August 29, 2009


by Art Harun  (

Amidst all the flags, the procession, the RM100 million celebration, the shouts and screams of “Merdeka, Merdeka, Merdeka”, perhaps we should just look back  at what our Father of Independence, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj said in his speech preceding the reading of the Merdeka Proclamation. Among others, he said :

474009908_154167ab5bI am indeed proud that on this, the greatest day in Malaya’s history it falls to my lot to proclaim the formal independence of this country. Today as new page is turned, and Malaya steps forward to take her rightful place as a free and independent partner in the great community of Nations – a new nation is born and though we fully realise that difficulties and problems lie ahead, we are confident that, with the blessing of God, these difficulties will be overcome and that today’s events, down the avenues of history, will be our inspiration and our guide…

But while we think of the past, we look forward in faith and hope to the future; from henceforth we are masters of our destiny, and the welfare of this beloved land is our own responsibility: Let no one think we have reached the end of the road: Independence is indeed a milestone, but it is only the threshold to high endeavour-the creation of a new and sovereign State. At this solemn moment therefore I call upon you all to dedicate yourselves to the service of the new Malaya: to work and strive with hand and brain to create a new nation, inspired by the ideals of justice and liberty – a beacon of light in a disturbed and distracted world.

High confidence has been reposed in us; let us unitedly face the challenge of the years. And so with remembrance for the past, and with confidence in the future, under the providence of God, we shall succeed.”

Later, when he recited the Merdeka Proclamation, he said, among others:

I, TUNKU ABDUL RAHMAN PUTRA IBNI AL-MARHUM SULTAN ABDUL HAMID HALIMSHAH, PRIME MINISTER OF THE PERSEKUTUAN T ANAH MELAYU, with the concurrence and approval of Their Highnesses the Rulers of the Malay States do hereby proclaim and declare on behalf of the people of the Persekutuan Tanah Melayu that as from the thirty first day of August, nineteen hundred and fifty seven, the Persekutuan Tanah Melayu comprising the States of lohore, Pahang, Negri Sembilan, Selangor, Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, Trengganu, Perak, Malacca and Penang is and with God’s blessing shall be for ever a sovereign democratic and independent State founded upon the principles of liberty and justice and ever seeking the welfare and happiness of its people and the maintenance of a just peace among all nations.

Perhaps we should all reflect whether these lofty ideals set out by the Tunku has been achieved, 52 years after he proclaimed it. Or whether we have ever worked towards achieving the same.

A nation founded upon the principles of liberty and justice. A nation which is ever seeking the welfare and happiness of its people. A nation inspired by the ideals of justice and liberty. A nation which is to be a beacon of light in a disturbed and a distracted world.

That was the Tunku’s aspirations. And the aspirations of all Malaysians on 31st of August 1957.

Have we all, as a nation, achieved those? Have we worked to achieve those? If we have, have we worked hard enough to achieve those?

Would the Tunku, had he been still alive, looked at all of us, his children and grandchildren, with a big smile on his face, thinking to himself, “I am happy with what all of you have achieved, and I will go to face my creator a happy and fulfilled man”?

Or would he, had he been still alive, grimace in pain and displeasure, at what we have all become, at what this nation of ours have become?

I am asking this because I remember the day he died. And the day his body was rested. And I remember the days before he died. I remember his columns in the Star newspaper, “As I See It” and “Looking Back”. His love for this nation and his undying commitment towards democracy, social justice and fairness would see him rise on occasions, even when he was in his old age to fight what he saw as injustice, unfairness and dictatorial behaviours.

He was  critical of Dr Mahathir, the then Prime Minister. That man of course had, in 1987, banned the Star newspaper, which was substantially owned by the Tunku.

And when UMNO (the original UMNO) was declared illegal by the High Court (at the insistance of Counsel appearing for the Mahathir faction), the Tunku, out of sheer love for UMNO and the nation, quickly teamed up with Tun Hussein Onn (another former PM) to form a party known as UMNO Malaysia. UMNO Malaysia registration was blocked by non other than Mahathir Mohammad. Mahathir later registered UMNO Baru and changed the law to allow UMNO Baru to be renamed UMNO as if nothing had ever happened in between.

I then remember him supporting Tunku Razaleigh’s Semangat 46. The Tunku, despite his old age, even went out to campaign in the 1990 general election.

On 6th December 1990, the Tunku, our Father of Independence, died. He died as an opposition. He died opposing a derivative of the very party he once led and gained independence with. He died opposing what he thought and perceived as a totalitarian government bent on destroying social justice and equality.

