Featured Sociopolitical Stories

The Battle of the Sexes : Between God-sent and The Syaitan

One woman labelled as a 'political prostitute' believes her leader who also happened to be her husband and stood by her man as 'God-sent'.

Another woman from the supposedly 'ketuanan' defenders who stood by her man, who happened to be leader of Perkasa, labelled the God-sent in her words 'a syaitan (satan)' See story below.

Now that finally Perkasa has scratch its itch and came out mouth a blazing with prophecies of Satan incarnate out to destroy the Malay race. Gosh that really put Satan in such a bad light to think the Malay race is only one that the devil is giving attention to bring them all to hell - that easily huh?

Is it because our zaira thinks the Malay race seemed so easily swayed by the devil? Does it mean those Malays who do not support UMNO but PKR members or even PAS, the legions of satan out to taint the purity of their race that she says is Lord over the land, sea and earth including it's occupants in BolehLand?

And our zaira went on to teach us a bit of history when she said, "Ketuanan Melayu means we are the original race of this land, we are the lords of this land and we cannot be sidelined or removed because we are the true children of the land,". Hmmm, if zaira know her history well, the zionists also said some similar when they drove the Palestinians off way back in the late 1940s and early 1950s, no?

'We are the original race, we are the lords'. Wonder what the orang aslis and those in Sarawak and Sabah think of her originality!

Yah, yah, yah, we have heard that countless times. So? Show yourself worthy of the lord you are as in the Malacca Sultanate of ole when they become strong not from handouts, privileges and rights! Not as a lord who thinks you are the master and the rest not of your definition your slave or migrants!

The Constitution has defined what a Malay is. Now some fellos want to add more groups into the race card if some online news report of native kids being labelled 'Melayu' in Sarawak is to! be beli eved. Our zaira wants to further add more characteristics of what a Malay is. Perhaps also to include 'one who is an UMNO or Perkasa member' and 'accept the 'UMNO-Perkasa leadership and its ketuanan Melayu concept', no? Why not also throw in 'one who accepts the '1Malaysia concept' for good measure!

The Malays know that the Constitution can never be changed without the ultimate approval of the Rulers. So when the Malays themselves have two opposing views, each stance with the ultimate agenda of gaining political power, the nation suffers. Such differences allow the ugly side of the gentle, calm, rationale and pious Malay we know them to be at least to some of them to surface like our zaira. And in the process, the ugly head of racism begins to find scapegoats to bark at and bite when convenient and the victims are often the other races too, blaming them for interfering and even falsely accusing them to want to take away their man created rights and privileges.

There seems to be a notion that if one belong to such and such a race, there cannot be any dissent, opposing views and there must be absolute blind obedience to the leaders if one wants to belong and worthy of acceptance to be one of their own kind! Are we creating robots or perpetuating a feudal master-slave relationship?

I do not agree with how some Chinese do business but I do not deny or disown them as not being a Chinese, no? Nor do I feel ashamed being a Chinese myself. Even family members have quarrels and disown their own blood due to religious difference if one changes religion or even the profession they choose like becoming a singer than a doctor as a friend whose dad disowned him for not becoming a doctor, or if they don't marry or have a same same gender preference or the company they keep!

Rather than being enriched and learn from our differences and allow them to exist so that we can find the middle path, some of us take the easy way out to cast labels and spells on each other who don't accept our viewpoi! nt or we can't see 'eye-to-eye' on similar issues. Which brings to the proverb of 'Why do you see the speck that is in your brothers eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?'

Thank God that there is no written Constitutional powers to strip one's race away or ex-communicate him or her if they do not follow the rules and regulations or definitions set up by any particular race! At least the forefathers have the foresight not to have that included!

There are many people who do not respect the Federal Constitutions including those who ask some to return to their forefather's land. And why not also strip them of whatever rights and privileges they have? There are those with titles who cheat, steal and also betrayed voters. Should they also be asked to surrender their title?

Perhaps the Rulers are wiser than the subjects in being more rationale and have better judgment of their subjects than the subjects themselves, no? We don't find them ranting and holding press conferences or make police reports or use harsh words. The Rulers by just saying 'saddened' speaks volume compared to subjects who scream for blood, revenge, burn effigies, drag cow heads and even demonise mortals even one of her own kind! Which makes zaira having more power than the Rulers to be able to label a mortal a 'syaitan!'

Shouldn't ziara as a devout Muslim and endowed with 'I see syaitans' powers file a report to the religious council of having spotted devils so that they can go about purging or exorcising them to protect her own kind from being influenced by so many syaitans turning them into disciples of satan, huh?

In the battle of the sexes, one stands by her man who is her husband, while another stand by her man who is her master leader.

Who among the two women who believes her man is God-sent has a stronger love for her man and will stand by him whatever label they give to their man or whatever label others give to their man, huh?

Love comes in many forms in the house of God a! s well a s in the pits of hell, no?
'God-sent' Anwar is Satan himself, says Perkasa
Wed, 01 Dec 2010 17:45 . By Teoh El Sen,. Free Malaysia online news

KUALA LUMPUR: Just days after his wife described him as God-sent, hardline Malay group Perkasa has placed Anwar Ibrahim on less hallowed ground, calling him Satan himself.

And while PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail believes her husband is a messiah on a mission to deliver Malaysia from the clutches of evil, Perkasa's women chief Zaira Jaafar, however, feels that he was dispatched from hell to destroy the Malays.

In view of this, Zaira wanted the opposition leader to be stripped of his honorific Datuk Seri title and all other awards for belittling the ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) concept.

To us, Anwar is not God-sent but a 'syaitan' (satan), sent to destroy the Malays. He is the number one traitor for abandoning ketuanan Melayu," she told a press conference here this afternoon.

Zaira was responding to the debate raging over Wan Azizah's speech at the recently concluded PKR national congress where she called for the ketuanan Melayu concept to be abandoned.

"Eventhough his wife is the one who made the speech, Anwar is the main puppeteer behind the agenda to rubbish ketuanan Melayu," said the Perkasa leader.

'We are the original race, we are the lords'.

Zaira also accused the opposition leader of twisting historical facts and pretending not to know the meaning of ketuanan Melayu.

"Ketuanan Melayu means we are the original race of this land, we are the lords of this land and we cannot be sidelined or removed because we are the true children of the land," she said.

Stressing that the institution of Malay rulers cannot be dismissed, Zaira also questioned why Anwar was not proud of being a Malay.

Since Anwar did not respect the Federal Constitution, she said the Malay rulers must revoke his titles.

"Such titles are deserving for leaders with a human s! oul. Anw ar is a devil in disguise, she stressed, vowing that Perkasa's women would defend ketuanan Melayu till the last drop of our blood.

Asked what was wrong with PKR's ketuanan rakyat concept, Zaira replied: "There is nothing wrong with it, but what's wrong with ketuanan Melayu?

PKR says one thing but does another, just like what they say about nepotism and cronyism," she added.

On Monday, Perkasa Youth chief Arman Azha Abu Hanifah had described Wan Azizah and her newly minted deputy Azmin Ali as political prostitutes for deriding the ketuanan Melayu concept.YAHMEH!!!
See What Pakatan Rakyat Gotta Say?

Thoughts of a Young Malaysian

December 1, 2010

Thoughts of Young Malaysian on Malay Unity

I was not planning to write about Malay unity this week, but after a little talk I just had with my father, Ive decided its imperative to underscore yet again the very real effect so-called Malay unity has on Malaysian society.

Malay unity as it is presently understood is fundamentally undemocratic, and fundamentally a threat to Malaysian unity.The notion that it is not just okay but morally right to prefer one Malaysian over another because of his or her racial identity undermines everything that the concept of a Malaysian stands for; it justifies racism, communalism and separatism.

In the first place, I cannot see why anyone would believe that the Malay community or Malays as individuals stand to gain from uniting behind one political party or one ideology.Malays are not a single-minded, homogeneous lot, any more than the Chinese or Indians are.To ask a Malay to subjugate his own individual beliefs to the tyranny of the Malay majority is ridiculous, and completely und! ermines the democratic right of individual Malaysians, Malay or not, to freedom of thought and expression.

If a few Malay strongmen believe they can really subjugate their fellow Malays and fellow Malaysians to the yoke of one single ideology, one single belief system, they will have to face the consequences sooner or later.We know what single-party and single-ideology countries turn out like; even the few successes like China are forced to tolerate differing viewpoints, if not differing political parties.

You cannot force a man to believe something he does not have his heart in; there is no reason to think a Malay will stop thinking and stop believing in something simply for the sake of Malay unity. But enough of this focus on the Malays; this is just one side of the delicate equation as far as national unity and social cohesion are concerned.

I want to relate something personal, something that affects untold numbers of Malaysian families, including my own.Many Malays often wonder why non-Malays are so reluctant to offer this country their loyalty; hardly any are ever actually serious in their wonderment.

