Happy Birthday (Selamat Hari Jadi) Malaysia


August 29, 2014

Happy Birthday (Selamat Hari Jadi) Malaysia

Kamsiah and DinDr. Kamsiah and I wish all Malaysians Happy Independence (Merdeka) Day. Yes indeed. On August 31, 2014 we will celebrate the 57th Anniversary of Independence.Let there be peace, harmony, prosperity and unity in our bountiful nation.

Before we forget, August 31, 1957 was when Malaya got its independence from the British. September 16, 1963 was when Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaya to form Malaysia (leaving aside Singapore which left the Federation on August 9, 1965). Two different dates to commemorate independence.

Why the need to have two national holidays, one we call Hari Merdeka and the other we label Hari Malaysia ? Let us decide if our national day is August 31 or September 16. This is a simple decision to make.Let us choose if we want to be known as Malaysians, not as Sabahans, Sarawakians, and West Malaysians. We are able to have a common time; yet we cannot have a common national day. That does not make any sense to us. Maybe that is not important enough to our political leadership. On the contrary, we think this issue must be addressed as a matter of top priority. Since the formation of Malaysia, we have not gone beyond the rhetoric of national integration. Read article by Balan Moses (below)

Having been to Sabah and Sarawak many times, Dr. Kamsiah and I are struck by the fact that there is no affinity between us. We have, in fact, become antagonistic towards and suspicious of one another. It is, therefore, time for us to address this issue of national integration seriously, and nip all the talk of secession from Malaysia in the bud. To do that we must give members of our multi-ethnic society a fair deal  to enable us to live the Malaysian dream as envisioned by Tunku Abdul Rahman and his colleagues at the time of  the formation of Malaysia.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

Proclamation of Malaysia

AND WHEREAS it has been agreed by the parties to the said Agreement that as from the establishment of Malaysia the States of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore shall cease to be colonies of Her Majesty the Queen and Her Majesty the Queen shall relinquish Her Sovereignty and jurisdiction in respect of the three States:

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful, Praise to God, the Lord of the Universe, and may the benediction and peace of God be upon Our Leader Muhammad and upon all his Relations and Friends.

WHEREAS by an Agreement made on the Ninth day of July in the year one thousand nine hundred and sixty-three between the Federation of Malaya, the United Kingdom, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore it was agreed that there shall be federated the States of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore with the Federation of Malaya comprising the states of Pahang, Trengganu, Kedah, Johore, Negri Sembilan, Kelantan, Selangor, Perak, Perlis, Penang[1] and Malacca, and that the Federation shall thereafter be called “MALAYSIA“:

AND WHEREAS there has been promulgated a Constitution for Malaysia which shall be the supreme law therein:

AND WHEREAS by the Constitution aforesaid provision has been made for the safeguarding of the rights and prerogatives of Their Highnesses the Rulers and the Fundamental rights and liberties of subjects and for the promotion of peace and harmony in Malaysia as a constitutional monarchy based upon parliamentary democracy:

AND WHEREAS the Constitution aforesaid having been approved by a law passed by the Parliaments of the Federation of Malaya and of the United Kingdom has come into force on the Sixteenth day of September in the year one thousand nine hundred and sixty-three:

Tunku1stNOW in the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful, I, TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN PUTRA AL-HAJ IBNI ALMARHUM SULTAN ABDUL HAMID HALIM SHAH, Prime Minister of Malaysia, with the concurrence and approval of His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of the Federation of Malaya, His Excellency the Yang di-Pertuan Negara of Singapore, His Excellency the Yang di-Pertua Negara of Sabah and His Excellency the Governor of Sarawak, DO HEREBY DECLARE AND PROCLAIM on behalf of the peoples of Malaysia that as from the Sixteenth day of September in the year one thousand nine hundred and sixty-three, corresponding to the twenty-eighth day of Rabi’ul Akhir in the year of the Hijrah one thousand three hundred and eighty-three, that MALAYSIA comprising the States of Pahang, Trengganu, Kedah, Johore, Negri Sembilan, Kelantan, Selangor, Perak, Perlis, Penang,[1] Malacca, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak shall by the Grace of God, the Lord of the Universe, forever be an independent and sovereign democratic State founded upon liberty and justice, ever seeking to defend and uphold peace and harmony among its people and to perpetuate peace among nations.

Prime Minister
Kuala Lumpur
16th day of September 1963

MALAYSIANS: LET US BE THE CHANGE WE WANT TO SEE

by Balan Moses

http://news.abnxcess.com/2014/08/malaysians-let-us-be-the-change-we-want-to-see/

WHEN Tunku Abdul Rahman’s shouts of “Merdeka” rang out three times in the Merdeka Stadium on August 31 57 years ago, he was rejoicing in the freedom that Malayans would be enjoying in their new country.

