Ahad, 27 Oktober 2013

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Zahid: Herald’s ‘Allah’ ban extends to East Malaysia too

Posted: 27 Oct 2013 01:23 PM PDT


(MM) - The Catholic Church weekly, the Herald, cannot refer to God as "Allah" even in Sabah and Sarawak, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today, despite the prime minister's assurance that East Malaysians were free to use the Arabic word.

Zahid said this was based on the recent Court of Appeal ruling that the Home Ministry's decision to ban the use of the word "Allah" in the Herald was justified, but he stressed that the Al-Kitab, the Bahasa Malaysia translation of the Christian bible, is allowed to describe God as "Allah" as it is not technically a "publication".

"It can be used in the Al-Kitab, but not in the Herald," Zahid told reporters at his office here today, after meeting a Cambodian government minister.

"The Al-Kitab is not a publication; it's a bible," he added.

The Home Ministry seized copies of the Herald at the Kota Kinabalu airport last week for inspection, but cleared the newsletter for distribution yesterday after finding that the word "Allah" was not used in the weekly.

When asked if the ban of the word "Allah" was restricted to the Herald, Zahid said: "Refer to the court verdict".

"I don't want to go beyond what has been decided by the Court of Appeal," he added.

According to Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew, around 2,000 copies of the weekly publication were seized at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport on Thursday, apparently on order of the Home Ministry.

The Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM), an umbrella body of Protestant churches, decried the confiscation as a violation of the Catholic Church's right to distribute the newsletter to its own members.

Read more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/zahid-heralds-allah-ban-extends-to-east-malaysia-too 

On Herald seizure, Ambiga asks if ‘left hand knows what the right hand is doing’

Posted: 27 Oct 2013 01:21 PM PDT


(MM) - The Home Ministry's unexplained seizure of the Catholic weekly The Herald conflicts directly with the federal government's directive on the "Allah" ban and places the Najib administration "in an embarrassing position", Datuk Ambiga Sreenavesan has said.

The vocal former bar council president and human rights activist charged that the incident either signalled a disconnect between the top and bottom leadership, or was yet another example of "broken promises" by Putrajaya in protecting minority rights.

"The seizure conflicts directly with what the PM said only a few days ago. Either the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing or this is yet another example of broken promises.

"Who gave the orders for the seizure that has put the PM in a very embarrassing situation?" Ambiga, who is also the co-chairman of popular poll reform group Bersih 2.0, told The Malay Mail Online.

According to Herald editor Fr Lawrence Andrew, around 2,000 copies of the weekly publication were seized at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) on Thursday, apparently on order of the Home Ministry.

"The consignment arrived at 2.54pm on Thursday, and it was checked by KDN officials as the usual practice," he told The Malay Mail Online, referring to the Home Ministry's Malay acronym.

"The forwarding company were however told not to release the consignment. The company checked again on Friday at 10am, and were told that the consignment has been withheld. No reason was given," Lawrence added.

But in a sudden about-turn yesterday, Home Ministry officials ordered a release of the publications and allowed the consignment to reach its Catholic readers in the east Malaysian state.

The flip-flop, although lauded by the Catholic church, only left more question marks in its wake and uncertainty over the possibility of more such bans in the future.

Calling the ban "bizarre", Andrew told The Malay Mail Online that the ministry must explain the episode.

He pointed out that apart from the church, many lawmakers are also keen on finding out why the ministry had ordered the ban in the first place.

"It is a very funny situation. The copies were already in the hands of the forwarding agents, but they were told not to distribute the Herald.

"They could only release it on the instructions of the authority," he said.

Read more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/on-herald-seizure-ambiga-asks-if-left-hand-knows-what-the-right-hand-is-doi 

Of ulamaks and professionals

Posted: 27 Oct 2013 01:19 PM PDT


As PAS party election goes, analysts, observers, the media, "love" to view it as a "ulamak versus professionals" battle. Despite the "complex situation".

Mohsin Abdullah, fz.com 

WHEN Nasharuddin Mat Isa first contested the PAS deputy presidency in 2005 he was seen as a "modernist", a "liberal intellect ". In other words a "professional" who went on to beat Ustaz Hassan Shukri – an ulamak.

But when he defended the deputy president post in 2009 his victory was hailed as a triumph for the ulamaks. Nasharuddin then had beaten Datuk Husam Musa and Mohamad Sabu, both "moderates" aka "professionals". Nasharuddin "had become" or seen as an ulamak by then. Was he transformed within that short period from professional to ulamak? Or could it be just "people's perception"?  

Anyway, in 2011 the "ulamak" Nasharuddin was defeated by the "moderate" Mohamad Sabu (popularly known as Mat Sabu). Interestingly, the contest had also featured Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, a well known ulamak. Meaning an ulamak had mounted a challenge against the incumbent ulamak.

As PAS party election goes, analysts, observers, the media, "love" to view it as a "ulamak versus professionals" battle. Despite the "complex situation".

However in a way they are not wrong in making such a call. Although PAS has always been Islamist, the party has its share of ustaz and Islamic scholars as well as lawyers, doctors, engineers so on and so forth – the professionals.

But then there are Western trained English speaking professionals "who are inclined to the ulamaks of  "old" and "new" i.e. the graduates of Islamic studies from universities in Jordan and Egypt .

Likewise there are also ulamaks leaning towards the professionals. Tuan Ibrahim is a classic example. So too is Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, famously known as the PAS ulamak who "went to church" in reference to his effort in fostering multi-faith relations.  

Both groups are well versed in religion. Hence it is more the question of approach and "style". It's not a surprise that terms like "hardline" and "moderate" surfaced in PAS. Even for among ulamaks themselves.

A former PAS activist pointed this out: "During the days of Ustaz Fadhil it was mengulamakkan professional, memprofesionalkan ulamak ("ulamatisation" of the professionals and the professionalisation of the ulamaks). Both complement each other. No fireworks.

"But now it has become exclusive groups bent on beating each other with regards to power struggle, approach, ideology etc."

The "Ustaz Fadhil" he was referring to was none other Datuk Fadhil Noor, the former PAS president who passed away in 2002.

The ulamaks' main contention is that PAS' slogan is "kepimpinan ulamak" or ulamak leadership. That to them is crystal clear as to who should lead PAS. In accordance to the slogan.

But a party insider opined: "It's like the Executive and the Judiciary. We have the Dewan Ulamak. They are the Judiciary who can make sure the Executive, that is the leadership, toes the party line in carrying out the PAS struggle. There's nothing that say you must be ulamak to lead the party."

PAS is now bracing itself for party polls in November and, said a source closely linked to party headquarters, there are concerns if campaigning is carried out along factional lines – ulamak versus professionals.

"This will weaken the party and have an effect on the support of the rakyat of all communities for PAS," said the source, while admitting that "obviously there's a clash between the two groups".

So what do the ulamaks want? To push their agenda, PAS' GE13 results are being used. Needless to say, PAS' performance was not good as compared to the results they got in 2008. To the ulamaks, the loss of many a Malay vote was the result of PAS "not being Islamic enough".

PAS' stand on the "Allah" issue for example was not to their liking. They see PAS, helmed by the professionals, too liberal and "straying from the Islamic principle of PAS ". To the ulamaks, that made Malays turn away from PAS in GE13.

Incidently, in the current campaign for the Sungai Limau by-election, Umno is "questioning PAS' Islamic credentials".  

Anyway, not too long ago, when the ulamaks made the call for PAS to "review its position in Pakatan Rakyat", observers saw that as the ulamaks wanting PAS to leave Pakatan.

Of course the professionals have a totally different view. In a nutshell, to them, PAS has more to gain in Pakatan than fighting the political war on its own. In fact, to them, PAS has gained a lot by working with its Pakatan partners. Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad is among the strongest advocators of such a stand.

And in Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, a highly respected ulamak, the professionals have a very strong supporter. Nik Aziz, as we know, has made it clear PAS will not and must not leave Pakatan. Datuk Abdul Hadi Awang, who is set to be returned as PAS president, shares that stand. Need we be reminded that Abdul Hadi himself is an ulamak.

Still there are members in the party who are pro-ulamaks, who want to see the 'unity government' dream become a reality. At least wanting to see efforts towards that be pursued if not anything else.

Again Nik Aziz is in the way. Putting his feet down with a firm NO.

So in the event of the ulamak team gaining control via the November polls, will PAS leave Pakatan? Or pave the way for a unity government, or UG as it is called, with Umno?

PAS sources have this to say: "Even if they win, the UG thing is not easy to do." That is being conservative about the matter. Tuan Ibrahim is all for Pakatan. So too is Ustaz Idris Ahmad. Both are ulamaks with a big following.

That leaves Datuk Harun Din and Datuk Harun Taib who are in favour of UG "in the name of Muslim unity ". The duo are also the ones who had called for PAS to review its role in Pakatan ".

