Bandung 2015: A short walk but with giant steps

April 27, 2015

Bandung 2015: A short walk but with giant steps

by Martin

Bandung 2015-2A short walk but with giant steps–Bandung 2015

(From L) Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan, China’s President Xi Jinping, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo, his wife Iriana Widodo, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak, his wife Rosmah Mansor, walk down the street with other Asian and African leaders during ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the Asian-African Conference in Bandung on western Java island on April 24, 2015. Bandung was the site of the landmark 1955 Asian African Conference, credited with galvanising momentum towards the creation of the Non-Aligned Movement. – AFP

Bandung 2015 is a chance to build on the cooperation among developing countries launched by Bandung 1955.

LAST Friday, I took a 10-minute walk from an old hotel to ano­­ther old building, a confe­rence hall. About 300 others were on the same walk on the warm and sunny day.

It didn’t seem anything remarkable or newsworthy. But this was no ordinary walk. Sixty years ago, on this same date, a small but powerful group of men and women took the same walk and then launched a movement that snowballed into a united anti-colonial and post–colonial battle.

We had come to commemorate and celebrate the anniversary of the Bandung conference of Asian and African leaders, all of whom had just won Independence or were on the verge of doing so.

The same grand Savoy Homann hotel was where the leaders had stayed, and they had taken the historic short walk on the Asia Africa Road to the Merdeka Building.

Leaders at Bandung 1955Leaders at Bandung, 1955

Bandung April 24, 1955, saw giants like Sukarno of Indonesia, the host, Zhou Enlai of China, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, President Gamal Ab­­del Nasser of Egypt, U Nu of Bur­ma and some leaders of Africa, coming together to discuss the need for newly independent countries to unite and fight for common interests.

They adopted the Bandung principles, that included respect for national sovereignty and self-determination, equality of all nations and abstention from use of force or exerting pressure on countries.

Bandung 1955 was the first ever meeting of the developing countries, who pledged to help other countries still under colonialism to complete their independence struggle, and to cooperate to develop their poor economies. That Bandung spirit led to the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1961, and indirectly also led to the Group of 77 in 1964, the two major umbrella organisations of the developing countries.

Last Friday, political leaders from over 40 countries, led by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, and officials from international organisations walked from Savoy Hotel to Merdeka Building and took part in a brief but meaningful commemoration ceremony. Among the leaders present were the Presidents of China, Zimbabwe and Myanmar, and the Prime Ministers of Malaysia, Nepal and Egypt.

We were told the Merdeka Building had not changed, and the chairs were the same as the ones used 60 years ago. Widodo invoked the memory of the leadership and spirit of the giants of old, who had pioneered their nations’ independence and forged unity among the newly independent countries.

In a two-day Asian African summit conference in Jakarta preceding the Bandung ceremony, even more leaders were present to discuss the theme, South-South Cooperation for Peace and Prosperity.

Jokowi. IrPresident Widodo made a strong speech highlighting the continuing power inequalities and injustices in the world, in which developing countries were still struggling to get their rightful fair share in decision-making in world affairs.

Global injustice is obvious, when wealthy nations think they can change the world with their might, when the United Nations is powerless, when force is used without the mandate of the UN and powerful countries ignore the existence of the UN, he said.

Injustice exists when rich countries refuse to recognise the shifts in world economic power and only re­­­­­­­cognise the World Bank, In­ter­national Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank, he added.

“The fate of the global economy cannot be left to these three organisations, we need to build a new world order that is open to new countries. A new and fair global system is needed.”

Widodo also stressed that as the Bandung spirit demanded indepen­dence for countries, we are still indebted to the people of Palestine. “We have to struggle with them to give birth to an independent state of Palestine.”

The plight and struggle of Palesti­nians became a major issue at the Summit. It was obvious that the con­­tinuing occupation of Palestine lands and their unfulfilled fight for an independent state was a big piece of “unfinished business” of the Asian African Bandung conference.

A special declaration in support of Palestine was adopted by the conference. Two other documents adopted were the Bandung Message and the new Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership, which details the actions that are to be taken to promote more cooperation in economic, health, food security, education and other areas.

President Xi Jinping of China pledged to provide places for 100,000 students and officials in Asia and Africa for education and training in his country over five years.

He put forward several principles, including to seek common ground and be open to one another’s views, expand South-South cooperation, and the closing of the North-South gap. He also mentioned the new Chinese initiatives of setting up the Asian Infrastructure Investment bank as well as a new fund to finance the activities of the Economic Silk Road and the Maritime Silk Road.

