Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Christmas in Malaysia is such a joyous occasion celebrated by many – Christians and non Christians exchange gifts with one another. The school holidays of course helps as families spent time together walking the shopping malls. The shopping malls are adorned with lights as Christmas carols are piped through. The carols speak of peace and joy and glad tidings of the birth of Christ.
The spirit of gift giving is a reminder for us all that the greatest gift of all was given in God’s only son, Jesus Christ. The Bible speaks of the hopelessness of man, the nature of the sinful man. Left alone man will always turn to evil, to sin. That is why I am in the opinion that the “moral police” in Malaysia is ineffective and a waste of time. In fact it gives the authorities a sense of self righteousness which is false. The good book says “All have sin and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 None is righteous, no not even one.
There are 3 things common I believe in most if not all man;
1) The need to worship something. I have read accounts of missionaries who say that in the deepest jungles, where tribes may never have seen another human being apart from their own tribe, the people there worship some form of a higher being. A god, or a spirit in some object. Perhaps we as creatures (as opposed to the creator) need to worship. Us urban dwellers, perhaps worship the Ringgit or power or self….?
2) The need to find atonement or release from our wrongdoings, our guilt. Either you beat yourself, whip yourself (as in some religions) or do lots of charity work, we need to feel forgiven of our selfishness and sinfulness. It may not be obviously evident but the need to be “on the right track” , I think, is there in all that we do.
3) We all will face death and we are all heading that direction.
Christ came so that we can find solutions to the problems we face above. He suffered and paid the price of our sins. He came as a substitute on our behalf. That is why Christmas carols speak of ………………..
Peace – Peace in our hearts because we are reconciled back to a righteous God; not by our own righteousness but Christ righteousness.
Joy - Joy in our hearts because we can take delight in a God who loves us
Goodwill to all man – Goodwill because Christians understand sin and grace. We can be gracious to one another because it was God who showed us grace.
God Bless you all and may this Christmas bring you much Joy, Peace and Goodwill……
Thursday, November 09, 2006
- Rebellious Town Councillors who wantonly flout the law
- Pak Lah's children getting smaller contracts then Mahathir
- Town Councillors arguing that there are others whose house is bigger...
- Illegal immigrants in Sabah naturalised for political gains
- Slipping in TI's Corruption Index
- Experimenting with our children on the system of education in Malaysia
- NEP and the gravy train on the Crony Express....
I want to repost an excerpt of my Sept 20th posting :FROM POLITCIAL APATHY to PLAIN EMPATHY....
"Last week the residence association which I am involved in revealed that a bridge project which we have been fighting against all this while...and loss because the decision went up to the MB. Inside information revealed that the bridge project was awarded to construction companies linked to the senator and MB. (bro of the senator has a constrcution company) Not wanting to be defeated, I said, if that is true, then we should expose this to all and sundry. The reply "this is politics, why get involved."There seem to be such a turn off when it comes to any form of political involvement. Maybe the term is not "political involvement" since that arouses a sense of political partisanship. ie.Pas member or BN or Keadilan which leads to divisiveness in a community. So maybe the term should be a "collective voice speaking up for issues in ones community, the weak and the downtrodden in society." Since we don't have local elections, there must be some other way for us, the people to provide checks and balance to the local municipals and governments. If we, the people are not involved or ensure a level of "noise" is heard, then the capitalists, the investors, the money driven buisnessmen will develop that empty land as a shopping mall in front of your house, that bridge connecting other housing developments to your quiet neighbourhood, the robbing of our parks for development, the raping of our forest for timber money and the incinerator in your neighbourhood. The reason is if we, the people do not court the politicians, the capitalists and businessmen will. Its not their fault, they just"cari makan", but the boundaries should be defined by government.Don't be political, but make yourself heard and care for the weak and downtrodden in our society. The Moorthy's, the Lina Joys, the indiscriminate demolishing of indian temples, the Ahmad Hafizals (arrested for not joining the National service but revealed that he and his family were hardcore poor) and the Jamal Haruns (put their baby up for sale so that their eldest daughter could go for operation). The involvement could be as small as writing to a local newspaper (online or paper) or joining an NGO or political party which stands up for your ideals...but the idea is making "noise".
We got to reclaim our land. Lets care enough for each other as Malaysians irregardless of race. Lets show that the rakyat is trully the boss which is the basis of Democracy!
Monday, November 06, 2006
KLANG: Kapar Umno Youth chief Faizal Abdullah has resigned as a Klang Municipal Councillor following the controversy over him constructing his house without obtaining approval from the council.
In a statement issued late last night, 35-year-old Faizal, who is also the state party deputy youth chief, said he resigned after being advised to do so by Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo.
“With full repentance, I willingly relinquish my post as a Klang Municipal Councillor. My resignation letter will be sent to the Mentri Besar and the Council president by tomorrow (today) by 3pm,” he said.
Here is one who has honorably resigned and there is appearance of genuine repentance.
KLANG: The Klang UMNO division rallied behind its chief Datuk Zakaria Md Deros with a show of loyalty, claiming that he had been “sabotaged” by the Opposition. “The entire thing is the work of the Opposition to discredit him. The only wrong thisng here is thenon submission of building plans, that’s all.” Said division information chief Shoimi Shafie.
How can a man and political party become so blind and arrogant that they cannot see the gross injustices of the entire situation. Instead, they accuse the Opposition of hyping up the issue when the rakyat has been so incensed bringing even the Sultan into the picture.
It is evident that the man and the party he leads do not understand accountability and good governance. They are proud and power drunk. It is most unfortunate.
Friday, November 03, 2006
It was revealed over the last few weeks that there were 3 family members serving as town councilors in the Klang Municipal. The father, Datuk Zakaria Md Deros was accused of :
· Building his four-storey Istana Idaman, a 17 room mansion, without submitting the building plan to the council.
