Brasil 2014, Football and Germany

July 14, 2014

Brasil 2014, Football and Germany

by Josh

Germany's players lifts the World Cup trophyI once saw a picture at the German National Museum of Contemporary History in Bonn, the capital of the former West Germany. Dated July 4, 1954, it depicted a group of men with broken teeth, crutches and in worn-out clothes shouting for joy over West Germany’s victory at the FIFA World Cup Final.

The West Germans had just barely recovered from the horrific World War II, and Hungary had been widely tipped to win the title. Still, West Germany went on to claim the crown as a dark horse, and the game is known historically as ‘Das Wunder von Bern’ (‘the Miracle of Bern’; Bern is the Swiss capital where the final was held).

The 1954 World Cup was particularly meaningful to West Germany for several reasons: it was the first time that Das Lied Der Deutschen (the Song of the Germans) was played at an international sporting event since the end of WWII, signifying the return of the country into the world community, while defeating the then communist-ruled Hungary was hailed as an ideological triumph.

Two decades later, West Germany was showered with greater global recognition when it hosted the 1974 World Cup and was crowned champion. If 1954 symbolised West Germany’s international acceptance, 1974 probably took on a greater significance in that the country demonstrated proudly to the world its reemergence as an economic power, rising from the ashes of the catastrophic Nazi regime (which hosted the 1936 Olympics in Berlin), preceded also by the 1972 Olympics.

It was most ironic that, while Britain and France, the two WWII victors, were mired in incessant labour strikes as industrial production came to a virtual halt, West Germany’s economic development and standard of living continued to improve by leaps and bounds.

Then came the eventful autumn of 1989, when the Eastern Blocs were on the verge of drastic revolution. Berlin Wall, 1989Many East Germans drove their Trabants right up to the Berlin Wall and demanded that the gates be opened.

When their calls went unanswered, they took out sledgehammers and chisels and started dismantling the wall themselves, and the (in)famous wall did come tumbling down within weeks. Welcoming the Ossis was not only the far advanced Volkswagen produced by the Wessis, but also the abundantly available commodities in the shops in West Berlin.

When West Germany beat Argentina to claim the World Cup title on  July 8, 1990, East German fans erupted in euphoria publicly for the first time. Three months later, East and West Germany became history.

Rebranding the country

When the reunified Germany hosted the 2006 World Cup, the German government at the time made use of the opportunity to rebrand the country as a Land of Ideas (Land der Ideen), seeking to promote to the world Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Beethoven, philosopher Jürgen Habermas and many other modern achievements alongside football.

It represented a conscious effort on the part of the Germans to remind the international community that, having faced up to historical issues squarely, it was time that Germany should be free to celebrate its achievements for and contributions to the world.

The reunified Germany failed to win the World Cup in 2006, but many a European country was impressed with a new Germany that was not only confident and forward-looking, but also warm and hospitable, so much so that the British tabloids, usually relishing in insulting Germany with WWII references, toned down their wording and English fans could be seen waving the German flag during the semi-final between Germany and Argentina.

Now that Germany has once again made it to the final, the question whether the reunified country will win a historic World Cup is again in the mind of many, for a win on this coming Sunday (Brazilian time) would go a long way in affirming Germany’s coming of age, and I wish them all the best.

After all, no other competition arouses one’s nationalistic sentiment and sharpens political differences more than football – with the exception of an actual war. Seen in this light, what Germany destroyed last Tuesday was not just Brazil’s world status as a land of football, but it’s very national identity as well.

For historical reasons, the Germans are not used to overt symbols of nationalism, but it does not mean they should tolerate idiotic insults such as Bung Mokhtar’s ‘Hitler tweet’ in the wake of Germany’s thumping victory over Brazil. It is outrageous because no other countries have demonstrated so much goodwill and sincerity in dealing with historical baggage as Germany, especially when the country has shown no signs of relenting in pursuing justice for the victims.

Bung Mokhtar’s brainless tweet is more than a personal gaffe because it exposes the quality (or the lack thereof) of UMNO politicians. The fact that he continues to be a wakil rakyat is an utter shame to Malaysia.

NOTE: Germany defeated Argentina 1-0 in extra time on Sunday July 13, 2014 in Rio . It was thriller. witnessed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and a strong contingent of German fans while the rest of the world witnessed a spectacle of great sportsmanship and fine football. –Din Merican
JOSH HONG studied politics at London Metropolitan University and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. A keen watcher of domestic and international politics, he longs for a day when Malaysians will learn and master the art of self-mockery, and enjoy life to the full in spite of politicians.

The controversial Johor Housing and Property Enactment 2014 (with amendments) passed by the State Assembly

June 9, 2014


The controversial Johor Housing and Property Enactment 2014 (with amendments) has been passed by the state assembly at 5.20pm.

June 9, 2014

Sultan listens to MB? Dream on, says Zaid

Today, if any Menteri Besar or Exco member claims that the Malay ruler acts on his or her advice, “you can tell them to dream on”, said former minister Zaid Ibrahim.