These initiatives by China were a reminder that with the growing wealth of China and some other emerging economies, there is now a real possibility for the developing countries to help one another in financing their own development.

A new trend in South-South ga­­therings is that criticism of the ways of the West in dominating the South is now combined with announcements of how the developing countries are organising various ways to rely more on one another, including creating new institutions.

In a speech representing the South Centre, I mentioned that we support the call by the Indonesian president to establish a new world order where the developing countries have an equal say and enjoy their fair share of the benefits.

In this new and more equitable world order, the developing countries will be able to contribute to the solutions to the multiple crises of global finance and economy, food security, unfulfilled social development, energy and climate change.

The developed countries will change their unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, and assist the developing countries through financial resources and technology transfer to embark on new sustainable development pathways.

South-South cooperation, based on solidarity and mutual benefits, will play an increasingly important role. There is much to be done politically and concretely in this area.

Bandung 1955 was a landmark event that launched many good developments for the newly independent countries.Bandung 2015 could also prove to be a landmark event that catalyses further breakthroughs in South-South cooperation which, together with our better performance in multilateral relations, will implement the building of the new world order that our first generation of leaders were dreaming of.

As the Jakarta and Bandung events came to a close, Indonesian officials indicated that they will be undertaking follow-up actions after the Summit. It is important that concrete programmes are formulated, so that the good-intentioned declarations do not remain only on paper but spark new shoots of South-South cooperation.

Martin Khor is executive director of the South Centre, a research centre of 51 developing countries, based in Geneva. You can e-mail him at The views expressed here are entirely his own.

Political Violence: Retiring the Word Terrorism

April 27, 2015


No. 101/2015 dated 27 April 2015

Political Violence:
Retiring the Word Terrorism

by James M. Dorsey


Founders of many modern states, including stalwarts of anti-terrorism like Israel and allies in the war on terror like the Kurds, achieved goals with political violence that killed innocent people and would be classified today as terrorism. Political violence should be recognised as a reflection of deep-seated social, economic and political problems — rather than demonised through terms like terrorism or evil.


RECENT DOCUMENTS uncovered by German magazine Der Spiegel trace the rise of the Islamic State to a network of former Iraqi intelligence officers loyal to toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. In 2003 they were deprived of their jobs with no future prospects when then US administrator of Iraq Paul Bremer disbanded the Baathist military and security forces. They were aided by Syrian military officers and officials who saw the group as a buffer against a feared US attempt to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

The history of the rise of the Islamic State as an extreme Sunni Muslim rejection of discrimination by a Shiite majority in Iraq and repressive dominance by an Alawite minority in Syria revives the notion of “one man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist”. That notion is similarly embedded in the policies of both Western nations and conservative Arab regimes concerned about their survival. They not only forged  cooperation with Turkey’s Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) and Syria’s Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) but also Gulf support for the jihadist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al Nusra that is locked in battle with Islamic State and in Western distinctions between good and bad foreign fighters.

Good and bad fighters

‘Bad foreign fighters’, angry at the human and political cost of combatting political violence with a military rather than a predominantly political campaign, are the thousands who have joined the ranks of Islamic State; ‘good foreign fighters’ are those who have gone to Syria to fight with the Kurds against the jihadists, particularly during last year’s battle for the besieged Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani.

The notion is also evident in the US National Intelligence’s most recent report to Congress that for the first time in years no longer includes Iran or the Tehran-backed Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah as a terrorist threat to US interests.

The list of internationally – recognised political leaders who can trace their roots to political violence and terrorism is long. Yet, they and their predecessors disavowed what is termed political violence once they achieved their goals. The list includes Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, whose ideological roots like those of former Israeli leaders Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, lie in the use of political violence and terrorism in pre-state Palestine without which the State of Israel most likely would not have been established. Both Begin and Shamir were wanted commanders of Irgun, a group denounced as terrorist by the British Mandate authorities.

Similarly, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas hails from a movement that was long condemned as a terrorist organisation. While nothing justifies the killing of innocent civilians, recognition of Palestinians as a people with national rights and the creation of the Palestine Authority would most probably not have occurred without Palestinian attacks in the 1960s and 1970s on civilian targets.

Finally, the PKK, an organisation deemed terrorist by Ankara and its Western allies as well as its Syrian counterpart, the YPG, are de facto allies in the fight against Islamic State, the jihadist organisation that controls a swath of Syria and Iraq that employs brutality as a means of governance. The list is far longer: think of Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC), the aging leaders of Algeria or the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

The sole common denominator of all these examples is not an ideology but a political grievance and a belief, right or wrong, that the odds were stacked against them and that violence was a necessity rather than a goal in and of itself. Political violence is a tactic most often employed and frequently with success by those opposed to forces with overwhelming military might.