Today, almost 52 years after he stood and proudly recited the Merdeka Proclamation, I wonder whether he is smiling at all of us in heaven. Or whether he is turning his back against us. Knowing how much he loved this nation and how hard he fought for justice, fairness, liberty and freedom, he could be hurting.

Al fatihah to the Tunku.

UMNO Mongrels at work

August 29, 2009

malaysian insider

UMNO reaps what it sowed

by Muaz Omar*

muazomarJust days before the nation celebrates its 52nd Independence Day, the action by some mongrels who stamped and spat on a severed head of a cow in front of the Selangor State Secretariat building to protest against the planned relocation of a Hindu temple to their residential area has posed serious questions about the state of race relations in the country.

The planned relocation of the temple from Shah Alam’s Section 19 to Section 23 has drawn loud protest from a section of the local residents.

According to the protestors, the area is populated by 90% Muslims and the presence of the temple will affect their lives as Muslims. The surprising thing is that the police stood by in full view of these acts. Their newly found restraint, unlike their heavy-handed clampdown on HINDRAF, BERSIH and recent anti-ISA demonstrations, is most unusual.

In keeping with his call for 1 Malaysia, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak called on the police to take swift action on the “outrageous action” by the protestors to put a lid on the provocative acts and stop communal tensions from blowing up.

As long as the so-called “sensitive subjects” of race and religion remain taboo, it will be easier for powers-that-be to retain hegemony, divide and rule the community to their liking.

These extremists, whether they parade themselves under the banner of some supposedly noble NGOs like Pembela, Perkasa, HINDRAF, Dong Jiao Zhong or the like, live on the philosophy of radicalism, bordering on racism.

While these fringe groups are getting louder and louder, they actually have minute numbers in representation. Their mindless actions calling for parochialism and supremacy of one race is based on short-term and narrow minded political agenda.

This scenario is exactly what right-wing nationalist organisations like UMNO have been hoping for and harping on.

The embarrassing performance by UMNO and Barisan Nasional in the 2008 general election is being said to result in the dilution of Malay power.

When UMNO and BN won almost 90 per cent of the parliamentary seats in the 2004 general election, they became big-headed and disregarded the minority voices, especially those from outside the Malay community.

UMNO leaders marginalised them to the extent of discriminating against the impoverished and poor, especially those among the Indian community.They also acted with disrespect to the Chinese community and accused them of taking advantage of the divided Malay community.

At the same time, UMNO leaders became too engrossed with power and abused the New Economic Policy to enrich themselves as well as their cronies, which have turned off the Malays themselves.

Fast forward a couple of years from the humiliating 2008 general election and the UMNO extremists have now crawled back into their shells and accentuate their hardline stance with a more extreme brand and rhetoric of Malay supremacy.

They are increasingly disassociating themselves from a significant 40 per cent of the nation’s population (non-Malays and non-Muslims) and, at the same time, splitting the Malays right down the middle.

The paradox between Najib’s 1 Malaysia and UMNO’s raison d’etre is becoming even more evident and prominent by the day.

Led by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, UMNO is shifting even further to the right to the extent of dismissing his fellow cabinet members in defending some extreme pro-Malay stances adopted by UMNO leaders and their mouthpieces.

Utusan Malaysia has been at the forefront of disseminating extreme pro-Malay and pro-UMNO propaganda which is meant to sway the minds of the general Malays.

Articles, opinion pieces and news reports have been skewed to incite hatred towards Pakatan’s Malay leaders with Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Pas’s Spiritual Leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat being the prime targets, accused of selling out the Malays.

While Anwar and Nik Aziz are being denigrated using the worst kind of terminologies available, the Malays are being fed with the illusion that the downfall of UMNO will result in the downfall of the Malays.

The outcome of these charades and “wayang kulit” spiced up with venomous and spiteful antics as well as idiotic actions by UMNO bigots are hallmark of desperation as well as fear of losing the accustomed power to rule the nation. For them, power is everything even if it means destruction of the very fragile fabric of the society.

* Muaz Omar is a civil servant doing everything he can to design and implement beneficial activities for youths.

Cow Head Protestors, who are they?

August 29, 2009

malaysian insider

Who are these Cow Head Protestors?

The police inaction and the possibility that some of the cow-head protesters are not from near the disputed Hindu temple site in Shah Alam has Selangor buzzing about the real motives of the racially-provocative demonstration.

Pakatan Rakyat politicians claimed that most of the protesters are not from Section 23 where the temple is to be relocated while HINDRAF claimed it was “absurd and nonsensical” for the police to need a report to investigate the incident.