My mother is not a Malaysian. She is a Filipino, although with a partial Chinese heritage.My parents met while they were pursuing their post-graduate studies in Thailand. They tied the knot two decades ago; they have brought into the world and raised four children, all of them Malaysian citizens. Over a decade ago, my parents made the conscious decision to bring their three children back to Malaysia, and have their fourth born there, because they wanted us to know our roots.

My mother has lived in this country for 12 years, and spent close to 19 years of her life raising Malaysian citizens; she has learnt the national language, made Malaysian friends, and settled herself here.If this is not the loyalty asked of Malaysian citizens, I dont know what loyalty you expect from us.

For the past 12 years, my family has made an annual pilgrimage to the Immigration Department, because my mother is not entitled to reside in Malaysia.Every year, my parents swear before a Commissioner of Oaths that they are still legally married, and on this basis, they renew my mothers social visit pass at the Immigration Department.A social visit pass, for the mother of four Malaysian citizens, ! the daughter-in-law of another two Malaysians, the wife of yet another Malaysian, and friend of many more!

A long, long time ago so long I cannot remember, but about a decade or so my mother applied to the Immigration Department for a permanent resident visa.My parents personally put all the necessary paperwork together, and my mother invested a lot of her timetime which could have been spent looking after her four young Malaysian children, or contributing to the Malaysian economyin learning the Malay language. To this date, the Immigration Department has never even acknowledged receipt of her application.

My parents initially followed up on the application, but were told by the officers to await an official letter from the Department. They waited. And waited.Ten years on, they are still waiting. Last year, my mother applied for a Canadian tourist visa.The process went without a hitch, until we came to picking up her passport.A Canadian embassy officer appeared and enquired about her social visit pass.My mother confirmed that yes, in spite of everything, this wife and mother of ! Malaysians has yet to be allowed to stay in Malaysia. The officer shrugged his shoulders, as if he were used to seeing this sort of thing, and replied, Okay, just checking!

On the way drive home, my father reflected on the ludicrousness of it all.If he were to die, if they were to be divorced, my mother would have no right to stay in Malaysia, no right to be the mother of Malaysians. A decade on, my family was still waiting.

Fed up with it all, my father decided that if his wife could not have a home here, he would make sure she and our family could have a home elsewhere.Two years ago, he applied for permanent residency in New Zealand.

Today, before any of us have even set foot in New Zealand, the Kiwi government has welcomed us and given us the right to stay and reside in New Zealand for as long as we like, without any preconditions. We have no prior ties to New Zealand, and they welcome us with open arms; my mother has a rich 20-year history with Malaysia, and to this day, her request to stay here has yet to even be acknowledged.

This story is alas far too common; years ago, my father was warned by an ! acquain tance that his wife had waited in vain for 10 years for her permanent residency to come through.Earlier yesterday, he decided to check with the Immigration Department, just to see if they had ever done anything about my mothers application.

He got the same brush-off of a reply: Tunggu suratlah! As he left the office, he overheard a Mat Salleh woman berating a young officer, in fluent Malay: My husband is dead already, what should I do now? I have been living in this country longer than you have been alive!Not far off, an Indonesian construction worker was conspicuously brandishing his approved application for a work permit, entitling him to reside here.

This sort of thing is no bureaucratic accident; this is intentional racism.This is the product of Malay unity. What good is this talk of how Pak Lah is selling us out to the Singaporeans by giving them cheap sand, when right under our noses, the government is selling our citizenship birthrights out to any old Indonesian, while denying Malaysians the right to live in peace with their spouses, their families? When you endorse this idea that the end of Malay unity justifies th! e means, this is the result.

I dont begrudge legal Indonesian immigrants their right to live and work here; they are doing a job nobody else wants to, and they are often unfairly scapegoated by a Malaysian society not willing to examine its own fractures and divisions.But I have lived for years with the shame of being a citizen whose own country will not even let his mother stay, in spite of everything she has done for her Malaysian family.

Its easy to mock people like us for saying things like I will never die for this country; its hard to accept that this country has never given people like us a reason to die for it. When my family migrates to New Zealand, they will not be looking back wistfully; they will be looking forward to a future where my mother is not forever in legal jeopardy, forever at risk of separation from us. The last thing on their minds will be a country obsessed with small-minded Malay unity, obsessed with worshipping its keris-waving heroes while ignoring the countless non-Malays who gave their lives in apparent vain for a country which will not recognise the ideal behind their sacrifice.

John Lee is a second-year student of economics at Dartmouth College in the United States. He has been thinking aloud since 2005.

The Withcraft of Prediction

December 1, 2010

The Witchcraft of Prediction

by W. Scott Thompson

IT takes a long time for reality to set in, when beliefs have been held for a long, long time. When its no longer possible to prove something logically, we just substitute repetition of authority to sustain our beliefs.

We all know the famous case of liberal elite America sure in its belief that Ronald Reagan was spending America into a ditch with his military build-up. And then the great historian Paul Kennedy at Yale in his Rise and fall of the Great Power s gave proof of imperial over stretch through historical comparisons, with the popular implication that America would indeed lose its leadership position because it was taking on the Soviet Union; it might even implode.

Reagan didnt want to contain the Soviet Union, he wanted to destroy it (I was there). And just a little more than a year after Kennedys self-assured predictions, guess what? There was indeed an implosion.

But it was the Soviet Unions. The world was briefly a unipolar monstrosity, with a different set of implications and problems.

Equally, were still mesmerised by the population explosion, though most countries of the world are losing, not gaining, population. A few countries like the Philippines seem to believe that more babies are good, without thinking of who will educate them. Even that is changing.

The new president, Benigno N oy Aquino, is backing a family planning programme and bucking the Catholic Church. (Well, the pope has finally seen a tiny glimpse of reality and backed condoms to stop HIV from spreading. Im not sure very many people care what the pope says on this.) Actually, at the present rate of decline, Japan will have no people in a century. Italy, whose prime minister seems to take women as playth! ings, is just behind Japan in its decline.

We now are watching the extrapolations on Chinese growth. No doubt it will have been the economic miracle of all history. But the examples of Japan since 1990, America in the late 19th century, Germany off and on (when theyre not starting wars) all suggest that miracles dont go on forever. China will become the worlds biggest economy within most of our lifetimes, but a long way from being at Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) per capita income levels.

And who knows what the information revolution will bring in due course. Some 240 million Chinese have Internet through their cell phones alone.

Im confident, as a social scientist, that we really could predict the future if we had enough data to determine underlying trends. Were a long way from that, even in the more data-rich field of economics.

But arent there random factors that make history unpredictable the assassination that set off the Great War? Well, wasnt the Balkans already a powder keg? And if people had been reading Mein Kampf by the failed Austrian artist Adolph Hitler, theyd have headed off World War 2.

And if fewer liberals had been enchanted by the Soviet experience, we could have been looking analytically at Soviet military spending in relation to its economy in the 1980s and wed have known something had to give.

The late senator Pat Moynihan saw it because he knew about ethnicity as well. So did the French scholar Hlne Carrre dEncausse, who lectured all over America but few listened.

The collapse of the baht in 1997 set off the Asian economic crisis. But the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance told the prime minister that the baht would collapse with grim consequences and got sacked. That afternoon, the catastrophe began. The collapse of a bank acted likewise in 2008. But if anything ever was on the cards, it was a world economic crisis. Lots of people were seeing it on the same basis and saying ! it (one was Hardev Kaur, formerly of this paper). So I think that the random factor is pretty random and not very frequent.

At a small level we see it all the time as well. In 2002, Id been telling my driver in Bali that if he crashed into one of the trucks he liked to snuggle up to, it wouldnt be an accident because it was inevitable. And we were both almost killed when he got too close to a truck carrying steel rods hanging out of the truck. The rods went all the way through my car, miraculously missing both of us. It was totally avoidable. Most bad things just dont have to happen.

Theres a category where bad things happen because they are unavoidable but the likelihood can be measured. If Pyongyang wants to escalate, the chance that things will get out of control rises and there might be a war. At least it would be end of North Koreas regime, a good thing, and thats probably why they and the Chinese also dont want it.

But theyve been steadily escalating their provocations because so far Seoul has failed to retaliate enough.

Its almost as bad in Israel, where the rich are getting richer, their Berlin wall protects them from terror attacks, and American aid is unceasing. Its another accident waiting to happen. Remember the surprise when the other Berlin wall fell. It wasnt really a surprise; it was waiting to happen. Only the exact timing was unclear.

So what are the things that might surprise us in 2011? The fallout from Republican obstructionism in Washington might have consequences in the world. Another orange or yellow people power revolution in the Muslim ex-Soviet states? The collapse of Spains banking system? Well, we know the Swiss banks arent in danger; Spain is at the spectrums opposite end. The simple point is, the less we impose our values and beliefs and wishes on the data, and the more data we accumulate, the less witchcraft there is in prediction.www.nst.com.my

The writer is emeritus professor at the Fletcher! School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University,in the United States.

