Featured Sociopolitical Stories

Enticing M'sians to come home


He left Penang for Taiwan in the early 90s after failing to get a place in a local university.

From the money his parents occasionally sent him, he somehow managed to graduate with an honours degree in molecular biology - and a scholarship to research molecular biology in New York, then a doctorate at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

His journey is one of many untold stories of Malaysians who have left, but will sometimes look back for signs of a system change back home. I met up with him, a childhood friend, last year in Boston.

As always, when emigrants meet, we reflect on what we are now from where we were. We think of friends who did not have the chance to leave. We think of parents, who had to hock whatever precious things they could sacrifice to send their 16-year-old son or daughter to a private college and, hopefully, overseas. Among those who left, many stayed on in the new country to carve out a new life.

NONEFor decades now we know that Malaysians, mainly professionals with postgraduate degrees, have settled in Australia through the skills and business migration programs. The top professional groups that left Malaysia for Australia in 2009 were: doctors, accountants, retail pharmacists, civil engineers, computing professionals, chefs and mechanical engineers. Others were students who ended up staying after completing their university degrees.

In March 2009, almost 19,000 Malaysians were studying in Australia - most of them in Melbourne and Sydney.

Talent Corporation

For decades now our government knows why its citizens are leaving. The Talent Corporation, initiated by the prime minister under the 10th Malaysia Plan, hopes to attract home some of the 700,000 Malaysians overseas.

As reported in NST (June 11), "Under the plan, the government will issue open-ended visas to foreign workers earning more than RM8,000 a month and ease restrictions, allowing them to buy cheaper homes costing RM250,000 and above.

They will also have the flexibility to change jobs in Malaysia. They will be allowed to bring in foreign maids and their spouses will be allowed to work, none of which is possible now."

gold coast beach australiaNaturally, Malaysian emigrants do find their place in Australian society rather quickly after overcoming the initial trepidations of their new cultural environment and having the freedom of choice, fair opportunities, accountable public service, social security, clean healthy environment and fair minimum wage for a fair day's work.

A 2009 country profile of Malaysia by the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship notes:

"There is a substantial income differential between Australia and Malaysia. On a purchasing power parity basis, GDP per capita in 2008 was US$38,100 for Australia compared with US$15,200 for Malaysia. Australia also ranks higher than Malaysia in respect of human development.

A recent United Nations study examining the achievements of its 182 member countries in terms of life expectancy, access to education and per capita GDP study, gave Malaysia a ranking of 66. In comparison Australia was ranked second internationally, just behind Norway."

Not just money

The odds are certainly stacked against the Talent Corporation. If the Malaysian diaspora are to come home, the deciding factors go beyond an attractive financial package.

Most emigrants would have made enough to live comfortably in Malaysia. Their needs are more fundamental than money. They're concerned with public safety, public health service, a sense of belonging, a sense of personal safety, quality of education, politics, fair opportunities - these are everyday concerns of every citizen that must be addressed if the corporation is to accomplish its mission.

statue of liberty 290805As my friend noted, "The tertiary educational infrastructure (in the US) is so conducive to learning and collaborative research that it attracts researchers from all over the world, and that drives the technological advances we see today."

The international reputation of Malaysian tertiary sector, however, has continually suffered from declining standards in its research output, teaching outcomes and student quality.

Can expatriate Malaysian academics, with their overseas experience and connections, see any reason to come home and work with their local colleagues to help stem the slide?

What needs to be done

Recently, I received a survey questionnaire from a Malaysian academic. One of the questions was: "If you were consulted by the government to recommend how to bring our academic talents home and create a world-class academic and research environment in Malaysia, what would you say?" I responded thus:

1. Repeal the UUCA. The Universities & University Colleges Act since 1974 has prevented more than a generation of students and academics from engaging freely in robust political, philosophical, cultural debates and activism within and outside of academia.

This must change. Universities are places of higher learning, enquiry and research where academics and students should feel free to express, confront and challenge ideas in public without any fear of being pulled up by the police, the ministry or the university executive.

2. Universities must be held accountable for the quality of its teaching, learning outcomes and graduates because universities are public institutions funded by taxpayers and government subsidies.

Professional courses, for example, in medicine, law, engineering, accounting, nursing, and so forth must be accredited by independent professional bodies to ensure the standards of its curricula and research output relative to benchmarks described by overseas institutions. Universities should consider using external examiners (local and foreign) for higher research degrees.

3. The government should publish audit reports of the teaching and research quality in Malaysian universities. These audits are to be conducted by independent authoritative agencies. The reports should indicate clear quality benchmarks (by discipline areas) of teaching, curriculum content, student learning, academic profile, student-staff ratio, research outcomes, graduate attributes, standards of the degrees, teaching/research resources.

The reports will provide a comprehensive picture of where each university stands in its respective discipline area relative to its history and resources, for example, in medicine, humanities, hard sciences and social sciences.

Apart from spurring 'competition' among local universities, which will effectively raise the level of performance and discourage complacency, the benchmarks will also change the public perception of an entrenched culture of mediocrity in Malaysian universities.

4. Provide a clear career path for academics where promotions are determined by objective criteria as identified by the external audit reports, student evaluation of teaching, research outcomes, refereed and non-refereed publications, and community engagement. Research funding allocations should also be determined by similar criteria. Race, religion, political affiliation and seniority must never be the criteria for appointments, promotions and research funding.

5. Theoretically, the intake of students should be based on merit. In reality I understand it's more complicated because of our history of affirmative policies and the quota system. Thus, the quota system should gradually be eased off and out to provide fair opportunities for all qualified students - regardless of race and religion - to apply for their chosen courses.

The beneficiaries of affirmative action policies, however, need not necessarily be disadvantaged. They will be allowed to enrol in bridging courses, and through effective teaching and training, achieve the required results before being allowed to begin their first year of studies.

Compulsory history in school: A hidden agenda?


I can't think of a country where history is a compulsory examination subject.
Compulsory or not, it is good that our children know the history of their country, but only if it is the objective version - one that scrupulously keeps to the facts.

Be that as it may, (the move) in itself it is not a bad thing but what we have to fear is the hidden agenda in this ruling.

Not too long ago an MCA member of parliament to his credit brought up the issue of school children being fed national history which is full of inaccuracies.

He was shouted down by his Umno partners while the leaders in his own party distanced themselves from him - fearing the wrath of Mahathir Mohammed, the prime minister of the day.

The issue of teaching history has come up again; and again the MCA grassroots have made noise about it.

The problem is as always, political leaders have their positions and perks to protect and so they keep quiet. The deputy minister of education, an MCA man, dares not go against his boss the minister of education.

But at least MCA has squeaked, that is more than what Gerakan, MIC and the others have done.

The opposition parties are as guilty by their silence.

In the face of the hidden agenda of the government - read Umno - this silence of our legislators brings with it long term consequences that will have far reaching effects.

What's the hidden agenda?

The hidden agenda is the imprinting in the minds of our children and future generations the notion of Ketuanan Melayu vis a vis the others.

It is an attempt to establish in the minds of these highly impressionable children that the Malays are the original inhabitants of this country (which they are not) while the others are merely 'pendatang', and therefore one is entitled (as the original owner) to more rights and privileges than the others - the 'guests'.

This is a shameful and insidious move to imprint in these young minds their version of history and in particular Article 153 of the constitution.

For decades now the Biro Tata Negara (BTN) has been brainwashing all participants on the Malays' superior position. However most BTN participants are Malays; this does not change the mindset of the vast majority of the population.

The government realises that doing it this way is too slow. Hence this new edict regarding making history a compulsory exam subject.

In this way every child shall be indoctrinated with a national history that is skewed towards one race. Within two or three generations every Malaysian will accept as historical fact what is essentially false.

If you tell a lie often enough soon it becomes the perceived truth - the government is only too aware of that.

Already we have teachers and principals spouting their personal take of the position of the different communities with impunity. This piece of legislation (to make History a compulsory exam subject) gives them unbridled licence.

