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What is an institution without logic?

Posted: 27 Nov 2013 08:27 PM PST 

If Ke$ha was deemed to be controversial to perform here, and if Beyonce was too sexy for our audience, perhaps the time has come for us to look at our own backyard and see what we ourselves are doing before pointing fingers and blaming Western culture for corrupting our children. 

Farah Harith, The Malay Mail  

Before I proceed with this article, allow me to establish my stand: I am not entirely anti-establishment, nor am I a modern liberal.

For the most part, I am a logical person who tries to be as traditional and conservative as I can because I still believe that old school is the best school.

As usual, something has gotten me riled up this week, and it isn't exactly new.With the increased reliance on social networks, particularly Instagram, these applications are no longer being used by ordinary folks like you and me. 

Celebrities, as well as members of royal families, have also taken to social networks to share their lives with the "ever-adoring" public.

Albeit some of their accounts are "padlocked" for alleged privacy, I don't see them vetting the requests. The way I see it, a majority of them will simply approve requests for friends without checking who's making the requests.

The problem here is not so much with celebrities but with royalty. Some of the ladies post pictures of themselves scantily dressed.

What I would like to know is, why are they doing this, and getting away with it, when we are cancelling permits for foreign artistes to come and perform here, because they wear revealing outfits. It is common knowledge that Malaysian royalty are Muslims.

And it is also common knowledge that most of the foreign artistes who want to perform here are non-Muslims.

So the logical part that eludes me here is, why are we insisting that non-Muslims adhere to Muslim dress codes, but we don't impose the same on our fellow Muslims in the country? Aren't members of royal families supposed to uphold Islamic integrity?

Isn't that one of the functions of the royal institution? I am all for tradition, which means I have no problems with maintaining monarchy. However, when the institution itself fails to adhere to logic, what does it say about Malaysia as a Muslim country? Too many questions and yet there are no answers. 

Or perhaps the answers are buried deep in the midst of the mindset that we are not supposed to question these things, instead accept it because that is just how things are supposed to be.

The problem with matters such as these, is that we are not allowed to question them. However, if we choose to adopt logic, the institution can prosper and triumph for many more years to come.

The mindset that when one questions these things, one automatically is branded to be anti-establishment and propagating anarchy, must go. At times, questions are raised so that a solution can be found that will in turn benefit us all. 


What Needs to be Done for National Unity

Posted: 27 Nov 2013 08:14 PM PST 

Kee Thuan Chye 

Prime Minister Najib Razak has just set up the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) and told its 30 panel members that in the six months they are given to discuss and recommend new measures to foster national unity, they will be free to discuss anything, even sensitive issues like the use of 'Allah' by non-Muslims.

However, I've been told by a reliable source that the panel has been briefed not to bring religion into the discussions because when this is done, things often "go wild". This sounds like a cop-out. And it's already happened even before actual brainstorming has started. So much for Najib's promise that the NUCC could discuss anything. He appears to have been caught out already. How does this instil public faith in the NUCC?

Religion is integral to national harmony. Especially in Malaysia where religion has been politicised for decades. If the NUCC excludes it from its discussions, the harmony equation is grossly incomplete. Then the whole exercise would be another half-baked endeavour. An eyewash. For what? To make Najib look good in the public eye? To show he is doing something about what he calls national reconciliation? Well, a half-hearted effort is not going to be any good, so why waste the public funds?

After all, past exercises and what became of them have already taught us the lesson that they turned out to be nothing but eyewash. They eventually appeared to have been conducted merely to placate a public seeking answers and solutions at the time and then shoved aside after the exercise had been completed.

Notable examples are the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) that recommended the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) in 2005, and the one in 2007 that recommended the appropriate action to be taken against V.K. Lingam, Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, Mohd Eusoff Chin, Vincent Tan, Mahathir Mohamad and Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor for misconduct over the fixing of the appointment of top judges.

Meanwhile, we still await the outcome of the RCI on illegal immigrants in Sabah and the Government's subsequent response to it. Will action be taken on the ensuing recommendations? More important, will the right action be taken? Most Malaysians are not holding their breath. Just as they are not doing it for the NUCC.

Some of the comments I've seen on Facebook about the NUCC indicate this.

One commentor says, "What the Government has failed to do in 50 years, this group can accomplish in six months! Really? Endless possibilities." As most people would know, "endless possibilities" is a satirical dig at the Government's proposed new tagline to either replace or complement 1Malaysia.

Another commentor – let's call him Toshiro – offers well-considered suggestions for promoting unity, which include controlling disunity, by applying existing laws without fear or favour; developing a culture of social embracement and inclusiveness, beginning with the schools as pillars of unity; removing all forms of segregation, starting with the race-based quota; and removing leadership-by-default, thereby allowing talents to manage for the good of the country.


He ended by saying, "These are simple actions that do not require knowledge of rocket science!"

In response to his suggestions, another commentor says, "But these are precisely the measures that would destroy Umno!"

Which gives cause for yet another commentor to remark, "I think the NUCC or any council Najib cares to set up is no substitute for leadership. Committees are no substitute for balls."

Indeed. Even if the NUCC did come up with sterling recommendations, especially those that call for radical shifts from the current practice, which no doubt would rock the world that Umno is comfortable doing business in, Najib might still do what the Government has done with the IPCMC – give gutless excuses for not implementing them.

I have a few points of my own about what needs to be done for national unity. Some of them coincide with Toshiro's. While his are spelt out in broader terms, I'm looking more at specific actions.

To truly end the division in our society, I would propose banning the use of the word 'Bumiputera'. This is such an obvious thing to do, really. We should not be Bumiputeras and non-Bumiputeras. We are all Malaysians. The Government should promote that idea.