A moment of lucidity

All of these men and groups who today are either respected political leaders or on their way to returning to the international fold saw political violence as a means of the underdog to secure their perceived rights and right an injustice rather than as a criminal philosophy and practice implicit in the use of the word terrorism.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, in a moment of lucidity, implicitly recognised the underlying politics when he last year acknowledged that American Muslims had stressed to him that the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian peace was fuelling anger on the streets and recruitment by Islamic State. “People need to understand the connection of that … it has something to do with humiliation and denial and absence of dignity,” Kerry said.

All of this is not to justify the use of political violence, the killing of innocent civilians or the extremist ideology and brutality of groups like Islamic State. Nor does it justify the indiscriminate torture of large numbers or mass rapes of women as a means of control. It is, however, recognising a political reality however unpleasant that may be.

Debunking de-politicisation

That reality involves acknowledging political violence for what it is and debunking efforts to depoliticise the roots of political violence that only serve to evade often painful political choices involved in confronting underlying grievances. It also involves accepting that it is politics, rather than military force and law enforcement, that offers the tools to effectively resolve situations that produce political violence.

It also serves to spotlight the fact that terms like ‘terrorism’ and ‘fighting evil’ turn the struggle against political violence into a zero-sum game in which victory constitutes the elimination of barbarians who, with problems unresolved, bounce back from setbacks in new, far more brutal guises.

Bombastic statements by Western leaders designating political violence termed terrorism, particularly in the case of jihadists, as an existential threat and an epic struggle against a form of totalitarianism comparable to that of fascism and communism, has only served to raise the profile and appeal of brutal perpetrators like Islamic State. The numbers speak for themselves: University of Maryland research shows that jihadist attacks had tripled in 2013 compared to 2010.

Political violence may be a scourge, yet it is fundamentally an act of politics. Recognising this makes politics rather than predominantly military force the appropriate response. A first step towards that recognition would be removing the term terrorism from the debate in a bid to eliminate ideological prejudice that serves vested interests and at best complicates the search for real solutions to real problems.

James M. Dorsey is a Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, a syndicated columnist, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog.

Click HERE to read this commentary online.

Full text of Najib’s speech at 26th Asean Summit opening ceremony

April 27, 2015

 Full text of Najib’s speech at 26th Asean Summit opening ceremony


KUALA LUMPUR: Following is the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s speech at the opening ceremony of the 26th Asean Summit 2015 at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre

Your Majesty,

ASEAN Heads of State and Government


Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. It is an honour and a pleasure for me to welcome all of you to Kuala Lumpur and the opening ceremony of the 26th ASEAN Summit.

2. Ten years ago, Malaysia filled this hall for the same purpose as today. We are privileged to serve ASEAN once again in a decisive year for our organizationi a year filled with important developments in the areas of community-building, including through deeper economic integration.

3. 2015 will be a milestone in the history of ASEAN. The vision of creating a single community will be realised by the end of December. And it is also our collective duty this year to formulate a successor document to the Roadmap to Establish the ASEAN Community. This will provide the basis for how we further strengthen our unity and deepen our integration over the next ten years, taking us up to 2025. These are two crucial undertakings for charting a bold, inclusive and forward-looking future for ASEAN and its peoples.

4. So it is appropriate that the theme of Malaysia’s chairmanship is “Our People, Our Community, Our Vision”. We want to make ASEAN “People Centred”. This means good governance, higher standards of living, sustainable development, empowerment of women, and greater opportunity for all people.

Ladies and gentlemen,

5. I would like to talk to you about ASEAN itself. ASEAN is a political and economic organisation, and one that is playing an increasingly important role both regionally and globally.

6. But it is also an idea. It is an idea about who we are, as a group of ten nations in South East Asia. And it is an idea, and a vision, that has helped guide more and more of us, as new members joined over time, for 47 years now.

7. It is particularly personal for me. My father, Tun Razak, was one of the five statesmen who signed the Bangkok Declaration in 1967. It was that document that brought ASEAN into being, and although I was only 15 at the time, I remember being well aware that it represented a momentous change in the way the countries in our region dealt with each other.