Contrary to the general perception, good history is never written by the victors. Good history is based on broad facts - not selected facts. Opinions when given, come from all sides.

Short of that it is propaganda and forcing students to take it is forced indoctrination or brainwashing.

What is racist and what is not?

It is true that we do not have the discrimination of colour of apartheid South Africa or the USA in the Fifties and Sixties.

By and large the different communities get along - granted that lately this is more on a superficial level between the Malays and the others.

But this is the galling thing: here we have a multi-racial country where people get along and do not discriminate on skin colour, ethnicity or religion; yet we have a government that is intent on dividing the communities by way of a dual citizenship, and racial discrimination disguised as 'affirmative action'. Where does 'affirmative action' stop and racial discrimination begin?

I put it that any discrimination based on 'race' - be it for political or economic reasons - is 'racist'; it need have nothing to do with skin colour. To say that one is bumiputra and the other is not - based on ethnicity - is racist.

Those who try to hide behind the screen of 'affirmative action' has a job explaining why the 'have-nots' of other races are being neglected.

Affirmative action is colour-blind.

To use a narrow definition of 'racism' as Chandra Muzzafar has done is not helpful; the subtlety between that and something else is lost on someone who is jobless and hungry because of his race.

Try explaining to a fourth generation non-bumiputera Malaysian that it is not 'racism' when he is discriminated against while a 'newly- arrived' with the right ethnic credentials are granted privileges he is not entitled to.

When 'bumiputeraism' first surfaced, Tun Ismail was against it. While he was for 'affirmative action' he predicted that such a classification of citizenship would divide the people, and so it has! The teaching of a skewed history will do the same.

Politicos becoming iPad crazy

For the well-dressed MP: iPads to go

Nowadays many MPs are carrying IPAD. MP Nibong Tebal YB Tan Tee Beng used IPAD when he was participating in the debate.
Wee Ka Siong, deputy education minister
on Twitter yesterday evening

But is it for status, for show, for Facebook, Twitter and email, for games, or sexy pictures, or real stuff? Like, work?

Canadian ministers to get iPads for work
Move cuts 6-10kg of paperwork a week, they say

Cabinet members in Saskatchewan getting iPads to reduce paper use
from the unofficial iPad blog

The Canadian Broadcasting Company is reporting that 18 Canadian cabinet ministers and five senior staff members in the province of Saskatchewan are receiving iPads in an attempt to get a handle on the costly consumption of paper. With the cost of the 64GB 3G iPad running about CDN$879 plus fees and taxes, the initial cost of the iPads will run about CDN$23,000. However, the government expects that double that amount will be saved in the first year alone, since paper and printing costs will be cut drastically, and fewer courier runs will be required to deliver physical documents.

One senior official in the premier’s office noted that he’ll save 68 boxes of paper in his office alone in the first year. He noted that a single cabinet minister can often be loaded down with six to 10 kilograms of paper in a typical week. The government officials believe that the security provided by the iPad is sufficient for their needs. Unfortunately, there’s no information available on just how much money will be wasted by all of the ministers playing Angry Birds HD during cabinet meetings (we kid!).”


Social Contract & 1Malaysia

PM Najib Razak should know that he cannot have the whole cake and eat it. He cannot champion the 'social contract' and promote 1Malaysia at the same time. It would be a hard sell. These two concepts are contradictory.

1Malaysia speaks of unity and equality. 1Malaysia should focus on the primacy and importance of citizenship. Malaysians should be proud of their nation and society. 1Malaysia is consistent with the vision of our forefathers to ensure that Malaysia develops as a secular democratic country.

However, his party had attempted to distort history, create an imaginary multi-tiered society of bumiputera Malay, non-Malay bumiputera, Chinese, Indian and others. His speech at the recent Umno generally assembly intended to stop this twisted notion of social structure and class from being properly debated by researchers, intellectuals and general public.

Years of social intoxication under Umno rule has made it almost impossible for any concept/vision such as Vision 2020, Bangsa Malaysia, 1Malaysia or a just and democratic society to work. The interpretation of Umno's social contract has created a generation of Malay students in one race institutions who are ignorant of the nation's history and its socio-political development. Click on this video to watch an example.

His administration, past administrations and his party annual assemblies have been repeating the same mantra of Malay supremacy, Malay rights and the social contract.

The fact that Umno has failed to acknowledge that Malay competitiveness is being eroded due to this false shield of Malay supremacy is the biggest sin committed by the party in order to sustain its grip on political power.

Malay students are make to believe that they do not have to excel in their studies because they have special birth rights and direct claim to the wealth and resources of this country.

They believe an easy passage in life is being laid for them by the government because they are special and supreme.

The so! cial con tract mantra promoted by Umno to get whole sale Malay support is going to erode the Malays socio-economic position in the future. Without real capability, knowledge, skill and communication ability, this special status is not going to help any Malay becoming a successful global citizen.

Malays should not blame other races for not being able to compete in the private sector. The rule of the game in private sector is merit based. There is no special quota or privileges. All participants have to play and accept the same rules.

Sadly, the more Najib preaches about the social contract the worse his reform credibility gets. A reformer should understand how this social contract is poisoning his own community.

Yes, I do agree with some Umno delegates on the 30 percent quota. Why just 30%? Like many others, I would like to see more capable Malays and would be happy if they can earn more than the 30% share of equity through their own capability, business acumen and know-how.

It is time this government stops flip-flopping. Between 1Malaysia and Social Contract ala Umno, the PM should just choose one. He cannot have the whole cake and eat it.
See What Barisan Nasional Gotta Say?

Malaysia’s towering ambition

It wasn’t so long ago that we finished building the Petronas Twin Towers. Personally I like them and feel that they’ve defined KL’s skyline in a positive way. Plus, I was quite addicted to KLCC when it first opened — a nice, bright shopping mall near my house, with lots and lots and lots of shops to wander in and out of? What’s not to like?

The thought of the Warisan Merdeka Tower, however, fills me with horror. A 100-storey tower in KL?

I know our second finance minister has asked us to “examine the merits” of the proposed tower and not condemn it outright, but try as I might, I really can’t see much benefit in this tower. Sure, it’ll provide some investment, money and jobs. But so will any number of other infrastructure projects (say, building a monorail that serves the people of Melaka, rather than the tourists of Melaka).

I really don’t get the rationale behind this tower proposal. Apparently, it’s to be a symbol of a “modern and developed” Malaysia. Hmm. Does the government seriously think that a tower will show the world that we’re now developed? Once upon a time, that might have been true. These days though, it seems to me that it’s the arriviste countries that insist on building ever-taller towers.

To me, it takes a lot more than simply a gaggle of tall towers and high income to signify that a country has reached developed nation status. Most developed countries allow free and fair elections, a free media and some form of social welfare. Will we be able to achieve any of these by 2020? I leave that to you to decide. Furthermore, what is the proposed use of this tower? Is KL so short of office space that we need to build a huge tower?

My heart further sank when I read that the tower will also include a shopping complex and condominiums. So not only is KL in (apparently) dire need of office space, but the city also needs yet another shopping mall and yet another clutch of expensive condos?

Let me tell you — I am an ex-BBGSian (Bukit Bintang Girls School). For those of you who live outside KL that might not mean much, but the KL-ites amongst you will know that my old school, which was established in 1893 and had been at the Bukit Bintang site since 1930, was sacrificed to make way for the Pavilion.

A historic old school, one of the best in KL, torn down to make way for another shopping complex with pricey shops (as if Malaysians buy so much at Gucci and Prada that we need more than one outlet within 10 minutes’ drive of each other) and condos which the average Malaysian can’t afford. My guess is the Warisan Merdeka Tower will emulate previous big projects like KLCC and the Pavilion, which means that most Malaysians will be able to afford neither the condos nor the office rent.