· He had also failed to pay assessment for 12 years for the house he is staying in.
· Zakaria also illegally built a restaurant, DZ Satay House, on state reserve land. The restaurant was recently sealed off by the council.
What irks me is that despite the obvious disregard for the law, this politician, who is also Klang UMNO Division Head shows his pride and foolishness. Firstly, he thinks the crime is building a mansion in a low-cost housing…”It might have been unsuitable...” as reported in the STAR:
…breaking down several times during the 4pm press conference, he admitted he made a mistake when he designed a “house (referring to the mansion) which might have been unsuitable for the low-cost housing estate” in Kampung Idaman.
“However, it was never my intention to boast or show off by building a bigger house which has been called 'Istana Datuk Zakaria' by some,” he read from a 12-page statement at his current double-storey low-cost house in Kampung Idaman here.
“My wife and I merely wanted a more comfortable dwelling for our 11 children, seven daughter in laws and 11 grandchildren.
Many of us would also like to have our all our children living in the same house and have a wonderful castle in Disneyland, but not all of us are Town Councillors…we have to unfortunately pay for it and get local Town Municipals for approval or else even awnings get torn down!
He added that the family had also planned to create community-centred rooms in the new house, including having a tuition centre, a surau and an activity corner.
“If our sincere intention had been misinterpreted, we apologise for not having properly explained our little contribution,” Zakaria, flanked by sons Zainuri and Zul Hisham, read from his prepared statement.
“I thank those, including the media, for giving me guidance on the need to follow rules and regulations.”
Having public amenities in your private home is very noble, but unfortunately doing kind deeds doesn’t abscond you from the law. So now its the inconvenient public who have "misinterpreted your good intentions."
He explained how the family had been rooted in Kampung Idaman for more than 30 years since moving from the KTMB quarters in Port Klang. He had been a railway gatekeeper then.
“We feel really close to the people here and that is why, despite our new prosperity, we still choose to remain here because we want to continue serving people here,” Zakaria said.
“Together with other leaders, we have helped to build a mosque to replace the dilapidated surau, construct a sekolah agama rakyat and primary school.”
Very good. Zakaria is a good State Assemblyman although I would like to think that that was his job. He was merely doing his job.
Eventhough he resigned, I believe he was edged out and it was not an honorable resignation. There is no repentence or acknowledgement of wrong doing here.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Can you smell it? If only the net could capture the odurs as well it would better bring my point across. Readers from overseas would find this posting a bit hilarious, but if any have visited Malaysia, you would understand why we Malaysians would rather hold our piss then to visit a..........Public toilet. Ahhhhh the mere mention of these two words have put me off my lunch!!!
I intend sometime after my travelling schedule this month to visit all the schools in my suburb. Perhaps take some pictures of the toilets our children use everyday. I visited my son in school during his recess and could hardly breathe. He was about 30 feet from the toilet and the stench was......."public toiletish". We cannot keep clean public toilets if our schools in Malaysia do not insist on keeping clean toilets. These children will become working adults who will be used to and accept...... this standard of public toilets. The Ministry of Education must come up with strict guidelines to
ensure the school or PTA do whatever necessary to maintain a level of hygiene and cleaniness.
Some ideas include: 1) subcontracting out the cleaning to outside companies which can provide opportunities for cronies to make more money.
2) Simply having running water in urinals especially during high usage times
3) Jet hosting the entire toilet with anti bacterial and water at least twice a day.
4) Teaching kids proper toilet use and thought for the person coming after..
5) Having some classes take turns in cleaning toilets, perhaps for older children. (practical in domestic studies 101)
I must say that the PLUS highway rest areas have been able to maintain an acceptable level of cleaniness which proves that it is possible to have clean public toilets.
In November, I shall make my survey of schools in my area and post the results here!!!
Till then, hope your appetite comes back for dinner.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
There are thousands of brilliant Malaysians abroad, having successful carreers. Some are willing to return home to be with their families. Unfortunately, despite the leaders lip service, the racist bureaucrats see to it that these non bumiputera Malaysians find it difficult to come home.
Here are some letters printed in The STAR (local newspapers):
I HAVE a master’s degree from Imperial College and am completing my doctoral studies in Engineering Science at the University of Oxford in the UK.
I too face a similar dilemma as Sylvia Hsu-Chen Yip from Canberra, “We need to feel appreciated” (The Star, Sept 12). I am unsure whether I would return home after completing my PhD.
This is a similar dilemma being faced by many non-bumiputra Malaysians in the UK. I joined a Malaysian public university in the hope of being able to pursue my PhD abroad.
At the university, I learned that there were two staff study support programmes for postgraduate degrees, a bumiputra programme and a non-bumiputra programme.
I was so disappointed to learn of this that I left the university in three months. MARA used to give students loans to study abroad, and students used to only pay a percentage of the loan upon completing their studies.
If you had a first class degree, the loan became a scholarship. If you had a second upper degree, you paid 10% and so on. There were also loans for postgraduate studies, but I was not eligible for them.
I am currently completing my PhD through personal funds.
Anxious to find work to support myself, I was invited as a lecturer for Magdalen College, University of Oxford, in my first term at Oxford.
Even my supervisor was amazed by this, as he mentioned that it was unusual for someone to be invited to teach, having just arrived at Oxford.
Extremely pleased with the quality of my teaching, the University of Oxford asked me to continue teaching until the end of my studies.
I was recommended to Brasenose College, University of Oxford, which subsequently appointed me to a more substantial lectureship at the college.
Recognising the quality of my work, Brasenose College Oxford also asked me to help in undergraduate admissions in December.
I will be interviewing students who apply to study Engineering Science at Oxford.
My research has not suffered. My supervisor was surprised that I could not secure a scholarship, and is trying to secure funding for me from the British government.
