Concerned Malaysians in Support of Negara-ku Charter


July 18, 2014

The Negara-Ku Charter

On a daily basis, we are confronted with serious challenges that have begun to undermine the very foundations of our Nation. The peace and harmony of our multi-ethnic, multi-faith and multicultural society are under threat.

 Ethnocentric and race-based politics and communally-minded politicians continue to derail the process of inclusive nation building and the formation of a Bangsa Malaysia national identity. Importantly, religion is now increasingly used as a main marker of identity, and as a boundary maintenance mechanism to polarise the people.

There are political parties and their affiliates that are not focused on nation building, rather on building their respective power bases. These parties on both sides of the divide pursue their agenda that are transactional and short-term, not transformational and long-term.

The mobilisation and manipulation of race, ethnicity and religion have resulted in increasing intolerance, bigotry and extremism. There is also an emerging sub-culture of political violence. These are symptomatic of dangerous under-currents in our society.

The State, by default or design, has failed to address these pernicious developments. The State has also failed to play the role of an honest broker in managing conflicts in our society.

We believe the majority of the People want to end this brand of divisive ethno-religious politics.

We want to take ownership, fully cognisant, that Malaysia is a nation where her people are inextricably bound by a shared history, commonweal, and destiny.

We have to act before our society descends into the abyss of instability.

The “NEGARA-KU” Coalition aspires to mobilize and empower the People: -

1. To resist all forms of intolerance, bigotry, hatred, extremism, and violence;

2. To oppose all forms of discrimination, oppression, persecution and injustice;”

3. To strive for a socially inclusive society;

4. To exhort the State and its Institutions to respect, adhere and uphold the Rule of Law; and

5. To demand adherence to the principles of stewardship, integrity, accountability and transparency in all aspects of governance.

We will strive to do this by returning to the basics:-

The Federal Constitution as the Supreme Law of the Land;
The Malaysia Agreement; and

The Rukunegara as the guide for national objectives and values.

By this process of engagement and empowerment we endeavour to”HEAL THE NATION” and “RESTORE HOPE” in our future.

_________________________________________

Concerned Malaysians in Support of Negara-ku Charter

Press statement in conjunction with Press Conference at Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Friday July 18, 2014

Ambiga2Leaders of the Negara-Ku Movement

We, concerned Malaysians, take note and fully concur with the  Negara-Ku Charter launched by the People’s Movement to heal the nation and to restore hope for our shared common future.

We are in the midst of epochal challenges and changes in which all Malaysians must stand together to fight the forces of racial bigotry and religious extremism.

To safeguard our fragile multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural unity, we must resist those who seek to destroy Malaysia and what it stands for which are the principles contained in the Constitution of the Malaysia Agreement of 1963.

We call on all Malaysians, especially our political leaders, to endorse this charter, embrace its values and principles fully and strive to uphold it wholeheartedly and unflinchingly in our personal and public lives.

List of Signatories

AB Sulaiman (Writer)

Ahmad Chik (Business and Community Leader)

Andrew Aeria (Academic)

Anwar Fazal (Educationist)

Art Harun (Lawyer and Commentator)

Azmi Sharom (Academic and Commentator)

Bah Tony Williams-Hunt (Community Leader)

Chong Ton Sin (Publisher)

Din Merican (Commentator)

Dominic Puthucheary (Lawyer)

Foong Wai Fong (Commentator)

Gurdial Singh Nijar (Academic)

Jannie Lasimbang (Community Leader)

Koon Yew Yin (Business and Community Leader)

Lim Teck Ghee (Academic and Commentator)

Malik Imtiaz Sarwar (Lawyer)

Ramon Navaratnam (Business and Community Leader)

Sharaad Kuttan (Commentator)

Sharom Ahmat (Educationist)

S. Thayaparan (Commentator)

Tan Pau Son (Business Leader)

Wan Saiful Wan Jan (Commentator)

Wong Chin Huat (Academic and Commentator)

Tricia Yeoh (Commentator)

Zainah Anwar (Community Leader)

Karpal Singh: A Political Man of his times


April 23, 2014

Karpal Singh: A Political Man of his Times

Bridget Welsh@http://www.malaysiakini.com

TRIBUTE: Much has been written about the recently deceased Karpal Singh.