See What Barisan Nasional Gotta Say?

The Justification For The Universities And University Colleges Act 1971 (UUCA)

1 December, 2010 By Batu 5

For quite obvious reasons, “Batu 5″ as a law student in a local university must write using a pseudonym for fear of the UUCA. Ironically, putting on his debating hat, he tries to justify UUCA’s from the Government’s perspective.

As a student in a local university, I am of course angry at the UUCA imposed by the Government on us, the learning class. Briefly, the all-encompassing nature of the Act is such that if university students wish to organise a dance or a debate, they can only do so after securing the prior consent of their Vice-Chancellor (VC). Students are not allowed to participate in political rallies or even join political parties (section 15 UUCA). The perfect example of students being persecuted would be the UKM4 case.

My heart goes out to those who are facing trial. Under status quo however, students are allowed to discuss about politics, talk about issues and are free to borak about political parties. This has been clarified by our Deputy Prime Minister and also Minister of Higher Education. In a nutshell, talking about politics is fine, but participating in a political party and at rallies isn’t. I’m ticked off because students are presumed dumb and lack maturity when we are the future leaders and we, as human beings have the right to associate as well. I want it abolished. However, it struck me. What’s the jurisprudential reasoning behind UUCA? I’m sure our gerontocracy, playing a paternal role should have our best interests at heart, yes? After searching the Hansard for a satisfactory answer on the intention of UUCA, (though I laughed at a couple of the MPs’ weird logic), I couldn’t find any which has substance. The usual arguments like how we need to concentrate on our studies cropped up, but it was generic, unconvincing and easily rebutted. So, I sat down and thought. The “paternal” argument that I managed to conjure, only came when I was forced to support the UUCA in a debating round. I would like to share this argument with you, and I welcome criticisms on my justification for the UUCA. Let me be clear, this is just a perspective which I think is able to be used to justify the UUCA’s existence, I do not condone the UUCA in any way but condemn it through and through. As I said above, UUCA only prohibits us joining political parties and rallies unless we obtain the VC’s consent (fat chance in getting that!). Let us analyse two things. First, us, the students and why we are given exclusive treatment (by being barred from politics). Secondly, political parties/rallies and why these are chosen as platforms we are barred from participating.

American History X

First, us, the local university students. We are a young bunch. We are the future leaders of the nation and thus we need to be precariously moulded and shaped to be better individuals in the future. I believe we still are in our formative years. We are gullible, impressionable and easily exploited. We jump on populist things and things like protests and political parties are things filled with excitement. We search for something to identify ourselves with and most probably its political parties.

University students are the ones who are open, receptive to ideas and since we are still learning, are able to read as much as possible. I know it’s a stereotype but I’m guessing a majority of us fall under this category.

Without stereotyping, how does one formulate policies? Think of people who join anarchists, anti-establishmentarian organisations, skinheads or neo-Nazi groups for that matter. Young people mostly, right? Watch American History X, please. And no, my analysis wasn’t based on that movie solely! What are political parties? Normally, it’s a collection of people who unionise for a certain cause. They hold on to and seek to promote a certain ideology, represent a group’s interest or fight for specific issues. Political parties are strongly partisan [co-operation with other political parties (albeit grudgingly) for a coalition may happen], divisive and have the “us versus them” mentality. The next pertinent question is what types of people join a political party and who becomes a member? A person who would join a political party would usually be someone who really believes in the party’s cause and support it through and through. I’m not saying the dude is a fanatic, extremist or a hardliner of the party. What I’m saying is that that person has firm convictions on what that party stands for. He made up his mind and made a conscious choice to stand up and be counted for in that party. His support and devotion for the party is unshakeable. Rallies are the same, only those who really believe in the cause of that rally would join. And maybe get a beating by the riot police. Or just tears (from tear gas).

So what’s the link between students and political parties? Why can’t they be together and the two needs to be divorced? The first premise that must be established in this argument is that universities should be apolitical and be a bastion of political neutrality. Why? Since it has been established that students are easily impressionable, their impartiality when making political decisions might be compromised. The tangible harms are, if a student becomes a member of a political party when he is still at his tender years, his views would be skewed only to those of that party’s. This is because you choose to become a member if you really believe in that party. Furthermore, your views on that party would be more entrenched as you associate with older party members daily, contact them, go to propaganda rallies, and are reminded of the ideology and campaign for the party under its banner. Being a committed member has a lot of work, you know! As compared to a student who is not a member, though he might have the tendency to support a political party and might be biased to one party during discussions and on issues (status quo allows discussions on issues only, right), his opinion is still subject to change as he is able to hear opinions and arguments from other political parties. His support for that party is not entrenched. He doesn’t associate with members of that party or be brainwashed with its propaganda on a daily basis. He is still impartial.

Marijuana Party

Let’s look at 2 scenarios: X is a university student. He believes in the Marijuana Party and its policy to legalise marijuana. He doesn’t join the party because he can’t by law. As such, he doesn’t associate with the Marijuana Party members as he is not a member. He cannot attend their gatherings or rallies. His mindset and worldview is still impartial and malleable. He reads the Marijuana Party’s blogs. He also reads the opinions from the Conservative Party which opposes the Marijuana Party’s principles. The Conservative Party’s arguments create reasonable doubt regarding the legalisation of marijuana which the Marijuana Party stands for. X is able to judge both opinions with an open mind and with tolerance as he is not hearing the Marijuana Party’s propaganda every day. His views are still moderate and not yet entrenched. Z is also a university student. He too believes in the Marijuana Party and its policy to legalise marijuana. He is able to join the Marijuana Party as he could do so by law. He attends their gatherings, rallies, meetings and assemblies. He mixes around with party members, all announcing that they would fight for the cause. Almost everyday, he is exposed to the Marijuana Party’s propaganda. He comes across blogs and opinions from the Conservative Party. Unfortunately, his mind is partial to the Marijuana Party’s ideology and does not want to accept reasoning from the Conservative Party even when their case is strong. He believes the Marijuana Party has the birthright to rule as he believes only in their ideology. Even when the members are corrupt and irresponsible, it doesn’t matter because what the party is fighting for is pure to Z. As a university student, we are at a tipping point in our lives and this is where the path is forked. If we are imbued and influenced solely with one political party, it is feared that our views would skew to that party. Our impartiality in judging issues would be on what the political party says. It’s hard to turn back. Of course there would be cases, but it’s the exception rather than the general rule. We shall be entrenched on that ideology only and nothing else. As a citizen in a democracy, it is essential that we view things with an impartial mind, not tied to an allegiance to a certain political party. We make judgments in a rational manner and being entrenched to a political party would not make us that rational. We need to produce citizens who upon graduation are able to vote with a mind uncontaminated by partisanship. Let’s look at a boy who is habitually advised and reminded from young to devote himself to a party by his parents. He would always support that party no matter what and have the feeling that even if that party is wrong, he would still support it. Look at people who beat each other up just because they support a different party (especially during election time). These things need to be avoided and the protection of young minds is what UUCA is doing.

Disclaimer Some might ask, what about non-students who are youths? Well, we can?t regulate them as they aren?t in an institution which we can take action. Plus, the intellectual class are the ones who have a higher tendency to become future leaders. What about Kelab UMNO Luar Negara? As much as I might despise this, laws operate intra-territorially thus the law does not apply to Kelab UMNO Luar Negara. We don’t own universities outside Malaysia! This article is primarily about the substance of UUCA, not about those who administer it. So if there are rumours that the BN Government allows BN clubs to operate among students or students are allowed to go to BN meetings, then that’s a failure of the administrators of the law to ensure impartiality. Remember, the law is only as good as those who administer it.

Batu 5 is a law student and a debater. He considers himself a full time debater and a part time law student. He believes that inter-varsity debating is the best thing in the world. He also is a dreamer as he plans to establish a company which is too big to fail for Malaysia with his girlfriend. He believes that Malaysia is in a class war, and his class, the learning/student class is losing out.

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Kuan Yews thoughts on China and the region

The pragmatists are in charge. There is nothing Communist about it. They just want to preserve one-party rule.
Lee Kuan Yew on China

US deputy secretary of state James Steinberg met Singapore’s elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew for discussions on China and east Asia on May 30 last year, while attending the Shangri-la Dialogue, an annual international security forum.

Steinberg’s report on the discussions, in a cable from the US embassy in Singapore to the State Department was one of the cables published in full by the Wikileaks whistleblower site.