The two Haruns however have not been nominated for any post in the central leadership. Chances are both will again feature only in the Dewan ulamak. If at all.

"PAS members will definitely reject any call for the party to leave Pakatan. The grassroots just do not want PAS to be pushovers in the pact. That's all," said the sources.

Today, those nominated are required to state if they are accepting the nominations. They have until Nov 8 to do so.

According to the "senarai calon" released a few days ago, incumbent deputy president Mat Sabu has been nominated again. Also nominated for the post are Tuan Ibrahim, Datuk Husam Musa , Datuk Nik Mohamad Amar Abdullah and Salahuddin Ayub.

Observers expect Nik Amar, an ulamak, to pull out and make a bid for the vice presidency. Husam is also expected to "beri peluang " to Mat Sabu. And Tuan Ibrahim's challenge can never been taken lightly.

Mat Sabu lost in GE13 but not having a seat in the parliament or state assembly wasn't much of a hindrance to him in previous party elections. Put simply Mat Sabu had lost the general election but won party election before.

For the vice president posts, the incumbents – Husam, Salahudin and Datuk Mahfuz Omar – have been nominated. So too Mat Sabu. Husam and Salahuddin lost in GE13 but using the Mat Sabu experience GE defeats cannot be a yardstick for PAS elections.

Others nominated for VP are Datuk Abu Bakar Chik, Idris Ahmad, Nasruddn Hassan – all ulamaks. And of course there's Tuan Ibrahim, Nik Amar and Mujahid.    

Something worth pondering is that Husam and Tuan Ibrahim, and even Mat Sabu, have been nominated for the deputy presidency as well as vice president posts. That could be taken to mean PAS members want all of them to continue with the party struggle. Regardless of positions in party. Regardless whether ulamaks or professionals.

Can this be labelled "inclusive" and "accommodative"?


How low can you go?

Posted: 27 Oct 2013 01:10 PM PDT


It is common knowledge among teachers that a student who keeps flunking the school test can actually get a decent grade in the SPM exam.

Leanne Goh, The Star 

What is the passing mark for an SPM subject? Many teachers estimate it to be seriously low for some papers, way lower than the school's benchmark.

WHEN I last wrote that more than 100,000 students, or close to a quarter of those sitting for the SPM English, were at risk of leaving school without an SPM certificate, the response was unexpected.

"Ms Goh," I was told, "don't worry, the marks may be lowered even further to allow many to pass."

And that view, I was surprised to learn, was shared by many.

Teachers who have been teaching upper secondary students as well as examiners who have been grading the exam scripts for many years let on that the passing marks are not all they seem to be.

We were discussing the passing grade in view of the new ruling that effective 2016, a pass in SPM English is compulsory for students to graduate from school with an SPM certificate. This is in addition to the long-standing compulsory pass in Bahasa Melayu, and a pass in History that comes into effect for this year's SPM candidates.

The passing mark for school tests is 40% but it is deemed significantly lower for public exams.

It is common knowledge among teachers that a student who keeps flunking the school test can actually get a decent grade in the SPM exam.

In an anecdote shared by a teacher, he said his colleague once told a school prefect: "If you pass your Add Maths, I'll chop off my head!" And the prefect did better than just scrape through; he got a credit.

An examiner of 20 years for one of the SPM Maths papers, who has since retired, shares that the mode was always 10 to 20 class marks, that is, the majority scored between 10 and 20 marks, creating a skewed graph instead of a bell curve.

This has not been reflective in the actual results simply because it is possible for the grading system to be "adjusted" to show higher passes.

Examiners, who are usually teachers with many years of experience, are able to estimate or extrapolate based on the number of passes announced by the ministry against the students' marks.

One SPM Add Maths examiner believes that the passing rate for the subject could be as low as the mid-teens based on how his students perform in school. And teachers are always sharing notes among themselves after the exam results are out.

Though public exam grading is kept under wraps and examiners are sworn to secrecy, teachers say that they have come to the conclusion that the passing grade for certain subjects could be as low as 20 marks, or possibly lower, especially for Maths.

"Although it's shrouded in secrecy, we believe there is some manipulation of marks because we hear the same thing so many times from so many sources," shares a teacher who is close to retirement.

This perception is widespread and an examiner describes it as a "trust deficit in the marking system", despite the involvement of external moderators.

Those who have been examiners for many years see a pattern: the overall quality of the answer scripts has consistently been declining; the questions have been less challenging; and the structure easier to score. In some cases, the more difficult topics have also been removed from the syllabus.

The conclusion: It gets easier to score and harder to fail.

Is it any wonder then that we keep reading of more and more students scoring a string of As and yet the global benchmarking of our students is at the bottom third among 74 countries?

If we're aiming to achieve top one-third in the benchmarking in 15 years, we cannot afford to deceive ourselves by dumbing down our own exams and the grading of public exams.

"We have Form Four students with an 'A' for PMR Maths who can't even do basic operations. If an 'A' is nothing, imagine what a 'D' is!'' says a teacher friend.

A pertinent question is whether our grades are comparable to that of other countries offering qualifications equivalent to O-levels. Is a pass or an "A" in Malaysia the same as that in the UK or Singapore?

A retired education officer from Examinations Syndicate says "yes" to the many doubting Thomases out there and stands by the integrity of the marking and grading of the papers.

He says that examiners' perception is based on quantitative measures (marks, graphs, etc) while the ministry also takes into consideration qualitative measures (more subjective elements).

"Sample scripts of excellent, average and weak answers are put on a table and examined thoroughly by examiners from Cambridge and examination bodies from other countries," he shares.

Besides, he adds, it is in the interest of all parties to ensure that a student who applies to study in a British university, for example, has grades that are acceptable regardless of his country of origin.

But there seems to be more ways than one to a decent grade.

Take the instance of the SPM History. Now that it has to be a compulsory pass, an additional Paper 3 has been created as an "open book test".

Students can bring in their textbooks or any other references; teachers can guide students on themes that will be tested; and students will be informed one month before the exam on the themes to be tested.

One of the objectives of this paper is to prevent a zero score. It'll now be harder for a student to fail with this potential "bonus" of 20% for paper 3!

Why set ambitious goals if we're going to create crutches along the way?

Without Paper 3, the failure rate among last year's candidates was 19.7%.

So what's in store for a pass in SPM English?

Teachers are already speculating on ways to shore up the scores, considering that a pass has to be achieved in three short years when 70% of our 60,000 English teachers who sat for the English Language Cambridge Placement Test performed poorly.

Teachers are asking whether the oral test would be one avenue to help students meet the passing grade.

Teachers generally feel that three years may be too short a time to effectively bring about the change sought.

While on one hand, students need that push and motivation to work on that compulsory pass, the reality is that their environment remains static over the next three years.

If the family, community and school offer little exposure to the use of the language, how will that effect change?

It is a shame that the progress made with the teaching of Science and Maths in English (PPSMI) was halted with the reversal of the policy.

"PPSMI should have stayed. I could see a real difference in my students," says an English teacher in a school in Perak.

A new complication to SPM English pass in 2016 is the "school-based assessment".

With the PMR abolished from next year, students currently in Forms One and Two are being assessed at school. Next year's Form Three students will sit for centrally set exam but the papers will be graded by their respective schools.

When they reach Form Five in 2016, they will have to pass their SPM English.

The problem is, no one knows yet what percentage of their grade will come from the school-based results, benchmarked at 40% for a pass.

"It's like asking you to get into the car and drive but only telling you the destination later. Maybe they'll even tell you to turn back halfway as in the case of PPSMI," says the teacher-in-the-dark.

With things still unclear, there are concerns that the first batch to face the compulsory pass may be the casualties, especially among rural kids.

Let's hope the path to be taken will be clearer soon and kinks in the system ironed out. And grades are not lowered to meet cosmetic achievements.

The integrity of the exam and grades awarded must hold us in good stead against international benchmarking, otherwise it will be a mockery of what we set out to achieve.


Note: A few months back, a DAP MP asked the Education Minister to state the passing marks for English, Math and Science subjects. He received a written reply in Parliament that it is under the OSA and cannot be revealed. 

Membongkar Salah Faham dan Salah Persepsi Perjuangan Menentang TPPA

Posted: 27 Oct 2013 01:04 PM PDT


Lantas, saya dengan rendah diri di sini cuba untuk membongkar beberapa mitos mengenai TPPA, dan mengapa penentangan terhadapnya mengatasi dan melebihi daripada memenuhi kepentingan pihak tertentu sahaja. 

Anas Alam Faizli

Sudah beberapa bulan berlalu selepas Perjanjian Perkongsian Rentas Pasifik (TPPA) meraih perhatian awam dan rundingan rahsia sejak 2010 terbongkar kepada orang awam. Sejak itu, dialog, bengkel, kempen kesedaran, berita media dan perbincangan di antara pelbagai pertubuhan gerakan awam sudah dijalankan.