His skills as a lawyer, his fight for basic rights and contributions to the law, his commitment to his family and his struggle for ordinary people as a humanitarian are just some of the themes raised in the many eulogies and reflections in the past few days since he and his friend and assistant Michael Cornelius lost their lives.

Karpal had never insulted hudud. He had only said that it was against the Constitution.

Karpal had never insulted hudud. He had only said that it was against the Constitution.

The reactions from ordinary Malaysians have reaffirmed the spirit of dignity and humanity that are an integral part of the national character and stand in stark contrast to the uncouth provocative remarks of a handful of individuals who, blinded by insecurity and hubris, revealed how far they have deviated from common decency.

I knew Karpal Singh as a politician, and the remarks that follow are some of my observations on his important role in Malaysian political life and his political legacy.

A true Malaysian nationalist

Karpal’s entry into politics in 1969 coincided with a tumultuous time in Malaysian politics. He had been socialised in the exciting decade of the 1960s, when student politics was active and universities were centres to discuss and debate ideas – sadly an era now long gone.

He was among a generation of early Malaysian nationalists deeply committed to the country and the very principles that were the bedrock of the nation at independence, particularly the Federal Constitution.

His staunch defence of the legal foundation of Malaysia throughout his lifetime was an extension of his deep love for Malaysia and the ideals (and idealism) of a decade where rights were fought for and protected.

The 1960s was an era where a son of a watchman from any race could become a lawyer with hard work and skill. Karpal Singh emerged in public life to embody the promise of a new nation in a time of high social mobility and opportunities across ethnicity.

The other side

In making the decision to join and stay with the Democratic Action Party (DAP) after the wake of the May 1969 riots, Karpal chose a difficult path. Many leaders of his generation (and some parties at that time, including PAS and Gerakan) opted to join the Barisan Nasional, to work from inside the system to address the challenges of country, particularly ethnic tensions and development.

Karpal opted for the brave road of opposition, the political margins. He once shared with me the reasons for doing so, highlighting the importance of a loyal opposition for effective national governance. As a lawyer, he explained, it was necessary to have the other side, someone to offer a different point of view and to safeguard the system from potential abuses. I recall that he laughed when he stated that he also loved a good battle, even as the underdog.

Karpal Singh embraced his role as an opposition Member of Parliament, and used his knowledge of the law to shape debates. The Hansard of parliamentary debates of the 1970s reveal his rich contributions, where he questioned laws from the Universities and University Colleges Act to the Internal Security Act.

He avidly opposed many of the Bills that curtailed human rights at a time when legislation was introduced to limit political activism and freedom, and although many of these efforts were not successful, some amendments were adopted and importantly, issues of concern were put into the public arena.

His political statements in Parliament were not popular among some, but the contribution to the national debate in building Malaysia cannot be understated. An opposition has an important role to play in any political system, and Karpal was an integral leader in this effort.

Grudgingly, this consistency and commitment won him the respect of many in the system, many of whom he befriended. When the parliamentary debate was over, he often left those battles for the legislature behind and put aside differences to share a joke or banter.

This pattern of shared comradeship across the political aisle was shaped by his practice as a lawyer, where the legal fraternity focused their differences for the courtroom.

This practice of a quiet coffee became more difficult after Karpal’s tragic accident of 2005, but many across the political divide, in his generation in particular, recognised his practice of agreeing to disagree and appreciation of a shared fraternity of leaders working for Malaysia.

This was a time in Malaysian history where statesmanship in leadership was expected, sadly another era also gone.

A Defender of Democracy

It’s Dr Mahathir, not Karpal, who belittled hudud.

It’s Dr Mahathir, not Karpal, who belittled hudud.

Karpal’s role in political life expanded in the 1980s during Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s tenure as prime minister, when Karpal took on battles to protect democratic governance. As the former prime minister weakened institutions and corruption became entrenched, Karpal took to the courtroom to challenge these practices.