Highlights of what Mr Lee said:

  • China knows within hours anything said at Asean meetings, through its friends Laos, Cambodia and Burma
  • China is worried about depending on the Straits of Malacca and is building a pipeline to Burma
  • Japan will probably “go nuclear”; China will accept it if it means North Korea continues to exist
  • China’s president Hu Jintao is a pragmatist about Taiwan and is willing to take a long view and continue to build ties
  • China has a 1,000 missile shield to keep the US Seventh Fleet at a distance in case of problems over Taiwan
  • Ma Ying-Jeou will be re-elected
  • North Korea is useful as a buffer state between China and South Korea and the US
  • China does not want a nuclear-armed North Korea but does not want it to collapse and be taken over by the South
  • China has a huge savings rate and will go slow on moving towards more consumption.
  • The US should cultivate friendships with young Chinese; they prefer to go to US universities.

Lightly-edited extract from the US embassy cable:

China and North Korea

They are psychopathic types, with a “flabby old chap” for a leader who prances around stadiums seeking adulation. They have been so isolated for so long that they have no friends, not even Russia. They have not trusted China since the Chinese began cultivating ties with [South Korea]

the Chinese do not want North Korea to have nuclear weapons. At the same time, the Chinese do not want North Korea, which China sees as a buffer state, to collapse. South Korea would take over in the North and China would face a U.S. presence at its border. If China has to choose, Beijing sees a North Korea with nuclear weapons as less bad for China than a North Korea that has collapsed, he stated.

He had asked the deputy chief of [China's] People’s Liberation Army (PLA) General Ma Xiaotian what China can do about North Korea. General Ma’s Delphic answer was that “they can survive on their own.” Lee said he interpreted this as meaning that even if China cut off aid, the [North Korean] leadership would survive. This is a leadership that has already taken actions like killing [South Korean] Cabinet members in Burma and shooting down a KAL flight. If they lose power, they will end up facing justice at The Hague, like Milosevic.

They have been so isolated for so long that they have no friends, not even Russia. They have not trusted China since the Chinese began cultivating ties with [South Korea], given China’s interest in attracting foreign investment, he said.

Lee expressed worry about the effect on Iran if North Korea persists. Lee said he believes the North can be contained and will not proliferate, but Iran has very high ambitions, ties to Shiite communities outside Iran, and oil wealth.

Steinber noted that North Korea’s decisions will have an impact in Japan. Lee said he believes Japan may well “go nuclear.”

The Chinese must have factored this into their calculations and concluded that the prospect of Japan with nuclear weapons is less bad than losing North Korea as a buffer state.

The Chinese take a long-term view and must think that within a few years the [North’s] current leadership will be gone and there will be new leadership, with new thinking. But there will still be a North Korea, he said.

Lee said he wishes the US government well in its efforts on North Korea, but he would be surprised if the North Koreans agree to give up nuclear weapons. They might give up a first-strike capacity, but they want nuclear weapons in case the US decides to seek regime change.

They are psychopathic types, with a “flabby old chap” for a leader who prances around stadiums seeking adulation. MM Lee noted that he had learned from living through three and a half years of Japanese occupation in Singapore that people will obey authorities who can deny them food, clothing and medicine.

Lee said that South Korea, after seeing what had happened with German unification, does not want immediate unification with the North. There is “nothing there” in the North, other than a military organization.

Kim Jong-Il has already had a stroke. It is just a matter of time before he has another stroke. The next leader may not have the gumption or the bile of his father or grandfather. He may not be prepared to see people die like flies. China is calculating all this. They have their best men on the job. They want to help the United States to advance common objectives. But they do not want the South to take over the North, Lee said.

China’s economy

The Chinese are very confident they will be able to sustain eight percent growth. The government is pumping resources into the economy, with a focus on developing Western China.

Whether such policies can be sustained for three to four years is unclear, but China can certainly sustain these policies for at least a year, he said.

…in the absence of a social safety net in China, the Chinese savings rate is 55 percent, exceeding even Singapore’s 50 percent level. Consumption accounts for only 35 percent of Chinese GDP, as opposed to 70 percent of U.S. GDP.

The Chinese leadership may be loath to shift permanently to a more consumption-oriented economy, but the leadership will do so temporarily, if only to avoid unrest. 20 million people have moved back to the countryside because of economic dislocations. The government is providing microfinance to facilitate the transition.

The pragmatists are in charge. There is nothing Communist about it. They just want to preserve one-party rule.

Steinberg expressed concern that current Chinese policies designed to counter the economic crisis could undermine reform. Lee said this cannot be helped. China wants to prevent riots like the ones that happened in Guangzhou in March when Hong Kong-connected enterprises suddenly shut down, he said.


Lee said former President Chen Shui-bian had left Taiwan in a weak economic position, which had enabled President Ma Ying-Jeou to come to power with his pledge to strengthen the economy through means including expanding the three links with China.

In Beijing, former President Jiang Zemin was wedded to his eight-point approach, but President Hu Jintao was more flexible.

Jiang wanted to show he was a great man by solving the Taiwan issue in his lifetime, but Hu is more patient and does not have any fixed timeline. In Chinese domestic politics,

Hu had wanted Vice Premier Li Keqiang from the Communist Youth League to emerge as his successor, not Vice President Xi Jinping, but Hu did his calculations and accepted Xi when it became clear that Xi had the necessary backing from the rest of the leadership.

Similarly, on Taiwan, Hu will be pragmatic. It does not matter to Hu if it takes 10 years or 20 or 30. The key is building links with Taiwan. As in the case of Hong Kong, if necessary the tap could be turned off, he said.

…Lee said Hu could live with Ma’s positions on the ‘92 consensus and on not addressing the reunification issue during his term in office. What mattered to Hu was that Taiwan not seek independence. If that happened, China has 1,000 missiles and is building its capacity to hold the US fleet at a distance. The implicit question for Taiwan’s leaders is if that is what they want, MM Lee said.

Lee stated that the alternative is Mainland investment in Taiwan stocks and property. The Mainland has already assured Hong Kong that it will help out economically. The Mainland has not said this to Taiwan, but the Mainland’s Taiwan Affairs Director, Wang Yi, did urge Chinese companies to invest in Taiwan.

In four years Taiwan’s economy will pick up and Ma will win re-election. The DPP lacks strong potential candidates. Su Zhen-chang is promising, but seems unlikely to be able to win. Meanwhile, even the traditionally DPP-supporting farmers in Taiwan’s South need China’s market for vegetables and other products. Taiwan’s continued participation in the World Health Assembly depends on Beijing.

Beijing’s calculation seems to be to prevent Taiwan independence in the near term, then bring Taiwan “back to China,” even if it takes 40 or 50 years. MM Lee said he is looking forward to visiting Fujian Province, where preparations are under way for a new southern economic area linked with Taiwan.

Xi Jinping

Steinberg asked if in the future a leader like Xi Jinping would continue the policies on Taiwan followed by Hu Jintao.

Lee responded affirmatively. Xi is a princeling who succeeded despite being rusticated. When the party needed his talents, Xi was brought in as Shanghai Party Secretary.

Xi is seen as a Jiang Zemin protege, but in another three and a half years Jiang’s influence will be gone.

The focus now is on maintaining the system. There are no more strongmen like Deng Xiaoping. Jiang did not like Hu, but could not stop him, because Hu had the backing of the system and he did not make mistakes.

Wang Qishan

Lee said Vice Premier Wang Qishan … is an exceptional talent, very assured and efficient. Wang handled SARS superbly when he was in Hainan. He excelled in coordinating the Beijing Olympics.

Li Keqiang may not get the Premiership and the Party is looking for a way to keep Wang on past his 65th birthday until he is 70. MM Lee said he had met first Wang back in the 1990s but had forgotten their meeting. This time when they met, Wang told Lee he had reviewed the records of all Lee’s meeting with Chinese leaders going back to the days of Deng Xiaoping to see how Lee’s thinking had developed. Wang told Lee he respects him as a consistent man.

China’s Rise

Lee said China is following an approach consistent with ideas in the Chinese television series The Rise of Great Powers.

The mistake of Germany and Japan had been their effort to challenge the existing order. The Chinese are not stupid; they have avoided this mistake. China’s economy has surpassed other countries, with the exceptions of Japan and the United States. Even with those two countries, the gap is closing, with China growing at seven-nine percent annually, versus two-three percent in the United States and Japan.

Overall GDP, not GDP per capita, is what matters in terms of power.

China has four times the population of the United States. China is active in Latin America, Africa, and in the Gulf. Within hours, everything that is discussed in ASEAN meetings is known in Beijing, given China’s close ties with Laos, Cambodia, and Burma, he stated.

Lee said China will not reach the American level in terms of military capabilities any time soon, but is rapidly developing asymmetrical means to deter U.S. military power. China understands that its growth depends on imports, including energy, raw materials, and food. This is why China is working with South Africa on the China-Africa Development Fund. China also needs open sea lanes. Beijing is worried about its dependence on the Straits of Malacca and is moving to ease the dependence by means like a pipeline through Burma.