No more the multitude of restraints in the clutches of a colonial master; no more the lack of a common identity as a nation; no more the lack of self-determination.

The other founding fathers from the Chinese and Indian communities would have felt similarly, joining the Malay prince in laying a common platform of rights and privileges for all.He probably envisaged a nation of perpetual sharing, an united nation where the running theme would be one for all and all for one.

Those were indeed less complicated times when people were more humane and there was anBalan-Moses-ENG NEW-1 unbelievable level of give and take among Malayans.Were there latent signs of uneasiness among the various communities? I really don’t know but history tells this child of the 50’s that life went on without major disagreement  among the people.

Was it because we were almost one against the British and that our commonalities as a people came into play for that day and time?  Perhaps.But as we prepare to usher in the 57th year of independence as a nation, we find ourselves split politically, racially and socially like never before.

Of course, there was May 13, 1969, but that should be seen as an exception to the rule that we have had a relatively good run as a nation with mutual respect being the order of the day.No amount of sugar-coating that we are still intact as a multi-racial nation will detract from the truth that a huge chasm has formed politically with the ruling Barisan Nasional at loggerheads with Pakatan Rakyat.

Both sides do not give or take any quarter from each other, going for the jugular in any situation to try and obtain the advantage.

On the religious front, we have an Islamist party with a stated policy of introducing Syariah Law if it ever came into power nationally winning 15 seats for itself in the most developed state in the country. It is currently calling the shots in the process of determining who the Menteri Besar of Selangor will be despite the fact that the multi-racial Parti Keadilan Rakyat and DAP together won 29 seats in the state legislative assembly in the last general election.

Najib and Merdeka

The Muslim-Christian divide is threatening to escalate to untold proportions with dialogue almost non-existent between the Muslims and Christians who form less than 10 per cent of the population. Some have tried arguing that there may be a semblance of racial and religious communities being at each others’ throats and that the ones threatening peace and order represent only a small segment of society.

Perpetual efforts are made to reinforce the point that the discordant voices do not represent the moderate majority in every community.But if this is the case, where indeed is the voice of the moderate Malaysian?

Where is the coalescing of moderates from the Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and other communities in a single entity ready to engage with extremists of all creeds and hues?

All we are seeing are truly small groups of late from the various communities that are trying to speak in one voice as Malaysians but seeming to get nowhere. The mainstream politicians do not seem to want to move from their stated positions, digging in for the long-term with their policies that champion the rights of specific races.

Will there never be a time when we will proudly call ourselves Malaysians irrespective of our religion, race and colour? At the moment the only time probably that we proudly engage as Malaysians is when we are abroad and find strength in an alien society through a common identity.

The other is when out festivals come around and we attend open houses in a show of oneness that is largely scripted by those with power and influence.I am forced  to ask these questions as we approach August 31 as serious thought has to be given to the issue of where we stand as Malaysians.

I fear for the next generation of Malaysians who have never enjoyed the level of conviviality that those born in the 40s, 50s and 60s had with one and another in an era that we may never see again. It is imperative that every Malaysian drum into their children and grandchildren that this is our country and that our actions will dictate where we go in the future as a people.

And so fellow Malaysians, we have to do the right thing now for the future of our nation. Let us be circumspect when we act and speak as our actions and words cannot be truly retracted with damage never truly repaired.That is the nature of things and the sooner we realise this the better.

Happy 57th birthday Malaysia and may you see peace and prosperity always.

Selangor: On deferring to the Sultan in MB saga


August 29, 2014

On deferring to the Sultan in MB saga

by Dr. Kua Kia Soong (08-28-14)@www.themalaysianinsider.com
sultan selangorHRH The Sultan of Selangor

Pakatan Rakyat seems to be caught between a rock and a hard place over the Menteri Besar selection. Whose fault is it? Historians do not have to go very far in time to see how they have found themselves in this quandary. In 2008, Pakatan Rakyat set the precedent by deferring the prerogative of selecting the Menteri Besar to the Sultan. This is evidenced in this commentary I wrote in the online press on March 14, 2008:

MB squabbles: Integrity & Professionalism

“The DAP’s squabble over the choice of MB for Perak and Deputy MB for Selangor exposes a lack of integrity and professionalism…they should simply put forward their candidates before the Sultan for endorsement, as is required in our democratic system. Instead, the DAP leadership has continued with their tedious PAS-phobia posturing and in so doing, have demeaned our parliamentary democracy by passing the buck to the sultans.

“In Selangor, we have seen a situation in which the DAP cannot blame PAS but can only blame itself. The choice of Deputy MB has become the arena of DAP’s intra-party squabble. Such factionalism in the DAP has been hitherto relegated to the gossip columns and the leadership is really showing contempt for the people of Selangor by dragging on the issue of Deputy MB. As in Perak, we have seen the DAP passing the buck to the sultan, who now plays the role of executive ruler instead of a constitutional monarch!”