I have also just been invited to settle down in the UK as a “Highly Skilled Migrant”, a status granted by the British Home Office based on my education, experience and achievements at international level.
I really want to return home as I want to be with my parents and family. Unfortunately, as I need to repay the family loans which helped me to complete my PhD, I will be staying on in the UK to work.
I have been told that any company would be more than willing to employ me, what with a master’s from Imperial and a PhD from Oxford.
I feel unappreciated in Malaysia. I could have contributed so much to the country, especially considering that Malaysia aims to become a regional education hub.
Malaysia’s loss is UK’s gain.
MALAYSIAN OXFORD DON,Oxford,UK.
The second letter, which appeared in the Star on Sept. 12, 2006, is from Canberra:
We need to feel appreciated
LIKE Joanna Ng, “Take our brain-drain problem seriously” (The Star, Sept 11), I am one of the many Malaysians studying in Australia.
Having been here for about a month to pursue a PhD programme at the Australian National University, I can empathise with the feelings of the immigrants and what pull factors make them decide to make this land their permanent residence.
Australia is a home away from home. Asians constitute most of the immigrants here as Australia is geographically nearer to their home countries compared with the US and Britain.
Australia also has an open society that does not discriminate against Asians or other foreigners. This is mainly due to the small population in this vast continent.
The Australian government’s policies favour the immigrants so that they can form an invaluable human resource to engineer the country’s development.
Hence, everything here is based on merit. You do well in your studies, you get the scholarship, regardless of your nationality and ethnicity.
Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about my own country, Malaysia. Though we are almost 50 years into independence, racial and religious segregations still prevail.
These were evidently felt after I left school and went into a public local university as an undergraduate.
It does not really matter whether a country is blessed with natural resources like rubber and petroleum.
Singapore is quite barren in that sense but it is a developed nation. What is priceless and powerful is a country’s human resource.
With abundant brains and energy only can a country’s development go far and be sustained.
And Malaysia is endowed with intelligent people and that is why our overseas students always excel in their fields.
Isn’t it a pity to watch our bright and young people slipping away from the country and contributing their work elsewhere?
Wouldn’t it be great if the Government could attract these good people to return home?
I enjoy many things in Australia that I do not get to in Malaysia. Apart from the handsome scholarship, I get opportunities to do collaborative research with scientists from top universities in the world.
But, like Ng, I know that all this excitement will wane one day and I will be beckoned by that homecoming call.
There is nothing like working and contributing to my own country. And I long to have my family beside me.
Yet, in the meantime, when I am still undecided about my future whereabouts, I hope to see more being done to make non-bumiputra Malaysians feel appreciated in their country, by their country.
SYLVIA HSU-CHEN YIP,Canberra, Australia.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
We could shut the issues in the closet and wait another 20 years to discuss but we will have missed out …Sadirah in a letter to Malaysiakini put it well…
Pak Lah, please don’t tell us to shut up
Sep 4, 06 5:56pm
I hope Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would not advise us from raising sensitive issues. We are currently facing several sensitive issues relating to religion and governance. The government should consider this as appropriate feedback and give the people some assurance. No point just sweeping these issues under the carpet as though they do not exist. Only considered discussions born out of respect will help us move forward. We must thus act and do something and we need an assurance from the government that they are doing so and will come out with appropriate possibilities. Just telling everyone to shut up is no solution in the 21st century after 49 years of independence.
The coalition of NGOs known as Article 11 is committed to embracing, upholding and pursuing the realization of the following principles as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution and Human Rights Conventions:
1. no citizen shall be discriminated on the basis of religion, race, descent, place of birth or gender
2. parents (both mother and father) are equal guardians and have equal say in all respects of the upbringing of children
3. children shall be protected from any form of discrimination on the grounds of religion and in all cases, the interests of children shall be paramount
4. the freedom of thought, conscience and belief for all persons shall be fully respected, guaranteed and protected
5. every citizen has a responsibility to condemn discrimination and intolerance based on religion or belief
6. every citizen has a responsibility to apply religion or belief in support of human dignity and peace
Article 11 is fully committed to upholding those fundamental rights for all Malaysians regardless of religion, race, descent, place of birth or gender.
The role of government is to protect the rights of those who wish to speak, not to quelch speech. All the more when there is opportunity to dialogue on such an important issue facing the nation as the eroding of the Federal Constitution which the founding fathers established as the document for all Malaysians to find protection and refuge.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
We have perhaps lost the urge to strive for excellence. In the 60s and 70s, Malaysia was not only strong in football, but also in hockey and badminton. We also excelled in our studies. Malaysian students who studied overseas regularly topped their classes in universities and colleges. Even our local universities such as MU and USM had very high academic standings in the world. What has happened to us? We need to gain back the urge to do well, to strive for excellence in all our endeavours, not only in sports and in our studies, but also in our courts, our police force, our industries and our businesses.
I have a business in Malaysia and as I see it, the desire for excellence has been replaced by the desire to get rich and get rich quickly. The 80s and 90s were years of phenomenal growth for Malaysia and many of us in our mid 30s and 40s today benefited most from those years. There was much wealing and dealing and there were many who stood in the middle as “consultants” who merely collected a fee for referrals for projects. Basically people who had no value add but to collect a fee.
Furthermore, we as a people became fascinated with bigness, elegance and style not for any commercial or internal value but so that “they (the west) will respect us”. We build the tallest buildings, the first F1 in Asia, the longest, the widest, the fastest, the deepest whatever that could get us any form of world recognition at the expense of our identity, character and national coffers.
It is true what John Adams said ; “I cannot help suspecting that the more elegance, the less virtue in all times and all countries.” We were in such a hurry to be recognized, we failed to build and invest in our human capital. We lost our sense of identity as a hardworking and productive work force. We instead sought grandeur and mega-ness.