Build ties with young Chinese

The best course for the United States on China is to build ties with China’s young people. China’s best and brightest want to study in the United States, with the UK as the next option, then Japan.

While they are there, it is important that they be treated as equals, with the cultural support they may need as foreigners. Why not have International Military Education and Training (IMET) programs for China? Why not have Chinese cadets at West Point alongside Vietnamese cadets and Indian cadets?

America’s advantage is that it can make use of the talent of the entire world, as in Silicon Valley. China still tends to try to keep the foreigners in Beijing and Shanghai.

Lee noted that his own experience as a student in the UK had left him with an enduring fondness for the UK. When he spent two months at Harvard in 1968, an American professor had invited him home for Thanksgiving. This was not the sort of thing that happened in the UK, and Lee had realized he was dealing with a different civilization.

In the future, China’s leaders will have PhDs and MBAs from American universities, he predicted.

Full text of the cable:

Creating The Economy & Money

from Economic Policy

I think we have now come to a stage where things may be a bit more familiar to the reader - in that we shall be dealing with issues that are a bit more mundane.

We have now gotten out of ether and universal consciousness and into the world of form, of individual physical entities. As an individual born with a stomach and a sexual reproductive organ, our true calling is to each and to procreate. The sex part is quite intuitive and I shall not be dealing too with that because it has been very well treated by the arts. I shall instead delve into the eating part.

Stage 1. Human and Environment

In my version of the art of war - of war between humans and non-humans - a person stands alone in this world and ask: What is my next step?

In my little garden of eden, the next human step is to stretch out the hand and it shall be provided by the fruit of the nearest tree for sustenance. But even in paradise, there is need for knowledge, for some have eaten the fruit and lived, and some have eaten the fruit and died. Distinction comes into being - between the fruit that gives life (edible fruit) and the fruit that takes away life (poison). Which this distinction, one can be creative in the identification of food. The community that succeeds in finding the best way to classify food and poison becomes the most thriving one.

At this stage, it is still possible for humans to stay put in the original state and stand naked with outstretched arms and be provided.

Stage 2. Population Growth and Food

Stage 2 is when the population grows and there is pressure on the supply of food. There will come a time when what nature provides in the vicinity is insufficient for the growing population, and the only concern of the human race is food. This is as if the human race has been cast out of the garden of eden. Food is no more a sure thing for the existing population. The option is to fight for the existing supply of food (those who fail die), or to migrate out of the community into the big wide world and hope for the best, or to be find ways of increasing the food supply from the same existing immediate environment. By the way, all these three options call for some degree of creativity - to think out of the box, meaning to think differently from the traditional way of looking at things, as well as doing things and handling things.

Creativity in fighting for food requires the acquisition of power, the art of war and the organisation of slave labour.

Creativity in out migration requires the construction of the means of transportation, communication, organisation of autonomous societies, the saving of scarce resources, the investment in useful knowledge and contraption, the art of living with different cultures.

Creativity in the production of food in existing environment involves conservation of the productivity of the environment, the consumption at necessary levels, the preservation of surplus food for the uncertain future supply or increase in members of the community.

Stage 3. Social Organisation

In moving out of the garden of eden, there is a need for organisation - which in the primary stage will involve sacrifice by members of the cooperative to do committee work and in the secondary stage a group of professional organisers who are paid out of the communual output for them to tell the community what is the best way to organise themselves.

This organisation leads into the problems of how to get that portion of the output to be paid to the non-production team. One method is to fixed the portion in quantity terms, another is to pay according to tokens the quantity of which may be fixed or not, and the number of tokens may or may not match the quantity of output available for exchange. All these issues lead to the problem of the economy concerning production, distribution, consumption and the supply of the money stock and the demand for money, as well as price of output and the interest on money should lending and borrowing be allowed. The very simple problem of organisation of human society in as non-violent way as possible leads to arms-length and informal dealing that are signaled by price (or the number of tokens).

It can be seen that the economic system can be corrupted by the pursuit of the acquisition of tokens as an end in itself (thinking that these are valuable) and if not realising that valuable necessarily means hard-to-get, some token control authority may try to ingratiate himself or herself to the political masters in the guise of trying to smooth the production of output without being blamed for any hardship that must arise with any attempt at adjustment (i.e., getting some people to work or work hard or work harder) and end up printing more tokens and distributing them to the political masters (quantitative easing) so that the political masters may suffer no inconveniences while the general public may have their consumption curtailed as a result of inflation.

McDonald Economy: The American Urge to Splurge and Spit

At around 20 million, Shanghai’s population is 1.5 percent of China’s 1.3 billion total. Wuqi (吴起) in the loess region of Yan’an (延安) has no more than 130,000 people, 0.01 percent of total. It is a prefecture of Shaanxi province (陕西, pop. 38m, and not to be confused with next door Shanxi province 山西) with Xi’an as capital, a cradle of the Chinese civilization and culture.

When Lim Teck Ghee visited Shanghai he was enthralled, seeing tower blocks, fast trains, and clockwork administration as signs of Shanghai, therefore China, “rising”. When David Leonhardt visited Wuqi he checked into the Wuqi International Hotel, equalled to the Hiltons and the Marriotts, he says, but with shacks in the front and concluded, 7,800 words later, China is a struggling copycat economy, no innovation, and unsustainable because it’s run by a stupid regime prodding everybody to “splurge” their way to be World No 1 economy when they have no money to do so. Leonhardt was more than disillusioned: he would agitate for China to model itself after America.

To Lim, the rise of China is reflected in the polished mirror façade of Shanghai’s office and hotel buildings. To Leonhardt, China is not even comparable to the US and for anecdotal evidences he lists an empty hotel, highways with no cars, the dusty town pavements housing dirty shacks and gritty, dislodged peasants – never mind Wuqi International Hotel; it is, he thinks, just a show for gweilos like he.

The contradictions between Lim and Leonhardt aside, the two men had between them no more than passed by, not even breathing inside 2 percent of China’s total population, as opposed to using land mass as a benchmark to extrapolate their visitor-impressions. After which, and upon leaving China, they write as if they are the well-informed, well-schooled authorities with hints to answers on China’s immense problems when they can’t even read the airport exit signs in Chinese hanyu.

Leonhardt’s error begins right in the article title: “In China, Cultivating the Urge to Splurge”. Few paragraphs later, he contradicts his “urge” and “splurge” because:

“savings create a self-reinforcing cycle, in which stores don’t flourish because people don’t shop much and people don’t shop much partly because there aren’t many good stores.”

Therefore, as his inference goes, China is going to be a flop as a consumer society, and this failing means it won’t turn out to as a great as America where nobody, virtually nobody saves – collectively, Americans spend more than they earn.

Leonhardt’s contradictions aren’t just a matter of irrational circularity – high savings, hence low consumption, leading to no shopping and therefore poor stores, which loops back to no shopping, and low consumption. It is a circuitous argument intended to demonstrate that consumption is held up by savings – Leonhardt doesn’t say by how much. But the savings rate is about 55 percent of national income, meaning 55 cents of every dollar generated in the Chinese economy is stashed away in cigarette tin cans, banks, and so on. And that, really, for reasons beyond Leonhardt’s comprehension.

He might have compared the China savings rate to the US, where it’s zilch. But compare that rate to Singapore’s 50 percent, thanks to the employees’ provident fund, CPF? Yet Singaporeans are big spenders, donning USD1,000 Gucci suits in 33 degree weather while eating tons of oil-hot French Fries.

Below, the Chinese economy that neither Lim Teck Ghee nor David Leonhardt ever saw, could see or would see. Agriculture, although contributing 11 percent to GDP, employs 40 in 100 persons compared to industry, 27 in 100. China’s principal problem is to make life a little easier for the kids, and not about flipping burgers or eating more fries.

I’m saving up for a new cow. Got a problem with that, Yankee?

We’re saving money for dinner. Want to buy grown-in-China potato?

Leonhardt’s empirical fallacy doesn’t even account for China’s geographical spread.

Singapore has few other places to eat but Singapore. China? It’s entirely possible that the Wuqi noveau riche shop for most of their modern-day needs from … Xi’an, even Taiwan. Competition, you see. And you have only to peep into those enormous sacks that passengers carry on their shoulders boarding trains and buses on the way home for new year to know what that means.

Worse than not seeing the bigger picture is to make one up. Leonhardt extrapolates an observation on one street in Wuqi to all China, all 1.3 billion people because low consumption isn’t the case Lim Teck Ghee saw in Shanghai. His arguments turn out not only bad in empirical fact but in economic theory.

Farther on Leonhardt writes:

China’s story is the classic one of economic development: investments in physical capital and education make a society more productive and are combined with a huge shift of people from farms to factories. England, Germany, the United States, Japan and South Korea have all followed the model over the last 250 years.