What’s more, looking at the project site I see that it will border Victoria Institution (VI). I also know that there are other schools nearby. Being next to a building site is not good for a school — it’s dusty, noisy and disruptive. What’s more worrying though is where will all this end? Once the tower is built, who’s to say that the lands around it won’t be re-gazetted, and the next thing you know schools like VI and Methodist Boys’ School will have to make way for further development?

In any case, I can think of many other ways that the government can spend the money. For instance, why not build another park in KL? I know we’ve got Titiwangsa, Lake Gardens and the KLCC Park already, but why not build a park that encourages people to be more active? A park with football pitches maybe, or one with lots of cycle lanes, and the government would still have change left over to pursue another project, such as encouraging people to invest in alternative energy.

We all know that our oil isn’t going to last, but there is one thing that we’ll probably have forever unless the whole world is hit by a catastrophe — sunlight. Even when it rains, we get sunlight. So why not invest more in solar power?

Some subsidies are already available to help promote solar energy, but it strikes me that this isn’t a priority. Why? Surely in the long-term it’s far more beneficial and economical for our country to harness the sun’s power to meet our energy needs. If it’s currently too expensive because we don’t have the capacity to manufacture the parts needed, well, why not spend some of that RM5 billion on training the engineers that we need to make the parts?

Instead, our government prefers to go down the nuclear road which is a shame for a country that has an abundance of natural sunlight (besides, can we be trusted to maintain the plant properly, and to dispose of the waste product safely? As a nation we can’t even keep our longkangs clean, so really, do we want a nuclear plant in our country?).

As of today, 182,872 Malaysians have said no to the tower project on Facebook. Datuk Seri Najib Razak has said that Umno must practise the “People First” concept.

Perhaps it’s time he heeded his own advice?

Farah Fahmy is based in London, and has written for the media. She is intrigued by trans- and international relations between Malaysia (ns) and the Rest of the World.

$96m award for sacked whistleblower

GlaxoSmithKline to make $750m payout

Cheryl Eckard, sacked as global quality assurance manager of drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline, will receive US$96m of a the companys $750m US court settlement over allegations that it manufactured and sold adulterated drugs in Puerto Rico.

As a whistle-blower under the federal False Claims Act, Eckard will receive $96m of the settlement, Al-Jazeera reported quoting her lawyers, who said they believe her award is the biggest US whistleblower award in history.

This is not something I ever wanted to do, but because of patient safety issues, it was necessary, Eckard said following news of the settlement.

Eckard discovered numerous violations at the plant in 2002, including cross-contamination between different products being made there. She reported the problems to the company, and eventually went to the FDA to report the problems and later filed a whistle-blower lawsuit.

Eckard said she was fired in 2003 after repeatedly reporting the problems to the company.

The company said the plant closed in 2009 due to declining demand for the medicines made there.

DETAILS http://fwd4.me/kC2 target=_new>Al-Jazeera

See What Barisan Nasional Gotta Say?

Learning from the American credit crisis — Lim Sue Goan

Sometimes, I wonder whether Malaysia has become a country with most reports. There were two reports released yesterday, namely the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) roadmap and the 2009 Auditor-General Report.

The roadmap is a continuation of the ETP that introduce the 131 entry point projects (EPPs) in detail. There are more specific details but the main goal is to transform the country into a high-income economy.

There are various plans and I am not going to evaluate them one-by-one here. I just want to share my personal experience and try to look at our economy through several small matters.

I went shopping not long ago and was approached by a bank salesperson. “Sir, would you like to apply for a credit card with no annual fees and service tax be charged? You can get a free gift and over RM100 of cash. If you change your mind, you can just cancel the card six months later.”

I have also received many calls from banks asking me if I needed a personal loan and the banks could offer me a loan with the most favourable terms.

I am wondering how the banks could have such a big amount of extra money that makes them so desperate to lend money to others when the federal government debt last year has accounted for 52.4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). Would it bring greater effects if the floating capital of the banks is lent to the government to stimulate economy and implement the ETP?

If there are too much money deposited in the banks, it shows that the people lack confidence in investment and are worried about economic prospects. Also, to give interest to depositors, banks must lend the money to someone to earn loan interests and maintain their profits.

However, the federal government spends money through government-linked companies and banks lend money to families and individuals instead of productive manufacturing and business owners. Will this form a credit bubble?

The household loan in Malaysia constitutes 72 per cent of the GDP and it is the second highest in Asia.

Meanwhile, the government will introduce a scheme proving first-time house buyers with household income less than RM3,000 per month a guarantee on down payment of 10 per cent for houses below RM220,000.

The ETP roadmap has many programmes encouraging consumption, including the building of at least 10 new entertainment outlets and a premium retail centre to turn Malaysia a shopping paradise.

We must learn a lesson from the American credit crisis. Once we have an economic downturn, the household income will decrease and how are we going to settle the inflated household and personal loans?

The government is pursuing Keynesianism that stimulates economic growth with expansion economic policies through increased demands.

In Europe, however, Keynesianism has been discarded. Instead, Europeon countries cut expenses and eliminate deficits to avoid falling into the abyss of bankruptcy.

I think moderation is the direction for Malaysia. We need a moderate politics, and a moderate economy. The government had taken saving measures to reduce administrative expenses last year and it is indeed hard to understand why it makes a sudden change.

The government should learn a lesson from others and its own mistakes. Take the annual Auditor-General Reports, for example. It reveals the mismanagement problems of the government agencies each year, but has anything been done to correct the weaknesses?

There is no shortcut to improve our economy and hopefully, we are on the right path. — mysinchew.com

A leader blaming a past leader

It's absolutely wrong for Dr Mahathir Mohamad to say that the present prime minister is facing difficulty because he inherited a weak government led by an 'incompetent' prime minister.

If true, then the fifth prime minister also must have found it difficult to handle the country because he inherited a government led by another 'less competent' prime minister before him.

Mahathir should also admit that what the present prime minister is facing is also inherited from his time as prime minister. He should just admit it instead of continuously putting the blame on others.

Of course, the fifth prime minister did not obtain a strong mandate from the people in the 12th general election. Nonetheless, the fourth prime minister also did not get a strong mandate from the people in the 10th general election. So what's the bare difference between the two leaders?

And it looks like the present prime minister too is not going to get a strong mandate from the people to govern the country comes the next general election. Not only BN would be deprived of two-thirds majority as reported and predicted by Mahathir but there is all likelihood that it may lose to Pakatan Rakyat in the next general election.

And if it is based on Mahathir's equation, there is all probability that the new government is going to inherit all the 'mess' created by the present government.

On balance, we practise democracy and 'people power' is always crucial in determining who should govern them. When leaders come with a lot of baggage the people will make up their minds not to support them.

This is common sense. If a party fails to deliver and makes life difficult for the people, let another party take over in a democratic way.

Good or bad governance is sometimes a matter of perception. The present prime minister is facing difficulty because of many reasons, some of which are only best known to him. The culture of corruption among some leaders cannot be eradicated and this has become a 'tool' for the opposition to exploit.

Also, there are those personalities who wield too much power and cannot be 'touched' by the authorities at all for fear that the whole party system will collapse or it will give a negative perception of the incumbent government.

The culture of corruption was endemic during the fourth prime minister's reign and this was passed over to the fifth prime minister to deal and now to the present prime minister. Corruption at all levels has been rearing its ugly head since the reign of the fourth prime minster, then passed over to the fifth and sixth prime ministers.

Rife corruptions at all levels did not start during the fifth prime minister's tenure. It started way back before that.

Despite all the publicity given to corruption, cronyism, abuse of power, wastage of taxpayers' money by the alternative media, not much has been done by the incumbent government to tackle the problems until today.

The mainstream media is gagged and does not to highlight all these issues. The good thing now is that the people are not as ignorant as before and they are aware of all these political menaces and turbulence.

In fact, the alternative media is doing a service to the people by informing them of all the wrongdoings and abuses that are happening in the country.

