GE-13: BN Victory with a Smaller Majority?


February 10, 2013

GE-13: BN Victory with a Smaller Majority?

by Neil Khor  (02-09-13)@http://www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT: In the past couple of weeks, Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders have been consistently warning Malaysians that if we go to the polls wanting “change for the sake of change”, we may end up with a Pakatan Rakyat government. Development would grind to a halt and our lifestyle will never be the same again.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad (right) even reassured Malaysians that even if Tun Dr MahathirPakatan were to win, he will not “run away”. He felt certain that Pakatan would systematically go after those friendly to the BN and this will be bad for peace and development.

Dr Mahathir also said that it is up to UMNO to decide the fate of PM Najib Abdul Razak if the latter does not do as well as Abdullah Ahmad Badawi after the 2008 general election.

In all approval ratings, Najib continues to do much better than UMNO and the BN. It is quite clear that the BN wants voters to think very hard or at least approach the ballot box with some level of ambivalence. We may then vote more cautiously.

Najib frowningIn the meantime, all BN service centres have come to life and the government is going into over-drive handing out BR1M, aid to school students and even vouchers for smart phones.

Those of us who are members of PERKESO and are above 40 years old, have received vouchers for free medical check-ups. Perhaps, if we are very lucky, the government will cancel income tax for 2013!

Indian Community given special attention

Special attention has been given to the Indians. Since 2008, the Federal government has spruced up “Little India” in Brickfields, provided aid to Tamil schools, did away with Interlok as a national text-book owing to passages deemed offensive to the Indian community, increased the intake of Indians into the civil service and now looking seriously into the applications for citizenship for stateless Indians.

Selangor has just cancelled a development project near Batu Caves as the project was deemed to be unsuitable so near a sacred Hindu temple.  But perhaps what takes the cake is the legalisation of Hindraf with all parties falling over themselves to create a strategic alliance with the Hindu rights group.  By recognising Hindraf, the government indirectly acknowledges the legitimacy of the movement’s grievances.

The “Allah” Issue

For Muslims, the ‘Allah’ issue is the centrepiece of a very clever public relations exercise. Whilst Dr Mahathir said that UMNO does not share all the views of PERKASA, the Pakatan said that UMNO’s right wing has out-sourced its strident Malay rights agenda to PERKASA.

Whatever the truth is the effect has been brilliant. Christians are suddenly cast as challenging Muslims on their insistence that they be allowed to use the word ‘Allah’ when referring to God. Muslims now have a choice – side with BN, the religious establishment and the rulers to guarantee the status-quo or vote Pakatan and take a risk.

The Sabah RCI, which continues its slow grinding process, will yield all the necessary surprises distracting Malaysians from the unfolding BN election machinery. It will, in the process, taint both Dr Mahathir and Anwar Ibrahim.

Let history do its work

But Dr Mahathir is not leading the Opposition coalition whilst Anwar is and all that BN needs to do is to let history do its work.

DSAIAnwar’s (left) complicity, his history with the BN and his close relationship with Dr Mahathir will be his undoing. Mr Teflon, no sex crimes can stick to the former Deputy Prime Minister, but what about his close relationship with Dr Mahathir?

In the meantime and as expected Sabah’s fractious political opposition is disintegrating.

Sabahans are right on one thing, so long as Peninsular-based political parties do not get the boot, Sabah will never be united.

So, there is really very little hope as both sides of the political divide will never leave Sabah alone. Yes, the ground may be shifting but it will take a miracle for one to one fights to take place. In short, BN has the advantage here and will probably retain the state.

So, if all the stars are aligned, why are BN leaders all warning Malaysians that if we voted based upon sentiment, we will live to regret it.

No matter how bad things are, we have a good life the logic goes. No matter how unfair the government is, the MCA is telling the Chinese that they have their Chinese schools, they can make money and they can eat pork. Do not take these things for granted.

If PAS is in the ruling government, no matter what the Pakatan says, the general tenor of Malaysia will be more conservative. Yes, there are some bits of the government that are corrupt but which government on earth is perfect. Even Singapore, on the happiness index, life is not as good as in Malaysia. We have to tolerate a little bit of corruption for the “freedom” we enjoy.

azlanFor those who are still not convinced, the BN is bringing Psy to Penang, a direct challenge to the DAP’s Ubah Gangnam-style.

