In Memory of Ex-Pastor Benjamin Bastinal

April 28, 2013

In Memory of Ex-Pastor Benjamin Bastinal: A Champion of Social Justice

by FMT Staff@

benBenjamin Basintal died last month. Few will remember that name unless they happened to live in Sabah in 1990.

It was perhaps typical that the daily newspapers with their jingoisms and fawning, sloppy journalism ignored the death of the former Catholic priest-turned-teacher from organ failure at the age of 59.

A bit odd because Benjamin, then a young priest, was the man at the centre of a curious event that was credited and blamed, depending on which side you are on, for the near landslide victory of the Opposition Parti Bersatu Sabah government in the 1990 elections.

This was before the state was perversely opened to hundreds of thousands of immigrants, especially Muslims, who were swiftly granted citizenship in an alleged scheme to re-engineer the Christian-majority state into the Muslim one which it has since become.

On July 16, 1990, a feisty local tabloid, Borneo Mail, published an intriguing report on its front page immortally titled: ‘Priest missing – linked to secession plot?’. It appeared on the morning of the state election.

The paper, quoting reliable sources, reported that the priest was believed to have been detained under the ISA in connection with a plot to take Sabah out of Malaysia. It also reported that several other priests were being sought by the Police for questioning.

Syed Othman Syed Ali, the State Police Chief at the time, immediately ordered an investigation of the Borneo Mail and its journalists under both the Internal Security Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act for the “inflammatory” nature of the report.

The article was written by then Borneo Mail Chief Editor Pung Chen Choon. He became the first journalist in the country to be charged under the Printing Presses and Publications Act which carries a penalty of three years jail or a fine of RM20,000 or both.

The case was heard in court over the following two years with several Tan Sri Chong KKhigh-profile witnesses called and widely reported by both the local and national media. But then another strange thing happened; it fizzled out and was quietly shelved as though the outcome was too frightening to pursue.

Pung was defended by (Tan Sri) Chong Kah Kiat (right) who went on to become Sabah Chief Minister. Chong was assisted by lawyers Richard Barnes, who is now linked to out-going Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman, and Gerard Math Lee Min. Current Attorney-General of Malaysia Abdul Gani Patail, then a Senior Federal Counsel, led the prosecution.

KL was paranoid

Some argue that while the Borneo Mail report was speculative it was not far from the truth. Many say that Federal authorities were in a heightened state of paranoia about a plot to take Sabah out of Malaysia as they are aware that there has always been nationalistic undercurrents in the state with respect to the Peninsula.

Benjamin’s family have always maintained that the former priest was indeed hounded and was being sought by the Police along with others he associated with. Church authorities later acknowledged he had been forewarned to “go on leave”.

His elder brother Francis said in a recent interview that his brother was known to campaign for justice for the poor and forgotten and this had put him at odds with the authorities.But what was he to do? He was a priest and he saw many of them (his parishioners) living in hardship and in distressing circumstances in kampungs in the interior of Sabah.

“Many of his parishioners and the people in the kampungs used to warn him that there were certain men in shiny black shoes asking questions about him.They were protective of him and told him not to drive his old and battered vehicle as it was well known to the men who came in Proton Iswara’s with Wilayah (peninsula) number plates.These people were going in and out of the kampungs and town in Membakut and Kg Bawan, chit chatting with the people and asking about my brother,” said Francis.

How he was allowed to leave Sabah without the authorities knowing, remains a mystery. According to his brother, Benjamin caught a flight to Kuala Lumpur from the Kota Kinabalu International Airport and from there made his way to the United States after being told to take leave by his superiors in the church.

Dr Mahathir-nstThis was a period, it must be remembered, when Sabahans were defiant and proud about their independence and would denounce Malayan politicians as greedy and domineering. They were confident of their harmony and unity and ability to see off any challenge hurled at them.

The report in the Borneo Mail that Benjamin had gone missing relegated the Barisan Nasional to a footnote in the election and the Christian-dominated PBS emerged victorious much to the fury of then PBS-hating Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his UMNO-led BN coalition government in Kuala Lumpur.