Alas, the people today perceive the mainstream media, the judiciary, the police and the MACC and many other government machinery as mere 'tools' for politicians to remain in power.

Investors are scared of these ordeals and even local investors are making a flight to other countries. They all see a bleak prospect for the country.

The Perak debacle in 2009 has caused immeasurable damage to the image of the country. The Anwar factor too has a bearing in the Malay political equation. Where Umno loses PAS and the opposition wins. PAS, a Malay-based party, has adopted a soft approach to politics as opposed to Umno. PAS is gaining more support these days from all races in the country.

Arrogance does not pay. Harsh words on the non-Malays have undeniably hurt their feelings. Consequently the non-Malays have begun to shift their allegiance from the incumbent to the country's opposition party.

Good for the nation, the non-Malays of today do not have qualms about voting for PAS. DAP has metamorphosed for the better and become more mature in politics.

The general public now perceive PAS, DAP and PKR as more moderate and a more viable coalition than BN and Umno - the backbone party of BN. All these events have happened not during the tenure of our fifth prime minister but the present. Why blame the fifth prime minister then?

Embracing many faiths in Malaysia

Ikim Views
Senior Fellow/Director, Centre for Syariah, Law and Political Science

The practice of muhibbah – with its abundance of respect, care and love – is a better concept to foster national unity than mere tolerance for one another.

MALAYSIA is a unique federation blessed with a variety of religions, races, ethnic groups, languages, customs and culture. All world major religions are practiced here: Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism. Other religious beliefs include Sikhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Bahaism and even Animism.

The country’s 27 million population consists of three main racial groups – Malays, Chinese, and Indians – and numerous orang asli tribes in the Peninsular as well as indigenous peoples of Sabah and Sarawak.

The Malays are largely Muslims, the Chinese are mostly Buddhists, the Indians are generally Hindus. Christians are basically Chinese or Indians. The orang asli communities and dozens of other Borneo ethnic groups mostly practice traditional beliefs but many have converted to either Christianity or Islam.

Therefore, all the groups are of different religions, races, ethnicities and, understandably, a myriad of languages, dialects, customs and cultures. Obviously Malaysia is a multi-religious, multi-racial and multi-cultural nation.

Despite the diversity, all Malay­sians have been harmoniously living together for decades.

Islam is the religion of the Fede­ration, and the Constitution grants freedom of worship to other religions. So, it is common to see places of worship like mosques, churches and temples within the same area.

By extension, this liberty goes to other social and cultural aspects of the various people as long as their practices do not pose any threat to the public order, public health or the principles of ethics and morality.

This explains why religious or cultural festivals have been amazingly celebrated by Malaysians regardless of their divergent racial or religious backgrounds.

Such an excellent understanding and relationship suggests that these races have adopted a strong sense of respect, and tolerate each other well. This has been the main factor behind the country’s economic prosperity, growth and political stability.

However, one of the greatest challenges of the nation is to maintain its peaceful social ambience and political stability resulting from the multi-racial nature of its society.

The recent unfolding of events indicates that all these noble qualities are now increasingly under threat. Since then, there have been repeated calls asking members of our pluralistic citizenry to preserve the unity spearheaded by our forefathers and nurtured by generations of subsequent political leaders.

It seems that religious issues have the potential to be exploited to cause prejudice, suspicion and disunity among the masses. In fact, many have been manipulated by irresponsible and unscrupulous quarters to fan hatred.

Thus, one such call has been to abstain from discussing issues that may spark misunderstanding and ignite religious or racial tensions.

The rationale is straightforward: without unity, there will be no peace and stability. Without peace, there will be no prosperity, growth and development. And none will benefit from any resulting outbreak of social anarchy.

The latest series of events may lead one to conclude that our unity is fragile and our religious tolerance is false and our stability fictitious.

I strongly advocate that we take the above as true. Then what are we to do to rectify the problem?

Perhaps “tolerance” is not the right concept to foster unity. According to the Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus, “to tolerate” is to endure or permit (something) especially with forbearance, i.e. the patience to sustain or endure suffering, pain, hardship or unfavourable conditions.

Equally highly authoritative Crabb’s English Synonyms puts it thus: “Tolerate suggests something annoying borne with some patience; endure, something in the nature of positive suffering borne with courage and fortitude.”

Prof Wan Mohd Nor Wan Daud, a Malaysian scholar, comments that all the above indicate human submission to different kinds and degrees of unpleasantness. It refers to something disagreeable without the element of kindness and love.

Bearing that in mind, it is our clamourous mistake to perceive our tolerance as something genuine and sincerely carried out.

Thus it is not surprising to see that when something happens to the perceived disadvantages of certain people, some will cunningly use the opportunity to shout injustice and blame others for their false predicament. Worse still, they scream that it is their right to annoy others for their own selfish ends.

If we were to “embrace” our unity in diversity as a boon, something exceptionally terrific for the nation, we must genuinely accept our commonalities and agree to disagree on certain fundamental differences as they are, be they religious or cultural.

Echoing Prof SMN al-Attas, I suggest that the conception and practice of freedom and tolerance must be based on samahah, or muhibbah. The former means liberality, munificence, generosity and gentleness, while the latter refers to something that is dear to oneself, loved.

Respect, care and love is abundant in muhibbah. Therefore, instead of propagating “tolerance” as a vehicle for unity, we must rather promote muhibbah in its place.

A muhibbah society means a true, loving society while a “tolerant” one is pretentious, as the majority of its members are exercising self control amid all forms of hatred and suspicions towards others.

R.A. Mashelkar: Breakthrough designs for ultra-low-cost products

Engineer RA Mashelkar shares three stories of ultra-low-cost design from India that use bottom-up rethinking, and some clever engineering, to bring expensive products (cars, prosthetics) into the realm of the possible for everyone.

Courtesy in Singapore and Indonesia: A comparison


The Jakarta Post
Jakarta, Tuesday 26 October 2010

Some years ago, an old British headmaster, frustrated at the behaviour of some local students, said to me that “Indonesian does not have a word for 'courtesy’”.

I would translate courtesy as santun, a borrowed Javanese word implying its culture’s most admirable behaviour -- speaking and acting politely. Courtesy, however, covers other aspects not covered by the concept of santun -- respect and consideration.

Indonesians love to think of themselves as a nation of polite and friendly people. We have helpful people who offer service with a smile. We speak politely and address all strangers as “sir”, “madam”, and “big brother/sister”. Schoolchildren are told that tourists love Indonesia because of its friendliness and politeness.

Early this month, I travelled to Singapore, an unsmiling nation. Singaporeans grunt, yell, and speak fast in incomprehensible English.

If you look Chinese (as yours truly), the shop attendant might address you in Chinese and would become unhappy when you didn’t understand or try to reply in English.

And yet, Singapore is a global hub for international conferences, a favourite destination for holidaymakers from around the world -- including Indonesia -- and a financial powerhouse. So why does grunt triumph over smile?

I experienced culture shock when asking my hotel’s information desk and then a convenience store clerk where the nearest MTR station was. If you don’t know and you ask, they treat you like a fool (if the former) or imply that you are wasting their time (if the latter).

Later in the day, the Singaporean treatment was particularly hard for some of my acquaintances from Java. Someone was yelled at when asking, “What’s this?” when ordering food.

The waitress grabbed our empty plates as we were speaking. When we were still figuring out how the MTR tickets worked, impatient people behind us began practically pushing us over.

Singaporeans are intense people. They live hard, work hard, party hard. Poor people -- like us Indonesians -- have time to greet each other, give directions to strangers, take our time to enjoy one another’s company. Or do we?

When I was walking to the check-in desk at Indonesia's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, I noticed that they had employed several “customer service” staff.

The first one who greeted me asked me about my flight. After he answered a question I had put to him about my gate number, he asked where I lived and what my job was. Finally he asked me to come closer to him, while his female partner laughed behind his back.

There were dozens of other uniformed officers who spent the hour crowding a closed check-in desk, chatting and laughing out loud.