John Adams in advise to his grandson had this to say;
“Have you considered the meaning of the word "worthy"? Weigh it well…I had rather you should be worthy possessors of one thousand pounds honestly acquired by your own labor and industry, than of ten millions by banks and tricks.”
Are all that we have achieved as a nation worthy?
Finally, in closing we should wish for our nation this 49th Birthday what John Adams advised his daughter in choosing a spouse:
Daughter! Get you an honest man for a husband, and keep him honest. No matter whether he is rich, provided he be independent. Regard the honor and moral character of the man more than all other circumstances. Think of no other greatness but that of the soul, no riches but that of the heart. An honest, sensible, humane man, above all littleness of vanity and extravagances of imagination, laboring to do good rather than to be rich, to be useful rather than make a show, living in modest simplicity clearly within his means and free from debts and obligations, is really the most respectable man in society, makes himself and all about him most happy.
God Bless Malaysia on this 49th Birthday!
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Saturday morning is a great time to connect with parents over breakfast as I wait for the kids to finish their gymnastics. We exchange notes and talk about….raising kids.
There is a Chinese school in Subang that is obsessed with good academic results to the extent of having extra tuition (mandatory) for those approaching the UPSR (Standard 6 exams). They have their regular school classes in the mornings and then extra tuition classes in the afternoons everyday including Saturday. My family doctor tells me that there are many “black out cases” from this Chinese school when nearing exams. The child comes to her stares blankly at the wall and cannot say a word. I was told that ECA’s (Extra Curricular Activities) in that school is often cancelled in favour of studying for exams.
In case any kiasu parents read this, please think with me in a rational manner for awhile….for the sake of your children.
The standard 6, UPSR exams is only an assessment of the child’s progress before secondary school. Failure does not prevent him from moving on to Form 1…or does it? Getting a B or C is certainly not the end of his career or life which has not even begun. In fact doing well in exams is not any indication of a person’s success in life or in business.
Einstein’s early failures:
- In 1895 Einstein failed an examination that would have allowed him to study for a diploma as an electrical engineer at the Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule in Zurich.
- Following the failing of the entrance exam to the ETH, Einstein attended secondary school at Aarau planning to use this route to enter the ETH in Zurich.
- While at Aarau he wrote an essay (for which was only given a little above half marks!) in which he wrote of his plans for the future.
In fact the very things that are important in a having successful career (assuming that is what we are after) are not taught in school. Things which Daniel Goldman calls the Emotional Quotient (EQ) are far more important in having a successful career. Character qualities like honesty, self control, patience, trustworthiness, meekness and benevolence etc...(www.characterfirst.com)
I think our quest to give our children a good future is now preventing them from having a meaningful childhood which is essential to their life as a responsible adult and citizen. We must relook at what is trully important in life and rethink how we shape this brief formidable years.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Are they signs of a cracking economy? With figures of unemployment at around 60,000; lay offs at MAS, JVC and other factories around Malaysia I tend to think so. Real money is hard to come by and is not circulating as before. Its not hitting the middle income, but the lower income group, the blue collar workers. I do not subscribe to the deficit spending of the last 20 years but real changes has to be made to bring confidence back and foreign investors returning. We have to be competitive once again.
My point was not economics, but to say that many of us in the Klang Valley subscribe to security services. We have done so because the police force is simply incapable of protecting the rakyat and ensuring a level of safety when we go out. The government must begin to revamp the Royal Malaysian Police. I hope the changes implemented go beyond wearing buttons and issuing car stickers.
- The government must pay the police sufficiently so that a RM50 bribe is not worth them taking. Their current salary is meagre income when living in the city. We can built a sports complex in the UK, why can't we pay the police officers a bit more and make the profession more attractive.
-The police force must be re trained to be service oriented to the public. Willingness to help and courteous
- The police force must be equipped with the latest crime solving tools. Every police office should be sufficiently equipped. Better distress call systems and speedy repsonse.
- Instill greater discipline. It appears very tardy when a police officer in uniform is seen smoking. I think police officers in uniform should not be seen smoking. It is bad example to our young and it simply looks unprofessional.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Its no longer safe. Last week as I crossed Jalan Raja Chulan, I eaves dropped in a casual conversation between 3 colleagues. (two men and a lady) The lady said to her colleague, “you still cycle? Its not safe. Get a exercise bike in the house.” There is something very wrong when we cannot even take our bicycles out for a ride around the neighbourhood anymore? It may be an over exaggeration by a fearful young lady, but the chances of being mugged, murdered or mutilated is higher than it was 10 years ago.
I am sure this decline is in tandem to world crime rates as many countires become more urbanized. However, I believe we could do a lot more and lack the resolve to do so. The Police for example do not have the latest in modern equipments to solve crime. We have regressed in this aspect. A simple example is the communication system. 20 years ago, I recall that wherever you are in Malaysia the number for an emergency was “999”. Today, if I was in USJ reporting a crime at the Subang police station, they say, “sorry not my jurisdiction, call USJ beat base. I am not even sure which numbers I am suppose to call.
Many police officers do not have the attitude of providing quality service and respect to each member of the public. Back to the story, of uncle at the Pharmacy who told me that they had a hidden video and was ready to surrender it to the local police station. Uncle however was told to go and process the DVD, take still shots and enlarge it for them. An angry uncle told me, “I must as well catch the bloody robber and hand him in to you.” I wonder if that was the same reply if a Dato got robbed. It’s a horrible thing to say, but unfortunately its true of our Malaysian culture. We do not respect the individual for who he is but for what title he carries.