Bantah TPPA, suara terbesar setakat ini dalam usaha penentangan TPPA secara berterusan, telah berjaya membuka jalan untuk meningkatkan kesedaran awam dan menarik pelbagai pihak, pakar-pakar industri, dan kerajaan untuk membincangkan keburukan yang mungkin diakibatkan oleh TPPA kepada rakyat Malaysia secara menyeluruh.

Sungguhpun begitu, terdapat juga penentang-penentang TPPA yang lain; terdiri daripada personaliti-personaliti politik, kumpulan-kumpulan berkepentingan tertentu, serta kumpulan pro-perlindungan yang mewakili pihak-pihak tertentu.

Walaupun begitu, isu TPPA sebenarnya lebih besar daripada itu. Kesannya nyata dan akan memberi kesan kepada semua rakyat Malaysia tanpa mengira kepercayaan politik, kaum dan kepentingan peribadi.

Penting ditegaskan di sini bahawa Bantah tidaklah menentang perdagangan bebas secara prinsipnya, tetapi yang ditentang ialah TPPA; yakni terhadap pemberian laluan percuma kepada rakan dagangan untuk sewenang-wenangnya mempunyai hak menentukan urusan mengawal selia perdagangan dalam negara kita dan akhirnya, kedaulatan dan hak kita. TPPA bukanlah suatu perjanjian perdagangan yang adil mahupun perdagangan bebas sama sekali, memandangkan hanya 6 daripada 29 bab rundingan melibatkan perdagangan, manakala bab-bab selebihnya berpotensi mengancam kedaulatan Malaysia dan pembangunan ekonomi negara.

Lantas, saya dengan rendah diri di sini cuba untuk membongkar beberapa mitos mengenai TPPA, dan mengapa penentangan terhadapnya mengatasi dan melebihi daripada memenuhi kepentingan pihak tertentu sahaja.

1)  Menentang TPPA ialah pro-perlindungan

Penyokong TPPA selalu berpegang kepada janji pasaran terbuka yang didakwa menjadi salah satu faedah utama TPPA. Syarikat tempatan boleh menembusi pasaran Amerika dan 12 buah negara lain dan faedah perdagangan bebas dan liberalisasi pasaran kelihatan memihak kepada mereka. Ada yang menggunakan analogi bahawa TPPA adalah seperti 6 atau 8 lorong lebuhraya yang akan membuka laluan besar kepada syarikat tempatan kita sebaik sahaja Malaysia meratifikasikan TPPA. Dibandingkan dengan laluan sempit dan buruk yang sedang digunakan, penentangan terhadap TPPA akan dilabelkan sebagai perlindungan yang akan melepaskan potensi besar yang menanti peniaga-peniaga ini. Adakah ini benar?

Perlindungan sememangnya dipandang jelek oleh banyak pihak. Jika kita membaca buku teks ekonomi dan perdagangan antarabangsa, kita tidak mungkin tidak terserempak dengan kritikan terhadap perlindungan yang mempunyai peranan besar dalam The Great Depression. Walaupun kita bersetuju secara prinsipnya bahawa perlindungan itu boleh dipersalahkan (walaupun hakikatnya, Amerika yang memulakannya), ia bukanlah boleh dilhat dengan mudahnya sebagai "laluan sehala". Menentang TPPA mungkin menyebabkan anda berada dalam kem yang menyebelahi polisi perlindungan (sekiranya ia benar wujud), tetapi adakah TPPA menjamin yang Amerika sendiri tidak akan turut menggunakan kaedah perlindungan untuk selamanya demi melindungi syarikat-syarikatnya sendiri?

Kita tidak boleh menjadi terlalu naif beranggapan yang Amerika akan menghapuskan undang-undang perlindungan perdagangannya terutamanya undang-undang anti-limpahan dan kuasa timbal balasnya yang kejam. Tatkala perunding-perunding MITI berhujah dengan sangat optimis tentang penerokaan pasaran baru di rantau Asia-Pasifik, pengeluar udang kita telahpun dikenakan tindakan 60% cukai anti-limpahan dan timbal balas oleh Suruhanjaya Perdagangan Bebas Amerika (FTC). Bukankah ini jugasatu bentuk perlindungan?

Sekali lagi, kita tidak boleh terpedaya dengan dakwaan bahawa kewajiban untuk mengurangkan tarif merupakan sebahagian daripada tanggungjawab untuk mengimarahkan kemasukan pasaran asing ke dalam pasaran domestik. Kadar tarif Amerika dalam banyak produk sudahpun dikira rendah sejak sekian lama. Apa yang menghalang produk eksport kita memasuki pasaran Amerika bukanlah kerana produk kita mahaltetapi kerana sekatan bukan-tarif yang menyebabkan peningkatan kos untuk para pengeluar kita seperti kos untuk mematuhi peraturan teknikal, standard dan ujian pematuhan yang ditetapkan oleh pihak kastam Amerika. Amerika mempunyai standard yang lebih tinggi daripada kita; ada kemungkinan standard mereka ini jugalah yang akan dikenakan ke atas kita apabila TPPA dilaksanakan.

2)  Menentang TPPA itu menentang persaingan sihat

Penyokong TPPA telah melaung-laungkan kemungkinan yang TPPA akan memperhebat persaingan pasaran di Malaysia. Walaupun peraturan-peraturan yang menggalakkan proses persaingan penting untuk negara, tiada hubungan jelas yang telah berjaya dibuktikan untuk mengesahkan bahawa persaingan yang sihat akan berlaku dengan TPPA. Malaysia sudahpun mempunyai Akta Persaingan 2010 yang mengawal selia ekosistem persaingan di Malaysia dan undang-undang tersebut tidak mendiskriminasikan antara syarikat luar dan tempatan. Walaupun kita melihat keperluan untuk meningkatkan tahap persaingan dalam pasaran, jawapannya wujud dalam keberkesanan peruntukan undang-undang yang sudah sedia ada ini dan penguatkuasaanya oleh pihak berkuasa berkaitan di Malaysia, bukannya cadangan wajib yang datang daripada luar Malaysia. Banyak perjanjian perdagangan bebas (FTA) tidak menyediakan peraturan substantif dan prosedur yang perlu digabungkan ke dalam peraturan persaingan tempatan.

3)  Menentang TPPA ialah agenda Melayu

Penyokong TPPA berhujah dengan analisis kritikal tentang kesan yang mungkin datang daripada TPPA ke atas aktiviti perolehan kerajaan; TPPA dikatakan satu langkah untuk menghentikan sikap pilih kasih dan hanya memenuhi kepentingan orang Melayu kerajaan dalam pembelian barangan dan servis serta penganugerahan kontrak. Bertentangan dengan pandangan ini, hujah daripada pihak yang menentang perjanjian ini menegaskan bahawa  penentangan terhadapnya adalah lebih daripada niat sebenar untuk terus menerus melindungi kepentingan orang Melayu Bumiputera. Sudah dimaklumi umum bahawa dengan TPPA, misalnya terdapat risiko bahawa prosedur standard mengimport harta intelek ke dalam negara ini akan menjadi lebih ketat. Peningkatan kepada harga ubat-ubatan, misalnya, tidak mungkin hanya dirasai oleh orang Melayu.

Polisi tiada-diskriminasi yang kononnya ingin dicapai menerusi TPPA bukannya menjanjikan penghapusan diskriminasi di peringkat domestic di dalam negara itu sendiri. Sasaran TPPA bila berbicara tentang amalan diskriminasi ialah menghapuskan diskriminasi antara pengeluar tempatan dan asing ataupun antara pengeluar di negara berlainan, dan bukannya sesame pengeluar domestik.

Terdapat dasar Bumiputera yang dipertikaikan terutama yang tidak mebawa kepada pemerkasaan ekonomi Bumiputera. Kita tidak menentang usaha menambah baik dasar yang sedia ada. Terdapat dasar-dasar yang terdedah kepada `political capture' dan `special interest capture'. Penambahbaikan perlu mengambil kira tindakan yang mengurangkan political capture dan special interest capture tersebut. Namun untuk kita mengubah dasar yang sedia hanya kerana kita tunduk kepada desakan luar adalah satu menjadi satu yang amat malang. Apa yang dibimbangi ialah yang dikejar tidak kesampaian dan yang dikendong keciciran.

4)  TPPA akan membantu menentang gejala korupsi daripada luar.

Persoalan sama ada korupsi berleluasa di negara ini ialah satu soalan yang akan mempunyai jawapan berlainan bergantung kepada siapa soalan itu ditujukan. Tetapi, jika diambil kira tahap ketidakpuasan hati rakyat ke atas perbelanjaan kerajaan dan pendedahan skandal-skandal rasuah yang menggoyangkan parti pemerintah, tidak menjadi satu keanehanlah apabila perjuangan menentang korupsi digunakan sebagai hujah untuk menyokong TPPA. Tetapi adakah perjuangan menentang korupsi satu kemustahilan sehingga pertolongan luar diperlukan untuk memastikan niat suci ini menjadi kenyataan? Dan jika jawapan kepada soalan ini berpihak kepada bantuan pengaruh luar seperti TPPA sebagai cara berkesan menentang gejala rasuah, apakah kawal selia untuk hubungan perdagangan antara negeri mempunyai kaitan dengan usaha menghapuskan ketirisan yang merupakan hasil daripada amalan korupsi di negara ini?