I had lunch in a café, where after taking my order, the waiters stood nearby the tables and exchanged raunchy jokes and rude banter, enough to make several potential customers leave.

It has become a familiar scene in several shops -- waiters and clerks making rude jokes in audible voices in front of customers.

A few months ago, a writer in this newspaper compared the treatment she received in Soekarno-Hatta and Changi airports in reference to requesting a wheelchair.

The Singapore staff bluntly snapped at her. The Jakarta staff declined her request with a smile, a half-bow and an excuse.

In the next few days, I learned the game and learned to compete with Singaporeans. Eye contact can get you what you want, or psyche out your competitor to give away his hand.

Fast feet and hands can give you an edge in getting empty tables or seats. But the best part of playing in Singapore is you can play fairly, at least compared to in Indonesia. You may jostle, but everyone queues.

People and things arrive on time, and when somebody has to give you a negative reply, they don’t give a lame excuse. They just say “no” and that is the end of the discussion.

A Singaporean who wanted to meet me informed me well in advance. We made sure that we knew when and where we were supposed to meet, and when she knew she was going to arrive late she notified me - a rarity in Indonesia.

In terms of politeness, Singaporeans need to improve. In terms of consideration for other people, they have plenty to learn. But in terms of respecting others, they do.

Perhaps for most people, the waiter did not respect the patron by taking away the empty plates early. But what is important is that they had delivered the correct food in a timely manner.

Lately I’ve become frustrated by upstart restaurants in Bandung that take forever to deliver my order, and that have waiters who idle away their time and do not follow up on my complaints appropriately - and never say sorry.

Singaporeans are practical people and love to point out that they are stressed-out by their high-speed lives. But take another look, and you might see that the suffocating slow life of Jakarta is worse.

Worse, while in Singapore you can be assured that things work, it’s a different story here. I tried to make some Singaporeans smile using practical, friendly and quick introductions, and it worked.

On the other hand, it’s harder to make strangers in Jakarta smile, because many are concerned about their personal security.

A humourist in Jakarta wrote in his blog that he was worried about the new service policy applied by a popular restaurant chain.

The waiters, he said, greeted customers enthusiastically, made comments about them, praised their choices, and then asked if they were comfortable enough. And then in the middle of dining, the waiters would come and ask the customer if they liked the food. And so on.

The problem was the words that they used were unnatural, their enthusiasm and smiles forced, and like my experience at the Jakarta airport, they didn’t respect their customers’ personal space.

Along with other requests, such as for them to have more babies, the Singaporean government wants its people to be more courteous.

After all they are too tired, burned out, and too stressed to be able to smile, to make small talk
with strangers, and to be more expressive.

But since they respect each other’s space, they act responsibly on the streets, and they don’t make poor excuses; in terms of courtesy they are superior to Indonesians.

[The writer, a graduate of La Trobe University in Australia, is writing a novel on city life.]

Asia News Network

MySinchew 2010-10-26

Penang CM Lim Guan Eng In The News Again!

from Malaysia For All

The incompetence and the arrogance of the losers could not differentiate good governance from the bad. They simply cannot accept the true fact that the Penang Chief Minister is governing with integrity, fairness to all and bringing prosperity to the State.

They wanted the corrupt, racist and arrogant way of the previous government to continue and keep on attacking the good government, calling CM Lim Guan Eng, dumb and stupid. They complained when things are not done according to their ways and also complained when things get done.

The latest news on the performance of CM Lim Guan Eng Administration came from none other than the Auditor-General's Report.

The Penang state administration has hit a record high in state revenues for the second time this year, collecting RM1.1 billion in accumulated funds for the whole of 2009.

In the recently-released 2009 Auditor-General's Report, Penang - the only Pakatan state to receive the 'baik' (good) accreditation in their financial standing - also collected 29.1 percent more in actual revenue, bringing their tally to RM376.51 million.

The Audit Report also revealed that a Bumiputera Housing Trust Fund for the state was set up for the first time, with RM12.65 million channelled to it. Although the state secretary is in charge, the fund has yet to be used up.

Three state agencies also received the level of 'sangat baik' (very good) in contrast to only two back in 2008. They are the Penang Development Corporation, the state finance department and the southwest district office. Full article here.


When Malay Leaders Fail….

By Hussein abdul Hamid

These Malays who are the leaders in UMNO….they were once decent people. There were once Malays who had the well-being and welfare of other Malays in their hearts. They wanted the Malays to succeed in education, in business and they wanted the Malays to be able to stand with pride amongst the other races in Malaysia. They started their life in politics with these thoughts.

It changed when Mahathir took his place as Prime Minister. This was no ordinary man. He had intellect. He had intelligence. He worked hard and he knew exactly what he wanted and how to go about getting it. He was a man who had the power to do much. If only he had used his power for good rather then for evil.

As he was talking about racial harmony he understood the need of the racial divide to keep the people off balance and he used the racial divide to weave his politics of divide and rule. As he consolidated his hold on his cabinet he understood the need to have Minister who were corrupt, weak of the flesh and susceptible to the lure of money and every other imaginable persuasion so that he could use these weaknesses to exert control over them. Truly Mahathir is a disciple of Machiavelli – adept in using cunning and deceitful tactics in politics!

What happened with Pak Lah totally defined Mahathir. Nothing matters except what Mahathir wants. Not what UMNO, Barisan Nasional, the people or what the country wants. He will have his way no matter what. God did not give him the grace to understand that others are different in thoughts and deeds to him. In the end that will be the epitaph of this man.

And now to where we are at now. Does Najib ever stop to look at the people in the country that he is Prime Minister of as individuals? Does this Din who is so fond of issuing threats and ultimatums from his Ministry of Home Affairs ever stop to think that these people that he issues those threats and ultimatums are made up of individuals – Malay, Chinese, Indians, Sikhs, Ibans, young and old, men and women…that each and every one of these individuals are able to think for themselves and decide what they want to do with their life and their votes? Or are all these leaders on an ego trip?

“Ego: The fallacy whereby a goose thinks he’s a swan”

For me the spectacle of Najib trying to impose some semblance of dignity and authority to the position of Prime Minister of our country is sad because:

“The obvious is that which is never seen until someone expresses it simply” Kahlil Gibran.

Najib you cannot build a house on sand. It is futile for you to expect the people of this country to allow you to govern them until you have earned that right.

For one you were not chosen to be Prime Minister of this country by the people – Pak Lah did! So you came into office with blood on your hands–Pak Lah’s blood. It was a well-organized assassination. UMNO at its best. Not only were Mahathir and you able to turn UMNO against their own President but also you even managed to get the people of Malaysia to come along for the ride.

At that point of time Najib presented a clear break from the excesses of Pak Lah and the ‘excesses’ we most disliked was the power (real or imagined) then being wielded by Khairy Jamaluddin. We would even have accepted Mahathir back as Prime Minister if it meant we could rid ourself of that young upstart call KJ!

So that alone meant that Najib came in as Prime Minister on a high. But wither goes Najib after that? The growing unpopularity of a once much loved and popular Prime Minister affectionately called Pak Lah had propelled Najib, albeit with much help from Mahathir, into a post he badly needed to ensure his political survival even as another potentially deadly threat looms -ALTANTUYA!

In my humble opinion where Najib erred was in his handling of the Altantuya situation. His early appointment as Prime Minister was not, as he thought, the solution to this problem. It merely gave him time to regroup. He should have used his entry into office to sit down quietly and figure out what he could do to diffuse the Altantuya problem – not use the Prime Minister’s office as a refuge from it.

Yes there were questions about his past judgement in his days as MB of Pahang and in Federal Politics that could embarrass him on a personal and political level but who in UMNO did not have skeletons in the closet? There were worries about the propensity of Rosmah to act more ‘Presidential’ then Najib but even this, with common sense, could be managed.

In other things political Najib had vision but lack substance. He was unable to maintain the mood of the people. When Pak Lah took over from Mahathir there was much hope for change for the better and this was reflected in the results of the emphatic 2004 election victory that the people gave to Pak Lah.