Others claim it could be a plot to undermine and topple the Pakatan Rakyat government that has been beset with allegations of corruption and divisions over the sale of beer in convenience outlets.

“It looks like conspiracy to show Pakatan’s incompetence in handling race relations,” a Pakatan Rakyat politician told The Malaysian Insider.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has ordered the police to quickly nip the situation in the bud to prevent it blooming into a full-scale racial conflict as criticism mounted over their inaction in the face of the fiery protest.

Dozens of riot police stood by and watched as protesters brought the severed cow-head to the Selangor state secretariat and stomped on it.

The act, which is offensive to Hindus who regard the cow as sacred, was carried out by a group of 50 protesters who oppose the relocation of the Sri Mahamariamman Temple to Section 23 to Section 19, claiming the area is mainly occupied by Malay-Muslims.

The 150-year-old temple was built on a plantation which over the years was developed into housing estates by the Selangor Development Corporation (PKNS). No provisions were made to relocate the temple, which is now in the middle of a Muslim majority area.

The previous Barisan Nasional administration had planned to relocate the temple to an industrial site in Section 22 but the location was deemed too far away.

After their win in Election 2008, the Pakatan state government decided to move the temple to Section 23 which they felt was more suitable as 40 per cent of its residents are Hindus.

Residents there who are opposed to the temple relocation initially said it should not be built there because it has a 60 per cent Malay majority, a figure which subsequently became 70 per cent and, today, it’s 90 per cent.

The outlawed Hindraf movement, however, has claimed that Najib’s Umno is stirring the racial pot with the protest.

“Hindraf believes UMNO and their cohorts in the Royal Police Force (PDRM) organised this act that is inflammatory with an intention to incite and create racial hatred and  feelings between the Muslims and Hindus,” exiled Hindraf president P. Waytha Moorthy said in a statement.

He railed against the police, particularly Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar’s statement that action would be taken “if a report is lodged”.

“Here we are talking about an outright and outrageous act in fanning racial hatred that could threaten the public security and he claims he needs a police report before an action can be taken.

“The police had on many previous occasions brutally arrested  and questioned peaceful protesters without any reasons … but now they would need a report before they can take any action against those inciting violence and  parading in the public with a severed cow’s head to hurt the sensitivity of the Hindus. This is absurd and nonsensical,” he said.

Waytha Moorty said UMNO and its “stooges” were practising double standards, adding Hindraf believed it was the work of the UMNO government to create unrest in Selangor.

“Instead of promoting harmony amongst Malaysians, UMNO is fast becoming the public threat by protecting such devious and extremist acts,” the lawyer said.

He also said if the Attorney-General’s Chambers failed to charge these perpetrators, HINDRAF would proceed to formally lodge complaints with the UN Human Rights Council, European Parliament, UK Foreign affairs select committee and the Global Human Rights Defence based in The Hague.

He also called for a peaceful candlelight vigil at the Dataran Merdeka on September 5 to protest the incident.

From the PEOPLE for this weekend

posted by din merican–August 29, 2009

August 28, 2009

mk50Another decision I think many Malaysians find hard to comprehend. A minister reporting to another minister. Really Malaysia Boleh!”

Mas CEO made 2nd KPI minister

TP Wan: Idris Jala’s promotion to a Minister position is a classic case of promoting upstairs to a “useless job”. There is more to this than meets the eye. MAS has more or less now gone leaner and hungrier and is more competitive now which poses a threat to AirAsia.

Krishnan Sahay: Idris Jala as a Minister should not be made to report to another Minister who is a lousy performer to boot. This is really ridiculous! What has he done to deserve this miserable fate? After all, he didn’t ask for the miserable Minister’s job where he will be reduced to counting paper clips to pass his time.

If the government doesn’t want him to run MAS, they should allow him to go back to his old job with Sarawak SHELL. In fact, Idris Jala didn’t want his second contract with MAS but the Government insisted on it and now even before he’s halfway through it, they have decided to kick him out.

Jeremy Tankh: Idris Jala, de facto minister of KPI. Top bred, high performer. No doubt the best man for the job. But remember Zaid Ibrahim, the former de facto minister of Law? No better man than him as Law Minister, ever in BN. But how did his fellow UMNO ministers receive him?

Malaysians Are Not Stupid: Another decision I think many Malaysians find hard to comprehend. A minister reporting to another minister. Really Malaysia Boleh! If the PM finds Koh Tsu Koon is not up to mark, sack him. Don’t waste taxpayer’s hard-earned money to pay a good for nothing minister.