In other words, Leonhardt says, the Chinese are country bumpkins looking to half copy a supposedly successful Western model, as Japan and South Korea once did, so it’s no big deal: We’ve seen it all. The Chinese make toys, clothes and shoes – industrial consumer goods – then sell to us, American buyers. So, white man made Chinaman rich.

Oh ya?

The Leonhardt thesis – a ‘classic economic development case’ – is an old rag, recycled around for ages by Western propagandists fronting as academicians and journalists. But, to see if it is true is to check out the kind of industrial products that Leonhardt says the Chinese peasant now makes and so makes him rich. Take yarn and machine-made cotton cloth, the two key products that spurred England’s industrial revolution and which are then exported to places like India.

In 1978, the year before China threw opened its doors to the world, it was already producing 2.4 million tons; in cotton cloth 11,030 million tons. In tractors, it made 113,500 units; 26 years later this was down to 98,300 units. In the same year, China was making soda ash, ethylene, fertilizers, pig iron, crude steel, rolled steel – all non-industrial revolution products – and forging iron in 1,000 degree temperatures was used long before England existed and used for weapons making that helped protect the Chinese in the Zhou, Qin, Han and other dynasties from marauding foreigners.

China hadn’t begun cell phone production on a factory scale until 2001. Without it and without toys and shoes, the Chinese peasant will stay in the farms and therefore stay poor. This is Leonhardt’s presumption cultivated by Western media hacks (and underlings; think Josh Hong) in newspapers and which has been repeated to no end.

Industrial England or America did made available consumer goods which was not available before on a factory scale – Abercrombie wear, Kellogg cereals, English language dictionaries and bibles. But they don’t necessarily make them cheap. China makes them cheap, virtually every item imaginable. If there was no Chinese peasant, most Americans wouldn’t be able to afford a cell phone; it will be simply too costly from a factory in Chicago or Southampton.

But, if the Chinese peasant isn’t making phones for Americans and gweilos she’d be making it for her countrymen – factory supplies would fill every store from Wuqi to Shanghai down to Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Now much is diverted overseas instead because, there, the phone fetches a higher price. China makes one out of every two new pairs of shoes available in the world, yet you have a problem finding a shoe shop in Chengdu.

This fact leads to Leonhardt’s other presumption: it is that without America, there is no economic resurgence in China. He presumes that, like South Korea and Japan, both ruled by America before and so beholden to it, are export-dependent economies, hence, dependent on foreign consumers.

This is completely fallacious. Malaysia’s export trade is 40 percent of its 2009 GDP size, USD 381 billion, and much of that is not in intermediate or raw items but in finished consumer goods, Panasonic TVs and so on. China’s kind of export trade is the opposite, and much of its industrial production is absorbed in things like metal ores, machine and equipment manufacturing and raw textiles. These items are surpluses from its domestic production, rather than the highly publicized computers, phones, shoes and toys made in cordoned-off zones specifically for sale overseas.

Consumer goods in aggregate represent no more than 30 percent of total annual export sales which at USD1 trillion is in turn only 20 percent of the 2009 GDP size of USD5 trillion. Converted again, those numbers mean that consumer goods production – purely to sell worldwide – account for just 5 percent of total GDP size. Regress the numbers farther, Chinese trade with America makes not even the hair of an ox.

All this says China is a continental economy. To be technical, it’s autarkic in nature, self-dependent, self-sufficient. Even before the arrival and the plunder by the Western powers, this very economy also made China the richest in the world under the Tang and Ming dynasties. All that was well before the industrial revolution and helps to explain why, under the Qings, China refused to deal with the West. What do barbarians have to sell the Chinese? Firecrackers? Paper to write? Hand guns to fight? Or Google pornography?

Leonhardt’s fallacious judgements – and then being wrong in empirical facts and in economy theories – are an invariable consequence. It happens when condescending foreign journalists, possessing only a taximan’s guide to economics fly into a Chinese city, understand no Chinese, much less China, and then leave to provide their media employers seemingly clever essays to disguise their touristy tours and their contempt and suspicion of a people who don’t behave and make decisions like Leonhardt. If he wants to campaign for the Chinese to eat more burgers (before that the campaign was cigarettes) and to buy more American Apparel jeans (made-in-China), he should at least learn some economics, and get it right.

And if he did, Lim Teck Ghee would be better informed of China than from the lessons that, he trumpets, Leonhardt delivers. What lessons, Mr Lim?

The pineapple farmer and the tsunami — June Rubis

DEC 1 — We are in the middle of nowhere, or so it seemed to me, but to be precise, we are somewhere in the middle of the Mukah district, Sarawak.

We have been driving for hours passing by oil palm plantations, and it was a great surprise when we stumbled across a small pineapple farm, standing quite defiantly between an oil palm processing plant, and many hectares of oil palm.

Our curiosity made us stop and talk to the elderly inhabitants of a humble hut between lines of unripe pineapples.

They tell us a sad story that is not uncommon throughout Sarawak, of ancestral land that once belonged to them, but has since been taken over by the blessings of the state government, as “… idle NCR land needs to be developed for the betterment of the state…” (overused phrase of state-controlled local print media).

The older muscled Iban man tells us with a glint in his eye, “We’ve claimed back our land by planting pineapples. They cannot drive us off.” He then goes into a bitter spiel against the Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) government. They have disappointed him. He had fought during Konfrontasi to help form the Malaysia as we know today. He feels that his community is losing out, from all the riches he sees being harvested daily on what was previously his peoples’ land.

Yet, when posed the question on who would he vote for in the upcoming state election, he blinks twice, and says, “Why, BN, of course. How could I vote against the gomen?”

On March 8, 2008, the hope for change did have a ripple effect into Sarawak. Sarawakians, particularly young Dayaks, started to realise that Barisan Nasional was not as invincible as they had thought.

This awakening has translated online where frustrated Dayaks continually voice out their opinions on alternative blogs and websites such as the Sarawak Report, Hornbill Unleashed, and the Borneo Independent News Service.

For the first time in decades, Sarawakians have access to alternative news albeit mostly online. The recent launch of Radio Bebas Sarawak has garnered high hopes of bringing these news to the less accessible rural pockets of the State where receiving a decent phone signal remains a dream, much less having access to the internet.

The political consciousness in Dayaks is emerging but could this be translated into crucial votes, particularly from those based in rural areas of Sarawak?

The pineapple farmer of Mukah reminds me that while the younger generation are more responsive to the idea of change of government, the older generation are still fearful of not receiving any development, of being transferred or sacked if they are working for the government, of losing their rightful status of headmen or community chiefs, of losing their government allowance, if they did not vote for Barisan Nasional. This fear is real as proven over time when the opposition makes some headway in previous elections.

Mark Bujang, of the Borneo Resources Institute (Brimas) believes that the biggest challenge lies in getting rid of the “terhutang budi” mentality of Sarawakians.

“The Dayaks are angry with the government,” he explains, “the sentiment for change is there, but time and time again, when it comes to election, the BN will give money and our people will forget what they are angry about.”

This enigma could possibly be explained that the opposition, particularly Pakatan Rakyat, have not yet made their presence more real to ordinary Sarawakians.

It is not enough to distribute PKR posters to Penan villages, or to hold a one-time seminar in longhouses without any follow-ups. Potential candidates need to prove to the people that they are genuine, for Sarawakians are tired of putting up with opportunists over the years. This can only be done with serious grassroots work on the ground.

And then, there is the other real enigma of the fear of Orang Malaya coming in and taking away what is the spirit of Sarawak, no matter what political leanings one holds fast to.

The current internal politicking within Pakatan Rakyat is certainly hurting their cause as Sarawakians are thinking, “If they cannot work amongst themselves, how can they work with us, when we are so different from them?”

In Malaysia, a natural river phenomenon called the tidal wave or the benak, only occurs in the rivers of Sarawak, where an incoming tide forms waves of water that travel up a river against the direction of the river current.

This is in my humble opinion, a better symbol of political change than a tsunami that comes rarely. It is my hope that for those who seek change in Sarawak, would emulate the character of the benak, rather than the tsunami. Come with conviction, and a true set of principles, come with care and a sense of humbleness to learn what you do not know, and garner support by walking the path that you preach. Do not crash, do not overwhelm, and do not leave us when we don’t do your bidding for reasons you have yet to learn. For we want change, but you have to let us do it our way.

* Born and bred in Sarawak, June Rubis used to count orangutan nests for a living. A wildlife conservationist with a social conscience, she has recently returned from Kalimantan to explore indigenous issues in Sarawak.

Change is in our hands — Adrian Chew

DEC 1 — Two years since we stood at the precipice of change, elated and so full of hope. Today, we have become nothing more than a country in a hurry to go nowhere.

Despite the flurry of national policy announcements, fresh promises of change and reform, more plans to construct bigger iconic buildings, all these signs we project of development and progress belie the true state of our Nation, which is one with a soul — its citizens — that is broken, tired and wounded.