The Rakyat cannot be accused of not doing their part as Neighbourhood Watch Groups spring up all over the Klang Valley. Security services are hired by households everywhere for fear of getting robbed. I must say that it is infuriating to hear billions of Ringgit wasted because of a shelved project or millions spent on a sports complex in another country when we are in dire need to give the police force better salaries, better equipment and facilities to protect its citizenry.
Keep safe everybody!!!
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Israel's justification is that it is a necessary evil. Its seige on Lebanon is to free itself and Lebanon and the middleeast at large from the influence of Hezbollah. I strongly disagree and tend to believe that Israel has accomplished the exact opposite. Whereas before there were a 100 Hezbollah sympathizers, today you have 1000. Israel's action has succesfully spawned more Hezbollah sympathizers and you will see them regrouping when the fire dies down. Where do you think the men and children who have lost their mothers and fathers and entire families turn to? Where will they channel all that anger and hatred? Who will provide them the platform? If not Hezbollah, it will be another terrorist group. Essentially, Israel is now running a recruitment campaign for the Hezbollah movement.
How do you then fight these terror groups? Many world leaders agree this is not a traditional enemy who has borders and government. Terrorism is an idealogy based on a religious convictions and they (believers) could be anywhere within a nation. The way is for nations to seek them out and to engage with them in dialogue and discussion. This is how I have always seen it on Television. When a group of bad guys hold up in a building with hostages, the SWAT team doesn't go in with guns blazing killing hostages and bad guys together. They don't do that claiming to free the world of bad guys, instead they try to engage the bad guys in a conversation learning as much of him/them as possible and trying to understand his psychi. They pull people who are close to them to try to talk them out of their mission. Usually, the bad guys do this because they have their backs against the wall and getting them to disarm means understanding where they are coming from.
I only pray that the violence will stop and that innocent men, women and children will be spared. I pray for an end to the cycle of hatred in that region.
Monday, July 31, 2006
Bold leadership to allow meaningful dialogue to determine Malaysia’s identity and then to communicate this to the rakyat. The dialogue should be sponsored by the government or its agencies (Malaysia Think Tank) and perhaps not by an interested party ie. "Article 11". There are 3 issues intertwined and which must be answered to clearly define who we are as a nation.
1) Are we secular or theocratic in governance?
2) Is the Federal Constitution the highest law of the land or is the syariah?
3) Clear definitions of race, religion and nationality
I was quite tickled when a little child came up to me to say, I don’t go to church on Sunday, because I am Chinese. In Malaysia there is such a confusion on my race, my religion and my nationality. I think politicians have made this even more confusing, but it is very simple; A Chinese is not always a budhist and an Indian is not always a Hindu. The jury is still out on whether a Malay is always a Muslim. This is a question that the malay community in Malaysia must dialogue to agree. If the Federal Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Federation, then it actually does not specifically spell out that a malay is synonymous to Muslim.
According to the Federal Constitution…here an excerpt of part I:
(1) Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.
(2) In every State other than States not having a Ruler the position of the Ruler as the Head of the religion of Islam in his State in the manner and to the extent acknowledged and declared by the Constitution, all rights, privileges, prerogatives and powers enjoyed by him as Head of that religion, are unaffected and unimpaired; but in any acts, observance or ceremonies with respect to which the Conference of Rulers has agreed that they should extend to the Federation as a whole each of the other Rulers shall in his capacity of Head of the religion of Islam authorize the Yang di-pertuan Agong to represent him.
(3). The Constitution of the States of Malacca, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak shall each make provision for conferring on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall be Head of the religion of Islam in that State.
(4) Nothing in this Article derogates from any other provision of this Constitution.
(5) Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall be the Head of the religion of Islam in the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan; and for this purpose Parliament may by law make provisions for regulating Islamic religious affairs and for constituting a Council to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in matters relating to the religion of Islam.
(1) This Constitution is the supreme law of the Federation and any law passed after Merdeka Day which is inconsistent with this Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.
Under the Fundamental Liberties section; it states :
(1) Every person has the right to profess and practice his religion and, subject to Clause (4), to propagate it.
More on the constitution of Malaysia:
The question therefore left is are we Secular or Theocratic. The way our founding fathers intended it to be in 1957 as outlined in this sacred document; is clearly a secular state governed by the highest law of the land; The Federal Constitution of Malaysia.
Friday, July 21, 2006
I was hoping that this pop icon revered by millions of teenagers and adults would quietly marry this man and live happily ever after without much fuss or do. Am I an old fashion man or is this society really breaking down? Why is the women’s affairs minister so quiet? Sure its all provided for in the religous system, and done accroding to the law, but surely its got to be a social issue somebody's concern about. Surely? Sisters in Islam? Marina Mahathir? Sharizat?Somebody?
Are we to be happy that this man who recently divorced his wife and mother of his 4 children to marry a young beautiful, famous singer of malay love songs? I cannot paint the both of them to be heroes to my children, I am sorry. The two of them getting married is really none of my business but when it makes headlines in front of all the other news, there is a subtle message. That our glamour girl has found herself an instant family!! Hurray!! I presume the newspapers wants all and sundry to celebrate and be happy for this couple. I think instead all malaysian women should feel insecure that their husband’s is fair game for younger women and Malaysian men - that there are families out there broken as a result.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
There seem to be such a turn off when it comes to any form of political involvement. Maybe the term is not "political involvement" since that arouses a sense of political partisanship. ie.Pas member or BN or Keadilan which leads to divisiveness in a community. So maybe the term should be a "collective voice speaking up for issues in ones community, the weak and the downtrodden in society." Since we don't have local elections, there must be some other way for us, the people to provide checks and balance to the local municipals and governments. If we, the people are not involved or ensure a level of "noise" is heard, then the capitalists, the investors, the money driven buisnessmen will develop that empty land as a shopping mall in front of your house, that bridge connecting other housing developments to your quiet neighbourhood, the robbing of our parks for development, the raping of our forest for timber money and the incinerator in your neighbourhood. The reason is if we, the people do not court the politicians, the capitalists and businessmen will. Its not their fault, they just"cari makan", but the boundaries should be defined by government.