One of the ironies of Karpal Singh’s role in politics is that he fought so hard to defend and strengthen an independent judiciary and was on the receiving end of its weaknesses and political co-option.

In this decade, his role in the 1988 North-South Expressway case was a landmark for public interest litigation.His challenges to corruption, abuse and the use of the ISA pitted him directly against Mahathir, who centralised political power and emphatically responded against opponents.

Among those Karpal challenged was also Anwar Ibrahim, then in Mahathir’s government, all on the grounds of checking the excesses of increasing executive centralisation.

The price to pay for challenging those in power is high in Malaysia, particularly so in the Mahathir (right) (and Najib Abdul Razak) years. Karpal spent years in prison, separated from his family after his arrest in Operation Lallang and his second passion in life, his work.

This opposition warrior was demonised, as another pattern in Malaysian politics set in – the more you challenge those in power, the tougher the response.

Mahathir’s era was the beginning of a nastiness of Malaysian political life, where mutual respect was not practised and the bounds of decency crossed. Personal attacks became commonplace – even among the opposition – as politics became deeply personalised and polarised.

The highest costs were absorbed by the individuals on the opposition frontline who challenged the system.

This was clearly evident in the 1999 trial of Anwar Ibrahim, where Karpal Singh played a role as part of the legal team. To stand in opposition was portrayed as the enemy of the state when in fact the opposite was true, as the efforts to insure justice was carried out were to protect the country’s integrity and fabric.

The Anwar trials have split Malaysia, as injustices have been carried out for the incumbent’s political survival. The prices that have been paid for taking Malaysia down this road of polarisation are blatantly evident in the loss of faith of the country’s institutions, the heightened use of racism and deep-seated anger that is an acid of pain among many in the country today.

Karpal fought the good fight in the courtroom and legislature, throughout hoping for justice with the knowledge of the difficult odds in the process. He remained committed to protecting the rule of law, even as many in the general public were losing their own faith.

His belief in the law as a means of protection for rights and justice never wavered, even as those in office and position failed in their responsibilities to act as the national guardian.

A secular constitutional champion

From the 1990s onwards two important themes emerged from Karpal Singh’s political activism. The first was a steadfast commitment to a secular Malaysia. This was tied to his deep-seated belief in religious freedom across the faiths.

He believed in the right of all citizens, including Muslims, to choose how they practised their religion and deeply worried about government regulation of these choices. As a member of a minority race, he was acutely aware of the effect of religious regulation, and worried about the constraints placed on the choices of ordinary citizens.

As a lawyer, he witnessed first-hand how the courtroom has become the battleground for religious rights, with the Constitution caught in the war. As I understood his explanation to me, his opposition to hudud was not against any faith but against giving the government authority to control and regulate faith.

A similar argument was made when he offered to defend the Singaporean Muslim girls in 2002, who were denied the right to wear the tudung (head scarf).

Karpal was one of the few in the political landscape who were willing to openly oppose the use of religion for political ends, and, as indicative of the viciousness of some of the responses when he passed on, he paid a price for it.

He was mistakenly portrayed as the main obstacle in Pakatan Rakyat to the implementation of Islamic law, but in reality, he was only one of those who was brave enough to voice his concerns publicly, as the debate over religion has become so politically poisonous and devoid of real, shared religious principles.

He believed in practising faith in his everyday life, and opposed the power of the government to take away the choice of citizens on how to practice their faith.

Another area where Karpal Singh was on the forefront was in calling for a responsible constitutional royalty, a call that led to his most recent conviction for sedition – for effectively stating a legal opinion. His political ally in this area was ironically initially Mahathir, who checked the powers of the royalty.

Since Mahathir’s formal departure from politics in 2003, the powers of the royalty have grown and it has become intertwined in political battles, from Perak to Selangor. While the royalty is the political institution that receives the highest respect among ordinary Malaysians in polling, it is also facing a battering among some in the general public who differ with the political positions and positioning in a highly polarised polity.