This of course would mean the end of affirmative action for Bumiputeras. So let us switch to a programme that is based on needs instead of race. Even from a universal perspective, that would be socially more acceptable.

Another important thing to do is to inculcate racial harmony and equality in schools. That's the first place to begin because the young must be properly educated on this.

Currently, however, that is not the practice. Parents have plenty of horror stories to tell of disrespect between races and cultures. And stories of school principals who lead by divisive example. These have in fact been reported in the media, like the principals who said non-Malay students werepenumpang (passengers) in this country, or told them to go back to China and India, or insulted the religion of Hindu students.

To eschew exclusiveness, religious rituals (of any religion) should no longer be performed at school assemblies or any school functions. In fact, even for public sector functions, they should also be stopped. This will also diminish the role of religion in providing one of the biggest stumbling blocks to national unity.

Let's go back to basics. Najib should first of all unequivocally declare Malaysia a secular state, with Islam being the religion of the Federation, as spelt out in the Federal Constitution. Past prime ministers Tunku Abdul Rahman and Hussein Onn have stated that this is so. And it's clearly a better option for a multi-racial, multi-religious country.

On the issue of race, the Government must put a stop to all efforts and programmes aimed at fuelling suspicion or hatred of any race.

One, shut down Biro Tata Negara, which has allegedly been using methods almost akin to the ones used by the Nazis in fostering the Master Race.

Two, direct all media organisations (like Utusan Malaysia) to cease race-baiting.

Three, officially direct ministers and public officials to refrain from making racist remarks in public. And also to stop using the bogey of May 13 to scare the people. Like Wanita Umno President Shahrizat Abdul Jalil did at the party's general assembly in 2012.

To eliminate racial polarisation, the Government should shut down all fully residential schools and MARA institutions of learning that have 99% Malay students and only a few token non-Malays.

Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) should be open to all races. What its vice-chancellor, Sahol Hamid Abu Bakar, said two months ago in insisting that it remain the institution of higher learning for Malays and Bumiputeras is a bane to national unity.

In fact, the Government should take the radical step and institute a single school system – without the vernacular and religious streams. Like in Singapore. It will incur the wrath of many interest groups, but if you are serious about national unity, you have to take the bull by its horns.

Finally, the Government should declare a policy that favours merit over consideration of race in all fields of public service, e.g. the civil service, security forces, judiciary, universities and schools. This way, the country can also be assured of higher quality administration.

At present, how many non-Malays are heads of department in the civil service? How many are school principals? How many are vice-chancellors of public universities? If non-Malays who are qualified for these positions are denied them for reasons of race, how does that help national unity?

I hope that's enough for the NUCC to chew on. And that the ideas are not too radical for them to dare to consider or even acknowledge.

The bottom line is, national unity is something that's abstract. We may not even know it when we've achieved it. We have this romantic notion that we had a semblance of it perhaps in the 1960s, when crucial social conditions were different. So the important consideration now is to put in place the social conditions that would be appropriate for unity. Unfortunately, however, different people will have different ideas about what these conditions should be, and that's where the problem arises.

So, will 30 people of varying backgrounds, with varying values, beliefs and assumptions be able to solve in six months the problems we are facing in a society that has become more divided than ever before?

What do you think?

Ex-EC chief’s arrogant pride in violating Constitution

Posted: 27 Nov 2013 08:31 AM PST

Ravinder Singh, Malay Mail

Former EC chief Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman's bold admission that he had ensured that the three re-delineation exercises he did were done in such a way to ensure Malays retained political power, and that he did so "in a proper way, not illegally" is not a surprise. He is proud of what he did, despite the fact that he had breached the 13th Federal Constitution, which states that the number of voters in state and parliamentary seats must be approximately equal.

He questions how Barisan Nasional could have lost to the opposition in Kelantan, Penang and Selangor if the re-delineation was done to favour the BN. This is a cheap question. Either he must be a fool not to realise why the BN lost these states, or he is trying to make a fool of those who question gerrymandering.

Why BN lost these states is because the EC did not dream that such a huge percentage of voters in these states would go against the tide. From previous elections, it must have drawn graphs showing a certain percentage of voters voting against the ruling party at each election.

Obviously, the number of voters voting for the opposition had been increasing. Projections based on these would have been used to carry out each re-delineation exercise, splitting these votes to increase the number of voters in certain constituencies and reducing them in others so as to ensure "Malays retained political power".

However, voter sentiment at the 13GE did not follow the predictions of the EC. It was like a deluge breaking the banks of a river and causing massive flooding and destruction that was never thought could happen. This happened in the states that the BN lost. So, Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman need not try to pull wool over the people's eyes. This bluff may work in some places, with some people, but not in all places and neither with all people.

The 13th Schedule of the Constitution is clear. It says that the number of voters in the different constituencies must be approximately equal, or "lebih kurang sama banyak". Where did Abdul Rashid learn that one (1) is approximately equal to ten (10) or even more?

Abdul Rahman, let's go to a fish market. If you are asked to buy 10 kilos of fish (regardless of type), but with firm instructions that each fish must be approximately (lebih kurang) one (1) kilo in weight, do you buy one ten-kilo fish, or eight (8) to twelve (12) fish that are approximately equal in weight, making up a total of 10 kilos?

Abdul Rahman, in which dictionary did you find that "approximately" means 1:10 or 1:15?

Enough with the fooling. What you did was unconstitutional. It was a clear breach of Schedule 13 of the highest law of the country.

Now, I would like to ask (no offence is meant to anyone): Does your religion permit you to carry out your public duty in breach of the Constitution?

Do any of the Moral and Religious values that we teach our school children permit the kind of fraud that you carried out in violation of the Federal Constitution?



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