Rare victory

Mahathir had himself only just survived a bitter political battle during the nasty campaign period against his former colleague Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and his Semangat 46 faction of UMNO.

Though unsurprising, the slap-down delivered by voters in the state resulted in Mahathir unleashing a series of outrageous, ham-fisted measures that eventually brought Sabahans to their knees, and toppled the PBS state government four years later.

But Benjamin’s fight for justice for his people was a rare victory for the Opposition in a time known as Mahathir’s era. The people of Sabah along with those in Kelantan had shown that they were unafraid to say “enough” and “no” to bad governance and misrule.

Benjamin, a young man then, influenced by liberation theology and eager to promote equality along with other reform-minded individuals, encouraged his parishioners and others to question both state and national leaders and what they were delivering.

He was then the rector of a church in Beaufort, a quiet provincial town about 90 kilometres south of Kota Kinabalu. He was not reticent about speaking his mind, much to the discomfort of his superiors in the Catholic church as well as politicians who sought him out.

He continued to speak his mind after he returned from the US with a degree in journalism and political science. He left the priesthood shortly after and devoted himself to teaching till his death on March 3, 2013.

In the 2008 general election he stood as an independent candidate against PARLIMEN / ANIFAH AMAN / KIMANISthe Barisan Nasional’s Anifah Aman in Kimanis after he saw that the younger brother of the Chief Minister Musa Aman was ineffectual in improving the quality of life of the people in his constituency. As expected, he lost, polling just 205 votes but still left his mark.

“Anifah was scared of his outspokenness. He felt threatened by Benjamin’s knowledge and grasp of issues. My brother would tell me he had been approached and told by people close to Anifah not to write or say such things,” said Francis.

In several musings made both in the newspapers and in blog postings Benjamin made in 2008, he spoke of the divisiveness and greed within his own community.

The majority of Kadazans, Dusuns, Muruts and Rungus (KDRM), he lamented in one posting, don’t feel they are united as one community. “Brother (is) fighting against brother. They see people who are greedy for positions to a point where they have to fight their own fellow brothers to get the social status and positions. ”

Pairin ‘motivated by greed’

Joe PairinHe was also unabashed about criticising the community’s revered Huguan Siou Joseph Pairin Kitingan (left) who he charged was not capable of leading anybody as he was “motivated by greed and positions … instead of being an agent and force of unity of the KDMR he is a destroyer of that unity and force”.

Benjamin urged his parishioners to free themselves and not be mere followers, saying: “Ducks are wonderful birds but I prefer the eagle as a symbol. Ducks are guided by sounds and influenced by immediate noises and tend to be followers most of the time. Be like the eagle. Be independent-minded, fly high and determine your own destiny.”

“If our actions do not promote justice and if we are not involved in changing the unjust system of society our work will be destitute of positive effects, that is, they are in vain and useless.

“This is the age of participation and the highest level of participation in transforming society is that of the promotion of social justice wherein the poor and oppressed are genuinely liberated from the cycle of economic and social poverty.”

The way Benjamin saw it, Sabah with its abundant natural resources on one Sabah- Land Below the Wind2side and many of its people abjectly poor on the other side was a gapping wound. The state’s wealth that could help lift them out of the poverty trap was instead paying for vanity projects elsewhere in Malaysia and this was an affront to him.

“Let us fix a collapsing Malaysia once and for all and let’s begin now,” he once said in a blog posting. The first time Benjamin disappeared, he influenced an election. His passing may do just that again if only people pause to remember what he stood for – social justice!

Najib disputes survey findings of UMCEDEL

April 28, 2013

Najib disputes survey findings of UMCEDEL

by Lu Wei Hoong@

BN chairperson Najib Abdul Razak has rubbished a survey conducted by a department within Universiti Malaya which claimed that he is four points behind PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Survey finding of UMCedel

“I don’t agree with the poll. We have our own poll. My poll indicates that we are ahead,” he said. He said this at a press conference after attending a luncheon involving 1,000 people in Rawang, Selangor.He was referring to the UM’s Centre for Democracy and Elections’ (Umcedel) recent survey where 43 percent of respondents believed that Anwar was to be qualified to be prime minister, compared to 39 percent saying the same for Najib.

