-sini kedengaran cadangan termasuk daripada perhubungan negeri meminta dua jawatan tertinggi parti jangan dipertandingkan. Apakah cadangan itu selaras dengan falsafah transformasi yang mereka laung-laungkan?

Apa yang ingin dilihat dalam era transformasi parti bila mana calon-calon yang menawar diri untuk jawatan tertinggi seperti timbalan atau VP adalah dari kalangan pemimpin generasi baru seperti KJ, Mukhriz, Razali Ibrahim, Nur Jazlan dan yang lain bukan dari golongan veteran seperti Isa Samad dan Ali Rustam. Apakah golongan veteran lebih menghayati konsep transformasi daripada pemimpin muda?


Kredit: www.malaysia-today.net

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