The 2014 sedition conviction of Karpal does not strengthen the royalty as an institution, and in the longer term, will open it to greater discord as it undermines the important role the royalty plays in representing the nation as a whole.

A loyal Opposition Voice

Some differ with the political positions Karpal took over the decades. Even among those sympathetic there were those critical of the timing and approach of his engagement. Yet, others were in full support of his steadfastness and defence of Malaysia’s national constitutional roots, and this admiration has been evident in the last few days.

He was the voice for the views that many in Malaysia’s silent majority, across the races, are afraid to state publicly. No one can question the pivotal role he has played in shaping Malaysian politics over the last four-and-a-half decades.

After 2008, it became harder for an opposition lawmaker to be purely an opponent, given the compromises needed for being in government at the state level and the challenges of an ideologically divided opposition coalition.

The current decade of Malaysian politics offers new obstacles in much muddier and murkier waters. The Najib government has not led in the areas of fairness and statesmanship, as shown in the examples of the efforts by the prosecution to put Karpal in jail.

Karpal stayed consistently principle-rooted in the muck that Malaysian politics has become today, and his role in fighting against injustice came to the fore again in his resistance to the political manipulation of institutions and violation of rights that have become part of Najib’s era.

Whether in the courtroom or in Parliament, Karpal’s contributions were a valuable national service that made the country stronger. He embodied the term loyal opposition in the interest of Malaysia.

B. Welsh

DR BRIDGET WELSH is Associate Professor of Political Science at Singapore Management University. She can be reached at bwelsh@smu.edu.sg.

 

Islam At the Crossroads in Malaysia


February 8, 2014

Islam At the Crossroads in Malaysia

dato-din-mericanby Din Merican

I am writing this as I contemplate the fate of our country while resting after being involved in a nasty accident last week. I feel very sorry that my wife’s car, Dr Kamsiah’s black beauty, is now a total wreck and we are not sure how long the adjusters will assess the loss as a total loss or whether it has to be repaired.

I hope the insurance company and its adjusters would be kind to my wife and I by not prolonging the painful process of making an insurance claim. The positive thing from that accident was that the driver of the other car, a non-Muslim Chinese and I, a Malay Muslim, did not have a quarrel. We resolved matters in the manner that accidents are resolved. We showed care and compassion for each other to ensure that neither of us suffered grievous bodily injury. We were civil despite our different race and religion even in those tense moments. We behaved as how civil people behave. We behaved like we are one people, like true Malaysians.

Airbags from the car!

Airbags from the car!

What was heartening also was that I received an immediate message from my young friend, Lawyer Rosli Dahlan, who heard about the accident although he was away. He was so concerned to make sure that we were not injured and made prayers for us from Makkah. Apparently, he was in Jeddah for a meeting and entered Makkah to perform umrah and made doa’ (prayers) for our safety.

To Rosli, I say thank you. At my ripe age, doa from well wishers are very meaningful. Alhamdulillah, I am safe in one piece although I was pretty jolted when the airbag exploded. I pray to Allah that the driver and passengers of the other vehicle will also recover as I have.

Religion and Politics

This brings me to the topic of religion that has plagued the country in the last few months. Since 2012, the politics of religion in Malaysia has taken a worrisome development. While Malaysia has long been known as a moderate Muslim country, that perception is beginning to change and change dramatically.

Malaysia’s moderation which is also a characteristic of Malay culture has, in the past, earned us respect in many Muslims countries. It is well known that Malaysian Muslim pilgrims for Haj and Umrah are well liked because in overseas countries Malaysians are extremely polite and rarely act in a radical way, unlike the hooliganism that they now show back at home. I am sure Rosli is one of the example of a pleasant Malay pilgrim. Moderation has become our national emblem, a badge of pride that we can wear on our chest.