But this mood changed quickly when promises are not followed by action especially in today’s over wired news availability through the Net. As impressive as Pak Lahs “Work with me not for me” utterances were…cakap bukan serupa bikin…and his inability to rein in KJ costs him the Prime Minister’s job.

But Najib was unable to build on this. What he has done quite well without help from any quarters is to dig a hole too deep for him to climb out of – and there is nobody around willing to give him a helping hand to escape oblivion. Ahhhh the arrogance of power overcomes all of us…not just the strong and powerful, not just the little Napoleons…but also even those Mata Mata in uniforms on their money seeking beats around the streets of our towns and cities! They fail to understand that Malaysia belongs to many who are already dead, the few that are now living and the countless numbers that are still unborn!

For over fifty years you leaders in UMNO have been beating this country of ours to near death. It would do you all good if you stop to understand that we are all individuals amongst the faceless masses that you see. Go listen to what they have to say. Go understand what they aspire to. Or, better yet, understand that like you, they simply want the right to earn a decent living, a roof over their heads and the freedom to live their live to the best of their ability in peace.

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. ~Chief Seattle, 1855

If you understand this, then maybe you will understand the need to have compassion, decency and aspire to do well to others in your time as Prime Minister…in your time in life. ….but maybe…just maybe…it might be too much to ask of you and of those in Barisan Nasional.

True democracy not about good and evil


It was the eighth of March. The year, 2008. Three laptops were spread out in my study room, continuously refreshing political websites, and on the TV rolled the election results as it was released.

We were shocked by one piece of news in particular. The opposition had won a state. Not just any state like Kelantan or Terengganu as it had in the past, but the capital; Selangor.

Malaysia, it was said, would never be the same again.

But what changed, exactly? Take a trip to KL today. You'll encounter the same frustrations. A drive between Kuala Lumpur and Subang still takes ages during the rush hour if you're using the Federal. You could, of course, fork out for one of the psuedo-private express routes to some company.

But you'd still suffer a jam even then, just marginally shorter. Start selling your houses if you live on a hill, because I'd like to know what makes you think your developer was any better than whoever was involved with Bukit Antarabangsa.

The Selangor state government is still attacked by allegations of corruption by state opposition, same roles, but switched actors.

We, the people, also fondly known as the rakyat, were intoxicated. Change. Never had we seen a group of people as large as Hindraf or Bersih take to the streets.

Never had we seen the opposition so united in a common cause, Anwar a beacon for all who were not afraid to stand across the river in defiance. This must be the change then! We finally have heroes!

If only it was so.

Hindraf began creating impractical demands, US$2 million a head from the British government, then affiliated themselves with MIC, and have now turned into an antagonist in the eyes of the liberal public with its race-defined politics. Our faith in the opposition took a beating when Anwar Ibrahim's very own strategy of leapfrogging backfired and Perak fell.

I've done a few internships in law firms, and at one point I found myself sitting across the client of an opposing counsel. The man, I was told, had been declared a bankrupt. There was something unpleasant about him I couldn't put a finger on.

He had one of those stereotypical fat-cat faces, Plus the remarkable skill of sublimely inserting a brag into an apologetic humble-hum. But one of his sentences stuck: 'Oh well, you know, Anwar wanted me to run for a seat, but I had to decline...'

You don't have to trust my judge of character. I'm not asking you to. But is it really so hard to believe that he wasn't exactly lying, that it was not beyond Anwar to take in cunning, connected people over those with merely good intentions? Look at the Perak crisis. The base of PKR comes from Umno.

Look at pre-March 2008 manifestos. Particularly the opposition's. A big issue to them, if I'm correct, was the country's dependency on Petronas.

From subsidised oil prices to revenue, we Malaysians were accused of being addicted to the benefits oil reserves had given the country.

Our very economy is driven largely by oil revenue. In the next few decades we are going to lose this stream, and BN is doing nothing to wind us off such a dependency. Malaysia's economy is a train, and nobody gave a thought as to where the next scoop of coal would come from.

And yet when the government cut subsidies in June 2008, the opposition sang a different tune. They protested. I'm not sure of the details, but it was somewhere along the line of being 'too harsh'. Anyone who was paying the slightest attention would raise an eyebrow. But hypocrisy is no stranger to the arena.

With the two examples I have given, I propose an approach on how we should view every politician, one we drastically need.

The politician is not a vessel of good or evil. She, or he, is a person. Just like yourself. There have clearly been days in which you have helped, and days in which you have been cruel to another. It is a sham if we believe that humans are capable of only good or evil in every moment of their lives. And like the rest of the world, politics is not a fairy-tale.

The actors are not clearly separated into groups of protagonists versus antagonists. Politicians, it must be said, are representatives of various factions with possibly conflicting interests. To understand why the politician has risen to the occasion, we must examine the cycle of ends and means.

By ends, I mean her or his political objective. And by means, I mean the power needed to achieve it. And as said above, this is a cycle. We need power to achieve objectives, but the pursuit of objectives also leads us ultimately to positions of power. And how do we achieve this governmental power? By winning elections.

I do not know when it all began, but political drama and good-evil distinction seems to have invaded Malaysian politics, instead of agreements to disagree while at the same time acknowledging that both sides had the best interest of the country (or at least their voters) in mind. Perhaps this is similar in every democratic state.

According to game theory, if this is effective in stimulating the voters, then there is no reason why either side should openly acknowledge the possible 'good' in each other. They have a reason to exaggerate. The end justifies the method of obtaining the means, even if the method is a miniature version of the wrong in which the end tries to correct. We are led to believe that the government is all evil. We are led to believe that the opposition is all evil.

And while voters cater to drama and lap up this delicious spice to Malaysian news, we are only providing an incentive for, say, the 'good' guys to act in ways that are not virtuous, possibly hypocritical.

But to merely see this side is to ignore that there will be those who are in politics mostly for selfish gain. We must acknowledge, again, that all are human. Those who are good are capable of bad, while those who are bad, are also very much capable of good. As long as he or she has power.

So how do we know who to give this power to? We can never be sure. The cycle of ends and means creates the realistic possibility of achieving even more ends than originally intended once power has been achieved. Is it not human to take a small slice of that large 'ends' cake for ourselves?

But to stop here is very dangerous. It is perhaps better for someone to live in the dream of distinct good and evil and be motivated to cast his vote, than be someone who has realized a half-truth, finding elections pointless and a sham. Taking this realistic view of politicians can be de-motivating, as much as it is to accept the frailness of virtue within each of us. But this is what true democratic elections lead to; accountability.

What has changed since 2008, is the arrival of a tide. But this is not a tide of color. It is neutral. Slightly after the elections, many people who actually sat down to think were possibly pro- opposition without question. But down the line their façade of rigid virtue began to crack, and we have seen that the opposition, too, is prone to bad habits.

We are beginning to question the opposition, and this is a good thing when we have in mind the true nature of politicians. It is a tide of neutral thought.

They are not heroes and warlocks. They are people who want to achieve an end, requiring a means; means in which we hold. March 2008 was not a beginning of just possible Pakatan rule, but a possibility of true democracy. True democracy does not distinguish good and evil, but check and balance.

The motivations of 2008 may have been illusions or half-truths, but we are closer than ever before to a two-party system, though we are not there yet. The doubt in our mind that Malaysia will ever achieve such a state still stands, and must be broken.

To achieve the two-party system, we must show that the position of government is now a tower built on foundation that belongs to the voters. We give, and we take.

The reason I have written this is because of the looming 13th general elections. I am encouraging those who have realised the half-truths to register themselves now, and vote. It takes only five minutes at the nearest post office to register, but a month of waiting before you are actually eligible to cast a vote in any election, meaning if you were to register after the announcement of an election, it would probably be too late.