Principles of a constitutional monarchy

According to one of the most important writers on the subject of constitutional monarchy, Walter Bagehot, the monarchy merely symbolises the unity of the national or in our case, state community; from the point of view of political power, the Sovereign in a constitutional monarchy has only three rights: “the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn”.

Malaysia’s most distinguished jurist, Tun Mohamed Suffian bin Hashim in “An Introduction to the Constitution of Malaysia”, spells out the role of Rulers and Governors as “acting in accordance with advice”:

“A Ruler, though sovereign, has no autocratic powers. A Ruler and similarly a Governor must act in accordance with the advice of the state Executive Council or of a member of the Council (usually the Menteri Besar) acting under the general authority of the Council, except as is otherwise provided by the federal or state constitution…The Ruler or Governor is entitled, at his request, to any information concerning the government of the state which is available to the Executive Council. The Ruler or Governor is not a member of the Executive Council. Members of the Executive Council meet only among themselves, and thereafter the Menteri Besar or the Chief Minister submits the Executive Council’s advice to the Ruler or Governor…”

Nonetheless, a Ruler does have discretionary power in the performance of the following functions including: the appointment of the Menteri Besar; the withholding of consent to a request for the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly; request for a meeting of the Conference of Rulers; any function as Head of the Muslim religion or relating to the custom of the Malays; the appointment of an heir; the appointment of persons to Malay customary ranks, titles, etc., the regulation of royal courts and palaces.

How the soap opera unfolds from here will ultimately depend on how convention has been tempered by the precedent set in 2008 and the wisdom of the Sultan.

* Dr Kua Kia Soong is Suaram adviser.

NOTE:

On Constitutional Monarchy

The rights to be consulted, to encourage and to warn

Walter Bagehot famously wrote in The English Constitution (1867) that the British monarch has three rights: the rights to be consulted, to encourage and to warn.

“To state the matter shortly, the sovereign has, under a constitutional monarchy such as ours, three rights — the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn. And a king of great sense and sagacity would want no others. He would find that his having no others would enable him to use these with singular effect. He would say to his minister: “The responsibility of these measures is upon you. Whatever you think best must be done. Whatever you think best shall have my full and effectual support. But you will observe that for this reason and that reason what you propose to do is bad; for this reason and that reason what you do not propose is better. I do not oppose, it is my duty not to oppose; but observe that I warn.” Supposing the king to be right, and to have what kings often have, the gift of effectual expression, he could not help moving his minister. He might not always turn his course, but he would always trouble his mind.

In the course of a long reign a sagacious king would acquire an experience with which few ministers could contend. The king could say: “Have you referred to the transactions which happened during such and such an administration, I think about fourteen years ago? They afford an instructive example of the bad results which are sure to attend the policy which you propose. You did not at that time take so prominent a part in public life as you now do, and it is possible you do not fully remember all the events. I should recommend you to recur to them, and to discuss them with your older colleagues who took part in them. It is unwise to recommence a policy which so lately worked so ill.” The king would indeed have the advantage which a permanent under-secretary has over his superior the parliamentary secretary — that of having shared in the proceedings of the previous parliamentary secretaries. These proceedings were part of his own life; occupied the best of his thoughts, gave him perhaps anxiety, perhaps pleasure, were commenced in spite of his dissuasion, or were sanctioned by his approval.

The parliamentary secretary vaguely remembers that something was done in the time of some of his predecessors, when he very likely did not know the least or care the least about that sort of public business. He has to begin by learning painfully and imperfectly what the permanent secretary knows by clear and instant memory. No doubt a parliamentary secretary always can, and sometimes does, silence his subordinate by the tacit might of his superior dignity. He says: “I do not think there is much in all that. Many errors were committed at the time you refer to which we need not now discuss.”

A pompous man easily sweeps away the suggestions of those beneath him. But though a minister may so deal with his subordinate, he cannot so deal with his king. The social force of admitted superiority by which he overturned his under-secretary is now not with him, but against him. He has no longer to regard the deferential hints of an acknowledged inferior, but to answer the arguments of a superior to whom he has himself to be respectful. George III in fact knew the forms of public business as well or better than any statesman of his time. If, in addition to his capacity as a man of business and to his industry, he had possessed the higher faculties of a discerning statesman, his influence would have been despotic. The old Constitution of England undoubtedly gave a sort of power to the Crown which our present Constitution does not give. While a majority in parliament was principally purchased by royal patronage, the king was a party to the bargain either with his minister or without his minister. But even under our present constitution a monarch like George III, with high abilities, would possess the greatest influence….