Malah, sebenarnya terdapat aspek kawal selia perdagangan antarabangsa pula yang cenderung kepada korupsi, seperti juga cabang-cabang penguasaan awam dan agensi awam yang lain. Walaubagaimanapun, tugas untuk menentang korupsi perlu diletakkan dibawah kawal seliaan pihak penguasa tempatan. FTA, termasuklah TPPA sepatutnya hanya memggalakkan liberalisasi perdagangan dan menghapuskan halangan-halangan kepada perdagangan bebas. Jika kaedahnya adalah untuk meluaskan skop FTA sehingga menggugat autoriti kerajaan domestic dalam pengawal seliaan setempat, maka menjadi satu kebaikanlah untuk undang-undang anti-korupsi Amerika yang berstandard tinggi dieksport ke dalam negara kita. Tetapi adakah hal ini yang terjadi dalam TPPA yang  sedang berada di dalam rundingan sekarang? Ya, kita cukup berharap supaya TPPA mempunyai satu bab yang menjelaskan polisi-polisi anti-korupsi ahli-ahlinya. Jika tiada, perlukah Amerika pula yang bimbang terhadap amalan korupsi yang wujud dalam sektor kerajaan dan perniagaan di Malaysia?


Bantah TPPA dilahirkan oleh pelbagai individu dan NGO yang menyedari bahaya dan ancaman yang ditawarkan oleh TPPA. Terlahir atas hasil cadangan BLINDSPOT, MTEM dan jawatankuasa Anti FTA pada Jun 2013, Bantah merupakan gabungan terbesar Anti-TPPA di negara ini kini, dan mendapat sokong penuh 60 buah badan bukan kerajaan dan 9 buah gabungan persatuan contohnya MAC, MCTC, MTUC, MPM, setiap satunya mewakili sekurangnya 50 badan bukan kerajaan.

Bantah juga dianggotai oleh gerakan belia seperti SAMM, SMM dan juga PKPIM, gerakan Islam seperti IKRAM, MAPIM dan ABIM dan beberapa dewan perniagaan Melayu dan Cina.

Bantah ialah gabungan bebas politik yang tidak mempunyai kepentingan politik, kepentingan perniagaan dan tidak mewakili kepentingan kaum atau kumpulan tertentu. Bantah menolak TPPA. Malah, Bantah telah menghantar 75 tuntutan (perkara yang memudaratkan negara) kepada Perdana Menteri, menyatakan yang jika kerajaan masih berkeras untuk menandatangani TPPA, kerajaan didesak untuk memastikan tuntutan ini dipatuhi segera dan tanpa kompromi.

Bantah dianggotai oleh ahli akademik, pakar-pakar perdagangan, pakar undang-undang, pakar kesihatan, aktivis alam sekitar, pakar pempatentan, sarjana dan profesional daripada pelbagai sektor industri dan segmen masyarakat. Semua cadangan dan pandangan Bantah dirujuk kepada pakar-pakar ini yang juga membentuk jawatankuasa Bantah.

Bantah telah bertemu dan akan terus menemui semua pihak daripada segenap lapisan masyarakat;nelayan, petani, peladang, ahli-ahli profesional, semua parti politik, agensi-agensi kerajaan, kementerian-kementerian, para menteri, termasuklah menteri MITI sendiri, malah Perdana Menteri, DS Najib Tun Razak sekalipun untuk tujuan diskusi dan pencerahan.

Perdana Menteri sendiri telah mengeluarkan kenyataan semasa Dialog Kemuncak APEC di Bali baru-baru ini menyatakan komitmen beliau untuk memastikan bahawa kerajaan akan menimbangkan perjanjian ini berasaskan kepada sokongan rakyat - samaada mereka bersetuju atau tidak dengan perjanjian ini. Bantah mengalu-alukan komitmen ini dan menggesa rakyat untuk meluahkan pandangan mereka. Sertai Bantah!

*Anas Alam Faizli ialah profesional dalam industri minyak dan gas. Beliau sedang menyambung pengajian peringkat kedoktoran, pengasas bersama BLINDSPOT dan BANTAH TPPA, tweet di @aafaizli

WIEF Serves and Benefits Non-Muslim Countries

Posted: 27 Oct 2013 12:55 PM PDT


World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) serves and benefits the non-Muslim countries more than the Muslim ones with many Arab and Muslim countries still in dire straits since it first came into existence as they are now almost destroyed by infighting and external provocation.

Mansor Puteh


It is quite obvious that the organizers of the so-called World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) does not care or know who they are actually serving or benefiting the most - the Muslim countries or the non-Muslim ones.


The truth remains that since it first came into existence, there are many Arab countries that have suffered, are being destroyed, and with their economy in shambles.


This happened through infighting and mostly by external provocation, by unseen but known and obvious enemies of Islam, the countries that had never ever used their veto power to protect Arab and Muslim interests in the United Nations. 


Yet, the organizers of the WIEF with their officers and the so-called leaders of the Arab and Muslim countries give comments and speeches as though they do not realize that the Muslim World that they like to talk about truly does not exist.


And that cooperation between and amongst Muslim countries and those of the non-Muslim ones favor the latter.


WIEF has indeed benefited the non-Muslim countries more than the Muslim ones.


If it is that interesting and truly beneficial, then it can be seen in the way Muslims interact with each other through commerce, which is what the Prophet Muhammad, pbuh, had also been engaged in, for which had become the tool of Islamic propagation, which had also caused Melaka to become the most important center for the spread of Islam in Southeast Asia.


Unfortunately, trading as encouraged by WIEF, has not managed to do this.


The organizers of WIEF and the so-called Arab and Muslim leaders are not fully aware why they are happy to be invited to attend this forum, when it is not servicing the real cause of Islam in any way.


It can be said to be effective if it can also help cause the expansion of trading amongst Muslim countries and between the non-Muslim ones, which can in the end cause the economic hold of the Muslim countries by the west to be further reduced, with the American dollar and European euros and other currencies of the non-Muslim countries depreciating in value and worth.


But this has not happened. It can never happen because the organizers of the WIEF, do not really know why they are organizing this sort of forum.

To them it is no more than to counter the World Economic Forum (WEF) that is held in Davos, Switzerland every winter there.


It was a good start. But WIEF does not know how to enhance their prestige and reputation other than to be the counter-WEF.


Whereas the WEF can rest on the earlier achievements of the countries in the west which have been fully developed, in all fields. WIEF has not managed to even think why they are able to achieve what they have managed to do, so that the WIEF too can encourage other Muslims to go into the line of businesses that those countries in the west especially America had done to uplift their economic performance so that they can influence not only the economic development of the Muslim countries, but also to promote Unity amongst the Muslims in the world.


WIEF has a very narrow-minded view of the Muslim World and also the world as a whole.


They are happy to get as many prominent Muslim and non-Muslim leaders to attend their annual conference.

And these so-called Muslim leaders are normally eager to attend it, because of the prestige attached, where they can read the prepared texts which do not espouse anything unusual or new, other than to repeat what has been said by their counterparts and also themselves before. 

Selangor MB dismisses ‘Azmin replacement’ as hearsay

Posted: 27 Oct 2013 05:29 AM PDT

(Bernama) - Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim dismissed as hearsay talks of being replaced as Selangor Menteri Besar (MB) by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali.

Describing such rumours as part and parcel of politics, he said: " It's alright. I'm not bothered by such rumours. I'm very real because I come from the corporate sector and the bottom line is to deliver."

He spoke to reporters after launching the "Our Environment Our Health" programme here today.

A Bahasa Melayu daily today reported that there were rumours of Mohamed Azmin replacing Abdul Khalid because several quarters in PKR were said to be dissatisfied with the MB's administration.

Abdul Khalid also accepted the recent criticism from opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who claimed that the MB had failed to utilise the state's resources well.

Commenting on the criticism, he said as a leader he had to be careful and disciplined in using the state's resources to ensure its administration was run smoothly.

"Whatever it is, I feel that people should criticise and we should allow them to do so, as we can learn and improve from it," he said.


Syariah boleh dilaksanakan di negara ini – Aziz Bari

Posted: 26 Oct 2013 07:48 PM PDT

Salmah Mat Hussain, Harakah

Undang-undang syariah yang turut terkandung hukum hudud boleh dilaksanakan di negara ini  walaupun dianggap bertentangan dengan undang-undang negara yang disifatkan sekular.

