Jumaat, 11 Oktober 2013

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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

On the edge of a police state

Posted: 10 Oct 2013 05:05 PM PDT

Zaid Ibrahim, TMI

The whole country is worried sick about the "shoot–first" policy, and understandably there has been barrage of criticism leveled against Minister of Home Affairs Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

True to character, he has remained defiant and totally unconcerned about the issues raised by his critics. In his latest tweet, he expresses bewilderment at how "these defenders of human rights" are only concerned about the rights of criminals and not the victims. He then explains that justice must be served, so when "we have evidence, we shoot them" because the victims (the majority of whom are apparently Malays) also deserve justice.

This is not the first time that we have been given a briefing on the theory of justice and human rights by an Umno leader. Nonetheless, it deserves a response if only to remind the people how bad our education system must be if a senior Minister is apparently unable to grasp simple concepts like justice, human rights and the rule of law.

In a democracy and in a modern country, justice requires due and transparent processes exercised by and through an independent arm of the government—that is, the judiciary, where the accused has the right to be heard and to argue his or her innocence. If "justice" is to be determined solely by the police and the minister, who will shoot first and ask no questions later, then we do not need the courts and the Rule of Law.

The minister says his critics see justice and human rights only for criminals. "What about the victims?" he asks. Human rights, for the benefit of the minister, are basic rights recognised by the world community. All human beings are entitled to these rights, regardless of who they are.

People must be treated in accordance with the law of the land. We do not distinguish "what kind of human" they are before they are entitled to these rights. So, we are not in favor of any particular group, nor do we call them criminals and shoot them. We do not punish anyone unless they are arrested, charged and convicted in a court of law.

The minister says that when the police have "evidence", they shoot. What happens if the evidence is false or concocted? What happens if someone plants false evidence on the minister? Shall we shoot him too?

I have come to the conclusion that leaders such as the home minister do not understand the basic concepts of justice, rights and due process in the administration of law. Such leaders are denied this understanding because our education system has been terrible for a long time.

Concepts and principles of law and justice aren't very difficult to understand but they are not taught in our schools. As a result, these leaders do not comprehend the noble ideals they are sworn to uphold. I feel sorry for them.



Will the Malays change?

Posted: 10 Oct 2013 01:21 PM PDT


WHILE discussing national unity at a gathering of Malaysian students in Melbourne last week, I told them that it was in the long-term interest of the Malays – and it was crucial to national unity – that the "Malay/Muslim-first policy" be rejected by the Malays themselves.

Zaid Ibrahim, The Star

Although a handful of extremists have been making the news recently, Malays throughout history have been a reasonable people committed to fair play.

WHILE discussing national unity at a gathering of Malaysian students in Melbourne last week, I told them that it was in the long-term interest of the Malays – and it was crucial to national unity – that the "Malay/Muslim-first policy" be rejected by the Malays themselves.

The "privileges" ostensibly useful to them are actually a hindrance to their wellbeing. If ethnicity is made the determining factor in the provision of assistance or the award of contracts, well-connected Malays will benefit disproportionately even if they do not merit such assistance.

Less hardworking Malays can also take advantage of the policy by doing very little except to ask for help from the Government. This kind of thinking encourages mediocrity as well as the concentration of capital in a select few, to the detriment of all.

This is why the gap between the rich and the poor in Malaysia has grown larger than in other Asean countries over the past 40 years. It is also why there are still more poor bumiputra households than any other in the country despite years of affirmative action.

The effects of the policy on non-Malays have been equally negative. Rich non-Malays have the means to overcome the "privileges" but the poor and middle class are alienated from the economic and social mainstream. Many feel unable to contribute their best to the country; and those who can afford to, have emigrated.

In Melbourne, a clever student asked me why any Malay should believe this narrative. Why should the Malays want an end to their "special privileges" and dependence on the Government?

Despite extensive fiscal leakages and abuses of the system, isn't it still better for the Malays to be treated as special because they can receive government benefits when everything else fails?

I tried to impress upon the student that precisely this model of assistance is problematic. It encourages a false sense of entitlement when there are real economic problems that need everyone's attention.

The federal budgetary deficit continues to grow, while treating economic inequality through cash handouts such as BR1M will be unsustainable in the long run without an increase in government revenue.

In the same vein, the benefits of foreign direct investment are greatly diminished by our dependence on foreign labour. Malaysia must increase its revenue and, on this score, the Government has introduced a raft of policies to transform and modernise the various economic sectors.

The creation of an educated work force requires that we persuade the many skilled Malaysians abroad to return home, but they will be convinced only by sound economic and social policies. They will certainly remain abroad if they believe that not enough is being done to address the imbalances of our society in a fair, equitable and transparent manner.

We must also address burgeoning financial debt in both the Govern­ment as well as individual households, lest we stand in danger of sovereign and mass individual bankruptcy.

For if we are bankrupt, "privileges" will mean nothing, and not least of our problems will be the fact that the Government won't be able to fund the assistance it currently provides or spends on infrastructure. It is therefore better for the Malays, as well as the country, if we empowered all Malaysians to work together.

Here, I believe that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has his finger on the pulse of all Malaysians. He rightly perceives corruption to be one of the principal dangers to our nation, and he has taken steps to transform the business of Govern­ment to engender more transparency and better accountability.