Islam Hadhari disappeared when Badawi resigned as Prime Minister

When Abdullah Badawi became PM, he wanted to capitalise on that moderation by conceptualising it as  Islam Hadhari. But, like all slogans, that slogan also went out of fashion and is rarely heard today. As always, Malaysian leadership is less concerned about the substance of leadership and good governance but more concerned with popularity. And that is the problem we face today with the administration of PM Najib Razak.

badawi1Ex-PM Abdullah Badawi was brought down by his own party, UMNO, as he was seen to be ineffective– sleeping on the job, as Dr Mahathir would put it. And then, enter Najib Razak as PM. Malaysians were hopeful of him. There could not be a politician with a better pedigree than Najib. He is after all the son of Tun Abdul Razak, one of the most respected of Malaysia’s Prime Ministers. However, it did not take long for Najib to show that what his father Tun Razak had built, Najib would in a short time almost destroy.

You may ask- is that a fair comment? That is a fair question. So, let us analyse briefly why I expressed what most Malaysians are already saying.

Najib came up with this slogan – Satu Malaysia (1Malaysia). But today,we, as a nation, are not at all one united people. We can’t be more divided than ever. We quarrel about almost everything, including something so flimsy as the proprietorship of the word “Allah”. Thus, it was apt that my friend Tan Sri Robert Phang had rhetorically posed – “Why are we quareling about God?” in his New Year Message. Lim Kit Siang has taken that tag line to raise the same question in his open letter to PM Najib.

Malaysia is becoming to look like a Taliban State where the religious authorities have become so intolerant of different what more dissenting views in the area of religion, religious thought or for that matter anything concerning God, as if we own God. But more worrisome is that they are wrong in the things they did, yet they did not care.

The Borders Case remains unresolved thanks to AG Gani Patail

nik-raina-and-dr-kamsiah1In 2012, JAWI raided the Borders Bookstore and seized books by Canadian author Irshad Manji titled “Allah, Liberty and Love”. When JAWI couldn’t find anyone else to charge, JAWI decided to charge the poor Malay store manager Nik Raina Nik Rashid (seen with Dr. Kamsiah). She was charged for selling a banned book at a time when it was not banned yet.

Lawyer Rosli Dahlan successfully persuaded Tudung Judge Dato Zaleha Yusof to make a bold declaration that JAWI’s raid, seizure of books, and prosecution of Nik Raina were illegal. Judge Zaleha also declared that the Islamic Offences Act used to charge Nik Raina was ultra vires and unconstitutional and chided the Minister of Home Affairs and Minister in the PM’s Dept in charge of Religion for abdicating their constitutional duties in not clarifying the confusion that had disrupted the harmonious relationship in multiracial and multireligious Malaysia.

Despite the High Court ruling, the Syariah court refused to release Nik Raina. Although the law is now clarified that the Islamic Law Act used by JAWI is unconstitutional, yet A-G Gani Patail did not seem to consider it to be his duty to advise the government on what is the proper thing to do. He would rather cause a conflict of laws between civil and islamic law without regard to the disharmony it is causing amongst Malaysians.

I suppose A-G Gani Patail feels that he can survive better when there is anarchy in the country as that would make him more useful to those in the corridors of power. Otherwise, his position would be under threat from lawyer Tan Sri Shafee Abdullah, who has openly declared recently that he is ready to assume the role of Attorney-General to replace Gani Patail who is just a 3rd Class law graduate from University Malaya. That is what happens when the country is led by people of mediocrity.

The Allah Issue

Perkasa Rally on AllahThen the “Allah” issue erupted again, this time in a more virulent way. Unheard of NGOs like ISMA started to appear and condemned Marina Mahathir as a Dalang for LBGT and as anti-Islam. Thus, the line is a drawn between the Axis of Evil and the Defenders of Islam. Any muslim who spoke on the “Allah” issue in a manner not consistent with the Malaysian Standards of Islam (as if there is one!) projected by the likes of JAWI and JAIS are immediately branded as the enemies of Islam. You then see a herd of Malaysian politicians singing in chorus branding Islamic scholars like Professor Tariq Ramadan as liberal muslims. I am appalled.

Tariq Ramadan is the son of Said Ramadan, author of “Islamic Law: Its Scope and Equity”Tariq Ramadan and the grandson of Hassan Al Banna, founder of Ikhwanul Muslimin. Yet, Malaysian politicians conveniently branded him as such just because he gave an impartial and objective opinion about “Allah”. I will not elaborate on this as so many people have already written on the “Allah” issue.