Pakar undang-undang perlembagaan, Dr Abdul Aziz Bari, berkata undang-undang syariah tidak dilaksanakan di Malaysia kerana pemimpin negara itu sendiri yang tidak mahu melaksanakannya, sedangkan ia boleh diperbaiki melalui undang-undang negara yang sedia ada.

Beliau berkata demikian ketika berucap pada majlis forum perdana bertajuk 'Hudud penyelesaian masalah ummah' sempena program Konvensyen Amar Ma'ruf dan Nahi Mungkar, dekat sini, hari ini.

Program yang diadakan di Putik selama dua hari itu turut membariskan dua anggota panel iaitu Ahli Majlis Mesyuarat Kerajaan Negeri (MMKN), Mumtaz Md Nawi dan Pensyarah Kias, Ustaz Muhammad Azhar.

"Alasan yang mengatakan undang-undang negara ini sebagai sekular adalah dari mereka yang tidak selesa dengan undang-undang syariah," ujarnya.

Menurutnya, di Malaysia perbankan, zakat dan sebagainya telah dilaksanakan mengikut syariat, oleh itu tidak ada sebab hukuman berkaitan pesalah  contohnya tidak boleh diperbaiki bagi menjaga keharmonian negara.

"Perbankan Islam sudah ada, perlaksanaan zakat juga telah dibuat dan sebagainya, namun undang-undang Islam tidak dilaksanakan atas desakan pihak tertentu," ujarnya.

Menyentuh tentang perlaksanaan Kanun Jenayah Syariah ll (1993) yang turut mengandungi hukum hudud yang telah digubal dan bakal dilaksanakan di Kelantan, beliau berkata negeri itu mampu melaksanakannya dengan syarat perlu mengikut laluan yang dibenarkan Persekutuan.

Tambahnya, kehendak rakyat Kelantan yang inginkan hukuman hudud perlu dilaksanakan mengikut kerangka yang ada di negeri itu kerana ianya tidak bertentangan dengan dasar yang telah diterima di peringkat dunia.

Bagaimanapun, menurutnya  kerajaan negeri perlu melakukan sesuatu agar ianya selaras dengan peruntukan undang-undang di peringkat Persekutuan.

Sambungnya, kemenangan PAS di peringkat Pusat bersama Pakatan Rakyat adalah antara faktor yang penting bagi melaksanakan perkara itu.


Gerakan at crossroads, weighs being a ‘third force’

Posted: 26 Oct 2013 07:28 PM PDT

Becoming a third force is an option that is best complemented with the proportionate representation voting system, advised outgoing Gerakan vice-president Chia Kwang Chye.

Leven Woon, FMT

The closing of the 42nd Gerakan national delegates conference today saw a significant discussion on the party becoming a third force in Malaysian politics.

Gerakan has had two disastrous election outings, losing its fortress in Penang and its political credibility in the process.

In his farewell speech earlier today, outgoing Gerakan vice-president Chia Kwang Chye weighed in delegates views on the party becoming a third force.

It was one of five options which the party needed to seriously ponder on to stay relevant.

Chia said Gerakan is standing at a political crossroad.

"One of the options is to withdraw from BN but not to join Pakatan (Rakyat). This means we form the third force.

"To do this we must strengthen our party, so that the voter will see us despite we not being in BN or Pakatan.

"But this is best complemented with a proportionate representation voting system.

"So we don't need to worry that we lose in all seats we contest, as long as we secure enough votes nationally, we can get seats (in the Parliament)," he said.

Chia , who is the former Bukit Bendera MP, said the other options included staying with BN, joining Pakatan, dissolving Gerakan or sticking to its core principles and care less about political affiliation.

"But we need be mindful. If we leave BN, Pakatan does not necessarily want us. And normally those which leave BN fall into decline.

"Dissolving the party means we close shop, we go to death.

"But of course I am only saying this for fun, it should not be an option at all," he added.

He said by choosing to stick to its founding principles, Gerakan must strive for a fair and equitable society and serve the people best.

"If we can achieve that, we will be a respectable party no matter which coalition we are in, and other parties will also respect us," he said.

Not easy to be a third force

Yesterday, Selangor delegate Lee Hui Seng also urged Gerakan leaders to opt to become a  "third force' in local politics.

He said this way Gerakan will have the freedom to contest as many seats as it wants and will possess a real bargaining power once it wins the seat.

"In the event there is a hung parliament, both BN and Pakatan would be forced to make a deal with Gerakan," he said.

He said Gerakan owns various assets such as the Menara PGRM and as such was self sustaining.

Responding to Lee, Gerakan acting president Chang Ko Youn said forming a third force was theoretically possible but hard to implement in the current first-past-the-post system.

"Look at the Liberal Democratic Party in Britain. It took them more than 100 years to make some achievement," he said, referring to the party which finally became a member of the governing coalition in 2010, and its leader Nick Clegg was appointed as deputy prime minister.



Seized copies of Herald released for distribution in Sabah

Posted: 26 Oct 2013 07:24 PM PDT

Tarani Palani, fz.com

The 2,000 copies of the Catholic weekly Herald seized by Home Ministry officials in Sabah last Thursday have now been released for distribution.

Father Lawrence Andrew, the publication's editor, said the distribution ban imposed by the ministry on the latest edition of the weekly was lifted at around 11am today.

Dstribution of the edition to parishes in neighbouring Sarawk as well as peninsular Malaysia was not affected.

"This is happening for the first time so we want to know why it is happening," Andrew told fz.com when contacted.

"We are waiting for a report or some kind of information. You can't just take something which belongs to someone else," he said.

When asked if he will write to the Home Ministry seeking an explanation , he said that he will contemplate the option as the ministry may already be aware of the publication's stand on the matter through press releases and media interviews.

He said that the 2,000 copies were seized at the Kota KInabalu International Airport, with s the authorities refusing to release them unless instructed by Putrajaya.

"We tried calling them on Friday morning and evening and once again on Saturday but there was no reply. Normally the publication is distributed on Friday evening or Saturday.

"Then today we received a call saying that it can be distributed," Andrew said adding that the forwarding company was the party that dealt with Putrajaya on the matter.

Andrew lamented that the weekly only reached one church in Kota Kinabalu at noon today, and that too after Sunday mass.

The other copies will be distributed later today and tomorrow.

Andrew had earlier explained that the word "Allah" appeared in three articles in the affected issue of the Herald , but that it was only being used in the same context as any news agency would.

He stressed that the Herald had not gone against the court ruling.

On Oct 14, the Court of Appeal upheld the Home Ministry's ban on the use of "Allah" in the publication.


The fallacy of the importance of Yap Ah Loy

Posted: 26 Oct 2013 06:43 PM PDT

140 years ago saw the first Malay-Chinese business partnership in Kuala Lumpur that resulted in Kuala Lumpur developing into a thriving metropolitan and eventually emerge as the nation's capital. 140 years ago also saw the political struggles and jostling for power between groups of Chinese. Invariably, the Selangor Royal Family got dragged into these conflicts and in many instances the involvement of the Malay army would determine the outcome of these conflicts.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

I have noticed many Chinese readers posting comments that, if not because of the Chinese, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor would not have developed and, today, would still be a jungle.

I think that is a most emotional and grossly inaccurate statement, which is not at all based on historical fact. You need to study the history of Selangor of about 150 years ago to get a clear picture of what really happened with regards to the issue of the Chinese in Kuala Lumpur/Selangor.  

I wrote the piece below in October 2002 -- part seven of a series of eight articles -- regarding the history of Selangor from the date of the First Sultan, Raja Lumu, in the 1700s till today. Hence that is 300 years of Selangor history -- of which the Chinese played a role in only half that period.

Selangor, in the mid-1800s, was already developing and was poised to become the economic centre of the Malay Archipelago (which was why Kuala Lumpur ended up as the Federal Capital of the country -- because it was the economic centre as well).

And that was why the Chinese came to Selangor -- because Selangor was a thriving economy and the Chinese wanted to make money in what was emerging as an economic centre. If not do you think the Chinese would have bothered to come to Selangor if there was no money to be made?

This part (part 7) is regarding Yap Ah Loy.

By the way, His Highness the Sultan of Selangor sent my essay on the history of Selangor to Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Khoo Kay Kim for vetting and the Professor returned it to His Highness without a single correction.

In other words, I got 100% marks and His Highness had 2,000 copies printed as the official story of the Selangor Royal Family and distributed it to all the members of the Selangor Royal Family in a function in the Palace.


Yap Ah Loy

The first attack on Kuala Lumpur (September-October 1870): The Battle of Ampang

The history books tell us that Yap Ah Loy, a.k.a. Kapitan China, was the founder of Kuala Lumpur. I am not saying this is not entirely true. However, this is oversimplifying the issue slightly as it is not quite like he just went there and opened up Kuala Lumpur all on his own.