It would be childish to suppose that a conference between a minister and his sovereign can ever be a conference of pure argument. “The divinity which doth hedge a king” may have less sanctity than it had, but it still has much sanctity. No one, or scarcely any one, can argue with a cabinet minister in his own room as well as he would argue with another man in another room. He cannot make his own points as well; he cannot unmake as well the points presented to him. A monarch’s room is worse…. He will not refute the bad arguments of the king as he will refute another man’s bad arguments. He will not state his own best argument effectively and incisively when he knows that the king would not like to hear them. In a nearly balanced argument the king must always have the better, and in politics many most important arguments are nearly balanced. Whenever there was much to be said for the king’s opinion it would have its full weight; whatever was said for the minister’s opinion; would only have a lessened and enfeebled weight.”

To this day, Halsbury’s Laws continues to recognise these rights:

“[The Queen] still has the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, and the right to warn. However, she also has the right to offer, on her own initiative, suggestions and advice to her ministers even when she is obliged in the last resort to accept the formal advice tendered to her.”

 Source : http://cakeofcustom.blogspot.com/2011/07/rights-to-be-consulted-to-encourage-and.html

Let the Khmer Rouge Record Show


August 27, 2014

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor

Let the Khmer Rouge Record Show
Cambodia Shouldn’t Censor the Khmer Rouge Court’s Files

By Craig Etcheson,
August 26, 2014

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia

Former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea appeEarlier this month a United Nations-assisted tribunal in Cambodia handed down long-overdue judgments against Nuon Chea (pic. left) and Khieu Samphan(right) for their roles in the catastrophic Khmer Rouge regime of 1975-79. Nuon Chea, the Deputy Secretary of the communist party, and Khieu Samphan, the President of the Khmer Rouge state, were sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity.

For some observers, this seemed like too little too late for too much money. Eight years have passed since the Khmer Rouge tribunal — officially known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (E.C.C.C.) — began operations, it has cost more than $200 million, and these verdicts concern only a fraction of the total charges. Yet the delay was a result of the extensive procedural protections rightly afforded the accused and the complexity of the case: The indictment is the most complicated since the Nuremberg trials. And it was worth the wait, not least because the tribunal has amassed an extraordinary cache of documents and testimonies.

But now there is reason to fear that this database, a major contribution to existing scholarship on the Khmer Rouge era, will not be made available to researchers after the E.C.C.C. fulfills its mandate. Given the Cambodian government’s unease about its connections to the Pol Pot regime, these extraordinary archives risk being censored or put under semipermanent lock and key.

Between the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979 and the launch of the E.C.C.C., historians assembled significant evidence detailing the mayhem. After 1995, the Documentation Center of Cambodia, an independent research institute originally established by Yale University, gathered tens of thousands of previously unknown internal documents from the Khmer Rouge regime, as well as thousands of interviews with both victims and Khmer Rouge cadres. (I was once a director of DC-CAM.)

That material was then made available to the E.C.C.C. Scholars from around the world also shared notes and interviews. And then the court itself sent out investigators across Cambodia to try to resolve ambiguities in the existing record. More than 1,000 interviews were collected as a result. Another major contribution were the testimonies of the nearly 3,900 victims who have joined the proceedings as civil parties — a feature of the E.C.C.C. that makes it unique among all international and hybrid criminal courts — plus thousands of complaints submitted by other victims.

Killing Fields

All this evidence was gathered in a sophisticated digital database, which now contains more than one million pages of information, thousands of photographs and hundreds of films and audio recordings. The material is readily searchable, allowing all parties in the case to make connections that had previously eluded researchers and to develop a finer-grained understanding of the Khmer Rouge regime.

I worked as an investigator for the prosecution in 2006-12, and our office used all this information to construct an elaborate model of the notoriously secretive Khmer Rouge organization, from center to zone to sector to district to commune. We created more than 1,000 organizational charts depicting the staffing of political, military and governmental units. These gave us an unprecedented insight into the chain of command among all echelons of the organization across the entire country, and they graphically revealed the waves of internal purges that swept through the Khmer Rouge.

Such cross-referencing helped prove charges against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, such as some crimes committed after the Khmer Rouge seized the capital, Phnom Penh, on April 17, 1975, and then forcibly emptied it of its two million residents. Drawing on hundreds of accounts from people who passed through checkpoints on major roads out of the city, the trial judges concluded in their recent judgment that killings of officials from the regime that the Khmer Rouge deposed in 1975 were not isolated acts by undisciplined soldiers, but evidence of a systematic pattern resulting from a centralized plan.

Many more connections can be drawn from the E.C.C.C. archives, some with a direct bearing on the charges that will be considered in the next phase of the leaders’ trial. That section of the case includes forced marriage, among other charges. Several NGOs had already done pioneering work to gather evidence of sexual crimes during the Khmer Rouge regime. But it is the civil-party applications and victims’ complaints collected by the E.C.C.C. that make clear just how often rape was committed as a result of the Khmer Rouge’s policy of compelling people to marry and forcing them to consummate the unions.