Why change when we have never had it so good. In fact, the government will continue to give out BR1M, continue subsidies indefinitely and yes, I repeat again, give us a big ang pow by cancelling income tax for 2013. Heck, why not cancel income tax permanently if it wins two thirds majority!!

So, can the BN really lose? It seems that from the antics of BN leaders, there is a possibility that the ruling government will not perform as well as Najib expects and so far the campaign reeks of desperation.

We should prepare for the worst. A BN win with a smaller majority and with a few more state governments going to the Opposition. It will most likely be a heavily UMNO-dominated government with small coalition partners, the biggest casualties being the MCA, MIC and Gerakan. It will be a ruling coalition that might find it impossible to govern effectively. It will most likely be one more GE before BN is defeated.

In the weeks ahead, expect the situation to be tense as politicians go head-on in Malaysia’s hottest and most contested elections in history.

We are Malaysians, not Pendatangs, says my Friend, John Toh


January 24, 2013

We are Malaysians, not Pendatangs, says my Friend, John Toh

Din MericanLast week, and again today I met John Toh, my dear friend (both of us are septuagenarians waiting in the airport lounge, like our notorious octogenarian, for our turn to catch the next flight to eternity) at the Royal Selangor Golf Club.

John and I who are former corporate executives talked about what it was like growing up in the days when Tunku Abdul Rahman was our Prime Minister and how things got to this stage of degeneration in the affairs of state after 55 years of Independence. He and I attribute this collapse of our legislative, judicial and executive branches of government and our societal malaise to one man’s rise to power in 1981 and his 22 year+ administration. Others may disagree with us. It is their right to differ as much as it is our duty to speak up.

Tun Dr.Mahathir who started his administration with the slogan BERSIH, CEKAP danPerkasa's Patron AMANAH must take full responsibility for  our nation in crisis. We admired him very much because he fired our passion for Malaysia, but over the years, John and I have come to realise that he is  a man obsessed with power, who does not know when to let go.

Tun Dr. Mahathir has successfully brought down the Badawi administration in 2009, and is now working towards to the political demise of our present Prime Minister. I get the impression from his words and actions that he thinks he is still indispensable.

You and I know no one is indispensable. Each generation will have its own leaders and it is the duty of our generation–and certainly mine and John’s–to ensure that the present leaders both in the government and the Opposition administer our country properly and not badger them at every opportunity. We must guide, cajole, encourage, and praise them if they do the right things and do them right. Critique them, if we must, but do that constructively.

Recently, Tun Dr. Mahathir went over the top when he tried to divert our attention from his granting of Identity cards to both Filipinos and Indonesian illegals to enable the vote in the 1994 Sabah state elections by blaming Tunku Abdul Rahman. He said that the Tunku gave citizenships to Chinese, Indians and others. The Tun forgets that it was part of our Independence deal with the British colonial government. It is nasty for Tun Dr. Mahathir to accuse a man who is no longer around to defend himself. Lawyer Tommy Thomas has done us a service when he wrote an article on the subject, which I put on this blog.

Let me now post John’s e-mail to me. I promised him that I will share his concerns with all of you. Thank you, John. You and I cannot give up. As I said to you today, we both are heavily invested in Malaysia. Our children are luckier than us because we have given them good education to enable them to compete anywhere in the world. We cannot now abandon our dream of a united Malaysia. Why? We know we can change things around. So,we must speak against the likes of Ibrahim Ali and others like him. Being indifferent is no longer an option. Elegant silence?, well, leave that to Tun Musa Hitam.–Din Merican

_____________________

Kuala Lumpur, January 24, 2013

Dear Dato’ Din,

It was most gratifying to meet up with you after a lapse of over 40 years. A lot has happened to our respective lives  in the intervening period but I am glad to note that the fire in your belly is still burning bright. Although I was unable to meet you until now, I have been following your blog faithfully and have kept up with the issues you saw fit to discuss in the public domain especially for those who lack media support and in the process denied the laws of natural justice.For this I must salute you in your fearless crusade to help those who are oppressed.