All I would like to add is that PM Najib showed a total lack of moral courage on this issue which is now dividing Malaysians more than ever before. When he eventually made a comment recently, it was at best disappointing. Najib had no qualms about showing that his government will not honour the 10 point agreement.

Najib showed the same lack of courage over the death and burial of Chin Peng.  My counterparts in Thailand informed me that former Thai PM Chaovalit Yongchaiyudh had attended Chin Peng’s funeral in honour of an independence fighter of the time likening Chin Peng to Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam and Che Guevara of the Cuban Revolution and yet Malaysia dishonoured its own son and the treaty that it entered with the CPM. That is how dishonourable the Najib government behaved.

PM Najib also coined the slogan- Rakyat Di Dahulukan (People First). It was a beautiful slogan to show a caring and people oriented government. To demonstrate the government’s care and concern, the Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BRIM) was introduced as Najib geared up for  GE13. All kinds of asssistance and handouts were promised to bribe the Rakyat to vote for BN. Yet, immediately after winning the elections (and losing the popular votes), the Rakyat was burdened with price increases– from petrol price increase to tariff hikes in electricity, property assessments, tolls and all other kinds of tariffs. That is how PM Najib’s government betrayed the people. Rakyat didahulukan with all kinds of burdens!

Rosmah Mansor’s Opulence and Defiance

Rosmah and NajibWhen the Rakyat complained, PM Najib asked them to be thrifty, to be austere and so on, whereas all the while his domineering wife is jet-setting all over the world in a government jet, costing taxpayers to the tune of RM44 million. This did not yet take into account the numerous color Hermes and Birkin handbags (not the Shenzen or Petaling Street versions) that Rosmah Mansor is reputed to tot around costing not less than RM100 thousand each. She does not care what the Rakyat thinks about her lavish spending. Sheer defiance of public opinion.

Then, in a blatant display of grandiose and opulence, Riza Aziz, Rosmah’s son from an earlier marriage suddenly emerged in Hollywood as a big budget movie producer. The movie Wolf of Wall Street is nothing but sheer debauchery. I don’t give a hoot that it starred Leonardo Di Caprio or that it was directed by Martin Scorcesse. All I care is that there are enough stories out there in the Internet that Rosmah’s son is flaunting his very deep pockets to fund such big projects. The question on everybody’s mind is where did he get all that money? What is worse, the MACC chose not to investigate the young man.

With all these scandals surrounding his family, PM Najib has no moral authority to lecture the Rakyat about austerity when his wife and family display extreme opulence and questionable wealth.  Najib has no credibility to tell the Rakyat about how fortunate we are to be able to eat cheap kangkung when his family’s lifestyle of the rich and famous are posted all over youtube.

That is how sick the country is that leaders and those in authority cannot be trusted to take care of the Rakyat. And worst still when religion is used to rob people of their property. I read in the Malay Mail a case of the Pentadbir Tanah Daerah Batang Berjuntai conspiring with JAIS to rob a chinese company of its 26 acre land purportedly to build a mosque. I have not seen a 26-acre a mosque especially not in a kampung area like Batang Berjuntai. I became more interested when I saw that the lawyer acting for the chinese company is again Rosli Dahlan.

That makes me wonder if Rosli went to Makkah feeling guilty for acting against the religious authorities or if he was  seeking forgiveness and atonement because of all the condemnations he must be receiving for acting against the  likes of JAWI and JAIS which pretend to be the defenders and guardians of the Islamic faith. If that is why he is in Makkah, I have this to say to Rosli– don’t feel guilty. Seek justice and God will protect you.

image

Rosli should take it as his karma, taqdir, predestination or whatever you call it for him to be acting in such causes of justice without discriminating the race, color or religion of the oppressed party. That is what Islam is about- justice and compassion. And that’s  what our country and leadership are not. That is how sick our country is. We are at a crossroad where our professed islamic identity is made a mockery by the leadership and then aped by the Muslim mobs like PERKASA and ISMA.