Our leaders and politicians tell us to move forward, but where to?

The difference we clamoured for — greater accountability and transparency, a kinder government more tolerant of its people’s aspirations and ideas — have all came to naught. We received, instead, two years of politics, not of national rejuvenation but of destruction and exclusion. It is not the kind of politics that energises and inspires, but despairs us.

Race relations have deteriorated and religious bigotry is on the rise. Institutional reforms have been superficial at a time when every arm of our government seems to be riddled with one scandal or another. Like bread and circuses we are constantly bombarded with new patriotic slogans, visions and songs to distract us from noticing our national descent. We are asked to become dreamers detached from reality.

We become a conflicted country — saying one thing but doing another.

There was a time, 47 years ago, when we had a winning formula. There was mutual respect between all of us; our children were brought up to see each other as brothers and sisters, all members of the same young nation setting out on a journey to meet its Destiny on the world stage.

We each pulled together for one another, sacrificed and learned to give and take. We were guided by simple truths — that hurtful words once spoken can never be recalled; that truth and honesty carry us higher whereas lies will always haunt us and pull us down; that the true measure of our success is the feeling of contentment we each have from being able to realise our own individual potentials; and that unity gives us strength to overcome all adversities.

But through the course of that journey, we came to place too much hope on politicians and politics, conceding our voice and conscience to individuals whose own agendas diverged from that of the national good. From giving priority to the welfare of our society and protecting our freedoms, they started to care more about the preservation of their power and authority. In time, the politics of hope and optimism that our country’s forefathers preached slowly gave way to the politics of fear and enforcement.

Two years ago we were given hope that Change was coming. Both sides of the political divide campaigned and promised to reflect on their past mistakes, listen to our voices and implement our wishes for reform. We believed in them and fell back into the pattern of beautiful, but broken promises.

Today, many of us have become apathetic to politics. We no longer see it as a solution to our problems but the cause of them. We see the problem of too much politics in our education system, in our economy and in our justice system. There is even too much politics within our political parties. In our country, politics has become an obstacle to us doing the necessary things to get us out of this malaise.

Two years since the political tsunami of March 2008, we are learning to give up on our politicians. We are taking back what we gave up. Our youths are beginning to realise the crisis afflicting us and wanting to have a say in determining our future. Where political parties have failed, new social movements and activists are coming in and bringing change at various levels of our society, promoting a return to our original founding values and principles, addressing injustice and rebuilding that sense of real unity and direction we so foolishly lost to politics.

So out of those broken promises, there emerges a new hope for change. Only this time, it is coming from within us. This time, we determine what the real issues are and we demand the solutions we want to get.

And in the process, we strengthen once more that resilient soul of our nation.

* Adrian Chew, resides in Sarawak where he practices as a lawyer. He writes in search of his voice.

Elections and cheeses, PKR and DAP, Zaid and Ronnie

PKR's new team of vice-presidents
Tay Tian Yan

EDITOR'S PICK Is election really that messy? Rivalry, criticisms, factional infighting and menus are natural in any true election. If you think elections can only be serene, harmonious and friendly, then you should consider moving to Pyongyang.

Under the rule of Dear Leader Kim Jung-Il and the one and only Workers' Party, elections will never raise the slightest controversies. Everyone will stand up and clap in unison.

Fortunately Malaysia is no North Korea, so elections are inevitably raucous and tumultuous. Members will not be sent to a concentration camp for making a dissident decision and they can choose anyone other than the Dear Leader.

While there were some noises throughout the elections of PKR and Selangor DAP, neither party came tumbling down at the end of the elections or after the results were announced. Instead, they will only grow stronger over time.

This is like the manufacture of some dairy products. If we do not allow the milk to ferment sufficiently or the generation of some germs, then the butter produced would fail in both taste and nutritional content.

DAP's unity team
If we allow the milk to ferment, allow more germs to survive, multiply in order to complete the fermentation process, we can then look forward to tastier and more nutritious cheese.

Premium quality cheeses require a wide variety of germs and yeasts to compete for survival under natural environments in order to come up with richly flavoured cheeses.

The Americans used to ignore this important principle, thinking that they had to control the amounts of bacteria and yeasts to ensure a satisfactory level of hygiene. As the result, the government ordained that cheese factories must go through stringent heat sterilisation to make sure no one would get food poisoning.

But such a requirement also rendered their dairy products uniform and monotonous in taste.

Moreover, single species of bacterial culture will by no means ensure complete safety, for toxins could be produced in the absence of neutralisation from other bacteria.

This explains the several food poisoning incidents involving cheeses in the United States.

On the contrary, cheeses are produced in accordance with family traditions in continental Europe, where different species of bacteria are allowed to grow and multiply during the fermentation process without purposeful controls or sterilisations. Such spontaneous procedures allow the formation of cheeses which are diverse in flavours and aromas such as Brie de Meaux of France, Gorgonzola of Italy and Gouda of the Netherlands.

In an election, different candidates are like the different species of lactobacilli, and their styles and directions reflecting the diverse flavours of the cheeses.

Some of the lactobacilli manage to survive in the fermentation process. These are the ones fit to stay on, while those that don't will at least leave their unique flavours behind.

The election of Azmin Ali and Nurul Izzah Anwar will dictate PKR's mainstream directions in the years to come. On the other hand, the victory of both the unity and rainbow factions in Selangor DAP means the opposing factions will still need to hammer out some compromises for peaceful co-existence in the future.

As for deserters and losers in the likes of Zaid Ibrahim and Ronnie Liu, they are just not suited to survive in their parties. That said, the contribution made by these two people towards their respective parties can never be obliterated completely.

PKR and Selangor DAP will continue to thrive in the absence of Zaid and Ronnie. A piece of cheese will never turn to butter just because it lacks one or several lactobacillus cultures.

- Sinchew

Thais let down by free-info reform

Need for information access as part of media reform
The Nation
Monday 29 November 2010

Thailand had proudly announced to the world on 9 December 1997 that it was the first country in Asean to enact the freedom of information law, but 13 years on, the so-called Official Information Act (OIA) and its practice have been thrown on to the backburner. The OIA is a tale of disappointment, betrayal and procrastination.

Although Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has specifically mentioned media reform as one of the national reconciliation efforts under his administration, unfortunately, he has yet to incorporate the OIA reform, which is heart of the publics right to know.

Abhisit must pay serious attention to this hallmark law, which is directly under his purview. As a prime minister, he has the capacity to smash the culture of secrecy ingrained in our society but so far has done little.

Euphoria was high when the OIA was enforced that Thailand would become more democratic, transparent and less corrupt. His predecessor from the same party, former prime minister Chuan Leekpai was more serious. Under him, there was a famous slogan that People should know what the government knows.

After initial excitement with the OIA, which lasted roughly about three years (1997-2000)during the reign of Democratic Party when the public right to know was a new discovery and treated as a social phenomenon.

A few months after the enactment, a mother named Sumalee Limpa-ovart created history and became an instant heroine for her unwavering pursuit of truth related to admission criteria to an elite demonstration elementary school. She wondered why her daughter could not gain admission. She was able to dig up various kinds of dirt related to student recruitment and the preferential system using the magic wand the OIA. At that time, her enthusiasm also generated huge public support and sympathy which subsequently led to amendment of school admissio! n police s and practices.

The unexpected exposure of Thaksin Shinawatras dishonest ways of hiding wealth in the asset statement in 1997 during his deputy premiership using names of his maids, chefs and other nominees further really promoted the use and reputation of the OIA.

The arrest of a former deputy minister of public health over corruption on the 1.4 billion baht worth of drugs procurement also helped to alert the Thai bureaucratic apparatus and political circle that they too could be implicated and their secrets discovered. They had to think twice when they signed any document.

One immediate repercussion was inevitable. After some of the big fish were caught red-handed in the first three years, all government agencies were up in arms against the OIA in order to shield them from further disclosure and possibly prosecution. Understanding was reached among them that information disclosure would be at a snails pace to dissuade the public from using the OIA. Apparently, this strategy has been working unchallenged.

At the end of 2000, half a million Thais either visited the state information bureaus or made information requests from them. Their requests were concentrated on information regarding government concessions, contracts, projects and budgets. More individuals made requests than officials, journalists and civil society groups. The last two groups have not yet utilised the OIA as much.

This year 379 complaints were filed relating to bad services. In 1998, there were only 26 and shot up to 122 the following year. Government officials working in two major ministries: Social Development and Education filed most of the complaints. Understandably, they thought they were unfairly treated by their superiors and needed to access records of assessment and other related materials.

Media lawyers, experts and the Thai Journalists Association have long asked the government to amend the current OIA to make this law more user friendly in facilitating the information disclosure as mand! ated by the constitution and the Act. The Abhisit government has failed to respond even though it is currently pushing for wider media reforms, following the recent passage of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission.