Co-incidentally, a very important and current issue which I find disturbing is the remark by Tun Dr. M regarding Tunku’s act of granting Citizenship to over 1 million pendatangs soon after Merdeka. While I myself am a 3rd generation Malaysian born and a humble subject of HRH Sultan of Selangor which I became in 1954 by Operation of Law I still feel alienated by such references to Pendatangs and I reflect on Tunku’s action and ask what is the rationale and the end result of the “gift of Citizenship” by our beloved Tunku.

I must firstly confess that I am not a Member of any political Party or NGO but just one of those who happen to love our Nation and any action that cause dissension among the people naturally saddens me. I am also not an economist or political scientist.

After clearing the air, permit me to give you my layman’s view on what prompted Tunku to do what he did and what are the consequences. By the time we gained Independence, Malaysia had the good fortune to experience a number of “booms”. First was the rubber boom in late 1940′s but development of synthetic rubber caused the rubber industry to lose its bounce in less that 2 decades. Then we had the tin boom followed by the timber boom and in early or mid 1970′s we also experienced the oil and gas boom. With the huge deforestation of timber land, entrepreneurs began to plant oil palm over the logged over land and palm oil became the next boom factor what lasts to this day.

My point is this. Except for the oil and gas sector, all the other booms that occurred required substantial local labor and business resources and also the support of good transport and communication infrastructure,which brings to mind the venerable institutions we had. At that time, Malayan Railways ran efficiently and profitably but not anymore. Telecoms, Central Electricity Board, PWD, Postal Services, Waterworks Department. were managed by many Pendatangs and all were able to render reliable services to the people but not anymore.

These days we can’t even drink water straight from the taps like we used to. So our beloved Tunku, in his wisdom saw that in order to develop the country, we need to have capable and dedicated workers regardless of where they came from and if anybody were to ask me how Malaysia came to be what it is today, I will tell them it is due to Tunku’s foresight.

In comparison, let us look at Sabah. At the point of joining the Federation in 1963, Sabah was one of the richest if not the richest State in Malaysia. Besides oil and gas, Sabah had  huge timber resources plus minerals and its rich volcanic soil will let anything you put into the ground grow. Sadly, today, Sabah is one of the poorest State and most of its resources have been depleted.

I am not competent enough to allude this situation to the influx of illegal immigrants into the State but from a layman’s perspective, I cannot totally dispel this notion but I will leave it to the qualified experts to draw their own conclusion.

Hope you won’t find the above overbearing. Lets meet soon for a meal together. Best wishes to you and Family and May God Bless you in your endeavors.

John.

Tommy Thomas: Putting the Record Straight on Citizenship Issue


January 23, 2012

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Tommy Thomas: Putting the Record Straight on Citizenship Issue

TommyThomas-2COMMENT: The widespread publicity given to the recent statements made by former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad that:

1. Immigrants from the Philippines were given citizenship in Sabah in the 1990s during his administration;

2. they were lawfully done; and

3. former Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman “had done worse” by giving citizenship to “one million unqualified people” in Peninsular Malaysia, lamenting that no one had made it an issue;

The above have to be rebutted and the record put straight. The “sincerity” of his admissions, coming in the wake of evidence at the Royal Commission currently inquiring on the origins and consequences of immigration into Sabah, must be questioned.

Dr MLike disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, Mahathir only came clean after years of denial when he had absolutely no choice because of the overwhelming evidence being publicly uncovered.

When the truth finally emerged, Mahathir made his admissions. And like Armstrong, it was selective, self-serving and without any contrition. But worse than Armstrong, he blamed others. To put it plainly, there is no parallel between these two episodes in the nation’s history.

Malaya in 1957

Under the Federation of Malaya Agreement of 1948, Malays automatically became federal citizens, while non-Malays acquired citizenship by fulfilling residential qualifications. In 1953, out of the total population of Malaya of 5.7 million, some 1.3 million (nearly all of whom were non-Malays) were not citizens. Thus, for the non-Malays, ‘citizenship’ based on the doctrine of jus soli was a critical matter.

Large scale immigration into Malaya first occurred in the Malacca Sultanate in the 15th century. Trade brought Arab, Chinese and Indian immigrants, and they formed distinct settlements in Malacca. Thus, immigration pre-dated the first European colonial conquest, by the Portuguese in 1511.