He had the help, not to mention the permission (and protection), of the Selangor Royal Family.

Kuala Lumpur, which was then uninhabited jungle, was rich in tin and Raja Abdullah, a member of the Selangor Royal Family (who owned the tin concession), entered into a business partnership with Yap Ah Loy, whose function was to supply the Chinese labourers to work the mines -- labourers whom he 'imported' from China.

Raja Abdullah and Yap Ah Loy sailed up the Kelang River from the mouth of the river and landed on the Kelang-Gombak River confluence and camped there for the night. Today, on this famous spot, stands the Jamek Mosque.

From there, Raja Abdullah and Yap Ah Loy trekked through the thick jungle to Ampang, which at that time took a couple of days, and this was where the first tin mines were opened up. With these tin mines came diseases and wars, which nearly wiped out the entire mining community. In some instances entire communities were killed off and they had to be replaced with reinforcements from China.

Soon after that, Chong Chong, Yap Ah Loy's rival, entered into an alliance with Syed Mashhor and they set up an army to attack Kuala Lumpur. News of this alliance reached Yap Ah Loy's ears in June 1870 and he immediately contacted the Viceroy of Selangor in Kelang, Tunku Kudin, who was also the Sultan of Selangor's son-in-law.

Tunku Kudin

Yap Ah Loy's brother, Yap Tet Fong, was sent to Singapore to employ Chinese mercenaries and procure arms, ammunition and provisions. Chung Piang and Hiu Fatt, two of Yap Ah Loy's most able 'generals', were appointed local recruiting agents. By the end of September they had recruited well over 1,000 fighting men.

On 12th September 1870, Chong Chong and his army arrived at the 4th mile Ampang Road and set up camp there while Syed Mashhor's men remained in Ulu Kelang. Soon, more locals joined the invading army and the numbers increased to over 2,500 men. Yap Ah Loy, however, had less than 2,000 men, which included the Malays led by Raja Asal and Sutan Puasa, who joined him later.

As soon as Yap Ah Loy learned that Chong Chong had set up camp near Ampang, he sent a force of 600 men under Hiu Fatt and Tung Khoon to Ulu Kelang with the intention of cutting off Chong Chong's line of retreat. The next day, Hiu Fatt's men started attacking Syed Mashhor's army. Fighting began at about 10.00am and lasted until late afternoon.

Syed Mashhor's men were routed and suffered heavy losses.

Syed Mashhor escaped to Chong Chong's camp after which they embarked on an immediate counter-attack before Yap Ah Loy's men could consolidate their position. That night, a combined force of about 2,000 men headed for Ulu Kelang.

In the meantime, Hiu Fatt and Tung Khoon had returned to their camp in Ulu Kelang. During the night, they were awoken by sounds of gunfire and shouting and discovered, much to their surprise, that Syed Mashhor's force was attacking them. Meanwhile, Chong Chong's army emerged from the rear and trapped Hiu Fatt's force.

Fortunately, Yap Ah Loy had decided that evening to reinforce his troops at Ulu Kelang and had sent Chung Piang with a force of 400 men to Hiu Fatt's camp. They arrived in the heat of the battle and, after a fierce battle, Chong Chong was forced to retreat. Yap Ah Loy lost 40 men with another 100 wounded while Chong Chong's force suffered very heavy losses.

Yap Ah Loy realised that his army was not big enough to withstand Chong Chong's and Syed Mashhor's onslaught so he asked Raja Asal, who was at Damansara, for help. Raja Asal joined the three Chinese leaders at Ulu Kelang and it was agreed that they should move their combined forces down the valley to take up positions opposite Chong Chong's stockade. Chong Chong proposed to Syed Mashhor that they should harass Yap Ah Loy's army before they could settle down into their new positions.

Daily skirmishes went on for about a month without much success for either side.

Yap Ah Loy then sent another 600 men to reinforce Chung Piang's troops that consisted of 400 Malay fighters under Sutan Puasa and 200 Chinese fighters under Ten Sam. Another fierce battle started at 10.00am and, by late afternoon, Chong Chong's force was routed with the loss of more than 500 men. By nightfall, Chong Chong and Syed Mashhor realised they were beaten. They escaped to Batu Caves through Setapak.

From Batu Caves, Syed Mashhor escaped to Ulu Selangor while Chong Chong fled to Kuala Langat. By then, however, nearly half the army had been wiped out in one of the fiercest battles Kuala Lumpur had ever seen. But this was just the beginning of what would be many more battles to come before Kuala Lumpur would see peace. In one such battle, Yap Ah Loy was defeated and barely escaped with his life and had to seek the protection of the Sultan's army.

140 years ago saw the first Malay-Chinese business partnership in Kuala Lumpur that resulted in Kuala Lumpur developing into a thriving metropolitan and eventually emerge as the nation's capital. 140 years ago also saw the political struggles and jostling for power between groups of Chinese. Invariably, the Selangor Royal Family got dragged into these conflicts and in many instances the involvement of the Malay army would determine the outcome of these conflicts.

Sultan Abdul Samad

It must be noted that all this happened during the reign of Sultan Abdul Samad, the Fourth Sultan of Selangor, who ruled Selangor from 1857 to 1898. Sultan Abdul Samad was regarded as a weak Sultan who not only had no control over the State but was also not interested in administering the state and would leave it to his son-in-law, Tunku Kudin, to maintain the peace.

Sultan Abdul Samad was known for his passion in gambling and opium and Tunku Kudin, the brother of the Sultan of Kedah, who was exiled for trying to topple his brother the Sultan, wielded much power in Selangor. In fact, Sultan Abdul Samad married off his daughter, Raja Arfah, to Tunku Kudin to make him a Selangor 'citizen' because there was much jealousy from the rest of the Selangor Royal Family to this 'outsider' having so much power in Selangor. For all intents and purposes, the marriage was a political marriage to legitimise Tunku Kudin's position in Selangor.


Experts: GST Fair Taxation System

Posted: 26 Oct 2013 05:19 PM PDT

(Bernama) - The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a fair taxation system that distributes the burden of taxation among a larger section of the population based on consumption as it states the type and quantum of taxes consumers will be paying for goods or services, an expert says.

Currently, the country depends too much on income tax from both individuals and corporate bodies. Out of the approximately 28 million population of Malaysia currently, less than two million people are paying income tax.

Prof Dr Shazali Abu Mansor of the Faculty of Economic and Business, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), said the taxation system was more transparent as consumers knew what type of taxes they were paying and their quantums.

"The poor people should not worry as they will only pay a minimum as their consumptions are mainly essential goods and services such as food, transport and education which are likely to be zero-rated and consumers will not be paying extra taxes.    

"Therefore, taxes are for those who can afford to spend. This is because it is the more well-to-do and the wealthy who will consume more, the GST automatically taxes them most, not the lower income group," he told Bernama.

Saying that GST should have been implemented a long time ago, Prof Shazali reminded those doubtful citizens, to look at other successful GST cases worldwide and understand the need that GST could be adopted and done in Malaysia too.

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the GST is now imposed in over 150 countries, including 33 out of the 34 OECD member countries.

Sharing a similar sentiment, political analyst Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani said with the GST, the government had enough revenue to generate growth and fund many development projects.

"For Malaysia to achieve a developed-nation status by 2020, the government needs to reform the current tax system, that can drive business and development.    

"Tax reforms, such as introducing GST, may receive much criticism at first, but economically, it is the right decision," said the dean of the School of International Studies, Universiti Utara Malaysia.

However, Dr Mohd Azizuddin said the government must prevent the price of goods from increasing to ensure that this will not burden the middle and low income group.

For Prof Dr Barjoyai Bardai from Universiti Tun Abdul Razak, he felt the implementation of the GST was timely as Malaysia wished to achieve the developed nation status with high income by the year 2020.

"The GST is a comprehensive and efficient tax system which can generate good income to the nation while not burdening the rakyat," he said.

Barjoyai, who has a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in taxation and a Master's degree in Industrial Management, said Malaysia, which was considered to be developed in this region, would be lagging behind if it still adopted the existing taxation system because Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia and Vietnam had long implemented the GST.

He said consumers must realise that with the implementation of the GST, the prices of goods and services were lower compared to the existing tax as it avoided double taxation.

The director of communication, Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca), Mohd Yusof Abd Rahman suggested that the government carried out more programmes to brief the people such as having a forum on the GST in towns and the rural areas to avoid a misperception and confusion on the tax which was claimed to burden a section of the population.

In addition, Mohd Yusof suggested that the government produced a guide book on prices which whould show the differences in the prices of goods and services before and after the implementation of the GST.  


Minister says Herald seizure a misunderstanding, pledges action

Posted: 26 Oct 2013 04:51 PM PDT

(MM) - The controversial confiscation of Catholic paper Herald by the Home Ministry yesterday was likely caused by "miscommunication" on the part of the government, Tan Sri Joseph Kurup said today.