Group to oust Ong in tit-for-tat move

Ice Cream Man: Ong has never received the support of anyone from the Government, in fact the deputy prime minister has openly asked him not to take his fight with Tiong public, Muhyiddin had said this should be done behind closed doors – so much for transparency and BN.

Malaysian Chinese: I would not say Ong is wrong either. No, not yet. Tiong seems to have a hidden agenda. Is the MCA now becoming the puppet for very high level and powerful political manoeuvring? It sure looks like it.

Daniel Liang: MCA has indeed lost the direction for its political struggle. The sacking of Chua makes MCA look so bad. The sex scandal is just an obvious excuse to oust Ong’s political rival. Ong will definitely pay a hefty price for his action, and he will forever be remembered as a villain in MCA history.

Soo Too Hing: Theng Bok should not have called EGM to sack Ong during such a difficult period for MCA. It’s better for Chua to relinquish all the post voluntarily to fulfil what he had promised earlier. MCA needs a clean image after the heavy defeat of the last general election. It’s quite certain that the majority of the grassroots won’t support a motion to sack Ong.

Chua’s sacking in defiance of Najib

Chee Hoh Siew: I think Ong Tee Keat sucks as a politician. Ong, learn to grab alliance instead of alienation. As for Chua, its better for you to join Pakatan, they will appreciate you more than Ong.

Suhaimi bin Said
: If there was any truth that the PM was not agreeable to the sacking of Chua, it simply means that even the MCA does not now listen to the PM.

Ong: Ong taking the moral ground is a joke especially after his use of private jets for a ‘fee’. Najib can say what he wants but damage is done. Ong and Chua can’t co-exist after this. Even if they do, it is with both holding ‘knives’ in their hands. and getting rid of both of them is also not the solution. Whatever the deal is, MCA will still hard to find support among the rakyat.

Jacob George
: Ong Tee Keat should have looked at the bigger picture! This was not the time for such narrow minded senseless action an action that belittles MCA’s own delegates who voted Dr Chua Soi Lek in! To make matters worse Ong Tee Keat did not have the decency to seek the advice of Prime Minister Najib on this matter and its implication on Barisan Nasional as well!

Talking about a country with good judgment

posted by din merican–August 29, 2009

Singapore: A Model of Judgment for the United States?

Tom Davenport*
Harvard Business
Friday, August 21, 2009

We often talk about judgment with regard to individuals, but organizations and countries can have good and bad judgment as well. I was recently in Singapore for a SAS customer event. Every time I visit, it has struck me as a country with good judgment. Singapore just celebrated its forth-fourth birthday as an independent country, and it deserves to congratulate itself (although it rarely engages in self-congratulation — another aspect of good judgment). In fact, I’d argue that in many ways Singapore is a great example for the United States. Why? Here are a few reasons:

1. Singapore is a hardworking, disciplined country. It decides what it needs to do, and then does it. Every year for National Day, for example, the government publishes a list of challenges it needs to overcome. This year’s list included such bracing issues as “How to maintain high economic growth and improve living standard?” and “How to stamp out new diseases and keep health-care costs down?” There is also the lighter, but sociologically problematic challenge of “How to get younger Singaporeans to marry and have children?” The list of challenges is enormously appealing in its clarity and directness.

2. Singapore is obsessed with education — not just for children, but throughout life. Another of its declared challenges is, “How to design job-training programmes and wage supplement schemes for low-income older workers?” The country tops the ranks of educational achievement regularly. While it was once justifiably criticized for emphasizing rote learning, it has introduced programs that encourage creativity.

3. Singapore is a highly capitalist society, but its government plays a strong guiding role. Some of the country’s smartest citizens go into government. The government creates industrial policy and actively facilitates growth and capability-building in those areas. It did a masterful job emphasizing IT and building up that industry, and now it’s actively pushing biotech and services. For example, in services the government wanted to build on organizations with great service like Singapore Airlines and Raffles Hotel. So it encouraged Singapore Management University (a private university that was established by the government) to start an Institute for Service Excellence, and stimulated the development of a Singapore Customer Satisfaction Index that would be applied to all service industries.

4. Like the US, Singapore is a highly diverse society , with lots of citizens with Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Arab backgrounds. Yet they all seem to get along pretty well, and the country’s culture is greatly enriched by the diversity. Public housing is ethnically and religiously integrated. Other countries could probably use a version of its “Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act,” which prohibits religious rabble-rousing.

5. Singapore invests heavily in infrastructure — housing, roads, IT, airport (only one, but Changi is a very impressive facility). 83% of its citizens live in public housing, but it’s clean and well-maintained. The country is rolling out a new high-bandwidth fiber optic network. Buses and subways are clean and run on time.