Major waves of immigration occurred after direct British intervention in Perak under the Pangkor Treaty of 1874. tunku abdul rahman 290809When the British very reluctantly accepted, by about 1955, that independence had to be granted to Malaya, lengthy negotiations began between the British government, the Malay rulers and the Alliance coalition led by Tunku Abdul Rahman (right).

The Reid Commission of eminent jurists was appointed to draft a constitution. Its report, published in February 1957, was the subject of intense debate. Working groups were set up to study the Reid Report. The London Conference of May 1957 followed. The British government issued a White Paper in June 1957.

The final steps were the presentation of the Constitutional Bill in the British Parliament and in the Federal Legislative Council in Kuala Lumpur. Merdeka was proclaimed on August 31, 1957, with Tunku reading the Proclamation of Independence.

The issue of citizenship to non-Malays in 1957 cannot therefore be seen in isolation or in a vacuum. Instead, it was the result of a ‘give-and-take’ bargain among the various communities reached through consensus. The bargain was certainly not through the effort of Tunku alone, although he was the dominant personality. The other founding fathers, Abdul Razak Hussein, Ismail Abdul Rahman, Tan Cheng Lock and VT Sambanthan, also played important roles.

tunku abdul rahman merdeka declaration 261004Subsequent commentators have described the Merdeka bargain as the ‘social contract’. Thus, the social contract reached by the three communities under the watchful eye of the British imperial power prior to Merdeka was, in essence, a bargain whereby in exchange for a place under the Malayan sun with full citizenship, a right to use their language and observe their religion, the non-Malays had to concede special privileges to the Malays to assist the latter to ascend the economic ladder.

It was a quid pro quo. In this equilibrium, the non-Malays were not to be relegated to second-class citizens: citizenship was not on a two-tier basis and there was going to be no apartheid, partition or repatriation.

What was required from the non-Malays at the time of Merdeka was undivided loyalty to the new nation.

Racial differences were recognised. Diversity was encouraged. There was no pressure to integrate into one Malayan race. Assimilation was out of the question. Thus, a united Malayan nation did not involve the sacrifice by any community of its culture or customs. Malaya was always to remain a plural society.

Sabah in the 1990s

What happened in Sabah when Mahathir was Prime Minister was entirely different. TheThe Politics of Make Belief decision to give Malaysian citizenship liberally and generously to nationals of Philippines and other countries was done secretly, with the sole purpose of securing and maintaining political power in Sabah.

It was naked, partisan politics to give electoral advantage to one party that underpinned the decision. When confronted, denials were made. Only when it became a major electoral issue in Sabah in the forthcoming general and state elections this year, did the present government, much to the unhappiness of Mahathir, appoint a Royal Commission.

And only when the truth emerged during its hearing, did Mahathir admit his role.To compare the Sabah episode with the gaining of nationhood in 1957 is not just historical revision. It is also not merely being economical with the truth. Rather, it is a blatant fabrication of facts.

Tun MNot only does it insult the roles played by our founding fathers in securing Merdeka from the British, it adds injury to millions of Malaysians whose parents or grandparents became citizens through this open, transparent and legal manner.

It must be remembered that no such citizenship issue arose when Sabah (North Borneo) joined Malaysia in 1963. Indeed, the Philippine government opposed the formation of Malaysia.

Their nationals only became Malaysian citizens in the mid-1990s, some 30 years after Sabah’s independence from the British. Finally, citizenship is a federal matter, and very much within the power and discretion of the Home Minister. Accordingly, the two exercises of granting citizenship cannot be treated in a similar fashion.


TOMMY THOMAS specialises in constitutional law. He conducted substantial research in the events leading up to Merdeka in the course of preparing two papers presented at the Malaysian Law Conferences in 2005 and 2007, subsequently published as ‘Is Malaysia an Islamic State?’ and ‘The Social Contract: Malaysia’s Constitutional Covenant’ in [2006] 4 MLJ xv and [2008] 1 MLJ cxxxii.