Don't be political, but make yourself heard and care for the weak and downtrodden in our society. The Moorthy's, the Lina Joys, the indiscriminate demolishing of indian temples, the Ahmad Hafizals (arrested for not joining the National service but revealed that he and his family were hardcore poor) and the Jamal Haruns (put their baby up for sale so that their eldest daughter could go for operation). The involvement could be as small as writing to a local newspaper (online or paper) or joining an NGO or political party which stands up for your ideals...but the idea is making "noise".
Its not that bad really, ...Here is a couple of defi
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Does TV turn people off politics?
Television news programmes may be contributing to current political apathy, according to a new report funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. An in-depth study of more than 5600 TV news reports in both Britain and the US between September 2001 and February 2002 reveals that the news media may be encouraging a disengaged citizenry by representing the public as generally passive and apolitical.
"This study was prompted by growing concern about the poor and declining voter turnout in both Britain and the United States," explains Professor Justin Lewis of Cardiff University. "Although we have recently seen people taking part in huge protests – whether for the countryside or against the war – this engagement doesn't seem to connect to an interest in representative politics."
The report asks what model of citizenship the news media provides. Crucially, do the news media encourage or discourage citizens to engage with politics and public life?"
Researchers analysed news reports for any reference to public opinion, whether through polls, 'vox pops', demonstrations, or simply off the cuff remarks made about what people think about the world. Some of the findings, suggests Professor Lewis, are surprising.
Many assume that the main form of public representation in the media is the opinion poll. In fact, less than 2 per cent of references to public opinion on British television involve polls or surveys of any kind.
The most common references to public opinion (44 per cent) are inferences – claims made (generally by reporters) without any supporting evidence.
Similarly 'vox pops', the second most common category (39 per cent) often appear to provide an impression about public opinion, but are rarely based on survey data.
Demonstrations, or other examples of citizen activism are rarely used as a source of public opinion (less than 3 per cent).
Public opinion in Europe is almost completely ignored, especially in British media.
"Polls, for all their flaws, are the most systematic form of evidence we have about what people think about the world – yet they're used surprisingly rarely in television news," Professor Lewis points out. "While television often refers to public opinion, these results suggest that we rarely hear any evidence for the claims being made."
Similarly striking is the extent to which citizens are represented as non-ideological. In the sample, 95 per cent of references in Britain (90 per cent in the US) expressed no clear political leaning at all – even though the most common subjects of references to public opinion such as health, crime and terrorism, are all matters of political debate. Overall, only around 5 per cent of references to public opinion on British news involve citizens making suggestions about what should be done in the world.
The report argues this risks conveying an impression of a citizenry either unable or unwilling to put forward a political view. Instead, the most common type of citizen representation is a member of the public talking about their experiences, impressions or fears. According to Lewis, "On television, citizens may raise problems, but it's left to politicians or experts to offer solutions."
The research team acknowledge that many in the news media and politics are concerned about public apathy in politics and that there is now a willingness among the media to broadcast citizens playing a more active role in political debate. "This might involve some radical departures from time-honoured conventions, but it might also be a prerequisite for engaging a population increasingly disenchanted with political parties," Professor Lewis concludes.
The report was written by Professor Justin Lewis, Dr. Karin Wahl-Jorgensen and Sanna Inthorn.
For further information:Contact Professor Justin Lewis on 02920 876341 or 02920 651905, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.orgOr Lesley Lilley or Anna Hinds at ESRC, on 01793 413119/413122
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
……Certainly for many of the well educated and sophisticated and well-to-do, the world is their oyster and the simple option is to vote with their feet... How many people have the fire in the belly to change the world ??
What we have in SEA is a well educated citizenry who value freedom of expression and who think about the future of their next generation. They have one of two choices. Stay and fight the system or run and seek greener pastures. The general consensus is that my vote or participation does not matter.
It is a trend all over the world with studies done in UK and the US showing greater political apathy in these countries. Why is it that affluence and education causes greater political apathy or is this too simple a deduction?
I have a few ideas, in short, the reasons for the lack of “fire in the belly”:
1) Individualism and consumerism causes people to be more disenfranchised with his/her community. “Whatever does not affect me is ok.”
2) There was a study sighting Television ( I will try to find and post)
3) “Food in the belly” replaces “fire in the belly”. As long as there are basic needs met, people will not stand up for social issues.
4) A general degradation of integrity and issues of morality worldwide. Our tolerance for wrong doing and questions of integrity is numbed.
Any truth? Which one?
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Which is not to say that "guided democracies"cannot yield decent economic success eg SG but will more frequently end up like Indo, Phil, Thai, Msia...where a very small number benefit heavily at the expense of the entire country (although not quite yet as bad as the dictatorships of Africa as pretences have to kept up...) and the inefficiencies inherent in such a system is a powerful drain on the country economically...
I think the founding fathers of Malaysia and Singapore (who are still around) have a very paternalistic view of the nation. Perhaps born out of responsibility since they were involved in the process of birthing the nation (for LKY directly involved). Their goal was to bring the young nations from the back waters to a successful country with strong economic growth. To ensure this, they needed “political stability” and a security in their own positions as leader of the nation. Hence, the legacies of the Sukarnos/Suhartos, Marcos, Kuan Yew and Mahathirs of SEA.
They had to strip away any elements of democracy that could see them losing a grip on power and so the journey to amending (read dismantling) the constitutions of their respective nations. They had to justify this by claiming a cause/struggle so that the end justified the means.