The Minister in The Prime Minister's Department admitted that he was in the dark over the issue but promised to look into the matter for necessary action.

"In this case, l believe that there is some miscommunication or misunderstanding somewhere of what led to the seizure to the 2,000 copies of the Herald.

"Let me check the facts [of] what actually happened and see what can be done," the unity affairs minister said in an email reply to The Malay Mail Online earlier today.

According to Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew, around 2,000 copies of the weekly publication were seized at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) on Thursday, apparently on order of the Home Ministry.

"The consignment arrived at 2.54pm on Thursday, and it was checked by KDN officials as the usual practice," he told The Malay Mail Online yesterday, referring to the Home Ministry's Malay acronym.

"The forwarding company were, however, told not to release the consignment. The company checked again on Friday at 10am, and were told that the consignment has been withheld. No reason was given," Lawrence added.

The priest said that as of yesterday, there was still no news on the status of the consignment, which was supposed to have been distributed to churches in the Kota Kinabalu and Keningau dioceses.

In response, Christian umbrella body Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM) decried the action as a violation of the church's right to distribute the newsletter to its own members.

The distribution ban is the latest incident to hit the controversial tussle between the Catholic Church and the government over the use of the word "Allah".

Earlier this month, the Court of Appeal ruled that the Home Ministry's decision to ban the use of the word in the Herald was justified, as the use of the word "Allah" was not integral to the practice of the Christian faith.

The ruling — which overturned an earlier High Court decision that the ban was unconstitutional — has since sparked confusion over the use of the word by Christians in their worship, especially with conflicting opinions within the government itself on how far the ruling would affect practising Christians.

Churches in Sabah and Sarawak, however, have said that they will continue their age-old practice of referring to God as "Allah" in their worship and in their holy scriptures.

Several ministers also said recently that the 10-point solution issued by Putrajaya in 2011 — which allows the printing, importation and distribution of the Al-Kitab, the Bahasa Malaysia version of the Christian bible, containing the word "Allah" — should stand, despite the appellate court ruling.

The Najib administration issued the 10-point solution shortly before the Sarawak state election in 2011 to end a Home Ministry blockade of shipments of Christian holy scriptures in the Malay language containing the word "Allah".

The Cabinet, through Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jala, had stated in the resolution that the large Bumiputera Christian population in Sabah and Sarawak could use their holy books in the Malay, Indonesian, and indigenous languages.

Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Maximus Ongkili, the Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister, said last Wednesday that the Court of Appeal's verdict should, "in no way", affect the 10-point solution.

Kurup also reportedly said recently that the Cabinet has decided to stick to the 10-point solution.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar and de facto law minister Nancy Shukri have said that the court ruling was restricted to the Herald.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak also said previously that the ruling would not affect Sabah and Sarawak, while separately another Cabinet minister claimed that Christians from the Borneo states could also use the word in peninsula Malaysia.

They were silent, however, on whether the Herald ruling meant the publication could be distributed in Sabah and Sarawak.

According to a 2010 census, Muslims are Malaysia's largest religious group, followed by Buddhists. Christians are the third largest at 2.6 million, which comes up to about 10 per cent of the entire Malaysian population.

Bumiputera Christians, who form about 64 per cent or close to two-thirds of the Christian community in Malaysia, have used the word "Allah" when praying and speaking in the national language and their native tongues for centuries. 


Perkasa declares ‘war’ with Gerakan

Posted: 26 Oct 2013 04:47 PM PDT

(MM) - Malay rights group Perkasa declared an open war today with Gerakan, warning the Barisan Nasional (BN) party that its members would not hesitate to campaign against its candidates if they insist on branding the NGO as an enemy of multi-racial Malaysia.

Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali said it was ridiculous for Gerakan to blame them for BN's diminishing support from the non-Malays in the last two general elections, stressing that the problem had already existed even before Perkasa was formed.

"Perkasa was formed in September 2008, after the 12th General Election. When we [were] formed, Gerakan had already lost Penang and many other seats, so how can you use Perkasa as a punching bag for your loss?" he said at a press conference here.

Ibrahim said it was a folly for Gerakan to blame others for their poor showing in the national polls when the BN party itself was long-ridden with internal strife.

"They started this war, not Perkasa. If Gerakan continues to use Perkasa as a punching bag, then Perkasa will not support them in the polls.

"There are areas where Gerakan face DAP, so if Perkasa members want to vote for DAP, it is up to them," he warned, though he added that the NGO are still strongly behind the ruling Barisan Nasional.

Yesterday, senior Gerakan leader Datuk Chang Ko Youn claimed that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had never supported Perkasa's extremist politics despite having never openly admonished the Malay rights group.

Speaking at a press conference at the party's annual congress, Chang claimed that in all of their "dealings" with Najib, the prime minister had repeatedly expressed his opposition to Perkasa's communal agenda.

Chang also called on the Najib administration to reject all forms of extremist politics and singled out Perkasa as an enemy of multi-racial Malaysia.

Najib, who officially opened the congress, echoed Chang's view that BN should reject racist politics.

Ibrahim today said that it was unfair for Gerakan to have dragged the prime minister into the fray, as it puts Najib at odds with the Malay and Bumiputera agenda that Perkasa claims to champion.

"They have put him in a difficult position. The PM is a Malay. If he were to say that he does not support Perkasa, it is akin to saying that he does not support the Malays," he claimed.

Ibrahim said Gerakan, which he described as a splinter of BN partners MCA, should take a long hard look at itself and figure out the reasons behind their poor political fortunes.

"Perkasa's stand is to support BN regardless of the party, but if you lose you need to study the reasons why and not accuse Perkasa of being the reason for your loss.

"Perkasa is an NGO. Whether the PM likes us or not, or whether Anwar or the opposition like us or not, we have nothing to do with these people. If there are good policies, we will support them, and likewise, we will oppose bad policies," he said.

Critics have questioned Najib's seriousness about reforms as his government was seen flip-flopping on several pledges including backtracking on his vow to open up the economy to more non-Malay participation and improve civil liberties.

Recently, the prime minister announced the return of the race-based affirmative action policy in the New Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Agenda and also introduced laws that would restore the state's preventive powers in a move seen as pandering to conservative demands.

Analysts said Najib's sudden hardline stand was merely aimed at averting a potential challenge to his position at the party polls but this reflected weak leadership and indecisiveness on his part, especially when forced to confront issues concerning Malaysia's growing polarisation. 


By-election: PAS targets Mukhriz instead

Posted: 26 Oct 2013 04:43 PM PDT

Kedah MB Mukhriz Mahathir's people-friendly style has got PAS worried, according to analysts.

(Bernama) - As the Sungai Limau by-election campaign enters its third day, the PAS machinery is seen as being more focused on efforts to erode the credibility of Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Tun Dr Mahathir.

Generally, analysts thought PAS had started to plan strategies to reduce Mukhriz's political influence, despite the by-election on Nov 4 being a straight fight between Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Dr Ahmad Sohaimi Lazim and PAS candidate Mohamad Azam Abd Samat.

This included raising the issue that Mukhriz was allegedly rejected by Umno members themselves, following his failure to win a vice-president's post in the recent party election, in addition to claiming that the menteri besar was still shadowed by his father, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

According to them, PAS was worried with Mukhriz's leadership style which was more people-friendly to mirror the personality of former Kedah menteri besar, the late Tan Sri Azizan Abdul Razak of PAS who was the incumbent for the Sungai Limau state seat since the general election in 1995.

"This people-friendly trait is among the factors why Azizan was well-liked by friend and foe. Mukhriz is not trying to emulate Azizan as it is indeed his own personality," political analyst and Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Prof Dr Nasrudin Mohamed said yesterday.

Nasrudin said PAS appeared to think that this was this was best strategy to take.

He claimed the party was experiencing a slide in popularity since the state fell into BN's hands.

He said, both sides were aware a win in the Sungai Limau state seat would not change the fact that Kedah would continue to be led by BN, following the current position of 21 seats for BN and 14 for Pakatan.

But, he was of the opinion that the by-election was the best chance for PAS to ensure that Mukhriz lost in his bid to lead the BN machinery in the GE14.

"Mukhriz's prefers to go down and meet the local populace to listen to their problems, camp together and become part of the local
community, specifically in the Sungai Limau state seat.

"Because (of this) Mukhriz is seen as a new generation leader of BN who is capable of leading Kedah for a period in excess of one term, if there is no effort to topple him," he said.

Aiming for Mukhriz

Nasrudin said this why PAS and the opposition pact would use numerous means to ensure Mukhriz's credibility drops, following his increasing popularity among the local populace.

Another political analyst from Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), Mohd Faisol Keling, shared Nasrudin's opinion, saying PAS was in a dilemma to ensure their candidate was on par, or better than Azizan himself.

"The PAS machinery wants to convince the voters that the party can take the place of Azizan.

