Monday, July 31, 2006

1/2 Century old - we must answer "Who are we"?

Malaysia will celebrate its 49th year of independence in a months time. As it approaches half a century old, Malaysia is faced with a serious identity crises. Who are we? There are pending court cases that would determine our future as a nation. What is needed in this hour of turning is Leadership.

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

Kak SN and Datuk K should remain anonymous...

I woke up this morning as is the habit to look at the CNN and BBC channel to get a quick glimpse of events in the world. It was sad to hear hundreds of people losing their lives and thousands displaced from their homes in the last 4 days from war in Lebanon, floods in China and the Tsunami in Indonesia. Then I arrive in my office and see on the front page of The STAR, not the war in Lebanon or the floods in China, neither the killer Tsunami in Indonesia. Definietly not Matthias Chang reply to the government’s explanation on the crooked bridge negotiations with Singapore. Not even one of Pak Lah’s catchy phrases for the day. Instead, what is supposed to be the wedding of the year. Kak Siti and the mysterious Datuk "K".

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

From Political 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".

Its not that bad really, ...Here is a couple of defi

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Here's the article I promised : TV cause of political apathy

Contact: Anna & Social Research Council
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: Lesley Lilley or Anna Hinds at ESRC, on 01793 413119/413122

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Why no fire in the belly..?

The comments so far received from previous postings were “yes, we know there is injustice”. “yes we know there is blatant corruption and the lack of democracy”. The question is so what? What can be done? There is general political apathy and I am not sure why. As HM aptly pointed out…. (sorry to have to highlight again your comment, but it is so relevant…)

……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?