Islam should be presented without any fanaticism. Without any stress on our having the only possible way and the others are lost. Moderation in all forms is a basic demand of Islam.

Islam should be presented without any fanaticism. Without any stress on our having the only possible way and the others are lost. Moderation in all forms is a basic demand of Islam.

That reminded me of the title of a book by renowned Islamic Scholar Muhammad Asad- “Islam at the Crossroads“. In case the likes of PERKASA, ISMA and their ilk are not aware, Muhammad Asad was born and raised as a Jew in Austria by the name of Leopold Weiss. So, one of Islam’s respected scholars of the recent century is actually a Jew! It was a Jew who correctly projected that Islam is at a crossroad. And I will borrow Asad’s title to say that Islam is indeed at crossroads in Malaysia. It is heading in the wrong direction because of politics of manipulation and subjugation by UMNO of Malay Muslims.

How did the 30% equity target for Bumiputera’s come about?


October 8, 2013

30% Equity Target: How did this Magic Figure come about?

By Ranjit Singh

How did the 30% equity target for Bumiputeras come about? The answer is nobody knows.

Why 30%

Why 30%

The answer given by Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, who was a senior civil officer at time just after the 1969 riots, was that the economic consultative body which set up to study Bumiputera economic share just tossed around numbers which they thought was reasonable given that Bumiputera equity share at time stood at around 2%.

The body headed by the late Tan Sri (later Tun) Ghazalie Shafie first proposed a 50% share for the Bumiputera but then this was later brought down to 30% as a consensus figure by Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman.

But several people scoffed at an answer given during the recent tabling of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s ‘Amanah Plan’, which involved a group of eminent economists and technocrats headed by Tan Sri Dr Kamal Salih.

Yet, the 30% equity target is the basis of another Bumiputera economic plan that was recently announced by Datuk Seri Najib Razak. But the figure bandied about of RM31 billion for the new plan does not add up.

What he announced was the RM700 million for business loans under the TEKUN (Tabung Ekonomi Kumpulan Usaha Niaga) and 10 billion additional units under the Amanah Saham Bumiputera (ASB).

image

The point here is that Putrajaya has put out those figures because it continues to maintain the current Bumiputera equity is at 23%, a contentious figure among economists.

After all, Bumiputeras make up 67% of the population of the country and if GLC companies’ equity was monetized, the entire equity held by Bumiputera’s should exceed the 30% threshold.

However, the truth of the matter is 80% of Bumiputera households in the country earn less than RM3,000 per month and the reason for this is the policies that have favored the Bumiputeras have not trickled down to a wider portion of the population.

Under the policy, wealth had been accumulated in the hands of a small population of the Bumiputeras’ and herein lays the problem.

The New Economic Plan (NEP) had somewhat met its objectives but affirmative action effectiveness continues to mired in weak implementation.

Now it is evident that setting equity targets is erroneous as the real equity level has surpassed the 30% threshold but many Bumiputera households are in the poorest category in the country.

The way forward is to study ways and means of enhancing Bumiputera skills sets and to be fair to Najib, he had announced measures in his Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Plan.

The issue of funds being channeled to a select few who were in the inner circle or to put it bluntly ‘cronies’ under the NEP must be addressed or the new measures would not resolve the issue of lifting the majority of the Bumiputeras who form the bulk of the lower income group in the country to better economic status.

imageIn the same vein, the fixation on the 30% equity is definitely myopic and really does not make sense and makes one wonder how economic planning is carried out in this country without knowing the basis of a target. – October 8, 2013.

* Ranjit Singh reads The Malaysian Insider.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

Borders bookstore manager fails to get charge against her dropped


Borders bookstore manager fails to get charge against her dropped

BY RITA JONG
October 07, 2013

A customer in a Borders bookstore in Kuala Lumpur. – Reuters pic.

Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz, the manager of Borders bookstore, has failed in her attempt to get the charge against her for distributing a ‘banned’ book by Canadian author Irshad Manji dropped.

Syariah judge Abdul Walid Abu Hassan dismissed the application after ruling that the civil High Court’s judicial review decision in finding the charge groundless, should not be used to interfere in Syariah court proceedings.