8. The language in that declaration more than stands the test of time. It states, for instance, that:

“In an increasingly interdependent world, the cherished ideals of peace, freedom, social justice and economic well-being are best attained by fostering good understanding, good neighbourliness and meaningful cooperation among the countries of the region”, which it says are “already bound together by ties of history and culture”.

9. Those inspiring words are as true today as they were then.

10. We must make sure, however, that those ties that bind – and the great idea that is ASEAN – are a tangible, personal reality for all of our citizens too. There are many, many instances when they already are.

11. In the on-going turmoil in Yemen, for example, many Malaysians found themselves trapped on the ground. We had to undertake a dramatic evacuation, transporting our citizens from Aden to Djibouti, and subsequently to Jeddah on a Malaysian army aircraft.

12. We evacuated our people alongside ASEAN nationals from Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia. I am happy to report that all are safe. But more than that, I am gratified that similar exercises were carried out by the other ASEAN Governments as well, each rendering assistance to the other’s citizens, as one. That is the spirit of ASEAN.

13. A People-Centred ASEAN is one in which our citizens feel that they are not just part of ASEAN. But that regardless of who they are – from rice farmers, to Forex dealers, halal business owners, fishermen and electronics engineers – our citizens actually feel that they are ASEAN, and its future is their future.

14. In order to achieve that, we must engage with and constantly listen to them. This is why the Leaders’ programme later today will include a series of four interfaces with different segments of society – with youth, with civil society organisations, with business groups and with Parliamentarians.

15. Throughout the year, Malaysia has put in place more people-centred programmes, including the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, the 1ASEAN Entrepreneurship Summit, the ASEAN SME Showcase and Conference and the ASEAN Young Leaders’ Summit.

16. We are also thinking about our next generation of leaders, and have created a new MTCP-ASEAN Masters Scholarship programme to allow students from ASEAN countries to study in well-established Malaysian public universities and thereafter make significant contributions in their own countries on their return.

17. We believe that ASEAN should publicly recognise and celebrate those outstanding organisations and individuals who have contributed significantly to the community-building process throughout the years.

18. With this in mind, I am pleased to announce that later this year, at the 27th ASEAN Summit, we will host the inaugural “ASEAN Peoples’ Awards” at which we will celebrate the exceptional achievements of those who are honoured.

Ladies and gentlemen,

19. A People-Centred ASEAN must work for the benefit of our citizens both at home and internationally. Here, the concept of ASEAN Centrality is key. A strong and united ASEAN – that is friendly and believes in cooperative engagement with all countries – provides the framework for the maintenance of regional peace and stability.

20. There will always be differences – small differences, I hope – between us. That is inevitable in a ten nation group which rejoices in a multiplicity of ethnicities, cultures and religions. But we are used to living with diversity in Malaysia. And we believe the way to iron out any differences of opinion is amicably, with tolerance, mutual understanding and respect. That is the ASEAN way.

21. An ASEAN characterised by internal conflicts could never aspire to be a true community. To be a community, we must address internal conflicts within our region. This is why we are working with other countries to build peace. For example, the recent progress on the Bangsamoro peace process has been so important, and we must not pause in our efforts to bring a permanent resolution to a conflict which has led to so much loss of life and displaced hundreds of thousands over the years.

22. While we continue our engagement and cooperative relationships with countries outside ASEAN, we need to peacefully manage differences closer to home, including overlapping maritime claims, without increasing tensions. Recent developments have raised concerns about the South China Sea – and given the importance of its sea lanes to international trade, it is natural that almost any occurrence there will attract attention. ASEAN must address these developments in a proactive, but also in a positive and constructive way.

23. Respect for international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, must be the basis of the rules of engagement and activities in the South China Sea. As Chairman, Malaysia hopes that we will achieve progress in our efforts towards the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct.

Ladies and gentlemen,

24. One of the documents we will adopt at this summit is the Langkawi Declaration on the Global Movement of Moderates. It is imperative that we adopt this declaration because even in our region we are not spared the threat posed by extremism. For example, from the advocates of the so-called “Islamic State”.

25. We know that, sadly, some of our citizens have joined forces with those in Syria and Iran to commit atrocities in the name of Islam. They are, of course, tragically misguided, and we wholeheartedly condemn their actions.

26. But it is not enough to state our rejection of provocations and violence. We know from both our histories and our present times that the spark of extremism can too easily be fanned into flames. Irresponsible, rabble-rousing talk can swiftly lead to the persecution of minorities who have been part of the tapestry of our region for centuries. This, too, we utterly condemn.