Pride comes before Destruction


January 22, 2013

Pride comes before Destruction

by Mariam Mokhtar (01-21-13)@http://www.malaysiakini.com

According to one Sabahan, there is so much crime in Sabah that squatter houses, too, have grilles on the doors and windows, and that these cost more than the houses themselves.

For four decades, ordinary Sahabans have been angered by illegal immigration and the social and economic problems associated with it, such as a shortage of housing, a lack of employment and educational opportunities, high levels of crime and massive overcrowding.

Despite the limited terms of reference of the Royal Commission of  Inquiry (RCI) ordered by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, the RCI has revealed disturbing aspects of former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s bid to remain in power. Soon, the RCI will be overshadowed by the side-show that Mahathir may have helped arrange.

NONEThe star-performer is the self-styled motivational guru Sharifah Zohra Jabeen Syed Shah Miskin (right). One wonders if Zohra has replaced the virgin queen, Ummi Hafilda Ali, who used to come to Mahathir’s aid and helped distract the rakyat with golden showers and salacious revelations.

There was once a time when the government would detain reporters and send them to Kamunting, ostensibly for their own safety. Zohra was denied this privilege because Najib has abolished the ISA. Last week, Zohra bowed to overwhelming pressure and heeded Police advice to cancel her seminar on ‘How to Make Your First Million’.

I can give you the gist of the RM200 per person seminar. It is an open secret that the first million is easy to make; join UMNO, then claw your way to the top by backstabbing and badmouthing everyone who stands in your way.

There are tell-tale signs that that you have “made it” and joined the UMNO elite. In the election canvassing that takes place every five years, UMNO delivers bags of rice to the masses, but the UMNO elite receive Birkin bags.

Households that qualify are given a one-off payment of RM500 (and possibly another RM500 if the situation demands it) but the elite get several million ringgit in hard cash, stuffed in suitcases.

The poor may get a discount on their smartphones, but the elite are given the contracts to sell the phones.  The rakyat may be given tins of powdered milk as freebies during canvassing, but elite members are given millions of ringgit to buy a few cows and many luxury condominiums.

Zohra has not much in humility

A video of the shameful conduct of Zohra emerged a month after the incident. Despite the public opprobrium which she received, Zohra showed everyone that she is miskin by name and miskin (poor) by nature.

She lacks the intellect to reflect on her poor behaviour. She did not have much in the way of humility. She displayed an inferior understanding of people’s feelings and she was a poor communicator.

Instead of eating the humble pie, she has become more arrogant and haughty. Instead of acknowledging that she was tactless and rude, Zohra issued a statement from her hiding place, in which she declined to apologise but “forgave” KS Bawani, the student who suffered Zohra’s acid tongue.

This incident should have been a temporary frenzy and yes, we are angry because it is obvious that Zohra’s behaviour is unacceptable. Some UMNO leaders and members of the BN coalition have distanced themselves from her, but it appears that Zohra is determined to prolong this crisis into a full blown affair.

The reason must be to take our attention away from Mahathir’s alleged crimes in the Sabah votes for citizenship fiasco.  Just a few months ago, Najib outlined the terms of reference for the Sabah RCI. Many have criticised the RCI for its limited scope and because its findings will not be revealed before GE13.

NONEIf the RCI proves that UMNO won elections by fraud and cheating, it brings into doubt the legitimacy of this and previous UMNO-BN governments. By cheating, UMNO has disenfranchised the people of Malaysia and forced us to wait until GE13 to gain our choice of ruling party.

Proof of fraud and cheating will confirm that UMNO-BN should not be the current government. Will the RCI be another whitewash or will its members seek to save their own skins, by leaving the sinking UMNO ship?

As the extent of Mahathir’s Project IC is slowly being revealed, the importance of this RCI is increasing.

Mahathir won’t go without a fight

Just as Mahathir thought he had undermined Najib, his hopes were damned. So he tried to deflect some of the rakyat’s abhorrence of Project IC, by tarnishing the name of Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Father of Independence.

Will the RCI bring about the fall of Mahathir? No. He may have cut a pathetic figure recently but he will not go without a fight. Although the rakyat have a strong case against him, Mahathir has too many people in his pockets. They owe their success to him and he will call in his favours.

The rakyat is leading the Opposition fight to topple the Mahathir regime, but their wish will not be fulfilled, just yet.