Here, the Opposition should play a stronger role not just by providing the necessary checks and balances to the Government but also in formulating detailed economic and social policies for public discussion.

A proper annual economic summit, hosted by the Opposition and composed of economists rather than politicians, is a good start in educating people (including the Malays) on viable alternatives in policy.

I also believe that the Prime Minister does not share the views of the handful of extremists who have been making the news recently. Indeed, as I told the Melbourne crowd, I have faith that Malays generally will continue to reject extreme political and religious ideas even if the rhetoric suggests otherwise.

Malays throughout history have been a reasonable people committed to fair play. The May 13 tragedy represents a single flare-up – and it was a limited one, at that – in our country's centuries of multiculturalism.

Thus, I believe that the present extremist religious and political outpourings are perpetuated by those who lack real convictions of their own. They merely trumpet views that they think make them appear courageous.

Malaysians are not easily fooled by their silly horror stories. After the various party elections are over, the need for this kind of demonstration will cease. Those who have a genuine ability to contribute to the prosperity of this nation have no need for these childish tactics, and the Malays as a whole know this well enough.

The Malays simply are not an extremist people. If they were, they would not be so sharply divided politically for the past 50 years, nor would they be so keen on watching P. Ramlee reruns. They also filled up the Merdeka Stadium recently for the Metallica concert, belying the myth that they are conservative and anti-West.

Again, I believe that the Prime Minister understands the pulse of the Malays. But we must do our part too. If Malaysia can find its bearings, we will be a happy nation once again.

To do this, we must all stand up and be counted. We must believe that there are many other Malaysians who share our optimism for, and faith in, our country.

Because there are. 


A principled stand for Malaysia

Posted: 10 Oct 2013 12:50 PM PDT

WISDOM: Despite shortcomings that are yet to be overcome and expectations yet to be fulfilled, Sarawak's decision in 1963 to be part of the Malaysian federation is right

John Teo, NST 

AT a time when a vocal minority in Sabah and, to a lesser extent, in Sarawak are voicing discontentment even as the nation celebrated the 50th Malaysia Day on Sept 16 to much fanfare, it is reassuring that a prominent Iban leader, Tan Sri Leo Moggie, has seen fit to come forward publicly and to an international audience in London reaffirming that Sarawak had made the right decision in choosing to be a part of Malaysia.

Speaking to the Sarawak Association at the Royal Overseas League in the British capital and as reported by Bernama early this month, the long-serving but retired senior federal minister said: "Looking back, for all the shortcomings that are yet to be overcome and expectations yet to be fulfilled, Sarawak's decision in 1963 to be part of the Malaysian federation was right. By and large, Sarawak and Sarawakians have travelled well in the last 50 years. For us, our working lives have witnessed the unfolding progress that has been part of the Sarawak story for the last 50 years. In our own ways, we have contributed in turning Sarawak into what it is today."

Moggie was of course holding himself up as one of the prime examples of how well-educated and sober-minded native Sarawakians can move up into the highest councils of the nation and not just as token seat-warmers but, as in his own case, as a federal minister holding critical economic portfolios, including jobs as Energy, Communications and Multimedia Minister, in a ministerial career spanning more than two decades (not counting his earlier career in public and later political office in Sarawak). At a time of continuing debate within Sabah and Sarawak over a key sore point about why infrastructure such as highways in both states is still far from at par with that in the peninsula, Moggie should perhaps be in a good position to tell of the inevitable balance that needs to be struck between political pressures and economic justifications. As a retired politician, Moggie could easily have taken the easy way out by choosing to remain silent about Malaysia and Sarawak's place in it. Or he could have joined the populist bandwagon now to decry how Sarawak has allegedly being given short shrif.

The former course would have been less than honourable given Moggie's particularly long stint in the federal cabinet. The latter course would have meant holding in spite his own substantial contributions to what and where Malaysia is today.

Given the bumpy political ride Sarawak has travelled over the years, Moggie's staying power very near the top of the country's decision-making apparatus has been quite remarkable.

Probably the most momentous and fateful political decision that had ever confronted Moggie as political leader was deciding (a party detractor of his privately described it as him being nudged along) in 1987 to throw in his lot with renegades from Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu led by Tun Rahman Ya'kub that drew in most members of the cabinet in an attempted political coup against Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

This act of political adventurism, although not engineered by Moggie or his Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS), would most likely have secured for Moggie or his nominee the chief ministership had it succeeded. As it turned out, PBB stayed solid after a snap state election and Moggie and his party missed the chance to lead the state by a mere five seats.

PBDS then landed in the awkward position of being in opposition to the Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) while remaining loyal to BN at federal level.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, as prime minister at the time, played a rather curious role juggling the competing demands of Sabah and Sarawak politics. In Sabah, he was doing all he could to undermine a Kadazan-led state government while in Sarawak, his loyalty to Moggie could easily have been misconstrued by Sarawak BN leaders as undercutting a Malay/Melanau-led state government.

In the end, Taib finessed a masterstroke by bringing PBDS back under a so-called BN Plus state government. Taib and Moggie maintained somewhat cool but correct relations throughout and now find themselves on the same page in the debate over Malaysia at 50, taking on a rather courageous and principled stand for Malaysia and showing to others that Malaysia need not and indeed should not be a political football the kicking of which seems all but irresistible to lesser politicians in both the Borneo states.


Kredit: www.malaysia-today.net

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