Some academics have questioned the survey results, claiming that the sample size of 1,407 was too small and that Pakatan Rakyat may have manipulated the survey results.


Najib latestNajib added that he was confident that BN will win with a two-thirds majority in Parliament, provided that BN is not subject to internal sabotage.

“But I have to remind that the internal problem must be resolved or else it may threaten our performance (in the general election).If we are united and working hard, there is no reason why we can’t get good result,” he said.

Asked on the BN’s performance in the Pakatan Rakyat states, Najib admitted it is an uphill battle. “We know that it is not easy to change the state government but our machinery is in high spirit and we will do our best to achieve our objectives,” he added.


Regarding his appearance with his lieutenant Muhyiddin Yassin in Johor tomorrow, Najib dismissed that it is an indication that BN was in a precarious position there.

“No. We know that Johor is a battlefield as DAP leaders have chosen it (as a frontline state). We are not only concentrating on Johor. We will travel to every state… to achieve an overall victory.”

Margaret Thatcher by Charles Moore; Not for Turning by Robin Harris – Review

April 28, 2013

Margaret Thatcher by Charles Moore; Not for Turning by Robin Harris – Review

Andy Beckett of The Guardianby Andy Beckett, The Guardian, Wednesday 24 April 2013 13.57

Two authorised biographies have lots of new material. Do they have a new honesty too, asks Andy Beckett

How much more is there to say about Margaret Thatcher? That these biographies have the same phrase in their title is not a promising start. Nor is it a title – taken from one of her most self-mythologising moments, her studiedly defiant speech to the doubting 1980 Conservative conference – that suggests these heavy volumes will be leavened with too much fresh or independent thinking. Robin Harris worked with Thatcher, often “closely” in his words, for a quarter of a century from the late 70s, as a speechwriter, ghostwriter, adviser, organiser and diehard supporter.

In her memoirs, she calls him “my indispensable sherpa”. Charles Moore has been one of Britain’s best-known right wing journalists for equally long. Since Thatcher’s death, he has seemed happy to mix his promotional duties as an author with defending her against, as he put it on Question Time, “People who are horrible … promoting the idea that she is [sic] very divisive.”

the-margaret-thatcher-the-authorized-biographyMoore was chosen by Thatcher to be her official biographer in 1997. It was the year her party finally lost power: her reputation, it was reasonable to assume, was going to need some protecting. “The arrangement that Lady Thatcher offered me,” writes Moore, “was that I would have full access to herself … and to her papers. She would assist all my requests for interviews with others … As a result of her support … the then Cabinet Secretary, Sir Richard Wilson, gave permission for all existing and former civil servants to speak freely to me about the Thatcher years, and allowed me to inspect government papers, held back from public view under the thirty-year rule.”

Moore has exploited this unique access with thoroughness and skill; but a sense of the British establishment granting favours to one of its own hangs over this book, and is never quite dispelled.

Harris began his book in 2005, the year of another post-Thatcher Tory general election defeat. Despite the existence of the Moore project, it appears she was keen to collaborate with Harris too.

He reprints a letter from her: “I can think of no one better placed than you to tackle the subject … You know, better than anyone else, what I wanted our reforms to achieve.” Elsewhere in his preface, Harris pointedly describes Moore’s book as “a further, ‘authorized’ work”.

As Prime Minister, one of Thatcher’s ambitions was to make Britain more competitive; posthumously, it’s clear that included her biographers.

Yet as in the utilities she privatised, competition sometimes doesn’t produce much choice for consumers. Both these books begin, as almost every Thatcher biography has for decades, with a reverent depiction of her Grantham childhood, all formative hard graft and small town English virtues, which in the retelling – not least by Thatcher as a rising politician – has long become as sepia-tinted as a rustic Hovis advertisement.