Both Najib and Mahathir are locked in a deadly battle. Najib cannot bring about Mahathir’s fall, because to do so would bring the fight right to his front door. He, like Mahathir, has a dirty past. The best Najib can do is to hold out for a few more months.

If Najib were to destroy Mahathir now, it would start a media frenzy, which would eclipse the one Zohra is facing today.  Zohra’s gaffe has caused quite a stir. She tried to put on a brave face and refused to apologise, thus avoiding an admission of guilt. Ironically, her intransigence has damaged UMNO by rallying the rakyat to vote for the Opposition.

Respect the Rukunegara


January 21, 2013

A Message to Perkasa’s Ibrahim Ali and Others like him: Respect the Rukunegara

by Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi*@http://www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT: I wish to comment on the irresponsible statement of Ibrahim Ali Dr Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi(purposely NOT using any titles) on the burning of Malay language Bibles with the name Allah. I think such statements, if left unchecked by the Malaysian public, elected representatives and especially the Prime Minister himself, would create a culture of extreme violence and victimize many innocent Malaysians.

I urge peace loving and sensible Malaysian of all religious faiths to come together and denounce such ‘grandstanding statements’ that clearly violate our ‘sacred’ Rukunegara tenet of ‘Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan’.

Our forefathers have worked hard to build this nation of diverse communities, race and Ibrahim Alireligions and derive the principle of ‘Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan’. I am convinced, as a Malaysian, as an academic and as a Muslim, that the May 13 tragedy that saw many innocent lives lost was not due to the ignorance of ordinary Malaysians but by politicians trying to be popular by using such fiery instructions in order to incite racial hatred.

I have read the book ‘A Singapore Story’ and some other critical writings that indicate that the culprits of our racial mistrusts and clashes were in no small part due to self-serving politicians and a media which has no sense of honour whether in the Islamic spirit or in any religious spirit.

Have we Malaysians, and especially Malays, forgotten our own principle in the Rukunegara, crafted in our own Melayu Language. Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan. As good  am I with English I can’t translate properly the word ‘kesusilaan’. The word, and I am not a scholar in Lingusitics, connotes to me such softness, tact and, politeness, concern and humility. Is there a better word than this to reflect such a great culture of the Malays?

Ridhuan Tee AbdullahI dare say that the Prophet Muhammad, if Allah had not intended for him to be born in Arabia, would have been a Malay. Why? Because the Prophet was the softest and most humble, polite and considerate of men.

I have read through over 20,000 hadiths from the compilations of Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Daud, Tirmidhi and Ibn Madjah along with the Muwatta and the Sirah Ibn Ishaq to conjure up a man which a hadith says that the Prophet was so ‘shy’ and gentle that even a small slave girl can lead him.

This characteristic of gentleness is totally unheard off in the boisterous, rowdy and all man’s world of the Arabs. When the Prophet Muhammad stood on the fields of Ta’if with a bloodied and scarred body after being stoned by children and adults of the settlement, he still forbade the Angel Jibrail from taking any retribution and destroy the community. Why? For ‘I am sent as a Mercy to mankind’ said the Prophet.

When Aishah asked him ‘What was your greatest fear, O Rasulullah?’ He replied that he feared of giving in to his feeling of vengeance and destroying the community with a single command. The Prophet did not fear death or bodily harm. He feared giving in to his ego and vengeful feeling that all humanity possess.

Who are we Malays then?

I, therefore ask, who are we Malays then? Are we better than the Prophet? Look at ourHarussani examples. The mufti (right) and other higher authorities have INSTRUCTED, ORDERED and DECREED that non-Muslims MUST NOT use the word Allah. The PAS Syura Council that has all the so-called great Islamic scholars went round and round their wordings until settling on almost the same tone of instruction, order and decree.

Now we have the person of Ibrahim Ali calling on the burning of the Bible or the Injil. Unless I am mistaken, Allah called on all Muslims to honour the Books of Allah in the past and its PEOPLES. Yes… yes…we can argue about what book and which Bible that have been ‘tampered’ with and all that stuff but I have read the Bible in English and I, for one, found many enlightening things that Nabi Isa says that has helped me get closer to Allah The Most High.