And then there are insights not of direct relevance to the leaders’ trial but invaluable to understanding both the Khmer Rouge regime and contemporary Cambodia. For example, a review of the minutes of meetings of the Standing Committee — the Khmer Rouge’s ultimate decision-making body — and telegrams between the military leadership and division commanders has revealed the astonishing scope of China’s military assistance to the Khmer Rouge, in terms of matériel, logistics and personnel. And the E.C.C.C. archives contain extensive information about the operation of the so-called Eastern Zone under the Khmer Rouge regime, from which emerged some senior leaders in the government today.

Hun SenPrime Minister Hun Sen, Kingdom of Cambodia

These matters are controversial, however. The ruling party of Prime Minister Hun Sen, which has been in power since the Khmer Rouge were deposed in early 1979, has long been touchy about its exact connections to the Pol Pot regime. Some senior party members have published autobiographies claiming that they joined the Khmer Rouge movement only in 1970 and in response to a call from the former king to rally against the military dictatorship that had just overthrown him — assertions that are contradicted by material in the E.C.C.C. archives. And in 2009 some party leaders — the president of the national assembly, the finance minister and the foreign minister at the time — failed to answer an E.C.C.C. summons to answer questions during the investigation.

Such sensitivities are the reason that the court’s archives may be vulnerable to tampering or being sealed after its work is completed. The risk is all the greater because the United Nations, the court’s donors and the Cambodian government have agreed that once the trials are over the E.C.C.C.’s database should remain in Cambodia and under the control of the Cambodian government.

The United Nations and the donors must persuade the government to ensure that the court’s archives in their entirety are opened to historians. Anything less would be to squander the E.C.C.C.’s legacy and an incalculable loss to the historical record.

Craig Etcheson, a former investigator in the Office of the Co-Prosecutors at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, is a visiting scholar at George Mason University.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 27, 2014, in The International New York Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/27/opinion/cambodia-shouldnt-censor-the-khmer-rouge-courts-files.html?ref=opinion

Selangor in Crisis, nation in extremis


August 27, 2014

Selangor in Crisis, nation in extremis

“But when the leaders choose to make themselves bidders at an auction of popularity, their talents, in the construction of the state, will be of no service. They will become flatterers instead of legislators; the instruments, not the guides, of the people. If any of them should happen to propose a scheme of liberty, soberly limited, and defined with proper qualifications, he will be immediately outbid by his competitors, who will produce something more splendidly popular. Suspicions will be raised of his fidelity to his cause. Moderation will be stigmatized as the virtue of cowards; and compromise as the prudence of traitors; until, in hopes of preserving the credit which may enable him to temper, and moderate, on some occasions, the popular leader is obliged to become active in propagating doctrines, and establishing powers, that will afterwards defeat any sober purpose at which he ultimately might have aimed.”

Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France

by Terence Netto@www.malaysiakini.com

For Pakatan Rakyat the Khalid Ibrahim saga has become a rent garment – the more they fuss with it the worse the tear becomes. The issue begs closure; regnant confusion in the Attorney-General’s Chambers over the distinction between legitimate criticism and seditious speech has now become the most ominous threat to fundamental liberties.

Pakatan Rakyat ought to be concerned with the latter menace. Unchecked, it will wipe out the gains theGani Patail federal opposition has made since the seminal general election of March 2008. The country is drifting without a rudder because it has a leader at the helm who mistakes decidedly inelegant silence for moderation, in tandem with an Attorney-General who misconstrues the irreverent for the inflammatory.

Because Pakatan views itself as a government-in-waiting, it cannot allow continued neurosis over who is to be Selangor MB to be as disabling as Najib Abdul Razak’s catatonia and Gani Patail’s confusion are for the country.

Fatal to Pakatan would be the impression, now fast gaining ground, that it is a coalition where problems within one component incapacitate the whole, or worse, exposes its unity as a thing of expedience more than principle. Hence the question of who is to replace Khalid Ibrahim as Menteri Besar of Selangor must now be resolved with all deliberate speed. The matter has preoccupied Pakatan for eight exasperating months during which public confidence in the ability of presumptive occupants to Putrajaya has been gravely undermined.

wan azizah 1The crisis is headed for further protraction, judging from the initial reaction of PKR and DAP to soundings yesterday from the Selangor Palace that each component of Pakatan should recommend three candidates for the position of MB. It appears that PKR and DAP are insistent on wanting only Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail for the post. Their insistence on nominating one candidate will keep the matter of Khalid’s replacement simmering.

After withering on the vine for eight months, the issue demands resolution, if only because it has been overtaken by other – weightier – concerns, of national rather than merely provincial import. Further delay in resolving it will redound to Pakatan’s disadvantage more than it would to any other entity, now that Khalid has tendered his resignation and has been requested by the Sultan to hold it in abeyance until his replacement is appointed.