Moore describes her ambitious shopkeeper father as “tall, with piercing blue eyes and wiry blond hair”; Harris calls him “tall, blond and blue-eyed”. As a young girl, writes Harris, Thatcher had “a sweet smile, beautiful hair, flashing blue eyes”. Here, as in much of the rightwing writing about her since her death, Thatcher seems to be becoming a sort of Tory Evita.

Robin Harris' Thatcher

But then Harris’s book wakes up. In Grantham and afterwards, he abruptly remarks, Thatcher “would never be very interested in people’s personalities … only in their actions – and specifically those of their actions that directly concerned her.” Further tart assertions about her personality and habits quickly follow.

When she ate, food would be “hoovered up as quickly as possible”. When she worked on official papers as Prime Minister, she often sat “in her [Downing Street] study in a high-backed chair … Over the years her feet wore a hole in the carpet. She refused to have a new one and had a patch inserted.”

In political conversation, “She had no real sense of place … adopting even in private discussion the same aggressive and self-justificatory stance as she would in a hostile television interview.” As a thinker, although she carried a collection of excerpts from Winston Churchill’s speeches and broadcasts in her handbag, Harris writes, she “did not have much historical sense, merely some rather romantic and fanciful historical notions”.

After all the eulogies, it is refreshing to read about an odd, driven, believable person – rather than some abstract national saviour or demon. In his confident generalisations about Thatcher, Harris is like a long-faithful courtier freed by a monarch’s death to speak the truth about them. He is not that interested in piling up evidence for his assertions. Like an article in the Spectator, the writing can be lordly rather than logical, and the word “probably” appears more often than in most biographies. Much of the book is closer to memoir or polemic – you need to take it on trust.

The recounting of Thatcher’s dark-horse dash through the Conservative party pack and tumultuous premiership is efficient rather than revelatory. There are slow stretches where Harris summarises and justifies her policies, one by one; and equally relentless but more quotable attacks on Thatcher’s many Tory enemies and allies-turned-nemeses, such as her chancellors Nigel Lawson (“too clever by half”) and Geoffrey Howe (“raddled with bitterness”).

Moore is more measured. His dense, intricate volume, the first of an intended two, follows Thatcher only up to the autumn of 1982, less than a third of the way into her premiership. For now at least, this cut-off date robs his version of her story of the always-compelling element of rise and fall – the latter vividly and emotionally depicted by Harris – and instead makes Moore’s Thatcher narrative like one of the economic graphs in Thatcherism’s boom years: jagged but generally upward.

There are some surprises, though. Thatcher’s sister Muriel, barely mentioned by other biographers, is revealed as the recipient of frank letters from the teenage Margaret. Of an Oxford university boyfriend, pre-Denis, also previously undetected by biographers, she writes: “Tony hired a car and we drove out to Abingdon to the country inn ‘Crown and Thistle’. I managed to borrow a glorious royal blue velvet cloak … I felt absolutely on top of the world as I walked through the lounge … and everyone looked up.” That Thatcher had a bit of a life before parliamentary politics claimed her in the early 50s is a less sensational discovery than some of the publicity around this book has trumpeted; but Moore, with typical care and perceptiveness, produces a clever coda to his account of the Tony relationship.

In 1974, long after it was over, Tony, now a stockbroker with a professional interest in the housing market, produced a scheme for council tenants to buy their homes. As the shadow minister responsible for housing, Thatcher invited him to the Commons. “She made only the most glancing acknowledgement of their old acquaintance and got straight down to the policy, towards which she was very receptive.”

Margaret Thatcher Blackpool 1972 Jamie Hodgson/Getty Images

This is Moore’s first book (Harris has written or ghostwritten half a dozen), and its prose is understated and less partisan than his journalism. Occasionally, the long, controlled paragraphs curl almost imperceptibly into dry wit. In the mid-60s, he writes, “At the highest levels of the [Tory] party … suspicions were aroused that the rise of Margaret Thatcher might represent some sort of threat to male peace and tranquility.” Nor is Moore a total prisoner of his many sources.