Your vote matters. At the very real possibility of sounding biased (and I may very well be. You have no reason to trust my reason for voting who I will), my logic suggests that we vote for the opposition. Put aside good and evil, and think what we want to achieve. A true two-party system. Break the illusion and doubt, and bring down the stable pillars that the concept of Malaysian governing stands on. The next elections shouldn't be about policies. It should be about democracy.

Everything else flows from there.

UMNO, please don't make History another form of BTN

Already Mahathir has deprived all Malaysians of world history (most younger Malaysians probably don't know their elders studies world history once upon a time) so that all of us become katak, it's obvious UMNO is now trying to make the whole history subject a nationwide BTN ... 2020 eh?

History is for education, not for politics

Tay Tian Yan

Hstory is not meant to re-engineer the students' minds, but to inspire them. History is not made to serve the purpose of politics, but to elevate human characters and social progress.

You need to pass your Bahasa Malaysia paper to get your SPM certificate. This is something everyone can comprehend. This is Malaysia and there is a need for this.

Beginning 2013, an exam candidate must also pass history as well before he can get the same cert. But why?

People will tend to ask: Why not English? Or Maths? Or the student's mother tongue?

These subjects are all very important. At least they carry some practical values in our quest for a developed and high-income nation.

Indeed, but while English, Maths, or another language are needed by the country, they are not politically needed.

History is politically needed.

For instance, our history started with the Malacca Sultanate, then Umno leading the nation to independence, the all-too-sacred invincibility of social contract, and BN steering the nation towards stability and prosperity... These important lessons need to be instilled in our future generations.

You must pass the History papers before we can get the cert, so students will never want to doze off in history classes and they need to go for history tuition classes after school. They also must make sure they remember all the facts and figures by heart before exams.

From that moment on, all the so-called politically correct facts must be etched deep inside the students' hearts. They must never forget nor challenge them.

This psychological education meets all the political requirements.

While history is important, and there are indeed good reasons to make history a compulsory subject that students must pass in exams, there is nevertheless a prerequisite: this ruling should only be implemented in specific developed nations.

In these countries, history is not meant to re-engineer the students' minds, but to inspire them. History is not made to serve the purpose of politics, but to elevate human characters and social progress.

For instance, in America's history textbooks, the teachers would relate the history of European immigrants in North America, and then want the students to form study groups, search for information in the library and compile a report to debate whether the arrival of Europeans in North America had caused destruction to the Indian civilisation.

Or the teacher would talk about the Civil War, and then separate the students into two groups, one standing alongside the North while the other standing alongside the South, and debate about the benefits and influences of the War.

This is what we call true history education.

I can never imagine some day our teachers would allow their students to debate whether the history of the Malayan Peninsular began with the Hindu civilisation 1,400 years ago, or with the arrival of Parameswara in Melaka 500 years ago.

Similarly, other than Umno, MCA and MIC, the other political organisations, including the roles played by leftist movements in the country's independence as well as as the British decision to forego this Far Eastern colony long before that, would never be touched on.

As for social contract, something that even the pros are still unclear of, the history textbooks will define based on political needs.

In developed countries, history education allows the students to think about and unveil the meanings of different types of arguments.

Moreover, the decision to make it compulsory to pass history was made in an Umno general assembly, not after in-depth deliberations by educational experts in a non-political situation. - Sin Chew Daily

Worst Ever Press Freedom Ranking: The Making of a Failed Nation

Malaysia failed terribly to capitalise on last year's momentum where it moved up one notch from 132 to 131. Recently 2010 World Press Freedom Index shows our nation sunk 10 rankings to 141. In fact, this is the lowest ranking in nine years that putting it firmly in the bottom quarter of 178 countries. Read here for further information: 2010 World Press Freedom Index- Lowest press freedom ranking in nine years

The poor performance of Malaysia is absolute evidence that federal government is not really opens for critics and face the upcoming challenges. A report from Malaysiakini stated that the issues which have perhaps affected Malaysia's poor ranking include the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission's investigation into Malaysiakini's cow-head video, the arrests of bloggers and the ban on a number of books by cartoonist Zunar.

The 2010 Press Freedom Index also stated that Singapore (136) outranked Malaysia for the first time since Paris-based press watchdog group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) began releasing its ranking in 2002. Meanwhile, Finland, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland share the No 1 spot. The United States remains at No 20, sitting at the bottom end of the ranking are North Korea (177) and Eritrea (178). Apart from North Korea, Asia's three communist regimes - China (171), Vietnam (165) and Laos (168) - are among the 15 lowest-ranked countries.

This is the result of reality over the past half century. Our independence online portals and opposition publications like Malaysiakini, Malaysia Insider, Malaysia Today, DAP's Rocket, Pas's Harakah and Keadilan's publication become more popular among Malaysians due to the bias approach by BN-controlled mainstream print and broadcast media, like Star, NST, Utusan, Chinese and Tamil papers, TVs and radio stations. This is why Independence portals and opposition publication frequently face pressure from the government.

Some would have compared Malaysia with Singapore and Brunei, but how thing! s going on in their nation? They have a firm economy to rely on, quality education for their generations, solid performance in combating corruption and look at their marvellous security which guaranty a safe place for their citizen. Do the same thing happen is our nation? We are getting worst in every aspect, plunging terribly in Universities ranking, Press Freedom Index, corruptions, security, budget deficit, judiciary, sports and many more.



See What Pakatan Rakyat Gotta Say?

Needs to be politically correct

You need to pass your Bahasa Malaysia paper to get your SPM certificate. This is something everyone can comprehend. This is Malaysia and there is a need for this.

Beginning 2013, an exam candidate must also pass history as well before he can get the same cert. But why?

People will tend to ask: Why not English? Or Maths? Or the student's mother tongue?

These subjects are all very important. At least they carry some practical values in our quest for a developed and high-income nation.

Indeed, but while English, Maths, or another language are needed by the country, they are not politically needed.

History is politically needed.

For instance, our history started with the Malacca Sultanate, then Umno leading the nation to independence, the all-too-sacred invincibility of social contract, and BN steering the nation towards stability and prosperity... These important lessons need to be instilled in our future generations.

You must pass the History papers before we can get the cert, so students will never want to doze off in history classes and they need to go for history tuition classes after school. They also must make sure they remember all the facts and figures by heart before exams.

From that moment on, all the so-called politically correct facts must be etched deep inside the students' hearts. They must never forget nor challenge them.

This psychological education meets all the political requirements.

While history is important, and there are indeed good reasons to make history a compulsory subject that students must pass in exams, there is nevertheless a prerequisite: this ruling should only be implemented in specific developed nations.

In these countries, history is not meant to re-engineer the students' minds, but to inspire them. History is not made to serve the purpose of politics, but to elevate human characters and social progress.

For instance, in America's history textbooks, the teachers would relate the history of European immigrants in North America, and then want the students to form study groups, search for information in the library and compile a report to debate whether the arrival of Europeans in North America had caused destruction to the Indian civilisation.

Or the teacher would talk about the Civil War, and then separate the students into two groups, one standing alongside the North while the other standing alongside the South, and debate about the benefits and influences of the War.

This is what we call true history education.

I can never imagine some day our teachers would allow their students to debate whether the history of the Malayan Peninsular began with the Hindu civilisation 1,400 years ago, or with the arrival of Parameswara in Melaka 500 years ago.

Similarly, other than Umno, MCA and MIC, the other political organisations, including the roles played by leftist movements in the country's independence as well as as the British decision to forego this Far Eastern colony long before that, would never be touched on.

As for social contract, something that even the pros are still unclear of, the history textbooks will define based on political needs.

In developed countries, history education allows the students to think about and unveil the meanings of different types of arguments.

Moreover, the decision to make it compulsory to pass history was made in an Umno general assembly, not after in-depth deliberations by educational experts in a non-political situation.

Sin Chew Daily

How many Warisan merdekas?