Although the words “acting on advice of the Menteri Besar (or Prime Minister)” are  used in the state and federal constitutions, he added the practice is actually the other way around.

“The Ruler now decides things and it is wishful thinking for any Menteri besar to believe otherwise. Just look at what has happened in Terengganu, Perak, Perlis, and Kelantan.After the Perak case, it is also clear that the position of Menteri Besar is very much dependent on the pleasure of his Highness both in terms of appointment and removal,” he said.

In the early days of Independence, Zaid said it was more straightforward as Malaysia adopted and observed the Westminster model in totality.

For example, he added, any appointment of a Menteri Besar or state Exco Member was always dependent on the decision of the party leader whose party won the most seats in the assembly.

“The Menteri Besar and Chief Minister had real power and it was unheard of that any Malay Ruler could exercise direct influence on public policy of any kind,” he noted in his blog.

Zaid was referring to the opposition coming from UMNO with regard to the Housing and Real Property Bill, passed by the Johor state assembly yesterday, with amendments to limit the Sultan’s role. The Johor Menteri Besar Mohamed Khaled Noordin also explained that the Sultan would act on the Menteri Besar’s advice.

The ‘funny Malays’

Meanwhile, Zaid also claimed that UMNO consisted of a band of rib ticklers, who switched agendas when it suited them. Commenting on the New Sunday Times headline on the Johor bill issue, which read “Follow the Constitution”, the ex-Minister said it sounded desperate and hollow.

“This is because those making the plea were the ones responsible for giving special meaning to the provisions of the constitution whenever it suited them. Now they reap what they have sown.

“You see, UMNO Malays are funny people: when it suits them or their political agenda, they will declare support for the overriding power of the Malay rulers. They will say that our constitution is ‘unique’.

“They will say that the Malay rulers have special powers to protect the Malays and Islam. They do not want us lawyers to interpret the constitution in the same way as is done in modern constitutional democracies,” he added. But when the rulers start exercising these real powers, which can deprive them of their businesses, Zaid remarked that the UMNO Malays would cry foul.

Lumping PERKASA and Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA) into the same category as UMNO, he said these “funny Malays” are willing to sacrifice the institutions of real democracy, such as the Westminster model of constitutional monarchy, for short-term political gains.

Zaid also recalled Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin as saying that the golden years of the Malay empire and Malay intellectualism began way back in the 13th century.

“That being the case, the Malay sultanates have done more for the Malays over the past 700 years than UMNO, which was born in 1946. This is why PERKASA and UMNO leaders in Johor are hopping mad and are calling for the bill to be removed or postponed,” he added.

Zaid is also certain that other Malay rulers would follow Johor’s example and respond accordingly to assert their power. “They are already quietly involved in large businesses and are entrenched in sports such as football.I suggest that they widen their areas of interest to match UMNO’s – after all, they can easily match UMNO’s business skills. Indeed, the Malays must not be too concerned about trusting the Malay rulers more than UMNO,” he said.

Utusan reaches new heights of absurdity

April 7, 2014

 Utusan reaches new heights of absurdity

By John Malott*

malott1It is shocking to see that an Assistant Editor of Utusan Malaysia has written that the 9-11 attacks were planned by the CIA, and that the agency could also be behind the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

It is yet another example that Utusan has become the laughing stock of Malaysian journalism, given to fabrication, conspiracy theories, paranoia, extremism, and racism. Just think of all the libel suits that it has lost in the past two years. Think of its declining circulation, as readers grow weary of propaganda that tries to pass as news.

But Utusan is not just any newspaper. It is owned by UMNO, Malaysia’s rulingnajib-razak1 party, whose President is Najib Abdul Razak. UMNO and its President traditionally have provided editorial guidance and supervision to Utusan.

So what say you, Najib? You will soon be welcoming President Barack Obama to Malaysia. Are you going to let this absurb statement in “your” newspaper stand? Or will you speak out – and denounce this nonsense – before Obama comes?

When Utusan had its screaming headline after the 13th GE, ‘Apa Lagi Cina Mahu’, Najib defended the paper. Then just a few months later, he told government-linked companies that they should buy more advertisements in Utusan in order to aid the newspaper financially.

Will Najib react differently this time? Washington certainly will take note of the editorial comment in this UMNO newspaper, and will be waiting to see if there is a reaction from Najib and his government.

* John Malott was former US Ambassador to Malaysia and friend of Malaysia



Anwar Ibrahim’s Conviction: State Department’s Reaction is mild and muted

March 8, 2014

Anwar Ibrahim’s Conviction: State Department’s Reaction is mild and muted



The United States yesterday voiced concern over what it says are politically motivated charges brought against Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, urging Malaysia to ensure fairness and transparency.

In a long-running case which stretches back to the late 1990s, the Malaysian Court of Appeals yesterday overturned Anwar’s acquittal on sodomy laws and sentenced him to five years in jail. He was freed pending appeal.