27. We must put forward a positive narrative of moderation, of hope and of peace.

28. And here in South East Asia, we are not short of such narratives. In Malaysia, we number Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Christians amongst our citizens. We know that these differences need not cause enmity.

29. The Holy Quran enjoins Muslims, in Surah109:6, to respect other faiths. “To you, your religion, to me mine.” We are also enjoined to be “a community that is moderate, justly balanced” (2:143).

Ladies and gentlemen,

30. We need to find ways for ASEAN to become – and to be seen to become – more politically cohesive. Global investors have long been drawn to India and China. But ASEAN can and should position itself as the “third force” in the region, and more visible unity will help us to do so. One proposal would be if we adopted a common time zone throughout ASEAN. This would be a good symbol of ASEAN unity, and good for business.

31. Our potential, after all, is huge. We already have the third largest workforce in the world. We have a largely youthful, talented and increasingly skilled population of over 600 million people. Our burgeoning middle class makes us one of the most potent and dynamic of regions – leading one publication to ask last week if ASEAN was Asia’s “hottest investment”.

32. International trade has almost tripled in the last ten years, and we are now the fourth largest exporting bloc globally. Our current combined GDP is 2.5 trillion dollars – and that figure is expected to rise to 4 trillion in just five years. The OECD predicts overall annual growth of 5.6 per cent over the next four years, and if current trends continue, ASEAN is set to be the world s fourth largest economy by 2050.

33. This is ASEAN’s time. And that is why it is essential that we continue with the measures to establish the ASEAN Economic Community. Removing barriers to trade, which goes beyond reducing tariffs. It must also include the elimination of non-tariff barriers, such as overly burdensome regulation that hampers free and fair trade. We must accelerate programmes to harmonise standards, increasing capital market and financial integration, and promoting the freer movement of goods, services, investments and talents between our countries.

34. The results of such reforms would be transformative. It has been estimated that if intra-ASEAN trade was boosted from 24 percent to 40 percent, the incremental impact on the ASEAN economy could be 2.5 trillion dollars annually. It would result in a further 7 trillion dollars spending on infrastructure.

35. This potential growth would mean astonishing improvements both to our economies and to the standards of living of our citizens. And those prizes are within our grasp.

Ladies and gentlemen,

36. The founding fathers, through the Bangkok Declaration, envisioned that ASEAN would be “the collective will of the nations of South-East Asia to bind themselves together in friendship and cooperation and, through joint efforts and sacrifices, secure for their peoples and for posterity the blessings of peace, freedom and prosperity.”

37. Those blessings for all our peoples have never been closer. And it is our belief that a truly People-Centred ASEAN, dedicated to forging a Community in which all recognise our commonality and in which the fruits of success are shared by all, has the opportunity to attain them.

38. Let me repeat: this is ASEAN’s time. Let us work together to ensure that the Asian Century is also the ASEAN Century.

39. With that, let me once again extend a warm welcome to all of you, and I look forward to our discussions throughout the next two days.

Thank you.

Remembering Indonesia’s Chairil Anwar– The Poet for All Times

April 26, 2015

Remembering Indonesia’s Chairil Anwar– The Poet for All Times

AkuDuring his lifetime, Chairil Anwar born in Medan, North Sumatra wrote approximately 94 works, including seventy-one poems. Most of those were unpublished at the time of his death, but were later collected in several collections of his work published posthumously. Of these, Anwar considered only 13 to be truly good poems. The first published was Deru Tjampur Debu (Roar Mixed with Dust), which was followed by Kerikil Tadjam dan Jang Terampas dan Terputus (Sharp Pebbles and the Seized and The Broken). Although several poems in those collections had the same title, they were slightly different.The most celebrated of his works is “AKU”  (“Me”/I)–Wikipedia

More on 1MDB–Sarawak Report

April 26, 2015

More on 1MDB–Sarawak Report


Jho Low AddA US$330 million (RM1.18 billion) loan 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) had issued to PetroSaudi International in 2011 was actually deposited into the account of Good Star Limited, a firm controlled by businessman Low Taek Jho, whistleblower site Sarawak Report claims.

The money was transferred in four separate tranches into Good Star Limited’s RBS Coutts, Zurich account, said Sarawak Report, citing documents from official investigators.

However, approval had only been granted by the regulators for 1MDB to lend the money to its former joint venture partner, PetroSaudi, on the basis that it was to “finance on-going overseas investment in the oil and gas sector”, said Sarawak Report.

It said the rational for the loan approval was “to pursue a strategic and global partnership in the energy sector and promoting foreign direct investment into Malaysia”.