PKR and DAP, in insisting on one candidate for the MB position, will appear to be unduly captious just when they should be – especially now when greater dangers impend – more concerned to get things over and done with.

Horizon-scanners, not navel-gazers  

Their insistence will open them to the charge of being navel-gazers, to the point of myopia and hallucination, just when they must be horizon-scanners – for the good of the overall polity, given the clear and present danger posed it by a rudderless national leadership and confused law enforcement.

The DAP, in particular, should put itself within sight of a Deputy MB-ship in Selangor, something that can be contemplated within the dynamics of political developments in the state. Should a PKR candidate other than Wan Azizah be appointed, the DAP’s support for that candidate would be critical and, therefore, a quid pro quo is within the ambit of the possible. (Isn’t politics the art of the possible?)

This is not to say that the DAP should put position before principle. There is the matter of the room that democratic politics allows its players wherein they can test the parameters of the allowable. They should look at what is happening in a neighboring country which has elected as President someone who is from well outside the usual strata of Indonesian political society from which candidates for that position usually emerge.

The DAP ought to be encouraged that, by the elevation of Joko Widodo to the Indonesian Presidency and Jokowithe avenue this has opened for Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese and – what is more – a Christian, to become governor of Jakarta, the proof is clear that democratic politics rotates on an axis that is ultimately subversive of unjust barriers posed by race and religion.

Therefore the DAP should not feel itself unduly tied to the logic of what is essentially internecine feuding within PKR, especially if that wrangling has more to do with of individuals who have the destructive serum in the veins from their party of origin (UMNO).

khalid-ibrahimThe Khalid Ibrahim of the last several months is not an aberrant incarnation but a continuum with his party of origin. Nothing much can be done about this phenomenon unless, of course, the pestilence of UMNO rule is finally removed from the body politic.

More delay in resolving the Selangor crisis means more deferrals to the day of our release from our primary ailment. With the spate of sedition charges filed against an assortment of Pakatan stalwarts, that ailment is at its most febrile. Pakatan must not be seen to fiddle in Selangor while the country seethes in an UMNO-induced stupor.

 

Curtains for Khalid must mean Fadeout for Anwar Ibrahim


August 27, 2014

Curtains for Khalid must mean Fadeout for Anwar Ibrahim

by Terence Netto (received via e-mail from the writer)

“It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France

khalid-anwarCurtains for Both Anwar and Khalid

“…the destruction of the myth of UMNO-BN invincibility was an achievement of unparalleled significance to the body politic. Anwar was the chief architect of that destruction. His charisma, rhetoric and ability to make DAP and PAS stick together was a political tour de force.

Perhaps this achievement was too good to be true. For almost immediately after, Anwar began to take his eyes off the ball, which was the growth of the two-party system. While there is nothing wrong in being fixated on being Prime Minister, there is something called dissimulation which a shrewd politician deploys with skill to camouflage obsession and turn it to irony.”–Terence Netto

The eight-month old crisis revolving around the move by PKR to replace Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim is set to continue. A meeting between Khalid and the Selangor Sultan that was expected for yesterday (Monday, August 25) was deferred and the 10th Congress of PKR that concluded over the weekend added convolution more than clarity to the issue.

In short, a vexed issue is set for further protraction, serving up more cannon fodder for adversaries to claim that PKR is a messy party that aspires pretentiously to clean up the mess in the country spawned by UMNO-BN.

The dishevelment in PKR does not just lie in the party’s effort to replace Khalid as Selangor MB, it also resided in its election system that took four months to carry out and conclude in a result. For a party that has long being caustic about the way the Election Commission conducts polls in Malaysia, this was conduct that undermined the party’s credibility.

The embarrassment that was the party’s electoral process continued to haunt it even after the long drawn out exercise ended on August 10. At its congress last weekend, the election of the youth wing’s chief was disputed by members of the section’s executive committee. Though the matter was settled by the end of the three-day conclave, the settlement had a tenuous look about it.

PKR’s fragility is inherent. Fifteen years ago the party was born out of a coalition of disparate interests. This conglomeration included members of reform seeking religious groups like Abim and Jemaah Islah Malaysia (JIM), NGO activists, dissidents from component parties of BN — primarily from UMNO after Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was sacked and jailed in 1998-99– and, generally, citizens who felt that the time had come for comprehensive reform of the political system in the country.

PKR are a motley bunch whose differing interests and ideologies had to be straddled and coaxed to move in a particular direction. It was the genius of Anwar whose travails had given birth to the party that fixed on the goal of justice for all Malaysians, as the glue to hold a disparate party together.

After his return to Malaysia in 2006 following a sabbatical he took in the United States upon his release in August 2004 from a six-year incarceration on trumped up charges of sodomy and corruption, Anwar provided the inspiration and rhetoric to lead PKR and a coalition of opposition parties that included the DAP and PAS to an historic milestone at the March 2008 general elections. This was the denial to Umno-BN of its customary two- third majority in Parliament. Four states – Penang, Kedah, Perak and Selangor – fell to the opposition while PAS retained Kelantan.