I think I am honouring what the Qur’an says in Surah Al-Baqara to believe in the Books. I also read other books of our great religions that have given the first idea of humaneness to human civilisation.

41. And believe in what I have sent down (this Qur’an), confirming that which is with you, [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)], and be not the first to disbelieve therein, and buy not with My Verses [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] a small price (i.e. getting a small gain by selling My Verses), and fear Me and Me Alone. (Tafsir At-Tabari, Vol. I, Page 253).

The whole Allah issue to me was handled as badly as it can be handled. Why? It is simply anNik-Aziz-Nik-Mat instrument of political influence. If the so called scholars and politicians of Islam were sincerely concerned about such confusion on the Malay usage of the word Allah, there should have been a courteous call for discussion with our brothers and sisters of the Christian faith. Not instruct, order and decree first… and… then call for discussion.

What discussion? It seems that the decision has already been chiselled into stone. Where in heavens name is the Rukunegara? Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan?  Ibrahim Ali has called for the burning of the Bible. What next? Let us Malays go burn a church at 4 pm next week? Oh… while we’re at it why don’t we burn a few Christians… if we have time!

What talk is this? What country is this? Have we forgotten the decency to discuss cordially. “This is an Islamic Country and I am a Malay and so you better do as I say!” Is that the line we are taking now as Malays? Perhaps that is a Malay cultural trait… I do not know. But I DO KNOW it is NOT what the Prophet would say or do. It is NOT within the Islamic Spirit as shown by the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him).

I can quote pages and pages of hadith showing the generosity and magnanimity of Muhammad Rasulullah. I can’t seem to find any of the same characteristics in Malay politicians in Malaysia.

Dr MMy wife and I have raised five children and now we have a grandson. I am sure all Christian parents and Muslim parents are concerned about where this country is going and would it be safe to be a place to stay. Just because I am a Malay, with a million-strong mostly Malay civil service, and an equal number of police and military personnel of my race does not give me the right to frighten my brothers and sisters of the Christian faith… or any other faith for that matter.

So, before such volatile statement turn into regrettable actions, I call upon the last strand of decency from the politicians of the ruling party, and especially the Prime Minister, to denounce Ibrahim Ali and his war-mongering words. Or else, we would have to change our Rukunegara from ‘Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan’ to ‘Kekasaran dan Kegila-gilaan’.


*Dr.Mohamad Tajuddin Mohamad Rasdi is Professor at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s School of Architecture. A prolific writer, he has authored over 30 books, including his latest, ‘Why Listen to the Vice-Chancellor?

What change? A reply to Dr M ― Pak Sako


January 4, 2013

What change? A reply to Dr M ― Pak Sako

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

Dr MFormer Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad published a piece called “Change” yesterday in his blog. In it he asked why change governments.He then criticised the socialist ideology. He strangely claimed that “Malaysia has no ideology”.

That is completely untrue.

When Dr Mahathir came into power in 1981, Malaysia was introduced to the neoliberal ideology.This is an ideology that is biased in favour of corporations and capitalists.It is the opposite of socialism, which aspires to put people first.

The neoliberal ideology was aggressively promoted around the world in the early 1980s by influential global networks of business interests and their supporters. Their mantra?Sell off public assets. Remove regulations, so big businesses can run free. Control workers’ wage demands. Cut public expenditure.

Dr Mahathir joined the bandwagon. This is well-documented in books and papers.His economic advisors were businessman and enigmatic lawyer Daim Zainuddin and the well-known neoliberal strategist, Kenichi Ohmae.

It was Ohmae’s rejected mega-project to create a “Multimedia Supercity” in Tokyo that got malaysia-modernity-multimedia-super-corridor-tim-bunnell-hardcover-cover-artrecycled in Malaysia as the “Multimedia Super Corridor”. Read Dr Tim Bunnell’s book, “Malaysia, Modernity and the Multimedia Super Corridor” (2004) (right).

Ohmae’s ideological influence was “extremely significant”. And what other ideology is that if not neoliberalism? After becoming Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir quickly announced a privatisation policy in 1983 — in line with the standard neoliberal programme.

Publicly-held assets were sold off to private business interests, entrepreneurs and corporate “captains” to supposedly make the economy more ‘efficient’.  But efficient for whom?