Their testimony is weighed, and sometimes contradicted. Even Muriel, who granted a rare interview, is corrected when she claims that Margaret was too busy to go to their father’s funeral, with reference to Margaret’s “two engagement diaries of the period” and a report in the Grantham Journal.

There is a downside to all this neat dovetailing of material and elegantly murmuring, High Tory style. Thatcherism was in many ways an unsubtle, unstable political project, exhilarating or brutal depending on where you stood; yet only the exhilaration feels fully present in Moore’s narrative, for all his conscientious detailing of Thatcherism’s 70s and 80s ups and downs. Part of the problem may be the slightly sketchy way he deals with the world beyond.

There is not quite enough sense of the social texture of Britain, and how that changed, as Thatcher rose, and how that change helped her. Similarly, events outside Westminster that proved pivotal for her – the 1978-9 winter of discontent that probably won her the 1979 election; the 1981 urban riots that so undermined her early premiership – are recorded too briefly and cursorily. Meanwhile, Moore’s politics surface unhelpfully when he caricatures postwar Britain as in “steep decline”, the economy under Labour in the 60s as a “car crash”, and the IMF that eagerly helped do away with British social democracy in the 70s as “impartial”.

As much of the debate since her death has shown, there are still plenty of takers for this doomy, simplistic view of pre-Thatcherite Britain. But present-day historians are becoming steadily less keen on it, and the struggles of our Thatcherised economy since 2007 don’t augur too well for the long-term reputation of books that present her rule as having solved all our problems.

Moore is more nuanced than that; unlike Harris, he offers a few quiet but stinging criticisms of her policies, for example on council house sales, which led to “the gradual build-up of a housing shortage which, in 1979, had not existed, and the stoking, for the future, of a housing bubble”.

Malaysia’s fiscal future and the general election

April 28, 2013

Malaysia’s fiscal future and the general election

Author: Liam Hanlon, Cascade Asia Advisors (04-23-13)

Malaysia’s 13th general election, scheduled for 5 May, is shaping up to be the tightest in the country’s near 60-year history.

Rows of political party flags hung across a road to woo voters for the upcoming general election in Pekan, 300km outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 21 April 2013. (Photo: AAP)

The ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN), should slightly edge out the opposition, Pakatan Rakyat (PR), but will probably fail to reclaim the coveted two-thirds majority necessary to amend the constitution. Behind the divisive rhetoric of this unofficial campaign season, however, neither camp has formulated a viable, long-term solution to one of Malaysia’s most insidious problems: fiscal imprudence.

Malaysia’s struggles with public finances are nothing new. With the exception of a brief period in the mid-1990s, Malaysia has long maintained a fiscal deficit, and in 2012 its budget deficit was one of the region’s largest, at 4.5 per cent. It has also done little to reign in public debt, which at 53.7 per cent of GDP in 2012 sits right under the debt-ceiling threshold of 55 per cent of GDP.


Although Malaysia’s deficits aren’t inherently irresponsible, they do reflect a concerning trend of ‘hidden’ public debt. This includes contingent liabilities, such as government guarantees on debt and ‘off balance sheet’ borrowings, which have more than doubled since Najib Razak took office in 2009. This debt surge comes from government entities that fund massive transportation and infrastructure projects.

It is not inconceivable that these liabilities may eventually find their way onto the federal balance sheet. Additionally, the government’s revenue stream, which has remained unimpressively low, is too heavily reliant on the state oil company PETRONAS, responsible for almost 35 per cent of federal revenues.

Underpinning many of these structural issues is a proclivity for subsidies and cash handouts, particularly when an election is on the line. As BN recovered from the political shock of the 2008 election that saw PR erase its parliamentary majority, Najib unleashed budgets saturated with voter-friendly measures.

The 2013 budget provided bonuses to over 1.3 million civil servants, cash for low-income families, smart phone rebates and a cut in the income tax rate. These additions reflect the political reality that prudent fiscal management does not carry votes in Malaysia. Malaysians frequently lament the rising cost of living, making subsidies politically expedient for anyone running for office.