Two important amendments should be made on the much-need independence of the OIA office and the shorter disclosure timeframe.

At the moment, the OIA is under the care of the Prime Ministers Office, which has the power to undermine the information disclosure. It should be an independent organisation as soon as possible.

The Official Information Act Commission still comprises bureaucrats with strong mindsets on treating the government information and data as a national secret not to be shared with the public. Although outside experts were called upon, they did not have any great impact.

The PMs Office is supposed to assist all concerned ministries and government agencies across Thailand to comply with the OIA and enable an environment for further disclosure. But that has not been the case.

The ongoing campaign now is focused on a shorter timeframe for requests for information disclosure. For the time being, the phrase suitable time as stipulated in the 1997 freedom of information act could mean any duration it can be one week or one month or eternity. This loophole allows the concerned agencies to drag their feet, using it as an effective tool to block further information release.

That helps explain why over the past several years, especially under the Thaksin and three successive governments, much was done to suffocate the OIA.

It is incumbent on the Abhisit government to urge all government agencies to comply with the letter of the law. Over 4,000 government agencies throughout the country have not yet set up an access to information unit. Officials refusing to cooperate must be seriously reprimanded. Terms of punishment must also be changed. For the time being, those who refuse disclosure receive smaller fines and jail terms than those ! who reve al faulty information. It should be the other way round.

While the overall transparency has increased under the current government, further efforts are needed as Abhisit wants to make Thailand more competitive and practise good governance. For instance, in the past two years, he has emphasised accountability and effective management in using public money.

Various international indexes on Thailands state of openness and transparency still show a government-related inefficiency and lack of coordination. Within Asean, the Open Budget Index recently ranked Thailand behind the Philippines and Malaysia, even though the latter two do not have any freedom of information law. The Philippines constitution guarantees access to information. In this connection, Transparency Thailand and the World Bank are currently working together to systematically assess the implementation of OIA since 1997.

Abhisit can certainly do a lot more to promote the public right to know. Somehow concerned officials still think they can get away scot-free by avoiding information disclosure.

Asia News Network

See What Barisan Nasional Gotta Say?

WikiLeaks founder Julain Assange is f**ked

Australian born founder of WikiLeaks on most-wanted list of Interpol

PARIS: Interpol has placed the Australian-born founder of WikiLeaks on its most-wanted list after Sweden issued an arrest warrant against him as part of a drawn-out rape investigation.

The Lyon, France-based international police organization has issued a "red notice" for 39-year old Julian Assange - the equivalent of putting him on its most wanted list.

The issuance by Interpol was expected after a Swedish court in mid-November approved a motion to have Assange brought in for questioning.

File: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks about the United States and the human rights during a press conference at the Geneva press club in Geneva, Switzerland, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2010. (AP Photo/Keystone, Martial Trezzini)

The notice, posted on Interpol's site Tuesday, is likely to make international travel more difficult for him.

Assange, whose whereabouts are unknown, is suspected of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion.

He has denied the allegations, which stem from his encounters with two women during a visit to Sweden in August. - AP

WikiLeaks: Espionage? Journalism? Something else?

WASHINGTON: The government's decisions about whether or how to bring criminal charges against participants in the WikiLeaks disclosures are complicated by the very newness of Julian Assange's Internet-based outfit: Is it journalism or espionage or something in between?

Justice, State and Defense Department lawyers are discussing whether it might be possible to prosecute the WikiLeaks founder and others under the Espionage Act, a senior defense official said Tuesday.

They are debating whether the Espionage Act applies, and to whom, according to this official, who spoke anonymously to discuss an ongoing criminal investigation. Other charges also might be possible, including theft of government property or receipt of stolen government property.

Rep. Peter King of New York called for Assange to be charged under the Espionage Act and asked whether WikiLeaks can be designated a terrorist organization.

But Assange has portrayed himself as a crusading journalist: He told ABC News by e-mail that his latest batch of State Department documents would expose "lying, corrupt and murderous leadership from Bahrain to Brazil." He told Time magazine he targets only "organizations that use secrecy to conceal unjust behavior."

Longtime Washington lawyer Plato Cacheris, who represented CIA official Aldrich Ames and other espionage defendants, said Tuesday that Assange could argue he is protected by the Constitution's First Amendment, a freedom of the press defense. "That would be one, certainly," Cacheris said.

Constrained by the First Amendment's free press guarantees, the Justice Department has steered clear of prosecuting journalists for publishing leaked secrets. Leakers have occasionally been prosecuted, usually government workers charged under easier-to-prove statutes criminalizing the mishandling of classified documents.

But two leakers faced Espionage Act charges, with mixed results.

The last leak that approached the size of the WikiLeaks releases was the Pentagon Papers during the Nixon administration.

The Supreme Court slapped down President Richard Nixon's effort to stop newspapers from publishing those papers. But the leaker, ex-Pentagon analyst Daniel Ellsberg, was charged under the Espionage Act with unauthorized possession and theft of the papers.

A federal judge threw out the charges because of government misconduct including burglary of Ellsberg's psychiatrist's files by the White House "plumbers" unit.

The Reagan administration had more success against Samuel Loring Morison, a civilian intelligence analyst for the Navy and grandson of a famous U.S. historian. Morison was convicted under the Espionage Act and of theft of government property for supplying a British publication, Jane's Defence Weekly, with a U.S. satellite photo of a Russian aircraft carrier under construction in a Black Sea port. Dozens of news organizations filed friend-of-the-court briefs supporting Morison because he was a $5,000-a-year part-time editor with Jane's sister publication and thus arguably a journalist.

But WikiLeaks has entered a space where no journalist has gone before. News organizations have often sought information, including government secrets, for specific stories and printed secrets that government workers delivered to them, but none has matched Assange's open worldwide invitation to send him any secret or confidential information a source can lay hands on.

Is WikiLeaks the leaker or merely the publisher?

"The courts have been somewhat reluctant to draw a line of demarcation between what we call mainstream media and everyone else," said Washington attorney Stan Brand. "If these people are publishing and exercising First Amendment rights, I don't know why they're less entitled to their First Amendment rights to publish."

But at a news conference Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder contrasted WikiLeaks with traditional news organizations, which he said acted responsibly in the matter even though several posted some classified material. Some news organizations consulted with the government in advance to avoid printing harmful material; Assange has claimed his efforts to do likewise were rebuffed.

"One can compare the way in which the various news organizations that have been involved in this have acted as opposed to the way in which WikiLeaks has," said Holder.

Some see openings for the government.

Assange "has gone a long way down the road of talking himself into a possible violation of the Espionage Act," First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams said on National Public Radio, noting that Assange has said leaks could bring down a U.S. administration.

Washington lawyer Bob Bittman expressed surprise the Justice Department has not already charged Assange under the Espionage Act and with theft of government property over his earlier release of classified documents about U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bittman said it was widely believed those disclosures harmed U.S. national security, in particular U.S. intelligence sources and methods, meeting the requirement in several sections of the act that there be either intent or reason to believe disclosure could injure the United States.

"These are not easy questions," said Washington lawyer Stephen Ryan, a former assistant U.S. attorney and former Senate Government Affairs Committee general counsel. Ryan said it would be legally respectable to argue Assange is a journalist protected by the First Amendment and never had a duty to protect U.S. secrets.

But Ryan added, "The flip side is whether he could be charged with aiding and abetting or conspiracy with an individual who did have a duty to protect those secrets."

On the question of conspiracy there's a legal difference between being a passive recipient of leaked material and being a prime mover egging on a prospective leaker, legal experts say.

Much could depend on what the investigation uncovers.

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is being held in a maximum-security military brig in Virginia, charged with leaking video of a 2007 U.S. Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed a Reuters news photographer and his driver. WikiLeaks posted the video on its website in April.

Military investigators say Manning is a person of interest in the leak of nearly 77,000 Afghan war records WikiLeaks published online in July. Though Manning has not been charged in the latest release of internal U.S. government documents, WikiLeaks has hailed him as a hero.

Another obstacle would be getting Assange to the United States. His whereabouts are not publicly known.

In France, Interpol placed Assange on its most-wanted list Tuesday after Sweden issued an arrest warrant against him as part of a drawn-out rape probe - involving allegations he has denied. The Interpol "red notice" is likely to make international travel more difficult for him.

But even if Assange were charged and arrested in a country that has an extradition treaty with the United States, there could be problems getting him here. The Espionage Act carries a maximum penalty of death, and nations with no death penalty often refuse to send defendants here if they face possible execution.

One renowned First Amendment and national security lawyer, Duke law professor emeritus Michael Tigar urged caution.

"The U.S. reaction to all of this is rather overblown," Tigar said. "One should hesitate a long time before bringing a prosecution in a case like this. The First Amendment means that sometimes public expression makes the government squirm. ... That diplomats collect information, and are sometimes brutally candid, comes as no surprise to anybody." - AP