So in the 90s, we saw a boom in these economies, the “asian tigers” they called them. They were “guided democracies” which yielded decent economic success. They took pride in the fact that it was the “asian way”, Mahathir’s favourite song “My Way” and suddenly the world took notice. Books were written on the asian miracle. (The asian renaissance – Anwar Ibrahim) The sudden economic boom was in large part because of the privatization of government agencies in these countries. The government then handed over moneys to these newly privatized companies and conglomerates to provide electricity, water, build highways, monorails, airports and bridges and other mega projects. These privatized companies flourished with little accountability and good governance (except perhaps Singapore). Many little companies which spawned from these government projects became highly leveraged expecting the government payments to come shortly. Many political leaders themselves had vested interest and were proxies for these companies. Unfortunately, we know what happened in the asian financial crises and the rest is history…
In truth, if we could learn from the western democracies, it is better for government to do just that; govern. Ensure a level playing field and leave business to businesses. Maybe once the old guards, the LKYs and the Mahathirs have left and their influence no more, maybe there will be more acceptance of basic human rights and checks and balance and separation of powers and all the good stuff of democracy. Indonesia for example, after Suharto and ++ finally have their first directly elected President which now makes Indonesia the biggest Islamic democracy in the world.
Am I a hopeless optimist or what?
Monday, June 26, 2006
In Malaysia, I have a little amber of hope, partly because of the turn of events in the last 9 years beginning with the expulsion and persecution of a malay holding the second highest office in Malaysia. Suddenly, the nation was not divided along racial lines (at least politically) but along the ruling elite, who are in BN's favour and the masses, who are ordinary folks trying to make ends meet. There were chinese dominated parties like DAP who supported and fought for Anwar's release. There were budhists monks who visited Anwar's family to offer prayers for his release. In 1998, there was a malay (islam) opposition leader in Parliament and the BN and UMNO were caught off foot as now, their threat of May 13, 1969 (racial fighting) which they have used to win elections since 1969 no longer works.
The second reason for my optimism is that the people's needs are much more sophisticated now. Although many still talk about making ends meet especially in the rural heartlands, the growing middle class talk about issues of justice, freedom of expression, corruption and quality of life and the environment. I presume that this is the natural progress of any nation seeking economic prosperity. The government therefore have to focus on these issues which many "genuine democracies" in the west cherish as part of their heritage.
The thrid is that the post-Mahathir era is definitely more liberalised. Definitely not as combative as before. 10 years ago, I daren't write about these issues in public forum for fear of persecution from the Special Branch. Even in the government controlled newspapers (I call them Berita BN) these days there are articles critical of the government institutions. It is in this environment that the opposition is able to make their stand heard more and begin to gather some form of support.
The main issue for many who have fled Malaysia for greener pastures is the racial discrimination. That is plain and simple. My contention is that this can only get better (it is now that bad) unless the ruling elite is wanting to see racial riots and civil unrest. The racial climate in Malaysia exist because of the racial policies of the BN government. It is a political party that exist to keep peace among the racial groups. Their popularity depends on how well they "play the game of balancing". When the ordinary malay folk see that its not the chinese stealing their rights to wealth but the "well connected" Dato from the ruling elite their eyes are suddenly opened. Is the recent protest and bloodshed against the petrol hike a fight between the "peasants" and the "politbureau"?
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Yet, there are elections although not quite free and fair with evidences of vote buying, ballot box rigging and other dubious forms of winning which only the incumbent can do with the cooperation of the Election Commission, media, police, and military. The people are not allowed peaceful demonstration which is one of the tenets to democracy nor avenues to express oneself without fear of retribution. This of course varies from regime to regime and nation to nation. There is a Parliament and lively debates do occur, however futile it is to shelf the Executives policies. Dr. Mahathir referred to it as a "mere rubberstamp."
I believe Lee Kuan Yew called this system of government -“guided democracy”. The founding fathers have put it upon themselves as the guardian of peace and growth for the nation. The believe is that the new state needs stability for growth and a change in government is not stability. They delve into politics and business in the believe that it is necessary for the economic growth of the nation be it to the detriment of the nation. Yet for the international stage and trade purposes they allow "opposition parties" to exist. If the opposition speaks too much, the full might of the government will be upon them at lightning speed.
In Singapore, the wife of the Finance Minister and now Prime Minister, Ho Cheng heads Temasek Group. How does the wife of perhaps the most powerful man in Singapore be found heading one of the largest corporations in Singapore. Temasek has reported to losses of $550 million recently. In Malaysia, we have our very own Scomi Berhad, headed by the son of the Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Scomi revenue increased 42% and share price increased 64% since listing in May 2003. Is it a coincidence that PM Badawi also took office that same year. His son-in law also has shares in ECM Libra, one of the biggest investment banks in Malaysia. Thailand’s Thaksin has his hand in a multiple of businesses as well.
How will foreign investments ever flow in to such a volatile economy where the life of a business is so closely linked to the political stability of a particular leader or political party. To the west, this is called "conflict of interest". You cannot be the referee and the player of a football match at the same time. It is hard enough to be seemingly unbiased just being the referee alone. How would foreign investments flow in freely when government is so involved in business? It is time governments in Southeast Asia favour a true market economy where government is meant to referee the playing field only and not play football. So that the smaller and weaker players can have fair game and the economy do not depend on the life and popularity of a politician.
The US founding fathers upon writing the constitution believed that "man is inherently sinful or bad." When left to themselves they will tend towards evil. Therefore, it is necessary for checks and balance within government by the various branches of government. It is necessary that there is no aboslute power and therefore there is the route of impeachment even for the President of the United States.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
The reason for all this is a simple Malaysian disease called "Close one eye" syndrome. Its ok, close one eye, let it go, tak apa..... Hence we get uncompleted projects, unmaintained toilets and public amenities, haze every year, accidents on the roads from unmaintained busses and lorries and buses which spew black smoke...destroying our beautiful environment. Incidentally it is hard to acheieve 2020 vision when you've got a Close one eye (COE) atitude!