The “massive privatisation strategy” carried out during Dr Mahathir’s tenure is said to be linked to “increased competition for resources within the ruling Malay party [Umno]”; it redistributed resources “in favour of emerging factions centred on key political leaders”.

That is what political economist Jeff Tan found out and wrote in his book, “Privatization in Malaysia: Regulation, Rent-Seeking and Policy Failure” (2008).Indeed, many privatisations are improperly justified handouts for the capitalist elite from the public coffers.

Selling off the public’s holdings remains a favoured economic policy of the Malaysian government until today. Witness the recent sale of Penang’s port and other public-owned assets to well-connected tycoons.

The neoliberal ideology calls for weaker worker unions so that big businesses can have theKS Jomo “economic freedom” to exploit workers to maximise profits.Again, the Malaysian government’s development agenda subordinated labour in favour of private business interests in the 1980s under Mahathir’s watch, according to economist KS Jomo (right) and Patricia Todd in their book “Trade Unions and the state in Peninsular Malaysia” (1994).

Labour organisations in Malaysia are weak relative to business power. They have no bite to negotiate for better working hours, conditions and pay.The neoliberalism ideology wants ‘free markets’ in labour, so that the ‘price’ of an employee (his wage) can be competed down if necessary. Fixing minimum wages is bad.

Dr Mahathir forcefully argued against minimum wages in Malaysia, claiming it might bankrupt Malaysia, without providing sufficient evidence (“Dr M: Minimum wage may bankrupt Malaysia”, The Malaysian Insider, March 2, 2012). Dr Mahathir did not bother at all to consider the positive aspects of minimum wages.

The neoliberal ideology is opposed to strong states that directly ensure the people’s welfare, but it supports a strong state to enable businesses and capitalists to flourish freely, to ensure corporate welfare.

This involves all kinds of hidden subsidies and supports for businesses, including overlooking environmental regulation and standards.And so we have today Lynas and the threat of radiation. Our rivers are polluted by business activities, and yet the people must pay businesses to buy water filters for their homes and mineral water.

Dr Mahathir does not like the welfare state approach, which says “if we properly meet basic social needs and securities first, economic prosperity will come”. Dr Mahathir prefers the opposite, neoliberal approach, which says “support the corporate class, and enough wealth will ‘trickle down’ to the people”. Now Malaysia has one of the higher income inequalities amongst the Asean countries. The super-rich are sucking hundreds of billions of dollars out of the country in illegal outflows.

johan-saravanamuttuDr Mahathir complains about an unjust neoliberal world order, but Dr Mahathir hypocritically follows the neoliberal ideology, says political science Professor Johan Saravanamuttu (left) in his book Malaysia’s Foreign Policy, The First Fifty Years (2010).

Even the Nobel economist whom Dr Mahathir is fond of quoting, Joseph Stiglitz, has rubbished this neoliberal ideology, calling it a “grab-bag of ideas” about markets supposedly serving the public interest by “privatisation, liberalization”, when, in fact, it is simply “a political doctrine serving certain interests”. Read Stiglitz’s article called, “The end of neo-liberalism?” (2008).

On debt, Dr Mahathir says Greece borrowed a lot of money and is bankrupt.But Europe fears Italy has also borrowed too much and is going bankrupt Malaysia has been given a financial warning: a top debt ratings agency says our public finances are weak, and are at the same level as debt-struck Italy (“Fitch warns Malaysia of possible downgrade due to ‘deteriorating’ public debt ratios’, The Edge, 1 August 2012).

Malaysia’s debt is now more than half of the income Malaysia as a whole earns in a year.Malaysia's Debt This debt is RM470  billion. This debt nearly doubled since 2007, or in just four years.This is to say every Malaysian now owes about RM16,000. If you earn RM4,000 a month, then you need to give up four month’s pay to settle the debt.

Dr Mahathir says: “Look at [Barisan’s] record… compare it even with the developed West. They are in deep financial trouble…”

Dr Mahathir says: “Five years to give a trial as government is dangerous. Many things can be destroyed in five years.” But which government doubled Malaysia’s debt in less than five years? Barisan Nasional, right? ― english.cpiasia.net