6. Singapore’s economy is doing pretty well. It does anticipate a decline in GDP of about 5% this year, but there are signs of a strong recovery. Its stock market is booming. Its banks didn’t go crazy with subprime lending or bizarre derivatives. One economist told me that the Asian financial crisis of 1997 was worse than the current recession for Singapore.

Okay, it’s not a Utopian society. The government is a bit authoritarian for my tastes, but not as much as in the Lee Kuan Yew (its first prime minister from 1959 to 1990) days. The prohibitions against spitting and selling chewing gum are a little much — though I really like the clean streets. Yes, you may be caned if you misbehave, but it might be better than locking up the world’s highest proportion of citizens in jails. I feel that Singapore destroyed much of its interesting architecture in the headlong rush to modernize. And it seems to me that too many of its citizens are obsessed with luxury brands and conspicuous consumption. These are relatively minor concerns, however, compared to the country’s strengths. And many of the seemingly autocratic regulations might be justified by the ethnic diversity and high population density of the country.

Singapore is tiny compared to the United States (and most other countries, for that matter), but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a model. Barack Obama keeps saying that we need to buckle down and work hard to build an economy based on real production, not hollow financial chicanery. We need a little more social order, and a little less individualism. Singapore has already pulled off both objectives, and continues to provide a good example of good judgment for the United States and the rest of the world.

*Tom Davenport holds the President’s Chair in Information Technology and Management at Babson College, where he also leads the Process Management and Working Knowledge Research Centers. His books and articles on business process reengineering, knowledge management, attention management, knowledge worker productivity, and analytical competition helped to establish each of those business ideas. His website is

Idris Jala as Minister for KPIs

malaysian insider

August 27, 2009

Idris Jala becomes a Senator and Minister in Prime Minister’s Department

jalaDatuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has named Malaysian Airlines chief executive officer Datuk Seri Idris Jala as a minister to implement his administration’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), an indication that the prime minister is impatient and unimpressed with those tasked to do so previously.

Gerakan president Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon was made minister and, together with Khazanah Nasional Berhad’s managing director Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar, were tasked last April to craft and monitor the KPIs by November but they have only issued an alphabet soup of acronyms and vague targets.

With six straight losses and just one win against rival coalition Pakatan Rakyat in by-elections since Election 2008, Najib knows he cannot afford laggards as the KPIs are a cornerstone of his administration which began on April 3 with him preaching “1 Malaysia. People First. Performance Now.”

While the national economy is linked to global trade recovering from a recession, Najib’s government has not been able to cut the crime index and has badly handled the policy U-turn in the teaching of mathematics and science in English.

He had also had to shoot down a proposal to filter the Internet while grappling with the country’s dual track legal system where a Muslim woman faces caning for drinking beer.

With Idris’s appointment as minister without portfolio in the Prime Minister’s Department, Najib’s 28-member Cabinet will expand to 29, just 3 short of predecessor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s much-criticised jumbo-sized cabinet.

In a statement today, Najib said King Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin has consented to the appointment and Idris will be sworn in as a senator to take up the post. adding Malaysia Airlines will announce the replacement CEO and managing director later.

As CEO of the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu), Idris will complement, support and report to Koh, who is minister in the Prime Minister’s Department  in charge of National Unity and Performance Management.

He sad Koh will formulate and execute the overall policy and strategy with special focus on the National Key Results Areas (N-KRA) apart from being chairman of the Pemandu board which includes the chief secretary to the government and other senior officers.

“Idris, on the other hand, will focus on sharing his expertise and experience in Shell and Malaysia Airlines and driving implementation of performance management in the federal government,” Najib said, adding Idris will be Pemandu deputy chairman responsible for specific N-KRAs and national KPIs apart from advising the relevant ministers.

He added Idris will report to Koh on issues relating to KPIs and directly to the prime minister on other duties assigned to him as minister without portfolio in the Prime Minister’s Department.

The Sarawakian was made managing director and CEO of Malaysia Airlines in December 2005 after the flag carrier’s biggest financial loss in its corporate history. he has turned around the ailing airline into a profitable concern by aggressively cutting down its assets and routes, focusing on profitable destinations and cost-cutting measures.

He previously spent 23 years in Shell and between 2002 and 2005, Idris was managing director of Shell MDS (Malaysia) and vice-president Shell Malaysia Gas & Power (Malaysia).

Idris has also assumed other positions in the energy giant in its London headquarters and also its unit in Sri Lanka. Idris holds a Bachelor’s degree from the Universiti Sains Malaysia and a Masters degree from Warwick University, the United Kingdom.