He said Nik Raina has not been tried and it was up to the Syariah prosecutor to prove their case whether the book was against the Islamic law (Hukum Syarak).

The judge then stayed the trial pending appeal by the prosecutor in the judicial review.

Nik Raina, 36, was accused on June 19 last year of distributing Manji’s Bahasa Malaysia translation of the book titled “Allah, Liberty and Love”.

She was alleged to have committed the offence on May 23 last year at the Borders bookshop at Level 3, The Gardens Mall, in Mid Valley City.

On March this year, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur found the Federal Territory Islamic Affairs Department (JAWI) to have acted illegally in raiding the bookstore and seizing the books.

The High Court also found that it had acted illegally in charging Nik Raina in the syariah court. – October 7, 2013.

MORE TO COME.

Bishop Dr. Paul Tan demurs over PM’s Christmas Day remarks


December 26, 2012

Bishop Dr. Paul Tan demurs over PM’s Christmas Day remarks

by Terence Netto@http://www.malaysiakini.com

Catholic Bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing described Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s remarks at a hi-tea hosted by the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) yesterday as “pious platitudes we are used to hearing on these occasions”.

Speaking to Malaysiakini after reading reports on web news portals on Najib’s remarks at the CFM function which the prelate did not attend, Bishop Tan (left) said:NONE “I don’t want to sound churlish, particularly in this Christmas season of goodwill, but if you shake down the PM’s rhetoric, what have you left – syrupy sentiment and clichés that have little or no connection with realities on the ground.”

In remarks made at the Christmas Day hi-tea attended also by  his wife Rosmah Mansor, Najib assured the Christian community that they have not been marginalised. “I don’t want to be Prime Minister for only a particular section of the community,” asserted Najib. “I’m Prime Minister for all Malaysians, and I’ve said that repeatedly.”

Bishop Tan said that no one with experience of how Prime Ministers have run the Malaysian nation would think to remark that there could be an ethnocentric and exclusivist dimension to the PM’s role.

“It’s odd that Najib has seen fit to remark that he has to be PM of all of our diverse nation and not just one or another part of it,” commented the Head of the Catholic Church of the Melaka-Johor diocese whose two-year tenure as President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei ends on December 31.

christmas high tea 251212“That he has to say a thing like that shows how far his office has tended to depart from a broad-gauged conception of its responsibilities that now there is the suspicion that it is enthralled to exclusivist notions of its actual import,” commented the Jesuit-trained prelate.

“If he had a broad view of his office, how come when Christians were accused over the last two years of not just being ‘pendatang‘ but sinister fifth-columnists, there was not a word from official quarters to stem that patently false accusation which was aimed at creating suspicion and hatred for Christians on the part of the Muslim majority of this country?” queried the Bishop.

Promises not kept

The prelate said that as a founding member of the Malaysian Consultative Congress of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism – founded in 1984 – and as one-time leader of the CFM, he had met, in MCCBCHST and CFM’s roles, three Malaysian Prime Ministers (Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib Razak) and “all three had not kept the promises they made at the dialogues we have had with them.”

christmas high tea 251212“All three were benign and reassuring in personal interaction with MCCBCHST and CFM councils but were something else when faced with testing circumstances involving religious matters as and when issues fizzled in the public arena,” recalled the Bishop.

“So it’s deja vu as far as I’m concerned with respect to the latest assurance from the present Prime Minister.”

The much respected and admired Bishop said Christians have grown leery of periodic assurances from the government that their contributions to education, welfare and heath care were not forgotten when the realities on the ground suggest that “their role must be muted or diminished for reason that others should not feel inferior by comparison.”

“For the good of our society, this is not a predicament that Christians can abide anymore for reason that their light cannot be hidden under a bushel and their truth frees and holds no one in bondage,” said the Bishop.

“I feel this determination will register soon on our polity to the benefit of those political leaders who elect to tack with it in a creative manner and to the disadvantage of those who mean to tackle it in a merely politically expedient and vote-catching way.”