It was a stupendous achievement, with Anwar leveraging brilliantly on a march in Kuala Lumpur in late November 2007 organized by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) that was a bellwether for all the discontent coursing through Malaysian society. Fed by many aggrieved streams, the river of discontent surged to a massive culmination: the destruction of UMNO-BN’s myth of invincibility at the 12th general election in March 2008.

Much good arose from that incineration. A sclerotic political landscape was shaken up. UMNO-BN realized that they could no longer do business in the same old ways. They had to undertake reform though that effort was halting and spasmodic. On the opposition’s side, the secular DAP knew that they needed to work together with the Islamist PAS in spite of their conflicting ideologies.

Aziz and Hadi ShowNik Aziz and Hadi Awang wield a big influence on PAS

When the tripartite coalition of PKR, DAP and PAS, called Pakatan Rakyat, began to hold together in the face of broad skepticism of its durability, a two-party system began to take shape in Malaysia. With that, voters realized that it would be a boon to democracy to foster the growth of a two-party system, in preference to what had hitherto been the case — the dominance of UMNO-BN, within which UMNO was monarch of all it surveyed.

In sum, the destruction of the myth of UMNO-BN invincibility was an achievement of unparalleled significance to the body politic. Anwar was the chief architect of that destruction. His charisma, rhetoric and ability to make DAP and PAS stick together was a political tour de force.

Perhaps this achievement was too good to be true. For almost immediately after, Anwar began to take his eyes off the ball, which was the growth of the two-party system. While there is nothing wrong in being fixated on being Prime Minister, there is something called dissimulation which a shrewd politician deploys with skill to camouflage obsession and turn it to irony.

Anwar is decidedly short on this score. In his single-minded focus on the acquisition of prime ministerial office, he neglects the nuances. He believes that after the acquisition of power, he can attend to the troubling bits that rear up now and then, neglect of which can result in an accumulation that can blow a hole in a party just when it’s ready to come into port.

This is what is happening in the Khalid Ibrahim saga. Khalid gave from the morning after Pakatan gained Selangor in the general election of March 2008 every indication that he was unsuitable – at least from the standpoint of PKR’s interests – as the party’s point man in the richest state in Malaysia. A successful corporate captain, Khalid was allowed to indulge his conceit that he could also be a successful political leader.

The two callings are vastly different. One is results oriented and requires only business acumen and managerial skill. The other depends on intangibles such as the skill to use means to ends, to set causes in motion, to wield the machine of society, to subject the wills of others to your own, to manage abler persons than yourself by means of that that is stronger in them than their wisdom, to wit, their weakness and their folly, to unwind the web of others’ policy and weave your own out of it, to understand character thoroughly, to see latent talent and lurking treachery, to know persons for what they are and to use them as they deserve, to have a purpose steadily in view and to effect it after removing every obstacle — these are the skills of a successful political leader and are alien to a successful corporate personality.

Anwar knew this about Khalid practically from day one of the latter’s MB-ship. But he was overly focused on his ambition to be unduly troubled by the conceits of a seeming compatriot. Now those defects have boomeranged to blow a hole as big as that crater in the Titanic’s hull after it hit the iceberg.

The fallout has been an unmitigated disaster for PKR. If it’s curtains for Khalid Ibrahim, it’s hard to see why it would not be so for Anwar Ibrahim.

Ethnic Inequalities in Malaysia remain after 57 Years of Independence


August 27, 2014

Ethnic Inequalities in Malaysia remain after 57 Years of Independence

by Jenni Dixon (received via e-mail)

Mahathir and his wards

Ethnicity has played a major role in Malaysian political and economic policy since the inception of the federation in 1963. The launching of the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1971, with the primary aim of promoting economic growth, with particular emphasis on exports, had another important objective: to promote unity and harmony in one of the most ethnically diverse of nations.

The laudable idealism of the project, which attempted to raise incomes and reduce unemployment in all ethnic groups, to reduce poverty and create a restructured society in which race played no part may have kept ethnic differences, prejudices and jealousies at bay while the country prospered, but the simmering tensions below the surface of society were bound to boil over as the country’s economy began to decline.

However, while many observers do accept that the NEP reduced overall poverty, it has to be said that it was only partially successful in achieving its goals. The policy of Bumiputera, which gives preferential treatment to the Malay ethnic majority, has gone some way towards reducing disparities in income and wealth, but has sharpened the rift between Malays and the other main ethnic groups, the Chinese and Indians. New policies following on from the NEP after 1990 have adhered to its philosophy of affirmative action. These have targeted education, employment and the development of new enterprises.