There was no mention made of the company Good Star Limited in the loan application and neither was approval granted for the money to be sent to it, said Sarawak Report.

The investigation also revealed that the USD$330 million, which was sent to Good Star Limited, was officially reported to Bank Negara as having been paid to the PetroSaudi company 1MDB PetroSaudi, it said.

“The question now is who was responsible for providing this misleading information that Good Star Limited was a subsidiary company of PetroSaudi International,” Sarawak Report said.

“Also, why did none of the banks involved in any of these transactions ever see fit to file a suspicious transaction report?”

According to the website’s calculations, USD$1.19 billion of the USD$1.93 billion that 1MDB lent to PetroSaudi ultimately went to Good Star Limited.This included the USD$700 million Good Star allegedly siphoned from 1MDB’s now-ended joint venture with PetroSaudi, which was orchestrated by Low, who is better known as Jho Low.

Good Star Limited had also received an additional US$160 million from a Murabaha Loan agreement signed between PetroSaudi and 1MDB, which was also masterminded by Low, Sarawak Report said.

On Thursday, Sarawak Report said Good Star Limited, found to have transferred over US$500 million to one of the businessman’s bank accounts at BSI Bank Limited in Singapore in 2011 and 2012.

1MDB has come under fire for its financial mismanagement, debts, questionable investments and borrowings.

Since its inception in 2009, the strategic development fund, which is owned by the Finance Ministry, has amassed a whopping RM42 billion in debts.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who chairs 1MDB’s advisory board, has come under attack from various quarters over the firm’s massive losses and dubious dealings, especially from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The former Prime Minister has repeatedly asked Najib to step down, and had said in a blog posting that unaccounted funds from 1MDB spending showed money has “disappeared”, while noting Najib’s inability to explain the matter disqualifies him from leading the country.

Dr Mahathir also hinted at corruption and theft of 1MDB’s funds, saying that money disappearing was “different from just losing”.

“Governments can lose money through bad investments. We would know where the money is lost. But when huge sums of money disappear, then those entrusted with its management must answer for the disappearance. Disappearance is about money lost which cannot be traced. This can be because of corruption or theft.” .

‘Ignorance of world history breeds extremism’, says G-25 Member

April 25, 2015

‘Ignorance of world history breeds extremism’, says G-25 Member

by Koh Jun

Tan Sri M SheriffMalaysia needs to counter religious extremism with better history education, said former Treasury Secretary-General Tan Sri Sheriff Mohd Kassim.

He said while many youths have been indoctrinated to believe that divine law and an Islamic caliphate would be better for Malaysia than a secular system, history has proven this to be wrong. However, he said he has heard numerous complaints that history textbooks are overly nationalistic and Islamic, and this exaggerates the focus on small events at the expense of larger changes that had shaped the world.

Sheriff stressed there is nothing wrong in highlighting the contributions that Christians and Jews had made to the world, and that these contributions are not brought forth through superior intellect, but superior institutions that allow inventors and thinkers the freedom to innovate.

“If the young are taught the true history of the world, they would think twice before rejecting parliamentary rule and democracy as an old relic of the European people. They will begin to understand that with democracy and the power of the people, nations can improve themselves better than in the caliphates and theocracies,” he said.

He therefore urged educators to seriously reconsider the contents of the country’s history textbooks.

Stagnant when religious orthodoxy ruled

Sheriff pointed out that when religious orthodoxy dominated Europe some 600 years ago, Christian countries were socially, culturally, and economically stagnant until the Reformation movement and the Renaissance, which relegated religion to a lesser role in state affairs.

In addition, monarchs of the period had to rule with the Parliament’s approval instead of ruling by divine right, he said at a forum ‘Upholding the Principles of the Federal Constitution’ today.

The talk was organised by the group Peace, Conscience and Reason (Pcore) and was held at the Royal Selangor Club this morning. Sheriff is a member of the group of retired senior civil servants, also referred to as G25, who wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for respect for the Federal Constitution, and raised their concern for creeping Islamisation and desecularisation amidst an  increasingly polarised society.

He said democracies are able to withstand the test of time because they have the flexibility to carry out reforms to improve the system, and leaders incapable of ensuring the security and welfare would be replaced.

“This transformation of Europe from religious feudalism to parliamentary rule was what made the Christian world progress much faster than the Muslim world in all areas of human endeavour. With their superiority in the arts and sciences, they ruled the seas and became superpowers conquering half the world and throwing out the Ottoman Empire from their colonies in the Arab lands and in Eastern Europe,” Sheriff said.