Malaysia’s 13th general election is no different. PR’s leader, Anwar Ibrahim, and Najib are competing for the hearts and minds of Malaysia’s electorate, promising to deepen their pockets, shower them with gifts and reduce their taxes. Anwar unveiled his election manifesto 25 February, outlining an agenda replete with election sweeteners. He promised free secondary education, lower car prices, an increased minimum wage, and greater oil revenues for Sabah and Sarawak.

Najib revealed his electoral platform on 6 April, proffering his own brand of populist pledges. He promised to raise the annual cash handout for poor households from US$165 to almost US$400, build one million new affordable homes and similarly subsidise car prices. Najib also delayed the implementation of a goods and services tax (GST), which would expand the tax base and ease the government’s dependency on oil revenues. The electoral payoffs for these political ploys make it risky for any leader to advocate for long-term fiscal management.

However unpromising this election cycle has been, one policy prescription has emerged that could drastically alter Malaysia’s financial future. PR has advocated reforming the country’s longstanding quota system favouring Malays, opting instead for a system based on socioeconomic status. Eliminating racial preferences in public contracts could conceivably yield more efficient and useful government investments, and free up revenue for the high subsidies PR wants to dole out.

More importantly, this reform will reinvigorate Malaysia’s domestic competitiveness and empower truly disadvantaged segments of society. If implemented correctly, it would signal to the international investment community that business in Malaysia no longer runs on cronyism and race-based politics. Touting an improved investment environment could position Malaysia to better compete for much-needed foreign investment in the region, easing pressure on the government to drive investment.

To be fair, Najib has taken strides to roll back some of the archaic policies benefiting Malays. In 2009, he overturned a longstanding requirement for certain companies to sell at least 30 per cent of their shares to Malays. But the prime minister stopped short of addressing the bulk of preferential racial policies that infuriate ethnic Chinese and Indian Malaysians, particularly those in education and government contracts.

The United Malays National Organisation is still the most influential party component in BN, essentially guaranteeing that Malay interests will continue to guide the coalition’s policies. Regardless of Najib’s own ambitions, institutional impediments to achieving reform in this area may be too powerful to overcome.

Indeed, the policies of neither BN nor PR instil much confidence in the country’s medium-term fiscal future. Malaysia’s electoral politics fail to reward fiscal prudence and instead encourage shortsighted economic measures. But if the government cannot extract racial considerations from the economy, Malaysia risks falling deeper into financial mismanagement.

Liam Hanlon is a political analyst at Cascade Asia Advisors, a research and strategic advisory firm focused on Southeast Asia.

GE-13: Our choices are shrinking

April 28, 2013

GE-13: Our choices are shrinking

by CT Ali@

Malaysia is no different from any other country. There is not one country free from some quirks and habits that defines their people and their politics.

We are each the product of our past, present and what we want for ourselves in the foreseeable future.We have to live with what we have today and move forward from there together or we can do it at odds with each other.


We are now trying to come to terms with the fact that race, religion, nepotism and money politics are all here to stay. It is now a matter of degree.

To what extent will we the people allow our political leaders to indulge themselves in an orgy of race, religions, nepotism and money.A cesspool of undeniably putrid corruption and contemptible arrogance and decadence that will even surprise Sodom and Gomorrah…or worse?

Do not expect these politicians to police themselves. That will be foolish of us. Do not expect the Police to police themselves, that would be foolish too.Speak OutWe must have two strong political entities  – one in power, one in opposition to police each other with us hovering over them.

Remember it takes a thief to catch a thief and politicians themselves will best police other politicians, though of course if they were all to collude then we will find ourselves in a raging Sungai Pahang in the rainy season up the creek without a paddle.

This is not possible you say?The merry go round of political musical chairs in Malaysia is only tempered when we the rakyat tell these politicians that enough is enough.