"This can be due to the absence of issues to be highlighted. In fact, the defeat in the recent general election has become a burden for them to find ways to win back the people's confidence," he said.

Mohd Faisol said, if PAS were too specific in its efforts to topple Mukhriz, it could raise suspicion among the communities in the Sungai Limau state constituency on the party's sincerity, because the welfare of the people should be given priority during the campaigning.

"This is among the things that the people, specifically the residents of Sungai Limau, should evaluate in terms of sincerity, placing the interest of the people beyond the political agenda. 


Fareed, the global polymath

Posted: 26 Oct 2013 11:02 AM PDT

IF Dr Fareed Zakaria was any smoother, he would metamorphose into a hearty cappuccino.

I think Malaysia has done well even though it's a single-party dominated state that could lead to bad directions. By and large, in the past 15 years, there's been a movement in the right direction. Malaysia always benefited by being part of the flock of geese that strives to move in the same direction as the other East Asian countries. But it does face real challenges of investing productively in human capital.

Dr Fareed Zakaria, NST

Whether addressing  a crowd of around 800 participants comprising financial professionals, policymakers and politicians at the World Capital Markets Symposium in Kuala Lumpur earlier this week or facing off with movers and shakers, like his tête-à-tête with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the CNN broadcaster, author and columnist  evolves into a category of his own -- the global polymath able to filter the world's mess and convey a sense of meaning that everyone can understand.

There were journalists, ambassadors, troubleshooters like him before -- in contemporary times, the French intellectual and author Bernard-Henri Lévy comes to mind -- but Fareed exudes far more range in his two books on politics and globalisation, columns for TIME or the Washington Post or his CNN programme GPS and public discourses, like the Kuala Lumpur date hosted by the Securities Commission.

It appears that every pressing globalisation issue, no matter how wide and exponential, is within Fareed's radar -- American globo-cop dominance but homegrown vulnerabilities, trouble in the Middle East, the African malaise, China's economic powerhouse, Indo-Chinese defiance, Asean's place in the world -- they all are effortlessly analysed and presented. While Fareed's prose is lucid, even dry, it is essential in that he gets his ideas and message across unhidden and precise as was his routine when he sat down, legs crossed and hands clasped, with NST's commentator Azmi Anshar and political editor Shahrum Sayuthi in a series of tête-à-tête with the Malaysian media.


Question: America is seen by many critics and pundits as weakening in the eyes of global economy. It is no longer the top dog. Is that the real situation now?

Answer: Dynamics is not about the decline of America but rise of other countries. That creates a more equal world -- America will not be able to dominate the way it used to in 1995 or 1996 during the Asian economic crisis. We are not entering a world of American decline or weakness -- that is an exaggeration.

To be a global power, one must have all components -- economic, military, political and cultural. I think the United States retains a very powerful set of tools that constitutes an impressive portfolio.

However, in Latin America, it is Brazil. In the Middle East, it is Turkey; in Asia, it is China and India.


Question: America is a walking paradox. You are a leader of many things -- pop culture, military, business and technological innovation -- but you find it difficult to protect yourself against something like the government shutdown, gun issue and right-wing extremism. A lot of people are saying that that's the way America is punishing itself.

Answer: There is a need to view these from a historical perspective. In the 1960s, America was 35 per cent of world gross domestic product but there was the Soviet Union, which was a superpower alongside the US. There was internal division in the US (like) the civil rights. Vietnam was the external wound that tore the country apart. Also, there was Watergate. (The) US has always been a messy democracy.

China does have problems but they are suppressed. The US is very transparent. In the short run, it's terrible but in the long run, it's very good.


Question: Americans are getting popular here in Southeast Asia following Chinese assertion of territorial claims. There are many worries here about the language used by Chinese and how the Americans can balance and assist. Care to elaborate?

Answer: My prediction: there will be a greater appreciation for Americans not just here but also in the world. China was giving money without lectures on democracy... but that comes with certain conditions (like) recognising China in certain ways. For example, the border issues.

I do not believe that China is being imperialist or colonising but it is clearly trying to assert (its) powers.

In that context, the US is seen as a more useful friend. I think America and Southeast Asia are handling this quite well.

For America, it's much better to have China succeed than fail but we also want a China that respects other countries.


Question: What do you think of the way Malaysia is handling its foreign policy? For instance, it's close to the Americans but at the same time, chummy with the Chinese. The way it handles its military procurement -- getting it from the Russians and the Americans. Is this kind of foreign policy sustainable in the long run?

Answer: I think Malaysia has handled its foreign policy quite well. Naturally, you would want to maintain your independence but I would argue that there is a kind of natural bond that Malaysia has with the US. There are common geopolitical concerns with regards to China. But there is also a great deal of common culture, political system and values.

I noticed in Malaysia, people are interested in and connect to America, and the American dream in a way that they don't to the Chinese. Even Chinese in Malaysia don't have that fascination (with China). People are talking about the Chinese migrating from Malaysia but they don't go to China. They go to Australia, Singapore and the US. They're not "going back" to China. With China's rise to power, people are not fascinated by the Chinese dream. They respect China but they don't fall in love with it.

Malaysia and America have a greater degree of a society-to-society bond, which ultimately makes for a strong alliance not just government-to-government bond.


Question: I'm intrigued by that. I think America's hold on the world is through its immense pop culture where the only thing that is stopping you is your imagination. Look at your movies, for instance. I'm amazed at the technology and ideas. People say that's entertainment but I see a lot more. How do you see America's pop culture hold on the world, not just movies, but books, magazines and the Internet lifestyle?

Answer: What you say is absolutely right. Now, Hollywood is making movies for the world. All pop culture is a reflection of the idea of America. At its core, it is about an individual's ability to be himself or herself to exercise maximum amount of freedom and individuality. That comes through music, lifestyle and movies.

That's why people still look to America as a place where you can be yourself. A place where you can exercise your individuality to the maximum extent -- no cultural or social inhibitions. (It's) very different from a place like China. Partly the reason Malaysia is comfortable with that world. Malaysia is a big messy multicultural pot where people are comfortable with differences and make sense of it and live with it.


Question: It is said that India may overtake China because even though it is lagging behind, its people have better individuality as opposed to China, which is very restrictive. Do you agree with this?

Answer: No. China's economy is three times that of India's. It is still growing faster than India. At this point, India can't catch up. India would have to do so much faster than China to catch up. In two or three decades, that's not going to happen.

China has perfected its development model. It has found a formula with the ability to plan and execute. China is ahead and will remain ahead. (But) India will do well because there is lot of human and individualistic talent. They are more productive and their capital usage is efficient. (India) has a lot more globally minded companies compared with China. India has more advantages but ultimately, China's powerful pro-growth policy will keep it ahead.


Question: Now that you mentioned China's pro-growth policy, do you think that's the right model for the developing countries?

Answer: Here is the problem. In China, you have the dictatorship that has been proven to be very pro-growth. Reasonably, it has got its economic policy right and it is careful about abuse of political power. They have a two-term limit. How do you get that in a dictatorship? Most dictatorships look more like (former Philippine president Ferdinand) Marcos than they do China.

How do you make sure that you get a limited pro-growth dictatorship? I don't know... I think China and Singapore are locked in to this. If I can get (former Singaporean mentor minister) Lee Kuan Yew to run America, I will be interested. But how do you make sure that you got Lee and not Marcos? That's the problem with dictatorship. You can't be sure what you can get. Most dictators are terrible with economic policy. They run the politics into the ground and they also run the economy into the ground.

Yet, if you could find the rare case of a dictatorship that is pro-growth, then it leads to the big challenge that China is facing, that is, what now to do with the politics. I don't believe that the system will collapse but I can see that the Chinese government has a very great concern about the fate of the Communist Party. They do feel that the legitimacy of the Communist party is under threat.


Question: Do you think Malaysia is also practising pro-growth dictatorship?

Answer: I think Malaysia has done well even though it's a single-party dominated state that could lead to bad directions. By and large, in the past 15 years, there's been a movement in the right direction. Malaysia always benefited by being part of the flock of geese that strives to move in the same direction as the other East Asian countries. But it does face real challenges of investing productively in human capital.


Question: Your views on the prime minister (Datuk Seri Najib Razak)?

Answer: Najib is a very bright man and good leader. He has won the (general) election and he has gotten the Umno election out of the way in the direction that he wanted it. Now, he probably has two years to implement his agenda before politics rears its head again. In these next two years, he can set his legacy and should ask himself, what does he want to be remembered for.

In the next two years, he should put in place policies to make things happen. I hope that is what he will do because he is a very bright man.

He knows where Malaysia needs to go... move from investing in physical capital to human capital. It's not just funding education but making the society more merit-based and having more skilled workers working on merit, education and skills rather than other things. It doesn't have to happen overnight and it doesn't have to be revolutionary, but it has to start moving in that direction. Otherwise, you will get left behind.

Kredit: www.malaysia-today.net

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