......When making a police report, we were advised that Bluewater had been receiving a large number of summonses during the day mainly for this practice of overloading and we were further advised that cross-decking of passengers is only allowed under the direct supervision of the maritime authorities. This operator shows a blatant disregard for passenger safety, their arrogance and the high-handed manner they deal with their clients has to be experienced to be believed. At the very least, the captains of Bluewater ferries 8 and 9 should have their certification revoked, their comments and attitudes show them to be quite unfit to hold a position of any responsibility. One can only surmise, as on this occasion they were lucky. Should an accident have occurred, they would no doubt be running for cover and pointing the finger of blame everywhere except at the people it should be pointed at, themselves. Issuing summonses against the operator is a joke. Any paltry fine likely as the outcome of this weekend’s shenanigans will be far outweighed by the collections from fare-paying clients they regard as so much cattle. Again at the very least, this company’s licence to operate should be revoked with immediate effect, and thus send a message to all ferry services that such downright dangerous practice and poor service attitudes will no longer be tolerated. The real losers here are the Tourism Board of Malaysia, and the resorts and diving operators on Tioman, whose hard work has been wasted. We as a group will not return to this location, you can be certain that word-of-mouth from such a large group of people will dissuade even larger numbers of people to change their vacation locations to elsewhere. How long can such poor service be tolerated? Or are the authorities simply waiting to react to a large-scale disaster involving one of these cowboy operators before wringing their hands and saying they were not aware of the situation?
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
"The thought that the top 10 percent of the richest Malaysians are earning more than 20 times compared to the 90 percent of the population is terrifying. What has become of this nation that promised a just distribution of wealth at the onset of Independence?
I have a perspective to resolve the issue of the Indian community. The Malays and the Chinese too need to help the Indians progress. Malay and Chinese multimillionaires and billionaires can set up grants to help the poor Indians succeed in all fields of human endeavour. The Malays can get Mara (Majlis Amanah Rakyat) to share ideas, expertise and technology to make Indian children succeed and learn entrepreneurship skills. The same strategies of affirmative action given to the Malays must be extended to the Indians and designed for their children. The Chinese can help with sharing of good business strategies that will help the Indian community create opportunities for their children. Indian graduates can continue to help the children of the less fortunate ones see the importance of education so that we will not see high dropout rates. "
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
I had 3 picture frames which I was planning to put up at my exhibition booth, and they had to double check that it was ok.
I enjoyed the fresh air for a change and clear blue skies! Wish Malaysia could get rid of the soot spewing trucks and busses that ply our highways everyday!
Monday, February 20, 2006
It is funny to hear people say that Anwar Ibrahim will never have a chance at being Prime Minister outside of UMNO. It is even funnier to hear people say that we should be grateful for our government. In Malaysia, we have only seen one political party in government and as a result we the people do not understand the fundamentals of democracy and our parliamentary system.
We have not realized that we, the people elect the government to serve and to uphold the constitution of the country. We are fearful to understand what may lie ahead should we ever have a change in government. However, a mature democracy ensures the right of the people to change governments according to the majority of the people. The US alone had a republican in office in 1980 (the same time as Dr Mahathir), a democrat in 1992 and now a republican again in 2000. We not only had the same government we had the same leader in that 20 year span! This is nothing really to be proud off. By having a change in government, it puts the onus on the government and his leader to perform. To govern with the highest calling of his office.
The opposition in Malaysia in the last 2 decades have been seen as subversive elements and many have been arrested under the Internal Security Act. A threat to national security it seems. Now, our Dr Mahathir says it is not good to have too weak an opposition. In the UK, the opposition is known as Her Majesty’s Opposition party. They are recognized as government in waiting.
It is not impossible therefore for Malaysia who claims parliamentary democracy to have a change in government one day for the mark of a mature democracy is smooth transition of power. This is only possible if the police and the Royal Malaysian army and armed forces and civil services understand their role as civil servants in nation building and protecting the constitution. The result of almost 5 decades of rule is the blurriness between BN the political party and the seat of government which is an elected office. The blurriness extends to the civil servants who see themselves as BN officers rather than the Malaysian government.
We must educate our young on the freedom of choice and with it comes the responsibility of electing a government that truly upholds and protects the freedom of all Malaysian people through the rule of law and ensures the sacredness of the Constitution of Malaysia.
So it should never be said that it is impossible for Anwar Ibrahim to be Prime Minister. He who says that, says democracy is dead in Malaysia. That our election is a farce and the rakyat will never have a say. I would like to believe that elections in Malaysia is free and fair and that any party can one day hold office in government and on the flip side any government who fails to protect the constitution and the Malaysian people by protecting their rights could be removed from government.
When tenders are bypassed. When a phone call is made to influence a decision when under table money is passed to decision makers; the most proficient and efficient contractor is side stepped for the one with the better offerings or contact. This is how we get hospitals with fungus, bridges deemed unsafe, roads not made to spec, parks turned into housing developments and trees feld without permission. This is why we have increasing health cost, toll plazas from "money losing companies", degenerating green lung, haze, pollution, cancer, sickness. All because of corruption.
The PMs National Integrity Plan , a breath of fresh air is now a mere mirage. Integrity is who you are when no one is looking. Malaysians need to know the effects of what they do. China was abound in local municipal corruption. In the last year, they have cracked down on many and I hear a local mayor near Shanghai was shot by firing squad for taking government funds. Things are changing and all of suddeen there is law an order. There is still a long way to go for China but the important thing is there is a crackdown and an intolerance to corruption. Maybe we won't shoot our corrupt leaders and civil servants but lets do the minimum by exposing them and weeding them out of their positions. Enough of mere talk!