Leave the politicians to their own devices and I will be so bold as to suggest that the return of the prodigal son has more adherents within Pakatan Rakyat than within UMNO. For after all “ashes to ashes…dusts to dusts: We are from the earth and to the earth we will all eventually return!”

When the day is over, all will still be the same. BN will still be UMNO orientated and dominated and Pakatan will still need Anwar Ibrahim to hold it together for now until DAP call in their marker and get their uppance for helping Anwar become PM.

PAS, well PAS will try for Terengganu and be happy with that as hudud in Kelantan and Terengganu will be less messy and cumbersome than anywhere else. It’s more manageable there!

The clock then strikes midnight and all will be well for Malaysia until the morning brings new light to an old problem that will most probably not go away from our lives, not now, not tomorrow, not after the 13th GE. Perhaps never!The mother crab cannot ask her children to walk straight.

Nurul our leader?

Nurul IAWhat then what will our future be? Perhaps Nurul Izzah. But this ‘defection proof’ MP must accept that for her to be relevant to all Malaysians, she needs to defect from PKR.

If Nurul is to be honest she knows that increasingly her strength now comes from the non-Malays. It comes from the many non-Malay professionals who see in her the hope and the future they all aspire to – that only the best amongst us should lead them.

It is Nurul, not Anwar and not PKR that they have put their hopes into. For now Nurul is defection proof – so what lies of the future?How will their votes reach Nurul? Nurul is being pulled left and right. Nurul is being asked to spread herself too thinly, asked to decide on whether her loyalty lies to Anwar or to the people of Malaysia.

She is not yet ready for these choices, and yet ready or not she must find a way to be the change we want her to be.

CT Ali is a reformist who believes in Pakatan Rakyat’s ideologies. He is a FMT columnist.

Malaysian Buddhist Organisations: Vote Wisely and Make the Difference

April 28, 2013

Malaysian Buddhist Organisations: Vote Wisely and Make the Difference (04-25-13)

Vote WiselyThe coming 13th general election will be a critical one deciding the fate of the people and this nation. Malaysia’s Buddhist organisations, in the spirit of upholding Buddha Sakyamuni’s compassion and wisdom, call on all Malaysian Buddhists as well as the political parties participating in this election to:

(1) Step forward and fulfill one’s duty as a citizen; to vote in earnest and with responsibility to elect a government that will bring advancement, harmony and equity in serving the people of different races and faiths.

(2) Follow Malaysia’s founding spirit which emphasise on unity and the mutual prosperity of all ethnic groups. Whichever political party that comes into power, the ruling government must assure that the resources are equally distributed and that racial, religious and educational issues shall not be manipulated by political parties as tools to polarise the people.

(3) Encourage religion which has the effect of purifying the society and our hearts. We seek the ruling government to protect the constitutional rights of freedom of religious beliefs, put to a stop the marginalisation of non-Islamic religious education and accord fair treatment to religious development.

(4) Ensure Malaysia shall maintain its status as a secular country, pursues a policy of separation of religion and state. The ruling government must also ensure that the Federal Court is the highest source of adjudication in all matters.

(5) Ensure that the political parties must be genuine in curbing the malpractices within current electoral system, including money politics, vulgarism and abusive language should not be engaged during campaigns.

Politics is everybody’s business as political parties and politicians’ words and deeds affect the social life of the people. Let’s elect an ideal government.

6) Urge the political parties and people throughout the country during the election period to be more action oriented in the decision-making with compassion to curb violence and more wisdom to reduce ignorance.

Vote wisely as their decisions will make a difference. Let’s all be united together to build a better tomorrow. May our nation be blessed with prosperity, happiness and peace.


1) members of Malaysian Buddhist Consultative Council:-

Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia,
Buddhist Missionary Society Malaysia,
Sasana Abhiwurdhi Wardhana Society
Persatuan Penganut Agama Buddha Fo Guang Malaysia
Vajrayana Buddhist Council Malaysia

2) Fo Guang Shan, Malaysia

3) Theravada Buddhist Council of Malaysia