Programmes aimed at halting the decline of standards in primary and secondary education, increasing the manufacturing base and stimulating regional development have benefited some sectors of the urban population while neglecting the problems of the Malay rural and urban poor. While the reality of Malaysia’s social problems may be seen more clearly from a perspective of class, as a division between rich and poor, the country’s more visible ethnic differences colour much political analysis so that the division between the Malay/Muslim sector and the rest of the population has perhaps been allowed to dominate more than it should.

Playing the percentages

In 1971, over 66% of the Malaysian corporate sector was foreign-owned, while the indigenous Bumiputera, who made up 60% of the population, owned only around 2%. The NEP target was to increase Bumiputera holdings to 30%, that of other Malaysians to 40%, and reduce foreign holdings to 40% by 1990. The outcome was disadvantageous to the Bumiputera, who increased their holdings to only 20.4%, while the other Malaysians, mainly Chinese, benefited most with a rise to 46.8% that exceeded expectations, against a decline of foreign holdings to 25.1%. However, a booming economy during the 1990s and the early years of the 21st century ensured that all sectors increased the value of their holdings, which went some way to disguising ethnic resentments.

The current slowdown in the economy has only deepened the distrust between Chinese and Malays. Prime Minister Najib Razak has appeared to ignore these rising ethnic tensions in favour of strengthening his Malay support base. For several years he had been pressing for a review of Bumiputera policy. His recent close election victory, with his ruling National Front coalition winning a majority in the lower house with only 47% of the popular vote, compared to the 51% who voted for the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition, has put into sharp relief his lack of support among the ethnic Chinese, causing him to consider the benefits of pursuing policies favourable to the ethnic Malays. Indeed, in the autumn of 2013, he announced a new low-price housing policy aimed only at Malays.

Prejudices and disadvantages

Over the decades since 1970, when Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamed delineated the controversial ‘Malay Dilemma’, which helped to create the political climate for the instigation of the NEP, political rhetoric has only accentuated the fallacious negative image of Malays as struggling to overcome their ethnic inferiority. For those who want to believe these prejudices, Bumiputera policies that introduced quotas for education, scholarships and business contracts only seemed to confirm their validity. The false logic of this argument says that because Malays needed help in these areas, they were clearly lazy, uneducated and lacking in the business acumen for which the Chinese and Indians were renowned. Malays happen to make up the majority of the rural population, where there is a lower per capita income and more people live in poverty.

Social problems associated with poverty are necessarily more common among Malays; for example, the percentage of people needing help for drug abuse is far higher for Malays, which in 2008 was 74.97% against 12.61% for Chinese and 9.75% for Indians, and drug rehabilitation programmes show a recidivism rate of over 50%. On Anti-Drug day 2014 Prime Minister Najib Razak urged Malaysian families to do everything in their power to prevent their children becoming prey to drug addiction. These sorts of problems associated with poverty are better remedied in this way, in giving general encouragement and advice and relieving poverty than targeting a particular ethnic group.

New Bumiputera policies

In March 2014, Prime Minister Najib Razak launched the new Bumiputera Business Expansion Fund worth RM200 million, which is designed to help Bumiputera technology companies to expand internationally. These will be flexible loans offered without the need for collateral with a generous payment period of six years, beginning two years after the beginning of the loan. Another RM25 million has been given to the Bumiputera Agenda Steering Unit, to be managed by the Malaysian Technology Development Corporation, and a further RM1.4 billion in Facilitation Fund Grants had already been approved for Bumiputera companies to develop 132 projects, creating about 23,000 new local jobs. The Prime Minister said that the loans were aimed at businesses in the cutting edge of a wide range of technological industries, and stressed that each proposed project must have a clear prospect of profitability and expansion.

The downside of Bumiputera is that while it is an attempt to stimulate the economy by preferential loans, it also by definition ignores other important sectors of the population. It has caused many Chinese Malaysians to emigrate as well as put off Chinese nationals from coming to study in Malaysia. The signs of a new ‘Malay Dilemma’ are already there to see, which may not be easy to remedy. In Kuala Lumpur, for example, preferential treatment is given to Malays for jobs and University places, and Malay shop owners and restaurateurs enjoy lower rents and ease of access to premises. Chinese resentment over these inequalities has created increased ethnic tension.

Sources

http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/Malaysias-ethnic-tensions-rise-as-its-economy-declines

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2012/06/21/nep-the-good-and-the-bad/

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2012/06/21/nep-the-good-and-the-bad/

http://www.academia.edu/531386/Rethinking_the_Malay_Problem_in_Singapore_Image_Rhetoric_and_Social_Realities

https://my.news.yahoo.com/najib-announces-rm200-million-bumiputera-business-expansion-fund-112631364.html

http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/02/19/PM-urges-families-to-unite-against-drug-abuse-Establish-a-happy-and-trusting-home-environment-says-N/

http://hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/50340/

http://www.malaysia-today.net/how-to-criticize-bumiputera-policies-101/