This piece of news has been puzzling me. It is about the construction of the 100 Storey Warisan Merdeka tower. Just recently, Dato Najib said it wasn't his idea. Yet he announced it at the UMNO General Assembly. That means, he has agreed to the idea. The ultimate decision maker is of course the PM. unless he gives the green light, Ahmad Kama Piah will not move.

The PM says it was PNB's idea. It's easy to verify this. Let's publish minutes preceding the decision to go ahead with this project. Discussions and deliberations must have taken place prior the announcement was made. These must have been minuted down. Let's see them.

There must also be an exhaustive technical study and financial evaluation of the project. A project such as this can't be thought overnight. Engineers and architects must have worked on the commission. We should see all these.

There is the issue of cost. The building will cost M 5 billion. That's RM 5, 000,000,000. Kama Piah says the funding is internally generated. Internally or borrowed, the money represents Malay money. Wasn't PNB created to harness Malay financial capital?

PNB manages investments portfolio on behalf of Malays and earn dividends on their behalf. It has also branched out to handle investments portfolio for Malaysians.

Let see an orang kampong assessment of this outlay. Suppose the RM 5 billion in invested somewhere earning a return of say 6%. That would bring PNB a return of RN 300 million a year.

So instead of building I unit of 100 story building, why not build a 20 story building costing around RM 300 million a year. So that in 5 years, we shall have started building 5 blocks of 20 stoirey buildings giving us an equivalent of 100 story single building. If each cost 300 million, 5 blocks will cost us only 1.5 billion saving us RM 3.5 billion.

With 5 you can place them at will. Spread it around in Kuala Lumpur. Have 2 in Kampung Baru so that the value of the land in Kg Baru escalates. That will make owners earn high income.

I asked an engineer friend. It's not that straight forward issue doing this 100 story building. Because beyond a certain level, the cost of construction escalates. As we go higher, the degree of inefficiency of the building increases that require lots more money being pumped in. In the end, the cost of a single 100 story building may be more than RM 5 billion.

But the more interesting news coming out from the bowels of corporatedom- is that, there will be 2 more similar towers going to be built. This means, we shall be having not one 100 story behemoth, but 3 of them. This will mean Najib will have out-Mahathir Dr Mahathir.

Who are going to propose the other two towers? The voices from deep in the corporate bowels mention the name of Jho Low and Naza. If the real cost of construction is RM 1.5 billion, these people will be making Croesus-like profits.

When PNB completes the 100 story tower, how much rental will they charge per square foot? The PETRONAS Twin Towers cost is RM 1.3 billion. Go ask the rental for the space at the food court. It is RM 130 per square foot. Will the rental rate at the warisan merdeka cost RM 500 per square foot?

Batu Sapi may trigger snap general elections

Ronnie Klassen

The stage is set and the dust has settled for the first by-election or "buy-election" in Batu Sapi,Sandakan, Sabah.

Having said that,Batu Sapi may trigger a snap elections, and Najib may well take this opportunity to gauge his strength or before his Deputy does a coup to oust him.

As expected, it will be a three corner fight, Hj.Ansari Abdullah of Parti Keadilan Rakyat(PKR) Pakatan Rakyat, Linda Tsen of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Barisan Nasional and Yong Teck Lee of Sabah Action Progressive Parti (SAPP). Will the late Edmond Chong leave behind a legacy to the people of Batu Sapi,we shall know on the 4th.November.2010.

With his wife Linda Tsen as the candidate for Barisan Nasional,PBS is once again rekindling back the sympathetic "minta-kasihan"support they once enjoyed during their era in 1985,only to be remembered as demonic to the might of Parti Berjaya.With society having shaken off their ignorance and fully politically matured,a disaster is imminently forthcoming.

The walkout by PBS Muslim members that took place at their operation centre is testimony that all is not well in Barisan Nasional. The 500 disgruntled PBS Muslim members that stormed in the centre, shook the day lights of Musa Aman,Pairin Kitingan and other assemblyman.

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin tried hard to hide his dissatisfaction upon hearing on what had happen, only to say at the end of it all, BN's victory is vital.

On the eve of nomination,while taking a break over tea with some journalist, UPKO's Supreme Council Member,James Ligunjang join me and had this to tell me,"BN has no chance in Batu Sapi".Across my table then came along Sebatik's former assemblyman from UMNO and greeted me.His parting words on the chances of BN "not so good".

As ironic as it may sound, it came as no surprise to me.UMNO/BN is well aware that they have lost Batu Sapi.

The faction group of Shafie Apdal and Musa Aman fiasco and a third force within UMNO has emerged once again,this time with renewed energy and destined to exit Musa Aman for good,may result in one of the dirtiest ousting of a Chief Minister.For Musa Aman,this could well be "sai-lang" for him,as his position is now being further treathen by party stalwarts.As the Director Of Elections for UMNO/BN,a lost could well be his exit,something that most UMNO leaders and members will surely be celebrating.

With all the on-going grouses in UMNO/BN,the one thing we can agree here is that UMNO/BN is about to self destruct and Batu Sapi will well be their downfall.

Nonetheless the gates of the nomination centre was open today,filled with colour,shouts of reformasi,Sabah Sabah and BN tetap menang(sure win) was heard from afar.Parti Keadilan Rakyat's(PKR) grand entrance started with their 1 km walk from their operation centre to the Dewan Masyarakat Sandakan(Community Hall), as early as 8.30am,and led by the party's candidate Hj.Ansari Abdullah,Party President Datin Seri Wan Azizah,National and State Leaders,and more than 1,000 highly charged members and supporters.

With PKR and Barisan Nasional,having the most number of members and supporters present at the nomination centre,SAPP on the other hand had the smallest entourage.But what was most noticeable,was the presence of UMNO/BN and SAPP members and supporters finding the tent of PKR more conducive.

If this is by anyway an early indication on PKR's march to Putrajaya,then their presence in seeking refuge in PKR'S tent maybe a good omen.My congratulations though to the Police and the Election Commission in handling the nomination well.

Nevertheless, 25,582 registered voters in Batu Sapi of which 59.02% comprises of Muslim Bumiputra,38.06% Chinese,2.69% Non -Muslim Bumiputra and 0.22% others,will decide their faith and who they prefer to send to Parliament.Generally this is a predominately Muslim constituency, and PKR's Ansari Abdullah may hold a better edge over the rest.

Sandakan is desperately in need of a vocal and gallant Parliamentarian to voice the voices of Batu Sapi.

For two terms under UMNO/BN, the people of Batu Sapi had to endure sufferings unbecoming of a "so-called" urban developing town. What irks them the most is,the Chief Minister of Sabah,Musa Aman,the Deputy Chief Minister Peter Pang and a Deputy Federal Minister V.K.Liew are either Assemblyman or Member of Parliament in Sandakan,yet Sandakan is plaque with severe utility and economic problems,hence resulting in many leaving to seek greener pastures elsewhere.

Batu Sapi cannot and should not send a deaf,dumb and blind person to Parliament.The endless promises of UMNO/BN is still being promised,yet no improvement in the people's plight and problems has been addressed and dealt with.

SAPP on the other hand has two Member of Parliament,yet their voices are nowhere to be heard,and an additional one is not going to make any difference.

Being an "Opposition of an Opposition" has no loca standi,worst off the Sabah for Sabahans is slowly but surely evaporating.The young and new generation are not at all interested in "kampong politics",they are more far sighted and understand the overall Malaysian agenda.Politicians or "pollute-ticians sometimes say the darn est things,and old school politics is surely unacceptable

With 9 days of campaigning commencing today,the sleepy and hollow town of Batu Sapi will awake at least until a new and vibrant Member of Parliament emergence on the 4th.November.The people of Batu Sapi must vote wisely, for the future of Batu Sapi depends very much who they vote come polling day.

Batu Sapi must not live to dread the day when their grand children question them,on why when they had the chance to make a CHANGE, they chose not to.

Having said that,Batu Sapi may trigger a snap elections, and Najib may well take this opportunity to gauge his strength or before his Deputy does a coup to oust him.

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