“The decision to prosecute Mr Anwar, and his trial, have raised a number of concerns regarding the rule of law and the independence of the court,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

“In this high-profile case, it is critical for Malaysia to apply the rule of law fairly, transparently and apolitically in order to promote confidence in Malaysia’s democracy and judiciary.”

She also raised the case of the conviction of opposition figure Karpal Singh, who was found guilty of sedition even though Kuala Lumpur had vowed to abolish the law.

The outspoken, wheelchair-bound 73-year-old parliamentarian faces up to three years in prison.

Yesterday’s ruling against Anwar, 66, overturns his 2012 acquittal onpresident-barack-obama-calls-atlantis-sts-125 charges he sodomised a male former aide – in a case which has dragged on since 1998 and cut short his promising career during a bitter power struggle with his rival then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Anwar’s case was loudly condemned at the time as politically motivated, and when asked whether this was still the US stand, Psaki replied “It is.”

Sodomy remains illegal in Muslim-majority Malaysia and punishable by up to 20 years in jail. – AFP, March 8, 2014.

TDM : the man synonymous with crony capitalism tells media how he fought corruption!

December 3, 2013

Tun Dr. Mahathir (TDM): the man synonymous with crony capitalism tells media how he fought corruption

by Lee

mahathir-Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic) today claimed that corruption in Malaysia is greater now than when he was in office.

Explaining why, Malaysia’s longest serving Prime Minister was quoted as saying that the law was enforced smoothly and without delay during his 22 years in office, compared to the current state of affairs.

“Quick action should be taken by the government on cases involving corruption and bribery as the public’s perception is important,” Dr Mahathir said.

“Corruption depended heavily on the law and the punishment meted out. One of the most important factors to battle corruption is the expediting of the investigation process,” Dr Mahathir was reported as saying by news portal, Malaysiakini.

He was speaking at a press conference at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur today after attending a forum ahead of the UMNO assembly which begins on Wednesday.

Dr Mahathir had been asked to comment on the issue as the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index Report is due out tomorrow.

The former UMNO President also said money politics was on the rise, as seen in the recent party elections.

“Although the voting format has been changed, but money politics is still alive and kicking,” Dr Mahathir said, declining to elaborate further.

Instead, he said he had an idea on how to combat corruption within UMNO and Malaysia.

“I have an idea and I will seek out a platform to explain and expand on the idea,” Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying by Malaysiakini. He also defended democracy in Malaysia, arguing that while it was not perfect, it was still better than having people take to the streets.

“Malaysia’s democracy may not be perfect, but an imperfect democracy is still better than the people taking to the streets and killing one another.”

He was adamant that Malaysia’s democracy was stable and capable of functioning as a social counterweight for all races and communities. However, Dr Mahathir said Putrajaya should own up to its mistakes and work on improving itself to develop Malaysia.

“The essence of democracy is not to achieve victory, but to accept defeat,” he said in his speech at the UMNO International Forum 2013.


Do you believe this Home Affairs Minister?

October 6, 2013

Do you believe this Home Affairs Minister?

Malaysiakini has called on Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to halt his attempts to intimidate journalists from the independent news portal. Journalists have a fundamental duty to ask questions of public interest, to which ministers have the responsibility to answer, said co-founders Premesh Chandran and Steven Gan in a joint statement today.

gan-and-chandran-malaysiakini-foundersSteven Gan and Premesh Chandran

The duo described Zahid’s  behaviour at a press conference yesterday as “conduct unbecoming of a Minister”. The Minister had launched into a tirade against Malaysiakini for allegedly “spinning” his words and confronted journalist Lawrence Yong after the press conference.

“If the Home Minister believes that Malaysiakini has misreported his statements, he can always contact us for a correction,” said Chief Executive Officer Premesh and Editor-in-Chief Gan.

“If he feels we are unfair to him, we are always ready to meet him or any other minister to discuss our reportage. To date, we have not received any complaints from him or his office.”

Hold Elected Officials Accountable

The co-founders of the portal reminded the Minister it is the job of journalists to hold those elected into positions of power accountable.

“In light of a perception of rising crime and lawlessness, the conduct of the police is of grave concern. The Home Minister should take cognisance of these public concerns and respond accordingly,” they added.

This is not the first time that Zahid had accused Malaysiakini of “spinning” news.He warned he was monitoring “every word, every sentence, every paragraph and every news item in Malaysiakini” during his maiden press conference as home minister last month.

zahid hamidi warning malaysiakini lawrence yong 2Meanwhile, Malaysiakini chief editor Fathi Aris Omar commended journalist Yong (left in photo) for keeping calm and standing his ground in the face of Zahid’s onslaught.

Yong had attempted to ask Zahid about the RM1.3 million worth of weapons and other equipment lost by the police force, as revealed by the Auditor-General’s Report 2012 released on Tuesday.

The Auditor-General reported that handcuffs topped the list of missing items at 156, followed by 44 weapons and 29 police vehicles.  Fathi called on UMNO to treat all media organisations with respect and fairness.

“UMNO is the only political party in the country which bans Malaysiakini from covering its functions, especially its supreme council meetings,” he said.